DL5 2

DL10: Dragons of Dreams (1985)

DL10: Dragons of Dreams (1985) is probably the best of the Dragonlance modules? You might be questioning if “best of the Dragonlance modules” is really a metric of success at this point. I think it is! As I am wont to repeat: Dragonlance was a massive, boundary pushing experiment that happened in real time. At the time, I expect that the fresh excitement made overlooking the problems easier, something that, for me, wears off with time. But I could see myself running Dragons of Dreams! It stands alone pretty good and isn’t hobbled by the event-heavy narrative hand the other entries we’ve looked at so far.

Part of this is because it includes a memorable villain, the green dragon Cyan Bloodbane (though it always bugged that the green dragon’s name is essential “light blue”), who has infected the dreams of the elven king Lorac, turning the kingdom the players explore into a nightmare world. Hickman pulls out the stops, with dream versions of just about every major character (alive and dead) making appearances to terrify the players, who are never entirely sure what is real and what isn’t. I believe that this marks the first time the idea of dreams as an explorable reality for Dungeons & Dragons, and maybe for RPGs in general (Chaosium’s Dreamlands box would appear in 1986). At the very least, I can think of no module prior to 1985 that commits to the dream reality as completely as this.

I suspect that, in a game so dominated by the idea of simulating reality, the realization that you can just narrate wholesale changes to the fabric of reality must have been a pretty big light bulb going on for a lot of designers. D&D didn’t play with this too much, though (Nightmare Realms for Ravenloft is the only thing that immediately jumps to mind).

Couple weird things. First, this picks up with the characters who we last saw in DL6 – Tanis, Raistlin, Caramon primary among them. Second, despite the green cover consciously trying to tie this module’s events to the Dragons of Spring Dawning novel, the events here transpire in Dragons of Winter Night.

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