Age of the Sorcerer-Kings? Or Decade of Heroism?



Aug 15, 2007 14:08:00
Do you prefer to play Dark Sun in the Age of the Sorcerer-Kings of the original boxed set? Or in the Decade of Heroism from the revised boxed set?

What are the pros and cons, or reasons why somebody should choose one setting over the other, or vice versa?



Aug 15, 2007 17:45:56
Hi All,

New to the forum, and extremely happy to see that you guys have resurrected the best fantasy RPG setting created by mortals.

I think it's a no brainer, Sonja: original boxed-set. The Sorceror-Kings were the best parts of DS (well, some of the best parts). I would never want to play with half of them dead (unless my PCs got to do the killing). And don't forget the Dragon. DS just isn't the same with out good ol' Borys.

On top of that, the later DS material was atrocious. Example: Surfing hippy dolphin lovers - come on! (I know some people here hate the Dolphins in Saragar - I don't mind them particularly. It's the damn hippies that surf with them that I can't abide). Another example: Biotech wielding halflings.

Finally, DS started out DARK. I mean, just as bad as Warhammer 40k if not more. Even the good guys were evil. And then they introduced HOPE and DEMOCRACY .. and ... HIPPIES! And FREEDOM! (Was Mel Gibson involved in the end?) I'm getting all worked up about it all over again...

My original DS 2e game was played with the original boxed set, Dragon Kings, the Thri-kreen book and the old Monstrous Compendium. That's it. IMHO, much more than that spoils the best part of DS: the setting. (there may have been some other good books that I didn't own)

While I'm at it, I am all for some Nuremberg-like trials for the guys that wrote the later stuff.



Aug 15, 2007 19:14:18
When I start a new campaign, I like to start with the original set and transition to the Revised, bridging the gap as the situation warrants it. It usually works out pretty well. The original set is great for presenting a limited corner of the Tablelands to acclimate players to the setting. Only after they kill a few SKs do I bring in the Revised set and later material. And when published material runs out, I introduce my own stuff (The Netherworld (The Athasian Underdark, heavily linked to the Grey and the Black), the Arrakis Desert (Complete with Fremen and Dune Worms(Spice too), the Ocean that spans much of the other hemisphere, where the Yuuzhan Vong (yes, the ones from Star Wars. Troy Denning just ported the returning Halflings from the Messenger into the SW universe, I believe. The similarities are too profound, complete with Shapers and organic tech!)

But I digress. Each Boxed Set is equally useful, and not mutually exclusive, IMO.


Aug 15, 2007 21:50:00
Age of the SKs, hands down.
Back before they released the novels and Revised setting material, DS was all about starting as Gladiatorial slaves in Tyr, escaping/earning your freedom, and then learning about the Tablelands enough to survive. The new material has completely changed the focus of the setting.
As Terminus mentioned, there is an easy comparison to Star Wars here.

For me, both have only one appropriate setting: CLASSIC ERA.
Everything else must be burned at the stake.


Aug 16, 2007 3:42:36
I second Sigfried on SK and Dragoon.
I also find "unappropriate" the hippy dolphin lovers.

But I like a free Tyr (kaos filled, full of starving new freemen, near ungovernable) .


Aug 16, 2007 3:49:15
What Sigfried said.
Love Borys, hate the Prism Pentad.


Aug 16, 2007 5:00:32
I just started a new Dark Sun campaign, and put the timeline 5 years before FY1. Kalak is still building his ziggurat, and it's possible that the PCs might take an interest in this and act accordingly. If they don't do it (quite likely they're off doing other stuff) I might call upon Rikus, Sadira and the gang to get the job done.

The revised setting was in many ways a mistake. The original Dark Sun setting had so much color (mostly shades of brown, obviously) and life, so much potential left untapped or destroyed by the "official" story. That is not to say the Prism Pentad is bad, per se, just that it changed Dark Sun too much as a campaign world in too short a time, and it should really have been the PCs who were the movers, not some NPC group.

But the DM is obviously free to ignore anything he wants and play the game out as he likes.

P.S. anyone ever noticed that in the foreword in Dragon Kings, the editor keeps mentioning stuff along the lines of "don't go expecting maps of the far side of the Silt Sea, there is far too much left to uncover on the current campaign map". And then they go and revise the campaign setting, and instead of adding detail they stretch the "known world" further north and south, and add barely detailed content. Very strange.


Aug 18, 2007 8:42:19
my upcoming DS campaign will start at FY10 because there is much more going on than in the original. Raam will be the starting point of my campaign and surely one of the most interesting parts of the revised set. there are far more things to chose for the NPCs in the revised than in the original plus far more to explore as well. before it was to create chaos and now you have to survive it. in the revised set much more is left to the DM to rule out and say what hapened. in the original that was expected from the PCs now they are just puppets which is more interesting and its what life on athas is about.


Aug 18, 2007 11:29:36
Yeah the situation in Raam is one of the few things I do like in the revised settings.

I guess a GM can always pick and choose stuff from the original and revised settings and mix them together too. Not forced to stick to an exact timeline.


Aug 23, 2007 16:34:17
Do you prefer to play Dark Sun in the Age of the Sorcerer-Kings of the original boxed set? Or in the Decade of Heroism from the revised boxed set?

What are the pros and cons, or reasons why somebody should choose one setting over the other, or vice versa?


I purchased the orgininal box set, 2nd edition in 1992 and I liked it. The revised box set did answer a lot of questions, mostly geological, however, it kind of spoiled everything. I was content on thinking they were SKs, not some Dragon, etc.


Aug 23, 2007 22:11:32
I prefer the status quo of the pre-PP era.

The chaos that followed the deaths/disappearance of four out of seven SKs is interesting and provides lots of plot opportunities. But I far preferred the oppressiveness that permeated Athas when the SKs’ rule over the Tablelands was undisputed. Prior to the ‘Pentad, the SKs seemed unkillable and monumental. That aura made them the ultimate villains.

The Decade of Heroism deals away with five out of the eight greatest villains of the setting (SKs+TheDragon), and destroys the aura of invincibility of the rest. I’m a sucker for good villains, so that’s a big no-no for me. Besides, the very name of the period, “Decade of Heroism”, conveys the notion that heroism can go unpunished. That’s a *very* un-Athasian notion, to me!

The PP is a terrific series of books. But, for gaming, the Age of the SKs is better IMHO.

That does *not* impeach the revised boxed set, though. The new regions are flavourful, and ripe for adventuring. The expanded map is great*! I especially like how it succeeds in delivering the feeling that the Tablelands area is the last bastion of humanoid life. Other places are mostly deserted or, in the case of the Crimson Savanah, inhabited by insectoids. This is a very old concept of the setting, and I love it.

*I could do without the surfer druids, nevertheless.


Aug 24, 2007 18:42:26
Age of the Sorcerer Kings, all the way. The expanded map in the 2nd Ed set is nice, but I like the "open" nature of the original boxed set, the danger, the mystery -- back before we knew what the Dragon and the Sorcerer Kings were or the history of the world, and they could be anything. That was a feature.


Aug 24, 2007 23:11:57
Saragar was an interesting concept, but poorly executed and really lacking in Athasian feel. Now if the Last Sea region had been portrayed in a darker more brutal light, without all the surfing hippies and "normal elves/dwarves" it might have worked. Personally I think the best thing would have been to put it on the map and then not release a book about it only mentioning the horrifying rumors of what lies within the forbidden region.

Now the setting that is Raam in the revised box set is pure gold, they should have come out with a sourcebook for that city instead of doing the Mind Lords of the Last Sea crap.

I was interested in Balic after Andropinus's death, but really not sold on it. I think Altaruk was already providing much of what Balic presented and Tyr had the other half covered. I would have much prefered if Andropinus had remained.

As to Draj I never found it all that compeling, but yet again I think it was better with it's SK intact. I really don't buy the puppet bs they used in the revised setting. Some other SK would have taken control of the city, either directly or indirectly.

I liked the additions of the two extra SKs, though I think I would have prefered to not know about Oronis right out of the revised box set. Thanks now my players can't look through this!! I think it would have been far better if he had been explained/revealed in an adventure.

Anyway just some thoughts and opinions.


Aug 25, 2007 11:12:42
Agree 100% with Sigfried! I absolutely despise what the damned books and later stuff did to Athas...for the same reason I hate the mess the Forgotten Realms is in: by destorying mystery, be filling in the maps, you wreck the sense of fear, uncertainty, and cripple a DMs ability to make a setting their own.

Also, the official history is ridiculous and dumb in so many ways. Ick.

The SKs are some of the best villains, ever. Their true nature should be left utterly mysterious, and as far as folk of Athas are concerned, they are neigh invicible demigods. SKs should liquidate upstart PCs who threaten them in the most horrific ways possible ;)

People playing "Heroes" in Athas, should feel victory in surviving, in out doing templars or other enemies and once in a while, a truly good deed. They should never EVER be allowed to think they can kick ass and do what they like.
DS !=Forgotten Realms or any other setting, and even in the Realms or elsewhere, trouble makers should get stomped. On Athas, they wouldn't even be blips, they'd be "salutary warnings to the populace"....


Aug 26, 2007 6:26:11
I tend to play up the uncertainties that result after the sorcerer-kings are gone; political and economic instability means that now even the cities aren't as safe as they once were. It's harder than ever to survive in the new setting. Some people may talk about making things better, but outside of Tyr, what really happens? Merchant houses vying for control, templar assassination squads running amok, a populace with no more check against brute thugs and petty tyrants taking over city blocks and wells now that the templarate doesn't have spells to break them up - I concentrate less on the overarching story elements that lower-level PCs don't see, and more on the day-to-day survival issues that they have to face, which means the rampant instability and chaos that has come to the only places on Athas that used to have order.

Not to mention a high-level sun cleric trying to resurrect the dead sorcerer-kings so that they can continue their defiling . . .