D&D 5E (+) What would you want for 5e Dark Sun?

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
I think the Dragonlance topic of the same name is pretty great and I'd like to follow through a similar course with Dark Sun under the following precepts:

1) Narrative Elements will almost certainly change to adapt the setting toward more modern sensibilities. More female characters, LGBT inclusion, wider ethnic diversity, and some elements may be trimmed or re-framed to be less offensive. This isn't inherently a bad thing. But if you're down with it, what kind of changes would you want to see?

2) Dark Sun has a ton of Systems Changes. From Defiling to Psionics to Environmental Survival. How drastically would you want to see those systems altered, or perhaps do you have ideas on how they could be carried forward? Or do you think that such changes should even be -applied- to a modern table sensibility due to the preponderance of roll-playing as opposed to role-playing in modern game design?

3) Power Level. While it could be included in the Systems changes, Dark Sun's monsters were stronger, it's characters had higher stat generation methods, and magic items, or even good quality weapons and armor, were rare to make things even more challenging. Should that stylistic and mechanical gap remain in 5e, or should it be brought into a more "Modern Balance" spirit where any Athasian character is no stronger or weaker, by default, than any Faerunian one?

I'll go first.

Narrative Changes for Modern Sensibilities:
  • More Female Sorcerer-Kings.
    • On Athas there were only 3 female sorcerer-kings. Abalach-Re, Lalali-Puy, and Yarmuke. And Yarmuke was destroyed by Hamanu who also wiped her city from the world.
    • Thankfully, most of the Sorcerer-Kings gender is pretty irrelevant to who they are and what they accomplish. So making Oronis, Tectuktitlay, or even Andropinis (Who has the most masculine name of them all, Man-Penis) into Female Characters wouldn't actually change much of anything.
    • Could even have one of the Sorcerer-Kings be transgender. Nibenay presents a draconic form and largely hides from the public eye. It could be interesting if that draconic form were feminine.
  • LGBTQ+ loose organizations could be neat.
    • I don't mean big and broad-ranging LGBTQ Lobbyists. I'm talking about smaller organizations of protection. Athas is a harsh place and having trans characters know that, for example, a building with a painted Kank's Head on the front wall wall is a safe space could be interesting. It would also set Athas aside from other settings as one that is harsh, but not without it's mercies.
    • Similarly, an alliance of people with different sexualities creating a group-atmosphere of protection and solidarity might be nice in a cruel world. Like maybe no one cares if some courtier is slipping into silk-sheets with courtiers of similar genders, or whether gladiators are coupling in the barracks between matches, but there's still plenty of reason for abundant caution and escape plans and the like for when bigots -do- rear their ugly heads
    • Though it would also be kind of great to just have no societal stigmas tied to LGBTQ+ existence, of course.
  • Slavery is a tough call. But I think they could largely keep it.
    • 5e D&D tries to keep slavery in the hands of evil people. Which is why the Drow are totally willing to enslave you at the start of Out of the Abyss. The main thrust of slavery in modern fantasy is that it exists, it is evil, and only evil people enslave others.
    • Therefore having slavery as a thing in the setting would still work, but the players would be actively encouraged to fight and kill slavers when possible/reasonable, and free any slaves they find. Which is what good people should do in any setting.
  • Points of (Dim) Light?
    • Athas has always been a place with a handful of real "Towns" and a few villages scattered across the sands between them, often 2-3 days travel apart (On foot) and usually plagued by cannibal Elves, cannibal Thri-Kreen, and cannibal Halflings. Because, honestly, cannibalism is just super popular as a dining option on Athas.
    • This sort of physical structure lends itself well to a Points of Light campaign. And, honestly, making that the style du jour for Athas could fit really, -really-, well. So long as the lights are dim. So long as the safety is fleeting, the comfort expensive, and the danger swift to return.
  • Ethnic Variety
    • Honestly, Athas could do this fairly easily if the art department goes for it without any sort of backlash. I don't think there's much chance, at all, that people are going to complain if Tecuktitlay isn't white as snow, or Lalali-Puy doesn't have blonde hair and blue eyes. Honestly, ruddy and dark skin tones should -probably- be the default for the whole setting, with pale skin being a rarity even among the wealthy.
Systems Changes:
  • Arcane/Divine/Psionics as different.
    • 5e's "All magic is just magic" is just not good for Athas. Athas uses Defiling and Preserving as a powerful narrative element, and one that Clerics and Druids are incapable of doing because their power doesn't defile.
    • Athas would need to break the "Weave Narrative" to work. Different types of magic -need- to be different to interact with this core identity of the setting.
  • Psionics as Default
    • A Psionicist Class (I love KibblesTasty's) would be great. Especially one that takes cantrip-casting to heart and builds off of it.
    • Probably a Psionic-Warrior option or something similar as well. Likely as a Subclass of Fighter or maybe Ranger?
    • Maybe just a whole mess of Psionic Subclasses in general.
    • Definitely a ton of Wild Talents as Feats.
  • Defiling as Default
    • Preserving should be something you actively choose, rather than a default. And it should cost you.
    • Yes. This makes Wizards and Sorcerers (if they're even in the game!) weaker unless they defile. That's the point.
    • Playing a Wizard should be unattractive in the setting to keep the Arcane magic level low. Not impossible, so people can still play their Wizards... but less attractive.
  • Travel Mechanics
    • Traveling from place to place isn't hard, really. Pick a direction and go. Getting there -alive- is the trick.
    • Heat Mechanics, Environmental Hazards, Dangerous Monsters, and most importantly LIMITED RESOURCES.
    • Water isn't always available on Athas. And even when you -can- get some it's often dirty.
    • Some sort of mechanical structure that makes survival against the World into it's own unique danger layered on top of everything else would be spectacular.
Power Level
  • Stronger Characters. Harsher Challenges.
    • Athasian characters have been stronger than those of other settings, often with less magical power available. Previous editions handled this with higher attribute scores, which is also an option but consider replacing Magic Items with "Heroic Power"
    • To replace magic items, there should be a new "Internalized Power" system that allows characters to function as if they -have- magic items in many cases and situations, without actually having them.
    • Perhaps give people a number of "Heroic Power" slots equal to their Attunement availability and allow the player to gain these heroic powers through gameplay.
    • Belt of Giant Strength? Nah. Your strength score gets boosted 'cause you have "Mighty Thews" which gives you a +4 Strength Bonus (Max 22) or a +6 bonus (Max 24
  • Bigger Stats
    • Maybe give players their level 4 ASI at level 1? Or their level 8 at level 1 so they just don't get one of the two during leveling.
    • This would keep their overall power level similar while boosting them at low-level play before they can play into the "Heroic Power" system.
  • Wild Talent at level 1?
    • Wild Talents are an important part of Athasian culture. Not -everyone- has them, but enough people do that it's just considered normal.
    • Maybe give all players a single level 1 "Free Feat" which can be a Wild Talent or not, as they personally prefer.
  • Interesting Weapon and Armor Rules.
    • In addition to having some really cool and slightly freaky weapons, Athas also had rules relating to Bone, Stone, and Wooden weapons that probably should be updated.
    • Weapon Breakage was a common problem for Athasian Heroes who would often see their favorite Carrikal break off in the thick armored hide of a Braxat or crushed under the bulk of a rampaging Mellikot.
    • Armor/Shield Breakage was also an issue, but slightly (SLIGHTLY) less common. Maybe give players the ability to actively sacrifice shields and armor to negate a critical hit altogether, or something? Not sure.

What are your thoughts?
 

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Sithlord

Adventurer
I care about the Psion, and I dislike the Sorcerer class, so refluffing the Sorcerer would be a no-go for me.

I am hoping for a new Psion class, using the Warlock mechanics for the chassis.
How about banning the sorcerer class. But using very slightly modified mechanics of the sorcerer class with spell points for the Psion and then having subclasses based on the different discipline?
 

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Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
SO! Let's talk Races.

Common
Human
Dwarf
Elf
Mul


Uncommon
Aaracokra
Halfling
Half-Elf
Half-Giant

Rare
Gith
Pterran
Thri-Kreen

Special
Wasteland Mutant

I think this array works pretty well to establish rarities. To explain the Uncommon -Adventuring- races, Aaracokra largely live in communities outside of cities, like elves, but are less likely to fall in love with a human and beget a Half-Elf. Half elves are uncommon because that's also an unusual event. Half Giants are uncommon because there just weren't a ton of Giants to go around when the Sorcerer-Kings made them but they also breed true so... y'know. More, now, than there were before. Halflings are uncommon 'cause they largely (but not exclusively) hang out in the Forest Ridge.

And then the Gith are rare 'cause there's just not a huge quantity of them, the Pterran are reclusive, and the Thri-Kreen are rarely adventurers because it doesn't generally jibe with what their needs are.

Because these common/uncommon/rare adventurer lists and are just kind of a guideline to how many eyebrows are going to lift when you roll into town with your crew. Any player can pick any of these races to play because Adventurers are special and unique characters.

I put Wasteland Mutants into their own category since regular everyday minor Wasteland Mutations are pretty common, you have to imagine. Humans with an extra finger on each hand, or elves with snake-like banding patterns on their flesh, or halflings with particularly large eyes. But the full on Wasteland Mutant Race, with the ability to be a Tiefling, Dragonborn, Drow, Etc, should only be available at DM's discretion.

But let's also talk about a few:

Racial Traits
Darkvision
. It makes sense for -some- races to be evolved to have Darkvision of some kind. But not nearly the wide breadth of standard 5e. Elves are Desert-Runners who mainly move during the dim hours of the evening/morning and under the moons and stars, so it makes sense for them, and thus Half-Elves, to have Darkvision. Aaracokra and Thri-Kreen for the same reason. But the Dwarves of Athas are not underground mole people, so there's no reason for them, or Mul, to have Darkvision. Gith I'm uncertain on, because they're not Athasian Natives and Gith generally have it... so I guess that'd be okay?

This trait is actually really important for the following reasons: Athas has 2 moons, Ral and Guthay. It also has a starlit sky and barely any cloud-cover at any time of year because of the lack of Water on the planet. Pretty much every night on Athas is Dim, rather than Black. Of course shadowed places in Towns or Canyons, and the interior of ruins, are going to be pretty much pitch-black at night, and occasionally during the day, so Darkvision is still super useful for Adventurers in -that- regard as well. But this means that at night, every race with Darkvision will see the world just as well as they normally would if the sun was up.

Large Size. Half-Giants and Thri-Kreen are both large sized entities based on their descriptions... But being Large Size doesn't have a whole ton of advantages when you actually examine it in 5e. And it does come with some heavy problems, like exposing yourself to a whole mess more attacks and not getting Opportunity attacks 'til enemies leave your extended reach. It also usually increases your resource consumption, which is a big problem in a Desert environment where Water and Food are fairly scarce. So I feel like having Large characters works just fine for the setting with a couple of caveats. Thri-Kreen should not be able to use large weapons (They're basically Long rather than Big) and should be able to Squeeze and Consume like medium creatures because they're skinny AF. And second "Large" weapons should deal more damage, but I'm not sure doubling is the way to go. A Large Longsword is basically a Medium Greatsword, after all. What are your thoughts?

Focus. Dwarves get Focuses. They Focus on a task. A Focus-Task must take at -least- 1 week to complete, and while focused they essentially get no sleep while working toward that Focus. They lack the need for sleep and can just be awake all the time planning how they'll deal with their focus, working on their focus, and generally just centering themselves around it. Once it is complete, they'll find a new focus to start in on after getting some much needed rest. A dwarf that dies while focused becomes a Wasteland Banshee that haunts their focus. This is going to be difficult to model in 5e, but giving them a set of 3d8 Focus Dice to use that recover on a long rest would be a decent way to do it? These 3d8 can be used on skill and ability checks related to their Focus, or on saving throws against effects that would stop them from completing their Focus. A dwarf Focused on recovering an item from a tomb would have great leeway on how to use those 3d8...

Racial Spellcasting. While none of the "Standard" races of Athas have any kind of racial spellcasting, certain Wasteland Mutants might have it. Such as Drow or Tieflings. Because of the nature of how they gain this magic I'd be tempted to call it Arcane rather than Psionic in many cases, opening these characters up to the possibility of Defiling with their racial traits. But could also totally understand making such a choice a Flexible Option for any Wasteland Mutant. So that some "Drow" have psionic Faerie Fire.

Flight. Pretty dang useful as a racial trait... Especially in an area where the landscape is largely open and flying above your target means you have a clear line of fire. But there are 2 problems with flying that a character with flying must recognize. Firstly, there's no cover to be had from other attackers and if you fall from a great height while at 0hp you're almost certainly going to die. So it's best to land when fighting, perhaps somewhere high up to retain your height advantage but get cover. And second, there's no cover to be had from the Sun, which means you'll be exposing yourself to greater fatigue and danger from the environment.
 

One thing I really liked from the 4e take on Dark Sun was the idea that Preservers and Defilers had different flavours. (Although this was in part built on the class differences in 2e).

However, you do of course want Preservers to have the temptation to defile.

But I think I'd implement the different paths through two different subclasses, which ultimately move towards Avangions and Dragons. Give the magic they tend to use and their spell list a different flavour. I would give Preservers access to healing magic - it actually fits the fiction and themes, and tone down.

I'd also have a lot of spells that can only be used by defiling. (You should never be able to cast Animate Dead without defiling!).
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
One thing I really liked from the 4e take on Dark Sun was the idea that Preservers and Defilers had different flavours. (Although this was in part built on the class differences in 2e).

However, you do of course want Preservers to have the temptation to defile.

But I think I'd implement the different paths through two different subclasses, which ultimately move towards Avangions and Dragons. Give the magic they tend to use and their spell list a different flavour. I would give Preservers access to healing magic - it actually fits the fiction and themes, and tone down.

I'd also have a lot of spells that can only be used by defiling. (You should never be able to cast Animate Dead without defiling!).
I -really- like the idea of "Black Magics" always being Defilement, that's a -great- idea, Don! I'll add that to my version of the setting 100%!

For the Avangion/Dragon thing... I really feel like that should be handled through an external system separate from classes, same with Defiling, so the temptation, and the power, is -always- available. Sort of a "Boons" method, maybe? Maybe Ritual Magic with some really strict requirements that provides advancement down the track...

As to healing magic: It just doesn't fit. I get the impetus and you're not the first person to go for it, but Preserving isn't healing it's just "Not Hurting". It's also one of the defining traits of Arcane spellcasting in general that they don't get healing magic.

It also ensures that Templars (Paladins who swear oaths to the Sorcerer-Kings) have the market cornered on healing magic within cities/communities. Druids are rare and aloof, and Water Clerics lead cults out in the wastes. Having arcane spellcasters flinging around healing would undermine this. Especially since all Arcanists (Defiler and Preserver alike) are viewed with great anger/hatred from the people of Athas for the damage that was done to their world.

Having Preservers heal people without causing any damage to the world would make it really hard to play up the Arcane-Distrust within the setting.
 
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Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
OH! @Don Durito have you looked at Grim Hollow at all?

Their "Transformation" mechanic could be the -perfect- way to handle the Evangion/Dragon ascension path outside of character class!

In that system you gain your first tier of Transformation between 1 and 4. You gain all of the benefits and the one downside of your transformation at that level. You gain your second tier somewhere between 5 and 10, then 11 and 16, and then 16 and 20.

At the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th tiers you instead gain 1 benefit and 1 penalty.

We could swap things around so that you're gaining the single boon and flaw at tier 1, and get "All the Boons" at tier 3 or 4 to avoid overloading low-tier characters with power.

And then the Ascension to one version or the other happens at level 20+.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
ecgdtvy0u5c61.jpg

Someone used Inkarnate to redraw the entire Athas Map without -any- landmark names.

This could be super-useful for someone running a Dark Sun Game on a virtual tabletop with the ability to add text to the map layer... then you could slowly reveal what things are to your players as the game goes on.
 

SO! Let's talk Races.

Common
Human
Dwarf
Elf
Mul


Uncommon
Aaracokra
Halfling
Half-Elf
Half-Giant

Rare
Gith
Pterran
Thri-Kreen

Special
Wasteland Mutant

I think this array works pretty well to establish rarities. To explain the Uncommon -Adventuring- races, Aaracokra largely live in communities outside of cities, like elves, but are less likely to fall in love with a human and beget a Half-Elf. Half elves are uncommon because that's also an unusual event. Half Giants are uncommon because there just weren't a ton of Giants to go around when the Sorcerer-Kings made them but they also breed true so... y'know. More, now, than there were before. Halflings are uncommon 'cause they largely (but not exclusively) hang out in the Forest Ridge.

And then the Gith are rare 'cause there's just not a huge quantity of them, the Pterran are reclusive, and the Thri-Kreen are rarely adventurers because it doesn't generally jibe with what their needs are.

Because these common/uncommon/rare adventurer lists and are just kind of a guideline to how many eyebrows are going to lift when you roll into town with your crew. Any player can pick any of these races to play because Adventurers are special and unique characters.

I put Wasteland Mutants into their own category since regular everyday minor Wasteland Mutations are pretty common, you have to imagine. Humans with an extra finger on each hand, or elves with snake-like banding patterns on their flesh, or halflings with particularly large eyes. But the full on Wasteland Mutant Race, with the ability to be a Tiefling, Dragonborn, Drow, Etc, should only be available at DM's discretion.

But let's also talk about a few:

Racial Traits
Darkvision
. It makes sense for -some- races to be evolved to have Darkvision of some kind. But not nearly the wide breadth of standard 5e. Elves are Desert-Runners who mainly move during the dim hours of the evening/morning and under the moons and stars, so it makes sense for them, and thus Half-Elves, to have Darkvision. Aaracokra and Thri-Kreen for the same reason. But the Dwarves of Athas are not underground mole people, so there's no reason for them, or Mul, to have Darkvision. Gith I'm uncertain on, because they're not Athasian Natives and Gith generally have it... so I guess that'd be okay?

This trait is actually really important for the following reasons: Athas has 2 moons, Ral and Guthay. It also has a starlit sky and barely any cloud-cover at any time of year because of the lack of Water on the planet. Pretty much every night on Athas is Dim, rather than Black. Of course shadowed places in Towns or Canyons, and the interior of ruins, are going to be pretty much pitch-black at night, and occasionally during the day, so Darkvision is still super useful for Adventurers in -that- regard as well. But this means that at night, every race with Darkvision will see the world just as well as they normally would if the sun was up.

Large Size. Half-Giants and Thri-Kreen are both large sized entities based on their descriptions... But being Large Size doesn't have a whole ton of advantages when you actually examine it in 5e. And it does come with some heavy problems, like exposing yourself to a whole mess more attacks and not getting Opportunity attacks 'til enemies leave your extended reach. It also usually increases your resource consumption, which is a big problem in a Desert environment where Water and Food are fairly scarce. So I feel like having Large characters works just fine for the setting with a couple of caveats. Thri-Kreen should not be able to use large weapons (They're basically Long rather than Big) and should be able to Squeeze and Consume like medium creatures because they're skinny AF. And second "Large" weapons should deal more damage, but I'm not sure doubling is the way to go. A Large Longsword is basically a Medium Greatsword, after all. What are your thoughts?

Focus. Dwarves get Focuses. They Focus on a task. A Focus-Task must take at -least- 1 week to complete, and while focused they essentially get no sleep while working toward that Focus. They lack the need for sleep and can just be awake all the time planning how they'll deal with their focus, working on their focus, and generally just centering themselves around it. Once it is complete, they'll find a new focus to start in on after getting some much needed rest. A dwarf that dies while focused becomes a Wasteland Banshee that haunts their focus. This is going to be difficult to model in 5e, but giving them a set of 3d8 Focus Dice to use that recover on a long rest would be a decent way to do it? These 3d8 can be used on skill and ability checks related to their Focus, or on saving throws against effects that would stop them from completing their Focus. A dwarf Focused on recovering an item from a tomb would have great leeway on how to use those 3d8...

Racial Spellcasting. While none of the "Standard" races of Athas have any kind of racial spellcasting, certain Wasteland Mutants might have it. Such as Drow or Tieflings. Because of the nature of how they gain this magic I'd be tempted to call it Arcane rather than Psionic in many cases, opening these characters up to the possibility of Defiling with their racial traits. But could also totally understand making such a choice a Flexible Option for any Wasteland Mutant. So that some "Drow" have psionic Faerie Fire.

Flight. Pretty dang useful as a racial trait... Especially in an area where the landscape is largely open and flying above your target means you have a clear line of fire. But there are 2 problems with flying that a character with flying must recognize. Firstly, there's no cover to be had from other attackers and if you fall from a great height while at 0hp you're almost certainly going to die. So it's best to land when fighting, perhaps somewhere high up to retain your height advantage but get cover. And second, there's no cover to be had from the Sun, which means you'll be exposing yourself to greater fatigue and danger from the environment.
more people have seen and worked with a kreen than a halfling as kreen live nearly everywhere.
 

grimslade

Krampus ate my d20s
Thri-Kreen are core to Dark Sun. They are the inheritor species of the Burnt World of Athas. They need to be a PC lineage.
Arcane should have no access to healing. The problems for Preservers are two-fold, they are lumped in with Defilers because they are both casters and they are weaker than Defilers without any benefit (other than not destroying what little life is left). Magic is destructive, it is anathema to life on Athas, healing doesn't fit the theme. Having Templars have access to healing is one of the ways Sorcerer-Kings stay in power.
Wasteland Mutants are a great way to incorporate non-athasian lineages. I would convert any lineage arcane abilities to psionic. Mutants will be persecuted enough without being defilers as well.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
Thri-Kreen will be core race (I'm actually just working on Half-Giants, now). Like I'm statting out all of these races, one after another after another.

But they're "Rare" as adventurers, not as People. It has nothing to do with how populous they are, just how commonly they turn their very short lives toward adventuring. (Seriously, most of them don't live to see 30!)

It's why the PHB Races go Dwarf > Elf > Halfling > Human > Dragonborn > Gnome > Half-Elf > Half-Orc > Tiefling instead of just being in alphabetical order. Because it's meant to show that the races after Dragonborn are less common than the Primary 4. They're still core races in the PHB, just less common.
 



Coroc

Hero
Thri-Kreen will be core race (I'm actually just working on Half-Giants, now). Like I'm statting out all of these races, one after another after another.

But they're "Rare" as adventurers, not as People. It has nothing to do with how populous they are, just how commonly they turn their very short lives toward adventuring. (Seriously, most of them don't live to see 30!)

It's why the PHB Races go Dwarf > Elf > Halfling > Human > Dragonborn > Gnome > Half-Elf > Half-Orc > Tiefling instead of just being in alphabetical order. Because it's meant to show that the races after Dragonborn are less common than the Primary 4. They're still core races in the PHB, just less common.
most individuals in ds are lucky to reach an age of thirty, no matter their individual theoretical life expectancy that is...
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
Thinking I'm gonna drop Pterrans for now. Just not really feeling it.

We've got Gith for the Lizardly people, after all, and Skeksis Aarakocra.

So here you go:
Races of Athas

Across the wastes of Athas from the Crimson Savannah in the West to the Sea of Silt in the East, people struggle to survive. Elven tribesmen race across blazing sands, Thri-Kreen seek shade and water in the canyons and duneshadows, Aarakocra wheel in the olive-tinged skies, and Humans, Dwarves, and those desperate to tempt the Sorcerer-Kings huddle in a handful of oasis-cities scattered across the blazing world. Below is a description of each race, as well as any relevant racial traits for character generation. It should also be noted that there are no Subraces presented here. On Athas there generally aren’t enough people alive to have a bunch of different types of elves represented with different elven subspecies and the like.

Common
Human
Dwarf
Elf
Mul


Uncommon
Aaracokra
Halfling
Half-Elf
Half-Giant

Rare
Gith
Thri-Kreen

Special
Wasteland Mutant


While mutations are common on Athas, with many humans sporting extra fingers, cat like eyes, or other minor cosmetic changes, the Wasteland Mutant variant represents a character so drastically mutated that their bodily functions are different from their ancestry. When you make a Wasteland Mutant character, you’re making a quasi-unique entity that doesn’t fit the setting on it’s own merits, but clearly has functions players would like. To make a Wasteland Mutant, choose any D&D 5e race or race/subrace combination not presented on the common/uncommon/rare lists, above, and rename it Wasteland Mutant.

Through this method you can create a Tiefling or a Drow on Athas. But such a character would have no actual ties to Infernal Ancestry or an Underdark Culture. Instead your racial abilities for such races represent physical, magical, and psionic mutations.


Humans (Balican, Draji, Gulgan, Nibenese, Raamish, Tyrian, Urkite)
The single most populous race across the shattered lands of Athas, Humans inhabit every town and city tied to the Sorcerer Kings, and can often be found even among societies that they shouldn’t reasonably inhabit, such as Forest Ridge communities among the cannibal halflings, or raised in elven tribes that dash across the sands, or even tending eggs in Thri-Kreen colonies, their soft and gentle hands excellent for turning the eggs without risking damage.

Humans are prone to mutations caused by strange powers in the wastelands. Feel free to invent strange aspects about your character, such as unusual skin tones or patterns, extra fingers, or strange eyes. Outside of this, however, most humans have darker skin tones, eyes, and hair. Though pale tones are not terribly rare, the sun often darkens light skin.

Ability Score Increase
Three ability score increases of your choice increase by 1, or you can choose to increase one ability score by 3.

Age
Humans reach adulthood in their late teens and live less than a century.

Alignment
Humans tend toward no particular alignment. The best and the worst are found among them.

Size
Humans vary widely in height and build, from barely 5 feet to well over 6 feet tall. Regardless of your position in that range, your size is Medium.

Speed
Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

Languages
You can speak one Human Language and one extra language of your choice. Alternatively, you may choose to read, write, and speak one Human Language. The language of Tyr is often used as a Trade Language across the deserts of Athas, but each Sorcerer-King has their own.

Adaptable
Humans are varied creatures of varied cultures. You may choose two Backgrounds at level 1, though you only receive the equipment from one background package.

Dwarves
Dwarves form a good part of the people encountered in the Tablelands. These strong and devoted beings live to fulfill their focus, a task they choose to devote their lives to. Stubborn and strong‐minded, dwarves make good companions, even though their usual focused nature can tend to be bothersome.

Their skin is generally deeply tanned, but occasionally marked with tattoos, brands, or piercings as ornamentation. Dwarves lack any form of hair on their body, and tend to find hair disgusting or disturbing.

Ability Score Increase
Three ability score increases of your choice increase by 1, or you can choose to increase one ability score by 2 and a second by 1.

Age
Dwarves reach adulthood in their late teens and can live up to two hundred and thirty years if nothing kills them first.

Alignment
Dwarves tend toward lawful alignments with the majority being Lawful Neutral.

Size
Dwarves generally stand around 4’9”, though can range from 4’6” to 5’ tall. They weigh around 200lbs and there’s no noticeable difference in height or weight between their genders.

Speed
Your base walking speed is 25 feet.

Languages
Dwarves speak both Tyran and Davek, the Dwarven tongue. It is a harsh and guttural language which is rarely taught to non-dwarves, and is only rarely spoken outside of Kled and various dwarven ghettoes. While it has a written form, knowledge of how to read Davek is largely lost.

Dwarven Combat Training
Dwarves gain proficiency with the carrikal, battleaxe, handaxe and maul.

Nonmagical
Dwarves do not practice the use of Arcane Magic on Athas, and gain their proficiency bonus to any saving throw against Arcane Effects even if they are not proficient in the type of saving throw required. A dwarf who takes a level in an Arcane class loses this racial trait. A dwarf who uses an arcane magic item to create a spell effect loses the benefit of this racial trait until they have taken a long rest.

Dwarven Focus
When you set yourself to a task, and define it as your focus, you get 3 focus dice, these dice are d8. While acting to fulfill your focus, you can spend and roll one focus die to add the number rolled to one ability check or saving throw you make. You can wait until after you roll the d20 before deciding to use the focus die, but must decide before the DM says whether the roll succeeds or fails. Once you expend all your focus dice, you regain them after finishing a long rest, as long as you are still in the pursuit of your focus.

Your focus cannot be just any task, it must be a feat requiring at least a week to complete. You cannot choose a new focus until you have fulfilled your last one. Dwarven commitment to this task is so strong, that you do not require sleep to benefit from a long rest while you are working toward your current focus.

Dwarven Resilience
You have advantage on saving throws against poison, and you have resistance against poison damage.

Elves (Bonuu, Dukkee, Jura, Koguu, Kuualko, Utkotuu, Uutobol, and Uutramut tribes)
Athasʹ deserts, plains, steppes and badlands are home to the elves, a long–limbed race of trading, raiding, thieving sprinters. Running is the key to acceptance and respect among elves. Elves that are injured and cannot run are often left behind to die.

While the tribes of elves that roam Athas were once members of varied peoples whose different cultures and identities bred great variance in their kind, the elves that remain have become largely similar in all respects. In no small part due to the tradition of “Stealing” mates from other tribes. An act that is largely ritualistic rather than criminal.

Ability Score Increase
Three ability score increases of your choice increase by 1, or you can choose to increase one ability score by 2 and a second by 1.

Age
Elves mature at the same rate as humans, and are considered adults around the age of 18. Unlike their counterparts in other worlds, they rarely exceed 140 years.

Alignment
Elves tend toward chaotic alignments, with most being Chaotic Neutral or Chaotic Good.

Size
Elves typically stand around 6’10” tall, but their slender builds mean they very rarely weigh more than 200lbs.

Speed
Your base walking speed is 40 feet.

Darkvision
Elves have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

Languages
Elves can speak Tyran and read, write, and speak Rellanic, the Elven tongue. While the elves of Athas once had many languages based on the Rellanic script, they’ve largely coalesced into a single language. Though each tribe has their own particular accent that can make casual communication difficult.

Elf Weapon Training
Elves gain proficiency with the longsword, shortsword, shortbow, and longbow.

Mask of the Wastelands
You have advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks when in the wilderness or wastes of Athas.

Keen Senses
You have proficiency in the Perception skill.

Athasian Endurance
Elves have a natural resistance to extreme temperatures and aren’t adversely affected by the heat of the day or the chill of the night. You automatically succeed on any Constitution saving throw required by extreme cold or extreme heat conditions.

Elf Run
After a minute of preparation you enter a trance-like state that lets you run about 50 miles in a single day without resting. You can keep this pace a number of days equal to your Constitution modifier, minimum one day. After that you must succeed on a DC 10 Constitution (Athletics) check at the end of each day or gain a level of exhaustion. The DC increases by 5 each subsequent day.
Once you stop, you cannot use this feature again until you finish a long rest.

Mul
Muls are half-dwarves, descended from the union of a human and a dwarf. They have the stature, agility, and mental flexibility of humankind, coupled with the physical resilience and endurance of dwarves—a rare combination of qualities that makes muls more than a simple blend of the two races.

Unlike their dwarven parentage, Mul can often grow small amounts of hair such as eyebrows or a mohawk. Such hair is dark and fine. Beyond this, they generally represent particularly tall dwarves, with stocky builds, broad skulls, and strong backs. Their skin tones tend to begin paler, or coppery in color, but swiftly tan under the crimson sun.

Ability Score Increase
Three ability score increases of your choice increase by 1, or you can choose to increase one ability score by 2 and a second by 1.

Age
Muls have lifespans comparable to humans. They enter adulthood in their late teens and usually live less than a century.

Alignment
Mul gravitate toward the Neutral alignment, with regards to good and evil, but they run the full gamut on the first alignment axis.

Size
Mul typically stand around 6’3” tall, but their thick builds mean they very rarely weigh less than 300lbs.

Speed
Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

Languages
Mul speak Tyran or another Human Language. They typically do not learn to read and write.

Mul Vitality
Your hit point maximum increases by 1, and it increases by 1 every time you gain a level.

Tireless
As a bonus action, you can shrug off 1 level of exhaustion. You cannot use this trait again until you finish a long rest.

Incredible Toughness
You can call upon your physical hardiness and dogged determination to withstand any danger or hazard. Using your reaction you may roll a second Strength or Constitution saving throw against any effect. You may declare your use of this reaction after you make your initial saving throw, but before you learn the results. After you use this trait, you can’t use it again until you finish a short or long rest.

Aarakocra
Aarakocra are the most commonly encountered bird people of the Tablelands. Some are from Winter Nest in the White Mountains near Kurn, while others are from smaller tribes scattered in the Ringing Mountains and elsewhere. These freedom‐loving creatures rarely leave their homes high in the mountains, but sometimes, either as young wanderers or cautious adventurers, they venture into the inhabited regions of the Tablelands.

With feathered collars and often bald heads, Aarakocra resemble large vultures, condors, and other scavenger birds. Their feathers also tend to be dark.

Ability Score Increase
Three ability score increases of your choice increase by 1, or you can choose to increase one ability score by 2 and a second by 1.

Age
Aarakocra are considered adults at 3 years of age, but rarely live beyond 30 years.

Alignment
Aarakocra tend toward no particular alignment. The best and the worst are found among them.

Size
Aarakocra vary in height from 6’10” to around 7’10”, with wingspans often exceeding 20ft. But their tendency to crouch when standing and lean forward means they’re often closer to 6’ when walking on solid ground. They rarely exceed 250lbs due to their light bones and very skinny bodies.

Speed
Aarakocra base walking speed is 25 feet. They also possess a 50ft flight speed.

Languages
Aarakocra speak Tyran and Kocran, a language of chirps and whistles that is difficult for humans to mimic. Aarakocra have similar difficulty speaking human languages due to a lack of lips to pronounce M, B, or P sounds. F and V sounds often come out as Th sounds.

Talons
Your talons are natural weapons, which you can use to make unarmed strikes. If you hit with them, you deal slashing damage equal to 1d4 + your Strength modifier, instead of the bludgeoning damage normal for an unarmed strike.

Halflings (Kol-Tokulg, Ogo, Rul-Thaun tribes)
Halflings live apart from other races, divided by their stature and odd customs, but no one can deny their bravery and cunning. The savagery for which they are feared masks a deep and abiding reverence for the natural world and an uncommon connection to the land’s spirits.

Halflings live throughout the Tyr Region—some as slaves, others as mercenaries, and still others as raiders. Regardless, all halflings look to the Forest Ridge as their homeland. Halflings see all creatures as potential sources of sustenance. After all, living beings compete to survive, and halflings think nothing of eating their enemies, for doing so ensures their own survival.

Ability Score Increase
Three ability score increases of your choice increase by 1, or you can choose to increase one ability score by 2 and a second by 1.

Age
Halflings reach adulthood in their late teens and rarely live past 100 years of age.

Alignment
Halflings tend toward lawful alignments, and hold to intangible constants rather than legal traditions.

Size
All halflings stand within a few inches of 3’6” tall, and generally weigh between 45 and 50 pounds. There’s no distinct size difference between the genders. Halflings require half the rations of a medium sized creature.

Speed
Your base walking speed is 25 feet. Halflings also have a Climb Speed of 25ft.

Languages
Halflings speak their own language of insect-like noises, grunts, and growls, as well as Tyran. Each of the three tribes has their own dialect, however, which can make communication difficult.

Lucky
When you roll a 1 on the d20 for an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw, you can reroll the die and must use the new roll.

Brave
You have advantage on saving throws against being frightened.

Halfling Nimbleness
You can move through the space of any creature that is of a size larger than yours.

Naturally Stealthy
You can attempt to hide even when you are obscured only by a creature that is at least one size larger than you.

Half-Elf
Humans and elves rarely share trust or affection, but they travel many of the same roads on Athas, and sometimes romance follows. However, the children of unions between elves and humans are rarely happy.

Unable to keep up with their elven family, Half-Elves gravitate to solitary lives or human societies, where they’re often viewed with significant suspicion by their human neighbors who worry after elven thievery.

Ability Score Increase
Three ability score increases of your choice increase by 1, or you can choose to increase one ability score by 2 and another by 1.

Age
Half-Elves reach adulthood in their late teens and live less than a century.

Alignment
Half-Elves tend toward Chaotic alignments, but not drastically.

Size
Half-Elves range from around 6’ to 6’6” and tend to be on the slimmer side, usually in the 200-240lbs range.

Speed
Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

Darkvision
Thanks to elven blood, half-elves have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

Languages
Half-Elves speak, read, and write one human language, usually Tyran.

Skill Versatility
You gain proficiency in two skills of your choice.

Half-Giant
Centuries ago, sorcerer-kings magically combined giant and human stock to breed powerful minions, creating the hardy race of towering warriors. Most sorcerer-kings have hundreds of Half-Giants in their armies and shower the mighty warriors with luxuries in exchange for their loyalty. Other half-giants become urban thugs or mercenaries. They adopt the culture and traditions of the cities in which they dwell.

Titanic beings within the city-states, Half-Giants make excellent Gladiators should they prove disloyal.

Ability Score Increase
Three ability score increases of your choice increase by 1, or you can choose to increase one ability score by 3. A Half-Giant’s maximum Strength Score is 22.

Age
Half-Giants reach adulthood in their late teens and live less than a century.

Alignment
Half-Giants choose one axis of their alignment to be fixed. Their other axis can change randomly, or with purpose, at the end of a long rest. Half-Giants tend to mimic the people they are around and reflect a similar alignment. Half-Giants can change their fixed alignment in the same manner as any other person, over time. This is meant to represent the Half-Giant tendency to mimic the culture and people they consider to be their own.

Size
Half-Giants range in height from 8’ to over 13’. They are Large sized creatures and often weight between 500 and 1,200 pounds.

Speed
Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

Languages
You can speak one Human Language of your choice.

Natural Athlete
You have proficiency in the Athletics skill. In addition, increase the distance of your jump values by 50%.

Mountain’s Endurance
You can focus yourself to occasionally shrug off injury. When you take damage, you can use your reaction to roll a d12. Add your Constitution modifier to the number rolled and reduce the damage by that total.

After you use this trait, you can’t use it again until you finish a short or long rest.

Large Build
As a Large Creature you require 4 times the rations of a Medium sized character, take up 4 squares, have a reach of 10ft, and may wield two-handed and versatile weapons in one hand as if holding them in two hands.

Gith
The gith are a race of grotesque humanoids that appear to be a peculiar mixture of elf and reptile. They are extremely gaunt and lanky, with long gangling arms and spindly legs. Their hands have three fingers with no opposable thumbs, yet they are able to use tools and wield weapons. Their fingers and toes end in sharp claws.

Gith tribes wander the mountains and the Tablelands, living as nomadic hunters. Like thri-kreen tribes, gith grant humanoids no special status, hunting them as avidly as any other prey. Gith travel in small packs, though sometimes an individual can be found with other creatures, working as a mercenary or as a slave.

Ability Score Increase
Three ability score increases of your choice increase by 1, or you can choose to increase one ability score by 2 and a second by 1.

Age
Gith have lifespans comparable to humans. They enter adulthood in their late teens and usually live less than a century.

Alignment
Gith tend to be Chaotic individuals and often have a cruel or petty streak even among the kinder ones.

Size
Gith typically stand around 5’ tall while hunched and crouching. When they stretch to their full height, however, they’re often near 7’ in height. They generally weigh less than 200lbs.

Speed
Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

Languages
Gith speak the Barazhad tongue, a strangely musical language unique on all of Athas, and Tyran.

Gith Psionics
You know the Mage Hand cantrip, and the hand is invisible when you cast the cantrip with this trait.

When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the Jump spell once with this trait, and you regain the ability to do so when you finish a long rest. When you reach 5th level, you can cast the Misty Step spell once with this trait, and you regain the ability to do so when you finish a long rest.

Intelligence is your spellcasting ability for these spells. When you cast them with this trait, they don't require components

Alien Minds
You have advantage on saving throws against the charmed and frightened conditions.

Thri-Kreen
Thri-kreen are mantis like humanoids that hunt in packs throughout the wastes of Athas. They have adapted to the harsh climate and are experts at surviving with only scarce resources. Thri-kreen are nimble, and many also have psionic abilities. With four arms each ending in claws, the Thri-Kreen make formidable potential opponents and dazzling gladiators.

Their minds, however, are distinctly alien in comparison with human ideas. Their entire world is viewed through the lens of predator and prey, hunter and hunted, and the natural cycle of mating.

Age
Thri-kreen have short lifespans. They enter adulthood at the age of 6 and have a life expectancy of 30 years.

Alignment
Thri-kreen tend towards neutrality, viewing everything through the lens of the hunt and the predator-prey relationship.

Size
Thri-kreen stand around 7 feet tall and average around 350 and 400 pounds.

Speed
Your base walking speed is 40 feet.

Darkvision
You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

Languages
Thri-Kreen can understand Tyran and speak Kreen. However, Kreen is a language without words. To show emotion and reaction, a thri-kreen clacks its mandibles and waves its antennae, giving other thri-kreen a sense of what it is thinking and feeling. Other creatures find this manner of communication difficult to interpret and impossible to duplicate.

When forced to interact with creatures of other intelligent species, you can employ alternative methods of communication, such as drawing pictures in sand or making pictures out of twigs or blades of grass.

Carapace Armor
Your body is covered by a hard carapace, as a result you have a base Armor Class of 13 + your Dexterity modifier. You are considered to be wearing light armor. In addition, in desert environments you gain advantage on stealth checks so long as you remain perfectly still.

Powerful Build
While your size is Medium you are able to lift, drag, and carry weight as if you were large sized.

Standing Leap
As part of your movement, you can make a long jump up to 30 feet, or a high jump up to 15 feet, with or without a running start.

Multiple Limbs
Your four arms let you wield multiple weapons. However you can wield only one two-handed weapon at a time.

When wielding more than one weapon, the regular rules for fighting with two weapons still apply. When you use the attack action, as long as you wield light weapons, you get to make an extra attack using your bonus action with any one of the other weapons you wield, without adding your ability modifier to the damage roll (unless negative).

Also, you can only benefit from the use of a shield once, no matter how many you carry.

Natural Weapons
You can use your claws or bite as weapons if you need to. You are considered to be proficient and they have the finesse property. As an action, you can either make one bite attack or one claw attack—you can use your bonus action to make an extra attack with another claw, following the two-weapon fighting rules. Your bite attacks inflicts 1d6 + ability modifier (piercing) and your claw inflicts 1d4 + ability modifier (slashing).

Poisonous Bite
When you hit a creature with your bite attack, you can use your bonus action to inject venom with it. The target must succeed a Constitution saving throw (DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your constitution bonus) or be poisoned for 1 minute. If the saving throw fails by 5 or more, the target is also paralyzed while poisoned in this way. The poisoned target can repeat the saving throw in each of its turns, ending the effect on a succes.

You cannot use this trait again until you finish a short or long rest.

Thri-kreen Weapon Proficiency
You have proficiency with the gythka and chatkcha weapons.

Sleepless
You don’t require sleep and you can rest while remaining alert and performing light tasks. After resting 4 hours in this way you gain the same benefit that human does from 8 hours of sleep.

You are immune to spells and abilities that put you to sleep.
Phfew... That was a big one.

I did take descriptions and abilities from other sources, including D&D Beyond, so the grammar likely needs some cleaning... but there it is.

I'll be moving this to a homebrewery format shortly...
 


Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
Chatchka, Gythka, Alhulak, Carrikal, Quabone, Dragon's Paw, Talid, Puchik, Wrist Razors, Scourge, Datchi Clubs, Singing Stick, Trikal, Double-Bladed Spear, Dejada, Forearm Axe, Lotulis, Tortoise Dagger, Widow's Knife, and the Gouger...

Can anyone else think of other Athasian weapons?

Edit Found a website with homebrew 3e versions of most Athasian weapons including... sigh The Crusher.

 
Last edited:

Yaarel

Mind Mage
My impression of obsidian and quartz weapons is, they are highly effective, razor sharp. But they can dull and break quickly. Yet are relatively easy to repair. These are wooden blades whose edge is like sharp stones set like teeth.

Maybe the mechanic for them is, they deal normal damage, but each "fumble" (natural 1 on d20) reduces the damage die by one step.

So, something similar to a longsword 1d8 would step down as follows: 1d8 → 1d6 → 1d4 → 1 slashing damage.

With materials available, the weapon can be restored during a long rest.
 

jgsugden

Legend
Honestly, as long as we received the right crunch to run it, the setting material does not matter to me. When I run the FR, I do not use the modern FR - I use it circa the Grey Box era. When I run Athas, it will always start with a variation on Freedom, although I rarely 'stick to the script' beyond that, as I prefer more sandbox adventures, less railroads - and nothing is more railroad-y than those old Athas modules.
 


Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
My impression of obsidian and quartz weapons is, they are highly effective, razor sharp. But they can dull and break quickly. Yet are relatively easy to repair. These are wooden blades whose edge is like sharp stones set like teeth.

Maybe the mechanic for them is, they deal normal damage, but each "fumble" (natural 1 on d20) reduces the damage die by one step.

So, something similar to a longsword 1d8 would step down as follows: 1d8 → 1d6 → 1d4 → 1 slashing damage.

With materials available, the weapon can be restored during a long rest.
My current plan is just to have weapons be weapons for damage values, but then do this nifty bit:

Inferior: Weapons made of inferior materials are more prone to breaking. On a roll of a natural 1, the weapon breaks. You may also, on your turn and before making an attack roll, declare you intention to break your weapon. On a successful hit the weapon breaks. If the attack was not a critical hit, roll 1d8. On a 6, 7, or 8 the attack is treated as a critical hit. Any broken weapon becomes an Improvised Weapon of it's size.

Steel Weapons: Weapons made of steel land a critical hit on a roll of 19-20.
Honestly, as long as we received the right crunch to run it, the setting material does not matter to me. When I run the FR, I do not use the modern FR - I use it circa the Grey Box era. When I run Athas, it will always start with a variation on Freedom, although I rarely 'stick to the script' beyond that, as I prefer more sandbox adventures, less railroads - and nothing is more railroad-y than those old Athas modules.
I mean... that's -totally- fair. >.>

Did you ever do the Dregoth one? City by the Silt Sea? I think that box was the least "On Rails" DS Adventure and it was -still- pretty boxed in.
Regarding the Elf, it would be cool if the Trance while distance-running counted as a long rest!
Neat in concept, but you can gain stacks of exhaustion doing it, which are not restful!
 

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