Lorthyne's Dark Sun


I've taken it upon myself to run a game set in the Dark Sun setting with some friends in the area. I'm considering posting events and problems here on Gamegrene, in the spirit of Zipdrive's campaign forums.

Is anybody actually interested enough to read this and give feedback, or should I not waste my time?

Our first session will be tomorrow, assuming I can assmble the ranks effectively.

This is my first time running a dedicated campaign, and my first exposure to DMing with 3.5 rules.

Miscellaneous mechanical info about my campaign is as follows:

I'm using the converted ruleset as provided by athas.org

I've got 4 players, 1 that is very new, 2 that are slightly less new, and 1 that is a very experienced player and DM. He's actually the one who introduced me to modern DnD rules, and he knows them a lot better than I do.

PC's are beginnning with 4th-level characters. The setting usually calls for players to begin at 3rd level, but a few of the available PC races have a +3 level adjustment for experience gaining purposes, and I thought that starting play with 0 class levels was lame.

PC's are starting as slaves in the city-state of Draj. Once they've accomplished freedom the campaign will mostly consist of urban adventures and the like.

I'm always open for adventure ideas and seeds. I plan on tying the introductory escape from slavery into the Whispers of the Storm module (also found for free at athas.org) somehow. Updates on the first session will follow shortly, along with more specific details on my PCs.

So why'd you pick Dark Sun and do you have a definite story arc in mind? Other wise I'd say go for it. It's always good to see how DMs construct their games.

Sounds awesome Lorthyne, wish I could help out more with specifics. You seem unafraid of challenges starting D&D 3.5, that's a good sign. Please let us know how it goes.

I chose Dark Sun for several reasons. After reading the information and setting material, I fell in love with the setting pretty quickly, partly because of the world's reminiscience to Frank Herbert's novel Dune, which has always been a favorite of mine, and partly because of how magic was handled.

I've always hated the way magic is treated as commonplace in so many of the DnD settings, particularly Forgotten Realms. The mystery and fear of magic so present on Athas seems pretty, well, forgotten throughout the rest of DnD. When magic is treated as a science or just another field of study, it ceases to feel magical.

I also like the idea that magic comes with a price. The entire world of Athas has paid the price of the abuse of magic from a few powerful individuals in its history, and as a result roughly 99% of the populace fear and arcane spellcasters, and even owning a spellbook is considered a crime punishable with death. The moral dilemma between taking the easy, destructive route to arcane power verses the hard, restorative route interests me, especially when you combine the fact that even the preservers are persecuted against, as most of the population has no idea that there even is a distinction.

As far as a definite story arc, I'm planning on letting the players create mostly their own. I really didn't feel it was a good idea to create a huge, dramatic orverarching storyline only to have it derailed after 3 sessions because my PCs have no interest in it. I used a module for the first adventure, and tied it in to the desire of all 4 characters to be free from slavery.

Three of my players have very definite goals in mind, while the 4th is more on a journey to find herself by associating with the other three. I've asked my players to hold some in-character conversation over the 'net with one another, partly so they can solidify themselves in their character roles and their relations to one another, and partly so that I can construct a second adventure with proper motivations for them.

Alright, our first session went down really well, as far as I can tell. This week is our spring break, and so we were all able to take a day off for some role-playing. Discounting breaks for food and general rest, I think we spent some twelve-odd hours gaming, which was enough to see us through this first adventure module and the characters up to level 5.

This first post is gonna be a general background for my game, explaining the setting for those who are unfamiliar with it and describing the characters involved. I'll chronicle our session in my next one.

The Dark Sun setting consists primarily of the wasteland world of Athas. Athas was once a lush, green world, but then a powerful being known as Rajaat discovered the secrets of arcane magic. Arcane magic on Athas is powered by energy and life force sucked out of the land. Casting a spell leaves behind a large circle of lifeless ash where there once was fertile soil. Advanced spellcasters could even suck power out of living plants and animals, usually killing them in teh process.

Rajaat soon became overzealous in his quest for power, and he secretly trained a number of his "Champions", beings with incredible talent and honed skill in both psionic and arcane power. Each of these champions was given a charge to wipe out a certain humanoid race, in an effort to return the world to the so-called "master race", the humans. This time period became know as the Cleansing Wars. During the Wars, the Champions of Rajaat used so much of the land's power to aid them in wiping out humanoids that Athas was turned into a desert wasteland, with very little plant life and only the most hardy of animals able to survive. Many of the Champions succeeded, and gnomes, kobolds, orcs, and several other races were wiped off the face of Athas.

The Champions discovered that Rajaat had deceived them, and was planning to "return" the "cleansed" world not to the humans as he had told them, but to the halfings. Halfings were actually the first race of sentient beings on Athas, and all other "humanoid" races have evolved from them. The Champions, led by Borys, the Butcher of Dwarves, revolted against Rajaat, and imprisioned him "in a place of nothingness called the Hollow". The seven surviving Champions, with their new, almost godly power, took upon themselves the title of Sorcerer-King, each ruling over a chosen city-state of humans, with the exception of Borys. Borys took it upon himself to make sure that Rajaat never escape his imprisionment.

This all occured roughly 8000-2000 years before the present time. Presently, only three of the original seven sorcerer-kings survive, although replacements have risen up to take the title, but not the power.

"Many of the Champions succeeded, and gnomes, kobolds, orcs, and several other races were wiped off the face of Athas."

Well at least there aren't any gnomes you have to worry about. Good summary. I'm wondering if you gave all that background to your players at the beginning or will let them discover it through gameplay?

So what exactly happened in your first session of this prison break?

Have you considered what will keep the characters together?
If you have the chance, read the Dark Sun book series (starting with The Verdant Passage), as I think it sets up the flavor beautifully.

I second Zips advice on reading the novels. The novels and the supplements go hand in hand and is by far the best module type written adventures that I've read. Each takes up where the last left off and provides a pretty good storyline and timeline for the characters and the world.

Even if the players stay in the first city as you surmised, this provide a timeline of events for the world that you can incorporate into your game.