I mean... yes, Dark Sun can totally be done without psionics.
Would it though? Could it not be replaced by some other calamity, such as the destruction of the Sun? Or the war between the Gods and the Primordials? What matters is that Dark Sun is a harsh dying planet. Is arcane magic needed to those ends anymore than psionics is for the setting?Now this, I would say, would harm the setting’s themes. Arcane magic destroyed the world, you can’t have Dark Sun without it, any more than you can have Fallout without nuclear weapons. Players don’t need to have access to it, but it needs to exist in the setting.
IMHO, it's part of what makes it a bit more alien from the usual D&D flair.I love how you take "a harsh and alien world," which is indisputably a central theme of Dark Sun, and casually slide "of psionics" into it so that anyone who wants to dispute the "psionics" part now has to disentangle it from the "harsh and alien world" part first.
But we are not just playing in any post-apocalyptic setting/game, but Dark Sun, where psionics are a part of the character, tone, landscape.More like the devestated landscape, fighting over extremely limited resources for survival, and warlords. Psionics can be part of post apoc settings, sure, but it's not a necessary nor sufficient part. Maybe I'm in a minority, but when someone says, "Hey, I want to try this post-apocalyptic setting/game," I don't immediately go, "cool, I love psionics!"
You mean apart from the iconic psionic creatures? Or the psionics that the Dragon Kings need to become dragons? But are you arguing that once you remove all the psionics in the setting then there is nothing psionic about Dark Sun? Like if you remove all the water from the ocean there is nothing wet about the sea?Okay. That says to me that, for you, any setting that has a psionic system is good for you (caveat: psionic system that you like). I say that because nothing in Dark Sun relies on psionics to exist except psionics, so primarily liking psionics suggests that the rest of the setting is just a vehicle for you.
Are or are there not arcane magic effects that psionics in either 2e or 4e cannot replicate?I mean, we can disagree about this again, but I haven't seen a convincing argument for this yet. It's mostly just 'but it's flavored differently so that makes it totally different' or 'it uses different mechanics to do the magic stuff,' and, fundamentally, those don't make it not another magic system.
Does the why matter, Ovinomancer? Because what seems to matter is not the intent behind why it's there but the fact that it is there.Question, then, did Dark Sun have psionics because it was thematically important for the Dragon Kings to weild psionics in addition to defiling magic and Dragon magic, or were Dragon Kings powerful psionists because psionics were included in Dark Sun and they needed to be formidable even against the new magic system?
My vote is the latter. The Dragon Kings are just as terrifying and powerful if no psionics exist. Their place in Athas has pretty much nothing to do with psionics. This goes to the root of my OP question.
Sure, but what matters and what you are trying to marginalize is that the creators used psionics to make them weird and alien for Dark Sun. It's an integral part of the setting.And, we have plenty of weird alien creatures in D&D without psionics. Psionics is just another way to make things weird and alien, it's neither necessary nor sufficient to do so, though.
That's blatantly false though, Ovinomancer, because psionic magic is rooted deep into Dark Sun. You're just engaging in "apart from the roads, the aqueducts, et al. what have the Romans ever done for us?" logic.Nice strawman -- of course you do not. But the defiling nature of arcane magic is rooted deep into Dark Sun, is a primary point of contention in the setting, and is a primary point of contention with the PCs. Psionics is none of this with regards to DS.
IMHO, psionics form a part of the balance. It is the power of the self. It is the power of the living individual that exists within this world.Was it false? I mean, that's the opposition the setting creates intentionally. Or is it that you think psionics is part of that equation?
For what it's worth, Ovinomancer, I think it's more important that people should be allowed to enjoy things they like, such as psionics in Dark Sun, and it's a terrible shame that you can't seem to understand that.For what it's worth, I find fisking to be intentionally rude and a rhetorical trick to place things out of their surrounding context and attack them as isolated statements rather than supporting arguments.
You could replace arcane magic with any source of mass environmental destruction without affecting the tone of Dark Sun. You could not replace it without affecting the themes. Pretty much the opposite of psionics in that way.Would it though? Could it not be replaced by some other calamity, such as the destruction of the Sun? Or the war between the Gods and the Primordials? What matters is that Dark Sun is a harsh dying planet. Is arcane magic needed to those ends anymore than psionics is for the setting?
It is. I voted for the “it’s complicated” option. Because I do see and to an extent agree with the argument that you don’t need psionics to tell the stories Dark Sun tells. You could cut them completely, and while it wouldn’t feel the same, it would still work, at least thematically. Does Dark Sun need psionics? Depends on how you define “need,” I guess. I do think removing them would change the character of the setting, but I don’t think that character is necessary for the kinds of stories I would want to use Dark Sun to tell.
Huh. I usually like you @Aldarc, you have interesting things to say, but I have noted that if someone does disagree with you, you pretty quickly reach for strawmen and ad hominin attacks. I'm an exceeding strong believer that people should always play what they like, how they like. Trying to suggest that I want to take something away from people is admitting you don't have a better argument and so need to reach for the insult. I don't think you can't make a good argument, I just think you're being lazy here and reaching for the low-hanging fruit of attacking the poster rather than the post.Would it though? Could it not be replaced by some other calamity, such as the destruction of the Sun? Or the war between the Gods and the Primordials? What matters is that Dark Sun is a harsh dying planet. Is arcane magic needed to those ends anymore than psionics is for the setting?
IMHO, it's part of what makes it a bit more alien from the usual D&D flair.
But we are not just playing in any post-apocalyptic setting/game, but Dark Sun, where psionics are a part of the character, tone, landscape.
You mean apart from the iconic psionic creatures? Or the psionics that the Dragon Kings need to become dragons? But are you arguing that once you remove all the psionics in the setting then there is nothing psionic about Dark Sun? Like if you remove all the water from the ocean there is nothing wet about the sea?
Are or are there not arcane magic effects that psionics in either 2e or 4e cannot replicate?
Does the why matter, Ovinomancer? Because what seems to matter is not the intent behind why it's there but the fact that it is there.
Sure, but what matters and what you are trying to marginalize is that the creators used psionics to make them weird and alien for Dark Sun. It's an integral part of the setting.
That's blatantly false though, Ovinomancer, because psionic magic is rooted deep into Dark Sun. You're just engaging in "apart from the roads, the aqueducts, et al. what have the Romans ever done for us?" logic.
IMHO, psionics form a part of the balance. It is the power of the self. It is the power of the living individual that exists within this world.
For what it's worth, Ovinomancer, I think it's more important that people should be allowed to enjoy things they like, such as psionics in Dark Sun, and it's a terrible shame that you can't seem to understand that.
To your first, sure, no arguments, you can do what you want. That's not at all what my argument is, but we don't disagree here.You're an exceedingly strange person.
But here's the last post I'm making.
You can assert whatever you want. There was a person in my Greyhawk threads that kept saying that he could play X style in Eberron, which is true! You can play any style, and have any rules, in any setting. You can put the gods into Dark Sun, or have magic restore the environment. You can play a Forgotten Realms without spellcasters. Because every table is different.
But Dark Sun, in every published version, has done this. For you to now say, "Well, that's just tradition. That's just what Dark Sun has always done," gives away the game. You're right! Dark Sun has always had a heavy integration of lore and rules for psionics; it is an iconic part of the setting.
Just like you don't need to have artificers and uqbiquitous "magic as tech" or pulp or noir in Eberron- after all, it's just tradition.
Oh. No. I thought that you were lowkey13 -- a poster that was quite popular around here until he quit over a misunderstanding about moderation. It was quite sad. Your posting style, choice of topics, commonality of positions, and very recent join date made me think you were lowkey13 returned, and I was welcoming you back. My bad. Still, good news, you share traits with a past popular member of the boards!But this argument is ridiculous. You and 13 do what you want at your own table.
What role does psionics play in the story, though? You've said that it has a role a few times, but haven't clarified what it is psionics does that's integral to the setting? If I change psionics, what changes to the setting occur that aren't just 'things no longer have psionics?'
These are good questions -- does the setting change? I'd argue changing races is probably not much of a big deal, so long as replacements are suitably post-apoc. The themes shown by the races aren't specific to the races, but more that they changed existing races to fit a post-apoc theme and outlawed a few races that they felt didn't fit. There's no reason you can't fit them in, and no reason you should. Still, no one I know says things like "WotC needs to come up with a better Mul for Dark Sun!" They say that for psionics. My question is -- what does psionics actually do for the themes of Dark Sun outside of just being psionics?I'm not sure what you're asking.
Do you mean, "How do the setting mechanics change if psionics is removed?"
I don't know, what changes if you remove Thri-Kreen or Muls or Half-Giants? What if Elves weren't massive jerks? Does it need feral Halfings? What if the setting allowed Gnomes and Orcs and Paladins?
Slippery slope arguments aren't terribly convincing. Sure, at some point if you replace enough stuff you end up asking Ship of Theseus questions. I'm not asking people to defend everything, or suggesting nothing matters, I'm asking specifically why psionics matters. This argument is just chaff that doesn't address why psionics is important.If you're not going to keep the elements of the setting, why would you still call it Dark Sun? Rather, why would you not invent a better setting that fits the themes you'd rather explore instead of carving up Dark Sun? What do you gain by eliminating psionics other than avoiding the dog's breakfast of psionic class design for 5e? Why would you want to publish a setting with it's elements removed?
This is a reasonable argument, thanks. However, I think it starts too strong by saying that psionics is the only righteous path. This ignores that everyone uses it, and, in Athas, most of those people/things are using psionics for evil or selfish reasons. And, there's lots of other righteous paths available that don't require psionics. So, to boil this down to nuts and bolts, what you're saying is that psionics is the only way to use magic that isn't tainted by defiling. Sure, no argument, I pointed that out above in my last response to you that it's a pretty decent argument that some kind of magic system is important for a D&D game and, since DS has so strongly tainted arcane magic and nearly eliminated divine magic, that psionics is the answer. I can follow that. The moral arguments your making, though, don't hold much water without the argument that some form of non-evil magic has to exist. I'm not sure, though, that the latter is really a true statement.Do you mean "What thematic or narrative role does psionics fill in the game world of Dark Sun?"
The role of psionics is that it's the only righteous path. To make yourself better and use your will and effort to better the world. It represents the high fantasy way to do things right. It's no coincidence that the master of the Will and the Way in the novels was the most LG character in the series, nor was it a coincidence that all the bad guys used magic. The role of psionics is accomplishing everything that magic does without being magic.
You can't use magic for this narrative point because preservers are supposed to be inherently distrusted. Historically in the setting, preservers all eventually turn to defilement and need to be killed. That's what they do. That's why they're viewed suspiciously nearly as much as defilers. Hundreds or thousands of years ago the preservers said they'd keep themselves in check, and now the world is a dead wasteland. Even preservers are seeking an easy path to power, lying to themselves that they can control their lust for more magic, and eventually they will fall into defilement. The preserver is the guy who says that his illicit use of Xanax is under control. Remember: Defilers effectively get a 40% XP bonus, get bonus spells prepared, and cast spells at higher caster levels. That's the carrot you're dangling in front of your players. There's a reason that the game lets preservers attempt to defile as often as they want, but only gives defilers exactly one attempt to reform (and doing so is as difficult as a paladin's atonement).
Indeed, I would go so far as to say that, narratively and thematically, perservers are easier to eliminate from Dark Sun that psionics is. Narratively, a preserver PC should risk defilement every time they cast a spell. They don't because that's not a good game design for the same reason that critical hit tables are typically not good game design. However, it's in line with the setting's narrative and theme. I would even go so far as to speculate that preservers only exist because TSR was afraid that not allowing PC magic-users in the setting would destroy it's playability. They knew that lots of people didn't really care for AD&D psionics, and wouldn't print a setting without magic-users. It's the same reason clerics "return" in DL1 and why you carry around a staff of healing before that: the central conceit collapses under the weight of sustained gameplay (i.e., it's so the poor sap you made into the cleric without spells doesn't feel useless any longer than absolutely necessary).
You can't use technology to replace psionics because resources are too scarce. There's no metal, no wood, not enough food for animal goods, etc. You can't build industry on Dark Sun unless it's a slave industry. Metal is so scarce that a chipped metal knife is virtually priceless.
You can't use divinity to replace psionics, either, because there are no gods around and just elements. Clerics and druids basically get what power they can that has been offered by the elements around them. From the same world that's being killed by the defilers, templars, and sorcerer-kings. That's why most clerics and druids are lone hermits. I think clerics would be easier to eliminate than psionics, too. I think they only stayed because the game was often miserable to play without a healer (in exchange for the game often being miserable to play for the healer themself). Druids I would be less willing to part with. I think they fit well in the setting.
So, what's left? Can't use magic because that's taken. Can't use divinity because that's deprecated. Can't use technology because that's unavailable.
Do you mean, "Why does a campaign setting in a high fantasy TTRPG game need mechanics for extraordinary and supernatural abilities for the players?"
Because that's what the designers thought a high fantasy TTRPG needed. That's what was expected from D&D. If there aren't magic-users, there had best be something close to it because that's one of the reasons people play D&D and not some other game.
To your first, sure, no arguments, you can do what you want. That's not at all what my argument is, but we don't disagree here.
To your second, this is the argument from tradition. It has been done, so it must be done. That's fine, for what it is, my question wasn't "should psionics be removed from Dark Sun" but rather "does Dark Sun need psionics to be Dark Sun?" There's a difference, here.
This is a matter of opinion, and there are clearly people who disagree with you that the setting's character does change if you remove psionics, so I'm not sure if your great revelation is as self-evidently clear or true as you make it out to be.it occurred to me that the only importance that psionics really has to DS is the tradition -- removing it requires zero other change to the setting, and it's character doesn't alter at all.
You may be leaning into your own assumptions here.largely, I think, because psionics doesn't fit well in the other setting at that time, so there it went.
It integrates with the harsh and alien world of Athas. The fact that you harp on one theme - defiler magic - does not somehow erase its integration into other setting elements.it's a separate piece that doesn't strongly interact with the other setting elements.
There is a jump of logic and rationality here, and I'm not sure how you are making the connection that a different system for psionics between editions somehow negates the importance of psionics to Dark Sun.That 4e, with it's radically different psionics system from 2e, did Dark Sun is strong proof that psionics aren't actually integral to the rest setting, they're just in there.
Still, good news, you share traits with a past popular member of the boards!
Well, yes, lowkey13 quit the boards and deleted their account, so that makes sense. There's no joke here, your posting is uncannily like his, and I thought you might be him, returning. No big, if you aren't, you aren't, no need to feel insulted. Consider it a non-issue.What is wrong with you? You are gratuitously insulting, and then putting in nonsense?
I searched for that user. Doesn’t exist. I hope you’re laughing at whatever joke you think you’re pulling.