D&D General 1991 Dark Sun Setting Overview and Speculation

AdmundfortGeographer

Getting lost in fantasy maps
Thanks for asking! I posted a sequence of in progress maps all the way to the ending map. I ran into a few hurdles due to adding far too many symbols for my computer to handle so I had to come up with creative solutions that I found suboptimal. The final map would take forever opening and saving.

A couple weeks ago I got a new computer and the map refused to open at all. So I returned to the old computer and created detail maps of each corner of the ring. Basically quartering the thing, with some overlap. I also decided to post those maps in high res detail too.

Check the files out in this gallery, and don’t forget to download for the high res versions.

I put my alternate Athas cartography on pause to while I returned to my Greyhawk regional map project. Which I‘m making progress through. I plan on return to Athas tackle an alternate take on the Jagged Cliffs and the Thri Kreen empire.
 

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AdmundfortGeographer

Getting lost in fantasy maps
Awesome! Thanks for sharing!

Those maps look excellent, and I'm curious what's going on in that second crater shape in the southeast.
Well, when one stares at surface maps of Mars and the Moon long enough you start seeing impact craters being hit by later impacts right on the crater’s ring. Well, I did at least. Way too much staring at those maps, I tell ya.

So that was just a creative opportunity to drop something in as an excuse that could also give the silt sea a region it could still flow out to a larger expanse, if not a silt ocean beyond the Ringing Mountains. I hadn’t though further than me just liking such a possibility.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Thanks for asking! I posted a sequence of in progress maps all the way to the ending map. I ran into a few hurdles due to adding far too many symbols for my computer to handle so I had to come up with creative solutions that I found suboptimal. The final map would take forever opening and saving.

A couple weeks ago I got a new computer and the map refused to open at all. So I returned to the old computer and created detail maps of each corner of the ring. Basically quartering the thing, with some overlap. I also decided to post those maps in high res detail too.

Check the files out in this gallery, and don’t forget to download for the high res versions.

I put my alternate Athas cartography on pause to while I returned to my Greyhawk regional map project. Which I‘m making progress through. I plan on return to Athas tackle an alternate take on the Jagged Cliffs and the Thri Kreen empire.
They really are fantastic maps. Thanks for sharing.
 

AdmundfortGeographer

Getting lost in fantasy maps
Dark Sun comments from Kyle Brink scoop from Athas.org


“I’ll be frank here, the Dark Sun setting is problematic in a lot of ways. And that’s the main reason we haven’t come back to it. We know it’s got a huge fan following and we have standards today that make it extraordinarily hard to be true to the source material and also meet our ethical and inclusion standards. We know there’s love out there for it and god we would love to make those people happy, and also we gotta be responsible.”

Maybe this could be its own post to not hijack the thread.
 
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overgeeked

B/X Known World
Dark Sun comments from Kyle Brink scoop from Athas.org


“I’ll be frank here, the Dark Sun setting is problematic in a lot of ways. And that’s the main reason we haven’t come back to it. We know it’s got a huge fan following and we have standards today that make it extraordinarily hard to be true to the source material and also meet our ethical and inclusion standards. We know there’s love out there for it and god we would love to make those people happy, and also we gotta be responsible.”

Maybe this could be its own post to not hijack the thread.
Too bad. But better they keep their hands off it than sanitize it into being unrecognizable. Besides, other game systems handle the feel of Dark Sun way better than 5E could.
 

squibbles

Adventurer
Dark Sun comments from Kyle Brink scoop from Athas.org


“I’ll be frank here, the Dark Sun setting is problematic in a lot of ways. And that’s the main reason we haven’t come back to it. We know it’s got a huge fan following and we have standards today that make it extraordinarily hard to be true to the source material and also meet our ethical and inclusion standards. We know there’s love out there for it and god we would love to make those people happy, and also we gotta be responsible.”

Maybe this could be its own post to not hijack the thread.

Wow.

Ya, for sure make a thread about it.

The gobsmacking thing about it is that they're wrong. The setting is environmentalist, anti-authoritarian, and anti-racism and if they had the courage of their convictions they would understand that, and be able to do it justice.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Wow.

Ya, for sure make a thread about it.

The gobsmacking thing about it is that they're wrong. The setting is environmentalist, anti-authoritarian, and anti-racism and if they had the courage of their convictions they would understand that, and be able to do it justice.
Trouble is they'd need to show an awful lot of anti-environmentalism, authoritarianism, and racism (along with a lot of other terrible things) to get that across. Lately people don't seem to be able to tell the difference between 1) a warning against a thing, and; 2) a promotion of that thing. Here's a story about how racism is bad...followed by the inevitable backlash calling out that same story as itself promoting racism. You can't show the thing is bad without showing the thing.
 

Staffan

Legend
Dark Sun comments from Kyle Brink scoop from Athas.org


“I’ll be frank here, the Dark Sun setting is problematic in a lot of ways. And that’s the main reason we haven’t come back to it. We know it’s got a huge fan following and we have standards today that make it extraordinarily hard to be true to the source material and also meet our ethical and inclusion standards. We know there’s love out there for it and god we would love to make those people happy, and also we gotta be responsible.”

Maybe this could be its own post to not hijack the thread.
This goes back somewhat to what I wrote in another thread regarding Wakanda versus Luke Cage as power fantasies.

In the real world, lots of people face oppression of various sorts. I think that in the face of that, it is natural to turn to one of two types of power fantasies, exemplified by Wakanda and Luke Cage.

Wakanda is an utopia. It is rich, it is powerful, it blends super-science with tradition, and there's no oppression. There are certainly threats to Wakanda, but Wakanda seems to be mighty enough to meet most of them and prevail. This is a good dream to strive for, and it's clear that it plucks at the heart strings of many. This seems to be pretty close in principle to many settings: there is a status quo which is Good, and people are mostly equal – or at least not discriminated against on account of ethnicity, sex, or sexuality. The job of Our Heroes is usually to defend this status quo, at least on a larger scale.

On the other hand, we have Luke Cage. Cage lives in a grittier part of the Marvel Universe, where corruption is rampant, people in power enjoy holding that power over others, and oppression is a fact of life. In short, Cage's world sucks. But Cage is empowered to do something about it. He is the black man the cops can't shoot (the TV series used a more colorful metaphor which I do not believe our esteemed mods would appreciate). He's the one who can change the world for the better. This type of world is where Dark Sun needs to be: the world is in a very bad place, but the PCs are the ones who can do something about it.

One problem is that writing something like that is pretty hard. You need to walk the line between making it grim, and making it grimdark. If there is no hope at all, then what's the point? So the world can't be all bad, but where do you draw the line? This is where I think the post-Freedom! Dark Sun setting shines: one of the sorcerer-kings has just been overthrown, showing that a better world is possible. But upsetting the status quo is not without risks. Other sorcerer-monarchs have their eye on the city of Tyr, who just lost their mightiest defender (for certain values of defender). The abolition of slavery has created a large poor underclass, leading to social instability as well as food insecurity (because who's tending the fields now? You mean we have to PAY them? But that'll make food more expensive!). That's a setting with lots of potential, but also one who could easily fall back into despair.

Another problem is that a setting like that tends to attract some people who only look at the surface, and who see slavery and oppression and think "cool!". I'm thinking of a recent Kickstarter that tried ripping off Dark Sun, but fortunately never got anywhere. It can be hard telling these pizza cutters from fans who appreciate what little hope the setting has.

And of course, I'm writing this from a position of privilege. I'm a straight white cis dude who lives in one of the world's richest countries. In the great game of life, I'm pretty much playing on easy mode. For me, experiencing oppression in a game is a matter of escapism. I get to experience something else for a while, but when the game is done, I get to go back to my life of privilege. Not everyone has that luxury, and I can't really blame them for preferring a game where they get to take a break from oppression being a thing to contend with on a daily basis.
 

There is slavery in DS, but also in all the stories with illithid.

My suggestion is to try a spin-off, updating the crunch, but with the option to add things from the last editions. The setting will be not in Athas itself, but in a cluster of Wildspaces. These suffered a ecologic apocalypse by fault of the defilers from Athas, and even some ones are "sorcerer-kings" ruling their own "demielemental" demiplanes.

And there is a faction of renegade githyankis who have created an idependient kingdom in the Astral Sea.
 

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