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Reviews of 'Wings of Fury'

Wings of Fury

by Douglas Niles
Fifth Age, Volume 9


Reviews of 'Wings of Fury'

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Reviewer: Morten Brattbakk

Rating: Stars

First of all, the box itself. The cover painting; I have never particularly liked Jeff Easley's artwork, and this painting is no exception. His very rough style is not as good as the more naturalistic style of for example Elmore and Caldwell, I my humble opinion. But if you open the flap the cover painting is on, there is a cover painting behind as well, with a black and copper(?) dragon, each with a woman rider, fighting. That painting was much better. The flap also has a overview of aerial combat rules.

Then on to Book 1, Dragonlore. Chapter 1, World of Dragons, is a 45 page long history of Krynn, focused on and from the point of view of dragons. This chapter is, I think, a waste of space. It is way too detailed, and the history of Krynn is already told several places, notably in the Fith Age Dramatic Adventure boxed set. Also, except for the last few pages covering the Chaos War and the Fifth Age, this chapter is a rehash, a synopsis, of Niles short story Aurora's Eggs and novel The Dragons. While it has some redeeming features, (most notably by providing sources from which historical knowledge is assembled), I do not think that the level of detail and the space it occupies in the product are warranted, when almost all material which have been told before. It should have been much, much more condensed.

Then on to Chapter 2, Fifth Age Dragons. This is a rather good chapter, especially the details of all dragon lords of Ansalon. Their goals, fears lairs, realms, feeding habits and minions are given more detail than in the Fith Age Dramatic Adventure. Quite a few adventure ideas and ideas for adventuring in a dragon realm is provided here. The next section, describing all of the 10 dragon clans (red, black, gold etc.) is not as good, mainly because it contradicts what has been told about Fifth Age dragons in the Fith Age Dramatic Adventure box. About 50 dragons are left, we are told, but according to Wings of Fury, they practically abound on Ansalon. The clans are also described pretty much without their relationship to dragonlords of the same color. "Elders" of the clan are never overlords. The chapter ends with a very short section on dracoliches, sea, fire and shadow dragons, providing a few ideas more than the Fith Age Dramatic Adventure.

In chapter 3, Dragon Ecology, we learn about the Skull Totems, basis of the land-shaping power of the overlords. Quite cool. We also get survival rules for the five dragonlrealms, and stats and info for spawns and spawning. We then learn about the clan hierarchy, dragon mentality, aging effects and mating. The mating section describes the passions which occasionally drive all dragons when they get the urge, and hints on the possibility that dragons may cross-breed after the Chaos War. Lairs, feeding habits and each species' relations to sentient creatures and animals are also detailed.

Chapter 4, Dragon at War, tells about how dragons prepare for and wage war. It also has some good, useful aerial combat rules, which adds just enough to the normal battle sequence to make it useful also for aerial combat, it's still as simple as the usual SAGA rules.

The last chapter, Metal Clanhomes, is the best. It describes the Dragon Isles, its inhabitants and features, and some sites. The only problem with this chapter is that it is way too short. While I would ideally like for every city and region on Krynn to have its own boxed set, I know it isn't possible. Still, this chapter should have been expanded at the expense of the redundant first chapter.

Then, on to Book 2, the adventure, Wings Over Ansalon. It is action-packed and deadly. My usual gripe against Fifth Age adventures also goes here, too little choices for players within the acts and scenes-based adventure. It is not as linear as Heroes of a New Age or A Killing Frost, but not as good as Storm Over Krynn either. While many of the old Dragonlance modules gave players at least the illusion of free movement, this module, while not completely linear, still only offers 2 or 3 set choices for the players all the way through, and inevitably pushes the players around, rather than guides them. Much of this can be blamed on the acts/scenes format. It is also quite confusing when running an adventure that actions for heroes to perform are placed in its own section. It would be much easier for Narrators to have the action right within the context the action is performed.

Then, the map. This is a map of the Dragon Isles, with some good, image-invoking drawings of dragons and central locations on the isles. These drawings do not occupy so much space, and this map is better than the Heroes of Sorcery map because it is bigger and more detailed, and does not have the cartoonish feel of the Heroes of Defiance map. The towns marked on the map is also color-keyed, marking which race is dominant there. A clever feature.

All in all I did not find the product that useful. Except for the info on the dragonlords and their lands and the Dragon Isles info, there was very little I could use for my campaign. I like dragons to be rare. The dragon history, being so detailed, I fail to see how it could be that useful. As a footnote, why doesn't a history of the mighty dragons include other places of the world? Taladas is closely related to the disappearance and return of the dragons, where are the Othlorx?

Well, Wings of Fury is not the best, and not the most useful Fifth Age product either. Both Heroes of Defiance and Heroes of Sorcery are far superior to Wings of Fury.

Review made Monday June 8th, 1998 on the alt.fan.dragonlance newsgroup.


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