Lighthouse for the Blind
“So what if the land becomes barren? It’s not like we’re going to stick around.”
―Datuu Dawnchaser, elf defiler
Athasian wizards drain energy from the surrounding
soil. The method used labels the wizard as a defiler or a
preserver. Preservers have the self–control to gather
energy without destroying plants. Those who do not, or
who feel no remorse about the damage caused, become
Defilers. Defilers leave behind sterile soil and infertile ash
when they cast spells. Because of this, most wastelanders
blame wizards for the desert landscape that dominates
the Tablelands today, and their hatred extends to defilers
and preservers alike. In the seven cities, arcane magic is
outlawed and feared.
Writing is also illegal in the Tablelands, thus wizards
have to go to great lengths to conceal their spellbooks,
and they have refined this art to the point where even
fellow wizards can be hard pressed to identify a spell
book. When found, they are precious resources, hoarded
and studied by wizards thirsty for knowledge or power.
Making a Wizard
The wizard’s greatest strength is also his greatest
liability. Often wizards will conceal their abilities,
learning to mask their spellcasting behind other actions.
For all but the most powerful wizards, secrecy is of prime
importance, and some will not exercise their power in the
presence of those that they do not feel they can trust.
Because of this, and because of their generally frail nature,
wizards can often be seen as a liability by those not aware
of the power they hide.
Races: Elves and humans are the most likely to be
wizards. Elves are more tolerant of the faults of magic,
even at its worst, due to their nomadic nature. Defiling
simply isn’t as much of a concern if the ruined land is fifty
miles behind you by the end of the next day. The solitary
life lead by most half‐elves makes it easier for them to
conceal their wizardry, should they choose to follow that
path. Some rare halflings and pterrans will take up the
arts of wizardry, but these races are so closely tuned to
flow of life on Athas that they will never willingly defile.
Half‐giants, trusting and slow–witted, rarely become
wizards, and those that do rarely survive for long.
Dwarves rarely take to the magic arts, though their focus
allows those that do to become exceptionally skilled. Thrikreen
and muls almost never become wizards.
Alignment: Overall, most wizards display a tendency
towards lawfulness. The self‐control and restraint
necessary to keep oneself secret, as well as the disciplined
need for long days of studying take their toll on many of
the less careful wizards. Most wizards of good alignment
have developed the skill and control necessary to master
preserving, and only in the direst of situations would a
good‐aligned wizard defile. Neutral or evil wizards,
however, are more likely to become defilers, though evil
preservers are not unheard of.
Behind the Veil: Defilers and Preservers
Unlike previous editions of Dark Sun, defilers and preservers are not implemented as separate classes. Instead, the
labels “defiler” and “preserver” refer to how an arcane spellcaster chooses to gather energy for his spells. Whether to
defile or not is a choice faced by all arcane spellcasters, though some defilers are so far gone that they can no longer not
defile when spellcasting. For the full rules on defiling and preserving, see Chapter 6.
Class Skills: Bluff, Disguise, and Literacy are class
skills for Athasian wizards.
Spellbook: In most places on Athas, reading is illegal
and the practice of magic even more so. Wizards must
develop ways to hide their spellbooks from curious eyes;
else they face certain discovery and death. Athasian
wizards write their spells on paper or papyrus scrolls,
weave them into small tapestries or the fringes of their
robes, carve them into bone staves, or—in extreme cases—
use complicated knot and string patterns or stone tablets.
All of these collections of spells are referred to as
“spellbooks” and function accordingly. See Chapter 6 for
more information for rules on alternate spellbooks.
Familiar: Athasian wizards may choose from all
familiars listed in the Player’s Handbook, with the
exception of toad and weasel, as these animals do not
exist on Athas. In addition, Athasian wizards may also
choose from the following familiars.
Familiar Special Ability
Dustgull Master gains a +3 bonus on Spot checks
Kes’trekel Master gains a +2 bonus on Reflex saves
Skyfish Master gains a +3 bonus on Swim checks
Sygra Master gains a +3 hit points
Bonus Feats: Athasian wizards may choose from
among the following feats, in addition to those listed in
the Player’s Handbook: Agonizing Radius, Destructive
Raze, Efficient Raze, Fast Raze, Exterminating Raze, Path
Dexter, Path Sinister, and Sickening Raze.
Playing a Wizard
You are a master of arcane secrets. You have learned,
either on your own, or from someone in your family, how
to draw on vegetable life in order to power your spells.
But such power comes with a caveat, arcane magic is
universally feared and hated. You might be inclined to see
conspiracies and enemies where none exist, so
accustomed are you to being hunted and persecuted by
the general populace and sorcerer‐king’s templars
because of your talents.
Mostly, you adventure to perfect your understanding
and mastery of magic. You likely prefer endeavors that
allow frequent use of your abilities, or those that promise
access to ancient lore. You might have personal goals as
well, and it’s not uncommon for an Athasian wizard to
adventure for the sake of riches, power, eternal life, or any
other “standard” adventurer motive.
Wizards frequently find themselves at odds with the
elemental forces that grant clerics their powers, though it
is not unheard of for preservers to forge an Elemental
Pact. Some preservers might also associate themselves
with the assorted Spirits of the Land. Since they
understand the sorcerer‐kings to simply be exceptionally
advanced wizards, they are not given to revering their
kings, as some of their more naive brothers are known to
Wizards have a difficult time relating to most of the
other classes. Templars and wizards are, in most cases,
deadly enemies across an irreconcilable gap—the
exception is those rare defilers in the employ of the
sorcerer‐kings. Likewise, druids are likely to consider any
wizard a potential defiler, and would turn on a
companion the moment this suspicion is confirmed. Due
to their similar, “underground” nature, wizards feel a
certain respect for bards. While preservers enjoy an
uneasy truce with the elemental powers, defilers and
paraelemental clerics tend get along quite well.
Athasian wizards make use of the same general
combat tactics as those described in the Player’s
Handbook―that is, stay back from melee and use your
spells to either destroy your enemies or enhance your
One major difference from standard wizards is that
secrecy is a major component, even more so if you are a
defiler. Casting even of the simplest of arcane spells can
focus all of your enemies’ attention to you, even more so
if you are a defiler. Be prepared to run of fly away in such
Continuing your advancement as a wizard requires a
substantial amount of time and effort. You must procure
and study arcane texts, not merely to learn new spells, but
to comprehend the nature of what you do.
When you not studying, you are practicing, training
your mind and your body to channel ever greater
amounts of life force.
As you start to progress in the class, consider studying
other sources of arcane energy, such as the Black, the
Gray, and the Cerulean, since those would remove your
dependency on vegetable life around you. Most wizards
seek to become some day as powerful as Dragon Kings or
the fabled winged creature the Urikite known as
Korgunard turned into.
Mechanically, you should increase your Intelligence
and Charisma as you attain levels. Beyond this, focus on
feats (such as Path Dexter or Path Sinister) and skills that
enhance your spells and provide you the abilities you
need to remain in secrecy, mainly Bluff and Disguise.
Wizards on Athas
“’Witch!’ they chanted. ‘Kill the witch!’ By the time the
soldiers woke, the crowd had finished her off, and worse.
The mage’s death did not satisfy the mob; her body suffered
much more. When the mul leader shouted, ‘we’ll take her
and burn her!’ they cheered. For the only time in my life I
saw a crowd cheer for Kalak’s guards. For the first time I
saw wizard’s magic. For the first time I understood its
―Manok, Tyrian wizard
On Athas, the energy for wizardly magic doesn’t come
from some extradimensional source as it does on other
worlds, but from the living environment itself. It provides
great power to those who can gather and shape it, though
the cost to Athas can be beyond measure.
In recent times wizards have emerged who have
learned to draw energy from alternate sources that have
no impact on the environment, see Prestige Class Appendix
I for more information.
The kinds of activities that appeal to wizards depend
largely on their alignment and energy gathering method.
Good wizards spend their time trying to restore the
devastation of Athas and fighting against the forces of the
sorcerer‐kings, while evil preservers of defilers are
interested in helping themselves.
When not adventuring, Athasian wizards spend the
majority of their time in study and in hiding. Much like
wizards from other settings, they must constantly
research new spells and study ancient arcane texts so
thoroughly that they have little time to devote to other
Usually wizards try to stay incognito for as long as
they can, since their survival depends on it. However, a
few wizards manage to become quite famous on Athas.
Royal defilers and arena necromancers, such as Dote Mal
Payn, even though hated by the general populace are
sponsored by their sorcerer‐kings and do not need to hide
their skills. Sadira of Tyr was made famous for her
contribution in killing King Kalak the Tyrant and the
Dragon, and she has become the first (and maybe the only
one) wizard able to tap into the power of the crimson sun.
The most famous wizards are the Dragon Kings, of
course, who can destroy both plant life and living
creatures to power their spells.
Wizardly magic on Athas isn’t as codified and formal
as it is in other campaign settings. For example, there are
no academies or colleges for teaching the wizardly arts.
Instead, a wizard‐in‐training must find a teacher, which
isn’t very easy in a world where wizards must hide their
profession in order to survive. For protection from nearly
universal hatred, the good wizards of Athas and their
allies have formed secret societies, collectively known as
the Veiled Alliance (see page 238).
However, each city‐state holds a different Alliance,
they do not cooperate, and they share no leaders.
Members of one Alliance do not automatically become
members of another. At best, the different groups respect
each other, and may offer courtesy assistance to a foreign
member who arrives in town.
Defilers don’t usually organize together, but they
often join organizations, especially Merchant Houses and
Arcane magic in Athas is viewed as more dangerous
and destructive than helpful, so general NPC attitudes
towards someone suspected to be a wizard range from
indifferent to unfriendly. If a NPC actually witness a
wizard drawing magical energy or casting a spell, the
resultant fear and hatred shifts the NPC’s attitude toward
Arcane magic is banned in almost all city‐states; Tyr
has unbanned it after FY 0 after Kalak was killed and
Kurn has no qualms about preserving magic. Templars
constantly patrol the streets searching for wizards and
Characters with ranks in Knowledge (arcana) can
research wizards to learn more about them. When a
character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the
following, including the information from lower DCs.
DC 10: Wizards are magic users that fuel their spells
with plant life.
DC 15: A wizard can be either a defiler or a preserver.
Only the first destroys the land when casting a spell.
Defilers can increase the potency of their spells by
destructing larger areas of vegetation than necessary.
DC 20: Some say that other wizards have developed a
way to draw energy from other source than plants.