Friday, April 30, 2010

Worldbuilding: Classes



That's right. Two days, two posts. I went there.

Here is a guy telling his trained pigeon to stop slacking off and get to work.

As far as classes go, I already know I don't want major changes. First, if this is to be a setting where I can throw in stuff from any book I feel like, I probably shouldn't screw with the base classes. Second, I am definitely not qualified to tinker with the game balance, even if this is 3.5 D&D where some classes get save-or-die spells while others get bonus feats. Third, I'm lazy.

That leaves us with "flavor" changes, which I much prefer anyway. I will probably come back and add more later, but whatever, that's fine. I actually find that most of the mechanical flavours of the setting get sorted out later, anyway. We're just setting a baseline.

So, in alphabetical order because why not:

Barbarian

Most of the campaigns I run in this setting tend to be more... political, I suppose. They do not necessarily hinge on roleplaying, but generally the adventuring the PCs do is either in or on the fringes of a large civilisation where, I would assume, you see less barbarians. Still, I won't stop anyone from playing them, and I can't see why they wouldn't be around.

Maybe I should make room for barbarians, somewhere. It would be a nice change of pace from the rest of the setting. Also, back when I drew a crappy map of one continent of the setting I left a big blank area and wrote "UM" in it because I had nothing, so my PCs decided for me that this was the domain of the Um barbarian horde. I kind of like the Unearthed Arcana totem barbarians and this could be a good place to use them. I'll make a note of it.

Also, when I think of barbarians I always think of Diablo II, and I always had a soft spot for my barbarian with his leaping attacks and giant axe, even if I mostly played with friends who hoovered up all the gems and armor while I died to protect them.

Oh, and: No more frenzied berserkers.

Bard

Bards are awesome.

That doens't help, though. Thinking about it, the bards in my games tend to be less "wandering performers" and more like adventurers and diplomats (because everybody loves diplomancers). I know Eberron handles them like that, at least partly, and puts a bit more focus on their magical power being connected to music; that's a good idea, but I should probably do something more related to the diplomacy thing.

I know bards get Knowledge, so spinning an idea from the top of my head: Bardic traditions (in this setting) started out in whatever they call "the past" as a religious and philosophical movement in magical circles which revolved around music, musica universalis, whatever. Nowadays the philosophy behind it isn't as important, it's just another kind of magic, but there are still Bardic Schools, institutions that focus on cerebral pursuits like recording history, acting as diplomats to bring peace to the world, studying the arcane and rocking out. I could probably make up some feats for them or something.

Believing in some kind of divine music could make for interesting religious bards. Some of the races in this setting tend to be very religious, so it might be worth looking into. Maybe I could let them have a domain or something.

There are Unearthed Arcana class variants that I could look into as well. They'd definitely fit for some of the bardic schools, at least.

Cleric

Eat a butt, cleric. You're good enough already!

I'm going to put a minor smackdown on what you can and can't worship as a cleric, though. No wishy-washy "I worship an abstract concept or something dumb, like a tree, and pretty much act like a wizard with divine spells!" rubbish. To quote Isaac Asimov, aw hell naw. If your cleric worships the abstract concept of goodness or, all right, a tree, you better believe in it really hard. Strive to be the epitome of treeness like no man has ever strived before.

Also, clerics seem like they would be very interested in religion and whatnot, so why do they only get 2 skill points a level? Maybe it's just me, but I feel that most clerics would at least have a smattering of religious knowledge, but that doesn't leave many points for other things. Maybe I could add a class ability that grants extra skill points specifically for Knowledge skills.

Other than that, they're fine as they are. Most of the cleric tweaking I'll be doing is expanding the deities they can take later, and I encourage PCs to come up with minor gods if they wish - I always liked the idea of pantheons picking up a string of forgotten demigods and extremely minor deities through the ages, like barnacles on a whale's arse, so you can have people worshipping the god of Ornate Doors or something.

There was one thing I am considering - a while ago I made up a domain for a trickster god who encouraged his followers to infiltrate other churches and mess about, and I'm not sure how well it works any more. Here it is in its entirety, if anyone has suggestions:

TRICKSTER'S DOMAIN
Granted Power: Every morning, while preparing his spells, a cleric with this domain chooses another deity and a domain to prepare spells from. (He could, for example, choose Pelor and prepare spells from Pelor's Sun domain.) The cleric still cannot cast spells of an alignment opposed to his own.

A cleric with this domain also cannot use the highest-level domain slot he has access to. (If he had up to 3rd-level spells, for example, he can only prepare domain spells up to 2nd level.) A cleric who only has access to the 1st domain slot can use, it though.

Druid

You also don't get any more free stuff, druid. Screw you.

There's a druid country in the setting, though the lack of a name for it that I remember for more than a week will tell you everything you need to know about what I had planned for it. For all I know it could be a theocracy that worships the nature deity Codzilla, radioactive fish from the sea.

Still, I always acted like most druids - at least, human ones - tended to be part of a "circle", a sort of loose collection of druids that either watched over a specific territory or followed a specific philosophy of what I assume is called druidism. I don't think they'd have a specific unified purpose, except maybe in druid land.

Maybe I should come back to this later when I have more fluff set in stone.

Fighter

Bahahahahahahahahahaha.

Monk

I haven't seen many monks, though unlike the fighter it is probably for fluff reasons. Anyway, I don't think these guys need changing. Like the bards, I should probably focus on developing the monasteries they probably dwell in.

A lot of monks in this setting will be dwarves. I'll explain why in a post about races. I'm not sure if that's important, though. I do get the feeling I could do more for monks, but like I said, nobody's really used them and I'm not sure of their exact place yet - though I might give them Knowledge (history). This setting is starting to get a bit of a "lore and knowledge are awesome" focus.

Paladin

I saw a variant paladin I really liked on the Wizards boards, once. I saved it. No, I'm not uploading it. I might trade it for the "standard" paladin, though.

Anyway, they seem fine. I am once again considering a class ability to get some skill points for Knowledge, though. Maybe I just don't like having low skill points.

There's the code, of course, but that should be fine because I am running this setting and I'm not a complete dongrobot. See, I see the Code and I actually take note of the part that says a paladin has to "grossly violate" it to lose his powers. To me that says the paladin is only human and accepts that sometimes he might have no other choice, and his deity is willing to look the other way for a minute if it's only a minor infraction. But that's just my interpretation.

Maybe different Codes for different orders would be a good idea too, but that's also something for later.

Variant paladins also have my interest, but I don't want someone just being a paladin of freedom so they can do what they like. I'll have to think about it.

Ranger

Apparently the ranger is for people who want to be fighters but not Fighters. I tend to (sometimes unfairly, I'll admit) see things like CharOp and making "character builds" instead of characters a symptom of autism, but even I can see that the fighter is the lamesauce in the condiment tray of 3.5.

Urban rangers will probably find more of a use here, so if I prepare a setting booklet for my players at any point I should probably mention that. Or make the nature ranger a variant of the standard urban Ranger. Gasp!

Anyway, the ranger's role is actually pretty clear, even if it seems to be "a much better variant fighter for people who want to be a Tolkien character". Doesn't need much changing, but I should consider which regions, races and groups would have lots of rangers in them sometime.

Rogue

Rogues don't need much tweaking, really. The class covers so many different kinds of characters that there's no point, anyway. I like leaving it broad.

Sorcerer

I dropped the spellcasting requirement of Craft (alchemy) a long time ago, by the way. I heard it's a common house rule, but I could be wrong.

Anyway, sorcerers. Did you know that they're supposed to be feared, lonely people in D&D? Would you know that from looking at any PC sorcerer? In my experience, anyway, they tend to be charismatic wizards that don't need books.

So what the hell. Let's say sorcerers aren't feared and scorned, but rather viewed as a less "learned" mage. There's still some prejudice there, but it's manageable.

As far as the source goes... well, this setting has had Eberron's approach to magic so far. Lots of low-level magic, not much high-level. In that kind of environment, a sorcerer's powers could conceivably be traced back to a mere mortal spellcaster in their background, or something. Maybe powerful casters produce sorcerer babies more often, or something.

Not that dragon heritage isn't a nice idea too, if it fits the character. I may as well make it multiple-choice since I think most people do anyway. Since this setting is probably demon-heavy, that could be another source! I could allow Spellcraft checks or research to determine the "origin" of a sorcerer's magic, but I'd have to think about that.

Wizard

Again, the wizard doesn't need much tweaking. Like the monk and the bard and so on, most of my "tweaking" will just be working out different organisations wizards could be a part of, and most of those will probably be represented by PrCs (though, as autistic people tell me, only ones with full spellcasting progression are worth it).

Well...

Okay. Wizards are learned sages and one of the few classes to be able to take all Knowledge skills, but they get hardly any points to spend on them? What the hell, let's give them more skill points for Knowledge as a class ability.

Psionics

I have used psions before - well, mostly allowed players to take psionic classes. I've rarely regretted it - the worst psionic character I ever saw was actually a druid that picked "Elan" as a race as part of an elaborate excuse to be able to wild shape into anything. Anyway, most of them picked soulknives.

I'm not sure what to do here, though. Psionics, with its (quasi-)scientific names for everything and its common use in soft sci-fi (like that sequel to Warhammer, Starcraft) always seemed a bit out-of-place in a fantasy setting. It's similar to magic, even related, but no amount of "spell resistance works against psionics for balance reasons!" will shake that feeling for me.

On the other hand, my setting has aliens, spaceshspelljammers and a higher level of tech than your standard medieval fantasy, so I suppose we could make some allowances. I'll have to think hard about it, though.

Tome of Battle Weeaboo Fitan Magic Battle

I have no problem with it. I hear mixed things (from "it makes fighters competitive!" to "it makes fighters wizards who get all their spells back every five minutes!"), but I have used it and it was pretty alright. I haven't used it enough to know maneuvers or anything from memory, but oh well, whatever.

Fighter-type classes are always easy to introduce. They're just dudes who hit other dudes with swords or, with the right feats, a third dude.

Weeaboo Classes

Samurai, ninja etc. can stay in the obligatory generic mix-and-match Asian person land with few exceptions.

Other Classes

Most base classes will be allowed. Which would be more common, though?

Like I said, the setting has a fair bit of low-level magic and "magitech" compared to other settings. Since Eberron was a setting designed for that sort of thing, I think it would be appropriate to allow Artificers.

I like archivists. I hear they are also OP or broken or something, but they're a spellcaster class in 3.5 so that is probably a given. They can be like paladins, except instead of being a physically stronger cleric they can be a nerdier one.

Binders I am already using, sort of. I think I mentioned this last post. Ancient magical traditions, coming back in one particular kingdom, blah blah.

I can do something with warlocks. They can get their powers from demons and whatnot. If I want to crib from 4th Edition I can also have them get their powers from fairies and Cthulhu and they can be in a glorified pen-and-paper MMO. Oh snap! Seriously though, that sounds fun. I don't think they'd be common, though.

Apart from that, nothing else needs its own fluff. I think. Some of them (I'm looking at you, Tome of Magic) are pretty... unique, but not common enough in the setting to need much detail. Not right now, at least.

I should start getting into the meat of the fluff now.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Worldbuilding: Game Design Loops and Mechanics




Here is a picture of a man preparing to hit his hand with a spiky hammer.

Anyway.

I was going to write about mechanics and class, but we'll get to that in a bit. First I wanted to mention that I had another thought about how to plan this setting's theme since I wrote about it last post.
It's not too surprising. I always thought designing settings and adventures worked in loops: You plan some things out, then you build on that and move on to other things, and in the process you get ideas that improve and refine whatever it is you thought you were already done with. At least I'm getting this one early.

Earlier, I got hold of a copy of The Neverhood, an extremely awesome point-and-click adventure game from 1996. It has been one of my favourite games for a while, despite being unable to beat it when I last had it because I was using XP and it refused to run the bloody thing without crashing a short way in, but whatever.

While beating a fourteen-year-old game it occured to me that one of the reasons I liked the game was the strange, alien setting. Then it occured to me to look at some of my other favourite games, and in no particular order:

  • The Neverhood - A game made entirely in claymation about a clay man called Klayman in a pretty clay world. The setting has a backstory about demigod-like creator beings and the worlds they create out of clay, which is 25,000 words long and written on an extremely long clay wall (which the game makes you cross twice, just to be a jerk).
  • Oddworld - A series with anti-corporate overtones set on a strange alien world, populated by strange humanoid aliens. The artwork is amazing, from the vast dirty factory environments to the mystical jungle temples. At least, it was in the first two games. Never got around to playing the Xbox ones.
  • Creatures - First game I ever owned, actually. An artificial life series where the player raises and cares for the Norns, creatures inhabiting the edge of a disc-shaped planet left behind by an alien race which managed to map out their own genome and fix all their genetic errors before inventing the wheel.
  • Team Fortress 2 - Pretty much an excuse for teams of people to shoot each other, but TF2's backstory is being slowly fleshed out. It is also completely, pants-on-head ridiculous. In an awesome way.
  • World of Goo - Help sentient blobs of goo form structures to lead other blobs of goo to pipes so a faceless corporation can suck them up, and then you get trapped in the Internet or something. Apparently a metaphor for working at EA or something. (EA had me as "suck" and lost me at "up".)
  • The Misadventures of PB Winterbottom - A newer game I picked up recently and really liked. A gentleman thief in a Victorian-themed city goes on time-travelling adventures and causes time paradoxes while chasing a magical flying talking pie. Or something.

I could list more, but the emerging pattern is obvious - all of these games were clearly written by awesome people who should probably not be allowed to take certain kinds of drugs.

Anyway, it's pretty obvious that I like weird, offbeat settings that don't necessarily make sense if you think about them too much. I should probably take note of that when working on this one.


Anyway, mechanics.

A while ago I tried making a "collaborative setting" after getting the idea from a copy of Dragon - basically a bunch of people getting together to craft a setting. It didn't go very well, usually because people were more interested in making sure a handful of things they liked made it in than designing the rest. In fact I tried it twice with similar results each time (a feeling that smacking myself with a spiky hammer would have been more fun, mostly).

Mechanical issues were rarely touched on except by about one person per group. One was focused on statting up a suspiciously powerful PC race, which wasn't much of a problem, and the other one would mostly talk about how we should consider what system to use and whether we should come up with an entirely new one first until people got annoyed,

The whole thing taught me several lessons. One, I ahould probably do most of the design myself if I want to be completely happy with it. Two, demons will appear in everything I ever make unless I avoid them on purpose. And three, give some serious consideration to the mechanics you're going to use in the early planning stages.

I already use 3.5 Edition Dungeons & Dragons when running this setting, so that is what I will use (unless I decide to switch to 4E sometime). Bam. Done. In hindsight that was a lot of words for such a fast conclusion.

Anyway, now that I've done that, I should probably decide what races, classes, books, etc. to allow in the setting.

First, I should note that since this setting started as a generic thing that anything could go into, there probably won't be many restrictions on race, class, etc. In the past I've allowed a lot of things provided I can find a way to work it into the setting myself, with much success (except for the guy who made up a nation for his elf subrace and then two neighbouring nations after I told him not to, and the one who rewrote my setting's history to accomodate their homebrew race. I promise to tell that story sometime). So for now, let's put races aside and come back to it after I've settled on class mechanics and such.

Are there any classes I want to ban or alter? I won't consider prestige classes, because that makes the list of things I need to consider way too damn long. Sticking only with 3.5 base classes, then, we narrow it down to:

Archivist, Ardent, Artificer, Barbarian, Bard, Beguiler, Binder, Cleric, Crusader, Divine Mind, Dragon Shaman, Dragonfire Adept, Dread Necromancer, Druid, Duskblade, Erudite, Factotum, Favored Soul, Fighter, Healer, Hexblade, Knight, Lurk, Incarnate, Marshal, Monk, Mystic, Ninja, Noble, Paladin, Psion, Psychic Warrior, Ranger, Rogue, Samurai, Scout, Shadowcaster, Shaman, Sha' ir, Shugenja, Sohei, Soulborn, Soulknife, Sorcerer, Spellthief, Spirit Shaman, Swashbuckler, Swordsage, Totemist, Truenamer, Warblade, Warlock, Warmage, Wilder, Wizard and Wu Jen.

Son of a bitch.

First, let's say no to incarnum. I have never seen anyone use Magic of Incarnum except for one guy, and he only wanted a couple of feats for powergaming reasons. I'm sure it's alright, I just can't be bothered. Second, all oriental-themed classes can go back to the obligatory Far East mishmash country I will almost definitely have lying around somewhere. Third, let's just forget about all the optional base classes from splat books for now and allow them as needed.

Except binders, anyway. I am currently running a campaign which introduces binders to the setting as reviving the magical practices of a dead civilisation, so I know how they work already.

Do I want to alter the base classes at all to flavour the setting a bit?

It's a good idea, though I'm not sure where to start. Now that I've written this far I feel this probably deserves its own post, maybe two. I'll get around to it later, then, but first I'll mention a few ideas in my head:

  • Clerics. I'd like to be a bit more specific in what they can and can't do. Allowing them to be devoted to ideals and concepts is all well and good, but once you've seen someone make a cleric that doesn't worship anything in particular and somehow place it in the upper ranks of a church in its backstory it starts to get silly.
  • Rangers. What the hell are they for anyway?
  • Wizards. For a bunch of smart guys they sure don't get many skill points, but I tend to portray wizards as sages and scholars. Maybe I should let them take more Knowledge skills, I don't know.
  • Magic. It's used a lot in this setting and if there's anywhere I could mix things up a bit, it's in the magical realm. That just gives me more work to do, but whatever.
  • Paladins. I don't know, I really like them. Is there a way to improve them? They seem all right to me, but then I don't try to make paladins trip for shits and giggles.
  • Seriously, what the hell are rangers for?

I'll try and get back in a few days with more stuff about classes. Hopefully I can move on to races as well.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Worldbuilding: The Magical Adventure Continues



In keeping with the "theme" of this series, here is a picture of a man trying to restore power to his groin. It's a long story.

Anyway, let's start jiggering with this setting. Or something.

Before I do anything else this time, I should establish what I want the core concepts of the setting to be. Tone, mostly. That's easy - looking back on previous games and checking with my players tells me that I prefer light-hearted games, or at least it would if I bothered. I didn't, because I already knew that.

What else? "Softer" games are fine, but there needs to be more than that. If you look at other settings, most of them have something - at the risk of sounding massively pretentious here, I will use the technical term here and call it a thingy - which defines the setting and sets it apart from the rest. Planescape has conflicts of philosophy and belief, Dark Sun has "everyone is thirsty and psionic", Eberron has low-level magitek and politics, Forgotten Realms has Elminster (I kid, I kid)...

I also know that there have been so many settings, "official" and homebrew, that whatever I do is not going to be super original. So I shouldn't worry about that, though I'd prefer not to just rip from someone else. Doesn't mean I can't use them as a jumping point, though!

Out of the ones I just presented, I really like Planescape and Eberron, though I am terrible at politics sometimes. What else? If I examine what I have put in my games before, a short list of common factors pops up:

  • Demons


Aaand list over.

I'm not sure why but I really like demons. I've started to branch out to other outsiders lately, but almost every single game I have ever run in this setting has eventually had everything blamed on demons. Wizard tries to explode the world? Demons. Giant monsters plague kingdom? Demons. Out of toilet paper? Demons.

So I guess outsiders should play a part, though not outsiders in general and probably not that often; my "steampunk" setting already has them showing up all over the place.

I could make "religion" a focus, though I always worry about offending someone if I go that route (but hey, it's a roleplaying game, screw those guys!).

I may as well go the simple route and push a bunch of these together: Let Otherworld have low-level magitek and make the core concept/thingy of the setting be that the forces of Good (mostly religious orders) are fighting against the world's corruption by demons.

I don't want it to be grim and dark, though, and I think it would make this setting a little different if the forces of Good were more obviously winning than, say, Warhammer or its space-themed sister game, Starcraft. They'd still have a long way to go, though.

I'm not done yet, but at least I've identified a place to start. I can probably start on the actual races and such now.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Worldbuilding and Whatnot


Okay, so as I wrote this obligatory "yes that was an April 1 post" paragraph, I noticed the last entry also had one paragraph which had been poorly-written and made no sense. That has been fixed now. D&D blogs are serious business.

Alright.

I am going to try posting more often, but I found I couldn't bring myself to make an image-less post, so here is a man trying to power up his meat cigar. I'll try and work it into the post later.


So recently two of my games hit the one-year mark: The future-Earth-psychic-students-on-the-moon-with-mecha game I mentioned in this post, and Planescape Magical Girls, which I can't be bothered to find in my previous posts.

I'm not sure which surprises me more, actually having more than one game which lasted more than a year and successfully wrapped up a campaign arc (which both of those have) or the fact that a game about magical girls in Planescape which I started as a joke last April Fool's has lasted a year and is considered to be a genuinely good game by the players, or at least so they tell me. (Actually, one of them mostly tells me how much he sucks, since the others had a few critiques of his playstyle and that's easier than doing anything about it, but still!)

One thing that struck me a little later was that both of those were done in BESM in their own settings. I haven't actually played much of my "standard" Dungeons & Dragons setting lately.

I had one game in D&D recently, but it was set in a different steampunk setting I wanted to try out (and that also lasted a year and completed a campaign arc, but it's now postponed until I can sort out a better time.) There was also my 4th Edition game, but that doesn't count - it was to introduce some friends of mine who asked to D&D and to try out 4th Edition for myself, and it wasn't in my standard setting anyway.

In fact, it seems like I've been deliberately avoiding using that setting for a while. Why, though? I'm not quite sure, but I think I suspect - I feel my setting isn't compelling enough. When I'm picking a setting, I want something cool and interesting, and Otherworld does not seem to be either.

That's my fault, though - see, Otherworld started off as a homebrew setting for its own sake. When I first began DMing I felt a little awkward about using Forgotten Realms or something else - existing settings with a wealth of material on them I didn't know - because I feared I'd accidentally "ruin" them. So, I just created Otherworld and dumped everything I liked from other settings into there, fleshing out only what I had to in order to run my game.

Later, I decided to make it a "proper" setting - which, I felt, required having detail on a larger scale. I added quite a lot of things, removed other things, and added "placeholder" ideas until finally it was a working setting. Unfortunately, since I hadn't started with a clear idea of what I wanted to do, it was just a big mash of ideas, some of which made as much sense as an electric meat cigar. (Ha!)

I'd more-or-less fleshed out Otherworld according to the steps I've previously suggested are how most D&D settings are made:


  1. Start with an idea which was probably shit anyway
  2. "Borrow" or "pay homage to" things from other settings you like (read: steal blatantly)
  3. Toss a few more ideas you had on the way in there
  4. Do #2 again
  5. Complain liberally about the things about other settings you don't like, contemplate how these things could be better, put them in
  6. Have an original idea
  7. Make up something you can actually use as the plot of a campaign
  8. Watch your players ignore most of it
  9. Retcon things like there's no tomorrow
  10. Repeat steps 2, 4 and honestly pretty much every step including this one.

Do I just keep doing that? I don't know. Otherworld's problems seem tied into the setting itself - it lacks a clear theme, a purpose other than "generic fantasy setting", and if I want to make it compelling enough to want to run more games in it it needs those things. To get those things, though, I pretty much have to revamp everything.

Retconning the hell out of it didn't work before, though, so I should build from the ground up - identify what I want out of the setting, and then mold what I already have to suit that. Like adapting settings to fit new editions of D&D without the massive flame wars.

I think I'll take a shot at that this month. We can do it together!

It will be like a magical adventure.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Cactus Is Kind Of A Jerk




Recently I was stopped in the street by a fan who couldn't wait until I made my appearance at Gen Con™ Australia to ask me when I would discuss official settings, a topic I haven't returned to since a previous highly illuminating post about Planescape, which ranked up there as one of the biggest English dungmuffins of 2nd Edition until the kind-hearted souls at Wizards of the Coast took it behind the shed and mercifully blew its brains out all over the fucking wall.

Well, here it is.

Dark Sun was a campaign setting devised for 1st Edition and eventually carried over until 2nd Edition, where it continued happily until it suddenly fell over and died in 1994 for reasons nobody can quite discern. Here is a standard Dark Sun adventure:



  • You are in a desert. It is kinda thirsty and you have been drinking your camel's pee in desperation for about a week.

  • You are sent on a quest to go check out some ruins by some guy nobody cares about.

  • A psychic bear tries to eat your face.

  • Someone name-drops some god-moding NPC who gets all the sweet things you don't.

  • You eat your camel.

  • You find the ruins. They have a dungeon.

  • Everybody dies.



As it happens, I’ve never played Dark Sun in my thirty years of tabletop gaming, so don't take everything I say to be fact. I don't really want to make any comment on the quality of Dark Sun right now.

On the other hand, that might be because everyone knows Dark Sun is a steaming pile of 2nd-edition Gygaxian bullshit which imposed ridiculously arbitrary restrictions on spellcasters simply to make the player's life harder.

So when I found out that it was getting an update in 4th Edition - an actual update, not the Pathfinder conversion it got in Dragon #319 - I was a little surprised.

However, D&D is a collaborative game, and if a useless asshole like Rich Burlew can get a gig at TSR maybe I can lend a hand too.

So, my ideas for 4th Edition Dark Sun:


  • Don't half-ass the water thing. Dark Sun takes pains to stress that Athas has no large bodies of water, but rather seas of silt, and then basically goes and says "Oh, well there are oceans, but we're hiding them behind these giant mountains populated by Mary Sue halflings." What the hell, Wizards. What the hell.

  • Magic. So you can't be a wizard, but you can use psionics, which (in a sort of open secret) is almost completely indistinguishable from magic? It is basically magic's annoying little cousin, the one that nobody likes except a doting grandmother who has been kicked out of three schools for openly masturbating. Why can't you just allow wizards and be done with it?

  • Make dwarves more unique than "THEY ARE CLEAN-SHAVEN, LOL!".

  • Use the vastly superior Eberron halflings. In fact, using the Houses and some other things from Eberron wouldn't be a bad idea, it'd make Dark Sun unique and interesting.

  • Use a race more interesting than the Thri-Kreen while you're at it.

  • More adventures that aren't just trekking across Interchangeable Inhospitable Fuckfaceland #169 and eating your camel before trying to attempt some bullshit dungeon that reads like Gary Gygax snorting lines of cocaine from a camel's breasts. Take some hints from Valley of Dust and Fire and make something people can actually enjoy.

  • Fix priests. Okay, so they can't worship deities, but they can worship elementals. Oops, I just summoned a Rain Elemental and a horde of Water Elementals to give everyone a nice hydrating handjob. What now, DM?

  • For the love of Thor, use the vastly superior backstory for Athas provided in Dark Sun Revised Edition. At least it makes sense.

  • Let people take the Dragon class as a starting class. It might spice things up a bit.



Of course, I don't claim that these ideas will solve every problem with Dark Sun, and they've probably been thought of already. Just my two cents.



Incidentally, I'm going to try something this coming month. I'm going to start posting entries without comics, maybe see if I can make more constructive posts like this one with less work.

Wish me luck!