Dragonlance [Let's Read] Tasslehoff's Pouches of Everything Revised

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Dragonlance has had a major setting sourcebook in every official Dungeons & Dragons Edition save for 4th. But their releases weren’t always immediate, and the online Dragonlance fandom has been known to pick up the pace and make free fan material. The Dragonlance Nexus is perhaps the oldest surviving online community, having existed since 1996 and still going strong. It helped host conversion manuals for 3rd Edition* before WotC released an official sourcebook in 2003, and sometime during the 5th Edition era they released a free sourcebook known as Tasslehoff’s Pouches of Everything. It was pretty much a “player’s guide,” with a heavy focus on races, subclasses, equipment, and some detail on the world and its history.

*And over time other systems such as Fate, Pathfinder, and Savage Worlds!

Now that Dragonlance material can be published on the Dungeon Master’s Guild, the Nexus released a new and revised Tasslehoff’s Pouches book with even more material for sale. Not only that, it has a tie-in adventure, Champions of Krynn Chapter 1 which is basically a tabletop conversion of the retro video game of the same name. Although both products are bundled together, as Champions of Krynn has yet to be published to completeness (only the 2nd out of 3 Chapters are out) I will only view Tasslehoff’s Pouches of Everything Revised for this thread.

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Chapter 1: Ancestries of Ansalon

Our book covers playable races in Ansalon, separated into common (are widespread across the continent) and uncommon (who are overall rarer and mostly clustered in a few areas). Our first entry concerns dwarves, who all use the base dwarf race from the core rules but have entirely new subraces. Calnar dwarves are our first, being more of an historical predecessor of the Hylar who established the first dwarven kingdom and were renowned for their trade. Their subrace is geared towards this role with a +1 bonus to Charisma, one bonus language of their choice, and being proficient in Persuasion. Next up we have the Hylar dwarves, the traditional ruling clan of the mountain nation of Thorbadin, who have +1 bonuses to Strength and Intelligence, a bonus language of their choice, and are proficient with light and medium armor. The Daegar are one of the three “evil dwarf” clans, native to Thorbadin’s deepest reaches and have a lust for violence, with a higher-than-usual +2 to Strength along with doing one extra damage dice on melee criticals like a half-orc, and to top things off they have 120 foot darkvision but sunlight sensitivity. Ouch! Daewar are the warrior caste of non-evil dwarves, who are like the Hylar but have a bonus to Charisma instead of Strength and also have proficiency in heavy armor. Klar are Neidar dwarves who ended up in Thorbardin after the Cataclysm, and are known to be wildly emotional which gives them a sort of “mad” reputation. They have a +1 bonus to Dexterity along with a base walking speed of 35 feet, and can make an unarmed strike as a bonus action they add their ability modifier to if they have one hand free.

Neidar are the hill dwarf equivalent, who traditionally lived above ground outside Thorbardin and were denied entry during the Cataclysm, creating a deep-seated hatred between them and the “mountain dwarves.” Neidar have the same mechanics as the hill dwarves in the core rules plus proficiency in any one skill reflecting their versatility. Theiwar are our second evil dwarf clan, having a knack for fiendish plots and are less distrustful of arcane magic than other dwarves. They get +1 Intelligence, and their ability to wriggle out of danger is reflected by advantage on checks to avoid being grappled as well as proficiency in either Acrobatics or Athletics. The Zhakar dwarves round out our evil dwarven clans, who in this book are briefly described as having the worst qualities of both human and dwarf and have few allies in the world along with being enemies of all other dwarven clans. They have a +1 bonus to Strength, ignore difficult terrain made of earth or stone, and are proficient in light or medium armor.

Last but not least, we have gully dwarves, who in terms of mechanics are treated as their own race rather than a dwarven subrace. I am happy to say that this book more or less averts their comic relief stupidity, instead focusing on their ability to survive in the most inhospitable of environments. They have +2 to Constitution, +1 to Dexterity, are Small in size, proficient in Survival, and have advantage on Stealth checks when using the Hide action. They have resistance to poison damage and advantage on Constitution saves vs the poisoned condition and catching diseases. They have a special ability, Diverting Demeanor, they can use a number of times per long rest equal to their proficiency bonus where they can pitifully beg, cry, and plead as an action. Each creature within 10 feet of the gully dwarf must make a Charisma save, or all of the dwarf’s allies have advantage on attack rolls against them until the start of the dwarf’s next turn.

Thoughts: Some of these dwarven subraces are much more appealing than others. The mountain dwarf’s armor proficiencies in the core rules made it an attractive choice for otherwise unarmored and lightly-armored characters. Since the Daewar get all that plus a bag of (mail) chips, they will likely be the subrace of choice for “armored wizard” builds. And with the Neidar’s bonus skill proficiency, this makes them a pretty attractive option for a variety of builds. The bonus armor proficiencies of the Hylar and Daewar feel superfluous for Fighters, Paladins, and Clerics with certain domains, so your typical “heavy armor” dwarf player is likely to pick a subrace besides those ones such as the Neidar. Conversely, the subraces I can see being less popular are due to either punishing features or for specific builds: the Daergar’s sunlight sensitivity is pretty bad all around, while the Klar’s bonus unarmed strike is really only useful for a monk or some other unarmed damage-booster as the bonus damage is quite pitiable. As for the gully dwarf, most of its abilities are passive rather than active and quite situational. The advantage on Stealth for hiding makes them pretty good for ambush builds, and while Diverting Demeanor can be a good means to set up an advantage for an ally it comes at the expense of an action that can be used for spells and attacks. Given that Help already does something similar, this would only be of use if more than one ally is capable of attacking after the gully dwarf. Overall there are better races for thief types.

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Elves come up next, and are one of the three elder races. The favored creations of the Gods of Light, they often have an arrogant demeanor towards the other races. Like dwarves, they have their own subraces. The Silvanesti are the oldest of the elven civilizations, inhabitants of a forest kingdom of the same name. They are much more strict than one’s typical fantasy elf, being very lawfully-aligned and arranged into a strict caste system organized into Houses along with being fiercely isolationist. Statwise they gain nothing special, using the high elf from the core rules. The Qualinesti elves are an offshoot of the Silvanesti, who left that nation in favor of founding a relatively freer society. They live in the forest kingdom of Qualinesti, and are much more open towards non-elves. As a subrace they get a +1 bonus to Charisma, are proficient in Persuasion, have your typical elven weapon training of bows and swords, and get a bonus language of their choice. The Kagonesti live mostly in the forests of Southern Ergoth, who aren’t fond of the other elven nations’ concept of “civilization” and opt to live in simple hunter-gatherer lifestyles. Mechanically speaking they are wood elves.

The Dargonesti are one of two aquatic elven kingdoms, who traditionally live in settlements deep on the seafloor, most notably the ruins of post-Cataclysm Istar. They have a +1 bonus to their Constitution, a swimming speed and the ability to breathe underwater, can transform into a porpoise for 1 hour per long rest, suffer exhaustion when they go for long periods without full immersion in water, and are proficient with light crossbows, spears, tridents, and nets. The Dimernesti are the other aquatic elven subrace, who live closer to the surface along Ansalon’s coastlines, and barring the city of Dimernost are nomads who move between coral reefs and kelp forests as temporary homes. In terms of stats they are the same as Dargonesti, but have a bonus to Strength instead of Constitution and shapechange into a sea otter instead of a porpoise. Both Dimernesti and Dragonesti used to be bitter towards each other after the Cataclysm, but in the Age of Mortals they united to fight an undead army commanded by the dragon Blazewight.

Regarding the shapechange forms, they have their own stat blocks in Chapter 8. To briefly sum up, both are CR ⅛ aquatic animals, where the porpoise has a higher swim speed and a more damaging charge and slam attack along with blindsight up to 60 feet, while the sea otter in comparison has a weaker bite attack, darkvision, advantage on hearing and smell-based Perception checks, and can move and breathe on land.

Half-elves are our final group, who much like in other settings are caught between worlds and were often used as diplomats between the two peoples. Their stats are the same as a half-elf from the core rules, but there are variant options where they trade in their bonus skill proficiencies for a limited list of special features otherwise unique to their parent elf’s subrace, as from the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide.

Thoughts: The Qualinesti subrace is rather unexciting, basically being a high elf who trades in their wizard cantrip for the Persuasion skill. That being said, that may be of better use for some builds, and having a bonus to Charisma instead of Intelligence pushes them towards a wider variety of spellcasting classes such as bard, sorcerer, and warlock. The Dargonesti and Dimernesti subraces are rather situational and would only be picked for campaigns that expect to be around water a lot. When it comes to animal shapechanging the Dimernesti’s sea otter has more uses in a typical land-based adventure than the Dargonesti’s porpoise. If anything, I can see most players choosing a half-elf with the Aquatic trait to better represent the concept.

Gnomes are the most technologically-advanced people in Ansalon, having made all kinds of dangerous and wondrous machines in their volcanic home of Mount Nevermind. Clockwork devices, steam-powered engines, and even geothermal and experimental nuclear energy are but some of their most renowned accomplishments. What’s preventing their devices from spreading across Ansalon is their unpredictability, as gnomes prefer to continually expand on their projects beyond what is necessary and tend to view predictable and practical devices as an unimaginative scientific dead end. The tinker gnome subrace is best exemplified by this, gaining +1 Constitution, gaining a bonus proficiency in a single set of artisan’s tools, add double their proficiency bonus on History checks pertaining to magic items and advanced technology, and have advantage on saves vs the charmed condition and Intimidation and Persuasion checks are made at disadvantage. The last resistant-based abilities are due to a gnome’s single-minded pursuit of their Life Quest, an individual goal a gnome sets their lives towards accomplishing that can take a significant portion of their life to complete.

Thinker Gnomes, or “mad gnomes,” are gnomes who display antisocial behavior in gnomish culture, such as abandoning or not caring about a Life Quest or not caring to overcomplicate their personal inventions. They are the same as tinker gnomes save that they increase their Charisma instead of Constitution, don’t have the resistances befitting one with a Life Quest, and double their proficiency bonus on their chosen artisan’s tools. Wild gnomes originated as a scientific expedition of tinker gnomes who settled in the moors of Nordmaar to study the wildlife. Generations of close proximity to nature, and adoption of stealth and illusion magic to mask their presence from the land’s dangers, have made them different from their ancestors. In terms of stats they are forest gnomes.

Thoughts: As the base gnome race already has advantage on mental saving throws vs magic, advantage vs the Charmed condition is a bit superfluous save for those rare times it originates from a non-magical source. As PCs can’t be swayed by the Intimidation and Persuasion skills by default, this is something more for NPC gnomes than an appealing player’s option. Otherwise, tinker gnome PCs get less exciting stuff in comparison to the rock gnomes of the core rules, who at least get the ability to create one of three nifty devices. As for Thinker Gnomes, the double proficiency on artisan’s tools is a very situational feature. If your DM is using one of those crafting mini-game sourcebooks such as Monster Loot or the Armorer’s Handbook, they’re a great choice. Otherwise it won’t matter in typical 5e games.

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Humans are one of the three elder races, created by the Gods of Neutrality and the first people blessed with free will. In spite of their common origin, humans differ too widely in societies and cultures to be pinned down beyond a relative “restlessness” to accomplish things in life in comparison to the longer-lived races. We have a list of the most prominent human ethnicities in Ansalon, and unlike earlier Editions and in keeping with Shadows of the Dragon Queen there’s no separation between “civilized” and “nomadic” humans. Unfortunately, the individual entries are lacking in detail, really only describing common physical features and their regional bonus language. There are smaller human groups in the setting which the book notes, but it doesn’t go into detail.

The Tarmak are a group of humans who have fluff and crunch all their own. They were unknown on Ansalon until the Chaos War, when Ariakan recruited them for military service. Native to the island of Ithn’carthia, they formed tribes around the remote corners of Ansalon after the war’s end. Tarmak are basically Proud Warrior Race Guys who use magical blue war paint to give them increased endurance in battle. They are Variant humans but with the following changes: they add 2 to Strength and 1 to Constitution, have advantage on saves vs the frightened condition instead of a bonus feat, and instead of a bonus skill they can create 5 applications of war paint with 1 hour and 25 steel pieces* of materials. The war paint can be applied as an action, granting them AC of 13 + Dexterity modifier unless they have better armor, and 10 temporary hit points that last until they’re gone or the next long rest.

*Dragonlance’s gold piece equivalent.

Thoughts: While it’s good that Tasslehoff’s Pouches has entries on the human ethnicities, they are far too brief in comparison to prior sourcebooks which included specific cultural details. Such as how the Ergothians are descended from the oldest human empire and took to seafaring after the Cataclysm, or how Solamnia is a patchwork of different government types after the fall of their Knights.

As for the Tarmak, their war paint feature is really good. A typical Potion of Healing costs twice as much but deals 4-10 hit points. While the war paint is temporary hit points, for half the cost they gain an effective 50 hit points. The AC bonus can be nice for certain classes as a Mage Armor equivalent. As for whether that feature and advantage against getting scared is worth a feat and skill trade-in, that really depends on the individual and party builds. But with that said, I can see the war paint being a worthy trade-off in that it effectively works like Inspiring Leader but has a wider pool of HP to spread around.

Kender are short people possessed of a childlike innocence and penchant for exploring everywhere…including places other people don’t want them to explore, such as their pockets. Most people in Ansalon have a love-hate relationship with them, either viewing them as nuisances who can’t keep their hands to themselves, the most blessed of the good-aligned peoples of the world, or a mixture of both.

Unlike the prior entries, kender are a race unto themselves, with two subraces. The base race has +1 to Charisma, is Small sized, proficient in improvised weapons, add double their proficiency bonus on History checks regarding geography, and speak Common and choose additional lange of the player’s choice. The Wanderlust Kender are the first subrace and the most common, representing kender in their default state: a fearless wide-eyed wonder at the world and an endless well of optimism. They have +2 Dexterity, are immune to the frightened condition, can pull a random item from their belongings as a bonus action which stays with them for 10 minutes at which point they lose track of it, and can taunt a target (range unspecified) as a bonus action where if they fail a Charisma save they can’t take the disengage action and take disadvantage on attack rolls against anyone besides the taunting kender. Both of the latter special abilities can be used a number of times per long rest equal to the kender’s proficiency bonus. As for what kinds of items a kender can pull out of their pocket, they are mostly nonmagical knick-knacks of varying usability on a 1d100 table, ranging from light weapons, trinkets, and tools to half-finished small books and maps. An actual magic item can be gained on a roll of 100, but the item is from Magic Item Table A of the DMG, which are the most trivial kinds such as healing potions and low-level spell scrolls.

Afflicted Kender are the other subrace, who are basically kender with PTSD after the red dragon overlord Malyxtryx destroyed the city of Kendermore. They have lost their childlike innocence and are a lot gloomier in mentality. They get +2 Intelligence, are proficient in Survival and one set of artisan’s tools, and can identify the weakness of a target creature within 60 feet (action type is unspecified), where if the target fails a Wisdom save they have disadvantage on attacks and ability checks that target the kender until the start of the kender’s next turn. Its uses per long rest are also based on proficiency bonus.

Thoughts: The kender in Tasslehoff’s Pouches is remarkably different from the one in Shadows of the Dragon Queen, with only the Taunt ability being otherwise the same. The ones in this book are a more authentic portrayal, where they have outright immunity to fear rather than resistance, and they trade in their bonus skill proficiency for more kenderlike things such as random pocket items, improvised weapon proficiency, and better familiarity with locations due to their wanderlust. The afflicted kender’s special ability can be useful if the DM rules that it’s a free action, as the action type isn’t specified, but given that it’s similar in use to the Taunt I presume it was meant to be a bonus action. Survival and artisan tool proficiency are rather situational, although they’re more reliable but less fun IMO than the random pocket treasures.

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Draconians are the first of our uncommon races, with the rest in this post belonging to that category. Created by Takhisis’ Dragonarmies from captured metallic dragon eggs to serve as tools of war, they were forced to find a new place in the world after the fall of their creators. Most draconians continued to live the lives of soldiers by serving various masters. When one band of draconians discovered female draconian eggs once kept hidden by the Dragonarmies, they were able to reproduce on their own terms and eventually founded their own city-state of Teyr. This new kingdom serves as a message to others that draconians can now be masters of their own destiny.

In terms of stats draconians have a base race and five subraces. The base race has +2 Strength, are humanoid but also count as a dragon for dragon-specific effects, 60 foot darkvision, immunity to magical sleep, all besides the aurak have wings which allow them to glide and can increase their walking speed by 5 feet when taking the Dash action, can go for long periods without food and water, and have a unique death throe which activates upon death. What is universal among death throes is that it leaves hardly anything of the original draconian behind, meaning they can only be resurrected by a Wish spell.

The first draconian subrace are auraks, the least common type derived from gold dragons who were designed as powerful arcanists for special operations. They get +1 Intelligence, their death throe is an explosion of fiery magical energy, they have an at-will breath weapon of poison gas in a 15 foot cone that deals 2d6 poison damage and blinds foes for 1d4 rounds should they fail a Constitution save (half damage on success), gain Eldritch Blast as a cantrip, can cast Disguise Self and Misty Step at 3rd level once per long rest each, then two and three times each at 5th and 9th levels, and can cast Dominate Person once per long rest at 13th level.

Baaz are the most common type of draconian, derived from brass dragon heritage and typically served as infantry. They get +1 Constitution, their death throe turns their body to stone and piercing and slashing weapons risk getting embedded within them, and their knack for disguises grants them proficiency with Deception, disguise kits, and advantage on Deception when disguising themselves as humans.

Bozak draconians are taken from bronze dragons and designed to be spellcasting commanders of other draconians. They get +1 Charisma, their death throe causes their skeleton to explode dealing piercing damage, they have the Shocking Grasp cantrip, can cast Magic Missile once per long rest, and can cast Web once per long rest at 3rd level.

Kapak draconians have copper dragon heritage and were designed to be stealthy commandos. They have +1 Dexterity, their death throe causes them to turn into dissolving acid that splashes adjacent targets, and once per short or long rest can coat a slashing or piercing weapon with poisonous saliva as a bonus action. Said poison can paralyze a target for 1d4 rounds if they fail a Constitution save. It doesn’t say which ability score determines the saving throw DC, which is a hindsight.

Sivak draconians are the largest of draconians, and their size and shapeshifting capabilities make them suitable as spies and infiltrators who can also hold their own in a straight-up fight. They get +1 Charisma, can shapeshift and look like a humanoid of Large or smaller size that they kill, can only take on another form with this trait once per long rest and after they killed a new target, and their death throe causes their corpse to appear as a duplicate of the one who killed them (if the killer was a Large or smaller humanoid) before exploding into flames. A sivak’s disguise can be seen through an Investigation vs their Deception, where a successful Investigation determines that the form’s a duplicate.

Thoughts: I’m happy to see that draconians of all five common varieties got the full PC treatment. They only became PC options in 3rd Edition to my knowledge,* but their Hit Die and Level Adjustment made playing them impractical, and the ones besides Baaz and Kapak were only suitable for mid to higher level play. That being said, the draconian subraces vary in balance. First off, the base race’s gliding and immunity to falling via their wings opens up some nice maneuverability and tactics even without full flight. Their death throes are more a curse than a blessing, as being a low-magic setting revival magic is quite rare and you’re pretty much forced to roll up a new PC should your draconian die unless the DM pulls a Deus Ex Machina. Their superior metabolism is of more situational use, only really mattering in campaigns that make PCs track supplies and rations.

*I haven’t read SAGA Edition, the unique system spin-off for Dragonlance in the 5th Age.

As for the subraces, the aurak’s blinding breath is a really great feature, both being at-will and imposing a powerful debuff. Eldritch Blast is a useful long-range cantrip, and Misty Step is a great spell to get out of sticky situations. Gaining bonus uses of that at higher levels only makes them better, and auraks are definitely one of the best subraces. The Baaz’s ability to disguise themselves as human is again situational, albeit given that draconians are still disliked in many places in Ansalon this more or less serves as a bandaid to the “can’t bring the monster PC into town without getting harassed” dilemma in campaigns.* The bozak’s initial spells are alright, with Web at 3rd level being the clear winner. Between that and Shocking Grasp, this encourages them to take builds that keep enemies out of melee, which is at odds with their +2 Strength. The kapak’s paralyzing poison is a nice feature, and regenerating every short rest it’s a neat trick they can afford to use a few times rather than saving for the climactic battle. Finally, the Sivaks are a discount version of Irda (detailed below) and Eberron’s Changelings, with their humanoid disguise ability being more limited in how it can trigger and their base race doesn’t lend itself well to stealth and social builds. Additionally, they don’t have Powerful Build, which is an odd exclusion given that they are one of those “medium yet functionally large” races such as the centaur and goliath.

*I should point out that the aurak’s Disguise Self and Sivak’s shapechanging also help alleviate this.

Goblinoids aren’t really different from virtually every other standard fantasy D&D setting and have nothing you haven’t heard of before. The major difference is that there’s a non-evil nation of goblins in Northern Ergoth called Sikk’et Hul. They have good relations with their kender and Ergothian neighbors. The book oddly says that Sikk’et Hul is a hobgoblin nation, whereas in prior sourcebooks they were implied to be either regular goblins or a variety of goblinoid types. The goblinoid races use the same mechanics as in Mordenkainen’s Monsters of the Multiverse.

Thoughts: I do like the inclusion of Sikk’et Hul in that it gives a good origin for a non-evil goblinoid PC, and makes said races have a place in Dragonlance beyond always evil cannon fodder. That being said, goblinoids in general are treated that way in much of Ansalon, so it’s still a slight inversion. But as there’s a new background specific to that nation later in the book, I do like how Tasslehoff’s Pouches is showing that the otherwise monstrous races are viable PC options.

Minotaurs are cousins to ogres, and before the Cataclysm were the slaves of other races. The Cataclysm, ironically, liberated their people, and now they primarily live on the island kingdoms of Mithas and Kothas as a ruthless seafaring warrior people. Their social mobility is determined by gladiatorial combat in the Great Circus. They use the rules for minotaurs in Mordenkainen’s Monsters of the Multiverse, with the exception being that their starting languages are Common and Kothian, their unique racial language.

Thoughts: Minotaurs rank as one of the cooler races in Dragonlance, and I’m glad to see that the book didn’t skimp on describing their society and history. I kind of wish they had features reflecting their skills at seafaring, which their race got in 3rd Edition with bonuses on appropriate skills, but that can be easily fixed with the right background: SAILOR!

Ogres are one of Krynn’s three elder races, the firstborn of the evil gods. They used to rule a mighty empire which enslaved humans, but after a rebellion by the humans their civilization crumbled. The ogres who fight for evil were cursed to be as ugly as their souls, becoming the monstrous giants of later eras. They have fallen far, living in crumbling cities and towns of their ancestors or in nomadic bands. Ogres come in three distinct races, and oddly enough the typical “monster giant” ogre isn’t one of them. Half-ogres have one true ogre and one human parent, smarter than the typical ogre yet also weaker, making a lot of them outcasts in both ogre and human societies. As a race, they gain +2 Constitution, +1 Strength, are considered to be an ogre for any effects requiring one to be an ogre, have 60 foot darkvision, have the half-orc’s one bonus damage dice on melee criticals, count as one size larger for carrying capacity and weight they can push/drag/lift, and have a default AC of 12 + Dexterity modifier when not wearing armor.

High Ogres, or Irda, are descendents of ogres who followed the example of Igraine, the first ogre to achieve free will and sought to end enslavement of humans. They fled to an isolated island north of Ansalon, remaining in seclusion for thousands of years, only occasionally sending an individual to the outside world to recover dangerous artifacts from the empire of their ancestors. In terms of stats, they have +2 Charisma, +1 Intelligence, are Medium size, 60 foot darkvision, can cast Prestidigitation at will and Detect Magic once per long rest, can also cast Daylight once per long rest and can cast both spells with spell slots, and can transform their physical appearance into various humanoids as a bonus action along with Deception checks to maintain such disguises.

Thoughts: One cannot help but compare the half-ogre to half-orcs and goliath, the two races most notable for being melee brutes. The half-ogre’s stat bonuses more or less pushes them into physical combat roles. Their unarmored AC bonus is unlikely to matter, as the AC of being a Barbarian is likely to be equal or greater, and most martial classes and subclasses have access to medium armor. In comparison to a half-orc’s Relentless Endurance or a Goliath’s Stone’s Endurance, it’s inferior. They don’t have a bonus skill proficiency like either of the races I’ve mentioned, and while they have a feature that’s mechanically the same as the Goliath’s Powerful Build they more or less trade in that one’s Mountain Born for Darkvision like the half-orc gets. All in all, they rate below both of these races, and I’d personally use a reflavored Goliath for half-ogres.

As for the High Ogre, it’s pretty much built to be a non-Wisdom spellcaster or some other archetype that makes use of Intelligence or Charisma. The bonus spells they get are pretty broadly useful, although Daylight is a bit more situational. If anything, they are closest to Eberron’s Changelings whose Shapechanger feature is more or less the same. But the Irda gets darkvision, advantage on Deception while maintaining it, and unlike the changeling’s the text doesn’t state that they revert to their original form upon death. In effect, they trade in that race’s Fey type and bonus skill proficiency for darkvision and bonus spells. Which can be a worthy trade-off given the usefulness of what the Irda gets.

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Phaethons are a reclusive people distantly related to elves and live in remote mountain ranges. They claim ancestry from a Kagonesti elf who was the son of the god Habbakuk, and their ability to manifest wings of flame is regarded as a sacred gift from that god which they only show to outsiders in times of utmost importance. In terms of stats they have +2 Wisdom, +1 Dexterity, have immunity to fire damage but vulnerability to cold damage, 60 foot darkvision, advantage on the charmed condition like elves, and as a bonus action can grow fiery wings from their back. Once in this state they either gain a flying speed equal to their walking speed, or the wings can be used to make unarmed strikes that deal 1d6 fire damage. The damage also occurs when someone grapples the phaethon and increases with level, up to 4d6 at 16th level. A phaethon cannot fly and make wing attacks during the same round.

Thoughts: Despite their “don’t reveal your wings to outsiders” cultural trait, phaethons are an incredibly strong race. Their wings are treated as unarmed strikes, giving them great synergy with monks, and deal significantly more damage than a typical unarmed strike. The main drawback is that fire damage is the most commonly resisted damage type. Immunity to fire and a flying speed are also very nice features suitable for just about any build. Overall they’re a great race.

Thoughts So Far: When it comes to new race mechanics, the most broadly powerful and therefore appealing ones are the Daewar Dwarves, Tarmak Humans, Wanderlust Kender, Aurak Draconians, and Phaethons. Each of them has one or more useful traits that can work for a variety of builds. The Irda is more situational but works well for a sneaky spy type with some magical tricks, and the Afflicted Kender’s special ability is broadly useful and encouraged to be pulled at just the right moment to avoid an undesirable fate.

The gully dwarves aren’t as underpowered as in prior Editions, but I still can’t see most players choosing them due to the baggage that race has. The gnomes are uninspiring, and I’d much rather use a Rock Gnome than the new Tinker Gnome subrace. Same for half-ogres and Goliaths. The Baaz and Sivak draconians need more uniquely useful features to help them stand out from existing options. The remaining dwarven subraces are mixed bags, and the aquatic elves’ subrace traits are only really useful for certain campaign types.

But overall, I like the variety of races we have. Add in the existing ones from the core rules plus Monsters of the Multiverse, and we have a lot of decent options.

Join us next time as we check out new Classes & Factions!
 

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Weiley31

Legend
Ah yes, one of the three 3PP books that serve as the best companion pieces/add-ons to Dragonlance:Shadow of The Dragon Queen.
 


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Dragonlance has had a major setting sourcebook in every official Dungeons & Dragons Edition save for 4th. But their releases weren’t always immediate, and the online Dragonlance fandom has been known to pick up the pace and make free fan material. The Dragonlance Nexus is perhaps the oldest surviving online community, having existed since 1996 and still going strong. It helped host conversion manuals for 3rd Edition* before WotC released an official sourcebook in 2003, and sometime during the 5th Edition era they released a free sourcebook known as Tasslehoff’s Pouches of Everything. It was pretty much a “player’s guide,” with a heavy focus on races, subclasses, equipment, and some detail on the world and its history.

*And over time other systems such as Fate, Pathfinder, and Savage Worlds!

Now that Dragonlance material can be published on the Dungeon Master’s Guild, the Nexus released a new and revised Tasslehoff’s Pouches book with even more material for sale. Not only that, it has a tie-in adventure, Champions of Krynn Chapter 1 which is basically a tabletop conversion of the retro video game of the same name. Although both products are bundled together, as Champions of Krynn has yet to be published to completeness (only the 2nd out of 3 Chapters are out) I will only view Tasslehoff’s Pouches of Everything Revised for this thread.

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Chapter 1: Ancestries of Ansalon

Our book covers playable races in Ansalon, separated into common (are widespread across the continent) and uncommon (who are overall rarer and mostly clustered in a few areas). Our first entry concerns dwarves, who all use the base dwarf race from the core rules but have entirely new subraces. Calnar dwarves are our first, being more of an historical predecessor of the Hylar who established the first dwarven kingdom and were renowned for their trade. Their subrace is geared towards this role with a +1 bonus to Charisma, one bonus language of their choice, and being proficient in Persuasion. Next up we have the Hylar dwarves, the traditional ruling clan of the mountain nation of Thorbadin, who have +1 bonuses to Strength and Intelligence, a bonus language of their choice, and are proficient with light and medium armor. The Daegar are one of the three “evil dwarf” clans, native to Thorbadin’s deepest reaches and have a lust for violence, with a higher-than-usual +2 to Strength along with doing one extra damage dice on melee criticals like a half-orc, and to top things off they have 120 foot darkvision but sunlight sensitivity. Ouch! Daewar are the warrior caste of non-evil dwarves, who are like the Hylar but have a bonus to Charisma instead of Strength and also have proficiency in heavy armor. Klar are Neidar dwarves who ended up in Thorbardin after the Cataclysm, and are known to be wildly emotional which gives them a sort of “mad” reputation. They have a +1 bonus to Dexterity along with a base walking speed of 35 feet, and can make an unarmed strike as a bonus action they add their ability modifier to if they have one hand free.

Neidar are the hill dwarf equivalent, who traditionally lived above ground outside Thorbardin and were denied entry during the Cataclysm, creating a deep-seated hatred between them and the “mountain dwarves.” Neidar have the same mechanics as the hill dwarves in the core rules plus proficiency in any one skill reflecting their versatility. Theiwar are our second evil dwarf clan, having a knack for fiendish plots and are less distrustful of arcane magic than other dwarves. They get +1 Intelligence, and their ability to wriggle out of danger is reflected by advantage on checks to avoid being grappled as well as proficiency in either Acrobatics or Athletics. The Zhakar dwarves round out our evil dwarven clans, who in this book are briefly described as having the worst qualities of both human and dwarf and have few allies in the world along with being enemies of all other dwarven clans. They have a +1 bonus to Strength, ignore difficult terrain made of earth or stone, and are proficient in light or medium armor.

Last but not least, we have gully dwarves, who in terms of mechanics are treated as their own race rather than a dwarven subrace. I am happy to say that this book more or less averts their comic relief stupidity, instead focusing on their ability to survive in the most inhospitable of environments. They have +2 to Constitution, +1 to Dexterity, are Small in size, proficient in Survival, and have advantage on Stealth checks when using the Hide action. They have resistance to poison damage and advantage on Constitution saves vs the poisoned condition and catching diseases. They have a special ability, Diverting Demeanor, they can use a number of times per long rest equal to their proficiency bonus where they can pitifully beg, cry, and plead as an action. Each creature within 10 feet of the gully dwarf must make a Charisma save, or all of the dwarf’s allies have advantage on attack rolls against them until the start of the dwarf’s next turn.

Thoughts: Some of these dwarven subraces are much more appealing than others. The mountain dwarf’s armor proficiencies in the core rules made it an attractive choice for otherwise unarmored and lightly-armored characters. Since the Daewar get all that plus a bag of (mail) chips, they will likely be the subrace of choice for “armored wizard” builds. And with the Neidar’s bonus skill proficiency, this makes them a pretty attractive option for a variety of builds. The bonus armor proficiencies of the Hylar and Daewar feel superfluous for Fighters, Paladins, and Clerics with certain domains, so your typical “heavy armor” dwarf player is likely to pick a subrace besides those ones such as the Neidar. Conversely, the subraces I can see being less popular are due to either punishing features or for specific builds: the Daergar’s sunlight sensitivity is pretty bad all around, while the Klar’s bonus unarmed strike is really only useful for a monk or some other unarmed damage-booster as the bonus damage is quite pitiable. As for the gully dwarf, most of its abilities are passive rather than active and quite situational. The advantage on Stealth for hiding makes them pretty good for ambush builds, and while Diverting Demeanor can be a good means to set up an advantage for an ally it comes at the expense of an action that can be used for spells and attacks. Given that Help already does something similar, this would only be of use if more than one ally is capable of attacking after the gully dwarf. Overall there are better races for thief types.

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Elves come up next, and are one of the three elder races. The favored creations of the Gods of Light, they often have an arrogant demeanor towards the other races. Like dwarves, they have their own subraces. The Silvanesti are the oldest of the elven civilizations, inhabitants of a forest kingdom of the same name. They are much more strict than one’s typical fantasy elf, being very lawfully-aligned and arranged into a strict caste system organized into Houses along with being fiercely isolationist. Statwise they gain nothing special, using the high elf from the core rules. The Qualinesti elves are an offshoot of the Silvanesti, who left that nation in favor of founding a relatively freer society. They live in the forest kingdom of Qualinesti, and are much more open towards non-elves. As a subrace they get a +1 bonus to Charisma, are proficient in Persuasion, have your typical elven weapon training of bows and swords, and get a bonus language of their choice. The Kagonesti live mostly in the forests of Southern Ergoth, who aren’t fond of the other elven nations’ concept of “civilization” and opt to live in simple hunter-gatherer lifestyles. Mechanically speaking they are wood elves.

The Dargonesti are one of two aquatic elven kingdoms, who traditionally live in settlements deep on the seafloor, most notably the ruins of post-Cataclysm Istar. They have a +1 bonus to their Constitution, a swimming speed and the ability to breathe underwater, can transform into a porpoise for 1 hour per long rest, suffer exhaustion when they go for long periods without full immersion in water, and are proficient with light crossbows, spears, tridents, and nets. The Dimernesti are the other aquatic elven subrace, who live closer to the surface along Ansalon’s coastlines, and barring the city of Dimernost are nomads who move between coral reefs and kelp forests as temporary homes. In terms of stats they are the same as Dargonesti, but have a bonus to Strength instead of Constitution and shapechange into a sea otter instead of a porpoise. Both Dimernesti and Dragonesti used to be bitter towards each other after the Cataclysm, but in the Age of Mortals they united to fight an undead army commanded by the dragon Blazewight.

Regarding the shapechange forms, they have their own stat blocks in Chapter 8. To briefly sum up, both are CR ⅛ aquatic animals, where the porpoise has a higher swim speed and a more damaging charge and slam attack along with blindsight up to 60 feet, while the sea otter in comparison has a weaker bite attack, darkvision, advantage on hearing and smell-based Perception checks, and can move and breathe on land.

Half-elves are our final group, who much like in other settings are caught between worlds and were often used as diplomats between the two peoples. Their stats are the same as a half-elf from the core rules, but there are variant options where they trade in their bonus skill proficiencies for a limited list of special features otherwise unique to their parent elf’s subrace, as from the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide.

Thoughts: The Qualinesti subrace is rather unexciting, basically being a high elf who trades in their wizard cantrip for the Persuasion skill. That being said, that may be of better use for some builds, and having a bonus to Charisma instead of Intelligence pushes them towards a wider variety of spellcasting classes such as bard, sorcerer, and warlock. The Dargonesti and Dimernesti subraces are rather situational and would only be picked for campaigns that expect to be around water a lot. When it comes to animal shapechanging the Dimernesti’s sea otter has more uses in a typical land-based adventure than the Dargonesti’s porpoise. If anything, I can see most players choosing a half-elf with the Aquatic trait to better represent the concept.

Gnomes are the most technologically-advanced people in Ansalon, having made all kinds of dangerous and wondrous machines in their volcanic home of Mount Nevermind. Clockwork devices, steam-powered engines, and even geothermal and experimental nuclear energy are but some of their most renowned accomplishments. What’s preventing their devices from spreading across Ansalon is their unpredictability, as gnomes prefer to continually expand on their projects beyond what is necessary and tend to view predictable and practical devices as an unimaginative scientific dead end. The tinker gnome subrace is best exemplified by this, gaining +1 Constitution, gaining a bonus proficiency in a single set of artisan’s tools, add double their proficiency bonus on History checks pertaining to magic items and advanced technology, and have advantage on saves vs the charmed condition and Intimidation and Persuasion checks are made at disadvantage. The last resistant-based abilities are due to a gnome’s single-minded pursuit of their Life Quest, an individual goal a gnome sets their lives towards accomplishing that can take a significant portion of their life to complete.

Thinker Gnomes, or “mad gnomes,” are gnomes who display antisocial behavior in gnomish culture, such as abandoning or not caring about a Life Quest or not caring to overcomplicate their personal inventions. They are the same as tinker gnomes save that they increase their Charisma instead of Constitution, don’t have the resistances befitting one with a Life Quest, and double their proficiency bonus on their chosen artisan’s tools. Wild gnomes originated as a scientific expedition of tinker gnomes who settled in the moors of Nordmaar to study the wildlife. Generations of close proximity to nature, and adoption of stealth and illusion magic to mask their presence from the land’s dangers, have made them different from their ancestors. In terms of stats they are forest gnomes.

Thoughts: As the base gnome race already has advantage on mental saving throws vs magic, advantage vs the Charmed condition is a bit superfluous save for those rare times it originates from a non-magical source. As PCs can’t be swayed by the Intimidation and Persuasion skills by default, this is something more for NPC gnomes than an appealing player’s option. Otherwise, tinker gnome PCs get less exciting stuff in comparison to the rock gnomes of the core rules, who at least get the ability to create one of three nifty devices. As for Thinker Gnomes, the double proficiency on artisan’s tools is a very situational feature. If your DM is using one of those crafting mini-game sourcebooks such as Monster Loot or the Armorer’s Handbook, they’re a great choice. Otherwise it won’t matter in typical 5e games.

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Humans are one of the three elder races, created by the Gods of Neutrality and the first people blessed with free will. In spite of their common origin, humans differ too widely in societies and cultures to be pinned down beyond a relative “restlessness” to accomplish things in life in comparison to the longer-lived races. We have a list of the most prominent human ethnicities in Ansalon, and unlike earlier Editions and in keeping with Shadows of the Dragon Queen there’s no separation between “civilized” and “nomadic” humans. Unfortunately, the individual entries are lacking in detail, really only describing common physical features and their regional bonus language. There are smaller human groups in the setting which the book notes, but it doesn’t go into detail.

The Tarmak are a group of humans who have fluff and crunch all their own. They were unknown on Ansalon until the Chaos War, when Ariakan recruited them for military service. Native to the island of Ithn’carthia, they formed tribes around the remote corners of Ansalon after the war’s end. Tarmak are basically Proud Warrior Race Guys who use magical blue war paint to give them increased endurance in battle. They are Variant humans but with the following changes: they add 2 to Strength and 1 to Constitution, have advantage on saves vs the frightened condition instead of a bonus feat, and instead of a bonus skill they can create 5 applications of war paint with 1 hour and 25 steel pieces* of materials. The war paint can be applied as an action, granting them AC of 13 + Dexterity modifier unless they have better armor, and 10 temporary hit points that last until they’re gone or the next long rest.

*Dragonlance’s gold piece equivalent.

Thoughts: While it’s good that Tasslehoff’s Pouches has entries on the human ethnicities, they are far too brief in comparison to prior sourcebooks which included specific cultural details. Such as how the Ergothians are descended from the oldest human empire and took to seafaring after the Cataclysm, or how Solamnia is a patchwork of different government types after the fall of their Knights.

As for the Tarmak, their war paint feature is really good. A typical Potion of Healing costs twice as much but deals 4-10 hit points. While the war paint is temporary hit points, for half the cost they gain an effective 50 hit points. The AC bonus can be nice for certain classes as a Mage Armor equivalent. As for whether that feature and advantage against getting scared is worth a feat and skill trade-in, that really depends on the individual and party builds. But with that said, I can see the war paint being a worthy trade-off in that it effectively works like Inspiring Leader but has a wider pool of HP to spread around.

Kender are short people possessed of a childlike innocence and penchant for exploring everywhere…including places other people don’t want them to explore, such as their pockets. Most people in Ansalon have a love-hate relationship with them, either viewing them as nuisances who can’t keep their hands to themselves, the most blessed of the good-aligned peoples of the world, or a mixture of both.

Unlike the prior entries, kender are a race unto themselves, with two subraces. The base race has +1 to Charisma, is Small sized, proficient in improvised weapons, add double their proficiency bonus on History checks regarding geography, and speak Common and choose additional lange of the player’s choice. The Wanderlust Kender are the first subrace and the most common, representing kender in their default state: a fearless wide-eyed wonder at the world and an endless well of optimism. They have +2 Dexterity, are immune to the frightened condition, can pull a random item from their belongings as a bonus action which stays with them for 10 minutes at which point they lose track of it, and can taunt a target (range unspecified) as a bonus action where if they fail a Charisma save they can’t take the disengage action and take disadvantage on attack rolls against anyone besides the taunting kender. Both of the latter special abilities can be used a number of times per long rest equal to the kender’s proficiency bonus. As for what kinds of items a kender can pull out of their pocket, they are mostly nonmagical knick-knacks of varying usability on a 1d100 table, ranging from light weapons, trinkets, and tools to half-finished small books and maps. An actual magic item can be gained on a roll of 100, but the item is from Magic Item Table A of the DMG, which are the most trivial kinds such as healing potions and low-level spell scrolls.

Afflicted Kender are the other subrace, who are basically kender with PTSD after the red dragon overlord Malyxtryx destroyed the city of Kendermore. They have lost their childlike innocence and are a lot gloomier in mentality. They get +2 Intelligence, are proficient in Survival and one set of artisan’s tools, and can identify the weakness of a target creature within 60 feet (action type is unspecified), where if the target fails a Wisdom save they have disadvantage on attacks and ability checks that target the kender until the start of the kender’s next turn. Its uses per long rest are also based on proficiency bonus.

Thoughts: The kender in Tasslehoff’s Pouches is remarkably different from the one in Shadows of the Dragon Queen, with only the Taunt ability being otherwise the same. The ones in this book are a more authentic portrayal, where they have outright immunity to fear rather than resistance, and they trade in their bonus skill proficiency for more kenderlike things such as random pocket items, improvised weapon proficiency, and better familiarity with locations due to their wanderlust. The afflicted kender’s special ability can be useful if the DM rules that it’s a free action, as the action type isn’t specified, but given that it’s similar in use to the Taunt I presume it was meant to be a bonus action. Survival and artisan tool proficiency are rather situational, although they’re more reliable but less fun IMO than the random pocket treasures.

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Draconians are the first of our uncommon races, with the rest in this post belonging to that category. Created by Takhisis’ Dragonarmies from captured metallic dragon eggs to serve as tools of war, they were forced to find a new place in the world after the fall of their creators. Most draconians continued to live the lives of soldiers by serving various masters. When one band of draconians discovered female draconian eggs once kept hidden by the Dragonarmies, they were able to reproduce on their own terms and eventually founded their own city-state of Teyr. This new kingdom serves as a message to others that draconians can now be masters of their own destiny.

In terms of stats draconians have a base race and five subraces. The base race has +2 Strength, are humanoid but also count as a dragon for dragon-specific effects, 60 foot darkvision, immunity to magical sleep, all besides the aurak have wings which allow them to glide and can increase their walking speed by 5 feet when taking the Dash action, can go for long periods without food and water, and have a unique death throe which activates upon death. What is universal among death throes is that it leaves hardly anything of the original draconian behind, meaning they can only be resurrected by a Wish spell.

The first draconian subrace are auraks, the least common type derived from gold dragons who were designed as powerful arcanists for special operations. They get +1 Intelligence, their death throe is an explosion of fiery magical energy, they have an at-will breath weapon of poison gas in a 15 foot cone that deals 2d6 poison damage and blinds foes for 1d4 rounds should they fail a Constitution save (half damage on success), gain Eldritch Blast as a cantrip, can cast Disguise Self and Misty Step at 3rd level once per long rest each, then two and three times each at 5th and 9th levels, and can cast Dominate Person once per long rest at 13th level.

Baaz are the most common type of draconian, derived from brass dragon heritage and typically served as infantry. They get +1 Constitution, their death throe turns their body to stone and piercing and slashing weapons risk getting embedded within them, and their knack for disguises grants them proficiency with Deception, disguise kits, and advantage on Deception when disguising themselves as humans.

Bozak draconians are taken from bronze dragons and designed to be spellcasting commanders of other draconians. They get +1 Charisma, their death throe causes their skeleton to explode dealing piercing damage, they have the Shocking Grasp cantrip, can cast Magic Missile once per long rest, and can cast Web once per long rest at 3rd level.

Kapak draconians have copper dragon heritage and were designed to be stealthy commandos. They have +1 Dexterity, their death throe causes them to turn into dissolving acid that splashes adjacent targets, and once per short or long rest can coat a slashing or piercing weapon with poisonous saliva as a bonus action. Said poison can paralyze a target for 1d4 rounds if they fail a Constitution save. It doesn’t say which ability score determines the saving throw DC, which is a hindsight.

Sivak draconians are the largest of draconians, and their size and shapeshifting capabilities make them suitable as spies and infiltrators who can also hold their own in a straight-up fight. They get +1 Charisma, can shapeshift and look like a humanoid of Large or smaller size that they kill, can only take on another form with this trait once per long rest and after they killed a new target, and their death throe causes their corpse to appear as a duplicate of the one who killed them (if the killer was a Large or smaller humanoid) before exploding into flames. A sivak’s disguise can be seen through an Investigation vs their Deception, where a successful Investigation determines that the form’s a duplicate.

Thoughts: I’m happy to see that draconians of all five common varieties got the full PC treatment. They only became PC options in 3rd Edition to my knowledge,* but their Hit Die and Level Adjustment made playing them impractical, and the ones besides Baaz and Kapak were only suitable for mid to higher level play. That being said, the draconian subraces vary in balance. First off, the base race’s gliding and immunity to falling via their wings opens up some nice maneuverability and tactics even without full flight. Their death throes are more a curse than a blessing, as being a low-magic setting revival magic is quite rare and you’re pretty much forced to roll up a new PC should your draconian die unless the DM pulls a Deus Ex Machina. Their superior metabolism is of more situational use, only really mattering in campaigns that make PCs track supplies and rations.

*I haven’t read SAGA Edition, the unique system spin-off for Dragonlance in the 5th Age.

As for the subraces, the aurak’s blinding breath is a really great feature, both being at-will and imposing a powerful debuff. Eldritch Blast is a useful long-range cantrip, and Misty Step is a great spell to get out of sticky situations. Gaining bonus uses of that at higher levels only makes them better, and auraks are definitely one of the best subraces. The Baaz’s ability to disguise themselves as human is again situational, albeit given that draconians are still disliked in many places in Ansalon this more or less serves as a bandaid to the “can’t bring the monster PC into town without getting harassed” dilemma in campaigns.* The bozak’s initial spells are alright, with Web at 3rd level being the clear winner. Between that and Shocking Grasp, this encourages them to take builds that keep enemies out of melee, which is at odds with their +2 Strength. The kapak’s paralyzing poison is a nice feature, and regenerating every short rest it’s a neat trick they can afford to use a few times rather than saving for the climactic battle. Finally, the Sivaks are a discount version of Irda (detailed below) and Eberron’s Changelings, with their humanoid disguise ability being more limited in how it can trigger and their base race doesn’t lend itself well to stealth and social builds. Additionally, they don’t have Powerful Build, which is an odd exclusion given that they are one of those “medium yet functionally large” races such as the centaur and goliath.

*I should point out that the aurak’s Disguise Self and Sivak’s shapechanging also help alleviate this.

Goblinoids aren’t really different from virtually every other standard fantasy D&D setting and have nothing you haven’t heard of before. The major difference is that there’s a non-evil nation of goblins in Northern Ergoth called Sikk’et Hul. They have good relations with their kender and Ergothian neighbors. The book oddly says that Sikk’et Hul is a hobgoblin nation, whereas in prior sourcebooks they were implied to be either regular goblins or a variety of goblinoid types. The goblinoid races use the same mechanics as in Mordenkainen’s Monsters of the Multiverse.

Thoughts: I do like the inclusion of Sikk’et Hul in that it gives a good origin for a non-evil goblinoid PC, and makes said races have a place in Dragonlance beyond always evil cannon fodder. That being said, goblinoids in general are treated that way in much of Ansalon, so it’s still a slight inversion. But as there’s a new background specific to that nation later in the book, I do like how Tasslehoff’s Pouches is showing that the otherwise monstrous races are viable PC options.

Minotaurs are cousins to ogres, and before the Cataclysm were the slaves of other races. The Cataclysm, ironically, liberated their people, and now they primarily live on the island kingdoms of Mithas and Kothas as a ruthless seafaring warrior people. Their social mobility is determined by gladiatorial combat in the Great Circus. They use the rules for minotaurs in Mordenkainen’s Monsters of the Multiverse, with the exception being that their starting languages are Common and Kothian, their unique racial language.

Thoughts: Minotaurs rank as one of the cooler races in Dragonlance, and I’m glad to see that the book didn’t skimp on describing their society and history. I kind of wish they had features reflecting their skills at seafaring, which their race got in 3rd Edition with bonuses on appropriate skills, but that can be easily fixed with the right background: SAILOR!

Ogres are one of Krynn’s three elder races, the firstborn of the evil gods. They used to rule a mighty empire which enslaved humans, but after a rebellion by the humans their civilization crumbled. The ogres who fight for evil were cursed to be as ugly as their souls, becoming the monstrous giants of later eras. They have fallen far, living in crumbling cities and towns of their ancestors or in nomadic bands. Ogres come in three distinct races, and oddly enough the typical “monster giant” ogre isn’t one of them. Half-ogres have one true ogre and one human parent, smarter than the typical ogre yet also weaker, making a lot of them outcasts in both ogre and human societies. As a race, they gain +2 Constitution, +1 Strength, are considered to be an ogre for any effects requiring one to be an ogre, have 60 foot darkvision, have the half-orc’s one bonus damage dice on melee criticals, count as one size larger for carrying capacity and weight they can push/drag/lift, and have a default AC of 12 + Dexterity modifier when not wearing armor.

High Ogres, or Irda, are descendents of ogres who followed the example of Igraine, the first ogre to achieve free will and sought to end enslavement of humans. They fled to an isolated island north of Ansalon, remaining in seclusion for thousands of years, only occasionally sending an individual to the outside world to recover dangerous artifacts from the empire of their ancestors. In terms of stats, they have +2 Charisma, +1 Intelligence, are Medium size, 60 foot darkvision, can cast Prestidigitation at will and Detect Magic once per long rest, can also cast Daylight once per long rest and can cast both spells with spell slots, and can transform their physical appearance into various humanoids as a bonus action along with Deception checks to maintain such disguises.

Thoughts: One cannot help but compare the half-ogre to half-orcs and goliath, the two races most notable for being melee brutes. The half-ogre’s stat bonuses more or less pushes them into physical combat roles. Their unarmored AC bonus is unlikely to matter, as the AC of being a Barbarian is likely to be equal or greater, and most martial classes and subclasses have access to medium armor. In comparison to a half-orc’s Relentless Endurance or a Goliath’s Stone’s Endurance, it’s inferior. They don’t have a bonus skill proficiency like either of the races I’ve mentioned, and while they have a feature that’s mechanically the same as the Goliath’s Powerful Build they more or less trade in that one’s Mountain Born for Darkvision like the half-orc gets. All in all, they rate below both of these races, and I’d personally use a reflavored Goliath for half-ogres.

As for the High Ogre, it’s pretty much built to be a non-Wisdom spellcaster or some other archetype that makes use of Intelligence or Charisma. The bonus spells they get are pretty broadly useful, although Daylight is a bit more situational. If anything, they are closest to Eberron’s Changelings whose Shapechanger feature is more or less the same. But the Irda gets darkvision, advantage on Deception while maintaining it, and unlike the changeling’s the text doesn’t state that they revert to their original form upon death. In effect, they trade in that race’s Fey type and bonus skill proficiency for darkvision and bonus spells. Which can be a worthy trade-off given the usefulness of what the Irda gets.

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Phaethons are a reclusive people distantly related to elves and live in remote mountain ranges. They claim ancestry from a Kagonesti elf who was the son of the god Habbakuk, and their ability to manifest wings of flame is regarded as a sacred gift from that god which they only show to outsiders in times of utmost importance. In terms of stats they have +2 Wisdom, +1 Dexterity, have immunity to fire damage but vulnerability to cold damage, 60 foot darkvision, advantage on the charmed condition like elves, and as a bonus action can grow fiery wings from their back. Once in this state they either gain a flying speed equal to their walking speed, or the wings can be used to make unarmed strikes that deal 1d6 fire damage. The damage also occurs when someone grapples the phaethon and increases with level, up to 4d6 at 16th level. A phaethon cannot fly and make wing attacks during the same round.

Thoughts: Despite their “don’t reveal your wings to outsiders” cultural trait, phaethons are an incredibly strong race. Their wings are treated as unarmed strikes, giving them great synergy with monks, and deal significantly more damage than a typical unarmed strike. The main drawback is that fire damage is the most commonly resisted damage type. Immunity to fire and a flying speed are also very nice features suitable for just about any build. Overall they’re a great race.

Thoughts So Far: When it comes to new race mechanics, the most broadly powerful and therefore appealing ones are the Daewar Dwarves, Tarmak Humans, Wanderlust Kender, Aurak Draconians, and Phaethons. Each of them has one or more useful traits that can work for a variety of builds. The Irda is more situational but works well for a sneaky spy type with some magical tricks, and the Afflicted Kender’s special ability is broadly useful and encouraged to be pulled at just the right moment to avoid an undesirable fate.

The gully dwarves aren’t as underpowered as in prior Editions, but I still can’t see most players choosing them due to the baggage that race has. The gnomes are uninspiring, and I’d much rather use a Rock Gnome than the new Tinker Gnome subrace. Same for half-ogres and Goliaths. The Baaz and Sivak draconians need more uniquely useful features to help them stand out from existing options. The remaining dwarven subraces are mixed bags, and the aquatic elves’ subrace traits are only really useful for certain campaign types.

But overall, I like the variety of races we have. Add in the existing ones from the core rules plus Monsters of the Multiverse, and we have a lot of decent options.

Join us next time as we check out new Classes & Factions!
I believe your are reviewing the other big DL player’s guide on the Guild. Do plan on or would do a comparison between the two? If I were to get just one, which one should I get?

Regardless, thank you for these lengthy and in-depth reviews!
 

I believe your are reviewing the other big DL player’s guide on the Guild. Do plan on or would do a comparison between the two? If I were to get just one, which one should I get?

Regardless, thank you for these lengthy and in-depth reviews!
As someone who will likely soon be running Dragonlance and so bought this, the Dragonlance Companion, Jeremy Forbring’s equivalent book (Peoples and Paragons), and will also be purchasing the Aesthetic’s Almanac equivalent, I’d say … it depends what you want.

This book has the best-designed set of races in my opinion. Companion’s races have a few gaps and Paragons presents a complete set of races that are wildly overpowered by WotC standards and only intended to be used alongside each other. All have some good and some uninspiring player options, again Paragons tends to the extremely powerful so use with care, though there are some gems like the Ancient Artifact sorcerer.

Pouches uses a lot of page count on new post War of the Lance magic systems, which may not be useful to you depending on your play era. Companion has a very good treatment of time travel, and personally I DID like the NPC escort adventure. Pouches also has a brief guide to the various regions of Krynn, which I greatly appreciated although it’s a bit muddled as it jumps around time periods a lot.

Personally this is my favourite on balance, but there’s also a lot in here I won’t use, and some stuff in the other products that I like a lot.
 
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Chapter 2: Classes & Factions

Now that we covered the races, we’re moving on to the kinds of adventurers one can be and iconic organizations PCs can join. Each class has at least one new archetype.

Barbarians tend to be common to the rural and nomadic peoples of Ansalon. The Path of the Dragon Totem is our new archetype, of those who learned to tap into the power of dragons via primal sorcery or some other special knowledge. At 3rd level they can choose poison or one of the elemental damage types to be resistant to whenever they begin a rage, deal additional damage with melee weapons of that same type when raging, at 6th level grow draconic scales when raging which grants them temporary hit points for the rest of their rage, at 10th level can emit a 30 foot aura that is similar to a dragon’s frightful presence and imposes that condition on enemies until the rage ends on a failed Wisdom save, and at 14th level can spend an action to breathe a 15 foot cone of damaging energy dealing 4d6 damage once per rage.

Thoughts: As the associated damage type can be chosen each time the barbarian rages and isn’t locked in, this makes the Path of the Dragon Totem quite versatile when the party has foreknowledge of what kinds of monsters they’ll be fighting. Temporary hit points are always a nice touch, and the AoE fear aura can be worth trading in two attacks for given its long duration. The capstone breath weapon is rather underwhelming given its relatively low damage output and small AoE. The low points of this subclass are that virtually every feature requires or is active only during a rage, has virtually no utility features, and its defensive features pale in comparison to existing subclasses such as the Ancestral Guardian or the Bear Totem’s nigh-universal damage resistance. For those reasons it doesn’t rate that high.

Bards can be found throughout Ansalon, although traditionally they received formal schooling in the capital of Northern Ergoth. In the City of Palanthas, a relatively new bardic College of Psalmistry was founded, teaching how to channel the divine power of particular deities through performances. The subclass gains particular bonus spells from the Cleric spell list depending on the alignment of their patron deity, with Good ones granting healing and defensive magic, Evil ones granting debuffs, and Neutral ones granting mostly divination. At 3rd level the subclass grants proficiency with martial weapons and medium armor, allows allies with your Bardic Inspiration Dice to roll it and add it to the result of any healing spells they cast, and can spend Bardic Inspiration as a bonus action to add bonus radiant damage to a weapon attack that increases with level (2d6 starting out up to 8d6 at 15th level). At 6th level they learn one of two special chants which can be used a number of times per long rest equal to their proficiency bonus: Bane which is a selective AoE charm that can last for 1 minute and a save is allowed every round, or Blessing which is a selective AoE that grants temporary hit points equal to double the Bard’s Charisma modifier and advantage vs the charmed condition for one minute (those already charmed can spend a reaction to reroll a saving throw with advantage). Finally, at 14th level, the bard emits light for the duration of the 6th level song, and hostile foes within the light’s radius who fail a Charisma save suffer disadvantage on attack rolls and saves originating from the bard.

Thoughts: This bard is surprisingly martial, and the smite-like ability using Bardic Inspiration is begging to be combined with Hexblade and Paladin multiclassing builds. It doesn’t get Extra Attack, so its DPS potential is rather limited and won’t kick in until nearly Tier 3 if one opts for multiclassing. The Song of Blessing looks superior to the oddly-named Bane, as a default Bard can already do something similar via Hypnotic Pattern. The Song also doesn’t specify an action type to activate it, so I presume it is a free action, which may make it a rather nice buff. Overall, I feel that this is an average subclass; it’s trying too hard to be martial which other subclasses can do better, and the songs are a bit too charm condition-specific (in inflicting or resisting) than subclasses with broader arrays.

Clerics are either representatives of the true gods of Krynn, or post-Chaos War can also include mystics who derive their abilities from the Power of the Heart which is a form of magic derived from life itself. We have two new domains, Adjudication and Freedom.

Clerics with the Adjudication domain are tasked with ferreting out spies and heretics within their religious orders, basically serving as inquisitors. They were most common in Istar during the Kingpriest’s reign, and among the Dragonarmies and Knights of Neraka in later eras who both served Takhisis. Their domain spells are a mixture of debuffs and divinations, such as Command, Hold Person, Detect Thoughts, and Locate Creature. Once per short or long rest as their 1st level feature, they can touch a willing creature to grant them advantage on Intimidation checks for an hour. Their Channel Divinity option is an AoE that lasts for one minute and forces targets who fail a Charisma save to be unable to speak a deliberate lie within the area. At 6th level they add double their proficiency bonus on Insight and Intimidation, at 8th and 14th levels can choose to deal bonus cold, fire, or lightning damage (chosen each time) on their weapon attacks, and at 17th level they can speak encouraging words to allies granting them advantage on saves to avoid the charmed and frightened conditions for 1 minute and those already affected can spend a reaction to make a new saving throw with advantage. This last feature costs an action but can be used an unlimited number of times.

The Freedom domain originates from Qualinesti elves who sought to break off from the Silvanesti during the Kinslayer Wars, and ever since it could be found among other cultures and faiths who seek promote justice and oppose tyranny (non-evil) or seek to bring about chaos from societal discord (evil). Their bonus spells heavily specialize in movement-related features such as Knock, Fly, and Freedom of Movement, and their 1st level feature grants them the Resistance cantrip and proficiency in Performance and Persuasion. Their Channel Divinity is an AoE that grants immunity to the charmed and frightened conditions for 1 minute and those already charmed or frightened can do that “spend reaction to reroll” thing that’s starting to be a recurring element lately. At 6th level the Cleric can spend a reaction whenever they’d roll a Wisdom save against a spell to instead have another creature within 30 feet roll a save and suffer its effects should they fail, and this feature’s uses per long rest are based off of proficiency bonus. At 8th and 14th level they deal bonus psychic damage on weapon attacks, and at 17th level the cleric is immune to the charmed and frightened conditions as well as magical sleep.

Thoughts: First off, the Adjudication domain’s features are more suited towards intrigue-heavy games and ones where the Social pillar is heavily emphasized. The Channel Divinity is basically a Zone of Truth but with a shorter duration, so it gets points off for that. The 17th level feature greatly reduces the potency of most mind-affecting attacks in the game, and making it effectively infinite-use can lead to Guidance-like spam. But that kicks in too late for most campaigns, leaving us with rather lackluster abilities.

As for the Freedom domain, the Channel Divinity is a pretty good feature to pull out for a variety of enemy types, provided that the party is aware of said foes’ mind-affecting nature. The 6th level shifting of a hostile spell to another creature is really good, given that Wisdom is one of the three most common saving throws. Like Adjudication, the immunities at 17th level are nice but kick in too late to matter for most campaigns. This looks to be a fine domain for the themes it espouses.

Druids are similar to Clerics in receiving their magic either from an appropriate nature god or the Power of the Heart. The Circle of Spring Dawning is our new subclass, representing druids who take their role as nature’s protectors seriously and form mystic bonds with beasts in order to preserve their natural habitat. Their initial features include gaining a beast companion which more or less uses the rules for a Beastmaster Ranger but is also immune to the charmed condition, gets a 1 mile telepathic bond, and if the beast dies then the Druid is stunned for 1 round unless they succeed on a Constitution save. The subclass gets bonus spells and can recover expended spell slots on a short like Circle of the Land, with their bonus spells mostly related to summoning such as Conjure Animals, Faithful Hound, and Insect Plague. At 6th level they and their beast companion gain Pack Tactics while wildshaped, their natural weapons are treated as magical also while the druid is wildshaped, by 10th level the druid can choose to have self-targeting spells also affect their beast companion and touch spells can increase up to 100 feet for targeting said companion, and by 14th level the beast companion can spend a reaction to reduce the damage of an attack by half, and finally the druid and the companion crit on a 19 to 20 whenever the druid’s in wild shape.

Thoughts: This Circle is liberally borrowing from a variety of subclasses rather than committing to a specialized gimmick, and the majority of its features aren’t truly new in that regard. Its spells, particularly Conjure Animals, are very strong options but have the downside of the vast majority requiring concentration. While the ability to buff one’s beast companion when wildshaping and with shared spells is nice, I do find it curious that they went with the default “Beastmaster” option rather than the Primal Companion that was released in Tasha’s which are more or less an improvement. Then again, as the Druid already has a bunch of strong features, maybe this was intentional. Personally speaking the idea of a druid getting a Beastmaster-style animal companion would likely begin to feel superfluous when they can end up summoning more powerful creatures like with Summon Elemental from Tasha’s. Given that said creatures don’t require bonus action expenditure to act in battle, this only highlights the limitations of what should be your primary subclass feature.

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Fighters are common in every culture of Ansalon, for it seems that every era of Krynn’s history has at least one war of world-defining proportions. Due to their commonality we have two subclasses.

The Knight of Solamnia is our first, and if using the optional Faction rules then a Fighter needs at least 1 Renown with said organization in order to take the subclass. The subclass is split into three orders which determine what special abilities are learned. A Knight who advances in rank to a new Order has the option of exchanging a feature from any previous orders they’ve been a part of whenever they reach a level where they’d gain a new subclass feature. At 3rd level they gain either the Champion-style half proficiency bonus on physical skills (Crown), advantage on saving throws vs the charmed and frightened conditions (Sword), or once per short or long rest can spend a reaction to have a number of allies equal to their Charisma modifier reroll a failed saving throw (Rose). At 7th level they can either make an additional attack on a different adjacent target within reach/range as a bonus action whenever they attack (Crown), learn two cleric cantrips and two spells of 2nd level or lower from the Cleric list they can cast once per long rest each and have one of their weapons marked to act as a spellcasting focus for these spells (Sword), or whenever they take the attack action can spend a reaction to have an ally that can see or hear them move up to half their speed and avoid opportunity attacks (Rose). At 10th level they can deal an additional 1d6 to 1d10 damage on a weapon attack once per turn a number of times per short rest equal to their Strength modifier (Crown, damage die grows with level), gain proficiency in Insight and Persuasion skills and can heal an ally they can see for 4d4 + Wisdom modifier hit points as an action a number of times per long rest equal to proficiency bonus (Sword), or grant allies advantage on all attacks made against an enemy they’re adjacent to while not incapacitated (Rose). At 15th level they can either make one melee attack against each creature within 5 feet whenever they take the attack action (Crown), learn two more cleric cantrips and two spells of 4th level or lower (Sword), or whenever an ally who can see or hear them drops to 0 hit points can drop to 1 hit point instead a number of times per long rest equal to their proficiency bonus (Rose). At 18th level any foe they crit is knocked prone and stunned until the end of their turn if they fail a Dexterity save (Crown), can emit a damaging selective AoE up to 30 feet whenever they fail to maintain concentration on a cleric spell (Sword), or whenever they use an action surge can choose a creature within 60 feet to spend their reaction and gain the use of an action as well (Rose).

Windrider is our other Fighter archetype, an elite military order that exists among the Qualinesti, Silvanesti, and Kagonesti elves. They use magic to form a mystic bond with a flying creature such as a griffon, giant eagle, or the like. At 3rd level they get a Bonded Companion who uses the Tasha’s consolidated rules for NPC companions/pets, whose special actions include flyby where a target struck by its melee action cannot take reactions until the start of its next turn, and Arcane Bond where the Windrider adds their proficiency bonus to any ability check or saving throw the bonded companion makes. At 7th level and 10th level the companion’s size category and natural weapon damage die grows by 1 and 1d6 damage respectively. They can be used as a mount by a rider of the same or smaller size category, but it can only use its flying speed while mounted at 10th level (at which point it’s Large). At 15th level the Windrider can knock an enemy they strike prone on a failed Strength save once per turn and provided they move at least 20 feet in a straight line. At 18th level the Windrider can spend their reaction whenever their companion takes damage to reduce the damage by 3d6 points, and should they or their mount hit a target with an attack before the end of their next turn can deal that amount of damage (same damage type) to the struck target.

Thoughts: First off, I’m not exactly fond of the idea of locking the Knights of Solamnia not just behind a specific class, but a specific subclass as well. While this used to be the cast for much of Dragonlance’s history, during 3rd Edition they were turned into a Prestige Class and in the later eras the otherwise punishing prerequisites to enter were softened. 5th Edition, like 3rd, prizes itself on having a wide variety of player options, and I think that many Fighter (or even Paladin and some Cleric) subclasses can fit the Knight’s concept. As for the subclass itself, its abilities are practically begging to be mixed and matched, but as the hierarchical ascension is more or less subject to the whims of the plot and Renown system, its customizability is a bit limited in that regard. The Order of the Crown abilities are highly physical, and in comparison to Sword and Rose are rather lackluster. The bulk of Sword’s features are a poor man’s cleric, and for those reasons aren’t that exciting and would be better emulated as a Cleric with an appropriately martial domain or multiclassing. The Rose abilities are perhaps the most powerful in that they not only encourage the Fighter to be a team player, the abilities that they can activate will be useful at just about any level. Rerolling failed saves, free movement avoiding opportunity attacks, pseudo-Pack Tactics that also apply to ranged allies, and the like are good for just about any party setup.

As for the Windrider, the kinds of things you’d want to use it for (FLYING MOUNT) don’t really kick in until 10th level, as even if you’re Small size the text explicitly mentions that it can’t use its flying speed while mounted until that level. Its 15th and 18th level features are rather unimpressive, and in comparison to the Cavelier (the official “mounted fighter” subclass) it doesn’t grant as many useful features such as that subclass’ Unwavering Mark or Warding Maneuver.

Monks are martial devotees to the gods, most often Majere but sometimes other deities as well who encourage ascetic lifestyles, physical prowess, or appropriate subclasses such as Sirrion and Chislev for Way of the Four Elements. The Way of the Mantis is our new subclass, representing devotees of Majere who are inspired by the serenity of insects. Their ways were largely forgotten after the Cataclysm, but a revival of their styles and doctrines has occurred from rebuilding ancient ruins containing their teachings.

The book states that the initial subclass features are gained at 1st level rather than 3rd, but as said features mention 1st and 2nd level class features rather than entirely new ones it may be intentional rather than a misprint. They gain the Open Hand’s forced pushed movement when hitting a target with flurry of blows once per turn and deals 1d8 bonus damage and the prone condition, can make an unarmed strike as a reaction when a creature misses them while Patient Defense is active, and gain a flying speed equal to their walking speed when using Step of the Wind. At 6th level targets have disadvantage on saves made against the monk’s Stunning Fist and they add their Wisdom modifier to the damage of unarmed strikes and monk weapons on top of their usual Strength/Dexterity modifier, at 11th level they can spend 6 ki points to summon a giant mantis for 1 minute per long rest, and at 17th level can cast Insect Plague by spending 7 ki points.

The giant mantis is another new creature in this book. It shares a lot of traits with a Giant Scorpion but has no blindsight, a higher passive perception, and its multiattack are two claws and a bite; the latter of which deals acid damage instead of poison damage on a failed Constitution save.

Thoughts: The Way of the Mantis is quite front-loaded in granting its subclass features right off the bat rather than at 3rd level. The 6th level features are perhaps the most broadly useful, making an already strong Stunning Fist more likely to work and as Monks have high Wisdom, adding that score along with Strength or Dexterity to damage really makes them strong in the glass cannon department. The 11th and 17th level features feel a bit lackluster at the levels at which they’re gained, as while they certainly aren’t bad to have, most spellcasters can already do such things and much more by these levels.

Paladins are most common as the militant wings of the gods’ various holy orders, but some dedicate themselves to knighthoods. Like clerics and druids, they gain their abilities either from the gods or the Power of the Heart. The Oath of the Clerist is our new subclass, originating among the Knights of the Sword who seek to care for and defend the defenseless. Their tenets mostly involve acts of selflessness, such as charitable giving to the needy and providing healing and protection to the suffering.Their oath spells are a versatile mixture, having healing spells such as Cure Wounds and Aura of Vitality, defensive features such as Shield of Faith and Death Ward, and some utility ones such as Enhance Ability and Pass Without Trace. Their two Channel Divinity options include spending 15 points of Lay on Hands to remove a level of exhaustion, or healing 3d4 + Paladin level in hit points to all friendly creatures within 10 feet. At 7th level their aura grants themselves and friendly creatures immunity to the frightened condition, at 15th level they can spend a reaction to use Lay on Hands on themselves whenever they’re reduced to 0 hit points, and at 20th level their ultimate form covers them in a shroud of comforting light. Friendly creatures in the aura of light gain a lot of temporary hit points, add one additional damage die to any attack of the paladin’s that hits its target, is immune to the blinded and deafened conditions, the light radius cancels the effects of ongoing silence spells in which it overlaps, and as an action can present their holy symbol that can turn undead who fail a saving throw.

Thoughts: The Oath’s tenets are quite close to the Oaths of Ancients and Devotion. As for the bonus spells, once again a lot of them are concentration but that’s a drawback of the Paladin class in general. Being able to remove levels of exhaustion via Lay on Hands is a pretty nifty feature, albeit it also costs a pricey Channel Divinity. Immunity to the frightened condition is a useful one, and being able to Lay on Hands on oneself as a reaction really increases the class’ staying power in battle. The closest comparison is Ancient’s Undying Sentinel, which is once per long rest and drops to 1 hit instead, whereas Clerist can effectively be used multiple times and go beyond 1 hit point via Lay on Hands. I’m not exactly feeling the 20th level capstone ability, as some of its features like turning undead or countering silence are quite situational. Compare this to Vengeance’s flying speed and AoE frighten, Watchers’ Truesight and advantage on attacks to a wide variety of creature types, or Devotion’s hit point regeneration and better spellcasting capabilities, the Clerist feels rather lackluster. But overall, I’d say that the Clerist is a good subclass.

Rangers are universally common in all cultures of Ansalon, for environmental adaptation is a useful skill for any people. The Legion Scout is our new subclass, representing specialist operatives for the Legion of Steel. Several subclass features make reference to a Region Assignment, which represents an area of operations in which they are active. At 3rd level they gain one bonus language common to their region, can use the benefits of Natural Explorer in an urban environment, and gain an additional Favored Enemy that must be a faction opposed to the Legion’s ideals rather than a creature type. They also learn additional spells as they level, mostly focused on divination and covert operations such as Message, Scrying, and Nondetection. At 7th level they gain proficiency in Deception, Disguise Kits, and add double their proficiency bonus while in their Region Assignment. At 11th level they gain a secure safe house whose specifics are determined by coming up with some details with the DM but includes at a minimum a secret room, secret escape route, and the Scout can cast Pass Without Trace a number of times per long rest equal to their Wisdom modifier. New safe houses can be acquired if the old one is compromised by spending 100 steel pieces and at least a week in their Region Assignment. At 15th level they can Disengage as a bonus action, and as long as they move at least 20 feet then attacks made against them by their Favored Enemies have disadvantage.

Thoughts: The Legion Scout is overall a rather weak class. Region Assignment makes them most suitable in campaigns that stick to one region or area rather than a continent-trotting one, and the features they get are overall weak for their respective levels and tend to be things that Rogues can get at lower levels. The safe house is the kind of thing that is more suited towards a plot reward than a specific class feature.

Split into two posts due to length.
 

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Rogues are yet another almost-everywhere class, reflecting a variety of stealthy occupations along with the more hobbyist “handling” of kender. The Nightstalker is our new subclass, having its origin among kender during the 5th Age when Krynn got overwhelmed with spirits unable to move on to the afterlife. Nightstalkers have an ability to speak and interact with such spirits along with other kinds of magical powers. At 3rd level they gain a Spirit Companion who follows the companion creature rules from Tasha’s, with its default abilities being typical undead resistances and immunities, is incorporeal and thus cannot manipulate physical objects, can Hide as a bonus action, but is vulnerable to radiant damage and has disadvantage on attacks, ability checks, and saves while in sunlight. It can also act as a channel for the Nightstalker’s touch spells much like a familiar, and should it be destroyed the Nightstalker can spend one hour to call for another spirit. While the Nighstalker has an undead companion, they can consult each other to detect the presence of undead creatures within 60 feet not behind total cover along with the presence of consecrated and desecrated ground.

The Nightstalker also has spell progression akin to that of an Eldritch Knight or Arcane Trickster, and while most of their learned spells are limited to either Divination or Necromancy they aren’t limited to the options of an existing class. Their subclass spell list is quite versatile in drawing from a number of sources, with options such as Hunter’s Mark, Entangle, Branding Smite, Spike Growth, and Polymorph.

At 9th level the Nightstalker can a number of times per long rest equal to proficiency bonus use a limited Speak with Dead equivalent. They can target undead creatures of up to Challenge Rating 1 and are limited to 3 questions. Afterwards can force the undead to voluntarily go on to the afterlife if it fails a Charisma save. Should it succeed, it will instead fly into a mindless rage and attack. The Challenge Rating of what undead can be affected has very slow progression, increasing to 2 at 13th level and a maximum of 3 at 17th level.

At 13th level the Nightstalker can use their Cunning Action to temporarily make their Spirit Companion corporeal enough to do a limited set of abilities such as using Sleight of Hand or thieves’ tools to disarm a trap or pick a lock. At 17th level the Nightstalker themselves can spend a bonus action to gain a spectral form for 1 minute once per long rest, gaining incorporeal movement and a flying speed.

Thoughts: The Nightstalker is a very front-loaded class, gaining a lot of good stuff at its outset. The Spirit Companion makes for an incredibly great scout given its incorporeal nature, but its weakness in sunlight makes it of rather limited aid in aboveground environments during the daytime. The variety of spells the Nightstalker can potentially learn allows it to shore up missing links in the party, even if they likely won’t learn anything more powerful than 2nd level spells in most campaigns. The undead sense and speak with/depart undead are of more limited utility, and their 13th level feature comes in a bit too late. The 17th level feature can still be useful at its level despite its limited use.

Given it occupies a similar role, one could compare the Nightstalker to the Echo Knight Fighter. While that subclass’ echo effectively allows teleportation, it is still limited by a maximum range and the long-range scouting of its 7th level feature has the Fighter remain blinded and deafened for its maintenance. Conversely, the Nightstalker’s Spirit Companion has no limited range save for the purposes of delivering touch spells and requires commands to do anything other than the Dodge action. Overall both subclasses occupy different niches and capabilities for their ghostly buddies, but I’d say that the Nightstalker is better overall for scouting in dungeon environments while the Echo Knight is good for when you need to do something akin to “poor man’s scrying.”

Sorcerers manipulate a magic known as Primal Sorcery, which is actually ancient in origin but only became common among Krynn’s mortal races after the Chaos War. The Wizards, whose arcane magic is channeled from one of the three moons, view sorcerers as a problem in that they don’t require formal training and exist outside of the hierarchy of the Orders of High Sorcery. The Elemental Blade is our new subclass, representing warriors who suddenly awakened to Primal Sorcery after the fall of Chaos. At 1st level they gain proficiency in Acrobatics, light armor, and one martial melee weapon. They can also spend Sorcery Points to deal additional damage from one of six energy types (acid, cold, fire, lightning, radiant, thunder) whenever they strike with a melee weapon. At 6th level they gain Extra Attack, at 14th level they can spend 5 Sorcery Points to increase their speed by 10 feet, gain advantage on Acrobatics check, and can take Dash or Disengage actions as bonus actions. At 18th level they can spend 5 Sorcery Points when using the attack action to cast a spell of 3rd level or lower that has a casting time of 1 action.

Thoughts: The problem with turning d6 Hit Die classes into melee gishes is that they are very fragile. Unlike the hexblade the Elemental Blade only grants proficiency in light armor, and not medium armor and shields. Mage Armor can more or less give the same benefit as light armor. The bonus damage from Sorcery Points doesn’t scale well either, starting out as +1d6 for 2 points and capping at 6 for 4d6. As 5 Sorcery Points can buy a 3rd level spell slot, 6th a 4th, and 7 a 5th, one has to compare it to existing damaging spells. Fireball does a whopping 8d6 and can affect multiple targets, while Cone of Cold does 8d8 and is also multi-target. And this is saying nothing of multi-round spells such as Insect Plague (5th level, 4d10 per round), Wall of Fire (4th level, 5d8), or Cloudkill (5th level, 5d8). The Sorcery Points to become slightly speedier is a poor man’s Haste, lacking that spell’s most useful feature (bonus attack) even if it has no downside once it ends. Overall, this class rates low in not having a means of shoring up the Sorcerer’s squishy nature.

Warlocks are those who gain their magic from powerful creatures who aren’t exactly gods, such as Lord Soth or the Dragon Overlords. The book breaks with convention by saying that Raistlin is the most famous example, having gained Fistandantilus as a patron. He’s still referred to as a wizard, so I presume that Raistlin multiclassed. The Fallen Tower is our new subclass, representing someone tuning in to the emotional impressions of loss in the ruins of the destroyed Towers of High Sorcery. Their expanded list of spells are mostly offensive and debuffs, such as Tasha’s Hideous Laughter, Scorching Ray, Confusion, and Geas. At 1st level they can spend an action once per short or long rest to choose a number of targets equal to their Charisma modifier, who if they fail a Wisdom save fall unconscious until the start of the warlock’s next turn. At 6th level they can spend a reaction whenever they’d be hit by a melee or ranged attack, opening up a portal to double the distance between them and the attack which possibly negates or imposes disadvantage on said attack. At 10th level they can cast the Confusion spell once per short or long rest but it is centered on the warlock (the warlock’s unaffected). At 14th level they can choose a number of creatures up to their Charisma modifier within 120 feet per short or long rest, who take force damage, are knocked prone on a failed Dexterity save, and the warlock heals half the total force damage dealt. An action type isn’t given for this capstone feature.

Thoughts: The 1st level feature imposes a pretty powerful multi-target debuff, and the 6th level feature is similar to the Archfey or Great Old One’s defensive features save that it can outright negate an attack and is all but guaranteed to auto-fail most melee attacks if the warlock is smart with their tactical positioning. Confusion is a useful debuff, but as it is close-range it’s rather situational for most warlock builds who try to stay far away from the frontlines. The 14th level capstone is a good multi-target damaging effect which can really heal up the warlock, but the lack of an action type (presume it’s a regular action) is quite the oversight.

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Wizards are studious spellcasters who derive their powers from Krynn’s three moons. While any wizard can do this, those who join one of the three Orders of High Sorcery gain even closer ties to a particular moon, effectively having them as their patron deity. We have two new subclasses.

The Kingfisher subclass represents White Robe wizards who serve in their own military unit in the Knights of Solamnia, and if using the Faction system must have Renown in both organizations. Their initial features include gaining proficiency in Animal Handling, one martial weapon of their choice, and can use their action to expend a 1st or second level spell slot once per short or long rest. This grants them a bonus on Armor Class and saves vs spells equal to the spell level sacrificed for 1 minute or until their death or incapacitation. At 6th level they gain advantage on saves vs the frightened condition and add half their proficiency bonus (round down) to initiative rolls. At 10th level they can spend an action to mark a creature once per long rest, where they suffer disadvantage on saving throws vs spells cast by the Kingfisher. At 14th level, they can expend spell slots as per their 2nd level feature but can affect multiple nearby allies instead and expend spell slots up to 5th level. The bonuses for allies are halved, rounded up, of the slot level.

The Winternorn tradition originated among the Ice Folk of Ansalon’s far south, who in addition to being capable with ice magic can gain glimpses of the future via the River of Time. They initially gain resistance to cold damage, can change the damage type of any spell they cast to cold, at 6th level learn Conjure Animals and cast it with alterations such as being the fey type, HP maximum is increased by wizard level, add proficiency bonus to damage rolls, and their attacks deal cold damage. At 10th level the Winternorn gains advantage on initiative rolls, Intelligence-based skill checks, and Insight rolls. This can be used a number of times per long rest equal to their proficiency bonus, and as it doesn’t list a duration I presume it’s one-use per roll. But the advantage is listed for not just one type of roll, but multiple rolls, so it could also be read to be advantage on all of those for a limited time frame. Perhaps one round? At 14th level they gain immunity to cold damage and experience physical changes that make them look more like Jack Frost, such as getting blue skin and white hair.

Thoughts: First, the Kingfisher. The initial bonus proficiencies aren’t anything to get excited about, and spending spell slots to gain resistance against spells is a rather situational feature. Advantage on saves vs the frightened condition are nice, but the bonus to initiative rolls is inferior to that of the Chronurgy or War Magic subclasses, which are instead equal to the Wizard’s Intelligence modifier. The 10th level feature is perhaps the best, but as that kicks in rather late this makes the Kingfisher an overall paltry subclass in comparison to existing ones such as the School of Divination or ironically, War Magic.

As for the Winternorn, they’re all around strong. Conjure Animals is a good spell overall, and gaining advantage on initiative checks can trigger often enough to be useful for multiple battles. Being able to change the damage type of any spell to cold can be situationally useful, but it too is a rather commonly-resisted damage type.

Factions

This section makes use of the optional Renown rules from the Dungeon Master’s Guide to be used in accordance with four iconic organizations in the Dragonlance setting.

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The Dark Knights, formerly known as the Knights of Takhisis and more properly known as the Knights of Neraka, are the evil-aligned knightly order. Founded by Ariakan, son of Emperor Ariakas of the Dragonarmies, he sought to bring all of Ansalon to heel during the Chaos War and War of Souls. In the current era of the Fifth Age they still have significant holdings in central and eastern Ansalon, being split between those remaining true to Ariakan’s vision or becoming little more than self-centered warlords after the death of Takhisis. Like the Knights of Solamnia they are split into three Orders: Lily covers typical soldiers, Skull clerics and mystics, and Thorns the arcane spellcasters. Also like the Knights of Solamnia, they have two founding moral codes. The Vision used to be a personal communion with the goddess Takhisis, showing their unique place within the Knighthood, but with her death it is now but a memory no longer practiced. The Blood Oath is one where a member is indoctrinated to place all personal goals and concerns before the good of the Vision, or the Knighthood as a whole in modern times. Then there is the Code, a set of laws written by Ariakan governing everyday situations in both civilian and military matters. People typically join the Dark Knights at an early age, around 12-14 years for humans and the equivalent for other races. Much of their lives are dedicated towards harsh training regimens, and those who display talents in particular magical disciplines are given over to either the Skull or the Thorn. In order to graduate from squire to actual Knight, one must pass a test known as the Crucible of Darkness, whose specifics are secret but those who fail are put to death.

The requirements for joining the Faction as a PC require one to be appropriately martial in character, such as proficiency in land vehicles, light and medium armor, at least one martial weapon, tend to recruit from humans and the “monstrous” races, and mostly have Lawful Evil or Lawful Evil-adjacent alignments. Renown is gained by distinguishing oneself in battle, acting honorably in a Lawful Evil manner, and helping expand the Knighthood’s holdings and influence. It is lost by disobeying orders, being cowardly, and interestingly inflicting overly harsh or cruel treatment of defeated enemies. The 5 Ranks for Renown range from Knight Guardian to Lord Knight, and more or less boil down to being able to request ever-growing numbers of NPC soldiers who follow your orders, and can requisition magic items of increasing rarity.

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The Knights of Solamnia are one of the two biggest iconic organizations of the setting, and are basically your stereotypical Lawful Good knights in shining armor. They are split into three Orders of ascending hierarchy in order who each have their own patron deity: Crown, who represent the virtues of loyalty and obedience as taught by Habbakuk, Sword who exemplify courage and heroism as taught by Kiri-Jolith, and Rose who exemplify justice and wisdom as taught by Paladine. The Rose still honors that god’s memory even after his death. The Knights of the Sword are the most likely to sport divine casters, with clerics and paladins being part of their own sub-group known as the Clerists. The Knights of the Rose more or less act as the general leadership body of the Knights as a whole.

Those seeking to join the Knights of Solamnia (or ascend to a higher Order) require a good word from an existing Knight and are subject to lengthy interview processes. Additionally, those seeking to join the Knights of the Sword must undertake a Quest of Virtue, which is open-ended but typically involves a journey involving putting oneself at risk to save others in danger from a powerful threat. Before the War of the Lance, the Order of the Rose’s ranks came exclusively from the nobility, and while that Order is still disproportionately represented by the highborn this is no longer a requirement.

PCs who wish to join face similar requirements as the Dark Knights, but are closer to Lawful Good instead of Lawful Evil and the races tend to be overall humanocentric or half-human races. Renown is gained by acting like a stereotypical good-aligned honorable Knight, and is lost by engaging in unheroic behavior such as refusing to aid the innocent, prioritizing personal pursuit of fame and wealth, and showing cowardice. The five Ranks are similar to the Dark Knights in putting the PC in charge of larger numbers of warrior-type NPCs and the ability to requisition magic items. The Clerist and Kingfishers are special ranks available only to those subclasses, which are more or less functionally the same as similar ranks save that Kingfishers are technically outranked by all other knights of at least Rank 1. This is because their patron organization is the Order of White Robes rather than the Knighthood itself.

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The Legion of Steel is the newest knightly order, founded sometime after the Chaos War. They are devoted to typical good-aligned values such as ensuring fair and equal justice and aiding the meek, although unlike the Knights of Solamnia are more forward-thinking in adopting new magical specializations and aren’t above relying on underworld-style professions and allies. They also are organized into autonomous cells rather than a centralized hierarchy, which helps them operate in enemy territory. Due to these reasons, their prerequisites for joining are looser than the other knightly orders, requiring being apprenticed to an existing Legionnaire of the same class.

Sadly we don’t have a sample list of ways of gaining or listing Renown besides the latter being vague stuff that jeopardizes the Legion’s operations and puts its members at risk. The Ranks are a bit more detailed than the other knightly orders. For example, Rank 1 applies the PC’s proficiency bonus to any Intelligence-based ability or skill pertaining to their Assigned Region, Rank 2 grants them a non-magical starjewel (culturally appropriated from the Silvanesti elves) as a symbol of rank along with a Sidekick as per Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, Ranks 3 and 4 grant them authority over a cell or cells along with being able to requisition magic items.

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The Wizards of High Sorcery are Ansalon’s oldest and most powerful organization of arcane spellcasters. Unlike the knightly orders they aren’t affiliated with geopolitical nations or regions, instead being a continental network of mages divided into three Orders with headquarters in the Tower of Wayreth in southwestern Ansalon. The Conclave is the Wizard’s governing body, a gathering of the most powerful wizards who vote on important matters. Each of the robed Orders are more or less simplistic in morality: White Robes are all about uplifting and helping others, the Black Robes encourage personal accumulation of power, and the Red Robes seek to “maintain the Balance” between Good and Evil. In order to join, a character must display capability of casting arcane spells, and usually undergo an apprenticeship with a more established mage. Once they display talent in 2nd-level spells, they are expected to journey to the Tower of Wayreth to take the Test of High Sorcery. Prospects can opt to decline, but must not develop their powers further (3rd level and higher spells) at risk of being declared a renegade and hunted down. Existing members can become renegades by engaging in banned activity, such as meddling with the River of Time or hedging on the dominion of the gods.

The majority of Order members are wizards, but there is debate as to what to do about those trained in Primal Sorcery. Lunitari and the Red Robes are most eager to have them join, viewing them as a threat the least and instead as a curious new magical innovation in the world. Solinari and the White Robes view the sorcerers’ natural talent as being in need of guidance and discipline to ensure that they stay on the right path. Nuitari and the Black Robes are the most hostile and adopt a “kill at the earliest possible convenience” policy towards them.

Wizards of High Sorcery that are aligned with a particular Order have their magical power change with the phases of their patron moon deity. Basically, the “fuller” the moon is in the sky the better, and if two Moons are aligned in the same phase this counts as a good thing even if they’re mostly dark. This represents alterations to their spell save DCs, ranging from -1 (Low Sanction, or new/mostly dark moon) all the way up to +3 at the Night of the Eye (all three moons are full and aligned to look like a giant eye with a red iris in the sky). We even get a full-page moon tracking chart for this purpose, with Solinari’s phases the slowest and Nuitari’s phases the fastest.

Renown is specific to particular Orders, and are gained by aiding their objectives in the world such as defeating and identifying renegade magic-users, turning over dangerous and powerful artifacts to the Conclave, or training apprentices with the intention of having them join the Orders of High Sorcery. Renown is lost via aiding renegades, keeping dangerous artifacts for yourself, and pursuing magic beyond your ability to control. The 5 ranks are very brief, where you are taught one order-specific Secret per rank. You don’t get tangential benefits like NPC followers or item requisitions. Each Order has 5 Secrets, which are similar to a Sorcerer’s metamagic in that they alter an existing spell in some way but typically apply to magic favored by that particular Order. For example, Secret of Pain of the Black Robes is applied as a bonus action when casting a spell dealing necrotic damage, where if the target fails a Constitution save they suffer disadvantage on attacks and saving throws until the start of the wizard’s next turn. Or Secret of Deception of the Red Robes, which doubles the duration of an illusion spell and the wizard can choose a number of creatures equal to their Intelligence bonus to automatically succeed on a saving throw if the spell calls for it. Almost all Secrets are rest-based, with only a few being technically infinite use…as long as you have spell slots.

If I had to pick any Secrets I’d call overpowered, universally useful, or otherwise too good to pass up, I’d pick Red Robes’ Secret of Purity (change the damage type of a cast spell to force damage as a bonus action, can be used proficiency bonus times per long rest), White Robe’s Secret of Sustenance (gain advantage on Constitution save to maintain concentration on a spell, can be used proficiency bonus times per long rest), and Black Robe’s Secret of Betrayal (spend a bonus action to regain a 3rd level or lower slot by choosing an adjacent creature to take 1d6 necrotic damage per slot level, can be used once per long rest). Secret of Purity is a great way to get around enemy resistances and immunities, Secret of Sustenance is a godsend at all levels, and while single-use Secret of Betrayal’s regaining spent spell slots is a nice ability to have.

Thoughts: I do like how the book makes use of Renown to simulate advancing through the ranks in a fashion that encourages PCs to act within the tenets of their order and also gives them rewards for exemplary service. Gaining control over large numbers of NPCs is the kind of thing that can be potentially abusable, but as many Dragonlance adventures focus on war and big battles this is only something of concern in more typical campaigns where the PCs are wandering adventurers with no settled ties. I do wish that the Wizards of High Sorcery had more benefits beyond their Secrets. But given that those alter spells directly and they already have a bunch of powerful spells as per their class, it’s a fair trade-off to give the knights some more grounded political benefits and magic items.

Thoughts So Far: When it comes to new subclasses, the Freedom Domain Cleric, Way of the Mantis Monk, Rogue Nightstalker, and Wizard Winternorn are my favorites and look to be the overall best at reinforcing their base class’ strengths. The Psalmist Bard looks alright but is open to some strong DPS builds, and the Knight of Solamnia Fighter has a variety of nice features (particularly Rose) even if I’m not too fond of the idea of tying an iconic organization to a specific subclass. My least favorites are the ones that I feel have poor synergy or with underpowered and unexciting features in comparison to existing subclasses, which include the Dragon Totem Barbarian, Adjudication Domain Cleric, Legion Scout Ranger, and Elemental Blade Sorcerer.

I think the use of Renown rules for the organizations is a good idea, although they do encourage more bean-counting on both sides of the DM screen, so they may not be suitable for all campaigns.

Join us next time as we cover a variety of short chapters, from new equipment and magic items to Krynn’s pantheon!
 


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