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OSSR: Dragonlance Campaign Setting
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Wiseman
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 9:35 pm    Post subject: OSSR: Dragonlance Campaign Setting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

OSSR: Dragonlance Campaign Setting

Dragonlance was what got me into playing Dungeons and Dragons. I got into the TTRPG hobby when a friend (known as Darkmaster here) invited me to a game night of Mutants and Masterminds run by an acquaintance. We had so much fun that we picked up the hobby. Afterwards, we attempted to learn how to play D&D on our own. I wasn't too enthusiastic until he loaned me a copy of the Dragonlance chronicles. I enjoyed the book series and it got me more excited for playing D&D.

So, since I'm already working on a sort of Reboot/Fix to the Dragonlance setting, I figure it might be in good interest to go over the books for D&D 3.X in detail. I'll be starting with the main book, and then probably branch out into the splatbooks.


So, looking at the cover, it's certainly eye catching, but otherwise, there's really not much to say about it. A woman riding a dragon holding a lance. On the back cover, there's a blue dragon being riden by someone I presume is Kitiara uth Matar. It's the setting in a nutshell, and is decent.

The book opens with a foreward by Tracy Hickman (despite the fact that he's not credited on the cover as an author...). It starts kinda unrelated to the book as it talks about how he got involved with TSR, before talking about dragonlance, and how it was a TTRPG before it was any series of novels, which is a good enough sell, i suppose. There's not much else worth talking about here, so we'll go into the first chapters.

Introduction:

This part starts with a poem called the Canticle of the Dragon that covers the abridged history of the world of Krynn. Then it starts with a sort of line, that reminds me of "but come, the elves are waiting".

Regardless, it talks more about the 5 ages of Krynn. First, the Age of Starbirth, when the gods created the world. Then the Age of Dreams, which is when most of recorded history begins, even it most of it is shrouded in myth. That age ends with the Third Dragon War (the one with Huma and the dragonlances) and begins the Age of Might, which is the rise and destruction of Istar. Which goes into the Age of Despair which is when most of the main books take place (the chronicles, legends, dragons of summer flame). And then finally the Age of Mortals, when the War of Souls and the Dark Disciple trilogy happen.

Next is the world of Krynn. It says that there are 5 continents in the world, though only two of them have actually been fleshed out: Ansalon, where all of the main story takes place, and Taladas, which is fleshed out in other books. The other 3 are not mentioned (though one of them is Adlatum).

The final part of this introduction is the core themes and features of Dragonlance. One is epic fantasy, a dramatic battle of good against evil, and it's one of the core things dragonlance bills itself as. Adventuring for riches and bitches isn't really encouraged in the setting, players are more expected to go on epic journeys to save the world. The actions of the player characters should have massive impacts on the setting, which is certainly appealing. The next is of course the conflict between good and evil. The final one is the influence of the past of the world.

I'm generally on the fence about this stuff. I know Krynn's past well enough to not have it become "you will never be this awesome" but it is a risk in any game.

As an addendum, I'll add here, that Dragonlance is a very detailed setting. There's over 200 books written for the setting, meaning theirs plenty of material to draw from for cultures, regions, and so forth. If you like the books, and like roleplaying this is a good thing. However, the benefit is also a problem, in that there's so much work put into the setting that it's hard to add your own stuff without it feeling overly fanficcy. I personally don't care, but it might be an issue for some people.


Since this section is running short. I'll include...

Chapter 1: Races

We'll be going in order on this section so Humans first.

Humans
Humans were created by the Gods of Balance. Humans are divided into two categories, Civilized humans who live in cities and Nomads who don't. They get separate race blocks despite the fact that there's no appreciable difference between them. (Seriously, the only difference is languages, which you don't care much about. There's no reason for these to be seperate entries).

Dwarves

These are your typical fantasy dwarves. The are different variations on dwarves, though with a few exceptions, they're mostly minor.
Mountain Dwarves: Include the Clans of Hylar, the oldest clan, Daewar, and Klar, who the sourcebook says were Hill Dwarves caught inside Thorbardin when it was sealed off, and weren't alowed to leave. They're considered to be crazy, but the reputation is undeserved.
Mountain Dwarves apparently have a language called Hammertalk.
Hill Dwarves: Flint Fireforge of the companions is one of these. They are also called the Neiwar clan. There's no real difference statistically between Hill and Mountain dwarves save languages, again. I get that in universe Hill and Mountain dwarves hate each other, but I don't see why that justifies different race entries.

Dark Dwarves: These dwarves are exiled from the rest of the clans, because they have an interest in magic. They live deeper beneath the ground, and actually have different racial traits for once!


Dark Dwarves have normal dorf traits save for: +2 Con, -4 Cha 120ft. darkvision, and +2 to hide, move silently and listen, and suffer -2 attacks, saves, and checks in bright light.

Gully Dwarves: Ugh, why to these things exist? They add nothing, and are just offensive in every aspect, being basically retarded dwarves. As written in the books they're covered in sores and blisters because they're too stupid to figure out basic hygene. The implications get worse when their backstory is that they're they're gnome/dwarf hybrids, which just adds another uncomfortable layer on top of this. I have a few proposed fixes for gully dwarves, in my dragonlange reboot project, thankfully.

Anyways, they have +2 Dex, +2 Con, -4 int, -4 cha, are small size, have a +2 bonus to hide, move silently, and survival, and can use survival in cities to find food as well. They have +2 to saves against poison and disease, and have a +4 bonus to diplomacy to convince someone not to harm them. They suffer a -4 penalty to fear checks however. They're favored class is Rogue. Yeck, moving on!

Elves

Scoob, let's just chill out...

Elves are divided into different categories, and they all have different racial traits, and length entries, because of course they do. Regardless, the elves were originally created by the Gods of Light, though they've strayed from that purpose often enough, and thankfully, the books do acknowledge the arrogance and xenophobia of the elves.

Kagonesti: Basically, Krynns wild/wood elves. These elves prefer to live in the wilderness, in forests or plains. Though they do have the unfortunate tendancy to end up enslaved by othe other elves in an attempt to "teach" them how to live properly (the books emphasis, not mine), thus making them perhaps the only elves to have justified xenophobia. They live in Southern Ergoth, and are basically fine on their own, but the other elves keep trying to "civilize" them.
Kagonesti have normal elven traits except for +2 Dex, -2 int, -2 cha, Darkvision 30ft. (all Krynn elves have darkvision), proficiency with the longspear, all bows, and the short sword and +1 to Knowledge (nature) and survival.

Qualinesti: Basically, the high elves. They're the elves that most interact with the rest of the world, and most of the main elf characters in chronicles are from this group (laurana, tanis, gilthas, porthios, ect.). They were a split off from the Silvanesti, over idealogical differences (I have the Kinslayer Wars trilogy which covers this. I might go back and read it thoroughly one day). Their home gets attacked by a dragon overlord during the War of Souls. Though they take down the dragon, it destroys the elven capital, and with the elves already in disarray, it's not long before bandits, goblins, and monsters take over. The capital has collapsed into a sinkhole and become the Lake of Death. Now the Qualanesti are refugees.
Racial traits are the PHB elves plus the Elvensight and a +1 bonus to diplomacy and sense motive.

Silvanesti: Gray elves. The original elven civilization. Notables include Lorac (fucks over his people by attempting to channel a dragon orb and losing control, transforming the elven lands into a nightmare realm), Silvanoshei (fucks over his people by destroying a tree that created a barrier to protect their people [even though that barrier was draining the lives of the elves and their land, and was the result of the previous leader fucking over his people] and then falls in love with Mina, allowing him to get manipulated. When she leaves, he runs off after her, leaving his people without a leader), Alhanna Starbreeze (fucks over her people by moving troops to the wrong location, allowing minotaurs to invade and take over, turning the Silvanesti also into refugees) and Dalamar (doesn't fuck over his people despite being the only person on this list with an evil alignment). The silvanesti are basically super elves. Super beautiful, super magical, super arrogant, super xenophobic, super douchy! They do get brought down a few pegs though as the examples above demonstrate. They have a strict caste system, where your position in life is determined by what house you were born into (house ruler, house protector, house mystic, house gardener, house servant ect.) attempting to break out of this system will get you declared a dark elf and kicked out at the very least.
Racial traits are like normal elves but +2 dex, +2 int, -2 con, -2 cha. Elvensight and +1 to Knowledge Arcana and spellcraft.

Half-Elves: Unlike the PHB/Greyhawk half elves, which seems to imply that they're accepted by both races. Krynn half-elves are disliked by both. Otherwise, nothing really special. The only thing different from normal half-elves is Elvensight.

Sea-Elves:

Sea Elves are divided into two tribes the Dimernesti (shoal elves) and the Dargonesti (deep elves) who live where their names suggest. They all have blue skin, and webbed hands and feet for better swimming. The Dargonesti are isolationist and hold others (elves and non-elves) in disdain. The Dimernesti interact with others more, but after suffering during the cataclysm where they lost most of their cities, they've become less so.
Dargonesti have: +2 Str, +2 Dex, -2 cha, Swim 30ft. 60ft. darkvision. They have Blur, Dancing Lights, Obscuring Mist and Darkness 1/day each, and 3/day they can turn into a dolphin. They also suffer a -2 penalty to attacks, checks and saves if they spend more than 24 hours out of water. Their favored class is fighter. They have a +1 level adjustment, though it seems unwarranted.
Dimernesti have: +2 Dex, +2 Int, -2 Wis, -2 Cha. They can turn into a giant sea otter 3/day and suffer a -1 penalty to attacks, checks and saves if they spend more than 24 hours out of water.

Gnomes:

Gnomes of Dragonlance are the next of the "comic relief" races. They're not like standard hill gnomes, and are instead Steampunk gnomes. They're the most techonologically advanced people on Krynn, though unfortunately, this comes at the cost of some of their inventions going horribly awry and exploding. The gnomes obsession with innovation is part of their culture. Each gnome has a life quest that they must undertake. These aren't easy to accomplish, and are often passed down from generation to generation until it finally becomes completed.

Character wise, their basically protrayed as nerds, talkingreallyfastandusingalotofcomplexterminlogyandoverelaborationandliteralmindedness. The Gnomes mainly live on Mount Nevermind on Sancrist Isle, which is fairly out of the way from the rest of Ansalon.
Stat wise they have: +2 Dex, +2 Int, -2 Strength, -2 Wisdom, +2 to Craft Alchemy and any one other craft, knowledge, or profession skill, based on their lifequest. They also gain a +2 bonus to will saves. Their favored class is whatever their 1st level class is.

Well that wasn't so bad, compared to Gully Dwarves, whats next...


Ah, shit.


Kender:
You know what, fuck it, everything that needs to be said about Kender has already been said, by me and others. I have fixes and explanations proposed in my dragonlance reboot thing, so I'll talk about them there.
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Racial traits are: +2 Dex, -2 Str, -2 Wis, immunity to Fear, +1 to all saves, +2 spot, open lock and sleight of hand, -4 concentration, ability to taunt with bluff to demoralize with a +4 bonus.


What is worth talking about a bit is Afflicted Kender. Basically a giant red dragon comes and kills the fuck out of Kendermore, turning the area around it into the desolation. The surviving Kender are changed, becoming more like ordinary humans halflings. They don't steal, can't taunt people and generally prefer to avoid danger rather than charge in out of curiosity. Differences with main kender are no immunity to fear, no bonus to taunt, and the skills are instead +2 climb, hide, move silently, and jump. No penalty to concentration.

Centaurs:

Apparently, these guys are a major race, despite not really being involved in any of the major books. Not really that interested in talking about them, and you probably aren't interested in reading me talk about them. MOVING ON!

Draconians:

Fuck. Yes.

Draconians are the best fucking thing in dragonlance, and one of the coolest things to come out of D&D period. They're everything you want out of dragonmen, and I fell in love with them upon first reading about them. They were created before and during the War of the Lance via a dark ritual using the eggs of metallic dragons, to basically be super soldiers for the war. They have a badass appearance, most have magical powers, and they all have death throes. Originally, the Draconians were all male, so as to keep the race subservient and unable to reproduce. However, after the war, it was discovered the ritual was performed on female eggs, they just weren't allowed to hatch. The females were freed and with their ability to reproduce secured, they founded the first Draconian nation, Teyr.

There are 5 normal breeds of Draconians (called Base or Metallic Draconians) and 5 other breeds (called Noble or Chromatic, though we'll talk about those guys much later).

Baaz: The basic kind made from the eggs of Brass Dragons. They are the most numerous of the draconians, used as footsoldiers in the dragon army. In a rare bit of realism, the Baaz's wings are too small to fly, though they can glide. They turn to stone upon death, trapping any slashing or piercing weapon that kills them within.
Statwise they have: +2 Str, -2 int, -2 wis, have the Dragon type and 2 dragon hit dice. They have claw and bite attacks, +2 natural armor, SR8+level and immunity to disease. They have run as a bonus feat, and can glide. When fighting under the command of a true dragon, they gain +1 to attacks and saves. They also need only 1/10th the amount of food a normal human does.
In my opinion if you were going to make one a character, you could eliminate the racial HD.

Kapak: Made from the eggs of Copper Dragons. They are stealthy and have special saliva. The males is poisonous, while the females has healing properties. In the dragonarmies they were used as scouts, spies, and assassins. They turn into pools of acid upon their deaths.
Statwise: +2 Dex, +2 Con, -2 Int, -2 Wis, Dragon type, 4 dragon HD. Have glide, death throes, poison/healing saliva, natural weapons, immunity to disease, run, 1/10th food requirement, inspired by dragons, Sneak attack, and SR11+level.
If i were eliminating the racial HD, I'd drop the sneak attack and lower the SR to 10+level.

The other 3 (Bozak, Sivak and Aurak) aren't listed here.

Ogre Races
On Kyrnn, Ogre constitutes a wide variety of creatures, listed here are the Irda, Ogres, and Minotaurs, though this group also includes giants.

Irda:

The original form of the ogres before their corrpution led to their downfall. These were the people created by the Gods of Darkness and are basically super-super-elves so much that even the super-elves would envy them. In the current era, there aren't that many of them. The Irda avoided the downfall of the rest of the ogres by secluding themselves from the rest of the world. They lived in isolation on distant islands, until they accidentally freed Chaos, which destroyed even more of them. Now there are just a handful left.
Most people in the rest of the world don't even know the Irda exist. If they have to go to the mainland, they always do it in disguise.
Stats are: +2 Int +2 Cha -2 Con. Have the [Shapechanger] subtype, low-light vision, and 3/day can Change Shape into a Humaoid creature. They have Dancing Lights, Detect Magic, Flare, Ghost Sound, Light and Mage Hand all 1/day. Favored Class is wizard.

Ogres
These are the fallen forms of the Irda, and are one of the 3 core races (the other being humans and elves). They live in the mountins in the ruins of what used to be Irda cities, as they've lost the knowledge of how to rebuild much of what was there. They're basically SRD ogres otherwise.

Minotaurs:
Krynn Minotaurs are different from their land based counterparts. They don't have racial hit die and are medium sized. They are a seafaring people, and rule and empire consisting of islands on the other side of the Blood Sea. They have a warrior culture, and venerate Sargonnas as their chief deity.
Stats are: +4 Str, -2 dex, -2 int, -2 cha, +2 natural armor, gore attack, bonus to intimidate, swim and use rope. They have the ability to gain scent as a feat.

And that's the races: Next up, classes!
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Blicero
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 10:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Does this book support trying to play in the different eras of the setting? Or is all the fluff post-War of Souls?

If you haven't seen them, this dude did some decent analyses of the first two Dragonlance modules from back in the day:
https://dungeonofsigns.blogspot.com/2014/04/dl-1-dragons-of-despair-review.html
https://dungeonofsigns.blogspot.com/2014/05/dl-2-dragons-of-flame-review.html
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Ancient History
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 11:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The Dragonlance Campaign Setting for d20 was, it should be emphasized, a third party bodge like Ravenloft under White Wolf; Wizards of the Coast couldn't be fucked to develop the material themselves beyond a couple articles in Dragon Magazine, and were happy to farm the license out so somebody else could produce content for their game and pay them for the privilege.

The degree to which Dragonlance is a shit campaign setting don't quite come through here: this was your genuine, original Tolkien rip-off, only cheesier and more boring (the god of Good is Paladine. Paladins. Paladine. Let that sink in.) The original campaign setting had the gods really involved in arcane magic and not so much clerical magic, and while it had a lot of the regular D&D material, it insisted on changing...well, everything it fucking felt like. Which means that from a design point of view, the guys doing this thing had to figure out what to toss and what to just fucking ignore. Because there was no way in Tiamat's polychromatic asshole that they were going to be able to make the bullshit mechanics of color-coded wizards and shit work as written...and they didn't even try. But Wiseman will get to that in due course...

Part of the downside of the DCS was that just enough stuff was different that it didn't really have much useful material to steal for more general D&D d20 games, and stuff from regular D&D products didn't fit in very well with the Dragonlance setting because unlike Greyhawk or the Forgotten Realms it...just really wasn't set up for adventuring. That sounds weird, but there you have it. There was actually a plot point where dragons from other settings come to Krynn and it's a big deal because they're so much more powerful and badass than Krynn's dragons. Also, Draconians are about PC dragon race number 3 or 4 by the time the DCS comes out, I forget. They're less special than you think. Which is Dragonlance in a nutshell, really.
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nockermensch
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 1:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Lets assume for a moment that draconians are indeed sweet-ass hardcore monsters:


sweetass_hardcore_monster.jpg

Even assuming that, I never understood why more people didn't simply yoink the draconians for their own campaign worlds and then set the rest of DL on fire. What else you get from Dragonlance that's not bland, cringy or plain terrible?
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Wiseman
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 1:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Having personally enjoyed the setting and the books, I could say I'm biased, but yes, I also have my fair share of problems with them (it does feel like "generic fantasy" at some points).

Quote:
Does this book support trying to play in the different eras of the setting? Or is all the fluff post-War of Souls?


The only two eras that have ever really mattered for play were the Age of Despair (post cataclysm, through war of the lance to pre-chaos war) and the Age of Mortals (everything after).

The other 3 eras (Starbirth, Dreams, Might) are just backstory eras. Later sourcebooks like Legends of the Twins do offer some options for the Age of Might, though admittedly the more interesting stuff in that book is about playing in alternate timelines.
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deaddmwalking
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 1:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I'm not a fan of Dragonlance, but I know a lot of people who are. I still have to finish my OSSR of Taverns, Fairs and Tournaments, but the point I want to make here is relevant to that. In the last chapter the present a bunch of locations where things 'get real'. The whole rest of the book up to that point was explaining mechanics and rules that make the location work. That's what RPG books typically do - here's how you make a character. Now go adventure.

People who were introduced to Dragonlance saw what play COULD BE LIKE. There was an adventure aspect that really wasn't supported by reading a PHB or DMG. As far as core books go, the MM is the one that most excites the mind. And a HUGE part of that is a few lines about how the monster fits into the larger world. It excites the imagination which is a crucial first step for playing a game.

I think that a lot of games make a mistake starting with rules and mechanics without SHOWING why you'd want to play. Dragonlance did that. Having an adventuring party (like in D&D) having adventures (like in D&D) made the idea of the game REAL in a way that a campaign setting probably wouldn't. Of course, once you saw how it could unfold, then you wanted the mechanics - you were already sold on making it come to life. Dragonlance was one of the first RPG products that I think 'sold the sizzle'.
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Ancient History
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 2:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

What crack are you smoking? Dragonlance wasn't the first D&D setting. It was the first major D&D railroad after the Drow-Giants campaign, where you played pre-generated characters through a narrative campaign which was pretty fucking terrible. There's a reason why Forgotten Realms, released three years after the first DL modules, were so much better received - they didn't try to ape Tolkien quite as hard, and they were a lot more fucking friendly to actual adventuring as your own characters in the setting. FFS, half the goddamn races hate all the other races!
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Blicero
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 2:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Wiseman wrote:

The only two eras that have ever really mattered for play were the Age of Despair (post cataclysm, through war of the lance to pre-chaos war) and the Age of Mortals (everything after).


But there is meaningful granularity within the Age of Despair, right? On an immediate level, you have whether or not clerics are a thing at any given moment in time. Not having easy access to cure light wounds really affects how adventures play out (ignoring for the moment wands of lesser vigor).

Ancient History wrote:
There's a reason why Forgotten Realms, released three years after the first DL modules, were so much better received - they didn't try to ape Tolkien quite as hard...


Is the point about Dragonlance being a bigger ripoff of Tolkien than Forgotten Realms really true? I'm not denying the lack of originality in both settings. But that seems kind of a contentious point.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 3:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Forgotten Realms apes the "misunderstanding Tolkien" school of design for its elves and dwarves and orcs, but it doesn't use its races as primary political divisions the way Tolkien and Dragonlance have almost exclusively nations consisting purely of just one race. Elves and dwarves have mono-racial nations, but when humans try to get in on it that's a specific policy that makes Hillsfar evil. Cormyr and Waterdeep and such all have significant minority populations of non-humans in a way that Solamnia does not. Dragonlance also ties all evil together to one ultimate, divine source, and the fight against that evil is the primary conceit of the setting, whereas Forgotten Realms just has a bunch of supervillains lying around the setting. While the two are definitely very similar in their Tolkien-copying, Dragonlance is taking Tolkien as gospel that should not be substantially changed, while Forgotten Realms is just taking it as an easy source of ideas to copy whenever they can't think of anything better, which it turns out is like 60-70% of the time.

I see no reason why gully dwarves need to be reformed at all. The setting is greatly improved by removing them altogether. Similarly, while the kender can't be totally removed as easily, you can just make them regular halflings and have all the irritating kender traits be specific to Tas and nothing really changes except that the setting is now way less aggravating.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 3:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Yeah, that was what what I was doing. I'll get the first thing of Unfucking Dragonlance up tonight or tomorrow.
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deaddmwalking
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

My point wasn't that the Dragonlance setting predated other settings, or even that it was BETTER than other settings. My point was that - my impression - people discovered the Dragonlance setting through the novels, rather than through the gaming products. I haven't read a bunch of Drizz't novels or anything, but my impression is that most D&D novels are about a particular character. The Dragonlance novels were about a PARTY.

When people read the books they could imagine having adventures LIKE THAT. If that's your inspiration, the campaign setting is a logical place to go next.

There's a bunch of things I don't like about the Dragonlance setting (especially post War of the Lance) but I never felt as small in the pants as I did playing ANYTHING in Forgotten Realms. You can't walk thirty miles in FR without tripping over the dick of an epic level character.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 4:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Chamomile wrote:
Forgotten Realms apes the "misunderstanding Tolkien" school of design for its elves and dwarves and orcs, but it doesn't use its races as primary political divisions the way Tolkien and Dragonlance have almost exclusively nations consisting purely of just one race. Elves and dwarves have mono-racial nations, but when humans try to get in on it that's a specific policy that makes Hillsfar evil. Cormyr and Waterdeep and such all have significant minority populations of non-humans in a way that Solamnia does not. Dragonlance also ties all evil together to one ultimate, divine source, and the fight against that evil is the primary conceit of the setting, whereas Forgotten Realms just has a bunch of supervillains lying around the setting. While the two are definitely very similar in their Tolkien-copying, Dragonlance is taking Tolkien as gospel that should not be substantially changed, while Forgotten Realms is just taking it as an easy source of ideas to copy whenever they can't think of anything better, which it turns out is like 60-70% of the time.


A lot of your examples for Dragonlance are less Tolkien rip-offs and more epic fantasy tropes. Admittedly, most epic fantasy skews hella close to Tolkien, but there's a meaningful difference between ripping off a particular author and being an instance of a(n often unoriginal) genre. You can compare Dragonlance to something like Sword of Shannara for a real Tolkien ripoff.

Dead wrote:
I haven't read a bunch of Drizz't novels or anything, but my impression is that most D&D novels are about a particular character.


I read an embarrassing number of FR and DL books as a kid. My guess is most of them are about a party. But they often privilege a certain party member's viewpoint, similar to how the dragonlance chronicles privilege the mopey half-elf's viewpoint.
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hyzmarca
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 5:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Chamomile wrote:
While the two are definitely very similar in their Tolkien-copying, Dragonlance is taking Tolkien as gospel that should not be substantially changed,


That's not entirely true.

They actually notices that they were copying too much from Tolkein and decided that they needed to get rid of Halflings. Which is why Kender exist in the first place.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 10:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Dragonlance = the unfortunate parts of Tolkien's worldbuilding + David Eddings' inspired party and dialogues (as opposed to Tolkien's sausage fest) + a legendarily bad sense for naming things.
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Voss
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

deaddmwalking wrote:
My point wasn't that the Dragonlance setting predated other settings, or even that it was BETTER than other settings. My point was that - my impression - people discovered the Dragonlance setting through the novels, rather than through the gaming products. I haven't read a bunch of Drizz't novels or anything, but my impression is that most D&D novels are about a particular character. The Dragonlance novels were about a PARTY.

So were the drizzit novels. (though they were oddly lacking in spellcasters). The dwarf fighter, the human barbarian, the halfling rogue and later the, well, girl archer love interest. Same with the Moonshae series and most of the other early FR novels. They partied up really heavily. The solo novels largely came later, once drizzit and elfinster were deemed to be the big sellers.

Quote:
When people read the books they could imagine having adventures LIKE THAT. If that's your inspiration, the campaign setting is a logical place to go next.

And be horribly disappointed, because there isn't anything to do, because everything is already done by the Official Party. There's fuck all for story hooks, and the game isn't even playable pre Official Story because there is no healing, and it was 1st edition. (Healing was handled in the first module by a fucking artifact staff that the plothook NPC simply starts with)


But anyway, you've got this backwards. Dragonlance was a novelization of the modules. Dragons of Despair came out march of '84. Dragons of Flame (DL2) came out in July. Hope and Desolation round out the year prior to the release of Dragons of Autumn Twilight (the first novel) in November. (Though Hope and Desolation are essentially skipped by the prologue of Dragons of Winter Night).

But the way it works is Autumn Twilight is the fanfic of the TSR playtest run through Dragons of Despair and Dragons of Flame. The stupid shit with charming the gully dwarf in the ruined city actually happened in their game.

Winter Night and Spring Dawning eventually come out before some of the relevant modules, but they're covering the same shit as essentially a sales gimmick. The campaign setting book (DL Adventures) doesn't come out to '87 and is almost a 1st/2nd edition conversion book, to the point that it has the first real appearance of Priest Spheres. (Greyhawk Adventures, which has a similar purpose and setup in '88 actually is a conversion book)

It is also terrible, even for the standards of the time, filled with all sorts of go fuck yourself ass-hattery.


Examples:
Everyone is limited to level 18, at which point they stop leveling or are kicked out of the setting. Given that this is 1st edition and classes are not even on the same XP charts, this is not reasonable

Knights of Solamnia get an extra hit die, and (for the upper orders, spellcasting), and can still use weapon specialization (unlike cavaliers and paladins in Unearthed Arcana).

Wizards of High Sorcery effectively have level limits based on alignment, with a 'there can be only one clause.' This is 18 for White, 16 for Red and 13 for Black. They also have different spells per day, and restricted school access, because reasons. But Black Robes get access to 8th and 9th level spells at level 13, also because reasons.

A similar thing happens for clerics, but with the addition that if you don't worship the chief god of each alignment, you're fucked out of higher levels. No evil cleric can be more than level 13 if they don't worship Takhisis. This seems like a problem for NPC opponents.


There is also just a lot of weird shit. The cosmology is fridge horror logic with a god war over the 'spirits' of beings (that will be humans, ogres and etc). Where the Gods of Good wanting to 'nuture' the spirits and "share with them dominion over the universe." Evil wants to enslave, and Neutrality wants a balance, which somehow means making the spirits choose between dominion and slavery (because.. that's a hard choice), so naturally they unequivocally side with the gods of Good.

Visiting krynn from another world can trap you there (1% cumulative chance per day) powerless (if clerics, druids, paladins, etc), unless you convert to the worship of a True God (who, stated by the text, don't want foreigners). If a wizard/illusionist, the orders of high sorcery (all members) explicitly want to kill you, and the Knights don't like foreigners either.

And all of this is written in a bizarre combination of in-character and a personal 'you, the reader' and it swaps randomly between them without changing the context. And has a sidebar informing you that a 'proper' DRAGONLANCEŽ game adheres to the moral principles (of Good Dominion with Neutral Sycophancy) outlined in the first two pages of actual text.

And yes, every text appearance of the DRAGONLANCEŽ name appears in all caps with the registered trademark symbol. Except for the actual dragon lances, of course.

So the original setting book is laughably terrible in a entertaining what-the-fuck retrospective fashion. The purple 3rd edition third setting book is... just boring.


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Chamomile
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 26, 2018 12:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Blicero wrote:


A lot of your examples for Dragonlance are less Tolkien rip-offs and more epic fantasy tropes. Admittedly, most epic fantasy skews hella close to Tolkien, but there's a meaningful difference between ripping off a particular author and being an instance of a(n often unoriginal) genre.


I don't really see how. Dragonlance ended up with something much closer to Tolkien as interpreted by the 1980s than the Forgotten Realms did, and the fact that they were adhering to what was by then a long and storied tradition of ripping of Tolkien doesn't make a difference to what actually ended up in the setting, nor does the fact that other settings copy Tolkien even more.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 26, 2018 12:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Voss wrote:

So were the drizzit novels. (though they were oddly lacking in spellcasters).


I suspect it was intentional and that Salvatore at least vaguely understood that casters>fighters. Many of the casters in the series are powerful but incompetent comic relief like the Harpells or drow villains who are hamstrung by their "allies" and/or Lolth's fickle favor. The very few times a competent high level caster does whip their dick out it's treated as big noise and some fighty type gets their ass handed to them. Hell, if I remember correctly there was a book where some rando wizard of no particular importance soloed Drizzt himself no problemo. The explanation was that unlike most scholarly wizarding types this particular mage was an experienced mercenary hired to catch Drizzt so rather than fucking around with evocations he just made himself immune to death by swording because it was second edition and you could just go ahead and do that.
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OgreBattle
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 26, 2018 4:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Drizzt got killed before by a lightskinned elf he didn't want to fight, she had a psion buff her before battle.

Drizzt was also suppose to be trained as a wizard but his sex god father convinced the cleric matriarch that he's better off as a fighter.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 27, 2018 2:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Chamomile wrote:
I don't really see how. Dragonlance ended up with something much closer to Tolkien as interpreted by the 1980s than the Forgotten Realms did, and the fact that they were adhering to what was by then a long and storied tradition of ripping of Tolkien doesn't make a difference to what actually ended up in the setting, nor does the fact that other settings copy Tolkien even more.

Both Dragonlance and Lord of the Rings are epic fantasies set during a war between good and evil (as opposed to cleaning randomly generated dungeons and seeing the numbers go up, which was a real thing in the 80s). That's all. The major conceptual differences are:

- "balance": while the writeups of ethics in DL are often atrocious, what it means for the game is your actions matter. You're not fighting God's former corrupt secretary's unpaid intern; within the game of Dragonlance, evil winning is a real possibility.

- power levels: in LotR, if you aren't a specific named character, you're a nobody. You need to be one of the named godlings to case spells at all, you need to be Aragorn to raise an undead army, you need an artifact to kill a giant spider in a random encounter and you need a prophecy and to be a chick to kill the local equivalent of a death knight. DL characters are everymen and -women; even though some book characters are royalty, the plot doesn't rely on it.

- railroading: it's kind of unfair to compare modules against a novel, but Dragonlance the game is far from a DM of the Rings-style railroad. The modules have random plot hook / setting / adventure background tables the MC is meant to pick from or roll on before the adventure. And, of course, the outcomes aren't necessarily victories.

- races and nations: the conflict in Middle-earth is cleanly split along racial and ethnic lines. In DL, elves and dwarves have mono-racial nations (this has deeper roots than Tolkien), but humans don't. The chromatic dragonarmies are a super-national organization and don't racially discriminate. The center of the resistance happens to be Solamnia, a land ruled by feudal aristocrats who are somewhat more useful than IRL because status corresponds to character level but just as corrupt and petty, and their motivation comes not from any higher sense of goodness and justice but from them paying ritual lip service to a rival god and being targeted by the dragonarmies as a result. DL doesn't have Designated Good, it has designated evil -- the militant cult of a demon dragon god who intends to personally rule the world -- and the corporate entities that it considers enemies up for destruction for arbitrary doctrinal reasons need more slapping around from you the heroes than kicking out one enemy spy to become a resistance capable of resisting.

And that's also the advantage of DL over FR: while in the latter the power is deadlocked between a bunch of Not Yous, DL lets you enact real political change (and ride and fight dragons without being murdered in a brutal gygaxian fashion for "munchkinism").

Now, Age of Mortals (or the Chaos War for that matter) are irredeemable shit.
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Chamomile
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 27, 2018 4:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Starmaker wrote:
Both Dragonlance and Lord of the Rings are epic fantasies set during a war between good and evil (as opposed to cleaning randomly generated dungeons and seeing the numbers go up, which was a real thing in the 80s). That's all.


So are you arguing that elves don't feature in Dragonlance or that elves don't feature in Tolkien?

Quote:
- "balance": while the writeups of ethics in DL are often atrocious, what it means for the game is your actions matter. You're not fighting God's former corrupt secretary's unpaid intern; within the game of Dragonlance, evil winning is a real possibility.


Meanwhile, in the actual books:

Gandalf wrote:
And for my part, I shall not wholly fail of my task, though Gondor should perish, if anything passes through this night that can still grow fair or bear fruit and flower again in days to come.


That there is Gandalf saying "if literally anything in all of Middle-Earth outlives Sauron without being corrupted by him, I'll call that a win." Gandalf might call it that, but the rules of narrative call that Sauron winning super hard.

Quote:
in LotR, if you aren't a specific named character, you're a nobody. You need to be one of the named godlings to case spells at all, you need to be Aragorn to raise an undead army, you need an artifact to kill a giant spider in a random encounter and you need a prophecy and to be a chick to kill the local equivalent of a death knight. DL characters are everymen and -women; even though some book characters are royalty, the plot doesn't rely on it.


Who even is Samwise Gamgee?

Quote:
railroading: it's kind of unfair to compare modules against a novel,


...yes? Obviously and completely? Like, you're complaining that a novel has a linear plot. What exactly is your objection, that Lord of the Rings isn't a choose your own adventure book?

Quote:
the conflict in Middle-earth is cleanly split along racial and ethnic lines. In DL, elves and dwarves have mono-racial nations (this has deeper roots than Tolkien), but humans don't.


How many non-human Solamnics can you name?

Quote:
The chromatic dragonarmies are a super-national organization


Only if you mean "super-national" in the sense that they intend to conquer all nations.

Quote:
and don't racially discriminate.


What even are Black Numenoreans?

Quote:
DL doesn't have Designated Good, it has designated evil -- the militant cult of a demon dragon god who intends to personally rule the world -- and the corporate entities that it considers enemies up for destruction for arbitrary doctrinal reasons need more slapping around from you the heroes than kicking out one enemy spy to become a resistance capable of resisting.


Who even is Denethor?

Seriously, you just...you don't know anything.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 27, 2018 10:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Quote:
How many non-human Solamnics can you name?

A good point- most of this crap is really undeveloped, even decades later

Well, there's the whitewashed-as-fuck 'native american expy' Plainsmen, all with feathers and leather and shit, and the guy is a paranoid xenophobe asshole, and the woman is the whitest, blondest woman in the entire setting. His pre-trilogy stand alone book was super-embarrassing for the level of racist stereotypes involved with the 'Que-whichever' tribes. Even for the late 80s/early 90s. But they get genocided by the Dragonarmies, so, whatever.

Solace and the two other towns are pretty much... uh... 'ethnically indistinct,' but there is a Salem witchhunt vibe with the Highseekers from Haven. The town blacksmith, Theros Ironfield, is black, but where he's from and if there are other black people is kinda vague. Northern Ergoth maybe? A really deep dive into background materials reveals that is/was its own mini-Empire or something, but has zero effect on the world. Or maybe they send a dude to the Council of Overly Symbolic Rock, but that's a pointless digression that doesn't affect anything that happens storywise, except smashing a dragon orb since good people shouldn't use those, except for martyrdom purposes.

Humans from the northeast are either shit covered scavengers, mongolish nomads (they go sign up for Team Evil, obviously), pirates or live in a couple of dinky towns (literally named Flotsam and Jetsam).

The people down south on the ice are essentially ex-Solamnics, abandoned when the big empire thing fell apart, and bitter about it.


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Thaluikhain
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 28, 2018 2:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Voss wrote:
Quote:
How many non-human Solamnics can you name?

A good point- most of this crap is really undeveloped, even decades later


You listed non-Solamnic humans, not non-human Solamnics there. Though the point works well either way.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 28, 2018 5:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

So I did. I guess I just couldn't parse 'non-human Solamnic'. Everyone in Dragonlance is a racist asshole.

Except Kitiara, who likes 'em pointy.

But the Solamnics have a huge disdain for other humans, let alone elves or dwarves. Those races have huge issues between sub-races, mostly because the silvanesti feel the Qualinesti were raped too much, and the kagonesti are just tree dwelling savages to both (Prince Gilanthanus' 'moment of kindness' is a plan to 'raise up' his servant girl as a mistress, and no one would care much because he's the second son. But then he's violently ill when he finds out she's not an elf at all). The party dwarf would happily murder gully dwarves, and everyone treats the gnomes like they're mentally handicapped and dangerous with it.


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Thaluikhain
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 28, 2018 12:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Except gnomes and kender, they are nice to everyone.

And, yeah, the bad guys, who accept draconians, humans, goblins, hobgoblins, dragons and the odd undead. And elves, I think. And, barring the big power struggle at the end of Spring Dawning, they all work together with a minimum of pointless infighting. Admittedly, they are out to conquer the world, but they the good guys view goblins and the like as being irredeemably evil, while they get along fine with other races as long as they aren't designated heroes.

Also, Takhisis doesn't have kender on her side.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 28, 2018 3:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Thaluikhain wrote:
Except gnomes and kender, they are nice to everyone.
Eh. For a value of 'nice' that includes 'treat people as test subjects' and 'targets of insults/theft,' respectively.

Quote:
Also, Takhisis doesn't have kender on her side.

Neither do the 'good guys.' They just can't get rid of the one that showed up.

Quote:
And, yeah, the bad guys, who accept draconians, humans, goblins, hobgoblins, dragons and the odd undead. And elves, I think. And, barring the big power struggle at the end of Spring Dawning, they all work together with a minimum of pointless infighting. Admittedly, they are out to conquer the world, but they the good guys view goblins and the like as being irredeemably evil, while they get along fine with other races as long as they aren't designated heroes.


Which is actually interesting, or could have been, since the setting is basically a post-apocalyptic wasteland with a fucked economy and no real trade or interaction. It's definitely an evil conquest with targets for genocide, however. There are a few rants about wiping out the elves, and the Plainsmen do get annihilated (Blondemoon and Riverangst talk about repopulating their people with their children, which is why they bow out of the story)

But keep in mind the setting is shit and post-apocalyptic because Good had Won, and the Gods of Good said fuck that shit, dropped a space rock on them and abandoned everyone.


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