Dark Sun: Children of Blood
Children of Blood House Rules
I live in a world of fire and sand. The crimson sun scorches the life from anything that crawls or flies, and storms of sand scour the foliage from the barren ground. This is a land of blood and dust, where tribes of feral elves sweep out of the salt plains to plunder lonely caravans, mysterious singing winds call travelers to slow suffocation in the Sea of Silt, ancient ruins tempt with forgotten treasure but deliver only death, and selfish all-powerful Sorcerer-Kings squander their subjects’ lives building cyclopean palaces and garish tombs. The bleak wasteland is Athas. My Home.
- The Wanderer’s Journal
Eight Principles of Dark Sun
1. The World Is a Desert
Athas is a hot, arid planet covered with endless seas of dunes, lifeless salt flats, stony wastes, rocky badlands, thorny scrublands, and worse. From the first moments of dawn, the crimson sun beats down from an olive-tinged sky. Temperatures routinely exceed 100 degrees F. by midmorning and can reach 130 degrees or more by late afternoon. The wind is like the blast of a furnace, offering no relief from the oppressive heat. Dust and sand borne on the breeze coat everything with yellow-orange silt.
In this forbidding world, cities and villages exist only in a few oases or verdant plains. Some places don’t see rain for years at a time, and even in fertile regions, rain is little more than a humid mist that falls during a few weeks each year before giving way to long months of heat and drought. The world beyond these islands of civilization is a wasteland roamed by nomads, raiders, and hungry monsters.
Athas was not always a desert, and the parched landscape is dotted with the crumbling ruins of a planet that once was rich with rivers and seas. Ancient bridges over dry watercourses and empty stone quays that face seas of sand tell the tale of a world that is no more.
2. The World Is Savage
Life on Athas is brutal and short. Bloodthirsty raiders, greedy slavers, and hordes of inhuman savages overrun the deserts and wastelands. The cities are little better; each chokes in the grip of an ageless tyrant. The institution of slavery is widespread on Athas, and many unfortunates spend their lives in chains, toiling for brutal taskmasters. Every year hundreds of slaves, perhaps thousands, are sent to their deaths in bloody arena spectacles. Charity, compassion, kindness—these qualities exist, but they are rare and precious. Only a fool hopes for such riches.
3. Metal Is Scarce
Most arms and armor are made of bone, stone, wood, and other such materials. Mail or plate armor exists only in the treasuries of the sorcerer-kings. Steel blades are almost priceless, weapons that many heroes never see during their lifetimes.
4. Arcane Magic Defiles the World
The reckless use of arcane magic during ancient wars reduced Athas to a wasteland. To cast an arcane spell, one must gather power from the living world nearby. Plants wither to black ash, crippling pain wracks animals and people, and the soil is sterilized; nothing can grow in that spot again. It is possible to cast spells with care, preserving the world and avoiding any more damage to it, but defiling offers more power than preserving. As a result, sorcerers, wizards, and other wielders of arcane magic are reviled and persecuted across Athas regardless of whether they preserve or defile. Only the most powerful spellcasters can wield arcane might without fear of reprisal.
5. Sorcerer-Kings Rule the City-States
Terrible defilers of immense power rule all but one of the city-states. These mighty spellcasters have held their thrones for centuries; no one alive remembers a time before the sorcerer-kings. Some claim to be gods, and some claim to serve gods. Some are brutal oppressors, where others are more subtle in their tyranny.
The sorcerer-kings govern through priesthoods or bureaucracies of greedy, ambitious templars, lesser defilers who can call upon the kings’ powers. Only in the city-state of Tyr does a glimmer of freedom beckon, and powerful forces already conspire to extinguish it.
6. The Gods Are Silent
Long ago, when the planet was green, the brutal might of the primordials overcame the gods. Today, Athas is a world without deities. There are no clerics, no paladins, and no prophets or religious orders. Old shrines and crumbling temples lie amid the ancient ruins, testimony to a time when the gods spoke to the people of Athas. Nothing is heard now but the sighing of the desert wind.
In the absence of divine influence, other powers have come to prominence in the world. Psionic power is well known and widely practiced on Athas; even unintelligent desert monsters can have deadly psionic abilities. Shamans and druids call upon the primal powers of the world, which are often sculpted by the influence of elemental power.
7. Fierce Monsters Roam the World
The desert planet has its own deadly ecology. Athas has no cattle, swine, or horses; instead, people tend flocks of erdlus, ride on kanks or crodlus, and draw wagons with inixes and mekillots. Wild creatures such as lions, bears, and wolves are nonexistent. In their place are terrors such as the id fiend, the baazrag, and the tembo. Perhaps the harsh environment of Athas breeds creatures tough and vicious enough to survive it, or maybe the touch of ancient sorcery poisoned the wellsprings of life and inflicted monster after monster on the dying world. Either way, the deserts are perilous, and only a fool or a lunatic travels them alone.
8. Familiar Races Aren’t What You Expect
Typical fantasy stereotypes don’t apply to Athasian heroes. In many Dungeons & Dragons settings, elves are wise, benevolent forest dwellers who guard their homelands from intrusions of evil. On Athas, elves are a nomadic race of herders, raiders, peddlers, and thieves. Halflings aren’t amiable riverfolk; they’re xenophobic headhunters and cannibals who hunt and kill trespassers in their mountain forests. Goliaths—or half-giants, as they are commonly known—are brutal mercenaries who serve as elite guards and enforcers for the sorcerer-kings and their templars in many city-states.
Character Creation Rules
Mul (Dark Sun)
Thri-Kreen (Dark Sun)
Gollath (Half Giant) (PHB2)
Assassin (Essentials, DDI)
Warlock Sorcerer-King Pact (Dark Sun)
Arena Fighter (Dark Sun)
Wild Battlemind (Dark Sun)
Animist Shaman (Dark Sun)
PC Source Materials
You may choose character options from Essentials, PHB2, PHB3, the Power books, and the Dark Sun Campaign Book. The Warlock Sorcerer King and Arena Fighter may only select powers and options from the books listed above. They may not take powers, feats, or options from the Players Handbook 1.
Arena Fighter and Warlock Sorcerer-King options outside of the Dark Sun options must be selected from only PHB1 options.
Extended Critical Hits: No powers, feats, or any other effects can grant a critical hit on anything but a natural 20. Only certain terrain effects and weapon breakage may grant critical hits on anything but a natural 20.
Forced Movement into Damaging Terrain: Forced movement into damaging squares does not cause damage until the start of the creature’s turn.
Magic Items: Inherent enhancement bonuses will be used so magical item bonuses will not apply. You will gain bonuses to your base character when you would normally get a magical weapon, armor, or item. For this reason, magical items will be very rare. Characters beginning above level 1 start with no magical items.
Wild Talents: Each character begins with a psionic wild talent determined randomly.
Weapon Breakage: When rolling a 1 on an attack roll, your weapon automatically breaks but you gain a free re-roll on the attack and may critically hit on an 18, 19, or 20.
The two guards look at the oncoming band of ruffians. They eye each other and place their hands on the hilts of their swords. “Who approaches,” the guards demand. “Prove your authorization.” “My authorization is right here,” says the Mul, drawing up his bloody warhammer. In the blink of an eye, the battle begins and almost as quickly, ends.
This campaign includes a new type of encounter called “the skirmish”. The skirmish sits alongside the skill challenge and the combat encounter as a tool for group storytelling. It is designed for quick bouts of combat that take less than 30 minutes to play during the game. Think of it like a very fast action scene in an action movie, where the hero quickly dispatches a group of subordinate villains before stepping into the main villain’s lair.
The skirmish has the following modifications to a standard encounter:
All players roll initiative. The highest roll starts first with players taking turns clockwise around the table. The monsters go when the turn reaches the dungeon master.
There are far fewer monsters in a skirmish than in a typical encounter. Skirmish experience budgets are usually cut in half.
PCs are unable to use daily or encounter powers. Item powers are limited to at-will powers. Encounter or daily item powers cannot be used. Each PC can still use a single Second Wind during these skirmishes.