Thursday, 28 April 2016

CSR Dark Sun Play Report # 1 - Mekillots and Mauraders (P1)

Greetings Readers!
This is it, the first of my actual play reports from our Darksun campaign.  So far we have been having a lot of fun. These reports will be partly actual play and dialog form our games, and party fiction blended in to make things more exciting.

Before I introduce the players, I would like to give a special shout out and thank you to Ngaire, my wonderful spouse. She is a great player, and takes excellent notes during our sessions (so that the GM who won't do it himself can remember things days later). She also reminds me to work on my games when I am feeling lazy.

Thanks babe!

And now... our group of hardy adventurers!

The Players

Matt is playing as Gatoralaz, a Mul Gladiator (Warrior) who Masters Weaponry.

Gator is an ex-gladiator who has won his freedom from the slave pits of Balic.  He paid for his own life may times over with the blood of fallen foes, and was awarded a valuable Steel Great Axe by his grateful owner on the day of his release. His friends (and his lazy GM) call him Gator.

Chris is playing as Nameless, a Doomed Sorcerer (Adept) who Rides the Lightning.

Nameless is accompanying this rag tag band of adventurers because of some dark omens.  He belives that this path they tread, may be the only path that leads to his salvation.  Perhaps with their help he can find a way to save himself.  He carriers a long leather whip as his main weapon, and enjoys charging it with arcane electrical energy.  As of yet, he has not defiled the earth to power his magics.

Ngaire is playing as Goron, a Half-Giant Explorer who Hunts with Great Skill.

Goron is a gentle and friendly half giant.  He towers over the rest of the party and is a fierce defender of his friends, but rarely seeks out danger or combat.  He is most happy when there is new food to discover, and game to hunt.  Goron loves to cook!  He wields a great club as his weapon when the situation calls for it, but has been known to hurl a large rock or two as well.

Neil is playing as Corvid, A Tiefling Cutthroat (Explorer) who Summons Demons (Controls Beasts).

Corvid is a stranger to this plane of Athas. He and his people were long ago stranded and settled within the Grey, the land of shadow and death.  He was suddenly ripped from that world and deposited within the alleyways of Balic.  If only he hadn't tampered with that powerful magical artifact!  Now he searches for a way home.   Corvid wields daggers for close combat, and carries a bow as well.  He can also summon a Shadow Hound to do his bidding.

The weather is hot and sunny and a dry wind carries light dust across the Road of Legions. A few hours from the gates of Balic, Gator, Goron and Nameless are resting along the side of the road and enjoying a midday meal of roasted lizard (Corvid joined our group a few sessions into the game).

They are returning from working as caravan guards. A team of wagons needed some warriors to escort them South to the black markets of Celik.  The work was dull and uneventful, but it paid well.

("Clay: Each of you begins play with 250 ceramic pieces!" Also, Chris I need a name for your character.)
(Chris: "I'm doomed - I don't need a name.")

As Goron swallows his last few bites of his meal, he picks up on a tantalizing scent drifting on the warm wind.  It is familiar, but it takes him a few moments to recognize what it is.  It is Bloodspice!  A rare and highly valued spice found only in the Southern Wastelands.

The half-giant doesn't hesitate. He stands and quickly stomps off in the direction of the smell.  His mind is so fixed on finding the source of the odor, he doesn't think to tell his companions where he is heading.

Goron is showing no sign of turning back, so Gator and Nameless finish the last of their lunches and begrudgingly follow him over the embankment and South from the road. After trudging along the rocky back for a few moments the party begins to hear a rumbling noise that soon gets quite loud. They peer over the crest of a hill, and see a large lizard charging across the sand towards them!

The beast is panicked and racing across the sandy ground towards them. There is a large portion of a wagon traces and tackle dragging in the dust behind it.  Goron decides he can stop the beast! With a mighty cry he leaps behind the lizard as it passes by and grabs a hold of the traces trailing behind the behemoth. He plants his feet to pull with all his might and try to make the beast stop.

(Ngaire: *Rolls a 1* "Oh no!")

Goron underestimates the power of the great lizard andis too stubborn (or stupid) to let go of the reigns.  He his pulled from his feet and dragged off, kick and bouncing through the dust and brambles.

Gator sees that his friend is in distress and reach into his pack, pulling out a small device and hurling it ahead of the charging lizard. It is a Level 4 - Web Detonation Cypher.

As the lizard passes over the device there is a hissing pop and it suddenly becomes engulfed in a cloud of thick sticky webbing.  It slows to a stop and after a few minutes of frantically tugging to try and free itself it calms down visibly.  Goron skids a halt several feet short of the sticky webs, dusts himself off, and ties the beasts up on a nearby rock.

With the animal secured Goron once again leads the party off in the direction of that tantalizing smell. Two minutes further along the rocky hills and the party stumbles across a chaotic scene. Below them is another road, which connects one of the southern Silt Sea ferries with access the Road of Legions. The road is smaller, and less traveled, only used by those merchants and adventurers who are brave enough to cross the Silt Sea. A large merchant wagon lies upon its side in the valley, one of its wheels is badly damaged.  There are goods and cargo spilled messily across the nearby sands.

The damaged wagon is surrounded by a group of five Elven raiders. On top of the wagon, a figure wearing a dark robe is holding the attackers at bay using a scimitar. At a quick glance, it is apparent that the marauding elves have attacked this merchant, who is admirably defending his wares but is greatly outnumbered.

(Matt: "So, how do we engage the elves? Do we roll initiative? Can we reach them in one turn?") 
(Ngaire: "Who says we are attacking the elves? Really, what's in it for us? Maybe we are only interested in the reward.") 
(Chris: "In which case, we could wait until they finish their fight and then take on the weakened victor.") 
(Ngaire: "Do we want to be heroes?") 
(Matt: "I just want to fight.") 

Without hesitation, Gator rushes down into the valley toward the wagon. His great axe is already in is hands and he has THAT look in his eye.

Nameless shrugs and follows the Mul, but picks his path down the slope with more care.

Goron saunters down the hill in a low easy gait. He calls out loudly while rubbing his hands together. "Hello, friends! I smell something delicious!"

As the party approaches the scene, they are able to make out some more details.  The man standing atop the toppled wagon was covered in tattoos and many cuts.  He holds a large scimitar in his hands and is waving it wildly to keep his attackers at bay.

Goron calls out to the merchant. "Are you willing to trade some of your tasty smelling wares for assistance?"

The merchant barely appears to register the words, however after a couple of moments he notices the others approaching and nods affirmation to the Half-Giant.

Elf Mauraders - Lvl 2 - Swords and Javelins - Speed Defense as Lvl3
Designed to be part of an introductory battle to teach my players how the system works. The elves are wearing little armor or clothing, they have cheap swords and javelins which they can toss up to a short distance.
Motivation: Steal as much as possible and flee if things get too risky.

*Dice clatter*
*Chris rolls a 20.*

Nameless sparks and courses with electrical energy. His adrenaline kicks in and he springs into action before anyone else does.  He rushes down the hill into the valley and strikes at the nearest marauder, cracking his whip into the air near the Elf.  His foe is prepared for the onslaught however and manages to avoid the blow.

The Elf responds by hurling a javelin from close range! Another nearby marauder runs a few steps and tosses a javelin as well.  The sorcerer gracefully dodges both of the missiles.

Goron charges down the hill at top speed.  His large size and bulk make him a terrifying sight! He rushes right through the Elven lines and positions himself between the attackers and the overturned wagon.  He turns, flexes his muscles and plants his huge feet firmly.

With his heavy club held in his hands he roars to his companions. "DEFEND!"

The two Elves closest to the Half-Giant bravely (or stupidly)engage him.  The first takes a cautious swing his sword, which Goron easily deflects.  The second attacked uses the opening to chop at the giant as well.  The hit is solid and strikes Goron's body armour. The stone sword shatters into pieces as it impacts with the armour, and Elf's face falls.

The final Elf aims his javelin at the merchant standing atop the wagon. The javelin impales the merchant through his shoulder and he drops his sword, stumbling backwards and tumbling down from the wagon into the sands.

Gator rushes the Elf who just wounded the merchant and swings his axe wildly. The Elf quickly ducks beneath the weapon and avoids the blow.

Goron pulls a small rune stone from his belt pouch.  He holds it up for the Elves to see.
"You shouldn't have attacked him. Now I'm angry! I'm going to call my friend from the elemental plane to teach you a lesson."

He points the stone in their direction. "Come forth, fire elemental! Heed my words and burn my enemies!"

Thanks for checking in and reading this play report. In the stunning conclusion to our story we will see what the results of this wanton cypher use will be!

- ZIP!

Numenera, The Strange, the Cypher System, and their respective logos are trademarks of Monte Cook Games, LLC in the U.S.A. and other countries. All Monte Cook Games characters and character names, and the distinctive likenesses thereof, are trademarks of Monte Cook Games, LLC. Content derived from Monte Cook Games publications is © 2013-2016 Monte Cook Games, LLC.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

The CSR Dark Sun Primer: Part 3

Character Creation Continued....

Here are the rest of the Racial Descriptors I provided for my players to choose from.  With a special guest star: The Tiefling!  One of my players is a pretty big metal head, and the concept of playing a dagger wielding blood thirsty demon-like character was too sweet to resist.

Racial Descriptor - Halfling

Once halflings were the masters of the world. In fact, during the Blue Age the halflings were the only intelligent beings on all of Athas. They were the original inhabitants of the world, and all human, demi-human, and humanoid races are descended from them.

Halflings grow to a height of 3½ feet and weigh 50 to 60 pounds. They are muscled and proportioned like humans, but they have the faces of wise and beautiful children whose features never succumb to the rigors of age.

Their language is made up of words and the sounds of nature, making it very difficult for outsiders to understand.

As a Halfling you gain the following Characteristics:

+2 to your Speed pool.

Light Footed
Skill: You are trained in all Stealth actions and Initiative actions.

Resistance to Magic
You gain an asset on all actions to defend against magic and magical effects. Enabler.

Halfling Tongue
Inability: You only speak one language, the Halfling language composed entirely of nature sounds and hand gestures.

Suggested Initial Link to the starting Adventure:
Choose one other player, that player gains the following skill training: Trained in: The Halfling Tongue.
This character is likely the only character who understands your language, and is your longtime companion.

Racial Descriptor - Mul

Muls are born of mixed heritage, created from the union of humans and dwarves.

Muls retain the height and adaptability of their human heritage and keep the durability, bulk, and raw strength of their dwarf side. As such, muls are among the most powerful of the demihuman races. Adults grow to heights of between 6 and 7 feet tall, weighing in at over 250 pounds.

Muls found in the slave pens of the city-states and merchant houses usually work as gladiators or laborers. Their great strength and endurance make them valuable in both positions, and because so much goes into creating and maintaining a stable of mul slaves, their owners often pamper them—provided they perform well...

As a Mul you gain the following Characteristics:

+2 to your Might pool.

Mul Vitality
Your recovery rolls are made at 1D6 + 2 + Your current tier. Enabler.

Extremely Tough

The duration of attacks or effects that would Slow, Stun, Daze or Immobilize you are halved.  Additionally you gain an asset to rolls which defend against these effects.  Enabler.

Racial Descriptor - Thri-Kreen

Thri-kreen are large insectoids —the least “human” of all the intelligent races of Athas. Standing 7 feet tall at the shoulder and growing about 11 feet long from end to end, they have six limbs, sandy-yellow exoskeletons, and large, multifaceted eyes.

Many things make the thri-kreen strange and alien to those of the other races, not the least of which is their appearance. Add to that the fact that thri-kreen don’t sleep, that they don’t collect wealth or possessions, and that they sometimes eat other intelligent creatures, and the differences between humans and thri-kreen seem vast and imposing. 

Those who have won the trust and friendship of a thri-kreen wind up with a friend for life. The pack mentality is so ingrained in thri-kreen culture that they apply it to every situation they find themselves in. As they would in an all-thri-kreen pack, they leap to protect their clutch mates (regardless of race) whenever danger strikes, no matter the risk to themselves.

As a Thri-Kreen you gain the following Characteristics:

+2 to your Speed pool.

Non-Standard Body
You cannot wear armor due to your unusual body shape.

Your natural chitin provides you with an Armor value of 2. Enabler.

Thri-Kreen have four arms and as such can wield up to four ‘hands’ worth of weapons choosing which to attack with each round. Enabler.

They also gain the following special ability:

Multi-Arm Attack
Cost - 2 Speed Points

You may make 1 additional attack during your turn. This must be made with a different weapon than your first attack. Action.

Bonus Racial Descriptor - Tiefling

NOTE: This text is abridged from the 4E Darksun Campaign Setting by WoTC.

Tieflings are descended from humans who bargained with dark powers for the strength to surviveon Athas and destroy their enemies. 

Most tieflings lurk on civilization’s fringes in nomadic bands, drift ing through the wastes in search of victims to rob and kill or hiring themselves out as vicious mercenaries.

Many tieflings believe that they carry a blood debt the price to be paid for their ancestors’ bar
gain and face an eternity oftorment unless the debt is paid in their lifetime. Some assume that the debt
can’t be paid and live in debauchery while they can, whereas others lead lives of virtue in the hope of
breaking their patron’s hold. The most dangerous tieflings are those who believe that their debt must be
paid in blood, and that each soul they send into death reduces their own burden.

As a Tielfing you gain the following Characteristics:

 +2 Intellect

Prehensile Tail
You have a dextrous tail which can attack, grab objects and hold a light weapon. Enabler

Fiend Blooded 
You resist two points of all damage from fire or heat sources. Additionally you deal +2 damage to any foes who are Bloodied (reduced to less than half their total Health by damage). Enabler.

Demon Vision
You can see heat signatures with infra-vision via your demonic eyes. However you are very sensitive to bright lights and take a two step penalty to actions in bright light. Enabler.

The character's each of my players ended up with are listed below:

Playing as Gator: a Mul Gladiator (warrior) who Masters Weaponry.

Playing as Goran: A Half-Giant Explorer, who Hunts with Great Skill.

Playing as a Nameless Doomed Sorcerer (adept) who Rides the Lightning. "I'm Doomed, I don't need a name!"

Playing as Corvid: a Tiefling CutThroat (explorer, warrior flavor) who Summons Demons (controls beasts).

When next we revisit this setting, I'll get into play reports.  We have a good number of adventures under our belts so far, and I am excited to tell you about them!

- BAM!

Monday, 11 April 2016

The CSR Dark Sun Primer: Part 2

Character Creation

I wanted to ensure that my players had a choice from the full suite of available player races in the Dark Sun campaign setting. I also had preferences for some of the rules from the different printings of the setting. While some people feel that specific racial descriptors aren't needed, I felt that they would add a specific flavor to the game that I wanted. Since we would be playing a setting that was designed for dungeons and dragons originally it felt important.

So, I set about creating racial descriptors for each race from the original campaign setting (as well as one for Tieflings based on the D&D 4e rulebook, because every group has THAT player who wants to play something unusual).

The list of descriptors below is what I offered my players for racial choices. Including a small clip of text from the original campaign guide, as none of my players had played on Athas before.

Racial Descriptor - Dwarven

Short but extremely powerful, Athasian dwarves average 4½ to 5 feet tall. Because of their massive musculature and wide frames, full-grown dwarves weigh in at a hefty 200 pounds or so. Dwarves embrace work with joy, often giving themselves over to a favorite cause or task. They are a stoic, single-minded people to whom compromise doesn’t come easy.

The commitment to a single task is called a dwarf’s focus. A dwarf will work to complete his focus above all else, for the compulsion to succeed is built into his very nature. If a dwarf dies without completing his focus, the need remains so strong that the dwarf returns as an undead banshee to finish the task that drives him.

As a Dwarf you gain the following Characteristics:

+2 to your  Might Pool

You suffer no penalty in Dim light, and only suffer a 1 step penalty for acting in Very Dim light. Enabler.

Resistance to Magic
You gain an asset on all actions to defend against magic and magical effects. Enabler.

Resistance to Toxins
You gain an asset on all actions to defend against poisons and toxins. Enabler.

Suggested Initial Link to the starting Adventure:
Choose one other party member, that character is involved in your character's current focus in some way. Either they are aware of your current oath, and are helping, or perhaps a quest they are on drives you to assist them?

Racial Descriptor - Elven

While the last remnants of civilization huddle around pools of brackish water and clumps of withered vegetation, the elves of Athas run free. Elf villages are even less likely to be found than a pool of clear water in the desert, for elves only stop running when they fall down and die.

Elves gather in nomadic tribes that revel in theft, raiding, and warfare. Elves are excellent merchants, though they have no concept of fair trade practices. Anything goes when dealing with an elf trader.

Athasian elves stand between 6½ and 7½ feet tall. They are slender, lean, long-limbed,and usually in excellent physical condition.

As an Elf you gain the following Characteristics:

Fleet of Foot
+2 to your Speed Pool

You suffer no penalty in Dim light, and only suffer a 1 step penalty for acting in Very Dim light. Enabler.

Swift Desert Runner
Skill: You are trained in  all Stealth and Running actions in stony barrens, sandy wastes, and rocky badlands environments. Enabler.

Resists Extremes
You gain an Asset for all actions to defend against the effects of Natural Heat and Cold extremes. Enabler.

Suggested Initial Link to the starting Adventure:
You got wrapped up in the whole adventure because of a business deal that went bad.  Choose one other player whose character you once did business with before you joined the party. That deal went bad, and you owe that character a great debt.

Racial Descriptor - Half-Elven

Humans and elves must deal with each other from time to time, and in some cases—whether by force or through genuine love—children are born of mixed parentage. These are the half-elves, beings who combine features of both races, creating something different in the process.

Half-elves don’t form their own communities. Instead, they live either among or on the fringe of human society. Half-elves are most often encountered in the cities of the Tyr Region, though some can be found in the villages and tribes of ex-slaves that inhabit the wilderness. They are often shunned by both societies, Human and Elven, and usually live lonely lives as outsiders.

As a Half-Elf you gain the following Characteristics:

Mixed Bloodlines
+1 to your Speed poor and +1 to your Intellect Pool

You suffer no penalty in Dim light, and only suffer a 1 step penalty for acting in Very Dim light. Enabler.

Outcast Survivor
Skill: You are trained in Survival / Scavenging actions while in the deserts and wastelands. Enabler.

Animal Companion
You can befriend a small animal companion. It’s level is equal to double your current tier. It obeys simple commands. You can only befriend one animal at a time, and must wait a month after the death of one to befriend another. Enabler.

Suggested Initial Link to the starting Adventure:
Choose one other character in the party. This person is the first person who showed you true acceptance or kinship. When most others shunned or exiled you and your kind, they were accepting and trusting of you.  You have since become companions or friends.

Racial Descriptor - Half-Giant

Half-giants are one of the newer races to walk upon the burning sands of Athas. The race was created by the magical experiments conducted during the first years of the Age of the Sorcerer-Kings.

Typical half-giants stand between 10 and 12 feet tall, weighing upwards of 1,000 pounds. They have human features that are exaggerated in some way. Along with the size gained from their giant heritage comes low intelligence and great physical strength. 

From the human side, half-giants get an interest in communication and cooperation, curiosity, a willingness to learn, and a general tendency toward kindness. They don’t gather in communities of their own, but instead tend to adopt the cultures of those they admire or have access to.

As a Half-Giant you gain the following Characteristics:

Physically Imposing
+6 to your Might pool.

Inability: All Intellect Actions 

Good Natured
Skill: You are trained in all pleasant social interactions.

Suggested Initial Link to the starting Adventure:
Pick a character, or characters of the same race / background / culture in the party.  This culture is one that speaks to you and makes you feel included. Your character will emulate this character(s) dialog or dress in an attempt to fit it.

That's all for now! In my next post, I will provide the remaining Racial Descriptors as well as cover the party members and their chosen characters.  It's an interesting group to say the least.  Following that I will provide play reports from our sessions with a bit of fiction from between games.


Sunday, 3 April 2016

The CSR Dark Sun Primer: Part 1


Greetings Readers! 
Welcome to Part 1 of my special Cypher System Primer.

I knew as soon as I read the ‘Genres’ section of my new Cypher System Rulebook, that I would want to run a Dark Sun campaign using these rules. One can very easily adapt the content from the original boxed sets, as well as the more recent D&D 4th Edition publications (I’ll admit up front that I am a fan of the 4th Edition material, and enjoy the slightly more epic and heroic spin it puts the World of Athas). Regardless of your opinions on either set of published material, there is a lot of great stuff in both that you can use to make your game run the exactly way you envision.

There is also a wealth of material and information on the setting available here: The Burnt World of Athas
For the first of my articles I will take a look at Dark Sun’s basic principles, and decide which I want to apply to my campaign. 

I chose to start with the rules for survival while travelling in the wastelands.

Rules for Surviving on Athas
Athas is a harsh place, and unprepared adventurers will find that they do not last long once they head out into the wastelands and deserts.  The environment itself is a foe that can grind even the strongest heroes down and leave them dying in the sands.

I definitely wanted to include a simple system for keeping track of party supplies. Food and water are super important, but I didn’t want to bog our game down with a great deal of resource tracking.  This is supposed to be a game of adventure, exploration and excitement after all!

I decided to adapt the Survival Days system from the 4th Edition Campaign Guide. I had already used it before, and found it suited my needs perfectly.

Supplied and Unsupplied
While exploring and travelling in the vast wastelands, characters must keep themselves Supplied in order to stay ‘relatively’ comfortable.  If they do not have the proper supplies and resources, then they will become Unsupplied. Any unprepared characters can quickly find that they are in a desperate situation!

Supplied characters must consume a certain amount of water and food to avoid dehydration, exposure and starvation. Unsupplied characters must find a way to survive without the resources they require (a dire set of circumstances indeed).

In order to count as Supplied a character must do one of the following:
  • Spend the better part of a day sheltered in village, town, oasis etc.
  • Expend a Survival Day
  • Forage or hunt for supplies by making a Roll.

Survival Days
Survival Days serve as a simplified way to manage resources needed to survive in the wilderness.  Each Survival Day represents sufficient food, water and other supplies to make it through a day’s travel. During their 10 Hour Recovery Roll, a character can expend one survival day to become Supplied until their next 10 Hour Recovery Roll is used.

Survival days should be purchasable from any settlement, or occasionally handed out as rewards for completing quests and so forth.
  • Characters can purchase Survival Days at a cost of 5 ceramic pieces per unit.

Sun Sickness
For each daylight period an Unsupplied character (or mount, animals need food and water too) spends travelling in the wilds they must make a Might roll. The difficulty for the roll is equal to the total number of days the character has spent Unsupplied (1 Day = Target # 3, 2 Days =  Target # 6 and so on).  A failed roll means the character becomes Sun Sick, and they take 4 points of Ambient damage per day until they are resupplied and rested.  Points lost from your Stat pools in this manner cannot be replenished until your character is no longer Sun Sick.

Clever characters may think of travelling at night to avoid the effects of Sun Sickness. This is a valid strategy, however night time travel has it’s own perils. Temperatures drop extremely quickly once the sun sets, and many dangerous animals use the cover of darkness to aid them in their hunt for food. I’d suggest Might Rolls for exposure to below freezing temperatures, and ambient damage upon failure for each hour exposed (See the CSR, PG. 201).

The Heroic Combat Rule
I wanted to convey a slightly higher power, more heroic feel for my games on Athas.  So I added a simple house rule to help make my players feel a bit more awesome while they are swinging their weapons.

When players achieve special roll results on Attacks, I would grant them the normal extra damage for that result AND a minor or major effect if applicable. This allows for a very satisfying ‘critical hit’ result on some attacks. The player`s really like this, it makes combat feel dynamic and lends a sort of action movie feel to our battle scenes.

Example: Gator, the Mul Gladiator attacks a Cylops with his axe and rolls a 20! He deals 4 additional damage, AND sends the best flying backwards to land on its back a few feet away.

Non-Metal Arms and Armor
Thanks to the scarcity of proper metals in our chosen setting, most characters are equipped with weapons, armor and tools made out of other materials that are readily available.  Weapons are wooden, stone, bone and chitin.  Armor is composed of skins, scales, shells and so on.  To represent this I implemented a simple durability system. It is used to simulate this less robust equipment breaking down and losing effectiveness as it is used.

Each time a non-metal weapon deals extra damage because of a Special Roll, the wielder marks one point of durability loss (we use asterisks*) on the weapon.  If a weapon accrues three total points of durability loss the weapon is damaged becomes useless until it is repaired.

Example: Below, Gator`s axe is marked for 2 points of durability loss. One more and the weapon will need to be repaired!

Gator`s Axe - Heavy Weapon, Damage 6 (Slashing) **

I use the same system to record damage to armor as well, except armor only gets marked for durability loss if the wearer is hit by an attack that causes 6 or more points of damage (or has a particularly nasty special effect or ability attached to it, fire, acid etc.).

Armor that is damaged provides one or two less points of protection depending on the situation (and the GM’s mood of course).

Defiling Magic
I wanted to be able to simply capture the concept of defiling magic.  I only had one player who was considering an arcane or adept style character, but I wanted to make this a part of the game since it is so integral to the setting.

When players are creating their characters, if they choose an adept, or any special Intellect abilities, they can choose to flavor these as magical or psionic powers.  Players who choose magical flavors for their characters can be allowed access to the following special rule.

Defiling the World
When a player or character uses a magical or arcane power, they may choose to defile the terrain around them in order to gain more power for their spells.  Depending on the type of terrain they have access to they receive a bonus to their Action roll and Damage.
  • If the character is in rocky, barren, or desert terrain: +1 to Action Roll and Damage (if applicable).
  • If the character is in scrub land, a grassy area, or there are bushes or cacti within immediate distance: +2 to Action Roll and Damage (if applicable).
  • If the character is in a farmland area, or there are small trees or bushes in immediate distance: Grant them an Asset for the Action roll and +3 damage (if applicable).
  • If the character is in a forest or jungle (such as the Forest Ridge, or Crescent Forest) grant them an Asset for the Action roll and +4 damage (if applicable). These areas are exceedingly rare.
This is a fairly simple system, and the GM should apply modifiers based on the current situation in game, but if a character chooses to defile be sure to describe the earth and plants around them dying. The sand blackens and turns to ash beneath their feet, insects and animals nearby wither and die, and larger creatures suffer extreme nausea or weakness.  Defiling is considered a very terrible act by most beings, and it is impossible to disguise or hide.

The currency of choice for my game is ceramic pieces. I am simply using an the equipment charts from the Campaign Sourcebook with the prices as listed.
  • In addition to their normal starting equipment, I allowed each player to begin play with 200 Ceramic pieces (CP).
Putting it all Together
I decided I wanted to create a custom character sheet for my players to use. I printed these on heavy stock paper to hold up to the erasing and scribblings of furious roleplayers.  

The sheet contains sections for my special rules, as well as removes the original CSR sheets division of skills into categories based on Stat Pools.  It seems unnecessary to me, and confuses new players (since the skills are not always linked to any one particular stat).

Below is one of the sheets I created, including a portrait from the D&D 4th Edition Campaign Setting Cover art.

Gator's Character Sheet - A Mul Gladiator (warrior) who Master Weaponry!

What’s Next?
In part two of my primer, I will discuss the different character options available to each player. I’ll review the list of Foci I deemed appropriate to the setting, and present my custom Racial Descriptors for a each of the original Dark Sun races that my players had access to.

Thanks for reading.