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[Let's Read] Tales of the Lance boxed set

Dirigible

i come in peace
Validated User
Also: subscribed. I've only read the Dragons of Seasonal Noun trilogy and the SAGA/5th Age boxed set, so very interested to find out what DL was like in its native era and rules set.
 

dogugly

Registered User
Validated User
DL started in 1st edition and the Rulebook was one of the last of that era and a nice one to boot. It introduced the sphere system of the specialty priests and I think specialist wizards as well. The whole book was well done and that cover of Tanis in the dragon armor was epic. In comparison tales of the lance was a disappointment. I still sigh comparing the two even though I no longer own them.
 

Crowqueen

Corvus Sapiens
RPGnet Member
Validated User
WBoA: Welcome to the World of Krynn

The introductory blurb.

This appears to be the ten-year anniversary of the DL product line, and apparently is the first compilation of information about the setting (I’m sure there was a 1e version, but never mind). They kick in early with the ‘This is a very different setting from what you’re used to’ spiel. They also make a song-and-dance of what does and does not exist, and trumpet the ‘three-dimensional’ portrayals of humanoids such as goblins and hobgoblins. I’m not sure that ‘A sense of wonder and amazement surrounds every creature of Krynn’ really makes much sense here, because the characterisation of humanoids is usually ‘fodder for my pointy stick’. But I’m going to hold the book to this promise. Dragonlance did actually give us a history for a stock fantasy race – the ogres – and although I think this is a bit of a pretence, since the ogres’ fall happened millennia before PCs are supposed to be adventuring, I also think I remember some uncorrupted ‘Irda’ appearing in the books. Dragons obviously play a major part in this: to the extent that magic items are all labelled ‘handle with care: excessive use might disturb a big lizard with wicked fangs and breath that can melt stone’. Magic items are also supposed to be scarce. My group, when we come to play this, are going to hate not being so reliant on magic, particularly since they will have memories of our current DM deciding to apply the rules on item saving throws horrifically literally.

The other chapters of the introduction are on ‘Fallen Nations’, ‘Gods of Krynn’ and ‘Stories and Sagas’. The Cataclysm remodelled Ansalon (the main continent) from a single landmass into a series of islands and inlets and, of course, the Maelstrom. We also know that the war goes on, since the draconians (essentially, dragonmen born from the corrupted eggs of good dragons). Priestly magic is returning to the world after a long absence. The stories and sagas part emphasises the ‘diversity’ of the setting and exhorts DMs not to just use humanoids as pointy-stick fodder. Quite. This is probably why I never ran an actual DL campaign – my players don’t tend to be into that kind of high intrigue game. It’s not that I don’t want to lavishly stat and name each goblin, and I don’t think the DMs are doing that. I’ve also enjoyed modules where there’s not much open combat because the PCs are on infiltration missions and the object of the game is not just to kill people and nick their stuff. However, what I’ve seen of the official modules was to me a bit of a railroad, and what I heard from a rather disillusioned player I met on a PC game forum and briefly went out with was that his DM not only banned kender :)eek:) but he didn’t like feeling that they didn’t have much control over the plot. They were playing a 2e campaign with different PCs to the ‘official’ ones, he played a human bard who had taken white robes, and he found it boring.

So this is my question: can Dragonlance be a game where there are multiple possibilities? Can PCs feel like they are not just pawns of the gods? Would it be written in the same way today? (The latter question people will have to answer for me, because I don’t really pay that much attention to the RPG market – I’m a rather conservative D&D player who tried World of Darkness exactly once and didn’t particularly enjoy it, so I’m not sure what state the market is in outside my group of wargamers content with dungeon-delving.)

Then there’s a plug for other books. Naturally these include the Monstrous Compendium appendix relating to DL and an atlas. I’m sure at some point Leonaru will get round to reading the appendix if he hasn’t already done so, and I don’t have a copy of the atlas and don’t have the cash to try and find it on eBay at the moment. The person who runs my game and has a huge collection doesn’t ‘do’ Dragonlance so it’s probably not available to borrow. Having seen other fantasy atlases, I’m guess the only thing I’m missing is more detailed maps and lavish coffee-table artwork. Again, please feel free to review this if you have it.
 

Armchair Gamer

New member
WBoA: Welcome to the World of Krynn

The introductory blurb.

This appears to be the ten-year anniversary of the DL product line, and apparently is the first compilation of information about the setting (I’m sure there was a 1e version, but never mind).
There wasn't, really. The 1E source material was scattered across 16 modules and a hardcover volume that mostly filled in the gaps, updated the rules to "1.7E" and provided source material for the Legends novels. TotL was the first attempt to provide a comprehensive look at Krynn between two covers.

So this is my question: can Dragonlance be a game where there are multiple possibilities? Can PCs feel like they are not just pawns of the gods?
It's been done--I know that Steve Miller, former TSR/WotC designer who worked on DL during the Fifth Age era, was able to run a successful campaign based on the PCs as comrades of Kitiara who wound up banishing both Paladine and Takhisis from Krynn. And that's just one example I know of. The setting does have a lot of inertia to kick against, though, and later developments in the novels don't make it any easier when you've got very few stable points before Weis & Hickman decide to throw another Cataclysmic Event or Shocking Revelation at you.
 

GodEmperorDrothan

formerly Xereaux
Validated User
I've always had the same problem (and it sounds like a common problem) with Dragonlance. I've always loved the setting, probably because it was more or less my first exposure to D&D. Even so, I've never tried running it because the original modules seem to leave such little room for other worthwhile stories. Maybe I'm just not creative enough. I guess I could always set a game at a different period of time, but part of the appeal of the Dragonlance setting for me is the setting as depicted at the time of the modules and novels.
 

BPIJonathan

I'll be superamalgamated!
Validated User
I've always had the same problem (and it sounds like a common problem) with Dragonlance. I've always loved the setting, probably because it was more or less my first exposure to D&D. Even so, I've never tried running it because the original modules seem to leave such little room for other worthwhile stories. Maybe I'm just not creative enough. I guess I could always set a game at a different period of time, but part of the appeal of the Dragonlance setting for me is the setting as depicted at the time of the modules and novels.
I recently started a new Dragonlance campaign, but what I did was kept the world and the places, but completely eliminated the "Heroes of the Lance." I ended up replacing them with the PCs to do whatever they wanted. This has made a good story, but what I also have going for me is that besides myself only 2 of my players (of 6) are even familiar with the Dragonlance story. I have a Fighter (following the code of a Paladin, since there are no gods), A wizard, still trying to decide what path she is going to be, a minotaur sage/scholar (thinks hes an expert on the pre cataclysm, so far has gotten most of it wrong but the party seems to believe him). A Gnomish Gunslinger, a Dwarven Fighter and an Elven Ranger (yea, they went for sterotypes, but what can I say they are having fun). Though, this bit was probably non relevant since I am running this via Pathfinder and not AD&D2.
 

mr beer

Retired User
I ran the 12 module Dragonlance series about 20 years ago and enjoyed it, as stated though it's a pretty linear plot. The players were young and not concerned about that. My favourite module by a good margin was the one missing that I couldn't get a copy of anywhere and had to make up the whole thing myself. I had them questing around various Outer Planes on a sort of divine Snipe Hunt.

Anyway, the players were given the characters out of the books and only one of them had actually read the trilogy (we'll call him 'Jeff') and I had sworn him to silence about the plot details. Raistlin was played by me as an NPC, when he ditched them on the sinking ship, Jeff said in a monotone voice "Oh no. Raistlin. How could you betray us like this."

Dragonlance is...OK. It's not a bad D&D setting, although kender seemed designed to bring out the absolute worst in players. I liked it more as a lengthy one-shot campaign than a permanent home for my games.
 

Crowqueen

Corvus Sapiens
RPGnet Member
Validated User
There wasn't, really. The 1E source material was scattered across 16 modules and a hardcover volume that mostly filled in the gaps, updated the rules to "1.7E" and provided source material for the Legends novels. TotL was the first attempt to provide a comprehensive look at Krynn between two covers.
That explains it. I always thought that the 1e books (I only have Oriental Adventures because it was an iconic book for my first group, I found it dirt cheap in the local charity bookshop, and I wanted the stats for the hengeyokai animal-men) were campaign settings and therefore was surprised that it seemed to be an 'un-book'. I saw the Dragonlance book at a wargaming convention I help steward which also has a few RPG dealers come along (though fewer in recent years, there are still some AD&D items from both versions floating around), but am time-rich and cash-poor so I chose something to buy that was going to be more immediately useful in our game (the 2e Psionics handbook, which I used as a way of dishing out extra healing).

It's been done--I know that Steve Miller, former TSR/WotC designer who worked on DL during the Fifth Age era, was able to run a successful campaign based on the PCs as comrades of Kitiara who wound up banishing both Paladine and Takhisis from Krynn. And that's just one example I know of. The setting does have a lot of inertia to kick against, though, and later developments in the novels don't make it any easier when you've got very few stable points before Weis & Hickman decide to throw another Cataclysmic Event or Shocking Revelation at you.
Actually, having read a lot of social history books about wars and their aftermath, I'd say a lot of DL could be focused around fall-out from the WotL. The first module I ever bought was just that: you have taken a bit of a break chilling at the IOTLH, and then all meet in Qualinesti to start working on the peace dividend. Interesting set of modules and actually IIRC a bit of a spoiler for the novels because Raistlin was wearing black robes in the pre-gens and ...! Given that I remember that as a spoiler, I must be slightly off as to when I read the novels. I know I read Brothers Majere during my first year in secondary school, so I must have bought the gaming books prior to or while I was reading the novels. I used Tasslehoff's poem on Flint's death for a school project where I had to set some words to music, so I must have done that during the second year rather than the first.
 

Leonaru

Taxidermic Owlbear
Validated User
Then there’s a plug for other books. Naturally these include the Monstrous Compendium appendix relating to DL and an atlas. I’m sure at some point Leonaru will get round to reading the appendix if he hasn’t already done so, and I don’t have a copy of the atlas and don’t have the cash to try and find it on eBay at the moment.
I'm unsure about the Dragonlance MCA. One the one hand, Dragonlance is awful on so many levels, on the other hand, doing that Let's Read would give me a reason to post endless posts of snark. Also, like the Forgotten Realms and Greyhawk MCAs, the Dragonlance one seems to be 80% fantasy kitchen sink with few really setting-specific monsters.
 

Crowqueen

Corvus Sapiens
RPGnet Member
Validated User
I'm unsure about the Dragonlance MCA. One the one hand, Dragonlance is awful on so many levels, on the other hand, doing that Let's Read would give me a reason to post endless posts of snark. Also, like the Forgotten Realms and Greyhawk MCAs, the Dragonlance one seems to be 80% fantasy kitchen sink with few really setting-specific monsters.
Snark is good - I prefer it to being all sweetness and light about something (c.f. Dorchadas' Complete Book of Elves thread). Though the 'kitchen sink' element is understandable as a reason that you'd prefer to focus on something more interesting.
 
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