19 Years and Counting

Nexus-Portal-Logo-Art
Dragonlance Nexus portal art by Tracy Hickman.

It seems like it was only yesterday that the Dragonlance Nexus began. A lot has changed since those early days. It’s hard to believe that we have hit the 19-year mark, but here we are. Not bad for the site they said wouldn’t make it, huh?

I’ve recounted the origins of the Nexus enough over the years, so I thought I would share some special things that have happened along this journey, which began in December 2000. The Nexus was born in January 2001.

A Personal Journey

The Nexus has become a part of my life. It’s led me on a journey of self-exploration and change. The Nexus taught me that I had a creative side to me. I had a talent for writing, which led to me contributing to several Dragonlance 3.5 books. I carry that creative side with my current career in web design, a career change I made due to the Nexus. The site inspired me to go back to school when I had hit a glass ceiling in my old career.

It’s hard to believe as well that the Nexus has lasted a generation. Back in 2001, I was a young parent with a young son and another on the way. Now both of my boys are grown. My wife and I are beginning a new journey as empty nesters.

Industry Changes

Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition was in its infancy back in 2001. Dragonlance became the first campaign setting released for ver. 3.5 of the world’s greatest roleplaying game. We had a good run, but eventually, Wizards of the Coast withdrew all of their licenses back in-house, ending the Dragonlance run (amongst other great properties).

Shortly after, D&D 4th edition came about. WotC had made several huge mistakes during this time, not the least of which was the long-overdue Game System License (GSL) for 4th edition, which was not compatible with the existing Open Game License (OGL). As publishers waited, one made a bold move. Paizo Publishing produced Pathfinder, an updated “clone” of D&D 3.5, made possible by the OGL. Pathfinder became the major competition for D&D. In fact, Pathfinder outsold D&D for a bit.

During this time, Wizards of the Coast had ceased publishing all novels, with the notable exception of the Drizzt Do’Urden novels, by R.A. Salvatore. WotC appeared to focus on what they did best – make games.

WotC eventually came to realize that they had missed the mark with D&D 4th edition, so the D&D Next project began. Fans were consulted like never before, and the result was the most successful version of D&D to date – D&D 5th edition.

The Present and the Future

Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition is now five years old. WotC has done an amazing job with their D&D marketing, making it more mainstream than ever. Meanwhile, Pathfinder has just entered its 2nd edition.

We are starting to see more campaign settings coming from Wizards, but not all of them are classic campaigns. As the Forgotten Realms remains the flagship setting, we have also seen the return of Ravenloft (with Curse of Strahd) and Eberron. While we didn’t see a full campaign setting for Greyhawk, we did see the Ghosts of Saltmarsh adventure. Plus, Matt Mercer’s success with Critical Role has led to the Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount. Wizards is, after all these years, finally crossing over between the D&D multiverse and Magic: the Gathering with the Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica and the Plane Shift products on DMs Guild.

Some critics have said that Wizards of the Coast have abandoned their classic settings, but I don’t think that’s true. Keep in mind that WotC is a business. Working with Matt Mercer and Critical Role is just a smart business decision, as is tying together WotC’s two main product lines (D&D and Magic). Yet we have seen nods to the past as well, often through compilation adventures.

So where does this leave Dragonlance? I believe its time will come. My guess is that they may update the Chronicles adventures (DL series) to 5th edition. The setting itself should hopefully get some love. My guess is that they will focus sometime around the War of the Lance through the Legends trilogy, as that’s the most popular era for Dragonlance. Perhaps everything past that will be explained as one possible future, kind of like what Dark Sun did in 4th edition. This would allow for players to make their own path.

While some of the rules changes will have to be addressed, I don’t think it will be too difficult. Most of the DL-specific rules can be covered with factions and existing rules.

The key, though, is to keep it positive. I have seen other fandoms shoot themselves in the foot by being incredibly negative. A lot of the Nexus’ success is because we keep things positive and are open to change.

In Summary

It’s been a long road, but I believe our journey is not done yet. It’s an exciting time to be a D&D fan, and I don’t see the momentum stopping any time soon. Hang on for the ride. Our time may yet come again.

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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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