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%

squibbles

Adventurer
I realize I'm a bit late posting to this thread, but here's my answer just the same.

I like Dark Sun because it is a brilliantly Frankenstein-ed mix of sword and planet, swords and sandals, sword and sorcery, and post-apocalyptic fiction. Its Dune and A Princess of Mars mixed with the moral greys of The Road Warrior, but with all its protagonists as shirtless bodybuilders and its main antagonists as degenerate sorcerers.

I would like any setting with those components regardless of other content.

But what makes Dark Sun its own weird and unique thing is how, in addition to those components, it ties an aggressive climate allegory to the subversion or rejection of a host of tropey D&Disms. Wizards are weird in that they are killing the planet, druids are weird because nature is dying, elves are weird because all their forests are gone, etc. Any other creation with these influences would have just dropped the wizards, druids, and elves at square one.

Now, rather than saying what I think is essential, this is what I think is not essential:
  • Art by Brom: his art is magnificent, and it gives the setting a unique visual aesthetic that matches its content, but it is not the only aesthetic that could do so. I think this is comparable to saying that settings with a vibrant and compelling visual style are better than those without. Well... yeah...
  • Elementals: the 4 elements are a trope of fantasy fiction that Dark Sun only half-heartedly subverts. This element could be done better or simply excluded.
  • Psionics: this is a place where there's a real clash between Dark Sun's literary influences. Psychic ability is everywhere in sword and planet and post apocalyptic fiction, but is nowhere in swords and sandals or sword and sorcery. And where having psychic powers is usually an unalloyed good in the S&P stories where they're present, having sorcerous powers is usually a strong negative signifier in S&S. @Charlaquin explains this better than I would in post #41 (and also in this old post). So, while I like the psionics in Dark Sun just fine, and they contribute to the setting's subversion of D&Disms, I think Dark Sun could survive and might be better without them.
  • Slavery: the essential element here is that people in the city states, if they are not sorcerer kings or templars, lack basic rights and that any privileges they do have--noble title, merchant status, permission to read and write, etc.--can be withdrawn on a whim by the corrupt agents of the state. Slavery is not necessary for this, even if it fits neatly with it.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

ashenfrontiers

Sign up at http://www.ashenfrontiers.com/patreon
  • Slavery: the essential element here is that people in the city states, if they are not sorcerer kings or templars, lack basic rights and that any privileges they do have--noble title, merchant status, permission to read and write, etc.--can be withdrawn on a whim by the corrupt agents of the state. Slavery is not necessary for this, even if it fits neatly with it.

Agreed.

An interesting mix of poll results, especially for the Ashen Frontiers project. I'm definitely against slavery and have also decided that there are dragons in Ashen Frontiers (there's no need for a new setting to be beholden to an old one). There are Pappasül, psionic monsters of manipulation that live in the Vaults buried beneath The Ash (the desert created when The Tyrant rose to power in a massive use of arcane power).

  • Elementals: the 4 elements are a trope of fantasy fiction that Dark Sun only half-heartedly subverts. This element could be done better or simply excluded.
  • Psionics: this is a place where there's a real clash between Dark Sun's literary influences. Psychic ability is everywhere in sword and planet and post apocalyptic fiction, but is nowhere in swords and sandals or sword and sorcery. And where having psychic powers is usually an unalloyed good in the S&P stories where they're present, having sorcerous powers is usually a strong negative signifier in S&S. @Charlaquin explains this better than I would in post #41 (and also in this old post). So, while I like the psionics in Dark Sun just fine, and they contribute to the setting's subversion of D&Disms, I think Dark Sun could survive and might be better without them.

I think these are two major opportunities for 5E, in that they're not particularly well-handled right now, but the core engine is quite capable of supporting a good take.
 

Now I am thinking... what if Athas is within a demiplane, the demiplane of the desolation? But there are other planets in the same demiplane, for example one where there is a new blue age in Athas, but Rajaat wants to terminate all the no-halflings. In other the green age didn't end, but there is a fungus plague of zombie-like plant monsters. In other Athas was conquered by the cult of the elder elemental eye. In other alien spaceship crashed, and the fraals and vrusks helped to stop the brown tide, but not totally yet, and this has started to create hordes of plant sea monsters, like the jhorror manga Gyo.
 

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads

Top