Apr 28, 2008

Dragonlance Inspired Music

The Dragonlance saga has inspired millions of fans imagination all around the world, as well as a few songs, including:

  • "Raistlin and the Rose", a song by Swedish metal band Lake of Tears
  • "Wishmaster," a song by Finish Metal group Nightwish based partially on the relationship between Raistlin and Dalamar as a master and apprentice.
  • "The Soulforged", a song by German metal group Blind Guardian
I'm not sure how well they stack up against Led Zepplin's "The Battle of Evermore" for songs inspired by fantasy literature, I'll let you be the judge...

Apr 22, 2008

DM Tools - Fiery Dragon - Counter Collection

I'm a big fan of props at the game table. Even before 3e, I'd been using everything from pennies, to Lego, to metal minis to better illustrate all the details in a combat. With the arrival of 3e (or more accurately the Combat & Tactics Option book from 2e), representing combat on a grid "playing field" became crucial to account for many of the special moves and attacks of opportunity now available in the rules.

While I love minis, I'm not a very good or fast painter, and I can't always find the mini I need for a particular encounter. Also, I'm not always playing at my home so I need to pack up "supplies" for the game.

Thankfully I found Fiery Dragon's Counter Collection. It's available on CD or as an electronic download and presents almost every D&D creature you need in the form of a flat counter. The counters are also properly sized for the space the appropriate creature takes up and have a blank space for writing a number (for nameless minions, hordes, or tribes) or a name (for PCs or BBEGs). The file is PDF, so it works easily on PC or Mac and each page contains a variety of different creatures. Just print out the appropriate pages on a light cardstock, cut and use.

Overall this is a great product... the only downsides are
a) with the flat counters, you don't get a full sense of the volume of space one creature will take up verses another (unlike minis which give you the 3-D perspective of each creature).

b) sometimes (rarely) you want more numbers of a certain creature than appear on a single sheet.

Creatures you typically encounter in large numbers (goblins, kobolds, orcs, and some undead) always appear more than once on a sheet, but if you need three Ettins, you'll need three pages and end up with a bunch of Formians you may never need. It's a minor quibble and has not diminished my whole hearted recommendation of this product.

Apr 18, 2008

A Different Keep on the Borderlands - Part 3

image of an attacking hobgoblinAfter defeating the hobgoblins and draconian and securing their location (see part 2 for more details), the party took time to rest and heal from their wounds. With guards stationed on the roof, the night passed without incident.

The early morning, however, was not as quiet. From the roof, the lookout could see several hobgoblins coming over to their tower, while a few others left the keep by way of the breach in the back wall.

With the hobgoblins making their way over, inside the party made their preparations:

* Hunter (the half-elven ranger) and Arterion (the elven mage) took secure positions on the roof with bow and arrow.
* Meanwhile, Theodonis (the kender), Greybear (the druid), and Bergin (the minotaur cleric) took positions on the first floor, ready to strike should the tower door fall.

From the roof, Hunter was able to kill one of the hobgoblins before they entered the tower. Once inside Theo, Bergin, and Greybear engaged the hobgoblins in melee combat. After a few minutes of close combat, the hobgoblins were defeated.

Afterward, the party went to investigate one of the other towers in the hope if finding Catronia, Bergin's missing friend. In the last tower, the party found the second floor well guarded by a pair of hobgoblin spearmen. As the hobgoblins persued the party down to the first floor, one was killed by the party and the remaining one retreated to the second floor. Rather than chase this creature, the party set fire to the tower and retreated outside. Rather than leave the tower by way of the first floor, the creature went onto the keep walls trying to call for reinforcements.

image of a trollAll this commotion attracted the attention of one of the troll jailers that watched over the prisoner-miners in two separate buildings near the rear of the keep. The troll let loose it's winter wolf pet in the event this beast could take care of the intruders.

Meanwhile, Theo was able to sneak around the edge of the keep walls and make his way to the jail cells. Once inside he quickly picked the locks of the two cells, not to mention the three kender who were individually changed to the walls (and mostly enjoying the experience, even though it was a getting a little dull after all this time). Most of prisoners ran for the door while a few tried to assist Theo.

Among those still in the building was a young man clad in only tattered robes, a stout dwarf, and a few other folk looking to improvise a weapon out of the debris in this room. Outside the troll tried corralling the prisoners, but his powerful arms killed more than he recaptured. See more prisoners in the building, he went back inside.

image of a winter wolf
Elsewhere in the courtyard, the winter wolf charged at Greybear. As this massive creature barreled down toward him, Greybear called upon the powers of nature and was enveloped by an unseen shroud of peacefullness and calm that immediately halted the wolf in it's tracks. Once the bonds of friendship were established, Greybear was able to send this creature away from the keep.
Once again, I can't emphasis how totally "jedi mind trick" this scene played out. Thanks in part to Greg (playing Greybear) rolling a natural 20 on his check, this lumbering beast was quickly reduced to an obedient puppy with a wave of the druid's hand.
After Hunter was able to silence the hobgoblin on the wall with a well placed arrow to the chest, he and Arti ran up to help Theo confront the troll. Greybear quickly followed.

Inside, Theo and the other prisoners tried attacking the creature with whatever they had. The unarmed young man even unleashed a flurry of attacks with this bare fists that was quite impressive, if not actually damaging to the tough skinned troll.

Outside, Hunter tried firing a few arrows at the troll through the doorway while Greybear tried distracting him with a magical flash in his face. As the troll continued attacking the people inside the room, Arti cast a powerful transposition spell that caused him and the troll to swap places (the same spell Arti used on the tower guard when originally assaulting the keep). With the Troll outside the room, Hunter fired an arrow at point blank range that buried deep in the troll's skull. The troll was dead before it crumpled to the ground.

The party stripped the troll of anything of value, including keys as well as a very nice chainmail shirt, while everyone else found kindling and built a bonfire to burn the trolls remains. Afterward everyone retreated to the now empty building to rest for the night. As the night passed, the party saw the troll from the other building sneak out under cover of the darkness and disappear into the night.

Also during the night, Bergin, Arti, and Greybear had the chance to talk with the young man who so bravely tried to fight the troll with his bare hands. He introduced himself as Jesriel. After hearing Bergan's description of Catriona, Jes recalled seeing her and the strange events surrounding the time she was at the keep.

According to Jes, a woman matching her description was brought in to the jail cells a few weeks ago, but instead of putting her in one of the cells and having her work the mines, she was kept in a cell all by herself, never worked the mine, and was handed over to several cloaked figures a few days later. After that she was gone and those mysterious people were never seen in again by any of the prisoners.

Jes also talked about some of the conditions at the keep, most notably that mine work has been shut down for the last week or so. Other long time prisoners commented that this shut down has happened in the past and strange sounds and lights could be seen coming from the mine during certain nights. Just what was happening inside none of the prisoners ever found out.

The next day the party was able to free the prisoners from the other cell and help arm them with weapons and armor from the many fallen hobgoblins and goblins inside the keep walls. Collectively the 40+ prisoners set forth back to Flotsam while the party along with Jesriel decided to venture into the caves, looking for more clues about the disappearance of Catriona.

Apr 16, 2008

Did You Know? Sturm

When the original Dragonlance characters were first being developed, Sturm Brightblade was first called Santos Silverblade. Later, the name was changed to something more stern, in accordance with the character's personality.

Also, Tracy Hickman, one of the key architects of the Dragonlance project, originally used the name for one of the dead siblings of the vampire Count Strahd von Zarovich in his classic 1st edition module, Ravenloft.

Apr 14, 2008

Dragonlance Live Action Movie (Fan Trailer)

Here's a little something I stumbled on... a fan made trailer for the Dragonlance Chronicles. Considering these guys probably had no budget, it's not too bad.

Apr 9, 2008

Did You Know? Krynn

Here's a little bit of Dragonlance triva:

The planet name for the Dragonlance setting is "Krynn", but did you know who named it and where it comes from?

Answer: Seems the name comes from Jeff Grubb (not Tracy Hickman as some might have thought), one of the people on the original Dragonlance development team. Jeff named the planet after his sister-in-law, Corrine.

Apr 6, 2008

What Do I Read Next? (Part Two)

A Short Guide to the "Core" Dragonlance Novels

In part one, I looked at the some of the earliest "core" Dragonlance novels, up to the Chaos War. Now, I'll look at some more recent books that many consider core books, set after that world altering event.

Chaos War

The Last Thane, Tears of the Night Sky, The Puppet King, Reavers of the Blood Sea, The Siege of Mt. Nevermind
In addition to Dragons of Summer Flame, these other books are set during that same time, and in some cases feature scenes from Summer Flame told from a different point of view.
Like many of the books related to major Dragonlance events, I pick and choose only the ones that really interest me. In this series I only read Tears of the Night Sky (because I intrigued by Crysania's tiger companion) and Reavers of the Blood Sea (I'm a big fan of Richard Knaak's minotaur-themed books).
Final Recommendation: Once again, read what you want to fill in some of the gaps hinted at in Summer Flame, and beware, story quality can vary depending on the author.

Dragons of a New Age

The Dawning of a New Age, The Day of the Tempest, The Eve of the Maelstrom
These books written by Jean Rabe (thought I was going to say someone else, didn't you?) were the first books to detail the world of Krynn a few decades after the events of the Chaos War, in particular, the ending of Dragons of Summer Flame.

Some people consider these essential books for understanding the state of the world during this "fifth age"; others feel the plot and/or writing isn't on par with the Weis and Hickman books.
I never read these books, since I wasn't a fan of this version of the setting. I knew enough of the changes so I wasn't completely confused when I started reading the War of Souls books.
Final Recommendation: Read them if you like the setting, as well as some of Jean Rabe's other Dragonlance books that follow the further adventures of these Heroes of the Heart.

The War of Souls

Dragons of a Fallen Sun, Dragons of a Lost Star, Dragons of a Vanished Moon
These books, written by (who else) Weis and Hickman, detail the world approximately 40 years after the events of the Chaos War. This story tells of the rise of the One God and the fall of several of the dragon lords (gargantuan dragons, larger and more powerful than had ever been seen or heard of).
In part this series was Weis and Hickman's attempt to clean up some of the aspects of the setting that they didn't like, with a new trilogy that undid some of the defining characteristics of the "Fifth Age".
Final Recommendation: Good books. I didn't like most of the Fifth Age, so I was glad to see it gone, and I appreciated that it wasn't retconned with the "it was all a dream" solution.

Additional Reading Suggestions:

While none of these books are considered core, many people find these stories worthy additions to the Dragonlance saga that fill in details on a number of topics and eras.
  • Elven Nations and Dwarven Nations: These books tell the earliest histories of the Elven and Dwarven races from he Kinslayer Wars and the founding of Qualinesti (elves) to the founding of Thorbardin (dwarves).
  • The Legend of Huma and "Minotaur Books": The first book (written by Richard Knaak) tells of the story of Huma, the dragon, and the first time Dragonlances were used to stop Takhisis. It also introduces the minotaur character of Kaziganthi "Kaz", who would be the focus of several other Knaak books and establish Knaak as the unofficial "expert" on Krynn's race of bull men.
  • The Kingpriest Trilogy: This series tells of the time just before the Cataclysm and ads a wealth of details to the setting. There are few negative opinions of these books. I highly recommend reading them after Chronicles and Legends.
  • Raistlin Chronicles: Two books from Margaret Weis that fill in further details of Raistlin's time before, during, and after his Test at the Tower of High Sorcery.
  • The Dark Disciple: The latest trilogy from Margaret Weis (this time writing solo), this follows up on events from the end of the War of Souls trilogy.
  • Various Anthologies: There are about 12 different short story collections in the Dragonlance saga ranging from the earliest history of the world, to stories set during and after the recent War of Souls. The quality varies from collection to collection, but each book usually has enough stories to make reading it worth while.

Apr 3, 2008

Dragonlance Action Figures

Not anytime soon... but in the meantime that didn't stop some creative folks from coming up with their interpretations of what Raistlin Majere and Tasselhoff Burrfoot might look like:

dragonlance custom action figures Raistlin Majere and Tasselhoff Burrfoot

(click on the photo to see more images and details on how the figures were made)