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D&D General 1991 Dark Sun Setting Overview and Speculation

squibbles

Adventurer
The existence of a giant crater-like ring could at the minimum imply the existence of the astronomical phenomena that make craters. But more than that, it is a nod towards the sorts of sword and planet fiction that have inspired Dark Sun. I’m thinking of Barsoom.

It doesn’t have to be a published reason for why “civilizations” are clustered inside the crater, there could be any number of options open to DMs, like after the Cleansing Wars we’re over the Sorcerer Monarchs settled within the crater to “start over”, but outside the crater the rhul thaun halflings and their kreen and other desert survivors dominate. Or, the Cleansing Wars destroyed the planet but the Sorcerer Monarchs did not win and had to retreat within the protective mountains of the crater.
I could dig it if Dark Sun leaned heavier into its Barsoom inspirations. Kreen dominating beyond the crater would certainly have a green martians roaming dead sea bottoms vibe. If I'm being honest, I like that better than the Crimson Savannah.

We have to remember the time travel was oficially canon in DS, and this means the possibilities of alternate timelines where you can customize to your linking.
Wait, really? Where does that crop up?

I have to wonder, though--do Dark Sun fans want to deal with armies and mass battles? From what I've seen, the draws appear to be the Mad Max-y post-apocalypse-ness plus biotech and psionics and mutants and stuff like that, illustrated (by Brom, of course) in a planetary romance style.
Perhaps not, I can only speak for myself.

I'm thinking of the intensified conflict more as background context for PCs to get involved in at higher levels if they want. It'd be a way to foreground defiling and the vehicle driven parts of the mad-max milieu, as well as making the world the PCs live in dynamic. The reason I like it is that it would allow Dark Sun civilizations to have the scale that lots of the setting materials want for it to have. The too big armies listed in the 1991 set, the unfeasibly large draft animals, the spectacular monumental buildings--at larger levels of social organization, those things make more sense.

But, in fairness, that's just one answer to the 'what would make new areas significantly different from the Tyr region' issue you posed. I would welcome other novel and interesting responses to that question.
 

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About the time-travel in Athas:

Somebody from the future travelled to the past to warn, but the (future) Mind-Lords of the Last Sea thought the fate couldn't be avoided and then they chose only to save their region.

I understand the coherence in the lore is very important, but this also should be flexible for the homebred changes. If I want there is a crossover with Jackandor, or a new demiplane is discovered but this has been colonized by a mixture or a previous wave of explorers from Athas and also from Krynn (from the alternate timeline where Raistlin caused the apocalypse). Or I can add drows as elves slavered by the shadow-spiders, or shardminds, living constructs, whose weak point is the erosion by the termical change day-night (added to necrotic aura by defiling magic). Or I can say the dromites are possible in Athas because sorcerer-kings tried to create new slave races. Or the dark lady of Kalidnay returns to Athas becoming ruler of the death lands.
 

Actually, with dark gifts and the theros heroic gifts or how they are called, you can easily create a wild talent along those lines, and if you don't want that just get an extra feat.
Also the sorcerer (not the aberrant mind, but something along those lines) would make a fine psion (with a seperate spell list and subtle spell for free).
 

If WotC doesn't publish the mystic class, then this will be by Dreamscarred Press, or somebody using an adaptation of the ocultist classes from Pathfinder. If the warlock is a core class, why not the mystic?

The sorcerer could be possible in Athas if arcane is replaced with divine or primal magic.
 



Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
There are clerics, but they're clerics of the elements, not of gods.

Magic exists, but it drains the life force out of nature, causing further desertification.

Right right... would we still call it divine magic though if it is calling the elements?
 

Rikka66

Adventurer
4e had primal magic, which was non-defiling but involved contacting the super angry and scarred nature and elemental spirits of Athas. I liked it, but it wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea. Also has sorcerer's with arcane magic, so while you could lean on the Abberant Mind as the main Athasian version, they are possible in Athas without being divine or primal as well.
 


tremeremagi

Explorer
Although I would love to have a Dark Sun reboot. However with the zeitgeist of the current era we live some of the core elements will either have to be removed or downplayed to a point that the feel of the setting will not be the same. But I am a Dark Sun originalist and really dislike most of what came out of revised and the specifics of the Rajaat/SK's war/timeline as well as the PP novels outcome (which I enjoyed reading). If these parts are included I would prefer their mentioning be as vague as possible to leave open to individual GM interpretation.

Also a soft time reboot perhaps 40 or 50 years ahead so that some Athasians are alive to remember the events but most adults of the era ( Free Year 1 to Free Year 10) have died off. Therefore creating some room for haziness in survivor memories.

To answer your question I, and I'm sure many other fans have had these ideas that other SK's do exist elsewhere and others cities do exist. I'm Sure there is an Elemental Arch-Cleric in charge of a sun worshipping city-state. I pushed a document a while back on the Dark Sun FB group regarding some differences from canon. (attached)

So yes I'm all for a different section of Athas, One that is Beyond the Horizon!

Beyond the Horizon logo 2.png
 

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squibbles

Adventurer
Although I would love to have a Dark Sun reboot. However with the zeitgeist of the current era we live some of the core elements will either have to be removed or downplayed to a point that the feel of the setting will not be the same. But I am a Dark Sun originalist and really dislike most of what came out of revised and the specifics of the Rajaat/SK's war/timeline as well as the PP novels outcome (which I enjoyed reading). If these parts are included I would prefer their mentioning be as vague as possible to leave open to individual GM interpretation.
Yes, I agree that this is the right approach. As I mentioned upthread, I'd prefer that setting alterations WotC makes to accommodate our 21st century zeitgeist be applied to a new region that is purposefully tailored for them. And, in similar vein, I'd like new materials to have some level of remove from the Prism Pentad and Revised Campaign Setting--such that players have the ability to include their contents or not, per their preference.

Also a soft time reboot perhaps 40 or 50 years ahead so that some Athasians are alive to remember the events but most adults of the era ( Free Year 1 to Free Year 10) have died off. Therefore creating some room for haziness in survivor memories.
Again, totally, agree. There is a lot of potential in simply moving the Dark Sun timeline forward to the point where the Prism Pentad characters are dead of old age and few others remain who know what happened with any clarity (which also provides opportunities for subtle retconning, if desired).

To answer your question I, and I'm sure many other fans have had these ideas that other SK's do exist elsewhere and others cities do exist. I'm Sure there is an Elemental Arch-Cleric in charge of a sun worshipping city-state.
Huh. I always considered elemental clerics a bit vestigial to Dark Sun, but that's an interesting take.

I pushed a document a while back on the Dark Sun FB group regarding some differences from canon. (attached)
The Dune Trader quote in item 14 is curious. Kalak being 'newly ascended' 800 years before the setting start date--whereas the city states are said to be thousands of years old in the Wanderer's Journal--kind of brings home that the 7 originally described sorcerer kings were not intended to the setting's central historical fixtures.
 

tremeremagi

Explorer
Yes, I agree that this is the right approach. As I mentioned upthread, I'd prefer that setting alterations WotC makes to accommodate our 21st century zeitgeist be applied to a new region that is purposefully tailored for them. And, in similar vein, I'd like new materials to have some level of remove from the Prism Pentad and Revised Campaign Setting--such that players have the ability to include their contents or not, per their preference.
Yep, opportunities are abundant to create new lore in a new area that doesn't conflict with the Tyr region. Or perhaps by briefly re-touching/updating the Tyr region (a little fan-service). Maybe there is a foliage covered city covered in greenery and fantastic waterfalls on the South Eastern side of the Silt Sea ruled by Druids and Water Priests that secretly sacrifices the populace to a vengeful Spirit of the Land who requires life energy in order to provide the city its sustenance.
Again, totally, agree. There is a lot of potential in simply moving the Dark Sun timeline forward to the point where the Prism Pentad characters are dead of old age and few others remain who know what happened with any clarity (which also provides opportunities for subtle retconning, if desired).


Huh. I always considered elemental clerics a bit vestigial to Dark Sun, but that's an interesting take.
Perhaps I wasn't clear. I meant that there could be other SK's (i.e rulers) that are not actual SK's (have templars) Maybe a powerful cleric was able to organize his fellow elemental priests and maintain a hold on a city-state area.
The Dune Trader quote in item 14 is curious. Kalak being 'newly ascended' 800 years before the setting start date--whereas the city states are said to be thousands of years old in the Wanderer's Journal--kind of brings home that the 7 originally described sorcerer kings were not intended to the setting's central historical fixtures.
Therein lies one of the issues with Dark Sun is the inconsistencies in the lore throughout a host of books.

Initially the WJ (pg. 6) said "that most [not all] city-states are thousands of years old. The same sorcerer-king rules over the city for spans of hundreds of years, sometimes [not all the time, which means not often] for more than a thousand. There are even cases where the current sovereign is credited with founding the city."

This is why I like the 'Silt was in my eye - so I think, this is what I saw' or the Silt got in my ears - so I think this is what I heard' or 'Can't trust the Templars to tell you the truth, or even write it down, their too busy obfuscating events in the history books to make their Sorcerer-king look good'

Hazy history is good history for Dark Sun.
 

Color me puzzled guys.

The 1991 set and the 4e redo are still around. They haven't gone bad or anything; you can still use them regardless of what 5e does. There are lots of Dark Sun fan resources for 5e too. @toucanbuzz did an excellent campaign guide and monster manual for it. It wouldn't be hard to run the the 1991 set or (inferior) revised setting in 5e--or 4e, or 2e. Forgodsakes there are fan conversions of Dark Sun for Dungeon World, Savage Worlds, and Lamentations of the Flame Princess. Anything that WotC does now would be an addition to the very large trove of Dark Sun resources that already exist.

The flavor is not what's holding 5e Dark Sun back. It's all the missing mechanics.

Dark Sun isn't just a setting. It's both a deconstruction of the default high fantasy setting and lore, and a total conversion of the AD&D rules. There's virtually nothing in the game rules that was left unchanged from the base game. The game goes so far as to list spell descriptions that were modified or eliminated. Even alignment has extended, optional rules in Dark Sun because the game world doesn't really work with alignment.

Look, 5e Dark Sun needs game rules for:

Races or subraces: mul, thri-kreen, Athasian half-giant (and not just "LOL use goliath"), Athasian dwarf, Athasian elf, Athasian halfling.

Classes or subclasses: preserver, defiler, gladiator, templar (especially NPC stats), Athasian psionicist, elemental clerics, elemental druids, Athasian bard, trader.

Other missing mechanics or rules: Athasian psionics, psionic wild talents (which all DS PCs are), expanded travel & survival rules and mechanics (heat, water, etc.), alternate weapon and armor materials, crude weapon rules, piecemeal armor, new weapons and armor, defiling rules and mechanics, Athasian vehicles, Athasian monsters, Athasian mounts, NPC blocks, etc., etc., etc.

That's just to reach parity with AD&D Dark Sun Campaign Setting.

So, you say, "Oh, they've already published this before." No, they haven't. Not in a manner that's usable for 5e. The DSCS came with a 100 page Rules Book and everything in that was entirely new and altered mechanics. The structure of the Rules Book matches the structure of the PHB because the changes are that extensive. This is a book for the players of a Dark Sun campaign. The Wanderer's Journal that details the world and lore of Athas was the shorter of the two books in that box. And DSCS didn't detail the rules for psionics! Dark Sun has always been 50% lore and 50% rules overhaul. No other campaign setting did that.

You know how much time Planescape devotes to new PC rules in the original Player's Guide? 3 pages for new races, no new classes, then one page per faction over the next 16 pages. Everything else is for the DM, detailing the 16 factions, describing the 16 outer planes, describing Sigil, describing Outlands, and then trying to explain how to run a campaign in this unwieldly mess. You know how many new spells there are? Two. And they're in the DM book.

The reason I haven't homebrewed Dark Sun is because it's a monumental amount of effort. I've tried doing it. It's literally like rewriting the entire PHB. The reason I'm not using existing homebrews is because they're usually incomplete, often poorly designed, or otherwise not fit for purpose. That's not meant to attack those who have done the work, more a reflection on the difficulty of the task. There's like a dozen new or heavily modified major mechanics in Dark Sun. It's not a trivial thing to design or convert. Playing a different game system with Dark Sun would be just as much if not more work to accomplish, and even that sets aside that Dark Sun is quintessentially D&D more than any other setting. The reason I don't simply use the original rules entirely as presented is because... AD&D pretty much sucks as a game system at the table. It's a 1970s design with more issues than National Geographic. I love it, but I'm never playing it again.

If WotC wants to introduce new things that's fine. I'm very happy to see new narrative elements or adventures. However, my interest and what I think is the actual draw to the setting is in playing the setting largely as originally presented, especially the original boxed sets: a "points of darkness" setting. If they release new content that runs contrary to the original vision or themes of the setting I'm not going to be happy. I'm not interested in WotC adding new races or classes, and if there's anything that WotC has proven it's that making everything a kitchen sink is their marketing strategy. I'm not really interested in a kitchen sink Dark Sun book. That's the antithesis of what DS is to me.

Dark Sun as a whole is almost entirely defined by what is absent than it is by what they added. Weapons and armor are absent, so here are rules for doing that. Gold and metal and material goods are absent, so here is what that means. Magic is not really magical, so here is what happens when that system is corrupted. Deities aren't around so don't bother praying; you'll old die thirsty. Nobody has friends or allies or safety, so you'll have to deal with hostility, chattel slavery, gladiatorial games, and tyranny. The new additions like psionics and monsters are atypical or alien. Travel and survival are not foregone conclusions that can be handwaved away. Extraplanar travel is virtually impossible. It's post apocalyptic in ways that D&D settings generally aren't. Dark Sun is basically an inescapable megadungeon. I want it to stay that way, and if WotC releases a book that undermines that lore then I'm not interested in it.
 

grimslade

Doddering Old Git
I think you are bound for disappointment Bacon Bits. 5E DarkSun is coming and I don't know that we are getting all the proper subsystems, judging by how psionics are handled so far. I think they will produce an adequate defiling system and rules for wilderness survival. I am apprehensive about psionics.
 

squibbles

Adventurer
The flavor is not what's holding 5e Dark Sun back. It's all the missing mechanics.

Dark Sun isn't just a setting. It's both a deconstruction of the default high fantasy setting and lore, and a total conversion of the AD&D rules. There's virtually nothing in the game rules that was left unchanged from the base game. The game goes so far as to list spell descriptions that were modified or eliminated. Even alignment has extended, optional rules in Dark Sun because the game world doesn't really work with alignment.

Look, 5e Dark Sun needs game rules for:

Races or subraces: mul, thri-kreen, Athasian half-giant (and not just "LOL use goliath"), Athasian dwarf, Athasian elf, Athasian halfling.

Classes or subclasses: preserver, defiler, gladiator, templar (especially NPC stats), Athasian psionicist, elemental clerics, elemental druids, Athasian bard, trader.

Other missing mechanics or rules: Athasian psionics, psionic wild talents (which all DS PCs are), expanded travel & survival rules and mechanics (heat, water, etc.), alternate weapon and armor materials, crude weapon rules, piecemeal armor, new weapons and armor, defiling rules and mechanics, Athasian vehicles, Athasian monsters, Athasian mounts, NPC blocks, etc., etc., etc.

That's just to reach parity with AD&D Dark Sun Campaign Setting.

So, you say, "Oh, they've already published this before." No, they haven't. Not in a manner that's usable for 5e. The DSCS came with a 100 page Rules Book and everything in that was entirely new and altered mechanics. The structure of the Rules Book matches the structure of the PHB because the changes are that extensive. This is a book for the players of a Dark Sun campaign. The Wanderer's Journal that details the world and lore of Athas was the shorter of the two books in that box. And DSCS didn't detail the rules for psionics! Dark Sun has always been 50% lore and 50% rules overhaul. No other campaign setting did that.
Respectfully @Bacon Bits you seem to be responding to a point of view which I do not hold.

I too would like to see WotC publish rules analogous to what is in the 1991 Dark Sun Rules Book. I am not at all in disagreement with you about that.

The "Oh, they've already published this before" that I am referring to is the Wanderer's Journal. In my opinion, they needn't publish it nor a gazetteer of the Tyr region again. That setting background is already available. I commented on fan created content (in the bit you quoted) to note the amount of effort that has been spent making the setting playable, not to argue that official rules are unnecessary--though I do think that some fan resources are quite good.

The main intuition I'd like to point out is this: If WotC were to release a Dark Sun book that was set on the opposite side of the Sea of Silt--or anywhere else in the explored world--they would be in no way hampered from releasing the mechanics that you and I both want to see. They don't need to write another Tyr region gazetteer to publish a full set of Dark Sun mechanics.

And, in the interest of keeping Dark Sun a living setting with new and creative content, I personally would like them to publish something, anything, other than a gazetteer of the Tyr region set around Kalak's death.

If WotC wants to introduce new things that's fine. I'm very happy to see new narrative elements or adventures. However, my interest and what I think is the actual draw to the setting is in playing the setting largely as originally presented, especially the original boxed sets: a "points of darkness" setting. If they release new content that runs contrary to the original vision or themes of the setting I'm not going to be happy. I'm not interested in WotC adding new races or classes, and if there's anything that WotC has proven it's that making everything a kitchen sink is their marketing strategy. I'm not really interested in a kitchen sink Dark Sun book. That's the antithesis of what DS is to me.

Dark Sun as a whole is almost entirely defined by what is absent than it is by what they added. Weapons and armor are absent, so here are rules for doing that. Gold and metal and material goods are absent, so here is what that means. Magic is not really magical, so here is what happens when that system is corrupted. Deities aren't around so don't bother praying; you'll old die thirsty. Nobody has friends or allies or safety, so you'll have to deal with hostility, chattel slavery, gladiatorial games, and tyranny. The new additions like psionics and monsters are atypical or alien. Travel and survival are not foregone conclusions that can be handwaved away. Extraplanar travel is virtually impossible. It's post apocalyptic in ways that D&D settings generally aren't. Dark Sun is basically an inescapable megadungeon. I want it to stay that way, and if WotC releases a book that undermines that lore then I'm not interested in it.
I like all of those themes and conventions too, that's why I like the setting.

But I've got the points of darkness setting already. They can't add anything to it by making a perfect facsimile.

So, in addition to the rules update that needs to be in a 5e Dark Sun book, I'd like them to take a shot at making new setting content that is thematic and also good. I can always ignore it if it sucks; the Try region isn't going anywhere.
 
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