Saturday, July 13, 2013

Preparing for some Dark Sun

Hello everyone! I'm planning to run a short Dark Sun game in the future, but since there's no official Dark Sun products for D&D 3.5 or Pathfinder, I will have to write a conversion for the monsters and characters I'm gonna be using. I might share some of that here on Halfling's Den.
However, I love Dark Sun not only because of its weird creatures and incredibly versatile backgrounds (honestly, evil sorcerer kings and sentient mantis people, what's not to love?)... I love it because of its aesthetics. I don't get the chance to run a game where desert and god-forsaken temples come into play. When I run campaigns in "traditional" settings (which is to say, anything including usual races like goblins, orcs and the likes, where deities are a constant and tangible presence) I tend to avoid traditional locations. I prefer an abandoned monastery rather than the usual dungeon.
Still, when you're writing an adventure set in a place like Athas, everything is already alien and unusual. Because of this, I went for a pretty straightforward adventure with, well, your usual couple of wilderness encounters and then some dungeon delve. Except for the fact that it can't be usual: the wilderness encounter won't be goblins/orcs with wolves/boars, it will be a herd of psionic elf nomads or silt runners jumping all over the place and shooting darts coated with poison from a mutant lizard... and the dungeon will be full of hunched hejkin.
There's nothing familiar about Dark Sun: and in my opinion, when the players are confronted with a place this strange and alien, you as a Game Master should provide them with something usual. At least apparently usual.
As I mentioned before, it's gonna be a short adventure, probably a one-shot. I've built pre-generated characters for the players : seven 3rd level PCs, a psion, a gladiator, a rogue, a barbarian, a ranger, a warleader (a homebrew class I will soon post here on the blog) and a monk. When I run short adventures, I tend to refine them until they're captivating in both their narrative and visual aspect.
I've therefore decided to add a 3D element to the dungeon crawl section of the adventure. Usually I simply draw the battle maps on paizo's 30"x24" wet-erase mats... this time, I'll instead print some tiles and build elements to improve the looks of the combat encounters!
Here are some of the models I created in photoshop (nothing complex, but who knows, you might find some use for them). They're basically two high stone platforms for an underground temple dedicated to the Ancient Gods of Athas. I searched for some photos of Aztec decorations on the net and textures (they were all free to use, no worries :P)

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