It’s been over a decade since the last Dragonlance gaming book was published. On the tabletop front we had Dragons of Spring in 2008, while for novels we saw the revised version of the Dragonlance Trilogy in 2011. After that was an utter dearth of content, resulting in many branding Dragonlance a dead setting. After a long wait we saw the rebirth for a new era in 2022, with the Shadow of the Dragon Queen as an adventure and Dragons of Deceit as a Weis & Hickman novel.
In a way it’s understandable that Wizards neglected Dragonlance for so long. Even discounting their whole lawsuit with Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, it’s been a rather divisive setting among D&D fans in a way that many other settings are not. And even among fans there’s been a lot of concern over whether or not a revamped Dragonlance will manage to keep the spirit of the setting for any number of reasons. But overall, I’m happy to see Dragonlance getting revived, and while it does have its problems they certainly aren’t insurmountable in making good stories from it. There’s a reason it ushered in entire generations of fans from outside the tabletop hobby over several decades. Its themes of how love can bloom on the battlefield, the prominence of dragons in the world beyond just hoarders of treasure, the romantic imagery of lance-wielding knights riding upon such mighty serpents, and being the trendsetter of many D&D tropes we take for granted all cemented Dragonlance’s place as a unique setting to stand on its own.
War Comes to Krynn
Shadow of the Dragon Queen, in line with 5th Edition’s method of operation, is primarily an adventure sourcebook but includes a good helping of setting content. But on the setting front it’s not as comprehensive as prior edition sourcebooks or what was done with Eberron: Rising From the Last War. Shadow is at once broad in scope when talking about the world and its history, but rarely going farther or more in-depth when it comes to certain eras, regions, and places. Unlike Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft, a large portion of Krynnish canon is kept intact, with perhaps the most notable changes being the removal of gully dwarves and making it so that Goldmoon is not the first non-evil post-Cataclysm divine spellcaster.
This first section isn’t so much a “chapter” as a broad strokes coverage of the setting, beginning with an in-character letter from a Solamnic knight to the city of Maelgoth warning of a growing army of monsters and dragons in the east bound for Kalaman. What follows is an abbreviated overview of Krynn’s history, which is more or less left intact for those worrying about WotC blowing it to smithereens. Focus is placed on specific events from the four Ages: gods create the world from primordial chaos, the famous knight Huma Dragonbane wields the first Dragonlance to banish the evil goddess Takhisis from Krynn, the dragons retreat from the world as the theocratic Empire of Istar rises in power, Istar falls after its society grows zealous and intolerant and the Kingpriest seeks godhood for himself, the gods give many signs and take away their clerics before throwing a massive meteor at Istar, the Cataclysm marks three hundred years of the Age of Despair-
-hold on a minute!
So for those unfamiliar, the Cataclysm is one of the most controversial elements of Dragonlance. While it is an ode to old religious tales of God/the gods destroying the world in anger, such tales are reasonably dated given that killing millions of innocent people is recognized by right-thinking folks as one of the worst crimes of humanity. Given WotC’s more socially progressive ethos and revising setting lore in line with this, I am a bit surprised that they kept it in.
Even Wesley Schneider acknowledges in this video that the gods of Krynn did a horrible thing, and they spent a lot of time thinking and talking about the implications it raised for the story. So their answer was that the gods didn’t hedge all of their bets in entrusting Lord Soth with stopping the Kingpriest’s mad crusade before bringing about the apocalypse as their Plan B. Instead they had several trusted agents, but they all failed so they resorted to dropping the Divine Hammer on Istar and plunging Ansalon into an Age of Despair before turning away from the world.
The Cataclysm remains as the mark the world changed forever, turning Dragonlance into a technically post-apocalyptic setting. The architectural marvels, magical wonders, and lore of the Age of Might became lost to most, and even those who rebuilded are but shadows of what once was. Takhisis, the Dragon Queen who is known on other worlds as Tiamat,* knew that Krynn was under a cosmic power vacuum, so she plotted her return by transporting the Kingpriest’s ruined Temple of Istar into the Taman Busuk mountain range. She called on the evil dragons to come out of hiding, stealing the good dragon eggs to turn them into draconians while also blackmailing their parents from involving themselves in the upcoming war. The Dragon Armies gradually grew into an unrivaled international superpower, five military dictatorships empowered by the might of dragons and divine magic to conquer all of Eastern Ansalon.
*Her traditional title of the Dark Queen has been excised from this version of Dragonlance, and Wizards made it canon that she and Tiamat from other settings are one and the same.
Life on Ansalon covers several setting elements useful to all characters. The languages of Ansalon are grouped into Standard and Rare categories and include much of the pre-5e languages, although Camptalk (mercenary/military jargon) and Gullytalk (gully dwarves) have been removed. Most standard languages are variant regional dialects such as Abanasinian, Ergot, and Solamnic plus the Common/Dwarvish/Elvish/Gnome/Kenderspeak, while rare languages cover Draconic/Primordial/Sylvan and most eastern Ansalonian tongues like Kothian (minotaurs) and Nerakese.
Ansalon’s calendar system is the same as ours, although we only cover the Solamnic calendar’s names for days and months.
There is one important change from prior editions: steel pieces are no longer the economic standard! Or rather, there are still bronze and steel pieces in circulation but they have the same value respectively as silver and gold pieces. The book explains this as post-Cataclysm times forced people back to the bare necessities by skyrocketing steel’s value, but over time it went back to pre-Cataclysm standards.
I’m not sure I’m buying this; steel coins are highly impractical when gold would be preferred, which was probably what led to this change. The book even acknowledges the difficulty in forging steel, so making them into coins and not tools is still a waste when softer and equally precious metals can be used.
Rumors of War covers things that PCs and the general population would know or have heard about the Dragon Armies. Most people in western Ansalon aren’t fully aware of their existence; it’s known that the nation of Khur has fallen into civil war and that various warlords are rising in prominence in the mountains of central Ansalon (Dragon Army HQ). There are rumors of said warlords using dragons in battle, but those are considered exaggerated “kender tales.”
Again, while this is in line with the original Chronicles of the Dragon Army as an unknown force that seemingly comes out of nowhere, the Heroes of the Lance were in a remote corner of the continent in the beginning of the tale. This adventure takes place in Kalaman on 351 AC, the easternmost city in Solamnia and a short travel away from Nordmaar. Three years ago Nordmaar was swiftly conquered by the Red Dragon Army, and Kalaman and the surrounding lands are no strangers to travelers and merchants from farther away. Nordmaar isn’t some reclusive country of insurmountable terrain, it has several cities and long had positive ties with Solamnia. By this time it would be public knowledge in eastern Solamnia that Nordmaar is under new administration, not to mention the forced displacement of people fleeing war.
Kalaman Region covers the province of Nightland, a Solamnic territory so named for frequent storms which are attributed to the wrath of the gods who left the world. The Knights of Solamnia are held in low esteem, as vague knowledge of Lord Soth’s failure turned into the broader claim that the Knights could have prevented the Cataclysm but chose not to, causing most of the populace to turn against them. Now most of Solamnia is a patchwork confederation of autonomous territories with different styles of government; in Kalaman’s case its government is presided over by trade guilds due to being a valued port city.
Religion and the Gods gives a rundown of Dragonlance’s deities. They are separated into three pantheons associated with each moral alignment. I covered the gods before in an earlier Let’s Read so no need to go over them again, but I can focus on what’s changed.
Details on individual deities are sparse, amounting to a sentence or two per god. Branchala is no longer chaotic good, instead neutral good, which means that there are no more chaotic good gods in the setting, whereas Mishakal changed from neutral good to lawful good. Each of the Gods of Neutrality are True Neutral in alignment: Shinare and Sirrion were formerly lawful and chaotic neutral respectively. As for the gods of evil only Chemosh has changed, from neutral to lawful evil.
But the other big change, and one that rubbed quite a few fans the wrong way, is that Goldmoon’s discovery of the Disks of Mishakal isn’t the first instance of non-evil clerics coming back into Ansalon. The Gods of Good and Neutrality are playing a bit of a slow head start: while divine magic* is still largely unknown on Krynn (the Dragon Armies excepting), there are a few mortals who witnessed and received miraculous visions. Unlike the Mages of High Sorcery, divine spellcasting is a personal affair of a relationship between a deity and the cleric/druid/paladin. In fact, the vast majority don’t have other priests to train and inform them, nor congregations to build their numbers, so they’re pretty much religious in isolation.
*There are many religious movements that arose after the Cataclysm, such as the Seekers of Abanasinia. Most who claim magical miracles are charlatans using arcane magic.
It’s easy to blame the gods for the Cataclysm. They sent the Thirteen Warnings and the burning mountain that followed. They sank Istar beneath the waves, shattered the continent, and withdrew from the world. They chose to cause the immense suffering of the disaster and the centuries since.
But let us suppose that the gods of good love this world and want us to flourish. That the gods of neutrality strive to steward and uphold the agency of mortals. That even the gods of evil, selfish as they are, seek power and influence, not destruction for its own sake. Why, then, would they punish us with the Cataclysm and leave us in a godless world?
I fear we’ve forgotten more than we remember. Worship of the true gods is ever waning, and false religions rise in their place. I pray every day that we’ve learned our lesson—that the gods will return, and that I may cede this chair to one who hears their voices and bears their true blessings.
Time alone will tell.
Rosamund Heward, Knight of the Crown
Acting High Clerist
Another portion of the text acknowledges the gods’ atrocities, but doesn’t have an answer and falls back into the “well it’s really our fault this happened” line that has been traditional for the setting.
Chapter 1: Character Creation
This chapter covers what an enterprising player needs to know in creating their Krynnish PC.
Peoples of Krynn covers the major races and their cultures. Although each of them save Kender draw upon existing racial stats in the PHB or Monsters of the Multiverse, ability score modifiers can be chosen by the player as +2 to one score and +1 to another or +1 to 3 different scores.
Dwarves once claimed an extensive subterranean network of kingdoms beneath Ansalon, but the Cataclysm rendered most of them uninhabitable. Now dwarves are split into three groups, the mountain dwarven nations of Kayolin and Thorbadin, and the Neidar hill dwarves who lived above-ground and were denied entry into Thorbadin as refugees during the Cataclysm. The ensuing Dwarfgate Wars engendered a long-standing hatred between Thorbadin and Neidar dwarves that lasts to this day.
Now, you might notice that some subraces are missing, most notably the gully dwarf! In addition to the Cataclysm and its moral system, one of Dragonlance’s other controversial elements is its three short comic relief races. While gnomes and kender still exist as playable options, the gully dwarves were perhaps the most problematic and least fixable. So WotC simply did away with them, with hill dwarves capable of filling a similar role where some are reclusive survivalists forced to live off of harsh lands. There’s also no mention of the dark dwarven clans of Thorbadin or the nation of Zhakar.
Being one of the oldest surviving civilizations on Ansalon, the elves traditionally lived apart from the other races in the forests and seas. The Silvanesti are the oldest clan, with their Qualinesti cousins those who moved away in seeking a more egalitarian society after the Kinslayer War. They both use stats for high elves, and the Silvanesti became refugees once their leader resorted to using an Orb of Dragonkind* to protect his people from the invading Green Dragonarmy. Now their forest is an uninhabitable nightmare, and they are forced to take refuge in Southern Ergoth.
*Another retcon. They were originally the Dragon Orbs and occupied a similar role as Orbs of Dragonkind, but with expanded powers.
The Kagonesti use the stats of wood elves, being a group who sought to live as nomads and didn’t settle in Silvanesti instead opting for Ergoth’s forests. They welcomed the Silvanesti refugees and supported them, but “refuse to be overwhelmed by the Silveanesti’s numbers and distinct ways.”
This is another change from canon; in the original Dragonlance Chronicles, both the Qualinesti and Silvanesti enslaved the Kagonesti to use as an exploitable labor force. And they were still good-aligned while doing so! WotC rightfully retconned this.
The last group are the Sea Elves, made up of the Dargonesti who live in the deep sections of ocean and the Dimernesti who live closer to land and coastal shores. They are more isolated than their land-dwelling cousins, and use Sea Elf stats from Mordenkainen’s Monsters of the Multiverse.
Gnomes still exist, with rock gnomes renamed tinker gnomes and forest gnomes getting a mere two-sentence description of living in harmony with nature in Sancrist and Kendermore. Tinker gnomes primarily live on Mount Nevermind on the island of Sancrist, famed for their inventions far beyond Ansalon’s medieval technology level. Tinker gnomes still maintain their comic relief aspects, being absent-minded professors whose inventions are of questionable reliability.
Humans are the most numerous race on Ansalon, split into many different groups, and there’s no more distinction between “civilized” and nomadic humans. We have brief write-ups on Abanasinia (settlers who are part of the theocratic Seeker religion and nomadic Plainsfolk), Northern and Southern Ergoth (the remnants of a prior empire who have good relations with the kender of Hylo and goblins in the North, and are in conflict with the ogres and giants of the South), Solamnia (inwards-focused autonomous provinces that are collectively the most prosperous society on the continent), and Tarsis (struggling former port city turned landlocked backwater). Other lands are briefly touched on, mostly in Dragon Army territory and amount to little more than individual sentences that don’t tell us much about the lands beyond broad geography.
We lost the gully dwarves, but the Kender still persist with a unique entry all their own! Due to their infamy they need no introduction. They’re still humanoids with an unquenchable curiosity and fearlessness, although their notable habit of “borrowing” has instead been pseudo-retconned into amassing impressive collections of various curiosities. As a race they are Small humanoids with a 30 foot walking speed, and gain proficiency with one of five rogueish skills of their choice: insight, investigation, sleight of hand, stealth, or survival. Their famed fearlessness is a nerfed advantage on saves vs the frightened condition rather than outright immunity like in prior Editions, although once every long rest they can choose to auto-succeed on such a saving throw. Finally their Taunt feature is activated as a bonus action against a nearby creature, who if they fail a Wisdom save have disadvantage on attack rolls against targets besides the taunting kender until the start of the kender’s next turn. The taunt is of limited use based on their proficiency bonus times per long rest, and its DC is based on one mental ability score of the kender’s choice at character creation.
If I had to judge kender as a race they’re average, as overall their abilities don’t strongly push them to any particular role. Their skill bonuses would make them good rogues, but their lack of darkvision limits their capabilities for sneaking around in dungeons and dark places. Taunt can make them a surprisingly effective tank in drawing away enemy attention, although in being small they aren’t the kind of builds that gravitate towards heavy armor which tend to be on the martial side of things. In comparison to halflings they aren’t as good scouts: Lucky is overall useful, and Silent Speech or Naturally Stealthy of the subraces are good for sneaky pursuits.
But what of other races not listed here, like a half-orc or warforged? Well the default assumption is that such people are extraplanar travelers or existed as pre-Cataclysm civilizations that are now isolated enclaves. In other words, it leaves that to the Dungeon Master’s discretion. Sadly, there’s no mention for Dragonlance’s other canonical playable races such as centaurs, minotaurs, and ogres. Draconians at this point are the enemy and not a playable option.
Dragonlance has quite the number of iconic Organizations, most notably the honorable Knights of Solamnia and the Mages of High Sorcery. Wait a moment, did they use to be Wizards of High Sorcery? You guessed right, dear reader! You see, when Dragonlance was first made, it was as much a deconstruction of 1st Edition and the kind of world that the rules would make as it was a more epic “save the world” fantasy. Vancian spellcasting was a phenomena known as the Curse of the Magi, and the nine alignments which were new at the time made Good vs Evil prominent over Law vs Chaos. Every time a new Edition (or SAGA) came out, the world of Krynn was gradually updated with such changes.
But Shadow of the Dragon Queen is set firmly in the original Chronicles era, but still wants the full variety of class options. Arcane spellcasting is still a unique kind of magic which can be channeled through the three moons, but there exist spellcasters who gain their powers from innate heritage as well as pacts made with…well, I presume creatures that aren’t gods, otherwise warlocks would be divine casters. The book doesn’t really elaborate on the place non-wizard arcanists have in the world.
The Mages of High Sorcery reflects this change, although their number is still made up mostly of wizards as that kind of spellcasting is most conducive to shared resources via spellbooks. Otherwise they exist more or less the same as they did in prior Editions: a governing body regulating arcane spellcasters across Ansalon divided into three Orders pledged to a different God of Magic. The Test of High Sorcery is still performed, although there’s no hard and fast cutoff point of “once you learn 3rd level spells you have to take the Test or become a renegade” like in prior Editions. Instead, it’s a more relative line when a caster approaches a notable level of power that they’re no longer deemed a dabbler of magic in the eyes of the Orders.
As for the Knights of Solamnia, their origins lie with Solamnia itself, where the founder Vinas Solamnus joined a rebellion in the eastern provinces of the Empire of Ergoth when he came to sympathize with their grievances. Three Gods of Good, Paladin, Kiri-Jolith, and Habbakuk created three orders of knights to justly rule and protect the realm of Solamnia. Before the Cataclysm they were a respected order by the goodly peoples of Ansalon, although they became vilified in their own lands and overthrown in being blamed for not stopping the gods’ wrath. Now most Knights fled to Sancrist Isle where they rule openly as a dwindling organization, and elsewhere in Krynn disguise themselves to continue doing good work. A major issue facing the knighthood is whether or not to cling to their old codes in the face of changing times, or adapt to a new world in order to better protect it.
Feats provide us with 2 new backgrounds, 9 new feats for a Dragonlance campaign, as well as a new rule for bonus feats. At 1st level a PC gains a bonus feat, which is either the Squire of Solamnia if part of the Knights of Solamnia background, Initiate of High Sorcery if part of the Mage of High Sorcery background, or their choice of the Skilled or Tough feat if the PC belongs to neither group. At 4th level they gain another bonus feat, being their choice of one from the 1st level list, Adept of the Black/Red/White Robes if a Mage, Knight of the Crown/Rose/Sword if a Knight, or Alert/Divinely Favored/Mobile/Sentinel/War Caster if belonging to neither organization.
The rationale for these bonus feats is that Shadow of the Dragon Queen is a harder than normal adventure, so bonus feats help give an extra edge to characters.
The Knight of Solamnia background is a pretty good one: it grants Athletics and Survival as bonus skills, 2 bonus languages of the player’s choice, and the Squire of Solamnia as a bonus feat. It oddly doesn’t provide tables for Personality Traits (neither does Mage of High Sorcery), instead only having a d6 table of trinkets and suggestions for appropriate classes. In prior Editions the Knights of Solamnia weren’t really known for their magic, with spellcasters mostly fighter/clerics with the return of the gods if Knights of the Sword or Rose, and paladins weren’t a playable class in 1st through 3rd Edition. But in Shadow of the Dragon Queen fighters, clerics, and paladins make up the bulk of their forces. Valor bards and zealot path barbarians who worship Habbakuk are suggested as more unusual options.
The Mage of High Sorcery background reflects a character who isn’t a full member but is already fastening ties with one of the Orders of High Sorcery. They gain Arcana and History as bonus skills along with 2 languages of the player’s choice along with the Initiate of High Sorcery feat. They are typically arcane spellcasters from a wide variety of classes and walks of life, although the Orders have been known to recruit divine spellcasters if they’re considered promising enough individuals. Gish style classes and characters are rare but not unknown.
As for the new feats, Divinely Favored has a prerequisite of 4th level and represents a god choosing the PC to have some of their power, granting one cleric cantrip and one 1st level spell of the player’s choice along with Augury. The 1st level spell is pulled from the warlock, cleric, or druid spell list depending on the deity’s alignment and it and augury can be cast once per long rest without a spell slot. It also lets the PC use a holy symbol as a casting focus, so you can definitely have a “Wizard-priest” of Gilean reflavored as a faithful seeker of knowledge.
Overall it’s an alright feat; it’s nothing exceptional or a no-brainer for broad roles, but as it can be gained for free it’s not such a bad choice.
Initiate of High Sorcery grants a bonus wizard cantrip and two 1st level spells based on an affiliated moon. Unlike Divinely Favored the bonus spells are not gate kept behind alignment, nor are the Adept Robe feats, so technically within the rules you can be an good-aligned Adept of the Red Robes or an evil-aligned Initiate choosing bonus spells from Solinari. The bonus spells can be cast from spell slots or once per long rest each if of a class without spellcasting.
As for the particular spells, Lunitari’s selection isn’t that impressive with some spells that may be useful in only a few situations, but Solinari takes the cake with shield being one of the options among some utility divinations. Nuitari grants more offensive spells with false life and hex as the standouts.
The moon you choose for Initiate also locks you into one of the three 4th level Adept feats from then on out. Each feat grants a 2nd level spell from one of the Order’s two favored schools (Abjuration & Divination for White, Illusion & Transmutation for Red, Enchantment & Necromancy for Black) along with a unique ability. Black Robe Adepts can spend their own Hit Dice to add to the damage of damaging spells, which makes this a great choice for gish builds. I smell some Barbarian/Wizards in the future! Black Robe Adepts can treat an attack or ability roll of 9 or lower on a d20 as a 10 a number of times per long rest equal to their proficiency bonus, which leaves me rather mum. Can be useful, but not a life-saver unless you’re already rolling with something you have a large modifier for. White Robe Adepts can spend a reaction to protect themselves or a nearby creature within 30 feet, reducing oncoming damage by xd6 + spellcasting ability modifier, with x being the level of an expended spell slot. Much like Shield, this can be a useful ability to save a party member from the brink of death.
Moving on to the knightly feats, Squire of Solamnia provides 2 unique features: mounting or dismounting costs only 5 feet of movement rather than half, and a number of times per long rest equal to their proficiency bonus (use is expended only on a hit) can make a weapon attack have advantage and add 1d8 to the damage roll. Pretty useful, especially given it doesn’t cost you on a failed attack.
The 3 Order-based knightly feats differ from High Sorcery in that they don’t lock each other out. While it’s traditional for Knights to join the orders in sequence of Crown-Sword-Rose, they retain the training they had in a prior order and mechanically there’s nothing saying that the Knight of the Crown feat is a prerequisite for Sword, or Sword a prerequisite for Rose. Each feat grants a +1 to one of 3 ability scores appropriate to the Order plus a special ability that can be used a number of times equal to their proficiency bonus per long rest. Crown gets a Commanding Rally activated as a bonus action to have an ally attack as a reaction and add 1d8 to the damage roll; Rose gets a Bolstering Rally activated as a bonus action to have an ally gain temporary hit points equal to 1d8 + proficiency bonus + ability modifier of the ability score increased with the feat; Sword grants a Demoralizing Strike which once per turn can be added to a successful weapon attack roll that imposes the frightened condition on a failed Wisdom save. Even on a successful save the target has disadvantage on its next attack roll.
Thematically speaking, Commanding Rally feels odd for Crown name-wise as the Knights of the Rose are the archetypical “leader knights.” Rose’s Bolstering Rally feels more appropriate for Crown or Sword, as those Order’s themes (loyalty and endurance for Crown, courage for Sword) best represent the increased staying power of temporary hit points. But in terms of mechanical effectiveness, Crown’s Commanding Rally is very useful as most martial classes don’t make use of reactions and this is a good way to give them an additional attack. And in regards to Rogues it can be a means to get Sneak Attack more than once per round as Sneak Attack is restricted to once per turn, not once per round. Demoralizing Strike is perhaps the least broadly useful as there are many creatures who can resist or be immune to the Frightened condition.
The Lunar Sorcery Subclass rounds out our new options in Chapter 1, representing sorcerers who draw magical power from the moon or moons of the setting. It even mentions adapting it to other worlds, such as people blessed by Selune in the Forgotten Realms or those using knowledge of the Draconic Prophecy to draw power from Eberron’s 12 moons.
Each of this subclass’ features has a variable effect depending on whether they are manifesting the power of the New Moon, Crescent Moon, or Full Moon. This is determined not by the phases of the moon as they are, but chosen by the sorcerer after finishing a long rest. They learn new bonus spells at every odd-numbered level up to 9th, with their own table based on moon phase which switches out said spell. Full Moon spells are geared towards protection and restoration, New Moon towards debuffs, and Crescent to illusions of various kinds. Additionally at 1st level the sorcerer learns sacred flame and can target up to 2 targets within 5 feet if they wish when casting this cantrip. At 6th level they can reduce the sorcery point of a metamagic feature by 1 to a minimum of 0 based on their moon phase a number of times per long rest equal to their proficiency bonus: abjuration and divination spells for Full, enchantment and necromancy for New, and illusion and transmutation for Crescent.
Also at 6th level they can spend 1 sorcery point to change their personal phase and cast a 1st level bonus phase spell once without a spell slot once per long rest. At 14th level they gain a persistent buff depending on their phase: shedding bright light granting advantage in Investigation and Perception in Full, advantage on Stealth and impose disadvantage on attacks while in total darkness with New, and resistance to necrotic and radiant damage with Crescent.
Finally at 18th level they can spend a bonus action to use a special ability based on their phase: a blinding AoE attack and healing one target 3d8 hit points with Full, dealing 3d10 necrotic damage and reducing speed to 0 as an AoE with New plus becoming temporarily invisible, or teleporting yourself plus one willing creature up to 60 feet and both gaining resistance to damage until start of next turn with Crescent. These can be used once per long rest, with 5 sorcery points for every additional time between long rests.
Overall Lunar Sorcery is a strong subclass, although its varied phases have clear winners and losers. The bonus spells from Crescent are situational, with Full Moon having spells that are of broader use to a wider variety of builds and campaigns. New has the nifty blindness/deafness spell but as most of the other spells are Concentration you can’t make full use of them all in many fights.
As for Lunar Empowerment, New Moon is a clear winner. At this level it shouldn’t be hard to create conditions of darkness, and disadvantage on attack rolls against you is more useful than resistance to two uncommon damage types. The small aura of light from Full is the worst of the lot. For 18th level the AoE blinding light of Full is pretty good given that’s a powerful condition and most creatures rely upon sight. Crescent’s teleport is basically a longer-range Misty Step with damage resistance and feels a bit underwhelming.
Thoughts So Far: The player and setting-facing section of Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen is a good yet brief rundown on the world of Krynn for newcomers. As far as retconning elements, it leans towards a more conservative end in comparison to Ravenloft’s more dramatic changes. Much of the changes are done for both progressive sensibilities (which is good!) and also for more freedom of option in character-building (a more acquired taste that may not always make thematic sense). At times it feels that the authors are trying to walk a tightrope in pleasing both sides: kender are left pretty much unchanged save for ridding their “borrowing” aspect, and the Cataclysm still casts a dark shadow on the supposed non-evil gods. Steel pieces don’t make economic sense so gold is now the standard…but steel pieces are still just as valuable.
As for the Knights of Solamnia and Mages of High Sorcery, I feel that the openness in character creation is more a weakness than a strength. It certainly stands in contrast to the more restricted racial options, once again feeling like the authors are walking a tightrope than committing to a consistent strong vision. In the adventure it is possible for PC mages to end up in an Order they didn’t expect, and with their feat options may not necessarily be in an Order aligned with their lunar deity. The Lunar Sorcerer feels too broad in having a multitude of varyingly-balanced options at the expense of more tightly-focused options in other subclasses. The Knight of Solamnia feats stand out as appealing choices, and the idea of free bonus feats is already a popular house rule. Making the bonus feats ones that don’t grant Ability Score Increases or no-brainer options like Great Weapon Master or Lucky are also elements of good design. Save perhaps for War Caster, which is really good for just about any gish build or clerics who like shields.
Join us next time as we begin the adventure with Chapter 2: Prelude to War and Chapter 3: When Home Burns!