Dragonlance Canticle #47 – Modernizing Dragonlance

In this episode, Tristan, Trampas, Chuck, and Cam discuss (among many other things), what would be entailed in modernizing Dragonlance, rumors of 5th edition D&D, changing fantasy art styles, and the history of gunpowder in Europe.

Mail, including comments, feedback, praise, and hatred, can be sent to Podcast@DLnexus.com. We respond to every person who emails us!

The Dragonlance boardgame project can be found here.

The WotC short story contest can be found here.

Nicolas Bolduc’s Dragonlance-inspired music can be found here.

This month’s discussion group for the Dragonlance book club can be found here, while voting for December’s story can be found here.

And, finally, you can find out more about Stephen Fabian’s original Dragonlance art for sale here.


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    • joe on November 22, 2011 at 6:59 pm
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    Perhaps I missed the point of the question:
    Modernizing, as I would understand it, is creating depth in our understanding of characterization and gameplay.
    The example you use is a Knight of Solamnia. I can understand how you could get caught in trying to change the fundamentals of Dragonlance to fit the newest version of D&D. I don’t think you need to give them magic or some sort of gimmick. What the Knights of Solamnia need is to be revisited and reviewed with a new perspective.

    One point of argument was that Sturm Brightblade and claim he is boring, idealistic. I do not think that was the case. It is what in our nostalgia remember of him in the novels and in a young readers understand because our real world overwhelms our senses with such extreme behaviors and situations. I.E. any average person would appear boring if compared to a cast member of Jersey Shore. But, without the TV program, a cast member of Jersey Shore would be just a member of a demographic in that area and would not be so larger than life.

    Sturm’s type of knighthood and demeanor is subtle and refined compared to the garish in-your-face overtures of “heroism” you find in some modern fantasy these days. Perhaps its just some of the more popular titles of fantasy books and games which have taken this grayscale slant on heroism. I cannot be certain, but in Sturm and the rest of the companions’ defense, I submit that they were already modernized:

    Sturm – raised in a single family, impoverished household after having once been raised in the seat of a noble nation. He saw everything he once knew be consumed by hate and fear. He lost everything including his father and although he had his mother, she was made hollow by the experience and was eventually consumed by it as well.
    When he traveled beyond his surrogate home in Solace to discover his birthright, all he met was disappointment and hardship. He returned to Solace from Solamnia with the remnants of a time when virtue made a man something more than what he was to start. He wanted to live up to that standard to wash away the pain of the harsh world in which he grew up and the one he joined as a young man. He had to know for sure that something better could come from knowing what he knew than what he had experienced and even chose to do a little evil to set forth and live a life of “good”. After all, you must remember he was posing as a knight and wasn’t truly one to start.

    This depiction of Sturm is Don Quixote, Dr. Frankenstein, Ahab and Jason Bourne. A man obsessed with finding his identity and freeing himself of the past through adherence to a code.

    The rules of modern D&D are to help you flesh out an idea, but the idea still depends on you. If you need to create the “anti-hero” – which is a phrase generated by a modern social pseudodeviant’s attempt to sound edgy, go ahead and do so if it helps create a feel of depth to your character or your game. But we all should keep in mind that the player makes the setting modern.

    I was intrigued by your discussion about firearms and I believe the setting was just not given enough time to develop them. Krynn was constantly plagued by gods and the gods intervention made developing devices almost unnecessary. Likewise with the explosion of magic. However, during the Age of Despair, firearm development could have and should have been pursued even if for no other reason the lack of divine intervention would have inspired invention to spawn from many pocket groups.

    Please do not take this harshly, but I think in the ages following the War of the Lance, developers became focused on a very limited view of romantic fantasy and trapped Krynn in a developmental gulag. As I have read the most current work available, it just seemed like there was a fear to introduce technology and advancement. However, if you have such powerful magic and gods to turn to, why become inventive beyond the production of basic mechanics and gadgets?

    I have taken up a lot of your time, but I will leave you this as my thoughts on how to modernize Dragonlance:

    1. Revisit the campaign settings and write more about the details of famous NPC’s. Look at the glanced at details of races and areas presented through the game books and novels – (slavery, racism, demagogy are all themes presented througout the Dragonlance series) You just need to write to a modern audience and explore those themes more.
    2. Enter Firearms into the Age of Despair – I thought the Adlantum piece was really good and creative. But what if firearms emerged there or in Taladas how would that change the balance of power in those continents or in the world of Krynn?
    3. Create a motion comic or short web films about Dragonlance – you may not need to change anything about the setting at all, just expand on the audience by adapting the material to the web (like you do for the avid fans on your website) and broaden it to a greater audience (similar to the fan-based Star Trek series) and perhaps it will modernize itself through the process.

    Thanks for listening.

    • Avatar
    • joe on November 22, 2011 at 7:00 pm
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    I meant single parent household – sorry

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    • Anthony T. on May 9, 2012 at 12:59 am
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    Joe I totally agree with you on every well written point, including the point regarding firearms. As long as they are not reduced to some stupid gnomish or dwarvish invention, I would be totally okay with it. I see firearms as a very human invention, something to tip the scales in their favor (so to speak). Most of all, I would like to see material set years beyond the “War of Souls” (100 years or so), so that all the named characters (Jenna, Dalamar, Palin, etc..) have passed on and a new “Age of Heroes” can begin.

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