Dark Sun Rules

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Below are some rules associated with situations that will come up frequently while adventuring in Athas.


The following items are widely available across the Tyr Region.

Desert Clothing: Loose clothing in light colors reflects heat and retains the body’s moisture. When wearing desert clothing, you gain a +1 item bonus to Endurance checks against environmental dangers.
Disguise: A disguise consists of a convincing outfit, makeup, and other accoutrement needed to pass oneself off as someone else. A disguise grants a +2 bonus to Bluff checks made to appear as someone else.
Distillation Kit: Desert travelers use distillation kits to extract water from wastes or toxic fluids. The device “cooks” moisture from the materials and collects it in a reservoir. Using a distillation kit for 6 hours produces 1 day’s worth of water.
Dowsing Rod: This forked rod can be used to ferret out hidden water reservoirs. It grants a +2 bonus to Nature checks made to forage.
Filter Mask: Affixing this mask over the face allows the wearer to breathe normally in adverse conditions, such as a dust storm.
Fire Kit: A fire kit includes sticks and a small bow. It is used to start a fire.
Rope, Giant Hair: Woven from tough strands of giant hair, this rope is used for making strong cord. Giant hair rope has resist 10 to all damage.
Sun Balm: Travelers value sun balm to ward against the sun’s pernicious effect. Sun balm grants a +2 bonus to Endurance checks made to endure heat.
Survival Day: A survival day is an abstract representation of the preparations a traveler must make to navigate the wastelands without risk of exposure. Each survival day includes water, food, proper apparel, and common unguents to ward off sunburn.


Item Price Weight
Desert clothing 10 gp 3 lb.
Disguise 10 gp 6 lb.
Distillation kit 50 gp 20 lb.
Dowsing rod 20 gp 5 lb.
Filter mask 1 gp -
Fire kit 1 gp -
Rope, giant hair 10 gp 10 lb.
Sun balm 50 gp 1 lb.
Survival day 5 gp 8 lb.


At heart, a magic item’s purpose is to ensure that a character has the defenses and accuracy needed to confront the challenges of the game world. Magic weapons and implements keep attack modifiers high, while neck slot items and armor help ensure that characters survive their encounters. Replacing magic items with alternative rewards means fewer chances for the heroes to acquire key items. Without a means to compensate for such decreased resources, characters’ capacities would lag behind those of their opponents. Encounters at any given level become more challenging and character death more frequent.

You can redress the magic equipment shortage by adopting a set of fixed enhancement bonuses similar to those detailed in Dungeon Master’s Guide 2 (in the sidebar on page 138). At discrete levels, characters gain flat bonuses to attack rolls, damage rolls, and defenses. These flat bonuses do not stack with enhancement bonuses gained from magic items, and they progress at a slightly slower rate. As a result, magic swords, armor, and amulets retain their appeal. Use the following table to assign fixed enhancement bonuses to player characters based on their levels.


Level Attack/Damage Defenses Level Attack/Damage Defenses
1st +0 +0 16th +3 +3
2nd +1 +0 17th +4 +3
3rd +1 +0 18th +4 +3
4th +1 +1 19th +4 +4
5th +1 +1 20th +4 +4
6th +1 +1 21st +4 +4
7th +2 +1 22nd +5 +4
8th +2 +1 23rd +5 +4
9th +2 +2 24th +5 +5
10th +2 +2 25th +5 +5
11th +2 +2 26th +5 +5
12th +3 +2 27th +6 +5
13th +3 +2 28th +6 +5
14th +3 +3 29th +6 +6
15th +3 +3 30th +6 +6
  • When you score a critical hit, you deal 1d6 extra damage per point of fixed enhancement bonus to the attack roll.


The myriad perils of the wastelands await anyone who leaves the relative safety offered by civilization. For those who are adequately prepared, you can summarize the travel experience as you would in other game world. For those without the proper supplies, however, Athasian journeys are desperate affairs.

Characters navigating the wilderness fall into one of two states: supplied or unsupplied. Supplied characters must consume a certain amount of provisions each day to avoid dehydration and starvation. Unsupplied characters must manage to do without the food and water they need. People can live without food for weeks if necessary, but as little as three days without water can kill. Most Athasians can survive on a half-gallon of water per day – they’ve had thousands of years to become acclimated to the conditions on their world. A Large creature requires 2’ gallons of water per day, and a Huge creature needs 10 gallons of water per day. To be supplied, a creature must do one of the following.

  • Spend at least part of the day in a city, village, outpost, or oasis.
  • Expend a survival day worth of supplies (see below).
  • Use the Nature skill to forage successfully (see Player’s Handbook, page 186).


Currency serves a purpose in the marketplaces and trade emporiums, but no coins, jewels, or precious metal can save a dehydrated traveler from the crimson sun. Athasians value life’s necessities: food, water, proper clothing, and a bit of shade from the sun.

A survival day serves as a shorthand method for managing the resources needed for a trip through the wastes. Each survival day represents sufficient water and food for one person to get through a day’s walk across the countryside. The supplies also include salve to protect the skin from the sun, clothing designed to retain body moisture, and insulation to ward off the night’s chill after the sun sets.

Obtaining Survival Days: These daily rations are available to characters in the following ways. Not all of these are available in all locations, but it will give you a basic idea.
  • Survival days are available for purchase in most civilized places at the rate of 5 gp each.
  • A PC may combine a half-gallon of water with food sufficient for 1 day (gathering such supplies might carry no cost in an area where water is available and food can be hunted).
  • Supplies for one or more survival days may be found in treasure or as quest rewards.

Expending Survival Days: After each extended rest, a character can expend a survival day to become supplied until the next extended rest or until 24 hours pass, whichever occurs first. Supplied characters are not susceptible to sun sickness.

Selling Survival Days: In the desert, survival days are valuable enough to be sold or traded at their normal value (5 gp each). Indeed, an explorer dying of thirst would likely pay a king’s ransom for a single survival day. Where people are near sources of water and food, however, they can obtain supplies for far less than 5 gp per day’s worth. In those areas, survival days aren’t easy to sell.


Scarce resources, sudden storms,and dangerous predators come and go. The extreme temperatures caused by Athas’ sun, however, are relentless. Precautions mitigate this danger for a time, but can never eliminate it.

Each daylight period that an unsupplied character or mount travels through the wilderness, Athas makes an attack against Fortitude. On a hit, the target contracts sun sickness. If a creature suffering from sun sickness is hit again, it loses one healing surge or hit points equal to its healing surge value if it has no healing surges left.

Resting by Day: Adventurers who take extended rests during the day remain subject to contracting sun sickness, but they gain a +4 bonus to Fortitude against such attacks.

Sun Sickness Level equals character level
The sun’s punishing rays leech vitality from your body.
Attack: Level +2 vs. Fortitude at heroic tier, level +4 vs. Fortitude at paragon tier, level +6 vs. Fortitude at epic tier.
Endurance improve hard DC, maintain average DC, worsen average DC -1 or less.

The target is cured. < Initial Effect: The target loses one healing surge or hit points equal to the target’s surge value. < > The target takes a -2 penalty to all attack rolls and defenses. > Final State: The target dies.


Sun sickness can be avoided by waiting for the sun to set before undertaking a journey. This strategy carries a different set of risks. At night, temperatures plummet, a stark contrast to the intolerable heat of the day. For each 8-hour period spent traveling by night, an adventurer must succeed on an Endurance check against a moderate DC or lose one healing surge (or hit points equal to the character’s healing surge value if no healing surges are available).


Nonmetal weapons break more easily than metal ones. A broken item is at best an improvised weapon. Damaged magic weapons lose their enhancement, properties, and powers until repaired. The following options simulate the relative fragility of nonmetal weapons, making combat more unpredictable and exciting.

Reckless Breakage: When you roll a natural 1 on an attack roll, your weapon has a chance to break. You can accept the result, automatically missing the attack as usual, but keeping your weapon intact. Alternatively, you can reroll. Regardless of the reroll result, a nonmetal weapon breaks once the attack is complete. A metal weapon, however, breaks only if you roll a natural 5 or lower on the reroll. This rule gives you a say in whether a weapon breaks. You can play it safe and accept the errant attack,or you can attempt to avoid a miss by risking your weapon.

Dark Sun Rules

Original Sin Jozh