The Cataclysm: Good Gods Killing Masses of People

The Cataclysm

Editor’s Note: Originally posted on the Dragonlance-L mailing list on March 17, 2001.

Both hubris and the Sodom and Gomorrah tale were inspiration touchstones for the fall of Istar. Of course, the entire Istar situation, while foundational to the War of the Lance and the Chronicles story, was not something which we had originally envisioned as being told. Legends only became possible because of the popularity of Chronicles.

I’d like to add an additional thought or two on the subject if I may.

We sit at the bottom of the well of mortality, looking up, and try to comprehend not just that patch of sky that we can see, but the entire world beyond. Sometimes we think that the well and that patch of sky ARE the entire world. Mortality, by its nature, has a very limited perspective so far as spiritually minded people of all faiths are concerned. Religion in all its various forms, it seems to me, believes in — endeavors to know –what is beyond the well of mortality.

All we know from the experience of our sight, smell, touch, taste and hearing are the limits of our existence here. This experience tells us that when others with us at the bottom of the well die, they no longer exist as we once knew them. Thus, holding on to life here is all that we know.

Death is the final judgment. We seek justification for death. We feel no regrets when the Hitlers are taken from the world yet we feel offended by God when an innocent child dies in its crib or a father of a large family is killed in a work accident or any of a thousand other real events rob someone of their life in what we (in hubris) call ‘before their time.’

The ultimate hubris is perhaps when mortals ASSUME they have the perspective of God and determine to TAKE life (either their own or others) by their own hand and will. There were determined pogroms against the ‘unbelievers’ in Istar prior to its fall.

It is a hard thing to understand (from our limited perspective) that birth, life, and death may be very different from the perspective of heaven. It may well be that mortality is seen by God as just another aspect of an eternal process of enlightenment and perfection. I think this perspective may have been part of what Jesus was trying to teach in Mark 8:35-36 “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. / For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

Oops, there I go with my Christian stuff again. 😉

So far as the story in Legends is concerned … was every last soul in Istar completely evil and deserving of death? No, I don’t think so … and I’m pretty sure that THEY would not have thought so. However, the perspective of a god … who viewed the people of Istar as eternal beings of spirit passing through a mortal experience … may have been somewhat different.

About Tracy Hickman

Dragonlance originators Tracy and Laura Hickman have been publishing game designs and stories together for over thirty-two years - nearly as long as their marriage - and thus started them both on a life of adventure and imagination. Tracy is a New York Times best-selling co-author (with Margaret Weis) of many Dragonlance novels including the original "Dragonlance Chronicles", "Dragonlance Legends", "Rose of the Prophet" and "Darksword" trilogies as well as the seven-book "Deathgate Cycle". Tracy and Laura are remembered together for their role-playing game designs in "Dragonlance" and the "Oasis of the White Palm" series but are perhaps best known for their classic adventure, the original "Ravenloft." For more information on Tracy, visit his website at http://www.trhickman.com/.
Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.