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

overgeeked

B/X Known World
The OP is a good list, but more than half of them are already how default Dark Sun works. Most of what's quoted below isn't a change at all.

2) It'd be Points of Light.

Small desert encampments of good people trying hard to survive in a terrible world. Good people in terrible situations in various city-states. Yes, the world is largely destroyed, but even the Sorcerer Kings couldn't wipe out -everyone- on the planet.
That is the default of Athas outside of the city-states. Lots of tribes live out in the wastes. This is established in the fiction and the game products.

4) Kalak is dead.

Tyr the Free City would not be devoid of problems. But Kalak would be in the ground having been killed several days before the start of the campaign setting timeline. Yes. Days. Meaning it's still Chaos in Tyr. Wealthy merchants vying for control of the city through brute force being killed in their homes by revolutionaries.
That has been the default assumption since the original boxed set was published. Kalak died in the first novel and was killed off in the first non-core box product released for Dark Sun. But they generally advance the timeline to have Tithian as the king of Tyr. But there's still all kinds of chaos in that city-state.

5) Defiling is not the basic nature of Magic, but a specific use.

Defiling isn't how spellcasting works, but is a tempting and constantly available power boost. Withering a 5ft patch of grass adds +4 damage to any spell. Killing a tree adds +30. Things of that nature. HP taken from party members is a straight 1 to 1 damage boost, but reduces your ally's hit points by the same value until restored, or 1hp per long rest.
That's exactly how it works in the fiction. You can cast slow and carefully to preserve nature or cast fast and recklessly to defile nature.

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.
The preservers in the fiction and game products do that with knowledge of history. The elemental clerics and druids are more focused on the restoration of nature.

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.
There are several game products that expand the setting beyond the Tablelands.

10) There are still Gods.

Oh, this one would be controversial... but yeah. In addition to the Elementals, there would be gods in the world, yet. But they'd be practically titans and forgotten gods (a5e Monstrous Menagerie). Creatures you could theoretically kill that exist on a mortal level. But they exist and could grant some measure of power to a hundred followers or so... but as the world dies, so too do they. And they are greatly weakened, and occasionally wrathful. They fear the Sorcerer Kings... who have stolen much of their power. And may yet take the last of it. They tend to masquerade as mortals and hide, acting almost exclusively through their agents.
There are still gods in Athas. They just don't have active, living worshipers. In the first novel some of the characters find a long-abandoned church under Tyr that is guarded by spirits of dead clerics and paladins of a long-forgotten god. But turning them into an active force to antagonize the sorcerer-kings would be a neat idea.

11) The Sorcerer Kings are also Gods, basically.

They're not full power external to human experience god-beings that drift across the cosmos creating things... But they can directly grant power to their servants like a god would. And have more servants than the "Old Gods". Also killing one of the Old Gods in a ritual could be a path to power for, say, Nibenay or one of the others.
That's exactly how sorcerer-kings work in baseline Dark Sun. Always have. The templars are the clerics of the sorcerer-kings, in 2E parlance, the priests. Complete with cleric class, spell progression, etc.

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.
There is still rain on Athas. It's just rare. You don't get all the green on the maps without rain and/or moisture of some kind. Rain is mentioned several times in the first novel and in various game products. Though the Sea of Silt is not an ocean. That would be an interesting if thematically odd choice.
 

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1) There would still be slavery and cannibalism.

Heroic characters would not participate in Slavery or Cannibalism. They'd be the province of the wicked, the cruel, and the desperate. Mul would not be a "Slave Race", specifically. They would just be Mul. Thri-Kreen wouldn't be cannibalistic as a species, and instead often accused of it because of their strange mindset and weird appearance. Similarly, Halflings aren't cannibals, but there are halfling cannibal tribes that are becoming 'living ghouls' just like all other cannibals.

2) It'd be Points of Light.

Small desert encampments of good people trying hard to survive in a terrible world. Good people in terrible situations in various city-states. Yes, the world is largely destroyed, but even the Sorcerer Kings couldn't wipe out -everyone- on the planet.

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.

4) Kalak is dead.

Tyr the Free City would not be devoid of problems. But Kalak would be in the ground having been killed several days before the start of the campaign setting timeline. Yes. Days. Meaning it's still Chaos in Tyr. Wealthy merchants vying for control of the city through brute force being killed in their homes by revolutionaries.

5) Defiling is not the basic nature of Magic, but a specific use.

Defiling isn't how spellcasting works, but is a tempting and constantly available power boost. Withering a 5ft patch of grass adds +4 damage to any spell. Killing a tree adds +30. Things of that nature. HP taken from party members is a straight 1 to 1 damage boost, but reduces your ally's hit points by the same value until restored, or 1hp per long rest.

6) What happened to the World would not be answered.

Leave it to be a question for philosophers. But there would be no knowledge of the Blue Age or whatever. There'd be some legends of the world before the Sorcerer Kings conquered it, but practically nothing explaining -why- or -how-. You don't need to know everything.

7) Borys would be the "Dragon of Athas" as a unique creature.

He would still demand tributes from the other Sorcerer Kings but it wouldn't be 1,000 people from each settlement or whatever. Resources, Wealth, Food, a true Tyrant King above all others, who sometimes finds little encampments in 'his' deserts and wipes them out.

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.

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.

10) There are still Gods.

Oh, this one would be controversial... but yeah. In addition to the Elementals, there would be gods in the world, yet. But they'd be practically titans and forgotten gods (a5e Monstrous Menagerie). Creatures you could theoretically kill that exist on a mortal level. But they exist and could grant some measure of power to a hundred followers or so... but as the world dies, so too do they. And they are greatly weakened, and occasionally wrathful. They fear the Sorcerer Kings... who have stolen much of their power. And may yet take the last of it. They tend to masquerade as mortals and hide, acting almost exclusively through their agents.

11) The Sorcerer Kings are also Gods, basically.

They're not full power external to human experience god-beings that drift across the cosmos creating things... But they can directly grant power to their servants like a god would. And have more servants than the "Old Gods". Also killing one of the Old Gods in a ritual could be a path to power for, say, Nibenay or one of the others.

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.
1. I agree that slavery and cannibalism should be kept in the province of the wicked, the cruel, and the desperate. But what about indentured servitude and serfdom? curious Both are slightly better than slavery, but not by much. As for cannibalism, I could also see it being the result of otherworldly possession (a Wendigo-like spirit, the restless dead) or a magical disease. The Mul could be a mixed heritage (Dwarven heritage/Human gift). The Thri-Kreen could be converted over from 5e. As for the Cannibalistic Halflings, see otherworldly possession or magical disease.

2. I like the idea that the setting as a points-of-light setting. ;) Would each City-State be represented by it's own culture? Both 2e and 4e D&D seemed to point in that general direction.

3. The Sorcerer-Kings could be trying to find ways to become Gods themselves. At least one of the female Sorcerer-Kings was already seen by her people as a Goddess. Each of them could already be setting up their divine portfolios and domains. Their templars- Clerics, Warlocks or both? Both classes serve an otherworldly entity, but have a different power source (divine for the cleric, arcane for the warlock).

4. I agree about keeping Kalak dead, and Tyr free.

5. Could Defiling Magic be a variant of the Necromancy school? The way it destroys plants and other living organisms is highly suggestive of necrotic damage.

6. It could all traces of Athas' Green Age and Blue Age have been erased by the Sorcerer Kings or buried under centuries of sand, dust or silt. Just waiting to be rediscover by intrepid adventurers. ;)

7. Borys as the last dragon of a bygone age? ;)

8. The Preservers could be wizards who have learned life-giving Radiant Magic. Or they could be a Druid Circle. The Circle of Preservation.

9. I like this idea.

10. In 4e, the Gods of Athas were on the losing side of the Dawn War between them and the Primordials. Instead of being killed or severely weakened, perhaps the severing of Athas from the Outer Planes was akin to the Exandrian deities locking themselves behind the Divine Gate? Only here it was the Primordials sealing the deities off from Athas.

11. The Sorcerer Kings could have enslaved the Primordials and be using them as a power source.

12. Athas as the new Dune. ;)

What about Rajaat the War Bringer and the Cleansing Wars? curious Athas became a wasteland because of Rajaat and his Champions. Without them and their attempts to purge their world of it's non-human races, Athas would still be in it's Psionic Green Age.
 

Larnievc

Hero
1) There would still be slavery and cannibalism.

Heroic characters would not participate in Slavery or Cannibalism. They'd be the province of the wicked, the cruel, and the desperate. Mul would not be a "Slave Race", specifically. They would just be Mul. Thri-Kreen wouldn't be cannibalistic as a species, and instead often accused of it because of their strange mindset and weird appearance. Similarly, Halflings aren't cannibals, but there are halfling cannibal tribes that are becoming 'living ghouls' just like all other cannibals.

2) It'd be Points of Light.

Small desert encampments of good people trying hard to survive in a terrible world. Good people in terrible situations in various city-states. Yes, the world is largely destroyed, but even the Sorcerer Kings couldn't wipe out -everyone- on the planet.

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.

4) Kalak is dead.

Tyr the Free City would not be devoid of problems. But Kalak would be in the ground having been killed several days before the start of the campaign setting timeline. Yes. Days. Meaning it's still Chaos in Tyr. Wealthy merchants vying for control of the city through brute force being killed in their homes by revolutionaries.

5) Defiling is not the basic nature of Magic, but a specific use.

Defiling isn't how spellcasting works, but is a tempting and constantly available power boost. Withering a 5ft patch of grass adds +4 damage to any spell. Killing a tree adds +30. Things of that nature. HP taken from party members is a straight 1 to 1 damage boost, but reduces your ally's hit points by the same value until restored, or 1hp per long rest.

6) What happened to the World would not be answered.

Leave it to be a question for philosophers. But there would be no knowledge of the Blue Age or whatever. There'd be some legends of the world before the Sorcerer Kings conquered it, but practically nothing explaining -why- or -how-. You don't need to know everything.

7) Borys would be the "Dragon of Athas" as a unique creature.

He would still demand tributes from the other Sorcerer Kings but it wouldn't be 1,000 people from each settlement or whatever. Resources, Wealth, Food, a true Tyrant King above all others, who sometimes finds little encampments in 'his' deserts and wipes them out.

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.

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.

10) There are still Gods.

Oh, this one would be controversial... but yeah. In addition to the Elementals, there would be gods in the world, yet. But they'd be practically titans and forgotten gods (a5e Monstrous Menagerie). Creatures you could theoretically kill that exist on a mortal level. But they exist and could grant some measure of power to a hundred followers or so... but as the world dies, so too do they. And they are greatly weakened, and occasionally wrathful. They fear the Sorcerer Kings... who have stolen much of their power. And may yet take the last of it. They tend to masquerade as mortals and hide, acting almost exclusively through their agents.

11) The Sorcerer Kings are also Gods, basically.

They're not full power external to human experience god-beings that drift across the cosmos creating things... But they can directly grant power to their servants like a god would. And have more servants than the "Old Gods". Also killing one of the Old Gods in a ritual could be a path to power for, say, Nibenay or one of the others.

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.
The next campaign I want to run is Dark Sun (now that I have your Esper book 👍). I have almost all the 2e books so I’m going to keep Athas as it was in 1st ed but with the existence of most of the 2e stuff but the Prism Pentad did not happen.

Agree with 1 and 2.

Disagree on 3 but it’ll take the SKs hundreds of years to achieve.

Disagree on 4- Kalak rules Tyr with an iron fist.

Agree on 5- PC are default Preservers who can choose to defile.

Agree on 6-9

Disagree on 10-12

I’m going to spend most my time on heritages, cultures, background and classes.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
There's a billion post-apocalypses, a trillion end-of-the-world, let's do something new: en diablis res.

The haflings have screwed up. The sun is turning red. The seas are retreating. Normal magic is short-circuiting and the rare psionics are becoming way more commonplace. Some powerful but awful people have figured out a new super-magic the 'protect' themselves from the world collapsing that accelerates the process and are willing to extend that protection to anyone who bends the knee to them and does whatever they say.

The race is on to find ways to survive, try to find what caused all this and to prevent the world from becoming the wasteland hellscape that is rapidly spreading.
 

squibbles

Adventurer
There's a billion post-apocalypses, a trillion end-of-the-world, let's do something new: en diablis res.

The haflings have screwed up. The sun is turning red. The seas are retreating. Normal magic is short-circuiting and the rare psionics are becoming way more commonplace. Some powerful but awful people have figured out a new super-magic the 'protect' themselves from the world collapsing that accelerates the process and are willing to extend that protection to anyone who bends the knee to them and does whatever they say.

The race is on to find ways to survive, try to find what caused all this and to prevent the world from becoming the wasteland hellscape that is rapidly spreading.

I think an en diablis res* setup could also be super cool with the 1991 set's status quo (the Tyr region is finally becoming unlivable) or with the new Spelljammer set's Doom Sun.

There was an interesting exchange in one of the Doom Sun threads to that effect:
[...] For example, if [Athas] is doomed due to being too close to the Dead Sun, the Sorcerer-King Dragons in my version of the setting will be going to the scattered moons and taking what resources they can find there, as well as trying to rule those people. [...]
Perhaps they are competing to see who can loot the most stuff / resources from the planet before it falls into the black hole.
Yes. Get what they can from Doomspace and get the heck out of there. They make their Moon Kingdoms really just out of a need to slake their extreme narcissism before they leave.

Which I yes-and-ed with:
[...] Maybe, in addition to simple narcissism, none of the dragon-kings have enough juice to leave--haven't defiled enough stuff to maximize their mystic power, lack a big enough fleet, have collected insufficient McGuffins, etc.--and are in a zero-sum game, racing against each other to get enough of it from the moons before the moons, [Athas], et al. spiral into the Eye of Doom. For some reason, the Dragon Kings are unable or (...because Dark Sun) unwilling to work together. In the interim, they are making the (assumed) slow death of [Athas] into a fast death, using up everything it's got to fight each other and build ostentatious lifeboats that they will not share. [...]


And, I think that premise works really well with your setup too: The world is collapsing, a bunch of powerful but awful people are scrambling to build ostentatious lifeboats for themselves as it collapses, and, in doing so, are making the collapse faster and more deadly.

This being Dark Sun, I'd say that preventing "the world from becoming the wasteland hellscape that is rapidly spreading" should probably be off the table. Rather, the best that can be done is to hijack those lifeboats, kill off the worst offending or most vulnerable defilers, and try to get as many people through the collapse alive as possible. (otherwise the fossil fuels allegory is a bit toothless)

And, honestly, I love your idea as a sort-of prequel adventure to the tablelands status quo of the 1991 set. And it would quite brilliantly sidestep all the controversial aspects of the setting by simply predating them.


--------------------------------

*in medias res means into the middle of things in Latin, so in diablis res (diabolus?) would be into the devil of things. I think what you intend is into the middle of the apocalypse which would be more like in medias apocalypsis or--since apocalypsis is a loan word from Greek that means revelation, as in revelation of the cosmic mysteries of the universe--a better expression might be in medias terminus, i.e. into the middle of the end. ...sorry, I seem to have dissapeared up my own ass.
 
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squibbles

Adventurer
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.
Thinking on this a little bit more, I like the idea that the Sea of Silt has a substantial amount of water in it.

This has always been one of the goofier things in the setting. Though it's called the Sea of Silt, it's described as being principally dust, with the reasoning being that dust has just kinda collected in this large basin due to wind (except that it also blows everywhere in dust storms intermittently). It might work better as a region of moderately deep quicksand with water somehow flowing or bubbling up from a bunch of springs beneath it... but I don't know anything about geology, so maybe that's even sillier.

Also, water being in the Sea of Silt helps explain why the heck these sorcerer-despots built their cities on the rain shadow side of Ringing Mountains. With water in the Sea of Silt, at least Balic, Draj, and Raam could reasonably be set up to use it for irrigation.

One thing I'd want to ensure in any expansion of the setting beyond the Tyr region is that the Sea of Silt is NOT a terrain feature that replaces water in Athas. Lots of expansions of the setting assume this, for example:

1677649569703.png


But considering how bizarre of a terrain feature the Sea of Silt is, that doesn't make a lot of sense. Athas should probably be covered with soil and rock--without any faux coastlines--as, for example, Barsoom is:
1677649732775.png


The oceans will have became dead sea bottoms, like the Aral Sea pictured below, not inexplicable dust basins.
(though, tragically, the Aral Sea Basin is now not without wind-borne toxic dust)
1677651652447.png
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
1) There would still be slavery and cannibalism.

Heroic characters would not participate in Slavery or Cannibalism. They'd be the province of the wicked, the cruel, and the desperate. Mul would not be a "Slave Race", specifically. They would just be Mul. Thri-Kreen wouldn't be cannibalistic as a species, and instead often accused of it because of their strange mindset and weird appearance. Similarly, Halflings aren't cannibals, but there are halfling cannibal tribes that are becoming 'living ghouls' just like all other cannibals.

2) It'd be Points of Light.

Small desert encampments of good people trying hard to survive in a terrible world. Good people in terrible situations in various city-states. Yes, the world is largely destroyed, but even the Sorcerer Kings couldn't wipe out -everyone- on the planet.

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.

4) Kalak is dead.

Tyr the Free City would not be devoid of problems. But Kalak would be in the ground having been killed several days before the start of the campaign setting timeline. Yes. Days. Meaning it's still Chaos in Tyr. Wealthy merchants vying for control of the city through brute force being killed in their homes by revolutionaries.

5) Defiling is not the basic nature of Magic, but a specific use.

Defiling isn't how spellcasting works, but is a tempting and constantly available power boost. Withering a 5ft patch of grass adds +4 damage to any spell. Killing a tree adds +30. Things of that nature. HP taken from party members is a straight 1 to 1 damage boost, but reduces your ally's hit points by the same value until restored, or 1hp per long rest.

6) What happened to the World would not be answered.

Leave it to be a question for philosophers. But there would be no knowledge of the Blue Age or whatever. There'd be some legends of the world before the Sorcerer Kings conquered it, but practically nothing explaining -why- or -how-. You don't need to know everything.

7) Borys would be the "Dragon of Athas" as a unique creature.

He would still demand tributes from the other Sorcerer Kings but it wouldn't be 1,000 people from each settlement or whatever. Resources, Wealth, Food, a true Tyrant King above all others, who sometimes finds little encampments in 'his' deserts and wipes them out.

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.

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.

10) There are still Gods.

Oh, this one would be controversial... but yeah. In addition to the Elementals, there would be gods in the world, yet. But they'd be practically titans and forgotten gods (a5e Monstrous Menagerie). Creatures you could theoretically kill that exist on a mortal level. But they exist and could grant some measure of power to a hundred followers or so... but as the world dies, so too do they. And they are greatly weakened, and occasionally wrathful. They fear the Sorcerer Kings... who have stolen much of their power. And may yet take the last of it. They tend to masquerade as mortals and hide, acting almost exclusively through their agents.

11) The Sorcerer Kings are also Gods, basically.

They're not full power external to human experience god-beings that drift across the cosmos creating things... But they can directly grant power to their servants like a god would. And have more servants than the "Old Gods". Also killing one of the Old Gods in a ritual could be a path to power for, say, Nibenay or one of the others.

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.
I love almost all of this except points 5 and 10.
 

I think an en diablis res* setup could also be super cool with the 1991 set's status quo (the Tyr region is finally becoming unlivable) or with the new Spelljammer set's Doom Sun.

There was an interesting exchange in one of the Doom Sun threads to that effect:




Which I yes-and-ed with:



And, I think that premise works really well with your setup too: The world is collapsing, a bunch of powerful but awful people are scrambling to build ostentatious lifeboats for themselves as it collapses, and, in doing so, are making the collapse faster and more deadly.

This being Dark Sun, I'd say that preventing "the world from becoming the wasteland hellscape that is rapidly spreading" should probably be off the table. Rather, the best that can be done is to hijack those lifeboats, kill off the worst offending or most vulnerable defilers, and try to get as many people through the collapse alive as possible. (otherwise the fossil fuels allegory is a bit toothless)

And, honestly, I love your idea as a sort-of prequel adventure to the tablelands status quo of the 1991 set. And it would quite brilliantly sidestep all the controversial aspects of the setting by simply predating them.


--------------------------------

*in medias res means into the middle of things in Latin, so in diablis res (diabolus?) would be into the devil of things. I think what you intend is into the middle of the apocalypse which would be more like in medias apocalypsis or--since apocalypsis is a loan word from Greek that means revelation, as in revelation of the cosmic mysteries of the universe--a better expression might be in medias terminus, i.e. into the middle of the end. ...sorry, I seem to have dissapeared up my own ass.
I have a setting that is going to use the term in diables res for now on. Ty!
 

Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
Also of note:

I know why Iron and Steel weapons would still be rare, even with the near-ubiquitousness of iron as an element:

What do you burn to heat it? Both to get out impurities in the form of slag, but also to shape it and forge it.

Without wood your only real option is Coal... which is also required to make Ceramic Pieces. Making coal likely worth it's weight in gold.

Especially with the dangers and costs of coal mining.

Which also puts all those "Open Pit Mine/Quarry" places where people toil under the burning sun for hours on end as prison or slave camps on the table as a core element. Plus deep mines for underground monster unleashing.
 

wellis

Explorer
Canonically defiling depletes reasources insanely. Combine with that one creature that likes to destroy metal, I can see why lots of materials and resources are gone.

And tons of your ideas are already in Dark Sun, as overgeek pointed out. So what makes them "changes" per se, beyond maybe having some gods back?

Honestly, if I were doing changes, I would look back on 2e Dark Sun's mentions of the Blue Age and the halfling lifeshapers and try to make the Green Age somewhat more influenced by that, instead of jusr making it be a generic fantasy setting.

Because the lifeshaped biotech was honestly interesting to me and well part of me wants it to be that the Green Age looked like a typical fantasy setting on the surface but scratch it a little and the paint comes off revealing something pretty different.

Like yes, metal weapons and armor were still more plentiful, but perhaps that halfling biotech stuff was more widespread and replaced a number of generic fantasy stuff with more advanced lifeshaped alternatives.
 

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