Dark Sun is actually my third or fourth attempt to get a regular game going with Bert, Carla, Doug, et cetera. The first few attempts – games like Rogue Trader and Mage: the Awakening – maybe I will talk about someday but not now. However by the time we got to our third at-bat, I think I had a fairly good idea as to what they were interested in, how they liked to do the things they do, and so on. Mainly, I thought we should stick to D&D, because whenever we drifted out of that common ground, everyone except Vero started staring at me with expressions of shock and bewilderment.

“What is he saying?” they would whisper to one another. “What do those words even mean?”

Dark Sun is a setting far enough removed from the generic D&D (by which I mostly mean the Forgotten Realms setting, which we get plenty of through LFR) that it appeals to my desire for weirdness, and D&D 4e provides enough structure and familiarity that the players don’t flounder. At least, I hope they don’t.

I was also extremely impressed with the two Dark Sun 4e books, released last month. I think that character themes, as a third leg next to race and class, are scratching an itch I didn’t know I had, w/r/t 4e character design. I think that the “inherent bonus” optional rule has a natural home in Dark Sun, and in general the books convey a strong sword-and-sorcery tone, a baffling hostile world, which I’m hoping to maintain in play. Plus, as I never played Dark Sun in the past (barring a couple of abortive one-shots years and years and years ago) the setting is novel to me in a way that most D&D isn’t. I like to keep things fresh.

Freshness also motivated me to start the game at level 11; 90% of my D&D 4e experience has been in the heroic tier. 11 is as high as I’m willing to start play, though, given that the sorcerer-kings start at level 22ish and I want them to be ineffably powerful at least as play begins. I’m aware, of course, that I could mess with the sorcerer-king writeups, but I’d rather hew as close to the books as possible. I’m also aware that my track record at running a game of D&D for ten levels is pretty terrible, but I choose to plan as if this game will run from 11 to 30.

So I sold Vero, Bert, Carla, and Doug on the game, and we met up for character creation, which I will actually get to next post apparently. I ripped off Spirit of the Century a little bit for character creation, I’ll tell you that much.


WHY DARK SUN? — 6 Comments

  1. Speaking of your usual desire for weirdness, everything I’m reading about the new 4e Gamma World is just plain screaming Delbreuk Gate to me, I have to say. Has Mearls been rummaging around in your brain again?

    • I confess I haven’t paid too much attention to the new Gamma World, though I’ll leaf through the books when they’re released. Nothing I’ve seen has said THROUGH THE DELBRUEK GATE, though — is this related to something specific?

      • Just the tone of what they’ve released in excerpts mainly. Nothing too specific, although giant radioactive moths, collapsed timelines and calling the end of Civilization “The Big Mistake” struck me as particularly Carp-ish.

  2. How did Rogue Trader work out for you? I got a decent crew together for it, but between being on the road for eight to nine weeks straight and the overwhelming openness of it, it has been a complete false start.

    • The openness and the group not really knowing one another were problematic. The structure of Profit Factor and Endeavors would, I predicted, overcome these issues, but in actual play, not so much. I’d do things differently if I was starting it over.

      But absences of 2+ months will kill pretty well any game IME.

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