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DSR1 Slave Tribes (2e)


Out of the swirling, bone-dry sands of Athas come hordes of raiders. They overrun caravans, strip them bare then vanish into the untracked wastes once more. Who are these ghosts of the desert? Where do they live? How do they survive far from the high walls of the city-states? Slave Tribes answers these and many more questions about the ex-slaves who escape into the desert.

The Dark Sun game world is now open to campaign in realms beyond the reach of sorcerer-kings. The most prominent and successful slave tribes of the Tyr region are presented in great detail in this accessory. Slave Tribes enables the DM to create entirely new tribes to roam the Dark Sun campaign. It also shows players how to form their own tribes when their characters escape the clutches of the sorcerer-kings. The deadly world of Athas shows no mercy to those who are unprepared for its dangers!

Product History

DSR1: "Slave Tribes" (1992), by Bill Slavicsek, is the first Dark Sun Reference book, detailing the setting of Athas. It was released in January 1992.

Continuing the Dark Sun Series. Dark Sun appeared late in 1991 as the third 2e AD&D world. Because of its September release, only a few supplements appeared that first year: a novel and an adventure. 1992 would be much busier, beginning with the January release of "Slave Tribes", the first of the Dark Sun "Reference" books.

The Reference books were the result of a 1990 policy at TSR that separated out the "A" Adventure and "R" Reference books for the company's most popular settings. "Slave Tribes" was thus the first of four books in Dark Sun's Reference series, running through DSR4: "Valley of Dust and Fire" (1992) — before TSR changed their module naming policies again and started producing "S" Sourcebooks instead!

As the first reference for Dark Sun, "Slave Tribes" offered the first detailed look at the setting since the Dark Sun (1991) boxed set the previous year. However, it mostly focused on general details, which was unusual for TSR at the time; readers would have to wait for DSR4: "Valley of Dust and Fire" (1992) to get a more typical geographical reference!

Writing Tropes. "Slave Tribes" is a book that's heavy on fluff, something that had become quite common at TSR following the appearance of setting sourcebooks in 1987. Here, that fluff is focused on the role of slavery in Athas and on the culture of the slave tribes. Rather unusually, this information is all presented as a first-person in-game narrative — something that was rare at TSR and almost unknown for a work of this length.

Besides the fluff, "Slave Tribes" also contains game details for several slave tribes as well as rules for GMs to make their own.

Expanding Athas. "Slave Tribes" provides rather extensive details on the world of Athas, including the role of slavery in the world and how it affects gladiators, house slaves, and the eponymous slaves tribes. This in-depth information still remains very compatible with the newest version of the setting — Dark Sun Campaign Setting (2010). It's also much more extensive than the couple of paragraphs that discuss slavery in the newer book.

Future History. These slave tribes have continued to appear in much more recent products, including the 4e Dark Sun releases and the "Ashes of Athas" campaign.

About the Creators. After a few years working with West End Games, Slavicsek's long history with D&D began with the publication of "Slave Tribes", his first TSR product. He'd regularly contribute to the Dark Sun line in the next few years, with his next product being DSQ2: "Arcane Shadows".

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Thanks to Robert Adducci for Dark Sun advice. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to

We (Wizards) recognize that some of the legacy content available on this website does not reflect the values of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. This content is presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is a strength, and we strive to make our D&D products as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end.

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TSR 2404
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29.39 MB
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File Last Updated:
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This title was added to our catalog on March 04, 2014.