Dragonlance The importance of Dragonlance

Micah Sweet

Legend
I agree.

While I appreciate some things about Dragonlance (I think the Heroes of the Lance boxed set was one of TSR's best) its publishing was basically the impetus from changing from location based adventures to heavily railroaded ones. The Dragonlance modules themselves are so inflexible that basically, if you aren't playing the characters from the books and following the steps exactly you're playing it wrong.

Talking about the original three novels though, is a bit different. I think they were greatly aided by being there early on. Much like the Shannara books, which were heavily popular around then. Similar to many of the Shannara books those original Dragonlance books don't really hold up much to contemporary scrutiny. I let somebody borrow the original three books a couple years ago and they couldn't get through even the first one because they thought it was "too cheesy, schmaltzy and cringey". And yeah, with a fresh set of 2022 eyes, I can see why that might be.

To me, Dragonlance is in a weird place where the "importance" of it is so intrinsically tied to the saga of the original Heroes of the Lance that moving away from that, limits its appeal. I mean, removing the narrative -as a game setting- what does Krynn offer over say, Greyhawk, FR, Mystara etc? I would argue all of those and more are better pure settings.

Please like what you like, I'm not telling you you're wrong. I'm just saying, that in my opinion, this was much more of a right time right place sort of deal rather than a genius work on every level.

Except that, if you like Kender, you are objectively wrong and just like the worst person.
This thread should perhaps have had a "+" attached.
 

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cbwjm

Legend
I think something that people focus on when it comes to dragonlance adventures was the so-called rail road nature of the modules, ignoring the campaign setting itself. The 2e box set was essentially set up as a very large hex crawl if that's how you wanted to run it, I didn't even really encounter the modules until much later and I'm not sure they're as bad as people think. Every adventure, particularly one which is a published adventure typically has buy in from the players that you have a goal and that they'll try to compete that goal rather than wandering off in the complete opposite direction.
 

This thread should perhaps have had a "+" attached.
This is the issue though, isn't it? I don't think anyone would dispute that Dragonlance was a huge influence, but whether that influence was positive or negative (or a bit of both) is open to debate.

For example, the lesson that having a huge multimedia franchise is better than producing a quality product is a lesson that has been learned only too well in 2022!
 

I think something that people focus on when it comes to dragonlance adventures was the so-called rail road nature of the modules, ignoring the campaign setting itself.
I'm pretty sure the OP was talking about the original, not the 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th edition rewrites.
 
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Michael Moorcock is one of the all-time great fantasy writers and also had a big influence on D&D (and fantasy in general), and is perhaps even more overlooked than Dragonlance is, now.
This. I'm much sadder that younger players haven't read Moorcock than than they haven't read W&H. REH too, who has acquired an unfair reputation for sexism due to people judging the books by the covers.

And I've an idea the D&D Conan module was the first to depict a black player character.
 
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This. I'm much sadder that younger players haven't read Moorcock than than they haven't read W&H. REH too, who has acquired an unfair reputation for sexism due to people judging the books by the covers.

And I've an idea the D&D Conan module was the first to depict a black player character.
I mean, I think it's fair to say REH's Conan work is sexist, but it's not the exclusionary kind of sexism, and by the standards of a pulp fiction of the time, it's certainly significantly less sexist. So I wouldn't say the reputation was unfair, just that people might want to be aware of the context.
 

I mean, I think it's fair to say REH's Conan work is sexist, but it's not the exclusionary kind of sexism, and by the standards of a pulp fiction of the time, it's certainly significantly less sexist. So I wouldn't say the reputation was unfair, just that people might want to be aware of the context.
Well, put it like this, it's decidedly less sexist than Tolkien or C.S. Lewis, who largely escape censure on the issue.
 
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Well, put it like this, it's decidedly less sexist than Tolkien or C.S. Lewis, who largely escape censure on the issue.
Do they though?

Really?

Even non-fantasy readers who are at least mildly thoughtful and have actually read the books tend to read C.S. Lewis the riot act re: his pretty wild outright misogyny. The problem is the thoughtless people who are just generationally passing Narnia stuff down, and haven't re-read it and gone "Holy hell, this gets mega-sexist!" (the fact that it doesn't floor it into full-on "women are bad, especially women who are sexual beings" misogyny until like, the last book that most people read probably influences this - The Magicians sure as hell remembered that though), and they also tend to ignore the blatant and violent Islamophobia (which IIRC, doesn't really kick off properly until book 3).

And like, I dunno anyone who doesn't think Tolkien is at least a bit sexist. Not anyone who is professional contrarian who lives on the internet anyway. When the films came out there was a ton of discussion of it and of how the films made an effort to give the female characters a larger role, and even with that effort, it was still a fairly small one. I strongly suspect film-Galadriel alone gets Tolkien cut more slack than he should be by people who never read the books.

But yes, next to those guys? REH looks amazing. So it is unfair if someone thinks those two are fine or whatever.
 

It would be interesting to see if any of the TSR or WotC survey data spoke to the fraction of D&D players were DL afficianados (and of those, which read the books, played the original modules, played in the original campaign setting, or got in during a later edition). I knew plenty of kids (because this was BITD when that's who I knew) who loved the novels, and more than a few who had the campaign setting book. I think, by the time we had the spending money to be buying modules and the like, the original DL adventures were off the shelves (at least, I never personally ran into them, so I only knew about them from others' comments on Usenet).

Looking back at it, I think it had the usual growing pains (modules were railroady, but it's entirely possible no one had said that was a no-no at the time, and they didn't repeat it with later product), and eventually maybe too many novels rushed out to keep TSR afloat, but overall I think the original line was a bright spot in the TSR lineup that would make anyone proud.

Maybe that will help you guys understand how BIG Dragonlance is/was and how it effected so much.
..., I hope this might help some of you wonder why some of us are so protective of it.

Why are you assuming people, especially people on these boards, don't understand the importance of dragonlance?

There are a whole lot of new players that came to the game with 5th Ed. And this is the 5th Ed forum, as opposed to the “old editions” forum.
Old school forums, in general, tend to lean heavily to people who started online before the turn of the century. I'm sure there are people on this forum who might not know this, but they possibly wouldn't click on the thread.


This thread should perhaps have had a "+" attached.

It was the Kender thing, wasn't it?
I think the problems are easy to encapsulate, while what exactly makes the setting/novels/adventures good are harder to do so. 'Well, they were just a real cut above a lot of the stuff that was coming out at the same time' doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement, even though it really is. Probably like explaining why the Clash of the Titans or the Schwarzenegger Conan was such a cut above a bunch of the B-grade fantasy we were used to at the time -- it was just, generically good (except for personal pet peeve _____).
 

I think, by the time we had the spending money to be buying modules and the like, the original DL adventures were off the shelves
Certainly at what point you came in has a big influence on your impressions. I came in one the ground floor so to speak, and thought DL1 was excellent (although I never got around to running it). It wasn't really until the second module that the problems started to become apparent. This is where the "this character can't die" rule came in, but it also felt like dull filler that was too focused on developing the villains. Then it became apparent that the dungeon modules wouldn't tell the whole story, and it would be necessary to read the novels. Which for me was a somewhat painful experience, having already read much better fantasy. And I was mature enough to be offended by the gully dwarves and Fizban. But I enjoyed the Dragonlance Adventures sourcebook, which is remarkably similar to the setting books WotC are putting out today.
Looking back at it, I think it had the usual growing pains (modules were railroady, but it's entirely possible no one had said that was a no-no at the time, and they didn't repeat it with later product
To an extent. But even after it was called out as an issue railroady adventure paths continued to be published, right up to early 5e. I think it's probably unfair to point to Dragonlance as the cause though, it may well have been something that would have happened anyway, especially as it became apparent that larger books where more cost-effective than magazine-sized modules.
 
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