When it comes to gaming, most Dragonlance players are familiar with one of two eras: either the original Chronicles which spanned an epic fantasy against a dragon-themed evil empire, or the Fifth Age which detailed events fifty years after the former. But a new trilogy of books revolving around Raistlin and his brother Caramon’s time-traveling adventures never really got the module adaption treatment. This is due to the fact that it doesn’t really model the typical Dungeons & Dragons campaign. Still, the introduction of not just time travel but alternate timelines of parallel realities were a pretty novel idea. So during the 3rd Edition era of D&D, Margaret Weis Productions released the Legends of the Twins sourcebook as a supplement to the already-existing Dragonlance Campaign Setting (which I reviewed here)!
I was quite enamored of this book back in high school, in that it took the standard world in some neat and novel directions. Want rules for time travel? We got that! How about alternate campaign options, such as the Wizards of High Sorcery taking over Ansalon? You betcha! How about a detailed look at the Abyss, Dragonlance’s planar home of evil deities? We’ve got that too! Want a totally borked stat block of Raistlin at the height of his power, who will most definitely murderize your party if they lose initiative?
...wait, you don’t want that? Well don’t let that scare you! This bad boy’s 210 pages should have something to intrigue you!
Chapter One: Characters
Both of the first two chapters are quite short and PC-friendly, which makes me wonder why they weren’t combined together. Chapter 1 provides some new classes and feats with an optional trait system we’ll be talking about first.
Character Traits are ‘role-play enhancing materials’ meant to showcase some weakness or personality flaw for your PC in exchange for a minor bonus representing a positive side of said weakness. For example, being Abrasive grants you +1 on Intimidate but -1 on Diplomacy, while Slow halves your base movement speed but gives you 1 bonus hit point per level. All in all, they’re not really anything noticeable or special to really change a character and will be of limited utility save among the min-maxers out there.
The books’ new Feats are interesting in that they vary widely in scale. About half of them are the boring +2 to 2 different skills, but divine spellcasters will love Academic Priest and Dynamic Priest which let you substitute your Intelligence or Charisma in place of Wisdom for all spellcasting needs. As Charisma governs turning and rebuking undead, Dynamic in particular is quite popular. Heroic Surge was a reprint from the base setting, but grants you a per-day use of one bonus move or standard action per round to be performed at any time during your regular actions. Said feat was very popular among gaming groups for letting martials make full attacks while moving more than 5 feet. Astrological Forecasting is a rather situational one, where you can read someone’s horoscope once per week and give them a spendable +1 to +3 bonus on a single check any time during the next 7 days. The concept is cool, but the piddly bonus and infrequent rate blunt its use.
For classes we have one base class and prestige class each. The Mariner is our new base class, and was actually an updated reprint from an earlier sourcebook based on fan feedback that the original was too weak. Sadly, there’s not much improved here: the concept is a light-on-their-feet mobile fighter with some seamanship, but nothing that existing classes cannot replicate better. They get fighter-esque bonus feats but only every 5 levels, their Sailor Lore is like Bardic Knowledge but more limited in subject matter, their Dirty Strike is a poor man’s Sneak Attack (max 5d4 at 18th level) and requires a full round action to use as part of an attack rather than adding to every attack you make like Sneak Attack does. The only other features of note are a bonus to some mobility-based skills and a dodge bonus to AC when fighting next to allies.
If this is an improvement, I dread to see the original!
The Knight of the Divine Hammer is our sole prestige class, representing the elite soldiers appointed by the Kingpriest of Istar. Before Dragonlance’s main setting proper, there was a great empire so obsessed with destroying evil that they committed many atrocities to the point that the gods destroyed their civilization. As such, the Divine Hammer’s not really around in modern times and most likely be encountered as NPCs while time-traveling. The class is a noncasting martial variety with mostly role-playing based prerequisites. The class features they gain reflect their imperialist manner, from bonuses on social checks when exercising authority, able to deal nonlethal damage without penalty, Smite Infidel instead of Smite Evil,* and limited use abilities to grant bonuses on saving throws versus fear or physical ability scores, and the ability to impart smaller bonuses to allies at higher levels.
*aka outsiders, spellcasters of all kinds, and certain evil creature types like undead
The Knights can multi-class as paladins and must be no more than one step from Lawful Good, but lose their class features if they act dishonorable or “commit an evil act” which we’ll see later on in this book is pretty much impossible to do by serving Istar’s government. Well, impossible in most campaign settings besides Dragonlance, but we’ll get to that in Chapter Three.
Chapter Two: the River of Time
This chapter delves into the more supernatural aspects, such as how manipulating time works in the Dragonlance setting and new spells and magic items centered around all things temporal. First off, the fluff!
The River of Time is a core fixture of the Dragonlance cosmology, its main current flowing in one direction. However, people capable of traveling back have limited means of making any permanent changes, and all but the most powerful magic allows you to manipulate the past beyond that of an immaterial spectator. The three primordial races* (humans, dwarves, ogres) who go back in time will find their ability to change major events hindered or outright unconstructed once they return. However, if a race which bears the primordial essence of Chaos (aka all of the other races) travels back in time then the River’s immutable nature no longer applies and time paradoxes become possible. The River still has one main ‘flow,’ so even if history is altered then the River will ‘fork’ into a parallel reality where events unfold differently. And those forks can further fork from paradoxes of their own.
*Oddly enough there’s no mention of what happens when dragons time travel, as they are born of the world itself which would technically make them as limited as humans/elves/ogres.
Even the gods are affected by time, and there are alternate Krynns where they’ve become enslaved by the Kingpriest, died or usurped of their power by another, and so on and so forth. But the gods have more control over the River than mortals, able to see potential futures and transport mortals but unable to alter or stop the flow of it themselves.
We move on to new Spells, which are ill-understood and the book recommends not letting PCs automatically learn or prepare for them right out of the gate. Instead they would individually uncover said spells as part of an adventure, along with a sample hook of a researcher losing a book detailing said spells while venturing among the ruins of ancient Istar.
We have 14 new spells, and they’re heavily geared towards being exclusive to sorcerers and wizards. Only 3 can be learned by Clerics, 2 by Mystics (Dragonlance’s divine equivalent to the Sorcerer), and 4 by Druids. I won’t detail each of them and some are merely greater versions of existing ones, but a few of the more interesting spells include Frozen Moment (freeze one creature or object in time), River’s Ravages (rapidly age a creature’s form), Temporal Shield (slow incoming objects to a near-stop, granting you an AC bonus), Temporal Sphere (create a sphere of slowed time around yourself which makes all within invulnerable to outside attacks but can only act every other round), Timeheal (send a living creature’s body back in time to reverse negative ailments), and Time Reaver (Travel 20 years backward or 1 year forward in time per Caster Level, albeit at a hefty cost of money, experience, and the temporary depowering of a major artifact as a focus).
Overall, the spells tend to be utility-focused although the more offensive ones merely debilitate rather than outright damage or kill, and quite a few can be used for defensive measures.
When it comes to Magic Items, we have 11 items and 3 artifacts. Most of them are rather bleh, merely allowing you to cast or use the aforementioned spells or ones from the core rulebook like the Slow spell. The ones which do stand out are the Iron Nail of Iteration (which can be driven into an area with a magical aura and repeat/recast a spell’s effects) and Time Candles (which create a localized Time Stop spell within its illumination, but is one use and has a market price of 306,000 steel pieces* which insures no PC will bother crafting it on their own!
*steel pieces are equivalent to gold pieces in the Dragonlance setting.
Our artifacts are all priceless relics which can perform feats even the aforementioned spells cannot do and are regarded by most as mythical rather than something which actually exists. The Device of Time Journeying is in the possession of the Master of the Tower of Wayreth** and famously used in the Legends trilogy when Caramon and Tasslehoff used it to travel to the past. The Device is virtually impossible to steal as reality itself returns it gradually to its legitimate owner, and you need to repeat a series of verses and puzzle-like manipulations of buttons, rods, and lenses in order to activate. Once this is performed the person merely imagines the era in which they desire to travel, and they and nearby individuals will be transported along the River of Time.
**which is Dragonlance’s sole remaining academy of wizardry and thus the hub for arcane spellcasters.
The Globe of Present Time Passing was invented by Raistlin and gifted to the immortal historian Astinus. You can use the Globe to effortlessly scry anywhere in the present and project yourself in spirit form to said places. It can theoretically be used to peer into the past, but at risk of being more difficult to return to your present era and thus become forever stranded.
The Tapestry of Time was weaved by the gnomes of Mount Nevermind to make predictions of the future. Those diligent enough to maneuver through the infamous gnomish bureaucracy may be allowed to stare at it. By merely gazing upon it without focusing one’s eyes the threads will weave together, depicting a visual recreation of a potential future event. This can only be done once per day per viewer, and the events are not foolproof but rather predict what is most statistically probable based upon current events. Said pictures are highly individualized and different people staring at the Tapestry may see different scenes based upon their query.
Thoughts So Far: Legends’ first chapters have a mixture of features. There’s quite a bit of useful options, but the classes and many feats are of dubious quality. The new spells and artifacts were the chapters’ strong points, and quite useful for the levels at which they can be learned.
Join us next time as we cover Chapter Three, Eras of Legend!