D&D General 1991 Dark Sun Setting Overview and Speculation

Zardnaar

Legend
Yeah you don't have to look very far to find this stuff for real. I live in the UAE so, well, let's just say that many of the thematic elements of the setting ring very true here...

I mean, games don't have to address real world issues but Dark Sun absolutely did and I think could be an excellent vehicle to do so again. I guess this is one downside of having a massive corporation holding the brand - they'll steer clear of anything that might smack of controversy. I'm not directly affected by WotC's reticence to release DS - the Dark Sun games I run and stream are all 2e - but I do love the setting and I think it would be cool if a fresh generation of gamers could enjoy it like I have. And I'm always on the hunt for new DS art and maps and whatnot haha. I know of a couple of designers who are angling to tackle the setting for 5e and I think they'd do a good job. Doesn't look likely at the moment though.

Yeah. I always thought Darksun was kinda like the Hejaz mixed with the dead quarter.

Petra had a population of around 20k iirc. Hel tge Sorcerer Kings might have a legendary effect in 5E terms that attracts what available water there is.
 

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Faolyn

(she/her)
We had some success having the PCs be the ones toppling Kalak by making his all-at-once transformation place him in a larval state, making him a target appropriate for the PCs running around with the Heartwood Spear. It's a McGuffiny solution for sure, but it's a solution. Not that this is the main issue holding a new version of DS back, of course :)

I agree completely with @overgeeked in that it should be OK for there to be D&D settings that cater to something other than the mainstream but I also agree that this probably isn't likely under current conditions. It's a shame because the core themes of Dark Sun are even more apt now than when the setting was released. We're seeing environmental collapse all around us. Wars of ethnic cleansing take place right under our noses. Disparities of wealth and power are at their worst ever and our entire society is supported by slave labour. But heaven forbid that anyone should dare make a game setting that addresses these ills...
Or possibly, maybe we shouldn't turn environmental collapse, ethnic cleansing, slave labor, etc., into a form of meaningless entertainment.

Because somehow, I doubt people are playing a game where they're overcoming slavers and deciding, y'know what, I'm not going to support any company that uses slave labor anymore. They're more likely thinking, I wonder how much gold we can get from these slaves we just rescued.
 

Mark Hope

Adventurer
Or possibly, maybe we shouldn't turn environmental collapse, ethnic cleansing, slave labor, etc., into a form of meaningless entertainment.

Because somehow, I doubt people are playing a game where they're overcoming slavers and deciding, y'know what, I'm not going to support any company that uses slave labor anymore. They're more likely thinking, I wonder how much gold we can get from these slaves we just rescued.
It doesn't have to be meaningless, though, does it? There's a long tradition of games and gamers using RPGs to address issues that matter to them. Our Dark Sun games, for example, focus very much on the problems with and consequences of slavery, on the importance of freeing slaves for the sake of it, on how you can't just wash your hands of it or apologise for it. No one has ever resold a slave for money. There will be gamers who make light of serious issues, sure, but that's not a fault of the setting, is it?

Not that it matters in actuality because the issues in the setting and the fact that it was never a huge seller to begin with mean that Hasbro are very unlikely to release it anyway.

Yeah. I always thought Darksun was kinda like the Hejaz mixed with the dead quarter.

Petra had a population of around 20k iirc. Hel tge Sorcerer Kings might have a legendary effect in 5E terms that attracts what available water there is.
We have cookouts on the edges of the Empty Quarter - it's a stunning place. I used photos of it in our first streamed DS game (with Athasian sky added) because none of the existing art quite captured the reality of the place..
 
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Faolyn

(she/her)
It doesn't have to be meaningless, though, does it? There's a long tradition of games and gamers using RPGs to address issues that matter to them. Our Dark Sun games, for example, focus very much on the problems with and consequences of slavery, on the importance of freeing slaves for the sake of it, on how you can't just wash your hands of it or apologise for it. No one has ever resold a slave for money. There will be gamers who make light of serious issues, sure, but that's not a fault of the setting, is it?

Not that it matters in actuality because the issues in the setting and the fact that it was never a huge seller to begin with mean that Hasbro are very unlikely to release it anyway.
But it's still a game. It's a form of entertainment; something to have fun with. They would have to be very, very careful about how they wrote about slavery to be able to say how awful it is and not something that should be made light of, and probably have to devote a tremendous amount of space to talking about how to stop it in the game (instead of spending time talking about other types of adventures), and honestly, I'm not sure WotC is up to that task.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
But it's still a game. It's a form of entertainment; something to have fun with. They would have to be very, very careful about how they wrote about slavery to be able to say how awful it is and not something that should be made light of, and probably have to devote a tremendous amount of space to talking about how to stop it in the game (instead of spending time talking about other types of adventures), and honestly, I'm not sure WotC is up to that task.
To be fair, TV, film, and literature are also forms of entertainment.
 

Mark Hope

Adventurer
But it's still a game. It's a form of entertainment; something to have fun with. They would have to be very, very careful about how they wrote about slavery to be able to say how awful it is and not something that should be made light of, and probably have to devote a tremendous amount of space to talking about how to stop it in the game (instead of spending time talking about other types of adventures), and honestly, I'm not sure WotC is up to that task.
I don't agree that you'd need to spend a tremendous amount of space on underlining the significance of issues like that, although I do agree that you'd need to take care with your wording and general approach. But as @Micah Sweet says, just because something is a game doesn't mean it needs to be trivial, just as other forms of entertainment don't need to be trivial. I think we have to reach for and allow for aspirational pieces of work. Whether WotC is up to the task or not, I wouldn't know but by their own admission, they don't seem to have the appetite to try and that makes sense to me, given the larger context.
 

squibbles

Adventurer
But it's still a game. It's a form of entertainment; something to have fun with. They would have to be very, very careful about how they wrote about slavery to be able to say how awful it is and not something that should be made light of, and probably have to devote a tremendous amount of space to talking about how to stop it in the game (instead of spending time talking about other types of adventures), and honestly, I'm not sure WotC is up to that task.
To be fair, TV, film, and literature are also forms of entertainment.
I don't agree that you'd need to spend a tremendous amount of space on underlining the significance of issues like that, although I do agree that you'd need to take care with your wording and general approach. But as @Micah Sweet says, just because something is a game doesn't mean it needs to be trivial, just as other forms of entertainment don't need to be trivial. I think we have to reach for and allow for aspirational pieces of work. Whether WotC is up to the task or not, I wouldn't know but by their own admission, they don't seem to have the appetite to try and that makes sense to me, given the larger context.
Hey all, you're making some very good points in a friendly and reasonable spirit, but I thought I'd encourage you to assert them in the other couple of threads that are more focused on the controversial content of Dark Sun, how it's best handled, and what WotC is up to regarding it:

That's what I've tried to do.

I'm not sure what this thread is supposed to be about at this point, having been necroed (by me) to ask about something unrelated to the original post. But, just the same, once a thread starts to be about slavery (and related subjects), it tends not to be about much else. I'd like to avoid that here and, hopefully, focus on the original 1991 Dark Sun setting, how you have interpreted or played it, and your different takes or opinions about it (or... potentially let the thread vanish back off the 1st page forever).

Not that I have any authority here, just a suggestion. :)
 

Mark Hope

Adventurer
Hey all, you're making some very good points in a friendly and reasonable spirit, but I thought I'd encourage you to assert them in the other couple of threads that are more focused on the controversial content of Dark Sun, how it's best handled, and what WotC is up to regarding it:

That's what I've tried to do.

I'm not sure what this thread is supposed to be about at this point, having been necroed (by me) to ask about something unrelated to the original post. But, just the same, once a thread starts to be about slavery (and related subjects), it tends not to be about much else. I'd like to avoid that here and, hopefully, focus on the original 1991 Dark Sun setting, how you have interpreted or played it, and your different takes or opinions about it (or... potentially let the thread vanish back off the 1st page forever).

Not that I have any authority here, just a suggestion. :)
Thanks for this. I've been posting in the other threads as well but I'm actually finding it hard to keep track of all the various threads of discussion and cross-talk and am struggling to recall what was being talked about in which thread :D
 



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