Mystara: The Grey Veil
START HERE: All players must download the Dark Sun conversion document, DS3_R7.pdf from athas.org to understand this world.
You may also want to check out additional background on the world of Athas at darksunwiki.com.
This is a Pathfinder game. We will be using the Pathfinder core rule set, which is based on 3.5ed.
Background on Dark Sun
Once a blue planet teeming with life, Athas has since been stripped of its fertility by the use of corrupting magic known as Defiling. It is a sun-burnt land forsaken by the gods, water, and hope. Even its sun, a bloated, life-punishing orb, is in decay. The natural resources of the world have been depleted, and a lack of metal has resulted in the use of wood, obsidian and bone for weapons, tools and common equipment. In this harsh and unforgiving land, the most mundane of creatures have developed psionic abilities in the constant struggle of survival of the fittest. On Athas, a death by natural aging is considered to be a great achievement, an event worthy of celebrations.
What to Expect
The world of Athas is very different from most other campaign worlds — almost no metal, no gods, psionics everywhere (every PC has at least one innate psionic talent), makeshift weapons, daytime temperatures of 150F (try wearing armor), slavery, and brutality as a way of life. Do not expect magic items or opportunities to buy expensive equipment. Expect unfairness built right into the game. Power is in the hands of the sorcerer kings and their templars, not you. In addition, death by exposure is a very real possibility. For those of you familiar with the setting, we’ll be playing in the classic period where most sorcerer-kings are still alive, and the Dragon of Tyr is almighty.
Tone: Gritty, dusty, and harsh. This is a psionics-heavy game.
Movies such as Dune, 300, Gladiator, 10,000 BC, Mad Max, Spartacus, The Beastmaster, and Conan the Barbarian fall into the Dark Sun genre.
Starting Level: ECL 3.
Information on Pathfinder race mechanics can be found here, but are subject to the modifications inherent to the Dark Sun campaign setting. Download the Dark Sun conversion document, DS3_R7.pdf and read up on the idiosyncrasies of the core races on Athas, including descriptions, racial histories, prejudices, attitudes, appearances and other flavor text. As a rule, ignore the race mechanics in the Dark Sun guide, except where we tell you not to.
Allowed Races: human, dwarf, elf, half-elf, hafling; half-giant and mul use Dark Sun race mechanics.
Disallowed PC Races: dray, elan, maenad, aarakocra, pterran, thri-kreen, and any others not specifically named as an Allowed Race.
Note, most of these are very different variations of what we’re all used to. Read the complete class description from the Dark Sun conversion document, DS3_R7.pdf before opting to go with a class. I’ve included a little teaser description for some of the more radically different classes below. If the class is found in the Pathfinder SRD, we will use the PF rules for that class, in addition to any special class abilities unique to Dark Sun (for instance, Athasian Bards are experts at poisons, this ability is in addition to regular bard abilities).
Most Pathfinder and Dark Sun prestige classes will be allowed when the time comes.
Barbarians: Use Pathfinder rules for Barbarian advancement, plus extra abilities for Athasian barbarians.
Bards: Bards receive numerous abilities they can use to survive. Many become masters of poisons, selling their illegal substances to anyone. Alone of the classes, bards hold the secrets of alchemy, creating fiery concoctions and mysterious mixes. Bards are master smugglers, selling spell components and other illegal items in the Bard’s Quarters of the city‐states. All bards, however, have some degree of entertainment skill. The songs of most bards can dazzle a crowd, or incite them to riot. Bards tend to learn to play a variety of instruments, or recite poetry or old legends by campfire. They can be acrobats, performing dazzling displays of physical prowess. They are often called upon as sources of information.
Bards add additional special Athasian bardic abilities per level (smuggler, poison use, streetsmart, quickdraw, trade secret, mental resistance, Quick thinking +2, improved poison use…) but lose their third level PF Feat.
Clerics: There are no gods on this world. You must choose one of the elements [earth, air, fire, water] or para-elements [magma, rain, silt, sun] as your faith source.
Elements, Energy Types, and Favored Weapons:
Druids: Druids are typically solitary protectors of shrines or small pockets of undamaged land — oasises, cacti fields, fertile mud banks, or a single tree struggling on the edge of the great silt sea may be all a druid devotes his life to. Druids are neutral in most matters, except when it comes to protecting the planet or their own shrines. As a rule, they hate defilers and will seek to assassinate them whenever the chance presents itself.
Fighters: Use Pathfinder rules for Fighter advancement, plus extra abilities for Athasian fighters.
Gladiators: Gladiators live for the thrill of the crowd, and glory in battle. Gladiators combine showmanship with a powerful fighting style. Use Athasian rules for Gladiator PCs.
Rangers: As a ranger, you nurture a close, almost mystical connection to the deadly terrain of Athas. To you, the burnt landscape is not a friend, but a well‐respected adversary. Danger is always present, yet you understand it and even find a certain succor in living alongside it. Use Pathfinder rules for Ranger advancement.
Rogues: Use Pathfinder rules for Ranger advancement.
Templars: Templars draw power from the evil sorcerer kings. Not sure if we will be accepting any templars into the party, a really good backstory may get you in though.
Wizards: All wizards must choose between Defiler or Preserver. Defilers cast more powerful magic, but at a cost to the planet. Defilers are usually evil, and hated wherever they go. Preservers function normally as wizards, though may be equally mistrusted. See Magic on Athas below.
There are no sorcerers (or monks) on Athas. Pathfinder rules for Wizard advancement.
Abilities: Abilities will be a 19 point buy, using the Pathfinder purchase method here.
Magic in Athas
The abuse of magic has shaped and scarred the world of Athas in the past 8,000 years. Because of that magic is universally feared and hated by the general populace. Wizards are outlaws that are hunted and killed by jealous templars or environment-worshiping druids. Magic is hard to find, and even low‐level spells are not easily accessible. There are no sorcerers on Athas.
When defilers cast their spells, all creatures within a 5’ square per spell level suffer -1 to all rolls for one round. Plant creature take an additional 2hp damage per spell level (which is why the planet is one big desert). Defilers cast spells at a +1 bonus to their caster level.
How to Apply
Study the information we’ve provided above, and submit the following for consideration.
3. Alignment: Good is encouraged, though inter-party disputes that characters need to work through are always good for RPing. Note that on Athas, alignment is rather blurry since there are no gods or paladins with strict moral codes… and survival usually trumps ethics.
4. Backstory: Incorporate the character’s personality and description in this section. Looking for no less than 3 paragraphs, and no more than 6. No novels please! Let the character’s voice come through clearly, use quotes. Quickly and easily, I want to understand his/her motivations and what makes this hero(ine) unique.
NOTE: Character wild talents and backstory… Every character, regardless of character class, possesses a wild psionic talent. Children on Athas discover their innate talent around the age of 9. This means that your character will have had years of growing up using his/her natural psionic ability, having his/her life influenced by it, and developing a connection with it. For instance, child who can manifest Photosynthesis, a power which enables incredible healing when in direct sunlight, will most likely grow up with a profound connection with the dark sun, perhaps even becoming a sun cleric. Before you create your backstory, roll for your wild talent on this thread, then link to it somewhere in your app. The wild talent rolling thread has a copy of the table found below. After you roll, think about the talent you get, be creative, and use it to inform who your character will become.