Part 1: Odds and Ends
Disclaimer: None of this material has been approved by Wizards of the Coast, Sovereign Press, Margaret Weis, or Tracy Hickman. It’s a catalog of my thinking behind certain elements of the Appendix that have caused some controversy or didn’t come out as clearly as I would have liked in the final version.
The Madness of Reorx
My intentions surrounding Reorx’s encounter with Chaos appears not to have come across as clearly as I would have liked. The meaning wasn’t so much that Reorx was ‘flustered’ or ‘scared’ as that the sheer potency and malevolence of Chaos’ presence, and coming face to face with it unwarned and unprepared, caused a degree of insanity. In my interpretation of Chaos, the Anti-Creator’s entire being is centered in a) his mad conviction that he is supreme and b) his absolute loathing for everything else that exists. Reorx had some of the first element driven into his mind, like a straw in a whirlwind can be driven through a post.
Inspiration for that plot element comes from both the works of H. P. Lovecraft, where seeing alien entities often causes insanity in fragile human minds, and from a couple of verses in the Book of Revelation (19:10, 22:8). I added it near the last minute, after Tracy had put together the main body of the Appendix, because I felt that the fans deserved some explanation for why Reorx kept calling Chaos ‘Himself’ and ‘Father of All and of Nothing’ during Dragons of Summer Flame. The only other rationale I could think of was that Dougan Redhammer was the Dark Queen in disguise again, which I really didn’t want to use.
As for the meeting in the Abyss, it’s been established that “the Abyss can twist and distort what you see” (War of the Twins). Whether the meeting of the gods took place in the Abyss or not, Palin, Raistlin and Tas were viewing it through the Abyss, and thus subject to the deceits of the Queen of Darkness. In addition, consider what the Dragonqueen could have gained if she had let them listen in and then succeeded in having ‘Kitiara’ (I’m not convinced it was her, but that’s a non-canonical opinion) assassinate Palin:
- She alerts the people of Ansalon to the threat posed by Chaos.
- She convinces them to rally behind her banner, leads them to think of the other gods as weak, foolish, or acquiescent, and leaves the High God confused with Chaos.
- She eliminates Palin Majere, who is likely to be a major threat to her plans if the world survives the Chaos War.
- She forces Raistlin to leave the Abyss to save his nephew and/or bear the message to the world himself, therefore removing a thorn in her side and adding a last torment to him by leaving him in Krynn bereft of his magic.
Dragons and Gods
The idea of linking dragons and gods comes from the lore surrounding the Astral Dragon; I owe the folks on afdl thanks for bringing this up in a thread back in 1998, especially Travis “Wraith” Hall. I stumbled upon the thread in some Google searches a while later. Several schema for matching up specific dragon species and gods were proposed in the course of that discussion; how much I was influenced when doing the material that became the Appendix, I’m not sure, but I believe that I was persuaded in my reading of the appropriateness of leaving Paladine, the Queen of Darkness, Solinari, and Nuitari out of the setups, and of matching copper dragons–who were described as ‘martial’–to Kiri-Jolith. Thanks, all.
Shortly after the deadline for the final draft passed, though, I conceived of some other
associations for the dragons. I’ve expanded on it over the year and a half since then, and present it here as an alternative or as additional details for those interested. It’s included as Postscript A.
Notes on the Gods:
A few odds and ends on the other material in the Appendix.
- Reorx’s role in the forging of Krynn does get a bit downplayed, I fear. It should be noted that he did forge Krynn and perhaps other solid heavenly bodies out of raw material gathered by Ionthas and the others, and was key in fixing the damage done to the world after the First Chaos War.
- The bit about Mishakal as patroness of “natural love” was a case of me using a bit of theological jargon. To clarify, it refers to the bonds of affection between family, friends, and the like–not as spiritually oriented and sacrificial as the Charity that Paladine fosters, but a good thing nonetheless.
- Zeboim’s besetting and patronized vice probably would be better termed “Intemperance” instead of “Gluttony”.
- Shinare needs a bit of explanation. My original text was rather messy, and it got cleaned up in editing, but to the detriment of my intent. The meaning I had in mind was that while a lot of merchants, traders and the like revere Shinare, only the truly money-obsessed follow her primarily and with little or no attention paid to other gods. Most mortals need something higher than profit and exchange to focus their life around. It doesn’t have to be Goodness–it could be the search for knowledge espoused by Gilean or Zivilyn’s yearning for wisdom, Chislev’s reverence for nature, or Reorx’s love of craftsmanship and dwarven culture. Basically, if your ideal of the good life is prosperity and economic development, you’ll follow Shinare as your primary patron; if not but you’re still involved in commerce, you’ll look to her as a patron, but not your sole guide through life.
- The bit about mortals shining brighter than the gods is meant to be ambiguous. Inspiration comes from Raistlin’s line about them being “their [the gods’] heirs, as we have been promised” in Dragons of Winter Night, and again, some Biblical verses (1 Corinthians 6:3, 1 Peter 1:12).
Postscript A: Notes on Dragons
The Creation of the Dragons
The history of the dragons begins shortly after the creation of the world, in the days before the Evil of the Queen of Darkness was made manifest. In accordance with the plans, the dragons were forged of the metals of the world. Reorx forged their bodies, and the High God gifted them with souls and free wills. They were meant to serve beneath Paladine and Takhisis, who were in turn to share regency over the newly created and shaped realm of Krynn.
The First Dragons were forged of five metals, to reflect the five elements of the world. The iron dragon was bound to Fire, a warrior serpent to protect against the minions of Chaos and the Evil vaguely foretold in the first pages of the Tobril. The lead dragon, master of Water, possessed great gifts of wisdom and was most contemplative and thoughtful among the dragons. To Earth was linked the copper dragon, whose love was fertile as earth, and who was steadfast as stone in loyalty. Air was the domain of the mighty tin dragon, regal and aloof as the skies at times, and yet joyful as a spring breeze. The nickel dragon was tied to elemental Nature, using her gifts of language to communicate not only with her brethren, but with the beasts and plants.
It has been ordained by the High God that all souls must undergo testing, choosing between Good and Evil. The dragons were not only tested, but their creation was a test of Takhisis as well. Though enamored of corruption and disorder, the Dragonqueen had not yet made the final decision to break with the High God. When the High God gave the dragons life, though, Takhisis felt pride and lust burn deep within her heart, desiring to be supreme and to have these mighty creatures give obeisance to her alone.
Turning from the High God, the Queen of Darkness, with the aid of Morgion, who had followed her into darkness, whispered into the ears of the Five Firstborn Dragons. Claiming that Paladine wished to enslave them, Takhisis claimed that by turning on the Platinum Dragon and the High God, they could assert true freedom.
The iron, lead, tin, and nickel dragons harkened quickly to their Queen’s words, believing her subtle lies and refuse to suffer the ‘enslavement’ of Paladine. The copper dragon stood by Paladine at first, but the wiles of the nickel dragon and her cunning words led him to join his kindred in rebellion.
Seduced by the Five-Headed Dragon, these five dragons turned their backs on light, embracing the darkness of Evil. In this, the dragons sought freedom but found themselves enslaved to their own passions and weaknesses, entrapped by the snares of wickedness. The iron dragon became the red of devouring fires, while the lead dragon turned black, stained by the acid of fouled water. The nickel dragon turned the green of venomous winds, while the tin dragon acquired a hide of icy white to reflect the coldness of his heart. The copper dragon, last to turn, became the blue of the lightning that leaps between the earth below and the storm clouds above. They even passed this corruption and enslavement to their children, robbing them of the gifts of true freedom and luring them to follow in their footsteps before the newborn dragons even hatched.
Paladine lamented the fall of his beloved dragons, both for the ruin they had brought upon their souls and the harm they would bring to the new world. He saw that the power of the dragons was such that it would tip the Balance of the World, leaving all but the bravest and hardiest mortals unable to truly choose the ways of Good. Seeing Paladine’s sorrow and fear, Majere, with the aid of Mishakal and Reorx, told Paladine that they would construct five draconic statues out of precious metals. These monuments were forged of gold, silver, bronze, brass, and copper; when Paladine saw the beauty of these creations, he petitioned the High God to give them life so that they might counter the Evil brought by the five dragons. The High God responded, and so were the metallic dragons born. The Queen of Darkness tried to bring these new wyrms under her sway as well, but the love of Paladine and grace of the High God gave the metal dragons what they needed to see through Takhisis’ wiles and resist her temptations. In reward for their steadfastness, those gifts have been passed on to the descendants of these dragons. Though not faultless, the metallic dragons possess the strength and insight to resist the lure of darkness.
The Ten Dragon Lineages
The Evil Dragons
Since the Age of Starbirth, when the Base Metal dragons sold themselves to the Queen of Darkness and turned themselves into the chromatic dragons, they have been the favored servants of the Queen of Darkness, as well as reflections of the corruption she would bring to the world and the souls of mortals.
The contemplative and thoughtful nature of the lead dragon was corrupted into a brooding, self-centered cruelty, haughty and independent. Most black dragons dwell alone in dank and swampy reasons, preferring to have nothing to do with other creatures. Their breath weapon is a stream of foul and brackish liquid that is lethally corrosive to anything it strikes, a weapon as rank and cruel as their hearts.
The copper dragon’s heart and soul were hardened in his fall. Blue dragons retain their sense of loyalty to those they consider ‘worthy’, but utterly lack compassion and are driven by greed and selfishness as much as fealty. They also possess fierce passions, both of fealty and anger, reflected in the lighting that leaps from their jaws in battle, a blast that strikes swiftly and accurately, leaves earth it may strike as shattered, scorched, and hardened as their souls.
The nickel dragons retained her cunning and linguistic talents when she gave her loyalty to Takhisis, but were turned to dark ends. Green dragons are cruel and subtle creatures, delighting in tormenting the virtuous, their words as poisoned and rotten as the choking vapors they use as a breath weapon.
The iron dragon embraced the service of the Dragonqueen most fervently, taking his martial temperament and turning it to the ends of Evil. Red dragons are greedy, proud, and hateful, destroying anything that stands in their way and seizing all that catches their fancy. Their trademark cones of fire reflect their destructive, all-consuming nature.
The tin dragon may have lost the most when he rebelled against Goodness, losing his original might, glory, and intelligence. Despite this, though, white dragons are among the haughtiest and most self-important dragons, radiating a pride as cold as the icy blasts they use in battle.
The Good Dragons
Forged as a balance against the dragons of Evil, these dragons of precious metals reflect the natural gifts of the soul, foundations on which Goodness may be built.
Loquacious in the extreme, brass dragons are symbols of the gift of Language, that talent that allows intelligent beings to communicate with each other. Indeed, the brass dragons take to such communication with a relish, delighting in song and story. Though Good at heart, brass dragons often hold to a belief in the survival of the fittest and the benign dictatorship of the strong over the weak. The line of fire they breathe is as brilliant, fiery, and fast-moving as their conversation.
The sea-loving bronze dragons have a warlike streak that may be part of their tendency to follow their hearts, for they reflect Insight, an intuitive understanding of truth and goodness. Though they acknowledge that all beings may be deceived by passion or desire, they also know that the heart can illuminate truth as swiftly and brilliantly as the lightning breath they wield.
Cheerful pranksters, copper dragons can be indecisive and greedy, but often serve as excellent exemplars of Humor, an often underrated quality of the spirit. Copper wyrms truly enjoy subtle wit, difficult riddles, and outrageous pranks, and their humor can be as devastatingly corrosive to the egos of the pompous and self-important as the acid breath they use in combat.
The gift of Reason is the province of the gold dragons, the scholars and sages of dragonkind. Somewhat pompous and aloof, gold dragons use their physical and intellectual gifts to further the cause of Good, especially in preserving knowledge, refining it, and proclaiming truth. It is gold dragons themselves who declare that the golden fire they breathe reflects the illumination brought by intellect.
Most beloved of all the dragons of Krynn, silver dragons truly love the company of mortals, for they embody the powerful gift of Empathy. More concerned than any other dragon with the well-being of other creatures, the silvers often dwell near or among mortal communities. Silver dragons can sense the emotions they inspire in mortals, and some are even fortunate–or cursed–enough to find one mortal with whom that empathic bond is so strong that it inspires true love. Huma’s mount Heart had such a bond with the knight, as did Silvara with Gilthanas.
Silver dragons are unique among the metallic dragons in that their breath weapon reflects not the presence of the spiritual quality they manifest, but the lack of it. Their freezing breath is a devastating weapon that reflects the state of a soul turned in upon itself, refusing connection with all others.
Part 2: Commentaries on the Creation
The material on the creation and purpose of the world featured in the Appendix to Dragons of a Vanished Moon has caused much controversy. I’ve received a lot of commentary . . . including a few notes from some surprising sources. I’ve included them here, along with Valthonis’ responses. Note that this material has not been examined or approved by Wizards of the Coast, Sovereign Press, Margaret Weis, and Tracy Hickman, and thus remains unofficial.
From a vision of Gilean received by a cleric at the University of Solanthus:
“My brother tells the story truly, according to his understanding of it, but he remains blinded by his commitment to virtue and his childlike loyalty to the High God.
“The prime matter that we have come to know as Chaos appears to all my studies to have an existence independent of the High God; his passion for Order leaves me doubtful that he would countenance it existing in such a state. Indeed, the malevolence of Chaos in later years suggests that it is in fact an opposite of the High God; disordered matter as opposed to order and spirit. Indeed, the High God may have arisen from Chaos, rather than the opposite. We may be children of both; we know that we shaped the rest of this universe from Chaos, in accordance with the plan of the High God.
“That our banished brother Ionthas has some connection to the Father of All and Nothing seems likely; it would explain how Chaos was able to manifest on our planes of being. However, that they are identical seems unlikely. I find it more probable that the Chaos left behind after we shaped much of it into the world consumed our brother and used him as a vessel.
“As for the All-Saints War, Paladine–or Valthonis, as he now calls himself–is accurate in many of the facts, but again lacks understanding. He adds unnecessary complications in assuming that the souls of mortals come from the High God; since they appeared among the stars, the logical conclusion is that they came from the same sparks thrown off by Reorx’s hammer.
“The division between Paladine and our deceased sister Takhisis confirmed for me what the tension between Chaos and the High God had hinted at–that this world is not meant to follow a single purpose, but to exist in tension between order and chaos, creation and destruction, good and evil. Even the High God seems to have recognized this in allowing us all to work out our own designs and influence the world, although Valthonis, as is his wont, sees this as serving the ends of Goodness. Yet if the High God were good, would he not have destroyed or chained the Gods of Evil? And if he were all-powerful, would he not have destroyed Chaos?”
“Gilean, so quick to see all sides of an issue, falls in an error that too many Neutral stumble into. He assumes an equality, as well as an opposition, between Order and Chaos, Goodness and Evil. Yet while Order and Goodness lead the world into growth and fulfillment–even taking up the fruits of Evil and Chaos into the Plan–and exist of themselves, Chaos and Evil are the result of distortion and corruption of their opposites, and lead to nothing but ruin and death.
“That the prime matter of Chaos is created, rather than pre-existent, is in large measure a matter of faith, for even our knowledge does not reach back that far. Yet there is no reason to believe that the High God arose from the Chaos, or that the souls of mortals sprang from it by sheer accident. First, we have never seen order arise out of Chaos without some ordering hand behind it. Second, everything of matter fades in time, unless the High God give it some special gift. Even we, with all our arts, could not make truly unchanging things, yet the souls of mortals persist through eternity, indissoluble.
“That Ionthas may have tapped into the unshaped Chaos beyond the edges of creation is a distinct possibility; there are many mysteries in the universe, and even Gilean does not know them all. Indeed, I fear for what the Slave of Darkness may have unleashed upon this world when she dragged it across the heavens. Yet Chaos never evidenced any will or intellect before our brother fell and raged against us, so I believe that he wielded it as a weapon, rather than it possessing him.
“As for why Chaos existed at the beginning, and Chaos and Evil have been permitted to remain in this world, the answer to both questions is intertwined. The High God, in his glory and goodness, has chosen to let his children–god, dragon, and mortal alike–share in the act of both bringing the universe to its fulfillment and final glory, and shaping their own destinies with the gifts he has given them. Even those who rebel find that their designs turn to his glory in the end, and while Evil is a reality, the darkness it spreads serves to at last heighten the brilliance of the light.”
From a manuscript ascribed to Mina, Cleric of the “One God”:
“Ah, Valthonis. Your babblings about the High God might at least be called a worthy scheme, were you not taken in by them yourself. This High God is nothing but a fancy you and Gilean constructed out of your own weakness and fear.
“Hear now, people of Krynn, as I relate the true story of creation, as the One God passed it down to me.
“Before this world began, there was Chaos, Father of the Gods, who had devoured all others. Driven only by madness and wild desire, he had no vision or plans, being content to dwell in the Void. Yet in one of his moments of strange yearnings, he had produced children. The mightiest among them was Takhisis, followed by her brothers Gilean and Paladine. Takhisis was bold and visionary, conceiving the greatness that could arise should her father turn his gifts to producing order. Paladine was weak and cowardly, desiring order but lacking the discipline to suffer and punish for its sake, and fearing disobedience to his father. Gilean was cold and aloof, observing without caring, having no vision save to observe the random movements of others.
“Eventually, rallying the strongest of her younger brothers–though they were primitive and brutish, unable to accomplish much without her guidance–Takhisis overthrew Chaos, seizing his power and majesty. Yet she was betrayed. Paladine helped Chaos escape into the distant regions of the Void, and then he and Gilean demanded that Takhisis share the authority that was hers by right. She resisted for a time, forging the dragons to help her protect what was hers, but Paladine created his own dragons in mockery, and there was war in the heavens. Eventually, Her Majesty acquiesced, letting Paladine and Gilean have a part of her world to play with, so that she might prove the supremacy of her designs.
“Takhisis created the ogres, mighty and powerful, and had a hand in shaping the humans, passionate and valiant. Yet Paladine and Gilean weakened the humans, introducing Chaos into them, so that they were pulled away from glory by weakness and indecision. Paladine also created the elves, arrogant and cowardly, weak and overly merciful.
“Gilean, meanwhile, also promulgated the idea of the Balance, that all three forces should be permitted to work upon the world. He ascribed this, along with his foolish ‘Three Laws’, to the High God, which he and Paladine had imagined, unwilling either to stand in their own names or bow to their rightful superior.
Paladine accepted this Balance, being unwilling in his weakness to force mortals into the service of order, and has done much to spread Gilean’s errors. The true laws of ‘Good’, ‘Evil’, and ‘Neutrality’ are these:
- “Weakness spreads weakness by fostering and sparing it.
- “Glory and power come from purifying the world through its proper ordering.
- “The storms of chaos wrack this world, swinging it between ‘Good’ and ‘Evil’, providing shelter for the weak at some times yet at others destroying them.
“Thus, for millennia, the Dark Queen strove to bring the world to glory and protect it from those who, in their weakness and blindness, would return it to the Chaos from which it came. At the end, she nearly succeeded, but was again cut down by the treachery of her brethren and their elven spawn. Yet her vision lives on, and we shall fulfill it, no matter the cost.”
“Ah, Mina. Of all the souls seduced and betrayed by the Maiden of Lies, yours may be among the most tragic. You could have been a great force for Good, had you not lost your way. Yet redemption is still possible, and I hope that you may come to it ere your life meets its end.
“There is little to be said against the lies she poisoned your heart with. To believe one of us is by nature to distrust the other. Yet the evidence of creation and of mortal lives suggest that the weakness of which Takhisis spoke–truth, compassion, hope, beauty, and love–is what gives the world form and meaning, and her order and glory would lead to naught but a cold, heartless void. Look within yourself, Mina, and ask if what she taught you has really brought about the glory she promises for yourself and the world.”