Surviving in Athas


The myriad perils of the wastelands await anyone who leaves the relative safety offered by civilization. For those who are adequately prepared, you can summarize the travel experience as you would in other game world. For those without the proper supplies, however, Athasian journeys are desperate affairs.

Characters navigating the wilderness fall into one of two states: supplied or unsupplied. Supplied characters must consume a certain amount of provisions each day to avoid dehydration and starvation. Unsupplied characters must manage to do without the food and water they need. People can live without food for weeks if necessary, but as little as three days without water can kill. Most Athasians can survive on a half-gallon of water per day – they’ve had thousands of years to become acclimated to the conditions on their world. A Large creature requires 2’ gallons of water per day, and a Huge creature needs 10 gallons of water per day. To be supplied, a creature must do one of the following.

  • Spend at least part of the day in a city, village, outpost, or oasis.
  • Expend a survival day worth of supplies (see below).
  • Use the Nature skill to forage successfully (see Player’s Handbook, page 186).


Currency serves a purpose in the marketplaces and trade emporiums, but no coins, jewels, or precious metal can save a dehydrated traveler from the crimson sun. Athasians value life’s necessities: food, water, proper clothing, and a bit of shade from the sun.

A survival day serves as a shorthand method for managing the resources needed for a trip through the wastes. Each survival day represents sufficient water and food for one person to get through a day’s walk across the countryside. The supplies also include salve to protect the skin from the sun, clothing designed to retain body moisture, and insulation to ward off the night’s chill after the sun sets.

Obtaining Survival Days: These daily rations are available to characters in the following ways. Not all of these are available in all locations, but it will give you a basic idea.

  • Survival days are available for purchase in most civilized places at the rate of 5 cp each.
  • A PC may combine a half-gallon of water with food sufficient for 1 day (gathering such supplies might carry no cost in an area where water is available and food can be hunted).
  • Supplies for one or more survival days may be found in treasure or as quest rewards.

Expending Survival Days: After each extended rest, a character can expend a survival day to become supplied until the next extended rest or until 24 hours pass, whichever occurs first. Supplied characters are not susceptible to sun sickness.

Selling Survival Days: In the desert, survival days are valuable enough to be sold or traded at their normal value (5 cp each). Indeed, an explorer dying of thirst would likely pay a king’s ransom for a single survival day. Where people are near sources of water and food, however, they can obtain supplies for far less than 5 cp per day’s worth. In those areas, survival days aren’t easy to sell.


Scarce resources, sudden storms,and dangerous predators come and go. The extreme temperatures caused by Athas’ sun, however, are relentless. Precautions mitigate this danger for a time, but can never eliminate it.

Each daylight period that an unsupplied character or mount travels through the wilderness, Athas makes an attack against Fortitude. On a hit, the target contracts sun sickness. If a creature suffering from sun sickness is hit again, it loses one healing surge or hit points equal to its healing surge value if it has no healing surges left.

Resting by Day: Adventurers who take extended rests during the day remain subject to contracting sun sickness, but they gain a +4 bonus to Fortitude against such attacks.


Sun sickness can be avoided by waiting for the sun to set before undertaking a journey. This strategy carries a different set of risks. At night, temperatures plummet, a stark contrast to the intolerable heat of the day. For each 8-hour period spent traveling by night, an adventurer must succeed on an Endurance check against a moderate DC or lose one healing surge (or hit points equal to the character’s healing surge value if no healing surges are available).

Surviving in Athas

Dark*Sun: The Terrors Of Athas TheKillerGM