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DSM2 Merchant House of Amketch (2e)


In the city of Balic, an insidious new threat to the Tyr region has arisen in the shape of a humble beetle. Magically altered to deliver a psionic malady via their bite, the beetles have been used by templars, slavers, raiders, and worse to neutralize the psionic abilities of their captives and render them docile. In desperation, the Veiled Alliance has called upon your characters to track down the source of the sinister beetles and put and end to them. There's only one problem - the most powerful merchant house of the Tyr region is growing even wealthier from the parasitic trade! 

Merchant House of Amketch is designed for four to six characters of 4th to 7th levels. Explore the trade routes and intrigues south of the Estuary of the Forked Tongue, in the heart of the Tyr region! Merchant House of Amketch can be played as a stand-alone adventure or as the sequel to Black Flames.

Product History

DSM2: Merchant House of Amketch (1993), by Richard Baker, is the seventh Dark Sun adventure and the second in the "DSM" series of "Dark Sun Missions". It was released in August 1993.

Continuing the Dark Sun Series. Earlier in 1993, DSM1: "Black Flames" (1993) had begun a new type of Dark Sun adventures. Where the DS/DSQ/DSE (1991-1993) adventure sequence had detailed a somewhat connected adventure arc, "Black Flames" had instead been a totally standalone story. Merchant House of Amketch is too, though its PC levels line up with "Black Flames", so that the same characters could play one then the other.

Like all of the previous Dark Sun adventures other than DSE1: Dragon's Crown (1993), Merchant House of Amketch is built around two flip books: a player's book that includes handouts like maps and pictures and a Dungeon Master book that breaks the adventure into individual encounters. There's also a short story, as was common for the Dark Sun line: "The Gambit" by Simon Hawke. However, unlike most of the short stories, this wasn't an original piece; it was instead an excerpt from one of the newer Dark Sun novels, The Outcast (1993).

Hosing Psionics. Merchant House was one of the few Dark Sun supplements to place a heavy emphasis on psionics, which had been crucial to the initial conception of the campaign. It does so by introducing the shaqat beetles — cerebral parasites that can consume psionic power. This was TSR's second assault on Dark Sun psionics that year, the previous one being in Dragon's Crown, where an anti-psionic power also formed the core of the campaign.

Adventuring Tropes. Like all of the flip-books, Merchant House is event-driven with individual decisions leading players from one encounter to the next. The results of this format were somewhat varied, but Merchant House was one of the adventures that made the best use of it. Though it outlined a big story, it also gave considerable room for player action by describing alternate paths if players opted not to follow the adventure's main plot line.

Expanding Athas. Merchant House's main expansion of the world of Athas is through the detailing of the city of Balic, a municipality in the southern Tyr region that previously hadn't received much attention. Other parts of the adventure take place in the nearby ruined city of Kalidnay.

The adventure also uses the Veiled Alliance as the prime motivator of the adventure, building on revelations about the organization of Preservers that were found in DSR3: "Veiled Alliance" (1992).

Expanding the Multiverse. That ruined city of Kalidnay is one of the most interesting places in Athas. It was originally mentioned in the Dark Sun Boxed Set (1991), but then it appeared in Forbidden Lore (1992) as a region of Ravenloft. The ruins that were left behind in Athas were then described here.

When players discovered that the maps of the two Kalidnays — in Dark Sun and in Ravenloft — were just the same, they became more curious about how regions shifted from other realms to Ravenloft. Skip Williams wrote an explanation in Dragon #202 (February 1994), saying:

"When the Dark Powers recognize one of their own, the Mists rise up and whisk the offender away to the Demiplane of Dread. The land, buildings, and large objects surrounding the offender are unaffected, but all the people nearby are drawn into the demiplane along with the offender. When the new domain forms, it is an exact replica of the area where the offender was when the mists arose."

And that's how the same city can be found as a peopled domain in Ravenloft and as an abandoned ruin in Athas.

Future History. Kalidnay got some new attention in "Eye on Dark Sun" in Dungeon #190 (May 2011) as part of the 4E Dark Sun setting. In that rebooted Athasian continuity, Kalidnay instead fell into a mist-wrapped other realm called The Gray.

About the Creators. Merchant House was written by Richard Baker while he was part of the New Worlds product group at TSR's R&D, which was focusing on Dark Sun. Mechant House was thus the third Dark Sun book that Baker worked on, following DSR4: "Valley of Dust and Fire" and some contributions to DSE1: Dragon's Crown (1993).

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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Nick L May 27, 2022 3:08 pm UTC
POD please!!! The entire Dark Sun 2E line needs to get more POD options. The books are getting old, the eBay prices are skyrocketing, and what you end-up with is often in shoddy condition.
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This title was added to our catalog on September 16, 2014.