Question about magic?

Just started researching Dark Sun and kind of confused about magic use. So is all magic banned by the sorcerer-kings. I want to create an adventure where my PCs are all gladiators but what happens if one of them is caught using magic in a fight?

Then there’s the Psionicists? How is that not considered magic?


Magic uses life energy. When magic is used, the agricultural fields around the city are sapped and crops are destroyed. Psionics comes from internal energy, with no negative consequences.

Whether psionics is allowed during a gladiatorial match will depend on the rules of that particular match. Anyone caught using magic without the explicit permission of the ruler is going to be executed, gladiatorial match or not.


Also, with arcane magic a green tendril of energy can be seen going from the ground to the caster’s hand. Psionics don’t have much in the way of visual or audio cues like spells.


It has to be said that clerics are tolerated by SK as long as they don’t become a problem to their control on the city. But templars will put an eye on them. Since Templars, Veilled alliance, slaves, etc are always looking for power… clerics are people you want to befriend… or at least control by force.


Psionics and divine magic do not destroy the land (I mean their effects can but the energy to use the effects don’t). Most people don’t know about preservers and think all arcane magic is defiling.

To use arcane magic in the middle of an arena is suicide. You would have to roll a nat 1 on psionic mimicry or somatic concealment to have a chance of getting away with it since there are so many eyes on you.

If a player tries I would suggest the other combatants in the arena focus them. Also in a few rounds several much higher level guards should pour in to kill the character. If for some reason that isn’t enough there are high level templars or even the SK watching.

Basically if they do it, they either better roll perfectly, have a psionic power allowing them to teleport far away, or they die.


If they have psionic mimicry and somatic concealment, they can get away with it. This is assuming the spell being cast is similar to a psionic power. Throwing a fireball, or magic missile, will get you dead no matter what non-weapon proficies, or skills, you use.
And, as others have said, all arcane magic users must be approved by the Sorcerer Monarch, or they are put to death.
Although villages in the wastes that have set up their own little gladitorial games might allow it.


Thanks for all the feedback everyone!


Magic in Dark Sun like magic in D&D has two major derivations Wizards magic (aka arcane magic) and Priestly magic (aka divine magic). Psionics are not magic. Psionics are natural psychic phenomenon

Wizard Magic in Dark Sun requires the absorption of energy from something and redirecting it to power spells. Most wizard magic draws from life energy though there is at least one Sun Wizard in canon. Wizards that draw their magic from living things come in two flavors: preservers and defilers. Preservers draw the life energy out of plants very slowly and in limited amounts so as not to kill their power sources. Defilers draw as much life energy out of plants and animals as they can and as quickly as they can. Defilers leave large areas of destruction in their wake as their process of absorbing magic energy kills all life and destroys all soil in a radius around them each time they absorb magic energy (usually every morning). The box set provides information on how large a defilers radius of destruction will be. Higher level defilers absorb more energy and thus destroy more land and life to power their magic.

The sorcerer-kings are the penultimate defilers. They do not tolerate any other wizards in their domains as the presence of to many defilers in an area would risk their city’s verdant belt and preservers have an ideology that makes them natural enemies of most defilers. That said most sorcerer-kings make an exception for few pet defilers they keep to perform various tasks the sorcerer-kings consider beneath themselves. These pet defilers can use their sorcerer-king’s trees of life to draw magic energy. There is usually at least one pet defiler that works in each city’s arena performing various magic tasks needed for the operation of the arena.

Priestly magic in Dark Sun is all derived from the inner planes, and is tied to one of more elements. Clerics gain their magic by forming a pact with beings on an elemental or quasi-elemental plan. Druids form pacts with elemental spirits to gain their magic from the elemental planes. Templars gain their elemental magic from conduits that were opened from the elemental planes thousands of years ago with the creation of the sorcerer-kings. Each sorcerer-king controls access to these conduits. Sorcerer-kings release magic from these conduits to their templars at the telepathic request of each Templar. This is done in a ritual fashion that does not take conscious thought from the sorcerer-kings. Though each sorcerer-king has the power to block any of his or her templars from accessing these conduits. Unfortunately sorcerer-kings cannot access these elemental conduits directly for themselves, but they can grant or deny access to these conduits for thousands of their templars.

1 Like

If you’re going to run a gladiator-campaign, watch Starz’s Spartacus.

There’s also an AD&D2e book called, “Gladiators”; I don’t have it, but it’s probably a good read.