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Heroes Of Defiance (SAGA)
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Heroes Of Defiance (SAGA)

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The Unsung Heroes of Ansalon...

No one knows their names. There are no Sturm Brightblades or Tanis Half-Elvens among them. Yet for as long as Good has struggled against Evil, they have fought alongside the heroes famed of song and story.

They are the rogues, spies, diplomats, and scouts of Ansalon, the heroes whose coming goes unheralded and whose passing goes unnoticed. Although the generations will never rally around their legends, these secret freedom fighters remain vital to the struggle. All too often, heroes whose names we know would have failed without the efforts of men and women whose names are lost to all.

Heroes of Defiance offers background on these heroes and guidelines for playing them in the DRAGONLANCE: FIFTH AGE setting. The handbook in this box, titled "Cloak and Dagger," includes:

  • Rules for playing bards, guild thieves, kinder handlers, rebel elves, and more!
  • Guidelines for creating adventures full of intrigue and mystery, as well as an introduction to some of the kingpins of "underground" Ansalon.
  • Optional rules for playing gully dwarf heroes and for creating the mysterious personalities and hidden agendas that rogue heroes thrive upon.
  • Geographic and historical details on Northern Ergoth, the birthplace of such roguish traditions as bard colleges and thief guilds. Now emerging as the hub of civilization in the Age of Mortals, this unique island is also beautifully presented on a full-color illustrated poster map.

This boxed set also features "Storm Over Krynn," a quest to uncover the truth behind the origin of the terrifying dragonspawn and learn the secrets of the Blue Dragon's latest scheme. Groups can play the adventure as Part Two of the "Dragons of a New Age" cycle or as a stand-alone scenario. This adventure links with events in the second FIFTH AGE novel, "The Day of the Tempest," by Jean Rabe.

Heroes of Defiance uses the SAGA dramatic adventure rules introduced in the DRAGONLANCE: FIFTH AGE boxed set.

Product History

Heroes of Defiance (1997), by Steve Miller, is the second heroic splatbook for Fifth Age. It was published in August 1997.

Origins (I): Ten Months Later. Heroes of Defiance (1997) appeared almost a year after the release of the first Fifth Age (1996) supplement, Heroes of Steel (1996), and six months after its scheduled release date. The reason was, of course, TSR's near-bankruptcy. However, starting with this new book, Wizards of the Coast would push hard on TSR's final fantasy roleplaying line. They'd publish a total of four supplements in late 1997, then would knock out the last of TSR's production queue over the next year before reassessing how to update the line for themselves.

Origins (II): More Heroes. Heroes of Defiance is the second of four boxed sets each highlighting one of the core classes of heroes in the fifth age, and each advancing the metaplot of the Fifth Age through a continuing adventure series. After Heroes of Steel covered warriors and knights, this one focuses on "rogues" — making it obvious that the Fifth Age would be repeating D&D's iconic archetypes.

The Media Tie-In. Like the rest of the "Dragons of a New Age" adventure path, "Storm over Krynn", the adventure in Heroes of Defiance, is tied to Jean Rabe's "Dragons of a New Age" novel trilogy (1996-1998). As the heroes investigate the secrets of the dragonspawn, they dramatize the plot of The Day of the Tempest (1997).

Roguish adventures are slightly further away from Dragonlance's heroic norms than any of the other splatbooks, so Miller also listed several other novels that fit within the archetypes: Dark Heart (1992), The Reign of Istar (1992), Lord Toede (1994), The Dark Queen (1994), and Murder in Tarsis (1999) — the last of which wouldn't actually be published for two years!

Adventure Styles: Episodic Encounters. "Storm over Krynn" follows the typical SAGA style: episodic encounters are divided into acts and scenes.

Adventure Tropes: Scripted Battles. "Storm over Krynn" ends with a fly-by battle against a dragon that is totally dictated, to the point where the GM is told "For show, the Narrator can turn a card from the top of the Fate Deck, but the result is moot". Perhaps it was meant to touchback on Khisanth's fly-by attacks in DL1: "Dragons of Despair" (1984), but the lack of player agency in this new adventure might drive GMs to despair. (Nonetheless, it's just a minor element in the adventure, and it's in the epilogue, which has been more prone than anything but the prologue to scripting of this sort.)

Expanding SAGA. Like all of the heroic splatbooks, this one is full of new roles. Though the book is supposed to be "about spies, freedom fighters, and even dark-cloaked assassins", there aren't actually any assassins. There are, however, scouts, rebels, thieves, urchins, bards, and others. Heroes of Defiance also contains some of the most-detailed ever rules for espionage and intrigue, including actual mechanics for "false demeanors" and "hidden agendas", plus a whole list of secrets that characters could hold.

Expanding SAGA: Resurrected Races. Heroes of Defiance also includes rules for playing gully dwarves, a race previously verboten in the Fifth Age game. They originated in DL1: "Dragons of Despair" (1984) and had been recently spotlighted in The Gully Dwarves, the fifth of the "Lost Histories" novels. They'd previously appeared as a PC race in Dragonlance Adventures (1987) and Tales of the Lance (1992).

Eras of Krynn: 414-415 AC (31-32 SC). The rescue of Gilthanas pushes this adventure's chronology into 415 AC.

Exploring Krynn. Heroes of Defiance includes a large gazetteer on Northern Ergoth, covering Ergoth Proper, Ackal Province, Ogaral Province, Sikk'ett Hul Province, and Hylo. This northwestern island was all but ignored in the original Dragonlance Chronicles. Its most notable locale is certainly Kenderhome.

The adventure doesn't touch upon Northern Ergoth at all, but is instead located on the Plains of Solamnia. The majority of its attention is on the city of Relgoth and on Vingaard Keep, both of which are mapped.

Monsters of Note: Dragonspawn. Even moreso that Heroes of Steel before it, Heroes of Defiance is a treasure trove of knowledge on the dragonspawn, even revealing the rituals that create them as part of the adventure!

Races of Note: Kender. The focus on Hylo means that Heroes of Defiance is also a notable source for the Kender, from their history to their newly afflicted state.

NPCs of Note. Linsha Majere is featured in the sourcebook. She's a major Fifth Age character who had made minor appearances to date, but would soon rise to prominence in novels such as Mary Herbert's The Clandestine Cirlce (2000) and The Linsha Trilogy (2003-2005).

Numerous other characters of note appear in "Storm over Krynn". That starts with the Heroes of the Heart, for whom two new heroes are introduced, Ladine Dralathalas and Par (Pax) Killburn. Meanwhile, the villain Khellendros moves to the forefront. The other notable in the adventure is Gilthanas, one of the Heroes of the Lance.

Exploding the Canon. Because Heroes of Defiance goes into such depth on several issues, it's been contradicted by some later sources. Northern Ergoth as depicted here is somewhat at odds with the history in the Ergoth trilogy, which runs from A Warrior's Journey (2003) through A Heros' Justice (2004); while the descriptions of dragonspawn, which include the claim that they can reproduce, has been decanonized by later source. Despite these small issues, Heroes of Defiance remains a good source as a whole.

Future History. "Under a Pale Moon" in Dungeon #72 (January 1999) is an adventure that supports the Northern Ergoth setting detailed here.

About the Creators. Miller had been with the Fifth Age team from the start. Often he worked in a supporting role, but this was a rare supplement that was entirely his work.

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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0786906561
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File Last Updated:
July 18, 2017
This title was added to our catalog on August 29, 2017.