Picking at the bloated carcass of geek culture...occasionally!!!

Dark Sun

In Roleplaying Games on August 18, 2009 at 9:37 pm

This post is for true nerds only.  Proceed with caution.

Okay, anyone still there?  Here’s the deal.  It has come to my attention that Wizards of the Coast, makers of the popular Dungeons & Dragons tabletop roleplaying game, are planning on unveiling a new campaign world at next year’s GenCon.  Now, I would use the term “new” with a deer-lick of salt.  Why?  Because the company is reintroducing the Dark Sun campaign setting for 2010.  This news immediately made me excited, as I love all things Dark Sun.  Yet, the reality of the situation dawned on me very slowly.  A new Dark Sun for new D&D.  But…I don’t play new D&D.  Uh-oh.

Well, the aesthetics of the book cover look familiar, but will the game inside?

Well, the aesthetics of the book cover look familiar, but will the game inside?

Let me break this down for those of you whom are not exactly sure what I’m talking about.  In 1991, TSR, the company that created and used to own Dungeons & Dragons, published the Dark Sun campaign setting for the 2nd Edition version of the game.  As I have mentioned briefly in this post, Dark Sun was a post apocalyptic fantasy setting where life is harsh, magic is scare, and everything is awesome.  It was saddled by the 2nd Edition D&D rules, which I found pretty cumbersome, but the flavor of the setting was inspiring to say the least.  It was the first setting I got into independent of my brother as dungeon master and I honestly loved the hell out of it.

After Wizards of the Coast acquired the rights to Dungeons Dragons around the turn of the new century and released the 3rd Edition, Dark Sun was officially done.  Like some of my other favorite 2nd Edition settings, WotC ceased the publication of the Dark Sun setting, concentrating on Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, and eventually Eberron.  There were efforts made my loyal fans, such as the people at Athas.org , to keep Dark Sun alive for 3rd Edition players.  I appreciated it, as I played several solid Dark Sun games with 3rd Edition rules and enjoyed them.  Yet, without the official love of D&D, it was hard to attract new people to the setting.

Now, almost two decades after the release of the original setting, WotC is making this new Dark Sun.  At this point I know next to nothing about it except that it is on its way and it is following the newest 4th Edition rules.  I am not really a fan of the new rules, as I feel they break the game down into a tactical, MMO-like strategy combat game lacking some of the flavor I always appreciated in D&D.  I’ve been sticking, along with my gaming group, with the 3rd Edition rules.  But, with this pending Dark Sun release, I feel the urge to enter the 4th Edition era.  The ramifications of this are a little troubling.  Am I re-entering a phase of my gaming past, where my gaming addiction becomes a serious problem.  I’m excited about the prospect of new excitement for my favorite setting, but I am worried what will become of it.

I told you, nerds only.

  1. I am curious to see if the 21st century nerds take to this like we did. But really, after our talk, i am thinking seriously about getting into castle falkenstein. I just picked up a copy of the difference engine and i’m thinking steampunky thoughts.

  2. I’m a little surprised by your reaction to this SB. For an advanced gamer like you I’ve always considered the mechanics of the game as well as the world creation to be more of a suggestion than a hard governing fact. As a more casual gamer with less interest in the mechanics of the game I’ve never understood the inherent link between a setting and the game fundamentals. Let me a pose a question to the other gamers who read this blog. Is there something that inextricable ties the story and setting to the specific system?

  3. A couple of games i think had systems very indicative and suggestive of the worlds they were setting up for folks to have adventures in. Falkenstein is a good example, since the game is a victorian steam punk alternate history game written by a game designer from our world who fell through a portal to their world, got i nto adventures and eventually wrote a game with the materials he had on hand in late 19th century bavaria and sent it back through to our earth so that swash buckley adventures could be enjoyed by all….corny, but it was definitley different than everythign else on the stands, and since there weren’t many d20’s in the 1890’s , the game was built around playing cards, the different suits corresponding to the different attributes. Really neat system, as you pretty much have a hand of pre-rolls, so you could save up a cool move for an important part in the story.
    similarly, i thought everway, my favorite of the loosey goosey games had asort of tarot deck. The game sort of only works i feel when you have experienced gamers who are down to improvise and get creative, so, a different kind of challenge than the number crunching in many games, but anyway, the traits are tied to the elements, and the tarot eck, aside fro being a storytelling tool to determine the path of the story or the success of the characters actions, was ALSO a commonly used method of divination in the game setting.
    I’m trying to think of other systems where the rules and the world really went hand in hand, but it’s tough.

  4. DARK SUN for 4th Edition!? Its’ going to be utter crap! If anyone wants to REALLY get the feel of what Athas is all about, stick to the 3.5 DARK SUN rules. I myself am running a DARK SUN campaign using the 3.5 rules modified (slightly) for use in the PATHFINDER game system (which is essentialy a 3.5 upgrade).

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