Updates or Info on "Secrets of the Dead Lands" or "The Emissary"

It contradicts the Necromant’s prestige class advantage set a bit, but it’s not a bad idea.

We could flip it over, and say that living things with ties to the earth instantly are hostile to grey casters…

@redking - I hear what you’re saying about environmental effects. For the Grey, the question then does become what happens when it is being depleted? Does it damage people’s souls? Does it hurt the ability of new souls to form in an area, such as people’s or animals’ abilities to have children? (that’s possibly too brutal, but it would be an example)…

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If Necromancers are taking damage to cast their spells, there’s no need for Preservers to get on their soapbox.

I don’t think a Shadow Wizard being “creepy” is a satisfactory negative; maybe accidentally summoning Shadow-monsters on the side that attack the Wizard and/or everyone else would be good, or some chace to get sucked to Hell (I mean, the Black)…

But yes, alternative-Defiling. Defiling of souls or weather or thr barrier between Athas and the Black or whatever…

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There are a lot of mutated humans on Athas. Take a look at the DS art. Perhaps Gray casting is responsible for birth defects.

Well, the obsidian tower definitely was.

But Graycasting would work as the plot hole filler for that nicely. That would get a LOT of people angry…

I’m not sold on the idea of Greycasters taking direct damage. But definitely moving them towards evil and undeath is an alternative. (Anyone here remember the hilariously named “Defiler’s Taint” rules?)

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I’m not super pro Graycaster being drawn to evil and undeath necessarily, I feel like that somehow leeches away some of the humanity of the character (literally, i suppose).

Defilers defile because they don’t care (about the environment more than their goals), and that’s very human. Graycasters being drawn/trapped into a vicious tainted cycle of evil & undeath by their arcane casting source…IDK, feels cheap?

@neujack, if you want a living Graycaster to basically Defile their soul and become undead, here’s the Dragon Magazine version (where that happens).

Aka, i got your defiler’s taint right here: Dragon Magazine 315 - [PDF Document]


I tell you what. Let’s ask for everyone’s opinion:

What should be the penalty for greycasting, as done in the Necromant’s prestige class? (pick up to 3 preferences)

  • Con check or take 1d2 damage per spell
  • Saving throw vs Petrification or take 1d2 damage per spell
  • They build up “defiler score” like in Dragon magazine, eventually becoming a t’liz
  • They harm the formation of new souls, hurting creatures ability to reproduce
  • Natural creatures are immediately abnormally hostile to them.
  • Grey casting can only be used on certain schools of magic. Otherwise, they’re defiling.
  • Grey casting can only be used in certain places. Otherwise, they’re defiling.
  • No need for any further penalties. It requires a prestige class or an undead special ability already. What’s the point of making it a prestige class if they’re not as powerful as preservers?

0 voters


I’d personally prefer unraveling the barriers between life & death, maybe spawning more undead nearby to the casting, rather than the damage to new souls, but that’s fun too.

IDK where new souls in DS come from, but souls go the the Gray to fade way (unless you believe in reincarnation).


Likewise, the idea that either Greycasting makes you slowly more undead or makes the Greycast area spawn undead much more frequently is quite appealing. That being said, I think this discussion should be moved to a new thread, things have gotten thoroughly derailed.

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Agreed about the move. Is there a way to move posts, or do we just start a new thread? @raddu ?

Btw, i think becoming a T’liz should move your character to forced NPC status, to keep it from being a kind of reward.


T’liz characters become NPC’s as per the Dragon article, and I agree.

I also agree it’s time to close this and start a new thread.

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I started a new thread: Necromancy Defiling

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Okay, here I am ranting on again, but here me out:

Stop the magic! Just say NO. And say D.A.M as well (DMs Against Magic). And you can be M.A.D.D. too (Magic Absent D&D)! (Old school reference, intended to be humorous.)

Okay, now that is out of my system for a few seconds, on to the more helpful suggestions:

If one is going to have alternate energy sources, make them all psionically accessed and psionic in nature.

Thus they all become psionic locations, touchstones, and psionic type power sources. They can still have side effects, but by making them come under the psionic system, it resolves the whole defiler/preserver dichotomy and keeps the uniqueness of that system.

Psionics already has Stygian powers, with a slight expansion, it could easily cover both the Black and the Grey.

Possibly replace the Sardior powers with Cerulean ones, and that might be the start of a workable chassis.

How about no?

Some of us aren’t as gung ho on a fully psionic based Athas as you seem to be. Personally I like to see contention and competition between the two classes/systems. But at least in 2E, psionics was broken and needed a lot of work. Show me something balanced and I might change my mind, but until then? Magic should be an inclusion in Dark Sun as far as the general setting is concerned. What you do in your own game is your own thing.


I just go on rants because everyone keeps adding magic options to a world that is supposed to hate and fear magic.

You may have noticed that I advocated keeping both preservers and defilers intact and unique in my post.

While I could easily make a fully psionic Athas, I like to keep an 80/20 balance between psionics and magic, plus I use the Are Different rules, so that magic is not easily defended against and really deserves the hate and fear reputation.


@nijineko makes fair points about how psionics should be supreme on Athas; its 1000’s of years older than arcane magic, everyone can use it (even the plants), and its not illegal.

But, this is DnD, and psionics is a stapled-on extra at the best of times. Its always going to suffer from being weird and new and well all just have to deal with the conundrum of how many wizards there are in the Tablelands vs how many show up at our gaming tables.

Honestly, they’re basically our Drizzt Do’Urdens - there shouldn’t be that many, but they’re fun to play.


A Dark Sun DM would be well within his rights to make arcane casters an NPC only matter for Dark Sun campaigns. The RP opportunities for “us vs them” vis a vis arcane casters are very good. Ideally, you don’t want the PCs invested in arcane magic by having one or more of the PCs being arcane casters.

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In line with that concept, every templar spell list should be based on which sorcerer king they are connected to. And massive chunks of the spell list should be flatly made illegal / lost.

A lot of the problem with magic in Dark Sun is that players seem to use the PHB and or Spell Compendium as something that all characters have access to, and DMs do not seem to stop it. (I am sure there are exceptions in this community. )

It is doubtful that the big R taught the entire PHB to his Champions, and even less likely that the later sorcerer kings would teach their templars even a fraction of what they know.

Ruins should be mostly psionic or lifeshaping, and thus discovered artifacts should be in that category, not magic.

The only sources of magic should be ancient battlefields where genocides took place, places where the champions stayed long enough, or caches that the big R left behind for some reason, possibly his hidden research labs or something. Plus the living SKs, and Templars.

It just doesn’t make sense, the sheer amount of magic that is described in the rpg… the novels are focused on that as a story and plot point, so of course it’s going to show up a lot there… but the books probably covered 70% of the living spellcasters left in the entire world! (Or at least that chunk of the world. )

But unless there is a compelling, and I mean really compelling reason, all the rest of the world should basically be psionic and lifeshaping remains and survivors.

Oh, one must account for the connections Athas used to have with the Outer Planes, so that might be a major source of magic knowledge (wasn’t the outer planes monopolized by the big R? After the severing? )

Soooooooo, I just get frustrated, and occasionally ticked, at every new discussion seemingly being “OH, NEW MAGIC IDEA, CHECK IT OUT”… Intellectually, I realize that most people like magic, and magic IS part of Dark Sun, but my emotions don’t always listen.

Having said all that, I feel I should offer apologies if any of my statements have stepped over the line or offended anyone.

Thus, my sincere apologies are offered to all who wish them.


I think everyone’s aware of arcane magic being your pet peeve. :grin:

Rants aside, you’re not wrong, IMO. Its just not important enough to me for me to runs games differently. :man_shrugging:


Check that, on further thought, i completey disagree.

Rajaat spent centuries training Wizards, then trained at least a dozen of the most powerful Wizard/Psions to walk the continent (if not planet). Those Wizards (the Champions) then proceeded to train ARMIES of Wizards and warriors to scour the world of Druids, preserver Wizards, and finally the non-human (non-Halfling) intelligent races in a series of wars that took MILLENNIA.

They didn’t manage to get all the Dwarves or Elves, so it stands to reason some human preservers got away as well and went to ground. Surely many defilers went AWOL. Every ruin should have arcane paraphernalia or magic items. The SK’s still train defilers.

Arcane magic should abound, hidden everywhere.

But there should still be a 10:1 ratio of Psions to Wizards.


In 2E the Templars were clerics. The Templars were even better clerics than regular Dark Sun elemental Clerics due to major access to the sphere of Cosmos. The DS fluff about Templars is clear that Templar magic is different to arcane magic, and the Sorcerer Monarchs are not teaching their Templars anything, only turning on the divine magical spigot.

In terms of 3.5e, you shouldn’t even have this complaint. Templars cast from a fixed spell list and have domains. The domains differ between the Sorcerer Monarchs, so there is a slight difference between the Templars. My own version of Templar bring the Templar fully in line with the design philosophy behind Warmage and Dread Necromancer.

Templars are a cool and integral part of Athas. The game designers here at Athas dot org paired them down a little from their 2E cleric roots, and as much as I have disagreed in the past with some of their decisions, the direction that they took Templars in was good. I don’t see your complaint in relation to Templars holding water at all.

I don’t think that canon Athas presents as rife with arcane magic as you suggest. Yes there are many character options for arcane magic, including the special energy sources that has been discussed here recently. The solution isn’t a change in the canon, but at the table. I know that I would not allow an arcane spellcasting PC to preserve the mystery of magic in the setting. I’m sure you have your own solutions.

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