[OD&D] Anyone do old school Dark Sun?

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finarvyn
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[OD&D] Anyone do old school Dark Sun?

Post by finarvyn »

My son was asking me about Dark Sun and I was thinking of running an OD&D campaign for him instead of 5E, and I wondered if the two could be combined. I have somewhere in my closet my original DS boxed set, which I think was done with 2E rules in mind, and I was thinking that perhaps it wouldn't be hard to roll back the rules to OD&D.

I also thought that if anyone had already tinkered with this it could save me some time and effort, thus the post.

Has anyone tried to do this, or would I be better off just using 2E or 5E?
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Re: [OD&D] Anyone do old school Dark Sun?

Post by Morfie »

Did OD&D do psionic rules? The earliest I'd seen was AD&D 1e.

From past (poor) experiences I now prefer playing campaign settings with the ruleset they were built with, but that is a very interesting concept though.

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Re: [OD&D] Anyone do old school Dark Sun?

Post by finarvyn »

OD&D does have psionics rules in Supplement III Eldritch Wizardry.
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Re: [OD&D] Anyone do old school Dark Sun?

Post by agathokles »

Morfie wrote:
Thu Mar 12, 2020 4:47 am
Did OD&D do psionic rules? The earliest I'd seen was AD&D 1e.

From past (poor) experiences I now prefer playing campaign settings with the ruleset they were built with, but that is a very interesting concept though.
I tend to agree. However, it really depends what is the experience you expect. Dark Sun, of all the TSR settings, is the one that IMO works best with the newer rules sets (at least potentially), since it focuses on starting characters that are more powerful than the baseline of TSR-era editions. On the other hand, you typically have to give up Half-Giants* (and Aaracockra) in 4e, while 5e does not have Psionics, as far as I understand, except as variant classes in an Unearthed Arcana article (also, no Half-Giants, Thri-Kreen or Pterran in 5e either, although Aaracockra are there). 3e and BECMI support better the racial variety, but BECMI doesn't have psionics at all.

So, the level of compromise you'd have to do in 5e is probably not too different from OD&D (considering that old editions of D&D are inherently more flexible, so you might be able to whip up something for Half-Giants and other races).
Other choices are also possible, but at that point probably AD&D 2e is just easier to use.

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*No, Goliaths are not Half-Giants, regardless of the shoehorning WotC did in Dark Sun 4e. Simply put, 4e and 5e do not support Large character races. 4e also does not support flying races.

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Re: [OD&D] Anyone do old school Dark Sun?

Post by ScrivenerofDoom »

agathokles wrote:
Thu Mar 12, 2020 12:07 pm
(snip) 4e also does not support flying races.
It had pixies.

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Re: [OD&D] Anyone do old school Dark Sun?

Post by agathokles »

Pixies in 4e cannot really fly. They are limited in altitude so they cannot escape combat (not even melee combat). Much like Large size characters, true flying characters are impossible in 4e, because flight provides tactical options in combat that are incompatible with 4e's balance.

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Re: [OD&D] Anyone do old school Dark Sun?

Post by Kamelion »

Some work has been done on it for B/X. You could probably work from there. Check out this thread:

https://forum.rpg.net/index.php?threads ... cs.702749/
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Re: [OD&D] Anyone do old school Dark Sun?

Post by Big Mac »

finarvyn wrote:
Thu Mar 12, 2020 3:15 am
Has anyone tried to do this, or would I be better off just using 2E or 5E?
I think you should give it a punt.

It's better to try and decide to stick with 2e or 4e...if you hit problems you can't resolve in a reasonable timescale...that give up because of hypothetical problems that might not actually be blockers.

What sort of timescale are you up against, for being "ready" to start?

Is your son going to be OK with helping you to playtest OD&D rules, so that you can tweak things, as you go along? Or are you trying to ensure that you don't "break the forth wall" in the game and have the mechanics getting in the way of the story?

If your son is up for helping you to build an OD&D Dark Sun game that might set him up for mixing and matching settings and rules in the future. :)
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Re: [OD&D] Anyone do old school Dark Sun?

Post by Big Mac »

ScrivenerofDoom wrote:
Fri Mar 13, 2020 5:56 am
agathokles wrote:
Thu Mar 12, 2020 12:07 pm
(snip) 4e also does not support flying races.
It had pixies.
...and...
agathokles wrote:
Fri Mar 13, 2020 7:03 am
Pixies in 4e cannot really fly. They are limited in altitude so they cannot escape combat (not even melee combat). Much like Large size characters, true flying characters are impossible in 4e, because flight provides tactical options in combat that are incompatible with 4e's balance.
Sounds like flying races could be a good topic for the 4th Edition D&D forum...but does this problem actually also bled over to OD&D rules?

Did flying monster races actually exist back then?

Is there anything there that is fairly similar to anything featured in Dark Sun?
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Re: [OD&D] Anyone do old school Dark Sun?

Post by agathokles »

This is a well known issue with 4e -- or feature, if you prefer.

It does not affect any of the previous instances of D&D. I'm not sure about 5e, OTOH.

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Re: [OD&D] Anyone do old school Dark Sun?

Post by Zeromaru X »

4e has rules for playing winged dragonborn and pixies (who are flying creatures), so I guess one can adapt those rules for other flying creatures... but yes, there aren't many flying player races in 4e.

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Re: [OD&D] Anyone do old school Dark Sun?

Post by agathokles »

Zeromaru X wrote:
Fri Mar 13, 2020 3:22 pm
4e has rules for playing winged dragonborn and pixies (who are flying creatures), so I guess one can adapt those rules for other flying creatures... but yes, there aren't many flying player races in 4e.
Problem is, you really can't. The dragonborn don't start with flight (they get flight later on, and IIRC it is still limited flight where they need to land every round -- much like chickens), and the pixies have the above-mentioned limitation.
Neither option works for aarakocra, who fly constantly and certainly are able to fly higher than 1 square...

Unsurprisingly, the aarakocra are not present as a player race in 4e Dark Sun.

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Re: [OD&D] Anyone do old school Dark Sun?

Post by agathokles »

Anyway, we are a bit derailing the thread, so back to OD&D.
You have Psionics, but in keeping with the tone of Dark Sun, I would remove the penalties that OD&D characters take when they get psionic abilities -- or at least some of them.
As for races, you might just keep the basic ones (half-elves and muls might just choose between human or elf/dwarf rules), or you might want to add specialized races. Mechanically, Thri-Kreen are mostly characterized by multi-attacks, Half-Giants by the ability to use oversized weapons and being tougher than other characters, and Aarakocra by flight. You can easily impose level penalties (and maybe also experience penalties) to offset these advantages.

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Re: [OD&D] Anyone do old school Dark Sun?

Post by Dread Delgath »

There are quite a few Barsoom/Mars based OD&D games available that you might be able to glean some inspiration from, not only flavor, since Dark Sun IMO derives its flavor from Barsoom style literature, but also how to present Dark Sun races in OD&D format, either by emulating these system's approach to abilities & power levels or simply re-skinning existing ones.

These are the ones I know about, but I'm sure there are more out there. All of these titles are either OD&D, or cloned systems of their own.
"Warriors of Mars" 1975
"Warriors of Mars, Revised by Doc"
"Moons of Zoon" 2010
"Warriors of the Red Planet" by Al Krombach and Thomas Denmark
"Planet Eris" by Jimm Johnson
"Sword & Planet" by Matt Davids
"Swords & Super-Science of Huhlan" by Terje Nordin

Many of these also feature "super-science", which doesn't fit Dark Sun, but dump that aspect, and replace with the default "+/-" sorcery of Dark Sun and add Eldritch Wizardry psionics, and you might be able to go off from there!
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Re: [OD&D] Anyone do old school Dark Sun?

Post by Tim Baker »

If you're comfortable doing a bit of conversion work, my suggestion is to give it a try on a one-shot or short campaign. See if it fits the feel that you seek. If so, you can either roll up new characters for a longer campaign, or use the existing characters and continue their adventures. If it doesn't work you'll probably know it within a session or two.

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Re: [OD&D] Anyone do old school Dark Sun?

Post by zontoxira »

I was thinking of running a Dark Sun BX campaign. Good thing is you can tweak races, classes, and defiling rules easily with such a simple ruleset. Problem is, there are no rules for psionics.
Have a look at my Dark Sun 5e Reconstruction or Planescape 5e Belief System
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Re: [OD&D] Anyone do old school Dark Sun?

Post by agathokles »

zontoxira wrote:
Tue Mar 17, 2020 5:53 pm
I was thinking of running a Dark Sun BX campaign. Good thing is you can tweak races, classes, and defiling rules easily with such a simple ruleset. Problem is, there are no rules for psionics.
Uhm, I'm more familiar with BECMI than with BX, but IIRC BX is not too different from the BE part of BECMI, which in turn is almost compatible with AD&D 2e. Then, you can just take the baseline Psionicist class from 2e and use it as is (reducing HD to d4 and using BX tables for hit rolls instead of AD&D THAC0). Also, it is worth allowing all PCs to have wild talents and one free defense mode, both for flavor and balance reasons.
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Re: [OD&D] Anyone do old school Dark Sun?

Post by finarvyn »

Some neat ideas here. I think that my first goal will be to track down my copy of Gamma World to look at the psionics rules there, as they seem to be pretty well done according to some folks and I'd prefer an "older the better" approach to match my OD&D game. (Not sure what to suggest to the B/X guys, but if they come up with decent psionics rules maybe they will share.)

Seems like keeping the 3d6 stats a la regular OD&D is a good plan, as I won't have any crossover with other worlds and so don't need to compare these characters with a "regular" strength or constitution or whatever.

Like the notion of renaming classes. Gladiator or pit fighter for the fighters, defilers for the magic-users, templars for the clerics. Helps to set the mood.

I need to sort through the ideas about armor, but I agree that partial AC is important and mis-matched non-metal armor is a must.

Thanks to all of the ideas so far. They're sparking my creative juices. :D
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Re: [OD&D] Anyone do old school Dark Sun?

Post by Tim Baker »

zontoxira wrote:
Tue Mar 17, 2020 5:53 pm
I was thinking of running a Dark Sun BX campaign. Good thing is you can tweak races, classes, and defiling rules easily with such a simple ruleset. Problem is, there are no rules for psionics.
You might want to check out the Basic Psionics Handbook. The rules are fairly simple, which I'd want for a BX game, but do a nice job of capturing the flavor of the older psionics systems.

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