Classes of Athas (Dark Sun) | Player’s Guide for Fifth Edition

Continuing my series on Dark Sun, it’s time to dig into the classes of Athas. Many of the Fifth Edition classes transition smoothly into Dark Sun with only a few minor tweaks. Others need total overhauled. And some are completely removed.

In an effort to provide a complete ruleset, I’ve constructed the class options as concise as possible. In general, the classes use the same class descriptions as the Fifth Edition Player’s Handbook with changed noted below. If you have questions about how a rule or feature works, you can usually find the answer there.


Design Notes

You’ll quickly notice that a number of features have been intentionally cribbed from other areas. This is intentional. Since a lot of subclasses and classes are removed from the setting, those features need a new spot in Dark Sun. Plus, why fix what ain’t broke?

Speaking of broken, is the Defiler Sorcerous Origin broke AF? Yes. Totally. And that, too, is intentional. Defilers have ruined the world of Athas and they are incredibly dangerous. Those that survive become the rulers of city-states. All others are executed by more powerful defilers. If you introduce defilers into your campaign as a player option, be damn sure that everyone in the world is out to get them. 

On the same token, Wizard Preservers may be a little underpowered. A wizard preserver should never use its magic unless it absolutely must and its features reflect that.

Also, water clerics may appear weak at first glance. But remember that this is a world where water is hard to come by. And they can make 20 gallons of it with a first level spell slot. You’ll be glad your party has one.

Originally, I didn’t have warlocks present. But now I’ve incorporated them, blending Paladin Oathbreakers with Hexlocks and making them more of a martial class. 


Absent Classes

Many of the classes found in the Player’s Handbook are not available class options in a Dark Sun campaign setting. The following classes are removed:

Bards

While musicians and entertainers do exist on Athas, they do not possess the same arcane magical abilities that traditional Fifth Edition bards do. Instead, bards are a Roguish Archetype (see below) which often act as blackmailers, assassins, and spies for nobles and sorcerer-kings

Paladins

Due to the absence of divine powers in the Dark Sun campaign setting, Paladins are not an option. However, the Templars (Fighter Eldritch Knights) share a lot of thematic characteristics of Paladins, deriving their magic powers from the sorcerer-kings directly.

On Arcane Classes…

The arcane classes are very different in Athas. An arcane spellcaster is able to capture and master magical energies. However, on Athas, magic and the ecosystem are irrevocably bound—no one, not even a sorcerer, can affect one without affecting the other. All spellcasters must decide at the beginning of their careers whether they are trying to work with nature or without regard for it. In Dark Sun, this means an arcane caster must be either a defiler or a preserver.

The defiler is a sorcerer who activates tremendous magical energy without regard to its effect on the environment. With the casting of each spell, a defiler destroys a portion of the world’s ecosystem, rendering it dead and sterile. The means by which a defiler learns and uses magic is comparatively easy to master, so he advances quickly. A defiler can be
either a noble, freeman, or slave. Defilers use the Fifth Edition sorcerer class with the Defiler Sorcerous Origin detailed below.

The preserver attempts to use magic in concert with the environment. Learning how to wield such magic on Athas is especially difficult, so the preserver’s advancement is slow. A preserver can be either a freeman or a slave. Preservers use the Fifth Edition wizard class with the School of Illusion or the Preserver Arcane Tradition detailed below.

Starting Equipment

Due to the rarity of metal, many of the classes have had their equipment lists adjusted. When a character is given a choice of a martial weapon, if they choose a weapon that requires metal components (as detailed in the article on Equipment), the weapon must be made of bone, obsidian/stone, or wood instead.

Dark Sun Class Options

The following classes are available to play in a Dark Sun campaign setting.

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Barbarians

Barbarians fill the same role on Athas as they do in other campaign settings as sturdy, raging outlanders.

To play a barbarian in a Dark Sun campaign, make the following changes:

Primal Paths

Barbarian characters have access to the following Primal Paths: Path of the Berserker, Path of the Totem Warrior (you may change the totem beasts to fit better with Dark Sun such as baazrags instead of bears, rocs instead of eagles, and jaguars instead of wolves), Path of the Ancestral Guardian, and Path of the Storm Herald (desert only).

 

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Clerics

The Athasian cleric is a free-willed priest, tending the needs of the local people with his or her particular talents. On Athas, clerics draw their magical energy directly
from one of the four elemental planes: earth, air, fire, or water; not from any manner of deity.

To play a cleric in a Dark Sun campaign, make the following changes:

Equipment

You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:

  • (a) a bone mace or (b) a bone warhammer (if proficient)
  • (a) scale mail or (b) leather armor
  • (a) light crossbow and 20 bone bolts or (b) any simple weapon
  • (a) a priest’s pack or (b) an explorer’s pack
  • A shield and a holy symbol

Literacy

At 1st level, you can read and write any language that you can speak.

Divine Domains

All of the Divine Domains in Fifth Edition are removed. Instead, clerics may choose from one of four elemental domains: air, earth, fire, and water. Each domain is described in detail below.

Air Domain

You draw power from the elemental plane of air. The wind sweeping across the sands and silt and the harsh breezes of Athas are your companions, and no amount of torrent can stop you.

Air Domain Spells

Cleric Level Spells
1st thunderwave, zephyr strike*
3rd gust of wind, warding wind*
5th gaseous form, wind wall
7th
conjure minor elementals (air only), storm sphere*
9th
conjure major elemental (air only), control winds*

*These spells are detailed in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

Bonus Cantrip

When you choose this domain at 1st level, you gain the mage hand cantrip if you don’t already know it. The hand is invisible.

Air Shield

Also at 1st level, you can surround yourself with protective winds. When a creature within 60 feet of you that you can see makes a ranged weapon attack against you, you can use your reaction to impose disdvantage on the attack roll.

You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Wisdom modifier (a minimum of once). You regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.

Channel Divinity: Whirlwind

Starting at 2nd level, you can use your Channel Divinity to whelm your opponents in punishing winds.

As an action, you present your holy symbol. Each hostile creature within 10 feet of you must make a Strength saving throw. On a failed saving throw, a creature takes bludgeoning damage equal to 2d10 + your cleric level and is flung up to 10 feet away from you in a random direction and knocked prone. If a thrown target strikes an object, such as a wall or floor, the target takes 1d6 bludgeoning damage. If the target is thrown at another creature, that creature must succeed on a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw or take the same damage and be knocked prone. If the saving throw is successful, the target takes half the bludgeoning damage and isn’t flung away or knocked prone.

Improved Air Shield

Starting at 6th level, you can also use your Air Blast feature when a creature that you can see with 60 feet of you makes a ranged weapon attack against a creature other than you.

Potent Spellcasting

Starting at 8th level, you add your Wisdom modifier to the damage you deal with a cleric cantrip.

Windwalker

Starting at 17th level, you have a flying speed equal to your current walking speed.


Earth Domain

Slow and patient, clerics who draw power from the earth are quite at home in the dry, arid landscape of Athas.

Earth Domain Spells

Cleric Level Spells
1st catapult*, earth tremor*
3rd
dust devil*, Maximilian’s earthen grasp*
5th
erupting earth*, meld into stone
7th stone shape, stoneskin
9th transmute rock*, wall of stone

*These spells are detailed in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

Bonus Cantrip

When you choose this domain at 1st level, you gain the mold earth cantrip if you don’t already know it. This spell is detailed in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.

Bonus Proficiencies

At 1st level, you gain proficiency with martial weapons.

Channel Divinity: Rocky Shell

Starting at 2nd level, you can use your Channel Divinity to surround yourself in a dense, rocky outer shell. As an action, you present your holy symbol, and you gain 4 temporary hit points for each level you have in this class. While this feature is active, your AC equals 16 + your proficiency bonus. This benefit lasts for 8 hours, until you lose these temporary hit points, or until you use your Channel Divinity again.

Channel Divinity: Earth Feet

At 6th level, you can use your Channel Divinity to alter the ground around you, trapping the feet of your foes.

As an action, each creature of your choice within 10 feet of you that is touching the ground becomes restrained by the earth below it. On its turn, a creature can use its action to make a Strength saving throw against your spell save DC, freeing itself on a success.

Stone Will

Also at 6th level, you are immune to the petrified condition.

Divine Strike

At 8th level, you gain the ability to infuse your weapon with earthen might. Once on each of your turns when you hit a creature with a weapon attack, you can cause the attack to deal an extra 1d8 damage of the same type dealt by the weapon to the target. When you reach 14th level, the extra damage increases to 2d8.

Skin of Stone

At 17th level, you gain resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage.


Fire Domain

You draw your power from the elemental plane of fire. Your heart burns with the heat of a thousand suns. And as Athas continues to burn, you and those who follow a similar path advance in power.

Fire Domain Spells

Cleric Level Spells
1st
burning hands, hellish rebuke
3rd
flaming sphere, scorching ray
5th
elemental weapon (fire only), fireball
7th fire shield, wall of fire
9th flame strike, immolation*

*Thus spell is detailed in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

Bonus Cantrip

When you choose this domain at 1st level, you gain the firebolt cantrip if you don’t already know it.

Fire Wielder

Even from 1st level, wielding fire comes second nature to you. When you use your action to cast the firebolt cantrip, you can use your bonus action to make one weapon attack.

You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Wisdom modifier (a minimum of once). You regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.

Channel Divinity: Extreme Heat

Starting at 2nd level, you can use your channel Divinity to wield the power of fire with unchecked ferocity.

When you roll fire damage, you can use your Channel Divinity to deal maximum damage instead of rolling.

Fire Heart

Starting at 6th level, your connection to the elemental plane of fire grants you special abilities:

  • You gain resistance to fire damage.
  • You can add your Wisdom modifier to one damage roll of any spell of 1st level or higher that you cast that deals fire damage.

Potent Spellcasting

Starting at 8th level, you add your Wisdom modifier to the damage you deal with a cleric cantrip.

Fire Soul

At 17th level, your affinity with fire becomes more powerful:

  • You gain immunity to fire damage.
  • As a bonus action, you can wreathe yourself in flames. While alight, a creature that touches you or hits you with a melee attack while within 5 feet of you takes 5 (1d10 damage). You can end this effect by using another bonus action.

Water Domain

Those who draw their power from the elemental plane of water are often healers and highly sought by towns and villages across the Hinterlands for their ability to conjure water.

Water Domain Spells

Cleric Level Spells
1st
create or destroy water, cure wounds
3rd
lesser restoration, prayer of healing
5th
create food and water, revivify
7th control water, watery sphere*
9th
greater restoration, raise dead

*This spell is detailed in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

Bonus Proficiency

When you choose this domain at 1st level, you gain proficiency with heavy armor.

Disciple of Water

At 1st level, when you use the create or destroy water spell to create water, you create an additional 5 gallons of clean water, plus another 5 gallons for each spell slot of 2nd level or higher you use casting the spell.

Potent Healing

Also starting at 1st level, your healing spells are more effective. When you roll a 1 or 2 on a die for a spell that heals hit points of 1st level or higher, you can reroll the die and must use the new roll, even if the new roll is a 1 or a 2.

Channel Divinity: Replenish

At 2nd level, you can use your Channel Divinity to hydrate and nourish your companions.

As an action, you present your holy symbol. Choose any number of creatures within 30 feet of you. You remove 1 level of exhaustion from each creature (if they have any). In addition, the creatures do not need their normal allotment of food and water for the next 24 hours.

Beyond Thirst and Hunger

Beginning at 6th level, you do not require food or drink. Also, you are immune to poison and the poisoned condition.

Potent Spellcasting

Starting at 8th level, you gain the ability to infuse your weapon strikes with divine energy. Once on each of your turns when you hit a creature with a weapon attack, you can cause the attack to deal an extra 1d8 radiant damage to the target. When you reach 14th level, the extra damage increases to 2d8.

Supreme Healing

Starting at 17th level, when you would normally roll one or more dice to restore hit points with a spell, you instead use the highest number possible for each die. For example, instead of restoring 2d6 hit points to a creature, you restore 12.

 

dark-sun-druid

Druids

Druids associate themselves with the spirits that inhabit special geographical locations on Athas—every oasis, rock formation, stretch of desert, and mountain has a spirit that looks over it and protects its use. A druid will ally with a particular spirit, acting as that spirit’s earthly counterpart, drawing his or her magical energy from the spirit in question.

Playing a Druid in a Dark Sun campaign is the same as it is in a Fifth Edition campaign, except with a few changes.

Druid Circles

Druid characters have access to the following Primal Paths. The changes to the Primal Paths are noted under each entry.

Circle of the Land

Druids of the Circle of Land are tied closely to Athas itself. When you are allowed to select circle spells, your choice of land is different than those traditionally offered in Fifth Edition campaigns: verdant belts, stoney barrens, sandy wastes, mountains, forests, scrub plains, salt flats, and rocky badlands. The spells associated with these terrain types are similar to those offered in the Player’s Handbook.

  • Dust Sinks. Use the desert spell list.
  • Forests. The forest spell list remains unchanged.
  • Mountains. The mountain spell list remains unchanged.
  • Rocky Badlands. Use the Underdark spell list.
  • Salt Flats. Use the desert spell list.
  • Sandy Wastes. Use the desert spell list.
  • Scrub Plains. Use the forest spell list.
  • Stoney Barrens. Use the grassland spell list.
  • Verdant Belts. Use the grassland spell list.

Circle of the Moon

When you gain the Elemental Wild Shape feature at 10th level, you must select one type of elemental that you can change into. Whenever you use this feature, you can only change into that type of elemental.

Other Circles

The two circles in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything don’t work as neatly as those from the Player’s Handbook since Athas is not as connected to the Feywild as other campaign settings. Consult with your GM before selecting one of these circles.

 

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Fighters

As with most fantasy campaign settings, fighters are a common sight in Athas. Athasian fighters can be bodyguards, soldiers, mercenaries, or even stars of the gladiatorial pits. Powerful fighters with spellcasting abilities are known as Templars and work directly for the sorcerer-kings.

To play a fighter in a Dark Sun campaign, make the following changes:

Equipment

You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:

  • (a) ring mail or (b) leather armor, longbow, and 20 bone-tipped arrows
  • (a) a martial weapon and a shield or (b) two martial weapons
  • (a) a light crossbow and 20 bone bolts or (b) two bone handaxes
  • (a) a dungeoneer’s pack or (b) an explorer’s pack

Martial Archetypes

When a fighter reaches 3rd level, it gains the Martial Archetype feature. All of the Martial Archetypes normally available to a fighter are also available to a fighter in Dark Sun campaign setting, including those listed in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.

There are changes to the Eldritch Knight archetype, detailed below. In addition, there is a new archetype available, the Gladiator.

Champions and Battle Masters

Champions and Battle Masters are powerful soldiers, potentially even slaves, working as leaders of militias for nobles or even as the troop commander for a major trading house’s mercenary force.

Eldritch Knights and Arcane Archers

Magic is rare and not flaunted often. Eldritch Knight sand Arcane Archers should be equally as unlikely, although, exceptions may apply.

Gladiators

Gladiators are the slave warriors of the city-states, specially trained for brutal physical contests. Disciplined in many diverse forms of hand-to-hand combat and skilled in the use of dozens of different weapons, gladiators are the most dangerous warriors on Athas.

Armor Specialist

Beginning at 3rd level, while you wearing light, medium, or no armor you gain a bonus to your AC equal to your proficiency bonus. You cannot use this trait in conjunction with the Monk or Barbarian’s Unarmored Defense features.

Martial Arts

At 3rd level, your practice of martial arts gives you mastery of combat styles that use unarmed strikes and martial arts weapons, which are shortswords and any simple melee weapons that don’t have the two-handed or heavy property.

You gain the following benefits while you are unarmed and you are wearing light, medium, or no armor:

  • You can use Dexterity instead of Strength for the attack and damage rolls of your unarmed strikes or martial arts weapon.
  • You can roll a d4 in place of the normal damage of your unarmed strike or martial arts weapon. This die changes as you gain levels in this class, increasing to 1d6 at 5th level, 1d8 at 11th level, and 1d10 at 17th level.
  • When you use the Attack action with an unarmed strike or a martial arts weapon on your turn, you can make an unarmed strike as a bonus action. For example, if you take the Attack action and attack with a quarterstaff, you can also make an unarmed strike as a bonus action, assuming you haven’t already taken a bonus action this turn.

No Sell

Starting at 7th level, you can use your reaction to shrug off damage when you are hit by a weapon attack that deals bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage. When you do so, you gain resistance to that instance of the damage. You must be able to see the attacker in order to use this feature.

Showmanship

At 10th level, you can use your bonus action to taunt and mock a creature within 30 feet of you. The creature must be able to hear you but doesn’t have to understand the same language in order for this feature to have an effect on it. Make a Charisma (Performance) check contested by the creature’s Wisdom (Insight) check. On a successful check, the creature becomes visibly flustered and has disadvantage on the next attack roll it makes before the end of its next turn.

You can use this feature three times. You regain all expended uses when you complete a long rest.

Weapon Mastery

At 15th level, choose a simple or martial weapon, or your unarmed strike. While using that weapon, you gain the following benefits:

  • When you roll a 1 on the d20 for an attack roll with the weapon, you can reroll the die but you must use the new roll.
  • Once per turn, when you hit a creature with the weapon you can roll one of the weapon’s damage dice one additional time and add it to total damage dealt.

Finishing Move

Starting at 18th level, you can finish off injured opponents with a powerful maneuver called a Finishing Move. When you attack and hit a creature that has half its hit points or less, it must make a Constitution saving throw (DC 8 + your Strength or Dexterity modifier (your choice) + your proficiency bonus). On a failed save, the creature’s hit points are reduced to 0.

You can’t use this feature again until you finish a short or long rest.

 

Monks

Although rare, monks do exist on Athas. Nibenay is home to many monks who seek spiritual enlightenment. Through training and discipline their hone their minds and bodies, tapping into psychic powers within. Other monks may be hermits, hiding in secluded canyons and atop high peaks, far away from the rigors of urban life.

Monastic Traditions

The monks of Nibenay practice the Way of the Open Hand. Those of the Way of Four Elementals draw their psychic ability and ki from the Elemental Planes.

 

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Psions

The psion uses the forces of his own mind to affect his or her environment. Psionic powers are not magical in nature, that is to say, psionic powers do not draw upon magical energy that surrounds all things. Rather they are derived from within when the psion has his or her entire essence in coordination; his or her mind, body, and soul in perfect harmony. Since psionic powers are not inherently magical, they in no way affect
the world’s ecosystem when they are used.

Use the Psion class from DMDave.com.

 

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Rangers

Though Athas is a land different from other Fifth Edition campaign worlds, the role of the ranger is largely unchanged. The wilderness is harsh and unforgiving, calling for skilled and capable men and women to master its ways—the ranger answers that challenge.

A ranger’s motivations can vary greatly. For instance, Kuman rangers are very often former slaves forced into the desert wilderness for simple survival. Halfling rangers, on the other Kand, are an integral part of their aboriginal society, serving as advisors
and trackers. whatever their origin, most rangers are of good alignment, living rugged lives through clever mastery of their surroundings.

Like Druids, Athasian rangers draw their spells from the spirits of the land itself.

To play a ranger in a Dark Sun campaign, make the following changes:

Equipment

You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:

  • Leather armor
  • (a) two handaxes or (b) two simple melee weapons
  • (a) a dungeoneer’s pack or (b) an explorer’s pack
  • A longbow and a quiver of 20 arrows

Natural Explorer

Many of the terrain types that rangers can select are not common or even present on Athas. Instead, choose one of the following types of terrain: verdant belts, stoney barrens, sandy wastes, forests, mountains, scrub plains, salt flats, and rocky badlands. The benefits gained in these terrains are the same as they are for any other Fifth Edition ranger.

 

Ranger Archetypes

The majority of the ranger archetypes that exist in Fifth Edition are available to Dark Sun characters. However, the Horizon Walker archetype from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything may not comfortably fit into a Dark Sun setting which limits the use of planar travel. Consult your GM before selecting this archetype.

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Rogue

Athas is a world of intrigue and treachery, of shady deals and secretive organizations—it’s a rogue’s paradise. Beyond the cities, among the wasteland tribes and villages, thieves live by their wits. Within the secure walls of the city-states, many typically roguish occupations have become institutions unto themselves. Thieves and bards have become pawns of the wealthy, deployed in deadly games of deceit between noble families.

To play a rogue in a Dark Sun campaign, make the following changes:

Roguish Archetypes

Because magic is a delicate and destructive force in Athas, Arcane Trickers are probably unlikely and should be heavily limited. Otherwise, Assassins, Thieves, Scouts, Masterminds, Swashbucklers, and Inquisitive Rogues all fit in comfortably in a Dark Sun setting.

Dark Sun bards are a subclass of rogue instead of their own class. Use the following rules for Athasian bards.

Bard

The bard is a member of a bizarre class of entertainers and storytellers prized by the aristocratic city dwellers. Freemen all, the bards tour through cities in groups or individually, then travel on, making a living with their wits and talents. It is also widely accepted that many bards lead double lives as notorious blackmailers, thieves, spies, and even assassins.

Bonus Proficiencies

When you choose this archetype at 3rd level, you gain proficiency with the poisoner’s kit and one instrument of your choice. You also gain proficiency with the Performance skill if you don’t already have it.

Distracting Performance

Starting at 3rd level, you can sing, recite a poem, or dance with the intent of distracting an opponent. As a bonus action, you can make a Charisma (Performance) check against a creature that you can see and can see and hear you that isn’t incapacitated, contested by the target’s Wisdom (Insight) check. If you succeed, you can use your Sneak Attack against that target even if you don’t have advantage on the attack roll, but not if you have disadvantage on it.

This benefit lasts for 1 minute or until you successfully use this feature against a different target.

Jack of All Trades

Also, at 3rd level, you can add half your proficiency bonus, rounded down to any ability check you make that doesn’t already include your proficiency bonus.

Master of Poisons

At 9th level, you become an expert at poisons and their application. You having advantage on saving throws against poison and gain resistance to poison damage.

In addition, as part of a short rest, you can harvest saliva, venom, or residue from a slain beast, monstrosity, or plant creature of size Large or smaller to create a vial of poison. You can use the poison to coat one slashing or piercing weapon or up to three pieces of ammunition. Applying the poison takes an action. A creature hit by the poisoned weapon or ammunition must make a Constitution saving throw with a DC of 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier or take an amount of poison damage equal to 1d4 + the number of levels you have in this class. Once applied, the poison retains potency for 1 minute before drying.

Enthralling Performance

Starting at 13th level, if you perform for at least 1 minute you can attempt to inspire wonder in your audience by singing, reciting a poem, or dancing. At the end of the performance, choose a number of humanoids within 60 feet of you who watched and listened to all of it, up to a number equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum of one). Each target must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw against a DC of 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier or be charmed by you. While charmed in this way, the target idolizes you, speaks glowingly of you to anyone who talks to it, and it hinders anyone who opposes you, although it avoids violence unless it was already inclined to fight in your behalf. This effect ends on a target after 1 hour, if it takes any damage, if you attack it, or if it witnesses you attacking or damaging any of its allies.

If a target succeeds on its saving throw, the target has no hint that you tried to charm it.

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

Stunning Performance

At 17th level, you can use your bonus action speak of word of power that can overwhelm the mind of one creature you can see and can see and hear you within 60 feet, leaving it dumbfounded. If the target has a number of hit points equal to 10 times your levels in this class or fewer, it is stunned. Otherwise, this feature has no effect.

The stunned target must make a Constitution saving throw at the end of each of its turns. The DC equals 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier. On a successful saving throw, this stunning effect ends.

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

 

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Sorcerers (Defilers)

Defilers are sorcerers who have decided to take a faster, darker approach to master the use of magical spells. In most cases, defilers are outlaws (even in the eyes of the corrupt sorcerer-kings), so they keep their magical abilities undercover. Unlike preservers who have a loose organization in their underground, outlaw defilers tend to be loners, keeping their ambitions and powers to themselves.

A sorcerer-king tolerates a select few defilers in his or her employ, to carry out day-to-day magical tasks that he or she has no patience for. These defilers are always at the beck and call of their master, and the sorcerer-king him or herself oversees the training of new recruits. The sorcerer-king’s defilers are feared and hated far and wide. Wherever they travel they leave behind a swath of ashen destruction.

To play a defiler sorcerer in a Dark Sun campaign, make the following changes:

Literacy

At 1st level, you can read and write any language that you can speak.

Sorcerous Origins

The only sorcerous origin available to sorcerers in a Dark Sun campaign setting is the Defiler detailed below.

Defiler

In the give and take of spell casting, defilers are well versed in the taking, but give nothing in return.

Alignment Restriction: Non-Good

With every spell cast, a defiler leeches the life-energy out of the plants and soil around him, leaving a lifeless zone. Because of this, defilers can only have non-good alignments.

Defilement

Starting when you choose this origin at 1st level, any time you cast a spell, you drain the lifeforce and vitality from living things around you. All nonmagical plantlife within range withers, dies, and turns to ash.  The range of the defilement depends on the level of spell you cast as shown on the Defilement Range table below.

Defilement Range

Spell Level Range
1st 5 ft.
2nd 5 ft.
3rd 10 ft.
4th 10 ft.
5th 15 ft.
6th 20 ft.
7th 30 ft.
8th 45 ft.
9th 60 ft.

When in verdant areas such as forests or jungles, the range is halved. On the same token, when the defiler is in an area sparse with vegetation such as sandy wastes or arid mountains, the range doubles.

Magical plants and plant creatures in the defilement range must make a Constitution saving throw versus your spell save DC or take 2d12 necrotic damage per spell level, on a failed saving throw, or half as much necrotic damage on a successful one. A creature whose hit points are reduced to 0 from this effect are turned to ash.

If there is no plant life within your defilement range when you cast one of your sorcerer spells (for example, you are in the middle of the Salt Flats, alone and surrounded by undead), you can choose to use your own lifeforce instead, taking an amount of necrotic damage equal to 2d12 for each level of the spell, immediately after you cast it. When you take necrotic damage in this way, this damage ignores resistance and immunity. Otherwise, the spell fails and the slot is spent.

Magical Defense

At 1st level, you become naturally resistant to magical effects. When you take damage from a spell attack that does not cause radiant damage, the damage you take from the attack is reduced by a number equal to your levels in this class.

And at 3rd level, when you take damage from a spell attack that does not cause radiant damage, you can use your reaction to expend one Sorcery Point to reduce the spell’s damage by an additional 1d10 + your Charisma modifier.

Touch of the Defiler

At 6th level, you can drain the life force from creatures and convert it into stored magical energy. Once per turn, you can use your action to target a creature with a melee spell attack. On a hit, the target takes 3d6 necrotic damage, its maximum hit points are reduced by an amount equal to the necrotic damage taken, and you regain one Sorcery Point. This feature has no effect on undead or constructs. And the attack deals double damage against nonmagical plants and plant creatures.

You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Charisma modifier. You regain all expended uses after you finish a long rest.

Defiler Immortality

At 14th level, you gain resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage made by non-magical attacks, and you are immune to disease and poison.

In addition, you suffer none of the drawbacks of old age, you can’t be aged magically, and you no longer need food or water.

Spell Granting

Beginning at 18th level, you can grant spells of 4th level or lower to a willing creature. To do so, you must cast the spell on the creature. The spell has no effect on the creature but is stored within the creature, and when you cast a spell in this manner, it still causes defilement.

Once stored, the creature can use its action to cast the spell as if it was the original caster, requiring no components. The creature’s spellcasting ability is Charisma.

Once you use this feature you can’t use it again until you complete a long rest.

 

warlock-templar

Warlock (Templars)

Templars are the greatly feared disciples of the sorcerer-kings. Their organization is steeped in ancient tradition and treacherous politics, and the work they perform for the sorcerer-kings is governed by endless bureaucracy. To city dwellers, the Templars are the enforcers of the sorcerer-king’s will, allowed to run rampant, enforcing the local edicts with painstaking indifference, doling out punishment or even execution with the sorcerer-king’s blessing.

An organization of wicked men and women looking out for their own wealth and power, the Templars are overrun with corruption to the highest level—the sorcerer-kings generally turn a blind eye to bribery and scandal among the Templars, provided terror is maintained among their subject populations.

To play a warlock templar in a Dark Sun campaign setting, make the following changes:

Literacy

At 1st level, the warlock is able to read and write all languages it can speak.

Otherworldly Patrons

As of this writing, the only patron available to warlocks are Sorcerer-Kings.

Sorcerer-King (Templar)

A templar’s spells are received directly from the sorcerer-king he worships. Spells can be taken away by the sorcerer-king if the Templar has somehow displeased him. If the sorcerer-king is particularly displeased, he might kill the offending templar.

Alignment Restriction: Non-Good

Warlock Templars can be of neutral alignment or evil alignment, but not good. They are often cruel and wicked individuals, often pursuing their own greedy self-interests.

Expanded Spell List

The Sorcerer-King allows you to choose from an expanded list of spells when you learn a warlock spell. The following spells are added to the warlock spell list for you.

Sorcerer-King (Templar) Expanded Spells

Spell Level Spells
1st bane, wrathful smite
2nd locate object, zone of truth
3rd
animate dead, bestow curse
4th
compulsion, locate creature
5th circle of power, dominate person

Templar’s Training

At 1st level when you choose this patron, you acquire the training necessary to effectively represent the sorcerer-king’s interests in battle. You gain proficiency with medium armor, shields, and martial weapons.

The influence of your sorcerer-king also allows you to mystically channel your will through a particular weapon. Whenever you finish a long rest, you can touch one weapon that you are proficient with and that lacks the two-handed property. When you attack with that weapon, you can use your Charisma modifier, instead of Strength or Dexterity, for the attack and damage rolls. This benefit lasts until you finish a long rest. If you later gain the Pact of the Blade feature, this benefit extends to every pact weapon you conjure with that feature, no matter the weapon’s type.

Compel Undead

At 1st level, as an action, you target one undead creature you can see within 30 feet of you. The target must make a Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, the target must obey your commands for 8 hours, or until you or your companions damage the target. An undead whose challenge rating is equal or greater than your level is immune to this effect. Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you complete a short or long rest.

Aura of Dread

Starting at 6th level, you can use your bonus action to grant you, as well as any fiends and undead within 10 feet of you, a bonus to their melee weapon damage rolls equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum of +1). A creature can benefit from this feature from only one Templar at a time. This effect lasts for 10 minutes.

Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you complete a short or long rest.

Unholy Resistance

Starting at 10th level, you gain resistance to necrotic damage and your maximum hit points can’t be reduced.

Vampiric Smite

Once you reach 14th level, you can use your bonus action to imbue your weapon with dark, necrotic energy for 1 minute or until your concentration is broken (as if concentrating on a spell). The next time you hit with a melee weapon attack during the effect’s duration, your attack deals an extra 4d10 necrotic damage, and you regain hit points equal to half the amount of necrotic damage dealt.

dark-sun-preserver

Wizards (Preservers)

The preserver is a wizard of the old, established school of magic. In the give and take of spell casting, preservers have mastered the balance. A preserver’s magical spells are cast in harmony with nature. When a preserver casts a spell, there is no damage to the nearby environment.

To play a preserver wizard in a Dark Sun campaign, make the following changes to the wizard class:

Literacy

At 1st level, you can read and write any language that you can speak.

Arcane Recovery

Preserver wizards do not gain the Arcane Recovery feature.

Arcane Traditions

Many of the old schools of magic are no longer in practice with the exception of the School of Illusion. Illusionists can be defilers or preservers. Preserver Illusionists are wizards using the School of Illusion entry as described in the Player’s Handbook; because of the relatively low-maintenance cost of illusionary magic, illusionists do not have the same effect on the environment as defilers. Defiler illusionists are merely sorcerers who focus on illusion spells.

Otherwise, a wizard character must take the Preserver Arcane Tradition when they reach 2nd level.

Preserver

Preservers cast spells in harmony with nature, using their magic so as to return to the land what they take from it.

One With Nature

At 2nd level, you have learned to strike a balance with nature. You gain proficiency in the Nature and Survival skills. In addition, you can learn the create or destroy water spell. Using this feature, you can cast the spell once at its lowest level, and you must finish a long rest before you can cast it in this way again. The spell counts as a wizard spell for you and uses Intelligence as your spellcasting ability as normal.

The Balance

At 2nd level, when you complete a long rest and you have spell slots remaining, you can convert the spell slots into a pool of healing power which you can use to restore hit points. Each unused spell slot creates 2 hit point per spell level.

As an action, you can touch a creature and draw power from the pool to restore a number of hit points to that creature, up to the maximum amount remaining in your pool. This feature has no effect on undead and constructs.

Alternatively, you can expend 5 hit points from your pool of healing to cause plants to grow in a square measuring 5-feet on one side. You can cause plants to grow in multiple squares, expending hit points separately for each one.

Any unused hit points from your healing pool are lost when you finish another long rest.

Nature’s Protection

Starting at 6th level, when you or a creature within 30 feet of you takes acid, cold, fire, lightning or thunder damage, you can use your reaction to grant resistance to the creature against that instance of the damage.

Inured to Defilement

Beginning at 10th level, your connection to nature protects you against the dark magic of defilers. You have resistance to necrotic damage, and your hit point maximum can’t be reduced.

Spell Resistance

Starting at 14th level, you have advantage on saving throws against spells. Furthermore, you have resistance against the damage of spells.


Next: Backgrounds

Art by Wizards of the Coast (mostly Brom, duh).

10 thoughts on “Classes of Athas (Dark Sun) | Player’s Guide for Fifth Edition

  1. So much of this is absolute gold! I think moving Warlock as the Templar template is a very wise choice. I absolutely LOVE the Sorcerer being the Defiler. I never thought of that for a Dark Sun 5e game I want to write, and I am now using that.

    However, I think the land defiled should be much greater. Even a cantrip should have some effect maybe as simple as a flower in a pot wilting away to ash. 1st level 5ft is good, but then double it every level (10, 20, 40, etc.) and maybe 8th level is a half mile radius, and 9th level a mile radius. Heck, maybe even 5 miles. Atlas didn’t turn to ash 60ft at a time, and the likelihood of a PC reaching that level means as a DM you will likely not deal with such things unless it’s your Dragon King NPC.

    Just a thought, and this is truly great work on Dark Sun Classes.

    1. Hey thanks so much! Sorcerer just seemed… right, especially with the Sorcerery Points. I think the magic vs Athas thing has always been an allusion to global warming/environmental damage. And a lot of that comes from tragedy of commons–oh, how much will this one little spell hurt things? I might check out the distances in the old boxed set and see what was up with them.

      Anyways, thanks for the suggestions! Much appreciated! And glad you enjoy

  2. I find it funny we are doing the same things at the same time. I’m writing up my Dark Sun classes now and have been workshopping them over the last week or so with a co-conspirator.

    We made some similar choices and some different ones.

    Overall I agree we should limit the arcane spellcasting outside of wizards. There just wasn’t that kind of crossover in Athas. I too pulled the bard from it’s own class and pushed it back under Rogue, though my iteration is different.

    I too made Templars out of Warlocks. It just fits too nicely.

    I dropped Paladins and Sorcerers completely. I also opted to keep Preserving and Defiling as a choice every arcane spellcaster (which is a Wizard at this point) must make every time and not just at character creation.

    Nice work friend.

    1. Yeah, I just finished up psions. I’m probably going to toss back in monks, too, since they’re basically just psychic warriors in disguise (and 4 Elements works pretty well in DS)

  3. Well in the 4th edition Dark Sun Monks were psionic so that works. I’m going to pull the ‘eastern/oriental’ flavor from monks and make them “martial artists’. I have a 4 Elements monk that I reworked to make it less ‘Avatar’ and more individual ‘Bender’. It’s not complete yet but I’d be happy to share it with you if you like.

    If you haven’t looked at it you could check out the Mystic from UA. It works pretty well I think.

    1. The 4 Elements monks, I feel, are just psychokinetic psionicists in disguise. I looked at Mystic. Reddit threw a freakin’ fit when I had that listed on my class list LOL

      1. Sorry for the delayed reply I’ve been all over.

        Mystic is I think pretty fun (I’m playing one in a Dark Sun Game currently) and I’d bet money that it is the way WotC will go when they move forward with Dark Sun. It will at least be the basic framework. I’m not on Reddit so I don’t know what the issue people have with it.

        In my play experience it has easy to grasp mechanics, choice not only in Discipline selection but in utilization of each discipline which gives them a lot of flexibility. Some things need to be toned down but that’s not going to happen without play-testing.

        As it is Mystic needs some flavor adjustment to be Dark Sun compliant but I’m having fun with it.

      2. From what Mearls has said on twitter, he’s all over the place on it. For my DS campaign, I’m just treating psionics as magic

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