Why I agree with Dark Sun haters that DS5E is a bad idea

Read this article before coming at me.

This is the reaction caused by a minor Kickstarter that took inspiration from Dark Sun themes. Imagine if you will the complete meltdown that would occur if Dark Sun 5E was under development. The Dark Sun setting in 5E would be shibbolethed and litmus tested to death.

The result would be worse than just the heart of the Dark Sun setting being ripped out, but a modern iteration of book burning would take place, with 2E supplements like Slave Tribes being pulled from sale.

At best we will have a situation where WotC designers will insist that they “love the Dark Sun setting” while ripping the guts out of everything that makes the Dark Sun setting unique and different to the other fantasy settings.

So yes - I 100% concur with Dark Sun haters that Dark Sun should not be introduced in 5E. Let the benign neglect continue and keep the Eye of Sauron off our setting.


If they make 5e Dark Sun and it isnt for you then just don’t buy it, continue to use older editions. Dollars speak far louder than words.

Like who cares what someone writes in an online rag. Ignore it, don’t give it visibility and move on.

Anything WotC makes for DnD is not made to cater to our shrinking demographic, its looking at a younger, larger, more diverse crowd with different perspectives for its future revenue streams.


I doubt any of this is about money. Look at the new Star Wars movies that cannot sell any tie-in merchandise when such merchandise would normally make Disney billions of dollars.

I don’t agree with your premise. I don’t think that there was any problem with “everything that makes the Dark Sun setting unique and different to the other fantasy settings”.

The main problem that kickstarter had is the depiction of slavery and the use of bioessentialism theories. And that is something that the original CS tried to depict the best way they could at that moment.

Slavery was always something bad. Something done by evil sorcerer-kings to maintain their power over their people. Bioessentialism was something that very few people had in mind at that time (hey, I didn’t knew the meaning until this flame started), but was also a concept that was never enforced by the original designers. Remember, the first adventure published was called Freedom.

And the Slave Tribes supplement depicts former slaves tribes, not the slave way of life. It reinforces the idea that slaves want to be free… and they can!

So, what’s the problem for a 5e Dark Sun? You can have slavery depicted as it is, something bad. You can have races created to be slaves, but this can be also shown as something inherently bad.

I still can’t understand why so many Dark Sun fans would prefer to not have more products speaking about their favorite game. Yes, the new product could be bad, or simply boring, but we also have a ton of 2e products that are really bad… so, don’t buy them. But leave it open to the opportunity to have something good, something that expands what we like, something that helps new players to know this wonderful setting.


What’s more, if nothing new is made for that setting, the number of new players dwindles over time into nothing.
It’s the paradox - we love what we originally had, but if we want it to live on, it must be carried by others eventually, and they will want to do what they want with it. So it will inevitably grow and change over time, until two generations on it’s unrecognisable.

You could say the same about 5e in general-- if we are 2e and 3e players, these are essentially our RPG grandchildren. Of course they’re going to have different ideas about things. But that doesn’t mean they can’t find and create beauty with their grandparents’ old RPG settings. I don’t like all the changes made to Ravenloft, but I respect that the grandchildren deserve the chance to make it their own, and I celebrate when they find a new way to give new life to my old favourites.


Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I have no grudge with 5e, I just found what I liked and never had much incentive to move to a new edition. But I do disagree with a lot of folks pointing this finger or that at the games I like and looking for things to be angry about (edit: honestly I keep getting reminded of folks being all up in arms over violent video games or sexual content in the media, same song different lyrics).

Here’s the thing though, like neujack said, without some degree of visibility the setting will slowly die. I’ve seen a lot of my interests screwed with, but look at it like this. Worst case scenario they make Safe Sun, the hyper generic 5e version that has tieflings in the core book for some reason and added in horses because the staff didn’t research the setting or didn’t care.

Whether or not Safe Sun exists, our corner of the fan base will continue to exist except we might poach a few decent ideas Safe Sun introduces. The memory of Dark Sun will be damaged and folks will look at the previous depictions as their own thing and you’ll occasionally get non-Safe Sun groups that have that one player complain why preservers are persecuted or why there are no progressive city states. But that is still a better fate than being all but forgotten the way Birthright was.


Properly worded, a DS setting release could be fine; not impossible, IMO.


I’m all for any version of 5E Athas. Not to play, but to steal art and maps from. You know, the same way 4E holds a spot in my heart.


What exactly would a 5E reboot have to offer the Dark Sun setting? The relatively short run (compared to Forgotten Realms and Greyhawk) of Dark Sun means that a reboot of Dark Sun would probably be a rehash of 4E Dark Sun with 5E mechanics, and de-emphasis of the problematic aspects of the setting.

The original boxed set offered a lot more latitude for areas outside the Tyr Region. The Tyr Region was only around 1/10th of the Tablelands. I would be interested to see a 5E setting with other parts of the Tablelands - it could even be places without the problematic slavery/racism themes. Doing that would require extensive worldbuilding, effort, and a degree of risk, which pretty much guarantees it won’t happen. What will probably happen is a gender-bended Hamanu.


New adventures and advancements of existing plots.

And perhaps a fresh batch of interest amongst players new to DS. Maybe some of those nubies will even decide old DS is better tham new DS and come to enjoy all the “problematic” aspects of the 2e setting.

I mean, why do anything? Hope.


I’m DMing 5e Dark Sun, yes a little bit of it is safe sun so far, but I started them out at 1st level, which in old Dark Sun you started at 3rd level, so I had to adapt the setting to make it playable.

Not a lot needs to be changed to run it, just use the current mechanics, and play the setting how it is. I avoided the “slavery” aspect of the game, by just creating a new city state far from the SK city states, run by a high level Draconic Sorcerer who wants to figure out how to become a SK, but hasn’t yet. He is technically lawful evil, he still owns everything in the city, and everyone works for him, but they are not enslaved, he just makes the area seem like a utopia and it is so remote and dangerously close to the Kreen-lands that there is really no where else for anyone to go, so in essence the people are forced to do their work for him, but they have the option to leave anytime they want to…

1 Like

I find it really really odd the concept that slavery and suffering are what makes dark sun unique. I’m someone who got into rpgs from 5e and I love dark sun deeply. When I think of Dark Sun I like of a stone-age world, where psionics reigns supreme, there aren’t the standard fantasy creatures, I think of a world without gods. The slavery is by no means a selling point. Every person I have introduced to Dark Sun has been very into the concept. It’s a world that is full of tyrants that are holding on just barely as the once-unthinkable slaying of a sorcerer king has happened. Having poured over the books I haven’t seen it as a world wallowing in suffering but a just world struggling to be born.

I don’t think there would be any “modern iteration of book burning” I think people would just expect something as heavy and brutal as slavery to be well written.


The optimist in me agrees with you. Whenever the Underdark gets love we see most of the races there are brutal slavers. Unless you’re a deep gnome, the civilizations there are all very fond of the lash and shackle. As far as I know that’s never been shied away from.

The biggest issue is addressing on the face of it that slavery is the norm in Dark Sun and that every major city participates in this cruel system. This can be contrasted with the free tribes struggling for independence as well as the Veiled Alliance being presumably against the system of slavery (I suspect to this day they try to preserve some remnants of Green Age values). Also from what I remember, Tithian did free the slaves of Tyr, though how well that will work out is anyone’s guess.

1 Like

No, not every every big city uses slaves. Slavery has been banned in Tyr and Altaruk, and house Wavir is trying to ban it also on Balic

I think there might be a conversation about how all the underdark races are either unspeakably inhuman or “problematic” and therefore are exclusively evil enemies. Whereas in the CS of DS the slavers are people - humans and dwarves and half-elves (PC races).

But, yeah, that distinction shouldn’t matter to anyone who plays the game or reads the books.


Thank you! Somebody has said it. If you never go anywhere else but the City-States, then yes you could make the campaign about slavery if you must. But if you partake of the exploration of the setting (which I believe is a more important selling point), then you can take or leave the slavery and it doesn’t actually matter that much.
Either way it’s still Dark Sun. After all, there’s still a lot more to the setting than that-- actually inventive takes on older races, inventive use of alternative materials for weapons and armour, inventive use of psionics, real issues with wilderness survival in extreme environments, and a rich world and history to explore (once you leave behind the Prism Pentad).

The funny thing about the problematic drow is that they used to be culturally evil, then in the Lady Penitent series of FR books drow were retconned as being biologically evil due to a taint of demonic blood by the balor Wendonai breeding with ancient drow.

Eh, they were already breeding with Demons at services to Lloth anyway, so it’s not a huge change to those in the know.

Don’t forget Duergar are down there and just as evil. Not to mention all ‘humanoids’: Orcs, Goblins, etc.
Literally everything (except Deep Gnomes) in the Underdark is evil and wants slaves, unless they’d just rather just eat you.

You bring up a good point there. I really don’t think that the slavery should be shied away from, I just think it ought to be handled with care you know.

Yeah… IDK, “care”.

Enslaving folks sucks and those who do it suck, even if it is/was legal. It’s not hard to let that opinion come across when writing. Any more “care” than that seems silly to me, but yes.

As long as a setting doesn’t sound like it’s glorifying slavery.

1 Like