Will 'Dungeons & Dragons' Bring Back the Dark Sun Campaign Setting?

A Dungeons & Dragons game designer recently teased a return of one of the game's most popular settings.

This year's Gary Con (an annual gaming convention held in honor of Gary Gygax, one of the co-creators of D&D) featured a panel of five different former and current D&D game designers talking about the game they've all had a hand in crafting. One of the panelists was Mike Mearls, the co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons' current Fifth Edition and the game's current franchise creative director.

During a Q&A portion of the panel, which was recorded by the "Plot Points" podcast, Mearls may have slipped a mention about the game's future plans. Mearls' was asked whether there were plans to bring back mechanics from older editions back into the game. While Mearls stressed that he and the D&D team wanted to keep the core mechanics of Fifth Edition relatively small in order to limit the possibility of something breaking the game, there was a chance that a mechanics expansion could be tailored to specific campaign settings.

As an example, Mearls mentioned that there was talk about bringing back the Mystic class, which uses psionics instead of magic. However, Mearls noted that they decided not to release that class on its own. Specifically, Mearls said that "we don't need that class until we do Dark Sun."

Dark Sun was a popular campaign setting first introduced in 1991. While most of Dungeons & Dragons' other worlds were set in realms of fantasy, Dark Sun was a post-apocalyptic world that was more like the world of Dune than the world of Lord of the Rings. Elves, dwarves, and dragons were all warped in the Dark Sun setting, and the game used psionics heavily due to its tie-in with the release of then recently released "Complete Psionics Handbook."

Dark Sun was a popular setting back in the 1990s and made a brief return as part of the Fourth Edition rules back in 2010. Paizo and other third parties also released material that converted the Dark Sun campaign setting for play in the Third and 3.5 edition rulesets.

It's funny how one little "until" can get fans all excited. A few minutes later, an attendee brought up Mearls' comment and asked if that were confirmation that Wizards of the Coast would bring back Dark Sun. Mearls responded (to laughs) that he couldn't make any product announcements, but he did note that Wizards of the Coast considered every setting, including Dark Sun, to be part of the current D&D multiverse. He also noted that D&D had an "internal roadmap" for future plans but did warn that Fifth Edition did release product slowly in order to "get it right."

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Given that psionics were already internally discussed by Mearls and other D&D game designers, it could mean that we could see an adventure set in the Dark Sun campaign setting sooner as opposed to later. Of course, that's hardly confirmation that Dark Sun is coming back, but it's enough to at least keep fans excited for a return to this strange and fantastic setting.

You can listen to the full panel here. Mearls' comments about Dark Sun first pop up around the 1:42 mark and then come again at the 1:49 mark.