D&D General Dark Sun fans: What are the essential elements of Dark Sun to you?

What makes a setting "Dark Sun?"

  • Art by Brom

    Votes: 39 39.4%
  • Dragon Kings and their counterparts

    Votes: 81 81.8%
  • Elementals

    Votes: 28 28.3%
  • Environmental collapse

    Votes: 91 91.9%
  • No gods

    Votes: 75 75.8%
  • No planar travel

    Votes: 46 46.5%
  • Psionics

    Votes: 77 77.8%
  • Slavery

    Votes: 43 43.4%
  • Sword & Sandals

    Votes: 83 83.8%
  • Wildly different core races

    Votes: 49 49.5%
  • Other (explain in a post)

    Votes: 15 15.2%

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The lack of gods planar travel & collapsed environment combining to form a fantasy dystopian hellscape where people endure anything they can simply to survive is a big part of it. A (so far) unmentioned but important bit is that it's a true crapsack world that can't simply be "fixed" instead of just balancing the least bad most acceptable options.

Trying to "fix" athas rockets towards nice job breaking it hero....
  • Free some city states & cut back on the sacrifices Oops now nothing is maintaining the seal on Rajaat(?) & we go back to the cleansing wars or worse
  • overthrow an SK or somehow crush their army... Oops... now the defilers are free to defile and you just removed the glue holding together the already wobbling jenga tower of civilization
  • Use the pristine tower? 🤣are you mad?🤣
  • Somehow unseal athas's crystal sphere? Gith, Mindflayers, all the gods from other settingsm dragonmark houses of eberron are going to rush in & colonize this hellscape as fast as you can blink
  • Find some stable source of water? 🤣Yeaaaa... nobody's going to come for that🤣
  • Leave the tablelands?... You think that things are better if you get past the druids in the forest ridge(you dare trample those plants?! die!), the halfling tribes on either side(you look tasty), the tohr-kreen (who might fleshwarp you into a mindless monstrous slave?)
  • etc.
I didn't check slavery but only because brutal working conditions & captives of company town type situations work too. Battle of Blair mountain* runup but cranked to 11 for example if "slavery" is a problem... but either could work.

*Bet you didn't know it involved this level of force ;)
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"Diegetics", by L. Ron Gygax
Other: I need the map and the broad strokes of the lore to be intact. There should me a Tyr, Raam, Urik ,etc., all ruled over by sorcerer-kings. The world used to be wet, and green, until wars between mages sucked the life out of the planet. Mental powers are normal, but flashy arcane magic is dangerous and its users ostracized or killed.

I'm A Banana

Ditch the slavery, just use modern working conditions, lightly exaggerated:

You work back-breaking jobs for 12-16 hours a day in brutal conditions, you rent your living quarters from a corrupt entrenched power along with 5 other laborers, and you are forced to pay ever-increasing prices for food controlled by an ever-diminishing group of profiteering monopolists. You never see your family, you live at the whims of powerful bosses, and when you inevitably get an injury in your grueling work due to lousy conditions of worker safety, you need to pay to return to the work force, or you starve. Your kids will be doing the same job or worse because the only people who get ahead in life are those who live near enough to those with wealth and power to go to school together; everyone else's children are given a bit of propaganda and math and told to sell their bodies.

You are not slaves. You're just a working-class person in Nibenay (or Arkansas, or whatever).

One thing I might suggest adding to the poll is metal scarcity.

As for the whole no planar travel thing, my general feeling is that as a player, I don't want to play using options from one setting in another. For me, it makes my character feel somewhat unmoored from the game I'm playing. As a DM, if a player wants to do so, I'm generally more relaxed about it. But if Dark Sun provided stronger characters and options like it did in the beginning, I'd absolutely want those locked to just Dark Sun campaigns with no planar travel possible.


Everything listed in the poll, plus:

*A Strange New World- It's not just Old Time Earth, it's Mad Max ish, full of giant lizards and giant insects.

*Deadly World- Even more so under the 2E rules, Dark Sun is about DEATH. Characters die at random, at the roll of some dice or the choices made: either way they die. This, is of course, lost in most modern games as they have the meta game rule of no character death.

*The Struggle of Life vs Death- Dark Sun is all about the struggle just to stay alive no just vs foes, but also all types of hazards, the environment, and getting food or water. It's very much a survival bookkeeping game. Keeping track of every drop of water and every bit of food, while also watching out of things like heat effects, giant carnivorous plants, and foes. This is all lost on a typical modern game: they would just roll a 10 survival role. And even if a character ran out of water they would just get like "an exhaustion point" with something like "oh no if you get 12 points you will get a negative effect".

*The Savage Wasteland- A few towns, a handful of cities and endless wastelands and wilderness. There are few places to go.

*Oppression- Nearly all of the civilized world is oppressed by massive powerful governments. There is little or no freedom in most of the civilized world.

*Scarcity- Those couple towns and cites are just about the only places on the whole world to get, buy or steal anything. Unless you plan to craft all your own items, you had to stay close to the couple places of civilization. And even so, very little was available.

*Primitive- Nearly no metal or wood, most things are made of stone, obsidian or animal parts like bone. This also means nearly no potion or magic shops, and quite often no real "shops".

*Near Zero Non Heroes- The handful of (player) characters have the huge struggle to just exist and stay alive. There are no real heroes, just characters that live another day. Unlike a lot of other games, the PCs do not easily just become demi gods.

*Dangerous Harmful Magic and Psionics- To the Extreme.

Voidrunner's Codex

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