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Reviews of 'Seeds of Chaos'

Seeds of Chaos

by Douglas Niles
Chaos War Adventures, Volume 1


Reviews of 'Seeds of Chaos'

Here are the visitor reviews we have of Seeds of Chaos. For more information about this title, please visit the item detail page.


Reviewer: Morten Brattbakk

Rating: Stars

Seeds of Chaos has a great cover, and I absolutely love that the large old format is back, and am very happy that Palanthas will be the last product to feature the tiny Fifth Age format.

I did not know what to expect as I read Seeds of Chaos, the first Dragonlance Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) adventure in years, but I was suspicious because of the author. My negative expectations were put to shame though, as a I read it. The Krynnishness radiated from the pages. I felt like I was reading a new product in the DLx series. I was drawn into the world of Kynn again in a way I not often am. It was a wonderful feeling. I don't know exactly what made me feel this way. Perhaps it was the pleasure of holding a full-sized module again. Perhaps it was the map of the landscape around Palanthas including the Bay of Branchala and the High Clerist's Tower as I opened the first page. Perhaps it was the map of Palanthas later in the book, even though it was a bit crude, the one in the Atlas is better. Perhaps it was the joy of seeing AD&D stats in a Dragonlance module again. Perhaps it was the full-page panorama view drawing of Palanthas (the drawing was rather simple and crude, but it certainly helped imagination along).

I don't know, it was probably a combination of all those things and more that made this product glow magically of Krynn. These strong feelings probably hinders me from an objective review of Seeds of Chaos, but what the heck, I'll try.

The adventure is rather high-level, it is made for characters of levels 7-10. I have not playtested it yet, and do not know how the power balance is for playing the module AD&D vs. playing it SAGA, I only know that I like what I read. The SAGA conversion works in such a way that small gray boxes are in the text whenever there are AD&D stats for a character or creature, or whenever there are instructions for random effects in an encounter.

The SAGA stats seem to be lazily converted from the adventure's AD&D stats, though, since there seems to be some confusion to the relationship between damage adjustment and the type of (magic) weapon in the SAGA stats for the pregenerated characters. Too many errors slipped past, either converting the magical adjustment of the weapon wrongly, (such as an AD&D longsword +1 becomes a Longsword of Renown (+4) instead of Distinction (+2) as they according to the conversion rules should be. Sometimes the adjustment was right, but the name was wrong. (Such as a SAGA Sword +2 being called a weapon of Renown instead of Distinction.)

While some of the inconsistencies between AD&D and SAGA may be attributed to game balance, (such as Dathas's AD&D dagger +5 becoming a dagger of fame instead of legend, as it shuld according to the conversion rules), the inconsistencies within the SAGA stats themselves prove that not too careful work was put into the SAGA stats. I think that even though I will almost certainly play future Dragonlance products in AD&D, the SAGA stats should be more thought through than was obviously was done here. This is a slap in the face to the SAGA players who may already feel they have lost something with the return of AD&D Dragonlance. I am thrilled that AD&D is back, and if I had to choose between the two, I would prefer future Dragonlance products in AD&D. But as long modules come out with two sets of stats, one should expect some work to be put into all of the product.

Well, on with the magic. This module is set in Palathas and its immedate surroundings, and is about the invasion and occupation of the Knights of Takhisis during the Summer of Chaos (described in Dragons of Summer Flame). The players can choose to play either the defenders of the city (Knights of Solamnia and allies), or the attackers (Knights of Takhisis and allies). It is split into 3 parts, the first part being the attack of the city, the second the Dark Knight's consolidation of power, and the third part has the players trying to find a way to fight the Chaos coming in from the north.

The adventure is organized nothing like the Fifth Age adventures, and thank Paladine for that. Completely gone is the annoying pushing-the-players-around approach, and there are no acts, scenes, "the story continues", "actions" and the rest of the restrictive format. There are no "atmosphere" paragraphs either, but still Seeds of Chaos manage to convey much more Dragonlance atmosphere than the Fifth Age adventures ever did.

When I heard that you can play both the good guys and the bad guys, I was a bit worried that space would be wasted by half the module concerning itself with playing the bad guys, and the other half playing the good guys. Luckily, this is not the case. The module is organized such that the general timeline, what happens in and to Palanthas within the timeframe Seeds of Chaos is pretty much set (it is very difficult for players to influence the larger events, for example, it is virtually impossible to keep the Knight of Takhisis from invading Palanthas). Then there are encounter areas, which any players can visit, of course those encounters will be handled differently by good and by evil PCs. But the encounters are the same. Later in the adventure, as good and evil have to join forces to fight Chaos, the goal becomes the same for all. (Here comes a spoiler!) The invasion is over, and in order to bless the weapons in Palanthas armory to be able to fight the Chaos creatures approaching, the players have to go on a quest for a horn which, when blown, will release Zeboim from the plane where Chaos has her captured, so that she can bless the weapons. And so, each part of the adventure has its style of play: Warfare and invasion in the first part, underground resistance in the second, and a good old quest adventure in the third.

The adventure is written a bit confusingly I think, it is very open and the players can do practically whatever they like, and hints for pushing them in the right direction (as well as finding relelvant things for them to do) seem to be lacking. For example, when and what one should hint to the players at all times is not clear. For example, during the occupation, the players are supposed to find out that they have to get Zeboim to fight the Chaos creatures, but they can risk a lot of aimless wanderings and resistance fighting before that goal becomes clear. While the Fifth Age adventures were extremely linear, this goes to the other extreme. It requires inventive players, a DM who is good at improvising, and that the DM is very familiar with the module. Both the players and the DM need a lot of background on Palanthas to run the adventure well, a lot of which is provided in the module. Copying the map in the module to the players may not be a good idea since it includes some location the players probably shouldn't know of right away, but showing the the Palanthas map in the Atlas might be a very good idea. Also, it is probably a good idea for the DM to read the forthccoming Palanthas sourcebook before running this adventure. It is perfectly possible to run the adventure on its own, but more background would certainly add to it and would help the DM provide details to the encounters.

The interior art is not that good, I think. It is rather rude and simple. It is so simple that the anorama of Palanthas could easily be of a modern city as well as a medieval one if one didn't know any which. Some locations such as the Temple of Paladine are illustrated, and I love these visualizations of Krynn. But I can only dream of what magic Ron Randall could have weaved here.

Douglas Niles is infamous for linking his own work a bit too much. Here, neither Sanction nor Darlantan are mentioned, but there is a boat with dwarves approaching Palanthas (supposedly connected to The Last Thane) and the pre-generated Basalt Fireforge (which I guess was in Flint the King) was another one of Flint's nephews we really had no need for.

Seeds of Chaos is a magical, classic AD&D Dragonlance product. Without knowing how game balance is with the SAGA rules here, I recommend it for SAGA players too. The conversion trouble seems to be confined to the pre-generated characters, not the rest of the module. AD&D or SAGA, this is a great adventure, has a lot of great Palanthas background, and it is so... DRAGONLANCE!

Review made Wednesday December 2nd, 1998 on the alt.fan.dragonlance newsgroup


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