Review: Elves of Athas
by Ramanan Sivaranjan on January 24, 2013
Elves of Athas is an early supplement for the AD&D 2nd Edition setting Dark Sun. The book pulls in details from the Troy Denning Dark Sun novels to present a fuller picture of what makes Elves different on Athas from those found in other typical fantasy campaigns. Most of the book is what people refer to as fluff: setting description and flourish. As such it can be used with a variety of rule sets beyond 2nd Edition.
The first half of the book is about Elf culture, physiology, miscellaneous new rules, and minutia. This part of the book fleshes out a lot of what was already said in the Dark Sun box set. I didn’t think it was that interesting on the whole. It’s probably more useful for people who haven’t read any of the Dark Sun novels.
I found the later half of the book more compelling: it describes various Elf Tribes found on Athas. The tribes are described in a good amount of detail: what their motivations are, their history and current situation, how they treat outsiders, who their allies and enemies are, what regions of Athas they live in, and finally some important NPC. This section is all plot hooks and adventure seeds. It also makes for a good example of how to describe a faction in your game world, though for your own game you probably aren’t trying to hit page count goals and could be more terse in your presentation.
Unlike many of the Dark Sun books, there is no art by Tom Baxa to be found in this book. The interior art for Elves of Athas was done by Tony DiTerlizzi, who would go on to illustrate Planescape. The art work is quite good, but also feels quite different from the coarse line art of Baxa and Brom. My copy of the book was bought used, so it was sadly missing the poster map featuring some DiTerlizzi that was supposed to come with the book.
As supplements go I thought this book was pretty good. Like most TSR splat books, it uses more words than it needs to in order to make its points, but there is still a lot of fun stuff for DM and players here.
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