Dragonlance Adventures (1987)

Dragonlance Adventures was the first sourcebook for the Dragonlance campaign setting. Before its release in 1987, most Dragonlance material was played with pre-generated characters corresponding to the novels. This hardcover made general AD&D Dragonlance games possible by detailing the world’s unique classes, races and magic. Written by Hickman and Weis, it feels a lot more like a Star Wars sourcebook from the 90s, mining a specific book for every possible game-related tidbit, than it does a traditional D&D supplement.

I distinctly recall a Chessex catalog in the early 90s advertising this, Greyhawk Adventures, the Wilderness Survival Guide and the Dungeoneer’s Survival Guide on clearance for $3.75 each. It screamed “please get these books out of our warehouse.” When I got them, I understood why. With the possible exception of Greyhawk, they’re dry and verge on deadly dull. At this point, my Dragonlance phase was in full swing, but I’ll be damned if Dragonlance Adventures wasn’t a snoozefest.

I was an impatient kid. There’s lots of great stuff in this book, but the presentation fared better in the Tales of the Lance box set in 1992.

The cover drove me nuts, too. It depicts the climactic moment in Dragons of Spring Dawning, after Tanis has killed Ariakas (a barely notable archvillain) and claimed the Crown of Power, to Lord Soth’s chagrin. There’s several problems for me here. First, I can’t get past this Soth – Keith Parkinson’s weird coffee can helmet in the painting Lord Soth’s Charge (also in ’87) turned the death knight from generic zombie dude into a medieval Darth Vader. Anything else at this point doesn’t cut it. Second, Tanis is the least interesting hero of the lance, a Kenny Loggins wannabe in scalemail and a headband. That’s the dude you want to inspire your readers’ heroics? Not all the other weird and wonderful characters from the books? Meh.

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