D&D 5E WotC: Why Dark Sun Hasn't Been Revived

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In an interview with YouTuber 'Bob the Worldbuilder', WotC's Kyle Brink explained why the classic Dark Sun setting has not yet seen light of day in the D&D 5E era.

I’ll be frank here, the Dark Sun setting is problematic in a lot of ways. And that’s the main reason we haven’t come back to it. We know it’s got a huge fan following and we have standards today that make it extraordinarily hard to be true to the source material and also meet our ethical and inclusion standards... We know there’s love out there for it and god we would love to make those people happy, and also we gotta be responsible.

You can listen to the clip here.

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I have suggested there is a logical reason slavery not showed, because the sorcerer-kings are enough smart to realises the citizens are easier to be controlled thanks an illusion of freedom, and the people would believe the forced works are for criminals and people who couldn't pay their debts.
I fear that it would be splitting hair, and if someone is not comfortable with slavery in which the slave is born a slave and remains one for life would not be comfortable with one in which law or financial status forces someone to slavery. Both being a criminal and being in dept could be easy. Those who oppose the Sorcerer King's rule are criminals. Politicians getting on the wrong side of the ruler can end up quickly as a slave. But that might be too harsh. But what about directly opposing the SK? Like being a soldier for another city state? So soldiers not fighting for our SK are all criminals. And as we all know that an army marches on its stomach, anyone who feeds those soldiers are also soldiers themselves and thus criminals. So basically all war prisoners and anyone that could be snatched up could be a salve.
What about dept? Make a mandatory tax that higher than what people can earn. They will get into serious debt quickly and then to being a slave.

Dark Sun only works if players can cope with the fact that there is slavery.

In the real History one of the main sources of slavery were the enemy soldiers catched in the war. Didn't you know it? And the pirate raids. Here in Spain we say "moors in the coast" as sign of danger, because we were attacked by the pirates to catch slaves.


In the real History one of the main sources of slavery were the enemy soldiers catched in the war.
My point was that if today's sensibilities (or should I say, US sensibilities) cannot cope with slavery in a fantasy setting, then the source of the slaves does not matter.

James Gasik

Why should anyone have to cope with slavery in a fantasy setting? It's FANTASY, there's nothing wrong with wanting your fantasy game to be better than the real world.

Why should anyone have to cope with slavery in a fantasy setting? It's FANTASY, there's nothing wrong with wanting your fantasy game to be better than the real world.

I can understand this perspective but I also think the setting matters. If it is a high fantasy setting or similar more upbeat adventure fantasy setting, I get that done will want the bad things in life removed. But dark sun is a bleak and cruel setting, that gets at the darker aspects of society and human nature

The terrorism is real, but we are not going to cancel G.I.Joe because the bad guys are the terrorist group Cobra.

Are we going to bann all the movies about zombies to forget our last epidemic?

If you can accept something is banned or changed because now it could be potentially offensive, but you can't understand the reason because a Spaniard would be offended when a vampire is wearing a morrion, then anything is not right.

We need clear and coherent criterias about the modern sensibilities, and we should take care with people who dare to talk in the name of the rest, but their own opinion is not like the same by the true majority.

When I read "we want to create inclusive content" I fear a damage against the franchise in the same way against Disney's IPs.


In a prior edition, I ran a campaign wherein the party in my homebrew world traveled to the world of Athas. They came home and Rajaat the Dragon King appeared in a plot to rule their world. Everyone in the party saw Athas and how bad it was there. They came home determined to stop the villain who did all this. Know your audience. If your group is going to be upset by having slavery depicted, think hard before including that content, but WotC made the business decision to apologize even for saying that one fictitious race in SpellJammer was enslaved in the past. people making that decision aren't going to bring back Dark Sun the 2e way. Personally, I don't imagine game designers made that decision. I'm sure a lot of the staff would enjoy a Dark Sun game in their group, but WotC is a business and the execs are going to publish what they believe will make the most profit and offend the fewest.

James Gasik

No there isn't. There's also nothing wrong with wanting your fantasy game to carry real world ills. Both options should be allowed to exist without harassment.
Let's not forget why TSR suddenly started calling their ultimate evils Baatezu and Tanar'ri.

James Gasik

That wasn't the point I was trying to make; it's what that was in reaction to. I'm not saying the chances of another moral panic are high, but when I watch the news, I really wonder if it's not possible.

I don't blame too much Hasbro because they are very prudent and they want to avoid a moral panic, but we need a clear criteria about modern sensibilities, because if it's the one I am suspecting, then more censorship will be asked later. They are not going to stop until somebody started to say their point of view is being too radical. Before it was about the hadozee, the races, the orcs and drows, now about DS and in the future it will be about other thing. If we don't stop this madness they are going to destroy the brand in the same way than Disney or DC franchises.

And what if the right path is to promote the good sense and the respect for the human dignity, even when in the fiction the evil characters are showed doing horrible actions?

Please, let's recover the good sense. My country suffered a civil war in the 30's but lots of Spanish movies were about the civil war. If there aren't more movies it is because the Spanish audience is sick with too many one, and always with the same speech about good and evil factions. And we are talking about a happening for the generation of my grandparents.

Maybe somebody can feel unconfortable with the slavery in DS, but maybe they are a very little group. Are they enough reason for a self-censorship? I can feel unconfortable with the trope of sinnister minister. Should the "evil preachers" be banned in Ravenloft? or wouldn't be enough with a disclaimer section explaining the trope of the sinnister minister or femme fatale shouldn't fall in the abuse?

What if Hasbro talks with a NGO about defense of the human rights, and then an adventure about slavery is published and whose profits will go to a charitable cause. Would be this wrong?

D&D is for +12y, at least the DM should be +12y because the rules are too complex for younger players. When I was a child I could watch old movies about adventures in the jungle with cannibals or slavery in the Roman empire. Some children could watch Conan the barbarian even when this is for "mature audiences". Once it was released in the TV for the day, in the "family hours". I have met children who watched "Blade" movie before than me, and they told me the plot. In the 1987 movie "the monster squad" the main character was a child who have watche a lot of horror movies, and this was allowed by his father, a police. In a scene both were watched together a horror movie.

I wonder if the "modern sensibilities" really are following sensible criterias.


Yeah, both of these thread are pretty cut and dried evidence it doesn't deserve to come back.

Using slavery as banal set dressing stay on the shelf until people prove they can be responsible with it and not make terrible arguments like 'well maybe we're hurting fewer people than all the people who keep saying they're being hurt, and also I'm hurt by something that's just plain incomparable to 400 years of torture and exploitation that's still being used as an excuse to do social and physical harm while under the threat of it coming back*'

*Psyche! It never went away and you too can enjoy all that fun slavery Dark Sun offers but simply being convicted of a crime (regardless of if you committed it) in the wrong jurisdiction! Turns out slavery isn't an old thing so far removed from the modern world that we can safely treat it as a theme park ride--it's actually right here, raiding our fridge and having a smoke in the living room!


I'm sinewgere in the middle. I realized years ago they couldn't make a somewhat faithful DS probably with the 4E version of it.

Basically I nderstand why tgey won't do a 5E version of it BUT there's nothing wrong with using slavery in your home games as long as all the player are fine with it and how it's depicted.

I'm not American and the situation is reversed here. Imperialism and the British wiped slavery out while it was the PoC who practiced it. Capitalism was also practiced and with what the British got up to everyone come out looking bad.

Reality suckjed basically. Still does.

I very rarely include slavery anyway it exists somewhere in the world. Haven't used it in a fane adventure since 2015ish and that was slaver raiders the PCs fought off.

I can understand worries about being frivolous, but then with the same logic we couldn't enjoy Indiana Jones's adventures or videogames set in the WWII because the nazis did horrible things. And all the Hollywood productions and videogames about the Vietnam war. I suffered school-bulling. Should Stephen King's "Carrie" to be cancelled because the main character also suffered school bulling? Margaret White, Carrie's mother is a clear example of certain trope I really don't feel happy. Should be cancelled all the titles with characters like her, why not?

OK, let's respect the modern sensibilities, but don't lose the good sense. We need clear and coherent criterias, or the speculative fiction will full with lot of ridiculous taboos, while other things are tolerated by fault of a double standars, using two different yardsticks to measure.

When is any thing too problematic even with a disclaimer parragraph?

In the past some horrible happened, but we should can bury it and turn page. Do you imagine me to keep against Almanzor (a warlord from al-Andalus in the IX century) and company who launched razzias (raids) to catch slaves in Christian lands? And at least once French pirates attacked Spanish coasts to catch slaves. Should be cancelled all those titles about pirates? Is going Red Steel/Savage Coast to be cancelled because there are pirates? Should be cancelled the videogames about pirates?

Every year lots of children disappear. Are we going to cancell all the horror stories where the monster is a boogeyman who kidnaps children?


Misguided moral crusades for the win and that wonderful morally superior feeling. For bonus points link 2 completely unrelated things together one of which is fictional.

Thing is, slavery isnt really that imports to Athas. It just isn't. There are a thousand and one things a Sorcerer King can do to a captured PoW. But chains and hard labor slavery are just boring in a world where flesh is so valuable. It feels like people want slavery to be core so that way Dark Sun wont get remade.

(Everyone is focused on Dark Sun's slavery)

(Me more weirded out by Dark Sun's massive amount of racism and eugenics)
I have been defending the inclusion of slavery in Dark Sun as a setting element but when I talked in these dark sun threads about re-reading the boxed set and said there were things more deserving of critique: this is exactly what so had in mind. I think we can debate the reasons for those choices (I can definitely see an argument that it was to create a sense of discomfort with the morality of the setting). But I believe it definitely stands out more as something I found myself doing several double takes on and asking myself why it was there. The passage in the Rolling Ability Scores of all sections stood out (and I even vaguely recall having a reaction to it when it first was released):


The use of the word superior seems pretty intentional. Again I can see arguments for why it might be a valid creative choice (it definitely created a sense of unease about the setting for me, which arguably you should feel, as Athas has a morality to it that is meant to rub us the wrong way). But it is also the kind of passage you read and you find yourself asking what the intent is (ultimately I think the intention was to create a sense of unease as it feels very ubermensch and early 20th century racialist thinking but I feel ambiguous about it).
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