Dragonlance [Let's Read] Dragonlance Companion

Libertad

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When Wizards of the Coast was promoting Shadow of the Dragon Queen, many Dragonlance fans knew it was only a matter of time before their beloved setting got approved for the Dungeon Master’s Guild. Several groups such as the Dragonlance Nexus began work on making player’s guides/companions for their setting, intending to give a more in-depth treatment to the world of Krynn than SotDQ’s surface-level approach. The Nexus produced a spruced-up version of Tasslehoff’s Pouches of Everything* and an accompanying adventure, while the Splinterverse produced the Dragonlance Companion. Both groups of authors for Tasslehoff’s and the Companion worked together to ensure that their material wouldn’t overlap too much, so as to minimize cases of customers feeling that a dual purchase would be redundant.

*It previously existed as a free supplement, but with less material.

While the Dragonlance Nexus has a vaunted reputation as the oldest surviving fan community for the setting on the Internet, the Splinterverse is a relative newcomer in regards to tabletop publishing. Their catalog of Guild products is pretty small, and their main content is a YouTube channel highlighting various finds on Drive-Thru RPG and the DM’s Guild. In spite of this being their first Dragonlance product, the Companion was very warmly received. Margaret Weis in particular, who wasn’t very fond of Wizard’s update for the setting, had nothing but praise to say for this product and promoted it on social media. As of now, it sits as the #3 seller on the Dungeon Master’s Guild, one step above Tasslehoff’s and eclipsed only by Shadow of the Black Rose and the Test of High Sorcery adventures.

So how does the Dragonlance Companion stack up as a worthy upgrade to the namesake setting? Let’s read and find out!

Character Origins

Our book drops us right into the thick of things. No fancy introduction explaining what this book’s about, or a Foreword by a tabletop luminary! The Companion gives us three races: Draconian, Half-Ogre, and Thanoi. The Draconian is the only one with subraces, three to be precise. The races use the universal racial options found in SotDQ: for abilities you have “+2 to one ability score and +1 to another, or +1 to three different scores,” and you begin play knowing Common and one other language that you and your GM agree is appropriate for the character.

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Draconians are artificially-created humanoids birthed from captured metallic dragon eggs. Originally made as expendable soldiers for the Dragonarmies, after the fall of that empire many found themselves without purpose. In the Fifth Age they are still distrusted by many of the goodly nations of Ansalon, and up north the draconian nation of Teyr was founded to be a place for their race to find self-determination.

Draconian’s base traits include having the Dragon type rather than Humanoid, 60 feet of Darkvision, can glide and take reactions to negate falling damage when they’re not unconscious or wearing heavy armor, and can survive for very long periods without food or water. The three subraces are Bozak, Kapak, and Sivak. Bozaks are more magically proficient, gaining racial spells in the same manner as a drow or tiefling: Mage Hand at 1st, Fog Cloud at 3rd, Scorching Ray at 5th, and they can choose what mental ability score is their spellcasting ability modifier. Kapaks can exude saliva which is either toxic or healing (their choice per use) a number of times per long rest equal to their proficiency bonus. Toxic saliva is able to coat weapons or ammo that can paralyze a foe for one turn should they fail a Constitution save, while healing saliva heals 1d6 + proficiency bonus in hit points. Finally we have the sivak, who can take the Hide action even when only lightly obscured, and can change their appearance to a Large or smaller Humanoid they killed within the last minute for up to 1 hour, but they can only do this last ability once per long rest.

We round things out with two new feats for Draconians: Aspirant Dragon grants them advantage on saves vs charmed and frightened conditions, once per long rest can add a d6 to an attack or save whenever they or an ally within 60 feet succeeds on a save against such a condition, and gain a flying speed equal to their walking speed but only if they’re wearing light or no armor. The other feat, Final Twinge, replicates the classic Death Throes of a Draconian: increase a physical ability score by one, and once per long rest upon hitting 0 hit points they can either turn themselves and an adjacent attacking target to stone for up to 1 minute, or release a cloud dealing poison damage and the poisoned condition to adjacent creatures. In both cases the targets are affected when they fail a Constitution save. While this makes Death Throes much more useful in that they don’t require actual death to trigger, they’re still very situational and can only be used once per typical adventuring day. The feat that grants a flying speed is very good, and gaining die bonuses triggered when saving vs common condition types is just icing on the cake.

Thoughts: As a race, the draconian doesn’t really specialize in any one thing: their resistance to starvation and thirst will only really matter in campaigns with extreme survival, and glide is situationally useful but loses out to outright flight. Being Dragon rather than Humanoid is pretty useful and comes with some immunities. I am a bit surprised that we don’t have a subrace for Baaz, who are the most common type of draconian. The paralyzing toxins of a Kapak are very useful, and while the healing is good at low levels it quickly loses out to actual healing spells. The Sivak’s shapeshifting and better ability to hide points them towards roguish pursuits, but like the other options the shapeshifting is more situational than even Disguise Self. The Bozak’s best spell is Fog Cloud, useful for breaking line of sight, and while the other spells are fine they’re more situational in comparison. Overall this race feels average, being too broad for all but a few builds, albeit ironically all three have features useful for stealth builds.

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Half-ogres are exactly what they sound like. Much like half-orcs in other settings, they aren’t entirely welcome in either human or ogre societies, and while overall loners there are exceptions where half-ogres banded together to make their own communities. Their abilities include 60 foot darkvision, +1 to Armor Class, +1 to initiative unless they are taken by surprise, can choose one creature type which they have advantage on saving throws against,* and once per long rest can reroll a check made with their lowest ability score.

*This is represented as them having studied said creature type for a long time.

Ogres have an exclusive feat: Unsurprising. This makes them immune to becoming Surprised unless they’re incapacitated.

Thoughts: As a race, half-ogres more or less have reactive and passive abilities so they may feel less exciting than active abilities. But what they do get is very good: +1 to initiative and Armor Class are good for just about any build, and their persistent advantage on saving throws vs a certain creature type is begging to be paired with Humanoid or some other creature type guaranteed to be common in the campaign. Their feat is a bit unexciting and situational, only granting one cool feature rather than 2-4 which is common for feats. Edit: As someone over on RPGnet noted, it's also redundant. The Alert feat already does what Unsurprising does and more.

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Thanoi are our final race, and they’re a pretty obscure one even by Draconlance standards. They are humanoid walrusfolk who live almost entirely in Krynn’s southern polar region of Icereach. Their societies are subsistence-level, competing with humans and white dragons for resources, although some have been known to willingly serve dragons. Most thanoi who venture into the warmer north are hunters or traders who rarely stay up there for long, with those who stay longer being your typical walrus-out-of-water adventuring types.

In terms of mechanics they have resistance to cold damage, automatically make all saves vs the effects of extreme cold, have advantage on saves against being knocked prone, and gain proficiency in their choice of two Rangere-style skills :Animal Handling, Medicine, Nature, Perception, Stealth, or Survival:. Reflecting their natural physiology, they have a swimming speed equal to their walking speed, can hold their breath for up to 30 minutes, can use their tusks as an unarmed strike that deals 1d6 + Strength modifier piercing damage, and have a natural armor of 13 + Dexterity modifier. Their unique racial feat, Brutal Ambusher, increases Strength, Constitution, or Wisdom by 1, grants +10 to all movement speeds on the first round of combat, and can add double their proficiency bonus to an attack against a creature provided they are obscured from their target in some way. Should this attack hit, they deal bonus damage equal to their proficiency bonus.

Thoughts: The thanoi’s various features are situational to certain hazards and for certain builds. Their arctic adaptation and swimming speeds are unlikely to see consistent play in most temperate lands, and their natural armor and tusks are more suited to monks, spellcasters, and other classes that don’t have access to better weapons and armor. Their bonus skill proficiencies have a good selection, particularly Perception and Stealth which are useful for most builds. As for their feat, it is very nice for Rogues, Gloomstalker Rangers, and other ambush/stealth builds.

Subclass Options

This section provides us with one new subclass for each class in 5th Edition. And barring the Fighter and Wizard, all of their concepts are broad enough to be easily adapted for other settings.

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Flesh Sculptor Artificer creates undead from biological tissue. The first of their kind worked for the Dragonarmies, helping in experiments for making the first Draconians. At 3rd level they gain proficiency with leatherworker’s tools, their bonus prepared spells revolve around necromancy and personal enhancement stuff such as Gentle Repose, Haste, Stoneskin, and Raise Dead, and gain a constant companion known as a Sculpted Effigy. The Effigy’s stats grow with level much like other NPC companion subclasses such as a Drakewarden Ranger or Battle Smith Artificer’s Steel Defender. The Effigy’s base traits include a slam attack that deals 2d6 + proficiency bonus in necrotic damage, an AoE frighten effect they can use up to 3 times per day, and as a reaction can deal 1d6 necrotic damage to someone who damages it in melee. At the end of a long rest, they can be modified to have a randomly-determined Dominant Creature type which grants a random benefit. For example, Giant increases their Strength score from 16 to 20, Dragon grants them a once per day Vile Breath that deals 4d6 fire damage in a 15 foot cone, and Plant grants resistance to nonmagical bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage.

At 5th level the Flesh Sculptor can once per turn add 1d6 necrotic damage to their or their Effigy’s weapon attack. At 9th level the bonus necrotic damage increases to 2d6, and once per long rest they can spend 10 minutes modifying a limited number of allies to give them temporary hit points and resistance to nonmagical bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage. At 15th level their bonus necrotic damage increases to 3d6, and their sculpted Effigy can maintain 2 dominant creature types at once and deals extra damage with their reaction-based counterattack.

Thoughts: Were I to compare this to other Artificer subclasses, the Battle Smith would be the first to come to mind. The Sculpted Effigy is sturdier than the Steel Defender in terms of hit points and its base attack deals more damage, although the Steel Defender has a higher AC and can impose disadvantage on an attack as a reaction, meaning it is likelier to survive longer in a straight-up fight. The Effigy has more customization options via alternate creature types, but as those are randomly-determined their effects cannot always be counted on. The bonus necrotic damage may seem impressive on first glance, but pale in comparison to the Battle Smith’s Extra Attack and more direct-damaging Arcane Jolt. Many of the Flesh Sculptor’s bonus spells require concentration or are situational out of combat stuff. Overall this subclass feels like Dr. Frankenstein, but isn’t that impressive.

Path of the Dragon Barbarian represents those people whose lives have been touched by dragons, and seek to learn how to channel a fraction of their power through their own bodies. Their backgrounds and how they do this differ, but the Companion provides us with some sample tables, such as a tribe worshiping dragons as gods or soldiers who served in the Dragonarmies. At 3rd level they choose a metallic or chromatic dragon type to be their affiliated dragon, and their rage grants them resistance to the energy type of said dragon’s breath weapon along with bonus melee weapon damage of that energy type equal to their Constitution modifier. At 6th level they gain immunity to the frightened condition, at 10th level they grow wings whenever they rage which grants them a fly speed equal to their walking speed, and at 14th level once per long rest they can exhale a 30 foot cone as a breath weapon dealing 10d6 damage of their affiliated dragon’s damage type.

Thoughts: As Constitution is almost always the second-highest ability score for Barbarians, this subclass’ initial feature is a good means of adding onto melee damage. They gain a flying speed like that of an Eagle Totem Warrior but at a much earlier level, and immunity to the frightened condition is like the Berserker’s (who also has charm immunity) but is permanent and not just during a rage. The 10d6 breath weapon is an alright feature for 14th level. At that point the offensive spellcasters in a party can regularly dish out more powerful stuff, but in terms of concept goes nicely as a capstone feature. While it isn’t the most imaginative when it comes to outright new mechanics, I think this is a pretty strong subclass.

College of Ages Bard represents historians who seek to learn secrets of the past which grant them increased magical powers. They can treat history books and items of historical significance as spellcasting foci, and we get 2 tables of samples for inspiration. At 3rd level they can treat a roll on any Intelligence-based skill other than Investigation as a 10 if they roll a 9 or lower, and can expend Bardic Inspiration to let an ally within 30 feet reroll a mental ability check. At 6th level they can choose from one of five particular Stories of the Past every long rest, each associated with a particular Age of Krynn. Each story can only be used once per long rest, and are typically triggered as an action, a reaction, or part of casting a spell. For example, Armor of Istar adds the Bard’s Charisma modifier to the Armor Class of up to 5 creatures within 10 feet of the bard for the next minute, Glory of Heroes makes their weapon attacks deal maximum damage, and Wrath of Saints triggers after the Bard casts a damaging spell and deals 2d6 lightning damage to creatures within 15 feet and pushes them away 5 feet. The College of Age’s capstone ability lets them use Stories of the Past twice per long rest, and once per short or long rest can spend one use of Bardic Inspiration to give a number of allies a Bardic Inspiration die equal to their Charisma modifier. This last feature requires a minute to use, as the bard regales their allies with a story or legend.

Thoughts: The College of Ages’ initial abilities aren't of immediate use for typical adventuring types, and the 10 or better on INT checks cements them pretty solidly as the “know it all” style of Bard. But their Stories of the Past have downright powerful features. Even though it’s of limited use, being able to give +3 to +5 AC to your entire party for 1 fight is amazing, and dealing maximum damage with weapon attacks can be really good with a Paladin or Rogue using Smite or Sneak Attack. If anything, I’d argue that this Bard type is overpowered, as such abilities can really alter the course of an encounter and I guarantee that most parties will be saving this for climactic encounters or when they know they’re nearing the end of a dungeon/adventure/day before a long rest.

Addendum: Thanks to someone on EN World pointing this out, I happened to miss some rather important text for two of the Stories of the Past. Armor of Istar's AC bonus fades when hit by an attack, and Glory of Heroes only lasts until the start of the bard's next turn. I still think this rates on the higher end of the subclass' in that it can still be easy to make a nigh-unhittable character even at lower levels, but it's important to include.

Plague Domain Cleric is a worshiper of Morgion or a similar god in other settings, dedicated to the spread of suffering and disease in the belief of an apocalyptic utopia where peace can be attained once all are dead. Their bonus domain spells are geared towards necromancy and debuffs, such as Hex, Animate Dead, and Bestow Curse. One of the bonus spells is Wither and Bloom from Strixhaven,* which makes this subclass of more limited use to those who don’t have that sourcebook. At 1st level they gain proficiency with the disguise kit and heavy armor, and a number of times per long rest equal to their proficiency bonus can change the damage type of a spell to necrotic. Their Channel Divinity is a single-target debuff disease on a non-construct, non-undead creature within 30 feet, forcing them to either move or take actions but not both for up to 1 minute on a failed Constitution save (new save can be made each round). At 17th level they can spend their reaction to have that disease jump to another creature within 30 feet of the carrier. At 6th level they can perform a Plague Touch a number of times per day equal to their proficiency bonus, dealing 2d4 necrotic damage each round (no save) and the target cannot take bonus actions and reactions each round they fail a Constitution save. The duration of this plague touch is 10 minutes until they save two times or are cured with appropriate magic. At 8th and 14th level they deal 1d8/2d8 bonus poison damage each time they hit on a weapon attack. At 17th level they gain blessings from their god, becoming immune to disease, the poisoned condition, and poison damage, and once per long rest can grant such allies said immunities and the Plague Touch attack for 1 minute or until they infect another creature

*Another is Shadow of Moil from Xanathar’s, but that sourcebook is much more popular and more gaming groups are likely to have access to it.

Thoughts: Given the focus on necrotic damage and disease, this cleric is of more limited use in campaigns that prominently feature the undead (coughcurseofstrahdcough). The Channel Divinity can be a useful means of locking down enemies who don’t have a reliable means of ranged attacks provided the party can keep out of reach, but as said enemy types are likely to have good Constitution saves this is counterbalanced. Plague Touch can be a great means of “death by a thousand cuts” cumulative damage, particularly when combined with something like Hex that can impose disadvantage on the Constitution saves. It can’t do a lot of damage in a typical combat lasting 3-5 rounds, as 6d4 to 10d4 damage is easily eclipsed by other spells at middle to higher levels. The 17th level capstone is rather underwhelming, as at that level there are many means to counter such conditions and damage types.

Circle of the Elements Druids are warriors of nature from more martial cultures, learning to channel the powers of the elements through weapons. Their bonus spells are elemental and martial in nature, such as Armor of Agathys, Heat Metal, Fire Shield, and Wrath of Nature. They also start out with the ability to awaken a simple or martial weapon into a Primordial Weapon after a 1 hour ritual. which like Shillelagh lets them add Wisdom to attack and damage rolls, can treat it as magical, and is considered to be a spellcasting focus for them. They can apply it even to weapons with which they aren’t proficient, at which point they are considered proficient with only that Primordial Weapon while wielding it. Their other initial feature is Invoke Elements, which lets them expend Wild Shape uses to gain a bunch of temporary hit points (3 x Druid level, plus Wisdom modifier) and deal +1d6 damage of an appropriate elemental type with their Awakened weapon for the next 10 minutes. At 6th level they gain Extra Attack, and at 10th level can spend a bonus action when attacking while Invoke Elements is active, granting a secondary effect based on the element in question. For example, Water grants the Druid +4 AC and resistance to fire damage, and they can spend reaction to reduce an adjacent hostile creature’s speed to 0 feet. At 14th level they can make one weapon attack as a bonus action whenever they cast a spell or use a spell’s effects as an action.

Thoughts: Like the Flesh Sculptor Artificer, a lot of the non-blasty bonus spells require concentration to use. That being said, this is a pretty strong tanky druid. The bonus temporary hit points may not be as much as what a Moon Druid can get, but given that subclass is so powerful this isn’t necessarily a mark against the Circle of Elements. The awakened weapon prevents MAD in letting the druid focus first and foremost on Wisdom, and the bonus damage that can be gained from Extra Attack and things like Fire Shield or the 10th level bonus action lets them do respectable damage. The subclass’ weak point is that the 4 elemental damage types (lightning, poison, fire, and cold) are rather common resistance and immunities

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Fewmaster Fighters are pseudo-officers in the Dragonarmies, having a rather open-ended role based on the needs of a particular Dragon Highlord. At 3rd level a Fewmaster gains proficiency in Intimidation and Stealth, gains advantage on Stealth checks when wearing any armor type besides heavy, automatically gains a special armor made from the discarded scales of a dragon* which marks them as a Fewmaster to other Dragonarmy soldiers. While wearing this armor, once per short or long rest they can spend a bonus action upon hitting a creature to make them suffer disadvantage on attacks made against the Fewmaster until the end of its next turn should they fail a Wisdom save. At 17th level they also make the target vulnerable to the damage type of the dragon scales from the donor dragon for the duration as well. At 7th level they can shout a special order a number of times per long rest equal to their proficiency bonus. This order targets an ally within 60 feet as a bonus action, letting them make an extra attack as part of the Attack action. At 10th Fewmasters level treat their AC as 20 when wearing their personal dragon armor, at 15th level can double the range of a single attack** once per round, and at 18th level gain advantage on all Stealth checks no matter the armor they’re wearing and once per long rest can call upon the residual magic of their armor’s scales which lasts until they dismiss it. Depending on the original dragon to which the scales belonged, the Fewmaster can add bonus damage of a certain type and a secondary effect. For example, if the armor was forged from black or copper dragon scales, a 5 foot pool of acid forms beneath a struck target, dealing acid damage to anyone who starts or ends its turn in it.

*This can be any armor type in which they’re proficient, not just scale armor which one would assume.

**this doesn’t specify melee or ranged, so I presume it applies to both.

Thoughts: Barring some nimble finesse weapon or archer builds, I can see the vast majority of Fewmaster PCs choosing full plate for their dragon armor, which is a great boon to have at 3rd level. Gaining proficiency and possibly advantage in Stealth is also great for setting up ambushes, making them a potential scout. Granting other allies extra attacks is good with the right setup, particularly for builds that add extra attack per attack rather than per turn or per round. The magical draconic aspects at 18th level feel rather weak for high-level play, but given that they add bonus damage per attack they scale quite nicely with the Fighter’s own Extra Attacks and Action Surge. Overall I think this is a well-designed subclass.

Way of Divinity Monks are those who find enlightenment through worship of the gods. They are akin to Arcane Tricksters and Eldritch Knights in gaining a limited spell progression of up to 4th level spells from the Cleric spell list, save that the only spells allowed are Abjuration or Evocation and one of their 3 initial cantrips must be Guidance. At 3rd level the range on their Guidance spell increases to 60 feet, at 6th level they can make an unarmed strike as a bonus action whenever they use their action to cast a spell, at 11th level they deal bonus radiant damage equal to their Wisdom modifier when using Flurry of Blows, and can replace a Flurry of Blows attack with a healing touch that restores hit points to a touched creature equal to their Martial Arts die + their Wisdom modifier. At 17th level they automatically succeed on saving throws to maintain concentration, and double the duration of all spells that require concentration and have a default duration of 10 minutes or less.

Thoughts: Even with their restrictions, the Way of Divinity still has a few useful spells for Monk builds. Healing Word and Prayer of Healing work for backup healing, while Aid, Protection from Evil, and Shield of Faith can give them more stopping power in combat to make up for their rather low Hit Die. 3rd and 4th level spells come in far too late to matter for most campaigns, but we still have some good ones like Banishment, Dispel Magic, and Freedom of Movement.

As for the other class features, the long-range Guidance can be useful in aiding party members from afar, and bonus radiant damage when using flurry of blows is quite nice. The bonus action unarmed strike when casting spells prevents the monk from deciding between punching and spellcasting. The other features aren’t so hot: the Healing Touch doesn’t hold a candle even to Lay on Hands which can heal more than just hit point loss, and the 17th level capstone features aren’t gamechangers like some other monk subclasses. The “martial artist cleric” I feel can be better represented as a pure Cleric with a Monk dip, which lets them get better spells but can still use unarmed strikes. And more specialized subclasses such as the Way of Mercy (healing), Open Hand (unarmed fighting) outperform it in their respective fields. It’s still better than Four Elements or Sun Soul, as its spellcasting features use a separate track than ki points, but overall I’d rate this as a rather mediocre subclass.

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Oath of Secrets Paladin represent holy warriors who prize the sequestering of confidential knowledge and how to use deception in order to prevent it from falling into unworthy hands. On Krynn, the first paladins to swear this Oath served the archmage Fistandantilus, acting as his servants in protecting his magical knowledge from his many enemies. The Oath’s tenets include only sharing knowledge when absolutely necessary, dedicating their lives to learning new things, keeping their goals private even from their allies, and lying well and in moderation so as not to tip people off from too much deception.

For mechanics, their bonus spells focus on divination and illusion such as Clairvoyance, Invisibility, Mislead, and Tongues. Their Channel Divinity options include gaining +5 to Deception checks or turning invisible (requires concentration) for the next 10 minutes. Also at 3rd level they can create a short-duration telepathic bond with a nearby creature. There’s no limit to how many times per rest such bonds can be made, but require a bonus action and last for a number of minutes equal to their paladin level.

At 7th level the Oath of Secrets gets an aura where they can see invisible creatures and objects within 10 feet, and they and allies within the aura ignore penalties from heavy obscurement. At 15th level they gain resistance to psychic damage as well as immunity to divination magic and being perceived through scrying sensors. At 20th level their capstone transformation makes them and all they wear on their person invisible, create no sound unless desired and ignore the verbal components of spells they cast, and deal 2d6 bonus damage of the weapon’s type when making weapon attacks.

Thoughts: I find the fluff for this subclass is rather underwhelming; your cause is basically, “keep secrets.” This feels a lot like a roguish build, but as many of their class features can be better done by that class or even diviners/illusionists, this subclass feels like a discount version of those types. Overall not a fan of this one.

Thoughts So Far: A lot of these new options are of questionable and variable balance. The races tend to be too scattered or situational in features, and their choice of draconian subraces feels bizarre. I can understand on one level why some designers may restrict this: in prior Editions the draconian types varied widely in power as monsters. But even among the more common “evil” types, it feels odd to only have Kapak without Baaz. The subclasses are similarly variable in power: the College of Ages Bard is overpowered, the Way of the Divinity Monk and Oath of Secrets Paladin are less than stellar hybrids of other class archetypes, and the Plague Domain Cleric is very situational. Ironically, it’s the martial subclasses that I am the warmest towards: the Path of the Dragon Barbarian and Fewmaster Fighter both have quite a bit of nifty tricks. They may not shine out of combat, but in congruence with their class’ strengths they work quite well.

Join us next time as we wrap up the rest of the classes and cover new spells and magic items!
 
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One of the big 3 DMsGuild Dragonlance sourcebooks, and like all of them, has some good stuff and some less good stuff.

Agreed that baaz draconians are a big gap here, as are the explosive death rules for the various draconian PC races. I'm not absolutely in love with the half-ogre rules, but they're workable (personally, I'd just give a half-ogre bugbear stats, minus Stealth proficiency and surprise attack, substituting them for a goliath's Stone's Endurance ability). Thanoi look a tad overpowered to me. Two bonus skill proficiencies, swimming speed, and cold resistance is a very solid array (there's also their natural attack, but i find that overrated generally). Still, it's not dramatically terrible or anything.

Mechanically, i don't think college of Ages bard is that overpowered, really. Armour of Istar only works until the subject gets hit so it's really quite limited. Wrath of Saints can't distinguish between friend and foe. Glory of Heroes and Wrath of Dragons are the only really problematic ones, and Glory of Heroes would be hard to get maximum benefit from because of short range and duration, while Wrath of Dragons simply needs a save to negate houseruled in. Fewmaster shouldn't be a subclass in my opinion, it's a military rank. It probably should be a feat or feat chain like the Solamnic Knight feats in SotDQ.

My main issue with this chapter is how few of the subclass options feel, well, Dragonlancey. Flesh Sculptor is way too grimdark, Dragon barbarian is, well, dragony, but it's an poor fit with Krynnish dragon lore. Elements druid seems to only exist because we wanted at least one druid subclass here, there's nothing particularly Krynnish involved, and as far as i know absolutely no support in the lore. Plague domain cleric has a perfectly reasonable role as a cleric of Morgion, but why are we getting subclasses for evil gods when there's still no published subclass that even remotely fits Branchala? Priorities, guys! College of Ages runs aground on the same rocks that all 5e bards do in Dragonlance - full caster bards are a poor fit for the whole Colleges of Sorcery thing. Personally, I'd probably just say houserule that bards can also represent variant clerics whose magic comes from Gilean or Reorx or Branchala or similar. Explains why they can heal.

Way of Divinity monk is a very nice fit for a follower of Majere, I'd allow it without hesitation. Oath of Secrets is a bit tougher. I can certainly see a role for them in Krynn, but in DL, paladins must have gods in order to cast spells, and there's not many that are a great thematic fit. Hiddukel probably, and maybe even Takhisis, but it's harder to find anyone appropriate on the good or neutral sides of things. Gilean perhaps?
 
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Sparky McDibben

Adventurer
This is a fantastic rundown. I geniunely did not know that walrusfolk existed in DL. I'm also interested that they included so many villainous options that work with the dragonarmies.
 

Blue Orange

Gone to Texas
I remember seeing the thanoi in the Dragonlance Adventures book for 1/2e and being surprised they even existed. They didn't get much attention later on...too silly? Koo-koo-ka-choo...
 

I remember seeing the thanoi in the Dragonlance Adventures book for 1/2e and being surprised they even existed. They didn't get much attention later on...too silly? Koo-koo-ka-choo...
I think they were just invented to be used as fairly generic bad guy footsoldiers in one module, and then largely forgotten about.
 


Libertad

Hero
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Grave Speaker Ranger represents those who understand that death is as much a part of the natural world as life…and find it more fascinating than living creatures. Their 3rd level features include gaining thematic bonus spells such as False Life and Revivify, gaining helpful whispers from spirits that grant advantage on Survival checks, immunity to becoming lost, advantage on initiative rolls and immunity to becoming surprised while in favored terrain, and once per turn deal bonus damage when they hit a creature with 50% or less hit points (1d6, 1d10 at 11th level). At 7th level they can cast a slotless Speak with Dead once per long rest or short rest while in favored terrain, and can speak with the corpses of Beasts like the spell but an infinite number of times. At 11th level they crit on a 19 or 20 vs targets with 50% or less hit points, and at 15th level necromantic vines and roots puppeteer their body when they’re reduced to 0 hit points once per long rest. In such a state they can still act as though they were conscious for up to 1 minute, but still have to make death saves as normal and won’t truly die until this effect ends.

Thoughts: The real strength of this subclass is dependent on the environment the DM puts you in on adventures. In favored terrain and wilderness crawls the Grave Speaker has a lot of great features. The bonus damage and increased critical chances to heavily wounded targets are nice but not amazing, and the 15th level capstone is pretty good for increasing the Ranger’s survivability. But it doesn’t hold a candle to stronger existing subclasses such as Drakewarden and Gloomstalker, who have more specialized features. Or even the Fey Wanderer’s bonus psychic damage, which is less than the Grave Speaker’s but triggers regardless of the enemy’s hit point value. I’d rate this one as moderate in most circumstances, but good if you pick the right terrain for the campaign.

Tinkerer Rogue represents those who have a knack for advanced technology, and in the world of Krynn the gnomes of Mount Nevermind are their most famous members. At 3rd level they gain proficiency with thieves' tools or a set of artisan’s tools and add double their proficiency bonus on all tool checks with which they are proficient. They also can add Sneak Attack to a weapon attack they make without disadvantage, but only a number of times per long rest equal to their proficiency bonus. Also at 3rd level they are good with Improvised Weaponry, adding their proficiency bonus on attack rolls with improvised weapons and don’t suffer disadvantage when throwing them at long range. Additionally, they can spend 10 gold and make one of five special types of weapons during a short or long rest. These weapons typically deal damage along with a debuff, such as Blast Powder that is single-target damage but can also blind on a failed Constitution save. At 9th level the tinkerer can create two such special weapons per rest, and a number of times equal to their Intelligence modifier per long rest can add that same modifier to the ability check or saving throw of themselves or an ally within 30 feet. At 13th level they ignore all class/race/spell/level requirements for the purposes of using a magic item, and at 17th level they gain +1 on all saving throws per attuned magic item.

Thoughts: The inability to add proficiency bonus to attack rolls with improvised weapons was a long-time complaint in 5th Edition, forcing those fond of acid vials and alchemist’s fire to take the underpowered Tavern Brawler feat to be any good at using them. The Tinkerer Rogue not only solves this problem, it also adds a bunch of other features encouraging their use. Not only that, the Tinkerer is well-suited for damaging builds, as besides their limited-use improved Sneak Attack their various special craftable weapons impose conditions that mix well with openings for further Sneak Attacks. Double proficiency on all tools is more situational, but for campaigns making use of craft systems this works quite nicely in reinforcing the Tinkerer’s features. As the special weapon DCs are based off of the Tinkerer’s Intelligence, it does make this little-used rogue stat a prerequisite for it in builds. But thematically speaking it makes sense for this subclass. Overall, I give this one high marks.

Dreamwalker Sorcerer has a special connection with the illusory vistas of dreams and nightmares. At 1st level their additional learnable spells gear heavily towards illusions and sleep-based magic, such as Phantasmal Force and Major Image. The bonus spells are heavily spread out between books, with three non-core spells each from a different sourcebook: Nathair’s Mischief is in Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons, Catnap from Xanathar’s, and Summon Aberration from Tasha’s. The other 1st-level feature includes proficiency in the Insight skill, and once per long rest they can choose a number of creatures equal to their Charisma modifier currently resting to have either Dreams or Nightmares. Dreams grant temporary hit points equal to their sorcerer level plus their Charisma modifier, while Nightmares grant disadvantage on their next saving throw vs a spell or magical effect.

At 6th level they can spend up to 5 sorcery points to increase the potency of a Sleep spell, adding 2d8 per sorcery point to the total hit points that can be affected. At 14th level they learn the Dream spell if they don’t already know it, and can cast it as one action if they target an already sleeping creature. The sorcerer can also choose to make themselves monstrous, which forces the target to roll a Wisdom save each turn or take 10d6 psychic damage. Should they save, they take half damage and awaken. At 18th level the sorcerer gains truesight out to 30 feet, and their Sleep and Dream spells can affect targets who would otherwise be immune such as being undead.

Thoughts: Even with the sorcery point feature, the hit point total of Sleep still peters off quickly at higher levels, and the immunity bypass comes in too late at 18th level when many creatures have hit points in the triple digits. The 14th level feature is a great way for a sorcerer to conduct long-range assassinations, but that’s a very situational use at best. Otherwise this subclass is too focused on one or two spells, with the boon of temporary hit points all too easily obtained through other means.

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Deity Warlock Patron solves the persnickety conundrum of how warlocks can be inserted into Krynn without upsetting the lore. Instead of typical patrons like an archfey or Lovecraftian Great Old One, warlocks can make pacts with deities to gain arcane spells. In fact, this has precedence in Dragonlance’s Fifth Age, when Takhisis stole away the world and monopolized Krynn’s access to magic. During this time she granted arcane spellcasting to the wizards in the Knights of Takhisis.

This subclass chooses from an existing Deity to be the warlock patron; the warlock’s alignment doesn’t have to match their deity, but the alignment of said deity determines the bonus spells they can access. Bonus spells that kick in regardless of alignment are a diverse array, such as Shield, Knock, Commune, and even True Resurrection at 9th level.* Good deities grant healing healing magic such as Healing Word and Revivify, Neutral Focuses on transmutation such as Enhance Ability and Polymorph, while Evil focuses on offensive options such as Dissonant Whispers and Vitriolic Sphere. A number of times per short or long rest equal to their proficiency bonus, the warlock can call upon their Deity’s Favor. This has specific effects based on alignment: good deities restore the hit points of a target within 30 feet and also increase their hit point maximum by that amount for the next 8 hours, neutral provides a Protection From Good and Evil style ward that requires no concentration on a touched willing creature, and evil deals extra damage on top of a damaging attack the warlock just made.

*Pretty sure this is a typo and meant to be Raise Dead.

At higher levels the warlock can once per short rest choose a willing creature within 60 feet, who is compelled to speak the deity’s name (or mouths it if cannot speak), granting both the creature and the warlock resistance to a single damage type based on alignment. Neutral grants resistance to the physical damage types, evil the elemental types plus poison, and good the more obscure types: force, necrotic, psychic, radiant, or thunder. At 10th level the warlock can create illusory symbols once per short or long rest that provides an AoE effect to them and their allies: good deities grant temporary hit points, neutral is a multi-target Greater Restoration, and evil grants extra damage of a chosen damage type equal to warlock level on a creature’s next attack. The 14th level capstone ability lets the warlock regain an expended spell slot once per short or long rest when they score a critical hit with an attack. Also once per short or long rest, they can spend a reaction when damaged by a creature to appear like their deity for 1 minute, gaining immunity to that damage type and adding double proficiency to attack and damage rolls.

Thoughts: The subclass’ role depends heavily on their patron deity. Good gods make the warlock into a rather competent healer. The 1st level Deity’s Favor are all very strong features: Good is like a less-powerful Aid but can stack in being from separate sources, Neutral’s concentration-free Protection from Evil is great to put on multiple party members before fights against certain creature types, while Evil can really increase a Warlock’s DPS when combined with Agonizing Blast. The 6th level shared damage resistance is more situational, and the 10th level abilities are broadly useful. The 14th level “Deity avatar mode” is a very nice buff, and the double proficiency on attack and damage rolls makes the Warlock even more of a DPS machine. And given that all of these features recharge on short as well as long rests, this is an extremely powerful subclass.

High Sorcery Wizard are those mages who passed the Test to join the most exalted organization of arcane spellcasters in Ansalon. At 2nd level they join one of the Orders, which in turn are keyed to one of three damage types for the purposes of subclass features: White is Radiant, Red is Force, and Black is Psychic. Whenever they cast a wizard spell, they can amplify that spell, redirecting some energy to a target within 60 feet and damaging them for 1d6 + Intelligence modifier of the Order’s damage type. This feature’s uses are limited to proficiency bonus per long rest. At 6th level once per short or long rest, they can choose a target within 60 feet whenever they cast a wizard spell: White Robe wizards can heal that target for 1d8 + Intelligence modifier in hit points; Red Robes imbue them with temporary hit points if they’re willing, and due to being instilled with cosmic balance they cannot roll anything with advantage or disadvantage until the end of the Wizard’s next turn; and Black Robes impose disadvantage on ability checks and Constitution saves for maintaining concentration on a spell until the end of the wizard’s next turn. At 10th level, once per long rest, the Wizard can spend a reaction to reroll a failed save against a spell or magical effect. At 14th level they add their Intelligence modifier to the damage of cantrips, and they can choose up to two targets instead of one with their 6th level feature.

Thoughts: This subclass’ features feel rather uninspiring. The additional damage with their initial 2nd level feature doesn’t amount to much, and the White Robes’ 6th level feature is like a free use of Cure Light Wounds which is both weak and lore-breaking.* Being able to reroll a failed save and the Black Robes’ disadvantage on Constitution saves and ability checks is a nice debuff, but you need more than that to make a good subclass. Furthermore, I don’t like the implication that wizards need to take this subclass to join the Orders of High Sorcery. In Dragonlance it was clear that the Orders had specialists of many different kinds: you’d find enchanters and necromancers among the Black Robes, diviners and abjurers among the White Robes, and illusionists and transmuters among the Red Robes.

*In Dragonlance, arcane spellcasters are unable to use magic to heal others. There are workarounds, but often come at a cost such as draining the life from another being.

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Character Options

This super-short chapter gives us 2 new backgrounds and 7 new feats, all of which are geared towards iconic organizations in the setting. Like in default 5e Dragonlance, the organization-specific feats can be chosen as 1st level background-specific and 4th level bonus feats, and can also be taken as regular feats. Whereas Shadow of the Dragon Queen gave us options for the Knights of Solamnia and Mages of High Sorcery, the Dragonlance Companion gives us options for the Knights of Neraka and Seekers. The latter of which feels weird, in that they’re a small localized religious movement that died off quite early in the initial Chronicles and adventure once the true gods made their presence known again in the world.

The Knights of Neraka, formerly known as the Knights of Takhisis, were formed by the deity of the same name during the Fifth Age. Being the spiritual successors to the Dragonarmies, they sought to conquer Ansalon, and eventually the world, and their mission still remains the same even after the death of Takhisis.

The Knight of Neraka background grants proficiency in Athletics, Intimidation, two languages of the player’s choice, and their Feature includes free food and lodging at the strongholds of their order along with the Squire of Neraka feat. Said feat lets the character have to spend only 10 feet of movement to go from prone to standing, and they gain Battlemaster-like maneuvers and superiority dice, learning Commander’s Strike, Menacing Attack, and Sweeping Attack. The three other feats correspond to specific orders and require you to be 4th level: Knight of the Lily is for the shock troopers, where they gain +1 to Strength or Constitution, advantage on attack rolls against good-aligned creatures during the first round of combat, and once per short or long rest as a bonus action can perform an AoE frighten effect on nearby enemies for 1 minute if they fail a Wisdom save. Knight of the Skull represents the religious arm of the organization, where they gain +1 to Wisdom or Charisma, learn Branding Smite and a 1st level paladin spell of choice, and can cast them once per long rest each and if they’re a spellcaster use slots for further castings. Knight of the Thorn represents those arcane magic users who pledged allegiance to Takhisis/Neraka over the Orders of High Sorcery. They gain +1 to Intelligence or Charisma, gain proficiency in Arcana or double proficiency if already proficient, and can cast Augury once per long rest and with spell slots if a spellcaster.

As for the Seekers, Seeker Guard is the background and gives us proficiency in Intimidation, Survival, one musical instrument, and one language. It grants the Seeker Sergeant feat as a bonus feat, and its Feature makes their demeanor indicate to others that they’re a member of law enforcement and they add double proficiency on Intimidation checks when interrogating non-Construct, non-Undead creatures. All of their feats add +1 to Strength or Constitution. Seeker Sergeant grants free private rooms in any garrison or Inn that recognizes the Seekers, and as a bonus action a number of times per long rest equal to their proficiency bonus they can give tactical advice to an ally within 60 feet, who then gets advantage on their next attack. Seeker Lieutenant is the next feat up the chain at 4th level: it grants a free small private house in a settlement controlled by the Seekers, and a number of times per proficiency bonus per long rest can impose disadvantage on an enemy’s attack roll targeting an adjacent ally as a reaction. Seeker Captain is the 8th level feat, where they gain the privileges of minor nobility in Seeker towns and are gifted a manor house with a small staff, and they exude a Dominating Presence where a target they hit must make a Wisdom save or have disadvantage on their next attack roll against the Seeker. Unlike the prior feats, this special ability is of infinite use.

Thoughts: The Knights of Neraka get some good proficiencies, and the base Squire feat is pretty good in granting Battlemaster maneuvers. The Lily’s AoE Frighten is another useful option, and given its bonus action they can easily follow it up with a regular action. The Skull isn’t as impressive and is contingent on what spells you select, and Thorn is highly situational in that Augury is pretty swingy as far as divination spells go. The Seeker background is great for Intimidation-based builds, but its feature can be a hindrance in that it makes other people have an intuitive sense of your background which you may not always want in all situations. The Sergeant’s bonus action for advantage on an attack is great, particularly with Rogues for Sneak Attack, and Captain’s Dominating Presence is great if you can lock a target down into being forced to attack you. But the bonus lodgings and houses aren’t useful for more mobile campaigns and those set outside Abanasinia.

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Spells of Krynn

This chapter is deceptively short in being 6 pages long, but has 19 spells ranging from 0 to 9th level. While I’ve been thorough in the prior sections, I’m only going to cover a few in depth. A large number of them (6) deal lightning damage and are lightning or storm-themed, another 6 are focused around temporal manipulation such as time travel, and the rest are a more diverse array. All of them are spells from earlier Editions of Dragonlance or D&D in general.

Daze and Know Direction are our cantrips, the former dealing psychic damage on a failed Intelligence save and the target can’t take reactions until its next turn, while Know Direction lets the caster intuit which way is north. Dark Bargain is a 1st level spell, where the caster touches a willing creature, where they lose one of their Hit Die and gain advantage on their next attack roll or ability check before the end of their next turn, and the caster gains an extra Hit Die which is the same die size of the touched target and can exceed the caster’s normal Hit Die maximum. Project Pain is a 2nd level spell cast as a reaction, projecting into a nearby target that takes 4d6 damage on a failed Wisdom save and the caster has advantage on Constitution saves to maintain concentration against the source of damage. Stone Shards is pretty much a less-powerful version of Scorching Ray: it too is 2nd level and creates 3 stone shards which can be tossed, but they deal 3d6 bludgeoning damage each, the spell is concentration for 1 minute, and the range of the shards are 30 feet. The only apparent advantage is that the caster can toss the stones one at a time rather than all at once, but it costs 1 action per throw. Enfeebling Storm is a 5th level necromancy spell that is an AoE cylinder that imposes halved speed and disadvantage on Strength and Dexterity saves and checks on those within it. Vampiric Aura is a 7th level spell that creates a 20 foot radius mist for the duration. Creatures who enter or remain within the mist take 6d8 necrotic damage, and the caster regains in hit points half the amount dealt.

And what of the lightning-based spells? Many of them riff of of existing spells but with some alterations: Crackling Sphere is like Flaming Sphere but is 3rd level and deals 3d8 lightning instead of 2d6 fire, has a range of 120 feet instead of 60 feet, and has to be used as an action rather than bonus action but can move up to 60 feet instead of 30 feet. Shocking Spark is a 1st level melee attack, much like shocking grasp but deals 3d6 damage by default and instead of negating reactions deals +10 damage on a critical hit vs targets made of or wearing metal. And Storm Wall is like Wall of Fire in making an AoE damaging field but deals extra damage to metal targets. And I bet you can’t guess what Spark Shield is based off of! Dalamar’s Lightning Lance is one of the more unique and innovative zappy spells: it’s 4th level single target, dealing 4d10 lightning damage and the stunned condition on a failed Constitution save, with disadvantage on the save if the target’s wearing metal or made of metal.

And what of the time-based spells? Well we’ve got Temporal Anomaly (1st level, detects abnormalities in time), Paradox (3rd level, choose an action taken within the last minute and it and its effects are erased, higher levels can erase actions much further back in time),* Time Hop (3rd level, cast as bonus action and caster vanishes from the location and appears in the space or nearest occupied if full 1 turn later), Temporal Eye (6th level, like scrying but can observe events within the last or next 7 days), Nullify (9th level, single-target spell that deals a lot of psychic damage and those reduced to 0 hit points are erased from history as everyone forgets their existence), and Timereaver (9th level, like Teleport but can travel up to 1,000 in the past or 100 years in the future, requires DC 30 Arcana check to work, has a d100 table but instead of teleporting off-target can end up off by several months or even decades).

*I can see this as a nightmare to run in combat due to cause and effect.

Thoughts: First off, the favorites. Dark Bargain is a pretty cool means of finding ways to spend Hit Dice besides short rests, Project Pain is a cool counterattack that comes with a nice secondary benefit, Enfeebling Storm is a nice way to set up enemies for a Fireball or similar Strength/Dexterity-based AoE attack, and Vampiric Aura is a pretty powerful self-healing necromancy effect.

I found the multitude of lightning-based spells to be unimaginative and in some cases underpowered. Flaming Sphere’s usability comes from it turning bonus actions into a nice secondary means of dealing damage in combat, but Crackling Sphere removes this. Shocking Grasp is useful in helping squishy wizards get out of reach of melee attackers, and I can’t see myself using this in most cases in comparison to something like Guiding Bolt or even Hex for damage-stacking. Stone Shards is just weak all around for its level, and several of the time-based spells are either very situational or campaign-breaking.

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Items of Magic

With 22 new magic items and a d100 Trinkets of Krynn table, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Dragonlance is not a low-magic setting! Like the preceding spells, many of these magic items are taken from earlier Dragonlance sourcebooks, although I can’t say for certain exactly how many are truly new.

The 16 initial magic items are your standard kinds, and some of the more interesting ones include the Device of Time Journeying (Artifact, lets the wielder and 8 willing creatures travel to any location in the world at any point in its past or presence, provided you succeed on a DC 25 Intelligence/Wisdom/Charisma check), Dragon Plate Mail (Legendary, as plate mail but grants +2 AC, no disadvantage on Stealth, resistance to the damage type of the dragon scales forming it, 3 charges which can be expended to create an illusion of a dragon that imposes the Frightened condition on onlookers, gains once-per-week use of Legendary Resistance), Frostreaver (very rare, +3 battleaxe dedicated to the god Habbakuk, deals +1d6 cold damage and once per turn reduces a struck target’s speed by half, deals maximum damage to objects), Hoopak (rarity varies, cross between slingshot and quarterstaff that can make a frightening high-pitched whine as an action that imposes frightened condition on a nearby creature for 1 minute if they fail a Wisdom save), Oathkeeper (artifact, +3 longsword that deals +2d6 damage vs non-lawful creatures, makes wielder aware of any deliberate lie told within 15 feet, can cast Geas once per day while holding the sword, sword is intelligent, telepathic, and detects non-lawful creatures within 120 feet), Spellbook of Magius (Very Rare, holds 20 random spells of 1st to 5th level, once per day as an action can cast a random spell from the book without the need for components), and Weapon of Bonding (Uncommon, can return weapon to hand as a bonus action if within 30 feet, returns to you the next dawn if lost; Greater version is Very Rare, +1 weapon, and has 3 charges which can be spent to automatically succeed on an effect that would charm or frighten you).

But there is one new magic item type that is pretty nifty: Spell Runes, which are less like a specific item and more like a scroll or potion in being a variety of choosable effects. Spell Runes are sewn into clothes using thread made from a metal: the rarer the metal, the more powerful the effect and thus its rarity. The creation of a spell rune takes place over a period of 2 to 7 long rests depending on rarity, and a person’s proficiency bonus determines how many complex and simple runes they can have active on their person. Complex spell runes require attunement in addition to the prior limit, but simple spell runes don’t need to be attuned.

We have a list of 22 Complex Spell Runes and 17 Simple Spell Runes, which either give persistent or limited-use benefits. For some of the Complex ones, we have Bilak (Speak, very rare) which lets one cast spells without verbal components, Keawetan (Life, legendary) burns away once the caster is reduced to 0 hit points and restores them to full health, and Balakan (Memory, Rare) lets the wearer regain an expended spell slot of up to 5th level once per day. The vast majority of Simple runes are once per day castings of existing spells without components, such as Bentuk (Shape, rare) casting Stone Shape or Cas (Cat, uncommon) casting Pass Without Trace. The exceptions are rather interesting, such as Tanah (Earth, uncommon) granting resistance to force damage or Tanda (Shadow, rare) which connects the user to the Shadowfell and lets them cast Misty Step a number of times per day equal to their proficiency bonus.

The six Legacy Items stand apart from others in the Companion. They are meant to be unique personalized rewards for a specific PC, and gain further benefits as they level up. Each legacy item has 4 ranks ranging from 0 to 3, and roughly correspond to the Tiers of play. Rank 0 activates at 1st level, 1 at 3rd, 2 at 5th, and 3 at 11th. Ranks come with Catalysts, story-based quests congruent with the item’s function. For example, Bonesplinter’s Rank 3 requires the item to consume bones from an adult dragon, while the first rank of Scavenger’s Charm requires the wearer to survive or avoid a trap that would’ve harmed them. The items include Bonesplinter (crafted from a dragon’s bones, can regrow bones on its form to use as arrows, improvements include things such as +1 on attack and damage rolls and reducing movement speed of struck targets), Coaltender (ring or earring that lets you comfortably subsist in cold weather, higher ranks grant resistance to fire damage and get once per day immunity to fire damage), Measure (sword, can spend charges to give illusory changes to height, higher ranks grant things like gain advantage on attack roll or crit on a 19-20), Scavenger’s Charm (glows faintly within 50 feet of oozes, higher ranks grant +1 on all saving throws and cast Create Food and Water once per day), Sun’s Glare (shield, can magically clean armor and clothing during a long rest, higher ranks grant +1 to AC, charges that can blind enemies within 10 feet, use reaction once per day to deal radiant damage as a counterattack), and Wanderlust (compass, always points true north, higher ranks include additional needles that point to things such as the nearest hub of civilization or sources of magic).

Thoughts: I really like the concept of Spell Runes. They’re also the only items in this book that have a default price for the spool types, which gives the PCs incentives to spend their money. The Dragon Plate Mail makes for a nice end-game item, and Weapons of Bonding can be nicely paired with throwing weapons such as javelins. The Hoopaks feel odd to include as magic items, particularly given that they’re regular equipment in Shadow of the Dragon Queen. Otherwise, the other items haven’t really elicited any strong emotions in me. Quite a few feel either too focused on a specific campaign type (Device of Time Journeying) or feel rather lackluster in contrast with its legendary feature: the Spellbook of Magius is a particular example, in that it…lets you cast a randomly-determined wizard spell once per day. Wow, I’m quivering in my boots at this onslaught of arcane might! Oathkeeper is a pretty neat weapon, although it seems to be an original creation. Fortunately the Dragonlance Companion comes with a built-in backstory for it, as being wielded by the leaders of the Knights of the Rose before its last owner hid it away in Lord Soth’s keep.

The Legacy Items are obviously inspired by the 3rd Edition sourcebook Weapons of Legacy. Personally speaking, the sample items don’t really have that wow factor. The Catalysts vary in quality and difficulty, with some more easily accomplished than others than even of the same rank. A lot of the abilities are either situational or passive, which makes them pale in comparison to end-game items such as the Holy Avenger.

Thoughts So Far: The remaining subclasses are a mixed bag. Tinkerer stands out as a clear favorite, and the Grave Speaker looks to be alright from my initial readings. I’m not feeling the Dreamwalker or the Wizard of High Sorcery for reasons I explained in their initial entries. The Deity Warlock may be a tad too powerful for damage-dealers with an Evil patron deity.

I have similar feelings on the spells, which look to be of questionable balance overall, and feel that the magic items could’ve used some more pizzazz or iconic options. In looking over at Tasslehoff’s Pouches of Everything, that sourcebook got the lion’s share of iconic items such as the Blue Crystal Staff or the Brightblade. While I understand that the two publishers didn’t want to step on each other’s toes too much for redundancy, this leaves the magic item options in the Dragonlance Companion feeling poorer in this regard.

Join us next time as we cover time travel, the Gods of Krynn, and new monsters in the Bestiary!
 

Libertad

Hero
One of the big 3 DMsGuild Dragonlance sourcebooks, and like all of them, has some good stuff and some less good stuff.

Agreed that baaz draconians are a big gap here, as are the explosive death rules for the various draconian PC races. I'm not absolutely in love with the half-ogre rules, but they're workable (personally, I'd just give a half-ogre bugbear stats, minus Stealth proficiency and surprise attack, substituting them for a goliath's Stone's Endurance ability). Thanoi look a tad overpowered to me. Two bonus skill proficiencies, swimming speed, and cold resistance is a very solid array (there's also their natural attack, but i find that overrated generally). Still, it's not dramatically terrible or anything.

Mechanically, i don't think college of Ages bard is that overpowered, really. Armour of Istar only works until the subject gets hit so it's really quite limited. Wrath of Saints can't distinguish between friend and foe. Glory of Heroes and Wrath of Dragons are the only really problematic ones, and Glory of Heroes would be hard to get maximum benefit from because of short range and duration, while Wrath of Dragons simply needs a save to negate houseruled in. Fewmaster shouldn't be a subclass in my opinion, it's a military rank. It probably should be a feat or feat chain like the Solamnic Knight feats in SotDQ.

My main issue with this chapter is how few of the subclass options feel, well, Dragonlancey. Flesh Sculptor is way too grimdark, Dragon barbarian is, well, dragony, but it's an poor fit with Krynnish dragon lore. Elements druid seems to only exist because we wanted at least one druid subclass here, there's nothing particularly Krynnish involved, and as far as i know absolutely no support in the lore. Plague domain cleric has a perfectly reasonable role as a cleric of Morgion, but why are we getting subclasses for evil gods when there's still no published subclass that even remotely fits Branchala? Priorities, guys! College of Ages runs aground on the same rocks that all 5e bards do in Dragonlance - full caster bards are a poor fit for the whole Colleges of Sorcery thing. Personally, I'd probably just say houserule that bards can also represent variant clerics whose magic comes from Gilean or Reorx or Branchala or similar. Explains why they can heal.

Way of Divinity monk is a very nice fit for a follower of Majere, I'd allow it without hesitation. Oath of Secrets is a bit tougher. I can certainly see a role for them in Krynn, but in DL, paladins must have gods in order to cast spells, and there's not many that are a great thematic fit. Hiddukel probably, and maybe even Takhisis, but it's harder to find anyone appropriate on the good or neutral sides of things. Gilean perhaps?

I agree with a lot of your estimations. I seem to have missed some of the Ages' buffs fading away after certain conditions, so I'll include that as an addendum. Thank you for pointing that out.

I think they were just invented to be used as fairly generic bad guy footsoldiers in one module, and then largely forgotten about.

This is true. A lot of elements in Dragonlance that became part of the wider lore were those kinds of "new thing to throw the players for a loop" in showing off how different the setting was at the time. The thanoi are definitely obscure, but in terms of artwork they do show up from time to time, like in one of the 3e sourcebooks showing a wet Thanoi adventurer walking into town and getting the stinkeye from locals.
 

Libertad

Hero
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Traveling the River of Time

Time travel is a rather important plot element in Dragonlance, particularly during the Legends trilogy. It wouldn’t be proper to just dump all these time-based spells into the campaign and not have some advice for the DM, right? This chapter is more or less a short essay briefly explaining the rules of time travel in the setting along with common adventure hooks and PC plans to take into account.

In short, the flow of time is like a river, with branching pathways going down alternate timelines. However, the river is largely self-correcting, meaning that time travelers who attempt to alter the past in big ways will still have events transpire to ensure that history remains mostly unchanged. However, this rule can be broken by creatures of chaotic alignment, as the river of time cannot absorb their ripples as efficiently. When such time travelers alter history, they create a new separate timeline and their original present becomes inaccessible to them.

Additionally, it is much easier to go to the past, but traveling forward into the future is much more difficult as the past is already set in stone but the future can have a myriad of possibilities. Furthermore, the river of time cannot sustain multiple instances of the same creature at the same time, so one cannot travel back in time to a point where the time traveler exists. Thus, time travelers must journey to a point in time before they were born.

Our short chapter ends with a list of suggested reasons and adventures for time travel. Most commonly it involves finding information or items that have since been lost to the ages, attempting to alter history, or stop others from altering the timeline. As the only spell and item that allow for time travel in this book are 9th level and an artifact, it is a little-researched phenomenon. The Orders of High Sorcery are reluctant to mess with things too much in fear of causing reality to spin out of control. Advice for incorporating time travel and how the DM handles it is kind of basic, being things like “it can be more controllable by gating it behind powerful NPCs and MacGuffins rather than giving it to the PCs themselves,” or putting key plot points and goals not just in specific locations but in specific times so that PCs can’t just timewarp ahead to the end of an adventure.

Thoughts: Given the many complicated scenarios that can come out of time travel, this chapter barely scratches the surface. As this is more or less something that only Epic Tier characters can do or if the DM drops a Device of Time Journeying into a party with a chaotic PC, it’s unlikely to be a major concern in most 5th Edition campaigns. I should also note that the “must be chaotic alignment” to alter the timestream is markedly different from the traditional lore. In past supplements it was races touched by Chaos who could do this, meaning that they have ancestry to a creature altered by the Graygem of Gargath. In practical terms this meant all playable races besides humans, elves, ogres, and the half-races between them. The book calls out the original lore as a “disproven theory,” and to be honest I haven’t read any new Dragonlance novels to know if this is in line with new developments in the setting or not.

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The Gods of Krynn

This chapter covers the Dragonlance pantheon. It doesn’t just retread familiar ground, but also incorporates the Piety system from Mythic Odysseys of Theros for characters who seek to win the favor/disfavor of their patron deity. For those new to the setting, there are 23 deities who govern universal forces of creation. Two of them are primordial and don’t grant prayers: Chaos, who is nonexistence incarnate, and the High God, who created reality from Chaos and assigned the rest of the gods to create the world of Krynn and all there is on it. There are three different pantheons of seven deities each split into good/neutral/evil alignments, with the neutral gods prizing balance and free will and the evil gods aren’t really a formal alliance so much as a grouping of similar ideologies. Pantheons are more or less universally known by Krynn’s cultures: many races and societies favor some gods over others and even call them by different names, but you don’t have obscure or minor gods like in Faerun who hold dominion only among a single dwarven subrace and the like.

We have a handy chart highlighting the alignment, realms of influence, suggested domains, and common symbols for all of the gods. One thing I noticed is that the Dragonlance Companion hews towards the retconned alignments in Shadows of the Dragon Queen, where the alignments of several gods have changed from their pre-5e origins. Most notably that means all Gods of Balance are True Neutral, whereas in prior editions they had more diversity in some being Lawful Neutral and one being Chaotic Neutral. Also, the gods’ home planes aren’t the ones in the Dragonlance cosmology, but planes on the Great Wheel of Greyhawk, Planescape, and the Forgotten Realms. Personally I’m not as fond of these changes: the alignments in that the non-True Neutral ones had good reasons to lean closer towards Law or Chaos, and the planes in that Dragonlance having its own distinct cosmology went well in making the setting unique.

The most important additions the Companion makes to the gods is the Piety score, Heralds, and Herald items. Thankfully enough detail from Mythic Odysseys of Theros is repeated here that readers can get the gist of a system. Basically Piety is an ascending score, and PCs begin with a Piety of 1 towards their patron deity. Doing things in line with their deity’s ethos and goals increases the score by 1, and the opposite can lower it by that same amount. The Companion suggests that the score shouldn’t change by more than 1 during a typical session of play, as it should represent substantial risks and deeds rather than casual activities. Furthermore, a deity who is particularly impressed with a mortal worshiper can appoint them to be a herald, where they are gifted a herald item in line with the gods’ area of influence. The item is magical , the vast majority of them grant +1 to +3 bonuses to either attack and damage rolls or spell attack bonuses and save DCs, and they grow in power the more Piety the herald gains. Herald items have four tiers known as States: Nascent at 3 Piety, Emergent at 10, Resplendent at 25, and Transcendent at 50.

Due to the large amount of deities and accompanying magic items, I’m going to be brief in their descriptions.

Chislev Is our Neutral nature goddess, connected to the global ecosystems of Krynn. She favors simple thinking of instinct rather than reason, and many of her worshipers are secluded druids and people who live far from major population centers. Her Piety is altered via stereotypical druid stuff, but also paradoxically is raised by helping encourage farming and agriculture but lowered when acting against “affronts to nature” such as poaching and logging. Her herald item is a Feather of the World that grants features such as limited wild shape/more uses of it if you’re a druid, as well as infusing unarmed strikes with elemental energy. This item is best suited for Druids as the non-druid wild shape options are pretty marginal, but a monk can make good use of the unarmed strike bonuses.

Gilean is the technical head of the Gods of Balance, prizing knowledge of all kinds and favored by scribes and scholars. Encouraging the spread of knowledge in various forms increases Piety, while encouraging disinformation and anti-intellectualism decreases it. The Infinite Codex is his herald item, which has spendable charges that can automatically answer Intelligence skill questions DC 15, whose DC ascends with State and can make the wielder deal more damage to celestials and fiends. The damage bonus is for situational use in most campaigns, but the Codex is pretty useful in granting answers to a lot of different kinds of stuff. This would be of use for most parties and not just bookish types.

Lunitari is one of the three moon gods of magic, the patron of the Red Robes. Piety is increased by encouraging the study of magic, and can be decreased by “abusing magic” which is vague, as well as restricting its use or using it for the furtherance of good or evil purposes rather than “striking a balance.” Which to me sounds very fickle and subjects the handing out of Piety as an extended philosophical negotiation with the Dungeon Master. The Red Tome is her herald item, which can expend charges to regain spell slots or cast from a variety of magical spells with a preference for illusion and transmutation. In fact, I’d like to say that the herald items of the three moon gods are very powerful for these reasons. They are effectively extra prepared spells, which even for a non-spellcaster can grant them a lot of versatile options.

Reorx is the god of craftsmanship in general, meaning that dwarves and gnomes love him. Piety is influenced by actions that help/hinder artisanship and industry. His herald item is a hammer known as Strength of the Smith, which can expend charges to cast various spells (most of them conjuration) as well as being a typical magical weapon that can take the form of any hammer. Most of the spells are rather situational, being nice additions but not on the level of broad power as the moon Tomes.

Shinare is the goddess of commerce and trade, who has rather Libertarian political views in that the easiest path to wealth is through hard work and that most poor people choose to be so due to laziness. And given that much of Krynn’s nations are hereditary feudal societies, this mindset is even more hilarious than usual. Piety is gained/lost for being successful in business but is lost for being disreputable and engaging in dishonest dealings. Her herald item is the Jewel of Delight, whose charges can be used to cast spells that are mostly divination or enchantment. Even its nascent spells are nice things for most builds, such as Bless, Sanctuary, and Shield.

Sirrion is the god of art, creativity, passion, fire, and alchemy. His worshipers are a diverse mixture of those whose lives are governed by such domains of influence, and the creation and maintenance of ever-burning fires in temples are an important part of the faith. Oddly, Piety is very restricted, basically involving responsible or irresponsible uses of fire and alchemy and little to nothing about art and passion. The Stone of Flowing Flame is a herald item that can summon fire-based creatures, as well as cast a variety of magic ranging from enchantment to offensive fire-based spells along with some illusions and enchantment. The Transcendent summonable monster is an efreeti who is friendly to the caster and obeys their commands. While it’s not a default part of their stat block, a DM should take into account a PC asking if they can summon an efreeti that grants wishes.

Zivilyn is our final God of Balance, a tree whose branches spread across all of time and space and prioritizes wisdom and experience. He has a close relationship to Gilean as an advisor, and is often approached by other deities for aid and counsel. Piety is incredibly open-ended, gained by basically being open to learning new things and serving in diplomatic and advisory roles, and is lowered by being an obstinate fool. His herald item is the World Tree’s Charm, which grants advantage on and +5 to Wisdom checks at its lowest State, and higher levels gives you things like increasing your Wisdom score to very high levels (21 at Resplendent and 25 at Transcendent) along with limited-use charges to gain Truesight or even once-per-day Foresight. There appears to be an error in this magic item, as the text for Emergent reads “the nascent damage property increases to 1d6,” even though this item has no damaging features. That being said, this item is tailor-made for Wisdom-based casters, and its huge bonus on WIsdom checks turns the herald into a decent scout with high Passive Perception.

Chemosh is the creator of the concept of undeath, teaching his followers that the afterlife is an illusion by the other gods and that only oblivion awaits. Undeath is portrayed as a gift, an eternal life to avoid this fate but in the end makes them slaves to Chemosh. Piety is earned via typical evil necromancer stuff and killing your enemies, while it’s decreased whenever you do things like save a life or resurrect someone from the dead. His herald item is a sickle or axe known as the Harvester of Souls, which grants things like dealing extra damage to non-construct and non-undead creatures, spending charges to regain hit points whenever you damage a target, and summoning fields of damaging necrotic energy. Make this into a greataxe and give it to a Barbarian, and they’ll get a lot of staying power in battle!

Hiddukel is the evil god of trickery and betrayal, serving as an evil counterpart to Shinare. His clergy is rare given that he prefers tricking people into unwittingly furthering his goals, but his genuine worshipers are criminals leading double lives seeking personal power and societal discord. Piety is gained by tricking others into doing things for you and stealing stuff, while it’s lost by acting honorably like frequently conducting fair trades and honorably keeping one’s word and genuinely upholding oaths. His herald item is Vengeance Sting, which can be any light weapon and has features like spending charges to make a hit an automatic critical, dealing bonus poison damage, and casting Improved Invisibility on yourself. The automatic critical hit is great for rogues, but also paladins and others who get lots of bonus dice on their weapon attacks.

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Morgion is the god of plague and decay, and his greatest desire is to increase the amount of mortal suffering in the world. Most of his worshipers are those who didn’t do so out of their own free will, but succumbed to deadly diseases which the god offered to cure in exchange for eternal servitude. Perhaps given that he has a new Cleric domain in this book, he has a large amount of means of gaining Piety, ranging from spreading disease to erosion of unique items to creating new kinds of poison, while healing and fixing things and preventing others from succumbing to sickness causes a loss in Piety. His herald item is the Disease Cloud that takes the form of any bludgeoning weapon, and has features that mostly involve poison such as inflicting the poisoned condition on a critical hit or creating a cloud dealing poison damage. For those reasons I kind of find this weapon boring and one-note, also because it’s a very commonly resisted damage type and condition.

Nuitari is the patron deity of the Order of the Black Robes, appealing to arcane spellcasters who desire personal power above all other concerns. Piety is gained by using magic to gain power over others and hoarding magical items and knowledge, and is lost by doing good guy things but restricting and discouraging others from using magic. His herald item is the Black Tome, which is like Lunitari’s Red Tome but whose spells focus on enchantment and necromancy.

Sargonnas is a god of vengeance and strength, but he encourages more than mindless rage. Such as having some kind of code of honor and doing battle in a smart and tactical manner. His Piety is kind of all over the place: it has typical stuff like taking revenge on one’s enemies, but has stuff that isn’t exactly “Lawful Evil” such as leading a rebellion, exposing treason, and fighting in a war. This last part is regardless of the sides or circumstance. Piety can be lost by choosing not to seek revenge, desertion and treason, and allowing yourself to be oppressed through a lengthy period. His herald item is the Horn of Fury, which can take the form of any axe and grants things like advantage on Strength checks, charges that can deal extra damage with the axe for one turn, and limited-use boosts to Strength (such as a once per turn 30 Strength as a bonus action on Transcendent) and auto-succeeding on failed Strength checks and saving throws. The advantage on Strength checks alone as its initial feature makes this item very suitable for grapple and shove builds.

Takhisis is the five-headed goddess of evil dragons, and has historically been the greatest threat to Krynn throughout the ages. She seeks to take control of the world as its uncontested ruler, befitting her title as the Queen of Darkness. Piety is earned by killing powerful foes and acting like an evil overlord, and is lost by “do-gooder” things such as saving lives and freeing others from oppression. Her herald item is the Crusher of Hope, which can be any bludgeoning weapon and has draconic-themed features such as dealing bonus damage in line with a chromatic dragon’s breath weapon (chosen upon gaining the weapon), or a once per day (or week) ability to transform into a young (or ancient) chromatic dragon for 1 minute. The energy damage boosts are kind of boring, but changing into a dragon is pretty cool. And since it uses the full stat block save alignment and personality, an ancient dragon can get legendary and lair actions, although I imagine the latter won’t have enough time to come up in most campaigns. The dragon form more than makes up for the relative lack of features via Rule of Cool.

Zeboim is our final evil deity, the goddess of the sea and storms. Given how important sea travel is in many cultures, she has many non-evil people seeking to appease her, but her clergy and full-time worshipers are still evil folk who run protection rackets in the vein of “give us stuff or else the weather will take a turn for the worst.” Piety is gained by protecting the sea and its inhabitants, fighting followers of Habbakuk, and acting on impulse, and is lost by doing the opposite. Her herald item is the trident Triad, which grants features such as being able to breathe underwater, warning of danger via advantage on initiative rolls and making the wearer and allies within 30 feet immune to surprise, and expending charges to cast water-related spells at its highest level. The water spells are kind of underwhelming, but the advantage on initiative rolls and immunity to surprise are so good that almost any character can find it of use.

Branchala is our first good-aligned god, basically being your typical bardic deity of dance, music, and poetry who wants to put smiles on the faces of others. Piety is gained by engaging in joyous art and music as well as teaching someone else how to read, and is lost by harming artistic performances and encouraging emotional suppression. His herald item is the Leaf Blade rapier, which has features such as granting temporary hit points on a critical hit, being able to automatically deal counterattack damage in melee as long as you have said temporary hit points, playing a harmonic note to heal nearby allies and give them a Bless-like boon for one turn, and bonuses to AC and saving throws. The healing and bless boon take an action to use, so they’re rather underwhelming for the State at which they’re gained, although the passive bonuses to AC and saves are rather boring but useful in that they can stack with other sources.

Habbakuk is the good-aligned nature god with a preference for the sea and thus is Zeboim’s natural enemy. He basically represents the lighter and softer side of nature in contrast to Chislev who is more all-encompassing. Piety is gained by basically acting like Captain Planet, and is lost by defiling nature, creating undead, and aiding a follower of Zeboim. His herald item is the Bow of the Blue Phoenix, which can spend charges to cast a variety of druid and ranger spells. The bow is good in getting some of the more exclusive spells of such classes, particularly Pass Without Trace and Hunter’s Mark.

Kiri-Jolith is your typical Lawful Good god of honor, just warfare, and comradeship. You gain Piety by acting honorably in warfare, helping advise leaders, and defeating the followers of Hiddukel and Sargonnas, and lose Piety by doing things like disobeying oaths or causing needless loss of life. His herald item is the Sacred Defender, which can take the form of any sword and has mostly defensive features such as a once per day casting of the Shield spell and persistent bonuses to AC and saving throws. Overall, kind of boring yet functional, much like the Leaf Blade.

Majere is the god of personal discipline and enlightenment, and has been the traditional patron deity of Monks throughout editions and many of his Clerics also have levels in that class. Piety is earned by living an ascetic lifestyle, preventing wars and large-scale conflicts, learning martial art styles and teaching them to others, and is lost by acting greedily and lazily. His herald item are Beads of Discipline which enhance the damage of unarmed strikes and weapon attacks and grant defensive features such as a bonus to AC and immunity to the charmed and frightened conditions. You get advantage on initiative rolls as the lowest-level feature, so technically it is useful to just about any build who fights with a weapon, not just monks, and the condition immunities are a very nice touch.

Mishakal is the goddess of mercy, compassion, and healing. The text notes that she has evil as well as good clerics* and encourages using their talents freely and without discrimination. Evil clerics are known to charge for their services but aren’t allowed to reject those who can’t pay. Piety is earned by basically being a doctor, and is lost by refusing to heal others who ask for it as well as needlessly injuring others and suppressing knowledge of the healing arts. Her herald item is the quarterstaff Merciful Strike, which as you can guess has special features focusing exclusively on healing such as regaining a spell slot to cast a healing spell or healing some or all of a target’s hit points. Healing is pretty much a necessity for any adventuring party, so it’s useful for most builds but is best used for casters with access to healing magic.

*Why? This isn’t present in any Dragonlance lore to my knowledge.

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Paladine is the leader of the good-aligned gods and is strongly associated with metallic dragons. He strongly emphasizes the power of redemption, and his means of gaining Piety aren’t really associated with doing “good things” besides “giving someone a second chance,” and instead are mostly stuff that involve strengthening the religious hierarchy like building a church in his name. Losing Piety is doing the opposite of these things plus knowingly aiding evil creatures. Which makes sense, as Paladine is one of those Lawful Good gods writers just seem to like turning into authoritarian and genocidal tyrants. This is usually in some vain attempt to say that too much good is just as bad as too much evil, which while is one of Dragonlance’s moral messages is something that has seeped into other D&D settings to various extents. His herald item is the Mighty Protector, which can take the form of any sword and grants features such as resistance to one of the elemental damage types plus poison, and can expend charges to gain a self-targeting Bless and AC bonus. As this is already stuff you can see in some of the other herald items, it doesn’t really feel unique. Even Takhisis, who has the energy damage boosts, lets you transform into a friggin’ dragon!

Solinari is the patron deity of the Order of White Robes, encouraging arcane spellcasters to use their powers to make the world a better place. Piety is gained not necessarily by being a “good mage” but more of a general teacher such as learning, discovering, and uncovering magic, and Piety is lost by using magic for evil, restricting its use, or denying its existence. The last part sounds quite weird, as even though Krynn is a low-magic setting almost everyone knows that magic exists. Her herald item is the White Tome, which is like the other tomes. But whose bonus spells you’d expect to be mostly abjuration or divination are actually kind of all over the place, including such things as Chromatic Orb, Enlarge/Reduce, Blight, and Confusion.

Thoughts: While I do appreciate making the involvement of the gods a more involved affair given how important they are to the setting and adventures, there’s a lot of odd choices in the deity descriptions that feel weird to me even with Dragonlance’s rather convoluted morality system. Mishakal having evil-aligned clerics is certainly a new spin on things, and having the neutral-aligned commerce god believe that poverty is the result of laziness is weird on account that it would make more sense for an evil-aligned Social Darwinist style deity. As the neutral gods are often portrayed as the most rational ones in the setting, this feels less like a personal character flaw and more the possibility of the writer trying to make certain political views a factual in-game writ. The herald items are pretty cool and have a better feel of “personal scaling item” than the Legacy Items do and are useful for classes beyond just clerics. On the one hand, this isn’t necessarily a complaint, as it makes sense in a way that Branchala would favor bards over typical divine casters, and Chislev would be best for druids. Some of them feel more exciting than others as mentioned above, but when you’re dealing with 21 deities this is bound to happen.

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Bestiary

This short yet very artsy chapter provides us with 9 new creatures. We also get a table of monsters from the Monster Manual and other official sourcebooks deemed most appropriate for a Dragonlance campaign. The new monsters are within the 2nd and 3rd Tier range of Challenge Ratings, overall suited for mid-level play.

Amphidragons are the offspring of dragon turtles and black or green dragons. They appear like fat winged toads, and while looked down upon by other dragons they are still very dangerous and are given to building hoard-filled lairs in swamps and coastal territories where they attack ships for their cargo. As a monster they are CR 14 and have many true dragon features such as Legendary Actions and Resistances, an acid breath weapon, and can attack with claws and an acidic grappling tongue which allows them to swallow creatures. They don’t have a fly speed, as their wings are vestigial.

A Bone Amalgamation is the result of residual magic seeping into areas with lots of bones, such as mass graves. They are rarely created intentionally, being more the result of accidental circumstance, their bodies looking like a mishmash skeletal structure made up of many different creatures. They are CR 11 constructs, not undead, and constantly radiate a selective fear-based AoE, primarily attacking with a necrotic bite and grappling bony grasp attacks, and have a rechargeable Wail of the Damned which is an AoE cone dealing psychic damage that can deafen and incapacitate. The monster even has a feature called Unusual Nature, saying that it doesn’t require air, food, drink, or sleep, even though such abilities can be presumed by default as it’s a construct.

A Cat Fiend is a demonic humanoid feline originating from the Abyss, and are the sworn enemies of the goddess Bast and her feline followers. They are CR 8 creatures who primarily attack with bites and claws, although they are capable spellcasters and have magic such as Darkness, Pass Without Trace, and Cone of Cold. They also have a Beam of Hatred ranged attack which in addition to dealing damage can force a struck target to move and attack a nearby creature if they fail a Wisdom save. Cat fiends are very hard to kill, for whenever they are dropped to 0 hit points they disappear for 24 hours as they lose one of their 9 lives. All of its remaining lives can be lost at once if the killing blow is delivered by Bast or one of her followers.

Wait, Bast? Isn’t she not a canon god? Well funny you should mention that. There’s an old and silly novel known as the Brothers Majere where Takhisis took the logic of Saturday Morning Cartoon villains: where in order to enter Krynn and rule the world, she had to have all the world’s cats killed. From reviews I recall reading that laser guns were also involved and it contradicted the canon of other novels, so take it as you will.

Dream Wraiths are literal manifestations of nightmares, feeding off the life energy of sleeping victims. Due to their nature they can appear as virtually anything, and they single out individual victims to torment. They are CR 7 undead and come with a large amount of resistances and immunities, radiate a constant AoE fear aura, their primary attacks are a necrotic ranged Fright Blast and a melee Joy Drain that also damages Charisma, their spells hew towards enchantment and illusion, and they have a rechargeable Waking Nightmare attack that can damage and paralyze victims. “Waking up” from this requires an Investigation check to realize that the nightmare isn’t real.

A Fetch is a shape changing fiend who appears in reflective surfaces which they can use as portals to enter the Material Plane. They are naturally invisible when on said plane, and are obsessed with hunting a single victim to drag back to the Abyss in order to turn into a few fetch. They are CR 6 and very much built to be ambush predators, having features such as advantage on initiative rolls when surprising a creature, can change shape to take on the appearance of someone it sees through a reflective surface, and hide as a bonus action. They have a rather deadly Mirrored Weapon attack that takes on the properties of their victim’s weapon, but still deals the same 3d8+4 damage. Each hit reduces the target’s hit point maximum on a failed Charisma save, which is only restored by a long rest.

A Fireshadow is a powerful undead creature born in the flames of the Abyss, appearing as formless green fire. Despite being intelligent, they have no real ambitions or goals besides to spread chaos, so spellcasters who summon them into the world often do so as a kind of magical WMD. The book contradicts itself, giving it the fiend type in the stat block but calling it undead in the descriptive text. It was undead in prior Editions, so if I had to make a decision I’d go with that type. It is a CR 12 creature who fights with burning claws, a rechargeable Ray of Oblivion that is like a weaker Disintegrate, creatures it kills turn into Green Flame Spawns* under the monster’s control which it can also absorb to heal itself, and it radiates a close-range aura of fire.

*I don’t know what sourcebook this monster is from, so it’s full capabilities aren’t of immediate use.

The Ghost Rat is a unique specific monster that lives in an ancient maze-like temple northeast of the elven nation of Qualinesti. It appears as a 15 foot tall rat that walks on its two hind legs, and although a servant of Morgion many worship it as a false god which it doesn’t seem to mind. Its worshipers tend to be social outcasts and gather in basements, alleys, and abandoned buildings.

The Ghost Rat is very much a boss monster, being CR 14 with legendary resistance, legendary actions, and lair actions. It can become ethereal as an action, is naturally incorporeal, has a bite attack that can spread disease that reduces a target’s hit point maximum over a long period of time, a grappling tail attack, a rechargeable gaze attack that can shrink targets down one size category, can shrink to Tiny size as a reaction, and its lair actions include creepy stuff like summoning swarms of rats, causing stone walls to drop from the ceiling, and creating spheres of magical darkness.

Horaxes are horse-sized centipedes that live underground throughout Krynn. Little is known about them besides the fact that they lair in deep underground colonies, and there are mythical gigantic versions known as earthshaker horaxes who sadly have no stats in this book. The default horax is a CR 8 monster that is similar to an ankheg in that it is mostly melee focused, has a burrow speed and tremorsense, and can emit a spray of blinding acid as a rechargeable attack.

Skrits are horse-sized beetles with hemispherical shells and spiked tails. They live in deserts and are commonly domesticated by the inhabitants of such regions as mounts and beasts of burden. They are CR 5, and like most nonmagical animals they don’t have much going for them besides melee attacks, but their bite attack has a paralyzing poison and their tail attack has reach. They can deal a lot of bonus acid damage when biting paralyzed targets, but should they be knocked prone they suffer a massive penalty to Armor Class (19 default, reduced by 7 and takes an action to unprone). This last feature is called Prone to Problems, which is a funny and clever title.

Thoughts: If I had to pick favorites, it would go to the Ghost Rat. While its full capabilities are best done in a pre-built dungeon crawl, its stats are clearly pointing at it as a hit and run monster, and as a powerful servant of Morgion it works well as its appearance as a giant rat can be deceiving for a CR 14 monster. Never underestimate the power of the plague rat of doom!

Quite a bit of these monsters feel designed to be defeated in peculiar ways or have means of counfounding PCs who hope to just wail on them. The Cat Fiend will just keep coming back unless the PCs have the right animal or allied NPC at their side to kill it, Fetches are difficult to root out unless you take advantage of their obsessive need to hunt a singular target, and horaxes are conventional ambush predators who like ankhegs can burrow out of sight. Personally speaking the horax feels too much like that monster and I would have preferred some more unique distinguishing features. The oddities in the Bone Amalgam and Fireshadow descriptions point out evidence of poor editing. On the plus side, a lot of these monsters make use of rechargeable abilities, spells, or interesting actions that help expand their tactical capabilities beyond just being bags of hit points, so I give the Companion props for that.

Thoughts So Far: The chapter on time travel could have been excised or expanded with more useful advice, and while I like the Piety system and herald items I do raise my eyebrow at some of the creative liberties. Particularly certain deities’ ethos and the incorporation of the Great Wheel cosmology. The monster chapter was overall my favorite, as many of them look fun and interesting to run in combat.

Join us next time as we check out some of the Companion’s adventures!
 

Libertad

Hero
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These aren’t exactly full adventures, but rather serve as short encounters that can be inserted while the PCs are traveling. The Bones Below is our first encounter, described as suitable for a party of 3-5 PCs of levels 5 to 10, which honestly is a very wide range. It takes place near the edge of Solamnic territory, where the PCs come across a priestess known as Jesska who is crying for her missing brethren in the Church of Mishakal. They were tasked with finding and transporting a shipment of healing items to help with a war before seemingly vanishing. In reality, they were ambushed by cultists of Chemosh and taken to an underground temple to be sacrificed. The PCs can investigate the crime scene via investigatory skills and abilities, finding an illusionary rock formation where the Mishakal priests were dragged through.

This short five-room dungeon crawl consists of an entrance, two rooms with cultists to fight or otherwise overcome, and a final ritual chamber holding the captive priests, with a bone amalgamation forming to attack the party in the last area. Some of the cultists use typical Cult Fanatic stat blocks from the core rules, but there are Cult Zealots who are even stronger versions with better stats and spells. Should the Mishakal worshipers be freed and taken to the nearest city, the party will be rewarded with Cords of Mishakal, magic items that are basically single-target Bless spells that last for one turn.

The second encounter is Safe Passage, designed for 3 to 4 PCs of levels 2 to 4, also taking place on the outskirts of Solamnic territory. It begins in a tavern, as so many adventures are wont to do, where an injured woman bursts through the front door to report that her family farm was attacked by raiders who looked like reptilian soldiers. There are some Knights of Solamnia in the tavern, but as this is outside their jurisdiction they pass the duties on to the PCs. Real nice guys.

The farmstead is the scene of carnage, the sight of a now-burned home. A pair of Solamnic knights inside are guarding a heavily-injured third knight, and three draconian soldiers are seeking to overwhelm their holding place. PCs who use healing magic and/or the Medicine skill can help buy the injured knight more time, and they explain that they sent one of their own through a nearby swamp to get more help. Dozens of draconian soldiers are guarding the major route out, so the swamp is the safe way out for the PCs. If the PCs go through the swamp, they will find a green hag disguised as the last survivor who will attempt to ambush the party. The real knight is held captive in her cave.

The final stretch takes place through more of the swamp, where the PCs have to overcome an ambush laid by a group of draconian soldiers led by Morax the Twisted, a particularly strong specimen with more prominent draconic abilities such as a fiery breath weapon and burning spittle. He is actually one of the progenitors in the early draconian experiments, and will announce this proudly before fighting the party by himself. He is so arrogant that he tells his subordinates to watch as a demonstration of his power. The other draconians will retreat should their leader die, and the adventure concludes once the PCs exit the swamp into the grasslands and meet with the Solamnic reinforcements.

Thoughts: These encounters are too short to be adventures, but too long to be typical single-combat encounters. Instead they are a sort of middle-ground. I will say that the Bones Below are likely better suited for a 7th level or higher party, as the two processions of cultists plus the bone amalgamation at the end can be quite the challenge for PCs who aren’t powerful or well-built. The fact that the Zealots can Animate Dead as an action to add even more foes to deal with can compound things. But 9th or 10th level PCs should breeze right through this dungeon.

As for the Safe Passage, the second to last combats with the hag and draconian progenitor may be trivialized by the presence of allied NPCs. The PCs have a real chance at gaining the aid of 3 knights in combat, and while they aren’t given stats even mere Guards can help add onto action economy during the aforementioned fights. If they’re actual Knights with a capital K, they can probably fight just as well if not better than the party’s martial PCs at this point in the campaign!

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Trials of the Tower Initiate

Our first of two full adventures in the Dragonlance Companion, this is designed for 4-5 PCs of 2nd level, and is split into 3 chapters which level up the party at the end of each one. Starting out in the coastal settlement of Crossing in northern Abanasinia, the PCs are hired to escort a mage-in-training named Val Astorio to the Tower of High Sorcery of Wayreth. Both of his parents aren’t too fond of this, but Val is committed to taking up the life of a mage so they made deals to ensure his safe passage. However, the Tower only manifests on the Material Plane at rare moments, and in ten days will re-enter its own personal demiplane and become unreachable for an indefinite period of time. Not only that, a violent anti-magic organization known as the Taljara seeks to either dissuade Val from his quest or kill him…and his own mother is their duped accomplice!

It wouldn’t be a real Dragonlance adventure without a DMPC, and Trials of the Tower Initiate isn’t going to let Val remain as a blank slate hireling! He grows in power as the party does, and depending on their actions in the adventure they can shape his attitude towards the journey. He has a Resolve Score and Doubt Score representing how much confidence he has in himself, and as these scores change this can affect both his personality and his combat capabilities. Specifically, the more prominent his Doubt score in comparison to his Resolve, he gets progressively-worse debuffs in combat that require Wisdom saves to shake off. Statwise Val begins as the equivalent of a beginner-level arcane caster, with a few cantrips, an Arcane Burst attack which is basically Eldritch Blast, and his only leveled spell is Mage Armor. By Chapter 2 he gets another Hit Die and can also cast Fog Cloud, and by Chapter 3 he gets his final Hit DIe and can also cast Web. Even by Chapter 3 his Hit Points are a fragile 18, so between that and his lack of damaging abilities he is very much built to be a support caster.

The adventure begins with the PCs being hired by the Astorio family while a storm blows in from the coast, and they get a first-hand view that the family is rather dysfunctional. Skill checks and roleplay can alter Val’s Resolve and Doubt in reaction to his parent’s reservations and his own conflicting emotions. PCs can choose whether to leave immediately and risk exhaustion from the weather, or stay the night and have half a day to shop around town. However, PCs who opt to stay in town will be shadowed by a kenku, hired by a member of the Taljira to keep tabs on the party.

Wait, kenku are a race in Krynn now? Are they a Graygem-spawned race? Are they rare like the Shadowpeople and Kyrie and so are more legend than fact, or are they like dwarves and gnomes and won’t raise a big fuss when entering human settlements? The book doesn’t say. This may be a bit nitpicky of me to focus on, but given that Dragonlance has defined itself by what it doesn’t have as much as what it does in comparison to other DnD settings, I feel compelled to ask these questions.

There’s a 1d6 table of random encounters for the first leg of the journey from Crossing to Solace. Not all of them are dangerous, and can involve having a friendly Kender join the party and give good spirit for a Resolve bonus, getting ambushed at camp by gnoll witherlings (imagine gnolls but weaker), or helping out a group of hunters track down and kill some bears infected with a dangerous illness. Most of these encounters are tied into each other, particularly the bears, who also attacked a group of Solamnic knights and managed to slay one of their own. The PCs can aid the knights in giving their fallen comrade a burial that takes time but grants Resolve to Val. There are two mandatory scenes at night where Val asks one of the PCs to tell a story around the campfire that can affect his Resolve and Doubt, and another where a group of bandits led by a kenku attack and attempt to kidnap Val, which if they’re successful in doing takes time for the PCs to track them down and rescue him.

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The PCs reach level 3 as they visit Solace in Chapter 2, where they can stay at the iconic Inn of the Last Home. This segment of the adventure is less about overland travel and more social and investigation oriented, for a Taljira agent known as Leucis Therai is in town and pretending to be a bard in order to gather information and hinder efforts of travelers looking to join the Orders of High Sorcery. Upon arrival in town the PCs can gather some information about local goings-on, including an unrelated NPC tie-in to the next adventure in this book. The PCs will meet Leucis performing for a crowd at the Inn of the Last Home, and there are chances to pick up that he isn’t all that he seems during their stay here.

Greysen Ashe, another local in town, has become aware of the Taljara’s activities, and will attempt to warn the PCs that Val is in great danger. This likely happens during their stay at the Inn, where he acts erratically before bolting out of the place. The Taljara are aware of his snooping around, and have poisoned his tea leaves. Should the PCs visit him at his home, the poison will take effect while he serves them tea and he will die suddenly, although PCs who drank the tea only suffer the poisoned condition on a failed save. Should the PCs report the murder, they will have to stay put in town for questioning to Val’s worry, costing a day of travel.

But should the PCs attempt to seek out justice, this is a possibility. The use of skill checks in Greysen’s house can determine the cause of death, discover the poisoned tea leaves, and also find hidden notes studying missing persons cases of spellcasters in the area. Leucis will have used the opportunity to skip town, hiding in a cabin two hours travel from Solace, although he has six other Taljara agents there (basically Cultists but with leather armor and scimitars). There will be missives inside the cabin proving Leucis’ involvement with the Taljara and make for convincing evidence of his guilt, but if the PCs attempt to flee town Leucis’ gang will attempt to attack the party while they’re out on the road.

The final stretch of the adventure takes place in the Forest of Wayreth of Chapter 3, where the party reaches 4th level. The journey to the Tower takes approximately five days, and there’s a d10 table of random encounters ranging from Qualinesti scouts doing battle with a hill giant, six Taljara making camp who can be ambushed, Dragonarmy soldiers hunting for the Solamnic knights, and your more standard monsters such as displacer beasts, giant spiders, and insect swarms. And like the first chapter, several of these random encounters can tie into other ones, like the insect swarm being bloatflies located in the corpses of a family who was slain by the displacer beast. There is one last campfire scene as well as a final encounter with the Taljira. The leader of the organization, Eddan Breylan, will appear on the path to the Tower of Wayreth, which is within sight of the party. He will demand that Val denounce the evils of magic and abandon his mission. To make matters worse his mother Damaia Astoria is among them, and believes that the group is genuinely looking out for her son. Investigation and Insight checks are allowed to get a read on the various NPCs, their morale, and their intentions.

At this point the accumulated Doubt and Resolve points come into play: if Val is committed, he intends to fight and is much more headstrong, but if he’s uncertain then he needs the input of the PCs to sway him, and if wavering he intends to give up. Persuasion or Intimidation checks by the PCs can get him to change his mind. If the Taljara attack Val, then his mother will fight alongside her son and the PCs. If Val gives up, the Taljara will allow him and his mother to leave on a carriage but decide to kill the party for being more trouble than they’re worth. If deemed appropriate, three Mages (stats as the NPC of the same name) will arrive to aid the party. They have healers from the Tower, including ones who can cast Revivify or Resurrection spells, but will expect payment of some kind such as service in future adventures.

In terms of stats, Eddan Breylan is a heavily-armored martial character who can multiattack with any of his weapons, can use a bonus action to grant one ally movement and a free melee attack, and as a reaction can retreat up to half his speed and avoid opportunity attacks. This last feature makes him very much a guerilla fighter, seeking to stay out of melee and shooting at the party with arrows while using the nearby trees for cover. Damia, on the other hand, is pretty much a Commoner but with a lot more hit points (18), a good Charisma score, and a dagger.

Everyone reaches 5th level upon conclusion and the adventure has various endings depending on the resolution. PCs who lose the final battle may possibly be captured by the Taljara in the hopes of brainwashing them into joining the organization. If the PCs overcame the Taljara but Val gave up and left or was killed, the mages at the Tower will still honor their efforts during the journey and pay them the rest of the agreed-upon payment arranged with the Astorio family. PCs who were successful in every way will see Val invited into the Tower, and will be rewarded their standard payment along with uncommon magic items. In either case, surviving PCs who themselves show promise in arcane casting are invited to join Val, albeit this can split the PC from the rest of the party. The Tower mages will also give the party a direct hook to the next adventure in this book, offering to teleport them to a group of Solamnic knights in need of their help.

Thoughts: Trials of the Tower Initiate looks to be a pretty strong adventure from my initial reading. While it is a bit linear and has the dreaded DMPC escort, the adventure has quite a bit of leeway and agency, with detailed encounters and consequences for PC actions, multiple opportunities to get worthwhile treasure and magic items, and strikes an ideal balance between the combat, social, and exploration pillars. The leveling up is a bit fast for my tastes, which along with Greysen’s unavoidable death are my only major complaints.

Thoughts So Far: The smaller Encounters are too brief and by the numbers to really impress me, but the full adventure pleasantly surprised me.

Join us next time as we finish the Companion with the adventure Escape from Senag Island!
 
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