Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Dark Sun IS NOT Problematic.

Contrary to the opinion of a corporate tool Dark Sun is not problematic.  

Dark Sun is a Dungeons and Dragons campaign setting first published by TSR for the 2nd edition AD&D game back in 1991. The setting is bleak the world is all but absolutely destroyed by the actions of a handful of monsters bent on bleeding the world absolutely dry for their own individual power. The evil that has utterly wracked the setting stands virtually unopposed in a shattered ecology where the tropes and character types of D&D have been forced into shadows or mirror reflections of what they are elsewhere in RPG-land. The only real choice players have for success against the future planned by the villains of the setting is to survive by rebelling and uniting against the systems of oppression and destruction forced on them by a handful of greedy power-mad individuals.

The only enduring path for the PCS in Dark Sun is absolute heroism in an unforgiving setting bent against them. Nobody will be on the PCs side if the PCs fail to unite and find allies to stand against the selfish greed that would consume all. In Dark Sun PCs aren't heroes because of their alignment, character class and background... all of those choices have been twisted and polluted by the forces that would destroy the world in the Dark Sun setting as the only thing that makes a hero is the actions and deeds of the PC.  Players aren't heroes because of the initial decisions and choices the player makes at character creation but how they act in every encounter and situation that follows for the life of a campaign in the setting of Dark Sun.

Survival, transformation, and a constant challenge at every step make Dark Sun a remarkable Heroic RPG setting. Player choices will matter. Selfish choices will consume the world. PC actions are the only path forward to undo the greed of those who are and would be monsters.

Why oh why would corporate shills think a setting where people must unite against systems of oppression and ecological ruin imposed and maintained by a small powerful elite as problematic?

Sunday, February 19, 2023

They Be Giants

 Ever wonder why there are seldom great nations of Halflings in fantasy RPG campaigns?  It's not because halflings are small and weak, unclever, or lazy as none of those are limitations of halflings. Sure they are small compared to adult humans but for their body size they are very strong and we all know they ever seem to lack the capacity to feed themselves and find comfort. Their populations are seldom oppressed and enslaved so that isn't holding them back. The horrible truth is much worse than most folks would imagine: Halflings are the larval forms of giants.

The quaint tales Halfling parents tell of finding babies in cabbage patches or pipeweed patches is not a fiction produced by parents unsure how to relate the facts of life to their children but the absolute truth of the matter. Halfling babies are left by their giantish-parents for discovery by their older siblings and cousins that will take them in and care for them as "parents".  Their older siblings are better proportioned to safely raise their less mature larval kin than their giantish parents are.

As they mature the larval giant (as a halfling) lives a life of simple pleasures and industry, their drive to build burrows well stocked with more food they can possibly eat reveals their true nature. Their life as a halfling is dedicated to building the burrow they will "retire" to. No halfling is seen to die of old age among its peers as they have a drive to move on or become private and either retire to their borrow or travel "away". It is during their "retirement" sometime between the age of 100 and 130 when the Halfling typically after a decade or more of seclusion emerges as a giant before traveling into the wilds to live it's giantish life.

During the period of seclusion, the Halfling (as  it is a larval giant) gorges on its vast larder of food it has stashed over the years and sleeps as it grows to proper giantish proportions.  The newly emerged young adult giant will occasionally raid its younger neighbors as it moves out of the area to live among adult giants in the greater wilds and while these raids are common in Halfling lore they are seldom of much consequence because the giants have no desire to cause much harm to their larval cousins; those incidents where young adult giants cause genuine harm to their younger cousins seems to be when different breeds of giants unknowingly intermingle in their larval halfling stage.

It is their lifecycle that checks the advance of the Halflings as a people. Their drive is simply to burrow, build a store of food and transform into a giant to emerge from their burrow and travel into the wilds as a giant as they lack the drive to build halfling society beyond this.


This all popped into my head as I woke this morning. I hope someone finds this inspiring and useful for their fantasy RPG campaigns.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Making them creepier.

 Retooling some of the common humanoids for an upcoming campaign, I've posted bits and pieces of this over the years:

Gnolls:  virtually invisible beyond 80', they can't see you so good either. You can see each other just fine inside that 80'.

Bugbears: can hide virtually anywhere, if their head fits they can vanish inside or behind an obstacle or object much of the time.  They are the bogyman hiding under the cellar stairs.

Goblins: are magical, not bang-zap magical but they can build doors that connect non-adjacent spaces and can build great halls in spots men and dwarves would have trouble putting a closet. They can see and travel in directions you and I can't normally see.

Kobolds: are furry and beat both live young and lay eggs. The eggs hatch slowly and are an emergency food source. Egg-hatched Kobolds are more likely to have magical abilities.

Orcs: brutal industrial expansionist servants of Levithan, all industry and war are to serve the growth and supremacy of Orc. You can tell when it's orcs because they cut down forests and pollute rivers quicker than humans do. If it's not Orc, it doesn't matter.

Elves: not always the good guys, well not according to people anyway, they usually consider themselves to be the good guys. They can ser and travel in the same directions as goblins can and even more.

Dwarves: not a mono-culture. There are different nations and cultures among dwarves. Contrary to popular belief dwarves are not anti-magical. 

Halflings- have bad guys too.

Hobgoblins: I didn't really change them much, but they do look more like WW-I soldiers in the trenches than they do ersatz-samurai. They live inside hillside bunkers and citadels surrounded by trenches and other battlefield constructions. They are geniuses of military science but not otherwise technologically developed.