DSE2 Black Spine

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DSE2 Black Spine

Postby Big Mac » Wed Feb 06, 2013 3:28 am

I've just found out that DSE2 Black Spine might be an adventure that could help create a crossover link between Dark Sun and Planescape:

DSE2 Black Spine back cover blurb wrote:Black Spine mountains, a terrible force has ripped open the very fabric of time and space. Now a shimmering portal stands open and a long-forgotten enemy assembles its sinister forces to invade the kingdoms under the dark sun.

The only thing that stands in the way of that terrible fate is a band of heroes. Assembled from the four corners of this tortured world and bound together by the tangled cords of fate, they must face an enemy the likes of which they have never seen before. The odds are against them, but they dare not fail. The fate of the world is in their hands.

Black Spine is an adventure for 4 to 6 characters of 10th through 13th level. The previous flip-book modules (Black Flames, Merchant House of Amketch, and Marauders of Nibenay) precede this adventure, but they are not necessary to enjoy Black Spine.


What got me interested was that I read that the "long-forgotten enemy" is the githyanki. If they can "break in" to Athas, maybe the Pirates of Gith could use a similar method to break into the Crimson Sphere.

Has anyone got DSE2, and the modules that preceed it? Is the "terrible force" something that is going to "break Athas" or is it something you think could be reproduced to open the setting up to the rest of the D&D multiverse?
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Re: DSE2 Black Spine

Postby ripvanwormer » Wed Feb 06, 2013 5:03 am

There are a number of references to Dark Sun natives on the planes in Planescape. There's a neighborhood in Sigil's Hive Ward called New Tyr (Faction War mentions that the inhabitants have a grudge against githyanki and githzerai; and yes, it's explicitly named after Athas's free city of Tyr, from which most of the locals emigrated, not the Norse/Forgotten Realms god). Another Sigilian neighborhood, Curly-Foot, was briefly inhabited by Athasian halflings until the non-Athasian halflings expelled them a few years ago; they may have moved to New Tyr by now, or they may have moved on to another plane. Planes of Chaos mentions Athasian elves have found their way to Pelion, Arborea's third (desert-like) layer. The Planescape Monstrous Compendium Appendix III includes two planar monsters that originated in the Dark Sun setting, the psurlon and the ruvoka. The psurlon entry doesn't mention Athas (they seem more concerned with contending with the githyanki for dominance of the Astral), but the ruvoka entry does mention that many ruvokas were once Athasian druids. The Dragon Kings hardcover for high level Dark Sun campaigns presented the standard planar map (from the 1st edition Manual of the Planes, the most up-to-date source when that book was published) for Athas, though later Dark Sun products muddied the picture by giving Athas its own unique paraelemental planes. The Inner Planes sourcebook for Planescape attempted to present those variant planes as just alternate names for the standard paraelemental and quasielemental planes, though vaguely, noting the location of portals and vortices between the standard inner planes and Athas. A Guide to the Ethereal Plane by Bruce Cordell informed us that Athas's Gray was a variant Border Ethereal Plane and presented rules for getting in and out of it, and the chances of getting lost.

Pirates of Gith could get to Athas via the Astral Plane, though the Gray would give them trouble. It doesn't necessarily "break" the setting to provide ways to crossover into other settings, although making it too easy might unbalance the economy by providing sources of metal and water that aren't supposed to be common on Athas, and might dilute the flavor of the setting in other ways. Probably most people who want to run a Dark Sun campaign want to run a game about gritty survival against hostile elements and despotic sorcerer-kings, not a free-for-all where they might randomly bump into lost kender and giff and hop a portal to the Forgotten Realms for a vacation on the shore of the Sea of Fallen Stars whenever things get too gritty at home. But for a Planescape or Spelljammer campaign that's already about hopping from world to world, yeah, it's possible for one of those worlds to be Athas, and this kind of travel is arguably sanctioned in various 2nd edition sources. Not that you need official sanction to do whatever you want in your game. In an Athas-centered campaign, it might make more sense to have portals only connect to planes that fit the theme of the campaign and the cosmology you've established for it; the Elemental Planes, Athas's distinctive Para-Elemental Planes, the Gray, and the Black would all be perfectly fine additions, and weird adventures involving trips to parallel versions of Athas where history went differently, or maybe a trip to the Dark Sun-inspired domain of Kalidnay in the Ravenloft setting, or new planes and new worlds that involved psionic creatures and survival in hostile terrain would fit the themes of a Dark Sun campaign organically, without feeling too jarring in campaigns that sought to present a consistent tone.

Way back in high school I planned out a world-hopping campaign in which Dark Sun's sorcerer-kings would turn out to belong to an interplanar society of wizards that would bedevil the PCs on multiple worlds as they all sought to locate pieces of an artifact scattered across the planes.
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Re: DSE2 Black Spine

Postby Boneguard » Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:34 pm

Big Mac wrote:Has anyone got DSE2, and the modules that preceed it? Is the "terrible force" something that is going to "break Athas" or is it something you think could be reproduced to open the setting up to the rest of the D&D multiverse?


I have them all (well I got all of the Dark Sun adventures). I'll check them out after work and come back to you with the info.
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Re: DSE2 Black Spine

Postby Bouv » Wed Feb 06, 2013 2:25 pm

That surprises me that it was done since I know the TSR wanted to keep Athas "officially" seperate - no Spelljamming or planes-hopping to the place (even though I do believe there is a Ravenloft realm from Athas).

One thing that could be REALLY fun for a DM (aka Evil) would be for a Planescape group making it to Athas but discovering the Gray is making it quiet difficult to make it back and now they are stuck in an enviroment where EVERYONE has psionics (with a good chance they don't!) and just day to day survival is difficult. Maybe magic-users & clerics can't cast spells anymore. Fighters don't want to be walking around a desert in full plate. Nobody speaks their language.
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Re: DSE2 Black Spine

Postby Boneguard » Wed Feb 06, 2013 4:08 pm

Bouv wrote:That surprises me that it was done since I know the TSR wanted to keep Athas "officially" seperate - no Spelljamming or planes-hopping to the place (even though I do believe there is a Ravenloft realm from Athas).


That's right.

Initially the Dark (or was it the Gray) was meant ot keep Athas away from the palnes and the Dark Sun sphere was isolate in the phlogiston (eg, there was no 'flow' from any other spheres). In the 2nd edition revised Ravenloft setting (the Hardcover book) thery included a Dark Sun domain -an isolated island- with a interesting story and Dark Lord.

As I said, I'll check the adventures later after work and provide more info.
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Re: DSE2 Black Spine

Postby Boneguard » Wed Feb 06, 2013 8:01 pm

Big Mac wrote:
Has anyone got DSE2, and the modules that preceed it? Is the "terrible force" something that is going to "break Athas" or is it something you think could be reproduced to open the setting up to the rest of the D&D multiverse?



Alright. I've check and here it is.
The 3 previous adventures are more about events dealing with some of the Cities/Dragon King. The Actual impact on DSE2 is somewhat slim.

In DSE2,essentially, you discover a portal in a Gith ruin that take you into a Githyanki floating citadel in the Astral Plane. From there, you could have Planar traveller go into Athas through that or similar way. You could then say that smaller band of adventurer could work their way to Athas, but it would be difficult for bigger group -imo. So it would not "Break Athas"

From a spelljammer point of view it would be harder since -officially- there's no Flow in the phlogiston to the Athas Sphere. You could always say that a small ship drift or somehow makes it way to it, thought. And here too it would not "Break Athas".
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Re: DSE2 Black Spine

Postby Lord Torath » Thu Mar 14, 2013 3:08 am

When my brother was DMing Dark Sun, he let me crash a small spelljammer (Dragonfly) with a Qualinesti elf (Krynn) fighter/mage as the only survivor, just so I could see how a "normal" elf would fare on Athas. I guess technically we could have gone back and reclaimed the Helm (since they're nearly indestructible), but it never really occurred to us. We wanted to play Dark Sun, not Spelljammer. And nothing was broken. But then, we weren't really trying to break it, either.
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Re: DSE2 Black Spine

Postby Paladyn » Sun Mar 17, 2013 7:50 pm

From wht I remeber, there was a sentence, that you can leave Athas, alas throu Lower Planes. Unfortunately I don't remeber where I've read it. But still I find kind of fun idea.
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Re: DSE2 Black Spine

Postby Big Mac » Sun May 05, 2013 11:12 pm

Thanks everyone. The variant paraelemental planes are probably the most interesting aspect of a Dark Sun/Planescape crossover, as they could possibly spread the "struggle for survival" aspect of the setting over onto the planes.

Boneguard wrote:
Bouv wrote:<snip> (even though I do believe there is a Ravenloft realm from Athas).


In the 2nd edition revised Ravenloft setting (the Hardcover book) thery included a Dark Sun domain -an isolated island- with a interesting story and Dark Lord.


I'd love to know more about this part of Ravenloft. Maybe another thread would be the right place to talk about a Ravenloft/Dark Sun crossover. :?
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Re: DSE2 Black Spine

Postby rabindranath72 » Thu May 23, 2013 4:13 pm

Big Mac wrote:Thanks everyone. The variant paraelemental planes are probably the most interesting aspect of a Dark Sun/Planescape crossover, as they could possibly spread the "struggle for survival" aspect of the setting over onto the planes.

Boneguard wrote:
Bouv wrote:<snip> (even though I do believe there is a Ravenloft realm from Athas).


In the 2nd edition revised Ravenloft setting (the Hardcover book) thery included a Dark Sun domain -an isolated island- with a interesting story and Dark Lord.


I'd love to know more about this part of Ravenloft. Maybe another thread would be the right place to talk about a Ravenloft/Dark Sun crossover. :?

The appearance of the Dark Sun domain pre-dates the revised Ravenloft setting. IIRC Kalid-Ma appeared already in the Dark Lords supplement.
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Re: DSE2 Black Spine

Postby Boneguard » Fri May 24, 2013 2:56 pm

rabindranath72 wrote:The appearance of the Dark Sun domain pre-dates the revised Ravenloft setting. IIRC Kalid-Ma appeared already in the Dark Lords supplement.


Well the Domain was introduce in the Forbidden Lore supplement. I got a bit more info posted here.
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Re: DSE2 Black Spine

Postby Morfie » Sun Sep 29, 2013 8:17 am

Where did you get the code of DSE2 from? It wasn't coded to that, it just says 2428.

The blurb at the back bit that says:
..The previous flip-book modules (Black Flames, Merchant House of Amketch, and Marauders of Nibenay) precede this adventure, but they are not necessary to enjoy Black Spine.


Those 3 were in the DSM series, so I would take this one as being an honorary DSM4 if that type of coding had continued, if anything.
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Re: DSE2 Black Spine

Postby Boneguard » Sun Sep 29, 2013 11:32 am

Actually the same way DSE1 Dragon's Crown completes the DSQ serie; DSE2 Black Spine completes the DSM serie.

See rpg.net.
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