Preserver-Magic not so, "Preserving"

So there are three main kingdoms of life: Life that takes it’s energy from the sun: Plant-Life: Life that takes it’s energy from other life-forms: Animal-Life and life that takes it’s energy from dead-life: Fungi. We all know what defiling-magic does, to plants and at higher-levels to animals, but, what if, Preserving magic was just like defiling-magic, except it draws its power from the fungi-kingdom? They wouldn’t know it, because the majority of fungi live beneath the ground, and are virtually invisible to the naked eye, at times.

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Fungi is a necessary part of the ecosystem. A mage that kills fungus only sounds like a specialty defiler.


If you killed off the Fungi it would severely weaken and disrupt plant life. It would kill a lot of plants but on a delay perhaps as they were unable to procure the nutrients that they need for themselves or fend off infectious agents.


Kind of cool, but it defies all knowledge known about magic on Athas. A preserver specifically still draws from the plants but doesn’t take any more than is needed to cast the spell. Therefor he doesn’t destroy anything, but a defiler goes as much as wanted severely destroying the life in that area including fungi and eventually animal life which is why it takes so long for life to be able to grow there again.


While i don’t personally subscribe to or support such a claim (though it is an interesting thought), I agree with @Ral.of.Tyr’s initial (implied) premise that:

gets around all of the canonical arguments; juxtaposing In-Game knowledge with Out-of-Game knowledge allows such a “what if” to not break any established canon. I fully respect and support the mental trickery, as it were. Nice work. :saluting_face:

Though, once again, i don’t actually care for the idea.


This is true; Fungi are part of the eco-system; but, it will grow back and it may be good for the soil if it’s turned to ash, actually (and then again, so is Defiling-magic for the plants that return to a lush, nutrient-rich ash-soil. It also touches on the idea that magic has a cost and comes from something; like a blood-sacrifice, etc.

I’m not really trying to trick anyone; I just know a lot of different gaming-systems and how they run magic.

But then again, I like the fact Preserver-Magic, is indeed the same magic as a Defiler, but, taught and used in such a way it doesn’t harm planets, though, it does use energy from plants.

Not “trick” someone, a “trick” like a skillful act.

If you want to make preserving magic a lesser defiling magic, that’s fine with me. You run your game as you wish.
I think this would make a good evil trick, someone could tell a preserver character this and make them second guess themselves.
Also, defiler ash is not like ash from fires, it is sterile and lifeless.


Also, defiler ash is not like ash from fires, it is sterile and lifeless.

This is an important point, imo. It even specifically states that defiler ash is totally devoid of nutrients, and that it completely leeches life out of the soil too and that life takes years to recover in an area that’s been defiled. Making defiler ash cause “lush, nutrient-rich ash-soil” is almost completely 180-degree changing the concept. If you want to change the concept, go for it, but this is like a complete fundamental reboot, not a small tweak, imo. (If defiler ash is wonderful fertilizer then why is the world in its current state?)


This is an important point. What do you imagine defiler ash is made of?

Because while “completely leeches life out of the soil too and that life takes years to recover in an area that’s been defiled” is canonically true, the ash MUST be made of something.

Dirt is basically tiny and very tiny bits of salts, sand, clays, chunks of dead plants and animals, poop, fungi, and microscopic organisms.

Removing all the organic components from soil (dead plants, animals, poop, and organisms) would leave you with a mixture of inorganic salts, clays, and silica - ash, and would be both highly nutritious and nearly incapable of supporting plants (until remixed with organic material or recolonized by soil life), similar to cooled lava.

This is a similar problem to what Athasian silt is. It can’t just be “created by magic, shut up” (not that I’m suggesting that is anyone’s specific answer - yet), its gotta be made of something.

It IS also canon that druids and preservers mix defiler ash with healthy soil or bodily waste to renew it - that sounds a LOT like needing to put flora back into it, IMO.

If defiling removes the inorganic salts & nutrients as well, then inly magic will ever be able to truley heal Athas, because all those compound have been completely and permanently removed from the planet’s ecology - restoring life to defiled land is just diluting the remaining life-supporting capability of the land.

BTW, fertilizer is toxic to plants above trace amounts - try planting something in a bucket of fertilizer (not manure, but like pure MiracleGrow) and watch how fast it dies.


I think that’s exactly right. The ash is salts, clays, silica, other small crystalline solids. Defiling also completely destroys the topsoil layer which is held together by small roots and such, causing it to blow away, leaving behind hard dehydrated clay - almost a cement - that doesn’t absorb the rare rains and that doesn’t easily allow plants to take root. Completely useless for growing things unless and until someone/some process mixes dirt and organic matter back into it.

Silt, on the other hand, I think it’s reasonable to treat as very nutrient dense. Dead organic matter, microorganisms, phytoplankton. If you need a biological explanation perhaps the unusual clumping quality of silt owe to a type of phytoplankton that constantly gather up the microscopic dust. It’s the bottom of the ocean food chain but without the water. Silt being highly organic is consistent with the phenomenon where rain quickly leads to lush mud flats, or explains why Draj has the best fields etc. (I don’t really care about questions of “how is there enough oxygen for megafauna” but some people do and extremely organic silt helps explain that too.)


Ok, so yeah, thia is 100% in line with my understanding of what @Ral.of.Tyr said. Such ash would be lifeless (and potentially capable of causing chemical burns when wet) until mixed with an appropriate amount of organic material - and then it’d good for plants, much like the minerals that dissolve out of lava.

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That’s not my interpretation because I’m saying the soil that’s left behind is nearly cement as opposed to “a lush, nutrient-rich ash-soil”

Well, that’s an interpretation of the canon material, but I can’t recall a single specific example of cement-soil left behind from defiler ash.

Subsoil hardpan being exposed when defiler ash (eventually) blows away is clearly how much of the Tablelands came to be, sure, but that’d be a centuries-long process and that ash would have to END UP someplace. Either way, there’d be plenty of time for someone to come by and try to reclaim it on a human timescale (not that someone necessarily will).

I think you’re maybe missing the return: i read this WHOLE sentence as saying that AFTER healthy soil is made with/from the ash, the stuff left in the ash is good (rather than bad or has zero effect on) the plants. If salts that plants need/appreciate are left behind in defiler ash, then this logically MUST be true, IMO.


I’m sorry, I wasn’t looking to pick an argument.

it’s true that if you sprinkle salt and lime on a geode you have something that is, in some organic chemistry sense, nutrient rich. I wouldn’t try to plant an herb garden in it :slight_smile:

But I feel strongly that people should go with the interpretation that inspires them. If you want defiler ash to return to nutrient rich soil, please go for it! I don’t mean to be critical of anyone’s inspiration. I’m sorry my interpretation is different than this. My apologies if I’ve come across as a killjoy.


No, you haven’t come across as a killjoy, and I’m pro a “lively discussion about a topic where options differ” - which is a definition of an argument.

i just either don’t understand or disagree with your logic.

As long as we all understand what eachother are saying and are making sense, i am 100% happy for all of us to do whatever inspires us, 100%


I was actually thinking of nitrate and phosphate salts - the active compounds in chemical fertilizers (other than ammonia), but, sure.

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Hmm I guess I am simply thinking of it like a gardener might. If you have clay covered in lime and salt and silica it takes an impractical amount of work to make this into fertile soil. It’s true as you say that these minerals can be processed into nutrients - I of course recognize that - but it’s not a good starting point for that process.

I’m honestly not trying to say something complex or esoteric or difficult to follow. I’m sorry it’s coming across that way.


No, I’m mostly thinking ahead.

Also, see my above (late) edit about nitrate salts.

If your (or anyone’s) position is “bah, science be damned, nothing good should ever come of defiler ash!” That’s a legit and understandable position.

But, when i start asking questions and thinking ahead, such a pitch quickly unravels for me. To my mind, a thing is never good or bad, it just is, and circumstances dictate its usefulness.

Otherwise, it’d be best to go with 4e’s “defiler ash is toxic, magical, mutagenic $hit, and its 100% bad news.” Its :face_vomiting: to me, but at least its an unequivocally straightforward take - unlike anything the Wanderer has to say.

(BTW, in all fairness, I’ll argue with nearly anyone, about nearly anything, as long as its not malicious. I like a good debate. :grin:)


Other than the fact that our starting point is the effects of defiling magic, I’m actually not bringing any other magical effects into the conversation. Take sandy wastes, stony barrens, scrub plains or rocky badland in the real world. Pull out and kill all the plants. Replace it with a heavy sprinkling of inorganic salts, clays, and silica. Do this in an arid climate.

From this starting point, you are extremely far away from nutrient rich soil. I’m not saying it’s impossible to reverse desertification or anything like that. I’m saying it’s an extremely difficult process from this as your starting point.

Translated into game terms, I imagine this process as something like this: The ash created by defiler magic is black and grey, completely devoid of life or life-giving elements. Nothing will grow in an area of ash for one year. The ash itself is very light and usually blows away, leaving behind a lifeless, circular scar on the ground. Even with the ash gone, though, the defiler’s magic has leeched all life-giving nutrients from the soil, so that an area defiled may take many years to recover life, if it ever does.