In Secrets of the Dead lands, under the description of the Trees of Life, it says that defilers cannot create trees of life. At the same time, it says that sorcerer kings (of which only one is a preserver) use trees of life. However, other sources say that sorcerer kings often posses massive gardens of trees of life for use of themselves and the few defilers that they have as servants. In 4e, an adventure module seems to imply that despite the Oba’s desire to restore the greenery of Athas within her domain, she for some reason abhors the Trees of Life. Why would this be? It seems to me that if a defiler can find a way to find a source of magical energy without defiling the tree (dragon magic, for example), he or she should be able to create a tree of life. In fact, given the sorcerer-kings opinions on druids and preservers, it would seem that it would be the only way to produce the amount of such trees they apparently possess. And trees of life would certainly make it easier for the Oba to keep up her appearance as a forest goddess, if for example all the trees around her home were trees of life she and her templars created.
However, I am not as well immersed in Dark Sun lore as I could be. Is there a reason defilers couldn’t use that work-around (dragon magic or their powers as a champion of rajaat)? If so, could you please inform me how the sorcerer kings could acquire so many trees of that type without making them themselves?
My further research seems to indicate that the restriction was not present in second edition. Why was this change made?
SKs can use druids to make ToL (a lone druid cannot hope to defeat or hinder the SK, but a druid’s creation can help prevent the destruction of the surrounding land, limiting damage to a magically replenishing garden). Or, SKs and their servants can find ToL in their travels and transplant them in gardens.
In the Emporium 3.5e document there is a Sanctum Amulet item, and in the Legends of Athas 3.5e document there’s a Tree Staff item. Check them out for relevancy.
Could a defiler conceivably create a tree of life if his particular use of defiling did not hurt the tree? For example, could a Champion of Rajaat siphon the life-force of a living being into an obsidian orb, and then use that life-force as a battery to revitalize a portion of land? If this is not the case, the Rajaat’s approach of trying to use defiling to return the world to the blue age was fundamentally flawed in a way that should not be excusable for the inventor of magic. Also, it seems to me that a number of Dragons justify their transformation in the name of revitalizing Athas, particularly Dregoth (who, if I remember correctly attempted to become a god by draining the life force of Raam, in order to bring Athas back to the Green Age). Or how about using a tree staff to help create another tree of life? I dunno. It just seems a little too limiting for something that is supposed to be a tempting path for players to follow to completely eliminate all work-around of the defiling process.
I believe that the SK’s find them abhorrent because they fly in the face of their own power and only serve to highlight that they are not the only great powers in the world. I also believe that Trees of Life are immune to the effects of Defiling and cannot be used to supply Defilers with power.
the opposite is actually the case. Trees of life are, in their original description, coveted possessions, and owned almost exclusively by sorcerer-kings and a few druids (who originally made the procedure for making them). trees of life are not immune to defiling. Instead, they produce a buffer field of sorts, which causes any defiler to defile from it instead of the surrounding soil. It has so much life energy in it that any arcane spellcasting is treated as if it were cast in abundant territory, even after several defilements. And while they do in a sense fly in the face of their power, they don’t appear to mind turning them into living staves or creating amulets that allow them to draw on their power at a distance. After all, Abalach-Re had no problem using the Skull of Dorag Thel as a power source, despite it being a druidic item, precisely because of the fact that it is effectively an infinitely powerful Tree of Life. Of course, I have no idea how any of this translated into 4rth and 5th edition, so you may well be right, but prior to that the Sorcerer Kings seemed to love trees of life, and loved amassing them in large forests they kept to themselves.