The Dragonlance saga continues!
You have freed 800 refugees from the depths of Pax Tharkas, but now the armies of the dragon highmaster Verminaard pursue you through the wilderness. There is only one hope for you: Find the gates to Thorbardin, the ancient kingdom of the mountain dwarves, sealed long ago in the Dwarfgate War. The problem is that nobody knows where it is, or if it still exists!
Through the snow-covered Kharolis Mountains, across the Dergoth Plain, haunted by the ghosts of ancient armies, and to the incredible mountain known as Skullcap, you search for the answer that will save the refugees of Pax Tharkas—and yourself!
"Dragons of Hope" is the exciting third part of the First Book of Dragonlance, an epic quest through the world of Krynn, threatened by the domination of the inhuman draconians. This adventure can be played as part of a separate adventure, or as part of the great quest that spans the entire Dragonlance story.
An adventure for characters level 6th-8th. Written by Tracy Hickman.
DL3: "Dragons of Hope" (1984), by Tracy Hickman, is the third in the Dragonlance Chronicles series of adventures. It was published in September 1984.
Continuing the "DL" Series. "Dragons of Hope" continues the storyline from DL2: "Dragons of Flame" (1984), as the Companions try to lead the group of 800 refugees, whom they freed in the previous module, to safety.
Dragon of the Month. As originally conceived, each adventure in the Dragonlance series was to spotlight a different color of dragon. This one features a brass dragon named Blaize, who is the first good dragon seen in the story. However, he's a pretty minor element: the Companions free him, and he may help them later in the story.
The adventure doesn't focus solely on that single dragon, though. The Companions also face a shadow dragon—showing that there's more than just the ten traditional sorts of dragons in the world. Meanwhile, Verminaard's red dragons remain a threat.
Recurring Tropes. "Dragons of Hope" is another plot-driven adventure, which was rare for the time period. However, that plot centers on a fairly singular quest: the Companions must find their way to the dwarven kingdom of Thorbardin. As in Hickman's previous work on DL1: "Dragons of Despair" (1984), here the plot is laid out as a series of wilderness and dungeon encounters. Together, they lead the PCs to the lost dwarf kingdom.
There are also some interesting (though simple) mechanical subsystems in the adventure, which were similarly unusual for the time period. A system of attrition governs the fate of the refugees, giving the Companions an opportunity to actually affect the NPCs' likelihood of survival, while a political system helps to define how the refugee leaders work with the Companions. Together these two systems make the refugees feel like a very dynamic (but potentially troublesome!) part of the adventure.
A Different Sort of Handout & Map. Like the previous Dragonlance adventures, this new one continues to include interesting handouts for the players. While there are no new poems or songs, the "Canticle of the Dragon" makes a reappearance here, and this epic ballad now has stanzas about the Companions! The player cards which appeared in previous modules have also expanded to include two potential new PCs (Tika and Gilthanas) and three important NPCs (Laurana, Eben Shatterstone, and Elistan). The increased Dragonlance cast highlights how important the various characters were to the overall story—which was yet another unique element for the time period.
The Skullcap dungeon is another "architectural" design by Tracy Hickman that includes numerous varied connections between levels, resulting in a tightly interrelated whole. Unfortunately, it's let down somewhat by the cartography, which is much more plain than the beautiful isometric dungeon designs from previous modules in the series.
The Novel Connection. Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis skipped the events of DL3: "Dragons of Hope" and DL4: "Dragons of Desolation" (1984) when they wrote the original Dragonlance Chronicles novels (1984-85). They returned to these events over two decades later, when they wrote Dragons of the Dwarven Depths (2006), the first of the "Lost Chronicles" novels (2006-2009).
The first half of Dragons of the Dwarven Depths covers the major elements of "Dragons of Hope"—including the problems with the refugees, the politics of the refugee leaders, and the investigation of Skullcap. However, it doesn't follow the events of the module rigorously, as Dragons of Autumn Twilight (1984) did with the first two modules. There are even some notable plot changes: Blaize dies in the novel, and the Helm of Grallen has a much more long-lived effect on its wearer.
The biggest change in the novel has to do with the Red Wing Dragonmaster, Verminaard. "Dragons of Hope" has him leading the forces against the refugees, but he was killed at the end of Dragons of Autumn Twilight, meaning that he shouldn't have been available for Dragons of the Dwarven Depths, which takes place immediately afterward. Yet Weis and Hickman deal with this in a very humorous way: they have a draconian impersonate Verminaard—preserving the continuity of both the novel and the adventures.
Expanding Krynn. "Dragons of Hope" continues the march southward of the modules to date, detailing for the first time ever the rest of Abanasinia, south of Pax Tharkas. Mind you, it's mostly an uninhabited land, so there's not a lot of detail to be had. The module also offer the first hints about the Dwarfgate wars, the various dwarf races, and Thorbardin, but that's all dealt with more extensively in the next adventure.
About the Creators. Hickman was the originator of Dragonlance. This was Hickman's second Dragonlance adventure for the year, following DL1: "Dragons of Despair" (1984). He would also co-author DL4: "Dragons of Desolation" (1984), DL5: "Dragons of Mystery" (1984), and the novel Dragons of Autumn Twilight (1984)—making it a very busy year (not even counting his simultaneous work on Indiana Jones Adventures)!
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