Dark Sun 5E conversion - draft

Dispater

Visitor
You guys are missing the obvious. The core idea of 2e was the defiler went up levels quicker, and thus had access to more spells faster.
To make that work in 5e, simply have a defiler class with more spells than the preserver. Easy fix.

In my campaign the spellcasters roll for the power of their spells. Defilers simply always roll a greater die. But thats a different mechanic I dont want to lay out in detail here.
 

toucanbuzz

Explorer
...The core idea of 2e was the defiler went up levels quicker, and thus had access to more spells faster. To make that work in 5e, simply have a defiler class with more spells than the preserver....
The Defiler as a separate class in this Edition is where we run into the problem that a 6th level preserver is in a life and death situation and resolves that defiling, for the first time in her life, is necessary for the greater good. She never defiles again. Is she now a defiler class with more power? Can she abuse the rules, defile one time, then preserve the rest of her career, to get a power bump? That's where I'm having to craft against it being a "path" or a different class.
 

Jacob Lewis

The One with the Force
Defiling should be a choice, not a class. I think the simplest solution within the constraints of 5e mechanics is this:

All arcane spells are cast naturally (preserver) at their level. Casting spells at a higher level, as detailed in their descriptions, requires defiling. That alone is going to change a lot of the dynamics for spells like Counterspell.

For any further consequences, both narrative and mechanical, individuals will likely develop something appealing to their own designs, such as ideas seen in this and so many other threads.
 

toucanbuzz

Explorer
Latest draft with modifications (balance) for several races, and delving into the class section. I'm trying to keep classes simple, comparable to the 3rd edition conversion, and most changes are cosmetic. The cleric has been a project. All other conversions have simply created the 4 elemental domains, but I like the diversity of choice, and so I've attempted to translate, with some modification, existing domains into the elements. That will be for a future draft.

In summary, I think the races look pretty good.
 

Attachments

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
The Defiler as a separate class in this Edition is where we run into the problem that a 6th level preserver is in a life and death situation and resolves that defiling, for the first time in her life, is necessary for the greater good. She never defiles again. Is she now a defiler class with more power? Can she abuse the rules, defile one time, then preserve the rest of her career, to get a power bump? That's where I'm having to craft against it being a "path" or a different class.
I'm not sure where I read it, but I could have sworn there were rules for switching between the two types of arcane magic. Something that allowed a preserver to defile but require atonement or fall and a defiler to give up defiling magic and switch to a preserver. I'm sure it was in 2e and that going from defiler to preserver could cost you some levels but for the life of me, I can't recall where I read it.

Like you, I think defiling works much better if it is a choice made by the caster rather than having a preserver/defiler split. If defiling causes penalties to accrue every time you defile then those who follow the path of preservation will likely seek to atone when they are forced into a situation where they need to defile. This also sets up a temptation for the player. Do they seek the power of defiling magic thinking the benefits outweigh the penalties, or do they seek to resist the power and work to restore their world.
 

toucanbuzz

Explorer
I stumbled across a 5E homebrew using GM binder format where the author homebrewed a Wisdom save if a preserver defiled to avoid changing to the defiler class. But again, two separate classes.

To make that permanent defiling score mean more, I like the 3rd edition new spell "detect defiler" and the new druid spell that damages only defilers, with a penalty on the save equal to your defiler score. While you may not be likely to cross paths with a druid, if you're a defiler you take your chances. It also enhances the animosity between druids and sorcerer kings. There's not many beings in Athas they legitimately could fear, but a high level druid might be one, and that's why the sorcerer kings hunt them to extinction.
 

Dispater

Visitor
In my campaign, preservers shift alignement one step as a result of 'defiling taint' every time they defile. Once they reach an evil alignement, they can choose to switch to to defiler (having no more moral qualms about taking life). Once they actually reach Chaotic Evil that change is made wether the player wants to or not. The spellcaster's mind is now so warped and obsessed with power that it becomes the default.

You can still have Preservers defile while retaining them as a separarate class from defilers. Just make 'defiling' an optional feature when they cast spells.
 

Dispater

Visitor
Latest draft with modifications (balance) for several races, and delving into the class section. I'm trying to keep classes simple, comparable to the 3rd edition conversion, and most changes are cosmetic. The cleric has been a project. All other conversions have simply created the 4 elemental domains, but I like the diversity of choice, and so I've attempted to translate, with some modification, existing domains into the elements. That will be for a future draft.

In summary, I think the races look pretty good.
Its interesting seeing all these 5e conversions of DS coming up. I did mine about a year ago, and everyone has different ideas. It is refreshing to read.

You are going to have to have a long, hard think about the classes (as did I). Once I started going down that road I realized the core 5e vanilla classes didn't have that DS feel, and that WotC is too obsessed about arcane subclasses for everything; which doesn't make a fit for DS. It took some time converting classes, I suspect you will need to take some time to do this too. Good luck!
 

toucanbuzz

Explorer
Yeah, I'm on the classes now as well a dual-project of converting the monsters. Agreed the volume of arcane archetypes just don't fit Dark Sun, and while admitting there weren't as many classes in AD&D, the only arcane class was the wizard. There's not an eldritch knight or arcane archer around every corner. The one primary class giving me issues on that point is the Bard.

Allow or not allow? Third proposed it fit (they proposed everything fit though...) as a caster who masks her abilities with performance, but the AD&D bard was pretty much the assassin with performance skill.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Yeah, I'm on the classes now as well a dual-project of converting the monsters. Agreed the volume of arcane archetypes just don't fit Dark Sun, and while admitting there weren't as many classes in AD&D, the only arcane class was the wizard. There's not an eldritch knight or arcane archer around every corner. The one primary class giving me issues on that point is the Bard.

Allow or not allow? Third proposed it fit (they proposed everything fit though...) as a caster who masks her abilities with performance, but the AD&D bard was pretty much the assassin with performance skill.
The 5e bard is totally different from the Dark Sun bard. If you want to cleave as close to 2e Dark Sun as possible, I would leave the bard class out of it and make minstrels a Rogue subclass. Or even just call the Assassin subclass a minstrel.
 

toucanbuzz

Explorer
Arcane classes have been a task. I want to preserve choice but also preserve flavor. If we have a bunch of arcane spellcasting classes, then it lessens the essence of this setting: magic f***ed the planet up and the only good wizard is a dead wizard.

Yet, if I remove the Bard, Sorcerer, and Warlock, we are left with only the wizard and we've removed all the Charisma-based classes and removed a lot of fun options for players. Later editions rationalized them all away, but each rationalization takes something out of the setting.

So, I'm thinking about keeping most.

Bards become a wizard mutation that found the ability to cast spells when intermixed with music, needing no books. This is not to be confused with the Athasian "Bard," part of a specialized culture in which it is not a surprise, even expected, that even the most poorly dressed minstrel might be a covert agent. The wizards have intermixed into this society, using the role of minstrel favorable to hide their magic. The sorcerer kings are aware of this mutation and tolerate it only when in their control and employ. Any other bards are hunted and outlaws.

Sorcerers I can't justify with my defiling rules, which I'm loathe to dumb down as a centerpiece of Athas. Further, the origins don't fit well. There's only one dragon, wild magic really doesn't fit, divine soul (xanathar) is angels, storm sorcery (xanathar) is more suited for a rainy world. Shadow magic is probably the closest to fitting, but only for those from the Black, making it a good enemy NPC.

Warlocks I can work with. They make great reskinned templars (the sorcerer king can grant powers as it needs), and for players the Great Old One is a dead ringer for Rajaat, the Hexblade (xanathar) sourced from the Gray. The rest, they don't seem to fit the setting (e.g. there are no fey in Athas).
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Arcane classes have been a task. I want to preserve choice but also preserve flavor. If we have a bunch of arcane spellcasting classes, then it lessens the essence of this setting: magic f***ed the planet up and the only good wizard is a dead wizard.

Yet, if I remove the Bard, Sorcerer, and Warlock, we are left with only the wizard and we've removed all the Charisma-based classes and removed a lot of fun options for players. Later editions rationalized them all away, but each rationalization takes something out of the setting.
This is why I found myself really liking someone’s suggestion earlier to do the opposite of what 4e did with defiling. Instead of preserving being the default and defiling giving you a bonus, make defiling the default and make preserving something you have to pay a cost or accept a drawback to do. I think it’s far more on-theme with the idea that magic destroyed the world. Instead of something extra poweful but evil and addictive, it’s just what casters are used to. You want to preserve nature, you’ve got to make sacrifices.
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
For sorcery couldn't some of the later forms of magic found in 2e be used to explain them? I remember that one of the kits had the sun mage who drew upon the sun for their magic. Another tapped into the cerulean storm which might fit the storm sorcerer quite well.

The warlock in 4e could have a pact with a sorcerer king. That might be a good way to include them.

Having said all this, I do feel like not every class (or every subclass) needs to be available in dark sun. I dont think it would matter if there were no charisma casters in a dark sun game, you'd probably still see some characters with a decent charisma score to help cover the social skills.
 

toucanbuzz

Explorer
Attaching version 1.2 that includes the races, classes, defiling rules, new anti-defiler druid spells, wild talents, background and feat adjustments. Apologizes for formatting; it appears GMbinder is limited in that its PDF conversions which look like a PHB do well in Chrome but not Microsoft. I'll try that (later).

I kept the 3rd edition defiling rules, thereby eliminating the sorcerer class (whose archetypes didn't fit anyways) except as an NPC, and attempted to simplify the defiling effect rules as it's just too difficult (and unnecessary) to track defiling each time the caster moves. I opted for a simple "DM assigns a terrain to the casting or combat zone, here's the # of times it can be defiled before it's all gone" plus an optional "exact radius effect" table. The defiling rules are more advanced than I initially desired, but I wouldn't have opted for that route if it weren't such a fundamental trope in Dark Sun. I just wasn't satisfied with defiling as a class, nor as a minor boost because defilers would have been rendered extinct long ago if their boost was so minimal that a sorcerer king was better off with a stable of preservers on retainer.

Again, I am stitching together creative effort from all those who have come before me. I've drawing from the athas.org 3rd edition conversion, the UA stuff, forum discussions, and so on. I've been DMing for 20+ years and cut my teeth on Dark Sun, so when in doubt I defer to making the material as much in line with the original AD&D theme as possible.

The druid beast shape section is incomplete because I haven't finished converting a monster manual. But I'm working on it. The toughest part of monster conversion is assigning an appropriate CR. Online calculators have helped, but it's never an exact science. I'm not satisfied with many conversions I've seen out there because many deviate from the original monster design. But 5th is conversion friendly, so I'm moving along as free time permits.

Finally, I've largely got the equipment and money section done (armor and weapons converted), and the only remainder is special materials.
 

Attachments

squibbles

Visitor
I'm a big fan of Darksun, but never had a chance to play it. I'd be commenting a bunch more in this thread except that [MENTION=19270]toucanbuzz[/MENTION] and other commentators are clearly much more familiar with the setting than I am.

So... all I've got to say is: keep up the awesome work!
 

toucanbuzz

Explorer
For wholesale criticism and dissemination, the mostly-final version of the 5th Edition Dark Sun conversion. The only part missing is a more complete Druid wildshape chart, which is on the to-do list as part of a monster manual conversion.

Converted to .pdf using Chrome instead of Windows to preserve formatting of the look of a handbook (the index is off in places but I don't have enough programming knowledge to know why). Once it's final, will produce a black and white version for print.

It's been a lot of fun working on this.
 

Attachments

Dekker500

Villager
Any chance of seeing the content (even in draft format!) on HomeBrewery (https://homebrewery.naturalcrit.com/)? It lets you preserve the formatting, but allowing viewers to see the raw text. I'm trying to use bits-and-pieces from your guide in a custom character sheet data file for my group, and it's so much simpler to grab text/tables from raw data than formatted PDFs.

It appears the formatting is already identical!
 

Advertisement

Top