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Time of the Dragon (2e)

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When the true gods punished Istar by wreaking the Cataclysm on Krynn, a shower of meteors pounded the continent of Ansalon. Halfway around the world, a similar continent was shattered by a single, enormous meteor. Thousands of square miles of land disappeared beneath a smoking sea of magma, which boiled up from beneath the planet's crust. Mountain ranges were toppled, rivers changed course, and weather patterns were altered. Survivors were scattered and isolated. The devastation was nearly complete.

Centuries later, the cultures and societies which rise out of the ruins are uniquely shaped by this savage environment. The minotaurs with their eloquent diplomats, elite legions, and gladiatorial contests, are spreading their influence throughout the hemisphere. Wild elves fight territorial wars with humans, kender, and gnomes. Fearsome fire minions rampage around the coasts of the lava ocean while the Followers of Hith seek to dominate the land.

Time of the Dragon includes two information-packed books totaling 160 pages, four full-color maps, and 24 individual color plates showing maps, NPCs, and major races.

Product History

Time of the Dragon (1989), by David "Zeb" Cook, was the first boxed set for the Dragonlance setting. It was published in October 1989.

About the Cover. The cover to Time of the Dragon is a piece by popular Dragon magazine artist Robin Wood. It originally appeared as the cover to Dragon #97 (May 1985).

Origins (I): Onward Krynn. Following the completion of the fourteen-book Dragonlance Chronicles adventure cycle (1984-1986), TSR's new setting foundered, in large part due to the departure of creators Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis. But TSR was working to repair that with the advent of AD&D 2e (1989), first with a new epic trilogy of "DLE" adventures (1989) and now with the setting's first ever boxed set.

However, the topic of the box might have surprised some players, because it wasn't a comprehensive starting point for traditional Dragonlance play, which you might have expected for a first boxed set. In fact, that was something that the setting wouldn't get for two more years!

Origins (II): A Design Meeting. Time of the Dragon originated at "a now-legendary designer pitch session at Augie's in Lake Geneva, near the Horticultural Hall". Manager James Ward called the meeting in 1988, in the waning years of AD&D 1e (1977-1989). The topic was simple: the boxed sets for the next year.

Two major boxes came out of the meeting, both of which would push the boundary of D&D's traditional fantasy. One was the very far-flung Spelljammer (1989) setting, while the other was a new Dragonlance setting, on the other side of the world, Time of the Dragon (1989).

Author Zeb Cook had originally declined work on Time of the Dragon because he hadn't previously worked on Dragonlance. Ward told him "Since you haven’t done any Dragonlance, Zeb, this would be a great place to start".

Origins (III): A Soft Reboot. It's hard to overstate how much of a revamp Time of the Dragon was for Dragonlance. It carries over a scant few concepts from the original setting of Ansalon, such as the idea of a cataclysm and the focus on creating unique and innovative races. Beyond that it's almost totally new.

What the designers didn't realize at the time is that they were creating the first major fraction in the Dragonlance line, as players might now be interested in the traditional continent of Ansalon or the new continent of Taladas, but probably not both. Dragonlance would become even more fractured in future years, as the timeline was moved forward in Dragons of Summer Flame (1995), Dragonlance: Fifth Age (1996), and the War of Souls trilogy (2000-2002).

This fracturing created support issues for TSR and threatened to divide the fanbase, but TSR probably wasn't considering any of these problems in 1988 and 1989 because the whole idea of so dramatically expanding and changing a setting was almost unknown at the time. The closest that TSR had come was their introduction of the east to the Forgotten Realms in Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (1988), but that was the grafting of an old setting as opposed to the creation of a new one. The publication of the Horde Barbarian Campaign Setting (1990) and the Maztica Campaign Set (1991) would be more in line with what TSR was doing with Time of the Dragon … and ultimately TSR wouldn't be able to support any of these large-scale extensions to their settings.

Origins (IV): Taking the Fifth. Surprisingly, Time of the Dragon also contains the first hints for what would become the Dragonlance: Fifth Age game. The Marak kender would be reimagined as the afflicted kender of the Fifth Age while the gnomoi would become thinker gnomes.

Resurrected Races. One of the most interesting aspects of the original Dragonlance adventures was their extensive detailing of demihuman races — a level of background never before seen in the D&D game. Time of the Dragon repeats this feat, debuting new human clans and new variants of dwarves and elves.

However, two traditional Dragonlance races faced the biggest changes. The first are the kender, known in Taladas as the Marak Kender. They're very sad. The second are gnomes, who are divided into the gnomoi and the minoi, essentially real inventors and the mad scientists.

Resurrected Races: Bring on the Monsters. The other major innovation of Time of the Dragon is its introduction of many monstrous races as possible PCs, including bakali (lizardmen), goblins, minotaurs, and ogres. Dragonlance Adventures (1987) had previously presented minotaurs as a PC race, but otherwise this was a first for AD&D. However, it was in line with the innovations of the Basic D&D line, which had first presented the idea of monstrous PCs in GAZ10: "The Orcs of Thar" (1988) and was now pushing it even more with the "PC" series (1989-1992).

This trend would grow even more in the '90s across a variety of product lines.

The Battlesystem Connection. As was the case with many major supplements from the late '80s and early '90s, Time of the Dragon has a Battlesystem (1985, 1989) connection, detailing armies of the land.

Exploring Krynn. Time of the Dragon introduces a whole new continent: Taladas. Though there are historical connections between Taladas and the traditional Dragonlance land of Ansalon, their geographical relationship isn't clear. That would await DLR1: "Otherlands" (1990).

Within Taladas, numerous societies are detailed across the entire continent. This includes a very comprehensive gazetteer and cultural overview of the entire land.

Monsters of Note. Besides offering details on a variety of monstrous races that are now available for PC use, Time of the Dragon also contains several Monstrous Compendium entries. The most notable are probably the traag draconian (a new more primitive sort of draconian) and the yaggol (a new, more primitive sort of mindflayer, descended from crashlanded spelljammers).

Whoops! "The Guide Book to Taladas" sometimes incorrectly refers to a "Book of Adventure". It means the "Rule Book of Talads", which must have been renamed late in the process.

Future History. Of the various sub-settings that TSR created around this time, Taladas was the best supported. That includes the "DLA" adventures (1990), most of the "DLR" accessories (1990-1993), DLS1: "New Beginnings" (1991), and more limited supported in several other releases. The gold box computer games moved to Taladas with The Dark Queen of Krynn (1992) and the comics did so starting with Dragonlance #22 (August 1990).

After the AD&D Dragonlance line was killed off in 1993, Taladas mostly disappeared, though it reappeared more recently in the Taladas Trilogy of novels (2005-2007) by Chris Pierson, beginning with Blades of the Tiger (2005).

About the Creator. Cook may not have known anything about Dragonlance when he began work on Time of the Dragon, but he was still one of TSR's stars, with the AD&D 2e rules (1989) being his most recent accomplishment. This was his only Dragonlance publication, other than some contributions to PG1: Player's Guide to the Dragonlance Campaign (1993).

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

We (Wizards) recognize that some of the legacy content available on this website does not reflect the values of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. This content is presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is a strength, and we strive to make our D&D products as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end.

 Customers Who Bought this Title also Purchased
Reviews (2)
Discussions (5)
Customer avatar
Anatoliy S August 15, 2022 1:10 pm UTC
PDF purchase includes three files:
* DD2_Time_of_the_Dragon_Book_01.pdf - The Guide Book to Talos
* DD2_Time_of_the_Dragon_Book_02.pdf - The Rule Book to Talos
* DD2_Time_of_the_Dragon_Book_03.pdf - collection of maps, pictures, tables and keys.

All files are of very good quality and all maps are whole (no pieces, page by page).
Customer avatar
Tapio P February 25, 2022 12:51 pm UTC
POD Please!!
Customer avatar
Nathan F November 30, 2020 10:15 pm UTC
Please make this Print on Demand. The recent boxed sets that have been made in a hardback option are wonderful. Would love to see the rest of them that way!
Customer avatar
Andrew S August 03, 2017 6:04 pm UTC
Does this version have the map of Taladas as one of two large images, or it is broken down across multiple pages like earlier TSR products?
Customer avatar
Jonathan O December 06, 2016 2:26 pm UTC
I own a hard copy of Time of the Dragon. Alone it is worth the pdf price for the material that it has about Tinker Gnomes. The Tinker Gnomes of Taladas live in skyscraper/city/towers made of hollowed-out basalt columns near a large lava sea. (1 tower = 1 city) These towers are among the more interesting places ever-detailed in a D&D product.

The large city of Kristophan is also fairly interesting and well-detailed, comparable to Waterdeep or the Free City of Greyhawk. The city is the capital of a minotaur empire. Kristophan would make a great setting for urban adventures. One of the kits detailed in the set is an "Upright Man" very akin to a "Made Man" of mobster lore.

South of the minotaurs is an evil nation "Thenol" which is run by an evil Cardinal Richelieu-type figure. Lots of great starting material for adventures here as well.

It has lots of background material and lots of interesting ideas to build on. The interior artwork...See more
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This title was added to our catalog on December 06, 2016.