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D&D 5E Updating Dark Sun to 5th Ed

toucanbuzz

Legend
I imagine it will look a lot like it did in 4th Ed but continue to evolve
I pray not. Dark Sun is..dark. It is gritty. It isn't politically correct or light hearted or fair. The lines between good and evil are blurred. Genocide occurred. Many mysteries (e.g. what happened to dwarves and elves) are left unexplained, leaving the world enigmatic. Survival is often its own reward. Heroes are rarer than metal, for the people don't have a glorious afterlife. When you die, you simply fade away. Because it was dramatically different, it was awesome.

Take all that away, homogenize it, bring in tieflings and gnomes and other eradicated races, allow every class, tone down the slavery and the hopelessness and afterlife and so on, make defiling a minor mechanic, and the setting simply becomes a desert. Might as well do Forgotten Realms. It has a desert too.

Not saying you're wrong. You're probably exactly on the right path for what WOTC is thinking. I just hope not. It'd be a slap in the face to something unique and special, and I'd rather they just let it rest in peace. And that's the thing that is attractive about it. I made a DS 5E conversion, true as I could to the original. I ran it for players who didn't know what it was. We used a 3rd party psionic book. We had advanced defiling rules. And, it rocked. It was something they'd never seen before. They'd seen the Realms and the PHB and all the default stuff. But, not this. Not these choices. It was a refreshing change of pace, for everyone.
 

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MGibster

Legend
WotC did a pretty good job bringing Ravenloft into the 21st century while retaining the essence of what made the original so great. I believe they're fully capable of doing the same with Dark Sun. I have to admit that it's been about 25 years since I've cracked open a Dark Sun book at this point so I bet a lot of my memories are a bit fuzzy. But I do remember that it was one of my favorite settings from the golden age of settings!

Races: I don't really need everything from the PHB to be in Dark Sun and I'm open to goliaths taking the place of half-giants as I feel they can fill that same niche rather nicely.

Slavery: I think it should still be in the game. D&D has pretty much always depicted slavery as something the bad guys engage in and those bad guys are in charge of every city-state except for Tyr. But I realize it's a bit more complicated than that. They could just make sure they don't depict slavery in anything but a negative light but at some point PCs will likely have to deal with someone who has slaves or are in a city-state where slavery is common. You don't want every adventure turning into a quest to free all the slaves, right? But does that constitute condoning the practice?

Admittedly, D&D is not a game where I go for deep thinking. I'm just out to have a good time.
 

Why? Theros, which is more similar to Dark Sun as a contained setting, defaults to humans and the races included in the book.

From Mythic Odysseys of Theros:
"A diverse assortment of peoples dwell among the lands of Theros. Aside from humans, the races in the Player’s Handbook are unknown on Theros, unless they’re visiting from other worlds.
MYTHICAL ADVENTURES OF THEROS feels like a smaller book than Dark Sun. It's the quick and cheap filler product they can crank out as the art is done and paid for
Dark Sun feels more likely be a hit

If you were running a game and a player said "I want to play a half-orc paladin" would you say "no?"
It's easier to just support that and allow all the races and give them lore
 

MYTHICAL ADVENTURES OF THEROS feels like a smaller book than Dark Sun. It's the quick and cheap filler product they can crank out as the art is done and paid for
Dark Sun feels more likely be a hit

Theros was a full 256 pages hardback that took up one of the quarterly release slots on WotCs schedule, just like the new Ravenloft book, just like Curse of Strahd, just like Storm King's Thunder etc. While I believe (and hope) that a Dark Sun setting book would push out to 320 pages like Frostmaiden or Eberron (eberron might actually be a good comparison, because it ate a lot of page count on new races and classes just like DS would have to), Theros was still a full-fledged major release by any measure you care to name

If you were running a game and a player said "I want to play a half-orc paladin" would you say "no?"
It's easier to just support that and allow all the races and give them lore

No, before the first session I'd say 'I'm planning on running a Dark Sun game up next gang, that means no half-orcs or gnomes, little metal, arcane spellcasters tend to be unpopular (often for good reason), lots of psionics, etc etc, does that work for you?' If they said no because one was heart-set on playing a half-orc paladin then maybe DS isn't the right campaign. Or perhaps that player might be satisfied playing a half-giant or mul paladin instead? (I have no problems with paladins in Dark Sun personally, you don't even really need to change the game mechanics, just alter the tenets of the oaths and you're set. A paladin themed around radiant damage and protection fits nicely in the templarate of Hamanu though he won't be taking the Oath Of Devotion, a paladin with nature-flavoured powers could be found serving the Oba or among the halflings of the Ringing Mountains even though the Oath of Ancients doesn't really work as written - this isn't difficult)
 

MGibster

Legend
If you were running a game and a player said "I want to play a half-orc paladin" would you say "no?"
It's easier to just support that and allow all the races and give them lore

I wouldn't have the least bit of difficulty telling the player that neither existed in the campaign. I'm happy to work with a player to see what we can do to make the character they've envisioned come to life. But they've got to meet me half-way and come up with concepts appropriate to the setting.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
WotC did a pretty good job bringing Ravenloft into the 21st century while retaining the essence of what made the original so great. I believe they're fully capable of doing the same with Dark Sun.
Frankly, I think they’ve already done it with 4e Dark Sun. They could just bring all the setting material from that over wholesale and just update the mechanics, maybe make defining a bit more robust while they’re at it, and it would be fine. Some of the purists would be upset, but what else is new?
 

"Some of the purists would be upset, but what else is new?"

Canon and continuity have a non-zero positive value. Retcons are always a mistake, regardless of how good the intentions behind them are.*

If they can't update the setting with a starting point of "Everything from before is the same. Here's some new stuff that's happened since!" they should leave it in the hands of the homebrewers.
...


*Han shot first!
 

Sithlord

Adventurer
"Some of the purists would be upset, but what else is new?"

Canon and continuity have a non-zero positive value. Retcons are always a mistake, regardless of how good the intentions behind them are.*

If they can't update the setting with a starting point of "Everything from before is the same. Here's some new stuff that's happened since!" they should leave it in the hands of the homebrewers.
...


*Han shot first!
Let the players individual campaigns decide for themselves what happens after the campaign starting point.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
"Some of the purists would be upset, but what else is new?"

Canon and continuity have a non-zero positive value. Retcons are always a mistake, regardless of how good the intentions behind them are.*

If they can't update the setting with a starting point of "Everything from before is the same. Here's some new stuff that's happened since!" they should leave it in the hands of the homebrewers.
...


*Han shot first!
I disagree strongly. Except about the footnote.
 

MGibster

Legend
Canon and continuity have a non-zero positive value. Retcons are always a mistake, regardless of how good the intentions behind them are.*
Deadlands was released in 1996 and was set in the American old west in 1876 in an alternate history where the Confederacy was still in existence and engaged in a cold war with the United States. As the Confederacy had established their own independent nation, this effectively meant they won the Civil War. I believe the folks at Pinnacle Entertainment Group wanted to provide fertile ground for spy vs. spy shenanigans which is why they had the Confederacy still around. Not only was the Confederacy around, but making characters that were Confederate officers or Texas Rangers were viable choices. PEG made this a bit more palatable by having the Confederacy abandon the institution of slavery, there's no institutional racism, and the people rejoiced. Yay! I'm sure PEG got rid of slavery and racism in the game because they just wanted to make sure everyone had a good time. But the original Deadlands setting really played into the hands of the Lost Cause narrative, and as the young people say, this was problematic.

This was becoming more of a liability for PEG's flagship game. If you look up threads here or in other forums about Deadlands, as the years pass you'll run into more and more posts from people who disliked the Confederate aspect of the game so much they would never play it. In an era where people are tearing down monuments to the Confederacy, it's just not a good look to play into the Lost Cause narrative whether intentional or not. So PEG retconned the setting. Sort of. All that Confederacy winning the war stuff still happened, but because of some time traveling shenanigans, the Confederacy ended up losing the war in 1871. So in the current incarnation of the game, now set in 1884 (I think), the Confederacy lost the war. And the game is better off for me. Despite being my favorite game from the 1990s, I never based any of my adventures off the cold war between the CSA and USA. And while I could accept undead gunslingers, mad scientist with jet packs, and gamblers turned wizards I just couldn't buy the CSA emerging victorious.

Once thing to keep in mind when talking about older D&D settings, is that younger players don't necessarily have the same attachments. Honestly, it's been so long since I've read many of the older settings that I can't remember all the little details. WotC absolutely should retcon the setting where necessarily in order to create a setting palatable to the bulk of their customers. Of course there's a delicate balance between making some minor changes and making changes that betray what made the original so great. But that's just a risk you take I guess. Someone is always going to be unhappy.
 

"WotC absolutely should retcon the setting where necessarily in order to create a setting palatable to the bulk of their customers."

And that's where we disagree. No. They should leave it alone, or they should make a brand new setting.

As you say, younger players don't have the same attachments. So, no reason to use it in the first place if you can't use it as is and build on it.

It is better to let something fade away than to change it to be something other than what it is.

If you have no respect or affection for the past of something, then create something new. But don't pretend that past didn't happen. That is so much more problematic.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
"WotC absolutely should retcon the setting where necessarily in order to create a setting palatable to the bulk of their customers."

And that's where we disagree. No. They should leave it alone, or they should make a brand new setting.

As you say, younger players don't have the same attachments. So, no reason to use it in the first place if you can't use it as is and build on it.

It is better to let something fade away than to change it to be something other than what it is.

If you have no respect or affection for the past of something, then create something new. But don't pretend that past didn't happen. That is so much more problematic.
No one is pretending the past didn’t happen. They’re learning from the mistakes of the past and creating something new, inspired by the original, that addresses those mistakes. The original still exists if you prefer it* and the new version is its own thing built on the best parts of the old.

*that’s real problem with han shooting second - not that a special edition was made with changes, but that the original, unchanged version is no longer available (through normal, legal channels, anyway).
 

Sithlord

Adventurer
"WotC absolutely should retcon the setting where necessarily in order to create a setting palatable to the bulk of their customers."

And that's where we disagree. No. They should leave it alone, or they should make a brand new setting.

As you say, younger players don't have the same attachments. So, no reason to use it in the first place if you can't use it as is and build on it.

It is better to let something fade away than to change it to be something other than what it is.

If you have no respect or affection for the past of something, then create something new. But don't pretend that past didn't happen. That is so much more problematic.
I couldn’t agree more. I would rather see new settings created than destroying ones that already exist by making them something they aren’t.
 



Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
"WotC absolutely should retcon the setting where necessarily in order to create a setting palatable to the bulk of their customers."

And that's where we disagree. No. They should leave it alone, or they should make a brand new setting.

As you say, younger players don't have the same attachments. So, no reason to use it in the first place if you can't use it as is and build on it.

It is better to let something fade away than to change it to be something other than what it is.

If you have no respect or affection for the past of something, then create something new. But don't pretend that past didn't happen. That is so much more problematic.

From a business perspective, not making your product more acceptable for customers is the opposite of good decision-making.
 

"Nobody is destroying anything. The old ones still exist. Play them if you prefer them. Or take your favorite bits from each version and make it your own."

Or...just ignore the parts out of the old one that you don't like?


Things are what they are. The evolution of ideas should lie in new creation, not revisionism.

To the people that like something as it is, changing it is disrespectful, and gains you nothing that you couldn't accomplish better by making something new.

It's not only mean-spirited, it's sub-optimal.
 

Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
Once thing to keep in mind when talking about older D&D settings, is that younger players don't necessarily have the same attachments. Honestly, it's been so long since I've read many of the older settings that I can't remember all the little details. WotC absolutely should retcon the setting where necessarily in order to create a setting palatable to the bulk of their customers. Of course there's a delicate balance between making some minor changes and making changes that betray what made the original so great. But that's just a risk you take I guess. Someone is always going to be unhappy.
WotC should create a new setting if they cannot hack the older ones (or think their customers would reject the older ones) - a setting with the new customers' tastes and preferences in mind.
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
"Nobody is destroying anything. The old ones still exist. Play them if you prefer them. Or take your favorite bits from each version and make it your own."

Or...just ignore the parts out of the old one that you don't like?


Things are what they are. The evolution of ideas should lie in new creation, not revisionism.

To the people that like something as it is, changing it is disrespectful, and gains you nothing that you couldn't accomplish better by making something new.

It's not only mean-spirited, it's sub-optimal.

Any editor would scoff at this. A rough draft of a product is not inherently better than a revised one.
 

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