Dragonlance in 5th Edition – Player Options
Last week on the Campaign Trail I looked at what support is available to run a Dragonlance campaign in fifth edition. Since launch, Wizards of the Coast has been very focused on supporting storylines set in the Forgotten Realms. For those of us hoping to see official support for Dragonlance or another setting, we have been only 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. He’s my collection of resources you and your players will need to create heroes for a D&D 5th edition game set in Dragonlance’s world of Krynn.
Part 1 (last week) looked at the campaign world and adventures. Part 2 (this article) looks at player options such as races, classes, factions and backgrounds.
FINDING DRAGONLANCE CHARACTER OPTIONS
A 5th edition book focused on Krynn, similar to the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide released earlier this week would be helpful. Until that book arrives (if ever), we’ll need to look around to find the support needed to create heroes for a Dragonlance game.
5th Edition Resources
Not to be confused with the Fifth Age of Dragonlance, there are some 5th Edition resource we can look to for support.
- Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide
This book provides nearly a page of notes (see Appendix) on using these class options in a Dragonlance campaign. I detail some of these options in the classes section below. You might find some of the new Sword Coast backgrounds will work too.
- Player’s Handbook
Provides direction on which subraces to use for the Dwarven and Elven people of Krynn.
- Princes of the Apocalypse
Maps Forgotten Realms factions to Dragonlance organizations in Appendix C.
Resources from Older Editions
If you’re new to the world of Krynn or you don’t have access to a campaign setting book, then you might want to avoid running your own Dragonlance campaign (or converting one of the 5e storylines) and stick to a Dragonlance module from a previous edition. The following are great books to get up to speed on the details of this setting and I recommend reading the novels too.
- 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.
- 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.
- Towers of High Sorcery
Details arcane magic, ways of the Wizards of High Sorcery, magic items and spells of Krynn.
- Holy Orders of the Stars – 3.5e
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.
- Knightly Orders of Ansalon
Detailed information on the Knights of Solamnia, Dark Knights and Legion of Steel.
- Races of Ansalon
In depth look at the major humanoid races of the world: Humans, Dwarves, Elves, Gnomes, Goblins, Kender, Minotaurs and Ogres (and a short look at lesser known races).
- Dragonlance Nexus
This website is a free resource with lots of quality information and resources.
CHARACTERS OPTIONS IN KRYNN
Dragonlance is a world with some unique aspects that requires some customization from the default D&D setting provided in 5th edition. For modules you can create your own heroes or usually choose from premade characters. I’m thinking of providing a conversion guide for all of the popular premade characters (let me know in the comments if you’d like to see that). Either way, the information below will help you fit a 5th edition character into a Dragonlance game.
The Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide that just came out earlier this week provides some brief ideas on how to adapt classes to Krynn. I’ll summarize these ideas and provide my own.
- Best matches are Kagonesti elves and human nomad tribes.
- Riverwind, a Hero of the Lance is a good example of a Barbarian (but he would be an excellent Barbarian/Ranger multiclass).
- Rich Howard created a 5th edition homebrew Barbarian path for Draconian PCs.
- Bards and Dragonlance have an interesting history. I would recommend that you read Dragonhelm’s Guide to Bards in Krynn before you decide how bards should be made available as a class for your campaign.
- Bards who can cast 3rd level spells (Bard level 5) could be considered renegades by the Wizards of High Sorcery.
- You could also have a bard that draws power from divine sources.
- Divine power is something that disappeared during the Age of Despair. Clerics in a campaign set during the War of the Lance should be rare and anyone who meets them will think them a charlatan or worse.
- Goldmoon and Elistan are good examples of Clerics from the Age of Despair.
- To select a deity to worship and domain see Appendix B of the Player’s Handbook which contains details on all of the major gods of the Dragonlance setting. For more details on the gods of Krynn see one of the books from a previous edition or check out this page on wikipedia to get started.
- The new Arcana domain could be used by a character hunting Wizards, but generally the gods of Magic are ignored by clerics.
- Druids are rare heroes, but can be used as provided in fifth edition since they are typically nature-loving hermits with powers drawn from the earth itself.
- Some druids worship the gods of nature and have cleric-like powers or even discover a gift for arcane magic, and are treated as renegades by the Conclave if they grow too powerful, but I would still use the Druid class as provided.
- Countless options in the Player’s Handbook and Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide to create any hero such as Heroes of the Lance such as Laurana, Caramon and Sturm.
- See Wizards below for Eldritch Knights and multiclassing with Wizard.
- It might be best to stay away from this class, but of course there are examples of Monks in the world.
- If you want to look hard you can find evil Minotaur monks that follow Sargonnas employing the Way of the Long Death or Way of the Open Hand
- The Way of the Sun Soul could be matched to followers of Sirrion.
- See the Order of Majere or the Fighting-Monks of Claren-Elian as other potential backgrounds for a Monk.
- Divine power is something that disappeared during the Age of Despair. Paladins in a campaign set during the War of the Lance should be rare or non existent.
- The Oath of the Crown will work well for characters who are from the Solamnic Knights of the Sword or the Nerakian Knights of the Skull.
- The new Arcana domain could be used by a character hunting Wizards, but generally the gods of Magic are ignored by paladins and renegades are hunted by Wizards.
- The most obvious choice for a noble paladin character would be to select Paladine as a diety to worship.
- Rangers are a great match for Dragonlance campaigns which are typically full of tracking and wilderness travel, but you won’t find examples of a modern spell casting Ranger in older adventures.
- If I was going to play a Ranger character, I would try to reflavor spells to appear to be something more skill & knowledge of nature based and less magical. The Unearthered Arcana: Ranger with No Spells might be a great fit too.
- Tanis Half-Elven (usually a fighter – archer) is an example of a Hero of the Lance that might fit the Ranger class, but he never used spells.
- Any rogue is a great fit for a Dragonlance campaign.
- A Kender “Handler” offers a way to play a heroic and good character while employing traditional thief skills. Handlers are really just a Rogue (Thief) with a different name.
- Swashbucklers fit well for pirates and mariners from the Blood Sea.
- See Wizards below for Arcane Tricksters and multiclassing with Wizard.
- The title can be confusing with sorcery being connected more with wizards. That being said, a sorcerer could be someone who is connected more with natural magic.
- A Draconian character (reskinning a Dragonborn or using a homebrew race) could be a good match for this class.
- In a campaign set during the Chaos War, Wild Sorcery (or Wild Magic) fits very well thematically, as traditional Wizard magic has disappeared and has been replaced by natural magic.
- During the War of the Souls Sorcery starts to fade, like the god based magic used by Wizards that was lost during the Chaos War.
- Not really a great match for typical Dragonlance campaign. If a player really wants to play a warlock try to find a pact that fits in with your campaign.
WIZARD (Plus Arcane Tricksters and Eldrtich Knights )
- Wizards that reach a certain level of power (I would recommend when they gain level 3 spells) are called to a Tower of Sorcery to take the Test of Sorcery. Those Wizards that avoid the test and continue to grow in power are labelled renegades.
- The Wizards of Krynn wear White, Red or Black robes and each draw their power from a matching moon. As each moon waxes and wanes, a wizards power does as well. A simple way to handle this is to track where you are in the month and provide a wizard with an advantage or disadvantage. Some ideas that might work well in fifth edition when the mage is most powerful are:
- giving extra spell spots
- providing extra damage on spells
- giving enemies disadvantage on saves
- Gilthanas Kanan in an elf prince who combines sword and magic. I would allow multiclassed wizards, Arcane Tricksters and Eldrtich Knights to be left alone until they gain level 3 spells (or when they are noticed by the Wizards of High Sorcery).
- During the Chaos War, god based magic fails as the gods fail – but you could have a Wizard learn to use Wild Magic as the source of their arcane power.
- Converting older materials such as prestige classes are a lot of work, but it can be a way to bring in some excellent player options from 3rd edition.
- As an experiment, I took a crack at converting a Knight of the Crown prestige class. This is not yet play-tested.
The Player’s Handbook provides notes on Elves and Dwarves in Krynn. For any other information we need to consult sources of information from previous editions.
Everything a player needs to play an dwarf in a Dragonlance campaign is available in the Player’s Handbook. During the Cataclysm, dwarves fought each other in the Dwarfgate War. The war ended with Mountain dwarves closing their gates to the outside world, leaving their Hill Dwarf cousins outside to survive on their own.
- Hill dwarves are also called the Neidar. Flint Fireforge, a Hero of the Lance, was a hill dwarf. Hill dwarves that live in Thorbardin might be from the subjugated Klar clan during the Age of Despair.
- Mountain dwarves are represented by the Hylar, and Daewar clans.
- The Aghar or Gully dwarves are a scavenging clan and another option. They are smaller and much less intelligent. I would create a new Aghar dwarven subrace giving a significant penalty to intelligence and charisma and a boost to dexterity. Stats like +2 Dex, -4 Int, -2 Cha might work, even if penalties are not way things are done in fifth edition. For more ideas check out this homebrew Gully Dwarf race.
- The Zhakar, Theiwar, Daergar & Dewar Clan are dark dwarves and are similar to Duergar dwarves
Everything a player need to play an elf in a Dragonlance campaign is available in the Player’s Handbook
- Wood Elves are called the Kagonesti or Wild Elves
- High Elves are split into the Silvanesti (Moon) and Qualinesti (Sun).
- Krynn also has Sea Elves (Dargonesti and Dimernesti) living beneath the waves. See Tribality author Rich Howard’s Sea Elf Homebrew.
Kender are the most polarizing subject in Dragonlance. People hate them or love them. I fell in love with Dragonlance reading the novels and Tasselhoff is my favorite character.
- Kender are the halflings of Krynn and were created to offer a way to play a good and heroic character with thieving skills (called Handlers) as an alternative to the typical cutthroat pickpocket.
- Kender are naturally fearless and good natured, but they can be overly talkative, annoying and tend to “borrow” anything that is not tied down.
- To offer Kender as a player option you could just use a Lightfoot Halfling, but Kender are unique.
- Another option is to create a Kender subrace for Halflings. See Tribality author Rich Howard’s take on a Kender for 5th edition.
- If you want to go the full race for Kender take a look at this homebrew Kender race
- Make sure that anyone playing a Kender wants to play a curious and upbeat character versus someone looking for an excuse to steal from companions.
Krynn is full of humans and everything you need to play one is available in 5th edition. It’s more important to think about where you are from, as nationality is an important trait in most Dragonlance games. In general, you can use Abanasinian Human for most characters.
The Gnomes of Dragonlance traditional kept to themselves in Mt. Nevermind, but in most recent times they have begun to venture out into the world more.
- The typical gnome in Krynn is called a Tinker Gnome, but a 5th edition Rock Gnome matches up.
- Generally a gnome’s life is entirely dominated by their life quest.
- Gnomes in Krynn have really, really long names. Do not ask a gnome their name. Ever!
- Tanis Half-Elven is one the most important characters in the Dragonlance book and struggles with not fitting into the elven or human world.
- Playing a half-elf shouldn’t just be a race a player grabs to get good stats. In Krynn, there are no communities of half-elves like in some settings (at least to my knowledge), and a half-elf character might need to deal with that in their background.
- Everything needed to play a half-elf in Krynn is available in the Player’s Handbook.
- Someone playing a half-elf will need to decide on their human and elven heritage. You might want to look at offering players the half-elf variant to distinguish someone who is half wood elf (Kagonesti) from someone who is a descended from a high elf (Silvanesti and Qualinesti).
- While Minotaurs are usually an evil race, Kaz the Minotaur is one of the greatest heroes in the history of Krynn.
- To offer Minotaur’s as a racial option look to the Unearthered Arcana: Waterborne Adventures.
Krynn doesn’t have Dragonborn, it has the very similar Draconians. You could modify the Dragonborn racial traits yourself or take a look at the these two homebrew options.
- Draconians (Metallic): These Draconians are created from the eggs of good metallic dragons and generally evil. You could allow a player to create a Draconian character that leaves the side of evil, but social interaction should be very difficult, especially during the War of the Lance.
- Noble (Chromatic) Draconians: These Draconians were created from the eggs of evil chromatic dragons. If you are playing in a campaign set during the Chaos War, this racial option could be great alternative for someone who likes playing a Dragonborn.
- The beautiful and wise Irda (or High Ogres) are an interesting and overpowered option (see 5e homebrew build).
- Orcs and Half-Orcs don’t exist in Krynn. As an alternative you could bring in Ogres and Half-Ogres (here’s a link for ideas).
- Drow are best left out of Krynn. A better match is a dark elf, such as Dalamar, who is a racially a high elf that is banished.
- I would make Tieflings unavailable too.
- An interesting racial option to offer are the proud and noble Centaurs.
- If you like Lizardfolk as a playable race (D&D 5e Lizardfolk homebrew), Krynn has Lizardfolk called Bakali that dwell in the remote swamps of northern Ansalon.
Princes of the Apocalypse provides content to help map the factions of Forgotten Realms to Dragonlance organizations in Appendix C. If you and your group like factions, you don’t need to worry about matching up to the Forgotten Realms factions exactly, just pick out organizations that matter to your players like:
- Order of Mishakal, Monks of Majere and other clerical orders
- Knights of Solamnia
- Knights of Takhisis/Neraka
- Orders of High Sorcery or Academy of Sorcery
- Dragonarmies (the collective five armies of Takhisis)
- Legion of Steel
- Knights of the Divine Hammer
- Vallenwood Guards and other groups of benevolent locals
- Allies of the Forest Master
- And more…
I could write a whole article on backgrounds for a Dragonlance campaign, and I might in the future if enough people ask for it. Backgrounds are you chance to really tie in your player characters to the campaign world. Depending on which age you are playing in, try to offer some options that match up. Provide a Squire background for a Knight of Solamnia, create an apprentice mage who studies in hope of becoming a wizard and whatever else will work for your players. Here’s a bunch of homebrew backgrounds to go along with great Dragonlance options found in the Player’s Handbook and you might even find something in the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide.