Arcane Magic of Athas

Arcane magics have always played a major part in the Dark Sun campaign setting. For Chaos Out of Order expect to encounter psionics most commonly, divine magic less commonly, and arcane magic least commonly.

Arcane magic uses the life energy of Athas. As Classes of Athas demonstrates, generalist wizards, specialist wizards, sorcerers, and some bards (arcane version only) can cast arcane spells. Other bards (alchemical version only) have exclusive access to the Craft: Alchemy skill instead, as indicated in Skills of Athas.

All arcane spellcasters can voluntarily limit the power of their spells, leaving nearby lifeforms intact. Those who dedicate themselves to these self-imposed limits are known as preservers. Others who go past that threshold take enough life energy from the planet that they kill all non-sentient life in a specified radius – from large trees to miniscule nutrients in the soil – turning it into a fine white ash. The area is then unable to support life for centuries, for which the arcane spellcaster gets a rush of arcane power in the spell being cast. Arcane spellcasters with no regard for the life of Athas are known as defilers.

Most folk on Athas know that the temptation to defile the planet is always there for arcane spellcasters, and as such will not bother to differentiate between preservers and defilers. Angry mobs will often greet those who cast arcane spells in public, and those who survive such mobs can look forward to arrest or assassination by the templars of the dragon kings. While the dragon kings themselves are powerful users of arcane and psionic energy, they carefully safeguard themselves from challengers by outlawing arcane knowledge. Once, literacy was outlawed to prevent the spread of arcane knowledge. However, since the freedom of Tyr allowed literacy among the populace, merchant houses slowly spread literacy within their ranks across the Tablelands. Then when spontaneous arcane spellcasters began to emerge, keeping the populace illiterate was no longer as heavily enforced, as explained in Skills of Athas. As a result of these factors, most arcane spellcasters have learned to hide their somantic components as they cast spells (as explained in Skills of Athas) and their spellbooks (as described on page 63 of Dark Sun 3.5, revision 6).

The Free City of Tyr made arcane spellcasting legal after they overthrew their dragon king several ages ago. It acts as a safehaven to preserver wizards, and was apparently the original source of spontaneous arcane spellcasters. Most arcane potionfruit (and other, less common, modern arcane magical items) found in the Tablelands originally came from shops found in the Preservers’ District of Tyr.

For Chaos Out of Order the “Magic and Psionics are Mostly Different” rules on page 44 of Dragon Magazine #319, May 2004, will be used. Chaos Out of Order will also follow the Defilers of Athas rules on pages 33-37 of Dragon Magazine #315, January 2004, with one exception: Eliminating Defiler Points on page 34. Defilers must have atonement cast upon them by an elemental cleric or druid. The two must then meditate together in an undefiled area of Athas as per the MEDITATING TO REDUCE DEFILER POINTS table on page 35 of Dragon Magazine #315.

The arcane spell lists are as follows:

For a discussion of the role of arcane magic on Athas, see the Arcane Magic on Athas forum thread.


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Arcane Magic of Athas

Chaos Out of Order Figment