Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Dark Sun 4e Review: Races

It appears to me that 4ed is essentially already overloaded with options in terms of race. Each new player handbook adds several new races to the already expand basic list. This is probably where I wished they showed some more restraint and kept it to the same list of basic races to the original version of Dark Sun.

I just do not think Dragonborn, Eldarin or Tieflings belong on Dark Sun especially as PC races. They claim the Dragonborn are rejects from Giustenal but given the nature of the lone know Dragon the Athas, I do not think any Draconic beings would be welcome in the citystates. It is not like you are short of races with 8 in the classic version. So if I was going to run a game the allowed races would be Human, Halfling, Half Elf, Thrikreen, Mul, Dwarf, Half Giant(Goliath), and Elf. Revised Dark Sun added in Pterran and Aarakocra but I could take or leave either of those as PC races neither of which shows up in this edition anyway.

An important part of Dark Sun has always been that the classic fantasy races are present but very different in nature. This was done not just with changes in physical descriptions, dwarves are all bald and elves are tall, lean desert runners know to be thieves, but also changes to special rules or some new ability. In this edition, they just changed the flavor text but did not make any changes to rules. Seems like 4e has toned down some of the racial rules anyway but a rule change for each race would have been more interesting. Or maybe some new race specific feats just for Dark Sun. While the two new races have a couple of race specific feats and racial paragon path each plus 1 for half giants, the other races do not have any new feats or Dark Sun specific racial paragon paths.

They did not do a bad job with this section seeming to just take the easy route by essentially changing nothing on the basic races.


  1. Races was the area where Dark Sun took a big leap originally and we obviously really enjoyed that. I agree that more could be done.
    Dragonborn are the Dray now, Dregoth's creations, which could make sense, it certainly changes the dragonborn stereotype up a bit. Genasi are Half Elementals, ok, given the elemental theme I can work with that. But I am pretty sure Swordmage has been eleminated from Dark Sun, but don't quote me.
    Tiefling and Eladrin, well, i think i know why they have been included: Warlord. Tieflings excell at nearly all builds of Warlord, Eladrin excell as Tactical Warlords. With removing two leader classes (cleric and runepriest) of the divine power source, maybe they felt they couldn't remove good reason to play the martial leader Warlord.
    So, of the two, Tieflings have the shakier explanation, I think I can accept that the Eladrin are from the Land within the Wind, a vanishing fey world just as ravished by defiling. But, Eladrin need a much more dark sun specific boost.
    I absolutely agree they dropped the ball on Dark Sun Racial Feats and Prestige Paths. But think about how long and how few Character Kits were presented for 2E.... However, as Racial Feats are generally preferrable feats, they should make more that are Dark Sun specific.

  2. I would probably put both the Dragonborn and the Eladrin into the other race list. You are allowed to play them only with close work with the DM to determine their background so you have a reason for them not to know things people of their race should know but normal player characters should not.

    I still think Tieflings should be out. If not getting the both +2 ability scores to match a class makes the class weak/unplayable than that is a major problem with the system and a min/max approach to the game where stats matter more than story.

  3. I can live with Tieflings being out, but i did enjoy Pterrans and Aarakocra being included in the 2E version. It was cool having so many Dark Sun specific player races. I would like them returned to dark sun in 4E. Perhaps they will be present in the creature catalog, in the way that kobolds, goblins and other creatures are presented as optional player races with DM supervision/approval.