After much speculation, including some incorrect speculation from my colleagues and I over at Lords of Tyr, Dark Sun has been announced as the new campaign setting for 4E D&D.
It is definitely an interesting choice. Dark Sun has a very strong fan base, which should make this book a decent seller. Dark Sun also has a very distinctive feel, probably more so than the other old school campaign settings.
It also seems to me that the D&D 4E rules are better suited for Dark Sun than D&D 2E ever was. In general, the classes are less equipment focused, although the plusses from weapons and implements are probably more vital than ever. I also think the clear demarcation between different power sources, especially the primal power source, will work well with the central druid versus wizard dynamic. The primordial versus divine split will also probably work well in a game where the gods are dead and primal forces have run amok.
I do wonder if all of the D&D 4E races and classes will be making an appearance in Athas. Supporting everything published has been Wizards of the Coast’s modus operandi when introducing new settings so far.
However, according to a tweet from the great RPG blog Critical Hits Bill Slavicsek said “We are going to try very hard not to shoehorn 4e conceits into Dark Sun.”
I am not sure what that means exactly, but my best guess is it means that you might not see an bard in Dark Sun just because they were published in the PHB 2. Then again, maybe you will. I suppose we will just have to wait and see.
All and all, I am pleased by the choice of Dark Sun as the new setting for 2010. I never got into Dark Sun when it first came out in 1991, but I am glad they decided to revitalize an old setting rather than try to create a new one.