As I mentioned in my last post, I'm starting to prepare for a new Labyrinth Lord campaign which will be (very loosely) based on the old TSR setting Dark Sun. I say it's based on Dark Sun, as I've not read the books for that setting since about 20 years ago, so really this new campaign is going to be based on my impressions and memories of Dark Sun, rather than being set on Athas, per se. There's also going to be a healthy subtext of Frank Herbert's Dune mixed in there.
Firstly I've been working on a few bits and pieces for the rules of the campaign: primarily new races, new classes (like the aforementioned Infiltrator), and rules for psionics (including psionic classes). This work is more or less done now.
Secondly I've started writing some introductory material for the setting. I'm hoping to keep this pretty brief, as I know most players (myself included!) have little interest in reading vast tracts of invented world history and so on. I'm aiming for a page or two of A4, maximum, just providing some essential facts about the world and how it's different to "standard D&D".
Here's the first section of what I've come up with so far, about the nature of the world, which is called Ix, by the way. Yeah, I said there was going to be some Dune influence ;)
Ix is a world of extreme and punishing climactic conditions, consisting primarily of barren desert and radioactive jungle. Not a single drop of rain falls on Ix – all water is brought up from deep underground reserves. Metal is also scarce, and is thus a highly prized resource.
The most numerous inhabitants of Ix are reptiles, insects and birds, whose biology has allowed them to adapt to the harsh conditions. Mankind is the dominant intelligent species, although travellers tell of other sentient beings in the deep desert.
Aside from humans, the only mammals on Ix are goats, cats and rats, and these are only found where humans dwell.
The Desert and the City-States
At the centre of the world of Ix lies a vast region of open desert dotted with enclaves of civilisation. Human settlements are always founded around a source of water – from small trading outposts around oases where water emerges from the earth, up to the majesty of the great city-states founded around the monumental Hayyem trees, whose vast root systems draw water to the surface, producing fertile land.
Life in the open desert is hard, as water is so scarce. The desert sands are also home to malicious mutant creatures who prey upon wanderers.
The Toxic Jungles
To the south of the desert, at the extent of human civilisation, lies an impenetrable stretch of jungle. Although this is by far the most fertile region of Ix, its flora, fauna and environmental conditions are all toxic to humans. Evil beings are said to dwell in the jungles of Ix.
None know what, if anything, lies beyond the toxic jungles.
The Encroaching Dark
The north of Ix is covered by a supernatural darkness. The area, which is believed to have been inhabited in ancient times, is now shunned by all. Twisted beings of shadow emerge from the darkness to haunt mankind.
The Shadow World
Parallel to the world of light and matter lies is a plane of immaterial darkness known as the shadow world. Sages and magicians study this other realm, and speak of a plane of ether which maintains the separation of the worlds of light and shadow. It is from the ether which magical energy is drawn and formed into spells.
The shadow world is inhabited by beings formed of pure of darkness who sometimes venture into the ether and the world of light. These beings, when encountered in the world of light, are inimical to life.