Dark Sun Heats Up

We are fortunate enough to have received copies of the Dark Sun Campaign Setting and the Dark Sun Creature Catalog today, and as usual we’d love to share anything and everything that we can with you guys!

My initial impression of the Campaign Setting book is that it provides a great introduction to the world and setting of Dark Sun for new players but also a very nostalgic and interesting read for those returning to the world of Athas. The Thri-kreen race is something that I’ve always planned to use in my own games even outside of the Dark Sun setting, and this holds even more true now that I’ve seen the racial write up. After just a cursory look through the Creature Catalog I am now completely psyched to start playing in a Dark Sun game and face every single one of the fiendish beasts that resides within it!

Earlier today I offered to answer questions via twitter (@Bartoneus) and here are some of the questions I was asked and the answers I provided (names were removed for privacy and simplicity):

Q: What classes are NOT allowed?
No classes are specifically banned, but divine characters need a special explanation for how they gained their powers and DM approval.

Q: How useful is the creature catalog to someone not running Dark Sun?
A: The Dark Sun Creature Catalog has 53 monster entries, and 13 unique personality entries, but not sure how they fit sans desert.

Q: What are your thoughts on 4E Thri-kreen?
A: I really like how they’ve done Thri-kreen in 4e, and there is a good amount of artwork showing them which is awesome!

Q: Where are the gods in Dark Sun? Gone? Dead? Unknown?
A: The gods in Dark Sun are only mentioned as being either long dead and nearly forgotten or silent and forgotten. There’s a DM-only explanation near the back of the book too.

Q: The weapons exclusive of the Dark Sun Campaign (the old one) are present in 4th edition? give us some examples… please?!
A: Lots of Dark Sun weapons: Talid, Dragon Paw, Trikal, Carrikal, Chatkcha, Cahulaks, Alhulak, Gouge, Dejada, Lotulis, Gythka

Q: Are there any rules about wearing armor pieces? I’m really anxious to see these books!
A: There are two full pages on how armor is changed in Dark Sun, but no partial or armor piece rules that I see.

Q: Are Muls awesome? General idea of stats/abilities? I loved the race in older editions.
A: Muls get +2 Con, and +2 Str or Wisdom – can choose human OR dwarf at creation for prereqs! Very tough! Muls get +1 healing surge, and only need to sleep 6 hours in a 72 hour period for an extended rest!

Q: What ways are there to differentiate Dark Sun half-giants from goliaths? Any way to get stomp or something along those lines?
A: There is a good Half-Giant Thug paragon path for Goliaths,other than that I don’t see anything new to differentiate them. They are commonly referred to in the books as “Goliath (Half-Giant)”

Q: Why don’t people just go to the feywild or shadowfell?
A: The Feywild and Shadowfell (The Gray) are very small, broken apart planes inhabited by dangerous creatures and very hard to find!

Those were all that I received on twitter, but now we’d like to open up the comments section here to any further questions you guys might have about the 4th Edition version of the Dark Sun campaign setting! Dave or myself will chime in to respond as quickly as we can.


  1. What’s the themes stuff I’ve been hearing about like? How does it work, what kind of ones are there for different roles, etc?

  2. What is the geographic area covered in the core book? Do they discuss or mention anything outside of the Seven Cities area?

    Are there any new class builds and how is the Primal power source described?

    Thanks! I can’t wait to get my copies.

  3. I’m interested to know what races are allowed beyond the standard races found in Dark Sun in prior editions.

    Are gnomes still dead? Do minotaurs exist? Devas?

    Thanks in advance.

  4. Wyatt: Every character gets a theme encounter power at first level. They each have a secondary role and power source. They allow access to other power options at higher levels, 2 paragon paths, and a variety of feats. There’s 10 different themes in the book: Athasian minstrel, dune trader, elemental priest, gladiator, noble adept, primal guardian, templar, veiled alliance, wasteland nomad, and wilder.

    chad: I’m not all that familiar with existing Athas geography, but there do appear to be some areas like the western hinterlands and the tablelands that are farther out. If you want to know about a specific area, I can check. New builds are present: arena fighter, animist shaman, and sorcerer king pact warlock, as well as minor tweaks like wild focus Battlemind and more powers for each build. Primal power source seems pretty similar, focusing on the primal spirits of things like deserts, mesas, and other things suited to Athas.

    Trampas: Gnomes and devas are specifically listed as having been wiped out, but there’s a sidebar about working with your DM to play one of these races and explain it. Minotaurs are around, described as descended from beast-headed giants. Genasi and Kalashtar are listed alongside Minotaurs as rare but around.

  5. Thanks for the quick reply, Dave. I always found it odd that minos were wiped out in 2e when they’re incredibly tough. They seem like natural survivors to me. 🙂

    Question on themes – Do themes have requirements, or are they open to anyone?

    Any chance you might give us a list of paragon paths and epic destinies?


  6. In 2nd edition Dark Sun, every sentient (and many non-sentient!) beings had some psionic power, even if it was a minuscule amount (wild talents, etc).

    Is this true in 4th edition DS? Do they even mention it? And–the obvious question–how is it implemented?

    Thank you for any info!

  7. Is the draconic nature of the city states’ rulers mentioned at all? How about a certain undead dragon?

  8. Trampas: Themes are open to anyone, though some synergize better with some classes. As far as I can tell though, they’re all useable with any class. I’ll list the PPs and EDs in a separate comment.

    David: Yes, in fact, that’s one of my favorite parts of the book. There’s 10 “Cantrip-level” wild talents, which are all at-will psionic powers, and with the DMs discretion, everybody gets one. There’s even a table that you can roll on to give out random ones.

    Claytonian: Yep, certain sorcerer-kings have progressed into dragondom, including a certain undead dragon. There’s stats in the Creature Catalog for all the main rulers.

  9. Paragon Paths: Half-Giant Thug, Mul Battle Slave, Thri-Kreen Predator, Arms-Troubador, Unwelcome Guest, Caravan Master, Shady Dealer, Rainbringer, Smoking Crown Initiate, Gladiator Champion, Jazst Dancer, Mind General, Psionic Scholar, Guardian of the Land, Voice for the Ravaged, Master Defiler, Praetor Legate, Master Preserver, Veiled Guardian, Dune Strider, Sand Reaver, Resurgent Wilder, Wielder of the Way

    Epic Destinies: Avangion, Dragon King, Hordemaster, Mind Lord of the Order, Pyreen

  10. Fantastic! I am so looking forward to this.

    Thanks for the information.

  11. Kenneth G says:

    Hmmm… from this and other articles, sounds like at least half of the elements that made [The Original] Dark Sun so cool and challenging, have fallen to 4thEd butchery. Thank Gods I kept my original set.

  12. Thanks Dave.

    Is there any mention of the Dragon Crown Mountains or the islands in the Sea of Silt?

    What’s your favorite parts so far?

    The Paragon Paths sound great. Only a few weeks left to wait…

  13. Noah Marshall says:

    I’ve got an oddball one.
    Any downgrade in size to the Athasian Giants to keep them in line with 4e standards (i.e. Large sized)?
    Are there Athasian Titans?
    I hope so. Pretty fitting in my mind.

  14. mistrlittlejeans says:

    @Kenneth G: Would you mind giving examples? I don’t want to get into a flame war… rather, as having just pulled out my 2e books and reading through them, but not having read much about 4e Dark Sun, I’m curious to know what you think are the big differences. Of course it is hard to know for certain until I get the books in my hands, but I’ve already started making a list of things I want to bring from 2e into 4e if they aren’t already there, or are there but in a way I’m not happy with.

    @Bartoneous: Thanks for the article/comments. It’s definitely keeping my excitement up!

  15. Any information on the Tembo (should be in the creature catalog)

  16. chad: The Dragon’s Crown Mountains are in the atlas portion of the book in the Western Hinterlands section and it looks like they’re right in the corner of the map in the back of the campaign setting book, some islands in the Sea of Silt are described in the book as well.

    Noah: It looks like there are two large giants (Beast and Shadow) and one huge – Beast Titan.

    Dean: Tembo is in the creature catalog, a level 6 solo skirmisher. Looks like a scale covered tiger-like beast (from the picture). Looks like a pretty tough solo beasty that can blend into its surroundings and do a crap load of damage with its bite attacks.

  17. mistrlittlejeans says:

    Can you give more details about the Arena Fighter build? Please tell me it has a secondary role as controller.

  18. mistrlittlejeans: The Arena Fighter doesn’t specifically mention a secondary role, but I think it will probably fall within the typical secondary roles of other Fighters. Arena Training can replace the Fighter Weapon Talent class feature – you treat all weapons you are not proficient with as improvised weapons. You gain a +2 prof. bonus to attack with improvised weapons, your attacks with one-handed improvised weapons deal 1d8 damage and two-handed improvised weapons deal 1d10 damage. While you are not wearing heavy armor you gain a +1/+2/+3 (per tier) bonus to AC. As if that’s not enough, you choose two weapons that are your “arena weapons” that you gain proficiency with and powers that can be used with one of those weapons can be used with either (re: weapon type). The build has an at-will power, Vicious Offensive, that lets you mark a target adjacent to you in addition to the target of the attack. The build has one power for each level that all seem to build on the gladiatorial / arena style of combat.

  19. Can you tell us more about the Sorcerer-King pact for Warlock?

  20. Nifelhein says:

    Athas is here!

  21. Are the mind lords and their last sea mentioned?

  22. Thanks for the info.

    How do the demon lord and Devils feature in Athas. Comsology in general.

  23. askanipsion says:

    What does the wild talent “Mental Tools” do?

  24. Mageta: You can see the Sorcerer-King Pact Warlock in a WotC preview here: http://wizards.com/dnd/article.aspx?x=dnd/4ex/20100726

    I like it as a new Warlock build, the Fell Might pact boon is interesting and I can see it being a fun resource to play around with!

    Claytonian: One of the epic destinies in the book is Mind Lord of the Order, but other than that I don’t see anything. However, I’m not familiar with the Mind Lords or the Last Sea, so I may just not know where to look! (I checked the index, glossary, and flipped through/scanned the book for it)

    Jason: There are a couple pages that address the cosmology of Dark Sun, and as far as I can see both devils and demons are mentioned as horrifying terrors that are encountered most often by wanderers far away from Tyr (Desert Devils for example) or when summoned by reckless rituals. Overall it seems these kind of monsters are downplayed for the most part in favor of more natural beasties that reside in the world of Athas itself.

    Askanipsion: Mental Tools – minor action, personal, at-will – Effect: You create a simple tool you can hold in one hand. The object appears in your hand or at your feet. You cannot use the object to attack or hinder another creature. The object lasts until the end of the encounter or until you use this power again.

    Dave and I are heading out to GenCon in the morning, so we most likely won’t be able to answer any more questions in a timely manner! However, the Dark Sun books will almost certainly be released at GenCon, so you should be able to hear a lot more about them soon! If you have an incredibly dire or pressing question about Dark Sun, feel free to post it and I’ll see what I can do while traveling! 🙂

  25. askanipsion says:

    Thanks Bartoneus!

  26. Wow. Mental Tools is great. That’s the type of “utility ability” that I always missed in 4e, especially at the beginning. Nothing to kill someone. Just fun and helpful in different kinds of situations. Just depends on the cleverness of the player to be put to amazing and new uses. Love it!


  1. […] look it up somewhere because you’re beneath my contempt) as much as I am, then head on over Critical Hits, who are doing a question-and-answer bit based on some preview copies of the Campaign Setting and […]

  2. […] we eagerly awaited, having run through a few home-made conversions already, and Critical Hits had a discussion with some of the creators about the Dark Sun setting, questions and answers you  might not get to see anywhere else before the setting itself hits […]