Did Dungeons & Dragons Remove a Dark Sun Reference From Spelljammer?

An edited image on D&D Beyond seems to indicate that the upcoming Spelljammer: Adventures in Space was set to have a more direct Dark Sun reference. Last week, D&D Beyond posted an article about traveling through Wildspace in the new Spelljammer: Adventures in Space boxed set. Included in the original article was a map of Wildspace, containing multiple systems including Realmspace, the space system where the Forgotten Realms appears. Another named system in the Wildspace map was Athaspace, a not-so-subtle reference to the planet Athas, where the Dark Sun campaign setting is based. However, the article was temporarily pulled and the map edited so that Athaspace became Doomspace. You can check out the original and edited maps below:

doomspace.jpg
(Photo: Wizards of the Coast)
athaspace.jpg
(Photo: Wizards of the Coast)

During a press briefing last week, Spelljammer: Adventures in Space lead designer Chris Perkins confirmed that Doomspace would appear in the Light From Xaryxis adventure as one of two new Wildspace systems that appear in the boxed set. While not said outright, Perkins' comments makes it seem that Doomspace is not a re-named version of Athaspace. 

Spelljammer: Adventures in Space includes several Dark Sun creatures either as monsters or as playable races. Most notably, the insectoid Thri-Kreen appear as a playable race in the new campaign setting set. Nightmare beasts, creatures that first appeared in Dark Sun, also appeared in a D&D Beyond-exclusive Monstrous Compendium supplement featuring additional Spelljammer adventures. No direct reference to Dark Sun was included in the listing for nightmare beasts, besides a note that "powerful spellcasters" create nightmare beasts to use as siege engines. In Dark Sun, sorcerer-kings rule over most of Athas and are likely the "powerful spellcasters" in question. 

While Dark Sun was a popular setting in both 2nd Edition and 4th Edition, its post-apocalyptic tone, use of certain fantasy archetypes and stereotypes, and its heavy use of slavery as a symbol of oppression would likely need to be updated due to evolving views on how oppressive systems are depicted in games. In a recent interview with ComicBook.com, Dark Sun co-creator Troy Denning said that "I think if they reissued Dark Sun and asked me to do it... I would want to take a very careful look at and make sure that the stereotypes were not being used negatively and that we were avoiding stereotypes as much as possible. I'm proud of everything I did in Dark Sun, but that's not to say that I couldn't do it better now."

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D&D design studio head Ray Winninger noted that an established campaign setting would make a "cameo" appearance in an upcoming D&D product. We'll have to see whether Dark Sun is that "cameo" appearance in Spelljammer when the Spelljammer: Adventures in Space boxed set comes out on August 16th.