Dragonlance Dragonlance Adventure & Prelude Details Revealed

Over on DND Beyond Amy Dallen and Eugenio Vargas discuss the beginning of Shadow of ther Dragon Queen and provide some advice on running it.

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This epic war story begins with an invitation to a friend's funeral and three optional prelude encounters that guide you into the world of Krynn. Amy Dallen is joined by Eugenio Vargas to share some details about how these opening preludes work and some advice on using them in your own D&D games.


There is also information on the three short 'prelude' adventures which introduce players to the world of Krynn:
  • Eye in the Sky -- ideal for sorcerers, warlocks, wizards, or others seeking to become members of the Mages of High Sorcery.
  • Broken Silence -- ideal for clerics, druids, paladins, and other characters with god-given powers.
  • Scales of War -- ideal for any character and reveals the mysterious draconians.
The article discusses Session Zero for the campaign and outlines what to expect in a Dragonlance game -- war, death, refugees, and so on.

 
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Vaalingrade

Legend
Dragonlance also feels empty compared to other settings. Like, cities mostly don't exist. Just villages and relatively small settlements. The landscape just feels like if you took the Forgotten Realms but removed the interesting locations (cities) and just replaced them with more empty wilderness and small homlets. There is Haven, but it's pretty lacking in theme compared to some of the major cities of other settings (the Sword Coast's city-states, Sharn of any of the major cities of Eberron, Dark Sun's cities, etc) and it has a pretty low population of just 200,000. It's probably because the gods killed everyone, but it's still weird, IMO.
Well there's the elf ones there to show that Elves are Just Better, but I don't think I can name any other locations.

Which is kind if fair, being a war setting, but I don't think there were many promenant ones aside form Ishtar before the war either so...
 

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Micah Sweet

Legend
Yeah, but cities are important to the theme. That's where the majority of NPCs and, consequently, adventuring hooks are. That's where Rogues get to do their Rogue stuff and players sell their loot.
But not-cities are where most adventures actually take place. IMO there are enough urban centers to handle the situations you describe. They just need to provide more setting detail, or at least point people to the 3e books or the DMsGuild.
 

Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
But not-cities are where most adventures actually take place. IMO there are enough urban centers to handle the situations you describe. They just need to provide more setting detail, or at least point people to the 3e books or the DMsGuild.
So? My point was "Dragonlance's lack of focus on the cities makes it feel empty". Nothing you said changes that. It just feels way more empty and less vibrant because of that.
 


pemerton

Legend
You're not winning points with me by mentioning Dark Sun, but I'll bite.

Dragonlance isn't just about archetypes, it's about organizations.

<snip>

You can be a gladiator in Dark Sun, but you can have dozens of other origins for your warrior and it's not like the Gladiator Union will force you to join or stop fighting.
For me, that's the inverse way of thinking about the organisations. Of course in the fiction they might exercise some sort of constraint on the character. But at the table they're the vehicle whereby the player engages the setting and situation.

I agree completely that the main novels and game releases tend to focus on the Knights of Solamnia and Mages of High Sorcery so much that it tends to make the setting feel pretty restrictive. A good DM could make the struggle against them a pretty interesting campaign. A pirate themed campaign where the group is frequently put at odds with the Knights. A renegade warlock that seeks to remain under the Conclave's radar to further their patron's goals.
For me what you're describing here seems like the opposite of a DL campaign!
 

pemerton

Legend
I think all settings have more interesting things in them than just cities.
Yeah, but cities are important to the theme. That's where the majority of NPCs and, consequently, adventuring hooks are. That's where Rogues get to do their Rogue stuff and players sell their loot.
In DL, the "adventuring hooks" come from the broader political and cosmic forces, not NPCs in cities.

If my game is going to be about rogues doing rogue-y stuff and players selling loot, I'll use Greyhawk, not DL.
 

For me what you're describing here seems like the opposite of a DL campaign!
I mean I agree and wouldn't run a campaign like I described, but considering the objections to Dragonlance and it's themes being too limiting, I'm just describing an option to play not-Dragonlance in Dragonlance using it's setting lore.
 

So? My point was "Dragonlance's lack of focus on the cities makes it feel empty". Nothing you said changes that. It just feels way more empty and less vibrant because of that.
I'm not sure I understand where you're coming from. In the 2e and 3e campaign settings, there was plenty of info on different cities and who inhabited them. What actual material have you looked at?
 



In the original books, Dragonlance cities are empty and undetailed for the same reason that the original Star Wars trilogy didn't spend any time in Coruscant (and no, the reason is not 'production budget!')

Dragonlance stories are stories of little people standing against the odds, and Dragonlance heroes are rag-tag bands wildly outnumbered against mighty armies. (And to be fair there's a bit of old-fashioned rural idealism happening there too, the idea that wholesomeness is found in small towns and rural areas, while big cities are pits of corruption, scum and villainy.)

The heroes of the lance are exiles, outlanders, wanderers, scions of a fallen and despised knighthood, while the bad guys are the ones that have massive organisations, armies, and menacing masks. It's the Rebel Alliance vs the Empire. The David-vs-Goliath dynamic is less effective if the Rebel Alliance have a bustling home base city to return to, to grab a cocktail and some sushi and take in a show between desperate acts of heroic resistance. By inference, that kinda means that what cities there are have to be neutral or dubious at best, and seething hives of evil under the iron boot of the tyrant at best.
 





Just the novels.
I completely understand where you're coming from on the entire setting then. Appreciate the clarification, it really helps me understand what you have for a frame of reference.

I don't think SotDQ will change your mind since it features like 1 city and a small village basically, but previous editions have featured a lot more info on the world. For example, here's the 2e info on the Blood Sea Isles where the minotaur live. The formatting might look a little weird since it didn't copy/paste with the correct paragraph breaks and I had to quickly format it. It at least gives an idea of how an area might be described.

Blood Sea Isles
Capitals: Sea Reach (Saifhum), Lacynos (Mithas), Kalpethis
(Kothas)
Main Populace: Sea barbarians (Saifhum), minotaurs, pirates,
and kyrie (Mithas and Kothas)
Languages: Saifhum—Common*, Saifhum, Kalinese, Silvanesti, Minotaur+, Solamnic+, Kenderspeak+, Ergot+, Lemish+, Nordmaarian, Dargoi+; Minotaur Isles—Minotaur*, Kyrie
National Alignment: Neutral (Saifhum), Lawful Evil (Mithas
and Kothas)
Government: Republic (Saifhum), feudal (Kothas), empiric (Mithas)
Grand Mariner Thimbalin Hankel of Saifhum (Sea Barbarian
M12, AC 6, hp 56, AL N) Disposition: Jolly
Emperor Chot Es-Kalin of Mithas (Minotaur 10HD, AC 4, hp
80, AL NE) Disposition: Cruel
Lord Mandracore the Reaver of Kothas (Half-ogre F8, AC 4, hp
68, AL NE) Disposition: Vicious
Lady Macquesta Kar Thon of Istar (Half-elf F6/T6, AC 4, hp 50,
AL N) Disposition: Feisty
Geography: When the fiery mountain struck the city of Istar, it dragged the whole nation to the ocean floor. Only the coastal mountains along the Northern Courrain remained above the sea, becoming islands. These areas were saved due to their altitude, though legends say their innocence of the guilt of lstar spared them. The Blood Sea Isles were and are lands of minotaurs and beasts. Saifhum is a harsh land. Its rocky hills hold only stunted vegetation and a few native creatures. A mariner’s settlement, Sea Reach, is the most prominent site on Saifhum. Karthay, the largest and northernmost of the isles, contains barren, hot plains and high, rain-forested mountains. No known adventurer has yet explored and detailed the Worldscap mountains of Karthay, whose exotic forests are said to be impenetrable. Most prominent among the ruins on Karthay are those of the lighthouse (Winston’s Tower) that guided ships safely into and out of the treacherous waters of the Blood Sea.
Just south of Karthay lies Mithas, a fiery island whose scrub plains lie in the shadow of four great volcanoes. The minotaurs rule this isle from the port capital of Lacynos (Nethosak in Minotaur), which lay shielded from the Blood Sea by Horned Bay. Kothas also contains minotaurs, who rule the isle in combination with piratical men. Although Kothas is not plagued by volcanoes as is its northern neighbor, neither is it blessed with Mithas’s vegetation. Most of this island’s scant population dwells in the capital city of Kalpethis and along the coast. Climate: All of these isles rest deeply in a band of tropical weather. None experiences winter. Summer lasts for ten
months of the year, bringing broiling temperatures, oppressive humidity, and frequent rain. These conditions encourage vegetable life to thrive, despite the poor and rocky soil of the three smaller isles. On Karthay, the mountain forest becomes very thick and many unusual plants thrive.
Politics: The minotaur (and pirate) islands of Kothas and Mithas seek stronger ties with the Black Dragonarmies on the Dairly Peninsula. If diplomatic efforts succeed, the minotaurs will have a choke-hold on the treacherous eastern passage around the Blood Sea of lstar and all seas south. By aggressive privateering, the minotaurs have become a nuisance from Nordmaar to Balifor. The sea barbarians of Saifhum actively resist this expansion.
They fish the waters north and east of Saifhum and run trade routes around the inner curve of the Maelstrom. As the minotaurs grow in solidarity, the mariners increasingly sabotage their far-roaming ships, planting artificial reefs and anchor traps. A Saifhum ship is known to have sailed for Sancrist to bring back gnomish channel mines. None know if they are planted.
Trade: The chief trades of Saifhum are fishing, kelp harvesting, salt production, and shipping. The mariners of Sea Reach sell their exotic tropical fish, kelp, and salt as far away as Palanthus and Port Balifor. Once they empty their holds in these distant ports, they load up with other goods to resell. The minotaur nations of Mithas and Kothas specialize in ships, bronze tools and weapons, salvage operations, and mercenary sailors. The minotaurs log the verdant forests of Elian for ship planking. They make runs to Flotsam for general trade supplies, but buy nothing in large quantities. Their staple foods are Blood Sea fish and grain garnered from Saifhum ships they raid. These isles conduct their heaviest trade with each other.
 


Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
I completely understand where you're coming from on the entire setting then. Appreciate the clarification, it really helps me understand what you have for a frame of reference.
Yeah, I read the novels and thought that they were mediocre at best, and the setting never pulled me in or felt special while reading the books. It just felt like a Middle Earth rip-off that did a poor job of hiding its inspirations (not that I have anything against settings like that, I enjoyed Eragon quite a bit more than I enjoyed Dragonlance, but I felt Eragon did a better job of making the story and world interesting).

And around the same time I read the Dragonlance novels, I read other novels whose settings pulled me in even more (Mistborn, Eragon, Adventurer's Wanted, Lord of the Rings, etc). I just didn't feel immersed or connected to the setting. It was just Middle Earth but with even haughtier elves, chaotic stupid halflings, suicidally stupid tinker gnomes, and offensively stupid gully dwarves. I normally like Gnomes. Dragonlance almost made me hate gnomes and made me understand why other people hate gnomes.

And most of the characters were bad or unmemorable. There were two or three warrior dudes that showed up regularly in the War of the Lance that I kept getting mixed up. When one of them died at the end, I didn't care because the books hadn't made me care about him.

And I did think some parts of it were cool or good ideas, like Lord Soth, the Draconians, seafaring minotaurs, and having to save the world from a returned evil god after an apocalypse while riding on a shiny dragon with a magical lance. However, a lot of the parts were ruined either by their backstories or poor execution.

Basically, I didn't really enjoy the books or think Weis and Hickman were good authors or worldbuilders. And the books were what drew most people to the setting material, right? Dragonlance just felt like a bad copy of the Lord of the Rings. And I read it fairly recently after I read a couple other series that stole a ton from Tolkien (Adventurer's Wanted, Eragon), which I thought were easily superior in practically every way. I remember thinking that a book written by a teenager (Christopher Paolini's Eragon) was better in writing and worldbuilding than a book that two adults wrote together (Weis and Hickman's Dragonlance).

So you can understand why I'm not a huge fan of the setting or interested in getting the setting or adventure books. There are parts that I really liked (mainly the stuff that they came up with and didn't steal from Tolkien, like the Draconians and Minotaurs), but I didn't think the novels were good.
I don't think SotDQ will change your mind since it features like 1 city and a small village basically, but previous editions have featured a lot more info on the world. For example, here's the 2e info on the Blood Sea Isles where the minotaur live. The formatting might look a little weird since it didn't copy/paste with the correct paragraph breaks and I had to quickly format it. It at least gives an idea of how an area might be described.
Similar to Explorer's Guide to Wildemount in format. That seems kind of interesting. What town/city in the gazetteer did you think was the best?
 
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