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The Bestiary (SAGA)

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The Bestiary provides readers with an ultimate guide to the animals and creatures of the DRAGONLANCE Saga - beasts from the classic tales set during the War of the Lance, as well as newer monsters from the Fifth Age of Krynn. This beautifully illustrated reference, penned from the viewpoint of Caramon Majere, a Hero of the Lance, details the habits, diets, lairs, and legends of these fantastic creatures.

Caramon's narrative will inform and enchant all fans of the DRAGONLANCE setting. In addition, players of the DRAGONLANCE: FIFTH AGE game can use the creature descriptions, creature catalog, habitat guide, and dozens of story suggestions within this tome to expand their current campaigns.

Product History

The Bestiary (1998), by Steven "Stan!" Brown is a monster manual for Dragonlance: Fifth Age. It was published in September 1998.

Origins (I): A Deluxe Supplement. The Bestiary was a big change for the Fifth Age line. To date, the line had been published in digest-sized boxes and books that were simply produced. The Bestiary was instead seen as a "special, deluxe" release. It features full-color artwork throughout most of the book and is visually notable for the line.

Wizards designer Steve Miller hoped that The Bestiary would become a core reference book like Atlas of the Dragonlance World (1987) or The Art of The Dragonlance Saga (1987). He said "I personally think it was a successful [release], even if a bit pricey", referencing the fact that the book sold for $25, or about $37 in modern dollars.

Origins (II): Telling the Stories. Author Stan! Brown originally didn't want to work on The Bestiary. He saw himself as a "storyteller" and so he didn't want to write a "monster catalog". Fortunately, Brown's friends talked him into taking the assignment, and he soon discovered it was all about telling stories: the stories of Krynn's monstrous races.

Origins (III): Entering the World. In fact, The Bestiary turns out to be mostly about stories. The front and back of the book addresses the SAGA game rules, but the middle of the book is all in-character descriptions written by Caramon Majere, with help from Bertrem. This would not be the only such in-character Dragonlance reference book: Bertrem's Guide to the Age of Mortals (2000), Bertrem's Guide to the War of Souls (2001), and Bertrem's Guide to the War of Souls, Volume Two (2002) would follow.

Expanding SAGA. Dragonlance: Fifth Age had a very minimalistic style for describing monsters. Four characteristics (coordination, physique, intellect, and essence) were supplemented by two combat stats (damage and defense). Special abilities were detailed in generic lists so that individual stat boxes could just cross-reference standard abilities like "musk", "pounce", and "web". These standardized abilities feel like a foreshadowing of the standardized feats of the D&D 3e (2000) system, which was already in development.

As a result of the very simplified monsters stat blocks, the original Dragonlance: Fifth Age (1997) box had already listed most of the Fifth Age's monsters. They're largely repeated here — which makes it all the more obvious that the purpose of The Bestiary is to tell the stories behind these monstrous races, not just to detail their combat abilities.

Exploring Krynn. The Bestiary has the occasional explicit reference to the people and places of Krynn, but it's most valuable for laying out the ecologies of many of its races.

Monsters of Note. The bestiary of Krynn turns out to be mostly a bestiary of D&D monsters, from aarakocra and basilisks to purple worms and zombies. However, it contains classic Dragonlance monsters too, like draconians, spectral minions, and thanoi. There are also Fifth Age monsters like daemon warriors, fire dragons, and dragon spawns and even extremely new races like the brutes. The Bestiary even contains largely unknown creatures like nature elementals and the wyndlass.

Blowing Up the Canon. One of the problems with having Caramon narrate the book is that it introduces canon questions about whether he could have been certain places at certain times. As a result, the book is filled with possible canon problems — but they're not particularly important to the usage or understanding of this book.

About the Creators. Brown got his start in the gaming industry writing for White Wolf and acting as an editor for West End. When he came to TSR, most of his work went to the Fifth Age line, starting with Heroes of Sorcery (1997). He'd author four different SAGA books in 1998.

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to shannon.appelcline@gmail.com.

 
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Customer avatar
Geert-Jan W June 28, 2017 7:13 pm UTC
why does THIS not have a POD?
It would be awesome!
It's the only book I alck of the entire 5th Age SAGA, seriously it's like the books I'd really want all are the ones they avoid to make POD's for.

Though I guess in this case the book was a bit smaller then most others are.
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File Last Updated:
June 25, 2017
This title was added to our catalog on June 27, 2017.