Dark Sun: Seared to the bone
Psionics and Magic
Psionic power is prevalent on Athas, and many natives practice the psionic arts. Widely known as “the Way,” prionics serves the same purposes that arcane and divine magic serve on other worlds. It offers a potent weapon against enemies, a sturdy shield against harm, and the ability to perceive hidden things. Most nobles and merchants employ talented psionic masters to advise them, spy for them, and foil the efforts of masters who work for their rivals. Poor or nomadic Athasians who miss the chance to train their powers formally can develop wild talents, psionic abilities that can be surprisingly powerful. More than one gladiator has died in surprise after a foe in the arena used a wild talent to telekinetically grab a discarded weapon or teleport a potion fruit to a wounded ally.
Arcane magic is dangerous and uncommon. Without taking special care – by using the technique of “preserving” – an arcane spellcaster can defile the immediate surroundings by casting a spell. Fundamental vitality is leeched away: Plants wither, animals and people suffer crippling pain, and the soil at the site of the casting is drained such that nothing will grow in that spot again. Because of this harm done to the world, those who use arcane magic are hated and persecuted across Athas. They must practice their arts in secret or seek the patronage of a sorcerer-king and gain the ruler’s sanction for their spellcasting.
Primal magic is more widespread than arcane magic, although it is rarely practiced in the cities. Out in the barrens, wielders of primal magic serve as healers and defenders of their villages or tribes. Shamans, druids, wardens, and other primal wielders are regarded with deep suspicion by the templars who dislike the notion of magic that lies outside the control of their tyrannical overlords.
Divine magic is virtually unknown on Athas. The gods of old have been silent for dozens of centuries. The ruins of ancient shrines and fragments of crumbling texts in the sorcerer-kings’ libraries suggest that the gods were more active in the past. In the absence of true divinities, Athasians turn to other types of gods. Some sorcerer-kings pretend to godhood and build false mythologies, encouraging their subjects to worship them. Other Athasians venerate the primal spirits of the world or turn to cults of demons or primordials. Unfortunately for worshipers, a primordial makes for a grim and uncaring deity, taking little notice of its mortal servants.