Welcome, my friend, to the burnt world of Athas. Harsh and short is life here, and your own time on this world has not been easy, though it appears that your difficulties have just begun…
Your Path will be the main defining characteristic of your character. You will be able to choose one of four paths for your PCs that will greatly define your past, your present, and, of course, your future.
• Veteran: You are a soldier who has survived many battles, but has since lef t the world of soldiering behind. A veteran rarely blends back into the civilian world without enemies… enemies he has fought n the battlefield and enemies within his own camp… • Ex-Slave Merchant: You peddled in the vilest of all markets- the human market. For one reason or another, you recently left your profession behind, be it for moral reasons, a declining profit, or simply to escape that dark trade with your life… • Ex-Gladiator: You once reveled in the roar of the crowds and the glorious death of the gladiator pits. This does not necessarily mean you yourself were a gladiator (though it is possible), but rather someone associated with the gladiatorial hierarchy: a book-keeper, a promoter, a purveyor of gladiators, the Pit Healer- all of these, and many more, go into making the entertainment of the masses possible. However, those few allowed to profit from the death pits are rarely allowed to leave without a price… • Water Seeker: You seek a great mythical source of water on Athas, a source which once ran freely all over the world. The reasons for your search are your own; you may be seeking a sustainable water source for religious, altruistic, or pecuniary purposes. Some sages speak of those Seekers who claimed to have found the Source the legends spoke of, only to be never seen again…
Keep in mind that your path is not a limitation to your background; a retired Veteran could have been a pacifist Cleric for the past few years, or the young town crier for the gladiator pits could have been a wandering Trader before his adventuring days. The Path will help define your quest, not limit it.
I am going to create standards around races and classes a little differently than we are used to. Instead of building out rules and options for every race/class, then letting you choose, I will let you choose what you want to be, then we will create the rules based on your choice if you want to play a non-standard 4e race and/or class.
Classes: all classes in the 4e PHB are open, except for the Paladin. You may also choose to be a Gladiator or Trader class if you wish. Some existing classes, such as the Cleric and Wizard, will require tweaking if you choose them. Here’s a quick refresher on the magic user classes if you need one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_Sun#Magic_Users
Note: In case you’re wondering how we will build the Gladiator or Trader classes if you choose them, I am initially thinking the Gladiator will be a Striker and the Trader will be a Leader. I’ll just mix and match existing powers from various classes to build these if you so choose to be one of these.
Unfortunately, there is no system for Psionics at this time. If the Psionic class is published in the PHB2, then your PCs will have the option to become a Psionic, develop Wild Talents, etc.
All races in the 4e are available, except for the Tiefling and Dragonborn. You may also choose to be a Mul, Half-Giant, Pterran, Thri-Kreen, or Aarakockra,
If you need a refresher on the flavor of each race in Athas, go here: http://www.athas.org/products/ds3. The stat bonuses listed in this 3e version won’t be applicable to 4e, but we’ll base our own bonuses around them. Scroll down to the bottom right and download the small pdf “DS3- Chapter 1- Character Races”
Misc notes on Character Creation:
• In true Dark Sun form, you will be rolling 5d4 for each stat. • Since Athas is such a brutal world for its inhabitants, you will be starting at 3rd level, as was the case in 2e • Modifiers for weapons/armor bone, obsidian, wood, etc. will be worked out during PC creation
Finally, your Nemesis. Your story will be based around an ever pursuing antagonist, created entirely by you.
Your Nemesis may be a deceptive Defiler, coveting you for his dark power; a cunning Warlord, sending wave after wave of his ultra loyal guards to hunt you down; a relentless Fighter tirelessly following your every step; a shadowy assassin sent to kill you by an unknown enemy.
I will create the stats and powers of your Nemesis (I will roll his stats along side you), but you will create his story, race, class and concept. Why is this power after you? What purpose is he fulfilling? Who (or what) does he serve? Is he cruel, astute, charming?
Throughout this campaign your nemesis shall be hot on your trail, whether it be as a main antagonist in that adventure or just a shadow lurking right out of the corner of your eye.
As you begin your quest, she will be much more powerful than you, so an open fight in your early days traveling Athas are not recommended. Taking to your heels to see another day is not the coward’s way out. And who knows? One day you might have traveled far enough, learned enough, and be just lucky enough to confront this menace.
Optional rule: You may create two nemesis’s if you would like. Does the powerful Wizard send his best Ranger tracker to report your whereabouts? Does the Fire Priest assign his mighty Fighter lieutenant to cut you off at every turn? Does the retired Grand Champion Gladiator dispatch his paid Rogue thief to deplete you of all resources so he may administer your final blow himself?
If you choose this optional rule, you may decide how the power is divided between the nemesis’s. For example: Wizard (85%), Ranger (15%) power. This would constitute a wizard lord sending out a small time, but knowledgeable tracker to follow your movements. Conversely, you could choose Cleric (50%), Fighter (50%), and create a duo of equal enemies following your path.
Athas and all her cruel splendor await you. Who is this hero who shall rise to define- or redefine- this dead world that even the gods have forsaken?