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General The 2e Setting Explosion: Spelljammer v. Athas, and the Multiverse as Single Settting (Part 3)

Some theories says Athas (Dark Sun) is a demiplane, out of the material plane.

The lore of the D&D can allow crossover with sci-fi, but with the gameplay the things are different. D20 isn't ready for PC ewoks against stormstroopers. With high-tech you can send a drone to kill a dinosaur with only a shot.

I have mentioned several times the sourcebook "Chronomancers" because my opinion is this forgotten title could allow lots of different variants of the D&D worlds, for example a Krynn where lord Soth traveled to the past and avoided the cataclysm to clean his honor, but now this is the battlefield among two different timelines/uchronies, one rule by the king-priest and the other where Raistlin became a deity. I say again WotC should recover the concept of time sphere and even allowing in DM Guild different time spheres to be published.

Other suggestion is allowing a "spin-off" about the dark powers from the demiplane of the horror tainting some places in different material planes, even someones with modern age technology.

I would bet if Gamma World come back, it will be like a D&D world, because this a powerful brand what helps to sell more. The challenge is 5th Ed isn't ready for a Conan the barbarian vs Salomon Kane, or a Robin Hood vs Lone Ranger. The power balance is broken easily with the firearms are added. This is very important if WotC wants videogames with different playables factions.
 

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Mirtek

Adventurer
The thing with Athas is that it's just very, very, very hard to get in, but not completely impossible. And once you got in, getting out is even more difficult than getting in, but again not completely impossible.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Athas wasn't part of the classic planes originally and had its own cosmology.

Interdimensional travel could get you there but you couldn't planeshift or spelljam there

It did get mentioned bin some Planescape products which kind of contradicted Darksun sorcee but both settings were using clueless freelancers towards the end. It's how the got surfing Druids on Athas.

They changed the rules in 95 and the setting went out of print 96.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Athas wasn't part of the classic planes originally and had its own cosmology.

Interdimensional travel could get you there but you couldn't planeshift or spelljam there

It did get mentioned bin some Planescape products which kind of contradicted Darksun sorcee but both settings were using clueless freelancers towards the end. It's how the got surfing Druids on Athas.

They changed the rules in 95 and the setting went out of print 96.
Can you cite sources for this? I ask because Defilers and Preservers: The Wizards of Athas (1996) says (in the "You Can't Get There from Here" sidebar on page 10) that Athas is in its own crystal sphere, which is impenetrable to spelljamming, and that the presence of the Gray makes it very difficult to planeshift into or out of the sphere. This information is in keeping with what's written in The Planewalker's Handbook (1996) - which was written by Monte Cook - about Athas (page 32). Likewise, CGR1 The Complete Spacefarer's Handbook (1992) equivocates about Athas's status, simply saying (pg. 13-14) that it's either unreachable or simply very far away from known space.

Insofar as I'm aware, the best argument that goes the other way comes from Dragon Kings (1992), specifically "The Planes Beyond" section on pages 64-67, and even then it strikes me as being less unambiguous than a lot of people seem to think. Specifically, it says:

Athas resides on the prime material plane. Actually, it is on but one of many alternate prime planes, but these alternates have no impact on Athas. All standard play in the DARK SUN campaign take place on the prime material plane.
A lot of people seem to take that second sentence as a declarative statement that Athas is on an alternate material plane from the standard cosmology, but I think that's a misreading. Rather, that sentence seems to simply be noting that there are many alternate material planes (one of which has Athas), and is silent with regards to whether or not this is the same one as the "standard" D&D multiverse.

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Yeah, I never read anything about Athas not being in the standard cosmology. It was just inaccessible. Ravenloft and Planescape both had Dark Sun references.
 

I say it is possible, but very hard, like time travels in D&D, possible but extremely rare. Escaping from Athas to other world is possible, and maybe it has happened sometime, but going to Athas is really hard, and even if it's possible, almost nobody enough sane wants to go there.

If I want I could create an adventure in Hollow World (Mystara) or Jakandor about an planar invasion by defilers from Athas (maybe a roughe faction not-controlledy by the sorcerer-kings). And I don't mind the official canon about it's possible or not.

I have readen something about time-travel in Athas is possible. This means other timelines could be possible, but "doors are closed" to avoid damage against the ecosystem by the defilers.
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
Yeah, I never read anything about Athas not being in the standard cosmology. It was just inaccessible. Ravenloft and Planescape both had Dark Sun references.
I've said this before, but Athas isn't inaccessible. The 2E module Black Spine is focused on a Githyanki invasion of Athas.

Unknown to even the mightiest of the great sorcerer-kings, a fire is stirring deep beneath the barren soil of Athas. Sheltered by the titanic bulk of the Black Spine mountains, a terrible force has ripped open the very fabric of time and space. Now, a shimmering portal stands open and a long forgotten enemy assembles its sinister forces to invade the kingdoms under the dark sun. The only thing that stands in the way of this terrible fate is a band of heroes. Assembled from the four corners of this tortured world and bound together by the tangled cords of fate, they must face an enemy the likes of which they have never seen before. The odds are against them, but they dare not fail. The fate of the world is in their hands. The three adventures in this book mark the start of a great campaign that will see the heroes travel far beneath the surface of Athas and, in the end, across the mystical fabric of space itself and into the Astral Plane.

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Now, it's very hard to leave or enter Athas (if it wasn't, people would leave because Athas sucks to live on). But it can be accessed by the persistent.
 

Stormonu

Legend
I feel like there's a level of nuance that's being lost here. While the planar arrangement in AD&D was certainly different from the planar arrangement for BECMI (as described in the Immortals Set (1986), as I recall), it was worth noting that the D&D Rules Cyclopedia (1991) had an appendix that talked about conversion between BECMI and AD&D 2E. It even mentioned that it was "convenient" to assume that the two games took place in separate realities, and that moving characters between them was a "reality shift."

That term suggests (though it's not definitive) that the idea came, at least in part, from Bruce Heard's "Up, Away, and Beyond" article in Dragon magazine #160 (August, 1990), which talked about crossing over between D&D settings in more detail.

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Not only this, but Mystara was converted to 2E with the Karamekios & Glantri settings. Not because they wanted to limit worldhopping, but it was less of a pain for designers to keep up with multiple game versions.

Likewise, the mention of limits on the Athasian monsters shows a lack of research. The Dark Sun adventure Black Spine reveals that the Gith ARE the descendants of the githyanki / githzerai of the Astral and Ethereal and can travel back and forth between their home planes and Athas. Which of course means that player characters (and monsters) can traverse from Athas to elsewhere - which means there is no limit to where adventures may lead.

I believe this author is conflating the designers desire to keep product identity seperate with attempts to limit DM's & gamer's permission to travel to alternate worlds and that simply is not case. In most cases, they simply presented tools to help flesh out the unknown. In the end, the unknown is always vaster than the known. It's like saying Greyhawk could be any fantasy world you want as long as you didn't have the World of Greyhawk boxed set to show you where the City of Greyhawk was in relation to the Barrier Peaks - yea, even if such places existed in YOUR campaign world!
 

Not only this, but Mystara was converted to 2E with the Karamekios & Glantri settings. Not because they wanted to limit worldhopping, but it was less of a pain for designers to keep up with multiple game versions.

Likewise, the mention of limits on the Athasian monsters shows a lack of research. The Dark Sun adventure Black Spine reveals that the Gith ARE the descendants of the githyanki / githzerai of the Astral and Ethereal and can travel back and forth between their home planes and Athas. Which of course means that player characters (and monsters) can traverse from Athas to elsewhere - which means there is no limit to where adventures may lead.

I believe this author is conflating the designers desire to keep product identity seperate with attempts to limit DM's & gamer's permission to travel to alternate worlds and that simply is not case. In most cases, they simply presented tools to help flesh out the unknown. In the end, the unknown is always vaster than the known. It's like saying Greyhawk could be any fantasy world you want as long as you didn't have the World of Greyhawk boxed set to show you where the City of Greyhawk was in relation to the Barrier Peaks - yea, even if such places existed in YOUR campaign world!
Yeah I think the demise of using different rule systems to "hop" players between (ie Boot Hill, Metamorphosis Alpha, Gamma World) is not because they betrayed some Gygaxian vision, but because all those other systems had died by the 90s. Take note, once TSR had developed a new non-D&D system (Alternity), they started doing crossovers again.

d20 modern had plenty of links to D&D - I can remember seeing Wee Jas cultists in it at one stage.
 

I've said this before, but Athas isn't inaccessible. The 2E module Black Spine is focused on a Githyanki invasion of Athas.

Unknown to even the mightiest of the great sorcerer-kings, a fire is stirring deep beneath the barren soil of Athas. Sheltered by the titanic bulk of the Black Spine mountains, a terrible force has ripped open the very fabric of time and space. Now, a shimmering portal stands open and a long forgotten enemy assembles its sinister forces to invade the kingdoms under the dark sun. The only thing that stands in the way of this terrible fate is a band of heroes. Assembled from the four corners of this tortured world and bound together by the tangled cords of fate, they must face an enemy the likes of which they have never seen before. The odds are against them, but they dare not fail. The fate of the world is in their hands. The three adventures in this book mark the start of a great campaign that will see the heroes travel far beneath the surface of Athas and, in the end, across the mystical fabric of space itself and into the Astral Plane.

View attachment 122625

Now, it's very hard to leave or enter Athas (if it wasn't, people would leave because Athas sucks to live on). But it can be accessed by the persistent.
I was probably exaggerating (and in fact I remember that there was a portal that got you out of Athas in the dungeon where The Dragon lived too. So "inaccessible" should have read "mostly inaccessible".
 

Dausuul

Legend
Yeah I think the demise of using different rule systems to "hop" players between (ie Boot Hill, Metamorphosis Alpha, Gamma World) is not because they betrayed some Gygaxian vision, but because all those other systems had died by the 90s. Take note, once TSR had developed a new non-D&D system (Alternity), they started doing crossovers again.
I think this pretty much hits the nail on the head. Heck, WotC is doing crossovers now with a game that isn't even an RPG.
 

3catcircus

Adventurer
The reason for the crossovers served a purpose at the time. When d20 came out, it should have been easy to hop across worlds. In fact, I've done a D&D/Spycraft 1e crossover. 5e should make it easy as well. It seems that it was easier to do the crossovers back then when the different settings actually used different rules...
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
The reason for the crossovers served a purpose at the time. When d20 came out, it should have been easy to hop across worlds. In fact, I've done a D&D/Spycraft 1e crossover. 5e should make it easy as well. It seems that it was easier to do the crossovers back then when the different settings actually used different rules...
I don't know that it's easier to make a crossover with two sets of rules, but I'll bet it feels more like a crossover that way than if the rules remain the same. Using, e.g., Boot Hill's rules for gun duels is going to be a radical change from any edition of D&D and make it clear(er) to the players they're not in Greyhawk anymore.
 

Envisioner

Explorer
I absolutely love the "I Am Become Faerun" crack, as it perfectly describes how the Forgotten Realms tends to swallow up other settings and force them to conform to its existing cosmology. Kara-Tur was designed without Ao, yet now Ao presides over it. Someday, we may yet see other settings officially rolled into FR in the name of the Grand Principle of Inclusion, and the distinctiveness of those settings may well be lost.
 


I notice perfectly a Ravenloft-Gamma World crossover sounds like a really fool idea, but if you want to be creative you have to allow yourself to break some limits. Ravenloft is gothic-horror, although not only about hunting the monster of the week, but characters fighting against tragic fates or dark self-destructive passions, also Ravenloft should allow some doors for different types of horror, for example the classic zombie post-apocalypse (this time the PCs chose to "sacrifice" a world in the material plane ruled by vampyrs, the homeworld of Vladimir Ludzig, as the lesser evil option). Some 3PPs have got some interesting ideas for a gothic horror setting, for example Obsidian Apocalypse by LPJ and Shadows Over Vathak by Fat Gobling, (a partnetship with theses would be cool). A mixture of Ravenloft-Gamma World would be like a Necromunda/Warhammer 40.000 against the supervillain version of killer mutants of "the hills have eyes". The PCs could find the ruins of something like a hidden secret lab by a East European dictatorship. The true trouble is, as I said, the power balance with the modern technology, for example the monsters from Doom Eternal, Resident Evil and Evil Within who can use repeating firearms.

We, the players, are totally free to create crossovers or mash-up. The matter is about the possible limits for official crossovers with other no-fantasy franchises. You know what happened to the city of Elturel in RO and you could imagine maybe it could happen in other worlds. If Odiare is a dark domain with people from the gothic earth (Mask of the Red Earth) maybe the dark powers of the demiplane of the dread can cause serious troubles in others worlds, for example the original Barovia in the material plane, or the home planet of the vampyre vampyre Vladimir Ludzig.

If Hasbro wants it can produces a new cartoon serie about a group of teen girls who come back from a musical concert and for a mist in the travel to return they go to other world. With their just discovered illusory powers and musical talents they travel as bards and the artistic name for the band "Jem and the Holograms". (Al least it would be funny to be published in April 1st).

* There is also other reason to allow intercompany crossovers. The speculators know they are like limited editions, because after the end of the partnerships it is very hard to republish. Hasbro has got contacts with Capcom.
 

3catcircus

Adventurer
I don't know that it's easier to make a crossover with two sets of rules, but I'll bet it feels more like a crossover that way than if the rules remain the same. Using, e.g., Boot Hill's rules for gun duels is going to be a radical change from any edition of D&D and make it clear(er) to the players they're not in Greyhawk anymore.
When it comes to different cosmologies, I ascribe to the "there is really only one cosmology - these are different descriptions of the same thing seen through the lens of a different frame of reference.". That is, people can do the equivalent of a mathematical transform to go between each of the different cosmologies since they can all be referenced back to a single unknowable cosmology.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
When it comes to different cosmologies, I ascribe to the "there is really only one cosmology - these are different descriptions of the same thing seen through the lens of a different frame of reference.". That is, people can do the equivalent of a mathematical transform to go between each of the different cosmologies since they can all be referenced back to a single unknowable cosmology.
Sure, that's one way to look at it. I meant that literally different game rules could serve to enforce the idea the PCs were in a literally different world.
 

HarbingerStrom

Villager
I'm currently running a Spelljammer campaign to Athas. I think it needs to be up to the DM how and when interaction with the planet should be allowed. Because of the economy and the magical limitations I think on a fundamental level it needs to be made cost prohibitive to get there and back. There is no occasion where goods should allowed to be traded willy nilly in that region. You would quickly unbalance the game. Because of the value of metal and even the exchange rate for gold and silver you make your party inconceivably wealthy but simply making planet fall. This is fine if you plan for that. I did not attempt the campaign until the characters were level 16-20 because at that point wealth is not something they will be seeking, rather it will be a unique experience/adventure they have not had before.
In my campaign I allowed the ship to find a way to the Crimson Sphere by having the party talk to Large Luigi on the Rock of Bral. Having godlike knowledge he was able to give them directions on how to get there. Getting there was the easy part however it still took a year in game time. I had the space around the sphere infested with aboliths which attacked and invaded the ship. Making the journey treacherous re-enforces the idea that it is lunacy to attempt the trip to that sphere and is the reason why no one goes there. Once they penetrated the sphere their spelljammer helm began to weaken and was drawing an increasing amount of magical energy from the pilot. Once the ship made landfall it will not be able to lift off again. Any goods they brought with them can be sold however even with a full load of cargo it was hardly worth the loss of the ship but it did have the side effect of giving them a heavily armed base of operations, albeit under constant attack from those seeking the treasures it contains. Returning will be more difficult. The party will need to find a way of escape that goes beyond a simple planeshift spell. The whole exercise is really to give the high level party something new to do and will include the addition of some low level character creation and development involving psionics and different types of race sub-classes and classes.
I think the goal of an Athas campaign is not to try to transform anything about the planet but rather have the planet transform the characters that find their way there. Re-introducing gods or trying to make the planet more inhabitable should not be what the campaign is aiming for.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Can you cite sources for this? I ask because Defilers and Preservers: The Wizards of Athas (1996) says (in the "You Can't Get There from Here" sidebar on page 10) that Athas is in its own crystal sphere, which is impenetrable to spelljamming, and that the presence of the Gray makes it very difficult to planeshift into or out of the sphere. This information is in keeping with what's written in The Planewalker's Handbook (1996) - which was written by Monte Cook - about Athas (page 32). Likewise, CGR1 The Complete Spacefarer's Handbook (1992) equivocates about Athas's status, simply saying (pg. 13-14) that it's either unreachable or simply very far away from known space.

Insofar as I'm aware, the best argument that goes the other way comes from Dragon Kings (1992), specifically "The Planes Beyond" section on pages 64-67, and even then it strikes me as being less unambiguous than a lot of people seem to think. Specifically, it says:



A lot of people seem to take that second sentence as a declarative statement that Athas is on an alternate material plane from the standard cosmology, but I think that's a misreading. Rather, that sentence seems to simply be noting that there are many alternate material planes (one of which has Athas), and is silent with regards to whether or not this is the same one as the "standard" D&D multiverse.

Please note the use of affiliate links in this post.
Argasuan cosmology is described in one of those books or the priest one. It's not the great wheel and the Athasian elemental planes are depleted.
 

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