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D&D 4E Played Dark Sun 4E Last Night

tylermalan

First Post
So, my group and I played our first game of Dark Sun 4E last night. We spent a LOT of time on character creation and then started up the level 1 adventure in the back of the Dark Sun Campaign Guide. Our DM was a new DM (but not new to D&D) and did a good job. He also purchased the Marauders of the Dune Sea Dark Sun adventure, but that starts at level 2.

All-in-all, I like the setting and the book. I like the new flavor stuff, but some stuff I don't like. People have mentioned the discrepancy with gold pieces. I don't really like the fact that almost zero mechanics are changed - all the races and classes are exactly the same, with the exception of a single new build for 4 different classes (only one of which is psionic). I really like the addition of the themes, and hope that they release material with more of them. We also did the wild talent thing, which is pretty cool, but has some downsides.

We had a good time and I would be happy to answer any questions that people have now that I've actually played it (though I haven't played it too much). Anyone else have any questions or want to share their experience?
 

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Dedekind

Explorer
All-in-all, I like the setting and the book. I don't really like the fact that almost zero mechanics are changed - all the races and classes are exactly the same, with the exception of a single new build for 4 different classes (only one of which is psionic).

What races/classes were you guys playing? Did everybody feel the same way?
 

Dice4Hire

First Post
Well, I think Athas is more different for what is out (divine and races) and what is changed (some classes, and the feel) Four new builds and two new races is quite good. Add in good feat support for those races and the weapons of the setting and I am very happy with the crunch. It does seem a bit odd they took the battlemind over the psion, but YMMV.

Of course the themes are wonderful also.

My group started at 3rd level a few days ago, and though we did not follow any official adventures, it was a good start. Hopefully it will end at 30th, or at least that is the plan.
 

tylermalan

First Post
What races/classes were you guys playing? Did everybody feel the same way?

I'm playing a Tiefling Warlock (Star Pact), and we also have two Humans, one of which is a Shaman and the other is a Paladin, and the last player is some Human-like race from Forgotten Realms I think, and he's playing a Psion.

I'm not sure if everyone felt exactly the same, but I think pretty close. We all went into it expecting major changes, and then found out that we can just use the PHB to make our characters and don't need the Dark Sun book at all (mostly). They changed the flavor of a few races but not all of them, and seem to at least suggest a prohibition of many of them (in many cases, this is just because they simply don't mention them). Each race that they discuss has two new backgrounds to choose from.

The 4 new builds are spread out between the power sources - each of the characters for which there is a new build is from a different power source.

Well, I think Athas is more different for what is out (divine and races) and what is changed (some classes, and the feel) Four new builds and two new races is quite good. Add in good feat support for those races and the weapons of the setting and I am very happy with the crunch. It does seem a bit odd they took the battlemind over the psion, but YMMV.

Of course the themes are wonderful also.

My group started at 3rd level a few days ago, and though we did not follow any official adventures, it was a good start. Hopefully it will end at 30th, or at least that is the plan.

Yeah, the new feats are alright and there are a few new weapons. It's just that our group had a kind of "moment" when we realized that the Paladin CAN wear plate mail that functions exactly like regular plate mail, only it is made out of bone or something instead of metal. I agree about the Battlemind choice.

One thing that we noticed, though, is that when you consider Psionic Power, the Psion has the capability to do many of the Wild Talents that are available. Maybe they just didn't want to overdo it.

We were just uninspired with the crunch because there isn't a lot of it, I guess. The races are the same. The classes are the same. The equipment is the same. There are some NEW things in those categories, but the old stuff isn't so different mechanically.
 

Gloomshroud

First Post
A lot of people have been talking about the "lack of options." I disagree. Dark Sun is a campaign SETTING. It provides the SETTING. New character options are great, but the meat and potatoes is the SETTING information. Dark Sun, to me, is not the character options, but the harsh Athasian world in which your characters play, not the 45 new powers, 370 new race/class combos, or the 67 new magic items you were hoping to get.

The "mechanical" differences of Dark Sun are obvious. Wild psionics, weapon breakage, and defiling. These were all handled simply and well, IMHO. The KISS method works better, because, again, all of these mechanics exist SOLELY to portray the setting.

I will side with players on one point, however. 2nd Ed. allowed for clerical healing. This is MUCH more limited. An elemental priest in 2nd was still a priest, not just a primordial dude. Granted, only the WATER priests could heal, per se, but the option was there... I also am aware that 4E allows for many different healing options, but I'm a purist/traditionalist. I like healers. :D
 
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tylermalan

First Post
A lot of people have been talking about the "lack of options." I disagree. Dark Sun is a campaign SETTING. It provides the SETTING. New character options are great, but the meat and potatoes is the SETTING information. Dark Sun, to me, is not the character options, but the harsh Athasian world in which your characters play, not the 45 new powers, 370 new race/class combos, or the 67 new magic items you were hoping to get.

The "mechanical" differences of Dark Sun are obvious. Wild psionics, weapon breakage, and defiling. These were all handled simply and well, IMHO. The KISS method works better, because, again, all of these mechanics exist SOLELY to portray the setting.

I will side with players on one point, however. 2nd Ed. allowed for clerical healing. This is MUCH more limited. An elemental priest in 2nd was still a priest, not just a primordial dude. Granted, only the WATER priests could heal, per se, but the option was there... I also am aware that 4E allows for many different healing options, but I'm a purist/traditionalist. I like healers. :D

I guess I can understand what you mean. It just seems... I don't know, off to me. Elves are so different from a flavor perspective, but they still get the same ability modifiers? The same racial power?
 

Nork

First Post
I'm playing a Tiefling Warlock (Star Pact), and we also have two Humans, one of which is a Shaman and the other is a Paladin, and the last player is some Human-like race from Forgotten Realms I think, and he's playing a Psion.

I'll admit I'm about to be a wee bit of a grump, but based on the line-up of character options selected, I'm not sure you guys are giving the setting a fair shake.

Who the players are plays a big part in making Athas, well, Athas. If you play the same characters you play in a Tolkien like world, then it is going to largely end up as a Tolkien like world.

Playing a game that has paladins in platemail, and races from other settings is going to be 'just another D&D game with some sand'. Playing a game where you've got a player with a "gangbanger" elf from a city state slum who will slit someone's throat for a couple bits, doesn't plan for the future, and lives a lifestyle that will end up with them being dead or enslaved sooner than later, well, that game will feel different. Especially since every NPC in the setting is going to expect the elf to act that way.
 

tylermalan

First Post
I'll admit I'm about to be a wee bit of a grump, but based on the line-up of character options selected, I'm not sure you guys are giving the setting a fair shake.

Who the players are plays a big part in making Athas, well, Athas. If you play the same characters you play in a Tolkien like world, then it is going to largely end up as a Tolkien like world.

Playing a game that has paladins in platemail, and races from other settings is going to be 'just another D&D game with some sand'. Playing a game where you've got a player with a "gangbanger" elf from a city state slum who will slit someone's throat for a couple bits, doesn't plan for the future, and lives a lifestyle that will end up with them being dead or enslaved sooner than later, well, that game will feel different. Especially since every NPC in the setting is going to expect the elf to act that way.

You may be right. Although, it seems to me that our group composition seems fine with the exception of the paladin in terms of how it fits with the setting. You don't think so? The race that I think might be from Forgotten Realms might not be. I think it's called Kalashtar? But Tieflings and Humans are specifically detailed in the Setting book.

Edit: And actually, so are the Kalashtar or whatever. They don't get a huge block like humans, but they are mentioned whereas races like gnomes and devas aren't.
 

Larni

First Post
Playing a paladin, a teifling, and a kalashar would be (to my mind) the worst way to experience Dark Sun from scratch.

The above can be shoe horned in, but they will dilute the Athasian flavour massively. The above could be found in pretty much any world; far better to use thoroughly Athasian tropes.

As said up thread, you'll just end up playing Forgotten Realms in the desert.
 

tylermalan

First Post
I never played Dark Sun prior to 4E, so I don't know what the archetypes are for the setting. Tieflings get some love in the 4E setting book, at least. What are the things we should be playing?
 

Bold or Stupid

First Post
I never played Dark Sun prior to 4E, so I don't know what the archetypes are for the setting. Tieflings get some love in the 4E setting book, at least. What are the things we should be playing?

Traditionally not Paladins as there are no gods in DS. I'd also avoid kalashtar in any none Eberron setting. Cannibal halfling is where it's at.
 

Larni

First Post
I would go with the races that get a full write up:

muls, kreen, dwarves, humans, elves, half-elves, halflings, half-giants.

I would seriously steer clear of anything else.

For classes, don't use divine classes. There never were gods in 2E (no dawn war) and while you can have them in ones own game it makes it more like a vanilla game world. Psionic classes are really good choices because it emphasises the difference between Athas and (for example Krynn).

But of course, this is only my opinion. I'm not suggesting it is badwrongfun to play with paladins etc, but it does lessen the Athasian feel.
 

I am allowing avengers in my game but, they are assassins etc for the sorceror-kings (arcane power source), or, revenge driven agents of primal spirits etc who want the sorceror kings and defilers to die (primal) ;)
 

Wardook

Explorer
1. Why didn't the Paladin die horribly in the first encounter when his divine powers didn't work and he realized that his god was a figment of his imagination.

2. Any hero walking around in full plate = death by dehydration

3. Get a feel for the setting and take Larni's suggestions.

4. Actually try the new mechanics. Why aren't you doing themes?

5. You want a defender go Arena Fighter\Gladiator theme. Beat a wild Thri-keen to death with it's friend's leg. Pick up some of the new weapon feats. Much more awesome than a Paladin.

6.Any thing arcane is dangerous to play in DS. You get caught using magic in town, your death probably won't be slow at least. The vast majority of Warlocks are connected to Sorcerer-Kings, most people assume Warlock=Templar.

7.You should not be getting gold pieces, just ceramic pieces. They exist, but from a different era.

8.I didn't feel that the module gave a good feel for the atmosphere of DS.

9.Don't take anything I say to seriously.
 



Dice4Hire

First Post
For classes, don't use divine classes. There never were gods in 2E (no dawn war) and while you can have them in ones own game it makes it more like a vanilla game world. Psionic classes are really good choices because it emphasises the difference between Athas and (for example Krynn).

Technically there were gods, but they lost the dawn war (not that there is anything about that fight in the DSCS). But the CS does say the ruins of churches and such can be found, so it was not that long ago the gods lived.
 

Wardook

Explorer
I won't, BTW, where is seriously? :D
Too, too, see, I do type English. BTW, English is my native language. :)

Space rips Dice4Hire's arms off, cause I'm a Bad Mofo, and beats him with them. You have roll dice with your feet now, ha.

Back on topic.

"Divine magic is virtually unknown on Athas. The gods of old have been silent for dozens of centuries." DSCS p.16

I would call that long ago, but make the game yours. I'm old school, so having divine magic in DS is Bad. Notice the emphasis?
 

ourchair

First Post
I'd also avoid kalashtar in any none Eberron setting. Cannibal halfling is where it's at.
The Dark Sun Campaign Setting actually makes more room for the use of kalashtar than any other Eberron-derived race.

As usual, they've phrased it in such a fashion so that players aren't expressly forbidden from playing them 'out of the box' as kalashtar, but they do say:

"...some humans are living embodiments of the Way. The kalashtar [...] evolved from masters who trained in remote monasteries long ago. Most kalashtar are indistinguishable from humans and are, more or less, a psionically adept subset of the human race."

Simply put, if you're a setting purist, just don't allow players to call themselves Kalashtar and insist that they happen to be psionically gifted humans, and you should be fine. Hey, it's their loss on the extra feat, skill and at-will power.
 

Nork

First Post
You may be right. Although, it seems to me that our group composition seems fine with the exception of the paladin in terms of how it fits with the setting. You don't think so? The race that I think might be from Forgotten Realms might not be. I think it's called Kalashtar? But Tieflings and Humans are specifically detailed in the Setting book.

Edit: And actually, so are the Kalashtar or whatever. They don't get a huge block like humans, but they are mentioned whereas races like gnomes and devas aren't.

The Darksun setting is really a great one, but I think the 4E campaign guide is setting you guys up for failure.

With Darksun, it is a "Sword and Planet" setting, where the alien nature of the world and cultures is a key factor in the enjoyment of the setting. One of the big deals with the setting is that the races are totally different than what you would expect.

Halflings are savage jungle dwelling head hunters and cannibals, with a strong primal bent. They largely live beyond the ringing mountains and are fairly rare in the Tyr region.

Elves are free spirited desert running nomads who are usually borderline sociopaths at best. The entire concept of "being responsible" or "planning ahead" is laughable to them. They are lazy, shiftless, and will do exactly as little work as is required to get by for the day. They are often murderous desert raiders, or back alley criminals. Reserved, cultured, and thoughtful Tolkien like elves would be aghast. Tree hugging earthmother types with mood crystal collection elves would be horrified.

Dwarves pick a goal for their life and will do anything to accomplish it. Anything. If they need to build an orphanage to get it done, so be it. If they need to burn down an orphanage to get it done, so be it.

Thri-Kreen have an alien hive like group psychology, everything is about order and position within the group, and for the benefit of the group. They are also an insectoid species that thinks very differently than humanoids.

Half-giants are not terribly bright, but are keen observers who mimic the cultures, personalities and even ethics of the people around them. If a half-giant is wounded and is left in the care of a healer, they will start to act like a care-giver who helps people. If that same half-giant is captured by a group of slavers and desert raiders, that half-giant will become a raider. Some aspect of their personality will stay fixed though, maybe they are always lawful for example, but good or evil depends on the environment.

Races like Tieflings were inserted into the setting because Wizards was "afraid they would make someone cry if they couldn't play their favorite race from the PHB1". I'm dead serious, it was in one of the seminars about the 4E version.

I think in the end they were just too afraid to "lay down the cannon" for the setting, and gave you a watered down impression of the setting. Since you were new to the setting and didn't know any better, that lead you astray and to the conclusion that things didn't feel "different" enough.

They basically offered to cook you a big plate of Indian food, then they got scared that you might not like the strong spices and made it bland, and now you are "meh" on Indian food because bland food isn't terribly inspiring. Oh, and they added hamburgers to the menu because they were afraid someone might come to an Indian restaurant and not want to order Indian food.


I'd say have everyone re-roll with a "core" Darksun race (Human, Elf, Dwarf, Mul, Thri-Kreen, Half-Giant, Halfling). Have them pick a Martial, Primal, or Psionic power source. Maybe allow one player at most to be an Arcane power source, since defiler/preservers are hunted like dogs in the setting (like straight up, cast a spell on a street and a mob will pick up cobble stones and try and stone you to death), said party member should be afraid to even let the other party members know they are a preserver/defiler for a good long while. Use the inherent bonuses system and the 'non-metal weapons break on a 1' rule. Have the DM embrace his inner "evil cackle", and have fun.
 

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