30 Days of Dark Sun 13: Favorite undead creature?

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30 Days of Dark Sun 13: Favorite undead creature?

Postby Big Mac » Sun Oct 16, 2016 9:09 am

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 13: 30 Days of Dark Sun 13: What is your favorite undead creature?.

Raddu said he liked Thrax, Dwarven and Elven Banshees. Robert Schwalb picked the Fael.
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Re: 30 Days of Dark Sun 13: Favorite undead creature?

Postby agathokles » Sun Oct 16, 2016 1:56 pm

I'd say the Dwarven banshee.
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Re: 30 Days of Dark Sun 13: Favorite undead creature?

Postby Zeromaru X » Sun Oct 16, 2016 2:41 pm

I agree with Raddu. The Thrax seems pretty scary (and interesting).
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Re: 30 Days of Dark Sun 13: Favorite undead creature?

Postby Big Mac » Mon Oct 17, 2016 11:54 am

agathokles wrote:I'd say the Dwarven banshee.


Those dwaven banshees are tricky. There must be a few players who have had a PC turn into one.

I wonder how hard it is to "deal with a dwarvn banshee" and then get the PC brought back to life.

Then again, with Dark Sun being as "hard" as it is, would the PCs want to "save" a friend who turned into a banshee.
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Re: 30 Days of Dark Sun 13: Favorite undead creature?

Postby agathokles » Mon Oct 17, 2016 5:48 pm

Indeed, but it depends on the nature of the other PCs. An elemental cleric, by his pact, is under an obligation to return the undead to the cycle of life and death.

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Re: 30 Days of Dark Sun 13: Favorite undead creature?

Postby Big Mac » Wed Oct 19, 2016 8:56 pm

agathokles wrote:Indeed, but it depends on the nature of the other PCs. An elemental cleric, by his pact, is under an obligation to return the undead to the cycle of life and death.


I hadn't thought of that.
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Re: 30 Days of Dark Sun 13: Favorite undead creature?

Postby Havard » Wed Oct 19, 2016 9:56 pm

What are Dwarven Banshees? I like the idea of taking an elven phenomenon and making a dwarven version of it...

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Re: 30 Days of Dark Sun 13: Favorite undead creature?

Postby agathokles » Wed Oct 19, 2016 10:35 pm

Dwarven banshee are ghosts of dwarves who died without completing their chosen task. They are compelled to finish the task, but typically unable to do so.

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Re: 30 Days of Dark Sun 13: Favorite undead creature?

Postby Big Mac » Sun Oct 23, 2016 10:03 am

agathokles wrote:Dwarven banshee are ghosts of dwarves who died without completing their chosen task. They are compelled to finish the task, but typically unable to do so.


If the PCs want to bring a dead dwarf (who has turned into a banshee) back to life, do they need to help the banshee complete it's task, to turn the undead dwarf into a regular dead dwarf?
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Re: 30 Days of Dark Sun 13: Favorite undead creature?

Postby agathokles » Sun Oct 23, 2016 12:09 pm

I don't know. Consider that the banshee forfeited their task rather than just leaving it incomplete.
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Re: 30 Days of Dark Sun 13: Favorite undead creature?

Postby Big Mac » Tue Nov 01, 2016 1:16 pm

agathokles wrote:I don't know. Consider that the banshee forfeited their task rather than just leaving it incomplete.


So they are not just dwarves who got killed before they could complete their task? Are they supposed to have abandoned their task before they died?
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Re: 30 Days of Dark Sun 13: Favorite undead creature?

Postby agathokles » Tue Nov 01, 2016 4:08 pm

Yes. Dwarves who die while travelling the desert to complete their task could become a different type of undead (I don't remember the name right now), but that could happen to other races as well. The banshee has abandoned his task, and became undead for that reason, mostly (the task has also other psychological and physiological effects on Athasian dwarves, e.g. they get bonuses to all proficiency and saving throw rolls directly related to the task).

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Re: 30 Days of Dark Sun 13: Favorite undead creature?

Postby Big Mac » Fri Nov 04, 2016 12:40 am

agathokles wrote:Yes. Dwarves who die while travelling the desert to complete their task could become a different type of undead (I don't remember the name right now), but that could happen to other races as well. The banshee has abandoned his task, and became undead for that reason, mostly (the task has also other psychological and physiological effects on Athasian dwarves, e.g. they get bonuses to all proficiency and saving throw rolls directly related to the task).


Did they keep this rule for 4th Edition Dark Sun? Or did it get dropped?
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Re: 30 Days of Dark Sun 13: Favorite undead creature?

Postby Zeromaru X » Fri Nov 04, 2016 2:01 am

4e DSCS don't mention any undead dwarves, but maybe I'm just not taking into account Dragon magazines. I have to read the DS articles, but right now, on memory only, nope. It's mentioned about their single mindedness and their custom of fixing to do a task, but there's no rule of what happens if they abandon their task.
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Re: 30 Days of Dark Sun 13: Favorite undead creature?

Postby agathokles » Fri Nov 04, 2016 1:16 pm

No idea either. I was rereading and comparing the different versions, and indeed there are significant discrepancies between the different versions.
I'm reporting all of them in order of appearance:

Original campaign setting wrote:Actually, a dwarf's commitment to his focus is based in his physiology-those who complete their lives before they complete their foci live out their afterlives as banshees in the wastes, haunting their unfinished works!


Terrors of the Desert wrote:Dwarves who die before completing a major focus are often condemned to live out their afterlives as banshees. In unlife they haunt their unfinished work or quest, unable to bear the fact that someone else may complete what they could not.


Terror beyond Tyr wrote:Racked spirits vary in race, but dwarven banshees are the most common. Dwarven banshees are created whenever dwarves forsake their life purpose.

[...]

A dwarf who dies while resolving a focus is doomed to spend the remainder of its existence as a banshee, forever wandering the wastelands in vain attempts to
finish his work.


Revised campaign setting wrote:If a dwarf dies without completing his focus, the need remains so strong that the dwarf returns as an undead banshee to finish the task that drives him.


It seems to me that the original wording was that any dwarf who died with an incomplete focus would become a Banshee. In the Terrors of the Desert Banshee entry, the designer(s) likely realized this would mean that most dwarves would become Banshees, so the condition was changed to "a major focus", and banshees would not be created automatically (only "often") -- a dwarf who died while building a house would probably not become a Banshee. However, the original wording was reused in the Revised boxed set, as well as in the Athasian Dwarf entry in Terrors beyond Tyr. But, in the "Racked Spirit" entry in the same book, a completely different wording is used, indicating that only dwarves who forsake their focus and then die become Banshees. This is almost certainly due to the book having been designed by multiple people.

So:
  • Sources are not clear as to the frequency of foci among Dwarves. Do they take up a new focus immediately after completing the current one?
  • Sources are contradictory as to whether the Banshee is created from all dwarves dying without resolving their current focus (common to always), only most of those with an incomplete major focus (uncommon to rare), or only those who actively forsake their focus (very rare).

That's as much as it can be gathered from the source material. My opinion is as follows:
  • Banshees are automatically created when a dwarf dies after forsaking his focus (very rare condition);
  • Banshees are created when a dwarf dies without completing a major focus, with a likelihood proportional to the importance of the focus;
  • Banshees are not created when a dwarf dies without completing a minor focus, but other undead (such as Dhaots) might be created instead, if the conditions are appropriate.

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Re: 30 Days of Dark Sun 13: Favorite undead creature?

Postby agathokles » Fri Nov 04, 2016 1:21 pm

Zeromaru X wrote:4e DSCS don't mention any undead dwarves, but maybe I'm just not taking into account Dragon magazines. I have to read the DS articles, but right now, on memory only, nope. It's mentioned about their single mindedness and their custom of fixing to do a task, but there's no rule of what happens if they abandon their task.


That's not unexpected. In 4e, rules ("balance") typically takes precedence over the setting, and the focus rules for Athasian Dwarves are incompatible with 4e tenets, as the bonuses are highly circumstantial (the dwarf gets a bonus to any skill roll, provided it goes toward solving the current focus), and the penalties limited to roleplay. So, a dwarf PC could select "completing the adventure" as his focus, and get an automatic +1 on ST and +2 on skill rolls for the whole adventure...
I suspect the focus rules had to be removed for this reason, and since the dwarven banshee is closely tied with that rule, it was removed as well.

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