I’ve released a new version of my “Free Tyr” adventure framework for Dark Sun. It presumes some familiarity with the world of Athas, and expects the use of D&D 4E (but can easily be adapted to other games).
The hook is this: the tyrant Sorcerer King of Tyr, Kalak, has been killed. The situation in Tyr is changing by the hour, and the characters must make the most of it to determine the fate of Free Tyr.
What I like about it: it’s a condensed sandbox scenario with a big kicker and plenty of time pressure on the characters. There’s random tables and encounter suggestions to help with DMs with improvising the events of the adventure. I’m interested in using the timeline sheets to allow multiple playthroughs and continually shift the timeline of what happens in the first 72 hours of Free Tyr.
I played once at GenCon with some friends from the Design Matters booth, and it was nearly ideal for a D&D experience that was improvisational while still having the fun tactical challenges of 4E.
The group was two nobles (an aloof Veiled Alliance sorcerer and a rebellious Adept ardent), with their Thri-Kreen battlemind friend who had recently escaped the life of a gladiator. As the city erupts in the wake of Kalak’s death, the party defends bystanders from Templar attacks, run through the city to check up on their friends, and become involved in an insurrection in the Brickyards. There were some good character moments: the Battlemind remembers his past and convinces his friends to aid in the insurrection, and the rebellious ardent leaves her father to commit an act of class treachery. There was plenty of stunting – chasing guards into the maw of an ankheg, ambushing of some hapless guards, knocking kank riders into fragile guard tower built over several fire braziers.
It was also neat to see some of the Dark Sun mechanics some into play. The sorcerer was successfully tempted into using the Arcane Defiling after a failed Daily (rather easily, in fact); there was some awkward glances between me and his sister. Meanwhile, I perhaps oversold the Reckless Breakage rule. The Ardent’s game went something like this:
Encounter 1: Rolls reckless breakage on her metal spear. Breaks it. Fights with fists for a while, then picks up another metal spear from a dead Templar. Breaks it. She finds a obsidian spear after the fight.
RP scene: “My daughter, as your Noble father, I cannot help you liberate the Brickyards. But take this: the magical metal Spear that is a metaphor for both our relationship and the fate of our Noble house.”
Encounter 2: (eh, blazing starfall + minions + strategery = let’s skip this encounter)
Encounter 3: Rolls reckless breakage on her ancestral metal spear. Breaks it. (Meanwhile, the Battlemind rolls Reckless Breakage for the first time and crits a templar. I imagine him basically pumping his weapon in the air like “WHO’S THE PSIONIC DEFENDER AND HAS FOUR ARMS? THIS GUY!”)
The ardent would probably not be using Reckless Breakage for a long while, but her game was also a decent string of badassery. Did I mention the psionic punching because she broke her spear on someone’s face? Yes.