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DLS3 Oak Lords (2e)
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DLS3 Oak Lords (2e)

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Before the Cataclysm, the great Kith-Kanan and a band of brave elves separated from their Silvanesti brethren and founded the legendary realm of Qualinesti. Then, just prior to the War of the Lance, the fledgling kingdom toppled before evil dragon armies. Now the great war is over and new beginnings arise!

The new Speaker of Suns, Porthios-Kanan, returns to Qualinesti with his people, but they find it in ruin. The elves think to abandon their home and heritage, yet Porthios will not admit defeat. He gathers a small band of heroes to discover if Qualinost, the elven capital, still stands!

This adventure, the second part of a trilogy, will lead the PCs to many ancient secrets and magical wonders, including an excursion into the Astral plane!

Product History

DLS3: "Oak Lords" (1991), by Blake Mobley, is the second of a trilogy of elven adventures for Dragonlance. It was published in July 1991.

Origins (I): Another Day, Another Elf. DLS3: "Oak Lords" (1991) continues on from DLS2: "Tree Lords" (1991), focusing on the elves of Krynn. Where the first book spotlighted the Silvanesti elves, this one instead concentrates on the Qualinesti. However, unlike its predecessors in the "DLS" series, "Oak Lords" is in no ways a sourcebook: it's a book-length adventure.

Origins (II): The Return of the Companions. "Oak Lords" also offers a rather surprising return. It features many of the classic Dragonlance Companions as pre-generated characters, alongside a variety of other NPCs from the original Chronicles. They're even laid out on a full-color cardstock sheet, like the characters for the various Dragonlance epics. However, if this was intended to be a return to one of Dragonlance's classic tropes, it was be short-lived: this was the only later adventure laid out in such a fashion.

Origins (III): A History of Qualinesti Elves. Elves first appeared in OD&D (1974) and the AD&D Players Handbook (1978). When D&D began to differentiate its elves in the Monster Manual (1977), these standard elves became known as "high elves, the most common sort of elves".

In Dragonlance's world of Krynn, the word "high elf" has been used to refer to both the Silvanesti and the Qualinesti, but it best applies to the latter: the elves who broke away and formed their own kingdom in the west, who are definitely the most well-known sort of elf in Ansalon.

Unsurprisingly, the Qualinesti elves appeared in the Dragonlance books from the start. DL1: "Dragons of Despair" (1984) says "All PC elves are Qualinesti Elves in this world." The half-Qualinesti Tanis also debuted in that adventure and the players even have a chance to visit the Qualinesti Elflands, as area #19 in the adventure's big hex crawl.

Qualinesti then got a full chapter in DL2: "Dragons of Flame" (1984), which also introduced two notable Qualinesti NPCs: Gilthanas and Laurana. More background on the Qualinesti appeared in DL5: "Dragons of Mystery" (1984), then in the line's first elven spotlight, DL7: "Dragons of Light" (1985).

The Media Tie-In. TSR's trilogy of elven adventures coincided with a trilogy of elven novels, all for Dragonlance. The third, which was still several months off, would focus on the Qualinesti. It would be creatively named The Qualinesti (1991).

However, "Oak Lords" also has a more surprising media tie-in: Kindred Spirits (1991), which debuted in April, was the first of the "Meetings Sextet", detailing numerous meetings between the Companions in the years before the War of the Lance. This first Meeting tells the tale of Flint Fireforge and Tanis Half-Elven when they are summoned to Qualinost. Inexplicably, it shares some elements in common with "Oak Lords". For example, it introduces the tylor, which recurs here, and it even discusses the graystone being in a sla-mori, which is revealed as the truth here. It seems likely that Kindred Spirits was used as a reference for "Oak Lords" — though unfortunately some of the material it provided is considered problematic for the canon.

"Oh, no, I don't believe so," Flint rejoined distractedly. "Lord Xenoth said that lizard was a a tylor. Unless tylors and sla-mori are related?"
Kindred Spirits(1991)

Adventure Tropes. Though "Oak Lords" is about the recovery of Qualinesti, it's not an all-elf adventure. In fact, it's a very typical episodic encounter-based adventure for the era, mixed with a small numbered of keyed locations.

Exploring Krynn. "Oak Lords" offers an extensive look at the Qualinesti Forest, including Qualinost itself, the Tower of the Sun, and the Hall of the Sky, all complete with maps. It was the best look at the important elven locale to date. The storyline is about the elf's recovery of their lost homeland, a crucial event. Dragon #224 (December 1995) places this all in 362 AC, about a decade after the War of the Lance.

Blowing Up the Canon. Unfortunately, the canon of "Oak Lords" is considered very problematic. That's in large part due to the use of the Companions and NPCs, some of whom don't ring true; worse, Porthios is killed by an arbitrary plot event, even though the canon says that he lives until past the War of Souls. The appearance of a death knight near Qualinost and the use of a variety of artifacts and unloved monsters is also considered problematic. Even the timeline is in question, since Time of the Twins (1986) featured a funeral in Qualinesti lands in 355 AC.

Because of its problems, "Oak Lords" is generally considered non-canon.

Artifacts of Note. "Oak Lords" features three major artifacts: the Graygem, the Hammer of Kharas, and the Tree of Life. The usage of the graygem is canonically problematic as it probably contradicts its later appearance in Dragons of Summer Flame (1995), while the Hammer of Kharas was never canonically lost as is claimed here; the idea that both these artifacts would be sitting around in a Qualinesti sla-mori was also not well received.

The Tree of Life is a whole other issue, since it's not mentioned elsewhere in the lore (except as a name of the god Zivilyn) and seems to have more in common with similar trees found in the Basic D&D line than with anything in the Dragonlance canon.

Monsters of Note. "Oak Lords" also references the much hated and possibly non-canonical astral dragons and kodragons from the "DLE" series.

NPCs of Note. The pregenerated characters for "Oak Lords" include Gilthanas, Goldmoon, Riverwind, and Tasslehoff from the original Chronicles. In addition, Vanderjack from DL7: "Dragons of Light" (1985) and Serinda from DL12: "Dragons of Faith" (1986) and later adventures recur — though the latter mysteriously has her name changed from "Serinda Elderwood" to "Serinda Sevenstar". As noted, many of their characterizations would prove problematic. Meanwhile, Porthios returns as a sacrificial NPC.

Of the new pre-gens, Jasper Fireforge is notable. This is his first appearance, but he'd later become one of the Heroes of the Heart in the Dragons of a New Age trilogy (1996-1998).

About the Creators. Mobley worked on a half-dozen books for TSR between 1990 and 1992, all from different lines. Afterward, he went on to produced two RPGs for a small press company called The Game Lords: the SF MetaScape (1993) and the generic/fantasy Ultimate Power (1994).

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. Thanks to the Acaeum for careful research on Monster Manual printings.

 
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32
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