Friday, September 10, 2010
Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Sun Rising...
Like all of the cities on Athas, Raam is ruled by a narcissistic sorcerer-king whose goal is the oppression of those under them. In Raam it is Abalach-Re, a wicked and pleasure-seeking sorceress whose apparent disinterest in the masses beneath her make her city-state teem with corruption, bloodshed, brutality, thievery, competition, and all sorts of violence. Rumors on the wind that the city of Tyr has overthrown its sorcerer-king and is now a city of free peoples (for the most part) have troubled Abalach-Re and she closely watches her citizens so that none dare to seek freedom from her rule while all the while hiding from them, fearful of what they would do to her to end her rule.
Raam, like every city on Athas boasts an arena for the entertainment and pacification of its citizens. Raam's arena is where the Grand Vizier (for so Abalach-Re styles herself) can watch slaves fight for her pleasure and give the crowds some semblance of her power. The arena is a natural one, bounded on side by a hill dotted with viewing balconies. Most of Raam's rabble sits at the other end, adjacent to the Maw, a gaping chasm. They sit there, blocking the path of anyone who would try to interfere with the games...or try to flee them.
Those who fight in the arena are slaves, many born and bred in captivity for the sole purpose of living their lives and dying as the entertainment for Raam's people and the amusement of their queen. Many of the slaves are captured and bought by the arena to provide a variety of challenges, battles, and shows for the sated crowds. Outside the arena, in dilapidated permanently makeshift barracks, the Grand Vizier's faithful minions guard the array of lesser slaves destined to die fighting in the arena. On occasion, a slave might last a long time and perhaps even have a chance at freedom, bought with their fame and glory. Others have tried to escape the misery of these death games but the creatures that Abalach-Re has in her employ are quite effective at ending the attempts of such would-be runners, often to the sickening delight of the arena's crowds.
It is into this milieu of brutal servitutde that our heroes have been thrown. Of varying backgrounds and races, powers and professions, they have all, one way or another, been taken and enslaved, given over to make their life as arena fighters and to survive for as long as they can. This is the world of the Dark Sun, the world of Athas, the city of Raam. Though not chained physically, these poor souls have lost family and friends, have had their lives taken from them, and now live for nothing but surviving the next arena spectacle of which they are made a part. Slaves doomed to die as the entertainment of the restless masses, they are bound by the Manacles of Despair.
Next: Our Heroes Introduced.
Dark Sun is the new campaign setting for Dungeons & Dragons. It is set in the world described above, a harsh and brutal one in which the need for heroes and the opportunities to become such abound. This is a campaign that will take place at the Marion Library on Tuesday afternoons as part of our regular Tuesday Game Day. (Done in part because my daughters have band and dance in Marion but also this batch of kids is made up of their friends).
Not all of the regular players are able to make it each week. Sometimes, additional kids want to join in the gaming. The goal of the campaign initially is to start everyone as slaves fighting in the arena which enables me, as the Dungeon Master, to run stories and encounters with whomever happens to be available on a given day. Hopefully this will solve the problem of irregular attendees and give anyone a chance to be a part of the story when they are around.
To immerse the players in the story of their slavery, I myself have created their characters and background stories, not giving them a choice. Perhaps they will play a character they might have chosen to create themselves, maybe not. In forcing these characters upon the players, I hope, in some role-playing way, to give them a sense of their lack of control which will be evident in their characters' lives as slaves. Will they eventually find freedom and greater rewards and adventures? We'll find out!
Dungeons and Dragons(TM) image by Wizards of the Coast(TM).