Friday, July 5, 2013

In Retrospect: Dragonlance

What are your thoughts on Dragonlance?

I can already see certain members of the OSR recoil like vampires from garlic upon reading the dreaded "D" word. Yeah, I know: For many, Dragonlance pretty much spelled the end of the Golden Age of D&D, where story became more important than old school dungeon crawls and wilderness exploration. 

I've heard all of the arguments. Dragonlance...
--is railroady, especially the modules
--was written by aspiring novelists
--suffers from world-shattering events
--has a screwball system of philosophy and religion
--has kender

I agree with all of these statements (especially kender, oh I hate kender)

Yet back then I didn't know any better, and neither did my friends. What can I say? We were pre-teens just getting into Dungeons & Dragons. The fact that we were reading the Dragonlance Trilogy in middle-school should at least say we were fairly literate for our age. While I ran my Greyhawk Campaign, my best friend ran Dragonlance.

We had a great time. 

See, my friend didn't stick with the books and modules. He made Dragonlance his own, by setting his campaign 60 years after the War of the Lance. He ignored official canon. And we had a helluva good time. We fought dragons and draconians. We went on quests to find artifacts to fight the resurgance of the evil Dragons and the Dragon Highlords. 

The official rules didn't allow bards. So what? I played one anyway and when he was on the cusp of casting 3rd Level spells, he had to go to the High Tower of Sorcery and take the Tests. He fought a dark elf illusion-thing that could not be killed by brute strength. I learned that everytime I hit him, I took twice the wounding. So my character had to take the hits and hopefully not die. Somehow I saw through the illusion and passed the Tests. I learned that my character had a destiny to defeat evil, but first had to get over being Chaotic Neutral. 

(Oh, come'on where's the fun in that? Had my bard been good, he wouldn't have been able to burn down a half of a kender village before reaching the tests. Those kender deserved it--they stole my dragonslaying sword! And its Dragonlance, which has lots of dragons!)

After that campaign ended, we got magically whisked away to another continent on Krynn where an undead army rampaged. I remember running a lot from the undead hosts. Our arch-nemesis was a death knight (not Lord Soth). Somewhere along the way we encountered an undead beholder.

We just played and had a good time. Sure, my friend's adventures were linear (and some would say, railroads) but we didn't care for the most part (okay, once my character got konked by a falling branch just so he could have a weird prophetic dream sequence--but other than that...). 

Somewhere in there my best friend ran a brief side-campaign that took place just a few years after the Cataclysm. We rolled up new characters and adventured in the ruins. I remember something about fighting goblins on top of a 1000 foot tall tower. There was even a city that looked a lot like Myth Drannor from the Forgotten Realms. 

Oh yeah, and the artwork.

Who could forget the artwork?  

Anyway, my point is that we had fun because we didn't follow canon. My best friend made Dragonlance his own creation. It was his version of Dragonlance, not the version pushed by the folks at TSR. 

The same can go for any of the "official" campaign settings. Heck, I might even play in a Realms game today so long as the DM made it his own, sans Elminster and the material from the "official" books. 

It'd even be fun to play Dragonlance again, so long as the DM ignores all the worldshaking events that happen every few years after the War of the Lance. 

To hell with canon. Don't let TSR, WotC, or whatever company dictate what happens at your game table without question. Make the game your own.

What do you think? 

1 comment:

  1. I have always had a deep love for Dragonlance since its earliest days through Dragons of Summer Flame. I have to agree with everything you said about making it your own. The same should be, and is, done by nearly every game-master I have ever known. I don't get the hate, but would gladly play through another game or 10 of DL anytime.


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