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Tales of the Lance (2e)

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Dragons - once they were mere legends'stories told to frighten children. Now, they are living nightmares. From Draconian patrols on the streets of port Balifor to the haunted depths of the Blood Sea, the dragons have returned to Krynn.

Enter the ravaged land of Ansalon, a land forsaken by gods, beset by fell beasts, and championed by desperate heroes. Enter the Age of Dragons. The world of Krynn has one last chance to reclaim its lost honor and glory.

Now is the time for heroes!

The Tales of the Lanceset guides you through a land of romance and adventure. Discover tinker gnomes, curious kender, valiant knights, and dark, deadly dragons. Join the adventure in the world of the legendary Dragonlance.

In the lands of Krynn you'll discover?

Danger and Excitement!

  • Dragons - once mere legends, are now deadly realities!
  • This land bereft of gods is now their battleground!
  • Once-proud nations struggle to regain lost glory.

Curious Creatures of Fantasy and Legend!

  • Elven and dwarven nations feud.
  • Insatiably curious kender, maniacally inventive gnomes, and misunderstood gully dwarves people the world.
  • Beware the sinister draconians - half man, half dragon, all evil!

The Lands of Adventure Are Now Yours?Create the New Legends of the Lance!

Important! This is not a stand-alone game! To explore the world of Krynn you must have the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rulebooks.

Product History

Tales of the Lance (1992) is the core boxed set for AD&D's Dragonlance setting. It was published in June 1992.

Origins (I): The Second Box. Tales of the Lance (1992) was the second boxed set for Dragonlance, following on Time of the Dragon (1989), which described the continent of Taladas.

Surprisingly, Dragonlance's core setting of Ansalon had never previously had a full sourcebook. The earliest material on the world of Krynn was scattered across the first fourteen "DL" adventures (1984-1986), of which DL5: "Dragons of Mystery" (1984) was a micro-sourcebook. Dragonlance Adventures (1987) and Atlas of the Dragonlance World (1987) offered some source material, but it was split across those two books and Dragonlance Adventures was more of a smorgasbord than a complete setting book.

In the early '80s, it wouldn't have been that shocking for a setting to go so long without a core sourcebook. But by the AD&D 2e era, TSR kicked off each of their new settings with a big, dense sourcebox starting with Spelljammer (1989). It just took Dragonlance a few years to catch up.

Origins (II): The Big Reboot. The goal of Tales of the Lance was "to summarize and collect the material that had been written previously, and to create a singular starting point from which players could embark on a coherent Dragonlance adventure, without having to refer to five different sources at once."

However, it was more than that; contributor Colin McComb calls it a "reboot". The setting was thought to be in need of "revision", so Tales of the Lance "clarifies contradictions, corrects errors, and fills in information omitted from earlier products."

Origins (III): The Staff Change. However, those contradictions and errors may not have been the only reasons for the changes and updates in Tales of the Lance. This supplement also marked the first update to the central lands of Ansalon under new management. The previous sourcebook, Dragonlance Adventures, was one of the last products produced by Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis, the first two historians of the Dragonlance world. Now a new team headed by Harold Johnson and Douglas Niles was responsible for the continued expansion of the setting. They'd both been involved with Dragonlance from its earliest days, but they didn't necessarily look at the world in the same way that its original leaders had.

Origins (IV): Fan Wars! McComb says that whenever TSR did a big revamp of one of their settings "there were always huge outcries". And that's exactly what happened here. Though the changes to the world of Dragonlance found in Tales of the Lance weren't necessarily big enough to be noticed by casual players, serious fans did take notice (and often umbrage). These complaints may have been worsened by the fact that some of the changes were revolutionary (changing existing canon) instead of evolutionary (building on it).

However, those complaints weren't ubiquitous. Some players genuinely loved Tales of the Lance because of its superior compilation of all things Dragonlance, but they were faced by nay-sayers who were angered over the canon changes. This created a schism in Dragonlance fandom. Huge flamewars burned across nascent internet communities such as the alt.fan.dragonlance USENET group. They would only be quelled when Weis and Hickman returned to Dragonlance in the late '90s and rejected the biggest canon changes of Tales of the Lance.

About the Box. Tales of the Lance is one of TSR's many, impressive boxed sets of the '90s. Its core is a 176-page "World Book of Ansalon", but it also contained a DM's Screen, a few maps, and a booklet of other sheets and accessories, including a Talis deck, one of TSR's in-world card decks of the time period.

Expanding D&D. Tales of the Lance contains a fair amount of crunch, including rules for status and sections on monsters and artifacts. Krynn has also always included its own take on D&D's character races and classes.

Expanding D&D: Forgotten Heroes. As expected, Tales of the Lance has rules for knights, wizards of high sorcery, and priests of the holy order. There's also a character class for normals. Finally, Tales of the Lance resurrects two classic Unearthed Arcana (1985) classes that had been removed in AD&D 2e: the barbarian (important for the plains and ice people of Ansalon), and the cavalier (a knightly variant).

Expanding D&D: Resurrected Races. Tales of the Lance similarly touches upon all the classic Krynn races including its variants on dwarves and elves as well as its tinker gnomes and kender. More notably it includes racial rules for minotaurs (ever-popular in Krynn) and the ogre-ish Irda (a more recent addition).

Exploring Krynn: Back to Ansalon. The core of Tales of the Lance is the most comprehensive-ever sourcebook for the continent of Ansalon, including details on history, geography, NPCs, and gods This is all set in 372 AC, a new time period for the line. Colin McComb explains the timeline advancement, saying "The novels had moved ahead in time, and so the assumption was that the primary target audience would have moved ahead in time as well. Dropping players into the current novels' past [would have been] a straitjacket."

Exploring Krynn: The Retcons. Tales of the Lance doesn't revamp the setting in any way that casual readers would notice, but page by page there's a constant accrual of minor canon changes. Some of these addressed inconsistencies among the earlier products (such as the varying use of the terms "Age of Twilight" and "Age of Starbirth"), while others made Dragonlance more consistent with the rest of the D&D line (such as the use of the term "avatar") . Some changes were probably accidental misunderstandings of the source material (such as the claim that all Silvanesti eyes are hazel, as opposed to just those of the line of Silvanost). Itemizing all of the changes would be impossible (or at least excessively lengthy; fan Morten Brattbakk has actually prepared a blow-by-blow description of all of the explicit and implied changes).

The change most frequently discussed relates to the origins of the demihuman races in Krynn's mythology. The small folk originally all evolved from cursed gnomes, but here gnomes and dwarves are instead said to have come from human smiths!

Most other changes relate to details like which peoples were at certain events, how certain events occurred, and when they occurred. (One of the most argued about dates in Dragonlance history is the Dwarfgate War, which is here said to be 39 AC.)

The most notable of these changes, such as the infamous introduction of the smiths, were reversed down the line, but it's likely that many small details have stuck.

Whoops!: The Map. The poster map of Ansalon in Tales of the Lance is well-loved, but it was actually unfinished! All the white spots were meant to be replaced with icons, while some place names on the map were meant to be placeholders — most notably the "Wall of China" found just north of the Blood Sea of Istar.

Future History. TSR immediately followed up on Tales of the Lance with a series of beginner adventures, the first of which was DLQ1: "Knights Sword" (1992).

About the Creators. Harold Johnson was the bridge to the original Weis & Hickman design team at TSR. However, numerous designers are credited in Tales of the Lance, some of whom offered new content and some of whom are listed only due to their old contributions. They are: John Terra, J. Robert King, Wolfgang Baur, Colin McComb, Jean Rabe, Norm Ritchie, Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman, Jeff Grubb, Doug Niles, and Michael Williams. King also did development, coordination, and editing.

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to shannon.appelcline@gmail.com.

 
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Reviews (1)
Discussions (2)
Customer avatar
Jayce G December 09, 2016 3:36 pm UTC
The original files that were previously available (in the early 2000s) were good scans in general, but the maps, pictures, and covers were oddly a much lower resolution. Has this been fixed? Have the maps and covers been updated so they would come out sharp when printed?
Customer avatar
December 06, 2016 7:06 pm UTC
I own a hard copy of Tales of the Lance . I would say that this product represents a botched attempt to convert the hardcover Dragonlance Adventures to second edition. DMs looking to simulate the Chronicles novels are better off purchasing the DL module series and the 1e hardcover rather than Tales of the Lance.

Shannon has outlined the many "canonical" issues with Tales of the Lance.

Tales of the Lance also suffers from the problem of having no real vision for running a Dragonlance campaign after War of the Lance without needing to do crazy things like forcibly retire all the Chronicles characters (as would happen in a few years).

The 1e hardcover has a single page with single sentence entries describing many of the kingdoms in Ansalon. Tales of the Lance expands on many of those kingdoms.

Future products (such as the Planescape line generally) would do a much better job of having a clear delineation of campaign background, player information, and...See more
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Rule System(s)
Pages
208
Edition
1.0
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TSR 1074
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December 06, 2016
This title was added to our catalog on December 06, 2016.