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SandDemon
2010-08-29, 01:03 AM
As a newer individual to 4th edition, I've started a guy's night game with very unexperienced players. After finishin the Shadowfell newbie training experience I've been thinking about starting them in a Dark Sun campaign. I've always enjoyed the setting but hoping I can avoid some pitfalls with some of your help.

-Where can I find good info on animal life? I bought the 4th campaign book and they mention a slew of fantasy life that replaced your basics like horses, cows, etc but not seeing where they go over what is what...
-What adventure problems should I look out for specific to this setting?
-What hooks work best? I already have planned arena fights/games and losing water in the sand wastes...
-What do you like/dislike about the setting?
-I heard to avoid the official Dark Sun adventure that was just printed....any other good sources I could use?

Oh and this could derail the thread a little but how do skill challenges work during combat? If it is a free action, can they do more than one on their turn?

Thanks ahead of time, still a 4e DM newb...

Lhurgyof
2010-08-29, 01:17 AM
There's kes'treckles (sp?), Kanks, Mekillots, Inixes, etc. etc.

Dregoth'd be a nice plot hook, dunno what the books say about him, but Dregoth, Ravager of Giants, is a 29th level dragon Kaisharga (basically, he was killed before he could fully ascend to a dragon, but was raised by his first in command as a psionic-magic lich), and he plots against the one who caused his doom, Abalach-Re, and his superior Dray will surley lay waste to the whole anarchic city-state. And he will soon have his revenge...

Teleporting, casting spells willy-nilly, ressurection, and other ways to easily beat long distance travel and weather are pretty sucky.

Eliort
2010-08-29, 02:16 AM
skill checks are a standard action, as i recall, so you can only do them once a turn unless you spend an action point, and why in the world would you do that.

SandDemon
2010-08-29, 02:17 AM
There's kes'treckles (sp?), Kanks, Mekillots, Inixes, etc. etc.

Ya but what the hell are those :smallwink:

SandDemon
2010-08-29, 02:18 AM
skill checks are a standard action, as i recall, so you can only do them once a turn unless you spend an action point, and why in the world would you do that.

The Keep of Shadowfell newbie adventure (link (http://www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4news/20090428)) said they were minor and free actions..

Nu
2010-08-29, 02:20 AM
What action a skill check is depends on the skill. The PHB lists what action a particular use of a skill takes. Typically, knowledge checks are free actions, and the rest vary greatly.

Gralamin
2010-08-29, 02:21 AM
Ya but what the hell are those :smallwink:

Some are statted out in the Creature Catalog. Others aren't really mentioned in the books. The easiest way is to go to something like the Dark Sun wiki, or an unofficial conversion, and see it there.

Alternatively, the Dark Sun Novels tend to include animal life, and might be an easier way to learn the setting.

Lhurgyof
2010-08-29, 02:21 AM
Ya but what the hell are those :smallwink:

Kes'Treckles are birds, look a bit like buzzards, kanks are used as mounts and herd like cattle, they are used for their nectar, too. They look like large ants. Mekillots are huge, and used to pull huge loads, they resemble beatles (by Brom's paintings, mekillots with weird ears just dont fit), and inixes are swift lizards used for mounts. There are some others... I'd say to go to Athas.org and look around there, a lot more fluff than you'll find in the Dark Sun campaign guide.

Pic of some critters:

http://www.pathguy.com/athasian_familiars.jpg

And some more:
http://www.pathguy.com/athasian_carriers.jpg

Original Mekillot:
http://i141.photobucket.com/albums/r72/mouthymerc/mekillot.jpg

Original kank:
http://i141.photobucket.com/albums/r72/mouthymerc/kank.jpg

jmbrown
2010-08-29, 02:27 AM
Keep on the Shadowfell was released before the core rulebooks. Consider the PHB/DMG to be errata although the other PHB books contain errata on previous books as well.

Creatures are located in the Dark Sun creatures book sold separately.

SandDemon
2010-08-30, 01:21 PM
Anymore general information about Dark Sun? Just about to dive into making encounters for the group so figured I'd try one last post to ask :smallbiggrin:

Erom
2010-08-30, 01:24 PM
What action a skill check is depends on the skill. The PHB lists what action a particular use of a skill takes. Typically, knowledge checks are free actions, and the rest vary greatly.
We house-ruled that skill-challenge checks are all minor actions, and it didn't break anything. Keeps things a little simpler and lets you contribute both to the skill challenge and combat.

Emongnome777
2010-08-30, 02:05 PM
Anymore general information about Dark Sun? Just about to dive into making encounters for the group so figured I'd try one last post to ask :smallbiggrin:

My group is going to be starting a DS campaign sometime in the not-so-near future, and I'll be DMing. My suggestion for gaming would be to take the published adventure, the bloodsand arena adventure (google it to get a free pdf of it), and the encounters in the DSCS book and mix and match them for your own adventure. At least that's what I'm going to do. I'd wait until the creature catalog comes out before diving into a campaign (it's being released tomorrow, probably already available at your FLGS). The Marauders of the Dune Sea (or whatever it's called) isn't considered good because it's just a desert-based dungeon crawl with loads of magic items and (I've read) errors like horses on one map, an underground river and lots of magic items. Nothing wrong with a brief dungeon crawl to get the characters up in level, just don't make it standard fare for the campaign.

DS is very different from other settings and it should be played that way. Don't allow any races / classes / monsters that aren't laid out in the campaign setting or creature catalog. (Also use the DS names like half-giants / dray, etc. instead of the core equivalent). Emphasize the slavery, politics, racial fluff changes and harsh world aspects to good effect. Noble houses fighting amongst themselves, templars vying for power in the ruler-less Tyr, desert marauders attacking merchant caravans, the Veiled Alliance working to eliminate defilers, etc.

I hope this helps, not sure if it's exactly what you were asking for.

mobdrazhar
2010-08-30, 07:41 PM
We house-ruled that skill-challenge checks are all minor actions, and it didn't break anything. Keeps things a little simpler and lets you contribute both to the skill challenge and combat.

The only issue with this is things like using thevery to disable traps/pick someones pocket. It means that you can try to disable a trap/pickpocket and still attack on the same turn.

Archpaladin Zousha
2010-08-30, 08:12 PM
-What hooks work best? I already have planned arena fights/games and losing water in the sand wastes...

Hooks? I was under the impression that if you played in Dark Sun, you didn't have adventures. You just spent each day struggling to live and see another wretched day, until finally you are mauled by the local fauna, have your lifeforce sucked out by a defiler, are beaten to death by your slavemaster's whip, or just outright die of thirst. And then the halflings fight each other to the death over who gets the first cut of meat from your dessicated corpse. And then the buzzards fight with each other over who gets to eat the dead halflings.

As for my opinion, I generally don't like Crapsack Worlds on principle, since those settings deliberately try to make it so you can't be a Lawful Good or Good person. You need to be out and out Evil or at least the bastardly side of Unaligned in order to just live.

darkpuppy
2010-08-30, 08:23 PM
Dark Sun's world of Athas is a hrash, yet beautiful campaign with a lot of creatures that, before Dark Sun, were found nowhere else. One of the most important Dark Sun game mechanics, due to, ooh, I don't know, most of the established game world being a fricking desert in its various varieties, is the tracking of water. Water is darned important. Also important is the fact that metal is incredibly rare, and so even having a rusty iron dagger on your belt is a really good way to say "Hey, kill me and take my stuff!"

Creature wise, some of the nastiest creatures were not things like beasts of burden (Mekillots are quite nasty, it's true, but only under certain circumstances) or the big beefy predators (like the Braxat, which was kind of a dumb, heavily plated ogre substitute)... no, it was the more subtle and nasty monsters, like the Belgoi (look like toothless, pale humanoids, but, due to their psionic talents... oh, quite a lot of monsters are psionic, btw... they can, when run properly, TPK in less than three nights of travel.)

Even the races are different. Halflings, for example, are cannibals, and elves are untrustworthy, thieving nomads. Half-giants are the best hands-down, though. Half their alignment is fixed forever, half changes depending upon who impressed them the most the day before.

To sum up Dark Sun: Everything is against you, you're boned, but somehow you still try to stay alive. Because everyone else is trying too.

World Eater
2010-08-30, 08:33 PM
There are no 'happy endings' on Athas. You may have lived another day, you may have made another handful of gold, but saving your group's and employer's lives cost the village to the west theirs, with one enemy killed you just made 2 more, and in the grand scheme of things, everything still hates everything else and the world's absolutely no better than it was before.

ghost_warlock
2010-08-30, 11:20 PM
There are no 'happy endings' on Athas. You may have lived another day, you may have made another handful of gold, but saving your group's and employer's lives cost the village to the west theirs, with one enemy killed you just made 2 more, and in the grand scheme of things, everything still hates everything else and the world's absolutely no better than it was before.

Not entirely true, if you read the novels.

For instance, all things considered, at least one of the sorcerer kings makes out alright after suffering a few centuries worth of a fate worse than death. :smallwink:

Lhurgyof
2010-08-31, 12:37 AM
Not entirely true, if you read the novels.

For instance, all things considered, at least one of the sorcerer kings makes out alright after suffering a few centuries worth of a fate worse than death. :smallwink:

Blech, the novels.

I LOVED them, didn't like that they made it canon, though.

Erom
2010-08-31, 09:03 AM
The only issue with this is things like using thevery to disable traps/pick someones pocket. It means that you can try to disable a trap/pickpocket and still attack on the same turn.

Exactly. We consider this a feature, not a bug.

KillianHawkeye
2010-08-31, 09:09 AM
Blech, the novels.

I LOVED them, didn't like that they made it canon, though.

From what I've heard, they retconned the most egregious parts for the 4th Edition release. It takes place shortly after the fall of Kalak and the liberation of Tyr.

Mark Hall
2010-08-31, 11:23 AM
From what I've heard, they retconned the most egregious parts for the 4th Edition release. It takes place shortly after the fall of Kalak and the liberation of Tyr.

They did. "The Verdant Passage" was a good book. "The Crimson Legion" was a reasonable follow up. Starting with "The Amber Enchantress", however, things got pretty durn weird and against the world as established.

Archpaladin Zousha
2010-08-31, 01:38 PM
Could you give a basic rundown of what these pretty durn weird things were, for those who haven't read the novels, please?