The Alphastream Game Design Blog

Warming up for Dark Sun

Dark Sun logo

(Originally posted to my WotC blog in 2010 and updated over time)

Athas is hands-down my favorite all-time campaign setting. From the moment the Dark Sun 4E campaign setting and D&D Encounters season were announced, there was little I could do to stop thinking about Athas. It was only suitable that I share.

I began a new series of blogs. I also sent a bunch of tweets, with a different Dark Sun tip each day. The tips were all related to a central theme. Then I began to blog about the theme.

The combination of Twitter and blog was a fun way to explore the world of Athas before it was released for 4E. Much of what I wrote was an effort to educate new players or re-acclimate old players as they again turned to the setting. The blog entries added setting detail and helped both players and DMs think about the kind of Athas they wanted to experience.

Once the setting released I changed my approach, emphasizing tips for DMs for both Encounters and home play. I also became an admin for the Ashes of Athas organized play campaign, which was a huge responsibility! I was of course also running a home Dark Sun campaign. All of this led (and continues to lead) to many ideas and innovations I wanted to share. The blogs are collected below in the order they were posted.

Your comments are always appreciated.

Why Dark Sun was 4E’s Most Successful Setting (Part 1)

Why Dark Sun was 4E’s Most Successful Setting (Part 2)

Ambitious (Dark Sun) Adventure Design

Part 1: Traveling the Athasian Wastes

Part 2: Dark Sun’s Cast of Characters (Athasian Races)

Part 3: Classes and Themes in Athas

Part 4: Life and Death in an Athasian City-State

Part 5: Varied Threats – Understanding Athasian Terrain

Part 6: Bone, Wood, Stone, and Obsidian – Fighting in Athas

Part 7: Tips for Surviving as a Dark Sun DM

Part 8: Secret Organizations in Athas

Part 9: Another Age Begins! The Return of Athas

Not Dark Sun, but useful: Changing Adventure and Encounter Design

Part 10: Bringing the Heat – Starting a Dark Sun Campaign

Part 11: Storyboarding and Story Arcs

Part 12: PC’s, the Stars of the Show! (Part 1: PC Backstory)

Part 13: Part 2: Integrating PC Backstory

Part 14: Tavern Trouble and Taking Risks

Part 15: Breaking Patterns in Encounter Design 

Part 16: Breaking Patterns, pt 2: Session 8 (Sand Drake)

Part 17: Breaking Patterns, pt 3: Session 9 (Crescent Forest)

Part 18: Adventure Hacking: Session 10 (Temple of the Mind’s Eye)

Part 19: Poster Map Gallery (includes some Dark Sun maps)

Part 20: Making Silt Horror Minis!

Thank you for supporting my work on the DMs Guild!

Exploring the Ashes of Athas campaign

Ashes of Athas was a continuing 4e D&D campaign by Baldman Games set in the Dark Sun campaign setting. Chapters of three linked adventures were offered at major gaming conventions between 2011 and 2013. In total, 21 rounds of play were offered. Each adventure continued the story, beginning with your character being asked to aid a secretive faction of the Veiled Alliance against an unknown assailant. As a central character in the story, you have an opportunity to shape that future while you grow in power and prestige.

The adventures can now be ordered for home play! Send me a message through the contact form.

In addition, I began a series examining aspects of the adventure writing process:

Intro: Ashes of Athas – Looking Back on the Dark Sun Organized Play Campaign

AOA1-1 The Worth of a Slave:  Where to Begin

AOA1-2 The False and the True: The Development Process

AOA1-3 The True Lesson Learned: Ambitious (Dark Sun) Adventure Design

Rikus and Crew

Wizards of the Coast ran a 15-week session of the D&D Encounters program based in Dark Sun! You can find information on the D&D Encounters program in this EN World thread I maintain.

Thank you for supporting my work on the DMs Guild!

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This entry was posted on October 2, 2015 by and tagged , , .


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