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    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: The Illustrated Dragonlance Reread

    Quote Originally Posted by warty goblin View Post
    Plotwise the important deal is that the party gets themselves incapacitated, so we can look forwards to the consequences of this next chapter. Also we meet draconians who can use magic! This is a cool wrinkle, and marks them as either aurak or bozak draconians.
    I like seeing the draconians successfully ambush the party. It makes them seem competent (and thus much more threatening than your typical enemy mooks.)

    We also might need an additional tracker to keep track of how often each of the Heroes gets captured.

    Quote Originally Posted by russDM
    Mountain Rockie Thing:

    I have always questioned why the story was that Man turned from the Gods and how that was supposed to be wrong, when the Gods threw a mountain down, then decided to have no more contact.

    Why is this such an issue, described as being a wrong carried out by mortals. It chafes at me, especially since I kinda fall into the same religious outlook a bit as Hickman. Why are the mortals being blamed when the gods clearly showed that the Deities had taken away their clerical power.
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    Well keep in mind that the ones saying mortals were in the wrong there are all gods or agents of the gods. It's fairly typical abuser behavior to blame the victim ("You shouldn't have made me angry" and so forth), so it's not surprising that the gods blame the mortals. It certainly doesn't mean the gods are right. (And in later books we do get some characters that reject the god's claim.)

  2. - Top - End - #122
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    GnomeWizardGuy

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    Default Re: The Illustrated Dragonlance Reread

    Quote Originally Posted by russdm View Post
    Is it at this point or further along when Tas knocks out Flint with his hoopak? I recall it being in a swamp related area in the first book. Somewhere, with Tas claiming that Flint just slipped.
    I believe this was earlier, when they were first fighting the draconians with the cart. Tas and Flint were in the forest at the side of the road, and Tas knocks Flint on his ass with the hoopak accidentally, then Tas turns around and wonders what Flint is messing at.

    Reminds me a lot of a scene in another D&D novel, Dragonlord of Mystara. Our main character Thelvyn sees a light on in his mentor's house while said mentor is out adventuring. He slips in and grabs a walking staff by the door - said staff is basically a sheperd's crook, and when one of the thieves comes into the darkness to see what's going on he fights her, using his darkvision and the hook end of the staff to foul her weapon and eventually disarm her. A dwarven second thief is sneaking up behind him, and gets clonked on the helmet with the butt end of the staff and knocked silly.

    ...At which point his mentor walks in with a lantern and wonders why his apprentice is having a life-and-death battle with his adventuring companions. The dwarf doesn't live down getting knocked out so easily for a while, but the woman gets her revenge the next day by training Thelyvn in real weapons the next day and kicking the crap out of him in the process.

  3. - Top - End - #123
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    AssassinGuy

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    Im doing a re-read of the books myself. This is definitely the scene where Tas KOs flint with his staff, but its actually intentional.


    As for the cataclysm, they go into more detail into the what and why during the next trilogy, and frankly, I think that made it a lot worse, not better. The excuse turned into "the forces of good were becoming too powerful and full of hubris", but then when they actually showed said forces, they were racist lying fascists who practiced slavery as punishment for crimes and invited black robed wizards into court.

    I believe its in Dragons of Spring Dawning, the third book, where a character says that "too much" goodness manifests as intolerance and a believe that "because I am right, everybody who is different must be wrong." which is not entirely unfair, but still no good reason to break the world and definitely not actually what was going on.
    “Evil is evil. Lesser, greater, middling, it's all the same. Proportions are negotiated, boundaries blurred. I'm not a pious hermit, I haven't done only good in my life. But if I'm to choose between one evil and another, then I prefer not to choose at all.”

  4. - Top - End - #124
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    GnomeWizardGuy

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    Default Re: The Illustrated Dragonlance Reread

    Quote Originally Posted by Keltest View Post
    I believe its in Dragons of Spring Dawning, the third book, where a character says that "too much" goodness manifests as intolerance and a believe that "because I am right, everybody who is different must be wrong." which is not entirely unfair, but still no good reason to break the world and definitely not actually what was going on.
    My favorite take on this was the Huma novel.

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    Huma has defeated Takhisis in battle and pinned her to the ground with a Dragonlance. She makes the same argument that killing the God of Evil would be a Really Bad Idea and would throw the natural forces out of whack. With no evil to find, the good will stagnate and turn in on itself and become fare worse than if balance is maintained. Huma is convinced, but makes her swear on something she believes in to leave this plane and never return in person. She swears on The Creator (I don't recall their name) and Huma pulls the lance out. Takhisis immediately starts doing her "foolish mortal!" laugh and is about to kill Huma...and then gets forcibly ejected from the world by the power of her own oath. I've always found that pretty neat - it's one of the first cases I can recall seeing "good, not dumb" in action.

  5. - Top - End - #125
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keltest View Post
    As for the cataclysm, they go into more detail into the what and why during the next trilogy, and frankly, I think that made it a lot worse, not better. The excuse turned into "the forces of good were becoming too powerful and full of hubris", but then when they actually showed said forces, they were racist lying fascists who practiced slavery as punishment for crimes and invited black robed wizards into court.

    I believe its in Dragons of Spring Dawning, the third book, where a character says that "too much" goodness manifests as intolerance and a believe that "because I am right, everybody who is different must be wrong." which is not entirely unfair, but still no good reason to break the world and definitely not actually what was going on.
    That's the biggest problem with Dragonlance. I love the characters (Laurana in particular is my favorite character not just in Dragonlance but in all fiction), but Dragonlance philosophy/theology is a complete mess with the idea that there needs to be a balance between good and evil being an especially absurd idea.

    (Which is undoubtedly why all the examples of extreme "goodness" in the books are all people engaging in textbook evil behavior. You simply can't make the idea that there needs to be balance between good and evil work if good people are actually acting good (i.e. acting in an altruistic manner that respects the worth and dignity of other beings). As such to make the case that there needs to be a balance between good and evil the authors had to effectively redefine good so that it stopped being a recognizable moral standard and instead ended up being nothing more than a team name.)

  6. - Top - End - #126
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    Default Re: The Illustrated Dragonlance Reread

    The thing they are doing for would have worked fine with a Law/Chaos dichotomy - and indeed that feels more like what they describe in actual practice - but it does not scan with Good/Evil.

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    Default Re: The Illustrated Dragonlance Reread

    Quote Originally Posted by Keltest View Post
    As for the cataclysm, they go into more detail into the what and why during the next trilogy, and frankly, I think that made it a lot worse, not better. The excuse turned into "the forces of good were becoming too powerful and full of hubris", but then when they actually showed said forces, they were racist lying fascists who practiced slavery as punishment for crimes and invited black robed wizards into court.

    I believe its in Dragons of Spring Dawning, the third book, where a character says that "too much" goodness manifests as intolerance and a believe that "because I am right, everybody who is different must be wrong." which is not entirely unfair, but still no good reason to break the world and definitely not actually what was going on.
    It's really poorly thought out because they notice that the 'good guys' are doing bad things like enslaving people, being super racist, intolerant, controlling, using propaganda, and lying, but they never actually say that such behavior was evil.

    Which if they did, would actually really make sense. If they were like, 'the arrogance of a good man will often turn them to evil,' then maybe that could work out.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Forum Explorer View Post
    It's really poorly thought out because they notice that the 'good guys' are doing bad things like enslaving people, being super racist, intolerant, controlling, using propaganda, and lying, but they never actually say that such behavior was evil.

    Which if they did, would actually really make sense. If they were like, 'the arrogance of a good man will often turn them to evil,' then maybe that could work out.
    Yeah. Its not an unworkable concept, that the hubris of man (and elf, and dwarf) was blinding them all towards what they were actually doing compared to what they claimed to be doing, but the execution is pretty consistently cringeworthy.
    “Evil is evil. Lesser, greater, middling, it's all the same. Proportions are negotiated, boundaries blurred. I'm not a pious hermit, I haven't done only good in my life. But if I'm to choose between one evil and another, then I prefer not to choose at all.”

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    Default Re: The Illustrated Dragonlance Reread

    Quote Originally Posted by bguy View Post
    That's the biggest problem with Dragonlance. I love the characters (Laurana in particular is my favorite character not just in Dragonlance but in all fiction), but Dragonlance philosophy/theology is a complete mess with the idea that there needs to be a balance between good and evil being an especially absurd idea.
    You're not the same bguy who commented a lot on the tor.com reread of the Chronicles a couple years back by any chance? I only checked because I remember somebody there commenting a lot on Laurana's character arc.

    (Which is undoubtedly why all the examples of extreme "goodness" in the books are all people engaging in textbook evil behavior. You simply can't make the idea that there needs to be balance between good and evil work if good people are actually acting good (i.e. acting in an altruistic manner that respects the worth and dignity of other beings). As such to make the case that there needs to be a balance between good and evil the authors had to effectively redefine good so that it stopped being a recognizable moral standard and instead ended up being nothing more than a team name.)
    The interpretation I've reached that makes most sense is basically that Krynn is permanently trapped in history, in the sense that it cannot ever achieve a state of perfect good or perfect evil, which would basically be permanent and unchanging states. When it seems to be tending one direction or the other, weird crap happens, like say good people causing lots of evil through being (or trying to be) good. Basically as you approach the extremes of the good/evil spectrum, good actions start to have evil effects, and evil actions start to have good effects. The series actually makes this explicit, with evil turning on itself.

    Which yeah, still doesn't make a lot of sense, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

    Reread onwards!

    14: Prisoners of the draconians
    Tas is hiding in a bush, watching the draconians tie up his companions in sticky magical webbing. Next to him is the unconscious Flint, whom Tas knocked out so he could drag the panicking dwarf out of the swamp. Except for Raistlin, the companions appear to be unhurt, but unconscious. The draconians have a certain amount of difficulty with the staff; when one of them tries to pick it up it zaps the dragonman's hand. Eventually they roll it onto a blanket with a stick, wrap it up, and carry it off that way.

    Flint starts to come around as the draconians leave, but fortunately stays quiet enough that Tas doesn't have to thump him again. Finally conscious, the slightly groggy dwarf asks what happens, and why his head hurts. Tas promptly says that he hit his head on a log when he fell in the water. Flint doesn't remember that, but Tas sticks to his story, and points out that they need to go rescue their friends anyway. Flint points out that he's lost his helmet and his axe in the swamp, so how are they supposed to do that? Tas remains outwardly confident, but is pretty worried about the situation.

    They follow the same trail the draconians took, which is broad and well used. Flint is concerned that this means there's an entire army of draconians up ahead, but Tas is generally unconcerned with details like that, and tells Flint that the more draconians there are, the less likely they are to be spotted. This doesn't make sense to Flint, but his head hurts, he's soaking wet, and he can't really think of a counter-argument. And besides, their choices are try to save their friends, or leave them to die, which isn't really much of a choice.

    Around dusk they reach the draconian camp, which is indeed quite large, and full of celebrating draconians. Flint and Tas stop in the shadows beyond the firelight, and Flint spots - a dragon!


    The draconian camp and dragon, from the 2004 comic adaption of Dragons of Autumn Twilight

    A huge black dragon, with a head that reaches over the tops of the trees and great arching wings. The draconians bow and worship in front of it. Tas, looking at the dragon, think there's something wrong with it. Flint points out that there aren't supposed to be any dragons, which Tas says is exactly the point, and runs off to have a closer look. Flint can't stop the kender without making too much noise, so just follows helplessly.

    Tanis wakes up to find a worried looking Sturm shaking him. Sturm fills him in; Tas and Flint have gone missing, and Raistlin is badly hurt, probably dying. Goldmoon is tending to him, but he's clearly not going to last. Riverwind says he was hit by some sort of poisoned dart; Goldmoon thinks maybe if they had the staff they could heal him, but the staff is... lying in front of the black dragon. Tanis thinks Caramon is strong enough to break them out of the cage, but they're surrounded by armed draconians, a long way from the staff, which is right next to an actual dragon. Sturm thinks maybe Tas and Flint escaped, but they could easily be dead.

    Tanis feels very tired of everything, but asks one of the draconian guards for an antidote for the poison. The draconian just laughs, and says that they're all be dead soon enough anyway. Caramon goes berserk and charges straight through the cage like it isn't there. Tanis, Sturm and Riverwind all try to stop him, but he throws them off like they aren't there, and punches the lights out of the nearest draconian guard. But they're instantly surrounded by a half dozen more draconians with bows trained on them as the others finally subdue Caramon.

    The dragon calls out to bring the warrior closer. Everyone is surprised by this, including the draconians, who form a great half circle in front of the monster. A draconian officer asks one of the magic users what is going on - they have to use common to speak to each other since the smaller baaz draconians speak a different language from the kapak priests/magic users. Apparently the dragon doesn't speak when the priest isn't around, and the bozak priest was flown off by something to confer with Lord Verminaard. The magic-user draconian says they have to obey the dragon, so they shove the others back into what's left of the cage, and drag the sobbing Caramon in front of the dragon.


    A bozak draconian by Larry Elmore

    The dragon taunts Caramon, beating its huge wings. The draconians back up in amazement and anticipation. Caramon says his brother is dying and he doesn't what the dragon does, just give him his sword and let him die fighting. The dragon agrees, so Caramon grabs his weapon from the pile of gear. Sturm starts to go to his aid, but is interrupted by a voice - Flint is hiding in the bushes nearby.

    Flint says that the dragon is Tasslehoff. Tanis says this makes no sense, but Flint explains. The dragon is made out of wickerwork covered in black lacquer. There's a speaking trumpet inside of it, and if you sit inside you can make the wings flap. He guesses it's how the priests keep the others in line. Tanis doesn't really see how that helps, since there's like a hundred draconians still running, but Flint suggests that they go get their weapons anyway, since he has no idea what Tas-the-dragon is going to do.

    Tas-the-dragon is flapping his wings and making horrible screeching noises, so absent a better plan Goldmoon and Flint take the nearly dead Raistlin into the woods while nobody is paying attention, while Tanis, Sturm and Riverwind go to help Caramon.

    Caramon for his part is getting ready to fight the dragon, whose wildly flapping wings have sent sparks flying everywhere; some of the bamboo huts are now on fire. Caramon has never gone into a fight without Raistlin beside him before, a realization that hurts. When he sees Tanis approach, he insists that the dragon is his fight, but Tanis explains about Tas being the dragon. This makes no sense to the grief-stricken Caramon, but the prospect of getting the staff and saving Raistlin does sink in. With a tremendous jerk, the dragon takes off!

    Caramon takes off running for the woods and the others. He strongarms a draconian out of his way, grabs the staff, and swings it wildly around him. The flashing blue weapon keeps the other draconians away, as behind him he can hear a fight starting between Sturm and the other draconians. He reaches the others, and lays the staff on Raistlin, who is very still. Flint thinks the staff is used up, but Goldmoon prays to whatever power gave them the staff to save Raistlin's life. At this point everything is illuminated by a great flash of fire as the dragon crashes into the bonfire. Being wicker and lacquer, it starts to burn immediately.

    Flint, terrified for Tas inside the dragon takes off back into the camp at a dead run. Raistlin stirs and asks Caramon what's going on, but honestly Caramon doesn't know what's going on, since somehow Tas became a dragon and then things got weirder.

    The smaller baaz draconians are panicking at the sudden crash and immolation of their idol. The larger bozak magic users try to restore order, but don't really have much luck. This allows Sturm to cut a path towards the others easily enough, but is waylaid by Flint running the other direction yelling about saving Tas. Sturm follows the dwarf, and tries to restrain him from charging into the inferno that was the dragon. But Flint is uncontrollable, so Sturm is forced to follow him. The heat is nearly unbearable, but Sturm sees movement near one end of the wreck of the dragon. The head is not on fire - yet - and sticking out of the dragon's mouth are Tas' legs, in their bright blue leggings.

    Sturm yells for Tas to get out of the head, but the kender is stuck. With the flames spreading up the dragon's neck, Sturm realizes he's got no choice to but to cut off the dragon's head. Hoping he's judged the kender's height correctly, and that his arms are not over his head, Sturm brings down his two handed sword on the wickerwork neck. Tas yells, but Sturm can't tell if it's in pain or not. Riverwind appears out of the now quite thick smoke, and Sturm enlists his help in hauling the Tas-filled dragon head out of the encroaching inferno. Any draconians who see them take off running in terror - after all these two warriors are carrying the severed head of their god.

    Back in the woods, Caramon is trying to get Raistlin up, and making sure he feels ok. Raistlin does not feel ok - Raistlin never feels ok - but takes Caramon's assistance in standing, then snaps at him to leave him alone. Goldmoon is disgusted by Raistlin's cruelty after Caramon's grief and efforts to save him. Tanis reappears out of the smoke, coughing, he got separated from the others. Goldmoon says something in her native language in astonishment. a dragon head with a ghastly protruding blue forked tongue is lunging at them from out of the smoke!

    Tanis does a double take, then he hears something even more alarming: Raistlin is laughing. Tanis has never heard Raistlin laugh, even when Raistlin was young, and the sound is deeply unsettling. Caramon stares at Raistlin, flabbergasted, Goldmoon stares in revulsion. With a shiver, Tanis turns back to the dragon head, and realizes that the 'tongue' is really Tas' legs. Sturm explains about the kender being stuck, and looks askance at the still laughing Raistlin, wondering if he's still poisoned, and expresses disappointment when Tanis says he's cured.

    Tas is apparently unharmed in the dragon head, but is upset that Sturm might have cut off his hair. Tanis points out he's lucky it wasn't his head, and gets Caramon to see if he can pull the dragon head apart. The big warrior, with substantial effort, succeeds in ripping the top of the head off, releasing a somewhat singed Tasslehoff - who is relieved to find his topknot still intact. With that concern dealt with, he immediately starts enthusing over how marvelous being the dragon was, but Tanis cuts him off. They head off into the woods, Raistlin still shaking with laughter.

    Commentary
    Raist-o-Meter
    Times horrible to Caramon + 1: 4
    Times evil: 1
    Times saved the party: 1

    I think this chapter is basically peak Dragons of Autumn Twilight style Dragonlance. You've got it all; action, a goofy set-piece, kender hijinks, Caramon being all caring towards Raistlin, Raistlin being sickly and a jerk about it, it's really just the full package and it's great fun.

    It's also one of the places where the RPG background really shows through. You can just about hear the DM reading out the descriptions and asking everybody what they do throughout. On the other hand it's a legit inventive and cool action beat, so I'm not complaining. If one was feeling nitpicky, one could wonder how exactly a kender who weighs like 90lbs soaking wet manages to get a giant wicker dragon airborne, but that way lies joylessness and Brandon Sanderson novels. Blame a wizard if you need an explanation.

    Character-wise the important beats here are how much Caramon really cares about Raistlin, and as a corollary just how massively strong he really is. We also get some solid Flint/Tas interaction, which reveals that yes, while Flint complains a lot about Tas, he really does care about him. This is one of the more enjoyable relationships in the books to me, since it does a lot to soften the otherwise grumpy Flint. And that Flint at some level enjoys the kender's company makes Tas' antics seem fun instead of clueless or mean-spirited. It's an important point to clarify, since Tas teases Flint all the time, and it could easily come off as bullying or cruel if Flint wasn't along for the ride.

    In terms of worldbuilding we see that there are multiple species of draconians - apparently with mutually unintelligible languages no less. Some are smaller and stupider, the magic users are apparently larger and tend to be in charge, so we have a natural ranking system built into the evil armies. Technically the book doesn't refer to the smaller ones as baaz, but it's a lot easier to do that, so I'm just gonna use their species names where appropriate. Also they worship dragons, and are apparently easily fooled by wickerwork. There's some genuinely funny annotations about what this implies about draconian handicraft skills, since there's a lot of bother goes into making a giant wicker dragon after all. I sort of love the image of draconians sitting around gossiping and weaving a giant dragon, though it must have been built by a different group than the ones who worship it as a god. Or they know it's wicker and think a real dragon speaks through it maybe?

    Also, it's nearly halfway through book 1, and in a series called Dragonlance we finally get a dragon... and it's fake. That's a kind of hilarious twist right there. So are dragons real?

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    Yes, dragons are real. And, as we're about to find out, scary as hell.

    Also, speaking of the Flint/Tas dynamic, there's some really excellent examples of this in The Soulforge, which describes the travails of poor Flint after Tas moves in with him. More of a past spoiler I guess, but whatever.
    Blood-red were his spurs i' the golden noon; wine-red was his velvet coat,
    When they shot him down on the highway,
    Down like a dog on the highway,
    And he lay in his blood on the highway, with the bunch of lace at his throat.


    Alfred Noyes, The Highwayman, 1906.

  10. - Top - End - #130
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    Default Re: The Illustrated Dragonlance Reread

    I love when we find the backstory of the wicker dragon.

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    It was a hazing prank pulled on a bunch of newly hatched draconians done by a group of draconian engineers, who were actually present in the camp during this chapter, and thought the whole thing was hilarious.
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    Default Re: The Illustrated Dragonlance Reread

    Quote Originally Posted by warty goblin View Post
    If one was feeling nitpicky, one could wonder how exactly a kender who weighs like 90lbs soaking wet manages to get a giant wicker dragon airborne, but that way lies joylessness and Brandon Sanderson novels.
    I've read something like 10 Brandon Sanderson novels and enjoyed them, but this still made me laugh out loud.
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    Quote Originally Posted by warty goblin View Post
    You're not the same bguy who commented a lot on the tor.com reread of the Chronicles a couple years back by any chance? I only checked because I remember somebody there commenting a lot on Laurana's character arc.
    I am indeed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Saph View Post
    I've read something like 10 Brandon Sanderson novels and enjoyed them, but this still made me laugh out loud.
    I have read a couple of his books. Does he have a reputation for something?
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    Quote Originally Posted by russdm View Post
    I have read a couple of his books. Does he have a reputation for something?
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    Default Re: The Illustrated Dragonlance Reread

    I started rereading Dragonlance (last time I read it around 4 years ago?) after this reread started. And when I came to this scene- my, how could I forget it?! It's hilarious, exspecially the part with the wicker dragon's head.
    Also, something that I noticed: Raistlin is very sick, nearly gone, due to the poison, and we don't see the blue crystal staff healing him, because it doesn't light up. However, Goldmoon prays for him. Is this the first instance we see clerical -not staff-y- healing?
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    Default Re: The Illustrated Dragonlance Reread

    Quote Originally Posted by Elvensilver View Post
    I started rereading Dragonlance (last time I read it around 4 years ago?) after this reread started. And when I came to this scene- my, how could I forget it?! It's hilarious, exspecially the part with the wicker dragon's head.
    Also, something that I noticed: Raistlin is very sick, nearly gone, due to the poison, and we don't see the blue crystal staff healing him, because it doesn't light up. However, Goldmoon prays for him. Is this the first instance we see clerical -not staff-y- healing?
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    15: Escape. The well. Death on black wings

    The companions make their way through the swamp, under cover of both darkness and the thick smoke from the burning draconian camp. Riverwind takes the lead; even Tanis is completely disoriented in the dark, and they can't risk a light, since they can hear the sounds of draconians trying to restore order. In fairly short order they reach a bit of swamp they have to wade through; the water gets so deep that Tanis has to carry the delighted Tasslehoff. Flint, naturally, refuses to be carried until he steps into a hole and goes in over his head, so Caramon hauls him out and slings him over his back. Raistlin, never exactly athletic, still somewhat poisoned, and weighed down by robes, has to be half-carried, half-dragged through the cold water by Sturm. One can only imagine much both of them enjoy that experience.

    After they leave the swamp, they take a short rest, but Raistlin urges them on. There are stormclouds forming in the north, and he says they need to reach Xak Tsaroth by the time the moon sets. They set off, finding another swamp, but fortunately are spared wading by a huge obelisk that has fallen across the dark water. Tas jumps up and finds runes carved into the stone. Raistlin lights up his staff - much to Sturm's displeasure at revealing their location - and reads:

    Quote Originally Posted by Fallen Pillar
    The Great City of Xak Tsaroth, whose beauty surrounds you, speaks to the good of its people and their generous deeds. The gods reward us in the grace of our home
    Goldmoon finds the message chilling, Raistlin seems amused by the 'reward' the city received from the gods.

    They continue on into the jungle, and Riverwind finds a trail, made by many clawed feet - indicative of more draconians - that leads straight into the city. Tanis asks if this is where he found the staff, Riverwind says it is, and is where death has black wings. Tanis reassures him with an elven quote lifted from Plato, "only the dead are without fear." Riverwind says he has misjudged Tanis on account of his heritage, and counts him as a friend. This is apparently a big deal in the plains culture, and Tanis replies that Riverwind is also his friend.

    They find a street, and have reached the remains of the city, which is a crumbling ruin. Not far down the old street they come to a courtyard, in the center of which is a stone well. Next to that is the only building they've seen to have escaped destruction during the Cataclysm, made of white stone with golden doors. Raistlin says that this was a temple to the old gods. Goldmoon thinks the temple is beautiful, and walks towards it.

    The others look around, but everything is a wreck. Flint and Raistlin are about to start arguing when Tas spots a draconian - but before anyone can do anything it jumps into the well. Raistlin runs to the edge of the well after it, but is too tired to cast a spell, but thinks that the draconian went to alert something. There's a sense of impending, awaking evil in the air.

    Tas climbs up the well and looks down, and sees that the draconian is just floating down, which he naturally finds delightful. But Tanis cuts him off, sounding scared. There's no wind, just the eerie shadows cast by the two moons. Raistlin backs away from the well, Tas wants to know what everybody's so worried about, but Raistlin yells to get Tas away from the well. Tanis starts to run to Tas, but the ground begins to shake and roll under his feet.

    Riverwind grabs Tas as the well wall crumbles and collapses. Tanis tells everyone to run as a great gust of air rises from the well. Riverwind, looks around for Goldmoon and drops Tas as a terrible, high pitched shriek rises from the well. Sturm and Caramon manage to drag Tas and Raistlin away from the well, but Tanis is frozen in terror, and Riverwind needs to find Goldmoon, knowing how the terror rising from the well will effect her.

    Then Riverwind's nightmare rises out of the well: a great black dragon, strangely beautiful in the red moonlight.


    Khisanth rises from the well, by Larry Elmore. I always imagined her a lot bigger than this.

    Tanis is completely overcome by Dragonfear as the dragon flies higher into the sky, then speaks a word in the language of magic. Instantly Tanis is plunged into utter darkness, and completely disoriented. He can only hear the great flap and creak of the dragon's wings.


    Khisanth, the dragon, cannot see her quarry through the darkness she conjured, but she knows from her draconian underlings they are the group with the staff. Since she was charged with keeping the staff in Xak Tsaroth, and failed, Lord Verminaard has been angry. But not having seen the staff when she emerged from the well - since Goldmoon had carried it into the temple - she figures she only has to kill the ones in the courtyard.

    Still blinded by the darkness, Tanis hears the rushing of the wings getting nearer and nearer. Then a spitting, hissing noise like a boiling kettle, and the sound of rocks splitting and bubbling. Something that burns agonizingly splashes on his skin, and he hears a terrible scream - Riverwind's scream.

    Then the dragon is gone, and the magical darkness lifts. Tanis runs to the shape of Riverwind, but gags and looks away. Riverwind has been melted; his eyes running down the ruin of his face, the flesh dissolved away from his ribs, his organs left exposed. But horribly, somehow, he is still alive. Vomiting in revulsion and horror, Tanis asks Sturm to end Riverwind's pain.

    Sturm closes his eyes, and chants the Solamnic Death chant, from ages before when death in battle was glorious. But before he can bring the blade down a voice calls out - Goldmoon. Tanis and Caramon step in front of Riverwind's mutilated body, trying to spare Goldmoon the sight, but Raistlin grabs Tanis' arm, and says it is not their place to decide if Riverwind will live or not. That choice belongs to the gods.


    Another version of Khisanth, by Clyde Caldwell. I sort of like how alien she looks in this version, but everything else is kinda eh. Goldmoon seems to have forgotten about pants, and also this entire scene literally never happens

    Commentary
    Nearly 200 pages into a novel called Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight, and we get our first genuine in-the-flesh dragon. We've had missing dragon-shaped constellations, dragon helmets, giant handicraft wicker dragons, and finally, the real deal. And the book definitely delivers. The build-up is excellent, with the eerie well, the storm on the horizon, and the earth literally moving as Khisanth emerges. The dragon attack is also sold to the hilt; by having the entire thing relayed through sound it really amplifies the sense of helplessness of being a tiny little human-thing on the ground.

    The bit from Khisanth's perspective is also a nice touch. You get a very little bit of background about why there is a dragon there and another reference to Lord Verminaard as a big deal. But mostly it shows immediately that dragons are intelligent; with names and plans and internal monologues. I have to say I much prefer this style of dragon, the Smaug school of Dragons, to the dragons as large, dangerous wildlife school one sees a lot now. It makes them a lot scarier.

    I confess black dragons breathing (or spitting) acid always seemed slightly lame to me, at least compared to fire or lightning, but this is full-on horrifying. And poor Riverwind, coming back to a place he barely escaped the first time, only to get agonizingly dissolved like that. Que-Shu was also pretty horrific, but in a very after-the-fact sort of way. Seeing a character we've been hanging with for half a book get melted really makes the dragons immediately threatening.

    There's also an interesting annotation for the chapter. Apparently in the playtest they lowered Tanis into the well with the staff, which resulted in everybody getting eaten. As Margaret Weis points out, it would have been a short book if they'd stuck religiously to the playtest results.

    We also get some more poetry in the Solamnic Death Chant, which is one of the better pieces in Dragonlance. It's sort of here as background worldbuilding though, so we'll return to that later.

    Spoiler: Future Stuff
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    Specifically at the end of Winter's Night, when Sturm dies. There we get the whole poem, then is just the short version.
    Blood-red were his spurs i' the golden noon; wine-red was his velvet coat,
    When they shot him down on the highway,
    Down like a dog on the highway,
    And he lay in his blood on the highway, with the bunch of lace at his throat.


    Alfred Noyes, The Highwayman, 1906.

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    Default Re: The Illustrated Dragonlance Reread

    Yeah, artistic license aside, those pictures of Khisanth make her seem way too small. She is an ancient black dragon, after all.

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    Default Re: The Illustrated Dragonlance Reread

    I never quite understood how the dragon was emerging through a well in the first place though. It seems a bit of a tight squeeze.

    Also I admit I really like intelligent dragons vs dumb beast dragons. Also also, I'm a firm believer in dragons should be powerful category. They are the top of the food chain, and only things like Angels or Greater Demons should be a match for them in straight up power.
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    Quote Originally Posted by warty goblin View Post
    I confess black dragons breathing (or spitting) acid always seemed slightly lame to me, at least compared to fire or lightning, but this is full-on horrifying.
    I feel similarly about Greens in the way the mechanics of a poison cloud never live up to what your imagination can create. You read soldier accounts from WW1 and gas attacks sound like the stuff of nightmares. It’s not just a bit of coughing; you hear stories of men clawing at their throats as their lungs basically melt inside their bodies.

    In game you roll a CON save (which no one has as their dump stat) to take one of the most easily resisted kinds of damage.

    Although I will admit the Black Dragons always unsettled me a bit. “Melting” is right next to “chewing” on my list of “ways I most don’t want to die”.
    Last edited by TripleD; 2019-06-01 at 08:03 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Forum Explorer View Post
    I never quite understood how the dragon was emerging through a well in the first place though. It seems a bit of a tight squeeze.
    The pic makes the well mouth look about 10 ft wide. An Ancient Black Dragon (at least in 3.5) is Huge (15 ft space). A more overtly "it's squeezing through" pic would not contradict the text, and look a bit better.
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    Default Re: The Illustrated Dragonlance Reread

    Quote Originally Posted by warty goblin View Post
    There's also an interesting annotation for the chapter. Apparently in the playtest they lowered Tanis into the well with the staff, which resulted in everybody getting eaten. As Margaret Weis points out, it would have been a short book if they'd stuck religiously to the playtest results.
    Well, Tanis also dropped the staff when swinging at the Black Dragon as well. Not exactly the most heroic of stuff.

    As for this new version, or book version so to speak:

    It's not really impressive, Dragon Wise. Khisanth can't manage to do any real damage here. She nails Tanis some, then melts Riverwind. Who had just joined the group and is a newbie/NPC. That's not a main character.

    All in all, our black dragon here is rather lousy. No flyby attacks, no bites, no real attacking, just a burp. I mean, they try to play it up, but everyone just taps out, and our heroes are unscathed.

    Maybe i have been soured on my own D&D experiences, but i expected more fight, more battle, a sense of a hard fought win.

    I , of course, blame Tolkien for this. During his entire Lord Of The Rings, only two of his characters in the main party die, Boromir and Gandalf. Gandalf of course gets better. Everybody else survives, with only the new people dying. As a result, most epic fantasy follow the same trajectory. Nobody will die, and the heroes will win in the end anyway. It's stuff like this that makes me not really impressed with some gaming plays, and novels. No sense of tension anywhere.

    Come on, Writers! Rough our heroes up here! They could easily have been shown to function better with some real battle scars. Instead we get a nearly complete walk away no problem. They really overdid it in response to the near total party wipe.
    Last edited by russdm; 2019-06-02 at 01:44 AM.
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    This wasn't a final battle, this was just a taste of her power. The real fight doesn't happen until they reach her lair.

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    Quote Originally Posted by russdm View Post
    Well, Tanis also dropped the staff when swinging at the Black Dragon as well. Not exactly the most heroic of stuff.

    As for this new version, or book version so to speak:

    It's not really impressive, Dragon Wise. Khisanth can't manage to do any real damage here. She nails Tanis some, then melts Riverwind. Who had just joined the group and is a newbie/NPC. That's not a main character.

    All in all, our black dragon here is rather lousy. No flyby attacks, no bites, no real attacking, just a burp. I mean, they try to play it up, but everyone just taps out, and our heroes are unscathed.
    The bigger problem to me was not that the heroes emerged mostly unscathed, but that they did so through no effort on their part. The text even states that Khisanth carefully studied the party before attacking and was confident she could wipe them out with one pass, and we don't see the party take any counter-measures to disrupt or evade her attack, so there's no explanation for why the dragon attack was so ineffective other than sheer incompetence on Khisanth's part.

    I , of course, blame Tolkien for this. During his entire Lord Of The Rings, only two of his characters in the main party die, Boromir and Gandalf. Gandalf of course gets better. Everybody else survives, with only the new people dying. As a result, most epic fantasy follow the same trajectory. Nobody will die, and the heroes will win in the end anyway. It's stuff like this that makes me not really impressed with some gaming plays, and novels. No sense of tension anywhere.
    Spoiler
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    Well killing Riverwind here would certainly have done a lot to ratchet up the stakes for the rest of the novel. (And it's not like he does much else for the rest of the story.) The problem is that this whole quest is supposed to be about man reestablishing a relationship with the gods, and I just can't see any plausible way Goldmoon accepts Mishakal as a benevolent entity that is worthy of worship without her demonstrating her power and benevolence by resurrecting Riverwind. Thus Riverwind pretty much has to be brought back to life for the whole rediscovery of faith plot to work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bguy View Post
    The bigger problem to me was not that the heroes emerged mostly unscathed, but that they did so through no effort on their part. The text even states that Khisanth carefully studied the party before attacking and was confident she could wipe them out with one pass, and we don't see the party take any counter-measures to disrupt or evade her attack, so there's no explanation for why the dragon attack was so ineffective other than sheer incompetence on Khisanth's part.



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    Well killing Riverwind here would certainly have done a lot to ratchet up the stakes for the rest of the novel. (And it's not like he does much else for the rest of the story.) The problem is that this whole quest is supposed to be about man reestablishing a relationship with the gods, and I just can't see any plausible way Goldmoon accepts Mishakal as a benevolent entity that is worthy of worship without her demonstrating her power and benevolence by resurrecting Riverwind. Thus Riverwind pretty much has to be brought back to life for the whole rediscovery of faith plot to work.
    If we're going to blame anything in-universe, I would say it's Khisanth's overconfidence bordering on arrogance. She didn't take time to do a clean job because she has nothing but contempt for the people below her. So she put in half an effort.

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    I really, really, like the Caldwell painting. To the point where I even got a tattoo of it (admittedly it was a temporary tattoo). I painted my Partha Dragon Lance miniatures to match, even going so far as to paint Goldmoon's leggings as flesh colored (To this day it looks wrong whenever I see an illustration of Goldmoon wearing pants). I also love Kishanth's appearance, a sort of cross between and eastern and western dragon. Her serpentine form also explains how she fit through the well, although I guess realistically she wouldn't have been able to spread her winds to fly up the will in any of the illustrations.

    The Elmore illustration feels weak to me, the book goes on and on about how glorious and terrible the dragon is, and he gives us something coming out of the well that is barely larger than the humans around her, that's weak. And while a 3E dragon might be able to fit into a 15' cube, AD&D dragons were much, much, larger.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I really, really, like the Caldwell painting. To the point where I even got a tattoo of it (admittedly it was a temporary tattoo). I painted my Partha Dragon Lance miniatures to match, even going so far as to paint Goldmoon's leggings as flesh colored (To this day it looks wrong whenever I see an illustration of Goldmoon wearing pants). I also love Kishanth's appearance, a sort of cross between and eastern and western dragon.
    Caldwell dragons seem to have a signature style - even when he's representing very different colours of dragon, they tend to have the same long, straight horns, and big front teeth.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    The Elmore illustration feels weak to me, the book goes on and on about how glorious and terrible the dragon is, and he gives us something coming out of the well that is barely larger than the humans around her, that's weak. And while a 3E dragon might be able to fit into a 15' cube, AD&D dragons were much, much, larger.
    Yeah, the impression I got from later in the books is that dragons are BIG. As in, the size of a house big. Big enough to hold a knight in one hand big. The idea of a dragon flying out of a well requires a hole so massive that you wonder what the heck the residents of Xak Tsaroth were using it for.

    I think there was an explanation given for Khisanth's bad performance here either later in these books or in the prequel novel featuring her.

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    If I recall correctly, she was in Xak Tsaroth as a punishment detail for screwing up something earlier on. This resulted in her not being that terribly invested in this job because she was still sulking over the crummy assignment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rodin View Post
    Yeah, the impression I got from later in the books is that dragons are BIG. As in, the size of a house big. Big enough to hold a knight in one hand big. The idea of a dragon flying out of a well requires a hole so massive that you wonder what the heck the residents of Xak Tsaroth were using it for.
    Maybe the dragon magically reduces her size for coming and going from the well?

    I think there was an explanation given for Khisanth's bad performance here either later in these books or in the prequel novel featuring her.

    Spoiler
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    If I recall correctly, she was in Xak Tsaroth as a punishment detail for screwing up something earlier on. This resulted in her not being that terribly invested in this job because she was still sulking over the crummy assignment.
    Makes sense, and it's certainly consistent with Khisanth's otherwise lackluster perfomance in Xak Tsaroth (allowing Riverwind to steal the Blue Crystal Staff in the first place and
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    having her treasure hoard looted by a gully dwarf.

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    Quote Originally Posted by russdm View Post

    I , of course, blame Tolkien for this. During his entire Lord Of The Rings, only two of his characters in the main party die, Boromir and Gandalf. Gandalf of course gets better. Everybody else survives, with only the new people dying. As a result, most epic fantasy follow the same trajectory. Nobody will die, and the heroes will win in the end anyway. It's stuff like this that makes me not really impressed with some gaming plays, and novels. No sense of tension anywhere.

    Come on, Writers! Rough our heroes up here! They could easily have been shown to function better with some real battle scars. Instead we get a nearly complete walk away no problem. They really overdid it in response to the near total party wipe.
    I'm not sure it's really fair to blame Tolkien for setting that particular standard. Killing main characters off is tricky for a number of reasons, especially in a way that's satisfying to readers. There have been plenty of works before and after Tolkien that aren't even connected to the fantasy genre that has trouble with this. The only time Sir Conan Doyle tried to kill off a major Sherlock Holmes character was Holmes himself (so he could retire the character), but the fan backlash was so bad that he went and wrote another story to undo it.

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    Just caught up with this wonderful thread today. I was a huge Dragonlance fan in my teens and still have a lot of fondness for Krynn and her inhabitants so it is wonderful to rediscover them.

    I really enjoyed the introduction of Khisanth and that it is immediately clear she is a character rather than a monster, which firmly establishes that the dragons of Krynn are essentially beings with personalities rather than unthinking engines of war. Not that Khisanth is a particularly likeable 'person' of course, but she makes a vivid impression. I'm also delighted by the notion that even evil dragons are strangely beautiful and graceful as well as terrifying. While she is depicted as far too small I like the Larry Elmore take on her look.

    Regarding Goldmoon and clerics generally I've had some thoughts:

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    I think the introduction of Laurana and the 'promotion to opening credits' of Tika helped push Goldmoon into the background. Laurana more than adequately covers the stunningly beautiful ex-princess niche and is connected directly to Tanis, and through him to Kitiara while Goldmoon is really only strongly connected to the tertiary character of Riverwind. With her still living family providing added emotional hooks (as we will see in Dragons of Winter Night) and more room for personal growth into perhaps the most impressive character development in the series Laurana is simply a more compelling character who hits many of the same beats.

    Tika is less of a direct threat to Goldmoon in purely narrative terms, but again she is connected to one of the most important characters (Caramon) and we get to see her growth into a pretty formidable adventurer.

    The other reason I think Goldmoon suffered is the strangely... unmartial nature of clerics in the books, at least from the point of view of the PCs. In 1st edition AD&D Clerics were pretty tough customers, and we'll see that when Verminaard shows up. However Goldmoon, partly from her personal background is shifted away from the sort of person who would happily cave in a draconians skull with a mace while wearing chain mail. Sure she can swing her magical staff well but once that is gone I honestly can't recall many scenes that show her in combat.

    Crysania is even more extreme in this regard - I don't think we ever see her wield a weapon - but by Legends I think the story and game rules were intentionally drawing apart.

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