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Seeds of Chaos (2e/SAGA)

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"When the Storms of Chaos rage, even gods seek safe harbor." -- Augury readings in Palanthas, 383AC (Anonymous)

Krynn swelters in the grip of unnatural heat--a summer so dry and scorching the very world seems ready to burst into flame. Across this baked landscape, Lord Ariakan's armies of Dark Knights sweep unchecked. Finally, the great city of Palanthas, the jewel in Ansalon's crown, awaits the onslaught of unstoppable legions.

In Seeds of Chaos, players have their choices of roles:

- The proud Knights of Takhisis, dark paladins who have sworn a blood oath to their lord. Adhering to strict codes of honor and discipline, they lead the attack against pristine Palanthas; or

- Defenders drawn from the populace of that imperiled city, waging the battle with whatever tools and tactics come to hand.

In either case, the characters ultimately learn of their true enemy--a horde of chaos creatures lurking unseen beyond the northern horizen, poised to render every worldly conflict obsolete.

Seeds of Chaos uses the AD&D game rules and provides information suitable for running the adventure using the SAGA rules as well. It is the start of a new adventure series that details the epic battles of the Chaos War, described in the novel Dragons of Summer Flame by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. This series can serve as a stand-alone campaign or as a crossover to introduce classic DRAGONLANCE players to the current FIFTH AGE setting.

Product History

Seeds of Chaos (1998) is a Chaos War adventure for the Dragonlance: Fifth Age RPG. It was published in October 1998.

Origins (I): A Changing of the Guard. By the time that TSR breathed its last, in early 1997, Dragonlance creators Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman had long ago left the building. They initially departed in the late '80s, to pursue their own fiction careers. Though they returned to write new Dragonlance novels in the mid '90s, it appears that returned wasn't too satisfactory: their intended trilogy got compressed down to a single book, Dragons of Summer Flame (1995), then they weren't part of the Fifth Age design team, who decided where Dragonlance was going next.

This all changed with Wizards of the Coast's purchase of TSR. In Spring 1997, Weis and Hickman were invited to speak with Wizards, as part of an outreach program to major creators that had parted from TSR for various reasons. And as it happens, Weis and Hickman had ideas for big new changes to the Dragonlance world …

Origins (II): And 'Lo, There Shall Come a Summit. However, Wizards needed to do more than just bring Weis and Hickman back into the fold. They also needed to bring them together with the Fifth Age development team to chart a cooperative path forward. The result was the Dragonlance Summit, held during a week in the Winter of 1997-1998 in Renton, Washington.

Hickman reports that there were "misgivings on both sides going into the meeting", but that they came together well. And, "the result was staggering". This may be because the authors and designers planned the future of Dragonlance together, rather than either group taking control.

A second summit would follow in June 1998, and for this one we have a full attendee list: Tracy Hickman, Margaret Weis, and Don Perrin represented the authors; Sue Cook, Stan! Brown, Miranda Horner, and Steve Miller represented the Fifth Age team; and Pat McGilligan, Peter Archer, and Mary Kirchoff represented TSR Books. The fact that a third of the summit members were members of the book department, including executive editor Kirchoff and managing editor Archer, shows how important Dragonlance was to Wizards' fiction publication. So perhaps i'ts no surprise that the plans that came out of that second summit, the big ideas that had been percolating since Spring 1997, would see their first (and main) publication in novel form. In Legends of the Lance #4 (Autumn 1998), a newsletter that Wizards started just after the first summit, they announced these plans: a new storyline called "War of Souls".

Origins (III): The Summer of Flames & Other Novels. The War of Souls (2000-2002) would advance the Dragonlance timeline past Jean Rabe's New Age, which had been the heart of Fifth Age publication from Heroes of Steel (1996) through Wings of Fury (1998). As a result, the New Age would be deemphasized.

But, what do you do in the meantime, while authors are busily preparing and writing a three-book trilogy? Wizards had an answer for that: tell the story of the Chaos War, which had been the heart of Dragons of Summer Flame, the last major work by Weis & Hickman themselves. To support this previously undeveloped era of Dragonlance play, Wizards reprinted Weis & Perrin's novel, The Doom Brigade (1996), with a new label that declared it to be part of "The Chaos War Series". That appeared in March 1998 and was soon followed by two more novels: Douglas Niles' own The Last Thane (1998) and Linda P. Baker and Nancy Varian Berberick's Tears of the Night Sky (1998), which would appear in October 1998, right alongside Seeds of Chaos.

Suddenly, the Chaos War was a vivid, well-supported era for novels and gaming alike.

Origins (IV): A New Book. One might wonder why it took more than a year for Seeds of Chaos to appear, when the first plans for a revamped Dragonlance line were made in Spring 1997. It's because Wizards was handed a packed schedule of Fifth Age supplements, all of which TSR had planned to print in 1997. Wizards opted to publish all of them and that took them to Fall 1998, when they released The Bestiary (1998).

One of the books that they published during this time period, A Saga Companion (1998), had not been on TSR's 1997 schedule, but it did not represent a sea change in the line like Seeds of Chaos (and later books) would.

Origins (V): The Return of AD&D. Seeds of Chaos represented more than just a new era for Dragonlance play. It totally revamped how Wizards was thinking about their Dragonlance line, and that's made the most obvious by the fact that it's actually an AD&D supplement, the first since DLR3: "Unsung Heroes" (1993).

Oh, Seeds of Chaos has SAGA stats too, but it's obvious they are a conversion, because Seeds of Chaos is fundamentally an AD&D book. It's printed at full gamebook size (not like the earlier SAGA digests) and it uses AD&D terms like "dungeon master" rather than SAGA terms like "narrator".

The publication of a new AD&D Dragonlance book didn't mean that SAGA was dead. Most of Wizards' remaining Dragonlance publication in this period would be SAGA first, but Seeds of Chaos and its sequel Chaos Spawn (2000) stand out as a brief (and final) return to the setting's original game system.

Adventure Tropes. The changeover to AD&D is also obvious in the organization of the adventure. Seeds of Chaos doesn't carefully separate its storyline into acts and scenes like the native SAGA adventures do. Instead, it has a much more traditional adventure organization.

The setup for Seeds of Chaos is quite unique: the players can pick a side, being either the "good" guys or the "bad" guys. The early parts of the adventure do a great job of accommodating either point of view (and it eventually becomes moot when a bigger threat arises toward the end).

The adventure itself is broadly broken into two parts: warfare in the first part; then rebellion and a small macguffin quest in the second. What's remarkable about it is that this is all sandboxed. GMs are given lists of locales and events, but players can put together these puzzle pieces as they see fit. It's a really rarity in such an event-focused adventure.

Exploring Krynn. Seeds of Chaos is the first Dragonlance supplement set in 383 AC, the year of Dragons of Summer Flame. It puts most of its attention on Palanthas, with considerable detail given to locales in the city and on nearby sites. Even more support for this area would appear in the upcoming Palanthas (1998), a SAGA supplement.

NPCs of Note. One of the pre-generated characters is Basalt Fireforge, a nephew of Flint who'd previously appeared in Douglas Niles' novel, Flint the King (1990), the fifth of the Dragonlance Preludes series (1989-1990). His story had been updated after the War of the Lance in Dwarven Kingdoms of Krynn (October 1993) and now he was brought to the edge of the Fifth Age.

About the Creators. Niles was one of the original Dragonlance crew, the author of DL2: "Dragons of Flame" (1984) and four other "DL" adventures in the original 14-module sequence. He'd previously authored Wings of Fury (1998) for the Fifth Age and now would be the author of both Chaos War adventures.

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.

 
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File Last Updated:
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This title was added to our catalog on January 24, 2017.