Dragonlance [Let's Read] Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen


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Libertad

Hero
Nice to hear that from you @Burnside!

I'll be taking a break from Dragonlance for the time being, but I have another review in the works. As for what it'll be next, all I can say right now is that it's another setting, but 3rd party and...furry.

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mamba

Legend
I think a combo of the 3.5 Dragons of Autumn/Winter/Spring and the original DL1-16 or 3 volume Classic consolidation would be great. If you had to choose only one, then 3.5 compilations are the ones to have I guess (but I'd want more than that, tbh).
Isn't the 3.5 campaign and expanded version of the DL1-14 / Classic campaign? At least that is my understanding
 

Steel_Wind

Legend
The three compilations in 3.5 (DoAT, DoW & DoS) is DL 1-14, yes in revised format. Not DL15 & 16 though. DL16, in particular, is something that a GM who is running SotDQ and wants to continue the campaign will want.

DL16 is an anthology of adventures -- 40 pages of which is taken up by Dargaard Keep (Soth's haunted citadel). That's the natural place to continue with the campaign, perhaps after some involvement of the PCs in the War as depicted in DL8 is complete.

Also, Battlesystem for AD&D 1st ed was created and released during the publication of DL1-14 for DragonLance. The War of the Lance is depicted in some of the modules using stats from Battlesystem (the original modules provided sheets of counters for Battlesystem, too). It's not compatible with Warriors of Krynn, but it can help shape and guide scenarios you might want to run using WoK in Solamnia after SotDQ is complete. None of those details are in the MWP 3.5 version of DoAT, DoW or DoS, so you would want the original 1st ed modules if you can get em.
 
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RainOnTheSun

Explorer
I received Shadow of the Dragon Queen for Christmas, and I'm glad to see it being analyzed. I'm interested in running it, but I have two main concerns: one is that the rate of leveling up feels too high. I understand the desire to move things along more quickly than in older modules, but I feel like there will be times when the players haven't gotten to use all the features of their newest level before they get another level! The other worry isn't really specific to this book, but long rests feel too frequent for the way 5e appears to be balanced between classes. I don't blame the book, it's hard to find reasons to give characters half a dozen fights to the death in a single day, day after day, but the problem is still there. I saw a house rule on this board once to remove short rests and (I think?) triple the uses of abilities that recharge on a short rest, and I might try using that with this campaign.
 

mrswing

Explorer
I was struck how much this campaign resembles a much improved Tyranny of Dragons. It also begins with an attack on a village, there is a search for powerful magic to prohibit the Dragon Queen's army from fulfilling its plans (with similar results), there's a flying castle... But here, for the most part the storyline flows much more logically and you actually get the sense that something big is going on and the powers that be take the matter seriously. In the later chapters there are some missing links (finding the City of Lost Names entrance is neither logical nor cool, the way to enter the Citadel is iffy, and how did mr. average NPC manage to scout out so much info for the PCs???) but solutions can be found for these things. I do wish we had a better idea of the troop sizes of the Dragonarmy and the City of Kalaman though, because now it often feels as if the city just has a rag-tag bunch of hapless defenders while they manage to hold off an unstoppable juggernaut and traipse all around the continent as well. Still, definitely one of the better WOTC narrative campaigns and it has many setpieces that can lead to really memorable sessions.
 

I was struck how much this campaign resembles a much improved Tyranny of Dragons. It also begins with an attack on a village, there is a search for powerful magic to prohibit the Dragon Queen's army from fulfilling its plans (with similar results), there's a flying castle... But here, for the most part the storyline flows much more logically and you actually get the sense that something big is going on and the powers that be take the matter seriously. In the later chapters there are some missing links (finding the City of Lost Names entrance is neither logical nor cool, the way to enter the Citadel is iffy, and how did mr. average NPC manage to scout out so much info for the PCs???) but solutions can be found for these things. I do wish we had a better idea of the troop sizes of the Dragonarmy and the City of Kalaman though, because now it often feels as if the city just has a rag-tag bunch of hapless defenders while they manage to hold off an unstoppable juggernaut and traipse all around the continent as well. Still, definitely one of the better WOTC narrative campaigns and it has many setpieces that can lead to really memorable sessions.

That's a lot of good points. Having run the first section, I do have to say that the big difference here is that, instead of it just being a random village at the start, this campaign goes out of its way to make you care about the village being attacked. My group spent an entire session basically role-playing as they went around Vogler, meeting NPCs and participating in the activities. It's so much of a better starting set up than Tyranny.
 

mrswing

Explorer
That's a lot of good points. Having run the first section, I do have to say that the big difference here is that, instead of it just being a random village at the start, this campaign goes out of its way to make you care about the village being attacked. My group spent an entire session basically role-playing as they went around Vogler, meeting NPCs and participating in the activities. It's so much of a better starting set up than Tyranny.
I absolutely agree. This is like Tyranny finally done (largely) right.
 

fjw70

Adventurer
I received Shadow of the Dragon Queen for Christmas, and I'm glad to see it being analyzed. I'm interested in running it, but I have two main concerns: one is that the rate of leveling up feels too high. I understand the desire to move things along more quickly than in older modules, but I feel like there will be times when the players haven't gotten to use all the features of their newest level before they get another level! The other worry isn't really specific to this book, but long rests feel too frequent for the way 5e appears to be balanced between classes. I don't blame the book, it's hard to find reasons to give characters half a dozen fights to the death in a single day, day after day, but the problem is still there. I saw a house rule on this board once to remove short rests and (I think?) triple the uses of abilities that recharge on a short rest, and I might try using that with this campaign.
I agree with the complaint. My plan is to start the PCs at 3rd level and then only level them once each chapter instead of twice.
 

Having a read through this with an eye to running it too. I'm more a fan of the start of the campaign than the end, it has to be said.

Modification to the first chapter - the initial letter from Becklin kicking things off will actually talk about how Ispin was injured in a hunting accident and is not expected to survive, and that she encourages the PCs to visit him before his death. He will die before the PCs arrive. She'll then explain how he'd gone out to investigate farmers' stories of a large creature to the west of town, and been badly mauled. She can't go out to investigate herself (an ancestor of hers neglected his duty in favour of a hunting trip one time, with tragic consequences, and now her entire lineage of Knights takes an oath never to indulge in hunting...) but the PCs can. It turns out the creature responsible is a giant boar (possibly beefed up a bit depending on party size). It killed a draconian a few days ago (in self-defence) but got a faceful of acid in the process and is mad with pain. PCs can kill it, or calm it down via Animal Handling etc and magically cure it.

The point of this is twofold. First is to add an additional combat (other than the prelude draconians) in the very early parts of the campaign. If your PCs are into roleplaying and smelling the roses, they could spend a LOT of time wandering around Vogler playing fishing games and making up tall stories about Ispin, and making friends among the locals. (And this is a GOOD thing, because it lets you genuinely reward the PCs for (for example) clearing kapaks off the cliff face by letting them rescue NPCs they've become fond of, which gives these encounters stakes.) The boar gives the combat wombat players something to fight in the meantime. Also, it rubs in a bit about the themes. Becklin is a good knight but is still hamstrung by her oaths. And both the boar and Ispin really emphasise the rarity of healing magic, and how much of a Big Deal it is that the PCs have a true cleric/paladin/druid with them and the gods are coming back.

As for the rest ... hmm. It's a mixed bag. I don't like the structure, in which the final climatic combat of the campaign is against someone the PCs have never met, and probably never even seen. It's appropriate to a war campaign that you don't know your enemies very well, but I'm not sure it's appropriate to a Dragonlance campaign which runs on interpersonal melodrama, hate, and betrayal. I don't really like the emphasis on Soth when he's really only a misdirect and the PCs don't get to properly fight him. Same with Bahkaris and Dalamar, it seems like a few canon novel DL NPCs were included here as easter eggs, but if you're in the business of respecting DL canon, then you kind of have to account for the possibility that PCs will kill Bakharis, for instance (and he's awful - you know they'll try). Most of the dragons the PCs fight will be death dragons, this seems like a bit of a misplay given Takhisis has all these iconic chromatic dragons just raring to go. The northern wastes part of the adventure hands out a lot of monetary treasure the PCs will have trouble spending in war-panicked Kalaman. Unless you bring back Besklin, there not really any LIVE Solamnic knights in here for the PCs to interact with or be knighted by, once their deeds merit it. Becklin makes sure that Darrett gets his armour, who does this for PC knights? Also, we spend the entire campaign in one quite small corner of Krynn. The module provides a way of handwaving the Test of High Sorcery for PCs given they'll be going nowhere near the Tower of High Sorcery, but there's also precious little space for for iconic Dragonlance imagery and concepts like the elven nations, or the Plainspeople, or the politicking and infighting among the Solamnic Knights, or even the friction between different dwarf clans. Any PC with any of this stuff built into their backgrounds is likely going to be disappointed.

I love the creepy set-piece where wearied and beaten PCs return from Silver Springs and rejoince that the Solamnic Knights have arrived, only to have the slow awful turnaround when they realise the knights are Soth's undead and the Kalaman council lies slaughtered. I like Leedara, and as a recurring NPC she's got some great potential, especially for a PC who wants a very-Dragonlance-y doomed romance plot. Wheelwatch is a nice set-piece, even though I'm not in fond of the concept of dragonnels. The imagery of the flying city advancing on Kalaman is great.

So, what to do?

Honestly, I'm caught. The module can't quite decide whether to have a death knight theme or a dragon theme, tries to split the middle, and succeeds entirely in neither. The undead have some of the best moments in the campaign, post-Vogler, but this takes the focus off the Dragonarmies (and the module skates over why Soth even involves himself in the War at this stage, he never had allegiance to Takhisis at all, he's got no dog in this fight). I'd be tempted to take the campaign completely off-track from the Northern Wastes, and perhaps send the PCs haring around Krynn looking for Nezrah's other eggs (or possibly more data for Dalamar's calculations), which would let them see more of the world (especially the PC-background-relevant bits) and gain a few levels before coming back to Kalaman when they're high enough level to actually fight in a proper dragon war.

Hmm, actually, if I was doing a DL campaign, the end-game goal might be to infiltrate the fortress where dragon eggs are being corrupted to spawn draconians, and to destroy some sort of magic McGuffin that binds the draconians thus created to the will of Takhisis. Basically, give them back their free will (Nezrah could drive this, she wants ALL her children back, even the ones that have been mutilated and brainwashed into serving the dragon armies!) And achieving that would be a big deal when it came to winning the war, you can't put knowledge of the draconian-creating ritual back in the bottle, but you can undermine its usefulness. And it wouldn't interfere with novel canon, to the best of my knowledge (my prospective players WOULD care about this).

Though I'd still want to use the death knights somehow. That's kind of an dilemma there. If you use a different death knight to Soth, he comes across as a pale imitation. If you do use Soth, you have all sorts of canon-compliance problems to explain why he gives a damn about any of this stuff, and to deal with what happens if the PCs end up fighting the guy and somehow manage to win.
 

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