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D&D 5E Dark Sun Spiritual Successor on Kickstarter: Red Dawn: Into the Dawnlands

This one's getting chewed up on Twitter due to the Bad worldbuilding decisions.

I can wait for official Dark Sun. If you're gonna rip it off at least do something interesting with it and not just 'its dark sun again', but also describing races as 'ideal slave race' and taking the fact it was a world specifically destroyed by the actions of people away
 

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Does anybody remember "Dragon Kings"?

I understand we have to await a lot but I miss Dark Sun. It is not about the crunch part but I want to know how was going to continue the metaplot. OK, it will be rebooted, like Ravenloft, you haven't to make me to remember it.

But I can't understand as the age of the sorcerer-kings was so politically frozen, but when the PCs appear then the chaos breaks out and big fishes start to fall.
 

This looks less like a spiritual successor and more like a carbon copy with the serial numbers filed off. Though, one notable difference seems to be that a big cataclysm is responsible for the state of the world, and also changed the way magic works, rather than magic always having drawn its power from the natural world and its over-use being to blame. And for me, that’s pretty much a dealbreaker. The number one selling point of dark sun for me is the environmentalist themes, and this change weakens them significantly.
I'd agree.

To me, this looks like what I'd call a "cargo cult" rip-off of Dark Sun - i.e. they understand Dark Sun on a really superficial level, and seek to emulate it, but don't actually "get" Dark Sun at all, and on top of that, haven't added anything original. The key theme to Dark Sun is the environmentalist one. I understood it when I was like 13 when DS came out. There's no excuse for grown adults like the developers here not getting it. So I have to assume they do understand what Dark Sun was about, but for whatever reason, they're against that message/theme, in which case, no, that's not something I'm interested in supporting.

Plus they're really doubling down on stuff like "slave races", which frankly, is gross and creepy.

Basically it seems like they want to make a nastier version of Dark Sun which doesn't have any "message". That's lame, but also making it a carbon-copy in other regards, that's super lame.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I'd agree.

To me, this looks like what I'd call a "cargo cult" rip-off of Dark Sun - i.e. they understand Dark Sun on a really superficial level, and seek to emulate it, but don't actually "get" Dark Sun at all, and on top of that, haven't added anything original. The key theme to Dark Sun is the environmentalist one. I understood it when I was like 13 when DS came out. There's no excuse for grown adults like the developers here not getting it. So I have to assume they do understand what Dark Sun was about, but for whatever reason, they're against that message/theme, in which case, no, that's not something I'm interested in supporting.

Plus they're really doubling down on stuff like "slave races", which frankly, is gross and creepy.

Basically it seems like they want to make a nastier version of Dark Sun which doesn't have any "message". That's lame, but also making it a carbon-copy in other regards, that's super lame.
Yep.

It does look like an ''evil'' setting. There seems to be no environmental or societal comment in the worldbuilding. Darksun (to me) is a grim setting, but it makes the few heroes all that more important. If the freedom fighter and eco-warrior themes of Darksun is dropped...it loses some of its feel (to me).

A grim setting where everyone is a grim merc with grey-zone moral quickly becomes...bland?
 

Remathilis

Legend
If you sat me (a long time D&D player but not a fan of Dark Sun) to write a setting I'd think DD players would like, it'd probably look like this.

That's not a good thing.

I can see the blatant rip offs in the pot. As I read the pitch, I thought "where is the twist? Where is the new ideas or take that is different than Dark Sun?" I guess no humans/elves is pretty big, but everything else (slave race, giant race, bug race, psionics, defiling, absent gods, no metal, evil City States) is just CVS-brand Dark Sun.

Maybe they are highlighting the similarities to sell this as Dark Sun 2.0 and the changes are deemphasized, but I don't see much here that can't be found on a decent fan conversion of DS.
 

A grim setting where everyone is a grim merc with grey-zone moral quickly becomes...bland?
Yeah I'm surprised people didn't realize this from the '90s, and are still making this rookie mistake. If everyone is grim and everything grey, then things get pretty dull pretty quick. You need some light and dark to keep things interesting. Even fairly grim fantasy usually has a character or two trying to be heroes, or a grey person turning light, or a villain really going over the edge and so on. Where it doesn't, it tends to work much more poorly (compare various Joe Abercombie books for example - the most effective ones are the ones where not everyone is grey).
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I can see the blatant rip offs in the pot. As I read the pitch, I thought "where is the twist? Where is the new ideas or take that is different than Dark Sun?" I guess no humans/elves is pretty big, but everything else (slave race, giant race, bug race, psionics, defiling, absent gods, no metal, evil City States) is just CVS-brand Dark Sun.
To be fair, I like all of those things; those are all things I would want to see in a Dark Sun spiritual successor (well, I could take or leave psionics I guess). The problem for me is that here they feel blindly copied without understanding why they’re important to Dark Sun.

The slave race thing is a good example. Slavery is a reality on Athas, but it’s a reality good PCs aren’t supposed to tacitly accept. Mul aren’t “the ideal slave race,” they’re a people who were born into slavery. They exist to allow the players to live out stories of rebellion, not to make the setting edgier.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Yeah I'm surprised people didn't realize this from the '90s, and are still making this rookie mistake. If everyone is grim and everything grey, then things get pretty dull pretty quick. You need some light and dark to keep things interesting. Even fairly grim fantasy usually has a character or two trying to be heroes, or a grey person turning light, or a villain really going over the edge and so on. Where it doesn't, it tends to work much more poorly (compare various Joe Abercombie books for example - the most effective ones are the ones where not everyone is grey).
This my main grippe with settings like the Empire of Warhammer or the main setting of Shadow of the Demon Lord. They are pretty cool and edgy, but after a time, when everyone is a corrupted a-hole and nothing will change that...I'm like...why do we even play that?

That why I have a secret love for the Blizzard's settings. Even in the bleakest age, your heroes are shining beacon of hope.

''In the darkest night, the faintest light is blinding'' and all that...
 

This my main grippe with settings like the Empire of Warhammer or the main setting of Shadow of the Demon Lord. They are pretty cool and edgy, but after a time, when everyone is a corrupted a-hole and nothing will change that...I'm like...why do we even play that?
I think with Warhammer Fantasy at least it is actually okay to play decent people, and you can play people who aren't very grey, as stuff like Vermintide (the games) shows. You don't have to be compromised in Warhammer fantasy, and there are lore characters who are definitely "good guys" or "bad guys". On a macro scale all the nations are grey or dark but individuals aren't and even some of the nations are pretty light-grey.

This is rather different to Warhammer 40K which, unsurprisingly as the originator of the term "grimdark", is more uniformly grey, and where even individuals are more or less all compromised because to even survive you have to be a member of some highly organised and highly compromised or outright evil organisation.

Re: Demon Lord I haven't read enough of it to be sure but it did sound more like individuals were compromised. I was primarily thinking of stuff like SLA Industries, which has this really wild and wacky setting and tons of edge for you to cut yourself on (accidentally or on purpose), but all the PCs have to be murderous reality TV mercs (it was before its time in some ways lol) and it really limits what the game can be because of it (not that it is without merit).
 

Zardnaar

Legend
To be fair, I like all of those things; those are all things I would want to see in a Dark Sun spiritual successor (well, I could take or leave psionics I guess). The problem for me is that here they feel blindly copied without understanding why they’re important to Dark Sun.

The slave race thing is a good example. Slavery is a reality on Athas, but it’s a reality good PCs aren’t supposed to tacitly accept. Mul aren’t “the ideal slave race,” they’re a people who were born into slavery. They exist to allow the players to live out stories of rebellion, not to make the setting edgier.

I'm fine with it conceptually. I usually don't bother with grimdark so the trope isn't played out for me.

Execution is everything.
 



Remathilis

Legend
To be fair, I like all of those things; those are all things I would want to see in a Dark Sun spiritual successor (well, I could take or leave psionics I guess). The problem for me is that here they feel blindly copied without understanding why they’re important to Dark Sun.

The slave race thing is a good example. Slavery is a reality on Athas, but it’s a reality good PCs aren’t supposed to tacitly accept. Mul aren’t “the ideal slave race,” they’re a people who were born into slavery. They exist to allow the players to live out stories of rebellion, not to make the setting edgier.
I guess I saw it as "why is there psionics?" And the answer was "because Dark Sun had them" without a good hook as to why it fits THIS world. If Dark Sun didn't exist, would this setting use them? Lather, rinse, repeat.

Maybe if they opted for not including one element of DS (no psionics, activist warring gods, no half-giants) or they added something new like eldritch horror or Mad Max style vehicles, I'd feel this was a project inspired by Dark Sun but stands out on it's own. Right now, it feels like "We have Dark Sun at home."
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I guess I saw it as "why is there psionics?" And the answer was "because Dark Sun had them" without a good hook as to why it fits THIS world. If Dark Sun didn't exist, would this setting use them? Lather, rinse, repeat.
Agreed! That’s how I felt reading it as well. “Dark Sun had it” seems to be the main reason behind anything’s inclusion, with no real thought to why Dark Sun had it or whether their world should have it and why or why not.
Maybe if they opted for not including one element of DS (no psionics, activist warring gods, no half-giants) or they added something new like eldritch horror or Mad Max style vehicles, I'd feel this was a project inspired by Dark Sun but stands out on it's own. Right now, it feels like "We have Dark Sun at home."
Exactly.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Not differentiating your product from Dark Sun is not a bad thing. Dark Sun is great, so the only argument to move away from my that would come from the lawyers.

If I got my wish, I would go more metal in my version and not make a PG-13 game. Dark Sun always held a potential for controversial subjects such as slavery, cannibalism and inequality; I would personally double down on that and include NSFW imagery and bring controversial subjects into scenarios; a bit like how a game like KULT can be played to test your limits.

(Yes, it would limit the audience, but luckily I don't have to break even when daydreaming like this...!)
 

jerryrice4949

Adventurer
Seems a lot of people on this thread are overly critical. I am not involved with this project nor have I backed it, but a lot of harsh assumptions are being made based a tiny bit of information on the KS page.
 

squibbles

Explorer
This looks less like a spiritual successor and more like a carbon copy with the serial numbers filed off. Though, one notable difference seems to be that a big cataclysm is responsible for the state of the world, and also changed the way magic works, rather than magic always having drawn its power from the natural world and its over-use being to blame. And for me, that’s pretty much a dealbreaker. The number one selling point of dark sun for me is the environmentalist themes, and this change weakens them significantly.
This looks way too similar to Dark Sun... I don't know how I feel about it. I understand "inspiration", but this is just a copy/paste
That was my immediate response too.

But, on reflection, I have been hoping for more and novel Dark Sun content for a while--new regions mapped, new city states, new sorcerer kings. And reading the Kickstarter's short blurbs about each of the cities, they didn't seem too bad.
  • Cyrda - a massive salt mine in the side of a cliff that borders an evaporated sea
  • Drel - like Balic, but a Potemkin Village
  • Knoss - monumental ruined ziggurats covered in vines and moss
  • Krull - a nest of tunnels at the bottom of giant crater
The whole of the production looks like it will be a bland ripoff, but the particulars might have germs of creativity worth stealing for an actual Dark Sun game.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Seems a lot of people on this thread are overly critical. I am not involved with this project nor have I backed it, but a lot of harsh assumptions are being made based a tiny bit of information on the KS page.
Well, the information on the KS page is all we have to go on to decide whether or not it’s worth pledging money to, so it’s in the creators’ best interest to make sure that information is enough to convince people it’s worth the investment. For me, it isn’t.
 

Not differentiating your product from Dark Sun is not a bad thing. Dark Sun is great, so the only argument to move away from my that would come from the lawyers.

If I got my wish, I would go more metal in my version and not make a PG-13 game. Dark Sun always held a potential for controversial subjects such as slavery, cannibalism and inequality; I would personally double down on that and include NSFW imagery and bring controversial subjects into scenarios; a bit like how a game like KULT can be played to test your limits.

(Yes, it would limit the audience, but luckily I don't have to break even when daydreaming like this...!)
Hmm. Is that the problem with including slavery, including chattel slavery of entire races, in your dnd game? That it's too "metal," or R-rated, or "not safe for work"? That including this theme can be there to "test your limits"?

This is similar to the discussion of the "grimdark" Goblin Slayer game. Including gratuitous violence, especially violence that has resonance with people's histories and life experience in the real world, does not, IMO, make a game more adult or mature or serious. Many grimdark settings strike me as in fact childish in the way they present exaggerated and graphic violence as an attempted means to build narrative stakes, and I think it has the effect of actually trivializing the impact and trauma both within the setting and, more importantly, for players at the table.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Hmm. Is that the problem with including slavery, including chattel slavery of entire races, in your dnd game? That it's too "metal," or R-rated, or "not safe for work"? That including this theme can be there to "test your limits"?

This is similar to the discussion of the "grimdark" Goblin Slayer game. Including gratuitous violence, especially violence that has resonance with people's histories and life experience in the real world, does not, IMO, make a game more adult or mature or serious. Many grimdark settings strike me as in fact childish in the way they present exaggerated and graphic violence as an attempted means to build narrative stakes, and I think it has the effect of actually trivializing the impact and trauma both within the setting and, more importantly, for players at the table.

I'm pretty much don't like it don't buy it.

Something like this though is a decent contrast to the sanitized boring stuff WotC has been making though. It's not one or the other for me options are good.
 

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