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

YojimboC

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I never really got into Dragonlance, despite reading most of the books, having the hardcover, the Monstrous Compendium annex, and the "other continent" box set (Taladas? maybe?). I'm not sure if it was the kender, the lack of orcs, the weird wizard alignment orders, or what, but something about the setting never really clicked with me. Still, I'm interested in seeing how it ticks, and what other people really like about it.
 

ferratus

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I didn't know that. Is that something I missed in Heroes of Defiance, or a development added by the SP/MWP material? It doesn't seem to fit the highly conservative Ergothian society of HoD . . .
Well, Dragonlance never really had strong editorial control, so a lot of contradictory and half-thought out stuff was released, leading to later novel authors, fans and the 3e game designers (many of whom were ascended fans) to clean everything up.

The Ergothians had been black from the start, but the problem was where these black people came from. Why only in Ergoth and Nordmaar, with hundreds of miles between them, and Solamnia in the middle? Why aren't they depicted as black in the Elven Nations novels and the Defenders of Magic novels?

Well, that's solved quite nicely if Ergoth is conquered by black sea princes after the cataclysm. As for the conservatism, I'll show you how being a dragonlance fan works. The black sea princes legitimized their rule by taking over the offices of the former Ergothian Empire and cast themselves as the defenders of Ergothian power and continuity. Sort of like "roman law enforced by gothic steel" propoganda in late antiquity.

There, that's that lump massaged out. :D
 

ferratus

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Would the 'unknown continent' be Taladas?
I do not believe so, because there are no black populations described on Taladas. There is a minotaur version of the Roman Empire that doesn't even bother filing the serial numbers off, some Khazars, some generic <animal name> nomads, some Silvanesti expats, and a kingdom of necromancer priests who worship some amalgam of Chemosh and Hiddukel. The most interesting and original part of Taladas is the jungles with the barbarian illithids.

But no black humans, or any people besides the minotaurs who can sail across the ocean. So wherever the black sea people came from, that story has yet to be told.
 

ferratus

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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?


Sure, they are called adventure paths. Paizo still releases them, and people seem to like them. Dragonlance is just an adventure path that turned into a campaign setting and novel line. Some hate the plot on rails nature of adventure paths, but some people like to sit back and let the train take them on a scenic journey. It is all a matter of preference.

Now, Dragonlance can do a sandbox game quite well. It is a "points of light" setting where various regions are isolated from each other with monsters in between, trade has largely ground to a halt, and the cataclysm ensured that there are major ruins every 20 miles or so. But then have to resist the urge to have a big sprawling world war epic, which is difficult to do in Dragonlance. It has "Paladins and Princesses" style epic romantic fantasy at its core after all.

There is also the fact that since Dragonlance is based a lot on destiny, and there were some time travel arcs, alternate realities started showing up. There was even a 3e sourcebook that came out which had mini-campaigns that described alternate timelines. The Kingpriest Ascendant (where the Cataclysm never happened because the Kingpriest became the Godpriest), a timeline where mages took over after the cataclysm, etc. etc.
 

ferratus

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So long as one avoids the Weis & Hickman novels, which are far too cynical, jaded and antisocial for P&P. :)
I don't think so. In the Weis & Hickman novels there is always hope. The worst offenders for being cynical and jaded are the 5th Age materials, where life sucks, and your heroes have no chance to change anything. The 5th Age is very "Dark Sun" in tone. Then you get some later novels post-WoS that are filled with morally grey "heroes" and narratives where is no final victory for good and no happy ending.
 

Crowqueen

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Sure, they are called adventure paths. Paizo still releases them, and people seem to like them. Dragonlance is just an adventure path that turned into a campaign setting and novel line. Some hate the plot on rails nature of adventure paths, but some people like to sit back and let the train take them on a scenic journey. It is all a matter of preference.
Very true: I'm playing in two generic PF games at the moment, one a wilderness campaign and one a traditional dungeon crawl (the second one is Rise of the Runelords but I can't remember the name of the first one off the top of my head). Any published module is going to be somewhat railroaded in intent. However, there is one comment I have about the difference between PF adventure paths and DL. Although the broader adventure path system works within the whole PF world, which is Forgotten-Realms like in its diversity, whilst Dragonlance appears to me to be only about the War of the Lance and its aftermath; Ansalon is consumed by the war and no part of it is able to just shrug its shoulders and carry on, whilst the PF or FR world is big enough that, say, a war in Varisia or Cormyr would not necessarily affect characters adventuring elsewhere (I don't know the PF equivalent, but, say, Icewind Dale or the Moonshae Isles have a separate story to the invasion of Cormyr by the Tuigan Horde, for which, incidentally, I have the box set and want to try out at some point). However, if you mean that the WOTL modules are only one adventure path and the world can still have other stories going on simultaneously, then I think it would broaden out for me. Again, I think it's reliant on the skill and writing capabilities of the DM.

Now, Dragonlance can do a sandbox game quite well. It is a "points of light" setting where various regions are isolated from each other with monsters in between, trade has largely ground to a halt, and the cataclysm ensured that there are major ruins every 20 miles or so. But then have to resist the urge to have a big sprawling world war epic, which is difficult to do in Dragonlance. It has "Paladins and Princesses" style epic romantic fantasy at its core after all.
This is probably the problem I have when comparing FR, PF and DL. The first two have multiple different stories going on at once. DL resembles a game set in 1940s Europe, Asia or North America - where the big story, probably the only story, is World War 2 and your party can't really avoid having to deal with the war because it just permeates the game so much. For example, the hero of the Cloakmaster cycle of Spelljammer books, Teldin Moore, is originally a farmer whose house is destroyed by a crashing spelljamming ship; his story is permeated by the WOTL and his experiences in it as a footsoldier rather than one of the heroes, but it's a bit like someone being thrust into space in 1946.

There is also the fact that since Dragonlance is based a lot on destiny, and there were some time travel arcs, alternate realities started showing up. There was even a 3e sourcebook that came out which had mini-campaigns that described alternate timelines. The Kingpriest Ascendant (where the Cataclysm never happened because the Kingpriest became the Godpriest), a timeline where mages took over after the cataclysm, etc. etc.
Excellent - which is just what is needed in the setting IMO. Having not read this for many years, I'm purposefully not reading too much ahead (I have at least one more entry ready to cut and paste, but that's it), so I get the full reaction to the material rather than having it already well-trodden in my mind. So this is just my impression at this point in the read-through. Actually - the thread is providing some interesting reactions.
 

Crowqueen

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So long as one avoids the Weis & Hickman novels, which are far too cynical, jaded and antisocial for P&P. :)
Weis and Hickman also wrote the excellent, and pretty cynical Darksword Trilogy and Death Gate Cycle, both of which are about a million miles even from Dragonlance in tone. The Sartan-Patryn war is basically one of genocidal intentions; not only that but geocide was committed, but

Spoiler: Show
Fizban the wizard, and by implication Paladine-Bahamut-God makes an appearance too.


Violent stuff with most of the characters being swine, but a superb read and I pray hard that they will release the whole series on Kindle soon.

As for the post-WotL/Twins stuff, as I said, I couldn't read half of DOSF. The casual way in which the characters were snuffed out one-by-one was depressing; I had to flick ahead even to see whether anyone remained alive, but I still couldn't finish it.

I think Teldin Moore was smart enough to get out while he still could...!
 
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