May’s RPG Blog Carnival theme, courtesy of Age of Ravens, is “Campaigns I’d Like to Run.” This is a topic any DM can easily write at length about — perhaps too easily due to the ever-present threat of campaign ADD. And like everyone else, I’ve always got a few ideas for games I’d like to run kicking around in the brain; some are just vague notions and some have some get more developed as they keep boiling back to the surface. This is the campaign I’m most often distracted by lately, and the one I think I’m most likely to run after my current game comes to a close.
Blistered Skin Beneath a Blood-Red Sky
Perhaps because of its Appendix N sword and sorcery vibe, DCC RPG seems like it would be an excellent fit for the Dark Sun campaign setting. Defiling magic can be easily integrated with the existing spellcasting system. Mighty deeds are surely the order of the day for vicious, desert roaming ex-slave gladiators. But I would also be applying a few tweaks to the setting as well to take out some aspects that I don’t really feel fit all that well.
The first area of revision would be the races. Gavin Norman of City of Iron has been doing some great stuff with Ix, his Dark Sun-inspired setting for Labyrinth Lord. In particular, this post on PC races really hits the mark for me. He reduces the race options down to humans, mul, half-giants, and halflings. Humans actually get two different race choices depending on whether they are city-dwellers or desert-dwellers, and halflings remain the feral wild-men of the surviving jungles. The mul and half-giants, however, are recast as “Mool” and “Brutes.” Instead of being half-races of the traditional D&D sort, they become wholly separate races that were created through ancient genetic manipulation to be slaves to the humans. Dwarves and elves are gone altogether. I would definitely be using this as the race mix in my DCC Dark Sun game.
The next thing to be changed would be the removal of the “elemental clerics” from the published setting. Clerics would all fill one of two roles — they are either templars in the service of a sorcerer king or they are druids working to preserve what little of The Green remains in the world. Tying into the second part, such clerics would be the only magical “preservers.” All wizards, regardless of morality or intention, would be “defilers,” as that is simply how their magic works. I guess they could try and plant some shrubs after they cast a spell, but that might be hard when you’ve reduced what passed for soil to lifeless ash.
Psionics remain something of a wild card in my conception of the campaign. I know there are a few systems out there for using psionics in OSR games, and I know that they really are appropriate for the style of setting that Dark Sun evokes. Still, I’m just not sure that I’d want them as prevalent as the published setting makes them or which particular system I’d use.
Other than that, I’d run the setting mostly as presented in the initial boxed set. None of that “Free City of Tyr” would be going down in my game, though, unless the players really set their minds to making it happen. Good luck fighting the sorcerer-king.