Dark Sun: Grave Burden
All arcane magic is fueled by the world around the sorcerer wielding it. However, some mages abuse the environment and bleed additional power from it, vastly increasing their casting vitality and strength. Defiling can be risky, as the power granted by abusing the environment in this way can be addictive. Defiling also takes its toll on the defiler physically and mentally. When defiling is overused, a sorcerer can become wracked with maladies and aggressive personality changes.
Effects on Magic
Defiling allows a sorcerer to pull additional power from the environment, effectively destroying life to power his arcana. The Defiler gains a number of power points to fuel a spell dependent on the environment he is leeching from:
|Environment||Power points locally available|
|Tier A (lush forest, garden, farmland, etc.)||1d6+5 PP|
|Tier B (sparse trees, thick undergrowth, etc.)||1d4+2 PP|
|Tier C (sparse shrubbery, grass, patches of fungi, etc.)||1d3 PP|
|Tier D (barren or defiled earth)||0 PP|
A defiler may limit the amount of power points he pulls from the environment, but this requires a Willpower roll. Succeeding the roll indicates that the defiler only pulls the desired amount from the environment. Failure indicates that he must accredit all of the locally available power points toward his personal limit (see ‘Short and long-term effects on the defiler’, below). He may not use all of the points acquired depending on the spell he is powering, but the excess power points drained from his surroundings still count toward his limit.
Effects on the Environment
When a defiler leeches life from an area, that area withers and begins to die. Grass, shrubs, and trees begin to turn to ash, crumble, and blow away in the wind. Left behind is a dead scar that paints over the defiled earth. Once an area is defiled, it can take centuries or even millenia to sustain life once again. Most of the land defiled in the ancient wars became vast deserts and wastelands.
The exact area affected depends on the Intensity of the spell cast. Generally, an area equal to [ Spell Intensity x 6 m ] is affected, with the damage gradually tapering off the farther away the defiler. A fertile area degrades by one tier each time a sorcerer defiles it, until that land becomes dead barren earth. Thus, the defiler can keep leeching from an area until it is completely devoid of vegetation (ie exhausted until it’s a ‘Tier D’ environment).
Each time an area degrades down a tier, the amount of power points locally available is re-rolled. The rule-of-thumb is that as long as there is fauna alive in an area, power points can be drained forcefully from them. For example, even if a defiler exhausts all of the locally available power points from a Tier A environment, he can still drain life from it as it degrades into a Tier B environment, as its power point value is independent of its Tier A value.
Effects on living creatures
Only the most skilled wizards can draw power from other living creatures. When a defiler reaches 90% in any Invocation skill, he gains the capacity to defile other living creatures. However, this knowledge is obscure and only known to a small percentage of mages. So, in addition to earning the capacity to harm living creatures with defiling magic directly, a sorcerer would also need to acquire this esoteric knowledge and learn it.
Short and long-term effects on the defiler
Defiling may initially seem harmless or even beneficial, as the sorcerer who defiles feels invigorated and cogent while he conduits excess arcane mana through himself. In delicate moderation, the use of defiling magic keeps adverse effects at bay, but only sorcerers with steadfast willpower are able to accomplish this.
As an axiom, a sorcerer may derive power points through defiling equal to 1/2 POW per rest (round odd values down). If the defiler exceeds this limit, he must pass a Willpower roll or become disposed to addiction. Succeeding this Willpower roll resets his defiling limit and he remains in his current stage of addiction — or lack thereof. Failing this Willpower roll earns the defiler a [cumulative] degree of addiction, as organized in the table below:
|Degree of defiling addiction||Effects on defiler|
|I||Defiler has a 25% chance of giving in to defiling each time he casts for the remainder of the time until his next full-rest. The defiler also receives +2 to Constitution for 1d4 days|
|II||Defiler has a 50% chance of giving in to defiling each time he casts for 1d4 days|
|III||As II, except this stage takes 2d4 days to recover from. The defiler also takes a -2 penalty to Charisma and Constitution as he begins to take on symptoms of defiling addiction|
|IV||As III, except this stage takes 2d8 days to recover from. The defiler takes a -4 penalty to Charisma and Constitution (this doesn’t stack with stage III’s penalties)|
|V||The defiler is no longer able to do anything but defile when casting. As long as the defiler keeps defiling, his Constitution continues to degrade until he dies. At this stage, long-term and expensive medicinal or alchemical treatment is required to rehabilitate the defiler to lesser stages of addiction. Druids can perform miracles to help rid this stage of disease, but rarely are druids known to help defilers.|
At each additional level of disease reached, the defiler’s effective limit resets itself each time a higher or lower stage of addiction is reached.
Symptoms of Defiling
While not always readily apparent in the initial stages of addiction, many addicted defilers show signs of their disease.
- Increased vigor (usually initially, though long-suffering addicts may still feel this when defiling)
- Decreased appetite
- Delusions of granduer
- Erratic speech and thought patterns
- Hair loss
- Itchyness (sometimes severe)
- Pallid and/or clammy skin
- Strange posture (hunching over, or odd positioning)
- Sunken eye-sockets
- Weight loss; and in rare cases, weight gain
- Aggressive and/or agitated behavior
- Decreased levels of energy when not defiling
- Hallucinations, auditory and visual
- Immobility or bed-riddenness (late stages of defiling addiction)
- Muscle spasms/twitching
- Violent impulses and behavior