Time of the Dragon
|Author||David "Zeb" Cook|
|Media type||Boxed set|
Time of the Dragon is an accessory for the Dragonlance campaign setting that describes the continent of Taladas on the world of Krynn. Taladas has its own unique cultures and geography, and as it play no major role in the War of the Lance, Taladas remained relatively untouched by its events. The peoples who inhabit this continent have different views and lifestyles from those of Ansalon, including their relationship with the gods. The dragons of Taladas are also different in their outlook, and are more neutral in outlook due to the role Takhisis, the Queen of Darkness played with Taladas during the War of the Lance. The need to survive has colored the outlooks of the other races of Taladas, making the cultures of Taladas darker in mood than those of Ansalon.
The 112-page "The Guide Book to Taladas" describes the physical and political geography of the continent, including the minotaur and gnome societies. After a brief history of the continent, the book discusses Taladas's geography one area at a time, and its impact on its peoples and how they had adapted. During the Cataclysm, one particularly huge meteorite struck the continent, causing volcanoes to erupt, and earthquakes shattered the land; volcanic dust fell over the continent, the seas were poisoned, and land masses shifted, leaving a vast sea of molten lava in the center of Taladas, surrounded by volcanoes. In the northwest part of Taladas are the steppe-dwelling Uigan, who draw their inspiration from the Mongols and Huns of historic Earth. The elves of this area are similar to the Uigan, being nomadic horse warriors. The goblins follow a settled lifestyle, living in small villages and hunting for food, ambushing elven and human horsemen, and making war with the elves. The Marak kender are different from the cute, cheerful ones of Ansalon, changed into a race marked by suspicion and paranoia. The Fianawar, having been driven from their underground homes by the Cataclysm, have developed a fear of the underground. The League of Minotaurs is the largest power in Taladas, and its society has built in controls to regulate the belief that might makes right. The minoi gnomes love to build devices but lack the logical minds necessary to make them work effectively, while the gnomoi gnomes are far more practical and control gnomish society, taking steps to make sure that it stays stable and develops.
The 48-page "The Rule Book of Taladas" includes rules for new character races and new monsters. This booklet contains game rules specific to Taladas, and makes new player character races available, including the bakali (a race of lizardmen), goblins, minotaurs, and ogres. The book also discusses changes required to make standard character classes fit smoothly into Taladas, and provides player-character kits that summarize the various abilities, skills, proficiencies and backgrounds for 34 common character classes and races. Army organization charts and statistics are included for the Battlesystem supplement. Also included is a selection of monsters that inhabit Taladas.
Two large color maps in the set detail the continent of Taladas, while a third maps the League of the Minotaurs, and a fourth map shows the large city of Kristophan. Also included are twenty-four "map cards," each with a color illustration on one side and a description on the reverse, which map important locations and diagram new equipment. The color cards show clothing and armor styles, gnomish devices and a gnome citadel, and areas of the city of Kristophan in more detail.
Time of the Dragon was written by David "Zeb" Cook, with a cover by Robin Wood and interior illustrations by Stephen Fabian, Fred Fields, and Ned Dameron, and was published by TSR in 1989 as a boxed set containing a 112-page book, a 48-page book, four large color maps, and 24 cardstock sheets. Editing was by Mike Breault and Jon Pickens, with cartography by Dave Sutherland and David "Diesel" LaForce.
Jim Bambra reviewed Time of the Dragon for Dragon magazine #161 (September 1990). Bambra noted the "satisfying and intriguing way" that the absence of the gods following the events of the Cataclysm has had its effect on the development of Taladas, as the clerics of Taladas had to compensate by finding new ways to maintain their influence; with the return of the gods, they have refrained from making clerical powers widely available so that only a chosen few clerics from each culture are able to work miracles. He felt that the loss of clerical abilities following the Cataclysm is "neatly integrated into the histories of the peoples" and that the "effects of the selective return of these powers are also well described". Bambra calls the book's emphasis on exotic cultures, rather than the feudal societies and economies that make up the bulk of fantasy game worlds "a refreshing and intriguing change", noting that "The background on these cultures is nicely detailed, evoking lifestyles and belief systems that fit in well with the land around them." He considered the continent of Taladas "an intriguing and impressive game world", although it "falls down slightly is in its presentation" because "The information is all presented from the point of view of the DM, with no sections specifically for players to read. The burden of introducing the players to Taladas and bringing the world to life falls squarely on the GM. Sections written specifically for players [...] would have enhanced this product immensely and made it more accessible." Bambra felt that the player character kits "make character generation easier and provide backgrounds for PCs, but fail to give a detailed overview of cultural and racial outlooks". He also considered that "Anyone interested in the military side of Taladas will find the army organization charts and statistics for the Battlesystem supplement invaluable. Even if the Battlesystem supplement is never used, the information presented here is also very useful in standard role-playing encounters." According to Bambra, "Time of the Dragon contains some of the finest maps to ever appear in a role-playing product," and that the large two-part map of the continent of Taladas is "excellent", while the blow-up map of the lands of the League of Minotaurs and the map showing the minotaur-controlled city of Kristophan are "nicely rendered, with good use of color". He called the color cards "impressive and have been used to good effect" and that the standard of the artwork on the cards is "very high, with the armor and clothing cards being particularly noteworthy". Bambra concluded by saying that "The background of Time of the Dragon is plausible and meticulously presented, with neatly integrated cultures and races. It can easily be used as a campaign setting in its own right, as it not tightly tied to the world of Krynn. Time of the Dragon is well worth looking at and marks a departure from the standard Dragonlance saga setting. It has plenty to recommend it to gamers looking for a harsh and gritty fantasy world."
Lawrence Schick, in his 1991 book Heroic Worlds called the set "A nice package", and commented on the setting: "Taladas's strange and exotic cultures (for example, a society of civilized minotaurs) exhibit an unusual mix (for AD&D) of magic and science."