Under the Dark Sun

Under a Dark Sun This morning I noticed a post by Moritz Mehlem on his blog “Von der Seifenkiste herab”. In his latest blog post he writes about Matt Seplin’s project of bringing Dark Sun to Spellcraft & Sorcery.

As you may know, S&S definitely looks like another retro-clone but in reality it’s more a game inspired by OD&D. The combat system used in the game is pretty close to Chainmail’s Man to Man combat system. So S&S is a “what if” game that plays with the idea how OD&D would’ve looked like if Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson used the Chainmail combat rules. But said that, I believe it should be pretty easy to convert between S&S and any of the retro-clone like Swords & Wizardry.

Back to Matt’s Dark Sun project: It’s called “Under the Dark Sun” and already contains everything you need to play including new classes, species and psychic powers. The playtest draft of the rules is available on Matt’s website and in PDF format. The PDF is actually pretty nifty, the style is reminiscent of the old AD&D 2nd Edition Dark Sun books. If you are a fan of Dark Sun and old-school D&D, you definitely should check this out.

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

7 thoughts on “Under the Dark Sun”

  1. Thanks for the heads up.

    Just as WOTC rolls out the Darksun 4ed bomb there is a tangible surge in all things Darksun – our hobby is susceptible trends just like everything else it seems. Interestingly this is the setting that could potentially shine with the use of D&D 4ed malarkey – hopefully much better then current FR meh. Anyway riding that wave I decided to revisit Darksun – including conversion material available. Partly because I don't like 4ed and partly because of my veneration for that game. Exciting world with vivid imagery (paradoxically of barren wasteland mostly) and some of the best pieces of Gerald Brom artwork I've seen. It's just one of those settings which I never had any chance to play and which has always appealed to my gaming soul (there are many more games that do that I yell ya!). The closest I got to experiencing Athas was via its computer based incarnation released by SSI back in its heyday. I read the original setting booklets and I liked the world a lot even though some aspects I would de-emphasize or rewrite altogether today – I have become irritably fastidious you see. Nevertheless, this is a great game and I think it deserves a redoux or a clever adaptation. Recently I was searching various forums (sadly athas.org seems to be rigor mortis lately) for options to run DS campaign.

    Starting with the “duh” choices:

    AD&D – meaning the original form – the easiest to implement provided you've got the books and patience for AD&D.

    3.5OGL and derivatives – another no-brainer – very competent setting conversion was published in Dargon, Dungeon/Polyhedron in the 90's so there is that, done and ready – if you can track that material down – adopting to Pathfinder/Fantasy Craft/True20/what have you, should be a breeze.

    Now to tricky ones:

    GURPS (not to stray from recent blog topics) – there are many things in favour of this system when tackling DS. It is crunchy but can handle lots of fine detail which DS-like campaign will have. Also similar reference material might be easier to find. Plus options for magic and psionics come included in the box so to speak (write?). As a bonus – no experience levels and no classes.

    The above might be true for some less crunch generic fantasy rpgs e.g D6 or Eldritch.

    Rolemaster – there is a set of guidelines somewhere online (I didn't bother to search beyond athas.org though) to make this conversion work. I suspect it's similar to GURPS in many respects.

    Savage Worlds – there is a lot of love for this – possibly deserved, I know very little of the mechanics here and how they would adapt to DS but it has certainly been suggested here and there.


    Wait for the 4th Ed DS setting – likely the easiest way to actually obtain the genuine material, six months from now or so, served in a nice colorful package – will be very interesting – another edition war brewing no doubt – good times 😉

  2. I just realized I made a tiny error.

    The DS to 3.5 conversion was published in Dragon and Dungeon at the begining of this century (2004 and 2006) not in the 90's when the original setting was being published by TSR. My bad! hasty typing – begging yer pardon comrades.

  3. Thanks for your comments. You seem to have looked quite deeply into this. If I ever decide to run Dark Sun myself, I will probably use my old AD&D 2nd Edition box set as basis for a Savage Worlds campaign. That should work easily enough.

  4. Broken links?

    I love the Dark Sun setting. It’s a new take on fantasy, a welcome departure from Tolkienesque tropes.

    I look forward to reading this.

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