The Burnt World of Athas

The official Dark Sun website

An Interview with Troy Denning

The following interview was conducted by retiered member Eric Anondson in August of 2001. Eric: I made contact with Troy Denning at GenCon just a couple weekends ago. I got to ask many questions that had been burning my mind. Afterwards, as expected, I remembered many many more questions which I would have loved to have answered. I made contact again with Troy on a Writers website he is a member of and posted a request on its writers forum to ask Troy some more follow up questions. He politely obliged, here is a compilation of everything I asked and his answers.


1st: Regarding Clerics.
Eric: Athas in the Dark Sun boxed set "has no gods." Clerics pray to the elements instead. There are a few undead creatures which are sustained by their belief in the gods they worshipped from the Green Age (The raaig from the 1,001 Faces of Undeath article in Dragon, and the wraiths of the Crimson Shrine in Undertyr). I know that no material was ever going to be published to declare whether or not gods ever existed on Athas. Could you enlighten how this situation worked for the raaig and the wraith of Undertyr?

Troy: Sorry, I don't think Tim and I are ready to say whether gods ever existed on Athas or not. (We're STILL arguing about it!)

2nd: Preservers and Defilers.
Eric: In the seminar at GenCon you stated how you as an author sometimes find it unavoidable to clash with the "game mechanics" if the mechanics get in the way of the story. The DS Rulebook presented the defiler and preserver as separate and distinct classes. That said, was Sadira's jumping the fence of defiling to preserving and back again the >exception< to the rule, or was her bouncing back and forth from defiling and preserving intended to be the actual way wizards might work?

Troy: It was a very special exception to the rule--probably even unique--due toher experiences at the Pristine Tower.

Follow up to 2nd:
Eric: But what would explain her use of defiling >before< she had the Pristine Tower experience?
Troy: She became a defiler. Any preserver can become a defiler; it's going back that's hard.

Eric: I remember you said that TSR kept you at arms length from Dark Sun after your initial work. What is your opinion of the "alternate" wizard types that were introduced near the end of the Dark Sun line. The Shadow Wizard that empowers spells from the Black. The Necromancer that empowers spells from the Gray. And the Cerulean Wizard that empowers spells from the Cerulean Storm.

Troy: They sound cool, but I'd have to try them in a campaign to see if I liked playing with them. Probably wouldn't use them in a novel, but who can be sure?

Eric: What was the inspiration (or design goal) for Bards to be masters of poisons and to remove spellcasting ability along with it?

Troy: Can’t remember, sorry.

Eric: Were the para-elemental clerics a concept which you and Tim had planned on, or was that completely a concept introduced by later designers?

Troy: Elemental clerics were part of the original plan. The others weren't my idea.

Eric: What is your opinion of Athasian para-elemental clerics?

Troy: Not gonna go there.

Eric: Was there ever a firm decision (when you and Tim were designing) where on a globe the Tablelands was located? Close to the Equator, northern hemisphere, southern hemisphere... that kind of thing.

Troy: Nope. Originally, there was just going to be the one map, and it didn't matter where it was.

Eric: Was there ever discussion where Athas fit in its solar system?
Troy: Of course, we discussed the implications of having a "dark sun" and what that might mean (and don't ask me to explain it--I can't remember)—but beyond that, not really.

Eric: There was some speculation by fans that Athas was actually a satellite of Guthay.
Troy: Interesting idea.

Eric: Should Athas be considered to be "earth-sized"?

Troy: If it fits the campaign.

Eric: Did you and/or Tim ever sketch out the "Green Age" coastline of the sea that became the Sea of Silt? Or the lake that dried up and became the Ivory Plain?

Troy: Not beyond what are in the boxed set maps.

Eric: Were there other "Champions" that Rajaat made which have not been "documented"?

Troy: Certainly. But even I don't know who.

Eric: Did Rajaat have plans or schemes occurring on Athas outside the Tablelands? Did his Cleansing Wars spread across the planet or were they limited to a continent or even just a region of a continent?

Troy: It was centered on the Tablelands; how far it spread remains to be seen.

Eric: Sadira's half-sister defiled a pool of water atop the Pristine Tower and a brownish color began to swirl around in it. Was this pool of water a remnant of the original ocean-water that the Blue Age halflings used for their bio-technology creations? Was the brown coloring a hint at the "brown tide" that the proto-halflings fought at the end of the Blue Age?

Troy: Sounds like something I'd do, doesn't it? :) After this Troy asked that him and I put a moratorium on Dark Sun questions while he gets back on schedule with his deadlines.
I knew you would all enjoy seeing some of these and I just had to send these along!

Eric Anondson


Software Developer living in northern Virginia