Knightly Orders of Ansalon
Written by Sean Everette, Nicole Harsch, Clark Valentine and Trampas Whiteman
Published by Sovereign Press
ISBN: 1-931567-37-9
160 full color pages
$34.99

Knightly Orders of Ansalon is an organization sourcebook for the Dragonlance campaign. With 160 full color pages, the book utilizes several fan favorite artists including Jennifer Meyer and Larry Elmore among others. The book uses standard two-column format and makes good use of white space, being easy on the eyes.

The book is broken up into four chapters; Knights of Ansalon, Knights of Solamnia, Dark Knights and the Legion of Steel.

The first section provides background and details on the standards of a knight. This includes what the knight is doing turning times of peace, as well as times of war. It
provides standards on things like mounts, heraldry, domain, and equipment, as well as role playing advice. The section on heraldic crest is nicely done because the full color format makes sure that the differences between Berthold Atwater and Justin Atwater are clear.

In terms of playing the knight, there’s a section discussing how unconventional knights, such as barbarians looking to overcome their rage, or how fighters can be natural knights and have more opportunities, it’s nice to see the idea of knighthood as opposed to the game mechanics of knighthood.

For those more interested in game mechanics, there are substitution levels for the noble, the Armiger, a noble with a focus on martial training. Ironically enough though, WoTC has already moved past substitution levels and now has class feature replacements. The Armiger replaces 1st, 3rd, and 7th level of the noble class and provides greater mastery of armor as well a bonus fighter feat and the Call to Arms, where the knight can seek out allies.

Knightly feats range from trying to demoralize opponents as part of a mounted charge attack, to fighting defensively while using cleave. Several of these feats make perfect fighter feats.

A few magic items like the scabbard of parrying, which can be used as a shield, round out the chapter.

The remaining three chapters are broken down as follows: History, current status, traditions, recruitment and training, allies, enemies, quests and trials, religion, dragons, magic, classes, and icons. This allows those interested in playing a dark knight to flip to the history of the dark knight and see what their current status is, as well as what game mechanics, under dark knight classes, might be of interest to them.

One thing that will have fans and detractors alike, is giving full stat blocks to those who have died in the fiction line. The stat blacks are not small and given the current status of the characters, could probably be space better used elsewhere. On the other hand, one of the appeals of the Dragonlance campaign, is that like Greyhawk, it has fans of certain eras who want to play in a particular era more than another and even though some of these characters may be ‘dead’ officially, they’re utility to a GM as tools or even as stat blocks to be used for their own NPCs, will come in handy.

The book is solidly tied to the Dragonlance setting and to the current timeline. It’s written in a friendly manner though, and even a casual fan of the setting like myself, was able to understand and appreciate the background in the book without having read huge swaths of the current fiction.

One of the most interesting parts to me, was the Legion of Steel, as they grew out of a time when gods had left the setting again and now have to deal with gods being back, as well as not being part of the standard orders that have much power in the setting and instead have to rely on each other. It’s a nice option for players who might have played a Knight of the Rose when the first AD&D Dragonlance book came out some odd 20 years ago in that they can still follow a knightly order, but now have new venues to pursue.

In terms of utility, the book has some bits that just seem to creep in. For example, a variant spellcasting ranger table that shows rangers who rely on mysticism rather than through the gods, providing them spells known and spells per day as opposed to preparing spells.

If you’re interested in playing a Dragonlance campaign and focusing on the knightly orders of Ansalon, this book is right up your alley. GMs will find the numerous NPCs useful while players will have a better grasp of what it means to follow the paths trail blazed by so many before them.