Sunday, December 31, 2017

End-of-Year Ode to Dragonlance

I love you, Dragonlance. And like I've said before, I don't care who knows. Every year at this time, when I wax nostalgic about my relationship with heroic fantasy literature and roleplaying, I return to my love for Dragonlance.

Yes, were the old modules the epitome of railroading? Sure, I'll capitulate on that point. Were the original novels somewhat corny, and many of the subsequent novels of dubious quality? Perhaps.

Is my opinion colored by the fact that I encountered Dragonlance novels in a grade school bookshelf before I ever read a word written by Howard, Leiber, Moorcock, Vance, or any of the other Appendix N luminaries? Yes, I'm sure that accident of my personal history features prominently in my stance as a Dragonlance fanatic.

I still don't care what you say. I love Dragonlance. And I want to convince you to love it a little bit too. 

When it comes to the novels and stories, I believe they were more subtle than they seem on the surface. If you look deeper, you'll find some grey among all that black and white. Sure, there's lots of archetypal good and evil material in the Dragonlance canon. But what about the "grey areas" like the love Tanis had for the evil Kitiara? Or the inner turmoil of the flawed and broken Raistlin as he struggled with the shadows and light in his soul?

From a roleplaying perspective, when have gamers ever been truly restricted by published modules? Sure, beginning players might be duped into railroading when using ANY module. But once you have some sessions under your belt, you realize that you can, and should, stray away from the published material. It should not be taken as ironclad plot.

Gaming in any published world doesn't mean you have to follow the storylines. Call it alternate history or whatever, but in the end you are free to take that world in any direction, as you and your fellow gamers go on your own adventures with your own characters. This concept, however, for some strange reason, seems to elude far too many gamers. The mind boggles...

And like I said before, kender don't have to be quirky and kooky kleptomaniacs.

I'm not sure I've convinced you to explore the world of Krynn, but perhaps you won't mindlessly accept the next batch of Dragonlance hate you encounter. If so, my work here is done!

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