Dragonlance is back!
Back after a long hiatus, adventures in the land of Krynn are making a big return in 2022. Not familiar with the novels and adventure setting? Need a refresher? We’re taking a dive into the pages of this beloved world with a look at classic Dragonlance, the brand new Dungeons & Dragons Dragonlance 5e release, and chat with author Margaret Weis about her latest novel with Tracy Hickman, Dragons of Deceit.
- Early Dragonlance — Novels & Modules
- New Dragonlance Novel
- Roleplaying in Dragonlance
- New 5E Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen
- New Deluxe Edition w/Warriors of Krynn Board Game
- Interview with Margaret Weis
Early Dragonlance — Novels & Modules
I remember quite clearly being loaned a copy of Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman’s Dragons of Autumn Twilight in junior high.
A friend of mine—a guy in my Advanced Dungeons & Dragons campaign—loaned it to me. He was quite mad for the series, and soon I was, as well. That poor paperback suffered a lot of wear and tear as it passed from backpack to backpack across our campus. But its perilous journey bore fruit: All of us bought our own copies of the book’s sequel—and the ones after that.
While we had read fantasy in the past, there was something different about the Dragonlance Chronicles and its characters. They were imperfect in a way that was new to a group of kid gamers whose only prior experiences with fantasy literature found us rubbing shoulders with valorous kings in disguise, honorable burglars, talking lions, and wizards who were much more than they appeared.
The Heroes of the Lance were indeed brave, but also flawed and morally conflicted. They reminded us of our own AD&D characters, but perhaps more importantly, they reminded us of ourselves. Raistlin Majere’s cynicism, insecurity, and unrealized potential certainly spoke to some of us. And what teenager couldn’t find themselves sympathizing with Tanis Half-Elven’s sense of belonging to neither one world nor another?
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New Dragonlance Novel
2022 is a big year for Dragonlance fans. Not only do we get a new D&D release on December 6, but a new Dragonlance series novel released in August.
After a decade in hiatus, authors Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman returned to the beloved world of Krynn with Dragonlance: Dragons of Deceit. (Not to be confused with the adventure module of the same name by TSR’s Douglas Niles.)
This latest addition to the saga is but the beginning, serving as book one of a planned trilogy. Centering on Destina Rosethorn and her family’s struggles in the aftermath of the War of the Lance. Joined by new characters and old favorites from this 40-year-old series, Destina is about to embark on a journey through Krynn, but also through time…
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Roleplaying in Dragonlance
While my friends and I knew there was a series of companion modules for AD&D, we didn’t get our hands on the first one, Dragons of Despair, until sometime later. Blame our teenage cash flow. The enthusiasm was certainly there, but the dollars weren’t. When one of us did finally get it, we wasted no time at all diving right in.
We lived and breathed Dragonlance for a good long while, and even when we adventured in other worlds Dragonlance’s unique creatures and monsters had a way of following us there. I can’t count the number of times a stray kender found its way into an adventuring party, or a draconian onto a friend’s wandering monster chart.
Given the unbelievable staying power of the Dragonlance universe, I’d say that we weren’t the only people who fell in love with Weis and Hickman’s world, then or now. Except for 1987, at least one Dragonlance book released every year between 1986 and 2011. Mind you, this massive bibliography overlapped times even when there were no new Dragonlance gaming products to speak of.
At long last, we can finally get back into Dragonlance with the current edition of D&D! Let’s look closer.
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New Dragonlance 5E — Shadow of the Dragon Queen
It’s probably a safe bet that many readers who fell in love with Dragonlance have never actually played the game. The books are more than just lore expansion for a series ostensibly written to promote roleplaying games! This says volumes about the kind of long-term devotion fantasy fans can bring to a beloved saga. And of course the talent of the writers behind the many tomes of the Dragonlance universe.
Now, after 11 relatively quiet years, Wizards of the Coast (WotC) rewards that devotion in spectacular fashion. December 6 marks the release of Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen, an epic fantasy roleplaying campaign for the fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons. The Deluxe Edition also includes a board game, Dragonlance: Warriors of Krynn. Both games are set during The War of the Lance (aka The Age of Despair, aka the Classic Era)—the time of the original six books and modules I grew up reading and playing.
The new 5E Dragonlance provides
- Character creation rules highlighting core elements of the Dragonlance setting, including the kender race and new backgrounds for the Knight of Solamnia and Mage of High Sorcery magic-users
- An introduction to the Lunar Sorcery sorcerer subclass with new spells that bind your character to Krynn’s three mystical moons and imbues you with lunar magic
- An introduction to the Dragonlance 5E setting and an overview of what players and DMs need to run adventures during this world-spanning conflict
- Participation in an epic war story set during the War of the Lance
- Conflict between heroes and the infamous death knight Lord Soth and his army of draconians
Shadow of the Dragon Queen, like other fifth edition adventures, promises to be both an immersive campaign and solid sourcebook. The module itself promises to take characters on adventures that will guide them from from first to eleventh level. The rest of the book offers plenty of Krynn-specific character options—monsters, villains, and all the background information you’ll need to bring the world to life.
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New Deluxe Edition w/Warriors of Krynn Board Game
Included in the Deluxe Edition, Warriors of Krynn is a standalone cooperative board game. It pits epic heroes against the forces of darkness in all-out battle. Delivering a wargame experience, WotC designed it for “integrative play” with Shadow of the Dragon Queen. Essentially, you can play out the epic battles of the RPG module within the Warriors of Krynn game. The results of those battles impact the campaign storyline in unexpected and exciting ways.
An old hand like me can’t help but be excited about returning to Dragonlance for new fantasy adventures. And knowing that a new generation of players will be joining me there makes it all the better. If you’ve never explored the world of Krynn before, consider this your invitation. With a board game, sourcebook, and decades of wonderful literature waiting to be read, the time couldn’t be better!
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Interview with Margaret Weis
Dragonlance co-author and former TSR writer Margaret Weis happens to be a fellow Wisconsin resident, and frequent attendee at Gary Con. (She says she plays Firefly at the convention every year!) Weis was kind enough to chat with us recently about the excitement around all the latest Dragonlance goodness. Thanks, Margaret!
NKG: Dragonlance arguably created the entire genre of gaming fiction. Did you have any inkling at the time of the impact you and your colleagues at TSR were about to have?
Weis: I only ever played D&D once before joining the company. All we wanted to do at the time was tell our story. And keep the company from going bankrupt. 🙂
NKG: And tell it you did. As for TSR… you certainly succeeded in keeping the legacy alive, despite the eventual fate of the company. The recent book Slaying the Dragon talks about the factors that led to you and Tracy Hickman parting ways with TSR. What would you have done differently, knowing you’d become a household name in fantasy and RPG fandom?
Weis: We left at the right time for us, which was when we had another source of income to support our families. I loved working at TSR. I met people who are still friends to this day. So, no, I wouldn’t have done anything differently.
NKG: Speaking of friends from the TSR days, what’s it like to finally be launching the new trilogy with Tracy Hickman? What’s it like coming back to such familiar ground after a long hiatus? Does it feel like riding a bike, or more like climbing a mountain all over again?
Weis: We’ve had a blast! Working with Tracy is always fun. We are continually amazed that we both have shared visions for the world. Tracy says it’s because we live there. Coming back to DL is coming home.
NKG: Speaking of coming home to Dragonlance, Krynn has developed a long history rich with unique histories, cultures, and creatures. How do you keep track of it all? What is it like knowing that gamers are out there telling their own stories in a world you created?
Weis: I love that people are sharing their own adventures in the world of Krynn. And… I don’t keep track of it! I hire an expert! Shivam Bhatt is my Astinus.
NKG: When it comes to literary influences outside of your team, we heard a rumor. A rumor that as an acclaimed fantasy author, you don’t read fantasy.
Weis: I don’t read fantasy [because] I need to hear my own voice in my head. I have so many much loved authors, from Charles Dickens to Mary Renault to Rex Stout to Jane Austen and a lot in between. I’ve learned so much from each.
NKG: And we continue to learn and be inspired by you. Thank you for your time, and for all that you’ve contributed to RPGs and fantasy literature!
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Written by Rob Matthews
Rob Matthews is a writer and lifelong gamer. When he’s not rolling dice or herding words, you can find him drawing, training in the martial arts, or planning his next tattoo.
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