The Dragonlance Nexus

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Desert of Desolation/Rahasia/Ravenloft

by Tracy Hickman


Falconer GH: Tracy, here is a thread devoted to your famous non-Dragonlance modules for the Original (First Edition) AD&D, namely:

  • I3 Pharaoh
  • I4 Oasis of the White Palm
  • I5 Lost Tomb of Martek
  • RPGA1 Rahasia
  • RPGA2 Black Opal Eye
  • I6 Ravenloft
  • I10 Ravenloft II: The House on Gryphon Hill

I spend a lot of time online in communities devoted to players of OAD&D, and among us, Tracy Hickman is known to be at the top of the list as the all-time greatest author of adventure modules alongside Gary Gygax. I wonder whether you are aware of that, as I am sure you hear from your novel fans all the time, but less often from your gaming fans. But I have heard that over and over, for the past several years, and I personally agree.

Interestingly, a lot of your best work is with Laura.

Of course, I wouldn't exclude the original DL series, as you wrote some great modules for it as well, and the fact that you spearheaded the entire monumental project is of great credit as well.

I once asked Gary Gygax which were the best-selling modules of all time. If I'm not mistaken, I6 was at the top of the list by far, with the DL series being up there as well (Gary's own Tomb of Horrors, The Village of Hommlet, and Against the Giants series were the others mentioned in his list). No wonder DUNGEON magazine felt you "need no introduction"!

Anyway, I wonder if you mind if I invite friends from those communities to post questions and comments about your OAD&D works to this thread.

Also, I am greatly curious as to whether you are still a fan of OAD&D. I DM a long-lasting OAD&D campaign once a week with eight players and am having a blast!

On that note, I would like to thank you for your three essays regarding gaming on your site. They are very insightful and useful for me as a Christian. Regards.

Falconer GH: Here are scans of the original Pharaoh and Rahasia (Editor's note: scans no longer available.). These were published by Tracy and Laura's company Daystar West Media as the "Night Ventures" series. Note the covers drawn by Tracy! Very cool. I'd love to get my hands on a copy of one of these, but they are worth approximately $1000 on the auction market. Phew!

Tracy, you have mentioned that there was a third module from this era which was never published, perhaps unfinished? The Eye of the Dragon, I believe? I think it would be VERY interesting if you would publish your notes or anything you have from it, especially as supposedly it was an ancestor of the Dragonlance series. I would personally be willing to offer to edit it for publication as a PDF, if nothing else.

Also, you used to have on your site an AD&D module called the Lyceum. I would really like a copy of this module. "Updating" to the d20 system is not necessary or desired as I do not play it. Again, I would love to make a nice PDF out of it, or just let us have the MS Word file as it is (or whatever it is).

Thanks for setting up this board, Tracy! Regards.

Tracy Hickman: I am most grateful to you, Michael, both for your very kind words and for taking me back for a few minutes to that delightful and magical time I had back then working on these projects with Laura.

The third project was, indeed, called 'Eye of the Dragon' and there is an interesting story about that...

When Laura and I were producing these original 'Rahasia' and 'Pharaoh' modules, we had only been married about a year. We were living in an apartment in Provo, Utah at the time. The texts were typed by me on a Selectric typewriter and hand-justified (this was, after all, 1978 and Apple computers were still a long way from a Macintosh). We would photocopy them at a print shop that Laura and I were both working at back then, assemble them on our card table in our kitchen and get them shrink-wrapped at a local meat department. I still have copies of the originals.

What may not be generally known is that the covers for the unpublished 'Eye of the Dragon' were instrumental in getting us into this business. You see, we had asked the printer where I worked to print 50 copies on goldenrod leatherette stock. The girl who wrote down the order, however, wrote down 500 copies by mistake ... and we ended up with ten times the number we needed. That bill, which we could barely afford, forced us to become more aggressive about our self publishing ... and eventually lead to our job at TSR.

Without that print error, we might not have gotten into this business. I still have those copies in storage. If I find them, perhaps you would be interested in one as a souvenir?

About 'The Lyceum' ... I hope you will be delighted to hear that I am working with Jamie Chambers at Sovereign Press on this one. The new 'Dragonlance: War of the Lance' book (coming out this fall) will include the complete and updated 'Lyceum' module as part of the 20th anniversary celebration of Dragonlance.

As to inviting others to this site who are interested in discussing any of our other works ... all are welcome! While these boards are primarily designed to talk about the intricacies of our new Bronze Canticles world, we are delighted to converse with anyone here on the subjects of our other works.

Falconer GH: As for The Lyceum, I am indeed gratified that it will be printed by Sovereign Press. While the 2nd Edition version will still be far more useful to me, you probably do not want to make it freely available when it is to be in print. Perhaps Jamie will be willing to post conversion notes.

Aranion7: Howdy, Tracy. Another AD&D holdover here - Michael linked your board from Dragonsfoot, a 1E site I frequent.

Not tons to say, but I will say the VERY first module I found and bought when I returned to playing AD&D was Pharoah. Always a favorite of mine, and hands-down the best use of a maze in a module I've ever seen. I plan on using Pharaoh in my campaign, once the party is strong enough to at least have the potential to live through it...

Lsettr: I was just directed here by a link on the Troll Lords Games Discussion Boards and found the reading quite interesting. I never had the pleasure of actually playing OAD&D but I am learning through TLG and their Castles and Crusades project that it is a much simpler and equally enjoyable game as the newer versions of roleplay.

I've run many a game contrived from Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms and some from my own imagination, but I have not written any down until now. As a novice in the area of writing modules, I wanted to ask for any suggestions you might have for creating these things.

In the meantime, I am going to enjoy looking about your site for the first time. Thank you in advance!

Gideon Thorne: I followed a thread to this site myself and whilst I can't talk about modules, having rarely ever used any, I have always enjoyed the various novelizations you and Margaret Weis wrote.

I am still looking forward to more of the Sovereign Stone series. I think I have it all unless there is a new book out that I have missed?

But I am rather curious? Have you thought about writing modules again? My interest has always been more on the artistic side of fantasy, so forgive me if I missed any you might have done recently.

Digital Scream: Original AD&D gamers! It is nice to see some around here. I'm an old-schooler myself. Wish I had a group around where I live that enjoyed gaming and kept the bad stuff out of it (last set of gamers I met were too much into the whacky weed than having fun just playing the game).

Tracy Hickman: You know, I may just have to write an adventure or two for the Bronze Canticles!

Bronze Canticles requires a number of unique and new approaches to role playing -- which I am sure a number of you here will help me tackle! I already have some ideas as to how these should be approached but, sadly, it will have to wait a few more weeks until the books come out so that we can discuss them thoroughly.

I certainly can see room here in the village for a special section on adventure gaming -- and am anxious to look into C&C by the way.

Gideon Thorne: You're welcome to drop on by the Troll Lord Games boards and have a look at our Castles and Crusades setup. Modules ideas are open at this point. I'm sure the Troll Lords would be delighted.

Tracy Hickman: The question is how do I get a copy of this game? I've been looking all over the net and can't find anyone selling it. Our local game story just went under a few months ago so the internet is about my only recourse.

Thorgood: Man! A C&C module by Tracy would make me have to reconsider my position not to run modules anymore.

The Trolls say that the C&C PHB is "Set for a Spring Release!"

Unfortunately, the C&C Society web site doesn't really have much of interest beyond a contact email address.

The Trolls' ezboard is the place to go for information. You have to join the society & sign an NDA to get more than snippets of info. I'm betting the Trolls would be anxious to do whatever they could to get you involved, Tracy.

For what it's worth, Gary keeps describing it as, as close to OAD&D as the law allows.

Myself I'm still just as interested observer. I balk at signing NDAs that I don't really have a need to, but I'm getting very close to deciding that C&C is something I need to be involved in. With Gary & Rob already on board, it's hard not to be excited about this project. If/when you do get a look at the latest draft, Tracy, I'd be interested in knowing what you think of it.

Gideon Thorne: The final product will be available for a GenCon release as it stands. Right now its undergone about 7000 pages of playtest and debate to hammer it down to the essence of a workable system for the majority.

You could email Steve Chenault at troll@trolllord.com and he can give you all the low down and any other information you care to have.

*wry smile* Despite a vast array of philosophical differences that people bring to the table, this system is shaping up to something that at least satisfies most of the people involved.

DCAS: I hope it's not too late to join in the chorus of appreciation. I very much enjoyed both the "Desert of Desolation" series and "Ravenloft" (I haven't gotten my hands on "Rahasia" just yet). I would say more but the other posters have already put it so well.

Troll Lord Trolling: I don't even know where to begin other than a thanks for some of the most enjoyable reads in fantasy literature since Tolkein. And, a hearty thanks for several of the most memorable experiences in roleplaying - Desert of Desolation being in the top 5 best modules ever written.

It's all in the tone, the tone rings true.

As for Castles and Crusades, we will be happy (more like honored) to supply you with the latest playtest copy so you can see what direction it is going. It will be released in its entirety at GenCon (hopefully, cross fingers, a pre-release at Mil Gamefest). Any commentary/advice is welcome of course.

Tracy Hickman: Well, by all means contact me directly, then! I've heard some great things about C&C and hope to recapture my earlier enjoyment of adventure design ... and this sounds like it might be just the ticket.

The more I think about it, the more interested I am in developing an entire arm of RPG materials and adventures for Bronze Canticles.

Lsettr: It would be wonderful to work with you on either project really. It's never that one runs out of ideas for a good adventure, it's looking past the ones you like and giving the people what THEY will like. However, Bronze Canticles and C&C both sound like they will be a LOT of enjoyment for developers, writers, and players alike. Sometimes there are those who look past the normal worlds and see the possibilities.

I will definitely be on the lookout for this series and see what ideas form. The muses need more fire!

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