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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?
 

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Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Road to Urik has a guy holding a Datschi Club, not a Testsubo. Yeah, it's an iron-cored wooden weapon, like the tetsubo, but it's wrapped in giant-hair rope with stone or bone shards in it meant to break off in wounds and stuff.

That said... Macahuitl are what stone swords look like. A "Whole Blade" of any type of stone would be far too heavy.

Big part of why I chose to stat up a bunch of Athasian Weapons for my campaign rather than try to let people use standard 5e weapons "But made of Stone" or something. Well. That and the preponderance of Finesse Weapons making Dex the big king of stats which annoys me in a DS Game.

There are some exceptions, of course. A flail made of stone, for example, or a stone tipped spear. But I'm mostly avoiding PHB weapons outside of real steel.
 

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Stormonu

Legend
As a counterpoint to crude weapon materials, Neeva on the cover of Freedom has a iron-headed two-handed mace of some sort. The gith on Black Flames is carrying some sort of short sword (possibly metal, maybe bone). The crodlu riding marauder on Marauders of Nebenay has some sort of iron/steel scimitar. The halfling in the background of Road to Urik has some sort of sword in his hand. On Arcane Shadows, the guy on the right has some sort of falx/falchion on his belt, and with the hilt/handle, gives the impression it is metal. The warrior on the cover of Ivory Triangle is wielding a metal blade. And of course Agis is bearing a steel cutlass.

Remember, Tyr has an iron mine, and it looks like some of it was used for parts of weapons, if not entire weapons. Athas is metal-poor, not completely absent.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
As a counterpoint to crude weapon materials, Neeva on the cover of Freedom has a iron-headed two-handed mace of some sort. The gith on Black Flames is carrying some sort of short sword (possibly metal, maybe bone). The crodlu riding marauder on Marauders of Nebenay has some sort of iron/steel scimitar. The halfling in the background of Road to Urik has some sort of sword in his hand. On Arcane Shadows, the guy on the right has some sort of falx/falchion on his belt, and with the hilt/handle, gives the impression it is metal. The warrior on the cover of Ivory Triangle is wielding a metal blade. And of course Agis is bearing a steel cutlass.

Remember, Tyr has an iron mine, and it looks like some of it was used for parts of weapons, if not entire weapons. Athas is metal-poor, not completely absent.

That and you can go dig it up in ruins and similar places.
 

It'd be fun to key certain weapons to certain materials.

Bone weapons are usually ammunition or daggers. Bone weapons have the finesse and light properties. d4 damage for daggers, d6 for ammunition.

Stone weapons are made of wood and stone, or sometimes glass such as obsidian. These all of your martial weapons. Stone weapons are d8 damage (d10 when held in two hands) and do maximum damage x2 damage on a crit (the macahuitl was famous for being able to cleave through a horse's neck in one strike).

These weapons break when they roll a critical hit (too much force for them, mayhaps). A broken weapon cannot crit, and if you roll a 1 to attack with a broken weapon, it falls apart. You can repair weapons during a short or long rest, but only if they've broken once, not twice (as you'd have to remake them in that case).

The ammunition and bonus crit damage make it so these aren't inherently flatout worse than normal equipment, just different. Bone weapons really don't change that much. Stone weapons add more in that aspect.

You could probably use this simple foundation to really expand customizing weapons. I might do just that for a project I'm writing now :eek:
 


Otello

Villager
I just spent the last few days reading this thread and I think that most of the ideas I have regarding a 5e iteration of Dark Sun have been already exposed.

Anyway, I would like to respond to the original question. I don't think we will be lucky enough to get more tan one hardcover book, if we get any. So I want to get the most of it as possible:

Mechanics
We need them. We need at least a defiling system, psionics and some new races/sub-races. But we need to understand that if we get them, it will by reskinning the existing classes. I don't think that WoTC will make a book with alternate classes for Bards, Clerics, Warlocks, Wizards, etc. They will want to be sure that the new content can be used as much as possible on other campaign settings. And that means that we will not see large half-giants, as an example.

Lore
I have a lot of 2e books and all the 4e, as most of you. I don't really need more information about the Tyr Region, even if I would enjoy some regional maps with local information and some extra detail on some areas.
But what I erally would like is to get new lore on the areas that haven't already be covered by old products. I would love that the new CS would focus completely on the east side of the Silt Sea, with a bunch of new city-states, SKs, merchant houses, etc. Those city-states should be tied, even if loosely, to the ones in the Tyr Region. As an example, Balic could have some kind of maritime trade with them.
This will allow the writers to have some liberty to create a good setting without being heavily tied to the old lore. And will allow old players to play on the new region or the known ones.

 

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