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The semi-official Life-shaping Handbook includes the feat Rhulisti Heritage which has as a prerequisite Any Rebirth race. Trying to research Dark Sun and Rebirth yields so many results I don't know where to begin.

Is there a comprehensive list of Rebirth races? Why are they called that?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ That's official, not semi official, by the way. \$\endgroup\$
    – nijineko
    Jul 27, 2019 at 2:22

2 Answers 2

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The Rebirth was the period following the Blue Age, at the dawn of the Green Age, when the ancient halflings used the magic of the Pristine Tower (possibly in combination with some life shaping technique) to change most of their race into many new races to populate the new land created after the oceans retreated.

A complete list of Rebirth races has never been enumerated. The vast majority of sentient humanoids (and at least some extinct non-humanoids, like wemics), were spawned in the Rebirth, or the product of the blending (via mating or magic) of Rebirth races.

As KRyan notes, a notable exception to this rule are the gith, a corrupted remnant of an ancient githyanki invasion from the Astral, so they don't count as a Rebirth race.

The following is a summary of what can be gleaned from "A History of Athas" in the Dark Sun 2E Revised Campaign Setting:

The best information we have available is from the listing of the Champions of Rajaat during the Cleansing Wars. The Cleansing Wars were specifically about eliminating the Rebirth races (aside from humans, initially, but Rajaat planned to eliminate the humans at a later point, after using them to wage the Cleansing War), so logically, any race with a champion assigned to them was a product of the Rebirth. There are 16 champions listed, one of whom replaced another, and had the same target race, for a total of 15 confirmed races spawned by the Rebirth; in some cases the status of that champion's war is given, in others it's omitted, but from monster manual and other sources we can nail down whether or not specific species survived the wars:

  • Kobolds (dead)
  • Ogres (dead)
  • Giants (alive)
  • Trolls (dead)
  • Orcs (dead)
  • Gnomes (dead)
  • Pterrans (alive)
  • Elves (alive)
  • Wemics (dead)
  • Lizardmen (thought dead, secretly alive at the Last Sea under the protection of the Mind Lords)
  • Aarakocra (alive)
  • Pixies (dead)
  • Dwarves (alive)
  • Goblins (dead)
  • Tari (alive)

This list has been reproduced on the Dark Sun Wikia.

It is also stated that Rajaat himself was a Pyreen, which were also products of the Rebirth; no Cleansing War was launched against them, possibly because their numbers were so few they weren't worth a full champion, possibly because they were too powerful for anyone but Rajaat to fight.

Regardless, that gives us 17 confirmed Rebirth races (15 targets of cleansing, plus humans and pyreen), eight were "cleansed", one is thought to be extinct, but survived outside the Tyr region, and eight (five of whom are playable PC races) are widely known to have survived.

On top of that, it seems likely that half-elves and muls (half-human, half-dwarf) would qualify as Rebirth races; they're the products of natural (not magically assisted/altered) reproduction between two Rebirth races, and the feat refers to a heritage linked to the original halflings, which they would clearly share with their parents.

Half-giants are tricky: They're explicitly stated to have been the product of sorcerer king experimentation dating to just after the end of the Cleansing Wars, when the sorcerer kings were establishing/fortifying their city states, setting up the status quo that prevailed for thousands of years. They were created from humans and giants, but through magic, not mating; they can't breed with either parent race, only with each other. Arguably, whatever mad sciencemagic went into their production would separate them from the lineage that traces back to the ancient halflings.

The other notable exception to the "basically everything comes from the Rebirth" are the insectoid races (thri-kreen, tohr-kreen, and their various subspecies). Though their exact origin has never been established, at least a few sources refer to them existing as far back as the Blue Age, just in tiny numbers (since they aren't well suited to living on an ocean world), e.g. the Revised Edition's Wanderer's Journal:

In this age, a great halfling civilization flourished beneath the azure sun. Yes, you read rightly, friend. Moreover, the halflings were the only intelligent beings on Athas at the time (though there were apparently small numbers of primitive thri-kreen, whom the halflings looked upon as beasts).

The one thing that's clear is that they were not a product of the Rebirth; they benefited from the end of the Blue Age, and later, the end of the Green Age as the climate suited them more and more, but they evolved (or whatever D&D equivalent of evolution applies) from a species unrelated to the ancient halflings. I want to say (but can't find a source) that there is a reference to them possibly being the result of halfling experiments with nature; not created out of the whole cloth, but possibly uplifted from smaller, non-sentient insects to the form they have today.

Lastly, while modern halflings aren't a "product" of the Rebirth (just leftover original stock), they'd logically have strong ties to the ancient halflings, and should qualify for any feat based on ancient halfling heritage. There is an implication that modern halflings aren't quite the same as their Blue Age forebears (e.g. psionics were not common in the Blue Age, but are ubiquitous in modern halflings), so it's possible they're as much a Rebirth race as all the others, just more physically similar to the original race.

So on top of the races targeted for cleansing, we should add the following living races as products of the Rebirth:

  • Humans
  • Pyreen
  • Half-elves
  • Muls
  • Halflings
  • Half-giants (maybe, up to the DM)

So, short version: Every playable PC race aside from thri-kreen and (possibly) half-giants qualifies for the feat.

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The Rebirth was an event in Athas’s history in which the rhulisti built the “Pristine Tower” to eradicate the “Brown Tide,” which they had accidentally created during a civil war. The Pristine Tower worked and the Brown Tide ended, but the whole world was reformed, the sun turning yellow (from its previous blue) and the rhulisti turning into various races—the Rebirth races. This ended the Blue Age and started the Green Age (which was eventually followed by the Brown Age typically played in).

On Athas, pretty much everything sentient and non-monstrous descended from rhulisti, so just about everyone meets that requirement. The one certain major exception would be the gith (githyanki, specifically), who invaded Athas at some point. There are also a few arguable exceptions:

  • Half-giants and muls are half-human (definitely a Rebirth race) and half something else that might not have been a Rebirth race (the origins of both races are unclear). There is no official rule on these two. See ShadowRanger’s answer.

  • The rhul-thaun and halflings themselves, who arguably did not experience “Rebirth” at all, but rather are the un-reborn descendants of the rhulisti (but to deny these races a feat called “Rhulisti Heritage” is beyond inane).

But ultimately, Life-Shaping Handbook is a terribly-written book. I’ve actually written a review of it, and though I’d missed this mess, there are plenty of other messes in it to worry about. The confusion here is unfortunately par for the course.

Portions of this answer are based on a conversation with @afroakuma, something of an expert on Planescape and the various worlds (Athas included) that Planescape touched. Many thanks to him.

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