• Welcome to this new upgrade of the site. We are now on a totally different software platform. Many things will be different, and bugs are expected. Certain areas (like downloads and reviews) will take longer to import. As always, please use the Meta Forum for site queries or bug reports. Note that we (the mods and admins) are also learning the new software.
  • The RSS feed for the news page has changed. Use this link. The old one displays the forums, not the news.

5E World-Building DMs

Chaosmancer

Villager
Just as a point of order, as I was the one to first mention my Gnome Cleric, I would not bring that character to a Darksun game.

Not because of Gnomes not existing in the setting (I had no idea that was the case despite playing in the setting for 2+ years a few years back) but because there are no gods in Darksun, no divine magic, and therefore I couldn't play a character exploring his pantheon and religious secrets, which is the entire point of the character.

I've said it a few times, my biggest problem is with auto-bans that are in place simply because the DM can't accept a certain race since they didn't exist in the 2e version of the game or because a few players have played stupidly and happened to choose that race.

Let's take another example. Drow.

I altered the Drow in my homebrew, they are very secretive and withdrawn from the world, and they are not neccesarily evil. Instead Lolth is as close to a paranoid schizophrenic as I could write and that has trickled down into the entire community. Picture more gentlemen's disagreements with poisons and antidotes and a good laugh afterwards. I think it makes them more interesting, however, I'm nervous about letting players play a Drow because I don't think anyone of my current players would get it.

I have never stopped them from taking a Drow character, and if someone insisted I would allow it. The reason they haven't is because of light sensitivity and the lack of magical ways for Drow to overcome that. None of my players are willing to deal with that. If someone was willing to work with the mechanics then I'd let them go ahead, even though I'd be nervous about if the character could be played without issues at the table.
 
Just as a point of order, as I was the one to first mention my Gnome Cleric, I would not bring that character to a Darksun game.
Sure, I understand that. But it's such a perfect example as to stand as a great proxy for the whole debate - I could detail my setting and all the many limitations that it inherently places... but then you might understand what I'm talking about or you might misinterpret me. Either way, the conversation gets filled up with a lot of baggage. Alternately, we can both talk about Dark Sun and Gnome Clerics and both be instantly on the same page.
 

TwoSix

Lover of things you hate
Sure, I understand that. But it's such a perfect example as to stand as a great proxy for the whole debate - I could detail my setting and all the many limitations that it inherently places... but then you might understand what I'm talking about or you might misinterpret me. Either way, the conversation gets filled up with a lot of baggage. Alternately, we can both talk about Dark Sun and Gnome Clerics and both be instantly on the same page.
Seems legit, since that instant recognition is part of the reason you choose a campaign setting in the first place. Once you start adding in a host of caveats, the whole point of choosing a well-known setting is lost.
 

Hussar

Legend
To be honest, I'm in the same boat as Chaosmancer. I played a multi year Dark Sun campaign and had no idea that there were no gnomes. Just never came up. I'm frankly a bit skeptical of claims that no gnomes is an integral part of the setting and not just a footnote.

But then I cleric thing? Sure totally get that. That's a central conceit of the setting that you don't have gods. Bringing in a full standard cleric is a major departure from that. No problem whatsoever with the DM stepping on that idea.

But a gnome? Really? That's your break point for departing from canon? Wow.
 

Nagol

Unimportant
To be honest, I'm in the same boat as Chaosmancer. I played a multi year Dark Sun campaign and had no idea that there were no gnomes. Just never came up. I'm frankly a bit skeptical of claims that no gnomes is an integral part of the setting and not just a footnote.

But then I cleric thing? Sure totally get that. That's a central conceit of the setting that you don't have gods. Bringing in a full standard cleric is a major departure from that. No problem whatsoever with the DM stepping on that idea.

But a gnome? Really? That's your break point for departing from canon? Wow.
The reason there are no gnomes (and a host of other races) in Dark Sun is the sorcerer-gods ate them as they ascended to power. The back-story specifically requires complete genocide of a race for each sorcerer king. It won't come up for many groups in-play as it is an effective 'secret' of the setting. For other groups that research and try to bring down the sorcerer kings it can become relevant.
 

TwoSix

Lover of things you hate
To be honest, I'm in the same boat as Chaosmancer. I played a multi year Dark Sun campaign and had no idea that there were no gnomes. Just never came up. I'm frankly a bit skeptical of claims that no gnomes is an integral part of the setting and not just a footnote.

But then I cleric thing? Sure totally get that. That's a central conceit of the setting that you don't have gods. Bringing in a full standard cleric is a major departure from that. No problem whatsoever with the DM stepping on that idea.

But a gnome? Really? That's your break point for departing from canon? Wow.
My general problem with the "Dark Sun gnome" is that every PC who's a weird exception is also a PC who's not building up the themes and tropes of the setting we chose to play in. There are plenty of settings (FR, Greyhawk, Eberron, Golarion) that are explicitly built as kitchen sinks and the players should be able to go in with the expectation that the DM will work with them to support their left-field concept. But Dark Sun? Man, that ain't one of them. Every gnome cleric PC in Dark Sun is a PC that could have been a thri-kreen psionicist or half-giant gladiator or something else that really tells a Dark Sun story, not a FR story in a Dark Sun costume.
 
Seems legit, since that instant recognition is part of the reason you choose a campaign setting in the first place. Once you start adding in a host of caveats, the whole point of choosing a well-known setting is lost.
Define "a whole host", though. If the price of getting player buy-in to the setting is to allow them to play a gnome PC, that's probably a price worth paying - let them be a newly-arrived planewalker, or a unique individual, or whatever. (Like [MENTION=22779]Hussar[/MENTION], I'd push back harder on the "Cleric of Garl Glittergold" thing, though.)

Now, if the players each came with a shopping list of half a dozen things that they "had" to have, then at that point I'd sooner abandon the setting than try to incorporate them all. But if it's just a few fairly minor things, I don't see the problem.

So, as I said, define "a whole host". :)
 
My general problem with the "Dark Sun gnome" is that every PC who's a weird exception is also a PC who's not building up the themes and tropes of the setting we chose to play in.
I sympathise, but is that a battle worth fighting? If the player chooses to walk away from the campaign because he can't have his gnome, then that still leaves you with one less PC building up those themes and tropes.
 

TwoSix

Lover of things you hate
So, as I said, define "a whole host".
Sure. More than one PC playing a race or class not intended for the campaign setting. The existence of any class dependent on changing the cosmological basis of magic and how it works in the campaign setting.
 

Nagol

Unimportant
I sympathise, but is that a battle worth fighting? If the player chooses to walk away from the campaign because he can't have his gnome, then that still leaves you with one less PC building up those themes and tropes.
Only if the no one else wants to sit in the chair. All too often that is not the case.
 

TwoSix

Lover of things you hate
I sympathise, but is that a battle worth fighting? If the player chooses to walk away from the campaign because he can't have his gnome, then that still leaves you with one less PC building up those themes and tropes.
Depends. I'd have to evaluate a few things. Is the player interested in the gnome mechanically or thematically? I have no problem reskinning a gnome as a halfling, for example, if the player is primarily interested in the gnome traits. If I'm getting a vibe from the players that they're not particularly into the setting (maybe besides the gnome guy, everyone else is taking purely generic characters and nothing Dark Sun specific), that I'd probably just suggest moving the campaign in another direction and out of Dark Sun.

I know out of the players I have that are also my friends, none of them would be insistent on playing a particular character type if the DM isn't on board. And if I'm playing with someone I don't know well, that sort of intransigence just suggests to me we wouldn't be a good fit. As a player in a new game, I bend over backwards to make sure the DM and I are on the same page with any character I make, and I would expect the same courtesy from a player joining my own game.
 
Sure. More than one PC playing a race or class not intended for the campaign setting. The existence of any class dependent on changing the cosmological basis of magic and how it works in the campaign setting.
Yep, that's fair.

In the example of the Gnome Cleric, then, I'd allow that if and only if the player were willing to compromise on his choice of patron - he could be a cleric of one of the elements, but not of GG. As we all know, "no gods" is a key feature of Dark Sun and so that would be a deal-breaker.

The 'gnome' part of it I would be willing to work around.

(I'd also probably soften slightly on the "not intended for" part of your statement, actually - if it's something that had been deliberately removed, such as gnomes, it would be out-by-default; if it was merely something that hadn't been included, perhaps because it didn't yet exist or it was third-party, I would at least consider it. Something like 3e's Soulknife would seem ideally suited as a fit, for example.)
 

TwoSix

Lover of things you hate
(I'd also probably soften slightly on the "not intended for" part of your statement, actually - if it's something that had been deliberately removed, such as gnomes, it would be out-by-default; if it was merely something that hadn't been included, perhaps because it didn't yet exist or it was third-party, I would at least consider it. Something like 3e's Soulknife would seem ideally suited as a fit, for example.)
Sure, it's absolutely context-sensitive. Psionics is a big part of Dark Sun, so things like the Soulknife are an easy fit. Stuff like Binders or Incarnum or Vampires I'd allow with some refluffing, but if a good portion of the party requires a refluff, that's when I consider moving onto another setting.

To be fair, I also do very little prep, so it's much easier for me to canvas my players and see what they're interested in than people who spend tens or hundreds of hours setting up their campaign.
 
Only if the no one else wants to sit in the chair. All too often that is not the case.
I know out of the players I have that are also my friends, none of them would be insistent on playing a particular character type if the DM isn't on board. And if I'm playing with someone I don't know well, that sort of intransigence just suggests to me we wouldn't be a good fit.
Yep. As far as I can see, this is only really an issue if you're dealing with a player who, for whatever reason, you don't want to lose from your table; and who, for whatever reason, is insistent on this particular character.

So, if you need three players for there to be a game, you have a pool of three players, and one guy must play a gnome...

Or if the one guy is a good friend and he's been sitting on this great character for months that he's desperate to play...

Or whatever, really. Obviously, if you have plenty of other guys ready to take the spot, or if he's happy to change his concept, then it's a non-issue - "I'll sit this one out" is a perfectly reasonable position to take, and shouldn't be a major issue for any concerned (with the caveat that people aren't always reasonable, of course!).
 

SkidAce

Adventurer
While I'm fully in the camp of "Let the DM do his pitch, and work with the DM to make a PC who fits the game," there's a lot of community expectation, dependent on the system. I would be leery of starting and/or joining a PF game that was Core Rulebook only, because the fun is Pathfinder is all of the interlocking pieces that have come out for it. Likewise, most other non-D&D systems I would walk into with the expectation of fairly by the book play. I haven't seen a Vampire game where the Storyteller is like "Ok, I've replaced these 3 clans with 4 clans I've made myself," because knowledge of the game's overall mythology is much more central to play.
Only up to page 19, but I wanted to foot stomp and quote this, cause there is some wisdom and truth here, about expectations.
 

SkidAce

Adventurer
Devil's Advocate: Can I play a human wizard that is not a defiler or preserver in your Dark Sun game?
 
Devil's Advocate: Can I play a human wizard that is not a defiler or preserver in your Dark Sun game?
Not really - a defiler is a Wizard whose spells destroy the environment; a preserver is one whose spells don't. That's pretty binary, so there's not really any third option!

(Though I actually prefer 3e's approach where they're all actually just Wizards, and can defile or not on a spell-by-spell basis. That strikes me as the better way forward - defiling becomes something of a Faustian pact the PC is constantly facing.)
 

hawkeyefan

Explorer
Devil's Advocate: Can I play a human wizard that is not a defiler or preserver in your Dark Sun game?
I'd work with you on that. But by being neither, really I'd see it as being both. Sometimes you defile and sometimes you preserve. Pretty sure this is how the character Sadira was portrayed in the books, at least initially.

Wouldn't be hard to come up with a system for how that works. Maybe allow spells to be cast at higher level if you cast them as a defiler? The 5E mechanics seem to allow for a few options that would support this aspect of the setting.

And this just demonstrates the world building aspect when a DM decides not to just say No to a reasonable player request. Especially one that plays with the lore of the setting.
 

SkidAce

Adventurer
Thanks [MENTION=22424]delericho[/MENTION] for the explanation, it was actually more of a rhetorical question for the "debate" as I have played a lot of Dark Sun starting around 2E.

Was hoping there would be constructive discussion on the nuances of "just how far" can a character concept go before it "ruins" a setting. Or even can it?

To answer my own question;

My initial response when running a Dark Sun campaign would be "No, why?".

After reading this thread, specifically the gnome parts where they talked about "last survivor" "delusional" etc, makes me wonder what I would do if the player had a really interesting idea for said wizard.

Still, as you say, preserving/defiling is pretty integral, I would likely remain of the opinion that "No" was the proper answer.
 

SkidAce

Adventurer
And thank you [MENTION=6785785]hawkeyefan[/MENTION] , your viewpoint is just as illuminating to the discussion for me as the others.
 

Advertisement

Top