D&D 5E 5e has everything it needs for Dark Sun

Sithlord

Adventurer
I am only realizing now that multiverse planes are irrelevant to Dark Sun. The original Dark Sun setting doesnt even mention them. The concepts of them only appear indirectly and incidentally as parts of spells and in connection to the elemental spirituality of the Cleric.

At that time during D&D 2e, the desire to discuss the planes only mattered to the Greyhawk setting. DMs who wanted to transport Greyhawk characters to or from the Dark Sun setting, speculated about how to make room for the Dark Sun setting inside the Greyhawk setting.

The original intent was to play the Dark Sun setting, and the Greyhawk setting didnt exist. How to link the two was an afterthought.

A later Dark Sun expansion book, Defilers and Preservers, mentions a few details for how to handle spells and the like.
• The Black = 2e Plane of Shadow (which was once a source for illusion magic, but in 5e no longer exists).
• The Gray = replaces both 2e ether and 2e aster, and serves as a "limbo" for the dead.

Relating to the Greyhawk multiverse, the Gray is a kind buffer against both the ether and the aster. The Gray absolutely blocks access to the Aster, but there can be some passages ways between the Gray and the Ether − if a DM wants to hook Greyhawk and Dark Sun together.

The thing is, in 4e and 5e, both the Shadow Plane and the realm of the dead have merged together to become the same thing, namely Shadowfell.

In other words, to say the only planes that exist in Dark Sun are the Material Plane and the Shadowfell, and nothing else, is an accurate way to represent the original 2e Dark Sun canon within modern 5e D&D.

There is no important reason to distinguish the Black and the Gray within 5e. Both are Shadowfell. One can easily say any distinction is regional. The "Gray" is the parts of Shadowfell that the memory of the dead inhabit, and the "Black" are the parts of Shadowfell that are unpopulated wilderness. Done. Somewhere in the Shadowfell wilderness is the entrance to a demiplane called the "Hollow". Also done.

Material and shadow − these two are the only planes.



Because access to the Ethereal Plane isnt really a thing, the earlier mention of Clerics accessing the Elemental Planes is actually problematic. It is better to understand that these "Elemental Planes" are regions within the Material Plane, such as volcanoes and streams and upper atmosphere.



There are spells that mention "ethereal". As far as I can tell, the source material isnt really clear about how these spells work, because the Gray realm of the dead generally blocks access to the Ether. It seems to me, when a mage "goes ethereal" in Dark Sun, what is actually happening is, they are entering and traveling thru the realm of dead. In other words, the 2e "ethereal" is also the same thing as the 5e Shadowfell. Per 5e, the "ethereal" mage is actually "shadow walking". The Shadowfell echoes the features of the Material Plane, so the "ethereal" mage can still navigate the Material Plane normally while within the Shadowfell, even if the Shadowfell version seems more gloomy and neglected than the living plane.



Now because 5e has merged the 2e planar concepts into the Shadowfell, there is an unintended consequence for the Dark Sun setting. Because the setting is more conspicuously involving the realm of the dead, the spells can obsorb a creepy necromantic flavor that might not originally be there. Then again, the Gray is the realm of the dead, so magic that involves it or passes thru it is accurately necromantic.

This goes back to the original point, in Dark Sun the planes dont really matter. If a spell technically involves the Shadowfell, this normally has little consequence for the populations who inhabit the realm of the living.
Almost every setting should work like this. The planes are generally only known to a few sages and powerful wizards. And most who know of them only as it relates to their plane. Your villagers and soldiers and even sages would be clueless on this matter. In the real world how much to do we know of even the size of our plane (universe) is highly debated. Same with the age of our universe. And then are their others. So yes dark sun residents not having knowledge of the planes and only having limited experience with a few that have for some reason interacted with their own plane and Jackie different names for them. Yep makes sense. And a plane is so big and vast they may be interacting with a part of a plane that greyhawk interacts with and it is so far away from where Greyhawk interacted with it that the races and civilizations involved may not even be aware of each other’s existence. Planes aren’t villages in a city. They have distance that dwarf crossing thousands or millions of galaxies and then some.
 

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Faolyn

(she/her)
Maybe reincarnation makes sense as the norm for the Dark Sun afterlife.

When a human dies, their bodies become the dust of the earth and their breaths become the breeze of the sky. Eventually, they recycle, becoming rocky features, plants, beasts, and other humanoids. The mind of an ancestor never leaves the Material Plane − but merely changes shape.

The Shadowfell is a place of lingering memories of yesteryear. But the minds of the ancestors remain just as much a vital part of the living community as when they wore their shapes of living humanoid bodies.
Now, I am not a Dark Sun aficionado, but I've read the MCs for it several times, and I recall that undead were a pretty major thing. Or at least, there were a bunch of fairly interesting undead monsters in those books. More than I would have expected from the setting.

Maybe, like with ancient Egyptian beliefs, there is more than one type of soul in DS. Say, three types. One type is the embodiment of pure psionic energy within that person. One is more the thoughts and memories. One is an animating force.

The three souls (A, B, C) generally don't stick together and get reincarnated together. Instead, the three types of souls are blown to the psychic winds, and only when an A soul, B soul, and C soul from different original bodies join together do they possibly reincarnated. But this also means that one or more of those souls could go on to a "rest"--or reanimation as an undead--thanks to the Shadowfell. Or that if A, B, and C are stuck together and can't properly disperse, undeath is inevitable.
 

Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
Almost every setting should work like this. The planes are generally only known to a few sages and powerful wizards. And most who know of them only as it relates to their plane. Your villagers and soldiers and even sages would be clueless on this matter. In the real world how much to do we know of even the size of our plane (universe) is highly debated. Same with the age of our universe. And then are their others. So yes dark sun residents not having knowledge of the planes and only having limited experience with a few that have for some reason interacted with their own plane and Jackie different names for them. Yep makes sense. And a plane is so big and vast they may be interacting with a part of a plane that greyhawk interacts with and it is so far away from where Greyhawk interacted with it that the races and civilizations involved may not even be aware of each other’s existence. Planes aren’t villages in a city. They have distance that dwarf crossing thousands or millions of galaxies and then some.
You'll get no disagreement from me.

3e put way too much effort into making the cosmology "Important". With even low level adventures having players go to the Elemental Plane of Fire, for example. 4e took that torch and ran with it. I like Planescape and Spelljammer as much as most people, but keep the planes-hopping madness there, for the most part.

In my own campaign setting, only a handful of planes are known about. The Wasteland and the Fae Realms are known about, plus the Afterworlds of Elysium and Hell. I'll probably have an Ethereal Plane functionally, but it's just "Our world a step to the left" type thing... And that's really it.

And people's knowledge of them all? SUPER LIMITED. Based entirely on the handful of people who've gone and come back.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Now, I am not a Dark Sun aficionado, but I've read the MCs for it several times, and I recall that undead were a pretty major thing. Or at least, there were a bunch of fairly interesting undead monsters in those books. More than I would have expected from the setting.

Maybe, like with ancient Egyptian beliefs, there is more than one type of soul in DS. Say, three types. One type is the embodiment of pure psionic energy within that person. One is more the thoughts and memories. One is an animating force.

The three souls (A, B, C) generally don't stick together and get reincarnated together. Instead, the three types of souls are blown to the psychic winds, and only when an A soul, B soul, and C soul from different original bodies join together do they possibly reincarnated. But this also means that one or more of those souls could go on to a "rest"--or reanimation as an undead--thanks to the Shadowfell. Or that if A, B, and C are stuck together and can't properly disperse, undeath is inevitable.

"There is more than one type of soul." Good point! At death (or during magic) the different aspects of the soul might separate doing their own thing, then reassemble later. So part of an ancestor might be in the Gray (Shadowfell) and an other part might be alive and well in some sense with their living community, and a third part recycling thru the features of the nature.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Almost every setting should work like this. The planes are generally only known to a few sages and powerful wizards. And most who know of them only as it relates to their plane. Your villagers and soldiers and even sages would be clueless on this matter. In the real world how much to do we know of even the size of our plane (universe) is highly debated. Same with the age of our universe. And then are their others. So yes dark sun residents not having knowledge of the planes and only having limited experience with a few that have for some reason interacted with their own plane and Jackie different names for them. Yep makes sense. And a plane is so big and vast they may be interacting with a part of a plane that greyhawk interacts with and it is so far away from where Greyhawk interacted with it that the races and civilizations involved may not even be aware of each other’s existence. Planes aren’t villages in a city. They have distance that dwarf crossing thousands or millions of galaxies and then some.
I realize the Forgotten Realms setting is the "default" for 5e. Heh, the Forgotten Realms setting is a Star Trek Borg that assimilates every other setting. If a campaign is blending both the Forgotten Realms setting and the Dark Sun, then the Forgotten Realms multiverse is a convenient explanation.

However, if a DM has no interest in FR, there is no reason to assume that the FR planes even exist. There is Dark Sun and nothing else.

I prefer the default 5e Dark Sun setting makes it so the multiverse simply doesnt exist. Then add a sidebar for DMs who want to add Dark Sun to the Forgotten Realms setting, to give suggestions for how to do this.
 

Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
Now, I am not a Dark Sun aficionado, but I've read the MCs for it several times, and I recall that undead were a pretty major thing. Or at least, there were a bunch of fairly interesting undead monsters in those books. More than I would have expected from the setting.

Maybe, like with ancient Egyptian beliefs, there is more than one type of soul in DS. Say, three types. One type is the embodiment of pure psionic energy within that person. One is more the thoughts and memories. One is an animating force.

The three souls (A, B, C) generally don't stick together and get reincarnated together. Instead, the three types of souls are blown to the psychic winds, and only when an A soul, B soul, and C soul from different original bodies join together do they possibly reincarnated. But this also means that one or more of those souls could go on to a "rest"--or reanimation as an undead--thanks to the Shadowfell. Or that if A, B, and C are stuck together and can't properly disperse, undeath is inevitable.

"There is more than one type of soul." Good point! At death (or during magic) the different aspects of the soul might separate doing their own thing, then reassemble later. So part of an ancestor might be in the Gray (Shadowfell) and an other part might be alive and well in some sense with their living community, and a third part recycling thru the features of the nature.
Way simpler. Gray, the

You die, you go to the Grey. Your soul is slowly eroded over time. And then there is nothing left.

Undead are largely creatures whose trauma or unfinished business or what-have-you keeps their soul from passing to the Grey. Or causes it to leave the Grey.

Nothing more complex than that.
 

Sithlord

Adventurer
I realize the Forgotten Realms setting is the "default" for 5e. Heh, the Forgotten Realms setting is a Star Trek Borg that assimilates every other setting. If a campaign is blending both the Forgotten Realms setting and the Dark Sun, then the Forgotten Realms multiverse is a convenient explanation.

However, if a DM has no interest in FR, there is no reason to assume that the FR planes even exist. There is Dark Sun and nothing else.

I prefer the default 5e Dark Sun setting makes it so the multiverse simply doesnt exist. Then add a sidebar for DMs who want to add Dark Sun to the Forgotten Realms setting, to give suggestions for how to do this.
This i Agee with. I would prefer dark sun and Eberron products and adventures focus on how the natives view and interact with the planes from their own perspective. Now if a planescape product or dm in their own home brew adventures wants to travel their that is cool.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Druids have the Reincarnation spell, so the concept exists within the Dark Sun worldview. The spell guides the future incarnation. But reincarnation can just as easily happen naturally.

Probably all outcomes are possible.

The mind of an ancestor who wants to remain fully a member of their living community can do that. (Maybe this is what a psionic body is.)

The mind of an ancestor who wants to come back as a natural feature, such as a particular mountain or beast or tree, or even come back as a future descendant or some other humanoid, can do that.

The mind who just wants to escape the Dark Sun and disintegrate into the oblivion of Shadowfell, can do that.
 

Sithlord

Adventurer
Since my memories of dark sun are 2E, I would would really hope dark sun had an ability score array higher than normal. Something like 19, 16, 15, 4, 12, 10

i don’t know I’m flexible in this
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Since my memories of dark sun are 2E, I would would really hope dark sun had an ability score array higher than normal. Something like 19, 16, 15, 4, 12, 10

i don’t know I’m flexible in this
Tashas gives the player control of the ability improvements. So, at the very least, an 18 in whatever ability is desirable is a guarantee. If someone is rolling randomly, a 20 can possible.

Perhaps a Psionic Talent is effectively a psychosomatic improvement to one of the ability scores.
 

Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
Druids have the Reincarnation spell, so the concept exists within the Dark Sun worldview. The spell guides the future incarnation. But reincarnation can just as easily happen naturally.

Probably all outcomes are possible.

The mind of an ancestor who wants to remain fully a member of their living community can do that. (Maybe this is what a psionic body is.)

The mind of an ancestor who wants to come back as a natural feature, such as a particular mountain or beast or tree, or even come back as a future descendant or some other humanoid, can do that.

The mind who just wants to escape the Dark Sun and disintegrate into the oblivion of Shadowfell, can do that.
Reincarnate is only accessible within 10 days. Same with Raise Dead.

Resurrection is 100 years. True Resurrection is 200 years.

Back in 2e when Dark Sun was created the Resurrection spell worked on a target dead for up to 10 years per caster level. So about the same as True Resurrection in 5e.

Guess that means it takes a few centuries of floating around in the Grey before your soul breaks up too far for anyone to recover.
Since my memories of dark sun are 2E, I would would really hope dark sun had an ability score array higher than normal. Something like 19, 16, 15, 4, 12, 10

i don’t know I’m flexible in this
"Standard Array" didn't exist in Dark Sun back then. Your rolling options were:

1) 4d4+4 rolled six times
2) 5d4 twice per ability score, take the higher of the two.
3) 5d4 six times, assign as you prefer.
4) 5d4 twelve times, assign six as you prefer
5) Every score is a 10. Roll 10d4 and add whole dice to any score you want (No splitting a 4 for +2 Str and +2 Con, for example)
 



Yaarel

Mind Mage
Heh, Reincarnate should be a slot 1 spell (ritual). When a level 1 character gets killed, and the player needs to create a new character, this is precisely when Reincarnate is useful and nice. Basically a new character with some past-life memories.

Of course, a DM can let the player character have previous memories, without needing special mechanics to do this.

But rethinking and tweaking the Reincarnate legacy spell for D&D 5e could be alot of fun.

Maybe a character can come back as a pet of the next character. So many possibilities.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
With regard to the classes, this is what I want in the Dark Sun player content.
• One section that is as true to the original box set as possible, albeit there are legitimately different ways that 5e might represent it.
• One section for 5e classes that kinda-sorta makes sense in the setting, but isnt in the original box set.
• One section advising the DM if wanting to include unrelated classes, like a Fey Wanderer Ranger or whatever.

For the Box Set, I want a complete stand-alone product, where all the mechanics and flavor is in one book. I dont want to reference the Players Handbook for these core Box Set option. Each option needs to be completely rewritten, from the ground up, to fluff the class features to fit within the lore of the cultures of the planet Athas. These are Box Set character options (slightly tweaking for 5e).

Martial
• Gladiator (fight sports)
• [Soldier] (military unit)
• [Minstrel] (entertainer and poisoner)
• Ranger (wilderness warrior)

Arcane
• Preserver
• Defiler
• Illusionist (unsure if necessary in 5e but might be notable in 2e)
• [Necromancer] (not listed but probably should be since necromancy is notable in 2e)

Divine
• Templar (priest of an urban temple worshiping a Sorcerer-King as a god-monarch: compare Caesar, Pharaoh, etcetera)
• Cleric (elementalist with Dao-like cosmic force spirituality)
• Druid (shaman of an animist community)

Psionic
• Psion


The above is the 2e Box Set. There are various reasonable ways to represent these 12 character options within 5e. The point here is, I want this core as a stand alone product, without needing to consult the Players Handbook, I want these options written from the ground up with mechanics whose lore is pertinent to how these options fit within the Dark Sun setting.

There are various ways to represent these options, some might be a class or subclass, or background or feat, or some other design space. If a subclass, then its base class also needs to be present with its Dark Sun version.

The Dark Sun Ranger could understood as a Divine class because the 5e Ranger is more magical and can count as a Divine class. Alternatively, the DS Ranger could be a nonmagical Rogue Scout. Whatever solution seems to represent the most salient aspects of the 2e setting within the modern 5e D&D game.

After the core box set section is complete, a second section can add all the 5e options that are no problem for Dark Sun. For example the Barbarian class is fine. There is no need to mention mechanics, but lore is helpful. For example, briefly describe where one might find a Barbarian within the cultures of Athas − maybe among the Halflings.

After the section for including any pertinent 5e classes is complete, a third section can handle all of the 5e player options that really dont make sense in the Dark Sun setting. Perhaps the third section might try to discourage the DM from including conflictive flavors, but then give some useful advise if the DM insists on a "kitchen sink" approach to Dark Sun.
 

Sithlord

Adventurer
With regard to the classes, this is what I want in the Dark Sun player content.
• One section that is as true to the original box set as possible, albeit there are legitimately different ways that 5e might represent it.
• One section for 5e classes that kinda-sorta makes sense in the setting, but isnt in the original box set.
• One section advising the DM if wanting to include unrelated classes, like a Fey Wanderer Ranger or whatever.

For the Box Set, I want a complete stand-alone product, where all the mechanics and flavor is in one book. I dont want to reference the Players Handbook for these core Box Set option. Each option needs to be completely rewritten, from the ground up, to fluff the class features to fit within the lore of the cultures of the planet Athas. These are Box Set character options (slightly tweaking for 5e).

Martial
• Gladiator (fight sports)
• [Soldier] (military unit)
• [Minstrel] (entertainer and poisoner)
• Ranger (wilderness warrior)

Arcane
• Preserver
• Defiler
• Illusionist (unsure if necessary in 5e but might be notable in 2e)
• [Necromancer] (not listed but probably should be since necromancy is notable in 2e)

Divine
• Templar (priest of an urban temple worshiping a Sorcerer-King as a god-monarch: compare Caesar, Pharaoh, etcetera)
• Cleric (elementalist with Dao-like cosmic force spirituality)
• Druid (shaman of an animist community)

Psionic
• Psion


The above is the 2e Box Set. There are various reasonable ways to represent these 12 character options within 5e. The point here is, I want this core as a stand alone product, without needing to consult the Players Handbook, I want these options written from the ground up with mechanics whose lore is pertinent to how these options fit within the Dark Sun setting.

There are various ways to represent these options, some might be a class or subclass, or background or feat, or some other design space. If a subclass, then its base class also needs to be present with its Dark Sun version.

The Dark Sun Ranger could understood as a Divine class because the 5e Ranger is more magical and can count as a Divine class. Alternatively, the DS Ranger could be a nonmagical Rogue Scout. Whatever solution seems to represent the most salient aspects of the 2e setting within the modern 5e D&D game.

After the core box set section is complete, a second section can add all the 5e options that are no problem for Dark Sun. For example the Barbarian class is fine. There is no need to mention mechanics, but lore is helpful. For example, briefly describe where one might find a Barbarian within the cultures of Athas − maybe among the Halflings.

After the section for including any pertinent 5e classes is complete, a third section can handle all of the 5e player options that really dont make sense in the Dark Sun setting. Perhaps the third section might try to discourage the DM from including conflictive flavors, but then give some useful advise if the DM insists on a "kitchen sink" approach to Dark Sun.
I love everything you wrote. You are a genius that should be put on payroll. I do however see the Templar class as warlocks for the sorcerer kings as their patron.
 

Rickayelm

Villager
I've always thought oath of the Crown paladin would be a good fit for Templars. You are empowered by a magically binding oath to one of the sorcerer kings.
 

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