GEN CON: The next D&D campaign world is … ‘Dark Sun’

Image: Wizards of the Coast

Gamers gathered at Gen Con this week in Indianapolis got a sneak peek at the next Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting.

Wizards of the Coast announced Friday that it is resurrecting the post-apocalyptic fantasy world of Athas — home to giants, nomads, psionicists and evil sorcerer-kings — with the 2010 release of the Dark Sun Campaign Guide.

Dark Sun, a popular range of novels and gaming supplements back in the TSR days of D&D, has been a fan favorite to follow up this year’s release of the Eberron campaign setting. A promotion to find the “ultimate Dragonlance fan” made it seem to many that the classic world of Krynn would be next, but this turned out to be a red herring related more to the release of the new Dragonlance novel Dragons of the Hourglass Mage.

Other rumored contenders included Planescape, Ravenloft, Greyhawk and the remaining runners-up in WotC’s 2002 Fantasy Setting Search that led to the publication of Keith Baker’s popular Eberron. Forgotten Realms was the first setting to get the 4th Edition treatment shortly after the game’s relaunch in 2008.

Of course, Dungeon Masters are free to cook up their own fantasy worlds, but many choose to use pre-packaged settings that do a lot of the heavy lifting and allow them to focus on having fun with other D&D players.

This year at Gen Con, WotC also announced a Castle Ravenloft board game, a Player’s Strategy Guide, akin to a computer strategy guide but for tabletop D&D and cover art by Penny Arcade’s Mike Krahulik, as well as the Demonomicon supplement and a 4th Edition adaptation of the classic adventure Tomb of Horrors.

But it’s safe to say that the Dark Sun announcement — along with the long-awaited release of Paizo Publishing’s Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, using the open-source rules framework from D&D’s previous edition — are dominating the show at Gen Con this year.

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