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

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...

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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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Edit: Ok did a quick look. That box while still TSR came out 1995. So shortly before the end. So I retract my statement about the Templars as I always assumed that the were removed and not forgotten. Still a whole class. How can you forget that in the main setting setting box ?

TSRs management and editorial processes at the time were, well, let's just say 'not ideal,' because 'jawdroppingly pants-on-head incompetent' is an unfair comparison and probably insulting to people who prefer their craniums trousered.

Lynn Abbey was writing Dark Sun novels at the time, and had a bit to say about how TSR worked. Have you ever read her posts on the subject? They're pretty enlightening. Honestly, it's a wonder TSR managed to release anything at all in this time period, let alone anything coherent.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Actually they were accidentally omitted from the revised set and available on the WotC site at the time.
Looking back at the archive of that page, all it says is "This is the class information for the Athasian templar, which was not included in the revised Dark Sun campaign setting box set." No mention is made of why it wasn't included.
 

Imaro

Legend
Looking back at the archive of that page, all it says is "This is the class information for the Athasian templar, which was not included in the revised Dark Sun campaign setting box set." No mention is made of why it wasn't included.
I think the fact that they created one and it was released is the point... even if it got released later. It was still created and released for gamers to use. I'm not really arguing the specifics of why they released it in a delayed fashion...
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
The only power ups are defiling(the setting disincentivizes being one) and becoming a dragon which means level 20/20 dual class and is pretty much never going to happen. The setting also gives Avangions as the good equivalent of becoming a dragon.
The setting actually does incentivize defiling, in that defilers advance faster than preservers (i.e. defilers have a faster XP progression). This is directly referenced in the "Sage Advice" column in Dragon #182:

Q. The rules describe the preserver and defiler classes in just about every detail except one: spell progression. The rules say that defilers get spells more quickly that preservers, but nowhere do the rules give a spell progression table for either class!

A. Both classes use the spell progression table for wizards in the Player's Handbook, page 30. The rules do not say that defilers get spells faster than preservers, but page 26 of the Rules Book does point out that defilers advance through the levels very quickly. A comparison of the defiler experience table from page 27 of the Rules Book with the standard wizard experience table (PH, page 30), which preservers use, will bear this out.

Also, characters who are standing in an area as it's being defiled (except for the defiler casting the spell that defiled that area) take a penalty to initiative, though that's as likely to affect allies as it is enemies (and became less likely to affect either as of the revised boxed set, when they changed defiling so that it happened when a spell was memorized rather than cast, for some reason).

The flip side to this is that avangions ultimately end up being more powerful than dragons, but that's a very, very long trek to surpass their "easier path to power" counterparts.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
I think the fact that they created one and it was released is the point... even if it got released later. It was still created and released for gamers to use. I'm not really arguing the specifics of why they released it in a delayed fashion...
I was under the impression they just copied the class listing from the original boxed set and put it out as a downloadable file after people complained about the class not being in the revised boxed set (which I'd always assumed was omitted on purpose). But that's presumptive on my part.
 
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The flip side to this is that avangions ultimately end up being more powerful than dragons, but that's a very, very long trek to surpass their "easier path to power" counterparts.

Honestly though, the in-game requirements for becoming a dragon or avangion (achieve 20th level in psionicist or wizard, then dual-class to the other one and start all over again, and THEN start the ludicrously difficult 10-level transformation process) were so onerous I genuinely doubt whether they were ever legitimately achieved by a PC in-game.
 

Imaro

Legend
I was under the impression they just snipped the class listing from the original boxed set and put it out as a downloadable file after people complained about the class not being in the revised boxed set (which I'd always assumed was omitted on purpose). But that's presumptive on my part.
To be fair I think we are both presuming... and I can't definitively state I am any more correct than you are... but I feel like if they didn't want it to exist they wouldn't have released it... I think it also says something that people complained to actually get this option.
 

Staffan

Legend
(and became less likely to affect either as of the revised boxed set, when they changed defiling so that it happened when a spell was memorized rather than cast, for some reason).
As an aside, that was a really dumb change, negating both all previous portrayals of defiling and the reason why raiding tribes usually had defilers and farming/herding tribes preservers (a raiding tribe's wizard will mostly be active on someone else's home turf, and who cares about that?).

About as dumb as removing the ability of halflings to be illusionist preservers when they were already well-established in previous lore.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
I strong disagree with this. The existence of things like slavery in now way incentivize players to commit those sorts of acts in game. Not any more than murder and kidnapping do with the existence of those things in a normal game. When it comes to things like Defiling and being a Templar, that's no different than being a blackguard/anti-paladin or death domain cleric in the base game.

Since the beginning it has been assumed in all settings that the PCs will be heroes, but also provided some small number of things for those who wanted to play evil. Dark Sun is not greater than normal at these things. I just offers different paths than the standard anti-paladin or cleric of an evil god. It may seem like it's incentivizing things more because you're used to the traditional paths and so those don't stand out as much.

Again I say the issue is not existence but focus.

I may have had bad luck and ran into terrible DMs. But having over half the DMs I played with, knew, run for players I known, or ran campaigns I been told about heavily focus on the iffy aspects of them is not just a coincidence. DMs tend to go harder on a setting's themes and foci. They get looser or tighter with the theme's and foci's impact.

Forgotten Realms and Dark Sun both have slavery, cannibalism, forcred breeding, nature destruction, and transformation via horrible acts. Only DS focuses it on it. FR doesn't focused on the ant-paladin, bloodknights, and supremacist rangers. It has evil necromacers, demon cultists, death clerics, and martial raiders.

And that's the crux of the issue. The iffy parts of FR, GH, Strixhaven, or Wildemount are less problematic in today's world than the iffy parts of DS.

So WOTC, a corparation focused of its visiblity, doesn't want to touch DS in case they mess up and or it doesn't sell enough to be worth the effort.

And you are right. We are used to the problematic parts of Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance. That's why WOTC supports them. We wont care about it as much.

It's unfair toeDark Sun. But the point of Dark Sun was to be different and subvert the tropes we were used to.

I mean, we are now having discussion on the issues with Dark Sun after 30 years. FR gets this every 6 months.
 

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