Human (Athas)

Dark SunCampaign Setting Logo

Ex-slaveHerdsmanDune TraderEx-gladiatorNobleTemplar
Climate/Terrain:Any landAny landAny landAny landAny landAny land
Activity Cycle:DayDayDayDayDayDay
Intelligence:Average (8-10)Average (8-10)Very (11-12)Average (5-10)Average (8-10)Very (11-12)
Alignment:NeutralLawful neutralNeutralNeutralNeutralLawful neutral
No. Appearing:4-24 (4d6)3-36 (3d12)1-4 (1d4)2-8 (2d4)1-4 (1d4)2-7 (1d6+1)
Armor Class:897687
Hit Dice:2+23+25535
No. of Attacks:111111
Damage/Attack:By weaponBy weaponBy weaponBy weaponBy weaponBy weapon
Special Attacks:NilNilNilSee belowNilSpells
Special Defenses:NilNilNilSee belowNilNil
Magic Resistance:NilNilNilNilNilNil
Size:M (6' tall)M (6' tall)M (6' tall)M (6' tall)M (6' tall)M (6' tall)
Morale:Steady (11-12)Average (8-10)Average (8-10)Elite (15-16)Average (8-10)Elite (15-16)
XP Value:3535356565120

Human (Athas)Ex-slave

Slavery is an integral part of the Athasian culture and crucial to the continuing economic success of the cities and villages of Athas. Slaves do most of the physical work, from common labor, such as fixing a wagon wheel, to more creative labor, such as the arts, that most freeman appreciate but view the creation as beneath them. Though slavery has become so important to the freeman, it doesn't mean these indentured individuals are well-treated. Many slaves would rather take their chances in the barren wilds than continue in the servitude of their often cruel masters. Most ex-slaves either die from dehydration or starvation or find their way to one of the hundreds of slave tribes inhabiting the Athasian wilds.

Combat: The slave tribes include individuals with many diverse skills. Most, however, have been trained in the basics of combat The weapons used are as diverse as their skills Each ex-slave is likely to have the following weapons:

Weapon1d10Damage (S-M/L)
Obsidian-tipped spear3-41d6/1d8
Obsidian long sword7-81d8/1d12
Bone battle axe9-10 1d8/1d8

For every 10 ex-slaves encountered, there is one 5th level fighter with AC7, THAC0 16, and a 50% chance of minimal psionics (as 1st level psionicist) that acts as their sergeant. In addition to standard weapons, the sergeant carries 1-6 (1d6) throwing spears. For every 50 slaves there is also a 7th level gladiator with AC 5, THAC0 14, and with a dejada (1d8/1d6, The Complete Gladiators Handbook) in addition to any two of the above weapons. In tribes of 100 or more, there is one 10th level gladiator with AC 3, THAC0 11, and a 75% chance of possessing a psionic wild talent. This individual is the general or chief of the tribe. There is also a 75% chance of the tribe having an 8th level preserver with AC 8. THAC0 18, and Dmg 1-6 (staff), and an 8th level psionicist with AC 8 and THAC0 16.

Habitat/Society: The slave-tribes are likely to have completely different cultures. Some tribes survive by farming and hunting in villages of 50-500 people. Others raid nearby villages and cities in bands of 4-24 raiders. Yet others sell their services to local cities and towns for food and equipment. Their hierarchy can be rigid with strict codes of conduct or they can be less structured with a more democratic system of politics. However, they all share the goal to survive and prosper in spite of the harsh environments they are often forced to inhabit.

Slave tribe leaders usually have a military background. Some have been soldier-slaves, and others, gladiators. Ex-slaves are drawn to the natural leadership ability of such military types. These leaders usually possess both combat ability and strategic military thinking. If the tribe starts to falter or enters long-term hardship as a result of poor leadership, the general will probably be challenged by another powerful military type. Assuming such combat is not to the death (a giant leap of faith in these often savage tribes) a chief so deposed does not remain with the tribe, but takes his chances alone in the wilderness.

There are few hard and fast laws that govern all slave tribes. Slave tribes relish their freedom. Slaves tend to live for the moment, taking enjoyment and pleasure where they can find it. They are known to have feasts as frequently as the cruel geography allows a bountiful harvest, hunt, or raid. Though they might appear a little carefree by Athasian standards, they are ever watchful of those who would take their freedom away. Trust is given only to those individuals who have earned that trust. Strangers wandering into a tribal village are either killed immediately or taken captive and killed later.

One attribute that tribes share is that individuals sublimate their own wants and desires to achieve the greater good of the tribe. Individuals not adhering to this code damage the tribe's ability to survive and are punished or cast from the tribe, depending on the severity of the offense.

Most tribes share a common method of settling disputes. Since the leadership of all tribes has its roots firmly entrenched in military thinking, most disputes are settled with swords and fists.


Herdsmen are nomadic people organized into douars or clans that consist of no more than a dozen or so families. Generally, they herd erdlus, a large flightless, featherless bird, though mekillot, kanks, z'tal (small upright lizards), and jankx (small, furred mammals) are also frequently herded. Each clan has only one type of animal in its herd and has no expertise with other herd beasts.

Combat: While one might assume that herdsmen are an easy opponent in combat, nothing could be farther from the truth. Herds are frequently the target of raiding parties and thieves and these nomadic herdsman have learned to protect their livelihood the hard way.through experience. In combat, herdsmen generally use obsidian-tipped spears (1db/1d5 damage). These spears can be either thrown or used in close combat. Herdsmen usually carry a herding staff that can double as a weapon in combat (1d6 damage).

These tribes maintain a number of combat-trained herd beasts that respond to the commands of the herdsmen. No more than 36 HD of these attack creatures are maintained by the douar as more than that might make the beasts too independent and combative. The number of beasts depends on the type of beast being herded (2-12 erdlu, 1-3 mekillot, 3-18 kanks, 3-18 z'tal, or 6-36 jankx). The creatures attack as a unit similar to an intelligent creature because of the commands of the trainer. If the trainer is killed, silenced, or rendered unconscious, the herd beasts flee in unison in a random direction. Any being in combat must successfully save vs. petrification or be trampled by the herd, receiving 3-12 (3d4) points of damage.

The douar has a leader, a 7th-level preserver, who lends support using spells and missile weapons. There is a 30% chance the clan has a shaman, a 5th-level elemental priest who lends spell support.

Habitat/Society: Herdsmen spend their entire lives among the herd and have developed a culture that centers around the beasts. The language of a douar, while resembling the common tongue, always contains words, phrases, sounds, and semantics that to the outsider are alien and primitive. These forms of communication often send very sophisticated and complex messages. Often there exists no translation to the common tongue of the messages sent by the herdsmen. These dialects vary from douar to douar, even among the clans that herd the same beasts. The douar also wear the hide, bone, hair, or shell of their herd beasts as clothing. To outsiders, the herdsman scent is offensive, as they use the musk of their beasts to mask their human nature from the herd. Herdsmen exude a very primitive and bestial appearance.

The herdsmen have ceremonies and celebrations of almost religious significance. They have an extreme reverence for nature and the land, on which all their beliefs are based. The herdsmen recognize no land ownership. The land can't be owned as it will be there long after the youngest die.

The clan is headed by a 7th-level preserver. This chief has a 50% chance of possessing psionics as a 3rd-level psionicist. There is also a 30% chance the clan has a shaman (a 5th-level elemental priest) who acts as an advisor to the chieftain, as well as healer and diviner.

Because of the herdsmen's reverence of the land, they respect and welcome druids, preservers, and others who tend and nurture the land. However, those who cause destruction to the land, such as defilers, are greeted with enmity and scorn. Few defilers leave the presence of a douar alive.

Dune Traders

In a land as desolate and brutal as Athas, getting goods from one city to another is often a trying and dangerous task. This is the role that the dune traders have taken upon themselves. These traders are organized into hundreds of merchant houses that deal in legal and illegal contraband. While the peasantry and working classes often view the traders as kind-hearted and praise their arrival, the sorcerer kings and their templars believe the houses are threatening to their power. Most of the ruling class, though, tolerates the traders as a necessary evil since the health and happiness of their subjects often rely on the goods brought to market by these traveling merchants.

Combat: Dune traders avoid conflict if possible. The traders have learned to treat all courteously. However, there are many both in the wilds of Athas and in the more “civilized” cities that would take their goods from them by force. This would not be in anyone's best interest Therefore, as a necessity of life, the traders have learned to defend themselves and their wares.

Traders always carry small, concealed weapons. In cities and villages, this is frequently the only form of weapon carried as they don't wish to attract any undue attention or give others the impression that they are carrying valuable cargo. Therefore, a trader might be proficient with one of the following weapons:

Weapon1d10Damage (S-M/L)
Puchik (complete gladiator)7-81d4+1/1d4+1
Wrist razor9-101d6+1/1d4+1

When traveling through the wilds, traders also carry larger weapons to protect themselves and their wares from raiders and brigands. A trader usually carries one of the following:

Weapon1d4Damage (S-M/L)
Long sword21d8/1d12
Footman's pick41d6+1/2d4

Also, these traveling merchants always carry some form of missile weapon, generally a long bow or light crossbow.

If forced into combat, dune traders usually fight to incapacitate, not kill. There are few instances where killing makes for a conducive trading atmosphere and so it is generally avoided There is a 75% chance that any puncturing or slashing weapon carried by a trader is treated with a paralyzing poison intended to incapacitate opponents. A victim successfully hit by a weapon treated in such a manner must make a successful save vs. poison or be incapacitated for 1-12 (1d12) rounds.

Dune traders have 3rd level thief abilities (for attacks, use the Thieves Table). They usually wear leather armor (AC 8).

Habitat/Society: Athas has come to rely on the coming and going of the dune trader. The ruling classes are threatened by the power of the merchant houses. The commoners, though, greet the traders with open arms for the treasures and news they bring from far-off lands.

Every merchant house adheres to different rules and customs, but there are several codes of conduct that the houses generally have in common. Traders must forsake all citizenship to cities, their families are the merchant houses, and traders must take an oath of allegiance. Traders must deal honestly and fairly and in the best interests of the house. These merchants must obey the laws and customs of the city where they are stationed and must avoid bringing the law to the house. Finally, traders must cooperate with other merchants, even of other houses, and make life difficult (expensive) for those who wrong another merchant. A trader who disobeys these codes faces the possibility of expulsion from the merchant house.

Dune traders have learned to accept and deal with all intelligent life on Athas. Humans, elves, half-giants, dwarves, thri-kreen, gith, and even halflings are all traded with equally and fairly. A trader never passes an opportunity to make a profit for himself and his house.

In the eyes of the houses, business extends far beyond the transaction. In small villages where the citizens can rarely pay in equal trade for the necessities of life, traders have been known to make deals in exchange for food, lodging, or a safe haven in the more remote areas of Athas. As far as these traders are concerned, this is just good business. One day these people may be in a position to return the favor. In a savage land such as Athas, eventually such methods are bound to pay off.


The gladiatorial arena is the premier form of entertainment on Athas. Some gladiators are slaves, others have been bred and trained for the purpose, and a few do so as a personal choice. Regardless of the reason they are there, the survivors are frequently pampered and provided for. As a result, the standard of living for gladiators is far higher than that of the average Athasian. Yet it is not uncommon for long-term survivors of the arena to grow bored or even contemptuous of the senseless brutality and lack of purpose behind these contests. Many gladiators to escape their lives in the hopes of finding some higher purpose to their existence.

Combat: Ex-gladiators are among the most talented and skilled warriors on Athas. Their training goes far beyond the skills of weapon and fist. They have been trained in all aspects of combat. Ex-gladiators generally use the tools of the arena in combat though they can use any weapon and suffer no penalties. Weapons of choice to ex-gladiators include any two of the following:

Weapon1d12Damage (S-M/L)
Double-bladed spear5-61d8/1d8
Wrist razor11-121d6+1/1d4+1

Any attack made by ex-gladiators with weapons of their choice is made at +1 because of the skill attained in the many combats fought in the ring.

In unarmed combat gladiators gain a +4 bonus to all punching and wrestling attack rolls. This bonus can be used as a plus or a minus after the attack roll is made. Consult the Player's Handbook punching and wrestling tables before making this decision.

Ex-gladiators frequenty resort to dirty tricks to give themselves an edge. The type of trick varies from individual to individual. Some may throw sand in their opponent's face, while others may feign injury more severe than actually incurred. A successful dirty trick allows ex-gladiators to accomplish things otherwise not possible against more attentive opponents. Opponents must make a successful Wisdom check at -2 or fall for the ruse. If successful, the trick allows gladiators a +l to initiative, attack, or damage, or it allows a -1 to be applied to their opponent for any of the aforementioned. For each successive trick attempted against the same opponent, the Wisdom check is made at a cumulative +2.

Ex-gladiators have learned to identify the weaknesses of their foes. A roll of 10 or less on a 1d20 allows gladiators to identify their target's weakness, whether it be in an awkward fighting style, damaged armor, or some other reason. For one round only, ex-gladiators can make a called shot (+1 initiative, -4 to attack) and if successful, all damage that round is doubled. After that round, most intelligent creatures mask that weakness from exposure. It is possible, however, that multiple gladiators attacking one opponent could exploit the weakness several times at the DM's discretion.

Leather armor is one of the most readily available forms of protection, so ex-gladiators usually wear it. The armor, along with their quickness in combat, provides them with AC 7. Ex-gladiators have learned to maximize the effectiveness of their armor. By moving and dodging the impact of weapons, they can lower their AC by 1 full point.

Habitat/Society: A gladiator's life is combat. It is not just a way of life for these warriors, it is an art form. They are interested in all forms of combat and war and study the styles and forms of any effective warrior. They are also intrigued by new weapons and spend hours practicing with them to become proficient. Ex-gladiators' fascination for combat goes far beyond man-to-man fighting. They also have a deep respect for the tactics and strategies involved in warfare. It is frequently this desire for something more and grander that leads gladiators to flee the arena. Ex-gladiators tend to seek some purpose to which they can apply their greatly honed skills. It is common to find these individuals performing pivotal roles in the slave tribes and villages of Athas.


Nobles are the “ruling classes” of the city states on Athas. They control the farmlands and water that support life in these places. They are usually easy to identify as they generally travel with an entourage of personal bodyguards and are dressed in silks and finery not usually afforded to the masses.

Combat: Nobles avoid combat at all costs. They find it distasteful and beneath them. If forced into combat, nobles usually use a short sword to protect themselves. There is a 50% chance the noble possesses psionics as a 3rd-level psionicist.

When traveling, members of nobility are generally accompanied by 2-12 (2d6) members of their slave armies that act as body guards. These guards are 3rd-level fighters that carry long swords and shields (AC 7) and wear leather armor. One of the guards is a sergeant (5th-level fighter equipped with a long sword and a light crossbow, wearing chainmail and carrying a shield [AC 5]). These guards fight to the death to protect their master, not out of love or respect, but out of fear of what would happen if their liege were injured or even killed.

Habitat/Society: The noble families are among the few legitimate landed classes in the city-states and one of the few classes of people permitted to openly display knowledge of reading and writing. They control the flow of produce and water to the city-states. There are few precedents in history in which new nobility is created. Only in extreme service to the sorcerer king can an individual loin the ranks of the “ruling class”. Such a service would need to be legendary in magnitude. Even if this were the case, a king is as likely to execute such an individual, viewing him as a threat to the crown. The nobility is a hereditary class that perpetuates land ownership from sire to offspring.

Each noble family elects one member to sit on the parliamentary council. In theory, this council's purpose is to act in an advisory capacity to the king. In reality, the council does little more than attempt to maintain the status quo. It is a rare occasion that a member of council will object to a royal edict and then only when the desires of the monarch would disrupt the influence of nobility. Nobles care little for the desires of the commoners and are only concerned with issues that effect their families or their wealth. When nobles do oppose the ruler it is not uncommon for a series of convenient accidents or assassinations occur to those opposed to the king

It is always in the best interest of nobility to protect the city and their own interests. They can be counted on to dedicate all their resources to that end, so nobles are permitted to maintain personal armies of slaves. In emergencies the king can enlist the services of these armies in defense of the city. Because of the intrigues and political insurrection that accompany day-to-day life in the cities, these armies are often used against other noble houses or templars, but never against the sorcerer king or his troops.


Templars are the clergymen devoted to the sorcerer-king of their city. While similar to elemental clerics (the templar is granted spells for devotion and worship), templars draw their mystical power from magical energies of their sorcerer king, not from the elemental planes. Because of the significant amount of energy that spell granting drains from the liege and the surrounding land, templars ask for and are granted only a few spells in relation to other clerics.

Combat: Templars use both their spell abilities and weapons in combat They prefer to avoid combat personally, so unless surprised, most templars cast spells intended to incapacitate their opponents. Such spells as hold person or charm person are often used to subdue .criminals, in order to bring them to trial, convict them, and sentence them to the arena. This brings pleasure to their king and prestige to themselves.

Templars have, however, been educated in the art of combat. Before their years of devotion to the order, all templars are required to undergo intense physical training. Templars are not restricted as to weaponry or armor, but most wear leather armor (AC 8) and are equipped with short swords (1d6/1d8). There is a 25% chance that templars are accompanied by 3-12 (3d4) soldiers (AC 8, 2 HD, #AT 1, Dmg 1-8) and a sergeant (AC 5, 5 HD, #AT 1, Dmg 1-8).

Habitat/Society: As agents of the sorcerer-kings' will, templars are feared and despised by common city-dwellers. These priests are known for their abuse of power and blindly enforce the laws of the king. Often their punishments are unjust and unwarranted. The most powerful and influential individuals have the power to investigate, arrest, accuse, and convict a suspect. This suspect can be as lowly as a slave or as important as a noble. Templars are also corrupt and can be bought by the highest bidder. Complaints of this corruption tend to get lost in the administrative bureaucracy.

Templars, like nobles, are permitted to know the arts of reading and writing. With religious zeal, they enforce the laws preventing other classes from attaining this knowledge. They perceive knowledge as power and if others can attain this knowledge, the power of the templars is diluted.