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Dragonlance and Manual of the planes sales, from Ben Riggs

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Helena Real

Yeah, even as a huge Dragonlance fan, the poor sales of Fifth Age don't surprise me. Both the departure from AD&D as the main rules set for the setting, combined with the poorly executed "reboot" to it, I think it didn't create a product that was attractive to many OG Dragonlance fans. What may be even worse, the new Dragonlance was unrecognizable: one "boring" moon that doesn't grant magic, no gods—again!—and all this talk about a "Second Cataclysm" may just be too much.

In retrospect, SAGA may have been quite the decent RPG system for a heroic high fantasy setting as Dragonlance, but in the setting's OG form—with knights, wizards, and clerics—not in the dilapidated state we find it in the early Fifth Age.

Plus, "Dragon Overlords"—and the following Dragon Purge—may have been the most 90s and stupidest idea I've ever heard of in a fantasy context.


Wow. I didn't expect the 2E DL box to be that much weaker than the 1E book.
It doesn't surprise me that it's weaker - or even that it's significantly weaker - but that level of drop-off is somewhat disturbing. Going from almost 140K sold for the hardcover debut to under 30K for the boxed set debut is a crushing drop-off.

But I'm not surprised that it was significantly weaker - in '87 Dragonlance was relatively fresh - Weis and Hickman had just finished the second trilogy and TSR had not yet started their Dragonlance Novel Saturation Initiative. I think (and Wikipedia backs me up on my memories this time) when the hardcover came out it was basically just the original two trilogies of books, the Tales anthologies, and the Leaves of the Inn of the Last Home along with the original modules. Fans had not yet been treated to years of novels that were cranked out as what today we would call "content" to fill a publishing schedule. Some of those novels were good, some were not, but lots of us had to have stepped off the Dragonlance train by 1992. I know I had by that point.

I'd honestly love to see the graph of the individual novel sales over time - I'll bet the numbers there, while probably higher in quantity, track with the shape of the graph here.
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