Character Trees

I’ve always wanted to run a Dark Sun game involving character trees involving several different regions of Athas. Each player gets multiple-characters and I run essentially, several different campaigns of Dark Sun, at the same time. For instance, the players would all be from Ur-Draxa one game: another all from the City-State of Tyr and another from, say, the Ringing Mountains or beyond the Tyr-Region. Each game would be different from a gladiatorial game(Tyr), to a politics game involving nobles (Ur-Draxa), to a wilderness survival game (Ringing Mountains). Or one based on Preservers or Clerics. Also, each player would have character that were slaves, others that are freemen and or nobles! I would need to design the game in which the events from one side of the region can effect the game on the other side.


I’ve not used character trees like that before, they’ve always been more along the lines of replacement party members for a single group. Maybe it’s just the way I’ve run the games, but I have had multiple groups in the same campaign before and eventually one group may hear about the exploits of another but until they really some pretty high levels (just before epic or into epic) a single party didn’t make a difference that would be felt across tablelands.

In the scenarios you laid out there, I could see a gladiator game being talked about outside of Tyr, but remember travel between cities is pretty rare. Traders do so, adventurers do so, but most city dwellers rarely leave. Even nobles would tend to stick within the “borders” controlled by the city state. Ur-Draxa was even more cut off than normal city states.

For a Preserver/Cleric campaign, I currently have a “Avangion Council” made up of a few low level ones scouting out preserver/psions to expand their ranks to the point where they can challenge the sorcerer monarchs. They have to move very carefully though since the SMs can swat them like flies. It’s taken them a long time to get to that point. They’ve been creating small havens in mountain valleys to train up additional preservers.

There’s also a “Conclave of Five”, high level clerics of Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Rain that are working together to return the elemental balance. Each of them is in the process of becoming Elemental Lords but after a pretty disastrous discovery of their stronghold by Borys they fled into the elemental planes and haven’t regrouped yet.

A druid circle may also be of interest since changing the world seems to be the goal. I have a group that hunted down the ancient druids from before the Eradication, learned a decent amount of history, and started trying to organize the druids, under the cover of a trading house.

So, I have a new idea for Character-Trees:

They really have potential!!!

So, while reading Mechwarrior 1, they suggest having multiple-characters in different roles, such as techs, aerospace etc., as the game runs smoother if all player-character are the same type; you can also move your XP between characters like Dark Sun’s character-Trees. Then I thought, why Battletech has a history that spans a thousand years giant-robots have been trying to destroy each other so, why not have characters in different time-spans? For instance, I like the Draconis Combine and why not PCs starting right when House Kurita was raising, then Star League and then maybe post-Clans.

Then, it hit me; Dark Sun spans eons as well, so, my proposal is this, why not play characters from different ages such as the Green Age and maybe the Blue Age? All the rules for character-trees would apply.

If I ran a Green-Age game for Dark Sun, it would be high-fantasy, and not what the players would be expecting.

One question is, where did all the metal go? I mean, on Earth, we use metal like crazy and yet, there are still plenty of iron-mines. What happened?

On Earth, we have acess to continually improving tech to make further mining possible.

For instance, I’ve read that we have apparently passed thr point of no-return with fossile fuels - if humanity were blasted back to the stone age (and lost all our accumulated knowledge), we could not access remaining oil & gas reserves without our current level of technology, barring us from repeating our previous technological progression. Perhaps Athas is in a similar situation.

The iron mines of Tyr are of a pathetic level of quality/productivity. Its been suggested (here in the Arena) previously that instead of being the greatest concentration of iron on Athas/in the Tablelands, the iron mines of Tyr are the greatest accessible source of iron - that other, richer veins exist but cannot be found or reached with the tools & techniques available.


Suggested here, for example.


I have been thinking of using character trees where each player rolls up one character who begins as a slave, one who begins as a Tyrian citizen and one who begins as some sort of outlander and then eventually the different parties meet up and after that they can switch. (This way you can run a start-as-slaves arc with one group but also allow people to create more varied backgrounds if they prefer.)

I like the idea of waiting until the party gets to 5th or 7th level or something before rolling up their third character, and maybe making some of the more exotic races available at that point. That way people can shift direction if they realize they want to engage with Athas in a different way, or once they have a little more idea of what the different races are all about.

I ran character trees once in an old campaign. I thought four characters per tree was too many. Even if you have a very dedicated group that plays weekly, you’re only spending time with each character an average of once a month and so some of the characters were very thin personality-wise. Also, even just mechanically, like, if you have a psionicist in your tree that you only play once a month then you don’t remember what their powers do and spend the whole session trying to remember how your powers work etc. But I think a 2-3 person tree, maybe combined with the death certificate system, could be workable for a committed group.

Then the lack of metal is really, from an economics point of view, a simple scarcity of a natural-resource.