DragonCon Dragonlance Panel, with Margaret Weis and Janet Pack

WEIS: Thank you all for coming I am Margaret Weis, and this is my friend Janet Pack who is also a fellow Dragonlance author. She has done short stories and ah, um…

PACK: …maybe some of the music. [laughter]

WEIS: …yes, she did a lot of the music we used and the other one
that come out after that. Also, she was the original Tasselhoff in
the very first Dragonlance Play.

PACK: I was typecast! [laughter]

WEIS: Which was back in 1984, when we had just written the first books
and we wanted to promote it so we went to GenCon, which at that time
was a very small convention that was held at Parkside in Kenosha, and
Tracy and I decided a week before GenCon that we wanted to put on a
play, and Janet and her husband were coming up to visit, so we called
Janet and her husband so we… [breaks into laughter]

PACK: I get this very peculiar phone call, “Hi…can you come up and
do a play? And, uh, costumes, and, uh, you know, all of that.”

WEIS: I told Janet, “you’re going to play a kender,” and she said,
“good…what’s a kender.” The production was actually a big hit,
everybody really enjoyed it. We had a large crowd. Probably because
we had my daughter around, who was nine at the time, in a sandwich
board handing out free tickets. And we had alot of people who came
who later said that they didn’t really want to come to a play about
something they had never heard of, but they didn’t want to disappoint
this blond girl who was saying, “Oh, would you please come and see my
mom’s play!” [little girl imitation]

PACK: “There is going to be nobody there!” [imitation little girl
voice too]

WEIS: Yes! So…We had a good time!

WEIS: Well, I’m suppose to talk about the 5th age. And if that’s it,
it’s going to be a real short seminar. [laughter] For you see, what I
know about the 5th age, I’m not allowed to tell. Ah, and I really
thought that Sue Cook, who is the brand manager for the 5th age
Dragonlance at TSR, was going to be here. She was going to talk about
what we can talk about with the 5th age. So I’m not real sure about
that were going to do here. [laughter] I guess one thing mainly I
could say would be a little bit about how that 5th age turned out. We
know we really upset a lot of people. Maybe upset even some of you.
So I can talk about what our thought’s were behind it and where we
kinda went wrong and how we are all working together to bring it back.

TSR approached Tracy and I to write one book, another Dragonlance
book, they wanted a single book, they didn’t want a trilogy, which was
going to be Dragons of Summer Flame. So, Tracy and I got together and
began to decide what we wanted to do with this book and plotting it
out. I had been interested in the Ragnorak, the twilight of the gods,
the whole concept of gods fighting among themselves and bringing about
the end of the world. I thought that would be kind of neat to do in
Dragonlance, you know. [laughter] Oh, here is another Dragonlance
author, Linda Baker just walked in!

PACK: Hi Linda!

WEIS: So we thought that would be fun to do. Dragons of Summer Flame
was never intended to be a stand alone book. It sort of “stuck out”
there. What we had proposed was that there would be DoSF and there
would be a whole bunch of other books that would come out at the same
time, the same sort of time space, that would deal with different
parts of what was happening during the Chaos War. There was suppose
to be an entire book on the elvish Civil war, because that was going
to be a book as big as DoSF. We just couldn’t include it in ours.
So, I had all this stuff, the story of Crysania and the tiger, which
Linda’s ended up working on, right? Which will be coming out [waits
for Linda’s answer] _Tears of the Night Sky_ [listens again] comes out
next month. That book, like I said, there was a whole bunch of books
that were suppose to come out.

And then what was going to happen was the game group, er, because
Dragonlance had ended as a game. The sales of the modules had
dropped, mainly because the entire story had been told. It had always
been meant to end, and they wanted to start it up as a game line again
and they wanted to tie it into their new system which was SAGA. They
thought _Dragons of the Sumer Flame_ and the beginning of the 5th age.
This would be the ideal time to introduce SAGA and take the 5th age.
What Tracy and I had hoped was that they would include us in the
planning. What we tried to advise them to do with the game was to
pick up the game during the chaos war. I said, “How much fun that
would be, to roleplay and fight along side the gods! That would be
really, really, neat!” Well, they didn’t do that. Then follow along
with the entry into the 5th age, which would have been the search for
magic, to return magic into the world. They didn’t do that either.
They made this tremendous leap, like twenty or thirty years ahead and
introduced a new game system at the same time. Consequently, they
alienated at least half of their audience, one — that half that liked
AD&D and didn’t like SAGA and didn’t want to play a game system that
used cards that didn’t use dice. So they alienated them. Then they
also made people unhappy by having made this big leap into this world
where there weren’t any gods now anymore, and there is some magic but
it’s kind of weird, and kender are afflicted, which is something I
really, really, hate! There are these big dragons and no one knew
where they came from.

Also, about this time too, TSR was in very serious financial trouble.
So they don’t have money to have these other authors to write these
books. So DoSF just sort of stuck out on its own. I had people
writing me saying, “Why didn’t you explain about the elvish civil
war?” Well, that would have been another five-hundred pages — you’d
have a book you’d have to carry around in a wagon! TSR almost went
belly up. They came within that close of going bankrupt. They didn’t
pay royalties for a long time. We were really, really worried about
what was going to happen to the company. We could see, if they had
gone bankrupt, there were people poised out there ready to snap up the
trademarks one by one. DelRay would pick up Dragonlance, and another
would pick up Forgotten Realms, and they were ready to take it away
piecemeal. The company would have ceased to exist. So we were very
happy when Wizards of the Coast came in and bought the company.

We had met Peter Atkinson, the president of WotC a couple of years
ago, so Don and I knew him. He’s been up to our house and all that
stuff. Peter knew a lot about Dragonlance from the game perspective,
but Peter isn’t a big book reader. So he hadn’t read any of the
books. I guess they had this big company meeting. Now my daughter
works at TSR, and she is a book editor. So they had this big meeting,
and it was a month into “The Sale,” and Peter was investigating what
was wrong with the company and everything else, and he had seen this
big Dragonlance schism. And he was talking at this meeting about what
had gone wrong, and what they were going to have to do to fix it, and
he goes, “AND WHO WERE THE ASSES WHO BLEW UP DRAGONLANCE?!” And my
daughter says, “Uh, Sir, that would be my mom.” [laughter] And Peter
called the very next day and said, “I got to apologize. I didn’t
really mean it, I didn’t know…” I said its okay, its okay, and he
sent Tracy an e-mail apologizing for what he had done. And Tracy
didn’t know what had done, so he responded,”Well, thank you for this
very nice apology but what did you say?” [laughter] So anyway, what
they did was bring Tracy and I back on as consultants and our mission
was to bring the two halves of Dragonlance back together, to bring the
5th age closer to the 4th age, without destroying the 5th age. Cause
by this time there are a lot of people who are really into the 5th age
and who like SAGA. So what they wanted to do was bring everyone
together, that was our mission.

WEIS: Our very first meeting they flew us out to meet with the game
crew. I know there was a lot of tension at that meeting. The brand
managers, the people who had done 5th age, were really afraid we going
to come in a dynamite it, saying, “forget it, we can’t live with
this,” and just wipe it out, you know. Tracy had come up with this
really, really, really cool idea about what the 5th age “really
means,” and what is REALLY going on. And then he presented it to the
game group, and they said, “wow..this is amazing.” It has really added
layers and added depth. And they are all enthusiastic and excited
about it now. We have had two meetings and are having a lot of fun
and are working together well. In fact, working with this game group
now is a lot like working with the game group in the old days. There
is a really good spirit there. So we’ve come up with this story line
that will be happening with the 5th age. We’re doing the trilogy
called the ‘WAR of SOULS’ which will be out next year, which will have
the core story. And there will be books that are going on around it
that are the peripheral stories. We got people writing them, we got
money, we’re gonna promote it. And they are going to be putting out
game products now, that is sort of a hybrid, that they are going back
to AD&D for a lot of the 5th age stuff but it will have SAGA, how to
convert it into SAGA. So those of you are playing SAGA will be able
to continue to play, and those of you who want to see Dragonlance go
back into AD&D will be able to play too. They are coming out with a
game that centers on the Chaos War that is really, really going to be
neat. So you get to fight the Chaos War, which is really what we
wanted. So we are back on track and everyone is working together. I
think it is going to be really good. So that is my ‘apology’ and my
explanation. Yes?

[muffled question from audience]

WEIS: Oh Dear! What is our opinion about Lord Soth going to
Ravenloft? [laughter from panel]

PACK: I can’t believe you asked that! [more laughter]

WEIS: Well, the Dragonlance group, they don’t really care. It is the
Ravenloft group we have to be careful of offending. There is no one
here from the Ravenloft group so; actually no, we were extremely
upset. Tracy invented Ravenloft, and Tracy invented Lord Soth, and
the two were never intended to get together. The only reason, and
they will tell you otherwise, but the only reason they put Lord Soth
into Ravenloft was for sales, to bring in the Dragonlance people, who
are the most devoted fans that the company’s got. The Dragonlance
books outsell any other books that they do, with the one exception of
Salvador’s books from Forgotten Realms. It’s just like when they put
Krynn in SpellJammer. “We got a new product, let’s get everyone on
board.” So that is what they did. They stuck Lord Soth in Ravenloft,
we were furious, but there was nothing we could do about it. I played
in an RPG once, held by a friend, where I was Kitiara leading a party
to go to Ravenloft and rescue Soth and bring him back. [laughter]

So, but the Ravenloft people get very upset now if you say anything,
and so they got this book, Jim Lowder is writing this book now on how
Lord Soth leaves Ravenloft, and they had to get the Ravenloft people
to agree and even then they wanted to leave his armor or helmet or
something there as a relic. Well, there isn’t alot to Soth,
[laughter] he’s sort of like Darth Vader. I didn’t really think Soth
would walk about leaving bits of his armor here and there. I don’t
know what they resolved. As far as they are concerned, they are
“allowing” him to leave Ravenloft. As far as we are concerned, he
never left. I’m not going to write a scene in the books where we get
to see Soth step through the door, you know, “I’m back!” As far as we
are concerned, he never left. That’s why I put that him in that
little bit into DoSF, one little cameo appearance, just to prove,
well, really to irritate the Ravenloft people. [laughter]

PACK: Margaret NEVER has a hidden agenda. [laughter]

WEIS: So, guys, I wish I could tell you more about what we are doing,
but I even signed a vow of secrecy. Cause this is so monumental, I
can’t really even to talk about it…

[muffled comment from the audience]

WEIS: Well, that has to deal with what is happening to the world.
Some of the heroes that are left alive, you know, they’re getting kind
of old. Goldmoon actually however will find herself getting younger.
She is going to be getting younger and regaining her beauty, and she
doesn’t like it, she doesn’t want to, cause Riverwind is dead, and she
wants nothing more to rest. Although she is getting younger, she is
still an old woman, it’s just her body getting younger. And she
doesn’t understand what is happening. That’s some of what Goldmoon is
going through.

PACK: Doesn’t she have daughters?

WEIS: Uh, yeah, she will be getting younger than her daughters. It’s
really going to be getting interesting. There is a reason for this
happening, and she doesn’t get it. And I can’t tell! [laughter]

Raistlin is there, but not the way anybody expects, I don’t think.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Is she really his daughter? There were so many
innuendos…

WEIS: I’m not sure he knows.

[muffled comment from audience]

WEIS: Usha? Yeah, I’m not sure he knows.

[muffled comment from audience with the word ‘Palin’ in it]

WEIS: Can’t have first cousins, yeah, we don’t know about their kids
turned out…

[muffled comments from audience]

WEIS: I can’t talk about it. [laughter]

[muffled comments from audience…the word ‘confusion’ is heard]

WEIS: There is a reason that it all got confused, and it ties in with
the 5th age. Raistlin died when he went into the abyss, basically.
He died, he was granted peace in sleep, and then he was sent back.
Basically, when he came back it was leave of absence from being dead.
So, he is pretty basically dead at this point, and he died back there,
and now he is having a tough time dealing with this now. I don’t know
about how many of you are following this on the net, and this may
upset a lot of people when they find out that Tasselhoff is coming
back. However, I will amend that: he is not being resurrected. The
way he comes back, the reason that he comes back is very logical, and
he is coming back for a definite purpose. Knowing Tas it is
completely accidental. And Tas is also extremely interested to find
out that he also is dead when he comes back. There is a whole
movement of the net against him coming back, “No! No! We don’t want to
see Tasselhoff!” but I think they just don’t like kender.

PACK: Lets face it, he is going to enjoy immensely being dead and
figuring it out…

WEIS: Yeah. And hopefully we can deal with the afflicted kender,
which, like I said, is something I don’t like.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Did you have any input into the 5th age trilogy that came out?

WEIS: Jean’s? No. No, that was before we were part of the company
again. Although Jean is a really good friend of mine.

[muffled comment from audience]

WEIS: No. Jean’s characters will be dealt with in the 5th age, and
Dhamon especially. I think he is a really cool character.

[muffled question from audience]

WEIS: I am not allowed to say anything about the shadow dragon. I
know who he is, but I am not allowed to say.

[muffled question from the audience about how she deals with continuity]

WEIS: Well, I just dynamite. Even stuff that I wrote. Like when I
did the SoulForge, which was the story of Raistlin’s early years and
the test in the tower. There have been a couple of books written
about Raistlin’s early years and there had been another book, a game
book, written years ago about the test in the tower. And even I had
written some stuff myself about the test at the time, that when I got
to be working on the book, I found it just didn’t work out. So I told
his story the way I saw it, which, if you stop and think about it, I
mean, if people were always going, “Oh, well you gotta keep the
continuity and we gotta know all ‘this’ about someone’s life,” and,
well, if you look back at our own history, did George Washington
really chop down the cherry tree? That is a legend that has grown up.
Did he or did he not? Doesn’t matter, it explains something about his
character. So a lot of these could be legends. It doesn’t make them
any less valid. Just a different perspective on the same character.
Yes?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: I like Soulforge a lot. And when I read it, I didn’t
understand why Raistlin became a red robe and why the goddess “chose”
him.

WEIS: I think because of his independent thinking. To me red robes
are…are…because they chose to walk neither in the light nor
darkness but instead walk their own path. Raistlin was definitely one
who would walk his own path. So that’s what I felt. That’s why she
admired him.

[muffled comments from audience]

WEIS: Then again, I don’t like to think of the characters so much in
game terms as I do that they’re real people. And so to me the idea
that Raistlin is always his own person, and he is, while Dalamar is a
lawful person who is dedicated to the ideas of conclave and the ideas
that magic must be structured and discipled and must have laws.
Raistlin is much more the renegade, has the “ME FIRST” kind of thing
which is where I see neutrality as the red robes as falling. Yes?

[muffled audience question on where she gets her characters]

WEIS: A lot of the characters you just get to know. Like Raistlin,
there are some characters you get to know and like really a lot, and
Raistlin was one of them, and Tasselhoff. And then there are others
like Elistan. As I said before in another seminar, I couldn’t stand
him. I didn’t like him, I could never figure him out. Tanis I had
trouble with at the beginning. I was writing and Tracy was reading
behind me and Tracy said, “You’re not really getting Tanis.” And I
said, “Yeah, I know, I can’t really figure out the guy.” And Tracy
said, “It’s easy, he is James Kirk of the Starship Enterprise”
[laughter] I said, “Wow! That’s it! I know him!” So that all Tanis
right there, as long as I had something to base him on, you know.
Raistlin was somebody I knew. I don’t know where he came from, but I
knew him, I knew his history, his problems with his brother. And then
people had a lot to do with it. Terry Phillips, who in a roleplaying
game, did Raistlin with a whispering voice, and I thought that was
cool so I added it. Uh, there is alot of Janet’s Tasselhoff in
Tasselhoff. You just never know, and then, like I said, Elistan.
Yes?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: How many times did you ask Tracy if you could kill him? [laughter]

WEIS: I wanted to kill him, and that is because I forgot him.
[laughter] We were working on the second book and we were REALLY tight
deadline. And that is where the party splits, half goes one way and
the other half goes the other way. I’m writing along, and I am about
twenty chapters into it. Tracy is reading it, and he comes back to me
and says, “Elistan is suppose to be with this group.” I said, “No,
he’s not. He went with the other group.” “No, no, no,” he says.
“Look at the outline. He’s suppose to be with this group.” So I went
and looked at the outline and by god, yeah, Elistan’s supposed to be
in there. And I though, “damn.” I don’t like the man, and I don’t
want to go back and add him into the twenty odd chapters, and said,
“let’s kill him with the elven king!” And Tracy said, “He’s only the
only cleric of Paladine we have in the WORLD! YOU CAN’T KILL HIM!”
[laughter] I said, “Okay, I’ll put him in, but I get to kill him in
the next book.” That when we knew we were going to do Legends. Tracy
said, “Fine. The next book series you can kill him.” That is why in
Dragonlance Legends, Elistan is dying this lingering death for three
books. That’s because I got to kill him. [laughter] That is ALSO why
in Chronicles Elistan pops up every now and then and says “Hi! I’m
here!” [laughter] I had to go back and put him in.

[muffled question from audience]

WEIS: Tracy and I, the way we did it on the old days, because Tracy
was in charge of the game products, and I was doing the books. And
both of us were doing full time jobs at TSR. So I did the writing.
They had the story all plotted out. The plot line for all three books
were plotted out because they had to follow the plot for the game. So
I knew where the story was going. I did the writing, and I would give
Tracy the chapters to read behind me, and he would read them and add
things. He was good at adding description so he would throw stuff in,
and catching things like, ah, Elistan being missing. [laughter] That’s
how Tracy and I fell into the habit of working, and that’s how we
continue to work together. Now when it came time to write Star
Shield, Tracy decided he’d like to try write that. So we switched
roles, he was the one writing on that and I was the one who came in on
the back end.

But now when my husband and I write together, Don has a military
background, and he writes the military scenes. I come in, the
important thing I think to remember when you have a partnership is
that you only have one voice. So that no matter who is doing the
primary writing you have one voice, so that the reader doesn’t come in
and say, “Ah ha! She wrote this part, he wrote this part. I can
tell.” So Don would write the military stuff, and then I would come
in and “overwrite” it and expand it out. So that’s how we work
together. Of course, we’d get together, Don and I or Tracy and I, and
we would do the plot together, working together. The plot is the most
important thing to work on together. And then, like with Tracy, I’m
constantly writing myself into corners and having to call Tracy and
ask him to try to get me out. The funniest one was Dragonlance
Legends, when we came to the very end, and Caramon HAS to go into the
Abyss to save Crysania, and try to save Raistlin, you know. There are
no two ways about it, he HAS to get in there. Well, what suddenly
occurred to me, and I’m like within 5 chapters of the end, and it
suddenly occurred to me was that Raistlin had to go through this whole
big magic spell to get into the Abyss and get a cleric and all this
sort of stuff, and here I’m going to have Caramon just waltz on
through. [laughter] I panicked! It was the most sickening feeling
I’ve ever had in my life, I mean, cause I can’t go back and rewrite
the first two books. I mean, they’re already out. I called Tracy and
I was just heart sick. And I said, “Tracy, we just GOT to get Caramon
into the Abyss, and I just don’t know to do it!” And he goes, “I
know. I know exactly how Caramon can get into the Abyss”. I said,
“Good, good! Tell me!” and was already writing. Tracy said, “Caramon
could get into the Abyss because…he always carried American
Express.” [laughter] “Thank’s a lot.” But he did solve it so Caramon
could get into the Abyss, and it makes sense. But I was really
panicked there for a moment. So that is very good to have somebody on
whom you can call and bounce ideas off of. Cause I have written on my
own, the _Star of the Guardian_ series I have written on my own, and I
spend many sleepless nights on that one trying to work out plots and,
and, and, yes!

[muffled comment from the audience]

WEIS: Oh, Thank you, thank you very much! That is close to my heart
because the books that I had wanted to write for about ten years, and
I had finally got a chance to write. So I had been living with them
for a long time, so, yes, that’s the ones that I really like. It’s
hard to say you got a favorite. And each series, there is a part that
I really like. But yeah, the Star Series, yeah, I’d say that those were
probably my best books.

[muffled comment from audience]

WEIS: Eeww, yeah! I read…

PACK: During lunch? [laughter]

WEIS: Yeah! I eat lunch and read, and, Charles Dickens is my favorite
author and I read _Bleak House_ every year, once a year, absolutely
one of my favorite works. Right now I am finishing up Patrick
O’Brian’s _Sea Stories_. He writes about Napoleonic warfare, naval
battles in the age of Naploean, which I realy enjoy. Mary Renault, I
can’t recommend her enough. Her historical fiction is just
magnificent. Jane Austin. Yes?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: So Raistlin sells himself to Fistandantilus during
the test, and at the test he becomes a red robe, Chronicles happen, he
gets the dragon orb, becomes a black robes. At what point does he
sell himself to the dark queen and the chose the black allegience?

WEIS: It was when he’s dying on the steps of the library of Palanthas
and he find the key…

AUDIENCE MEMBER: It was written there, but was it like, predetermined
since he sold himself to Fistandantilus?

WEIS: Uh, uh, no. It was his choice. It is only when he realizes
that he realizes, and confronts the darkness within himself, when he
realizes. That is the key, when he finds the key. The key was self
understanding. It is that point when he realizes and confronts his
own darkness that he connects with Fistandantilus. If he had never
done that, if he had banished the darkness or conquered the darkness,
then I think Fistandantilus would have had no hold over him. Yes?

[audience muffled question about gods]

WEIS: That is also something else I can’t answer. That is what we are
dealing with. Is he Gilean or is he not!?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Are there any gods left or is there just Tas and
Flint looking down at us?

WEIS: That’s another thing. I can’t tell you because to do that I
would reveal alot of the plot.

[muffled question from the audience]

WEIS: Yeah, yeah. It was basically us having fun. Because we needed
a crazy old man in that game so we thought it would be fun to bring
Fizban in, but we couldn’t use that name because it is trademarked, so
we called him Zafnib. We didn’t want him to be a god again so we made
him this crazy old Sartan who had read alot of books as a child so he
thinks he’s not only Sartan, but also James Bond and Dorothy and Luke
Skywalker and everybody else. He was alot of fun to work with so…

PACK: By the way, fair warning. I’ve come up with over twenty-eight
versions of Fizban’s name. [laughter] I’m sure there are that many
more, so be aware. [laughter]

[muffled question from audience]

WEIS: Well, that was kind of interesting. Because no one had ever
done books and game modules before, and we were going into uncharted
territory. We made some mistakes, and one of the mistakes we made was
that we thought the readers of the books would want to follow the same
plot in the modules, and so we made the books and the modules and the
books agree pretty closely together. When I wrote the book I was
following along with the modules to see our encounters out. And what
we discovered was that people liked reading the books for the
characters, but they liked playing the modules for the modules sake,
and they didn’t want to go on the same path. They liked to go their
own way. So at the beginning the two were pretty parallel, but then
after that we were able to split off, and the books went their
separate way, and the modules went their separate way. So that’s why
that happened. We would get letters from people who would say, “Dear
Mrs. Weis, would you please write my dungeon master and tell him that
it is okay if I read the books.” [laughter] We would get DM’s who
would say, “no, no, no, you can’t read the book while we’re playing
the game,” which gave me a lot of insight into the true power of a DM.
I mean, these people! [laughter] I’d say, [laughter] “GO READ THE
BOOK! DON’T TELL HIM!” [laughter]

So that, and the obscure death rule, that was another thing, really
made all of game players unhappy. Was that the beginning modules said
that you couldn’t kill any of the major characters. So if Sturm is in
your party and Sturm dies, well, you can’t kill him. People got all
upset about that. So after about the third module, the motto became
“If they die, say goodbye.” Yes?

[muffled question from audience]

WEIS: They were about to fall into Maelstrom or something, it’s been a
long time since I read that book. A dragon orb, yeah, he was using a
dragon orb…

[muffled comment from audience]

WEIS: It’s during the test in the tower. If you read the Soulforge,
you find out how he, what happened in the test and the only way he
really survives the test with of the help of Fistandantilus.

[more muffled comments from the same questioner]

WEIS: Ah, yeah, he goes back in time. And don’t ask me to explain
that because Tracy was the only one who ever understood that, and it
takes him a chalk board, he has to have a chalk board, to explain this
whole time loop thing. I understood when I wrote about it and have
never understood it since. [laughter]

[muffled question from the audience, DoSF is heard clearly]

WEIS: I didn’t think anyone cared. It’s not that I didn’t care. I DO
care. I am always accused of being callous. I needed, one, I should
have never named, it actually boiled down to the fact that for some
misguided notion I had named the guy Stern, named the brother Sturm.
It accured to me that we’re going to be talking about Sturm
Brightblade, and that there was going to be a lot of confusion. I
really didn’t want to call him Sturm Jr. [laughter] or Sturm the
second, so, that’s it, he’s doomed. I had to get rid of one of
them. [laughter] And two, I wanted something that would galvanize
Palin, that he wouldn’t always be in the shadow of his brothers. This
throws him into a setting which he has to deal with. And then, three,
I wanted to make everybody understand that this is really BAD what is
happening, and it’s very bad that we are going to lose some people we
like because it is so bad. Nice introduction for Steel, he gets to
meet Palin. It just all worked together to make sense, and there were
a lot of factors in that decision

AUDIENCE MEMBER: I just to make a comment, and say that I enjoyed the short stories, with the brothers, and especially meeting the dwarf, the god, now that’s a character I’d like to see again. Dougan Redhammer.

WEIS: I think he is going to be in one of Doug Niles books, _The Last
Thane had Dougan in it. Maybe, maybe not, I’m not sure. We have a lot of time…

[muffled question from audience member]

WEIS: I did. I have always enjoyed, again not talking about
alignments, but lawful evil. The idea of a dark paladin, a paladin
that would be honor bound and all that stuff but dedicated to evil.
That really fascinated me…

[muffled question from audience member]

WEIS: Tracy, ah, you wanted to know why there was an eighteen level
limit on the early modules. Basically, because most game designers
you will find hate, absolutely hate, high level characters. You would
get letters from these dungeon masters who would say, “My players are
at 64th level, and we just killed the gods. What do I do?” [laughter]

PACK: Margaret’s son once had a 98th level paladin. You couldn’t ‘do’
anything to this guy.

WEIS: When they invented Dragonlance they wanted to show players that
you could play low level characters and still enjoy the game. That
you didn’t NEED to be a 98th level paladin to have fun. And so that
is why they set the eighteen level limit, to try to encourage people
to play low level characters. That’s why at the beginning I think
Raistlin is only a third level mage, and he only has a few spells.
That has been tough for me to deal with. There’s not a lot he can do
and he has to be very creative in what he does.

[muffled question from audience]

WEIS: Yeah, I had to. This is kind of interesting. Again, we already
talked about this in the last seminar. When I got to TSR, they hired
me to be the editor in charge of writing on this book project, Tracy
was in charge of the games. That’s how we met. What I was supposed
to do was come up with, well. They had the characters, the committee
had done all the plots for the first two books and had all the
characters. They had a character for every character class, so we had
a mage and we had a thief. That was how they came up with kender.
They wanted a diminuative race, but Tracy objected to a race of
thieves on moral grounds. So they said, “Well okay, they’ll steal,
but they won’t steal for value but steal out of curiosity. To top
that off we will make them absolutely fearless so that they are SURE
to get the party in lots of trouble.” [laughter] So they had all that,
and I had to come up with back story on all these people, and their
histories. I had the characters, and I had Raistlin. I knew he was
young, like in 20’s, he was frail, and he was called the Sly One, even
his friends called him the Sly One, he was a third level mage and had
gold colored skin and hourglass eyes. And so I thought, “Oh?” So I
asked, “Why does he have this gold colored skin and hourglass eyes?”
And they said, “Because the artists think it will look really cool!”
[laughter] Okay! So I had to come up with a reason why he had gold
skin and hourglass eyes. Which lead me to, well, he certainly wasn’t
born with it cause he had this twin brother who looks perfectly
normal. So that lead me to this whole thing that maybe this was
something that happened when he working his magic, and that led me to
the test and Tower of High Sorcery. It kind of opened up Raistlin’s
entire character for me. We started with his stat, and went from
there.

[muffled comment from audience]

WEIS: Oh the Immortals? I thought it was just amazing! That book was
near and dear to Tracy’s heart just like Star of the Guardians was to
mine. That is the book that Tracy wanted to write. The Immortals, if
you ever get the chance! That is an amazing book. It’s not like
anything that we have ever done! It’s kind of an ultimate future and
it’s very dark. Its about AIDS concentration camps, very scary and
very well written. Its really good. Yes! In the back!

[muffled comment from audience]

WEIS: Well, my husband has an idea of taking a 700 year leap and
taking Dragonlance into the Napoleonic years. [laughter at joke] Which
I think would be sort of fun. So we’ll just kind of see. As long as
we are having fun with the world, we will keep writing. If it ever
stops being fun, I don’t know, but it has been fun for me to go back
and write about Raistlin’s prehistory. I really enjoyed that. We are
doing a sequel to the Soulforge called _Brothers in Arms_ that
actually is going to deal with Raistlin and Caramon, and their entry
into their first military training, their bootcamp in other words.
Which we are having a really good time with….

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Is there just going to be a trilogy, or a whole brand new series with WoS?

WEIS: It will be a series. _War of Souls_ will actually be a series,
so we’ll be doing WoS which will be a core story, and then there will
be other books which deal with like the back story of what is going on
in the peripheral characters. Those of you who read Doom Brigade, Don
and I are going to keep on with the draconians in one of the
peripheral books, and kind of tell what is going on with them in the
city that they are going to found.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Like Legends, no wait, like Preludes, huh?

WEIS: Uh, yes. It will be more like what is going on with the chaos
war now. Because there are now books coming out about the chaos war.
Linda’s book on Crysania — those ‘fill in the back story’.

[muffled question from audience member]

WEIS: I think Lady Magray in Starlight Guardian is one whom I would
like to be. She is a character that I admire very much. Tracy always
says he would like to Sturm, he probably is Tanis, and he acts like
Fizban. [laughter] So, I think Lady Magray would probably be the one
whom I would like to be. Actually once I signed her name to a
check. [laughter] I was in a grocery store, and I had this interesting
idea about her and the Starlite Guardians, and I was thinking about
her so much I got up to the check out counter and wrote her name.

[muffled comment from audience member]

WEIS: No. I have never written for Forgotten Realms. Uh, uh. Nope.
Nope that’s Bob Salvador’s, we like him there. We did Dark Sword,
Rose of the Prophet, Death Gate. No. Nothing in FR, they won’t let
me. Yes?

[muffled question from audience member]

WEIS: I sort of know what is happening to the tower, but not really,
so again I don’t want to say anything. There will be a tower, there
is a tower, it’s just in a different place.

[muffled question from audience member about the Tower of High Sorcery]

WEIS: He took over the tower that was in Istar. That palace and tower
when the Cataclysm hit, that went down to the bottom of the ocean. I
think he actually took over the tower in Palanthas, that is when the
mage jumped down and cursed it with his blood, and all that. I would
have to to go onto the newsgroup lots of times and tell them, “Would
you please help me! I need that background stuff! I need background
information!” I hate to read my books again, I just don’t. You
know. Yes?

[muffled comment from audience member]

WEIS: I haven’t a clue. I don’t think I know the difference between a
witchlin and a specter, as far as game terms go. Yes?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: In the Doom Brigade, in Thorbardin, how did these fire dragons get there? It wasn’t on a map.

WEIS: They came up from under the ground.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Chaos just made them?

WEIS: Yes, Chaos made them.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: And we don’t get to see them with the (mumble mumble mumble)?

WEIS: Uh, uh. No. There are other Chaos creatures. That was one
thing we really had fun with the Chaos War because each author writing
in the series got to come up with their own monsters. I know one is
doing the story of minotaurs, and how their battles go in the Chaos
War, and he has come up with some monsters of his own. So he is
having a lot of fun. Yes?

[muffled question from audience member]

WEIS: The first _War of Souls_ book is due out next year, probably
around November. And that will be pretty much the first time. I
think there is a game product going to come out, coinciding with it or
about the same time. I think it is going to be another one of these
hybrid things with AD&D and SAGA. There is some confusion right now
with the scheduling.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Have you finished with the trilogy yet?

WEIS: Nope! It is still a work in progress. That’s one of the
reasons I don’t like talking about it. It could change, it could change. Yes?

[muffled question from audience member]

WEIS: Right now, the DL movie is involved in legal entanglements that
are very strange.

PANEL MEMBER: [laughter] Did you say ‘strange’ or ‘strained’?

WEIS: [laughter] Strange! To put it briefly, when TSR was under its
mismanagement, they sold the rights to the quote AD&D MOVIE unquote
for a very low sum to this sort of shady character who had five years
to do something with it. Well, the five years were almost up, and
Wizard was on the horizon, and he suddenly realized he had to do
something with it, or he was going to lose it. What we understand,
and this all strictly rumor and innuendo, is that he is making a very
“schlocky” low budget AD&D movie. That it’s being filmed in
Yugoslavia or something, just in order to keep the rights. And so,
that was in fact one of the reasons they put Dragonlance into the SAGA
system. They hoped that by doing that they could get out from, since
Dragonlance wouldn’t be AD&D it wouldn’t fall under this legal
constraint. Well, of course, now they are taking him to court, he is
taking them to court. It’s all a big mess.

WEIS: The one kind of cool thing that when we were GenCon this year,
which is a really fun convention — if you get a chance, go to GenCon,
Tracy and I were standing at the booth and signing stuff and talking
to all the fans and stuff, a lot of friends. This young man comes up
and he says, “Oh, I hate to interrupt, and I can’t stay long, but I am
so excited to meet you!” And I’m thinking, “this guy looks really
familiar, I know this guy.” And he said, “Oh, by the way I am Eric
Eisenburg, and I play Nog on Deep Space Nine.” “WHOA!!! This is so
cool!” I said. And of course the minute he said that, I could see,
“this is Nog! that’s where I know him from! Deep Space Nine!”
[laughter] And he was just the nicest guy, signing autographs in
another booth for their Star Trek game. He said, “I gotta get back
and sign autographs, but I just want to ask you something. I really,
really want to do a Dragonlance movie, but I heard you guys didn’t
want to make it into a movie.” I said, “No, no, no! That’s not true.
We’d really like to see it be made into a movie!” He said, “Great!
Cause I realy want to play Tasselhoff” [laughter] And I thought that
would be so cool. That would be so cool! So Tracy and I said “Wow,
this is so neat!” That was really fun because Tracy and I are big
fans of Deep Space Nine. I’m going “Whoa..you’re Eric Eisenburg!” and
he’s going “Whoa..you’re Margaret Weis!” [laughter] It was cool. And
then we had to put on a dramatic reading, and he came.

PACK: Oh gosh!

WEIS: Here we are, all us amatuers up there doing this reading, and
there is the professional actor sitting and watching us. [laughter] It
was fun.

PACK: Our readings always turn out very interesting

WEIS: [laughter] Janet got so excited she clobbered…

PACK: No! I was tired and I messed up… [trails off into mumbles and
laughter]

WEIS: We have time for about one more question. Yes?

[muffled question from audience member about future books]

WEIS: What I really want to write is a western. I got a great idea
for a western, the story of Pontio’s Raiders. When I did the
biography for Jessie James, I did all this research on Pontio’s
Raiders and became absolutely fascinated with him as a person. And
‘Bloody Bill’ Anderson. That is the book I really want to write. But
the minute I mention it, I have to pick my agent off the floor.
[laughter] Maybe I’ll be the next Lou Amore. [laughter] So someday
maybe, but I would have to take the time to do all the research. He
is much maligned, don’t believe the screen depiction of him.

Well, thank you all for coming.

END
recorded by Jenna, September 5, 1998
transcribed by Kate Johnson, September 13, 1998
corrected version by kinthalas, September 14, 1998

About Dragonhelm

Trampas “Dragonhelm” Whiteman is best known for co-creating and administering the Dragonlance Nexus fan site. He is co-author of three Dragonlance books – Holy Orders of the Stars, Knightly Orders of Ansalon, and Races of Ansalon.

When not evangelizing Dragonlance and other settings, Trampas is a husband, father, podcaster, and web designer. Trampas also enjoys reading comics, reading fantasy and scifi novels, and playing D&D.

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