Defiling and 5e

I have read many attempts at bringing defiling to 5e, and I Iike the approach where it’s not a class choice upon character generation, but rather an ongoing temptation for spell casters to wrestle with. I want the boons and banes of defiling to be quite pronounced also.

These rules are in addition to what is found in the Toucanbuzz Dark Sun Campaign Guide pg 32-34, curious what other folks think…

  • All arcane cantrips are considered awakened psionic talents and do not incur a defiling point. These are awakened as a result of the intense focus and self discipline required to learn to cast arcane spells.

  • All arcane spells cast incur 1 defiling point per spell level if cast at their usual casting time, however if they are cast at one speed slower they do not incur a defiling point.

    • eg a spell that normally takes 1 bonus action to cast, will not incur a defiling point if cast as 1 action
    • eg a spell that normally takes 1 action to cast, will not incur a defiling point if cast as 1 action and 1 bonus action (combined)
  • NOTE: Reaction spells are not slowed but incur 2 defiling points per spell level.

Once an arcane spell caster takes on the permanent taint of defiling (which can only happened once per character lifetime):

  • They immediately increase their class level by 1 with any new spell slots immediately ready for use if a spell of that level is known.
  • Rather than adding a hit die to their hit points, they reduce their total hit points by 1 hit die (average or rolled), and their vitality points by 1. This cannot result in a hit point total less than their vitality points minus 1.
  • They incur 2 levels of exhaustion, to a maximum of four levels if there are already existing levels of exhaustion present. (This may be too severe and I may drop it down to 1 level of exhaustion)

Anyone within the defiling area of an arcane spell being cast will have to roll initiative with a die 1 size larger (this is in regards to the dynamic initiative optional rules found in Toucanbuzz Dark Sun Campaign Guide) for the next round only, regardless of how many spells are cast (this is not cumulative)

I use a homegrown magic system, where magicians can chose, rather then casting a spell to ‘deconstruct’ / ‘interrupt’ a spell targeting them (or their allies, if they are keeping a close watch). It can make magical duels more tactical - do you let the opposing spell hit you and take the risk on your saving throw, or do you ‘decon’ it and wait until you get your spell off first? (There is an initiative system).

Defilers are powerful in this system because they can (and usually do) chose to draw their power directly from an opponent, so they get a double hit, as it were. First they drain your life force to power their fireball, then they blast what is left of your life force with said fireball…

The ‘defiling’ drain atttack as a magical attack too, so in my campaign MU’s have learnt that if the Defiler has initiative, you decon the defiling! (Which leaves the Defiler without power, so no spell for them…)

OFC, a Defiler can still draw from other sources, thus avoiding the risk of their spell failing due to lack of power, but there is something so satisfying is leeching your opponents life force and then killing them with it. At least that’s what my NPCs tell me, and who am I to argue?

I don’t know if such an advantage would work in a standard Athasian setting (or even if it is ‘allowed’ in the rules) but it definitely gives Defilers ‘more tools in the box’ when compared to a standard Preserver MU. And, I think, adds a touch of real nastyness to how they do their business. Certainly my player group will always scream their Athasian version of the traditional party war cry: “Get the Defiler first!”