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The Dark Sun campaign setting was a deliberate step away from AD&D orthodoxy when it was co-developed by Timothy B. Brown & Troy Denning. Gone are the traditional depictions of Elves, Dwarves, and the like. The world of Athas is a harsh and barren setting ruled by evil sorcerer-kings. Player characters must decide early on where they stand in the hierarchy, and be ready for sudden changes in fortune. The status quo rests on a knife edge, and one person can make a difference. Little is as you expect it.
Dark Sun Campaign Setting [BOX SET]
Sometimes I've seen the poster of the cover art included with these sets, but frequently it's not present. I don't think it's just a case of former owners separating the poster from the set, because I've acquired sets from meticulous collectors, and the poster won't be there.
It's not depicted in the bottom-lid photo of the contents. My guess is that TSR dropped the poster from later printings as a cost-saving measure.
"Amid the barren wastelands of Athas lies the scattered city states, each in the grip of its own, tyrannical sorceror-king. Protecting their own positions with dark magic, they demand absolute obedience. The restless mobs are placated with bread and circuses - the arenas overflow with spectators seeking release from their harsh lives.
The land outside the cities belongs to no one. Savage elves race across the deserts while insectoid thri-kreen satisfy their taste for blood. Dwarves labor at projects beyond the scope of men, and feral halflings lie in ambush.
Athas is a land of deadly magic and powerful psionics that offers no promise of glory or even of survival. Those who do not have the cunning to face life on Athas will surely perish - leaving nothing but bones bleached white under the blistering rays of the Dark Sun.
Three new PC races!
Muls - half-dwarf, half-human; specially bred for combat!
Thri-kreen - the savage mantis-warriors of the barrens!
Half-giants - bred for tremendous size and strength!
Three New PC classes!
Gladiators - Heroes of the arenas, the ultimate warriors!
Templars - Wicked priests who serve the sorceror-kings!
Defilers - Wizards whose powers drain the life around them!
More Powerful PCs!
All DARK SUN game characters begin at 3rd level!
Ability scores that can go as high as 24!
All PCs have one or more psionic powers!
The new Character Tree allows players to advance many characters at once!
Includes 2 96-page books, 2 24-page flip books, 16-page book, 2 fold-out maps, Complete Psionics Handbook Errata Sheet
1991 ... Timothy B. Brown & Troy Denning ... TSR 2400 ... ISBN 1560761040
Dark Sun Campaign Setting Expanded and Revised [BOX SET]
"A decade has passed since the Age of Heroes began. The city of Tyr has broken free of tyranny, though turmoil still holds the world in its merciless grip. The Dragon King lies dead, earthquakes rock the land, and revolution spreads like wildfire across the Tyr Region. Giant rifts pierce this once impenetrable land: far to the north, the alien thri-kreen empire quickens, sensing its opportunity to invade. And to the south, in the obsidian wasteland, the ground stirs with the emergence of the undead....
Welcome to a world where metal is scarce, gods don't exist, and psionic powers abide in all living creatures! This significantly expanded and revised boxed set contains everything you need to adventure across the burning lands of Athas.
The Wanderer's Chronicle:
128 pages detailing the world of Athas, extending far beyond the known Tyr Region to encompass such new locations as the Jagged Cliffs, the Last Sea, the Kreen Empire, and the Dead Land.
The Age of Heroes:
96 pages of updated rules and new mechanics designed to make combat more brutal and adventure more savage. This book features new player character races such as the aarakocra and the pterran, expanded rules for wizards, and revised ability score tables.
The Way of the Psionicist:
32 pages detailing a new, streamlined, complete-in-this-box psionics system designed specifically for DARK SUN campaigns.
Mystery of the Ancients:
A 32-page adventure for characters of 3rd to 5th level that kicks off any new campaign in spectacular fashion.
Three full-color poster maps:
One is a close-up of the Tyr Region. The other high quality maps detail the lands beyond to the north, south, and west expanding the area of the original campaign by eight times!
DUNGEON MASTER Screen:
An eight-panel gatefold featuring all the tables needed to run a DARK SUN adventure, on one convenient stand-up screen."
1995 ... Bill Slavicsek ... TSR 2438 ... ISBN 0786901624
"Only the most powerful characters are destined to rule Athas. Warriors with vast armies of followers campaign for glory; rogues become masters of illusory magic to further their deadly schemes; spellcasters who can also master psionics open whole new tomes of magic available to them - the most powerful spells ever! And not only do they gain greater magic, the spellcasters take on entirely new forms when they advance beyond 20th level - clerics can attain elemental form; preservers mutate into magnificent avangions; defilers can actually transform into dragons themselves! Learn of these advanced beings, the new magical spells available to them, plus new psionic devotions and organizations, military vehicles and army lists, and more..."
1992 ... Timothy B. Brown ... 160 pages (hardcover) ... TSR 2408 ... ISBN 1560762357
The Ivory Triangle [BOX SET]
"Nowhere are the stark contrasts that define life on Athas more dramatic than within the Ivory Triangle! In the forests of Gulg live elite hunters called the Judaga Warriors, who claim the heads of their prey as trophies. Behind the walls of Nibenay (built with the blood and toil of countless slaves), decadent markets promise myriad experiences to those who have money to spend and courage to spare. Across the desolate salt flats of the Great Ivory Plain, a handful of bold merchant outposts and slave tribes struggle to exist and to exploit unwary wanderers. Amidst all, a sinister poisoner of the Tablelands plies his trade on the border between life and death. These dangers and more lie within that region called the Ivory Triangle - the ideal setting for continuing adventures on the deadly world of Athas!
WITHIN THIS BOXED SET YOU'LL FIND...
A 32-page guidebook to the city-state of Gulg;
A 32-page guidebook to the city-state of Nibenay;
A 96-page book detailing the merchants, raiding tribes, and lands of the Ivory Triangle;
A full-color poster map of the cities of Gulg and Nibenay;
A full-color poster map of the Ivory Triangle;
Six reference cards including player handouts, new price lists, and encounter tables for your DARK SUN campaign;
Four new monsters to add to your DARK SUN appendix of the MONSTROUS COMPENDIUM;
A campaign calendar for tracking your adventure; and
A short story to set the tone for your own tales."
The official contents list is a bit puffed up.
1993 ... Kirk Botula & Curtis Scott & Lisa Smedman ... TSR 2418 ... ISBN 1560766042
City by the Silt Sea [BOX SET]
"Something awakens beneath the ruins of ancient Giustenal, the City by the Silt Sea. Many have tried to discover the secrets of this forsaken place, to plunder its legendary treasures. Few have returned from its shadowy embrace. Did they run afoul of savage raiders in the desert wastes? Did they lose their way in a sudden sandstorm only to sink hopelessly into the blowing, shifting silt? Perhaps they heard the psionic voice of the Caller in Darkness and succumbed to its mesmerizing summons? Or did they meet the true master of the ruins, a being as old as the Dragon - and just as terrifying?...
The burning world has reached a critical stage. For Athas, it could mean the start of a time of renewal, or it could herald the end of the world! It all begins in the ruins of Giustenal, in a place from another age, in the corpse of a shattered, long-dead city. Something stirs in the City by the Silt Sea. Something evil..."
City by the Silt Sea features:
A 96-page book full of details on the area around Giustenal, the ruins, the strange beings who inhabit its darkest recesses, and the history of Dregoth, the undead sorceror-king - revealed for the first time.
A 64-page adventure book designed to introduce player characters to this fascinating, dangerous locale;
A 32-page MONSTROUS COMPENDIUM appendix featuring all-new monsters and villains unique to the ruins of Giustenal;
Six reference cards detailing important information about the City by the Silt Sea;
A full-color, double-sided poster map of the area, the ruins, and the many underground locations waiting to be explored.
1994 ... Shane Lacy Hensley ... TSR 2432 ... ISBN 1560768827
Mind Lords of the Last Sea [BOX SET]
"Beyond the Scorched Plateau, across the Burning Plains, in the shadow of the Thunder Mountains, the largest body of water beneath the crimson sun sparkles like a desert mirage. But the place is real, for I have seen it. I felt the cool spray on my skin, tasted the salt mist on my lips. It is the Last Sea, a remnant of a long-lost age hidden far to the north of Tyr...
-From The Wanderer's Journal
The Last Sea, a huge body of cool water, remains locked in time, a manisfestation of the Green Age that survives to the current Athasian era. Here, people live in safety and peace - as long as they follow the laws set forth by the ancient, immortal Mind Lords who rule over them.
Mind Lords of the Last Sea details the environs and societies living in a hidden valley hundreds of miles north of the Tyr Region. On the shores of the largest known body of water on Athas, the ancient city of Saragar rises like a temple to the Green Age, and the Triune Mind Lords hold sway over all with their powerful psionic abilities."
This accessory is the second in a series of "Wanderer's Chronicles" that explores the new areas of Athas. It features:
A 96-page sourcebook that details the hidden valley, the Last Sea, and all the creatures and intelligent races that inhabit the region - as well as a comprehensive look at the Mind Lords and their great city, Saragar. This sourcebook also includes new monsters, new rules, and new equipment specific to this new region.
A 32-page adventure book that provides a ready-to-play adventure set in Saragar and around the Last Sea.
A full-color, poster-sized map of the Last Sea region complete with plenty of exciting new locations to explore.
1996 ... Matt Forbeck ... TSR 2444 ... ISBN 0786903678
Wizards of the Coast owns (and holds trademark to) the AD&D game and Dark Sun in all forms.
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