I have a love of lore. A consistent lore enables a world to be a common language among fans and a setting where players have a reasonable understanding of what to expect. So voluminous and rich was the 2e Dark Sun lore, the 4e Dark Sun could not match it. Instead, 4e hinted at people, places, or events covered more extensively in 2e. For example, 4e has a short section on the Kreen Khanates in the Hinterlands but is a far cry from the depth of the 2e Thri-kreen of Athas. The reason for 4e Dark Sun’s limited lore was in part so players and DM’s could explore and create the world. Extensive lore however is often seen as doing that for players.
Still, 2e and 4e had what might be called “large lore”. The City-States and their kings were the same, most landmarks were recognizable, and the general behavior of the world was intact. After all, large lore makes Dark Sun the setting that people recognize and want to play. If large lore helps define what the world is, “small lore” guides the game. Small lore are those little things like halflings not being able to cast arcane spells. As is apparent, small lore does not necessarily carry over from one edition to the next and often becomes the subject of setting wars were one group prefers the feel of one iteration of a setting or another. Dark Sun has plenty of examples of small lore that has changed and caused some strife: half-giants/goliaths, The Gray/Shadowfell, Elemental Clerics/Primal Magic, defiling mechanisms, etc. The reason for small lore being so varied is due to the setting having to conform to a set of rules, and so small lore often must change to fit them.
My thinking was, until recently, that all lore was sacred and mustn’t be interfered with, so I was one of those who pressed on in 4e with the Dark Sun provided but felt 2e still being definitive. My opinion has changed slightly from the desire to enable Dark Sun in Dungeon World. My original intent was to create a Dark Sun version of Dungeon world, but it comes down to need. What I needed was a set of Dungeon World characters for Dark Sun and to not ruin the Dungeon World experience. In doing so I found myself creating characters that were similar to 2e Dark Sun, though still kept much of what Dungeon World is. For the most part, I used already created characters which are themselves slight variations to Dungeon World classes. There were occasions that the already provided Dark Sun characters seemed to me either too complicated, deviated from the Dungeon World equivalents too much, or they needed some polish. So here are the characters that I have based on the original conversion. I originally tried to edit xml files on my Dungeon World fork but soon left the files alone as I found that hard to manage so the pdf is generated from a Word document where I had better formatting control:
I also had need for a condensed version where each character was only two pages:
Here are some notes on my adjustments:
- Weapons: I love Dragon 185’s Arena Master’s Arsenal. In fact, I love all the Athasian weapons and I always felt the weapons were never utilized enough. So in the characters provided I tried to include only Athasian weapons – no axes here, only carrikals. I also tried to get consistent weight and tags used throughout. Many are fragile which I discuss in a later post.
- Armor: I wasn’t as specific with armor though I tried to change all the armor for standard Dungeon-World characters to some semblance of an Athasian equivalent.
- Gear: Modest name changes of rations and changing potions to fruits.
- Races: This was a fun part of the process. selecting which races go with each class. I like the idea of minimizing the racial choice as that help get players to play a race they might normally play if they want to be a certain class. My choice of races came out of recalling the 2e novels and what race was found in what class and the 2e racial advancement charts. Some ended up the same as the original conversion and some didn’t.
- Bard: This was a tough one to reconcile. Athasian Bards are poisoners by trade having their arcane aspects removed for obvious reasons. The Dungeon World Thief however has being poisoner built in. So I concurred with the already created Dark Sun Bard version, but kept the thief’s poison ability intact.
- Cleric: I deviated much from the already known conversion because it looked too complicated with all the domains. Since the players I deal with are what I would call “advanced”, I kept the cleric much like it was but mentioned the elements where necessary. The idea being that a player would pick an element, get into the character, and make all the necessary thematic adjustments on their own. It is role-playing after all. The cleric spells got a make-over as well.
- Druid: Other than flavor text changes, very little rules or powers were changed from the default druid. I differed from the known conversion by making the lands a druid knows to be the common types in the Tyr region. The known conversion used more distinct locales (e.g. The Crimson Savannah and the The Lost Sea).
- Fighter: Here’s where all the weapons are pure Athas. Along with some flavor text changes, this make for a really fun character.
- Gladiator: From the previous conversion, I wrestled with it being in my game since I thought the fighter met the need. However it was clear that an arena-themed character was needed if not for adding the feel of Dark Sun then for the interesting arsenal concept.
- Psion: This is almost directly from another source and I found it to be very well done and completely suitable for Dark Sun. I did change the option of dwarf as a race to halfling however.
- Ranger: Animal companions were changed from the other conversion because I thought I could make a more logical list.
- Templar: As the other conversion did, this is based on the paladin, and it works quite well. I too tried to stay more true to the paladin’s moves on which the templar is based.
- Thief: The other conversion removed the poisoner aspect likely because the bard was given it. The result though was a thief with severally diminished choices in moves. I didn’t think only one character should have poisoning abilities, so I kept the thief much as it is in Dungeon World, poisoning and all.
- Wizard: Few changes compared to the Dungeon World wizard and some flavor text changes of the spells, but I also added defiling as a move which I have described previously.