I had deams about Dark Sun last night. I woke up gagging, coughing up imaginary sand, fearful of what my esthetician was going to say about the welts and blisters on my usually SPF-protected face. I was a mess. The sheets were balled up and the cat was pissed.
“I’m melting!” I screamed at Zelda. “Quick! Get in the freezer!”
Zelda gave me a look similar to the one I used to give anyone who dared to wear white before Memorial Day. Then she went back to sleep. Most cats would probably enjoy the heat.
“Don’t panic,” I told myself, as Zelda was clearly no help. I was safely in my Seattle condo. No food rations. No silt runners hiding behind my houseplants, ready to implode my worldly possessions with their stupid, little buggy minds. And certainly no blazing sun beating down on me. This was June in Seattle, after all.
Why the Dark Sun drama? I played in the new Dark Sun season of Encounters yesterday in my lunchtime game. It was my first time adventuring through this setting. I heard about Dark Sun, read the excited fan reactions to Dark Sun’s return, and have sat through Dark Sun design meetings for months now. It’s hot. It’s dangerous. There’s psionics involved. Yeah, yeah, I get it. I thought I was ready for Dark Sun. But umm… in a word? No.
When Chris, our DM, got the game kit a few weeks ago, he laid out all the pre-gens on his desk so we could pick our characters.
“Can I play Beer Can?” I asked. I haven’t played a sorcerer since Astrid in my 3.5 Eberron campaign so, regardless of his human nature, I was drawn to that character.
“You mean Barcan?” Chris asked. But it was too late. I read it as Beer Can and from here on out he’d be known as such.
“No, that’s his name,” I said. “Beer Can McGillicuddy.”
He tried correcting me with Herteus, my character from Season 1 too.
“It’s pronounced “Heretus,” he said when we went through the pre-gens a few months ago.
Poor Chris. He has so much to learn about DM’ing for me. I’m the Pre-Gen Whisperer. I can read their minds. Free them from their pre-generated backgrounds. Allow them to live the life they want to live with the names they want to be called.
Not only did Herteus’s name stick, but it helped shape his backstory.
“His name is Herteus Maximus,” I explained in session 1. “And he’s gonna bring on the Hert.”
Chris and the rest of the party just rolled their eyes. That, as it turned out, couldn’t have been further from the truth. The only “hert” Herteus brought was to himself. He was also terrified of rats and prone to hysterics as soon as we finished an encounter.
“It’s just so emotionally draining!” he’d cry. “Someone hold me!”
I'm so sending him through the Tomb of Horrors.
Chris sighed. “Oh, fine. Beer Can it is.”
So, Dark Sun…WTH is up with this place? There we were, chilling in our caravan like we were Priscilla, Queens of the Dessert, and then ambushed by silt runners seconds later.
“What the hell?” we asked. “We just got here.”
“Welcome to Dark Sun,” Chris said.
“But what is our goal?” we asked.
“Survival,” Chris said.
“But who gave us our orders?” we asked. “Do we have a mission? A schema? A bad guy to go after???”
“Nope,” he said. “You just have to get out of here. Alive.”
Now that’s a novel concept. Fight for our lives? In the most literal sense? I have to admit, it took me a while to grasp that. And by “a while” I mean until my poor human sorcerer was bloodied by one measly attack.
"Like a can opener through a tin can," I said.
And then there was the whole hoarding food thing. Chris kindly informed us that we could use a move action to secure a day’s worth of food out of the caravan.
“Yeah, yeah,” we mumbled. Just like how you're supposed to have a light source on you and a healing potion tucked in your robes just in case but no one really calls you on it if you don't. I kind of figured this was the same deal. But Chris kept reminding us. Every time we started our turns.
“You could get a day’s worth of food before you do that, you know,” he said.
“I could,” someone said, “but I want to charge this silt runner instead.”
“Okay,” Chris said, emphasizing the O. “Whatever you want.”
He was beginning to sound like my grandmother. Chris didn’t cook the food we were poo poo’ing so he had no reason to be offended if we didn't take it. Ahhhhh….! Now I get it! Food matters. We were going to be out here on the run, trying to survive, for a long, long time. I immediately took out a notebook and pencil and wrote down how many rations each party member secured. I love food. Beer Can loves food. He will not go down because of a little malnourishment.
People weren’t lying when they said Dark Sun was brutal. It is and I can’t wait to see where it takes us. In the meantime I will sleep with the fan on and the window open. Good thing Beer Can’s sister is a healer.
Weather is great. Wish you were here. I mean really wish you were here. We could use the help.