Thursday, August 9, 2012, 11:03 AM
GenCon is coming up next week, and I know lots of folks will be there at the convention and may want to meet up. Since I'm a Guest of Honor at GenCon this year, I've got twice as many panels and seminars as usual. So, in brief, here's where you can find me at the show:
12:00-1:00 Homebrewers Guide to RPG Worldbuilding Panel (Room 210)
1:00-3:00 D&D Next: Creating the Core Panel (D&D seminar room)
5:00-6:30 Miniatures, Board Games, and Beyond Panel (D&D seminar room)
7:00-9:00 GenCon Keynote (Indiana Rooftop Ballroom)
1:00-2:00 GM Tips Panel (Room 211)
7:00-9:00 ENnie Awards Ceremony (Union Station Grand Hall)
10:00-11:00 Designing a Board Game Panel (Room 211)
1:00-3:00 D&D Next: Creating the Core Panel (D&D seminar room)
3:00-4:00 Evolution of a Game Line Panel (Room 210)
11:00 AM-12:00: The Importance of Critical Thinking Seminar (Room 210)
1:00-3:00: D&D Next: Design a Theme (D&D seminar room)
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Tuesday, August 30, 2011, 9:15 PM
Wow, long time no blog post.
I just noticed that I had an inbox full of messages from people sending things to this account. I just wanted to let everyone know that I haven't been ignoring you! A while back, I was forced to turn off my message alert e-mails for my forum account, because I was getting a lot of spam (LOTS of spam). Of course, with no alerts, I have had no way of knowing that I was missing out on the messages you, the legitimate community members, have been sending me.
Truth be told, some of those messages are over a year old, and I'm sorry that I never responded! I'm going to go back through the backlog of recent messages and respond to the ones I can, but just be forewarned that if you send me a message and I don't respond, I'm not ignoring you! I just don't know it has come in.
Thanks for understanding!
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Sunday, July 25, 2010, 6:07 PM
In just a little over a week, I’ll be enjoying the “Best Four Days in Gaming” at GenCon in Indianapolis. Before I get to the convention, replete with all of its gaming glory, I’m going to be taking the trip out there in a somewhat unique fashion. Along with Chris Tulach, Charles Arnett, and Trevor Kidd, I’ll be taking a train from Seattle to Chicago, and then driving to Indy. For two days on the train, though, I’ll be packing in a month’s worth of D&D with a marathon Dark Sun adventure.
Let me back up just a bit and explain the genesis of this trip. A while back my good friend Andy Collins, during one of our many post-lunch digesting talks, mentioned that he’d always wanted to do a big road trip to GenCon, seeing America and doing a whole lot of gaming on the way. While a road trip from Seattle to Indy seemed challenging to pull off, earlier in the year I’d taken a couple of train trips to Leavenworth and down to Portland, and had pretty good experiences both times. A while later, I heard that Chris, Chuck and Trevor would be onboard with trying to make our GenCon road trip happen, but taking a train instead. Luckily, things worked out with our travel arrangements, and so we’re going to be doing the Game Train to GenCon!
I’m pretty excited about this trip, and thought that, if things go well, it might inspire people to try something similar in the future. So, in the interests of helping people out, I thought I would share some of the preparations I’ve been making so that people would know what we did, what worked, and what didn’t.
First, the adventure. I’m going to be running it, and I’ve done a lot of prep work for it already. I think prep work is going to be really important for this adventure. I’m running the adventure as four, four-hour sessions, and while that would normally be about a month’s worth of campaign I’m going to be running it over the course of only two days. Normally, between sessions I’d have plenty of time to make tweaks to the adventure, alter encounters, and so forth; this time, I’ll have a couple of hours at best. So, I’m doing extra prep work, prepping alternate encounters, preparing for several different eventualities, and so forth. So, that’s probably my first piece of advice: do the extra prep work.
I also started thinking about the kinds of things that I would need to run the game, and a battle grid came to mind. I thought for a while about running it old school, theater of the mind, imaginations only, but in the end I thought it would be interesting to try and play like we would play at my table on Monday nights. I did a little research and came across the Battle Graph dry erase boards, and ordered a couple of sets. Since we’re going to be playing around tables in the lounge car of a train, I wanted something modular, and something relatively small; the Battle Graph boards fit the bill. Thankfully, the nice folks who make the board made sure to get them to me in time, and helped me get set up with everything I needed for the game. Instead of miniatures, I’m going to be using monster tokens, like the ones sent to stores for the D&D Encounters seasons, and the ones that come with the upcoming Monster Vault product.
I also put together a travel DM kit, using some of the same stuff I use on a weekly basis. A while back, my friend Stephen Radney-MacFarland introduced me to some great storage containers, made by Snapware, that make excellent storage bins for DMing supplies. They’re modular, snap together top-to-bottom, and come with divider trays that are great for separating dice, tokens, etc. I’ve put together a portable version of my usual kit, which should fit nicely into the bottom of a suitcase.
That’s about all I’ve done so far, but I think it’s a good start. We’ll be blogging and sending out Twitter updates on our progress, so follow @wotc_rodney, @trevor_wotc, and @christulach if you want to see how the adventure is going. We’ll be playing a lot of D&D for the two day train trip, and it should be a lot of fun!
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Thursday, March 4, 2010, 12:20 AM
Hello there everybody,
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Friday, January 29, 2010, 2:48 PM
As you may already know, the end has come for the Star Wars license at Wizards of the Coast. It's with a heavy heart that I write this blog, but I feel like it's a good way for me to let you know how much the Star Wars brand has meant to me and how it's really shaped my life.
Back in 1998, I had just graduated from high school and started up a website. That website was originally just an online repository for me to use to transport my homebrew Star Wars RPG (back in the D6 system from West End Games) to wherever I was running my games. In this case, I was moving to Knoxville, TN to start my freshman year at the University of Tennessee, and I wasn't sure where my gaming would take me. Evenetually, that site would morph into a site known as the Star Wars RPG Database, and then it would further transform into the ENnie Award-winning SWRPGNetwork (which I still keep active). So, you could very truthfully say that I began the path where I am today just by being a big fan of Star Wars, and Star Wars RPGs, so much so that I pumped a lot of time, money, and effort into a fansite.
In 2001 I got an e-mail from Chris Perkins offering me a chance to write for the Star Wars Roleplaying Game that Wizards of the Coast was producing. Of course, being an aspiring writer, I jumped at the chance, and together with JD Wiker I co-wrote my very first piece of professional writing ever, the Hero's Guide. That book would be a stepping stone to writing Star Wars articles for Star Wars Gamer, and eventually would lead me to be lead designer on another book...that never came out. As the d20 Star Wars RPG went on hiaitus, I began freelancing for other companies, like Green Ronin, Paizo, AEG, and West End Games, among others.
In early 2006, I was again contacted by Wizards of the Coast and offered a chance to write a new edition of the Star Wars RPG. With Chris as our lead designer, Owen Stephens and I helped co-design the Saga Edition rules set, with Gary Sarli as our developer. Later that year, I applied for, and was offered, a job as the new lead designer of the Star Wars Roleplaying Game line. I accepted, picked up and moved from Knoxville to Seattle, WA, and have spent the last three years as a full-time employee at WotC. It's my dream job, and I'm not ashamed of that fact.
Since then, I've led 13 books, a Gamemaster Screen, and a complete 10-part adventure path from concept to completion. It's been a heck of a run, and I've learned more about game design, business, and the behind-the-scenes aspects of the Star Wars universe than I ever thought I would. In every possible sense, Star Wars has shaped my entire professional life, since I was an 18-year-old college student. That's over a decade, though of course it's been off-and-on, and I hope that some day I'll get to play in this sandbox again.
The game, the license, and Star Wars mean a lot to me. However, it wouldn't have been possible without a lot of help. A lot of people have contributed to the product line, and I can't thank all of them enough. We've had a lot of great people writing for us, and I couldn't have done it without a great support staff, from art directors to typesetters. Of course, the great people at Lucasfilm have made it a joy to work on (big thanks especially to Leland Chee and Frank Parisi, my contacts at LFL).
I'm proud of the Saga Edition books, and think that there's a lot of great gaming in them. I know it'll be my go-to RPG for Star Wars for the foreseeable future.
Where do we go from here? Well, into the Unknown Regions in April, of course, but for me you'll find me where I've been for over a year now, working on Dungeons & Dragons. I hope that, if you've enjoyed my work, you'll come and join me on some D&D books as well (Dark Sun's coming out later this year, folks!). And, of coure, you'll still see me on the message boards, both for Star Wars and for other things.
I suppose that's all I've got to say. Thanks for the ride, both to fans and to the wonderful people at WotC and Lucasfilm that made it possible for me.
May the Force be with you.
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Monday, January 18, 2010, 2:56 PM
As a part of my attempts to bring the quality of my ongoing weekly D&D game up to a higher level, I've been taking some steps recently (detailed in previous installments from this blog) to rectify some issues with the game.
One of the big issues I've been struggling with is a lack of progress. It took us 18 months to get from 1st to 10th level in the campaign, which is about 8 months longer than I would have liked. Since I began working on repairing my campaign, things have sped up nicely, and we've covered about four levels in the last 4-5 months. However, I wanted to shake things up a bit, and really accelerate the campaign into the Paragon Tier. So, accepting the suggestions of some of my players, I decided to make our 10th level adventure a single, all-day session that would be run without interruption and get the heroes all the way up to level 11.
I have recently noticed that my players have been showing more interest and excitement in the plot when it touched on distant events, things beyond the North and Icewind Dale (where the entire Heroic Tier of the campaign has been set), so I wanted to make sure this adventure pretty much wrapped up a lot of the dangling plot threads that were still hanging out there. I won't go into the full detail on those, but you can read more about my campaign by visiting my Obsidian Portal campaign page.
I also wanted to do something special. More than just a fun, long day of playing D&D, I wanted the capstone adventure of the Heroic Tier to be a bit more epic. So, I made sure to put a lot more prep time into this adventure than I normally would. We put the game on a two-week hiaitus for the holidays, so I had plenty of time to prepare. The encounters I planned were much more elaborate, including the siege of an ancient githyanki citadel and the fight with their dragon nemesis, all taking place during an ongoing battle. We also played in one of the larger conference rooms here at WotC, which have an audio jack to which I was able to hook up my iPod and play music in the background during the game; I used the soundtracks to World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King, plus the Shards of Eberron soundtrack that came with the Sharn: City of Towers book, and a small amount of the Planescape: Torment soundtrack. I used two of the Heroscape Tower sets to create a fortress wall, and then used Dungeon Tiles to construct the battlefield outside the citadel, the courtyard, and then the citadel's interior. Here are some shots from that battle:
While I'm sure you're finding this fascinating, you are probably also wondering what value this session had toward repairing my campaign. The biggest value, I think, is the shake-up aspect. With this session, the campaign really took a major turn, story-wise. No longer are the heroes just frontier warriors who have helped some towns here and there; now, they are movers-and-shakers who have liberated the entire Icewind Dale from oppression, slain the most powerful dragon in the North, obtained a hefty amount of the McGuffin substance of the campaign, and (perhaps most excitingly) come into possession of a githyanki Astral ship. That last one is pretty important, as they have gone from being slow overland travelers (who lacked a ritual caster to perform teleportation rituals) to sailors of the skies (and, perhaps, the planes). This increased mobility is likely to change the tenor of the campaign from frontier heroes fighting against evil outlaws to...something else. And I think that has a lot of value, as it's going to (hopefully) keep the game from stagnating. Next week when the players come to the table, they won't know what to expect, and I hope that excites them and holds their interest.
Also, I wanted to reward my players with a really exciting and different play experience. My players have really had a good attitude about all of the changes I've been implementing, and I wanted to give them a really large-scale session that would send them into the next tier with a bang. I think it's important to make sure that your players know you appreciate them, and what better way than by going the extra mile to really do a good job preparing? Best of all, most of this prep work was very easy, and I know many DMs out there go through more effort on a weekly basis. Still, I think the combination of the all-day session, the extra terrain bits, the extra effort I put into the encounters, and the resolution of plot threads plus the doling out of great treasure really combined to make, what I think, was the best session of the campaign so far.
The players now have, plot-wise, a near clean-slate with a few plot hooks leading into Paragon Tier. It's my hope that their newfound freedom and mobility will encourage them to be a bit more proactive in telling me what they want to do (via their own actions). Likewise, two of the players joined later in the campaign, and missed out on about half a tier's worth of plot. It's my hope that, thanks to this shake-up and resolution of dangling plots, the newer players will become more invested in the story of the campaign, as they will be on even footing with the other players.
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Tuesday, December 22, 2009, 3:20 PM
A while back, I created a blog post that was the first in what (may) be many Campaign Repairman posts. You can view that original blog post here. In this first followup entry, I want to take a look at the solutions we've implemented, and how well it's working.
Since that post, we have made the following changes to our campaign:
So, with those in mind, let's take a look at how they've affected the problems I mentioned before.
Problem #1: We don't start playing until 7:30 at night. This one has been helped a lot. Playing at the WotC offices is a more central location for several of the players, and it has eliminated a step where people would meet and then carpool to the apartment. On slow nights we start at 7:00, but we have also started at 6:30-6:45 a few times. If I go get food and everyone gets there on time, we consistently start almost 45 minutes earlier than we were before.
Problem #2: We tend to get sidetracked by conversation, slowing the game down. Not sure that many of the above changes had anything to do with this, but for some reason the game has seemed a lot more focused. I think part of it is the group size dropping by 1, and then also I think part of it is my increased preparation.
Problem #3: Players seem distracted at the table, causing slowdowns. There are certainly vastly fewer distractions at our new venue. Since it's no one's home, we are less distracted by domestic duties and hosting, and by things like pets or spouses entering. There are just fewer distractions from the outside, and it really focuses us on gaming.
Problem #4: The DM has trouble keeping the game focused and on pace. Greater preparation the night before has made me more confident in where each session is going or could go. That, in turn, has made it easier to keep people focused by providing in-game prompts (i.e. if you're distracted, I can make something happen to snap you out of it). Additionally, I feel more in control of the environment since I can basically establish the play space myself, rather than feeling like I'm a guest in someone else's house.
Problem #5: Combats are taking too long, reducing the amount of encounters per session. The visible initiative tracker is helping, and increasing player confidence does as well. That said, I think there's still too much analysis paralysis on the part of some players, so it's possible I need to provide either clearer options or continue to prompt people between turns to make their decisions ahead of time.
So, overall, some progress made, but some to go. The players have reached 10th level, and it looks like we're going to have an all-day game session that will cover all of 10th level and get the characters to Paragon tier all in one fell swoop. If you're interested in reading a bit about the campaign, I've got an Obsidian Portal wiki for the campaign here.
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Sunday, December 20, 2009, 12:15 AM
As of today, I've played Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying 3rd Edition (the nex big box set from Fantasy Flight) twice. More accurately, I've GMed it twice. I think I've got a somewhat solid handle on the game, and I thought that some people might want to hear some first impressions from me (at least, my Twitter feed seems to be ravenous about it).
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Friday, October 30, 2009, 2:51 PM
Well, the final installment of the Dawn of Defiance campaign is out now. It's finally done. You can now download a complete campaign from levels 1-20 for Star Wars Saga Edition, 100% free. It's available here, for those of you who don' t have it already: www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=starwars/a...
While I'm proud of the campaign we've produced, it's not been easy, and we've learned a lot. First of all, I'd like to both thank and apologize to our loyal players who have stuck with DoD from beginning to end. I've said it before, but I'll say it again: I really underestimated the amount of time and effort it would take to produce the DoD campaign. As a result, some of the adventures took a while to come out, and what was intended to take 10 months to release truthfully took almost two years from beginning to end. So, for that, I apologize, and I hope it's been worth the wait.
As I said, I learned a lot from the Dawn of Defiance campaign, and I'd like to share some of the things I learned with you. Note that these are all just my personal feelings based on the way things have gone in the DoD campaign, so take them for what they're worth.
You can't write six adventures in a 10-adventure campaign alone. This is one I had to learn the hard way. The original plan called for me to write six of the ten adventures, because I thought that I would have the time for that. As it turns out, running an entire product line takes a lot more work than I thought, so I had to farm a few of those adventures that I expected to write out to other people. I'd like to thank the other authors for helping me out in a pinch, but one of the big reasons that the delays occurred was due to the fact that I, personally, didn't have time to write a 32-page adventure on my own.
If you don't have staff to lean on, don't try and do a 32-page adventure a month. There's a lot more that goes into an adventure than just writing it. There's editing, layout, approvals, art, maps...the list goes on. The guys on D&D Insider can do adventure paths because they have multiple editors, artists, and contractors working all the time to make sure that the adventures get done. There's a big advantage in being able to farm out simple things, like contracts and organizational issues, to other people when you're trying to work on the big picture. One person can't do it; heck, two people can't do it, not without significant delays.
Corey Macourek and Ray Vallese are the unsung heroes of the campaign. You see their names in every episode of the Dawn of Defiance campaign, but without them the adventures literally could not happen. Corey's maps were integral in getting across the adventures and their encounters, and Ray's editing not only highlighted problems in the stats but also helped illuminate flaws in the adventure. A big thanks to both of them for their hard work.
High level adventures are still too hard to design. Now we're getting into some of the nuts and bolts of Saga Edition. Over the course of the last few adventures, it became obvious that it's still too tough to design adventures for heroes above 15th level. There just aren't good guidelines for creating challenging encounters at that level, and you end up having to really stretch to create encounters that are both challenging AND feel like Star Wars. Stormtroopers are...insignificant at that level, unless you dress them up with add-ons and squads (which we did, I think to great effect). There's no good, clear progression of antagonists laid out from the start in Saga Edition. One of the major goals of this adventure path was to show what a Star Wars campaign SHOULD look like from first to 20th level, and I think designing the last few adventures really reinforces the need to think about the way you want the game to play at high levels when designing the game. I'm also starting to reevaluate what our 1-20 level scale actually, practically means. We put Han Solo at something like 13th level, which I think is a mistake. I'm starting to think that, if the Star Wars films are our iconic vision of what a Star Wars campaign should feel like, then Luke, Han, Leia, and Chewie should all be 20th level characters at the end of Return of the Jedi. Their further adventures in the EU? I'm wondering if those just aren't, effectively, wholly different campaign...or if the idea of an ever-continuing story just isn't something the RPG should support.
NPCs and opponents are still too hard to design. We did a good job with Saga Edition of making NPC creation faster, but it's still too slow. If we assume that the kind of prep work I went through in trying to design the bad guys for the high-level adventures is the same kind of prep work that the average Gamemaster has to go through in designing their own campaigns, I think that there is a very obvious reason why campaigns start to break down at a certain point. We need better NPC creation rules; building from the ground-up with the same rules that players use may satisfy your rainy-day fun needs, but if a GM has to spend several hours making custom enemies then it becomes a huge barrier to Gamemastering. The number one thing I think we need to do better in Saga Edition is to make things easier on the GM side of the screen. Without Gamemasters, there can be no game. Plus, I kind of feel like we've (mostly) done things right on the player's side of things, so while we've made it fun, flexible, and easy for players, we've still got a long way to go to make the game fun, flexible, and easy for the GM.
It is still too hard for the GM to accurately judge the effectiveness of players. Because of the way the game was built, we don't have solid endpoints for player abilities at any given level. What I mean by that is that we can't really know how high an enemy's defenses SHOULD be to make a good challenge for any given party of adventurers. I've been able to guess a few things based on extrapolating what we get from adding in talents, feats, etc. but there are too many X-factors. This makes designing adventures increasingly difficult as the party gains levels, because the GM has to pay more and more attention to the numbers in order to provide an adequate but not insurmountable challenge to the heroes. More time spent working on the math means less time spent working on the story, and frankly creating an exciting story is what Star Wars is all about. I have a sneaking suspicion that some of our Dawn of Defiance #10 encounters might be TPKs in disguise, because I had to build the encounters to be tough for Jedi heroes. However, if you have a party of scoundrels, scouts, and nobles...well, let's just say I'm not going to count on you making it to the climax of the adventure.
Starship combat needs work. There are too few choices to be made right now during a starship combat encounter. There are too many chances for players to sit and do nothing. In a ground-based encounter, the player always has a chance to do at least two things: move, and attack/use a skill/etc. In starship combat, when you have multiple players on the same ship, they pretty much don't get to move around that much. Starship maneuvers help this somewhat, but it's tough to guarantee that everyone has some. I wonder if there's not an argument to be made for having starship/vehicle action progressions (i.e. gaining maneuvers/special attacks) running in parallel to your hero's normal progression. That way, you don't have to choose between being good with a lightsaber and having interesting choices while in the cockpit; you get to do both. I also wonder if there's not some way to do a system where everyone chooses a role on the ship, and then gets special actions based on that role that they get. We already have that in the "Actions you take when you're performing this role" but, well, let's face it: if you're the systems operator, right now, you're doing one thing every. single. round.
I'm glad that the campaign is complete and out there for people to play. I'm thankful for the lessons it has taught me. I hope people enjoy the campaign, and that some of the lessons it teaches both Gamemasters running it, as well as those of us designing the game, continue to help us shape a better game experience.
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Friday, October 23, 2009, 11:07 PM
I know, I've been remiss in my updates. Alas, I have been trapped in a blasted land of work, chained to a desk and toiling away under the watchful eyes of the templars, who are always looking to do the sorcerer-kings' bidding. Translation: I've been working on Dark Sun!
As some readers may know, I am the lead developer for the Dark Sun campaign setting. What you may not know is that it's pretty unusual for a developer to be leading two books at once (as I was doing for the two Dark Sun books), and so I've been very, very busy of late. Fortunately, as of earlier this week I passed off complete manuscripts for both of the books to editing. I've had a lot of help from my fellow developers along the way, but I think the books we've turned over are pretty darn good.
Dark Sun has always been one of my two favorite D&D settings, so all year long I've been waiting feverishly to get my hands on the designers' turnovers. We've taken what they gave us and cranked out some of the most interesting mechanics I think the game's seen so far, and a few mechanical bits that I think will make players very happy.
All that being said, there's been a lot of early speculation on Dark Sun, and not a whole lot of info coming from us. Rich Baker's been doing some good Dark Sun updates, and I'm going to try to as well. Inevitably, Design & Development columns and preview articles will flow out, but I want to take a moment to provide you guys with some generalities that I think will give you an idea where we're headed.
I've always been something of a Dark Sun original boxed set purist. While I think the supplements eventually provided some very interesting material, that first boxed set just had a kind of magic to it in the way it presented Athas. I and others wanted us to shoot for that feeling, so one of the first big goals was to make the setting feel like it did when the first boxed set presented it. Athas is a desolate place where survival is not assured, where the very land can kill you, and where even the points of light (to use a 4E-favorite term) are ruled by darkness. It's a world of sword-and-sandal adventuring, of low tech and dangerous magic. It's a world where psionics is common, and where there are no gods to pray to or receive power from. It's a world where the land is struggling to stay alive, and its defenders face a near-hopeless task to keep it that way. Dark Sun is a dangerous world, a world of survival of the fittest, but...it's also a world for heroes. They might not think of themselves as such, but Athas is a place where evil rules so long as the common man does nothing.
In many ways, one of the things I love about Dark Sun is that it's a setting where the heroes should have the chance to, quite literally, save the world. Unlike other campaign settings which are quite complex and wide-spanning, Dark Sun is a setting that is zoomed in on a relatively small geographical area. There's a lot of diversity in that small area, but it's not hard to imagine world-spanning plots when the known world isn't much bigger than the American southwest. I also love the fact that the story of Dark Sun is about Athas, and that the focus remains on the world and not plane-hopping, god-fighting, or wars between extraplanar beings. It's about the here and now, the fact that death and extinction are very real things and that there's no such thing as divine intervention to save you at the last minute. Your fate on Athas is in your own hands, and while life may be nasty, brutish, and short...you also are the only one who can change that. And you may just do that!
So that's what you can expect. It's not 1991 anymore, so some things won't be 100% exactly the same, but I feel like we're sticking very, very close to that original boxed set. It's not a kitchen sink setting by any means; there are things that are part of other settings which simply won't be seen in the Dark Sun setting. There are also a few new things which fit the setting really well. Rich has already talked about the dragonborn a little bit (though he left out that we're also keeping the original backstory of the dray, that they were exiled from Giustenal and have a racial pathos about being scorned by their creator), so you know that some things won't be exactly the same. That said, to this first boxed set purist, it sure feels the same.
The sorcerer-kings rule over the city-states, using their templars as their agents throughout their domains. Savage raiders make the desert wastes even more unsafe than it already is. Giants wade across the Sea of Silt, staging raids on shoreline settlements and attacking passing silt craft. The Dragon still demands tribute from each city-state, and looms over the land like a force of pure destruction. Defilers destroy life to fuel their own arcane ambitions. Merchant houses still squabble amongs themselves, and wield a great deal of power outside of the sorcerer-kings' control. Mul gladiators still fight in the slave pits, and thri-kreen scouts lurk at the edge of rarely-traveled caravan paths, waiting to strike. Halfling cannibals still stalk the night like ghosts, and untrustworthy elves still lie, cheat, and steal from their victims in the Elven Market. The Veiled Alliance provides shelter from the authorities (and from the mobs of common folk who fear and hate them) for preservers, and they still fight defilers at every step. Ancient ruins filled with undead still lie in the deep desert, holding both danger and treasures of the ancient world.
I'm really excited about the way things are turning out. Now that I've seen the books as a whole, I can rest a bit, and get jazzed about people starting to run games set on Athas in the future.
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