Richard Baker talks Dray in Dark Sun

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Richard Baker just posted this...on his blog

OK, on to D&D stuff... First piece of news: Dark Sun has left design/development, and is now in editing. I've been working furiously on various pieces of this project since May, so it's a great feeling to move on. In my last couple of weeks I was working on smoothing out the writing and presentation in a few spots, trying to marry together the tone and style of several different authors and looking for anything that needed adding at the last minute. For example, Rodney Thompson came to bug me a couple of weeks back about the dragonborn entry in the Races chapter. (They get an "Other Races" style entry sort of like the ones from the FRCG or the Eberron CG.) He pointed out that while we'd tied them in with the world story well enough by marrying the dray concept with the dragonborn concept, we hadn't really done anything different with the essential character of the race. (In Dark Sun, elves are nomadic raiders, gypsies, and thieves; halflings are fierce warriors and cannibals; and so on.) In our design draft the dragonborn/dray were a race of mercenary warriors... not really all that far off their core D&D identity. If we were going to include a Dark Sun take on dragonborn at all-and we felt pretty strongly that we ought to, since there are plenty of players out there who are new to the game with 4th Edition and regard dragonborn as part of the game's core identity, just as much as elves or dwarves-then we ought to say something new about them and challenge the established conceptions of the race.



Anyway, Rodney's point challenged me to think hard about the dragonborn and what sort of Dark Sun "spin" we'd put on the race that would make them distinctly Athasian. My first response was "They're a race of bloodthirsty killers!" because really, that should be your first response to anything in Dark Sun. But that was a little too easy, and I tried to really think it through. It occurred to me that the noble-warrior theme for the race talked a lot to their natural Strength boost... so what would talk to their Charisma boost? Maybe the Dark Sun dragonborn are a race that emphasizes the force of will, ambition, and drive wrapped up in that Charisma boost instead of pure physical combat skill. So that suggested a much stronger emphasis on their natural talent for sorcery instead of swordplay. And maybe they are essentially dishonorable rather than honorable-not in a stab-you-in-the-back kind of way, because who would want to hang out with them, but more in a basely motivated way. Maybe the dragonish impulses of avarice and pride are very, very strong in Athasian dragonborn. Finally, the core story of dragonborn is that they're a race of loners who don't see each other all that often, so maybe in Athas they're more social than you might expect. Dragonborn clans look out for each other, and if you mess with one dragonborn in the clan, you mess with them all. They're big into vendettas and punishing people who offend or injure one of their own.



Take that all together, and you've got something interesting with these guys: The dragonborn (or dray) are a race of sorcerous merchants, hired spellcasters, pragmatic mercenaries, and maybe even slavers. They're not especially numerous, so you don't see a lot of them around. Their clans are like small, insular merchant houses, and they might serve as deal-brokers and moneylenders: disliked in many places, but regarded as very useful to have around. Heck, maybe some clans bribe the sorcerer-kings and templars for dispensation to practice magic or sell their services as assassins. That's a pretty different slant on the dragonborn, one that will let you play an Athasian dragonborn as a much different type of person than you might have thought to try with the core story. And that's part of the attraction of the Dark Sun setting: It shakes up the familiar roles and stories, and mixes them in a new way.



 


 


I think this is a great reinvisioning and very Dark Sun appropriate.  Although if they take the slaver/merchant aspect too much I think they will be stepping on toes of the Ssurrans.  Ssurrans were always a favorite race of mine.


It also seems that Dray are no longer the sole property of Dregoth....perhaps other SK's made them? What do you think?

I just finished reading that and figured someone on this board had to be talking about it too. Very interesting. It suggests we were right in guessing that most races will get a conversion kit approach. The question is how much of one. Dragonborn seem to be getting a thematic/personality change, but nothing mechanical. That seems ok for Dragonborn, as they are a new race. When Baker mentions that elves are different, it begs how different. Man, I really want to see what the conversion kit looks like for an elf and a dwarf.

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I have no issue with the marrying of dragonborn and dray into the same concept but I'm not to keen on them not being the sole property of Dregoth.Making them abundant and grouping them in clans doesn't sit well with me.


A  small population of discontent dray fleeing to the surface in order to escape the tyrannical rule of the Dread King would have been more in line with the original setting.

Sysane-The Terror of Urik


I have no issue with the marrying of dragonborn and dray into the same concept but I'm not to keen on them not being the sole property of Dregoth.Making them abundant and grouping them in clans doesn't sit well with me.


A  small population of discontent dray fleeing to the surface in order to escape the tyrannical rule of the Dread King would have been more in line with the original setting.




I've always liked the idea of Dregoth and the dray, but there were always a few things that just never sat well with me.


First, the first generation dray get banished, so they all set up shop in a barely-habitable cave right next door?  Some of them should have leaked out onto the surface a long while ago.


Second, Dregoth returns to Athas to set in motion his plans for godhood, and what's his plan for gathering information on the state of the surface world?  Hope some surface dwellers travel to the ruins of Giustenal, make it past the Caller, and wander all the way down to New Giustenal so they can be interrogated.  So much for Dregoth being intelligent.


So what if these "clans" are really just fronts for intelligence-gathering cells for their godking?

The 2e revised boxed set actually hints at this. There's a paragraph that states something about heavily hooded individuals preaching the coming of Dregoth. I think its detailed under the section on Raam.

Sysane-The Terror of Urik

Baker said they just get an "other races" section, so I think your idea, Sysane, meshes well.  I had e-mailed Rich about something else DS related and he replied. In my reply I asked him a couple of questions about the Dragonborn and Dregoth.  I'll let you know if he answers with anything of interest.

I second the vote that the Dray (Dragonborn) should remain children of Dregoth. The tablelands are a small region so races can have a focused origin background. They get more character than if one sorcerer king created them, then everyone happened to think it was a good idea to have identical copies and later let them out into the world.

It would also downplay the Templar's role if all of the sorcerer kings had specially bred enforcers.

WotC Rodney chimes in on the twisting of Dragonborn for 4e Dark Sun on an ENWorld thread.


www.enworld.org/forum/general-rpg-discus...


For simplicity sake, here's Rodney's quote at the link above:


"I also really like the dray story a lot because they've sort of got this race-wide pathos that results from them being kicked out of Giustenal. They're a race scorned by their own creator, cast out of their homeland, and left to drift. They were essentially told by their creator, "You're not worthy." That's pretty strong, and creates a very different kind of dragonborn than the core "We once ruled a mighty empire and are a proud warrior race" kind of dragonborn."


Coming from a WotC employee, this certainly has some officialness to it. Interpreting this it sounds like dragonborn/dray are still linked to Dregoth, and PC dragonborn are 1st gen dray.


Nice.

OK, on to D&D stuff... First piece of news: Dark Sun has left design/development, and is now in editing.



I wonder if this means we'll have this in our hands before Gen Con.

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