History of the Dragonlance Nexus
The origin of the Dragonlance Nexus is a tale of two cities. Even though the Nexus was officially launched in January 2001, there was a great deal of history to the site prior to that date. This document will try to chronicle the development of the Nexus from its origins in 1996, to its early incarnations in 2001, to the present day.
The origin of the Nexus beings with a small site called “the Dragon’s Realm.” Optimized for Netscape Navigator 2.0, the site was started in the summer of 1996 as an experiment by long-time staff member Paladin to learn HTML and to talk about some of the AD&D Gold Box videogames he was playing at the time.
In late 1996, the Dragon’s Realm joined the Forgotten Realms Webring. Intrigued by the concept, Paladin started one of the first Dragonlance Webrings to highlight his favorite campaign world. Unfortunately, the Dragon’s Realm didn’t really fit the Dragonlance mold, so a new site called “The Lost Citadel” was created. Both sites existed in the same 1 MB directory on Geocities. (To put that in perspective, the current version of the Nexus is over 90 times larger.)
The Lost Citadel supplanted the Dragon’s Realm in short order when it was invited to join an exclusive Dragonlance Webring called the ‘Top 5% of Kender Sites,’ run by the infamous Kipper Snifferdoo of Kencyclopedia fame.
The Lost Citadel continued to expand to cover other areas of Dragonlance material, beyond its traditional magic focus. Eventually, the site was spun off into a new site called “The World of Krynn,” which went online in November 1997. The following month, the products and Fifth Age sections were added by Paladin, and the site moved off of Geocities to a dedicated web host. Late the following year, the site’s back end was upgraded to support the then-popular Netscape 4.0 to simplify some of the site’s maintenance.
The Dragonlance.com Era
The World of Krynn was continually expanded and updated, and outgrew several web hosts between December 1997 and August 1999. In addition, the first of several incarnations of the message boards were put online; around this time, other volunteer staff were added to help out with the message boards and some of the site’s content.
However, the major change happened in 1999, when Paladin acquired the Dragonlance.com domain name from the previous owner in August 1999. At this point, The World of Krynn disappeared and became simply “Dragonlance.com.” With the move to Dragonlance.com, the site’s mission changed as well: instead of publishing a repository of background information, the main focus of the site became more fan-centric, posting artwork, fiction, poetry and music created by the fans, while keeping all of the reference material and product information.
In January 2000, the sheer amount of content prompted Paladin to move much of it into a database, which allowed volunteer staff the ability to directly update and add new content. In June of that year, the site was redesigned once again to make the information easier to understand, and new staff members were brought in to help with the growing amount of content.
With that, the pre-history of the Nexus ends and its story begins.
The Nexus Era
The origins of the Nexus date back to January 2001, when a flurry of events were happening at once. Jim Butler, who was an employee of Wizards of the Coast at the time, announced that Wizards of the Coast would no longer publish Dragonlance gaming materials in December 2000. With the backing of famed Dragonlance author Tracy Hickman, a group of fans on the Dragonlance-L mailing list volunteered together to create a new Dragonlance site that would take over where Wizards left off, updating Dragonlance to the Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition rules. This group came to be known as the Whitestone Council.
The newly-formed Whitestone Council was comprised by a number of dedicated fans. Under the guidance of Tracy Hickman, and with feedback from fans from across the world, the Whitestone Council created the Dragonlance Nexus, which was launched in late January 2001. As previously noted, the key focus of the Dragonlance Nexus was to create a set of Dungeons and Dragons 3rd Edition rules for Dragonlance, which would be the foundation upon which the future of Dragonlance gaming. This online product was called Dragonlance Adventures 3rd Edition, or DLA3e for short.
Work continued on the project, and the Nexus expanded to include recipes, artwork, news, and many other features over the course of the next year. However, in March 2002, the Dragonlance gaming line was licensed to Sovereign Press. Beginning in April, the Whitestone Council soon found itself working with Sovereign Press on a new sourcebook, the Dragonlance Campaign Setting (or DLCS for short). Materials from DLA3e were incorporated into the DLCS, and the Whitestone Council continues to serve as an advisory board for future projects Sovereign Press projects to this day.
Later that summer, the Nexus partnered with Dragonlance.com to expand the reach of its content. Many of the Nexus’s fan gaming rules were hosted on Dragonlance.com; in return, the extensive reference material from Dragonlance.com was added to the Nexus in a sharing agreement set up between the two sites.
This arrangement continued until June 2003, when the two sites were formally merged into the current Nexus site, and the Dragonlance.com domain name was transferred to Sovereign Press to promote the d20 Dragonlance gaming line.
Today, the Dragonlance Nexus serves as a repository for over 2,000 submissions of fan artwork, gaming rules, articles, music, recipes, and many other items related to the Dragonlance setting. The Nexus continues to expand on Dragonlance gaming and to provide new options for Dragonlance fans from all walks of life.