February 19, 2011

Magic Items in Athas - Part II

Altough the Fixed Enhancement Bonus rule evens out the problems that could happen in a low magic items setting, such as Dark Sun, the characters should still have the opportunity to find them. First, because they are still useful, since the progression on the bonus table is slow. Another reason is that such items have special proprieties, such as special powers it gives to its owner. But, possibly, the most important reason to give magic items to the heroes is that the players really long for them. They expect to be rewarded for all the time and effort they put in their characters.
At the same page where the Dark Sun Campaign Setting recommends the use of the Fixed Enhancement Bonus rules, it also suggests a reduction on the number of magic items awarded. It suggests you should remove parcel 1 and 4 (which are the least and most powerful magic items) of the treasure given per level. This way, at each level, the party would receive about 2 magic items. The book also says you could replace one of them for a Boon or something nonphysical but with magic effects once in a while.
But for some people even then there would be too many magic items for Athas. For others it’s too few treasure to give to their players. An option, which I have been designing, is to give fantastic items suited to the world of Dark Sun that have magic proprieties similar to magic items, but that are not traditional magic items as we know it. They could be handed out in the place of the removed parcels or even as the remaining parcels to reflect how rare magic items on Athas are.

February 15, 2011

Magic Items in Athas - Part I

Athas is a world that is as desolate, post-apocalyptic and savage as it is awe-inspiring, savagely beautiful and fantastic. Deserts dominate the landscape, with a few places where one can find vegetation. The oceans have long been dried out and water is more valuable than gold. But the world wasn’t always like this. Athas had vast forests, wide rivers e great oceans, but something changed the world. Arcane magic devastated the planet. Civilizations, entire races and grand forests were wiped from the maps by Defilers during the Cleansing Wars. Preservers were hunt down and were almost eliminated. Athas is what it is today because of the corrupting power of defiling magic.
Because of that, arcane magic is not seen fondly by the majority of the people in Athas. In some places arcanists are still being hunted, whether they are Defilers or Preservers. The only ones who can use arcane powers without fearing repression of the masses are the Sorcerer-Kings and their Templars.
All of this has a consequence; magic items are scarce on Athas. Whether it is because the numbers of arcanists are very reduced or live hidden in fear, or because the Sorcerer-Kings have collected all the magic items they could put their hands on, or simply because the knowledge necessary to be able to make them is long lost, these objects are even rarer in Athas than in any other D&D campaign setting.
But this brings up a problem. The rules of D&D were designed considering classical fantasy settings where the heroes would acquire a variety of magic items through their adventures. The monsters are also built on this assumption, so higher level monsters are designed to be faced against magic wielding adventurers. What happens with Dark Sun heroes when they need to face such challenges?

February 10, 2011

Back to the GAME!

Finally! After two years away from Dungeon and Dragons, I am back to the game!
I began playing D&D on the first edition when it was released in Brazil in a boxed set by Grow. I had about nine years old and didn’t understand all the rules, but I played it anyways, for years. By the time I was 11 or so I bought the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons books translated in Portuguese (my English was even worse than it is now). I thought the game to some friends and played it as soon as I could. We could make and Elf Fighter, a Dwarf Cleric, we could do a lot of things it wasn’t possible in the first edition. It was a blast. But the Portuguese edition didn’t have all the supplements the original version did.
When the third edition came out I could read the English books without any problem. Wow, how much improvement! The game offered almost infinite possibilities for characters and surprisingly the rules were simpler! It was a great edition, even with the whole confusion of the 3.5 update and new books (the rules were really improved), but somewhere in the way the game became too confusing, too many supplements and variable rules. Handling high level characters was a hard work (trying not to say it was a pain).
In 2008 WotC released the fourth edition of the game. It was similar to the third edition in the aspect of liberty and open possibilities but it went further. The game is now simpler, more balanced, easier to run and it offers possibilities that the previous editions did not offer. In the past the wizard of the group would be useful for just a few seconds while he would cast his only spell for the day. The fighter of the group can do a lot of other things besides just swing his sword at the monsters. The concept of Skill Challenges made all character contribute to the success of the group in encounters with or without combat.