Surely, the city-states. The very concept of an agricultural paradise limited by the water debit.
Me, my favorite setting element are the Elemental Priests. One of the main element why I never was appealed by the 4th edition.
My favorite setting in Dark Sun is the general dark ambiance :
In oppsoition with classical setting, there is no hope, the world is dying, all cities are rule by despotic rulers …
There is no gods to save the day.
Where in classical world we dream to be an hero, a white knight, the people who save the day …;
In Athas all our strength is use only to stay alive. Small or gig, everything want you dead or eat you …
It’s up to you to outsmart them and build your life and if your lucky bring a small light call hope.
- reaching epic is expected
- post-apocalyptic fantasy
The whole oppressive and hopeless setting, where all have to fight to survive. An untraditional fantasy setting that flips it all around, ruled by mighty sorcerer-kings who the players actually have a chance of becoming.
A place where everything is tested as a survival tool.
Basically the dystopic feeling of the original box.
I do not however particularly like the how-it-came-to-pass much however. I would have preferred if that stayed as unknown, especially we are all descendants of halflings.
That and the powers-that-be killing off all the dragon-kings from the getgo. Why write them up only to kill them the first chance writers get in the fiction.
I haven’t read City-State of Tyr yet so I don’t know whether I even will bring that change around in my third incarnation of the settings.