Dark Sun Campaign Prep – The Introduction

You awaken to the sound of trumpets nearby, and find it blends rather un-harmoniously with the ringing in your ears. Unfocused vision meets and even more unfocused mind as you begin to remember who you are. As your eyes clear, you notice the others around you. You begin shaking each other awake, and you find you have more questions than answers.

Looking around, you see the room you are in is lit from a large, square opening above, with mostly smooth stone walls on four sides. The bright, burning sun of Athas fills the room with light and heat. More sounds now, cheering and louder trumpets create a symphony of pain and anxiety as you begin to piece together where you are. Glancing around you see a hallway leads out of the room, but several stone bars prevent you from passing through.

A figure appears then, on the other side of the bars. It is a Mul clad in bone studded leather.

“Compose yourselves, it’ll begin in a minute.” The door then opens for only a moment. The Mul throws a large bag into the room that busts open upon landing. Among the many contents that have spilled out over the floor are your own possessions You retrieve them hurriedly, and watch your companions do the same. The Mul answers no questions, and leaves as quickly as he arrived.

The trumpets increase in noise again, and looking at your companions you feel an imposing sense of dread wash over your body. As the final moments of unconsciousness fade away, the floor begins to rise carrying you closer to the daylight and the sounds.

You rise about 30 feet, and your heart stops as your eyes confirm your fears. The entire gladiatorial stadium of Tyr lies before you, filled with patrons. Loud cheers and jeers intermingle with the trumpets at crescendo. For a brief moment, you finally recall what brought you here. Your crime, and the judgment of the Templar. You remember standing silent as he read the charges – knowing them to be true and knowing further that denying them would only bring a worse punishment. You remember his final words – the sentence you knew you would face – “You are ordered to the Arena, from there you will find Victory and Pardon, or Death and Judgment”. Then pain and blindness as an unseen psionic force overwhelmed your senses, sending you into the land of dreams.
Refocusing on the present, you raise your weapon. Adrenaline begins pumping, violently flowing into your blood like a geyser of legend. The sound of your beating heart drowns out the crowd, the trumpets, and even your own thoughts as the door opens on the far side of the Arena. Out from it step several small creatures. Vile looking, and covered with scales and holding bony weapons.They see you and a small one in robes shrieks loudly. You watch as they begin to form up around an outcropping of rocks. As the first dart flies past your face you know the only path out of this stadium is through the spilt blood of these creatures.

Roll for Initiative

The above was the spoken game introduction for my Dark Sun game. Illness among my players forced me to postpone it by a week. The importance of a good introduction can not be marginalized. It sets the tone for the campaign, and it should put the players firmly in the world. Previously, I had instructed my players to decide on a crime they had committed. I didn’t force them to share their crimes with the other players, but I needed a good reason for them to be in the arena. I wanted to start the game immediately thrusting them into action, forcing them to work together to stay alive.

The players were, of course, victorious in the arena. From there they met an interested merchant who inticed them with the promise of a free beverage and an offer of work. Soon, the players found themselves in the secret employ of a powerful merchant house, working on a project of immense historical importance. As they prepared to venture out into the wilderness at his behest, they ran across some commoners being attacked by spiders. This led to my first major GM decision of the night.

I had intended to have a spider menace as a growing undertone of the campaign. Spiders hatching in Under-Tyr, the ruins that rest beneath the current city, come out at night trying to drag dinner down to their nests. The Templars who are charged with keeping the peace have been ineffective at dealing with them. Unfortunately, I did not calculate on the real life implications of my players. It happens that one of them is quite arachnophobia, and my impressively large spider miniatures were about to contribute to a panic attack! I decided on the spot to retcon the entire spider sequence and substitute scorpions. This was completely acceptable to the players, and I we continued with no time lost.

At the end of the night, they had navigated their way to an inn deep in the Warrens district of Tyr to settle down for an extended rest. From here I intend for them to work their way through a heavily modified version of Marauders of the Dune Sea and onto other adventures.

We will be posting a copy of the first part of this adventure for you to use after a short edit and some polishing. Check back next week for a report on the players journey towards the ancient ruins known as the Face in the Stone.

[tags]Athas, 4e, D&D, Dark Sun, Gaming, Role Playing Games, RPG, Tabletop, Wizards of the Coast[/tags]

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