Of Wizards, Wastelands and Worlds: Psyched About Dark Sun!

Oh Arnold. When this photo was taken, did you think you'd become Governor of California?

My memories of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Conan movies are fond and hazy ones.  As a girl who favored He-Man over She-Ra, I vaguely recall the joy of being a small girl watching copious amounts of blood wash over Arnold’s ridiculous muscles as he slashed down his enemies.  The world of Conan involved cultists and stupid princesses and most importantly, the strong ties of friendship that grew from the most unlikely places, between the most unlikely characters.

So when Wizards of the Coast released the first podcast featuring Penny Arcade’s Jerry Holkins running a Dark Sun campaign, you can imagine how excited I was.  Matthew had mentioned the Dark Sun setting months before, but listening to Jerry describe the post-apocalyptic wasteland really fired up my imagination.  As he waxed poetic about the immense dangers that lurked and the survivors who lived a hand to mouth existence pathetically huddled in their hovels, lovely flashbacks of Conan and his unlikely party traveling across a harsh and unforgiving land came to mind.

Art by Michal Vondracek

But what really got to me was when Jerry began to describe the actions of a female Thri-Kreen caravan guard.  The Thri-Kreen are a race of sentient bipedal mantises.

“You see her scoop up a handful of sand with one of her clever manipulating hands at her waist.  You can see her pull something out of a pouch and chew it and then she begins to mix a thick saliva with the sand, pulling it out from time to time to shape it with her hands until she has something that looks like a crystalline boomerange.  She’s made a bladed weapon while you’re on the road.”

At that point I turned to Matthew and said, “I need to be a praying mantis monk.  NOW.”

This is the first time a character has come to mind without me poring over a core book.  Over breakfast I excitedly babbled about a character that could either be very much like David Carradine of Kung Fu: The Legend Continues or Miyagi Sensei from the Karate Kid movies.

Imagine this, only mantis-like.

Just choosing to be a male is a big deal for me, as I have never played a male character before.  If Thri-Kreen are allowed to grow facial hair past their hardcore exoskeleton, I would then have a cliche Kung Fu Mastah Mustache that reaches up to my feet. Plus, there’s an extra set of arms to wield a weapon with.  I AM SO EXCITED.  (Double weapon use is one of those mechanical things of the game that really excites me.)

So now I am all shades of anticipation for the release of the Dark Sun campaign setting.  Matthew and I have favored Eberron and its high fantasy that lends itself to noir-like espionage, steam punk aesthetics and swashbuckling romance.

But the harsh life of an Asian stereotyped man-bug fighting through a throng of monsters twisted by an arcane apocalypse sounds like a welcome change.  This is what I love about Dungeons and Dragons, and the campaign settings they offer. It makes me look forward to what the future will bring.

Art by Brom

Will WotC resurrect Al-Qadim and its Arabian Nights inspired setting?  Or what of Spelljammers that traversed the thick dimensional skies between worlds?  As a newbie, I have only heard of these settings, read about them in Wikipedia entries while at work trying to look very very busy.  All the while I hoped and prayed that someone, anyone, in WotC will start working on repolishing these old gems for a new generation of gamers like me.

Are you guys as excited about Dark Sun as I am?  Which settings would you like WotC to modernize for 4th Edition?

If you enjoyed this post then consider supporting us by purchasing any number of role-playing products from our Amazon store such as campaign settings for 4th Edition like the Eberron Campaign Guide or the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. Or if you’re as excited about Dark Sun as we are, then consider pre-ordering the Dark Sun Campaign Setting for 4th Edition or the Dark Sun Creature Catalog.

6 Responses to “Of Wizards, Wastelands and Worlds: Psyched About Dark Sun!”
  1. Tom Allman says:

    I’ve been pretty bummed since the Local Gaming Store shut down. But I convinced a used book store owner to sign up for the Dark Sun encounters. Looking forward to heading back to Athas. I’m hoping that they’ll come up with some cool mini’s.

  2. Tourq says:

    You mention Arnold spilling blood all over the place in Conan. I had forgotten just how much blood he spills until I watched it again not long ago… ah, the good old days…


  3. Gomai says:

    Many of my fondest D&D memories come from a Dark Sun game run several years back during my college days. Its one of the few settings where a GM stating, “You have no equipment and you’ve been stripped of all your clothes save a few dirty rags. You wake up in the slave holding pits for the arena.” is a completely valid way to introduce the party to each other. I can’t wait to take a new generation of gamers through the hell known as Athas.

    As a side note, if you have trouble finding some of the older articles for settings like Al Quadim, Spelljammer, and such I’d be happy to lend a hand. Many of those books routinely pop up at my local used bookstore here in Arizona.

    • Indeed.

      I think there’s something to be said about the setting that even when players are so compelled to create characters and backgrounds wildly different from one another, Dark Sun makes it easy for the DM to put all those characters on the same set of circumstances… whether it’s enduring slavery and gladiatorial combat or trying to survive the great hot, arid outdoors.

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