I did some maps for the first Dungeons and Dragons comic – Bad Day. IDW has released a second comic series – this one set in the classic Dark Sun world of Athas. It features the adventures of a gladiator who escapes from the fighting arenas. Here’s a sample (more after the jump):
I played Dark Sun at school and it left an indelible impression. Contrary to so many upbeat heroic fantasy settings, Athas is a post-apocalyptic world where magic has all but destroyed civilisation. It takes the analogue of magic as science seriously and gives us a post holocaust landscape where arcanists are feared and hated. The world is not about heroism, it’s about survival. The comic gets this gritty setting bang on – which is impressive as the initial world was visually defined by Brom and that’s a hard act to follow. Wayne Reynolds really sets the tone with his portrait of Grudvik the gladiator. I don’t think anyone could think that this story will involve knights and fair maidens.
As with Dungeons and Dragons #1, the Dark Sun comic has a secret limited module edition. In this version you not only get the comic, but also a mini-adventure with encounters that follow the story arc of the comic. This was designed and written by Chris Perkins – DM to Penny Arcade, Creative Director and one of my favourite adventure writers from his days at Dungeon. As well as providing some of the cleanest map turnovers I’ve seen, the adventure itself is clean and well structured. The map at the top of the post is for an encounter in which the PCs have to make it onto the ship to gain passage across the sea of silt. Even in a post apocalyptic wasteland, there’s still a place for swashbuckling and swinging on halyards.
Here’s the other two maps from the adventure – no surprises with the colour scheme. Athas is a pretty sandy place. First up, a battle in a rocky waste with creatures that rise up from beneath the sand. And no – its not a good thing to be in the are surrounded by those dotted lines.
Later in the adventure something else bursts forth – this time from beneath the sea of silt. In this encounter the players are fighting beside the sailors – or they’d better be if they want to survive.