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D&D 5E Darksun 3.0

Zardnaar

Legend
Face the Fire of the Dark Sun
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The following is a conversion of the 1991 Dark Sun boxed set to 5E rules. It is heavily focused on early TSR source material essentially ignoring the Prism Pentad metaplot that I thought ruined the setting along with some of the later source books that were written by freelancers whle TSR was collapsing and the original creators had moved onto other project. My conversion is fosused on the themes of the original Dark Sun.

Survival. Water is rare on Dark Sun outside the main cities. It is hot and the wastes of Athas are deadly.

Environment. The world has been ravaged by sorcery. The PCs can ruin the world or try to repair it.

Slavery. Slavery is widepread, how the PC respond is up to them but heroic PCs likely want to help them.

Brutality. Athas is an unfair world and the environment is harsh. PC can arbitrarily be put to death or enslaved in the cities which are ruled by Sorcerer Kings and their servants the Templars. In the wild getting baked to death by the sun, eaten or choking on silt are all hazards and risks.

Magic is hard. Defilers have ravaged Athas and being identified as a wizard (defiler or preserver) can be a death sentence. Knowledge is rare about the finer points of magic and one has to resort to black markets to get things like spell books. A smart wizard hides their power or passes it off as psionics (hard to do as a Defiler).

Everything is psionic. In comparison to magic psionics is easy. Every PC has a wild talent. That cactus in the desert could actually be psionic.

Lack of metal. Metal on Athas is rare and there is 1 gold mine and 1 source of iron in the Tyr region. Metal goods cost 100 times the equivalent in the PHB. A Sorcerer King can afford several suits of plate armor or can rebuild the walls of their city.
 
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Zardnaar

Legend
Darksun Players Guide
DarkSun_1.jpg

Starting Characters
PCs on Darksun are tougher than characters from other worlds. All Athasian PCs start at level 3 and gain a bonus ability score increase or a feat. Half Giants do not gain an additional ability score improvement or feat.

Races
The following races are allowed on Darksun. Other races and sub races are unavailable for PCs as they either do not exist on Athas or are unknown to the world at large. Athasian PC are also gain a bonus racial or skilled feat at level 1 except for half giants.

Elf The Wood Elf from the PHB is allowed on Athas. They receive +1 intelligence instead of +1 wisdom

Dwarf. The Hill Dwarf is the Athasian Dwarf.

Halfling. The Stout Halfling represents the Athasian Halfling.

Half Elf. Half Elves Exist on Athas.

Half Giant
Ability Score Increase Half Giants gain +4 strength, +2 constitution and -2 intelligence, -2 wisdom and -2 charisma.
Age Half Giants live to around 200 years of age.
Alignment Half Giants may change their alignment when they complete a long rest. They tend to have the same alignment as the strongest or most charismatic individual they associate with.
Size Half Giants are usually between 10-12 feet tall. They are large sized.
Durable Your hit point maximum increases by 2, and it increases by 2 every time you gain a level. Additionally when you spend a hit dice to regain hit points Half Giants may roll an additional dice.
Giant Half Giants deal an extra 1d4 points of damage with melee weapons.
Oversized Weapons. Half Giants may treat weapons with the two handed property as if they had the one handed weapon property.

Humans.
Athasian humans get +2 to two ability scores of their choice and +1 on two other ability scores of their choice. They also gain proficiency with a skill of their choice.

Mul
Ability Score Increase Muls gain +2 strength, +1 constitution

Age Mul’s live to around 120 years of age.

Alignment Any

Size Mul’s are medium sized.

Great Endurance: Advantage on constitution checks

Relentless Endurance (as half orc)

Brutal Attack (as half orc savage attack)

Natural Athlete: You have proficiency in Athletics

Thri Kreen
Ability Score Increase Your dexterity score increases by 2, your wisdom score increases by 1.
Speed 40’

Claws Your Claws are natural weapons you can use to make unarmed strikes. If you hit with them you deal slashing damage equal to 1d6+ your strength modifier instead of the usual bludegeoning damage.

Exoskeleton Your exoskeleton is durable and thick. When you aren’t wearing armor your AC is 13+ your dexterity modifier.

Extra Limbs You may draw an additional item per round and hold an additional two items or one two handed weapon.

Flurry As a bonus action you may make a claw attack with all your limbs against adjacent opponents. Once you use this trait you can’t use it again until you complete a short or long rest.

Sleepless
Thri Kreen Weapons Training you are proficient with the Chatkas (treat as dart), and the Gythka (treat as a glaive).

Languages. Common, Kreen

Classes
The following Classes and archetypes are allowed. Not not all classes and archetypes exist on Athas.

Barbarian
The Berzerker archetype is allowed on Athas.

Bard
The PHB Bards do not exist on Athas. They are Rogues: Assassins.


Cleric.
Athasian clerics draw their power from the elements. The elements grant the following domains.

Air. Tempest,
Earth. Nature, Stone
Fire. Flames, Light
Water. Healing, Water
The Flames, Stone, Water domains are found in En5ider 65 Priests of Elemental Power.


Druid
Druids may be land Druids and select Desert, Grasslands or Swamp as options. Forest Druids are rare and tend to be halflings or from Gulg or Nibenay. They draw their power from Spirits of the Land.

Fighter The Athasian Fighter is the Battlemaster. At higher levels Fighters often lead armies on the world of Athas.

Gladiator The Gladiator is a Champion fighter. Gladiators may add the perform skill to their list of skills they can choose.

Ranger The Hunter Ranger is allowed on Darksun.

Mystic. The Mystic class (Unearthed Arcana article) is allowed on Darksun.

Templar Templars are servants of the Sorcerer Kings. They must be of non good alignment. They are treated as Clerics with the War Domain.

Rogue
The Thief is allowed in a Darksun game.

Wizard
Wizards are allowed on Darksun although they are hunted by Templars and shunned by the general populace who blame them for the state of Athas. They follow the defiling rules.


Feats
Feats are allowed on Athas. If they are allowed the following feats do not exist on Athas and may not be selected. Racial Feats and other will be added.

Healer
Inspirational Leader
 
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Zardnaar

Legend
The World of Athas

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While in the wastes of Atha’s the gritty realism rules variant in the DMG is used. A short rest takes 8 hours while a long rest takes 7 days. A short rest takes one hour while a long rest takes 8 hours if you find a comfortable and secure location. A comfortable and secure location generally means a city, town, oasis, Inn, druids grove etc. Sleeping rough or camping does not count as secure.
Athasian Currency.​
The world of Athas is poor in metal. The ceramic piece is used as currency and an item in the PHB that costs 15 gp for example costs 15 cp instead. Items made out of metal however cost the the PHB price. Athasians use substitutes where they can and if one can find 100 ceramic pieces equal 1 gp. A smaller coin known as a bit is also minted, there are 10 bits to a Cp. A real gold coin is worth 100 Cp.
Athasian Equipment
Athasian armor tends to be lighter than the equivalent on other worlds. Rather than metal plates substitutes of wood, bone, chitin, or stone have been used. Padded, leather and hide are unchanged. Scale is made out of the hardest materials Athasians can substitute such as pieces of Mekilot hide or hardened carapace. A chain shirt is a scale shirt and is made out of scales and offers less protection than a full suit of scale armor. Breastplate, Half Plate and all the heavy armor’s have no substitutes and are very rare and expensive to acquire. Chainmail for example costs 100gp or 10 000 Cp assuming you could even find a suit for sale.

Weapons
Inferior Materials
Athasian weapons are usually made out of inferior materials such as stone, bone or wood. A wooden club still functions the same but a sword is often made out of obsidian for example. Weapons made out of inferior materials reduce the damage by one dice (1d8 becomes 1d6, 1d6 becomes 1d4 etc). Weapons made out of Substituted materials cost half the listed PHB price (in ceramic pieces). Weapons made out of wood such as bows, clubs and staves function normally. Ammunition however deals reduced damage, a fire hardened arrow is not as good as steel. Additionally if you roll a 1 on the attack roll the weapon breaks after it deals damage.
Some weapons such as a chatka or gythka are made out of alternative materials and are treated as metal objects.

Extreme Heat
Athasians are treated as adapted to hot climates (DMG pg 110). However once the temperature gets over 130 degrees the extreme heat rules apply to Athasians.
Foraging ( DMG pg 111)

The default DC for Atha’s is limited and very little (if any) food and water sources (DC 20). Abundant food is very rare and mostly limited to the fields of the city states or village, an oasis, the Crescent Forest/Ridge, a Druids grove or the private gardens of a Sorcerer King (DC 10). Limited food (DC 15) is rare is and located in places such as scrub lands.

Certain places in Athas are DC 25 for survival checks such as the Sea of Silt, various salt flats and similar terrain. Attempts to forage in defiled land automatically fail.

Water Needs ( DMG pg 111)​
Atha’s counts as hot so water needs are doubled.
Defiling
Wizards and other arcane spell casters draw their power from the plant life of Athas. Any arcane spellcaster can chose to defile but Preservers run the risk of becoming a defiler should they do it too much. All player character spellcasters start the game as preservers.

When an arcane caster casts a spell they can chose to defile as a bonus action. Defiling enhances a spells power and the spell is treated as though it is cast in a higher level spell slot. A defiled spell creates a circle of ash 5’ wide per level of the spell. Any living being caught in the circle of ash has disadvantage on all skill checks until the end of their next turn. In addition plant based beings take 1d8 points of damage per level of the spell.

Defiling leaves behind a tell-tale circle of ash and the average Athasian can recognise the ash circle with a DC 10 intelligence (arcana) check as they have likely hears myths and tales about destructive and evil magic. Clerics, Defilers, Druids, Preservers, have advantage on the roll while Defilers, Templars and servants of the Sorcerer Kings automatically make such a check.

Each time a spellcaster defiles they must make a DC 15 intelligence save. Failure indicates that they lack the required knowledge and skill required to be a preserver and the spell caster becomes a defiler. Defilers no longer have the choice to defile or not and every spell they cast defiles creating a circle of ash. A defiler also finds it harder and harder to gather the extra arcane power and may only enhance a spell via defiling once per short rest. Defilers cannot be of good alignment and any good aligned preserver becoming a defiler changes alignment.

Defilers are generally hunted down and put to death by the populace of Athas. Anyone seen defiling is generally treated as a Defiler. Defilers either hide their power, have a powerful patron for protection or dominate a slave tribe or group of bandits. At the DMs option a defiler has disadvantage on any persuasion rolls they make especially known defiler.

Athasian Encounters
Athas is a brutal world. For purposes of constructing encounters lower the CR of opponents by 1.
 
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Zardnaar

Legend
Optional Rules
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Optional Races
The following races are optional on Atha. Other creatures from the PHB and Volos Guide should not be used on Athas as they either do not exist (Gnomes, Orcs, Goblinoids) or are not suitable as PC races for various reasons.

Aarakocra
Aarakocra are scattered around the Tyr regions. They often settle mountain ranges and islands in the Sea of Silt and the Forked Tongue.

Dragonborn (Dray)

A small settlement of Dragonborn in a hidden village named Dragons Bluff. Dragons Bluff is located 50 miles to the east of the ruins of Giustanel and contains around 100 inhabitants overlook the Sea of Silt. The inhabitants of Dragonsbluff have been there for several hundred years and have forgotten their origin and have mutated from the other Dray. They do not have the colourings of the PHB Dragonborn.

Goliaths
Goliaths primarily inhabit remote regions of the Ringing Mountains. They are a magical fertile offshopot of Half Giants that originally hail from Urik as Hamanu tried to create a rapid breeding slave race derived from Half Giants. They sometimes act as go between with traders wanting to try their luck with the Halflings of the forest ridge.

Pterran (to be converted).
Pterran hail from beyond the Tyr region and the village of Lost Scale. A reptillain race they are rare in the Tyr region.

Kenku
Kenku exist on Atahs and use their abilities of trickery and imitation to aquire resources from other races. They are occasionally found I the cities of the Tyr region. They are a delicacy to the Halflings of the Forest Ridge.

Tieflings
Tieflings exist on Athas but are very rare. They do not exist as an independent race only as individuals. Originally human they are occasionally born to parents of desert nomads in the vicinity of the Ivory Plain regions of Athas.

Yuan Ti Pureblood

The Yuan Ti of Athas exist under cites such as Tyr and occasionally a pure blood will be sent out as a spy or explorer. The occasional Pureblood will also go into exile for various reasons.

Optional Classes
Monk
Ki points become psionic points on Athas. The Way of the Open Hand is the only Monk tradition available on Athas.

Sorcerer
Sorcerers are very rare on Athas and must follow the rules on defiling. They originate beyond the Tr region in the hinterlands beyond the Forest Ridge in the Jagged Cliffs region. Vapours from the bottom of the Jagged Cliffs area sometimes result in Sorcerers being born in this area. Most are defilers as they lack the understanding of magical theory and have not been trained. All Sorcerers origin are Wild Magic and the Draconic Bloodlines are unavailable on Athas.

Warlock
Who polices the police? Warlocks on Athas are Hexblades and their patron’s are the Sorcerer Kings of Athas. They are a new Templar bureau dedicated to internal security and have been taught magic. They must use the rules on defiling and strangely enough they are mostly preservers as the Sorcerer Kings want to use them to infiltrate the Veiled Alliance. Most Templars do not know of their existence.
 
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briggart

Explorer
Nice job! While I am more and more convinced that if I ever start a new DS campaign I will use the original 2e rules, I like your conversion.

A couple of comments. I think that the Ghostwise halfing from SCAG (+1 wis, telepathy within 30') could make a good Athasian halfling.

Also, while most standard races do not exist on Athas, a campaign which includes the Pristine Tower could have tower mutants who are basically a reskinned version of PHBs or Volo's races. So, for example, no race of tieflings, but maybe a few unique individuals here and there.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Nice job! While I am more and more convinced that if I ever start a new DS campaign I will use the original 2e rules, I like your conversion.

A couple of comments. I think that the Ghostwise halfing from SCAG (+1 wis, telepathy within 30') could make a good Athasian halfling.

Also, while most standard races do not exist on Athas, a campaign which includes the Pristine Tower could have tower mutants who are basically a reskinned version of PHBs or Volo's races. So, for example, no race of tieflings, but maybe a few unique individuals here and there.

Pristine Tower kind of falls under "things PCs don't need to know about". And its not in the original set.
 

Coroc

Hero
Hi Zardnaar, this is my second post (after the hello thread) i just registered.

First of all your Approach to convert DS to 5th is great, i really like most of your ideas.

I just want to suggest two ideas :

Templars scream warlock of the tome class to me. If you want them to have clerical spells, they can get it via tome pact. The tome does not have to be an actual book, but could be some sign of official authority a signet ring or such, any Focus.

The other Problem which i was reasoning about myself is how to differ between inferior and metal weapons, i would suggest only use realistic weapons e.g. no bone longswors or such, and give them normal damage dice. for steel weapons use 1 dice higher. e.g. Obsidian dagger 1w4 steel dagger 1w6. Since metal weapons are rare that does break nothing, and you are consistent in Terms of bound accuracy a +1 Magic Obsidian dagger would do 1w4 +1 with the same made from steel 1w6 +1 with both having a +1 to hit.

I would look forward to your thoughts on these Topics

Greetings
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Hi Zardnaar, this is my second post (after the hello thread) i just registered.

First of all your Approach to convert DS to 5th is great, i really like most of your ideas.

I just want to suggest two ideas :

Templars scream warlock of the tome class to me. If you want them to have clerical spells, they can get it via tome pact. The tome does not have to be an actual book, but could be some sign of official authority a signet ring or such, any Focus.

The other Problem which i was reasoning about myself is how to differ between inferior and metal weapons, i would suggest only use realistic weapons e.g. no bone longswors or such, and give them normal damage dice. for steel weapons use 1 dice higher. e.g. Obsidian dagger 1w4 steel dagger 1w6. Since metal weapons are rare that does break nothing, and you are consistent in Terms of bound accuracy a +1 Magic Obsidian dagger would do 1w4 +1 with the same made from steel 1w6 +1 with both having a +1 to hit.

I would look forward to your thoughts on these Topics

Greetings

Steel great swords doing 2d8 might be a bit much though. A steel Greatword though might be the equivalent of a flametongue which deals an extra 2d6 fire so its not a bad idea.

Still not a fan of Templars being warlocks. It kinda violates the magic energy= plant life thing and even if they did draw power from plants why would a SK want a heap of defliers as servants? A few pet defilers sure.

And if Templars are preservers why owuld a heap of preservers be working for the Sorcerer Kings?

Either way its bad and its even worse if Templars use arcane magic and do not have to obey the defiling rules. Warlocks might actually exist somewhere on Athas but not as a PC class or perhaps they can exist in a later time period once knowledge spreads or the PCs discover a new power source and can MC into the class or pick the warlock as a replacement PC.

The other reason is the PHB pacts also do not make much sense for Darksun either and it was a quick and dirty conversion and rewriting the races and classes is a pain. Its very easy to say elemental clerics get these elemental domain(s) and the Templars get different domains. Its faithful to the original work, novels etc and its easy from a game design PoV.

If you read the original material such as A Little Knowledge even existing spellcasters like Preservers and Defilers do not have a strong understanding on magic theory or how it works. Its a contributing reasonto why the world is in the shape its in and I think the magic energy comes from plants thing is a fairly big sacred cow for Dark Sun, its what makes the place unique.

Additional arcane classes kind of water that down and they rewrote the 2E bard (5E valor bard is close to it) for a reason. On Athas magic is hard even for a normal wizard.
 

Coroc

Hero
Since you would not allow GWM 2w8 is not much for a steel Greatsword. Remember in the original 2ed a metal sword was considered the equivalent of a Magic sword in a vanilla Setting.

With the warlock / Templar Thing just do not see them as being arcane casters , do a selective spellist or define their spells being all cleric nature. I would not allow templars for PCs normally but if you do just state that they get their clerical power from their sorcerer king. The tome warlocks mechanic is best for this purpose, the other two subclasses not so much. And some of the warlock skills are fitting like getting limited esp etc, that are things a cleric would not have easyly.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Since you would not allow GWM 2w8 is not much for a steel Greatsword. Remember in the original 2ed a metal sword was considered the equivalent of a Magic sword in a vanilla Setting.

With the warlock / Templar Thing just do not see them as being arcane casters , do a selective spellist or define their spells being all cleric nature. I would not allow templars for PCs normally but if you do just state that they get their clerical power from their sorcerer king. The tome warlocks mechanic is best for this purpose, the other two subclasses not so much. And some of the warlock skills are fitting like getting limited esp etc, that are things a cleric would not have easyly.

Once again its more work than just saying Templars use a different domain.

Templars were priests in 2E so I am going with that. Its an easy conversion of the original material and I can use existing 5E mechanics to do it and be faithful to the source material.

There are also some major storyline things around how the Sorcerer Kings were created and the reason why the elemental planes are in trouble. The Templars have been siphoning off power from the elemental planes (stealing it).

Its also got tied to how the Sorcerer Kings were created, the Sun changing colour etc. Templars as warlocks contradicts a lot of the established setting, feel, tone, lore, and theme of the setting. Its part of the major reason I thought 4E was a bad conversion of Darksun as they shoe horned in races that made no sense and contradicted the original source material with their no clerics bright idea and Templars as warlocks thing. Athas clerics just drew their powers from a different source despite their being no gods, so did the Templar and the Templar were a type of priest and the only arcane casters are wizards.

I could almost buy an Athasian Sorcerer (the Sorcerer Kings are a title not a class) warlocks no (at least as a PC class).
 
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Coroc

Hero
Do you give them different Domains depending on which sorcerer king they work for?

And just a quick Addition on thegreat sword Topic: since there is no reasonablenon Magic material other than steel to make a great sword of, you could just leave it at 2w6 and still be fine :p but thats just me, being a bit pendantic.
 

cbwjm

Hero
I did come up with a method for defiling for 5e which was basically to allow a wizard to access the extra spell slots from arcane recovery at any time by defiling. A 6th level wizard needs that extra fireball right this instant? Defile as a bonus action and then let that fireball fly.

I think for sorcerers, if you were going to allow them and currently, apart from the storm sorcerer the subclasses might not match to well, I could see them turning sorcery points into spell slots for 1 point cheaper if they are willing to defile or, allow them to recharge sorcery points once per short rest by defiling the area around them to gain back their charisma modifier in sorcery points.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Do you give them different Domains depending on which sorcerer king they work for?

And just a quick Addition on thegreat sword Topic: since there is no reasonablenon Magic material other than steel to make a great sword of, you could just leave it at 2w6 and still be fine :p but thats just me, being a bit pendantic.

Obsidian Greatsword.

In 2E all the Templar's had the same features and they were more martial than the existing Clerics (better weapons and armor). That is kind of reflected in the war domain. Each Sorcerer King could grant an additional domain I suppose but they were not really strongly tied to a philosophy so its hard to assign them due to a lack of 5E domains (it was easier in 3.5). I'm using some of the 5E domains as placeholders as the elemental domains have not been done yet.

Using 3.5 terms some SK's do stand out a bit.

Elemental clerics get the elemental domains.

Hamanu War, Strength

Nibenay Knowledge, Darkness (Shadow King)

Lalal-Li Puy Plant, Animal

Abalech-Re Chaos, Trickery

Kalak Tyranny, Evil

Gets a bit harder for the SK's of Raam and Balic (Raam War+ something else, Balic no idea). Those domains do not exist in 5E yet (3pp some of them do). so I made do with the 5E PHB.

If dedicated elemental domains are made I suppose you could give the SK's different domains (Hammanu War, Nibenay Knowledge, Abalach Re trickery, Lalali-Puy Nature etc).

The rules can evolve as new things are added a'la SCAG vs PHB, new things should be organic or make sense though and not contradict stuff (artificers making decanters of endless water, artificers in general though).
 
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rgoodbb

Adventurer
I actually really enjoyed the Prism Pentad. 5 great books. They got me more in to Dark Sun than anything else.

Opinions differ I guess.

Anyway Thanks for promoting Dark Sun. It needs the limelight it can get IMO so that WOTC can officially bring it to the masses........SOON!

Rikus for the win
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I actually really enjoyed the Prism Pentad. 5 great books. They got me more in to Dark Sun than anything else.

Opinions differ I guess.

Anyway Thanks for promoting Dark Sun. It needs the limelight it can get IMO so that WOTC can officially bring it to the masses........SOON!

Rikus for the win

The Prism Pentad books were great to read, I enjoyed them as well. Its the tie in DS products that were not so good. The Lynn Abbey DS novels are even better. That is another reason I focused on the original boxed set, if you like the novels and want to use the metaplot go ahead. Its one thing 4E DS got right going back close to the start (Kalak had died).

Darksun was also a mess towards the end, starting in 1994 finishing in 1996 mostly due to metaplot reasons and the follow up plans were really stupid (Space Halfings, Dregoth becoming a god etc). Its what happens when you let idiots ruin someone else's work (FR would be another example, Krynn as well).
 


Zardnaar

Legend
Reply to OP.
Pretty cool so far, although personally I would have just turned the Sorcerer into the Psionicist.

Thought about that using the spell points rule for them. Wild Mage= Wilder?

Psionic rules are all I need I think, maybe tweak some things here and there as I forgot the half elf and could tweak the inferior materials (weapons) rule.
 

Bitbrain

Location: Arrakis
I can easily see the Wild Mage sorcerer as a Wilder-type in Dark Sun.

"He's a mutated freak!"
"So what if he's got six fingers on his vestigial third arm and his right eye is noticeably bigger than his left? He's no defiler, so at the very least, when he accidentally Fireballs the village, we can still grow crops in the area."
 
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Zardnaar

Legend
I can easily see the Wild Mage sorcerer as a Wilder-type in Dark Sun.

"He's a mutated freak!"
"So what if he's got six fingers on his vestigial third arm and his right eye is noticeably bigger than his left? He's no defiler, so at the very least, when he accidentally Fireballs the village, we can still grow crops in the area."

They still use somatic gestures and stuff so even refluffed and removing that it does have follow on implications.
 

Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
Given how tough it is to acquire top-notch equipment, an Open Hand Monk WOULD fit in Athas. Quit restricting yourself (and them) to the Zen Oriental stereotype!
You could easily throw one at the PCs as a village guardian or gang enforcer type.
Ki = psionics for most purposes, and in my experience you don't have enough ki points to use them in every fight. So when you do, it's like your mystic training DID just kick in.
 

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