Beginning in 1991, TSR really started to push a new wave of boxed set campaign worlds for their AD&D 2nd Edition, and one of these was Dark Sun.
The brainchild of Troy Denning & Timothy B. Brown it was the anti-Greyhawk, a world of hard lines, wastelands, and finite resources. Athas, the world that hosted the Dark Sun universe, was a dying world, a closed sphere [for all you Spelljammer folks out there] and players got to take part in a gritty setting where survival was the end result of adventuring, not treasure and magical items.
I played this game in college, and have mixed feeling concerning it, but I have to say it was unique at the time and I’ve had thoughts of revisiting it on occasion.
However, no matter what players thought of Dark Sun the setting, there was no double that TSR hit a home run with the hiring of an up and coming graphic designer by the name of Gerald Brom to help create the look and feel of this world.
Brom broke into gaming in the later stages of Spelljammer, but when he did Dark Sun everything about gaming seemed to change. He was really the first wave of dark fantasy to hit the RPG landscape, and with White Wolf coming on, Brom was quickly a sought after artist who not only helped build Vampire but also the dark western setting of Deadlands.
Still, his work on Dark Sun is a paragon of RPG development, and along with artist Tom Baxa, the two helped create something that still resonates today.
The core boxed set for Dark Sun features only these two artists, with Baxa doing the bulk of the monsters and Brom the color covers and some interior setting pieces. In all, it is a very well provided setting, that contains a nice amount of artwork and maps which should inspire any gamer.
Artistic Rating: 4 [out of 5]