At last, the secrets of the dwarves revealed!
The two booklets contained in this set hold information that has never before been collected in one place. Songs of the Loremaster, for players to read, chronicles the history of the dwarven race on Krynn, from their first appearance on the planet's surface to their withdrawal following the Cataclysm. A World in Stonepresents each kingdom in turn for DM's eyes only, describing how each cavern was delved, what each clan's world-view encompassed, and what each kingdom's fate has been.
The four mapsheets are invaluable aids for those who wish to campaign in these hollowed halls; modular styling allows endless variations of dwarven cities, large and small.
The Tales of the Lance set is suggested, although not required, for full enjoyment of this accessory.
Dwarven Kingdoms of Krynn (1993), by Douglas Niles, is the third boxed set for Dragonlance. It was published in October 1993.
Origins (I): The Novels of the '90s. By the early '90s there was a rich library of approximately three dozen Dragonlance novels and short story anthologies. The line started with the Dragonlance Chronicles (1984-1985) and Dragonlance Legends (1986) and continued through a series of Preludes (1989-1990) and Meetings (1991-1993) focusing on the Companions. Other stories introduced new Heroes (1988-1990), delved into the past, or both.
The Legends trilogy offered the first hint that the history of Krynn could be interesting to readers. However it was The Legend of Huma (1988), the first of the Heroes novels, that proved this sort of story could stand on its own. That primordial history was later followed by two intriguing series that detailed the histories of two of the unique peoples of Krynn: the Elven Nations Books (1991) and the Dwarven Nations Books (1993).
These new histories of Krynn were just begging to be incorporated into the roleplaying world as well. It was the Dwarven Nations novels, The Covenant of the Forge (1993), Hammer and Axe (1993), and The Swordsheath Scroll (1993), that would get the first opportunity.
Origins (II): The Tales of the '90s. Meanwhile, the Dragonlance roleplaying line had undergone a renaissance with the publication of Tales of the Lance (1992). For the first time since the mid '80s, Dragonlance's core setting of Ansalon was receiving considerable support. To date this had primarily taken the form of adventures, but there was room for something more …
Origins (III): The Splatbooks of the '90s. It's actually fairly surprising that the Dragonlance line was so heavily dependent upon adventures throughout most of its early history. Certainly this was classic pattern for D&D product line, going back to the debut of Greyhawk in the '70s, but things had changed in the late '80s.
First, geographic splatbooks debuted with the Known World Gazetteer line (1987-1991) and the Forgotten Realms "FR" line (1987-1993). Then, class and race splatbooks appeared through the "PHBR" Complete Handbook series (1989-1995). But with a few overseas exceptions, Dragonlance had not yet enjoyed a geographic splatbook, and racial splat-material was limited to supplementary material in adventures.
Dwarven Kingdoms of Krynn finally broke through those barriers, though it's a very unusual splatbook. It's certainly racially focused, concentrating on the dwarves of Krynn, but that's seen through the lens of their kingdoms. And, it's not even their modern-day kingdoms, but rather the parade of civilizations revealed in Dwarven Nations, only half of which still exist in 372 AC. The book is also almost entirely fluff: you won't find crunchy rules for dwarven characters or dwarven equipment here.
(Despite these variations from the splatbook norms of the '90s, or maybe even because of them, Dwarven Kingdoms was well-received.)
Mapping Tropes: Going Modular. Dwarven Kingdoms of Krynn contains poster maps of its six dwarven cities. Depicting huge cities in a roleplaying reference is always a trick; this supplements solves it in the same way that DL4: "Dragons of Desolation" (1984) did. Some cities include modular blocks simply marked with a letter. You just slot in the appropriate geomorph and you instantly have a detailed city.
Exploring Krynn. Dwarven Kingdoms of Krynn includes detailed information on six dwarven kingdoms: Kal-Thax, Thorin, Thorbardin, Thoradin, Kayolin, and Zhakar. Of these, Thorbardin had received the most detail previously, thanks to DL3: "Dragons of Hope" (1984) and DL4: "Dragons of Desolation" (1984) while Zhakar had been introduced in "Valley of Fear", an adventure in DL15: "Mists of Krynn". The historical kingdoms of Kal-Thax (3100-2700 PC), Thorin (2900-2000 PC), and Thordin (1000 PC-0) were primarily known through the Dwarven Nations books.
Exploring Krynn: The Retcons. Dwarven Kingdoms had the daunting task of linking together several sources of canon. To start with, there were the original Dragonlance adventures (1984-1986) and the hardcover Dragonlance Adventures (1987), which together comprised the earliest lore on the dwarves. Alongside that were the Dwarven Nations Books (1993), which had shifted some of the dwarven migrations and also introduced some dating issues. On top of all of that Tales of the Lance (1992) had attempted to polish and revise the history of the setting (including the history of the dwarves).
It's particularly interesting to look at the evolution of dwarven origins across these books. Dragonlance Adventures</> (1987) blamed the graygem: "The power of the gem had changed the gnomes. Those who lusted after wealth became dwarves." Tales of the Lance (1992) instead said that dwarves originated as human smiths(!): 'Reorx gathered to himself humans who worshipped the hammer, who were filled with creation. With these humans, Reorx retired to a northern land. The clay folk would assist Reorx in his heavy labors. Over the centuries, these humans became the short Smith folk." Dwarven Kingdoms of Krynn (1993) takes a half-step back from the Tales retcon, saying: "One of the most pernicious of false myths concerning origins of the dwarves recounts that, during the Age of Dreams, Reorx selected the Smiths from among the humans on Ansalon and retired with them to Taladas. As with so much falsehood, this tale has its roots in the truth, but leaves those roots forgotten and forlorn in its branching imagination." However, this being an in-game history, it's presumably less trustworthy than what was found in Tales of the Lance.
The AD&D 2e era of Dragonlance was rapidly coming to an end, so this would be the line's final word on dwarven origins. By the time of the D&D 3e Dragonlance renaissance, the smith stories would be gone, and Races of Ansalon (2007) would instead say: "The earliest legends and myths of the dwarves are a clutter of conflicting stories. To most of Krynn, the commonly accepted origin myth for dwarves is their creation from gnomes through the power of the Graygem."
Future History. There haven't been any more Krynnish dwarf splatbooks, but there's one more recent novel series that follows up on the Dwarven Nations Books and Dwarven Kingdoms of Krynn. It's the Dwarf Home trilogy, also by Douglas Niles. It includes The Secret of Pax Tharkas (2007), Heir of Kayolin (2008), and The Fate of Thorbardin (2010).
About the Creators. Niles was an old-hand at Dragonlance, having written several of the original Dragonlance adventures (1984-1986). This was his major return to the roleplaying side of the line. Amusingly, that same year he wrote about other smallfolk in PHBR9: The Complete Book of Gnomes & Halflings.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.