Dragonlance may refer to one of two things: the series of books by Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman set in the world of Krynn, or the d20-system role-play campaign setting based on the series. Here we will concern ourselves with the books by Weiss and Hickman.
Krynn is a fantasy world that began life as the setting for a Dungeons & Dragons-esque role-play, and so it shares some features with the RPG. It contains the kind of creatures you would expect, such as humans, elves, dwarves, dragons, orcs, ogres, etc., and the main characters tend to have aspects of D&D characters, such as having a distinct class like ranger, fighter, barbarian, wizard, or cleric. There are also clear lines drawn between good, neutral, and evil.
The action happens mostly on the continent of Ansalon. Important locations on Ansalon include the town of Solace in the province of Abanasinia, the cities of Palanthas and Neraka, the elven nations of the Qualinesti and Silvanesti with their capitols of Qualinost and Silvanost, the dwarven kingdom in the mountain Thorbardin, and Solamnia, the realm of the Solamnic Knights.
Good and Neutral Races
Humans can be found anywhere on Krynn. They have more permanent settlements in Abanasinia and Solamnia than anywhere else, however, as other places are home to stronger and more dangerous races like the ogres or minotaurs in the East. Humans fall into two categories: barbarian tribes and civilized peoples. The barbarians live on the plains, on the Icewall Glacier, and in the desert known as the Plains of Dust. The civilized peoples live in northern Abanasinia, Solamnia, and the island nation of Ergoth. Solamnia is the home of the Solamnic Knighthood, a group of knights who wear silver armor and live by the Code and the Measure (a set of rules for behavior). The Ergothians are darker-skinned that the mainlanders and are a seafaring folk, rivaled only by the minotaur in their prowess on the open sea.
Elves are extremely long-lived on Krynn, but not immortal. They live in various secluded areas of the world depending on their sub-race.
- The Qualinesti live in a forest of the same name in western Abanasinia. They build their houses so that you can barely tell where the house begins and nature ends. Their leader is the Speaker of the Sun. They tend to have dark hair and eyes.
- The Silvanesti live in a forest of the same name that is east of the Plains of Dust. They believe themselves to be better than all other races, including their elven cousins. They tame nature when they build their cities, making gardens and parks, but keeping nature out of their buildings. They are much fairer than their Qualinesti cousins. They often have hazel eyes and hair ranging from light brown to white-blonde. Their leader is the Speaker of the Stars.
- The Kaganesti are known as "Wild Elves." They do not have cities, they do not have a leader. They have been known to be slaves to the Qualinesti (who view it as a public service to culture their wild cousins) where they are used as servants. Their homeland is Abanasinia and Southern Ergoth. They are easily distinguished by the extensive tattooing that they have, especially on their faces.
- Sea-Elves are known to exist but they keep to themselves and not much is known about their culture. They can breath underwater and have blue-green skin.
Dwarves on Krynn have a history of seclusion from other races. Most dwarves live in the mountain fortress of Thorbardin. There are various clans of dwarves that, due to differences in abilities and traits, have specific jobs in the mountain.
- The Klar Clan ("Wild Dwarves"), for instance, are known for their natural ability to handle the large, rock-eating worms that are used for tunneling. The dwarves have a council that is comprised of one member of each clan, including the Hill Dwarves and Gully Dwarves. There is also a seat left empty as a reminder that their ancestors are watching.
- The Neidar Clan is the one major clan that does not live in Thorbardin. They live in the hills around the mountain fortress. They are the farmers, woodsmen, and herdsmen that help to supply the mountain with the food and lumber they need.
- The Gully Dwarves are generally considered (by the other dwarves) to not be actual dwarves. They are scavengers. They will eat whatever they can find and live wherever no one is throwing things at them. They are known for their lack of intelligence. The only reason they have a seat on the Dwarven Council is that the Theiwar Clan thought that they could get the upper hand if they could get an extra vote. This backfired as it became clear that the Gully Dwarves were voting with the Hylar Clan, who are much nicer than the Theiwar.
The gnomes are the tinkerers, the inventors, the builders. They are also known to cause explosions constantly, mainly due to the fact that none of their inventions work the way they should. The gnomes tend to have red-brown skin and their hair (if they have any left) tends to be dark. They live in a mountain called Mount Nevermind. It is called this because the gnomes tend to explain every facet of a thing when naming it (in the case of Mt. Nevermind, the name is an endless loop) and anyone asking the name is likely to just say "never mind." The Gnomish government is based entirely on committees, which is why nothing ever gets done.
The metallic dragons tend to live solitary lives in seclusion. Some of them like to shape-shift into a humanoid form and take an active interest in the well fare of cities and people. They really only come out of hiding when their cousins, the chromatic dragons, start causing trouble. There are five sub-races of metallic dragons:
- Gold dragons
- Silver dragons
- Copper dragons
- Brass dragons
- Bronze dragons
Kender are Krynn's answer to halflings in that they are a small people, but kender, far from being content to stay at home and grow gardens, are as a race afflicted with wanderlust. Kender are intensely curious to the point of endangering themselves and their traveling companions, and they are immune to the emotion of fear. They also have an unfortunate tendency to acquire other people's possessions, though any kender would swear blind that he never stole anything in his life. The object's owner must have dropped it; it's a good thing the kender picked it up for him. Kender are generally cheerful and talkative, always willing to tell a story about their last adventure.
The chromatic dragons live in seclusion, not because they prefer solitude, but because they don't trust other dragons. Some of them shape-shift into a humanoid form and take an active interest in gaining power and wealth from people and cities. They are territorial and will cause a lot of trouble if you try to move into their area. There are five species of chromatic dragon:
- Red dragons
- Black dragons
- Green dragons
- Blue dragons
- White dragons
Draconians are the end result of a series of experiments that were done by evil clerics, wizards and dragons. They took the eggs of good/neutral dragons and subjected them to dark rituals. Draconians are humanoids with draconic features. The features are not always consistent through each species. Some species have predispositions toward certain traits. One trait that is always the same is that each species has a certain way of acting upon death. Some explode, some turn to stone, some turn to acid. There are five species of draconian:
- Baaz or brass draconians are the most numerous draconians. They are strong but not bright. They turn to stone when they die.
- Kapak or copper draconians are stealthy and cunning. The males have poison saliva. They dissolve into a pool of acid when they die.
- Bozak or bronze draconians are natural leaders. They have some ability with magic. Their flesh dissolves quickly upon death leaving only the bones which then explode.
- Sivak or silver draconians are spies that use a natural ability to shape-shift. They are the only draconians that can fly. Their corpse turns into a likeness of their killer when they die. This can be a very unsettling experience.
- Aurak or gold draconians are the smartest of the five species. They are often wizards or clerics and have an affinity for magic. An Aurak will explode in a blast of magical energy upon death.
There is a legend that the ogres used to be the most beautiful of the races, the beloved of the Gods. How they turned into the ugly brutes we know today is anyone's guess. The ogres have a nation called Blöde just northwest of Silvanesti. Their major export is slaves.
Distant cousins of the ogres, the minotaurs are far more sophisticated. They live on the islands of Mithas and Kothas on the northeastern side of the Blood Sea (so named because of its deep red color). Their society is very similar to that of Ancient Rome in the Real World. They are also skilled sailors and very active in the slave trade.
Magic-users on Krynn get their power from the gods one way or another—clerics through prayer to their deity of choice and wizards through intense study of the words of magic and devotion to the craft and its three patron gods. Wizards experience the use of magic as a sort of ecstasy that can be dangerously addictive. The desire for more magical power is something that most wizards have in common. The differences appear in their methods of handling it.
Each wizard must take a deadly test. If they survive, then they make a decision whether to follow the path of good, neutrality, or evil. Good-aligned wizards follow the god Solinari and wear white robes. They seek to use their magic for the good of others. Neutral wizards follow Lunitari and wear red robes. They seek magic for its own sake. Evil wizards follow Nuitari and wear black robes. They use magic for their own gain, no matter the cost.
Though the Dragonlance franchise has grown to monstrous proportions with many authors writing for it, the books that matter most are the ones by original authors Weiss and Hickman. These are the ones listed here.
The Dragonlance Chronicles Trilogy
- Dragons of Autumn Twilight (April 1984)
- Dragons of Winter Night (April 1985)
- Dragons of Spring Dawning (September 1985)
- Time of the Twins (February 1986)
- War of the Twins (May 1986)
- Test of the Twins (August 1986)
The Second Generation
- The Second Generation (February 1995)
- Dragons of Summer Flame (November 1996)
The War of Souls
- Dragons of a Fallen Sun (April 2000)
- Dragons of a Lost Star (April 2001)
- Dragons of a Vanished Moon (January 2002)
The Lost Chronicles Trilogy
- Dragons of the Dwarven Depths (July 2006)
- Dragons of the Highlord Skies (July 2007)
- Dragons of the Hourglass Mage (August 2009)