• COMING SOON! -- Level Up: Advanced 5th Edition! Level up your 5E game! The standalone advanced 5E tabletop RPG adds depth and diversity to the game you love!
log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D 5E (+) What would you want for 5e Dark Sun?

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
I think the Dragonlance topic of the same name is pretty great and I'd like to follow through a similar course with Dark Sun under the following precepts:

1) Narrative Elements will almost certainly change to adapt the setting toward more modern sensibilities. More female characters, LGBT inclusion, wider ethnic diversity, and some elements may be trimmed or re-framed to be less offensive. This isn't inherently a bad thing. But if you're down with it, what kind of changes would you want to see?

2) Dark Sun has a ton of Systems Changes. From Defiling to Psionics to Environmental Survival. How drastically would you want to see those systems altered, or perhaps do you have ideas on how they could be carried forward? Or do you think that such changes should even be -applied- to a modern table sensibility due to the preponderance of roll-playing as opposed to role-playing in modern game design?

3) Power Level. While it could be included in the Systems changes, Dark Sun's monsters were stronger, it's characters had higher stat generation methods, and magic items, or even good quality weapons and armor, were rare to make things even more challenging. Should that stylistic and mechanical gap remain in 5e, or should it be brought into a more "Modern Balance" spirit where any Athasian character is no stronger or weaker, by default, than any Faerunian one?

I'll go first.

Narrative Changes for Modern Sensibilities:
  • More Female Sorcerer-Kings.
    • On Athas there were only 3 female sorcerer-kings. Abalach-Re, Lalali-Puy, and Yarmuke. And Yarmuke was destroyed by Hamanu who also wiped her city from the world.
    • Thankfully, most of the Sorcerer-Kings gender is pretty irrelevant to who they are and what they accomplish. So making Oronis, Tectuktitlay, or even Andropinis (Who has the most masculine name of them all, Man-Penis) into Female Characters wouldn't actually change much of anything.
    • Could even have one of the Sorcerer-Kings be transgender. Nibenay presents a draconic form and largely hides from the public eye. It could be interesting if that draconic form were feminine.
  • LGBTQ+ loose organizations could be neat.
    • I don't mean big and broad-ranging LGBTQ Lobbyists. I'm talking about smaller organizations of protection. Athas is a harsh place and having trans characters know that, for example, a building with a painted Kank's Head on the front wall wall is a safe space could be interesting. It would also set Athas aside from other settings as one that is harsh, but not without it's mercies.
    • Similarly, an alliance of people with different sexualities creating a group-atmosphere of protection and solidarity might be nice in a cruel world. Like maybe no one cares if some courtier is slipping into silk-sheets with courtiers of similar genders, or whether gladiators are coupling in the barracks between matches, but there's still plenty of reason for abundant caution and escape plans and the like for when bigots -do- rear their ugly heads
    • Though it would also be kind of great to just have no societal stigmas tied to LGBTQ+ existence, of course.
  • Slavery is a tough call. But I think they could largely keep it.
    • 5e D&D tries to keep slavery in the hands of evil people. Which is why the Drow are totally willing to enslave you at the start of Out of the Abyss. The main thrust of slavery in modern fantasy is that it exists, it is evil, and only evil people enslave others.
    • Therefore having slavery as a thing in the setting would still work, but the players would be actively encouraged to fight and kill slavers when possible/reasonable, and free any slaves they find. Which is what good people should do in any setting.
  • Points of (Dim) Light?
    • Athas has always been a place with a handful of real "Towns" and a few villages scattered across the sands between them, often 2-3 days travel apart (On foot) and usually plagued by cannibal Elves, cannibal Thri-Kreen, and cannibal Halflings. Because, honestly, cannibalism is just super popular as a dining option on Athas.
    • This sort of physical structure lends itself well to a Points of Light campaign. And, honestly, making that the style du jour for Athas could fit really, -really-, well. So long as the lights are dim. So long as the safety is fleeting, the comfort expensive, and the danger swift to return.
  • Ethnic Variety
    • Honestly, Athas could do this fairly easily if the art department goes for it without any sort of backlash. I don't think there's much chance, at all, that people are going to complain if Tecuktitlay isn't white as snow, or Lalali-Puy doesn't have blonde hair and blue eyes. Honestly, ruddy and dark skin tones should -probably- be the default for the whole setting, with pale skin being a rarity even among the wealthy.
Systems Changes:
  • Arcane/Divine/Psionics as different.
    • 5e's "All magic is just magic" is just not good for Athas. Athas uses Defiling and Preserving as a powerful narrative element, and one that Clerics and Druids are incapable of doing because their power doesn't defile.
    • Athas would need to break the "Weave Narrative" to work. Different types of magic -need- to be different to interact with this core identity of the setting.
  • Psionics as Default
    • A Psionicist Class (I love KibblesTasty's) would be great. Especially one that takes cantrip-casting to heart and builds off of it.
    • Probably a Psionic-Warrior option or something similar as well. Likely as a Subclass of Fighter or maybe Ranger?
    • Maybe just a whole mess of Psionic Subclasses in general.
    • Definitely a ton of Wild Talents as Feats.
  • Defiling as Default
    • Preserving should be something you actively choose, rather than a default. And it should cost you.
    • Yes. This makes Wizards and Sorcerers (if they're even in the game!) weaker unless they defile. That's the point.
    • Playing a Wizard should be unattractive in the setting to keep the Arcane magic level low. Not impossible, so people can still play their Wizards... but less attractive.
  • Travel Mechanics
    • Traveling from place to place isn't hard, really. Pick a direction and go. Getting there -alive- is the trick.
    • Heat Mechanics, Environmental Hazards, Dangerous Monsters, and most importantly LIMITED RESOURCES.
    • Water isn't always available on Athas. And even when you -can- get some it's often dirty.
    • Some sort of mechanical structure that makes survival against the World into it's own unique danger layered on top of everything else would be spectacular.
Power Level
  • Stronger Characters. Harsher Challenges.
    • Athasian characters have been stronger than those of other settings, often with less magical power available. Previous editions handled this with higher attribute scores, which is also an option but consider replacing Magic Items with "Heroic Power"
    • To replace magic items, there should be a new "Internalized Power" system that allows characters to function as if they -have- magic items in many cases and situations, without actually having them.
    • Perhaps give people a number of "Heroic Power" slots equal to their Attunement availability and allow the player to gain these heroic powers through gameplay.
    • Belt of Giant Strength? Nah. Your strength score gets boosted 'cause you have "Mighty Thews" which gives you a +4 Strength Bonus (Max 22) or a +6 bonus (Max 24
  • Bigger Stats
    • Maybe give players their level 4 ASI at level 1? Or their level 8 at level 1 so they just don't get one of the two during leveling.
    • This would keep their overall power level similar while boosting them at low-level play before they can play into the "Heroic Power" system.
  • Wild Talent at level 1?
    • Wild Talents are an important part of Athasian culture. Not -everyone- has them, but enough people do that it's just considered normal.
    • Maybe give all players a single level 1 "Free Feat" which can be a Wild Talent or not, as they personally prefer.
  • Interesting Weapon and Armor Rules.
    • In addition to having some really cool and slightly freaky weapons, Athas also had rules relating to Bone, Stone, and Wooden weapons that probably should be updated.
    • Weapon Breakage was a common problem for Athasian Heroes who would often see their favorite Carrikal break off in the thick armored hide of a Braxat or crushed under the bulk of a rampaging Mellikot.
    • Armor/Shield Breakage was also an issue, but slightly (SLIGHTLY) less common. Maybe give players the ability to actively sacrifice shields and armor to negate a critical hit altogether, or something? Not sure.

What are your thoughts?
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Yora

Legend
I am looking primarily at a decent capturing of the original concept, before all the unnecessary mythology retconning crept in.
Since that seems to have been the case in 4th edition, and given how Forgotten Realms and Eberron are being handled, I think there's actually a decent chance for that.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
One thing I want is a divorce between Eberron and Forgotten Realms.

The official default be, FR lacks existence.

An OPTION for any DMs who want to add Eberron to the FR multiverse, gets good advice for how they can do so.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
For LGBTQ, there can be magical rituals to produce children, where one, two, or more can become genetic parents. Rituals like bringing a statue to life, gestating in a nest, birthing parthenogenically or from two mothers, and so on.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
... I dunno how I wound up marking the thread as a question unintentionally, but if there's a Mod or Admin who could turn it into a Discussion, instead, I'd really appreciate that.
One thing I want is a divorce between Eberron and Forgotten Realms.

The official default be, FR lacks existence.

An OPTION for any DMs who want to add Eberron to the FR multiverse, gets good advice for how they can do so.
... Sir this is a Dark Sun.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Regarding power sources, I am happy with the current design:
• any power source can cast spells
• any power source can wield magic that isnt a spell
• any power source can produce an effect that is itself nonmagical

That said, I view arcane-divine as two sides of the same coin, and psionic-primal as two sides of the same coin.

• Mind of stone desires to exist
• Mind of plant desires to grow and flourish
• Mind of beast desires to move and interact
• Mind of humanoid desires to learn and create.

Primal mainly focuses on the first three, while psionics mainly focuses on the humanoid minds, but each dabbles in the other, and they are all mind forces.

Psionic-primal must innately spellcast without any material component or focus, including a spell without its costly gp component.

Hopefully, a Psion will be available by then.
 


Yaarel

Mind Mage
For Dark Sun, I want an "Oasis City" that is benign, even utopian, and advanced with magical technology. A local setting that is less luddite and a contrast to the post-apocalyptic.
 


Ethnic Variety
  • Honestly, Athas could do this fairly easily if the art department goes for it without any sort of backlash. I don't think there's much chance, at all, that people are going to complain if Tecuktitlay isn't white as snow, or Lalali-Puy doesn't have blonde hair and blue eyes. Honestly, ruddy and dark skin tones should -probably- be the default for the whole setting, with pale skin being a rarity even among the wealthy.
I think you're forgetting, as many people do, that the people of Athas are supposed to be thousands of years post-magical-apocalypse, and mutated by magic. Real-world ethnicities should be rare. Pure "ethnicities" should be rare. People with wild skin tones, including those not found in nature, should be common. People with patterned skin and so on too. Emphasize this imho. It's easy to forget it and it lessens the setting and makes it lamer.

I'd also be keen that Clerics not be allowed to worship gods, and Druids likewise need to have the Dark Sun subclasses only, by default (obviously include a note that individual DMs can do what they like, but stick to this approach in any adventures or other material for it).

I agree with most of the rest of what you're saying, but I think, profoundly, WotC need to decide to either embrace psionics, or properly reboot the setting with them in a lesser role. They shouldn't take this half-arsed approach they're doing now, and just attempt to replicate Dark Sun, randomly picking stuff from both the (deeply conflicting) 2E versions and the 4E version and just play down psionics and call that "Dark Sun". It'll just be a sad mess. Either go for the original 2E vision upgraded in the ways you've described, or abandon it, and go for something which is conceptually Dark Sun and maybe called that, but which has clean separation from previous editions. So I guess my #1 thing is "don't half-arse it or make a mess".
 



My (very incomplete) list.

- Restrictions. DS isn't about access to everything, it's about limited choices. Limited water, limited metal, limited magic, and lesser-of-two-evils moral choices all too common. Genocided races should be explicitly noted as 'canonically extinct in Athas' and magic that is obviously non-elemental, non-druidic, no-psionic, or non-templar should be rare and widely despised (yes, that includes Arcane Tricksters etc). Oh, and elemental clerics should actually have restrictions on spells from the opposite element. You want to cast Create Food and Water? Don't play a damn fire cleric then.

- psionics has to happen, obviously. I've got no preferred implementation as yet, but what I DO want is a) no spell components of any sort, b) all psionicists not being tied to a single ability score, and c) psionicists working from a flavourful spell/effect/discipline list of their own and not just having free choice from the sorcerer list or whatever. And wild talents should be an actual psionic ability your PC can use, not just a nebulous 'psychic dice' you can add to rolls once a short rest or anything similarly boring.

- Place it just after Kalak's death for preference, or just before as a second choice. Keep the Rajaat/Borys/etc metaplot but let the PCs sort it out rather than a bunch of cardboard novel characters.

- Non-magical bards. Support for trader PCs. Frankly I'd disallow the standard bard and instead have a new base class here, a Cha-based non-magical class with Athasian bard, dune trader, marshal/commander, and maybe noble/diplomat subclasses.

- redo the map to make more sense. Kill a few sacred cows if you have to, god knows the Ravenloft writers weren't shy about that. Extend the borders of the map in all directions, pay attention to the WORLD of athas a bit, rather than just a fragment of it. Make the cities bigger to allow for more urban adventuring, add some hardscrabble farmland around them to explain how they feed themselves, expand the world beyond the Tyr valley (adding new sorcerer-kings and -queens as you go), come up with legit reasons why the sorcerer-kings didn't just colonise the fertile Ringing Mountains and Kreen grasslands long ago.

- Survival is hard. Nerf rangers and Create Food And Water and the like to make sure it stays that way.

- No 'defiler' or 'preserver' subclasses. Defiling should always be a temptation when any wizard is hard-pressed and needs a little extra boost. Playing a preserver SHOULD be mechanically less optimal. Being good is hard.

- I'd personally prefer that slavery (chattel or prisoner-of-war based slavery along the ancient Roman model rather than race-based slavery) should stay as an evil but institutional fact of life in most Sorcerer-King-ruled city-states. But I'm an Australian white guy who has no personal skin in that game, so that choice probably shouldn't be made by people like me.

- Similar with Templars, I'd prefer them PC-playable (personally I prefer them implemented as Sorcerer-King domain clerics rather than Sorcerer-King pact warlocks for mechanical and setting reasons, but I could live with either) though I'd understand if 5e decided to make them NPC-only.

- you don't need massive changes to most default D&D assumptions to be honest. The 5e attunment mechanics work ok to limit magic items. Hardest one is going to be heavy-armour-wearers in a setting where metal hardly exists (oh, and neither should rapiers, so rogues will need to rethink too), but a few bits of interesting new equipment should cover that. Just some notes would do. Suggested modified paladin oaths, suggested warlock patrons etc to fit thematically into the setting. Tieflings can be re-skinned as New Race mutants tainted by the Pristine Tower, etc etc. Sorcerers and bards will be the hardest sell.

- Don't shoehorn the default D&D planar cosmology in. The Feywild has no damn business being in Athas.

- a 600-page hardcover sandbox megacampaign that brings the PCs all the way to level 20 to face off against Borys and Rajaat. Personally vetted by me beforehand so that it's just what i like. Because hey, we're wishlisting here, right...?
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
I think you're forgetting, as many people do, that the people of Athas are supposed to be thousands of years post-magical-apocalypse, and mutated by magic. Real-world ethnicities should be rare. Pure "ethnicities" should be rare. People with wild skin tones, including those not found in nature, should be common. People with patterned skin and so on too. Emphasize this imho. It's easy to forget it and it lessens the setting and makes it lamer.

I'd also be keen that Clerics not be allowed to worship gods, and Druids likewise need to have the Dark Sun subclasses only, by default (obviously include a note that individual DMs can do what they like, but stick to this approach in any adventures or other material for it).

I agree with most of the rest of what you're saying, but I think, profoundly, WotC need to decide to either embrace psionics, or properly reboot the setting with them in a lesser role. They shouldn't take this half-arsed approach they're doing now, and just attempt to replicate Dark Sun, randomly picking stuff from both the (deeply conflicting) 2E versions and the 4E version and just play down psionics and call that "Dark Sun". It'll just be a sad mess. Either go for the original 2E vision upgraded in the ways you've described, or abandon it, and go for something which is conceptually Dark Sun and maybe called that, but which has clean separation from previous editions. So I guess my #1 thing is "don't half-arse it or make a mess".
I agree with the idea of no "Pure" ethnicities, particularly real world ones, I just mean "The setting should have a variety of skin tones and cranio-facial structures because it's a condensate of the remaining world's population rather than the survivors of a single nation-state"

As for animal-print skin... nnn... Maybe in the Wastelands? Or mutants here and there. But there's only so far you can go with that before you're stripping away the interest of those wild skin tones and patterns. Though if Elves were all Snake-Banded with desert camouflage that would be freaking -amazing-.

And yeah. "Don't Half-Arse it" is the big going press, I think.

Also I don't think it should have Paladins as PCs. Or Warlocks. And Bards should either be revamped or excluded (I know you love 'em, but they just don't really "Fit" for Athas. :( ) But that's just me.
I want this "oasis city" as a starting point at level 1. A homebase to explore a hostile world.
That's -really- counterintuitive to literally everything about Dark Sun...

Like... Why would you even -bother- leaving your super-magical-technological-oasis-city to go to the various places where you'd immediately be slapped with Slavery, ganked by kanks, or eaten by random desert elves?
 

As for animal-print skin... nnn... Maybe in the Wastelands? Or mutants here and there. But there's only so far you can go with that before you're stripping away the interest of those wild skin tones and patterns. Though if Elves were all Snake-Banded with desert camouflage that would be freaking -amazing-.
Well I meant more bizarre than just animal print but yeah that should be rare but known, especially in the Wastelands. There's at least one DS pick where an elf has what might be skin or might be camo paint in a snake-band pattern, it looks great.
Also I don't think it should have Paladins as PCs. Or Warlocks. And Bards should either be revamped or excluded (I know you love 'em, but they just don't really "Fit" for Athas. :( ) But that's just me.
Warlocks I disagree on - Patrons should just solely be Sorcerer Kings. For my money, you actually make Templars into Warlocks, then have multiple Sorcerer-King patrons (and/or make existing Patrons syncretic with certain Sorcerer-Kings - i.e. X Sorcerer-King is the "Undead" patron and so on). Their powers feel pretty right for it.

Paladins I think either need to go or become Templars as well. I think just go though personally. Bards probably should just go despite obviously being my favourite class.
 

Restrictions. DS isn't about access to everything, it's about limited choices. Limited water, limited metal, limited magic, and lesser-of-two-evils moral choices all too common. Genocided races should be explicitly noted as 'canonically extinct in Athas' and magic that is obviously non-elemental, non-druidic, no-psionic, or non-templar should be rare and widely despised (yes, that includes Arcane Tricksters etc). Oh, and elemental clerics should actually have restrictions on spells from the opposite element. You want to cast Create Food and Water? Don't play a damn fire cleric then.
Agree 100%.

Every setting is kind of an exemplar of something, and DS should be the exemplar of restrictions and specificity. Many home campaigns (most?) have some restrictions so that would make sense to me.
 


Yaarel

Mind Mage
Bards are awesome − if psionic. They are telepathic mind manipulators who can do psychometabolic shapechange and psychic healing.

Lose the lute.

Plus Bards work well for flavors of "shaman".
 
Last edited:

Yaarel

Mind Mage
That's -really- counterintuitive to literally everything about Dark Sun...

Like... Why would you even -bother- leaving your super-magical-technological-oasis-city to go to the various places where you'd immediately be slapped with Slavery, ganked by kanks, or eaten by random desert elves?
A contrast can emphasize the setting, like a comedy scene in a Shakespeare tragedy.

But personally, I am less a fan of the post-apocalyptic genre. It is too luddite for my sensibilities. So a utopian locale would help me get more out of the Dark Sun product.

For me, part of the greatest appeal in Dark Sun is yes to psionics, and no to gods.

And the elementalism is cool too.
 


Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top