30th Anniversary interview with Brown, Denning and Brom

For the 30th anniversary of the best fantasy setting ever created, Brown, Denning and Brom were interviewed over at comicbook.com (Bit of an unusual place for it.) Oh, and Athas.org gets a big shout out in it as well.

They share some insights into the creation process of it, such as just how influential Brom was - in a change from the regular process, he did artwork and then they worked out how to incorporate it into the game. They were pretty much given a free hand in the design of it, and it all came about because TSR was convinced fans were going to abandoned Draglonlance and wanted a new and different setting.

Other interesting things are how they have differing opinions of whether there were ever any gods or not on Athas, (Brown says no, Denning says yes, but that it wasn’t important either way), whether it could be made in the current era and their views on the expanded setting which happened after they had left the project.

Brown also said that he has been part of a group that has tried to buy the rights to Dark Sun from WotC on a number of occasions but that WotC have rebuffed that every time and seem content to just sit on the rights to the setting and do nothing with it.


The gods disagreement is interesting in that they both do agree it doesn’t make a difference and/or was not important either way.

But that’s weird given the many many ruined locations and lore about old temples that dot the Tablelands regions.

And also given the unfinished Dregoth Ascending adventure with Big D’s Godhood epic spell. Sure, the interviewed creators did not write it (it was Kevin Melka who did the groundworks) but still. It’s interesting.

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A lack of gods doesn’t mean religions couldn’t develop. But it’ll remain one of those untold mysteries.

And isn’t it said that Dregoth’s attempts will fail whatever he does ?


Don’t know to be honest, regardless I’m just pointing out that the they both deem it unimportant but that does not reflect what TSR was doing with it at the end - but neither does it reflect what was put into the Expanded Campaign Setting with old ruins et cetera (mostly Godshold to be honest).

Also, in Mystery of the Ancients adventure that comes with it there is a mention to the dwarf god Durgonis.

Again, I’m not claiming Athas does have gods or even ever had gods, all I’m arguing for is that the agreement of Brown and Denning regarding the non-import of godhood for Athas does not mean terribly much.


Yeah, the ruined temples and such in DS are usually understood to date back to real elemental religions that had fake gods - the gods weren’t gods (in a planescape sense), but were anthropomorphized elemental patrons.

So a forge god was a fire elemental, with extra religious lore tacked on. Same way regular religions in DnD work, except that the ‘god’ didn’t morph to meet the beliefs of its worshipers, and it wasn’t (mechanically) a god.

But, to your original point, yes - that’s silly and fun that they disagree but it doesn’t matter.


All this talk about gods. I’m more interested in the fact Denning and Brown wanted to buy the rights and keep it going again. That would’ve been cool.

But IMHO that does support the idea that WotC will eventually do something with it again…


Or that mega-corps like Hasbro (or Disney) are black holes that IP never comes back out of…

Here to hoping, though!


WotC have said they are revisiting three classic settings in 22 and 23 (and releasing the next evolution of d&d in 24) so there is hope Dark Sun might be one of those settings.

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Beyond the various downsides of introducing Dark Sun at this time, I can’t imagine that WotC would just rehash 4E Dark Sun in 5E. It’s possible, I suppose, but I suspect it will be other settings.

I suspect the same because I’m very cynical by nature about businesses in this day and age going out on a limb and putting difficult/mature material on the market.

Then again, finally making a good working psionics concept does seem the one thing they have not gotten down really well in 5E what with all the iterations of the Mystic and the subclass doozies so far. Who knows. If they kept tinkering this under the hood and feel they got it down, there’s a plethora of material from 2E onward they can build upon for this setting.


Where did this come from? I’ve always gotten the sense that they refused to answer the question.

The fact that Denning and Brown disagreed lends credence to this. The only fact is that when you begin play in the campaign setting ‘There are no Deities in Dark Sun’ p59; 'Athas is a world without deities.'p28.

Whether they existed or never did is one of the great mysteries of Athas - we should leave it at that and let the individual DM’s decide the answer in their games.


Not every question about Athas’ mysterious past should be answered. In fact, most should not.


My personal belief is they answered too many of the mysteries already.


A belief that I share.

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You’re either assuming there are a finite number of mysteries, or forgetting you can solve a mystery in a way that creates more questions.


Aeww, crap; did i just confuse my head-canon with canon? Dang it, I HATE when folks do that. Sorry.

Usually understood was definitely the wrong words.

My OPINION that the gods were not “real” is mostly based in text from the unreleased Secrets of the Dead Lands and Lost Cities of the Trembling Plains (admittedly both by the 3e team here - YMMV).

Their descriptions of religions and intra-faith conflicts suggest gods more like those of Eberron than Greyhawk or the Forgotten Realms - distant and uncaring and unwilling to hand down specific, clear, unifying guideance - not like, say Lathander.

Combine this with what’s already known about the (Para)/Elements and you (at least I) get “fake” gods but real religions, as my above post. (Athas COULD have had real gods, but if they don’t do DnD gods stuff, whats the point?)

Obviously other people will feel other ways about this. But i think this approach is the most logical, simplistic way to resolve that situation. Other won’t - that’s cool, have fun.

Once again, sorry. I HATE when folks confuse head-canon with canon. Now, I’m on that list, and i have to be more compassionate to people who do it. Gross. :stuck_out_tongue:


:scream: :triumph: :ghost:

Your whole explanation also shows that talking on forums for years about cannons can really blast your memory.


I wouldnt worry about it. It happens to all of us at some time.

Your version of Athas is just as good, and you have tangible information from the products to go that route that help justify your views.

I do the same.

Oh, I’m pro head-canon, i just prefer to be able to tell the difference.

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