UPDATE: I've recently created a "second edition" of my Savage Worlds conversion, which can be found here: Savage World of Athas. Leaving these posts intact for anyone who wants to see the "original" version or just listen to me ramble.
Dark Sun is possibly my favorite campaign setting from Dungeons and Dragons. My first exposure to it was the old PC games Shattered Lands and Wake of the Ravager. I played both well before I was exposed to table-top roleplaying and looking back I'm amazed I was able to figure things out considering I had no clue what the hell THACO was supposed to be or what all these 1dsomethings were. After getting into table-top gaming I collected just about all the setting books for dark sun, from the basic core books to the ridiculous books of insane artifacts and halfling bio-engineering. Sadly, although I was a big fan of the setting I never got much chance to play or run it myself and the books mostly collected dust.
Once third edition D+D came along I switched over and Dark Sun was sadly a casualty. Looking over the various official and unofficial conversions for the setting they all lacked some of the spark that still excites me about the original. It's hard to say exactly what caused the dissatisfaction but I think part of it was that the more rigidly defined and balanced 3e rules didn't suit the gonzo-insanity that is Dark Sun. In 2e you could have an elf as strong as a giant, a giant who could explode your head with his mind and a walking mantis who could carve you into 4 pieces and paralyzing you with its spit and still explode your head with its mind. 3e focused on making things balanced and stable which was more or less anathema to the heavy-metal-post-apocalyptic insanity that soaked through Dark Sun.
Now 4th edition has come around and brought Dark Sun back, which is cool. I love the setting and I'm glad to see it being officially revived and 4th edition's action-heavy philosophy might be able to recapture some of that old craziness. However I don't think I'll take part. Although I liked a lot of what I saw in 4e, there were also a variety of things that just rubbed me the wrong way and seeing some of the things that are being done with the setting are even more irritating. One of the things that I always found interesting about Dark Sun was how willing it was to do things different from "standard" D&D fantasy. 4th edition Dark Sun seems to be taking the opposite route, doing it's best to cram in everything from the core setting no matter how out of place it is (namely looking at the races, like dragonborn and eladrin). Anyway, 4e Dark Sun has proved not to be my cup of tea (please don't take this as a judgement of your game, there is no such thing as badwrongfun and my rejection of the new version has more to do with nostalgia than logic).
However, the revival of Dark Sun has renewed my interest in Athas and I've decided to give a shot at converting the setting to my favorite "action" system: Savage Worlds. I won't try to recapture the utter insanity of the original (some of that stuff was just ridiculous) but I think Savage Worlds is the right system to scratch the Athas itch for me.
So, let's break it down. First and foremost I won't be providing rules for the "epic level" material like transformation into a dragon, sorcerer-kings, avangions, etc. That sort of material works best (in my opinion) out of the hands of PCs and so it doesn't need hard and fast rules. I'm also avoiding the bizarre halfling bio-tech. This conversion assumes you're familiar with the Savage Worlds system but if you're not the Test Drive rules should be all you need to play. To save space I won't be providing the "fluff" for Dark Sun. If you got this far without knowing anything about the setting then you can easily find that info elsewhere online. With that said, let's get started!
Races: The some of the Dark Sun races are pretty damn powerful (thri-kreen, I'm looking at you). To keep everything balanced I'm increasing the "default" racial bonuses to compensate and keep everyone on the same level. Some races (thri-kreen, I'm looking at you again) have been taken down a notch or two to keep things balanced.
- Talented: Humans receive one free Edge in addition to the starting Edge everyone gets.
- Skilled: Humans receive 2 free Skill Points that can be spent however they wish
- Slow: Dwarves have a Pace of 5".
- Tough: Dwarves start with a Vigor of 1d8 rather than 1d6.
- Magic Resistant: Dwarves receive the Arcane Resistance Edge for free.
- Intestinal Fortitude: Dwarves receive a +2 bonus to Vigor rolls to resist poison or disease.
- Agile: Elves start with an Agility of 1d8 rather than 1d6
- Swift: Elves receive the Fleet Footed Edge for free.
- Low-Light Vision: Elves ignore penalties for Dim or Dark lighting.
- Mixed Blood: Half-elves may start with either a free Edge or Agility of 1d8 instead of 1d6.
- Natural Talents: Half-elves may start with a d6 in one of the following skills: Guts, Survival, Streetwise or Taunt.
- Low Light Vision: Half-elves ignore penalties for Dim or Dark lighting.
- Mighty: Half Giants begin with a d10 in Strength rather than d6.
- Huge: Half-Giants are Size +3.
- Dim: Half-Giants start with Smarts of d4 rather than d6.
- Weak-Willed: Half-Giants start with Spirit of d4 rather than d6.
- Out of Place: Most objects and equipment are not sized properly for half-giants. They receive a -2 penalty to related trait rolls when using inappropriately sized equipment. Properly sized equipment usually costs twice as much as normal. Half-Giants must also consume four times the amount of food and water a human needs.
- Agile: Halflings begin with a d8 in Agility rather than a d6.
- Focused: Halflings begin with a d8 in Spirit rather than a d6
- Slight: Halflings begin with a Strength of d4 rather than d6.
- Small: Halflings are Size -1
- Athletic: Halflings start with a d6 in Climbing and Stealth.
- Strong: Muls begin with a d8 in Strength rather than a d6 .
- Large: Muls are Size +1.
- Dim: Muls start with a Smarts of d4 rather than d6.
- Brawny: Muls receive the Brawny Edge for free.
- Large: Thri-Kreen are Size +1
- Chitin: Thri-Kreen have chitin granting them +1 armor.
- Poisonous: Thri-Kreen possess a poisonous bite. Victims that suffer a Shaken result from the bite must make a Vigor roll or suffer a -2 penalty to any Spirit rolls made to recover from being Shaken.
- Natural Weapons: Thri-Kreen possess powerful jaws and sharp claws inflicting Str +1d4 damage.
- Fast: Thri-kreen have a Pace of 10"
- Multi-Limbed: Thri-Kreen have 4 limbs and any multi-action penalties for attacking with a weapon held in their limbs or their natural weapons are halved (so a thri-kreen attacking with a bite and 4 claws rolls at -5 to each roll rather than -10) and there are no off hand penalties.
- Insect Mind: Thri-kreen begin with a Smarts of d4 rather than d6.
- Alien Body: Thri-kreen cannot wear armor and most gear designed for humans.
- Weird: Thri-kreen suffer a -3 penalty to Charisma when dealing with non-kreen.
Anyone familiar with Savage Worlds will notice that the ability scores don't seem to look normal. There's a reason for that which I shall address in the next post.
EDIT: The rest of the Savage Worlds of Athas
Attributes and Edges
Monsters and Powers