The Dark Sun podcasts, run by Penny Arcade's Jerry Holkins, recently concluded -- ending on a bit of a cliffhanger, with the party set to continue their adventures in the world of Athas. Along with the recent Penny Arcade TV episode detailing the background and recording of this podcast series, we wanted to ask Jerry a few questions about his involvement with the setting.
Wizards of the Coast: You've mentioned playing Dark Sun in the past; can you tell us a bit more about the details of those earlier campaigns?
Jerry: Oh, sure. Is that everyone wants to do at all times? Tell people about their characters?
We started our game before the Dragon Kings supplement was released, well before Troy Denning's Prism Pentad had reached its conclusion, so it was a place of incredible danger and profound mystery. The party was made up of a ranger, a druid, and a defiler who had learned the trick of keeping it a secret. The defiler found himself converted to preservation at the edge of a scimitar, ultimately, by the other party members.
That campaign even took a detour through Ravenloft; there are connections between Ravenloft and Athas in the old sourcebooks. Lots of fun.
Wizards of the Coast: How did you find playing the most recent iteration of Dark Sun—and how did you find sitting behind the DM screen this time, instead of a member of the party (will Omin forgive this betrayal)?
Jerry: Ominifis Hereward Dran is basically the straight man in Acquisitions Incorporated, right? I always feel bad that there isn't enough character there anyway -- he mostly just provides impetus to the adventure. I think it would be just as fun to move Omin into a management role in the other game. Plus, then I could play a seeker.
As for the new Dark Sun, it solves some problems with the older systems, which were more or less just piled on top of one another. The classic setting had some really interesting ideas as far as elemental or paraelemental priests I that I really liked. I tried to put some of those ideas in the adventure, actually. That stuff is more or less the domain of the Primal power source now, so it's there in a way, but that was such a neat idea.
I run games only regularly, and I think I did alright, but there's a lot of ways I can improve and I'm excited by the prospect of doing so.
Wizards of the Coast: Finally, you mentioned that you love cliffhangers, as we hear in the final episode. What would you suppose happens next for the party?
Jerry: Well, that can be up to players in a real way, if they like. The adventure will be released with bonus material soon, and you can take it from there. Having the players enter a Tyr that is literally tearing itself apart in the vacuum left by King Kalak is where I'd go with it.
If you're interested in continuing the Dark Sun adventure yourself, the podcast scenario continues in Season 2 of D&D Encounters, starting June 9th at a location near you!