D&D 5E WotC Strixhaven/Kickstarter Red Dawn


I do think that Strixhaven was intentionally designed to evoke Harry Potter. There are a lot more similarities than just "wizard school," and given the timeline on which Magic sets are developed, they would have started on it before the J.K. Rowling controversy blew up; back then, there would have been no down side to trying to pull in some Potter fans.

But "evoking" and "crudely copying" are two different things. Strixhaven has many resemblances to the Potterverse, but also many differences, and it's firmly situated within the larger Magic milieu. From what I could see, Red Dawn was basically a straight-up Dark Sun clone.

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Yeah, I’d say Strixhaven is very strongly riffing off HP - I wouldn’t have bothered to preorder it if it hadn’t as that’s exactly what I want it for - to run an HPesque D&D game.

I’m saddened Red Dawn was cancelled. Unfortunately, in the end it did copy Dark Sun too closely, but that is what I’m wanting - and at this time WotC’s shown little to no interest in filling that desire. I’ll take it where I can get it, IP laws are damnable anyways.

Though this does bring me a question of, is Red Dawn being a Dark Sun clone actually a bad thing?

When we're all using orcs, halflings, immortal elves, and dwarves, in worlds with dark lords, magic artifacts, distant but influential gods, and so on, I feel almost as if Red Dawn was unfairly crucified.


Reading through the Kickstarter page, without a doubt the most damning evidence of all is the Ravaging and Replenishing magic they put here. The concepts of Dark Sun (twisted magic, sorcerer kings, destroyed world, psionics) I think can all be done without being too egregious. But then we reach the races and the magic system and it all very rapidly gets just a little bit too close.

Which makes me sad, because the premise of this setting is good. The moon is immolated, it tidally locks the planet, and over thousands of years slowly cooks it alive, stripping it of all water. That premise is so good. Sorcerer Sovereigns ruling a literal burning planet orbited by two burning satellites opens some interesting ideas. Do more meteors strike the planet now, given how the moon has changed position? What other celestial (in the space sense) phenomena are occurring on this two-star planet? How does having two suns effect magic in a deeper, more mystical way (as much magic in IRL folklore is based off ideas of the eclipse, the sun, the moon, the stars)? How do the cultures change beyond just becoming naughty word and oppressive?

If they had scrapped Elemental Priest in favor for priest who worship the Extinct, which can include elements and seasons long dead, that would have been another interesting twist they could have had. Have the Salt Giants be the roaming vessels of the old world, and priests seek them out for wisdom, for guidance, and, if they're lucky, for magic to live outside the reign of Sorcerer Sovereigns. Has clerics and paladins who armor themselves in fossils that double as magic focuses and that change the nature of their magic, maybe replacing Channel Divinities with a new form of metamagic based off invoking the powers of the dead old worlds.

And if the planet is tidally locked, what of the dark zone? What dwells in that last bastion of semi-normality, where the scarce resources of the rest of the planet are more plentiful? Have a story seed where the Sorcerer Sovereigns war against each other to claim this "Shadow Zone," their war threatening to destroy it, and have the players of Red Dawn poised to be the ones who not only bring those Sovereigns down but too save the last hope for this planet.

So many ideas, and yet they choose to go with the ones already done in an altogether transparent copying of Dark Sun. I hope these guys are able to see the nuggets of amazingness in their base setting concept and bring it out in their relaunch.

Maybe not enough there for a full-fledged RPG, but I would play the sh*t out of a party game version of 'Red Blank'.

Like 'Channel A' (the Anime Pitch game) but more 80s.
... wow, that works for ANYTHING. I mean, even just literally using the nouns from WotC module titles...

Red Storm
Red King
Red Thunder

Red Dragon
Red Heist

Red Wild
Red Witchlight

Red Curriculum
Red Chaos

Mind. Blown.


You know you are getting old when you click on a post about "Red Dawn" and assume that naturally it refers to an RPG based on the idea that the USA has been taken over by Russians and you are playing a character that is part of the resistance in occupied USA.

On reading said post you realize you have no idea what "Red Dawn" actually means any more.


Though this does bring me a question of, is Red Dawn being a Dark Sun clone actually a bad thing?
Yeah, these things exist on a spectrum. You've got your "If you liked X, then you'll love Y!" works that try to capture the essential qualities while still being a fresh take, which is where Strixhaven exists. You've got your "Well this is definitely working with the same deck of cards as X, but at least they changed all the names and reshuffled the deck." derivatives for people who want a closer approximation. And then there's the "This is just X with the serial numbers filed off, and they didn't even manage to get all of them." works that are just shameless copies.

It's fine for creators to wear their inspirations on their sleeves. No one is working from a clean slate. But too far on the "shameless copy" end of the spectrum isn't okay.


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