D&D 5E "Doom Sun" − reconstructing a 5e Dark Sun setting for the DMs Guild


Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
That is indeed totally rockin' and spot-on for Dark Sun (moreso than a lot of the second boxed set shenanigans, actually!).
Yeah, I think aside from 4e’s unfortunate tendency to force every setting into its cosmology, and the lack of Brom art, the 4e adaptation really nailed the quintessential spirit of Dark Sun. Which makes it all the more strange to me how badly they seem to have missed the mark on it in 5e. Even if we assume they changed it significantly after the decision was made to change Doomspace to its own thing (which I still don’t think was the case, but for the sake of argument), whatever it looked like before those changes must have been far enough removed from Dark Sun that it made them realize calling it Athaspace would have been a mistake.

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Morkus from Orkus
I feel like, with respect, you may perhaps be overreacting a tad.

If the previous Athaspace map hadn't come out, people would only be laughingly/playfully making the connections to Dark Sun. And some of what you're saying is beyond the realms of "reasonable connection" into Pepe Silvia territory, specifically Fyreen/Pyreen, I mean come on. No, including you, can possibly seriously think the name of a dying planet derives from the rather-obscure bunch of super-druids who used to roam Athas.
Yeah. Coincidental word similarities happen all the time. Cork, dork and pork are all exactly the same except for that first letter, yet no one would dream of saying that those words derive from one another. Wait a minute! I saw a cork pig in a store once. Never mind. :mad:


Mind Mage
There always were gods in the far distant history of Dark Sun way back to the original of course.
The Dark Sun setting is nontheistic. Especially at its origin.

For example, the description of the Cleric class in the original 2e Dark Sun Campaign Setting, published in 1991, says:

"Athas is a world without deities. Powerful sorcerer-kings masquerade as gods, and though their worshipers many, they are not true gods. ... Clerics worship one of the four elemental planes."

The Clerics have a nontheistic sacred tradition, a kind of monism, where the planes themselves are sacred in an abstract fundamental sense. All material existence is made out of these planes. A connection to the elemental planes connects all things, infinitely.
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I mean, even the top of my head I know Iran is from Aryan people who lived there and had been used in various forms for over a millennia (maybe two), and the rest are basically "colonial corrections". I don't think any of them are close to "rename the planet after some weirdo druids". I'm just sayin'.

So the Sorcerer-Kings were right, and people fighting for freedom destroyed the sun? I mean, that's kind of, a hard-conservative (in the historical sense) take there lol. Maybe rethink that? Maybe the Sorcerer-Kings did it to try and last-ditch stop themselves being overthrown (esp. as they appear to still be in charge based on what we know)
Hmm after sitting on it, I don't think I'd play it as direct as you portray it here. Extremism can brew even in factions or revolutions looking to change the world for the best. All it takes is one idiot to get the Dark Lens, and from there anything is possible. It could even have been something like, they have the Dark Lens and are sabotaged by the Sorcerer-Kings, triggering the over-defile, etc. There are many ways to spin this without having to make it a Conservative plotline imo.

WotC sells sourcebooks about crunch (spells, magic item, feats, subclasses..) but Hasbro really worries about how the different D&D lines to become potential cash-cow multimedia franchises. And this is not only metaplot, this is not like hiring a team of screenwritters for one season of a sitcom, but this need a lot of work to create the lore, the background, interesting but also coherent, without plot-holes.

Now WotC can sell the same pieces to create a figure like the original one from the past edition, but not yet the remade figure. DS needs more work not only for the lore and background, but the graphic design, the primal-punk look as one of the main hooks.

Fyreen is not really a rip-off but more a spin-off, something like Kara-Tur, al-Quadim and Maztica for Forgotten Realms, Hollow World and Red Steel for Mystara, or Taladas for Dragonlance. Fyreen may be the excuse to explain how new elements have been added to Athas becuase Fyreen is like a "bridge" between Athas and the rest of the D&D Multiverse.

And if I was Vecna, Athas may be one of the perfect places of the D&D universe to hide something he didn't want to be found ever. And cosmic powers could use Athas as a "nuclear cementery" to bury something too dangerous, for example "sparks" of the avatar of the elemental elder eye.

* I miss the Athasian genasies. It was a good idea.


Mind Mage

The 2e Dark Sun setting features three religions. They compare to reallife sacred systems. All Dark Sun religions are elemental, whether directly or indirectly. The four elements are earth, water, air, and fire, plus their harmonizing each other in a holistic Positivity.

• The Clerics regard the four elements as sacred, in a monism, where their interactive Positivity is a transcendental fundament of reality.
• The Druids adhere to animism, which counts the local features of nature as members of ones own sacred community, and thereby welcomes elemental beings as family members.
• The Templars are Anti-Clerics: their power of Negativity comes from defiling the elements, via a variety of polytheism that worships the defilers, viewing these mortals as gods, who compare to "god kings", such as Caesar, Alexander the Great, and Pharaoh.

Of interest here is to make sense of the elemental, nontheistic, monism of the Clerics.

The Clerics organize into four sacred communities. Each dedicates themselves to one of the four elements: earth, water, air, and fire. Each is an ancient way of life.

The sacred worldview reminds me somewhat of reallife Daoism, where yang and yin are two sacred elements that all existence is made out of. The goal of Daoism is the dao, which is neither the yang nor the yin, but rather is the holistic, lifegiving, harmony when yang and yin optimize between each other. In the Dark Sun fantasy setting, the four elements are the sacred elements that all material existence is made out of. The goal of the Dark Sun Clerics is the Positivity, which is neither of these four elements, but rather is the holistic, lifegiving, harmony when all four optimize between each other.

Toward harmony, each sacred community attunes themselves to one of the four elements. There is an earth community, a water community, an air community, and a fire community. Each community, as a community, optimizes between the other communities − to empower each others strengths and to cover for each others weaknesses. They become the reconnection of all four elements together, into a harmony that allows Positivity to happen.

All material things are made out of the elements. But the Positivity is not any of these things. The Positivity "transcends" each of these things. The Positivity is no thing.

But one can encounter Positivity, indirectly. When the elements are dysfunctional, and all things are dying, wilting, and disintegrating, the Positivity is palpably absent. But when the four elements are functional, all things sprout life, growth, and healing, the Positivity is palpably present. The wellbeing is measurable. The "Positive Energy" is in itself immaterial, yet one can measure it in terms of the degrees of the wellness of things.

Each of the four clerical communities in the Dark Sun setting attunes an element. When connecting to the essence of the element − namely, its level of being, its plane of existence − the Cleric becomes one with each and every instance of the elemental matter. By attending all four elements, the communities, together, attune all existence. But the goal is the Positivity.

The elements are sacred paths. The Positivity is the destination. The Clerics seek an elemental harmony that unlocks Positivity to energize the entire planet − indeed the entire universe − with infinite, holy, lifegiving, energy that opens up a finite closed system to new and wondrous possibilities. As the finite system expands, it becomes able to benefit and utilize even more Positivity. Positivity is an open system.

The elemental monism is "mono-ism", the oneness. The infinite Positivity unites, forms, constitutes, and comprises all finite elements.

According to the 5e gaming jargon, the Dark Sun monism views the Positivity with its system of four elements as "cosmic forces". The four states of matter together as Positivity cause the cosmos to exist.

Xanathars Guide to Everything (page 18) describes briefly and well the impersonal sacred principle of a "cosmic power". It is personal in the sense that one oneself participates, but impersonal in the sense that one doesnt rely on an other person to achieve it instead of oneself. Re the game rules.

In certain campaigns, a cleric might instead serve a cosmic force, such as life or death, or a philosophy or concept, such as love, peace, or one of the nine alignments. Talk with your DM about the divine options available in your campaign, whether they're cosmic forces. Whatever thing your cleric ends up serving, choose a Divine domain that is appropriate for it, and if it doesn’t have a holy symbol, work with your DM to design one. The Cleric class features often refer to your "deity". If you are devoted to a "cosmic force", your Cleric features still work for you as written. Think of the references as references to the divine thing you serve that gives you your magic.


I appreciate this definition of the Cleric class as dedicating to a "cosmic force". It gets so many things right. Actually, any deity is itself a kind of cosmic force, albeit a personal one. The "force" is the essence of what the Cleric class is about.

To focus on a particular force is more concrete, than a 3e existentialist belief in belief. A force results in a fantasy sacred tradition that tracks with reallife nontheistic sacred traditions. For example, I compared the fantasy monism with reallife Daoism as one example, but there are many examples across cultures.

5e describes a sacred "service". The sacred community are dedicating their lives in the service of a greater cause. The Dark Sun Clerics have dedicated their lives to literally "saving the world" by means of infusing their planet Athas with Positivity. Positivity empowers their healing spells and other divine powers.

The Positivity is an abstract kind of "divinity", the divine presence that exists in all things that exist.

5e Alignments
I view the alignment of the clerical sacred way of life as Neutral Good. Good is self-evidently altruistic: save each other and the world. There is a Lawful component: collectivist group-orientation, order, community. But the goal of "harmony" is a Chaotic component. The goal is to fully empower each element so it can attain maximal power, autonomy, and health, in its own unique way. By extension, each individual of a sacred community seeks to fully empower the other to become the best version of own oneself. The Neutral Good optimizes between Lawful and Chaotic to attain a harmony of maximal Good.

The ideology itself is Neutral Good, but individuals in a community can be any alignment. Community members of a clerical community are "Typically Neutral Good". But there might exist a place where a Lawful (Evil) adherent embraces an ideology that is extremistly oppressive against dissent. Oppositely, there might exist a place where a Chaotic (Evil) adherent embraces an ideology that is predatorially exploitative and opportunistic, and manipulating the "system" toward self-serving ends. Both of these abuses assault the "harmony" of Positivity, but one can see how it might happen.

5e can do Dark Sun religions in a meaningful way.

Mechanically, the solution enjoys consensus: four new Cleric domains, each one dedicates to one of the four elements. The domain grants the necessary access to elemental spells, plus thematic elemental class features.

Perhaps Earth and Water Clerics are like the strong melee War Cleric, while the Air and Fire Clerics are like the range casting Light Cleric. But each element has its own thematic mechanics.

Narratively, Positivity is the cosmic force that is in "its" self, a kind of divinity. Each element is a "path" in the service of Positivity. These are the sacred forces that the Dark Sun Clerics cherish.


The Dark Sun setting is nontheistic. Especially at its origin.

For example, the description of the Cleric class in the original 2e Dark Sun Campaign Setting, published in 1991, says:

"Athas is a world without deities. Powerful sorcerer-kings masquerade as gods, and though their worshipers many, they are not true gods. ... Clerics worship one of the four elemental planes."

The Clerics have a nontheistic sacred tradition, a kind of monism, where the planes themselves are sacred in an abstract fundamental sense. All material existence is made out of these planes. A connection to the elemental planes connects all things, infinitely.
Is that not still theistic? They worship elemental plans and therefor, I assume, have built a theology around them.

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