First of all, props for the interesting topic!
Havard wrote:With Takhisis and Paladine out of the picture, perhaps the focus on "good" vs. "evil" could also be toned down a bit, allowing for alliances to be formed based on real politik rather than traditional alignments? Worth considering at least.
I don't want to be that guy, but isn't this pretty much what the Fifth Age tried to do? It always seemed to me this was pretty much what the world was like between the Chaos War and the War of Souls. The Knights of Takhisis, the Legion of Steel, the Draconians of Teyr....these factions are practicing real politik. One could even say the Dragon Overlords were. I think the Fifth Age setting was very morally grey - both in its rpg supplements (the Fifth Age SAGA game didn't even use alignment, instead letting players describe their PCs personality in two words, such as "nosy", "opinionated", "enigmatic", "inquisitive" etc), as well as its novels.
Take for example Jean Rabe's Dragons of a New Age
trilogy, which really served as our introduction to the Fifth Age. The main group of characters consists of: Dhamon Grimwulf (a former Knight of Takhisis), Blister Nimblefingers, Rig Mer-Krel, Shaon of Istar, Jasper Fireforge, Palin Majere, Ferilleeagh Dawnsprinter and Groller Dagmar - a pretty morally grey cast of characters. The heroes are no longer really trying to save the world from Evil with a capital "E" (although some of them would like to free their homelands from the Dragon Overlords), but really they're mainly just trying to survive, and while doing so, pick up their own personal little grudges (such as Rig, after Shaon's death, when he decides he just wants to hurt Skie as much as he can
). Heck, even the Draconians became morally grey during the Fifth Age, instead of simply evil (which admittedly led to two of my favorite Dragonlance books - The Doom Brigade
, and Draconian Measures
, but these are unfortunately the exception in the Fifth Age's otherwise comparatively weak lineup of novels - I really felt the line picked up again after the War of Souls when some of the more epic Good vs Evil struggle returned, although post-Summer Flame Krynn would always remain more morally grey than my beloved Fourth Age).
I think the problem with getting rid of the focus of the epic scale struggle between good and evil would be that this would rob the setting of its key defining element: while Dragonlance has certainly always had its morally grey characters/factions (heck, its most iconic character, Raistlin, is definitely morally grey), the overarching theme has always been the battle of Light versus Darkness. Dragonlance IS about Huma riding the Silver Dragon into battle, sacrificing his life to drive back the Dark Queen. The very first novels and modules set up the entire world to be about this struggle - if one removes that theme from the world of Krynn....well...you get the Fifth Age, I think, and a lot of people (myself included) felt that just wasn't really....Dragonlance-y
I think, thematically, Dragonlance is also very much about the struggle to regain that which has been lost - and while that, admittedly, sounds like a pretty abstract concept when put into a single sentence, I feel that in the world of Krynn this often manifests itself as the temporal "theater" in which the more "cosmic" struggle between Good and Evil is carried out, if that makes sense. I don't know if this theme (the "temporal struggle") would work quite as well without the backdrop of the more "cosmic" struggle of Light vs Darkness. I would like to hear your (or anyone's) thoughts, though.
I'd also be interested in hearing Dragonhelm's opinion - there was a similar discussion on the Dragonlance Canticle a while ago (about what themes and ingredients are key to a Dragonlance story), and many interesting points were brought up