What do I need to run DS?


The 8th Evil Sage
I'm looking to start running a Dark Sun campaign in general, and one of the rule sets I'm considering is 4E. I played 4E a little when it first came out and I'm reasonably comfortable with it, but I haven't kept up. I have an early printing of the PHB, DMG, and MM. I also have the DSCS and I know I need the DS monster book. Do I need anything else to run it? Do I need to adjust the DS monsters to bring them in-line with the current standards?

Basically I'm looking for rules-focused advice here. What's happened over the life of 4E that I should be aware of when running my game?

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You're actually doing great.

I'd personally go with a DDI sub instead of getting any more books. You'll get all the new character options (including psionics) and all the monsters. And: Character Builder! Which is finally good again!

If you want to go with books... PHB2 & 3 are both kinda important, with PHB3 being moreso due to psionics. I might also go with either MM3 or the Monster Vault for a lot more great monsters.

Really DDI is the way to go, though. You have the core books you need.



First Post
DDI is excellent for another reason, too - the "Eye on Dark Sun" articles which have generally been excellent and serve as a wonderful supplement to the DSCS.

You'll definitely want either MM3 or Monster Vault. Combined with the "thematic" options near the back of the Dark Sun Creature Catalogue, they provide you ample fodder for reskinning with minimal math adjustments (all three books use the new monster math). Using older Monster Manual stuff largely fails to evoke the "deadly" feel of Athas.


Good call on the Eye on Dark Sun stuff. There have also been several great adventures - The Vault of Darom Madar and Beneath the Dust are both excellent; I've happily used both.

The Dark Sun creatures are up to current monster design rules, as are MM3 and the MV.



First Post
I have to concur. The primal and psionic power sources are a lot of the flavor difference in Dark Sun. You'll want the extra options for the defender and leader roles regardless, as by default, there's no clerics or paladins.

To note tho, the warlord IS a very Dark Sun-friendly class in terms of flavor. Historically speaking, fighter and gladiators got a lot of followers and eventually, large armies, to command, in the original campaign. Warlords are a great way to show that flavor in the new setting.


First Post
Others have covered most of the good advice. In terms of 'what has happened over the course of 4E', let's see...

Monster design has evolved. It largely came into its own by MM3, and Dark Sun builds on that. The Dark Sun monsters don't need any adjusting, and work quite well. MM3 on a Business Card covers the new basic math.

(While it doesn't have too much content appropriate for Dark Sun, the new Monster Vault (Threats to the Nentir Vale) is an excellent, excellent product full of flavorful and interesting monsters. So if a larger selection is needed, you might pick that up and convert stuff into Athasian equivalents as needed.)

The early core books remain valid, though you'll want to check out the errata. Of it, though, the big things are:
-Dark Sun introduces themes, a cool new facet to characters, so just make sure to get somewhat familiar with those;
-Monster math updates, as mentioned above;
-Skill DCs updated, which is covered here;
-Skill challenges have gone through a few permutations. The DMG2 probably has the best advice for them, and is an excellent resource in general.
-Some new magic item distribution systems were introduced involving item rarity. Not sure how relevant it will be in dark sun. If you are already using inherent bonuses and PCs can't freely buy magic items, you're pretty much already doing fine. The daily magic item power limit did go away, though, which could be relevant.

Many other bits and pieces have been fiddled with here, but nothing comes to mind that would be all that major. Rules for Stealth got cleaned up a bit. Various clarifications here or there. Numerous little fixes to powers, feats, etc, which really only the players will care about. Most stuff you can acknowledge or ignore as needed.

Right now, the three core books and the dark sun books will do just fine. I'd probably recommend DMG2 as well, since it is rather awesome. MM3 or the new Monster Vault (TotNV) are both filled with interesting monsters; the basic Monster Vault itself is essentially an updated MM with new math and more flavor, so is probably not needed. Others recommended various books with more primal and psionic classes... but really, players might worry about those, but I don't think they'd be too needed to run stuff. Any info you really need to pick up is probably easier to do via DDI.

That single month subscription to DDI is not a bad recommendation, not at all. That will let you peruse various resources and see if there is anything else you need, and will let you download a ton of content from all existing dragon/dungeon magazines, which does include some excellent Eye on Dark Sun articles.

Aside from that, all you need is the harsh and uncarying cruelty of a blazing and merciless sun, and the will to ignore the pleas of your players as they perish in the wastes.


First Post
Thank yous to the poster and to all the respondents, I was just asking this very same question yesterday. I even have the same 4th edition set as the OP. I really appreciate the advice.

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