Knights, dragons, draconians, kender, gully dwarves, and a shitload of books that a huge amount of nerds have read. It's mostly the result of reading too much Tolkien in the 70s and an unhealthy obsession with dragons. The hook for Dragonlance is that dragons have a much larger presence in the material than in other D&D settings.
Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, with their friends, created the setting after a long session of Dungeons and Dragons, eventually splitting the party when people moved away, going as far as finishing their game and making it into a book. The setting in itself is pretty much dark, as evidenced by the first books: Even the kindest gods are egotistical assholes who are perfectly content to make the world suffer for one man's hubris, stooping to mortal levels of pettiness in a manner that would make the fucking Greek Pantheon wince (more on that below and in the Setting Section).
Also, it's low magic as fuck, at least when in comes to divine magic: a famous dude is called "Twice-Born" simply because he got offed and was revived via magic. The reason is that the gods abandoned the world after the aforementioned Cataclysm, when they dropped a mountain on the city of Istar because the Kingpriest demanded that they elevate him to their level after turning Istar into a police state out of George Orwell's nightmares in the name of "good." The gods of arcane magic remained in contact with the world in their own inscrutable way to keep it going.
Arcane magic, called High Sorcery, is heavily regulated. Everybody who displays magical talent is required to report to a Tower of High Sorcery for instruction and indoctrination. In order to advance, every wizard has to take a highly-personalized Test. Those who take the Test often have to sacrifice something inherent to themselves to pass. A full wizard then has to choose a color-coded Order: White, Red, or Black, corresponding to good, neutral, and evil. The choice is supposed to represent how you'll use your magic and all wizards are brothers within the Towers, but outside those walls, nothing stops a Black Robe from knifing his White Robe "brothers" in the back or blowing up their cottages with fireballs.
It's balanced by Raistlin Majere's presence, so it can't be all bad.
The Dungeons and Dragons movie Dragons of Autumn Twilight took place in the Dragonlance setting. It was an adaptation of the first novel in the Dragonlance canon and had the animation quality of an early 80's Saturday morning cartoon (most of the budget went to the voice actors).
Dragonlance is mostly known for its books than anything. There's literally hundreds of novels in this setting, in all kinds of eras, to the extent a lot of people don't even know that the first trilogy was made to promote one of TSR's newest D&D settings or that there was even a 3rd edition release of the setting. Even amongst those who are aware, Dragonlance tends to suffer similarly to the Forgotten Realms; everybody feels there's no point RPGing there because all of the "fun stuff" has already been done by the authors.
The setting is fairly interesting, in its own way, with a lot of positive traits. For example, it's one of the few settings to focus on giving lots of variety to demihumans as well as humans - dwarves, for example, come in at least three major typings (Hill, Mountain and Dark), with each typing being made of multiple ethnicities, or clans.
The setting began with a trilogy, focusing on a band of adventurers, and their quest to stop the world being conquered by armies of dragonriders, goblins and draconians in league with Takhisis, Goddess of Evil. The reason why all this happened? Well, that's a long story...
In the beginning, the Gods decided to create the world. In doing so, they split into three factions: Good, Neutral, and Evil. The leaders of the three factions each created their own races: Paladine, god of good, created the Elves, Takhisis, Goddess of Evil, created the Ogres(originally called the Irda), and Gilean, God of Neutrality created Humans. Takhisis and Paladine also created the Chromatic and Metallic Dragons, respectively. Takhisis and her Dragons then waged quite a few wars to try and conquer the world. The Third Dragon War ended when the knight Huma Dragonbane, with the blessings of the Gods, struck Takhisis with the Dragonlance, causing her pain for the first time, and forcing her to promise never to invade Krynn again. There was peace at last. Until some idiots had to screw it up.
In short, centuries ago, the King-Priest of Paladine, resident God of Good, went totally mad with power. Using an artifact-tier magical crown to basically let him mindrape people into obeying him, he set up a totaliarian police state in which all evil was punished, with his definition of evil growing increasingly broader - probably not helped by the fact he had particularly racist elves who considered themselves the perfect, Paladine-created race with all others being inferior in some fairly important positions. He even went to the trouble of using clerical agents to mind-probe random people to seek out thought-crimes.
As you might guess, this kind of upset the whole "balance between good and evil" thing, which is kind of important to the setting. However, the setting claims that the "upsetting" this did was by making Good stronger than Evil. If this rings at all hollow to you, then congratulations, you're putting more thought into this than the original authors did. Or at least your brain hasn't been fried by your particular flavor of faith -- they were both pretty devout Mormons, after all.
So, anyway, the gods get pissed and start sending omens. Heatwaves, unseasonal storms, turning the sky funky colors... you know, just enough mystical crap to make people scared that something bad is going down, but absolutely nowhere near a straight answer as to why they're ticked. The real reason? The King-Priest wants to demand the Gods make him a god too, so he can "wipe out all evil forever".
The day before the big ceremony, the gods snatch up all their clerics and spirit them away to their homes in the planes. Those who refuse to come, they leave behind, but strip them of all their clerical powers.
And then the big day comes. The King-Priest demands the gods elevate him to their ranks, and the gods respond like any sane, rational all-powerful beings would - by grabbing a huge-ass meteor and smacking him right in the face with it, literally reshaping the whole continent in the process - the kingdom of Ishtar becomes an inland sea, coasts change, famine and fire and pestilence runs rampant, and there's nobody around who can use any divine magic to try and reduce the nastiness.
After things quiet down, the gods wait for the mortals to apologize for the hubris of the King-Priest. Instead, the mortals demand to know what the hell the gods were thinking doing all this to them over one man and his wrongheadedness. In a huff, the gods declare the mortals will no longer benefit from their powers and they stop allowing any divine magic to be used at all.
Cue the present day, in which people sadly realize they turned their back on the gods, believing that none of them will answer their prayers anymore. Wew.
Eventually, Takhisis realises that while the other gods are busy ignoring the world, she can wriggle back into it and conquer it. She wakes up her armies of evil dragons, steals the eggs of the good dragons, starts converting the stolen eggs into her monster minions (whilst lying to the good dragons that their eggs will be safe if they just let her minions do what they want), and gets to work. The ancient "good" dragons are somehow tricked into this. The moment they discover the truth, they immediately join in the War against Takhisis.
And that's when the first trilogy starts, ending with Takhisis beaten back, the other gods returning, and divine magic being restored. Until the next big setting-changing upheaval, anyway.
- Dragonlance Nexus - Fan site and materials.
- Dragonlance Lexicon - A wiki in need of love, like this page.
- -An animated/CGI adaptation of the original film. Largely considered by most to be the distilled essence of FAIL, its also unfortunately the only adaptation we'll likely have in a while.
-  - An honest to God Russian play about Raistlin Majere. A VERY loose adaptation of the Twins Trilogy that came after the first trilogy.
|Dungeons & Dragons Campaign Settings|
|Basic D&D:||Mystara (Blackmoor) - Pelinore|
|AD&D:||Birthright - Council of Wyrms - Dark Sun - Dragonlance |
Forgotten Realms (Al-Qadim - The Horde - Icewind Dale - Kara-Tur - Maztica)
Greyhawk - Jakandor - Mystara (Hollow World - Red Steel - Savage Coast)
Planescape - Ravenloft (Masque of the Red Death) - Spelljammer
|3rd/3.5 Edition:|| Blackmoor - Dragonlance - Eberron - Forgotten Realms |
Ghostwalk - Greyhawk (Sundered Empire) - Ravenloft
|4th Edition:||Blackmoor - Dark Sun - Eberron - Forgotten Realms - Nentir Vale|
|5th Edition:|| Dragonlance - Eberron - Forgotten Realms - Greyhawk |
Nentir Vale - Ravenloft - Ravnica - Spelljammer
|Third Party:|| Dragonmech (3E) - Dragonstar (3E) - Golarion (3E) - Kingdoms of Kalamar (2E/3E/4E) |
Midnight (3E/4E) - Ptolus (3E) - Scarred Lands (3E/5E) - Spellslinger (3E)
Wilderlands of High Fantasy (Basic)