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Dark Sun 4E

Posted: Thu Jun 13, 2019 11:15 pm
by talsine
Has anyone where had a lot of experience running Dark Sun 4E? I have the books, but I never got a chance to use them since by the time I got them, my group had moved onto either Gamma World and /or Earthdawn and then we never circled back.

I really loved playing Dark Sun in 2E (it also had some of the best video game adaptations released for a setting) but that was the last time I got to try it and since 4E is my preferred version of D&D, here's hoping someone can help me out.

Re: Dark Sun 4E

Posted: Thu Jun 13, 2019 11:39 pm
by Zeromaru X
I've played a short campaign (it lasted about 4 months) using the 4e sourcebooks. So, I can help you out. What do you need? :mrgreen:

Re: Dark Sun 4E

Posted: Thu Jun 13, 2019 11:55 pm
by talsine
How well did it capture the feel of 2E Dark Sun? I saw that they did their best to integrate the non-metal parts of the gear, but with magic items such an important part of the math for character progression, i was afraid it would break down without building in some kind of replacement for that.

Re: Dark Sun 4E

Posted: Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:24 am
by Zeromaru X
Well, I never played the 2e version of Dark Sun, so I guess I cannot help you there, but...
talsine wrote:
Thu Jun 13, 2019 11:55 pm
with magic items such an important part of the math for character progression, i was afraid it would break down without building in some kind of replacement for that.
With this, I can help.

By RAW, magic items aren't available to players unless the DM really wants it. In the Campaign Setting, is advised that players talk to their DMs to see if a magic item can undermine the mood and tone, and is specifically stated that "adventurers cannot hoard wealth and accumulate magic items as they might in another setting".

The solution to the math of the game and character progression is given by adapting an optional rule first introduced in the DMG 2: the fixed enhancement bonuses mechanic. Using this mechanic, the characters gain appropriate bonuses at certain levels to attack, defenses, damage and critical damage, to account for the bonuses they lost for the lack of magic items. You can check this rule in page 209 of the Dark Sun Campaign Setting, or in page 138 of the DMG 2.

Re: Dark Sun 4E

Posted: Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:30 am
by talsine
Zeromaru X wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:24 am
Well, I never played the 2e version of Dark Sun, so I guess I cannot help you there, but...
talsine wrote:
Thu Jun 13, 2019 11:55 pm
with magic items such an important part of the math for character progression, i was afraid it would break down without building in some kind of replacement for that.
With this, I can help.

By RAW, magic items aren't available to players unless the DM really wants it. In the Campaign Setting, is advised that players talk to their DMs to see if a magic item can undermine the mood and tone, and is specifically stated that "adventurers cannot hoard wealth and accumulate magic items as they might in another setting".

The solution to the math of the game and character progression is given by adapting an optional rule first introduced in the DMG 2: the fixed enhancement bonuses mechanic. Using this mechanic, the characters gain appropriate bonuses at certain levels to attack, defenses, damage and critical damage, to account for the bonuses they lost for the lack of magic items. You can check this rule in page 209 of the Dark Sun Campaign Setting, or in page 138 of the DMG 2.
Ah, I have totally used that rule for my own low magic games, it never occurred to me that they created it as a way to "fix' this issue in Dark Sun. Thats actually a pretty great idea and it does work very well. Thank you!

Re: Dark Sun 4E

Posted: Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:49 pm
by Big Mac
I've always thought that the "Points of Light" concept sounded like something that would fit with the Dark Sun campaign setting a lot easier than a lot of the other classic D&D campaign settings.

Have you looked at the new non-core 4e Dark Sun material, that is out there, Talsine?

WotC had some products, but there is also the Ashes of Athas material that Baldman Games published.

Re: Dark Sun 4E

Posted: Fri Jun 14, 2019 9:17 pm
by Tim Baker
I ran several Dark Sun adventures using 4e. Zeromaru already answered your question about magic items, and did an excellent job.

In regards to the tone, I never ran Dark Sun in 2e, but did own the boxed sets and read them prior to running my 4e games. I like 4e's take on Dark Sun, but it does feel different to me. 2e's Dark Sun felt more mysterious. Less of the setting had been fleshed out, so it really seemed likely that there was nothing beyond the small area that was detailed in that boxed set. It was as if the despoiling of the world had snuffed out life except in this last downtrodden area, clinging to life. It explained why things were the way they were – there was nowhere else to go. It wasn't explicit, but that was my take when the boxed set didn't communicate that there was more to the world off the sides of the map, as so many other settings do (or at least I overlooked it if that was in there).

The power levels are also different. While 2e characters started at a higher level, which I thought was really cool, they were still fragile compared to the challenges of the setting. 4e characters are so much more robust than 2e, the extra levels weren't needed. Add themes and wild talents, and Dark Sun characters are even a tad more capable than their counterparts in other settings. I don't remember there being direction to amp up encounters so they weren't balanced in the Creature book either, so in typical 4e fashion, I threw one challenging but beatable encounter after another at my PCs. The players had a great time, but it was aligned with other 4e experiences, rather than something that felt brutal the way 2e describes the world.

If you enjoy Dark Sun and would like to learn more about the changes between 2e, 3e, and 4e, I suggest the Bone, Stone, and Obsidian podcast.

Re: Dark Sun 4E

Posted: Fri Jun 14, 2019 11:44 pm
by talsine
Tim Baker wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 9:17 pm
If you enjoy Dark Sun and would like to learn more about the changes between 2e, 3e, and 4e, I suggest the Bone, Stone, and Obsidian podcast.
I will check this out today, i tend to listen to podcasts on my lunch, this will be perfect for today. Thank you for the suggestion!