This week on the Campaign Trail I wanted to take a look at what support is available to run the Dragonlance saga in Fifth Edition. Since the launch of D&D 5e, Wizards of the Coast has been very focused on supporting D&D storylines set in the Forgotten Realms. For those of us hoping to see official support for Dragonlance or another setting, we have only been provided with limited resources. I’ve been doing an inventory of what I would need to run a Dragonlance campaign using 5th edition rules and it looks like everything needed is out there, you just have to know where to look. People are playing Dragonlance campaigns using 5th edition rules, but for those of us on the sidelines, here’s my collection of annotated resources to get you started running adventures in Krynn.
Like many fans, I first fell in love with Dragonlance in the 80s through the novels and playing through the matching modules as Tasselhoff the Kender (yep I’m that guy – more ADHD and not so much klepto). I just recently picked up Dragons of Autumn Twilight off my bookshelf and have been thinking about running a Dragonlance campaign.
Part 1 (this article) looks at the campaign world and adventures. Part 2 looks at player options such as races, classes, factions and backgrounds.
Part 1 – The Dragonlance Campaign World & Adventures
Dragonlance is a shared universe created by Laura and Tracy Hickman, and expanded by Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis into a series of popular fantasy novels. Over 190 novels have been set in Dragonlance’s world along with tons of adventures, minis, board games and other campaign setting related material. The fictional Dragonlance world of Krynn contains numerous characters, an extensive timeline, and a detailed geography.
If you’re new to the world of Krynn or you don’t have access to a campaign setting book, then you should really stay away from running your own Dragonlance campaign and stick to one of the adventures.
This is my list of the best source books to run your own Dragonlance campaign or get additional background to run one of the adventures. I’m lucky enough to have the Box Set from 1992, but you can run a campaign with a hardcover or PDF with any of these. I’ve linked to the PDF if available for sale.
- Dragonlance Adventures AD&D (1987)
Details the background, characters, magic weapons, and rules connected with this advanced form of Dungeons and Dragons.
- Tales of the Lance Box Set (1992)
The perfect introductory game to the DragonLance saga, this boxed set includes complete background to introduce this successful line to new players. The material shows players and Dungeon Masters how to create the DragonLance saga “feel” in their own campaign. 3 maps; 12 cards.
- Dragonlance Campaign Setting – 3rd Edition (2003)
Sagas from the lands of Krynn are filled with valiant heroes destined to discover ancient secrets and vanquish terrible evils. Like those great champions, you will band together with brave companions to set forth on daring adventures. The tales of those bold deeds will become the newest legends in the world of Dragonlance.
- Bestiary of Krynn d20 (2004, 2007)
“Collection of creatures, ranging from the terrifying fire dragons of Chaos to the tiny, dagger-like feeders. Contained within these pages are a mix of foes both old and new, challenges for adventuring parties of any level.”
- War of the Lance d20 (2004)
Expanded races, classes, magic, geography and in depth player characters. It is possible to play a game of D&D with only the Dragonlance Campaign Setting and not this book.
- Age of Mortals (2003)
Good resource for running the fifth age of Krynn after the War of the Lance, featuring updated races, classes, magic, monsters and geography to keep up with the changes to the world.
- Dragonlance Nexus
This website is a free resource with lots of quality information and resources.
Some Nice to Have Books
- The Atlas of the Dragonlance World by Karen Wynn Fonstad (1987)
Also the author of The Atlas of Middle-Earth and The Atlas of Pern, Fonstad “draws you into the lives and places of the DRAGONLANCE Saga as never before.”
- Leaves from the Inn of the Last Home: The Complete Krynn Sourcebook by Weis & Hickman (1993)
Great miscellaneous world building book with stories, poems, songs, numerology information, recipes and more.
- Holy Orders of the Stars
Detailed information about religion up to the end of the War of Souls series of novels, includes biographies of the Gods, churches, classes, spells and divine creatures.
- Tasslehoff’s Map Pouch: The War of the Lance D&D 3.5e
“‘Uncle’ Tasslehoff has shared even more of his amazing map collection, this time with maps focusing on the Fourth Age and the War of the Lance. The maps within the pouch include a detailed, full-size poster map of Ansalon, continues with regional and location maps, and concludes with a pair of “kender”-style maps drawn by the irrepressible adventurer himself.”
- Tasslehoff’s Map Pounch: Legends D&D 3.5
Explore locations in the Legends storyline. “Brave the tests of the gods in the Glitterpalace. Look upon the mysterious Isle of the Irda. Wander the streets of the doomed city of Istar and explore its fabled Tower of High Sorcery. Most intriguing of all—unravel the enigma of the Anvil of Time. The map pouch contains all of this—and much more!”
- Tasselhoff’s Map Pouch: The Age of Mortals D&D 3.5
“Kender keep wandering off with our maps, but this time we’ve caught up with them! Straight from the pouch of the legendary Tasslehoff Burrfoot (the original), we present a collection of a dozen maps set in the Age of Mortals.”
There are lots of Dragonlance adventures out there across the various versions of D&D. Below are my favorite choices.
D&D Fifth Edition
- Tyranny of Dragons (2014): This storyline could easily be set in Krynn by swapping Tiamat for Takhisis and mapping factions with the notes provided in Appendix C of Princes of the Apocalypse (2015). You could even sprinkle and swap in your favorite parts of the original modules to create something that is both new and familiar to fans of the original Dragonlance trilogy.
- Princes of the Apocalypse (2015): This storyline can be adapted as laid out in Appendix C of this book, swapping Elemental Evil for the forces of Chaos.
DL Series (1e)
The original modules that started being released back in 1984. The modules are often called out for putting the players on a plot railroad that is difficult to deviate from. These modules are relatively inexpensive to grab (on sale for around $5 each) and can be used as a framework to run your own Tales of the Lance adventures in 5th edition. The artwork and maps have that old school look. DL 15 and DL16 are also available for side quests and other extra content.
- DL1 Dragons of Despair
- DL2 Dragons of Flame
- DL3 Dragons of Hope
- DL4 Dragons of Desolation
- DL5 Dragons of Mystery
- DL6 Dragons of Ice
- DL7 Dragons of Light
- DL8 Dragons of War
- DL9 Dragons of Deceit
- DL10 Dragons of Dreams
- DL11 Dragons of Glory
- DL12 Dragons of Faith
- DL13 Dragons of Truth
- DL14 Dragons of Triumph
DLC – Dragonlance Classics Volumes 1-3
Basically a reprinting of the original modules that were released in the early 90s, grouped into sets of 4. In May 1999 a 15th anniversary edition was released.
War of the Lance Campaign (3.5)
Sovereign Press grabbed the rights to Dragonlance and called on Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman to revise the original adventures for D&D d20. The original modules were plot heavy and could put the players on a bit of a railroad which this revision has tried to fix as much as possible. Play through the Chronicles novels in three mega adventures set in the War of the Lance era. I would look at these as your first stop for running a short adventure or War of the Lance campaign. Lots of support for playing characters out of the matching novels or introducing your own heroes is provided.
If you are looking for more adventures there is a complete list of Dragonlance adventures/modules on Wikipedia. Some other well supported storylines are:
- Legends of the Twins (2006): A full sourcebook that gives all you need to run adventures that match up with the Legends novels.
- Chaos War Adventures (1998-1999): 2 part adventure that takes place during the Chaos War, using Saga System or AD&D.
- Age of Mortals Campaign (2004-2006): This three-part D&D campaign storyline matches up with the War of Souls novels.
Where in the World Should I Run a Dragonlance Game?
The continent of Ansalon is the best choice. It is the setting for the main storyline and has the most support. Starting out in Abansinia, in the area around Solace and Haven is a good place to begin your adventure, but Ergoth, Solamnia, Istar (before the Cataclysm) and countless other locations are provided. If your players are all Dragonlance experts you can visit Taladas, another continent on Krynn located northeast of Ansalon.
What Age Should I Choose?
Dragonlance is a campaign world with lots of history and you can play in one of the following ages:
- The Age of Starbirth
The gods are created and go to war. They populate the world with their creations.
- The Age of Dreams
Civilization emerges and Huma defeats the Dark Queen.
- The Age of Might
The Age of Might focuses primarily on the rise and fall of the empire of Istar.
- The Age of Despair (or Fourth Age) – BEST BET
The centuries after the Cataclysm Krynn sees much hardship and war. The War of the Lance and the Chaos War are events that provide excellent backdrops for a campaign. The War of the Lance has heavy support with countless novels, adventures and other resources.
- The Age of Mortals – ANOTHER GREAT CHOICE, LIKELY SETTING OF ANY NEW ADVENTURES
The Age of Mortals begins with the fallout from the Chaos War and the theft of the world by Takhisis, and continues to the present.
What About the Gods?
The Dragonlance deities (or gods), are the high powers of this fictional world. They differ from the gods of other D&D campaign settings in that the gods themselves are formless and never bring their full essence into the world. The gods do send messengers, omens, visions, and their own aspects to the world.
The deities of Kyrnn are listed in Appendix B of the Player’s Handbook. If you want more detail on the gods look to Wikipedia or one of the campaign setting books listed above.
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Races, Classes, Factions and Backgrounds
Part 2 looks at player options such as races, classes, factions and backgrounds for a Dragonlance campaign.