Krynn... Enter the spell-binding world of the Dragonlance Saga with this volume of beautifully rendered maps.
Accompany the Heroes of the Lance on their epic travels across Krynn in this magnificently illustrated volume. Behold the beauty of the King Priest's Hall of Audience in the Temple of Istar. Smell Raistlin's herbs as you wander the hallways of the Tower of High Sorcery at Palanthas. Become hopelessly lost in the thirty-five levels of Mount Nevermind.
The Atlas of the Dragonlance World (1987), by Karen Wynn Fonstad, provides a unique geographic look at the early world of Dragonlance. It was published in October 1987.
About the Name. Ah, branding. The Atlas of the Dragonlance World shows how TSR was religious in putting their Dragonlance brand front and forward, so much so that this Atlas didn't even use the name of the world in its title!
Ironically, TSR would shift that emphasis the next year when they published DL15: "Mists of Krynn" (1988). Over the years that followed, there would be more than a half-dozen "Krynn" books, and even a few "Ansalon" books; the term Dragonlance would come to refer to either the game itself or the original set of adventures.
Origins (I): The Atlases. Karen Fonstad began her series of atlases with The Atlas of Middle-earth (1981) and continued with The Atlas of Pern (1984) and The Atlas of The Land (1985). Each of these was a beautifully illustrated book that featured not just maps of those lands but also attractive drawings of the many places visited in the related novels.
Tracy Hickman had actually seen and been impressed by The Atlas of Middle-earth prior to joining TSR, so he was thrilled to learn that Fonstad would be creating a similar Atlas for Krynn. Like Fonstad's earlier atlases, this new one focused largely on the novels of the world and the places visited therein. It was probably intended to push the successful Dragonlance saga further into mass-market book stores.
Origins (II): The Mass-market Books. The Atlas of the Dragonlance World was part of a series of mass-market books that TSR published for the setting in 1987, building on the success of the Dragonlance Chronicles (1984-1985) and Dragonlance Legends (1986) novels. Other releases that year had included: Leaves from the Inn of the Last Home (1987) in February and The Art of the Dragonlance Saga (1987) in April.
Origins (III): The Roleplaying Line. The Atlas of the Dragonlance World was even more complementary to the sole Dragonlance roleplaying release for the year: Dragonlance Adventures (1987), published in September. TSR's first large-scale sourcebook for Krynn had contained a minimum of maps. Fortunately GMs and players wanting more had to wait just a month for the release of this Atlas.
Origins (IV): The Maps. There had already been several large-scale maps for the worlds of Krynn. That began with DL5: "Dragons of Mystery" (1984), which included a fold-up 17"x22" map of Ansalon. An even bigger game-board map appeared in DL11: "Dragons of Glory" (1986). Finally, DL14: "Dragons of Triumph" (1986) debuted maps of both pre-cataclysm and post-war Ansalon, which were expanded in Dragonlance Adventures.
There were also smaller maps throughout the original Dragonlance Chronicles adventures (1984-1986) that depicted local areas and various dungeons, cities, and towers. However, there was still a lot of Krynn to cover — and the Atlas also offered the opportunity to consolidate all of those sources.
Expanding Krynn. There's technically nothing new in the Atlas, but it does combine material from all of the sources on Krynn and also debuts maps for locations that had previously been described textually.
The maps of the Atlas tend to follow the course of the novels (and adventures), starting in Solace and the Inn of the Last Home and continuing on to Silvanost, Istar, Mount Nevermind, Palanthas, Godshome, and finally Neraka — plus many other lands along the way. The Atlas also gives some (very abstract) attention to planar realms like the Abyss and the Celestial Realm. Finally it depicts the "pathways" of the Dragonlance Chronicles and Legends series.
The historic scope of the Atlas is also notable, as it regularly covers both pre- and post-cataclysmic eras. The "pathways" of the novels detail 351, 352, and 354, plus the Cataclysm and the Dwarfgate Wars that were were depicted in Dragonlance Legends.
The list of sources that Fonstad used to create this book is rather impressive, given that Dragonlance was just three years old. It includes the original 14 adventures (1984-1986), the original six novels (1984-1985, 1986), two short story anthologies (1987), two solo gamebooks (1985, 1986), a handful of Dragon articles (1984-1985), a calendar (1984), and a number of interviews, personal letters, and unpublished manuscripts. At least 30 of those sources were published, showing how Dragonlance was waxing in the mid '80s.
Future History. A few years later TSR would publish a somewhat less ambitious map, TM3: "The World of Krynn Trail Map" (1989).
About the Creators. Fonstad earned a M.A. in Geography specialized in cartography from the University of Oklahoma. Meanwhile, her husband was a professor of geography. Thus, she was uniquely qualified to created atlases of this sort.xwxw She would create one more atlas for TSR, The Forgotten Realms Atlas (1990).
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.