[5e] Fifth Edition Race Updates for Athas

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[5e] Fifth Edition Race Updates for Athas

Postby VoidWalker » Thu Dec 08, 2016 5:07 pm

I didn't see any topics related to this here when I admittedly skimmed through the forum, so I thought it couldn't hurt to share my own efforts at updating the races of Dark Sun to 5th edition. I do have most of the previous edition materials - the Original, Revised and 4e Campaign Setting books, and the 3.5 update in Dragon Magazine #319 - but, still, I find it's always a good idea to get comments and feedback, just to further refine what's created.

Although I stuck with the most obvious and iconically "Athasian" of races, in the Mul and the Thri-Kreen, I am interested in trying my hand at Athasian Dwarf/Elf/Halfling subraces, if folks think that would work well.

Also, as a warning ahead of time, I don't agree with the "make the races more powerful because Dark Sun is a High Powered setting" mentality for race design. To me, that just means you can't really re-use the races elsewhere, even when homebrewing. If you want to convey a more "high powered" theme when playing Dark Sun, you can easily do things like start at a higher level than 1st, or give everyone a bonus feat and/or Ability Score Increase, or increase racial ability maximums.


Mul:
Ability Score Modifier: +2 Constitution, +1 Strength
Size: Medium
Speed: 30 feet
Vision: Normal
Tireless: A mul ignores the first level of Exhaustion it suffers, and regains two levels of Exhaustion when it completes a long rest.
Limitless Endurance: A mul increases its hit point maximum by 1 point and further increases it by +1 point each time it gains a level.
Dwarven Vitality: A mul has Advantage on saving throws against Poison and Resistance to Poison damage.


Thri-Kreen:
Ability Score Modifier: +2 Dexterity, +1 Wisdom
Size: Medium
Speed: 40 feet
Vision: Darkvision
Chameleon Carapace: A thri-kreen has Proficiency on Dexterity (Stealth) checks.
Standing Leap: A thri-kreen is always treated as having a running start when determining how far it can jump.
Many-Armed: A thri-kreen has two free actions per turn instead of only one.
Natural Weapons: A thri-kreen can choose to use its claws when making an Unarmed Strike. Using its Claws changes its attack's base damage to d4 slashing.
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Re: [5e] Fifth Edition Race Updates for Athas

Postby Big Mac » Fri Dec 09, 2016 8:45 am

VoidWalker wrote:IAlso, as a warning ahead of time, I don't agree with the "make the races more powerful because Dark Sun is a High Powered setting" mentality for race design. To me, that just means you can't really re-use the races elsewhere, even when homebrewing. If you want to convey a more "high powered" theme when playing Dark Sun, you can easily do things like start at a higher level than 1st, or give everyone a bonus feat and/or Ability Score Increase, or increase racial ability maximums.


I do like that approach.

I think that a separate Dark Sun house rule to make PCs more powerful would also make it easier for Dark Sun fans to import non-DS races into Dark Sun.

The 2e boxed set suggested starting above 1st level, but I've always thought it would be fun for players to create several PCs and run them through suicide missions (with high TPK risks) until all of the players have at least one PC that lives long enough to go up a few levels.
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Re: [5e] Fifth Edition Race Updates for Athas

Postby Tim Baker » Fri Dec 09, 2016 11:09 pm

Big Mac wrote:I've always thought it would be fun for players to create several PCs and run them through suicide missions (with high TPK risks) until all of the players have at least one PC that lives long enough to go up a few levels.

A 0-level Dark Sun funnel (to use Dungeon Crawl Classics terminology) is a great idea! This resonates with me. I may need to find a suitable adventure and run this....
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Re: [5e] Fifth Edition Race Updates for Athas

Postby Corsair14 » Mon Mar 06, 2017 9:52 pm

A few months old but then again, none of these forums are super active. Dark Sun was supposed to be bleak DnD hard mode. In 2nd edition all characters started at 3rd level and you made 4 characters as part of a tree. Fluffwise all the characters knew each other and were part of a loose adventuring group. When one character leveled up, one other character in the tree leveled up. Purpose being Dark Sun was so deadly that characters died often so it made bringing in new characters relatively seamless. There also were no subraces and most races existed pretty much together. Oddly enough in such a harsh world, there wasn't a lot of racism.

You are missing the other iconic race from DS, Half Giants.
I never played 4th ed as I hated the system with a passion that stopped me from playing D&D for years, so I don't know how well they ported DS over from 2nd ed. I heard they were allowing races like dragonborn which totally turned me off since DS is supposed to be a totally unique world with nothing from other worlds present. Even their multiverse spanning spelljammer and planescape systems didn't go there(crimson space was player made if I remember right).

Historically all other races traditionally in other worlds were totally eradicated by the war that turned Athas into the hellish world it is today. Gnomes for example are completely extinct. Lizardmen would be except they were put into suspended animation to hide them and I think most of whats left still are, been awhile since I perused Mindsea.


Some other things to try and figure out for 5th.

I always found coming up with suitable treasures being the hardest part of running a darksun campaign. Metal is super rare, you wont just find it in a treasure horde. There are no real super dungeons and no reason to go in them. Doing the first few rooms even of Undermountain for example and the PCs would be set up in luxury for years. Find a few copper pieces and you are good for a month or two. So when you finally find the treasure horde of the big monster that has been raiding the caravan route, you find "Oh look, a red and black obsidian sword and a satchel of water skins...yay."



Barbarians would have a massive advantage in Darksun since no one else can really wear much armor without dying of heat exhaustion. So you have to come up with a way to balance them and have reason to have actual fighters and gladiators.

I don't know if 4th had it but in 2nd ed, everyone had psionic wild powers. Now the simple wild powers are easy, make them be a limited slot general cantrip type thing usable once every long rest and call it a day. I don't think 5th has done psionics as a general ability so now you have to figure that out and come up with what they do.
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Re: [5e] Fifth Edition Race Updates for Athas

Postby Tim Baker » Mon Mar 06, 2017 10:58 pm

Corsair14 wrote:I heard they were allowing races like dragonborn which totally turned me off since DS is supposed to be a totally unique world with nothing from other worlds present.

In 4e, the Dark Sun designers used the dragonborn stats but reskinned the race as the dray, created by the sorcerer-king Dregoth.

Corsair14 wrote:I don't know if 4th had it but in 2nd ed, everyone had psionic wild powers.

This carried over in 4e as well.
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Re: [5e] Fifth Edition Race Updates for Athas

Postby zontoxira » Wed May 24, 2017 3:34 pm

A little late, too, but since I've done some effort on updating the Athasian races, I felt I could share my two ceramics.
The setting, and subsequently every race, was intentionally high-powered due to the harsh and unforgiving nature of the world. Mortality rates were high (hence the character tree concept), encounters were often deadly, and the constant need for food and water meant the characters had to plan ahead before venturing out. Bear in mind that 2e ability scores didn't hand out any bonuses until after 14-15, so DS characters needed an extra oomph to cope with such daily hazards. And of course, higher level meant more chances to survive, that is, more hits to endure before collapsing. I don't want to touch on how broken were the races/classes on Athas because frankly, this is a topic by itself.
With the advent of 3e however, and a rules system that tried to balance everything out, things were different, and Athasian races didn't need that extra gain to fight off the baddies. We can see how 4e handled the whole thing, and 5e has simplified things a bit more, making for an easy-going game. Characters in 5e are capable enough to survive on Athas, you don't need to make them more powerful.
Now, on to your proposals. They look just fine. I would argue that Muls don't ignore the first level of exhaustion but instead are able to remove one level between short/long rests. Also, the many-armed thri-kreen needs to be specially handled; having four arms and being a monstrosity means a lot of stuff to take into consideration, like what are your capabilities (four combat-ready arms, upper limbs for combat and middle limbs for using/manipulating objects) and which spells affect you.
You can have a look at my latest post, Half-Giants and Thri-Kreen of Athas, where I briefly discuss the design process (actually, the discussion is found here).
Have a look at my Dark Sun Reconstruction Project at Homebrewery or Dark Sun 5e files at Google Drive
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