The War of the Lance is the storyline in which many Dragonlance fans are introduced to the world of Krynn— through the original Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. To this day it remains the most popular time-period. Though many novels and products have covered this period in the past, there is still a rich tapestry of information yet to be revealed.
The War of the Lance Campaign Book is designed as a companion volume to the Dragonlance Campaign Setting published by Wizards of the Coast. This volume gives players everything they need to play during the War of the Lance. All of the principal characters of this period are detailed, including the Heroes of the Lance and the terrifying dragon highlords. The major locations and creatures of the saga are revealed as well, with details on how to "play out" the war and how to run a campaign that puts new heroes in the center stage! War of the Lance contains an update on the races of Ansalon, many new prestige classes, feats, equipment, magical items, and spells. The sourcebook details many important potential adventuring locations in great detail, and gives out great information useful for both players and Dungeon Masters.
War of the Lance (2004), by Tracy Hickman, Margaret Weis, and Jamie Chambers, is the second Campaign Setting Companion for Dragonlance 3e. It was published in October 2004.
Continuing Sovereign's Dragonlance Saga. The Dragonlance Campaign Setting (2003) — which Sovereign Press wrote for Wizards of the Coast prior to their license — was set it in the Age of Mortals following the War of Souls, the present-day of the Dragonlance world. However, that sourcebook also touched upon two other possible eras for play: the Early Age of Mortals and the War of the Lance.
When Sovereign began publishing Dragonlance books themselves, their first release was a "Dragonlance Campaign Setting Companion" called Age of Mortals (2003). It covered all of the Age, from 384 AC to 422 AC, which included the Early era mentioned in the Campaign Setting book. However, the War of the Lance wasn't to be neglected. In fact, the folks at Sovereign were very interested in producing a book on the era. Even 20 years after the publication of the original Dragonlance campaign (1984-1986), it remained the setting's most popular time period. And, Sovereign was also planning to reprint the original Dragonlance campaign, making a setting book for the era even more important.
War of the Lance appeared as Sovereign's second Campaign Setting Companion, about a year after the first.
The Return of Tracy Hickman. War of the Lance didn't just see a return to a popular period in the Dragonlance Saga. It also saw the return of a popular author: Tracy Hickman.
Around 1996 Hickman wrote an adventure called "The Lyceum" for AD&D 2e, set just after the end of the War of the Lance. It was published freely online as a "long promised gift" to Nicole Harsch (who wrote the lyrics in the original Dragonlance books under the pseudonym Jarrus Locastus) and her husband Michael Sakuta. This largely-unknown adventure was reprinted in War of the Lance, updated in to D&D 3e by Cam Banks.
Expanding D&D. War of the Lance gave the Sovereign team the opportunity to expand and vary D&D to fit better with the unique setting of Krynn. Among the more interesting changes were:
- A Master core class, which provided a mechanical basis for skilled characters like Flint, Theros, and various rulers.
- Variants for the Knights of the Sword and Knights of the Rose prestige classes that didn't require divine spell casting.
- New rules for masterwork items allowed for the creation of items of renown, items of glory, and items of legends.
These various rule revisions were introduced to accommodate the classic novels (1984-1985), the original adventures (1984-1986), and the SAGA system (1996-2000), respectively — showing the enormous breadth of the Dragonlance Saga by the time.
War of the Lance also reprints several Krynnish feats from Age of Mortals, revised and updated.
Not Necessarily Battlesystem. The original Dragonlance Saga made heavy use of Douglas Niles' Battlesystem (1985), a mass-combat battle system for AD&D. Sovereign opted not to create a 3e combat system of their own, but War of the Lance nonetheless included long lists of army units and details on major conflicts. For GMs who wanted a complete mass-combat system, Sovereign suggested any "number of options and third-party products" — because third-party support was of course plentiful during the d20 period (2000-2007).
Adventuring Tropes. One of the controversies for the initial Dragonlance Saga has always been the fact that the players needed to take on the roles of pregenerated characters, the "Companions". By providing numerous plot hooks, War of the Lance became the first sourcebook for the era to suggest that other characters could do interesting things too! Sovereign would come up with up additional ways that players could take on their own roles when they published the War of the Lance Chronicles (2006-2008).
Expanding Dragonlance: The War of the Lance. War of the Lance largely focuses on the War of the Lance that ran from 351-352 AC. This is the time period of the DL1-DL14 adventures (1984-1986) and the Dragonlance Chronicles novels (1984-1985). This new supplement also provides minimal detail on events for a few years later, up to 355 AC — stopping just short of Dragonlance's second novel trilogy, Dragonlance Legends (1986).
Though TSR almost never returned to the War proper in its adventures, some RPG supplements were set in the decade afterward. This includes the "DLE" adventures (1989), the "DLA" adventures (1990), and DLT1: "New Tales: The Land Reborn" (1993). However, Dragonlance's timeline was rapidly advancing in the wake of new novels, and the RPG setting mostly left the War was behind when Tales of the Lance (1992) moved up the timeline by more than a decade. Meanwhile, some short stories and prequels continued to fill in the time of the War, including Dragonlance Tales (1987, 1992), the Dragons anthologies (1994-1998), the Meetings Sextet (1991) and Dragonlance Preludes (1989-1990).
The authors of War of the Lance were able to build on all of these sources to extensively detail the War era. They also used two sources that are sometimes forgotten: DL11: "Dragons of Glory" (1986), a wargame that's been omitted from most reprints of the Dragonlance series, but which contains most of the army lists for the War; and Karen Wynn Fonstad's Atlas of the Dragonlance World (1987), which helped to nail down the timeline.
Expanding Dragonlance: The Age of Despair. War of the Lance also provides what may be the best-ever look at the wider Age of Despair, the fourth Age of Krynn. The years leading up to the War get some nice detail, and some ideas are provided for setting a campaign in this earlier era.
Future History. The War of the Lance Chronicles reprinted the original "DL" adventures set in this era in three books: Dragons of Autumn (2006), Dragons of Winter (2007), and Dragons of Spring (2008).
About the Creators. Tracy Hickman was of course the creator of Dragonlance, and he and Margaret Weis were the authors of the original six Dragonlance novels. They were both heavily involved again with the novelistic side of Dragonlance by the early '00s, while Weis had also worked on Sovereign's first two RPG books — Dragonlance Campaign Setting (2003) and Age of Mortals (2003). Chambers was a comparative newcomer, but he'd been working with Sovereign since 2001, and was the company's Dragonlance line editor.
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.