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An early MMORPG, this romp through TSR's blasted alt-fantasy Dark Sun AD&D campaign setting of Athas was built atop the shoulders of the earlier singleplayer game Dark Sun: Wake of the Ravager in terms of the engine and interface, offering a similar experience, only more so. Multiplayer parties adventured through new scorched desert areas in pursuit of new ceramic treasures, rewards for similar fetch and extermination quests as in the earlier games. The quests were automatically generated to ease the load on the support staff scriptors, who threw new scheduled role-playing events into the realm daily as #NPCs to challenge and stump players.

A great deal of the interactivity rested on elaborate MUD-style conversational conventions (speaking to those within earshot, privately confiding, announcing to the whole server), attempting to limit "out of character" (OOC) chatter as deleterious to whatever suspension of disbelief was a prerequisite for group role-playing in this strange new graphical online forum. Nonetheless, many later staples of MMORPG social conventions could be found emerging here, from the formation of player guilds to forbidding "PVP" (player vs. player) combat in certain "safe" areas, among them the newbie launch pad of Caravan Way in the city-state of Tyr.


AD&D Dark Sun Online: Crimson Sands Windows Title screen

Promo Images

AD&D Dark Sun Online: Crimson Sands Other

Alternate Titles

  • "DSO" -- abbreviation

Part of the Following Groups

User Reviews

There are no reviews for this game.

Critic Reviews

PC Player (Germany) May, 1997 3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars 60


Topic # Posts Last Post
no permission to use screenshots 3 Pseudo_Intellectual (65041)
Feb 13, 2008



Assigned only one artist part-time, in addition to a heavy reliance on (angle-adjusted) art and sound (and code!) assets from the two earlier Dark Sun games the developers drew on common assets from other SSI games as necessary -- graphics from Al-Qadim ("Sand is sand, after all, no matter what angle you view it from!") and sound effects from Thunderscape. Other necessary artwork ended up being commissioned externally.

Cover Art

The striking cover (and title screen) artwork is a piece by Brom originally used as the cover to Troy Denning's 1991 Dark Sun novel "The Verdant Passage", book one of the Prism Pentad and TSR product #2402.


DSO was originally conceived of as a fantasy gaming cornerstone to AT&T's Interchange network in the summer of '94, a way for them to keep up with the Joneses with AOL's Neverwinter Nights. The deal fouled in early November '95 as the project approached completion, and it was left in funding limbo for a couple of months. Finally, DSO was picked up by the Total Entertainment Network in January of '96, where the game was beta-tested and, eventually, went live exclusively to TEN subscribers through to 1999.


  1. subtitles bandied about during development:
    • Desert Hunters
    • Athas Defiled
    • Sands of Twilight
    • Raging Sands
    • Of Heroes & Fools
    • The Sandbox
    • Ship it or we're all back in test
    • We will have a Christmas! (We'll just be here.)

Source Material Size

  1. source material size:
    Total files listed:
                32,647 file(s)  1,789,507,548 bytes
                 1,373 dir(s)
    The end user only ended up downloading a 30 meg client (plus redbook audio and an opening cinematic on the v1.0 CD release), but it seems that about fifty times as much space was devoted server-side to other assets.

Related Web Sites

Pseudo_Intellectual (65041) added AD&D Dark Sun Online: Crimson Sands (Windows) on Dec 02, 2007
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