Dark Sun 4E but with 2E's setting

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talsine
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Dark Sun 4E but with 2E's setting

Post by talsine »

Tim Baker wrote:
Wed Jul 22, 2020 9:01 am
talsine wrote:
Wed Jul 22, 2020 8:55 am
I just didn't like the meta plot for 2E Dark Sun, and especially the parts where almost all of the Big bads are killed off screen in books, leaving you with nothing in the setting to do. I mean, i get that it was mostly about just surviving in that world, but hero's need goals, and having most of the villains killed by NPCs steals the groups thunder.
I agree. I think a 4e game run in the early-2e timeline might work well. That might be worth its own topic, though. We've strayed pretty far from the OP. :)
We kind of touched on it briefly in another thread, but Tim is right in that it deserves it's in space to breathe.

I really liked 4E's take on Dark Sun for the most part, including resetting the game back before all of the books and the progression of the meta plot, but there were still somethings that people object to, namely in the racial options. If you were going to use 4E for Dark Sun and try to stay more true to the original meta plot, what kind of changed would you want to make?

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Re: Dark Sun 4E but with 2E's setting

Post by agathokles »

I think that, beyond being honest to 4e goals and dropping PC races that can't be reasonably supported in 4e (half-giants and aarakocra), Dark Sun works well with 4e -- 4e's ability to easily remove any power source addresses all problems I can see with character classes.

GP

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talsine
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Re: Dark Sun 4E but with 2E's setting

Post by talsine »

agathokles wrote:
Wed Jul 22, 2020 1:01 pm
I think that, beyond being honest to 4e goals and dropping PC races that can't be reasonably supported in 4e (half-giants and aarakocra), Dark Sun works well with 4e -- 4e's ability to easily remove any power source addresses all problems I can see with character classes.

GP
I honestly felt that Goliaths hit all the same notes that Half Giants did, and that is basically what the 4E book used and while there was no official Aarakocra race, i can't imagine one couldn't have been made. Those are the easiest things to fix.

As an aside, i really wish 5E had carried over the power sources from 4E, Primal, Arcane and Divine being different kinds of magic made so much sense, and allowed for so much room for classes and character concepts

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Re: Dark Sun 4E but with 2E's setting

Post by agathokles »

talsine wrote:
Wed Jul 22, 2020 1:54 pm
I honestly felt that Goliaths hit all the same notes that Half Giants did, and that is basically what the 4E book used and while there was no official Aarakocra race, i can't imagine one couldn't have been made. Those are the easiest things to fix.
YMMV, but for me the main feature of Half-Giants is, well, to be very large -- they can't use the same equipment, fit into the same lodgings, etc. of medium sized characters. From a mindset point of view, they have the variable alignment, something which doesn't fit well with 4e's alignment structure.
Goliaths are medium sized, not large. They fit well in Athas, but can better represent humanoids such as the Tarek, or simply be added in some mountain area.

As for Aarakocra, they can't be fixed because 4e races do not have the ability to fly for extended periods of time -- essentially, PCs (especially low-level ones) should not be able to escape combat by flying away, so all "flying" race actually only "hop" for their round movement, but need to land at the end of the round, or cannot fly far enough to stay out of melee reach.
It's not a major problem -- Aarakocra are a secondary race introduced in the revised boxed set, and do not have a major role in the events of the metaplot -- so there's no point in stressing the system.
As an aside, i really wish 5E had carried over the power sources from 4E, Primal, Arcane and Divine being different kinds of magic made so much sense, and allowed for so much room for classes and character concepts
It has some advantages, but also leads to inflation -- the Battlemind, Warden, and to some extent the Swordmage as well are rather redundant. Unsurprisingly, none of them appears in 5e as an independent class, although the Warden survives as a Paladin subclass and the Swordmage can be easily reproduced with a multiclass.
The same more or less is true for some other classes, who are basically "same as class X, but with a different power source".
On the opposite side of the range, there are classes that don't really fit into a single power source -- Rangers, for example, are martial but they typically have a small degree of magic in other editions, with the result that then the Hunter sub-class was needed, which conceptually fills the same slot, but has a mixed martial/primal source. And once you add a multi-source class, you start wondering why the Paladin and Barbarian are divine and primal, and not mixed martial/divine, martial/primal, etc.

All in all, it was an interesting experiment and does have some advantages (most of which show up here in the ability to seamlessly remove the entire Divine set), but I don't find it too surprising that it was dropped in 5e, given the different general direction taken in 5e.

GP

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Re: Dark Sun 4E but with 2E's setting

Post by talsine »

Ok, so, having gone back over my old 2E revised Dark Sun box set, here are some impressions:

Man, did they need a better lay out guy. The organisation of this book is awful. Just, awful.

Everything is in a table, and all mashed together, and more difficult to read than it needs to be.

Every race has something weird and fiddly about it, but it's all laid out in a description of the race, so you have to guess where fluff ends and crunchy begins. I have a similar issue with the way 5E is written, but i had forgotten it was a thing in previous editions as well.

Race class level limits where something we always ignored and i still don't like. I am glad they went away. This is less a gripe about Dark Sun but i am mentioning it anyway.

Aarokocra get flight at first level with Maneuverability Class C. I have no idea what that means, and it is not mentioned here. I would assume it is mentioned in the PHB, but i dislike it not just being in the race description. They are also much bigger than i remember, being 6 feet tall at the small end. Which, being giant bird people isn't a huge surprise, but i feel like their flight should be more restricted than it is, because their arms are also their wings, and their wingspan would have to be massive to use. Which would make their flying useless inside. And they do get a penalty for fighting in areas which they can't fly in. Not fun, but at least it takes that into account. I still think always on flight is super powerful because of the potential to just avoid obstacles. There is a reason Fly has always been a level 3 spell.

Half Giants are LARGE. Like, actually large, 10+ feet tall. This should never have been a PC race. Even is Dark Sun. I honestly didn't remember them being this big and I am 100% ok with them being not large anymore.

Pterran are really cool and I wish they had been brought over and i will 100% home brew them in if I do end up running Dark Sun in 4E. Dinosaur people are awesome. I love dinosaur people. More games should have dinosaur people.

Trader is not a PC class. I really don't get why it is here.

Gladiator is basically just a better fighter.

To try and make Fighters not just crappy Gladiators, they give them down time abilities and stuff that I honestly can not remember ever coming up in my D&D games over almost 30 years of play.

Rangers are also just shitty Gladiators, except they have a favorite enemy, which is a "Mother may I" style ability that i hate and they get a small amount of useful spells for survival, but so late (level 8+) that by the time you get them, you can solve all of those issues with money and your NWPs.

The wizard classes are fine, just as strong as ever, except at low levels where you just hide and hope you don't die.

Clerics really don't fit and i wish they would have renamed them as Shamans or something similar (yes i know there was a 2E class called Shaman, it is very very odd. It actually would have been a good fit though.)

Druids is 2E are weird, but fit the setting and i like them being more militant here.

I wanted to like Psionics, but even the new cleaned up rules are not good. I have always wanted to like Psi in D&D and outside of 4E, i never have.

Weapon Materials rules are annoying, but fit the setting and so i will give them a pass.

I love the art. Man, do i love the art.

This box set needed a mini- monster manual more than it needed an adventure.

-----

A lot of that is more of a rant about things i forgot i don't like about 2E so, setting those aside,

4E needed Pterrans. They are awesome.
I like Goliaths as Half Giants. Large PC's cause issues, and having a "short" Half Giant still being 10.5 feet tall creates so many problems. I am pretty sure we never played them as being that large.
Psi in Dark Sun is better than Psionics Handbook, but it is still not good.

This brief revisit to 2E reminds me that the things i loved about 2E where in-spite of the system and i honestly don't think i will ever go back to it. I still love the settings though, and i wish they got more attention.

Lastly, i know i didn't mention anything about alignment, that 's because i stopped using alignment in games back when 3.X was released. And i still don't use it. That is a conversation for another time, but it has no impact on anything i have said above really.



edit: I am bad at spelling. Very bad at spelling.
edit 2: stuff about alignments

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Re: Dark Sun 4E but with 2E's setting

Post by agathokles »

IIRC, maneuverability C is standard for non-hovering birds. Aarakocra use their feet as hands when flying, IIRC.

I agree about Pterrans, they were much easier to port then other races but were ignored in 4e. I think it was mostly because they were only in DS revised.

Level limits are very generous in DS -- especially with the high prime requisite bonus and unlimited psionicist progress for all races, IIRC.

GP
Last edited by agathokles on Thu Jul 23, 2020 6:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Tim Baker
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Re: Dark Sun 4E but with 2E's setting

Post by Tim Baker »

I found that 4e did a great job of capturing the feel of Dark Sun PCs being a cut above the typical person in the setting. I get that 2e did this because the setting can be so challenging on PCs, but it had the side-effect of supporting a feel that the PCs are special, even when they're placed in a dangerous environment and may not survive long.

Survival is the thing that feels different in 4e and I'm not sure the system can support well without house rules. There are rules about making survival checks and endurance checks, but 4e is much more generous about keeping PCs alive in the face of environmental challenges. While a table can closely track resources and broken weapons and such, that wasn't as common a thing in 4e, in my experience. The comment about half-giants needing different equipment is a good example of the type of tracking that 4e typically didn't want to engage in. These things may be small on their own, but they add up to a different feel between the editions, particularly at low levels.

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