I just got my hands on the Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition Dark Sun setting. As a fan of the previous versions of this world, I have to say I'm impressed with the current iteration. Keeping true to the feel of the original and incorporating 4e-specifics like the Dragonborn and Eladrin was done elegantly. The art is really nice. Write-ups for some of the major powers in the world in the back of the bestiary brought a ton of memories flooding back.
So, of course, I'm riding high on the wave of creativity evoked by these reading-marathons.
Ergo this post: What would I run using the new Dark Sun?
Short answer: The PCs would be part of an all thri-kreen group representing a wild clutch in the wastes. For further details, read more after the break...
The Attractor - the Clutch
One of the things I demand in the games I run is an attractor. By this I mean an in-game method of accumulating adventurers together and focusing them toward my plots.
For example, my March of Sterich game is organized around the military / police force protecting the Greyhawk nation of Sterich. My characters don't have to like one another, they just have to work together. Some are patriots serving their two year stint in the March for the opportunity to work out of the capitol. Others are criminal conscripts, forced to help their captors and work off their crimes. Mercenaries abound as well. This had lead to some interesting relationships in my March game...
A previous campaign I ran was a pan-planar cabal of Githyanki whose focus was preventing the Illithid infesting another Prime. Again, plenty of common-cause and lots of room for something beyond "You've all met for the first time at the Prancing Pony..."
So, given this kind of track record, one might see where a near-hivemind could get me thinking. Not just because of the immediate bond clutch-mates would have, but also the opportunity to give my players the chance to adopt the very alien minds of the thri-kreen. The story is as much about the clutch as the PCs and their travails. With the built-in hierarchy that the clutch provides, early adventures are easy to organise. With the concept that this is a community of thri-kreen, an early PC death could be easily replaced with a new character. The clutch leader will, of course, get challenged by a PC sooner or later and then the focus becomes something the PCs can influence more directly.
Initial Conflict - Kank War
The first set of adventures that the clutch leader will send the PCs on would be to secure a Kank Queen and her hive. Unfortunately, the hive of valuable beasts is being domesticated by a mid-sized tribe of Gith.
Levels 1 - 5 should be filled with:
- Recon missions to assess the Gith forces. (Strangely, the gith appear to be directed by a pair of ssurran.)
- Precise strikes to disable or destroy the Giths' Controllers.
- Finally, the raid to finally take the ruins the Gith occupy and secure the hive.
Further Trouble - Holding the Ruins
Given the harsh environment of Athas, taking something for yourself doesn't ensure it will remain yours.
For Levels 6 - 12:
- A nomadic tribe of ssurran arrive for their trained kanks. (Potential for negotiation - the ssurran don't care who train their mounts.)
- Undead from the ruins begin burrowing up and re-claiming areas of the former temple complex the hive now occupies.
- A wandering defiler shows up, hoping to sap the hive's life force for her latest item enchantment.
- A band of fleshy adventurers arrives, beaconed by the rising undead, to seek out treasures and artifacts within the ruins.
- The psurlons bound in the ruins (by the former cult) are released by the new activity in the area.
Next Installment -
Given the tastes of your group, they might want to pursue one or another lead that you present under the Dark Sun. Further planning really depends on what your players respond to. Maybe the wandering defiler got away? Did the clutch decide to help the fleshy ones with their digging? Was there a pact or a war with the ssurran? How many of the psurlons got free and are now planning further mayhem?
After a few session for Further Trouble, you should be able to tell where your groups wants to take their unique clutch.
Once I get a little feedback about these ideas from my players (hint, hint!), I'll continue documenting. Thanks for reading. If you end up using any of these ideas, please feel free to contact me and tell me about how things turned out.