So… I take it w/ the publication of the material in Spelljammer that seems to be very thinly veiled Dark Sun material that we’re never seeing a real 5e Dark Sun. It seems unlikely with the direction of the company that we’ll get one in OneDnD (::: cough ::: 6e ::: cough :::).
I feel like this is a prime time to just make up a d20 like system that exactly fits the world, since it seems to have been permanently abandoned in anything official. Legendary Games is producing a revision of Pathfinder that might be a nice basis if they ever get it to print (it doesn’t seem like it’s coming out any time soon at this point). I think there have been a lot of d20 like systems like Arcana Evolved, Iron Heroes, Path of War, and the Dreamscarred take on psionics that have good resources for a Dark Sun game.
I’ve also looked at rules for integrating Rolemaster crit tables with different OSR systems like C&C. I feel like a really apt Dark Sun rule set would have rules for ripping off someone’s arm and clubbing them to death with it.
I’m also still interested in the idea of expanding the world – what lies on the other side of the Crimson Savannah, for example?
I think 3.5 or Pathfinder could manage it well enough. The problem here is that 4E was released just as the Athas dot org team started releasing detailed rules, some of which were in beta. That really took the wind out of the sails.
I’ve been working on advanced being rules for around 6 by myself and have almost a finished product. Things are happening, albeit slowly.
There is a development team working on products to expand the world as we speak. The deadlands has already been covered in quite a bit of detail. You can find the products for that here on the Athas.org site. I know they are currently working on material for the areas beyond the deadlands to the south as well.
I feel like at this point that 3.5 has been out of production for so long I can see stuff in other d20 systems or other DnD-esque systems I’d want to add to make it feel more setting appropriate (or at least my version/vision of the setting) – stuff like meta currencies like using hp to power spells like in White Hack, and the use of grace as a metacurrency for combat effects like in Monte Cook’s Book of Experimental Might.
And, again, more combat rules for stuff like ripping an opponent’s arm off, how much blood would squirt in their companion’s eyes, and how much damage you’d do clubbing them with it, and how long it’d take them to bleed out once you’d ripped it off. Something like the Rolemaster tables, but stuff that wouldn’t necessarily end combat so fast (I’ve used that before and I felt like it made things a bit too quick, I’d kind of want to extend it a bit more to make it feel more cinematic).
Also more rules for armor and weapons breaking or at least becoming less effective over time. More survival rules for dehydration, hunting, heat exhaustion, diseases etc.
Some of these could just be additional rules modules – like some supplemental 3.5 combat and environmental rules. Like, maybe we could do a supplement that would have all those additional combat rules and combine all the environmental rules from different sources – though I’m guessing we can’t use anything from Sandstorm, right?
The mechanics can’t be copyrighted, so it is possible to file off the serial numbers and reproduce a mechanic. The corpse crafter feat mechanics were used as prestige class abilities for the Royal Animator, for example (shoutout to a great PrC in need of a fix).
As you so succinctly reiterated, yes, we can completely reuse all the mechanical content of Sandstorm and other books - likely ~80% of the “splat” era books (as opposed to something like a Forgotten Realms setting book, which is going to have a much lower ‘crunch’ percentage).