After reading a review of the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide over at the Casual Gamer blog I got to thinking. Out of all the D&D/AD&D settings the one I miss the most, and played the most, was Dark Sun. I’d never admit to playing the second edition of that setting but the first edition was to quite literally die for.
You would think that a world that’s population was almost all under the rule of mad tyrants whilst living in the middle of a huge desert would be the most depressing setting you could possibly ever play in. And you would be right in thinking that but at the same time when your characters done well by god you felt good. It was like upping the level a few notches in a computer game and rerunning through it and beating it. You got an extra kick out of it.
Of course it had it’s bad points. I can’t stand the game mechanics for psionics and with everyone having a chance of having a power thanks to natural selection and the effect magic has on the planet your bound to have at least one person in your game that can wiggle their eyebrows suggestively at you and do something weird. I think we ended up banning everyone from using them at one point as they were just unusable in our games.
I loved the setting though the gladiator character class along with the new weapons made me a very happy person. I’ve still got a Mul character kicking about called Ryol of Calabash who is unbeaten in Tyr’s pit with singing sticks.
Dark Sun is a classic example of how to ruin a setting with the novels however. The bleakness that was there in the original setting was shattered within the very first book and from there on in there was nothing they could do to stop it. By the time the rewrite came around the characters in the novels had already killed a sorcerer king and you’d heard far to much about the avangion. I loved the books, don’t get me wrong , but as a way to further the setting you couldn’t have have found a worse destination to arrive at. All your mysteries were Scooby Doo’d in the first two series released and there was almost nothing left to wonder about.