Caramon, Raistlin, Tika, Laurana, Tanis, Sturm, Flint, Tasselhoff?heroes all, their names are known by everyone familiar with their saga. But there are others as well: veterans of the War of the Lance, players behind the scenes, and even those who had no involvement wit the War whatsoever who are still heroes in their own right. Many are presented here for the first time. Among them:
- Grindlethorpe, the first Krynnish gnome to complete three Lifequests
- Fester, Queen of the Gully Dwarves of Mudhole, wife to Nomscul ,Best Cook, Chief Shaman ,and Queen's First Husband (a much more distinguished title than "King")
- Liliornin, an elven wizard whose first adventure pitted her against a death knight and an enclave of Wizards of the Black Robe (and introduced here to her longtime adventuring companion)
- and many, many others.
Each entry is presented in a format akin to the Monstrous Compendium pages, with statistics, proficiencies and other pertinent information, a description, and background material, among other things. Many entries first appeared in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Trading Cards, and have been expanded for inclusion in this product.
Add new life to your Dragonlance campaign with these new characters, the Unsung Heroes.
DLR3: "Unsung Heroes" (1993), by Tim Beach and others, is the third and final Dragonlance Reference. It was published in December 1993.
About the Cover. The three characters on the cover were based on TSR staffer David Wise, a model that might have been named Kim, and TSR staffer Steve Beck. Tim Beach used them as the inspiration for three of the new characters in this supplement: Daviter the Wise, Kimmil, and Steveck uth Drastin.
Origins (I): A Final "R". TSR's major Dragonlance supplements during the third wave of publication, Tales of the Lance (1992) and Dwarven Kingdoms of Krynn (1993), were big boxed sets, so it took them two full years to return to the saddle-stitched "DLR" Reference series. Where the previous "R" reference books has been DLR1: "Otherlands" (1990), a geographic supplement, and DLR2: "Taladas: The Minotaurs" (1991), a racial supplement, DLR3: "Unsung Heroes" (1993) was instead an NPC supplement. It was a classic sort of D&D reference, going back to the original "Rogues Gallery" (1980).
Origins (II): A Bunch of Cards. "Unsung Heroes" has a rather surprising genesis: trading cards. Beginning in 1991, TSR produced a yearly set of trading cards, based on the art, characters, and artifacts of their worlds, with full gaming stats appearing on the flip side of each card. They were previewed in Dragon #160 (August 1990), which revealed how TSR would be using their vast supply of full-color artwork for this new purpose. (Later cards would often feature new artwork instead.)
In 1991, the first "TSR Fantasy Collector Cards" were released in two collectible sets: 360 cards sold in randomized packs of 16 cards as "Set One", then 360 cards sold in randomized packs of 16 cards as "Set Two". There were also special 30 special promo cards. At the end of the year, TSR rereleased all of the cards as the "1991 Trading Cards Factory Set" (1991). To distinguish the two set of cards (and tell you which ones were super valuable, the collectible cards had gold borders and the factory sets had silver borders.
The same pattern was repeated in 1992, with the addition of a set of 11 black-bordered Gen Con promo cards. The pattern for 1993 was more considerably changed, with the year's production being split among three sets. The 495 gold cards for that year (also available in rarer ruby) were supplemented by 60 rare cards; then the "1993 Trading Cards Factory Set" (1993) featuring the usual silver foil omitted the rares. That would be the last year of TSR's trading cards, because by then CCGs were taking over the industry, causing TSR to release "Spellfire: Magic the Magic" (1994), a new CCG that could use TSR's art stores much like the trading cards did.
The trading cards were relevant to Dragonlance because each of them featured dozens of Dragonlance characters and items. So the 1991 set included favorites like Raistlin (#9) and Caramon (#10), monstrous characters like Skie (#138) and Onyx (#219), generic monsters like the lich (#60) and a few draconians (#91-92), and also mysterious new characters like Alyssa Glanowin (#45), Amberstar (#68).
Origins (III): A Couple of Characters. These cards, with their unknown characters, were the genesis of "Unsung Heroes". The idea was simple: have each designer and editor create a couple of characters. Draw liberally from the three years of collector cards, full of characters just waiting to be fleshed out.
Unfortunately, a lot of designers got busy and as the project hurtled toward completion there were still twenty pages to be filled. Tim Beach was able to step in to finish things up … but then he ran out of cards from the trading cards sets. The fill the supplement, he added in the pregenerated characters from DLQ1: "Knight's Sword" (1992) and DLQ2: "Flint's Axe" (1992). Then he invented characters to go with the cover artwork. Then he invented a few more, sometimes filling in "gaps" among the existing characters.
And at last this "easy" product was done.
Origins (IV): The End of Dragonlance! For the most part, DLR3: "Unsung Heroes" (1993) marked the end of the third wave of Dragonlance publications — and the end of TSR's publication of Dragonlance as an AD&D setting. That's because TSR was cutting lines with abandon in 1993. Dragonlance went alongside Basic D&D, Greyhawk, and a few others.
There was one more Dragonlance publication, the last Chronicles reprint, DLC3: Dragonlance Classics Volume III (1994). Meanwhile the novels continued. The world of Krynn would return just before TSR's demise with a totally new game, Dragonlance: Fifth Age Dramatic Adventure Game (1996)
NPCs of Note. Obviously, "Unsung Heroes" is full of NPCs, though they would continue to be Unsung following the publication of this book.
As noted, they had a variety of origins:
- Alyssa Glanowin, Amberstar, Calandria, Dwyam Marz, Grogan Stonethews, Hilmar, Kiiri, Liliornin, Morrandar, Nerrinth Yd, Pheragas, The Red Minotaur, and Vattaan originated in the 1991 trading cards set.
- Boinias, Cymbelene, Estheria, Glitterback, Grindlethorpe, Hakan Flowerhair, Jessie, Lafallot Reyelhart, Nystallina Dalendra, Palinthusian Chaine, Tatanya Elnohar, Teekli Quickstep, Tranea, and Vallo Downyheels came from the 1992 trading cards set.
- None of the characters originated in the 1993 trading card set, though a few of the characters in "Unsung Heroes" who originated in other places reappeared there.
- Jilani, Siriath Leafwine, and Targin Steelaxe all originated in "Knight's Sword", as did Erastin Rivenguard, Galenye Faelern, and Karathos, who also returned in "Flint's Axe". They were originally pregenerated characters.
- Obsidian Flintforge, Pentrian the Rabbit, and Selowen were new pregenerated characters for "Flint's Axe". Selowen was named for editor Sue Weinlein (later Sue Cook); curiously, another version of the same character can be found in the Red Steel Campaign Expansion (1994).
- The minotaur wizard Rikar is also from "Flint's Axe", but he was an NPC. If you think the name sounds familiar, you're right. He's from Tim Beach's home campaign, where the characters traveled on a ship called the Constitution, whose crew was based on Star Trek characters; Rikar was "first wizard".
- Klank was one of the PCs from that same campaign. The description in "Unsung Heroes" artfully avoids talking about his mother, because in the original campaign he was a non-canon half-minotaur. Beach says, "I figured that since minotaurs were an ogrish race, and you could have half-ogres, why not half-minotaurs?" Klank had the most far-flung origin, first appearing in print in GR2: Dungeons of Mystery (1992), but he was only fully fleshed out in the 1993 trading cards.
- Fester, Gilidarius, and Nomscul are curiously the only characters from the novels. They all originated in Flint the King (1990), which had been Tim Beach's primary source material for "Flint's Axe". Beach says that since they were characters from books "the challenge there was to avoid messing them up".
- The rest of the characters were new, albeit three of them based on the cover painting. Vargalastin was introduced because Beach felt a tinker gnome was needed and similarly Nerrinth Yd was so that there'd by an irda. Beach says that Nerrinth Yd is probably his favorite of the 21 he wrote because he's "always had a little bit of a weak spot for shapeshifters, and a fascination with the idea that they might have a set of regular guises that could develop into personalities of their own".
Among the various characters, four are from Taladas, marking the last (minor) appearance of original Taladas material in the Dragonlance line.
As is appropriate for a Dragonlance book, there are also ten dragon NPCs. Cyan Bloodbane, Dargent (Silvara), Khellendros (Skie), and Khisanth (Onyx) all originated in the original Dragonlance Chronicles adventures (1984-1986), and are each illustrated by their cover image. Blaze, Glitarald, Poresche, Shonorr, and Valdemari instead originated in the 1991 trading cards.
About the Creators. Though Tim Beach wrote almost half of these characters, a number of other creators contributed about two each, including Jim Atkiss, Rich Baker, Wolfgang Baur, Anne Brown, Tim Brown, Dale Donovan, Jeff Grubb, Slade Henson, Harold Johnson, Rob King, Julia Martin, Colin McComb, Roger Moore, Bruce Nesmith, John Rateliff, Thomas Reid, Norm Ritchie, David Wise, and Barbara Young.
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.