30 Days of Dark Sun 3: What's your favorite Dark Sun Trope?

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30 Days of Dark Sun 3: What's your favorite Dark Sun Trope?

Postby Big Mac » Mon Oct 10, 2016 6:55 pm

It's the Dark Sun 25th Anniversary and The Burnt World of Athas (aka Athas.org) is celbrating with "30 Days of Dark Sun".

Here is what Athas.org is doing for Day 3: 30 Days of Dark Sun 3: What's your favorite Dark Sun Trope?.

At the risk of loosing half of the membership of The Piazza for half a day :P here is the list of tropes from the TV Tropes article for Dark Sun (beware of spoilers on TV Tropes):
  • A God Am I - The Sorcerer Kings enforce worship of themselves.
  • After The End - More than one adventure lets you know that Athas used to be a nice planet.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence - Any wizard/psionicist who gains enough levels can attempt to do this.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority - The Sorcerer-Kings retain power by being able to defend their cities with their powerful magic.
  • Ban on Magic - Using magic without a licence is a crime.
  • Beach Episode - This trope is subverted in the Last Sea.
  • Black and Gray Morality - Doing the "right thing" can get you killed, so players have to make hard choices.
  • Black and White Morality - Despite the "Black and Gray Morality" Dark Sun still uses the normal alignment system and things like slave ownership are still considered evil.
  • Black Magic - Arcane spellcasters can become Defilers and kill the nature of Athas to gain better results.
  • Brain in a Jar - The Mindlords who rule and preserve the Last Sea
  • Bread and Circuses - Sorcerer Kings uses gladiator combats, claims of defending cities from non-existent threats and claims to be deities to retain power.
  • Canon Discontinuity - Some elements are rebooted for 4e Dark Sun.
  • Canon Immigrant - Psurlons were first introduced in the Dark Sun: Shattered Lands computer game and then imported into the tabletop game.
  • Casts No Shadow - Several types of undead have no shadows.
  • Cheap Gold Coins - This trope is averted as metal is very rare.
  • Combat by Champion - Either nobles betting on gladiators or nomadic warriors fighting for their tribe.
  • Continuity Reboot - Some elements are rebooted for 4e Dark Sun.
  • Crapsack World - Athas has been mostly destroyed and the people who did it are in charge. If those people are removed, what's left of civilisation may collapse. Most people don't believe in heroes any more, because you need to be fairly selfish just to stay alive. The only people able to rise to power tend to be brutal or nasty.
  • Crazy Prepared - Sorcerer Kings are constantly protected by large numbers of magic items and henchmen.
  • Creepy Centipedes - The Cilops and the Megapede.
  • Crossover - Dark Sun mostly avoided this trope (by not linking to Spelljammer and Planescape) but did have a Ravenloft crossove (called Kalidnay).
  • http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/CulturalTranslation - The Urik government gets gate guards to tell thri-kreen visitors that the city is a large pack, to tie into the thri-kreen's pack mentality.
  • The Dark Arts - Nobody likes Defilers...including other Defilers.
  • Darker and Edgier - Dark Sun was darker and edgier than most existing D&D campaign settings.
  • Daylight Horror - Your PCs don't need to go on a dungeon crawl to see the actions of evil people. They carry evil acts out openly on the streets of Athas's cities and good people seem powerless to stop them.
  • Death of the Old Gods - 2e Dark Sun didn't mention any gods. 4e Dark Sun had them all die fighting the Primordials eons ago.
  • Death World - Athas is so dangerous that the party could have a TPK on the way to a dungeon.
  • Dragons are Divine - The Sorcerer King of Tyr who is a dragon is the closest thing the setting has to a god.
  • Elemental Powers - Clerics powered by elements (in 2e Dark Sun). Yeah baby, yeah!
  • End of an Age - Tombs from the Green Age are scattered around with items that can no longer be made.
  • Enemy to all Living Things - Arcane spellcasters destroy the environment.
  • Everything is Trying to Kill You - Almost anything on Athas can kill a PC.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs - Pterrans, humanoid pterodactyls, are a player race.
  • Evil is Easy - It's harder for a Preserver to advance than a Defiler.
  • Evil Old Folks - Andropinis.
  • Expy - The Draxan minions of the Dragon of Tyr are based on the Draka from S.M. Stirling's novels.
  • Fanservice - Most Dark Sun artwork is fanservice.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture - Balic is based on Ancient Rome, Draj is based on Aztec culture, Raam has elements from Egypt and India, Gulg is Darkest Africa, Tyr is the Phoenician city of Tyre, Urik is Sumer, and Nibenay is Angkor, capital of the Khmer Empire. The halflings of the Forest Ridge seem vaguely Amazonian.
  • Flight, Strength, Heart - "Tribal Psionicist" from The Will and the Way.
  • Gaia's Lament - Athas used to be a nice planet.
  • Gaia's Vengence - 4e Dark Sun has "Voice of the Ravaged" paragon path where a PC acts as the conduit for the most scarred and psychotic primal spirits they can find.
  • Gladiator Games - There are arenas and fighting pits almost everywhere and Gladiators are PC options in both 2e and 4e Dark Sun.
  • Half-Human Hybrid - Half-giants and muls.
  • Horse of a Different Colour - Kanks, erdlu, inix and mekillot.
  • Humans are Bastards - Most of the really bad NPCs are humans.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters - Orcs, goblins, and gnomes and many other races were driven into extinction by humans.
  • I'm a Humanitarian - Cannibal halflings and thri-kreen.
  • Judge, Jury and Executioner - Templars.
  • Living Gasbags - Floaters.
  • Lord British Postulate - Valley of Dust and Fire suggests that the PCs should never be allowed to kill the Dragon of Tyr under any circumstances.
  • Luck Manipulation Mechanic - 4th Edition Dark Sun has a mechanic for PCs to re-roll attack rolls that give a natural 1 result.
  • Magic is Evil - Defiling is evil (and is much easier than the good alternative - Preserving).
  • Massive Race Selection - As well as the usual humans, elves, half elves, halflings, and dwarves, players can play half-giants, thri-kreen, pterrans, aarakokra, and muls. The 3.5 update added maenads, dray, and elan and 4e added other races (including a race imported from Eberron).
  • Master Poisoner - Dark Sun bards are known to use poison and learn to use more poisons as they gain levels.
  • Matriarchy - The Templars of Nibenay are all his wives and, as he takes little part in the city's governance, they run the city in his name.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous - Thri-kreen and brohgs.
  • Nintendo Hard - Valley of Dust and Fire makes the City of Tyr, the home of the Dragon of Tyr, the most "impossible and impenetrable fortress ever statted in the history of AD&D".
  • Our Angels are Different - No angels exist, but an avangion (an anti-dragon) could possibly get created and turn the world green again.
  • Our Elves are Different - They are seven foot tall sneaky desert raiders that nobody trusts.
  • Halflings and Dwarves are different - Halflings are mostly savage cannibals and dwarves are hairless brutes.
  • Our Fairies are Different - In 4e Dark Sun most most Eladrin are wandering assassins who kill all arcane spellcasters they meet in the hopes of saving their homeland.
  • Our Monsters are Different - There are eight different examples of this on the Dark Sun page on TV Tropes.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure - Lalai-puy, Sorcerer-Queen of Gulg, Andropinis and Hamanu and Oronis of Kurn are reasonably nice.
  • The Republic - Balic is supposedly a republic.
  • The Precursors - The rhulisti are ancient halflings.
  • Psychic Powers - Dark Sun assumes the use of psionic powers.
  • Sand is Water - The Sea of Silt.
  • Sacred Hospitality - Traveling minstrels and entertainers benefit from this. Many abuse the system to act as spies or assasins.
  • Scaled Up - Most Sorcerer-Kings want to transform their bodies into creatures.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can - The Champions of Rajaat realised that Rajaat was attempting to commit genocide and locked him in a prison dimension.
  • Serious Business - Arcane magic (or defiling magic for preservers).
  • She is the King - Zig-Zagged. Lalali-Puy and Alabach-Re are called both Sorcerer-Kings and Queens.
  • Slave Race - Muls.
  • Stepford Smiler - Around the Last Sea happiness is enforced by law.
  • Stripperific - The Dark Sun designers chose a hot desert planet, so that there could be lots of art featuring men and women with little on.
  • Super-Persistent Predator - Cilops do not sleep and pursue their prey for weeks.
  • Time Skip - The 3rd Edition revamp in Dragon Magazine.
  • Unreliable Expositor - The in-character author of The Wanderer's Journal says that his source material is full of properganda.
  • Walking Wasteland - Defiling doesn't just kill plants. It sterilises the soil they grow in.
  • We Are as Mayflies - Every race has a shorter life expectancy than on other D&D worlds.
  • World Half Empty - Halflings want to eat other people.
  • A World Half Full - 4e shows an Athas that is still harsh, but makes it clearer that the PCs can turn the world green again.
  • World of Badass - Humans start at 3rd level and the maximum for ability scores is 20.

There are a lot of tropes to choose from. (A few relate to the changes of 4e, so I wouldn't consider any of those myself.) It's taken me hours just to type this list up. I need to have a think about this myself

I wonder how many people have used even half of these tropes in their games.
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Re: 30 Days of Dark Sun 3: What's your favorite Dark Sun Tro

Postby agathokles » Mon Oct 10, 2016 7:39 pm

The Valley of Dust and Fire does not refer to the City of Tyr. The Dragon of Tyr is not the same as the Sorcerer King of Tyr.

Anyway, I'd say Gaia's Lament. The ecology theme is very strong in Dark Sun, as it is in its main inspirations (e.g., Mad Max, Dune).

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Re: 30 Days of Dark Sun 3: What's your favorite Dark Sun Tro

Postby Big Mac » Mon Oct 10, 2016 10:59 pm

agathokles wrote:The Valley of Dust and Fire does not refer to the City of Tyr. The Dragon of Tyr is not the same as the Sorcerer King of Tyr.


I'll have to recheck that. I spent ages typing all that. Maybe I mistyped that.

agathokles wrote:Anyway, I'd say Gaia's Lament. The ecology theme is very strong in Dark Sun, as it is in its main inspirations (e.g., Mad Max, Dune).


I suppose that is what sets Dark Sun apart from Al-Qadim. Both are desert settings, but Al-Qadim is a natural desert, while Dark Sun is more of a post-apocalyptic thing.
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Re: 30 Days of Dark Sun 3: What's your favorite Dark Sun Tro

Postby agathokles » Tue Oct 11, 2016 10:12 am

Exactly. While both Al Qadim and Dark Sun are desert settings, the ecology/post-apocalyptic theme is unique to Dark Sun (at least among the TSR worlds).

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Re: 30 Days of Dark Sun 3: What's your favorite Dark Sun Tro

Postby Zeromaru X » Tue Oct 11, 2016 6:03 pm

I'm unable to decide between Gaia's Lament and Dragons are Divine.
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Re: 30 Days of Dark Sun 3: What's your favorite Dark Sun Tro

Postby Big Mac » Tue Oct 11, 2016 8:35 pm

agathokles wrote:Exactly. While both Al Qadim and Dark Sun are desert settings, the ecology/post-apocalyptic theme is unique to Dark Sun (at least among the TSR worlds).


I think that Eberron's Mournland might just about beat Dark Sun in the post-apocalyptic stakes, but that's so uninhabitable that it's really crossed the line into TPK territory.
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Re: 30 Days of Dark Sun 3: What's your favorite Dark Sun Tro

Postby agathokles » Wed Oct 12, 2016 8:57 am

"Post-apocalyptic" is not about deadliness, it's about attitude. In Dark Sun, all the main themes point at the ecology disaster, not only the desertic landscape. That said, the Obsidian Lands of Dark Sun are pretty dangerous too (a subcontinent-sized span of land covered in obsidian, inhabited by undead demi-humans and goblinoids...)

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Re: 30 Days of Dark Sun 3: What's your favorite Dark Sun Tro

Postby Big Mac » Thu Oct 13, 2016 9:17 pm

agathokles wrote:"Post-apocalyptic" is not about deadliness, it's about attitude. In Dark Sun, all the main themes point at the ecology disaster, not only the desertic landscape. That said, the Obsidian Lands of Dark Sun are pretty dangerous too (a subcontinent-sized span of land covered in obsidian, inhabited by undead demi-humans and goblinoids...)


Do we know what killed everyone living in the Obsidian Lands?
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Re: 30 Days of Dark Sun 3: What's your favorite Dark Sun Tro

Postby agathokles » Thu Oct 13, 2016 9:20 pm

The Cleansing Wars. I don't remember whether details were actually provided. The idea is that they were killed by the same event that covered the land in obsidian.

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Re: 30 Days of Dark Sun 3: What's your favorite Dark Sun Tro

Postby Big Mac » Wed Oct 19, 2016 8:43 pm

agathokles wrote:The Cleansing Wars. I don't remember whether details were actually provided. The idea is that they were killed by the same event that covered the land in obsidian.


I suppose that if tons of obsidian fell from the sky it would chop people up, and if there was a gigantic spell-effect that converted everything to obsidian that would kill people too.
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