Dragonlance it's my comfort setting.
When I first read i Dragons of the Autumn Twilight I was a young kid who had just finished elaborating "The Lord of the Rings“, And I was delighted by the simplicity with which I had finished this new book. It was a whole other thing than the prose of Tolkien and, even the characters, except some, immediately entered my heart.
It goes without saying that the first affection was directed to Raistlin Majere and the ongoing fights with my brother who adored Sturm Brigthblade. In my defense I repeat, I was small.
Since then, the epic narrative of this saga has occupied my mind for a long time. I have always tried to build, with mixed success, unforgettable stories for my RPG campaigns (at the table and online!).
But now, before we start talking about the future of Dragonlance which, after the latest announcements, seems to be bright again, I would like to try to introduce you a little better to the setting and the story behind this editorial product.
Dragonlance. A bit of history
Let's start talking about Dragonlance dispelling a myth. The setting is not born of a Dungeons & Dragons campaign as many people actually think. It was, we can say, one of the fake news that for a long time revolved around the birth of this franchise.
The first hints of what he would become Dragonlance, are to be found in the work of Laura and Tracy Hickman (do you remember them? We have treated on our site a Kickstarter launched by them a few months ago). The two were contacted by TSR to create what would be, until the release of Forgotten Realms, the flagship product of the publishing house. It was 1982.
In 1984 the first novel we mentioned at the beginning of the article came out and from there the publications multiplied. The marketing strategy was simple, for each type of dragon they included the release of a game module and novels, set in that world. An enrichment of the lore, whether it was history, geography or relations between the power groups present in the continent of Ansalon (one of the continents of the world of Krynn).
The alternating fortunes from 1985 to 2008
By 1985, however, issues began to arise between TSR and the heads of the evolution of the world of Dragonlance. As a result of creative issues, Margareth Weis and Tracy Hickman withdrew from the project and Krynn's world slowly drifted away. Despite the publication of the forms and the "creation" of a new continent called Taladas, Dragonlance it began to be set aside also for the publications related to Ed Greenwood's Forgotten Realms which saw the light in 1987 with the first Boxed Set.
It took many years before fans could grab a new chapter in the book series Dragonlance. This was the birth of the Second Generation of the heroes before the famous Summer of Chaos. Unfortunately, however, readers did not accept this new generation of champions very much and, despite the inclusion of famous characters from the saga, these two books did not have the hoped-for success.
Then, in 1997, the story reports the closure of TSR and the consequent purchase of the same by the W which, to date, has still taken over and maintained the rights. It was during this time, with the release of the new trilogy set during the so-called "It was of the Mortals“, That the setting of Dragonlance returned to the crest of the wave.
During the period between the 3.0 and 3.5 edition, the Sovereign Press had in "usufruct" from the WOTC, the possibility of publishing the manuals which suffered a sudden stop in 2007 when their license was not renewed. Since that time from the universe of Dragonlance there was only silence.
The Heroes of the Lances. Why do the characters of Dragonlance inspire the imagination so greatly?
Heroes, antagonists, famous figures. This is Dragonlance. After more than thirty years, the exploits of the Heroes of the Lance still have a certain resonance in the world of D&D. Characters like Sturm, Tanis, Tasslehoff and Raistlin manage to rival characters like Elminster and Drizzt. But why did people become so fond of these characters?
Obviously all this is always to be found in Joseph Campell's work of comparative mythology the hero of a thousand faces. The growth of each of the various protagonists is such as to faithfully follow the growth steps that each imaginary character must face in order to reach his maturity.
But it's not just this. Obviously it is also the continuous contrast between good and evil, two very strong concepts in Dragonlance. We are faced with archetypal figures who, however, in some way and each in his own way, transcend themselves: they may indeed be evil, as in the case of Raistlin Majere, but he too, in his wickedness, succeeds in acts of pure good. Similarly Sturm, pigeonholed in his strict observance of the chivalric code of the Knights of Solamnia, finds a way to show his humanity by crying for the deaths of people unknown to him in one of the passages of the book. So nothing is completely black or white in this setting.
Equilibrium: fundamental law of the world of Krynn
The basic law of the world of Dragonlance it is therefore the Equilibrium. Without a balance, the world is heading towards collapse. This concept has been dealt with in the past by other writers. How can we forget the work of Michael Moorcock and the concept of the eternal return of the Multiverse upset in the constant war between law and chaos in the continuous search for balance?
It is precisely this balance that has made the saga successful and exciting, at least for myself. The characters encapsulated in this struggle, the eternal opposition between good and evil, the epic clashes between the various power groups be it these struggles within the Order of High Witchcraft or the simple clash between the Knights of Solamnia and the their evil counterpart that changes name over the ages.
When a power gains too much strength, the world "rises" to oppose it. It is precisely for this reason that the first trilogy of the Dragonlance Chronicles tells the return of the gods after years of silence towards the mortals who had lost faith in them, but that's another story.
Magic as "faith". The winning move on how to make wizards love
A wizard's soul is forged in the crucible of magicThe Soulforge (1998)
One of the most interesting concepts included in the world of Dragonlance it is without a doubt the Magic. Until the beginning of the fifth era, magic has always been the exclusive prerogative of wizards who, after a period of apprenticeship with a wizard, or a school of magic, had to undergo a Test if they wanted to progress in the study of the Art, such as it is called in the books.
This Evidence, in addition to being extensively told in the saga, was also immortalized in 1988 in a game book of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons series written by Terry Phillips. This is where a wizard becomes an effective member of the Order of High Witchcraft.
But what is a magician actually in Dragonlance? In addition to being a scholar and an enchanter, he is, at the same time, a "cleric" of one of the three gods of magic, identified in the three moons that rotate in the sky of Krynn: Solinari, patron of the White Robes, Lunitari, patron of the Red Robes and Nuitari, the patron of the Black Robes.
Through study, the magician actually steals the powers from the "moons", or rather from the gods of magic. But is he actually a steal? One thing that the gods of Krynn magic yearn for is that their disciples create new magic, cultivate it, and as proof of this, they are the only gods who, following the upheaval of the world called Cataclysm and consequent separation between the mortal world and the divine one, they have always found a way to communicate with their "faithful".
There would be hundreds more information I could give you to show how important magic is in Dragonlance, but all of that will be covered in future articles.
Good knights and bad knights. A winning dichotomy
Another highlight of Dragonlance is the concept of knighthood.
In this setting, an order of knights is devoted to the gods of good and opposes evil. It was only after the umpteenth defeat of the Queen of Darkness, Takhisis, that she understood the need to establish a knighthood devoted to her.
I'm very biased, know that. For many years I have been playing "black knights" in this setting and, on some Neverwinter Nights servers, I have also been the go-to master for the good knights of Krynn. I have always regarded the Knights of Solamnia, and their antagonists, as the perfect conflict.
When two factions both devoted to honor collide, what can come out of it is nothing but something great. Fights between knights, clerics, mages and their allies for control. Battle cries, dragon fights, can you imagine something more epic and memorable?
Honestly not me and, in fact, I still remember the name of my knight's red dragon ...
The future of Dragonlance in D&D
But what does the future hold for Dragonalce? Difficult to say. Following thebitter legal diatribe which led Margareth Weis and Tracy Hickman to sue Wizards of the Coast for failing to deal with the franchise. Dragonlance, and especially the stop to the writing of a new trilogy, now the creators of the universe in question have not been contacted to supervise the writing of the manuals of their own world.
A similar thing happened for the Ravenloft manual and similarly it will happen for the Spelljammer manual. But why did WOTC decide to act in this way? Unfortunately we can only make assumptions and this is neither the place nor the right time to do so.
However, in the D&D Direct a few days ago, the release of many manuals and cross-media projects was announced in order to revive the world of Krynn. A converted edition of Tyranny of Dragons is expected to be released for Dragonlance, a basic manual and certainly a board game with pitched battles created by Wizkid.
I don't know how much a new re-release of some adventures disconnected from the iconic heroes will be able to make a grip on new players or rekindle the old ones, but I sincerely hope that everything that has happened to the stories of the last twenty years does not suffer a blow in the towel like other franchises have done. (yes SW I'm talking about you).
Conclusions and reflections on Dragonlance
Honestly Dragonlance for me it is serious. Too much.
I have spent many hours of my life reading manuals, books, recipes, all related to this world. I have created stories about it, even friendships. My soul is very attached to Dragonlance, and now I'm very worried about its future. I am open to the fact that others can carry on the stories of this world, but at the same time I am afraid of them, especially considering the previous ones.
There are about 190 books set on Krynn and, with the exception of those written by Weis and Hickman, the others stray too far from what is the background of the world. Others even I considered them almost offensive and a friend of mine, bookseller, from time to time, makes me find some of these volumes scattered in his shop just to have a laugh behind my back. I have a bitter enemy in the world of Dragonlance and she is called Jean Rabe. I don't know if it was the Italian translations. I don't know if it was the upheavals in history. I only know that when I read a trilogy of him it was like getting a punch in the face that I still haven't recovered from.
I am worried and at the same time excited and I don't really know how to manage both emotions and try to stay clear. Perhaps, to relax properly, it's time for me to go dust off my old manuals and turn on the stove to prepare some delicacies directly from Tika Waylan Majere's cookbook!