(If you’re not a Dark Sun fan, this won’t mean much to you.)
I was just rewaching the end of season 3 of the (new) Doctor Who on DVD–the episodes where the Master takes over Earth. And that got me thinking about D&D (because, well, almost everything does), and the pseudo-destruction of the world.
So… What about a Dark Sun campaign where the whole campaign setting is a brand new event? The desolation of Athas into a blasted, barren desert wasn’t a slow, gradual process, but something that happened in one fell swoop–a natural disaster, an arcane war, a curse, whatever. And it’s something that happened recently, only in the past few years.
You still have the city-states and the Sorcerer Kings, but they’re new societies, still establishing themselves, still working on enslaving the populace to the power of their rulers. You have people traveling to them and willing to be enslaved, because these are the only civilized parts of the world left. You have bands of refugees, the survivors of entire cities, roaming the deserts in desperate search of a home, still trying to adapt to the loss of the only world they ever knew. And you have multiple resistance groups–both inside and outside of the city-states–fighting against the Sorcerer Kings who are slowly usurping control of what remains of society, and spreading their influence out toward the wandering tribes and the last lingering villages.
You might even still have religion, but it exists only in dying pockets as people abandon the gods, either for "allowing" this to happen, or as the Sorcerer Kings prove more potent than the priests of old.
How else would that change a campaign? What kind of story ideas does it open up? Anyone find the idea intriguing, or is just me? 😉