I’ve always sort of found it strange that Dark Sun, which came out in 1991, was the first product (that I’m aware of at least) to introduce the concept of the half-dwarf, which on Athas is called a mul.
Muls combine the height and cunning of their human parent with the durability and raw strength of dwarves. Unlike the other half-breed races (half-elves and half-giants), the mul is infertile – all muls come from one human and one dwarf parent. Given the cultural differences, muls tend to be a slave race intentionally bred in the pits – they make excellent gladiators and laborers.
Not a lot has been released about the mul, at this time. What little information I have comes from two sources: the D&D Experience panel and the sample character sheets, both of which I mentioned during my post about the thri-kreen.
During the panel, Baker stated that Mul characters would receive a +2 to Constitution and then another +2 to the player’s choice of either Strength or Wisdom. Further, it was mentioned that the Mul would have some sort of resistance ability against status and condition effects (such as being blinded, prone, or stunned – I picked three conditions at random, Baker didn’t specify).
Meanwhile, the sample character sheets (Morg, a Mul Barbarian, is on page 3) allude to an ability called “Tireless” which states that he needs only sleep 6 hours every 72. Not particularly useful in combat, though handy if he needs to press on without stopping much in a dungeon. He’s also receiving a +2 bonus I can’t otherwise account for to both Endurance and Streetwise – which would make good racial skills for the Mul.
I see no sign of how the “condition resistance” Baker alluded to is implemented, so I guess we’ll either have to wait for Baker to blog about it or for the book to come out.
The Other Races
I’ve covered all the races of 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons, and the additional Athasian races introduced by the original Dark Sun boxed set. Of course, if you owned the “Expanded and Revised” Dark Sun boxed set (released in 1995), you may recall a few other player races being introduced. What about them?
There’s been no mention of the Aarakocra – though I have to assume a race that can fly is going to get the axe, given how difficult that would be to balance out.
As far as the Pterrans go, I don’t see anything wrong with them – I’m sure they could be built as a perfectly balanced option. I don’t really think they will be – they seem to be a pretty minor footnote in Dark Sun, I (a pretty massive Dark Sun fan with access to virtually every Dark Sun product) had pretty much forgotten them until I went to do my research for this article.
Ultimately, the Pterran just doesn’t seem as authentically Athasian as the mul, thri-kreen or half-giant – and given as how Baker was asked point-blank at the panel about “other” new races (after discussing half-giants and the kreen), he only mentioned the muls? It doesn’t look good for Pterran fans, sad to say.
One final addition. In my original post on the core 4e races, I discussed my own guess as to the Eladrin’s place in the Athasian ecology. Well, it turns out that I was wrong. Baker’s concept is good – very good in fact. In fact, it’s the first “this is new to the world” thing I’ve genuinely gotten excited about. I mean, character themes are kickass (I’ll be touching on them soon, I think) but ultimately that’s just rules stuff. And while the rules are the vital infrastructure on which the game is built, it’s the in-game stuff about the world of Dark Sun that always got my engine running.
Before, I was excited about Dark Sun coming back. Now I’m excited about Dark Sun 4th Edition coming out. Which makes me pretty damn happy.
Alright, races down. I figure character classes come next, then character themes, then on from the basic building-blocks of character creation and on to some other cool shit.