D&D 5E How I'd rewrite Dark Sun... what changes would you make?

Staffan

Legend
If you have a whole planet which is a high pressure zone, you can't really -have- that dynamic. But unless the vast majority of the water were utterly destroyed, there would still be SO MUCH WATER.
I believe it's stated somewhere that any water bound in defiled vegetation is destroyed along with the plants. The ash from defiling is unlike the ash from burning, in that it is completely free of nutrients, and nothing can grow in that area for at least a year, and only then can the surrounding area try to reclaim it.

Also, in canon a lot of the water of the planet was destroyed in one way or the other. During the Blue Age, Athas was supposedly covered in water, which was drained away during the first major use of the Pristine Tower that heralded the Green Age. It's not impossible that the same happened when the Sorcerer-Kings were created and Borys ascended. Does it make scientific sense? No, but neither does defiling so...
 

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Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
I believe it's stated somewhere that any water bound in defiled vegetation is destroyed along with the plants. The ash from defiling is unlike the ash from burning, in that it is completely free of nutrients, and nothing can grow in that area for at least a year, and only then can the surrounding area try to reclaim it.

Also, in canon a lot of the water of the planet was destroyed in one way or the other. During the Blue Age, Athas was supposedly covered in water, which was drained away during the first major use of the Pristine Tower that heralded the Green Age. It's not impossible that the same happened when the Sorcerer-Kings were created and Borys ascended. Does it make scientific sense? No, but neither does defiling so...
Yeah, I know...

I just hate it because if that's the case, there wouldn't -be- water in a liquid state in the other direction. Humidity across the planet would be in the 0-1% range and every plant and animal would die of dehydration because there wouldn't be any precipitation. What water people have on hand would be all that exists. And once drunk or spilled or fed to plants it would be forever gone.

There's gotta be a balance in which what water is available (Mostly from Rain) is inherently toxic and there's never enough of it for comfort or satiation. Just barely enough for the world to struggle on in a miserable state of climatological horror!
 


Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
dark-sun-belgoi.jpg


Lotta water in this picture... none of it easilly accessible!
 


Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
Didnt you start this with your Sins of the Scorpion or was that dropped?
Sins is still in the works. I'm running a game in the setting actually.

But I can't do the AI Art gambit with it. I've gotta get enough money to do all the art in the book in advance, so it's back-burnered as far as release is concerned.

That said... it's not like Wizards would -let- me do Dark Sun... so...
 

Scribe

Legend
Sins is still in the works. I'm running a game in the setting actually.

But I can't do the AI Art gambit with it. I've gotta get enough money to do all the art in the book in advance, so it's back-burnered as far as release is concerned.

That said... it's not like Wizards would -let- me do Dark Sun... so...

If I remember, it was hitting some of the same notes you have here, but its been some time. :)
 


Dausuul

Legend
What are the copyright implications of making a Bark Run setting using one of the creative-commons versions of OSR?
Sketchy, I'd think. Much like with the OGL kerfuffle, even if you'd probably win, it won't be a slam dunk where the judge just tosses the suit. It'll be a legal battle most creators couldn't begin to afford.

The fan content policy seems like the best chance IMO. Wizards could of course shut you down if they felt so inclined, and you couldn't make any money off it. But if one were to pitch it to Wizards as an opportunity to "test the waters" with a decidedly non-official version... maybe?
 

squibbles

Adventurer
Great topic. I hope some more posters come to answer this question from the other several threads where they're arguing about WotC and the portrayal of controversial topics.

Some replies:
8) Preservers are trying to save the world.

Largely outside of cities, the Preservers are a group of people who are doing all that they can to preserve what remains of the world and restore some measure of what was lost. They have hope. Maybe it'll work. Maybe it won't. But they're trying to find pockets of life and plants and good soil in the world... and collect them. Bring the soil and the seeds and the life together to try and slowly restore the world.
I don't hate that. I'd perhaps go a step further and have them be trying to preserve history, culture, art, and so on. I'd characterize what they're doing as tilting at windmills to some extent--all their projects are moonshots--but have it be clear that the work is worthwhile and motivates them to carry on in a fallen world. They would differ from druids in that they are fundamentally trying to improve communities and make Athas better for people, with druids being more like militant ecoterrorists who speak for the trees. I'd also want to describe the preservers as a region spanning organization of secretive semi-autonomous cells, rather than a bunch of different groups organized at the city level.

9) It's not just the Tablelands.

The Tablelands are Borys' place. His territory, with the heart of his "Empire" in the Silt Sea. Beyond it are things like the Crimson Wastes and the Stone Jungle, a place the defilers destroyed but the petrified trees didn't collapse like they largely did in the Tablelands. Yes, there are people in the Stone Jungle and the Crimson Wastes. No. They're not more friendly than the people of the Tablelands. They may or may not have Sorcerer Kings of their own. No one knows. Their languages aren't known in the Tablelands.
Love the stone jungle. More weird and appropriately themed biomes to interact with would be great.

12) There would be rain.

Fitful, hot, and unsatisfying. Occasionally toxic. There would still be rain on Athas... but the thirsting sands consume it and drag it away... The Sea of Silt is actually a -sea-. With some water intermingled with the Silt. And Silt Sea Raiders do all they can to filter out another mouthful of greywater from what moisture remains. After rains cross the Silt Sea, there are -days- of ease and leisure for the Silt Sea Raiders... but once the water slips down past the first 20-30 feet of silt, it's practically impossible to get at. Never enough rain to slake the thirsty masses in the City-States... but enough to let the rovers barely survive.
A bunch of big conceptual things in the setting don't really make sense. It maybe goes too far with lack of water, and the Sea of Silt is very wierd. But I'd also say that the rarity of metals doesn't make a lot of sense--Iron is the 4th most common element in the earth's crust (5%), can be prospected by looking for outcrops of it, and the city states clearly have the technology to mine and manufacture it. I'm not sure we want to pull at those threads too hard unless we're determined to come up with thouroughly worked out answers to most of them (though I'd absolutely love to see it if someone did).

3) The Sorcerer-Kings would not be working towards Draconic Apotheosis.

They'd have their goals for "Ever More Power!" with various paths to it rather than one for all of them doing the same boring thing.
They're all working towards SOMETHING. Just make it more individual rather than a "This is the one Evil Path and there's also one Good Path as well" type false dichotomy. I hate dichotomies like that so much, there should always be various options for the Sorcerer Kings.
I don't mind them all aspiring to be dragons, but I agree with you about the avangion dichotomy being weak sauce.

Thing is, I think the sorcerer kings, as presented in 2e are all doing things that make sense, and aren't following entirely the same paths to power. They are all in a security dilemma with each other and Borys which, so far, they only know how to get out of by becoming a dragon. And, having seen Borys's insanity and the bandwagoning against Dregoth, they're all afraid to pursue that same path to dragonhood and are either trying to cheat it somehow or putting it off. Kalidnay and Kalak tried to skip some steps by defiling-to-death their own cities, Nibenay is endlessly researching workarounds, Hamanu seems to have decided he's gonna get over the hump by being militarily stronger than everybody else, and the others seem like they're deliberately postponing apotheosis. I think you could change the details of some of those strategies a little bit and have it work for you (hamanu is developing a weapon to kill and replace the dragon, Abalach-Re's thinks--possibly incorrectly--that she can create a new diety and then use its power).

-----------------------------------
My rewrite:

Personally, I would not set Dark Sun in the aftermath of Kalak being overthrown, since that setup has already been done, essentially, twice. I would want it to be at least somewhat different in geographical or temporal scope.

So, instead, my rewrite would jump forward 100ish years and ambiguously incorporate the Prism Pentad, i.e. it's been a long time since the revolution in Tyr, the tablelands have changed, and, without writing or widespread awareness, events regarding rajaat et al. are forgotten or mere rumors. I would also handwave some of the class and race/species differences between editions (goliaths as half-giants), and add a bunch of new locations to the tablelands map with cool minor settlements or strange biomes (like the stone jungle you described). These things will be written as though they have always been true. Essentially a soft reboot.

What's going on after 100 years?
Things are mostly worse. With Borys and several sorcerer kings gone, Dregoth made his move. He and his dray subjects sacked and occupied Raam, made Draj and Tektuctitlay's "son" his tributaries, and went to war with Urik, Nibenay, Gulg, and Tyr. The conflict is still simmering. Balic is gone, destroyed by giants, and everything south of Altaruk is wilder and very different. The leader of Tyr died days ago but, rather than the tyrant Kalak, it is Sadira, representative of Tyr's preservers, who is gone (old age). Her absence has destabilized the factions of Tyr (Guilds, Nobles, Templars, Free Citizens, and Preservers), left it an open question whether neighboring Gulg or Urik will encroach, and made it easier for defilers in the area to escape retribution.

None of the cities practice slavery, they have other forms of oppression.
The urban residents of each city are citizens who enjoy the safety of the walls and are entitled to subsidized water and grain. Outsiders must live beyond the walls or in separated districts and pay ruinous prices for foodstuffs. The wages they make as laborers are barely enough to cover living costs and unpaid debt is a crime punishable by imprisonment as gladiators. Tyr doesn't treat outsiders this way, but it has no water or grain subsidy and crowding has forced newcomers to reside beyond the walls anyway--and Tyr's guilds and nobility are suddenly suggesting that it might be better if they did things more like the other cities.

It is the stated expectation of play that PCs come from points of light type villages, are not citizens of Draj, Gulg, Nibenay, Raam, or Urik, have to deal with obnoxiously high prices for supplies in cities, and cannot seek shelter in any place that's actually safe from bandits and desert monsters. This isn't meant to be a better presentation of the setting, it's just done to keep things friendly while maintaining themes.

Defiling
Its hard to make PC rules that match the setting fluff without preservers just being frustrating nerfed wizards. Also, I don't want 'defiler' to be a class; defiling should be a choice and a daily temptation, not a profession. I think I'd try to accomplish this via modified resting rules for all casters that reduce the number of spells they recover on a long rest--and let wizards/warlocks/sorcerers/bards cast spells for free and with no special mechanical cost if they choose to defile (but someone might see, and druids can smell it on you). This way the setting is lower magic overall, resource management/wilderness survival challenges are accentuated, and arcane casters don't feel singled out for nerfs.


I'm sure I'll have a bunch more ideas about it, but this post is too long already.
 
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