Old-School Unboxing: Dark Sun

I’m pretty active on Twitter, and I see a lot of interesting things. Most of the people I follow write about, create, or play a lot of RPGs. One of those fine folks is the Newbie DM. This guy does a lot for the game industry through his blog and his podcast (which have been nominated for ENnies).

Well, a few days ago, he decided that since a lot of people were taking pictures of their unboxings of D&D Essentials, it might be fun to do an “unboxing” of an old-school product. That immediately got my brain humming and I thought that, with all of the buzz surrounding the 4e re-launch of Dark Sun, it might be a lot of fun to take pictures of an unboxing of my 2nd Edition Dark Sun boxed set.

So what are we waiting for? Let’s get to the pictures!

The Box - Ain't It Beautiful?

I picked up this boxed set from Half-Price Books a few years ago, and I have to admit, I’ve done little with it since. I’ve always thought that Dark Sun was a cool setting, but I never had a chance to use the materials within. I got it for a good price (you can see it if you look at the upper-right corner of the box). As well, the box is really heavy; whomever traded it in to HPB traded it with extra stuff inside.

Maps! I love maps.

First we’ve got a couple of maps for the world and some of the areas. They’re delightfully old-school, and just looking at them made me want to start designing things to work around what was already there; maps do that to me.

The Rules

Next we’ve got the rules for playing in the setting. For those that don’t know, Dark Sun was (and is) really different from most settings. Magic killed the land, Psionics abounded, and it has a decidedly post-apocalyptic feel to it. From the Half-Giant race, to the Thri-Kreen (big mantis-like race), to carnivorous Halflings, it’s all different, and it’s all really cool.

The Imitable Half-Giant

I mean, come on. Who wouldn’t want to play one of those? (The answer is: the person who wants to play the Thri-Kreen Monk).

The Wander's Journal

The Wander’s Journal is the book for the setting itself. Descriptions of the City-States, the full flavor of the setting; it’s all in here.


Psionics was the lifeblood of this setting (in my opinion). No matter what your opinion on Psionics in D&D (and trust me, if you’ve ever use Psionics, not matter the edition, you’ve got an opinion), Dark Sun wouldn’t be Dark Sun without them.

The City-State of Tyr

And this is where my boxed set deviates from what you would normally have gotten had you purchased this in 1991 when it first came out. This book details the City-State of Tyr (duh, really?) and gives you a more detailed description of one of the more central placed in the setting. Don’t know what this originally retailed for, but I’m happy to have it.

2e DM Screen

Yes, someone gave their DM Screen when they traded in their set. If I ever run 2e Dark Sun, this will come in handy.

Dragon Kings

Another extra, another bit of awesome. Dragons are bad enough in their own right. When they rule over you with an iron claw, well, their badness takes on a whole new dimension.

Some of the interior art

I’ve got this picture in here to show you what the art in the books is like. This, I find to be awesome. If your artwork is going to suck, but suck in full color, I’d prefer something sweet like this. Just give me awesome line drawings. If I want color, I’ll grab my crayons and go to town.

The Four Elements

Did I mention that the gods don’t influence the world? So, from where do Clerics get their power? Look at the text on the cover above and be enlightened. For me, this feels like a move the presages the option in 3rd Edition to have a world with no gods, and for a Cleric to follow an ideal of some kind. I’m sure that there were games before Dark Sun that did this, but it, again, is one of the things that makes this setting so different from everything else TSR released.

Complete Gladiator's Handbook

Another extra, another cool book. The Gladiator was a new class in Dark Sun, and as with most of the “core classes” a Complete book was released for it. I love the faux-leather look of these books.


Another extra map, and a another gorgeous additon to my map collection. *sigh* I really love maps.

The provided Adventure

This is the adventure that came with the boxed set, complete with handouts for both the players and the DM. I know that boxed sets are more expensive to produce, but getting stuff like this makes it worth it for the buyer, I think.

Psionics Errata

Yes, even in 1991 TSR was releasing errata for their rules. Nobody’s perfect, right?

A tear-jerker

I saw this and I wanted to fill it out and mail it in. I know that all of the back-issues can be gotten digitally, but I would have loved to have played enough when I was younger to have warranted a subscription to these beauties. This one was nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake.

The Whole Kit + Kaboodle

When I bought this box, I bought it because it seemed a good price for a setting that I never got to play. After having gone through all of the stuff that I got with the box, I not only think that I got an amazing deal, but also that Dark Sun was a setting definitely deserving of a new life. I don’t use 4e, myself, but I’m glad that a setting this rich is off and running again.

If you liked what you saw, check out the new Dark Sun that WotC just put out. If you prefer d20 rules, then head over to Athas.org and check out their 3rd Edition rules. A little adaptation, and you could even be running Dark Sun in Pathfinder!

Anyway, I hope that you enjoyed this old-school unboxing. Thanks again to the Newbie DM for the idea.

[tags]D&D, rpg, rpgs, role playing games, Dark Sun, unboxing[/tags]

11 thoughts on “Old-School Unboxing: Dark Sun

Add yours

  1. That is a fantabulous idea, but I’d have to get my hands on the new Dark Sun books to have a chance at doing that. Given my post-convention budget, I’d have to land a review copy somehow. Anyone know who I should email at WotC? =)


  2. OMG!

    There are 2 books rated ULTRA-RARE in the DarkSun line. The Will and The Way, and Earth Air Water Fire.

    Back when I was trying to buy the whole set, 6 Darksun books/mod went for $30-$40. Either of those books, alone, went for $75 or more. In fact, Amazon is telling me “2 new from $138.84”

    I’m Jealous


  3. That is quite a find for a single box. Already have all of that except for the Gladiator’s handbook. The Will and the Way was probably the single best book for Dark Sun. Really expand the power of psionics to be a major part of a successful group.


  4. So this was always my most favorite adventure setting. I loved the whole post apocalyptic feel of the world. Gotta agree with everyone here though. Try to find The Will and The Way if you plan on running a game in this setting.

    I was at PAX East when they were unveiling this for 4e, and I got super excited, then I remembered that 4e and 2e play COMPLETELY differently and got less excited, because I don’t think Dark Sun will be nearly as fun as it was in 2e. The funny thing about the announcement at PAX East, though, was the first adventure that they revealed. IT WAS THE SAME FIRST ADVENTURE FROM THE 2E VERSION. Made me grin like a maniac. 😀


  5. If I ever end up running Dark Sun, it will likely be done using modifications to the 3rd Edition rules that Athas.org put out and still publishes for free. I use Pathfinder, so things should be able to be tweaked very easily.


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