Dark Sun Hexcrawlin'

On Sep 19, 2012 +Ramanan Sivaranjan said:
Any Dark Sun game I run now could never live up to the game I imagine in my head. I never actually played Dark Sun back when I was buying and reading all the books, so it's even more mythic than it really should be.
But yeah, old school Dark Sun hex crawl. I can imagine that.
This is pretty much exactly my experience of Dark Sun:  An epic setting that no one every played, and which could now never live up to the promised dream.

BUT, a hex crawl seems like the prefect fit.  And I say this as someone weened at the teat of story-ish, plot-heavy AD&D adventures, an who has never played a hex crawl (and precious few dungeon crawls) in my life.

I think the thing is that the big ticket plot features in the setting are all so in your face: killing off a sorcerer-king, inter-city-state politics, saving Athas from further environmental disaster, etc.  If those are your goal, it's so front-loaded from the get-go that being killed by a tembo or dehydration as you treck through the desert at lower levels seems kind of an alarming jolt to your epic, questing mood.

But a hexcrawl puts all that on the back burner and consigns the epic quality of the setting to background.  "Adventurer, Conqueror, King" not necessarily in system, but in philosophy.  Killing a sorcerer-king?  You'll never do that! You're just a lowly adventurer, put it out of your mind and focus on surviving and scrounging for treasure.  Live 10 years doing that and we'll talk about conquering.

Between the monstrous manual and hints of lost desert cities and such, there is clearly so much out there that needs exploring, it's not funny.  And the perils of surviving are made painfully obvious. Randomly dying while on a quest is lame.  But randomly dying while exploring is par for the course, and an expected part of the drama.

Long story short:  I heartily endorse the idea of a Dark Sun hex crawl, and would love to play it in just about any pre-4E system.


  1. Yeah, Dark Sun...the never-campaign I never-played was AMAZING. I know of a handful of people who've actually played this game. Otherwise I would assume that this is one of the mythic games that never gets played outside of play-testing.


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