Taladas threatened to split the Dragonlance Fanbase?

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Taladas threatened to split the Dragonlance Fanbase?

Postby Havard » Fri Dec 09, 2016 8:40 am

Shannon Applecline wrote:What the designers didn't realize at the time is that they were creating the first major fraction in the Dragonlance line, as players might now be interested in the traditional continent of Ansalon or the new continent of Taladas, but probably not both. Dragonlance would become even more fractured in future years, as the timeline was moved forward in Dragons of Summer Flame (1995), Dragonlance: Fifth Age (1996), and the War of Souls trilogy (2000-2002).

This fracturing created support issues for TSR and threatened to divide the fanbase, but TSR probably wasn't considering any of these problems in 1988 and 1989 because the whole idea of so dramatically expanding and changing a setting was almost unknown at the time. The closest that TSR had come was their introduction of the east to the Forgotten Realms in Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (1988), but that was the grafting of an old setting as opposed to the creation of a new one. The publication of the Horde Barbarian Campaign Setting (1990) and the Maztica Campaign Set (1991) would be more in line with what TSR was doing with Time of the Dragon … and ultimately TSR wouldn't be able to support any of these large-scale extensions to their settings.


I have some issues with this description from the DrivethruRPG page for the Time of the Dragon boxed set.

First of all, did Time of the Dragon or even the Fifth Age even come close to splitting the Dragonlance fan base?

Also, why would such campaign expansions need to be supported? Am I reading too much into this or is this a regurgitation of the Number of Settings Killed TSR myth?

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Re: Taladas threatened to split the Dragonlance Fanbase?

Postby ripvanwormer » Fri Dec 09, 2016 5:04 pm

It does feel like a bit of a reach. It's true that Taladas wasn't able to receive the same amount of support as Ansalon, but I don't think there's much evidence that a significant number of Dragonlance fans stopped buying Ansalon products because Taladas existed.
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Re: Taladas threatened to split the Dragonlance Fanbase?

Postby Angel Tarragon » Sat Dec 10, 2016 3:06 am

Taladas is the best thing to come out of AD&D 2E Dragonlance. Just one gamer nerds opinion. :P
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Re: Taladas threatened to split the Dragonlance Fanbase?

Postby The Dark » Sun Dec 11, 2016 4:24 am

I think Fifth Age did more splitting of the fan base than Taladas, simply because Fifth Age switched to the SAGA System.
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Re: Taladas threatened to split the Dragonlance Fanbase?

Postby Cthulhudrew » Sun Dec 11, 2016 8:08 am

Agreed with The Dark and others here. I don't recall that Taladas was really much of a drop in the bucket when it came to interest in the Dragonlance setting waning or splitting. I think that all came about more due to the Fifth Age and (prior to/in conjunction with that) DoSF, which had a pretty polarizing reception.
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Re: Taladas threatened to split the Dragonlance Fanbase?

Postby RobJN » Sun Dec 11, 2016 8:38 am

As has been said above, I think porting the game over to a whole new system had more impact than one (admittedly large) boxed set. Sad, too, because I remember reading (hearing? Maybe it was on a podcast) just recently that had TSR's writers known SAGA was going to lose money with every sale, they would have done that whole chapter very differently (remerchandising, mainly).
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Re: Taladas threatened to split the Dragonlance Fanbase?

Postby Havard » Sun Dec 11, 2016 10:25 am

The Dark wrote:I think Fifth Age did more splitting of the fan base than Taladas, simply because Fifth Age switched to the SAGA System.


Cthulhudrew wrote:Agreed with The Dark and others here. I don't recall that Taladas was really much of a drop in the bucket when it came to interest in the Dragonlance setting waning or splitting. I think that all came about more due to the Fifth Age and (prior to/in conjunction with that) DoSF, which had a pretty polarizing reception.


I think you are right that both the move to the SAGA system and the Dragons of Summer Flame novel (and resulting Fifth Age Setting) were damaging to the brand. I believe the popularity of Dragonlance was already diminishing at the time, at least within the US market. I suppose these were attempts to revive the product line, but ultimately it was seen as a failure.

This is sad because I like the Saga System quite a bit, but I do see that attempting to force all of DL fandom to accept this new and very different ruleset.

RobJN wrote: had TSR's writers known SAGA was going to lose money with every sale, they would have done that whole chapter very differently (remerchandising, mainly).


Could you expand on this? Remerchandise, how? :)

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Re: Taladas threatened to split the Dragonlance Fanbase?

Postby rendclaw » Sun Dec 11, 2016 10:35 am

I remember when they ported DL over to the SAGA system. I completely lost interest in the setting as a whole, to where I even stopped doing bi-annual re-reads of the Chronicles. I do remember looking at Taladas with a skeptical eye, but after reading some of the material because a friend was DMing a Taladas game, it piqued my interest a little bit but nothing more than that.

If there was a campaign world that needed a reboot when 2e came out it was Dragonlance, and not so much Forgotten Realms. I know why that happened (FR was by an order of magnitude more popular than DL so it got the rub), but a reworking of the world and more clear suggestions on how to play in/run it pre-, during and post- War of the Lance would have given it much more longevity.
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Re: Taladas threatened to split the Dragonlance Fanbase?

Postby Havard » Sun Dec 11, 2016 12:08 pm

rendclaw wrote:I remember when they ported DL over to the SAGA system. I completely lost interest in the setting as a whole, to where I even stopped doing bi-annual re-reads of the Chronicles. I do remember looking at Taladas with a skeptical eye, but after reading some of the material because a friend was DMing a Taladas game, it piqued my interest a little bit but nothing more than that.

If there was a campaign world that needed a reboot when 2e came out it was Dragonlance, and not so much Forgotten Realms. I know why that happened (FR was by an order of magnitude more popular than DL so it got the rub), but a reworking of the world and more clear suggestions on how to play in/run it pre-, during and post- War of the Lance would have given it much more longevity.


I think you are absolutely right. Let us review the timeline for publications:

Dragonlance Adventures 1987
Time of the Dragon 1990
Tales of the Lance 1992
Dragonlance Fifth Age 1996

We were playing Dragonlance quite a bit, but for us it was frustrating that it took 3 years from the release of 2nd Edition to the time when we could get a product like Tales of the Lance. We made do with Dragonlance Adventures, but since that book was written for 1st Edition, it meant we had to make some tweaks on our own to make sense of some of the rules and how to adapt them to 2nd edition.

I think Tales of the Lance should have been published before Time of the Dragon, or at the very least, Time of the Dragon could have included updated races and classes to run Dragonlance Campaigns on Ansalon, even of Taladas would be the main focus of that product. It did not help that Tales of the Lance, when it finally came out, incorporated so many of Harold Johnson's changes to the setting compared to what was in the novels.

I think that Dragonlance fans might have been willing to accept either the changes to the setting after DSoF or the change of system to SAGA, but not both. I could see how that would put off a lot of people, especially when both included so many controversial aspects. If SAGA had included 2nd Ed dual stat rules from day one, instead of just in the later products, that could likely also have improved sales a lot.

Granted, many of the millons of Dragonlance fans are just fans of the novels and not RPGs, but I think this is something TSR could have exploited more too. If they had produced RPG books in the style of glossy coffee table books with color illustrations of the characters etc then that could have appealed more to an audience not really interested in the RPG side of things, even if those books also included RPG stuff.

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Re: Taladas threatened to split the Dragonlance Fanbase?

Postby night_druid » Sun Dec 11, 2016 12:50 pm

I found Taladus vaguely interesting, but never could find a product about it. Fifth Age killed my interest in the setting; I wasn't particularly interested in SAGA, but having the world go through yet another radical upheaval caused me to lose interest. I honestly don't know why they keep doing that to settings; I've yet to see one pan out for the better and results in higher sales.
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Re: Taladas threatened to split the Dragonlance Fanbase?

Postby Havard » Sun Dec 11, 2016 1:07 pm

night_druid wrote:I found Taladus vaguely interesting, but never could find a product about it. Fifth Age killed my interest in the setting; I wasn't particularly interested in SAGA, but having the world go through yet another radical upheaval caused me to lose interest. I honestly don't know why they keep doing that to settings; I've yet to see one pan out for the better and results in higher sales.


It seems like a desire to shake things up, perhaps to make room for new designers to introduce their ideas, but to a large extent it also seems like an excuse to rehash the old stuff in a new wrapping.

I think one thing they could have done that would have avoided at least some of the problems would be to:
1) Make the dramatic changes occur every 50 years instead of every decade. This would reduce the number of ongoing campaigns being affected by the events.
2) Keep supporting the classic era. Make the rebooted eras optional and not try to force everyone to play in them. Make modules that could be run in both eras (or any era).

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Re: Taladas threatened to split the Dragonlance Fanbase?

Postby Angelika Tatsu » Sun Dec 11, 2016 1:20 pm

Forcing a reboot for the change in editions makes sense to me.

But I do completely agree with Havard; more than one era (edition) can be supported. And now that we have retro-clones and older edition material being made available in PoD, these eras can be explored a little more fully. There are plenty of characters with their own agendas, locations, and plots that can either be era specific or generic to fit any era.
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Re: Taladas threatened to split the Dragonlance Fanbase?

Postby Alzrius » Sun Dec 11, 2016 3:37 pm

Havard wrote:
rendclaw wrote:Time of the Dragon 1990


Forgive my pedantry, but Time of the Dragon came out in October of 1989.

That said, one interesting tidbit is that I read an interview with Margaret Weis somewhere where she was asked what the impetus was for the War of Souls trilogy. She succinctly replied "Peter Adkison. He wanted to fix how the Fifth Age had split the fanbase."

I don't recall ever hearing anything like that for Taladas, but to be fair I wasn't gaming back when that was released.
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Re: Taladas threatened to split the Dragonlance Fanbase?

Postby Havard » Sun Dec 11, 2016 5:01 pm

Alzrius wrote:
Havard wrote:
rendclaw wrote:Time of the Dragon 1990


Forgive my pedantry, but Time of the Dragon came out in October of 1989.


Wikipedia says 1990, but RPGGeek says 1989. A good reminder not to trust Wikipedia then! :)


That said, one interesting tidbit is that I read an interview with Margaret Weis somewhere where she was asked what the impetus was for the War of Souls trilogy. She succinctly replied "Peter Adkison. He wanted to fix how the Fifth Age had split the fanbase."


I am not surprised by this. It was always my impression that the War of Souls was an attempt to bring Dragonlance back to the mainstream AD&D conventions, bringing back the Gods, restoring magic etc. Part of me thought this was a bit stupid, because the Age of Mortals, like it or not, had introduced many elements that helped make Krynn a unique setting. Some of those elements were now removed, meaning one might as well go back and play during the War of the Lance.

I think there were many interesting places that they could take the setting after the War of Souls though, but unfortunately they never got around to doing that.

I don't recall ever hearing anything like that for Taladas, but to be fair I wasn't gaming back when that was released.


Perhaps this could be because Taladas never caught on? Time of the Dragon is a really good boxed set, but was it what Dragonlance fans needed at the time?



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Re: Taladas threatened to split the Dragonlance Fanbase?

Postby night_druid » Sun Dec 11, 2016 5:15 pm

Krynn was already fairly unique; there was really no need for the elements added by Fifth Age.
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Re: Taladas threatened to split the Dragonlance Fanbase?

Postby Dragonhelm » Wed Dec 14, 2016 1:12 am

I don't have a lot of time right now, but I wanted to comment on this point.

Havard wrote:First of all, did Time of the Dragon or even the Fifth Age even come close to splitting the Dragonlance fan base?


Yes, yes, OMG yes. ;)

When I came onto the scene of online DL fandom back in late 2000, I found a fanbase that was incredibly split. The big split was 4th age vs. 5th age. A lot of that was due to the rules change to SAGA. A lot of it was due to the time jump, and the massive changes to the setting. Taladas wasn't as big of a split, but it was a division nonetheless.

Tal from the Dragonlance forums (which didn't exist at the time) got to tour WotC back then, and they asked him whether he was a 4th age or 5th age fan. He said he was a Dragonlance fan. :D

When the Nexus came about, we were asked what part of Dragonlance we were supporting. The division on the Dragonlance-L mailing list was terrible, and I wasn't about to touch the AFDL newsgroup (remember those?). So I plainly said that we supported it all, and that all points of view are valid. It didn't matter the edition, the continent, or whatever...we were and are to this day all about supporting the entirety of Dragonlance.

The Nexus helped to heal the divide. Likewise, the War of Souls trilogy helped to. Then there were the 3,5 Dragonlance products which brought it all home. The fan base is so much better now. I'm proud to have had a small part in that.
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Re: Taladas threatened to split the Dragonlance Fanbase?

Postby Havard » Wed Dec 14, 2016 10:37 pm

Thanks for the insight Dragonhelm!

If anyone would know it is probably you :) You sort of seem to confirm that Taladas wasn't the main problem though.

I am not sure, but I am getting the impression that there were some behind the scenes politics going on at TSR that helped drive this divide.

Do you know if there was a similar instruction for Dragons of Summer Flame? I know the authors originally wanted a Trilogy and I think that would have resulted in a better story.

I like that MWP managed to clean up things with the d20 line. It is too bad they did not have the time to do a Taladas Hardback.

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Re: Taladas threatened to split the Dragonlance Fanbase?

Postby The Dark » Thu Dec 15, 2016 12:43 am

night_druid wrote:I found Taladus vaguely interesting, but never could find a product about it. Fifth Age killed my interest in the setting; I wasn't particularly interested in SAGA, but having the world go through yet another radical upheaval caused me to lose interest. I honestly don't know why they keep doing that to settings; I've yet to see one pan out for the better and results in higher sales.
I still don't have a copy of Time of the Dragon (I borrowed a friend's in high school), so my only personal Taladas resource is Taladas: The Minotaurs (DLR2).
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Re: Taladas threatened to split the Dragonlance Fanbase?

Postby Cthulhudrew » Thu Dec 15, 2016 2:15 am

Havard wrote:I am not sure, but I am getting the impression that there were some behind the scenes politics going on at TSR that helped drive this divide.

Do you know if there was a similar instruction for Dragons of Summer Flame? I know the authors originally wanted a Trilogy and I think that would have resulted in a better story.


I touched on this in your DoSF thread, but to the best of my recollection there was definitely some of this going on. Part of it was driven by what appeared to me to be a need to "shake things up"; not just with Dragonlance, but with all the various campaign settings. Part of it, I believe, was driven by a conflict over setting elements in regards to Dragonlance in particular. It was hugely popular since its inception, and arguably is what kicked off the entire D&D novel line, which (to the best of my knowledge) was wildly successful for the company. The popularity of the novels, in turn, fed back into the settings, and I know that the success of the Ravenloft setting prompted even more promotion of it, to the point that editorial mandate was the transference of Lord Soth over into that setting to further its horror elements. As I recall that was a big slap in the face to Hickman and Weis. Even though their characters and setting were work for hire, and DL had become this big, open playground for all sorts of creators and freelancers with TSR, up to that point there was still a very proprietary feel that it was "their" setting, and I recall the backlash among fans being very vocal. (Proponents who cheered "Soth in Ravenloft!" and those who decried it.) Had the internet been a thing at that point the way it is now, there would have been Twitter wars and all kinds of clickbait articles on "10 Ways T$R Killed Dragonlance" or "investigative" pieces that are little more than click and paste Twitter exchanges. :lol:
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