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Dark Sun Races

Page history last edited by Jon Goranson 11 years, 9 months ago

Dark Sun Character Races


(From the Original Boxed Set)


Humans - By far the most prevalent, humans dominate the Tablelands making up more than half of the sentient population.


On Athas, centuries of abusive magic have not only scarred the landscape-they've twisted the essence of human appearance, as well. Many humans in Dark Sun look normal, and could pass unnoticed among humans of other settings. Others, however, have marked alterations to their appearance. Their facial features might

be slightly bizarre; a large chin or nose, pointed ears, no facial hair, etc. Their coloration might be subtly different, such as coppery, golden brown, hueds of grey, or patchy. The differences may be more physical, such as webbed toes or fingers, longer or shorter limbs, etc. A player with a human character should be given broad latitude in making up these alterations to his form, if he so wishes. Ultimately, none of them will give him any benefit nor any hindrance to game play-his appearance is strictly a roleplaying asset.  The children of humans and other races produce the so-called half-races: half-elves and muls. It is important to note, however, that half-giants are a race born of a magical union in the distant past; halfgiants can only reproduce with one another.




Elves - The dunes and steppes of Athas are home to thousands of tribes of nomadic elves. While each tribe is very different culturally, the elves within them remain a race of long-limbed sprinters given to theft, raiding, and warfare.


An Athasian elf stands between 6½ and 7½ feet tall. They are slender, lean, and generally in terrific physical condition. Their features are deeply etched into their weather-toughened faces, and their skin made rugged by the windblown sands and baking sun of the wilderness. Elves typically dress to survive in the desert environment. Even when at an oases or in the cities, elves tend to prefer their native garb, designed to wrap the wearer against the brutality of the elements.


Elves are all brethren within their own tribe, but regard all outsiders as potential enemies. There is no racial unity among the elves-an elf from outside the tribe is just as much a foe as a human, halfling, or thri-kreen. Acceptance of an outsider by an individual elf can be achieved, but trust will only develop over time. Acceptance of an outsider by an entire tribe is also possible, but rare. It is usually only awarded after some great sacrifice has been made on behalf of the

tribe-many outsiders have been accepted posthumously into elven desert tribes.


Individually, tribal elves are swift, sure, and self reliant in the extreme. An elf is conditioned to run quickly over sandy and rocky terrain, sometimes for days at a time -an elf warrior can cross better than 50 miles per day. An elven war party on the move is a deadly force of endurance and maneuverability.  Elves use no beasts of burden for personal transportation, though they do sometimes engage kanks and similar creatures for baggage or raw materials transport. It is dishonorable among elves to ride on an animal unless wounded and near death-even pregnant women and old elves are expected to keep up with the tribe or be left behind.


While most elven tribes make their living through herding, some have turned to commerce and others to raiding. Elven traders are rightly considered the most capable on Athas. Not only can they barter and deal with a variety of races, they can move and protect their goods across the vast wilderness.




Dwarves - Dwarves are short but extremely powerful. Athasian dwarves average 41/2 to 5 feet in height and tend to have a very large muscle mass-a full grown

dwarf weighs in the neighborhood of 200 pounds.  Lives of hard work in the hot sun leave them with a rich tan and rugged, calloused hands and feet. Dwarves can live up to 250 years.  


A dwarf's chief love is toil. A dwarf is never happier than when there is a cause to work or fight for, something he can approach with stoic singlemindedness for weeks, months, years, or even decades at a time. Once a dwarf's mind is committed to a certain task, he.ll only set it aside after a great deal

of grumbling and coercion. The fulfillment he achieves upon completion of a lengthy, difficult task is what he strives for.


The task to which a dwarf is presently committed is referred to as his focus. A dwarf's focus must be a feat requiring at least one week to complete. Shorter

term goals cannot be considered a focus. Actually, a dwarf's commitment to his focus is based in his physiology-those who complete their lives before they complete their foci live out their afterlives as banshees in the wastes, haunting their unfinished works!



Muls - A mul (pronounced: mül) is an incredibly tough crossbreed of a human and dwarf. They retain the height and cunning of their human parent, plus the durability and raw strength of their dwarven heritage.  Muls are usually the products of the slave pits-owners recognize the muls' assets as gladiators and laborers, and so order the births of as many muls as can be managed within the ranks of their slaves. Muls are born sterile - they cannot perpetuate their kind.


A full-grown mul stands 6 to 6½ feet tall and weighs 240-300 pounds. They are fair skinned, sometimes tending toward a copperish coloration. Their dwarven ancestry gives them a well-muscled frame and an incredible constitution.mul laborers can perform heavy work for days at a time without stopping. Muls have stern facial features. They are unmistakably human in appearance, though their ears are swept back and slightly pointed. Most muls, whether male or female, have no hair or beard. 


Born as they are to lives of slave labor, with the taskmaster's whip taking the place of parents and family, muls are given to a gruff personality and violent reactions. Understandably, many never seek friends or companionship but live out their lives in servitude, driven by hatred and spite. Most, however, learn who to trust in the slave pits and who not to, gaining favor and reputation among the other slaves.


Many slave muls have either escaped or otherwise won their freedom and now live independent lives all over Athas. Of these, a large percentage have bartered their combat prowess, making their way as soldiers or guards. A few others, given to more cerebral pursuits, have turned to priestly devotions or the mental disciplines of psionics.



Half Elves - Elves and humans travel many of the same roads on Athas - elven tribes have at times encountered human mercenaries, just as elven warriors have

found gainful employment in the armies of the city states. The merchant class, too, is overrun with traders of both races, so it is not at all unusual for children of mixed parentage to be born into the world-the half-elves.


A half-elf is generally tall, between 6 and 6½ feet tall, but more meaty than his elven counterparts. His facial features are clearly more deeply defined than those of a human, but based solely on his countenance a half-elf can usually pass for either an elf or a human.


A half-elf's a life is typically hardened by the intolerance of others. Neither fully human nor fully elven, half-elves rarely find acceptance with either race. Elves are especially intolerant, at times driving mothers of half-elven infants from their camps into the desert. Humans are more apt to accept half elves as allies or partners, but seldom accept them into their homes, clans, or families. Rarely do half-elves congregate in great enough numbers to form communities of their own, so they remain outsiders, forever wandering from situation to situation without a people, land, or village to call home.


Intolerance, however, has given the half-elf his greatest attribute - self-reliance. As a loner, usually without permanent residence, a half-elf survives the rigors of life in the wilderness completely on his own.  The skills involved in survival, such as locating food, water, and shelter, are only half of the challenge they face-half-elves must also learn to deal with the absence of companionship, the complete lack of conversation and basic friendship.


Coincidentally, faced with intolerance from the races of their parentage, many turn to completely alien races for acceptance. Dwarves, halflings, and even thri-kreen have no basic dislike of half-elves nor do they grant them any favor. At the very least a half-elf dealing with these races can expect no automatic prejudices. Also, some half-elves turn for companionship to the animal world, training beasts of the air and sands as servants and friends.



Half Giants - Giants dominate many of the islands and coastal areas of the Silt Sea, wading across it to plunder the communities of smaller races where they find them.  In some lost millennium, as a bizarre experiment or perhaps as some sort of curse, giants were magically crossbred with humans. Half-giants are now fairly

common, especially to human controlled lands at the edge of the sea of dust.  


A half-giant is an enormous individual, standing between 10 and 12 feet tall, and weighing in the neighborhood of 1,600 pounds. Their features are human, but exaggerated.


Simply put, a half-giant gains terrific size from his giant heritage, but also inherits that race's dull wits. His human background, however, provides him with an interest in communication and cooperation, not to mention more reserved traits such as curiosity, a willingness to learn, and a general tendency toward

kindness. At any rate, half-giants are capable of far more kindness than their often tyrannical, bloodthirsty giant kin.


Though no one knows for certain, half-giants seem to be a fairly young race, perhaps only a few tens of centuries old. There is no half-giant culture common to all of their kind. On the contrary, having insufficient history and overall intelligence to have their own culture, half-giants tend to readily adopt the cultures of other creatures they admire or associate with. Half-giants are very imitative creatures, eager to fit into new situations as they present themselves.


Half-giants sometimes collect into communities of their own, though they most often adopt the culture and customs of those creatures that are nearby.  When near an elven nation, for instance, halfgiants will form their own hunting and raiding parties, adopting the ways of the elven marauders.  They won't mix with the elves, neither will they fight with them. In most instances, imitative half-giant communities will compete directly with the race whom they are likening themselves to. It is their great size and combat prowess that keeps their competitors at a safe distance.


Half-giants can switch their attitudes very quickly, taking on new values to fit new situations. A halfgiant whose peaceful farming life is disrupted by marauders may soon adopt the morals of the very renegades who sacked his village. To reflect this, one aspect of a half-giant's alignment must be fixed, and chosen during character creation. The other half must be chosen when they awaken each morning.




Thri Kreen - Hulking insect-men standing as tall as 7 feet at the shoulder, the thri-kreen are the least 'human' of the player character races. Their survivability in

the wilderness, combined with their cunning and intellect, have made the mantis warriors (as they are known to some races) the undisputed masters across large tracts of the Athasian wastes. 


The individual thri-kreen is a six-limbed creature with a tough, sandy-yellow exoskeleton. Its hind legs are the most powerful, used for walking, running, and leaping. The four forward limbs each have a hand with three fingers and an opposable thumb. A thri-kreen's exoskeleton is extremely hard.  


A thri-kreen's head has two large eyes, two antennae, and a small-but-powerful jaw. The jaws work from side to side and have several small extensions that grab and manipulate food while it is being eaten. The eyes are jet black and multi-faceted, separated to either side of the head. The antennae are all but vestigial, serving only to help maneuver through brush and grasslands in the darkness (they also serve to lessen any darkness or blindness based penalty but ranged activities (like missile combat) do not gain this benefit). 


Thri-kreen have no need of sleep. Thri-kreen characters can remain active through the day and night.


Thri-kreen make and use a variety of weapons.  Chief among them are the gytha, a polearm with wicked blades at either end, and the chatkcha, a crystalline throwing wedge. They also fashion many forms of clothing, but never wear armor.  


The pack is the single unit of organization among the thri-kreen, generally having 2-24 individuals. The pack is always on the hunt, never idle - there are no permanent thri-kreen communities. The socalled thri-kreen nations are, in fact, not organized as such, nor are they thought of as nations by the mantis warriors. The nations are human conventions to delineate on maps where the thri-kreen thrive and dominate.


Thri-kreen are carnivores and the pack is constantly on the hunt for food. They consider the other player character races as potential food stock, but only prey on other intelligent creatures in times of desperation. The mantis warriors have a well-known taste for elves, which keeps both races at an uneasy peace when they are forced to cooperate.


There are rumors of a Thri Kreen empire to the north.  In this empire, they have many different species and varations on thri kreen.  However, not much is known about it.  



Halflings - Beyond the Ringing Mountains are jungles that flourish in rains that never reach the tablelands or the Sea of Silt. There life is abundant, the foliage

thick and untamed. The undisputed rulers of these jungles are the halflings.


A halfling is a very short humanoid, standing no more than 4½ feet in height. They are muscled and proportioned like humans, but they have the faces of wise and beautiful children. Halflings live to be as much as 120 years old, but once they reach adulthood, their features never succumb to their years.  It's very difficult for an outsider to determine a given halfling's age. A halfling weighs 70 to 80 pounds and is virtually always in peak physical condition.


Halflings possess a great deal of racial unity.  Though divided politically into separate villages and communities, halflings have great respect for their race as a whole. Political differences between them are settled wherever possible peaceably, through ritual and custom, most often under the direction of their clerical leaders, the shaman witch doctors.


On a personal level, halflings relate very well to one another, well enough to have built a considerable culture rich in art, song, and other expressive communication. However, they tend to rely heavily on their culture for communication, a culture that both parties in a conversation are assumed to understand.  It is difficult for a halfling to compensate in conversation for a listener who isn't intimately familiar with halfling culture, and as such they easily become frustrated with outsiders. Depending upon how 'official' a meeting is, outsiders often have to take great pains to learn local customs merely to communicate with the halflings in question. Of

course, halflings who have travelled widely outside their traditional jungle home have a much greater tolerance of those with a 'lack' of halfling culture; so much so that they can communicate easily and without frustration.


Halfling culture is fabulously diverse, but difficult for other races to comprehend. A complete history of their culture, if such a thing existed, would speak volume upon volume of complex social change, inspirational clerical leaders, and in-depth personal studies of the halfling and his duty to his jungle home. Conspicuous in their absence would be references to great wars of conquest or tremendous monetary wealth-the yardsticks by which other races measure cultural success. Halfling culture cares for the individual's inward being, his identity and spiritual unity with his race and environment. Their culture does not provide for more traditional values, and vices such as greed and avarice are particularly discouraged.


Oddly, the richness of the land may be disturbed and examined, even used for a halfing's own gain.  However, those riches belong to the land and, in the mind of the halfling, should never be moved away.  For instance, nature intended a spring to bring water only to a certain area. To move the water through irrigation to some other area is not what nature had in mind. Similarly, an archaeological find in the jungle that yields a great pile of gold and metals is an event that shouldn't be tampered with-the gold might be used to raise a spectacular series of clerical buildings on the spot, but it should not be carted off to some other location.


There are two types of halflings, those that travel and are encountered in the cities and those halflings that stay in their tribes.   Those halflings that travel and meet with other cultures have tried to blend into them but it usually comes off as macabre rather than help calm people.  They will wear clothing but don't understand clothing, so it will never fit a current city state's styles.  It will be a motley collection of various types of fabric, from fur to scales to cloth, and colors, usually bright colors but it can be anything.  They will wear jewelry but it will have bits of bone and teeth, presumably of enemies, fashioned into it.  They tend to wear things made of leather more than silver or gold as that metal is heavy and so not practical for ornamentation.  They understand the concept of money and won't be cheated out of their fair share of goods, services or change.  They speak with clicks and whistles in their speech, which can make it tough to understand.  They also gesture a lot while speaking.  


Non city state dwelling halflings are tough to find or write about.  They only thing that exists is the "tale of the tale from someone who talked to someone who survived."  Forest dwelling halflings, for most of them are in the Forest Ridge mountains, do not welcome visitors.  Most are hunted, even if they don't know they are being hunted, and then taken back as captives until they can be cooked.  They don't keep slaves, only larders.  These halflings are said to dress with twigs and leaves in their hair and very little other clothing.  Certainly nothing that would be considered modest!  They speak with whistles, clicks and other noises and don't teach their language to others.  





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