Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Leak Sauce #2 Dark Sun

Leaking info to you and bringing the discussion.

Dungeons and Dragons fans get to look forward to 4th Edition's release of Dark Sun or run in terror hoping to survive. Remember kids, if you can't wait for Dark Sun release info, you can go to your local store that runs Dungeons and Dragons Encounters and get a sneak peak. I'm sorry for stating this so late into the month but June is Dark Sun month for D&D Encounters. Supposedly it's Dark Sun summer so maybe they'll do something nifty in July if you missed out?

For those who have no idea what the crap Dark Sun is or what a campaign setting is. Let me start right there. I'm kind like that. D&D has had many campaign settings throughout the years. Some of them they handed to other companies due to different issues like Rokugan (you will be missed). A campaign setting is basically the actual world your group can play in and how the dynamics work really. To give an example, Forgotten Realms is very similar to a Lord of the Rings setting except Hobbits are replaced with Halflings and Halflings are luckily nothing like the hairy bare-footed cowards that exist in Lord of the Rings. The setting itself and the dynamics of the different races changes dramatically in each campaign setting. To give you an overview of what 4th Edition has to offer so far to tickle your fancy:

Points of Light: This has no actual material for it and there's actually a good reason for that. No one knows where anything is! It's the default setting of 4th Edition and basically the renamed Greyhawk setting. Greyhawk was one of the first campaign settings ever for D&D. Points of Light is pretty much how it sounds. There are different points of peace and solitude scattered about the world but the world itself is not mapped out. Adventurers aren't as common due to the high risk and many aren't known to return. Sounds like a vacation to me. Oh wait... they didn't return because of death, not because the hot springs they found were so nice.

Forgotten Realms: The fan favorite really. This is the most common setting and it's the one you think of when you think Lord of the Rings as I said earlier. Dwarves, Elves, and the rest all act the way you think they would and adventuring is more of a norm. The world is mapped out but there are key areas that are way too dangerous to traverse to or through and this world is the most in touch with its Deities. There are other locations outside of the main world like the well known (and popular) Astral Sea that are less mapped out and more abstract. Genasi aren't too uncommon here. I guess you could call them demi-elementals for those wondering. You'll find me dwelling here quite often.

Eberron: This is where things start to get different. I like to joke that this is the Final Fantasy setting. Airships, Trains, and other technological advances exist but in a way that makes sense using elementals to power them. Some towns have buildings with multiple stories and social classes are very defined here. Races aren't necessarily what you would think. Halflings for example are more barbaric and ride dinosaurs in the wilds. Warforged are all over the place. Warforged are basically sentient golems. The setting itself is taking place during the aftermath of a large scale war. The Warforged themselves were built for that very purpose but now are left to live their own lives. Other races include Changelings and Kalashtar.

And now, Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition will have yet another campaign setting from D&D's past. This is THE most dark and gritty setting possible so no whiners allowed. Actually, let's make that a rule for every D&D game. No whiners ever allowed. Get out of here. Dark Sun takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting full of desert. The world itself is ruled by evil Sorcerer Kings and slavery is a norm. The world is harsh and no one survives in this environment alone or even as a small group. Your group will need to find shelter or travel with a caravan of some sort to make it across the desert world of Athas. Many beasts roam the deserts and some races thrive there. I'll get into races later. The most important thing to understand is that arcane magic is different here. While arcane magic is a norm in Forgotten Realms and Eberron, it's almost non-existent here. You know what else is rare here? Water and metal. Enjoy.

Arcane magic kills. I'm not kidding. If you were to cast a spell, it would literally drain the life of someone else somewhere on the planet or the very plant life of Athas. Due to this, there are two kinds of arcane casters. Defilers and preservers. Preservers try to preserve life while casting so their magic is weak sauce basically. Regardless of how good your intentions are, arcane casters are hated no matter how much you try to preserve and no matter how much your face resembles Patrick Stewart. The defiling magic is the reason that Athas is the sandbox of shit that it is. The Sun itself has been drained and Athas was abandoned by its gods long ago. This leads into the next interesting fact.

No Deities. You might think that's not a big deal but that means no Divine classes. There technically are some left but not in the way you would think. Priests draw their power from different elements and aren't much like Clerics or what you may be used to. With arcane magic being rare (and a really bad choice so shame on you for thinking about it) and divine classes pretty much being out, you might be wondering what could possibly flourish here. The answer is Psionics and they are everywhere. I would make some elementary school level joke about your mother's face being a psion except she's already dead but suck it up cuz that's normal here. Survival of the fittest is such an everyday part of life that all of the races here are faster, stronger, tougher, smarter, and ten times sweatier than in other worlds. Psionics are a part of everyday life and it's nice to see the change.

Races are a bit different here. Elves are marauders and scavengers that live throughout the desert. They are known for being tall (unlike their counterparts in other worlds) and capable of running long distances. Some wait for you to die before scavenging while others will steal or kill you outright. Halflings are savage and even cannibalistic. Dwarves are more like demi-humans that are focused on single tasks. Half-Giants are more intelligent than in other worlds and Thri-Kreen are quite common here. Thri-Kreen are a race of mantis people and there's no bug spray in sight. Other races exist but haven't been announced yet for 4th Edition's version of Dark Sun so we'll have to wait and see. Pterran may not exist due to Dragonborn. Who's to say?

Well I think that's enough for a primer. Dark Sun comes to a store near you in August. Prepare your mind bullets, shed some pounds, and bust out the sun screen. I sure hope they don't implement rules for skin cancer.

This is Kylak signing out.


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