A Little Knowledge...
The adventure begins with all of the characters as slaves, held together in the slave hold on a huge mekillot-drawn caravan on its way out of Urik. Your character must have a reason to have been enslaved, either for his entire life, some time in the past or just recently. Your character need not be from Urik originally, although that would be the easiest, but he/she must have a reason to be in this caravan.
Playable races common to Urik include human, mul, half-giant (goliath), halfling, elf, half-elf, dwarf, dray (dragonborn) and thri-kreen. Just pick one of these.
Exotic playable races rare to Urik include minotaur, tiefling, eladrin, kalashtar, revenant, shadar-kai and genasi. These take a bit more effort to make work.
Extinct, unplayable races include gnomes, shardminds, warforged, shifters, half-orcs, githzerai, wilden and anything else I’m forgetting. That’s the wasteland for you. No you can’t just reflavor them, Cleansing Wars have consequences.
Check Chapter 2: Races of Athas (at DSCS pg 18) for information on how each Athasian variant of these races differ from their counterpart in traditional D&D. Here’s some helpful images:
Athas has no true gods. That means no divine power source classes. No divine powers via half-elf dilettante, multiclass feat or other means.
All other classes are legal. Hybrids are legal and slightly modified here.
Arcane-source players are assumed to be defilers unless you specify otherwise. Veiled Alliance and preserving is available too if you can make it work. All arcane users gain the at-will power arcane defiling.
Go ahead, use it, you know you want to. Up to you how often you defile. Arcane magic of any kind is generally distrusted, often punishable by death and frequently disguised as another power source.
Psionic power does not suffer the same stigma, unless mistaken for arcane use. All psions born and raised in Urik are trained at the King’s Academy.
Shadow magic is rare and unknown, and is generally assumed to be arcane except by the knowledgeable. Tread with caution.
Pick one. Not included in the list below, but also available, is the escaped slave theme from Dragon magazine.
This choice is not simply mechanical, it should be tied into your character backstory.
Each character has various aspects. Aspects can be any word or phrase that refers to any part of a character concept. Each character will have at least six aspects: the first three being the character’s race, class(es) and theme, and the last three are chosen by the player. At paragon and epic, you can elect to choose another aspect based upon your character’s previous experiences. Aspects are linked to Fate Points.
Alignment: Leave blank. Athas is not the center of a cosmic battle between Good and Evil. Most merely try to survive.
Background benefit: Pick as many background elements as you’d like, general or Dark Sun, if it will help you with your character concept. You only get to pick one mechanical benefit, as usual. Remember that your theme should tie into your background as well.
Expertise: Every character has a free +1 feat bonus to attack rolls. This bonus increases to +2 at 11th level and +3 at 21st level. This makes Implement/Weapon/Versatile Expertise redundant, but the newer Expertise feats for specific implement/weapon groups still useful for the second benefit.
Wild Talents: One will be randomly assigned to each character.
Nothing except the breechcloths around your hips (and optionally halters for females).