Setting the Night Below campaign on Athas

How would you do this?
What would you change?
What Athasian monsters (underground ones in specific) would you add/swap?

I haven’t read it all (only some of book 1), so I’m asking those who have run it or read it all the way through.

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Hmmm…thats a tricky one. Haranshire could be modded with a lot of effort to be a generic village of the wastes. The underdark section would require extensive modification. I might keep the Aboleth as the major villains at the end bit I think many of the other races would need changing. Let me dig my pdf copy out and have a think through for more details.

Kind of tough to fit it in. On the surface (excuse the pun) it seems like a great idea - “I love Night Below and I have Dark Sun, lets mix them together!”. In practice, however…

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This might be a bit contrived, but, ultimately, it’s just about creating interesting stories and having fun, right?

Our PCs have, in communing with ancient beings such as the Spirit of the Land or the Zwuun, entered dream-like states where they’ve experienced the Green Age and the wars of annihilation, etc. through the memory of these immortal beings. A trip to the past could explain the preponderance of metal, alien races, etc. Perhaps the entire Underdark is the bowels of the Pristine Tower and the Aboleth are the Nature Benders and the Grand Savant is Rajaat himself devouring the planet’s life force and metal by means of his Champions and the Cleansing Wars! Who knows what chaos from millenia of experimentation lurks trapped inside that tower? It’s never been canonized that I have read, not that canon is strictly so important. Fire Giants? Why not? I’d be more surprised if they weren’t in there! Rajaat assuredly had inter-planar access; this is the most powerful sorcerer ever with thousands of years of experience. All of the Champions together could not destroy him, only imprison him, and it takes their combined great effort to keep him so. That might minimize the retooling.

RIght, having had another look at NIght Below here are my thoughts on converting it:

Haranshire is meant as a sandbox for the PCs to get some experience but its just too big and too different terrain/climate wise to fit into the Tablelands. You could set it in an out of the way corner outside the Seven Cities region, or else condense it - there’s 1 village nestled in a valley of the RInging Mountains with most of the NPCs living there (essentially going from 2-3 with 100 people apiece to 1 with 300-500 villagers). The eelhold is the water run off from the mountains and the source of water for the village and its fields.

The Underdark is a major pain in the butt. You can replace orcs with gith or the like quite easily. The svirfneblin can’t be living - have the priestess be a raaig or a meortie or the like and lead a cohort of similarly undead deep gnomes. Grell, hook horrors and the other small settlements can mostly be explained as mutated races or else remnants of Green Age ones. You could let the Rockseer Elves remain as is - maybe their ancestors fled underground when Coraanu Starracer started running on the surface from Albeorn.

The kuo-toa, Ixzan, illithids and Aboleth can remain as is - aside from the illithids have the rest be the last remnants of their race (or nearly such). You could have some of the illithids be followers of Barien (the ceremorphosed Dessicator of Mind Flayers) as the explanation for them not being on the aboleth’s side. The aboleth could be building their tower of domination with a view to controlling surface dwellers to stop further degredation - they might very well want to return to the Blue Age like Rajaat. Whether they are allied with the Warbringer is up to you.

Change dragons to drakes, some clerics and wizards to psions or para-elemental/elemental clerics. The derro could be insane dwarven refugees of the Cleansing Wars who decided to take up magic to fight the Champions. Have any wizards in the underdark be either preservers (defiling would devastae the closed ecosystems of the caverns) or else practitioners of a geomancy magic - only you have to be in close proximity to the Earth Nodes to draw power from the planet without dying messily. That would avoid defiling/preserving debates while explaining why so many wizards have stayed underground and not gone topside.

However you do it, you need to do a lot of work adapting things, you need to cut the treasure considerably (there is way too much magic there for a normal Athasian campaign) and you’ll potentially set up several major threats to Athas going forward (fun!).

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I am surprised this boxed set has come up. It is an interesting coincidence as we ran the whole thing start to finish about 25 years ago. I remember the story was not complex and this is more of a campaign for bruisers and using iron to crush skulls. This may have been more of an artifact of our style of play, however, since we’ve always tended to be brutalizers and let the weapons do the talking. This campaign seemed to fit that and may not suit those who prefer intrigue, sabotage, and spies. It felt to me like Rogues really took a back seat. There was only one thief for the whole campaign, and he was NPC, and was used more or less as a human shield I’m not proud to say.

There is so much loot in Night Below every PC came out of it a multi-millionaire equivalent. If it is played as a dream-sequence on Athas, it would be quite the Athasian ending to have them all awaken after the grand finale with nothing but their wounds and XP.

Along the same lines, perhaps it could be played as a powerful nemesis of the PCs induces in them some kind of hallucinatory psychosis. They think they’re in the Underdark fighting fantastic aliens, but, in actuality, they are murdering their nemesis’ enemies for him. They awaken over what they thought was the corpse of the Grand Savant when instead it is some high power avangion or other tragic figure the hypnotist had them slaughter. They have become the unwitting slaves of their enemy and suddenly have a great number of enemies and are essentially wanted murderers. All that loot is really Athasian equivalences or was never there at all.

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In practice, anything is possible!
With enough elbow grease that is.
The best way to make me do something is to tell me it can’t be done.
No saying that you said that though.

Since asking this question:

I am FINALLY getting my old group back together, with a newbie to boot!
Won’t be Dark Sun though, they didn’t enjoy it last time. Too dreary… XD
So I’m homebrewing, as I normally like to do.
Underdark is on the list for adventure spots, but I’m going to put Night Below on the back burner for now, unfortunately.
They don’t like the idea of being underground the whole campaign, again, too dreary. >.<

So, Dark Sun + Night Below = Super Dreary


Thanks y’all for the great ideas though!
Definitely saving them!

Well, Athas and dreary are two things I’d never consider together! As you know, nothing need be dreary by default! What was it that made it dreary? Too much focus on water accounting? As it is your campaign, that mechanic can be done away with entirely in favor of pure storytelling to demonstrate the harshness of the environs. You know all that already, though. I am curious as to what made it dreary, however.


He might mean soul rendingly depressing and oppressive. Which i could see the constant near-pointless struggle to survive on Athas being, if it wasn’t so AWESOME!


@The_DMs_Revenge is correct on this one. :wink:

I personally love it, but it’s not for everyone.

My players prefer FR, GH, and other more traditional medieval fantasy (so that’s what my homebrews are often modeled after).

But that won’t stop me from sticking Dark Sun in my homebrew (at least partially) in the form of a vast (and incredibly lethal) desert.


Suggestion: you can play a campaign in a traditional fantasy world and roleplay the invention of defiling magic. The final consequence is that you would play an unofficial prequel to the Dark Sun setting. :smiling_imp:


Yep! I was thinking the same thing! :smiling_imp:

Though I’d change the Green Age drastically from canon.