A Defiling move for Dark Sun:

A Defiling move for Dark Sun:

A Defiling move for Dark Sun:

Add up to half the spell’s level to your Cast a Spell roll. Defile an area, in a radius equal to the level of the spell, of plants and small creatures (insects, small lizards and birds, etc).

Double this area to defile only plant matter if present.

Halve this area to defile only higher order creatures and people if present; the latter, including you, take total damage equal to your adjusted roll (allocated as you desire). You may choose to take no damage from this move but each other creature or person that takes damage in this way must suffer at least 1 point.


18 thoughts on “A Defiling move for Dark Sun:”

  1. Note that it’s the total roll, not just the bonus granted from this move. So if in your example the caster rolls 8 on the dice, has an Int of +3, and gets a +2 from this move, they can potentially inflict 13hp damage on those in the defiling area if they choose.

    I want to reflect defiling in Dark Sun accurately, since it’s one of the most important aspects of the setting. I am really reluctant to handwave it or narrate it, despite DW being that sort of game. It’s meant to be impactful and shocking, so I want to codify it.

    And yeah, it is a big bonus. That’s deliberate. Consider the setting: Athas is a world destroyed by this kind of magic. That kind of magic is meant to be easy and destructive. The bonus can get you over the line into 7-9 or 10+, but it’s going to impact the world, which is exactly how defiling is presented in the fiction.

  2. This is how I would represent it, but that’s just a quick stab at it. I think the original move presented is accurate for the setting, but a little too fiddly to “feel” right for the game.

    When You Draw Power From An Area

    10+ If you are attempting to preserve the area, you draw power successfully. If you are defiling an area, local plant life is destroyed and some of the natural life force of those around you are diminished, choose three from the defilling list below

    7-9 You can draw enough power to cast a spell without defiling the area, but you either do your damage dice in hit points to yourself, or you take a debility in a physical stat for the rest of the scene. If you are defiling, choose 1 from the list below:

    Defiling List

    Take +1 forward on your next spell cast

    Gather enough power for a second spell without drawing power from an area

    Cause another living thing to take -1 forward

    Deal your damage die to yourself, and add that same damage to the next damaging spell you cast

    Deal your damage die to another character

  3. What I like about Jared’s move is that it doesn’t reduce the appearance of 7-9 results, but honestly increases them. 7-9 results drive the most interesting parts of the story, so imo that’s what moves should prioritize.

  4. Jan Berger it’s in keeping with the setting. It’s one of the reasons that Defiling magic, while iconic for the setting and instrumental in its current state, is almost universally outlawed.

  5. I should have probably put another option under the defiler list:

    If there is a druid nearby, your defiling doesn’t automatically altert them to your the power you just gathered

  6. Depends on which version of Dark Sun you are trying to emulate, as some of them were more “defiling is a choice that leads to corruption” than others.

    I might take a different tact than the moves above.

    First, change the Cast a Spell move to include the following choice on a 7-9:

    o Force the spell to succeed by defiling: drawing energy from nearby surrounding plants, turning them to ash.

    Then, create a Defiler compendium class:

    Once you have defiled an area to power your magic, you qualify to be a Defiler. (yadda yadd).

    Initial move: You lose your Prepare Spells move, replacing it with:

    When you spend uninterrupted time (an hour or so) pulling power from surrounding area, you:

    o Turn all plant life in the area to ash

    o Lose any spells you already have prepared

    o Prepare new spells of your choice from your spellbook whose total levels don’t exceed your own level+1.

    o Take +1 ongoing to cast a spell

    o Prepare your cantrips which never count against your limit.

    Other Move 1: When you fail casting a spell, you may defile to treat the result as a 7-9 result, though you must choose one of the non-defiling choices.

    Other Move 2: When you defile, you may draw energy from animals as well. If you do, choose one:

    o The spell’s effects are doubled

    o The spell’s targets are doubled

    Other Move 3: When you perform a Ritual, you choose one of the GM’s specified conditions and replace it with with:

    o You must defile a large area surrounding the ritual site. The GM will tell you how large.

  7. Lester Ward: nailed it.

    Some minor tweaks that I’d make:

    Revise the wizard’s Cast a Spell, replacing “The spell disturbs the fabric of reality as it is cast—take ongoing-1 to cast a spell until the next time you Prepare Spells” with “You defile the area around you, turning plants to ash and killing soil. Mark 1 circle below.”

    Then give them like 5-10 circles. When you mark the last circle, you automatically gain the Defiler compendium class.

    Reasoning: by replacing the “take ongoing-1 to cast a spell” option with “you defile,” it replicates the old Dark Sun idea that defiling is the “easy path” and preservation is difficult. By putting a counter on Defiling, and making it automatically give a compendium class, it plays up the idea that defiling is addictive and seductive, and eventually you have to defile.

  8. The circles may also provide a redemptive path somehow. Like, certain deeds clear circles, and if you clear them all, the compendium class goes away (letting you choose the corresponding number of moves).

  9. Could also do something like, when you are forced to take the compendium class, you have to give up class moves, replacing them with the moves of the compendium class. When/if you redeem yourself, they swap back.

  10. What about reversing the bonus?

    IF YOU CAST A SPELL AND CHOOSE NOT TO PRESERVE, take +1 forward to casting the spell and choose 1 in addition to A, or B (or even C):

    A) The Plant life of the area dies/water is spoiled in a circular diametre of [10/s]feet X spell level cast (10′ in a lush jungle, 10000′ in an arid desert)

    B) Living animals, including you, take damage = casting roll+Spell level; if you choose to avoid hurting yourself

    (C) The GM makes a hard move on the Defilement – campaign front, suggestion 1) An important NPC in the vicciity gets sick 2) and NPC in the viccinity dies, A Dragon takes notice of a rival defiler in the area…)


    —– —

    In addition, when levelling up, take one spent XP if you cast a defiling spell during the current level.

  11. I think it depends on how you view the setting and how Defiling actually works. I think the original boxed set was a little at odds with how the setting was presented in the Prism Pentad.

    In other words, as presented in the rules in the original boxed set, Defiling was a “quicker, easier” path to power that was separate from preserving.

    In the novels, the world is so damaged by defiling magic at this point, preservers don’t actually “not” defile when they cast their spells, but the draw carefully enough from multiple sources that all of those sources can recover from the life force that was drawn from them.

    So its not so much choosing to defile, as it is being careful enough to preserve. Its not “easier” to use defiling, its that the default is that you will defile, but you have to be really careful to draw power in a manner that allows the world to recover in a reasonably short amount of time.

    So the “direction” that the move is oriented is going to reinforce a certain way of expressing how damaged the world is, and how dangerous magic actually is.

    Which is not to say any one way of expressing this is right or wrong, just that, as noted above, different rules supplements and novels didn’t always show the damage to the world and how magic contributed in exactly the same way.

  12. For me, I default to the original boxed set, and the notion that Defiling is the quick and easy, but very destructive, route. Preserving is, to my interpretation, a different way of casting and summoning magic that is much harder, but doesn’t harm the world.

    If defiling seems unbalanced compared to ‘regular’, non-Dark Sun magic, that’s because it is. It’s why Athas is a wasteland.

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