Playing Dark Sun

So we finally started our Dark Sun game this last weekend and the first half went really well. I started us out with the characters being gladiators, slaves sold to fight in the arena in Draj before the Sorcerer King. Between the set-piece dramatic fights there was some good RP and in-house intrigue an in the end they managed to both embarrass the Jasuan Knights in the arena and to escape the city to a life of freedom in the wilderness.

This part of the adventure worked really well but the second half, derived from Marauders of the Dune Sea didn’t work at all. The adventure as written fell flat and while I did a lot of work to make it fit into my overall plan it just didn’t work. Dungeons as a string of fights just don’t see to go well in 4e for some reason, even though they worked fine in previous editions and even though that seems to be how many of the adventures are set up.

So that’s something to avoid in future adventures and something I’m doubly, triply, happy we’ve avoided in many of the adventures that Postmortem has produced. Less big fights – and boss fights – interspersed with intrigue, puzzle-solving etc. Less is most definitely more.
I haven’t gotten to try all my modifications to the rules  yet but of those mentioned in previous articles:
Off the Grid: is a massive success and works far better than anticipated. It makes manoeuvre characters and leader  characters much more useful in combat and allows for dramatic and effective teamwork. I can see some problems coming up on a team basis due to the size of the group and the size of enemy groups but I’ll deal with that when I come to it. The potential problem being powers that give whole teams shifts/slides etc.
Karma: hasn’t come up yet and while it’s a good way to formalise RP rewards it may not be necessary, at least for our group.
Crafting: rules are only just coming up and seem to work OK. I definitely prefer the idea and the depth to the existing rules.