Defiling and 5E

Defiling and 5e, here is what my table is using for our Lands of the Ravaged Sun campaign, all feedback very welcome. The idea is to make defiling a per spell cast decision rather than a class choice, and to have very profound boons and banes associated so that the temptation is powerful and always present:

Toucanbuzz Dark Sun 5e Campaign Guide pg 32-34 & Lands of the Ravaged Sun House Rules

When an arcane caster invokes a spell, she draws upon the life energy of Athas. Most casters are trained to take only what is needed because any more kills plant life and renders the area barren for centuries. Every spellcaster is aware she is limiting herself by voluntarily limiting her casting in this way. With any spell, she can cost off her self-imposed restrictions in exchange for a rush of power. In doing so, she marks herself as a defiler - an enemy of the land. Doing so is an evil act, but many a good-hearted caster has found herself facing impending doom and reconsidered this stance.


Those who defile can apply a metamagic effect to their non-cantrip spells. Once the spell is cast, the land around them turns to barren ash, and the caster gains one or more defiler points. A caster who defiles even once will track two new scores: her current defiler points score, and if applicable, her permanent defiler aura. The DM determines the terrain, which determines the amount of vegetation from which defiling power can be taken.


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


Whenever you defile, you gain defiler points based on the effect applied according to the Defiling Benefits and Cost Table. These points have an immediate and cumulative negative effect, applied immediately from the Accumulated Defiler Points Table. All points can be shed in one of two ways: assuming the taint or meditation with the land. The number of points you can spend on an effect is limited to half your caster level (round down). You cannot defile if the area has been drained of vegetative life.


Anyone within the defiling area of a defiling arcane spell being cast must subtract 2 from their next initiative roll, regardless of how many spells are cast (this is not cumulative).


A defiler has three options to purge points and remove the negative effects of defiling. In most preserver circles, it is considered better to die than defile, and even if one can remove the taint of defiling, that person will be seen as a defiler (“once a defiler always a defiler.”)

  1. MEDITATING - Meditating in an undefiled area of Athas is the only way to eliminate defiler points and not accumulate a permanent defiler aura. The caster is giving a small portion of her life energy back to the land as atonement for what she has done. This takes 1 day of uninterrupted contact with the earth or plants of the region per point to be purged, in at least 8 hour increments in which the caster can do nothing else but light activity like eating and drinking.

2. BLOOD RITUAL (LOTRS House Rule) - This ritual must be performed on defiled ground, takes 1 hr undisturbed (otherwise it is spoiled) for every point being purged and causes you to slowly bleed from all your bodily openings, thus rejuvenating up to a 30’ radius (centred on yourself) of dead soil per point purged. Every 1 point purged you incur 1 level of exhaustion and 2 hit points.

  1. ASSUME THE TAINT - At the end of a long rest, you may purge away all your defiler points and their negative effects, including any exhaustion caused by defiling. Add half of your defiler points to your permanent defiler aura. Reset your defiler points to zero.

       a. DEFILER AURA - If you defile even once and assume the taint, you permanently gain an aura that, while having no apparent consequences, marks you for those who can detect such auras, such as a druid. Certain creatures and casters have effects that specifically target defilers, and your aura functions as a penalty on your saving throws against those anti-defiler effects. There is no limit to how high your defiler aura score may be.
  •                  i. You do not gain a hit die for this level*
  •                 ii. You immediately increase your casting class level by 1 with any new spell slots immediately ready for use if a spell of that level is known.*
  •                 iii. You incur 2 levels of exhaustion, to a maximum of four levels if there are already existing levels of exhaustion present.*


All arcane spells cast incur 1 defiling point per spell level if cast at their usual casting time, however if they are cast at a slower rate 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 2 actions (and therefore 2 rounds)*

** NOTE: Reaction spells are not slowed but incur 2 defiling points per spell level.*


Carroz, a 4th level wizard, is being chased by templars. Although taught by his mentor to never defile, he has nearly exhausted his spells. He knows the king’s gardens are nearby and figures, just this once, to save his life, he must draw more energy than the plants can handle. He is surprised at the volume of energy that comes at his behest, and nearby a century-old tree begins to wither. Carroz restores a 1st level slot by taking on 2 defiler points. He is limited to half his level in points he can assume per casting, in this case 2. He feels slightly ill then points his finger at the lead templar and draws even more energy, destroying the ancient yew tree and twinning a 1st level witch bolt (2 more points) at the first two enemies he sees. Carroz now has a total of 4 defiler points, which give him a -2 to Charisma and Wisdom checks. He escapes and finds a safe house but doesn’t have time to meditate so he assumes the taint. All of his defiler points are reduced to O, the negative effects go away, and he now has a permanent defiler score of 2. His fellow preservers need never know, he thinks. LOTRS House Rule: In addition, he also gains a level as a wizard (but does not gain a hit die), gains any new spell slots as a result and takes on 2 levels of exhaustion.

Defiling Benefits Per Spell Casting and Costs:

CAREFUL SPELL - When casting a spell that requires a saving throw, choose a number of creatures up to your spellcasting modifier (minimum 1). Chosen creatures automatically save.

Defiler Points Earned: 1

HEIGHTENED SPELL - When casting a spell requiring a save, make one target have disadvantage on its first saving throw against the spell

Defiler Points Earned: 3

DISTANT SPELL - Double the range of spells with at least a 5 foot range, or make a touch spell have a range of 30 feet.

Defiler Points Earned: 1

QUICKENED SPELL - Change the casting time of any spell that has a casting time of 1 action to 1 bonus action.

Defiler Points Earned: 4

SUBTLE SPELL - Cast without somatic or verbal components.

Defiler Points Earned: 1

TWINNED SPELL - When casting a spell that targets only one creature and doesn’t have a range of self, you may target a second creature in range with the same spell. To be eligible, the spell cannot target more than one creature at the level being cast.

Defiler Points Earned: 2 per spell level

EMPOWERED SPELL - Reroll a number of damage dice equal to your spellcasting modifier (minimum 1) and use those new rolls

Defiler Points Earned: 2

RECOVER SPELL SLOT - As an action that provokes an attack of opportunity, you may draw forth life energy to renew your arcane powers and regain an expended spell slot.

Defiler Points Earned: 2 per spell level

EXTENDED SPELL - Double the duration of any spell with a duration of at least 1 minute, maximum 24 hours.

Defiler Points Earned: 2

CAST SPELL WITHOUT MATERIAL COMPONENT - Cast any spell without using a material component.

Defiler Points Earned: 1 per 100cp value

RECOVER EXHAUSTION (LOTRS House Rule) - As an action that provokes an attack of opportunity, you may draw forth life energy and combine it with any 2 spell slots to remove 1 level of exhaustion from yourself only

Defiler Points Earned: 2

REFLECT SPELL (LOTRS House Rule) - As a reaction that provokes an attack of opportunity, you may reflect any spell attack which targets you directly, sending it back towards it’s caster using the original ranged spell attack roll of it’s caster

Defiler Points Earned: 4 (Not cumulative with casting time DP’s earned)

Accumulated Defiler Points:

Defiler Points Earned / Defiler Effect

1+ / -2 on Charisma and Wisdom checks

11+ / -2 Constitution score reduction. If engaged in strenuous activity (e.g. fighting, running) for at least 1 minute, you must make a Constitution saving throw or gain 1 level of exhaustion. The save DC is 0+ number of current defiler points.

21+ / another -2 on Charisma and Wisdom checks

31+ / another -2 Constitution score reduction. Alignment becomes evil.

41+ / become an undead NPC (t’liz) under DM control

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