D&D’s Spelljammer Brings Back a Black Sun Mechanic


The Spelljammer campaign for Dungeons & Dragons introduced Defiler Magic from Dark Sun, bringing this old mechanic into the new edition.

The Spelljammer campaign setting has finally returned to Dungeons & Dragons, and he brought with him a mechanism for the Dark Sun setting, albeit in a form that is only used by monsters. Dark Sun debuted around the time of TO ADD as a setting where magic has destroyed the world of Athas, turning much of the planet into a desert. This is because Athas has no Weave equivalent, which means the magic is powered by the life force of vegetation.

In the Dark Sun setting, there are two types of arcane spellcasters: Defilers and Preservers. The Defilers have no problem draining life from the last remaining plant life on Athas, in order to power their spells and smite their foes. The most powerful of the Defilers are the Witch-kings, who perform terrible rituals to transform themselves into dragons. The Preservers use magic in a way that doesn’t kill plant life, but it takes longer to use and isn’t as powerful as Defiler’s magic. The most powerful among the conservatives are trying to transform themselves into one of the J&Dthe strongest monsters in: an Avangion. They are well-aligned monsters that can match dragons in strength, and could be the only hope left for Athas. The Defilers control much of Athas, especially since there is already a fully formed dragon on the loose (according to the timeline), but there are still heroes out in the wasteland, seeking to save the world from the destruction of the environment.

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There is currently no word regarding an updated version of Dark Sun for J&D 5th, although it’s still possible, as there’s another classic campaign setting set to return in 2023. The most recent classic campaign setting to return is Spelljammer, in the Spelljammer: Adventures in Space box. Spelljammer: Adventures in Space has a monster book, called Boo’s Astral Menageriewhich has a surprising reference to Dark Sun.

Spelljammer has Defiler magic from Dark Sun

Boo’s Astral Menagerie has statistics for the Ssurrans, which are the lizards of Athas, although there is no reference to their homeworld in the book. One thing the Spelljammer Ssurrans possess is Dark Sun Defiler magic. The Ssurran Defiler monster has a 6 cooldown ability called Defile, which drains life from vegetation within 10 feet of the caster and deals 4d10 necrotic damage to living things in the same area, healing the Ssurran Defiler for each creature that casts its saving throw.


It’s strange that Boo’s Astral Menagerie does not refer to Athas by name, although the setting has been verified in the past in other books. The fact that the Ssurrans appear and have access to a form of desecration magic is interesting, but it’s probably just a fanservice reference to a classic setting. Planescape is likely to be the next comeback J&D frame, and Ssurrans will give the only taste of Defiler magic in the current edition of Dungeons & Dragonsat least for a little while.

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