Dec 5, 2008

Dragonlance Comics (Issue 13) - High Sorcery

Lost and Found

High Sorcery part 1This issue is the beginning of a new story. It opens with two mages (one in white robes, the other in black) in some weird bizarre realm with screaming mouths embedded in floating mountains and giant eyeballs floating in murky dark rivers.

The two are revealed to be Par-Salian and Ladonna, and they appear to have found something called the "The Lost Tower of High Sorcery". From out of the tower, strange strands of blue shot out and grab the two mages. As they are pulled into the tower, Par-Salian cries out.

Just then, Myrella (last seen in "Raistlin's Pawn") wakes up from a nightmare, screaming. She and Gnatch talk about the dream and come to the conclusion that it's just her nervousness at her upcoming Test of High Sorcery, which she is in route to Wayreth to take.

Gnatch and Myrella also talk about Kalthanian, and it's revealed that neither has seen him in the two years since the end of the war (when the "Raistlin's Pawn" story takes place), nor does anyone, including Raistlin, know where the dark elf is currently.

Outside the ship they've been traveling on, the two part, but not before Gnatch gives Myrella an egg-shaped device that might "come in handy in the forest".

Myrella wanders the forest for sometime until she seems to find herself inside the courtyard of the Tower of Wayreth (which is actually a couple of towers surrounded by a walled courtyard. Just outside the tower doors she is attacked by a pair of draconians. She tries her shortsword and then a spell (neither affective against the draconians) before trying to outrun them. As she rounds a corner, she finds a red robed mage being attacked by another one. With a spell targeted under the draconian (instead of the draconian itself), Myrella is able to rescue the mage and the two make an escape.

Taking a moment and rest, and while still hiding from the draconians, the human male introduces himself as Az-Araz-Zar. It seems the draconians lead a surprise attack on the tower and quickly seized control of the tower's teleportation system. Az believes many of the wizards were left behind when the Tower's were teleported to this new location.

As they sneak around the tower, some strange effect causes Az to shift appearance from a human, dwarf, and even to a draconian. The two are confronted by the draconians and Myrella uses the device Gnatch had given her. The egg turned out to contain a kite shaped like a small dragon. It crashed into one of the draconians and provided a brief distraction for Az to cast a barrier spell, protecting the two.

While behind the barrier, Myrella tries to speculate who would be behind such as attack on the wizards. Az claims "only the blackest of the black robes would dare assult a tower". Myrella wonders if Raistlin could be behind this attack. As the barrier is about to collapse, Az teleports Myrella away from the tower.

Myrella has no idea of where she. When she is found by a patrol of Que-Shu riders, she passes out. When Myrella wakes up, she's in the Que-Shu village. Goldmoon and Riverwind are with her. She talks about the attack on the Tower of Wayreth and how she thinks Raistlin may be behind it. Goldmoon surprises Myrella by informing her that Raistlin is dead.

Commentary

This was a pretty good issue ("great" by Dragonlance standards, since all expectations were lowered after issue 12). The art was great for the most part, from the nightmare lands in the opening, to the detail in the Forest of Wayreth, the fight sequences with the draconians, to all the detail on the Que-Shu. There are a few nitpicks. While the ship that Myrella and Gnatch are on is well detailed, there are no crew seen anywhere (which is strange since there was so much attention to background detail throughout the rest of the issue). Also, Goldmoon has blonde hair, though here it's brown.

Now time for a bit of comic book history. Around this time, comics were beginning to embrace computer technology in their creation, and computer coloring was just starting to take off (mostly in independent comics, I think). This issue was one of DCs attempts to use that technology on their books. As such, this issue is less flat than the previous issues. I hope they keep up this technique on future issues.

I also liked this issue story-wise as well. The opening sequence was intriguing, how will it tie into the assault on the Tower of Wayreth? There's an interesting mystery started in this issue that I hope is carried through the rest of the story.
I also liked that Gnatch was written out (I still don't like this character), and I hope we'll see more of Az.

Plot-wise there were also a few nitpicks. While the issue doesn't mention it, Ladonna and Par-Salian are heads of the white and black robed wizards. As such, Par-Salian's behavior seems a little out of character for someone who is one of the most powerful wizards on Krynn at the time. Also, the story takes place two years after the war, so Raistlin should still be alive (the Legends trilogy doesn't take place 4 years after the war), and Que-Shu isn't rebuilt till a few years after that, though what's in this issue could be seen as "temporary housing".

Overall, this was a great issue and really helped make up for the mess that was issue #12.

Nov 26, 2008

A D&D Lego Moment: Centaur

As a big fan of LEGO and D&D, it would only seem fitting that one influence the other.

The Centaur (Male)



(Note: This design is not completely mine, I did make some slight mods to versions I'd seen elsewhere online).

Nov 23, 2008

Comics - The Worlds of Dungeons and Dragons (Issue 2)


Cover A

Cover B

Dark Mirror (FR); The Legacy (DL)

The second issue of this comic finishes up both stories stared in issue #1.

Once again, I won't go into too much detail on the Forgotten Realms story, other than to say that I liked this more than part one. There was more action and twists here, while the first part just seemed to be a straight chase. I didn't like the art for Nojheim (the goblin); he looked too much like Dobby from the Harry Potter books and movies.

For the Dragonlance story, this issue picks up with Raistlin and Palin alone in the archmage's laboratory, while the portal to the abyss is still open, awaiting the arrival of Takhisis.

In the laboratory, Raistlin tries manipulating his nephew to embrace the quest for magic power above all else, as Raistlin had done years before. On the other hand, Palin tries to convince his uncle to close the portal and come back to Solace with Caramon and himself.

Raistlin reveals that he will keep the portal open and that he now plans to serve as the mortal ruler of Krynn once Takhisis conquers the realms. The archmage also reveals plans for having Palin serve along side and even training Palin's brothers to serve Takhisis as generals in her army.

Realizing the true nature of his uncle, Palin struggles to close the portal himself, also sending Raistlin back to the abyss in the process.

Afterward, it is revealed that Palin had never actually been in Raistlin's laboratory or the abyss; the whole thing was an elaborate illusion, and served as Palin's Test of High Sorcery. Dalamar reveals that the ruse of Raislin's return was created to trick Caramon into bringing Palin to one of the towers.

As Caramon and Palin leave the tower, the spectral guardian in front of Raistlin's laboratory offers Palin a gift. Claiming it's from Raistlin, the guardian offers the new white robe mage one of his uncle's most prized possessions, the Staff of Magius.

Commentary

I really like the art for this issue. The panels really had some great angles and a lot of attention to detail, and really helped enliven what is essentially two characters talking. Also, the expressions on Raistlin's face really help show what's going on in the archmage's mind.

Overall I thought this was a good adaptation of the story. For Dragonlance fans, this was an important tale when it first came out. It was the first time the setting jumped forward in time to the "next generation" and laid to rest fan speculation that Raistlin was not really dead. Also for fans of the Dragonlance D&D rules, this shows a lot of the little challenges that an apprentice mage goes through during a Test of High Sorcery, including the ethical dilemma's that help determine what color robe the mage will afterward.

But as a story, I don't think this was the best one to start off with for Dragonlance. Overall, not a lot really happens. While there are a couple of twists at the end, I found that only somewhat satisfying. I can certainly think of better Dragonlance short stories, and even a few involving Raistlin, that I would like to see adapted before this one.

On the other hand, this story and art are infinitely better than any of the DC/TSR comics I've reviewed so far. All said, I think this anthology book is off to a great start, and I look forward to other stories from other D&D worlds in future issues.

Next time, I'll return to my reviews of the DC/TSR comics, continuing with issue #13.

(P.S. Sorry for the off schedule posting, due to some real life events, I lost track of my own schedule!)

Nov 18, 2008

Did You Know? 18

In the first edition Dragonlance Adventures handbook, pcs on Krynn could only be a max of 18th level?

The rules stated that if a character went beyond 18th, the PC would leave Krynn for some other realm.

I always figured this was an attempt to keep power levels somewhat under control, as opposed to Greyhawk (and later the Forgotten Realms) where plenty of NPCs exceeded 25+

Nov 17, 2008

Blogging on the phone

I just installed a new app on my iPhone so I can blog.

Now the big question is will I write more of less?

Nov 10, 2008

Video - D&D PHB PSA

Another video series I stumbled on, "D&D PHB PSA", is a sometimes funny collection of skits relating to D&D. The general idea is that on each episode, a few people (iconic D&D character types) talk about issues personal to them.

The first episode features Mialee, Jozan, Gimble, and Lidda in "confessional" style interviews. Note, some of the later episodes have a bit of NSFW humor. Creative Juices, the group that produces the series, currently have about 40+ episodes on-line, with each running around 15min each.

Nov 7, 2008

Comics - The Worlds of Dungeons and Dragons (Issue 1)


Cover A

Cover B

Dark Mirror (FR); The Legacy (DL)

For this new comic series, Devil's Due Publishing, which have successfully adapted the Drizzt books from The Forgotten Realms setting as well The Chronicles and Legends trilogies from Dragonlance, took that same idea and applied it to an anthology series. Since there are literally hundreds of short stories published for the various D&D worlds (including Ravenloft, Spelljammer, and Dark Sun in addition to FR and DL), they created this book as an outlet to adapt those works into comic form.

For their first issue, they feature two of the most popular characters across all the D&D settings, Drizzt and Raistlin. Cover Art A might lead you to think that this would be some kind of "crossover" story featuring both characters, but a quick scan inside the book clearly shows that the two main characters are in two separate stories.

This issue contains part 1 (of 2) of the FR story "Dark Mirror", which appeared in the anthology "Realms of Valor", and part 1 (of 2) of the DL story "The Legacy", which appeared in the anthology "Second Generation".

Since this a Dragonlance focused blog, I'll skip an in depth review of the FR story, but will say that I liked the art for this story, especially Guenhwyvar, and the ogre leader. The combat sequences had interesting panel angles and layout.

The second half of the issue was devoted to the Dragonlance story "The Legacy". This story focuses on Caramon, Palin (Caramon's son), and Dalamar. Palin has been studying magic this past years and is now almost ready to take his Test.

The wizards of the Order of High Sorcery fear that Raistlin is not dead, but merely waiting to inhabit a new body; Palin's body. Caramon, on the other hand, believes his brother to be dead, based on a vision he believes was granted to him by the god Paladine. Even still he journey's with Palin and Dalamar to the Tower of High Sorcery in Palanthus, to confront and defeat his brother if needed, to protect his son.

Inside the tower, all three stand before Raistlin's laboratory, but the spectre that guards this place will only allow Palin to enter. Upset at his father for never understanding his devotion to magic, Palin goes in alone.

In the laboratory Palin finds all manner of items, including books and scrolls Raistlin left behind. Among this he also finds The Staff of Magius, one of Raistlin's prized possessions, and the Portal to the Abyss.

Just then a hand pulls Palin through the portal. In the abyss, he finds his uncle Raistlin being tortured by Takhisis. When she leaves, Palin frees the black robed mage and leads him back through the portal to Krynn.

As Palin warns his uncle to close the portal before Takhisis enters Krynn, Raistlin laughs with a sinister grin on his face, seemingly willing to leave the portal open.

- end of part one -

Commentary

I really liked this first issue. I thought the writing was very good, with Palin coming across as the young child trying to be seen as a man in his father's eyes, as well as Caramon as the loving, protective father. The art for this story was beautifully done, with great detail inside the Tower at Palanthus, as well as the characterizations for Caramon, Palin, and even minor characters like Justarius and Dunbar. On the other hand, I didn't like the portrayal of Dalamar; he didn't look at all like an elf to me. Also the landscape for the Tower at Palanthus makes it look like the tower is out in the countryside, when it's actually within the city proper. This is a minor quibble, since all the action takes place inside the tower, not in the streets of Palanthus.

It's been a while since I read the original short story, so I'm not sure how closely this follows the original source material, though I think some characters have been dropped and new scenes have been included. Again, this comic is following the basic premise of what I remember.

Overall this is a great first start to this new series, in two weeks, I'll be reviewing the second issue to complete my review of this story. After that I'll return to my ongoing review of the DC Dragonlance comics.

Nov 6, 2008

Video - Fear of Girls

Stumbled across a new game-related web series, Fear of Girls. I've only watched the first episode and was cringing and laughing the whole time.



Right now there's only two episodes, but #3 seems to be on the way.

Nov 1, 2008

Quick Update

Sorry about the lack of updates to this page recently. I've been out of town for the last few weeks without access to a computer. I had planned to schedule a few items over the month, but I ran out of time before I could get anything ready.

I should be getting back on to some kind of regular schedule shortly, starting with the review of the new Worlds of Dungeons & Dragons comic as well as updates of my ongoing game.

Sep 19, 2008

Dragonlance Comics (Issue 12) - The Arena of Istar

Blood Brothers

The Arena of Istar part 4This issue starts off with Tanis and Bas-Ohn Horak getting ready to fight Maquesta and Bas-Ohn Koraf in the arena. As we know from issue 11, Maquesta and Koraf are the current champions of the games, and the medallions they wear are actually ancient magic items that the cleric Loralon is seeking.

During the fight, Tanis and Maquesta face off, while the two minotaur brothers fight each other, while the sea turtles watch the games from a glass dome and the ghosts of the citizens of ancient Istar watch from the stands they filled centuries ago. Elsewhere, Loralon and the sea elf begin working on their part of the plan, by opening a crack in the wall that starts to floor the city.

During the fight we learn that Maquesta blames Tanis for her ending up in Istar, and doesn't offer any mercy to her former friend. As the battle continues, Tanis disables and kills her. Meanwhile, the two minotaurs fight with Horak choking Koraf with the chain from the champion medallion he wears.

Just then, Loralon appears and casts a spell causing several more sea elves to appear in the arena. As cracks appear in the area dome, Loralon casts a mass water breathing spell. Loralon also uses the medallions to keep the dragon turtles at bay while they swim to the surface.

On the surface, Loralon uses the medallions to create a flying water-elemental (shaped like a giant eagle) to take Tanis, Horak, and himself back to the minotaur island.

Cut to Kitiara and her dragon army. She reveals that the minotaurs have refused an alliance with her, so she plans to attack their city. Powerful air, fire, and water elementals repel the dragon army.

Back on land we see Horak wearing the two medallions. He reveals that the minotaurs have declined the offers from the dragonarmy as well as that of the knights of Solomnia. With the medallions in the possession of the minotaurs, they will use them only for defence and be able to remain neutral. Tanis and Horak shake.

The last page shows two maps, the continent of Ansalon before and after the cataclysm.

Commentary

Hands down, this has to be the worst issue of the comic so far. There were a few bits of art that were interesting (especially the ghost citizens of Istar), but the plot was completely missing.

The sea elf who is helping Loralon only seems to be there to start a crack in the wall. It seems like Loralon should have been able to do that without the aid of the elf and her little dagger. But at least she gets to speak (somewhat) and sort of do something, the sea elves summoned later in the issue, seem to stand around ready to fight no one in particular. I can't see what purpose they served in Loralon's "plan". Nor do I see what flooding the jail cell did, since it was a crack in the area dome that lead to everyone's escape.

Another thing that really bothers me with this issue is the idea that Tanis would disable Maquesta and then kill her as she lies prone and defenseless on the ground. There was no reason that Maquesta or Koraf had to die... they both wanted to leave Istar like everyone else, and Loralon could have done that without the death of the two champions.

Also, Loralon wanted to retrieve the items, but at the end of the issue, they end up with the minotaurs with no explanation. And lastly, we get a small image of Riva on the last page (no dialog). With an arc that started out seemingly focused on her, she had no part in the story, nor did Kitiara really, for that matter.

Overall the arc started out with potential, but got worse and worse as the issues continued, until this last one. Back when these issues first came out, I was a dragonlance collector. If I was buying these today, I don't think I would have continued past this arc.

Next Time: I'm going to take a break from the old DC comics and read and review the first of two issue of the new Worlds of Dungeons & Dragons comic, featuring an adaptation of the Weis and Hickman short story, The Legacy.

Sep 15, 2008

Darkness and Light: The Secret

After defeating the demon dragon previously, the party spent a couple of days in the city of Dun Eamon. Due to their flashy entrance (it's not everyday a party of adventures shows up at the city gates with a dead large red dragon), their reputation preceded them throughout town.

Staying once again at the Market Tavern, they found all manner of townsfolk interested in hearing their tale, not the least of which was the serving girl, Molly, who seemed to have developed a little crush for the half-elf ranger. Whenever she had the chance (usually when she should be working), the young girl would sit and listen to Hunter's stories and talk about her own dreams of being an adventurer one day soon.

While the defeat of the dragon was a great accomplishment, it still didn't bring them any closer to finding the Gem of Amara, and that meant going back to the temple ruins. On the night before leaving, Bergin visited the bathhouse for a long soak and a massage, this time joined by the monk.

After a few days journey, the party was once again underground. They checked a few rooms they hadn't searched before and found an empty living quarters and another filed with various (clearly stolen) religious items, including a small statue to Zivilyn and a few coin boxes used to collect for the poor.

As they were about to enter another room, they heard some noises from inside. Cautiously, the party opened the door and found an ogre looting through whatever belonging had been in the room. The ogre and his companions, a pair of slightly snake-like humanoids (known as a "slig" in the Dragonlance setting) turned toward the open door. After a few tense moments, the ogre spoke claiming that "Me here first, this all mine!"

It seems in the time the party was away from the ruins, one or two (or three) wanders came down here looking for easy loot. The party was willing to let the ogre keep the trinkets he picked up, and even traded a few of their things for a parchment. It contained some spells that were useless to the simple behemoth. The room also had an ancient torture device, a well in the floor, where people were chained by the wrists and left to dangle in the cramped, dank space. They even found a skeleton still attached to a set of manacles, the poor soul having probably been left to starve to death all those decades ago...

Afterward, as the party continued looking for the gem, they noticed an elaborate stone mosaic on the floor, outside the dragon's lair. While bits and pieces of it had been destroyed over the years, enough remained to show an elaborate procession of monks carrying fallen members along a hallway and into a great chamber. In the chamber, atop a huge stepped dais, the head of the order conducted a ceremony over a dead monk. Beyond the chamber, the dead cleric was stripped of clothing, flesh, and finally bones before it's spirit moved on to the river of souls.

As the party looked the mosaic, they realized the great chamber was one of the underground rooms, the one with strange evenly spaced holes in the walls. It turns out those holes were used to anchor a huge wooden stage to the back wall, a stage that had collapsed or been torn down in the intervening years. While the party did search for secret doors and passages, when the search the back wall of this room, they were looking 10 too low.

With this new information, the party returned to the domed room and this time was able to find a hidden passage. Once inside this new area the ground was much cleaner and ancient magical lights still illuminated the hallways... clearly this part of the ruins hadn't been explored in years...

Sep 5, 2008

Dragonlance Comics (Issue 11) - The Arena of Istar

Cataclysm!

The Arena of Istar part 3Once again, we pick up right after the end of the last issue. We see Tanis roughing up Loralon and trying to learn the elven cleric's plan. It seems Loralon was in Istar at the time of the Cataclysm (a fact that surprises Tanis) and is now trying to retrieve powerful artifacts lost during that fateful time.

Tanis, who's always been skeptical of the gods, sees little value in Loralon's quest. To help convince Tanis, Loralon takes the ranger into his memories to see what actually happenend all those years ago...

Elsewhere, we see Maquesta and Bas-ohn Koraf practicing and the minotaur proclaiming that nothing, including his brother, would stand in his way of winning their freedom.

Meanwhile, Tanis and the "elf-of-cataclysm-past" continue there look back at the events leading up the the destruction of Istar, including the hubris of the kingpriest.

Back in the present, a female sea elf (with an outfit straight out of a Fredrick's of Hollywood catalog) is tossed in the cell for trying to break into Istar. Turns out she is somehow part of Loralon's plan, but he doesn't elaborate.

For the last trip down memory lane, Tanis AND Horak accompany Loralon. Tanis sees Fizban (an aspect of the god Paladine) visibly upset at what is happening. Tanis sees first hand that it was the people who abandoned the gods, not the other way around as was commonly believed.

With a fresh perspective on the situation, Tanis now wants to know just what Loralon is looking for in the ruins of Istar. The cleric describes a pair of artifacts called "starstones", which it turns out are part of the medallions that Maquesta and Koraf wear as champions of the gladiatorial arena.

Just then, Koraf appears outside their cell to inform his brother that they will fight in the arena tomorrow and that it will be a fight to the death.

Commentary

As I've said before, Dan Simmons is really doing a great job on art for this arc. The flashback scenes are well detailed and the splash page of the fiery mountain destroying Istar is one of the best images of the event.

As great as the art is, unfortunately it doesn't make up for the weak plot. As I've said before, since I was already familiar with the cataclysm from the novels, I didn't need most of the issue retelling me things I already knew. For me this issue was just filler before the inevitable fight between Tanis and Horak against Maquesta and Koraf.

Note... One thing I didn't pick on, art-wise, is the minotaur hoof issue. The earliest art for minotaurs still had them with hoofs. When this comic came out, that was probably the official image. It wouldn't be till much later that books, stories, and art would show the minotaurs with human legs and feet.

Sep 4, 2008

Darkness and Light: The Return

After having gone to the city of Dun Eamon to resupply and rest, the party returned to the temple ruins to confront the demonic red dragon lurking below.

The party cautiously crept though the same passages and hallways they previously explored. In short order they found themselves in the same open hallway where they first encountered the dragon.

Initially it seemed as if the dragon may have left this lair. Exploring the far end of the passage, they found a door that was all but falling off it's ancient hinges and singed from various fires and covered in huge gaping gouges in the heavy wood. Peering inside, the floor seemed to be covered from wall to wall in coins, silver bars, gems and all manner of treasures. The appearance of what clearly looked like the dragon's horde put everyone on edge... the beast was still here somewhere.

They didn't have long to ponder that question before the hall filled with the rushing air and flapping wings of a large red dragon. As it passed overhead, it rained fire down on the party before disappearing back into the shadows. As the party regrouped, it appeared as though the dragon would lay in wait, but a few moments later it flew out again landing in front of the party and unleashing it's vast array of attacks.

As the battle raged, the party unleashed all manner of weapons and spells while the dragon used it's formidable claws, teeth and even wings in retaliation.

As Adow lay on the ground dying, and the rest of the part seriously wounded, Hunter activated the mystical knots Greybear had given then before leaving the party in Dun Eamon. Cool blue light covered Adow, Theo, Jes, Bergin and Hunter healing all their wounds and restoring their vitality. With renewed energy, the party was able to continue attacking the fiendish dragon, felling the creature without further injury.

With the dragon dead, the party created a make-shift slede-cart to transport the dragon's body, and it's formidable treasure horde back to Dun Eamon. After a few days travel, they returned to the city. Everyone was agape as they lead a cart overflowing with coins and gems through the town, not to mention, carrying the dead body of large dragon.

The party was able to return to Elinda Bannon's tower and offered the dragon body as a gift for her previous assistance (they also returned the magic items she had leant them). In exchange, Elinda also kept their treasures safe while in the city.

Though the dragon was dead, the party wasn't any closer to finding the one known key to destroying the Black Scourge... what other dangers might be standing between them and the Gem of Amara?

Sadly, this post does not do the actual game session justice. The battle was close, and there was more than one time where a character would have been dead (dead-dead and not just unconscious and bleeding) if not for a quickly consumed potion, or a timely cure spell.

By the end of the session, the players, and not just their characters, looked exhausted and relieved the battle was over. As a DM, I knew I did my job right... at least for that session!

Aug 27, 2008

Dragonlance Legends - Comic News

As I mentioned before in my post on Dragonlance comics, work on adapting the second Weis and Hickman trilogy has been under way for some time.

Tomorrow, the second of the three issue adaption of Time of the Twins (the first book in the Legends trilogy) should be available in comic and game stores.

Devil's Due Publishing has a free preview posted on their site. While I liked the painted look of the Chronicles, I think the art work is even better this time around.

Aug 22, 2008

Dragonlance Comics (Issue 10) - The Arena of Istar

Arena

The Arena of Istar part 2At the end of the last issue, the boat Tanis, and party were on was caught the the maelstrom known as The Blood Sea of Istar. This issue starts with Loralon saving Tanis and Bas-ohn Horak (head of the minotaur delegation) from drowning with the aid of a magical air bubble. The three are under attack from a large sea creature just outside the ruins of Istar. As the air bubble pops, Tanis and the minotaur find themselves inside ancient building; Loralon, nowhere to be found. The two are attacked and captured by the people still alive in the underwater city.

Meanwhile Kitiara and Lord Soth look out at the ocean and wonder if the half-elf is still alive. They also discuss their plans for attack should the minotaurs form an alliance with the Solomnic knights.

Back underground, Bas-ohn and Tanis escape from their cell and encounter a pair of giant fire beetles before being recaptured. They are give armor and weapons and forced to fight in a gladiatorial arena for the amusement of dragon turtles. In the arena they fight a human and wild elf, and while Tanis defeats his opponent, he can't bring himself to kill as the rules require. The minotaur steps in to finish off the prone wild elf.

Afterward, they learn that by being the best, there is a chance for them to be set free. They also learn that the current leading gladiators are Maquesta and Bas-ohn Koraf. Both were thought to be dead when Maquesta's ship was pulled into the maelstrom and who now, for some unknown reason, both appear to be part sea-elf with green coloring and small fins on their arms and legs.

Later, Loralon appears to Tanis and Horak, but instead of freeing them, reveals that he was responsible for the storm and bringing them to Istar to fight in the arena.

Commentary

Once again, I liked the artwork on this issue. I thought Dan Simmons did a great job with the ruins of Istar and the gladiator combat. I really like the detail on various character faces, from the dwarf armorer to the wild elf fighter.

Story-wise, I once again didn't really like this issue. It felt like not enough happened from the beginning to the end. Also, I never liked the idea of a black-robed cleric of Paladine, so seeing his apparent betrayal at the end of the issue wasn't a shock. The appearance of Maquesta and Bas-ohn Koraf (two characters seen in the Chronicles books) was a pleasant suprise, but their strange appearance already has me questioning who they really are.

Interestingly, the last page of this issue is an ad for the then-upcoming Forgotten Realms comic. Written by Jeff Grubb, this comic was the best of the TSR/DC comics and well worth the cost of picking up back issues.

Aug 20, 2008

Did You Know? Civilized Monsters

For all their monstrous qualities, minotaurs, ogres, hobgoblins, and goblins all have established, recognized nations on Krynn.

The minotaurs rule the two island nations of Kothas and Mithas (and on the content of Taladas, they lead the Imperial League).

Ogres rule the warning nations of Kern and Bloten, while hobgoblins and goblins rule Throt and Sikk'et Hul, respectively.

Aug 15, 2008

Darkness and Light: An Interlude

After leaving the ruins of the temple, the party journeyed for two days to Dun Eamon, a city nestled in the nearby mountain range, also known as the Grey Citadel. Theo and Hunter had previous done some business there "a few months back", but hadn't returned since.

Since the Grey Citadel was closer than Flotsam, and they had already made a few contacts there, not the least of which was the artificer, Elinda Bannon, Dun Eamon seemed like the quickest place to gather supplies before return to confront the infernal red dragon in it's underground lair.

Just outside Dun Eamon, where the road was narrow and close to the nearby marsh, the group was surrounded by a hunting party of jarak-sinn. The lizardfolk spoke to each other in strange gurgling sounds. If they were trying to talk to the party, it did no good, since no one could understand the foreign language. Clad in crude armor of animal skins, wooden shields (all emblazoned with the symbol of a red arrow), and wielding spears, clubs, and stone axes, the jarak-sinn attacked. Perhaps they thought this small band of weary travelers would be easy prey... the jarak-sinn were sadly mistaken. In short order, the party dispatched a enough of their numbers to send the rest fleeing back into the swamp.

At the gateway into the city, they were stopped by the city guard, who asked a few basic questions about who they were and what was their business in the city. The guards also went over a few of the basic laws--keeping weapons peacebonded, and not casting destructive or deadly offensive spells within the city.

Once in the city, Hunter and Theo lead the party to the Market Tavern, the same place they stayed last time. The tavern was still the same, with the dwarf Flitch behind the bar, and the young serving girl Molly, spending more time listening to the party's adventures than actually dispensing food and drink.

Over the next few days the party went about gathering supplies, including fresh rations, extra arrows, and healing along with a few spells Adow knew could aid against the dragon. On the second day, Caledon, the local herbalist and druid in the city came to inform the party that Greybeard had suddenly left the city.

It seems the druid circle left word for Greybear at several nearby cities and towns. Since Greybear first informed them, they have kept watch on the cave where the Black Scourge was imprisoned. Recent activity seems to indicate that several more of the dragon's mystical bones were brought to the lair. If the Gem of Amara couldn't be found in time, the druids would be the first line of defense against the ancient dragon.

Caledon was also there to give the party something Greybear left for them. It was a special bit of druidic magic; a small length of rope with five knots. If anyone pulled the rope taught, the knots would be undone and a magical healing aura would wash over the party.

Just before leaving the party also arranged another meeting with Elinda Bannon. At first she thought the party were couriers bringing another item for her (as Theo and Hunter did during their first meeting with the wizard of Dun Eamon), but soon learned the real story. She didn't have much information on the Gem of Amara or the Black Scourge, but was willing to loan the party a few magic items in her possession in return for a small favor.

With their supplies in hand, the party set off for the ruins of the Temple of the Flaming Fist

Aug 10, 2008

Did You Know? The Lizardfolk of Krynn

Unlike most settings where there is just one monster known as "lizardfolk", on Krynn there are actually three such creatures that fall under that general category.

  • Bakali: Thought to be an extinct race, these lizardfolk look more like bipedal crocidiles.
  • Jarak-Sinn: This race probably looks more like the standard lizardfolk of other settings. In comparison to the Bakali, they are larger, more muscular, and more warlike.
  • Troglodyte: These standard monsters also fall under the "lizardfolk" category, with no change to their game mechanics.
Both the Bakali and Jarak-Sinn typically serve either the neutral godess Chislev, or the evil deity Takhisis. Both races are composed of mostly fighters, along with a few shamans in each tribe.

All three types are covered in detail as PC races in the Dragons of Krynn sourcebook

Aug 8, 2008

Dragonlance Comics (Issue 9) - The Arena of Istar

Blood Tide

The Arena of Istar part 1This issue starts sometime after the end of the War of the Lance (as seen in issue 8). Riva Silvercrown (last seen in issue 4), now a knight of Solomnia, is riding a dragon and almost gets into an airborne fight with a dragonarmy officer. Both are quickly stopped when Highlord Kitiara arrives on the scene.

It turns out Riva and Kit are part of separate delegations, each seeking to form an alliance with the minotaur nation.

Later, minotaur delegates are talking with Tanis, Riva, and a mysterious black-robed person. Kit interrupts and begins to present reasons to ally with her dragonarmy. The war-minded minotaurs seem to agree more with her reasoning than that of Tanis. In an effort to turn the delegates toward their thinking, the robed figures, revealed to be an elven cleric of Paladine, offers the head minotaur a special offer; the chance to journey to the location where his brother died to pay a proper last respect. Since this is a big deal in minotaur society, the delegate accepts the chance.

The following day, the minotaur is taken to a spot in the ocean, where the brother died; a place Tanis knows well since he too was on that fateful ship, but survived with the aid of sea elves that took him and his friends to the sunken city of Istar.

As the minotaur sheds his blood in tribute, a storm quickly approaches and the area is engulfed in a whirlpool that threats to destroy the ship.

Commentary

As the beginning of a new arc, I really liked this issue. Once again, there was a guest artist (Dave Simons, this time) and the quality of the art was better than past Ron Randall issues. I liked seeing Riva back in the book (I didn't think there were going to be any recurring characters), as well as Tanis and Kit. I also liked seeing a story involving the minotaurs, one of my favorite races in Dragonlance.

On the other hand, I was disappointed that the timeline jumped over the entire War of the Lance after 8 issues. I had hoped to see more stories during the war with original characters involved in other areas not touched on by the books. Also, the elven cleric was totally out of character. There has never been a cleric of Paladine dressed in black robes (not to mention that the elves refer to Paladine by a different name). Maybe this was supposed to be a "surprise" when the figure was revealed NOT to be Raistlin, but I found it stupid and unrealistic. Also, the notion of that the whirlpool around the Blood Sea would "spring up" at a random moment is completely inaccurate. Any reading of either the Chronicles trilogy or The Atlas of Dragonlance would have set the author straight on this detail. Sadly, this glaring inconsistencies took what could have been a really good issue and made it only ok... hopefully next issue will be better.

Aug 1, 2008

New Schedule for Dragonlance Comic Reviews

I need to change the schedule for the Dragonlance issue comics reviews. I had intended to do a new issue each week, but I'm finding it a bit taxing and taking away from other topics and items I want to write about, so I'm going to make the reviews an every-other-week event.

Next week, I'll have my review for issue 9, part one of "The Arena of Istar". See you then...

Jul 27, 2008

DM Tools - Heromachine

Ulf Ironfist
ulf ironfist
Lady Flame
lady flame
Bergin
bergin
Heromachine is a nice little app that's been around for a long time. It's especially great for DMs who aren't very artistic (like me) that want to add more visual flare to their games.

With a dizzying array of options, any user is just a few dozen mouse clicks away from building a character or NPC to printout and show at the next session.

You start off choosing a body type (male or female and slender/bulky) and then selecting from various menus everything from boots, bracers, cloaks, weapons, etc. While Heromachine isn't specifically geared for fantasy characters, there are a good enough number of options to render a variety of fantasy types. Characters can be printed out and the data to build the character can be saved into a simple text file.

Here's the text data files for the characters above.

Note: there seems to be an issue where whatever is in the character's left hand is not properly save/loaded and doesn't actually appear when loading one of the data sets.

Ulf Ironfist
2.5b5*m2*Ulf Ironfist*Hair:Standard,cavalier,727272,0000FF,100,100,21,Eyebrows:Expansion1,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,19,Eyes:Faces,face17,53453A,CEA66B,100,100,18,Nose:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,25,Mouth:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,16,Beard:Standard,vikingbraid,5A5A5A,940018,100,100,24,Ears:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,17,Skin:Standard,hairy,CEA66B,AC814A,100,100,6,Mask:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,20,Headgear:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,27,Undershirt:FantasyCommon,tunic,002C53,0069B5,100,100,7,Overshirt:Bustiers,fraBlank,734901,A66900,100,100,8,Coat:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,23,RightGlove:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,15,LeftGlove:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,14,Insignia:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,9,Neckwear:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,22,Belt:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,13,Leggings:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,10,Overleggings:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,11,Pants:Standard,tiebottom,5A3410,5A3410,100,100,12,RightFoot:Standard,floppy,434343,202020,100,100,31,LeftFoot:Standard,floppy,434343,202020,100,100,30,Back:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,3,Wings:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,4,Tail:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,5,Aura:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,2,Companion:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,29,Background:Standard,fullscreen,F7EBE7,F7EBE7,100,100,1,RightHand:Energy,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,28,LeftHand:Blades,battleaxe,8C8C8C,696901,100,100,26,#

Lady Flame
2.5b5*f1*Lady Flame*Hair:Feminine,longblown,FFF701,4B4B4B,100,100,23,Eyebrows:Standard,fraBlank,734901,2B0036,100,100,21,Eyes:Faces,face1,0000FF,CEA66B,100,100,20,Nose:,fraBlank,9482B6,F6B652,100,100,27,Mouth:,fraBlank,724D21,00A69C,100,100,18,Beard:,fraBlank,7A7500,5A3410,100,100,26,Ears:Expansion1,fraBlank,a2a073,F79D9C,100,100,19,Skin:Standard,fraBlank,FFD08C,CEA66B,100,100,6,Mask:,fraBlank,E7017F,F7EBE7,100,100,22,Headgear:,fraBlank,202020,5A5A5A,100,100,29,Undershirt:Bustiers,tied,AC814A,724D21,100,100,7,Overshirt:,fraBlank,BDBDBD,8CCB9C,100,100,8,Coat:CapeFronts,shoulders,304095,101C42,100,100,25,RightGlove:Standard,armorband,9C4108,732C00,100,100,17,LeftGlove:Standard,armorband,9C4108,732C00,100,100,16,Insignia:,fraBlank,36B9EF,F79652,100,100,9,Neckwear:,fraBlank,EFD3C6,538610,100,100,24,Belt:Standard,peaked,732C00,9C4108,100,100,15,Leggings:,fraBlank,E70052,AC8ABC,100,100,10,Overleggings:,fraBlank,F6B652,36B9EF,100,100,11,Pants:Dresses,splitmid,724D21,AC814A,100,100,14,RightFoot:Standard,floppy,434343,202020,100,100,13,LeftFoot:Standard,floppy,313131,181818,100,100,12,Back:Standard,flarecape,304095,101C42,100,100,3,Wings:,fraBlank,9596C6,7CC774v,100,100,4,Tail:,fraBlank,C5E39B,0069B5,100,100,5,Aura:,fraBlank,734901,9C4108,100,100,2,Companion:,fraBlank,00A69C,727272,100,100,31,Background:,fraBlank,6B0039,E8007A,100,100,1,RightHand:Miscellaneous,fraBlank,ADA600,FFF764,100,100,30,LeftHand:Energy,fire,00769C,8CCFF9,100,100,28,#

Bergin
2.5b5*m3*Character Name*Hair:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,21,Eyebrows:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,19,Eyes:Faces,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,18,Nose:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,24,Mouth:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,16,Beard:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,23,Ears:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,17,Skin:Standard,hairy,724D21,5A3410,100,100,6,Mask:Glasses,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,20,Headgear:Standard,minotaur,5A3410,F7EBE7,100,100,26,Undershirt:FantasyArmor,breastplate,848484,B2B2B2,100,100,29,Overshirt:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,7,Coat:FantasyCommon,tabard2,0069B5,034829,100,100,30,RightGlove:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,15,LeftGlove:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,14,Insignia:Standard,griffon,FFF700,ADA600,100,100,31,Neckwear:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,22,Belt:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,13,Leggings:Standard,long,B2B2B2,CFCFCF,100,100,8,Overleggings:Standard,fraBlank,848484,9C9C9C,100,100,9,Pants:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,12,RightFoot:Standard,banded,313131,070707,100,99,11,LeftFoot:Standard,banded,313131,070707,100,100,10,Back:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,3,Wings:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,4,Tail:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,5,Aura:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,2,Companion:Standard,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,28,Background:Standard,fullscreen,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,1,RightHand:Music,fraBlank,FFFFFF,FFFFFF,100,100,27,LeftHand:Blades,broadsword,727272,313131,100,100,25,#


If you make any modified versions of these characters, or want to show off new creations you made with Heromachine, please feel free to post info in the comments section.

Jul 25, 2008

Dragonlance Comics (Issue 8) - Raistlin's Pawn

City of Death

issue 8 coverThis last issue of the Raistlin's Pawn arc picks up a moment after the end of the last issue. Kalathan is lying on the ground in pain and while Myrella and Gnatch are trying to help him, Raistlin is walking away unconcerned for the dark elf.

Kalathan recovers and explains the dark mage's actions of hiding his thoughts of betraying the goddess Takhisis for a time within Kalathan, and compelling the elf to be in Neraka in time for Raistlin to "remember" and enact his plan.

Elsewhere, Raistlin, Caramon, and Berem are in a chamber under the temple. Raistlin keeps his brother at bay while Berem, in an attempt to free his imprisoned sister, impales himself on the foundation stone--the gateway Takhisis uses to enter the world. Berem's actions cause the temple structure to weaken and begin to collapse.

Everyone makes it out of the temple safely. Once outside, Kalathan confronts Raistlin and learns a dark secret. The dark mage reveals that Kalathan is actually Thanakan, the murderous elf that killed his family. Thanakan's last act was to transform the real Kalathan to look like his father, while the father altered his appearance to look like the surviving son. To further avoid magical detection, Thanakan also transferred Kalathan's memories and personality onto himself. The transfer was only supposed to be temporarily, but ended up being permanently.

Kalathan was shocked at the news, but vowed that while he still held a part of his murderous father's soul within him, that he was still had free will and renounced evil.

The last two pages consisted of a map of the Temple of Darkness, and D&D game stats for Kalathan's griffon and one of Gnatch's devices (seen in issue six).

Commentary

This was another weak issue in a story arc that I didn't like anyway.

Strangely, not much really happened in this issue. Many of the key events were taken from the last Chronicles novel, which I was already familiar with. If I hadn't read the book before, I would probably be confused, about Caramon and Berem, instead of bored. Myrella, Gnatch, and Kalathan didn't do anything but talk and run out of the collapsing temple.

On the plus side, guest penciller Michael Collins did a great job. The backgrounds inside the temple were beautifully detailed, the scenes with Berem were nicely laid out. Overall the art was much better than regular artist Ron Randall. Also, the revelation about Kalathan at the end was a great surprise, though I wished there had been hints of it worked into earlier issues (such as seeing the father's face in the true self mirror in issue six).

Since this is the last issue of the arc, I'm hoping the next story will be better.

Jul 22, 2008

Darkness and Light: The Serpent, and the Statue

The party made camp above ground atop the ruins of the Temple of the Flaming Fist. They spent the night resting and treating their wounds from the barbarian attack they were lucky to have survived.

* Bergin cast divine spells to heal the most wounded members of the party,
* while Hunter used his herbal skills to treat the others.
* Adow studdied the books and papers he'd found in one of rooms below,
* while Greybear, Theo, and Jeswin helped make camp and prepare dinner.

That night, while Hunter was on watch, he saw a wounded eagle being swatted around by a "playful" bear cub. He was able to befriend the little animal and send him on his way before the cub did any further damage to the eagle. With great skill, Hunter removed an unusually large black thorn that had temporarily crippled the bird. The rest of the evening passed by without further disruption.

The next day the party returned to exploring the underground complex, still searching for the Gem of Amara. The party continued down the same hallway where they encounter the barbarian the previous day. The first room two rooms seemed to be training areas, with the walls covered in carvings of monks fighting all manner or men and monsters. The second room also contained rugs, food, and other gear the hobgoblin traveled with. Additionally, these walls were also marred with scratches and gouges that looked like words and phrases. Since no one could read that particular language, the exact meaning wasn't discovered.

Traveling further down the hall, the party entered wide open area. Just then, flying around a corner at the far end of hallway, a large reddish dragon appeared that reeked of sulfur, with bits of light and heat leaking out from under it's scaly hide. Landing in front of the group, the dragon unleashed a wave of flame from it's huge mouth. Everyone was caught in the flames, some suffering it's effects more than others.

red dragonAs the party tried surrounding the creature, it unleashed various attacks, from it's terrible bite, to a pair of sharp front claws, as well as slapping opponents with it's wings and even it's tail. Nowhere was safe from attack.

With the battle going badly and everyone hurt, the group retreated above ground as quickly as possible. Luckily the dragon did not pursue. Topside, the group spent a couple of days healing before returning underground to explore other pathways in the hope of avoiding the dragon.

large monstrous spiderDown one particular path they started to enter a huge chamber but got caught up in the thin but strong webbing of a pair of large spiders. Theo was quickly pulled free of the entanglement while the rest of the party killed deadly arachnids. Entering the room, they noticed several large cocoons in the corners of the room... to their suprise, one man-sized cocoon was still wiggling as if trying to free itself from the webby tomb. As the part cut away the encasement, it turned out to contain a ghoulish monstrosity and not a helpless human life. Adow quickly destroyed the creature while Bergin said a quick prayer for its soul.

The room was huge, measuring over 50 feet square, with a large domed ceiling depicting row upon row of monk warriors standing ready for battle. The room was pretty empty except for the usual bits of debris collecting in the corners of the room. Along the far wall, the party found two sets of strange holes evenly spaced. The holes were empty, except for some old bits of splintered wood. Otherwise, the room held nothing of interest, nor any clues as to what the holes were for.

At a dead end, the party went about exploring one of the other pathways... Down the next hallway, the first door was closed and no sounds could be heard from within. Peeking inside, they saw a large red spotted centipede curled up in the center of the room, apparently dead. In the back of the room were two other centipedes that immediately started crawling toward the opening. At the right moment, the party slammed the door shut crushing the creature while other party members attacked the part of the creature stuck in the hallway. This worked more or less for both creatures, with only one or two party members getting nipped by the creatures mandibles. Inside the room, the party found a collection of old useless tools. Where there was metal, it was covered in rust, where there was wood, it was rotted and crumbed at the slightest touch.

an allipContinuing down the hallway, the party went around a corner and hear faint mumbling around the next corner. As the turned, they saw a vaguely humanoid form composed of black wisps of ethereal smoke seemingly chanting before a statue. As the party approached it turned to confront. While many of the party's attacks slipped around or through the ghostly being, it could be affected by magical weapons and spells. With each magical attack, more and more of the inky smoke disappeared until it finally dissolved away.

As the party surveyed the room they noticed a dead body in one corner. Long dead, this person was now reduced to bone and bits of cloth. Jesswin noticed that the cloth resembled what he'd seem of the monk's garb in the Temple. Unlike other rooms where dust and debris would collect, this room remained relatively clean.

The most disturbing feature of the place, was the central statue on the far war. Cast in fine bronze, the statue depicted a man, his eyes wide like a madman covered in barbs of bone that tore through the flesh. The most disturbing feature of this macabre artwork was the mouth. Seemingly stretched to human limits, a large python snake was shown coming out of the throat, it's body wrapping around the torso and leg before coming up the back. Both heads, ophidian and human, had the same general look and sinister appearance.

At the base of the statue was an inscription in an ancient language. It read:

DaiHauk Triumphant

Adow was able to recall that DaiHauk (pronounced Dayhawk) was one of the Fallen, a godling cast out of the divine realms at the end of the All Saints War. The design of the statue showed that it was created at the same time as the temple, it was not a later addition after the complex fell... Adow and Jesswin began to notice subtle snake images in the wall sculptures that adorned almost every room.

As the party searched they found a secret passage that lead to another door and a hidden hallway leading back toward the main entrance. Through the other door, which was hidden on the other side, the party entered a large hall that everyone felt lead dangerously close to where the infernal dragon was first encountered.

Rather than explore further, the party returned topside. It appeared that another fight with the dragon could not be avoided.

The party set off for Dun Eamon, a nearby trading town, to gather supplies for an assault on the dragon's lair...

Jul 18, 2008

Dragonlance Comics (Issue 7) - Raistlin's Pawn

City of Death

issue 7 coverThis issue opens with a beautiful splash page of Takhisis talking with Raistlin. She mentions that she would know at once if he was plotting to betray her. As he reaffirms his loyality to the goddess, we see Kalathan in the middle of another one of his "posessions" and fighting with the gnome and Myrella until he regains his senses.

The three are just outside of Neraka and can see the twisted temple and two flying citadels in the center of town. As they make their way closer, the run across and fight a patrol of baaz draconians. Myrella realizes that Kalathan is being drawn to this city and uses a detect magic spell to reveal that the dark elf is under some enchantment.

Using a tunnel to sneak into the city, the party fights a purple worm before exiting just outside the temple. As they sneak inside, they come to the main audience chamber and see Raistlin. In the center of the huge room, a half-elf and another warrior fighting over a crown.

Just then, the trumpet of a horn triggers something in Kalathan, and the dark elf runs off in search of the mage. In the hallways of the temple, Raistlin and the elf meet. This second meeting causes the mage to remember what he had previously done.

Raistlin casts a spell and removes whatever he previously hid inside the elven vessel. The issue ends with the black robe looking villaniously happy.

Afterward we get a half page of game stats with info on Kalathan and Myrella.

Commentary

I liked this issue a bit more than the previous one. Once again there was some great artwork here. I had already figured out what was going on, but the opening of this issue explains the whys of Raistlin's plan. I did like the fight with the purple worm, since it was something I hadn't seen or read before. Also, the scene of the "half-elf and another warrior fighting over a crown" is actually Tanis and Ariakas, and comes from Dragons of Spring Dawning.

On the down side, I didn't care for the draconian fight, as I've seen it already taht before. I also didn't think that the fight scenes did anything to advance plot or character, and just seemed to fill up pages in the issue. Also, the art for Raistlin's hidden thoughts inside Kalathan (as scene here and in the first issue of this arc) could have been more interesting... at one point, it looks like Raist pulled a large bingo chip out of Kal's head.

Lastly, since this arc fills in a gap during the Dragons of Spring Dawning, I have the problem of knowing how this story (in general) has to end. Since I had read the book, I know what Raist will do and what the outcome will be, so the story is a little less compelling. I'll be happy after next issue when this arc wraps up...

Jul 11, 2008

Dragonlance Comics (Issue 6) - Raistlin's Pawn

Wayfarers

DC/Dragonlance comic, issue 6This issue opens with Gnatch and Kalathan journeying on foot (having given up the horse they were riding in the previous issue)to the city of Kalaman when they come across the dead bodies, scattered weapons and other tell-tale signs of battle. While looking over the scene, they are confronted and fight the river pirates responsible of the carnage. The elf puts up a good fight, but is overwhelmed in the end. Before he is killed, a wave of arrows wash over the area, killing the pirates, but not Gnatch and Kalathan.

The soldiers responsible for the rescue (and those the river pirates previously killed) turn out to be part of the Dragonarmy. The dark elf joins their group and "kills" Gnatch by throwing him in the nearby river as a test of his ruthlessness. As they leave, Gnatch comes out with the help of a female river pirate who survived the arrow assault. Together the woman and the gnome head to Kalaman.

Meanwhile, in the city of Kalaman, Raistlin prepares to leave and journey south to Neraka. Cut to Kalathan having another one of his "posessions". He and several dragonarmy men relax in a nearby bar. The bar has a magic mirror that shows a person's "secret self". Looking in the mirror, everyone sees Kalathan's reflection changes to that of Raistlin, though no one recognizes the image.

As Raistlin flies out of the city, riding a green dragon, Kalathan is compelled to leave as well (though he doesn't know why). Just then, Gnatch and the woman, now revealed to be a wizard, arrive and leave with the dark elf. Just outside the city, they find the griffon Kalathan was riding before. Together the three set off for Neraka...

Commentary

Like last issue, I didn't really enjoy this one. I still dislike Gnatch, who I think has been mostly useless to this point. The manner in which Kalathan joins the dragonarmy is a bit silly, nor do I understand just why the river pirate would be so interested in the elf at this point.

There is some really nice art in the issue, from Raistlin, his green dragon, to the interior of the local pub, but that doesn't help offset a story that moves along too fast, with nothing significant to add.

Timeline-wise, this story takes place during the third Chronicles book, and seem to fill in some of the gap of what Raistlin did before his final appearance at the end of the trilogy. Weis and Hickman were planning to write a novel about this as part of their "Lost Chronicles" to be called Dragons of the Hourglass Mage, which would undoubtedly recon this tale out of continuity. Controversy aside, it looks like their book will never be published, leaving this the only "official" account of what happened during that time.

Jul 8, 2008

Site Updates

Just a quick note about some site updates...
* I added some subscribe buttons (to the left)
* I added a blog roll, replacing the feeds that were previously there. If you know of a good D&D or Dragonlance related blog, post a comment and I'll add it to the site (if it's appropriate).
* I added a feed for my twitter account "dndblog". I'll be using this to post random bits too small for a blog post, but this can also be used for more real time discussions.

Hope you like the new features...

Jul 3, 2008

Dragonlance Comics (Issue 5) - Raistlin's Pawn

Night Flight

DC/Dragonlance comic, issue 5The story starts off with a Qualinesti elf trying to tame a griffon. Afterward he follows a group of silver dragons heading for the city of Palathas. Before making it to the city, the elf is magically grabbed off the griffon and brought down in the forrest outside the city.

There he encounters a mysterious gold skinned black robed mage who seems to know a lot about Kalthanan. In addition to his name, the mage also knows that the elf is an outcast, or dark elf, from Qualanesti society. The mage also uses magic to hide his "own dark thoughts" within the anger that Kalathan feels toward the elven society that exiled him. Afterward, the mage has no memory of what happened and warns the elf to never "cross the path of Raislin Majere again". As the mage walks away, Kalthan lies in pain as he hears a voice in his head saying, "follow him".

Sometime later (probably the next day), Gnatch, a gnome, is unvieling a device for Lord Amothus (the ruler of Palanthas). The device malfunctions soaking the lord of the city as well as Flint and Tasselhoff, who are also in the city. Kalthanan arrives on the scene and quickly disables the device. Lord Amothus invites Kalthanan to a feast that evening.

At the feast, Kalthanan runs into Laurana and is surprised to see her dressed as a warrior. Just then, Kalthanas hears a voice compelling the elf to "follow him! The time has come!" Kalthanan races out of the castle, even killing a guard who gets in his way.

Once outside, Kalthanan rides away on a horse, but not before Gnatch joins the elf. As they exit the city, Kalthanan has no idea what he had just done.

Commentary

Prior to this issue, I had no idea that the Dragonlance comic was going to be an anthology. Unlike the first issues, the cover here clearly stated that this will be a four part tale. Since Riva Silvercrown doesn't appear at all in the issue, it seemed like each story would have all new characters. Also, based on the appearance of Laurana, Flint, and Tas in the city of Palanthus (and Raistlin in black robes), this issue takes place around the time of the third Chronicles novel, Dragons of Spring Dawning, unlike the first issues which occur before and during the early part of Dragons of Autumn Twilight.

I really liked the art in this issue. There is a lot of detail in all the characters, from Flint, Tas, and Laurana, to Kalathanan and even Lord Amothus. There's also great detail in panel backgrounds, from the halls of Amothus's palace, to the forests around Palanthas. There's even one scene where you can see Flint and Tas fighting with each other in the backgrounds if you look closely enough.

Plot-wise I didn't like the issue since I didn't like Kalathanan right away. At first he just seems like someone out to make a quick coin, but only after his meeting with Laurana (half way through the issue) does my opinion start to change. I also didn't like Gnatch jumping on Kalathan's hourse at the end of the issue. It seemed like a clumsy way to get the two together for the next issue.

Nitpick: In one scene Kalathan talks about taking people's gold, but he should have said steel, since that's the standard currency on Krynn at the time.

Jul 1, 2008

Darkness and Light: The Fist and the Fury

the ghostly image of the dragon known as The Black ScourgeAfter the events of the last few sessions (A Different Keep on the Borderlands - Part 4 and The Test), the rest of the party continued training and planning their next move. With the dragon contained, for a while anyway, the party needed to train and do some research on their next options.

  • Hunter trained with Marcus, another local ranger in the area. Davyn, who had trained him in the past, was not available, still researching leads on Catriona, a missing friend that the party was also trying to find.
  • Theo was able to train with Lynn, the dwarf who had trained him previously in Flotsam.
  • Jesswin was able to train with some monks at a small shrine in the Temple District.
  • Greybear returned to his druidic circle (several days outside of Flotsam) to train before returning to the city to meet up with everyone else.
  • Bergin was able to train with some visiting clerics of Paladine. While Bergin is a priest of Kiri-Jolith, the two gods are closely aligned.
The party tried different avenues for learning more information about the Black Scourge, but it wasn't until the return of Davyn, did they get a new clue. Davyn found some tribal elders among the desert nomads that heard tales of the Black Scourge or the Infernal Darkness as it's also known. Those tales also mentioned something called the Gem of Amara as some kind of defense against this beast.

The party then followed up with more research in the Temple of Knowledge (one of the largest libraries in the area as well as a church of Gilean). While at the temple, they met Adow, a young wizard who was also seeking the Gem for his own reasons and willing to work with the rest of the party.

Adow revealed that the last known location of the gem was within the the Temple of the Flaming Fist, a long abandoned monastery of Sirrion, a few days journey from here. Adow previously tried to get other adventurers to explore the temple with him, but everyone in town the temple ruins had long been explored (and picked over) by anyone who every wielded a blade or staff.

The following morning, Adow and the rest of the group head off for the abandoned temple. The journey along the way is uneventful, and on the fifth day, they came across the remains of where the temple once stood hundreds of years ago.

The empty field still held subtle remains of the temple that once stood here. While all the wood structures had long since decayed, some remnants of the stone buildings littered the area. Likewise, a ridge in the ground surrounding the clearing showed where the outer wooden wall once stood.

photo of stairwell leading underground. Photo by Terry BallardThough nature had all but reclaimed this once tamed land, in the debris and overgrowth, the party was able to find a stone stairwell leading underground. Once this stairwell was probably contained within the above ground main temple, but now it was just a hole, leading the party down into the bowels of the earth.

At the bottom of the stairs, everyone entered into a large squarish room, almost 40 feet on each side. The walls and floor were smooth, well carved structures of polished stone. Near the middle of the room was a small pile of debris while in the far corner were empty and scorched grain sacks. Scorch marks also marred the rounded ceiling here as well.

dire batJust then a pair of large bats flew into the room, attacking the group with their sharp teeth and powerful jaws. The spread out slightly, Hunter shooting arrows at a distance and the rest of the party coordinating their attacks for when the creatures were within striking distance. A few blows and spells later, the dire bats were defeated.

Afterward the party headed down the west corridor. At the end of a short hallway, they found a door ajar from the the frame and slightly open. From within they could hear flowing water. Inside the party found a natural cave with a small waterfall coming out of one of the far walls traveling along the rough ground and out a small opening on the opposite wall. At the base of the falls the water was about 4-5 feet deep and held algae covered stones and small fish and crabs. The room also had a number of old barrels, probably used for holding water pulled from the stream. As the party searched the room for other clues about what the temple was like all those years ago, something invisible attacked Jesswin.

With no way to see the creature, Theo tried tossing some dirt around the area of the last attack. The tactic was good enough to highlight part of tree-trunk think leg. Greybear followed up by splashing some water on the creature as well. With enough water and dirt clinging to the creature, everyone was able to see it well enough to attack it. It soon fell to the ground dead, it's cloak of invisibility gone. One exposed, the party saw what looked like a humanoid fungus creature, known as a Phantom Fungus.

With the creature dead, the party was able to more closely explore the room. Hunter noticed something odd about the stones near the base of the waterfall. After a little prodding with his sword, it revealed that the lime-covered stones were actually the covered bones of a human body. With a little effort and some help, Hunter was able to pull the body out of the water.

Anyone looking at the body, could easy see the caved in skull was the cause of death. What was less noticeable to all but Jes were the marks that indicated repeated broken and healed arm and leg bones during this person's lifetime. Jes surmised this person was a well trained, if not battle experienced, fighting monk. Clutched in it's hand, the skeleton held a room key.

The party continued exploring till they reached a pair of doors on either side at the end of one of the hallways. Going through the first door, a large fungus started emitting a loud shrieking noise. After less than a minute the noise stopped. The first chamber in this room was empty, except for the typical dirt and debris that seemed to be attracted to the corners of these rooms. The next chamber in this room was almost as empty as the first, except for the pair of undead that was shambling toward them.

dire batAs the party spread out in the chamber the undead each went after different targets. One attacked Theo, getting a lucky bite on him before being destroyed, while the other was kept at bay till it too could be destroyed. At the back of the chamber, the party found a secret passage that the ghouls obviously hid inside. The passage connected the two chambers and held a few items from less lucky explorers, including some coins and a few spell scrolls.

After going through the other door, the party found a long room covered in piles of trash, seemingly from all parts of the temple. Books and miscellaneous papers were strewn about along with busted chairs, part of a bed frame and less identifiable items. Everything was precariously and randomly tossed about. As various party members explored deeper and deeper, each found themselves getting tripped up, slipping on, or knocking over the debris in this room. As they left, Adow grabbed a few books and papers to look over later.

After leaving these rooms the party continued down different passages. As they rounded one corner they heard a strange sound coming from down the hall. Charging at the party, a crazed hobgoblin attacked. This creature was slightly larger than others of it's species, with bulging muscles and crude (even by hobgoblin standards) animal hides and furs. With the momentum of it's charge, the first attack against Hunter almost killed the elf in one massive swing. Bergin quickly cast curative magic to heal the severe wounds. Meanwhile, the sheer ferocity of the attack stunned Jes in place.

As Theo sneaked past hobgoblin, Hunter attacked with his magical blade and Adow tried unleashing potent missiles of magic against the raging attacker. These bolts of force flew toward the barbarian, but instead of wounding the hobgoblin, they were harmlessly absorbed into a tribal emblem attached to his hide armor.

Now surrounded on three sides, the creature wildly attacked whoever was available, paying no attention to his own safety. After a trading a few more blows, he was killed by the combined efforts of the party. Afterward, the party retreated from this underground labyrinth and made camp in the above ground ruins of the temple while everyone tried to rest and heal.

Jun 30, 2008

Commenting On...

I've kept commenting turned off for a while now, but when I looked at the blog stats recently, I've seen a lot more numbers than when I first started this. Since I don't want the conversation to be one sided, I'm going to turn on the comment feature. If you're a casual reader or first time visitor, I hope you'll take a moment to leave a comment, add to the discussion, and otherwise help enrich the experience here.

You've heard me ramble on for months, now I look forward to hearing from you...

Jun 29, 2008

The Original D&D Movie - Dragonstrike

For many years, TSR tried to come up with ways to bring new players into the D&D game. Their own research had shown that there was a steep learning curve to the rules set (something that I think has persisted to this day). To that end, TSR created various versions of D&D lite, usually in the form of a board game, sometimes with cards and plastic pieces, and always with a full set of polyhedral dice.

One such game was Dragonstrike. One of the things that made this game different was the inclusion of a video. Only a small part of the video casette (remember those!) is actually instructional, most of it is a live action/computer graphics short film depicting one adventure. Be warned that the CG is pretty bad, the acting not too much better, and the plot straight out of a basic adventure... on the other hand, it does have it's moments, illustrates some basic concepts and has a disembodied floating head DM (where else are you going to see that!)

So grab a soda, and a small popcorn, 'cause it's movie night...

Jun 27, 2008

Dragonlance Comics (Issue 4) - Honor or Life?

My Honor Is My Life

DC/Dragonlance comic, issue 4The story picks up shortly after the events of issue 3. Kitiara, top her dragon Skie, is leading her army, along with an unmounted red dragon, toward Castle Silvercrown.

Inside, Riva and Vandar are talking with Fizban, without getting much information out of the old wizard. Riva leaves, with the dragonlance that was recovered from the monestary of Majere in issue 1, to join up with the castle knights. She tries to bolster their spirits before the attack, but is quickly dismissed since she's a woman.

Meanwhile as Vandar and Fizban talk, the young boy, Tip, appears, happy the old wizard is still alive. As Vandar leaves to meditate on his own, Fizban questions weither or not Angriff really died the way Vandar remembered it (as seen in issue 3).

Outside, as the battle rages, Riva single-handedly kills the red dragon. This event turns the tied of the battle and instills the knights with renewed vigor. Just then, Kit arrives and launchs her attack on Riva.

Back inside, Vandar is deep in prayer. He looks at the Medallion of Majere as well as a sword mounted on the wall. He puts on the medallion and leaves the room.

Outside Riva is wounded and then disarmed by the Dragon Highlord. Vandar appears, holding Riva's sword. Kit dismisses the monk as not being a serious threat until Vandar uses the power of the medallion to conjour a chitinous armor like a bug might have (insects are part of the domain of Majere). As Kitiara and Vandar fight, Skie swoops in and attacks Vandar from behind. Kitiara uses the moment to grab Riva's dragonlance before fleeing atop her dragon steed.

As Kit flies away, Fizban reveals that he has the real lance and Kitiara escaped with a fake one. Riva comforts Vandar as he dies, realizing that Fizban was actually the god Paladine. Fizban then reminds Riva that because of the actions of her and Vandar, "the light still burns."

At the end of the comic, we get a map showing key locations from the first 4 issues, along with the paths Riva and Sturm traveled. Also we get stats for Kitiara, the dragon Skie, and information on dragonarmor (the armor Dragon Highlords wear).

Commentary

(Spoiler Warning for the Chronicles trilogy)
The artwork was really exceptional in this issue. There was a great deal of attention paid to Skie, Kitiara, the red dragon, and the knights of Castle Silvercrown. I thought more detail should have been taken for Kit's foot soldiers, who all looked like viking warriors, instead of mercenaries and monsters (draconians, hobgoblins, and other creatures).

I was less than pleased with the overall story. As I mentioned before many of the scenes remind me of similar scenes from the Chronicles novels:
  • Kitiara on her dragon looming over an opponent. Here it's Riva, in the novels it's Sturm at the High Clericist Tower.
  • A woman not being taken seriously by the knights until she proves herself in battle against a dragon. Here it's Riva, in the novels it's Laurana at the High Clericist Tower.
  • Kitiara being mistaken for a man (by a woman) till she removes her helmet. Here it's Riva, in the novels it's Laurana.
  • Kitiara killing a Brightblade. Here it's Vandar, in the novels it's Sturm.
  • A dying character realizing who Fizban really is. Here it's Vandar, in the novels it's Flint
Also, I really liked the character of Vandar and wanted to see more of his story. Killing him off in this issue seemed like too easy a resolution to his personal struggle. Also, Fizban's comment that Angriff Brightblade might not be dead becomes an unresolved plot point, since no one else was around to hear that statement (I'm not counting Tip, since he's just a little boy).

Overall I was disappointed with how the issue ended, but on the other hand was looking forward to seeing how the next issue would continue Riva's story.

Jun 20, 2008

Dragonlance Comics (Issue 3) - Caught in a Dream's Clutches!

Continuing my review of DC's Dragonlance comics series.

Nightwatch

DC/Dragonlance comic, third issueThe issue starts at night in Riva's bedroom at Castle Silvercrown. As Riva and Vandar kiss, Vandar is revealed to be a draconian. Riva quickly kills the creature before setting off to find the real Vandar in the castle.

She encounters her father and brother (who was revealed last issue to have been killed several months earlier by a Sivak draconian) tethered to strings like puppets trying to stop her. After Riva cuts the strings that control them, the two crumple to the floor.

Elsewhere in the castle, she finds Vandar chained and tortured by a hobgoblin. She quickly kills the creature and frees the monk. As they talk, it appears Vandar is trapped in the same dream as Riva. While taking a break to rest, Riva hears Vandar talking, but then sees that he's talking to his brother Angriff (Sturm's father). As the scene plays out, Riva sees the two argue about how to deal with the angry mob outside the castle and finally how an arrow breaks through a window killing Angriff.

Vandar, broken out of the "flashback", reveals that this lead to him abandoning the knighthood. As they talk, Lord Soth appears taunting Riva and Vandar. Riva moves to attack but is restrained by Soth's magics. Vandar is then offered a blade and a chance to reclaim his honor in combat (Soth has the best line of the issue when he offers the blade: "Are you man--or monk?"). Vandar tries to attack as Soth's image fades into that of a beautiful dark haired woman asking about "the one", someone Riva and Vandar have meet, but didn't realize just who it was.

Just then the woman turns into a five headed dragon as Vandar realizes the "woman" was the goddess Takhisis. Riva seizes the nearby dragonlance and stabs Takhisis, which breaks the illusion of the dream.

Riva, stumbles out of her bed and finds Vandar in the hall. The two sidestep the issue of their dream kiss, instead concentrating on who "the one" is. At that moment, Fizban reveals that would be him...

Commentary

This was my favorite issue so far, even though most of it was a dream. I liked the Riva/Vandar romance, Vandar's flashback showing the death of Sturm's father (never before or since detailed), the artwork for Riva, Soth, and Takhisis, and the growing conflict in Vandar between the knight he was and the monk he is.

Once again, the issue also had a few missteps including the scene with Riva's father and brother, which just seemed like filler. Also many of the events in the book seem recycled from the Chronicles books, including the shared dream (from Dragons of Winter Night), the search for "the one" (similar to the search for the "green gemstone man" throughout the series), and a single person slaying Takhisis with a dragonlance (a reference to the Legend of Huma).

I think at this point I started realizing that the Dragonlance comic would never be a really great book (and this was later confirmed when I started reading Jeff Grubb's Forgotten Realms comic, the gold standard of the TSR/DC comics, IMO)

Jun 16, 2008

D&D Rules - Time to Train

I was recently writing up a post about one of the recent game sessions (I'm about three sessions, or two posts, behind the actual campaign) when I started going off on a tangent about Training.

As I started writing more and more on this "tangent" I realized this should be it's own post...

Here's the conundrum I run into with training in the D&D game... on one hand I like the logic that characters need to train to gain new abilities and powers. On the other hand, I hate the fact that long term adventures need to "grind to a halt" to allow PCs a couple of weeks to train.

I especially have this problem when the characters are in the middle of a big, epic, "save the world" kind of adventure. There are a couple of solutions, adventure-wise, but none that I like. I could just stick with dungeon crawls, so the characters can stop, train, and resume the crawl at their leisure. But I think a good campaign should have a bit more than just "break door, kill, loot, rinse and repeat". Alternately I could keep the adventures short to allow the logical end to occur around the time the character would be ready to train. I do that at low levels, but when I start getting into the mid levels (my personal sweet spot as a DM), I like epic stories, which rarely fit into 12 encounters or less.

Now I could just abandon training all together, which later versions of the game have done, but then I can't rationalize how characters seemingly learn abilities and powers spontaneously.

I've tried solutions that are a mix of the two... allowing characters to partially advance mid adventure (gaining hps and more existing spells/day, but not new feats, or new spell levels) and then train up later. In fact I had to update my ending to the previous adventure to establish that the Black Scourge was "contained", for a while at least, to logically allow PCs to stop and train and research what they could do next.

Lately I've been thinking of requiring characters to train at low levels (1-5) to advance and then advance without training (or "self-training") thereafter... just a thought.

Jun 13, 2008

Dragonlance Comics (Issue 2) - Beware the Draconian

Continuing my review of DC's Dragonlance comics series.

Rites of Passage

DC/Dragonlance comic, second issueThe issue starts with Riva and Vandar looking at the dragonlance they recovered in the first issue. Riva claims Vandar should carry it, or at least one of the other weapons they have, but Vandar's pacifist beliefs don't allow it. That night he notices that the constellations of the Queen of Darkness (Takhisis) and the Valiant Warrior (Paladine) do not appear in the sky. He believes that the two gods are on Krynn and no one will survive their battle. As Riva tries to comfort him, we see her attraction to Vandar while he seems to brood on a past betrayal.
Note: The sight of the missing constellations ties in to a similar scene in Dragons of Autumn Twilight.
In the middle of the night, Riva is alone in a dense, thorny forest, where she confronts Lord Soth. As she tries to use her dragonlance against him, he easily disarms her with magic.

Just then, Riva wakes up from her dream to find herself being attacked by a dragon-man creature. As it bears down on Riva, Vandar tries to attack the creature but is quickly knocked down. Both he and Riva are enveloped by a magical web the creature casts.

They are quickly rescued by Fizban and the boy, Tip (from the first issue). Fizban also explains that those creatures are "draconians", and have only recently appeared on Krynn.

All four head to Castle Silvercrown, where Riva's father, Eglin calls Vandar "a stain on the knighthood". Riva's rebuttal is that Eglin and her brother Malik are hiding in the castle instead of trying to confront the rumored dragonarmies in the area. Fizban tries to diffuse the argument with a card trick, but can't seem to recall how it goes. Malik, clearly drunk, is interested in the trick and leads Fizban out of the room.

On the roof of the castle, Malik confronts Fizban claimed he sensed great powder in the mage. Fizban notices that Malik no longer appears drunk. The image of Malik shifts to reveal a draconian. The creature claims to have killed Malik and taken his place several months ago.

Vandar arrives to see the draconian attack the befuddled wizard, but doesn't do anything, citing his pacifist code. As Fizban is pushed down a well, Elgin, Riva, and Tip arrive. Riva looks disappointed when she realizes that Vandar could have done something to stop Fizban's murder. Tip wants revenge for Fizban, but Eglin stops him. Riva instead attacks the draconian in single combat. When she is hurt, Vandar tries to step in, only to be stopped by Eglin. The elder Silvercrown notes how Vandar did nothting to save the wizard, but now rushes to Riva's aid. Just then, Riva is able to get the upper hand on the draconian, and plunge her sword through it's belly and turns to stone. Upon death, the draconian takes on the appearance of Riva.

As Riva wonders what other enemies are rising up in the realm, we see an image of Lord Soth, sitting on his throne in Dargaard Keep laughing...

The information page includes data on the Knights of Solomnia, the Oath and the Measure, as well as basic stats and a brief description of Lord Soth.

Commentary

I really liked the second issue, even though it had some faults. For fans of the original trilogy, the scene with the missing constellations was a great bonus. We can clearly see that Riva is attracted to Vandar and that he has some terrible secret in his past that probably dishonored him and drove him out of the knighthood. Also, we see him try to jump to her defense several times in the story, so it's pretty safe that he has feelings for her as well.

I didn't like Tip much in either issue. As a companion to Fizban, he serves the same function that Tas does in the original trilogy, but without being a kender. The lack of a kender in the story so far is a bit disappointing as they are such an identifiable race for the Dragonlance setting. Also, since I had read all the Dragonlance books that came out at this time, the "death" of Fizban wasn't so shocking. And the final scene of Lord Soth laughing was too clich├ęd--just what was he laughing at? Did he see Riva defeat the draconian? And that would be laugh-worthy?

Also, the writer's knowledge of draconians is a bit sketchy. The draconian casting the web spell is most likely a Bozak draconian, but when Bozak's die, they don't turn to stone (that trait only belongs to the Baaz draconians), instead their bones explode. Also the draconian at the end that takes on the appearance of Riva in death is a Sivak (they are the only ones with that ability). The two draconians in this issue look the same, though in other books and game products, all draconains look different from each other.

While not a great comic, it was a monthly Dragonlance fix at a time when only a few books were being written for the setting.