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

Ed Mekeel

Steward of the Kingfishers
Just wanted to say thank you for the review. One note, we were of two minds with the Solannic Knights as having a Fighter subclass and of course, the Faction. We went back and forth during design. You can still be a Solannic Knight as just being part of the Faction and not needing to take the subclass. Looking forward to reading the rest of your posts.
 

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Libertad

Hero
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Chapter 3: Background & Feats

We’re halfway through the book, and most of the following chapters are significantly shorter. To start off with, Backgrounds and Feats are self-explanatory, rounding out the character-building chapters. First up, the Backgrounds.

Ambassador means that you’re a dignitary representing the interests of your home kingdom or region while in foreign lands. They’re proficient in Insight, Persuasion, one gaming set, one language, and have noble-like starting equipment. Their Feature makes them intimately familiar with the culture and history of the area in which they have an embassy, and said embassy can serve as a safe haven for them and their allies.

Guild Thief represents a criminal of the more organized variety. They are proficient in their choice of two skills from Acrobatics, Deception, Sleight of Hand, or Stealth, and are also proficient in thieves’ tools and Thieves’ Cant. Their bonus equipment is similar to that of the Criminal background but more useful in including a set of thieves’ tools. They have the Criminal Contact feature of the Criminal background.

Handler represents those who grew up in kender society, being someone who collects various interesting items on their travels while absentmindedly forgetting where they first obtained most of them. They are proficient in Sleight of Hand, Stealth, thieves’ tools, one language, and their bonus equipment is a mixture of traveler and rogue style stuff. They have a d10 Handler Specialty representing one occupation in which kender hold in high regard (explorer, actor, freedom fighter, etc) and their other Feature lets them treat local jails as places they can safely rest up at when arrested.

Outcast represents people who have been cast out from their home culture, having to learn to live on their own. They’re proficient in Deception Survival, one set of tools, one language, and their bonus equipment is traveler-related stuff such as a hunting trap and tent. Their feature makes them look obviously like an outsider in civilized settlements, which can provoke curiosity and hospitality in others by leveraging stories and tales of “far-off lands.”

Sikk’et Hul Operative represents skilled agents sent out into the wider world to advance the interests of the goblinoid nation. Such things can include safeguarding trade routes, liberating oppressed peoples, and recovering ancient artifacts. They are proficient in two skills of their choice from Athletics, Perception, Stealth, or Survival, are proficient in one set of tools, the Goblin language or one bonus language if they already know it, and their equipment hews close to the dungeon-delver side with things such as caltrops and a grappling hook. Their feature lets them know where to find safe houses in nearly every part of Ansalon to provide shelter, food, and drink for themselves and their allies.

Thoughts: Quite a bit of these backgrounds feel quite similar to existing ones in the official rules, albeit with a skill, feature, and/or piece of equipment swapped out. The Ambassador is like the Noble but with Insight instead of History and swaps out the “commoners treat you well” feature with having a kind of safe house. Outcast is a pretty social “wilderness explorer” background, whose Feature is more suited towards civilization than wilderness survival. The Handler and Sikk’et Hul Operative are distinct enough to be their own features, being just different enough to be worthwhile choices on their own.

The Guild Thief stands out to me: its addition of Thieves’ Cant is interesting, as like Druidic it’s a class-specific language. While it does break with convention for a background, as it’s more feasible in fantasy to be a criminal but of a non-Rogue class than a druid with a non-druid class, I can understand the reasoning. Personally I’m fine with it, as this can give the party a secret language to speak among each other without them all being Rogues, but I can see other gaming groups differing on this.

Now we cover the feats.

Caramon’s Fist is named after Caramon Majere’s mighty strength even when he’s unarmed. Your unarmed attacks threaten a critical on 19-20, and when you score a critical hit (not just with unarmed attacks) the target is knocked prone and has disadvantage on their next attack if they fail a Constitution save and aren’t more than one size category larger than the feat-user. On a successful save they’re still knocked prone.

Thoughts: Given that this doesn’t increase unarmed damage like Tavern Brawler does, the increased critical threat range is only really useful for Monks and others who have good unarmed damage dice. Making it so that crits have a chance at inflicting 1-2 debuffs is pretty good when taken in a vacuum, but as this only occurs 5 to 10% per roll it will rarely see use in play. This makes the feat rather lackluster.

Dark Heart makes one very good at concealing their true intentions. It grants +1 Charisma and Insight checks made against the feat-taker have disadvantage.

Thoughts: This is a very situational feat, only being of use for a character who not only talks a lot, but defaults to trickery in social situations. Disadvantage on Insight checks amounts to an effective -5 penalty. There aren’t a lot of non-combat feats out there so it’s hard to do comparative analysis, but given the large amount of magical lie-detectors in 5e this feat isn’t very good. Now if it could fool things such as Zone of Truth, that may be worthwhile for social-heavy campaigns, but it would still be lackluster.

Gambler makes one able to hedge their bets on any risky behavior. It grants +1 to a mental ability score of choice, proficiency in one gaming set, and prior to rolling an attack, ability check, or saving throw can roll an unmodified d20. On a 10 or higher they get advantage on the upcoming roll, but 9 or lower they get disadvantage.

Thoughts: Getting advantage through this feat is a 55% chance, so the odds are slightly in the feat-taker’s favor. Although it isn’t limited in use, I do feel that the Lucky feat is better: someone with Gambler is likely to use it for rolls that really matter, and Lucky is limited in use but has no risk of downsides when using.

Kit’s Grin represents those who fall back on their natural charm to get out of bad situations. It grants +1 Charisma and advantage on saving throws vs the charmed and frightened conditions.

Thoughts: Gaining advantage on two very common condition types may seem worthwhile, but as we demonstrated earlier in this book there’s already quite a bit of ways to get advantage on one or both types. Not to mention that Heroism, a 1st-level spell, outright grants immunity to frightened. It’s honestly hard to recommend this with all the other ways to get such benefits in 5th Edition.

Soth’s Darkness infuses the character with the same dark energies that consumed Lord Soth, and unlike other feats has a prerequisite of Intelligence or Wisdom of 13 or greater. It grants the feat-taker knowledge of a 1st level spell that inflicts necrotic damage that they can cast once per long rest or fuel via spell slots. They can also see normally in magical and non-magical darkness up to 30 feet.

Thoughts: There’s a Warlock invocation, Devil’s Sight, that grants the same effect as this feat’s latter ability but goes up to 120 feet. There’s a feat called Eldritch Adept that grants you knowledge of one Warlock invocation, but has a prerequisite where you must have the Spellcasting or Pact Magic feature. As most people who would take this kind of feat are likely going to be spellcasters of some kind, 120 foot super-darkvision feels like a better deal than having a quarter of that but with one bonus damaging necromancy spell.

Tanis’ Wise Words represents someone who seems to always have the right thing to say to put others at ease. The feat grants +1 Charisma, the feat-taker can gain advantage on a Charisma check that targets one specific creature once per long rest, and they gain permanent immunity to the Charmed condition.

Thoughts: Well now, this is actually a good social feat! Immunity to a common condition, and the ability to get a one-time advantage on a Charisma check is pretty nifty. Whilst Friends cantrip is unlimited use, that only works on non-hostile targets and comes with a downside of making them hostile later. Tanis’ Wise Words works for Charisma checks in general, so you can also use it for something like Intimidating an enemy.

Rope Trickster grants one amazing expertise with whips, ropes, and lassos. It grants proficiency with whips, whips wielded by the feat-taker have the light property, they can grapple someone up to 10 feet away with said items as an action, they can also disarm or trip a target up to 10 feet away if the target fails a Strength or Dexterity save (their choice), and using the equipment mentioned halves the difficult terrain penalty while climbing (2 feet rather than 4 feet per foot).

Thoughts: The whip is one of the consistently least-used weapons in 5th Edition if online polling is accurate. Granting the ability to disarm, grapple, and trip with whips as a reach weapon can make them pretty useful for certain builds. The downside is that the grapple specifies an action, and the disarm and trip don’t mention if they too cost an entire action or if they’re special attacks like grappling and shoving are in the default rules. Some clarification is necessary on this point, for if it’s ruled as the latter they can substitute one of their attacks with the Attack action this way.

Sturdy represents someone who is sure-footed and hard to move. As long as they’re not incapacitated they can’t be involuntarily moved by any creature up to one size category larger, have advantage on saves against being knocked prone, and can spend a reaction when knocked prone to stand up. I’m unsure whether this last effect costs any movement, as that’s not specified.

Thoughts: While I presume that the immunity to involuntary movement is meant to be in regards to physical exertion, a liberal reading of the rules can see one apply it to magical forced movement such as Gust of Wind or Telekinesis. It’s a rather situational ability, as there aren’t a lot of monsters inclined to shove or trip as a primary tactic, and overall the prone condition is easy to recover from by default.

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Chapter 4: Cultural Weapons & Equipment

This chapter provides us with 40 new weapons and 5 new arrow ammunition types. The chapter’s title is a bit of a misnomer, as the only contents within are weapons and nothing else. The weapons are still grouped into simple and martial categories, but each is associated with a certain race or culture on Ansalon which if you belong to you have automatic proficiency with said weapons. Due to reasons of space I won’t go over them all, but will cover a few of the more interesting or involved ones:

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The Pick is really good: it does slightly-than-better average damage than a longsword but can switch between two damage types, which is a nifty way of getting around some resistances and immunities. The Crook Blade is basically a longsword you can two-weapon fight with, and the Lajang is basically a polearm you can wield in one hand so you don’t have to choose between superior reach or a shield; its thrown property requires a 16 Strength or higher and is treated as a spear when used this way, so it’s of better use in melee. Unless you count unarmed strikes by monks, the Weighted Sash is the only finesseable bludgeoning weapon in a game that allows this book and the official rules. The garrote, predictably, requires one to grapple the target but starts to automatically suffocate the wearer if the grapple is successful. Sadly it’s not finesseable so a Rogue can’t combo it with Sneak Attack, but when used on low-Constitution creatures the suffocation can be a great way to bypass hit points in order to knock them out or kill them. A lasso already grapples a target as part of its attack, making that aspect of the Ropemaster feat referencing it for grapples rather superfluous.

The Belcher is basically a gnomish container designed to spray things out in a nozzle. It has an impressive 11 different types of ammunition each with their own special effects and in some cases damage types. You have your typical “flamethrower” with Cinder ammunition, gas which can knock people unconscious on a failed Constitution save, foam that can restrain targets and put out fires, pepper that can incapacitate, and so on. The only downside is that the tank explodes on an attack roll of a natural 1, but it can be fixed by a gnome with tinker’s tools during a short rest. The Blunderbuss firearms are our other gnometech weapons, which like so many other DnD designers have misfire properties on a natural 1. When this occurs, a d10 table of mishaps is rolled, from the ammo being wasted to getting stunned and damaged by the kickback. As for the five new elven arrow types, we have a good variety, such as blunt arrows (deal bludgeoning damage, x2 damage to objects), leaf (increase damage die of the bow they’re shot from by one step), and singing (produce a screech that can be heard up to 1 mile away, or filled with oil and deals +1d6 fire damage). The sabre’s basically a finessable longsword, while throwing blades are basically finesseable handaxes.

Thoughts: When it comes to new weapons the kender get the lion’s share with 9 new types, with dwarves and minotaurs tied in second place with 4 each. Gnomes have 3, and elves the least with 2. When it comes to human cultures, the mariners, Khalkist, and Khurish groups are tied at 4 each, with Ice Folk at 3 and Abanasinian at 2. The dwarven bonus weapons are types that also double as tools, such as Pry Bars that basically double as crowbars and Gappers which are iron bars that can connect to others of their type to form makeshift bridges. The gnome items pack a punch but are risky to use and impractical, while the minotaur weapons often have double features or built-in contingencies. Such as the forpann being a reach trident with a net connected to the end, or the Mandoll being a gauntleted dagger that is impossible to disarm. The kender are similar in that many of their weapons are meant to be two-in-one, like a poppak which is a haft with a detachable serrated shortsword, or a sithak which is a shortbow with two miniature scythes on the end to allow it to be used in both melee and ranged. I like how all of the racial weapons are tightly themed to reflect their cultural fighting styles and practicalities.

That being said, these new weapons vary widely in overall usefulness and balance. The Death’s Tooth Kala is basically a dagger without the thrown or finesse properties and is pretty much inferior, the belaying pin is a reflavored club, gnomish firearms are too unreliable, short-range, and expensive to edge out over bows and crossbows, and there’s little reason to use a pellet bow over a shortbow unless the enemy you’re fighting is resistant or immune to piercing damage. You’re much better off using Elven arrows with the Blunt property.

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Chapter 5: Pantheon of Krynn

This chapter details the divine powers who watch over the Dragonlance cosmos. Unlike Shadow of the Dragon Queen, Tasslehoff’s Pouches uses the traditional alignments for the gods as written in prior Editions. Each deity where appropriate is given an alignment, provinces reflecting their areas of influence, domains, symbols, aspects representing the mortal forms they take when visiting other planes, and their holy days. Barring a few exceptions, most deities have 2 domains, some 3, and only a few highly-specialized ones grant only one domain. The three moon gods, the High God, and Chaos are the only deities who don’t grant divine spellcasting to clerics. In the moon gods’ case their worshipers are the Wizards of High Sorcery, who don’t need to worship the moons to get their spells but choosing to honor them by joining one of the Orders ties their power to the phases of their patron moon.

The Gods of Light represent various values associated with positive emotions and actions, and are overall more united in working with each other than the Gods of Darkness. They include Paladine (Bahamut equivalent, patron of metallic dragons, is all about redemption and inspiring others), Branchala (uplifting others through the power of joy and music), Habakkuk (phoenix-like deity representing the natural cycle who is associated with the sea), Kiri-Jolith (unity and brotherhood, honorable warrior type), Majere (ascetic self-improvement, most popular among monks), Mishakal (mercy and healing, caretaker of the weak and suffering), and Solinari (moon god leader of the Order of White Robes). Most of them have at least one worthwhile domain, with only Paladine (Peace) and Mishakal (Twilight) having domains that are considered outright overpowered by many gamers. Kiri-Jolith is the only one who has only one domain, which is War.

The Gods of Balance encapsulate forces that are more cosmic in nature than the other pantheons, representing universal concepts more than moral stances or ideological goals. They include Gilean (encourages knowledge in all its forms), Chislev (nature deity in tune with all life and lands on Krynn), Reorx (god of creation who is popularly worshiped as a forge-deity), Shinare (holds sway over industry, commerce, contracts, and favors fairness and impartiality in all dealings), Sirrion (multi-faceted deity of transformation, represents various concepts from alchemy to fire to passion), Zivilyn (deity of wisdom and insight, serves as a “common sense” buddy to Gilean’s book-learning and serves as counsel to other deities), and Lunitari (moon goddess leader of the Order of Red Robes). In terms of domains, a good amount of them overlap in having Knowledge (Gilean, Shinari, and Zivilyn), but otherwise the rest of the domains are unique to particular deities. Many of their domains make sense, such as Chislev having Nature, Reorx having Forge, and Sirrion having Freedom and Light. Only Zivilyn has one domain, Knowledge, and since two others in his own pantheon have that this makes him rather lackluster in giving anything truly unique to Cleric PCs. Once again, the pantheon’s leader Gilean has the overpowered Peace domain, and Chislev has the also-overpowered Twilight.

The Gods of Darkness are selfish, cruel deities who are only united in the desire to attain more power by bringing others down or to their subservience. Where they differ is based on what tactics they use to make the world a bad enough place that people would become desperate enough to even think of worshiping them. They include Takhisis (Tiamat equivalent, patron of evil dragons and favors tyranny and oppression in all its forms), Chemosh (Reaper-like god of murder, death, and the undead), Hiddukel (patron of greed, lies, and theft), Morgion (evil nature god of disease, famine, poison, vermin, and decay in general), Sargonnas (revenge, war, wrath and conquest), Zeboim (evil sea goddess of storms, jealousy, and spite), and Nuitari (moon god leader of the Order of Black Robes). When it comes to their domains, Takhisis is the proud holder of the Adjudication domain but also Order and Trickery, making her a rather socially-inclined goddess. Chemosh has the Death and Grave domains as befits his mantle, and Sargonnas is like Kiri-Jolith in only having the War domain. The evil pantheon is rather heavily loaded up on single-domain deities in general: Hiddukel has Trickery, and Morgion has Grave. Since Chemosh also has Grave and Takhisis has Trickery, Hiddukel and Morgion both suffer in being upshone by the more versatile deities. Zeboim has both the Freedom and Tempest domains.

The three divine powers who exist outside these pantheons include Chaos (embodiment of nonexistence and seeks to undo the world), the High God (distant god who created existence out of Chaos and tasked the other Gods with managing this new reality) and Mina (the only mortal ascended to godhood in Krynn’s history, a former warlord of Takhisis during the War of Souls of the Fifth Age who forsook her goddess and ascended to become a patron of the hopeless and those who lost everything). Mina is the only one who grants a domain, Twilight to be precise, and her alignment is listed as “Neutral Good or Neutral Evil.” For someone who embodies loss, it sounds like she got a rather good deal in both godhood and an overpowered domain!

Thoughts: A lot of the details covered here are nothing new to those who read prior Editions, but I am glad to see them consolidated in one book. Granting them domains is a big set-up from Shadow of the Dragon Queen which didn’t even bother, and I do like how they included Mina even if she’s a new addition from a rather contentious plotline. I do wish that the evil gods got more diversity in domain types. As they stand, only Takhisis and Zeboim have any real slew of choices to make them feel different. I’m aware that Death and Grave are distinct, but they still fill the same conceptual elements.

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Chapter 6: Ambient Magic of Krynn

This very short chapter talks about the new forms of magic that came into Krynn during the Fifth Age: primal sorcery and mysticism. Primal Sorcery is the ambient arcane magic of the world, whereas High Sorcery is a more refined version channeled through the three Moons. Primal Sorcery rapidly spread throughout Krynn upon the accidental breaking of the Graygem of Gargath, unleashing Chaos into the world along with the sudden empowerment of countless newfound sorcerers. Although primal sorcery is less scholarly than High Sorcery (or wizardry), an Academy of Sorcery was set up that managed to separate Primal Sorcery into distinct disciplines. Said disciplines are akin to schools of magic, but are primarily concerned with different elemental types (Cryomancy, Electromancy, Hydromancy, etc) along with some non-elemental fields such as Divination and Summoning.

As for mysticism, it is the magic of life itself, shaped and strengthened by an individual’s heart and soul. It is a form of divine magic, where the power doesn’t come from faith in the divinities but faith in oneself. Mystics typically awaken to their powers in a personal state of self-awareness brought on through intense introspection known as the Spark of Life. An academy studying mysticism, the Citadel of Light, was set up on the Isle of Schallsea. Like the Academy of Sorcery, the Power of the Heart is classified into related spheres of influence such as Alteration, Healing, Mentalism (telepathy and mind-affecting magic), Necromancy, and the like.

When Takhisis stole the world after the Chaos War, traditional forms of magic such as clericism and wizardry ceased to function, making her the only deity who could grant spells. But the rising of primal sorcery and mysticism quickly put a stop to this monopoly, allowing others to challenge her power. Although the rest of the pantheon has returned, the fact that mortals can now access magic without the aid of the gods has dubbed this new era of Krynn the Age of Mortals.

For the purposes of game mechanics, the book doesn’t present any new house rules or the like: a lot of what already exists in 5th Edition can already be used to represent primal sorcery and mysticism. Bards and Sorcerers are natural shoe-ins for primal sorcerers, and Clerics, Druids, Paladins, and Rangers can become mystics untied to a patron deity. Certain subclasses that are technically nonmagical but have obvious supernatural influences, such as the Ancestral Guardian Barbarian or Way of Shadow Monk, can be similarly reflavored to be drawing upon some kind of primal sorcery, mysticism, or that of a patron deity. Cach official subclass has its own suggested spheres/gods. Artificer is the odd class out, as it’s described as being closer to science replicating magical effects and is appropriate for tinker gnomes.

Thoughts: One part of me feels that this chapter is superfluous, in that when it first came out during the 2nd Edition/SAGA Edition era the primal sorcery and mysticism were radical changes to Dragonlance’s magic system. Now they easily fit into 5th Edition like a glove. But with that said, I do like how the book expands on it a bit for campaigns set during the Age of Mortals, explaining that not only are there Bards, Sorcerers, and the like on Krynn, it gives them explanations of how they can fit into the world and suggestions for how even non-Vancian supernatural archetypes can be wielding a form of magic. Overall, a good read.

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Chapter 7: Magic Items

This short chapter provides 12 new magic items, 4 of which are types of Dragonlances, and all of which are iconic items from earlier adventures and sourcebooks. We have the Blue Crystal Staff (holy artifact of Mishakal, can spend charges to cast a variety of spells but especially healing ones, once per day can grant immunity to a specific elemental energy type plus poison to those within a 30 foot radius), the Brightblade (Sturm’s ancestral sword forged in the Age of Dreams, is a +2 longsword that grants advantage on Persuasion checks, +1d6 radiant damage on successful hits, can cast Protection From Evil and Good once per day, and will shatter if used in the hands of a creature with evil or dishonorable intent), Dagger of Magius (+2 dagger that can’t be detected by mundane or magical searches on the attuned wielder’s person), Frostreaver (+1 greataxe that becomes +2 in cold environments), Glasses of the Arcanist (allow the wearer to read any written words they can see), Medallion of Faith (universal spellcasting focus for people who receive spells from their gods, can be used to create other medallions for different gods, trying to forcibly remove it from the wearer deals 2d6 damage to the would-be remover), Rabbitslayer (+2 dagger that returns to its attuned wielder within 1d20 hours if it’s ever lost), Solamnic Plate Armor (matching set of +1 plate mail and +1 shield, designed to be wielded by a specific Knight of Solamnia who attin the rank of Lord, only requires Strength 13 to wear the armor and anyone else who wears them suffers penalties as though they aren’t proficient with it), and the Staff of Magius (+2 quarterstaff that also grants the bonus to AC, saves, and spell attack rolls, is more powerful in the hands of someone who passed a Test of High Sorcery, whenever it’s used by a wizard of 6th level or higher can generate a randomly-determined spell which can be “mastered” to be used purposefully from then on out via an Arcana check).

The four Dragonlances are split between Footman and Aerial versions, and Lesser (+2 weapon) and Greater (+3 weapon) versions between those. All of them are artifacts in rarity, and their base weapon damage ranges from 2d12 (Lesser Footman’s) to 3d10 (Greater Aerial). Dragonlances must be forged with one of two artifacts: the Hammer of Kharas or the Silver Arm of Ergoth, neither of which are detailed in this book but that’s fine for they are more or less MacGuffins primarily used by NPCs. If one artifact is used, only Lesser Dragonlances can be created, but if both are used then Greater versions can be made. What all Dragonlances share in common is that they are magical lances that have the Dragonbane property, where they grant advantage on attacks made against evil dragons along with doubling the enhancement bonus of the weapon against that same type of enemy. Successful hits deal bonus radiant damage which is double the damage die of the base weapon, and critical hits cause the dragon to suffer disadvantage on all attack rolls against the wielder for 1 minute but they can make a new Wisdom save each round to end the effect early.

In contrast to the Dragonlance properties in Shadow of the Dragon Queen, these ones deal a lot more damage but aren’t really designed for “team players.” The official adventure had Dragonlances allow any Dragon of the wielder’s choice within 30 feet (typically the one upon which they’re riding) to spend its reaction to make a melee attack. By contrast, the Dragonlances of this book go even further on damaging and debuffing enemy dragons. It’s hard to say which one I’d prefer using; right now I’m leading towards the SotDQ one.

Thoughts: The magic items are all faithful conversions of their counterparts from prior Editions. There’s a heavy focus on weapons, with only 3 out of 12 being non-staves or non-weapons. Most of them have neat features that aren’t too unbalancing, and as a few are tied into the world’s history or are intended to be given during a moment of character development, they serve as nice quest rewards. The Dragonlances are quite powerful and can really wear down evil dragons, particularly when used by a martial character with additional attacks. A smiting Paladin or action surging Fighter can really weaken even adult dragons with these weapons. But as that’s more or less their purpose in the campaign (in 3rd Edition they dealt Constitution damage or drain) I can’t really complain about them being too powerful in this regard: getting into melee with dragons is a risk all its own!

The only one which can cause big balance problems is the Blue Crystal Staff. That Staff can cast up to 7th level Cleric spells, most notably Resurrection, and really increases the healing capabilities of a party that has it. But in the original Dragonlance adventures it was given to the party Cleric who couldn’t case spells yet, as it was more or less meant to solve the metaplot function of “we want the return of the true gods to be caused by completing a quest, but our party still needs a healer” dilemma.

Thoughts So Far: While individually brief, I like what each of these chapters gives us. I do think that the weapons could use some reworking for balance purposes, the feats were vague in a few places, and some deities need either more or unique domains to make them stand out, but those are the bulk of my criticisms. I’m really happy to see the magic items from prior adventures making a comeback.

Join us next time as we finish up this book with a bestiary, timeline, and atlas of Ansalon!
 
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Libertad

Hero
Just wanted to say thank you for the review. One note, we were of two minds with the Solannic Knights as having a Fighter subclass and of course, the Faction. We went back and forth during design. You can still be a Solannic Knight as just being part of the Faction and not needing to take the subclass. Looking forward to reading the rest of your posts.

You're welcome! Dragonlance is a setting near and dear to my heart, so I had my eyes on this book for a while now. I appreciate your explanation on the Solamnic Knight design, which makes sense and sounds open-ended.
 

Ed Mekeel

Steward of the Kingfishers
You're welcome! Dragonlance is a setting near and dear to my heart, so I had my eyes on this book for a while now. I appreciate your explanation on the Solamnic Knight design, which makes sense and sounds open-ended.
We wanted some chunk, but left it open like you said. There was a wish to have some old school feel with their 5e. It's probably not perfect but we definitely stand by it.
 

Continuing my semi-review, and in the light of planning a War of the Lance era game...

Path of the Dragon Totem barbarian doesn't really have much canonical support that I'm aware of, but I'd allow it as a more martial way of expressing a character with a way-back draconic ancestor, rather than being limited to draconic sorcerer. It's a little flashier and more magical than I like my DL warrior-types, but in context, it works. It's entirely in-genre for Dragonlance PCs to have mysterious ancestries, after all.

College of Psalmistry fits beautifully as a worshipper of Branchala, which is a bit of a gap in the standard cleric domain set. It does seem a bit difficult to use effectively though. A full caster should be wary of engaging in melee, there's almost always something better to do, but your clearly best ability is the quasi-smite (which you can trigger after hitting an opponent, so you can hold on to it until you score a crit and then pump out doubled damage, just like a paladin). A bit of mechanical tweaking needed maybe, but definitely a good concept.

I'm not a huge fan of the Adjudication cleric. Maybe it comes into its own later on in canon with the dark knights etc, or could be used in an Istar campaign, but it doesn't seem to have much of a place in the War of the Lance. Excellent spell list, distinctly unexciting features otherwise.

Freedom domain actually looks like a bit of fun, although Fly on your cleric is a bit of a dilemma considering how many great concentration spells you have already. Conceptually it could work for several deities (including poor neglected Branchala) even though it's not laser-focused on any one of them. Abilities are a bit situational, but if you're fighting dragons then the Channel Divinity option will be worth its weight in gold, and this IS a Dragonlance game after all. And while you won't use Divine Retribution much, when you do get the chance it's GREAT.

Circle of Spring Dawning is a reasonable attempt to bring back the old druid's animal companion, which i kinda applaud in a product for a retro setting like Krynn. It's not particularly Dragonlancey except for the name, but it's certainly not out of genre, and it's perfectly functional. There is an attempt to have your beast advance alongside PC advancement, so you're no just continually replacing your beloved companion as you level up like the PHB beastmater ranger is, but the critter still isn't going to be very survivable, or deal out much damage. Personally, I'd give beast companions the chance to make Death saves like PCs, and maybe give them a damage die boost as they level up too.

I'm not sure the Knight of Solamnia gives us much we can't get elsewhere, via Battlemaster, or cleric multiclassing. And I'm not in love with the implementation - isn't a Knight of Solamnia expected to climb up through the ranks of the different orders sequentially, eventually becoming a Rose knight? Picking your order at level 3 and staying with it seems like a wonky implementation for me.

I can see where they're going with Windrider, but I think it was a flawed approach. Aerial combat is obviously a huge feature of Dragonlance, but this doesn't seem to be the way to do it, both from the perspective of locking it behind a single subclass, or the slooooow acquisition of major class features. What would have been more useful is maybe a set of expanded rules or options for combat on dragon/griffin/wyvern-back? And yeah, having a flying mount and not being able to use it to fly for 10 levels is no fun at all. WotC did it badly in Fizban's too.

Mantis monk is solid. Not un-weird, in the way it veers abruptly from Open Hand clone to Bug Summoner Guy half way through, but interesting enough and the Prayer of the Mantis ability gives them significant extra hitting power.

I don't think the Clerist Paladin needed to be here at all. Devotion paladins already exist, and fulfil exactly the same niche - this one looks a bit like it was only included because the writers wanted to have a new subclass for every class. It's just ground already trod. Why not explore what a dwarven paladin looks like, or a Sikket Kul paladin, or a paladin of Shinare? Or a GULLY dwarf paladin? Or a paladin of the moon gods, a guardian of the Towers of High Sorcery?

I'm not really well informed about the Steel Legion, but the Legion Scout doesn't do much for me. Ranger with spy abilities. I can see the niche, just find it unexciting. Abilities are ... ok? Mostly for an intrigue campaign? The free castings of Path Without Trace is the best one. Without ANY combat-related subclass abilities before level 15 though, you might find yourself a bit behind the 8-ball in a pure fight before then. Most rangers get SOME sort of combat boost from their subclass.

Nightstalker is probably already better then the Phantom, and just needed another edit pass. I'd allow this one, in a War of the Lance game even though it's pre-canon to nightstalkers existing in Krynn I think. But the same as an Ancestral Guardian barbarian or an Undead warlock, i have no problems with PCs getting magical abilities from the dead spirits that surround them, even in the absence of gods (I wouldn't let them cast healing magic in the WotL though). The class just needs some minor editing to be really good. Some of the spell list choices are deeply weird - why can they cast Fireball but not the extremely thematic Speak With Dead? How does the Commune with Undead ability work when the target is actively trying to kill you? And isn't a permanent incorporeal spy a bit much at level 3? Oh, and it'd greatly benefit from being able to use some of the newer Xanathar's and Tasha's spells, too. Spell school guidelines, like an Eldritch Knight or Spellthief gets, would have been a better option than a flat spell list. Perhaps divination and necromancy?

Elemental Blade is a post-Chaos War thing, and really doesn't fit with my image of Krynnish spellcasters. To each their own though.

Fallen Tower - hmm, sure about this one. I don't like the idea of actually making a literal pact with a Fallen Tower, but being tainted by its shadow, or growing up in its aura - that could work. The abilities are nice (and every warlock loves to get hold of Fireball), if a bit all over the shop thematically. Both spell list and abilities are very very one-dimensionally combat-focused though - there's not much generic utility here, which I'm not sure i like.

Kingfisher Wizard is perfectly in-theme as a support arm of the knights of Solamnia, just a little weak. The exception is the 10th level ability which is absolutely brutal. It doesn't even have a range specified, or 'target you can see' proviso, so you can mark your target from half-way across the world, then teleport in and zap them knowing they'll have disadvantage on all their saves. Naaaasty. Honestly though,, I don't see a reason to limit the Magic of Loyalty to 1/short rest when it has a spell slot cost already. It's not THAT powerful.

Winternorn wizard I'd allow without hesistation. It's basically a cold themed caster, despite the descriptive text. Cold resistance at level 2 is nothing to sneeze at, and Ice Magic makes them the single most suited character to take Elemental Adept. I could just wish there was a bit more 'norn' to go with the 'winter' - the only forseeing-like feature is the level 10 one, and that's only advantage on some rolls int mod times per long rest. Still, you can cover that with your spell selection if you want to play more in-theme. I admit i was hoping for less of a one-dimensional blaster here though. Needs more norning.
 
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Ed Mekeel

Steward of the Kingfishers
I'm not sure the Knight of Solamnia gives us much we can't get elsewhere, via Battlemaster, or cleric multiclassing. And I'm not in love with the implementation - isn't a Knight of Solamnia expected to climb up through the ranks of the different orders sequentially, eventually becoming a Rose knight? Picking your order at level 3 and staying with it seems like a wonky implementation for me.
Actually no, not at all. You start as a Squire of the Crown and are free to go to different orders after. There is never a need to take ranks in each order. That was a weird 3.5 thing.
 

Libertad

Hero
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Chapter 8: Creatures of Ansalon

This chapter provides 19 new creatures, roughly half of which are draconians and dragonspawn. Barring the Ogre Titan, all of them fit within Tiers 1 and 2 for Challenge Ratings.

Draconians have been covered lorewise in the first Chapter, so instead we have typical stats for them as NPCs. What NPC draconians universally get that PCs don’t is that they’re immune to all diseases, have blindsight 60 feet or truesight in the case of the Aurak, immunity to the paralyzed condition, Magic Resistance, and gain advantage on all attack rolls and saving throws when under the command of a dragon it can see. Auraks (CR 10) are the most powerful draconians, being accomplished spellcasters with Magic Resistance, a Noxious Breath like the PC type but deals more damage and recharges on a 5-6 on a d6, and their spellcasting abilities are mostly utility such as Greater Invisibility, Dimension Door, Polymorph, and Dominate Person. Baaz (CR 2) are the ever-common front-line soldiers who don’t have much going for them besides natural weapons and longsword attacks. Bozaks (CR 5) are a step above Baaz, having a whopping four melee attacks when multiattacking and can substitute one such attack with a bite or Arcane Bolt, the latte rof which deals 4d10 force damage. Bozak also gain the bonus spells as the PC race save for Shocking Grasp, having Blade Ward and True Strike as cantrips instead. Kapaks (CR 3) are quite predictably skirmishers, with a 4d6 Sneak Attack, advantage on Stealth when wearing light or no armor, can remain hidden while hiding if they miss with a ranged attack, and their natural venom applies the poisoned condition along with the paralyzed condition. Finally, Sivaks (CR 8) are big melee bruisers, being Medium size* but all their attacks have a reach of 10 feet, where their natural weapons and greatsword deal double the damage dice that would be typical for such weapons. They have the shapechanging capability of its PC counterpart, but can also fly up to half its speed without provoking opportunity attacks as a bonus action. Combined with its natural fly speed of 60 feet, they are incredibly mobile.

*This is a change from 3rd Edition where they were Large in their natural form.

Dragonspawn have origins similar to draconians, being humanoids experimented on to be given more draconic features. Due to being created by the Dragon Overlords, their existence only comes around during the Age of Mortals. They are less a specific monster type and more of a template that can be applied to a beast, giant, humanoid, or monstrosity. Their gained abilities include wings and a flying speed equal to their walking speed, a natural armor of 13 + Dexterity modifier when unarmored, Darkvision 60 feet, resistance to a specific damage type based on their draconic creator’s, a breath weapon whose damage is based on their Challenge Rating, and like draconians have a Death Throe dealing that same energy damage when they drop to 0 hit points. We have 5 sample stat blocks applied to existing monsters and NPCs, one for each chromatic dragon type: Black Dragonspawn Ogre, Blue Dragonspawn Veteran, White Dragonspawn Mage, Green Dragonspawn Spy, and Red Dragonspawn Griffon.

Hatori (CR 10) look like a cross between a dragon and crocodile, typically living in deserts where their flipper shaped limbs let them “swim” beneath sandy surfaces. They are sentient yet not very smart, capable of speaking Draconic, and they are slow on land at 10 feet but have a fast burrow speed of 60 feet. Combined with their tremorsense of 60 feet, this encourages them to rely upon hit and run tactics. They primarily fight with a grappling bite or tail attack, and they can swallow Medium or smaller targets they’re grappling. With 20 AC and resistance to non-magical bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage, they are quite resilient against most normal attacks. But with 126 hit points, they can go down quickly from characters who can bypass such defenses at high Tier 2 to Tier 3 levels.

Ogre Titans (CR 12) have their origin in Takhisis, who gave a vision to Dauroth, an ogre mage. The vision taught ogres how they can gain the power of their ancestors from the Age of Dreams, where they submerge themselves in an alchemical solution whose chief ingredient is elf blood. Every month they must drink a potion to maintain such a form lest they devolve, and only Dauroth knows the ingredients and rituals which he uses to strictly control who else can become like him. In terms of stats, Ogre Titans are boss monsters, with Legendary Actions and Resistance, imposing physical attacks such as elbow spurs and greatsword multiattacks, and a variety of supernatural capabilities such as Destroy Undead in the vein of Channel Divinity, a ranged Soul Blast dealing necrotic damage, an AoE Freezing Blast that recharges on a 5-6 on a 1d6, and a variety of spells such as Hold Person, Animate Dead, and Insect Plague. The Destroy Undead lets them regain lost spell slots, so they are usually accompanied by a group of skeletons to act as magical batteries.

Skrit (CR 6) are giant beetles who live in deserts, camouflaging themselves as rocks to better catch unwary prey. They are Beasts and thus are a one-trick monster in having not much besides melee attacks and advantage on Stealth checks while being still in rocky or desert terrain. Their bite attack comes with several debilitating debuffs on a failed Constitution save, including the poisoned and paralyzed conditions and a reduction of maximum hit points. The last of which happens every hour they keep failing the save, and it and the poisoned condition are only healed naturally after three successful saves.

Spectral Minions are souls who died while unable to fulfill an oath, anchored to the Material Plane and reliving their last days as a curse until their oath is fulfilled. Due to this, they do not cease to exist when destroyed, reforming at the beginning of the next day. Searchers (CR 2) are those cursed to roam a small area to find an item that no longer exists or is not within their territory, while Warriors (CR 4) are found in at least two mutually hostile groups tasked with fighting each other. Both types of monsters share many of the same features, being incorporeal undead with an awful lot of condition and damage immunities and resistances, plus immunity to the Turn Undead ability Their obsessive nature grants them advantage on all attacks, saves, and ability checks when it perceives some obstacle standing between it and the fulfillment of its vow. The only real differences Warriors have from Searchers are better stats plus fighting with longswords rather than shortswords.

Miscellaneous Creatures includes mundane animals. Three of them we already covered in prior posts: Giant Mantis, Porpoise, and Sea Otter. The ‘wari (CR ¼) is a flightless bird with thick strong legs found on the plains of Abanasinia and the Plains of Dust. They gather in flocks, stampeding at the sound of loud noises and the smell of blood. They aren’t great threats individually, primarily fighting with either a beak or a talon, the former of which can knock a target prone on a failed Strength save should the ‘wari move at least 20 feet before making the attack. A successful knockdown also grants a talon attack as a bonus action.

Thoughts: All of the monsters are new to 5th Edition save for the Draconians, who have stats in Shadow of the Dragon Queen. Comparatively speaking, the Draconians in Tasslehoff’s Pouches of Everything are much stronger, particularly the Aurak and Sivak who get a lot more hit points while the Bozak gets a very damaging ranged magical attack. Tasslehoff’s Aurak also get a lot more spells, and its at-will invisibility is upgraded to greater invisibility which more or less encourages them to remain unseen in combat at all times. Tasslehoff’s draconians are also amazing scouts, being able to pinpoint unseen threats thanks to their blindsight.

Comparatively speaking, the draconians in Shadow of the Dragon Queen are much more suitable as “cannon fodder,” better able to be deployed in large and mixed units without requiring the PCs to be high level or have lots of minions and AoE abilities in order to deal with them. Tasslehoff’s non-Baaz draconians better represent “elite units” in the same vein as the Veteran NPC in the core rules, while the Aurak and Sivak can more reliably solo low and mid-level parties.

As for the rest of the monsters, the Dragonspawn feel too conceptually close to the Draconians, but this is less the fault of the book and more how they were originally in prior material. Their main benefits are flying speed and breath weapons, which if nothing else make their default monsters and NPCs a lot more dangerous by letting them stay out of range of melee attacks and the ability to damage multiple foes at once. The rest of the monsters look fine to me and in line with their intended roles. The Ogre Titan looks to be a tough boss monster, especially given that it can regain all its spells when destroying weak undead, but as that costs an action on its part it is still weighed against the greater action economy.

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Chapter 9: The River of Time

This chapter gives a general overview of the setting’s history. Krynn’s timeline is divided into five Ages, with the last two getting most of the word and page count on account that’s when almost all novels and adventures take place. The Age of Starbirth covers the gods creating and managing reality, where no mortals yet exist and souls are instead stars drifting in space. It’s very much the Genesis of Dragonlance, where the gods are still debating and working on projects for what they want to do with the spirits and what forms to give them. The major events include the All-Dragons War where the chromatic and metallic dragons are created and Takhisis manages to corrupt the first of them, the All-Saints War where the gods fight over what to do with the newly-discovered star spirits before deciding that each pantheon will give them one gift as mortals, and Reorx entrapping Chaos inside what would become known as the Graygem of Gargath.

The Age of Dreams covers the beginning of recorded mortal history and the origin of many foundation elements of the Dragonlance setting. The first mortal races besides dragons are the ogres, elves, and humans, with the ogres building an empire before it is later destroyed by a slave revolt. The Graygem fell out of Lunitari’s possession onto Krynn, its wild magic energies reshaping various life forms into new species and races. The First Dragon War occurred when the elven king Silvanos settled his people in a forest inhabited by chromatic dragons and the two groups started fighting over territory, with the war ending as the gods of magic gave the elves special stones to trap the dragon’s souls. Some of the oldest and most iconic civilizations are formed around this time, including the dwarven kingdom of Kal’Thax, the elven kingdom of Silvanesti, the human Empire of Ergoth, with Qualinesti and Solamnia being breakaway provinces of the last two who both grew dissatisfied with their origin countries’ policies. The dwarves inadvertently release the chromatic dragon souls from their stones, beginning the Second Dragon War which ended when three mages caused the earth to swallow the dragons but at a great cost. The Wizards of High Sorcery are formed to regulate magic as a result of this. The transition between the second and third Ages happened during the Third Dragon War, when Takhisis raised an army of dragons to take over Ansalon. During this time a group of heroes banded together to save the world: Huma Dragonbane the Knight of Solamnia, Magius the Red Robed Wizard, and Heart the Silver Dragon who later married Huma. The Dragonlance and Dragon Orbs were invented during this time, and Huma most famously used a Dragonlance to pierce Takhisis’ heart in order to banish her from Krynn.

The Age of Might began sometime after the end of the Third Dragon War. It primarily concerns the rise and fall of the empire of Istar, which began as a secular city-state but soon became a continent-spanning theocracy dedicated to the Gods of Light. Ruled over by Kingpriests who believed themselves the moral arbiters of the world, over time they created and enforced increasingly authoritarian policies that hurt, oppressed, and killed even those who weren’t evil, notably arcane spellcasters, worshipers of non-Paladine gods, kender, and in its final years even those who have unwholesome thoughts they didn’t act upon. This earned Istar the enmity of many other civilizations, but nobody was strong enough to outright overthrow them. The final Kingpriest, Beldinos Pilofiro, sought to become a god himself. The gods sent various warnings, including the removal of true clerics across Krynn, warnings which went unheeded by Istar’s people who believed it the work of evil. When the Kingpriest attempted to ascend to godhood and commanded the gods, they answered him with the Cataclysm, destroying the empire of Istar and causing incalculable devastation to the rest of Ansalon and Taladas.

The Age of Despair began after the Cataclysm. The loss of divine magic as well as technological and magical innovations, permanent geological changes, deaths of countless people, and political turmoil led to three centuries of chaos and misery as society reverted back into isolated realms. Takhisis took advantage of the fallout during this time, secretly returning to Krynn after the rest of the Gods abandoned it, transporting the sunken Temple of Istar into the mountains of central Ansalon to act as a portal from which her forces would emerge and take over the world. She also commanded her minions to steal the eggs of the metallic dragons, who after the Third Dragon War settled in a remote archipelago isolated from the rest of Krynn. Using the eggs as hostages (and secretly to create draconians), she coerced an oath of non-interference from the metallic dragons in her upcoming war. Takhisis’ plans were put on hold when an unlikely mortal, Berem, ended up accidentally killing his sister out of greed in trying to pry the magical Foundation Stone from the Temple. The gem ended up embedded in his chest, granting him immortality.

Even without a working portal, Takhisis was able to grant visions and divine magic to her followers, who began growing in power in central Ansalon and rapidly taking control of nearby territories. They became known as the Dragon Empire, with their five military wings known as the Dragonarmies. The War of the Lance began when they invaded the adjacent nation of Nordmaar, and over the course of three years made significant inroads into western Ansalon. Much of the continent is under their control, but the tide was turned when a group of old friends and adventurers known as the Companions met Riverwind and Goldmoon. The latter of whom was a prophet who discovered the Disks of Mishakal in the ruined city of Xak Tsaroth, and upon their recovery gained clerical spellcasting and began preaching that the true gods have returned. The Companions would then go on to fight the Dragonarmies, recover the secrets of Dragonlance forging, and reveal the fate of the metallic dragon eggs with the aid of Heart’s sister Silvara to get the good dragon’s involvement in the War of the Lance. Berem joined the Heroes of the Lance to head to Neraka, the Empire’s capital, where he sacrificed himself to free the soul of his sister while Tanis Half-Elven killed Emperor Ariakas. The Temple of Neraka exploded, the Dragonarmies fell to infighting over their own territory, and the War of the Lance came to an end as the Whitestone forces (the alliance of non-evil nations fighting the Empire) took back most of their homelands.

The post-war era was known as the Time of Dragons. Notable events include Raistlin taking over the ruined Tower of Palanthas, and he and some of his friends concerned for his safety ended up traveling through time, culminating in Raistlin sacrificing himself to prevent Takhisis from escaping the Abyss via a portal. Kitiara, the Blue Dragon Highlord, attempted a last-ditch desperate invasion of the Solamnic city of Palanthas, and was soundly defeated, marking the true end of the Dragon Empire. Albeit another organization dedicated to Takhisis in the area would arise: the Knights of Neraka, founded by Ariakan, Emperor Ariaka’s son. The Age of Despair ended when the Irda accidentally unleashed Chaos into the world by breaking the Graygem, who began to spawn horrific new monsters across Krynn in an attempt to destroy it, slaughtering good and evil forces alike. Chaos was forced to leave the world when Tasslehoff stabbed him in the toe, a drop of his shed blood caught in the Graygem.

The Age of Mortals began after Chaos’ defeat, and Takhisis managed to steal away the world from the rest of the gods while they were distracted in dealing with Chaos. Clerical and wizardly magic ceased to exist, with primal sorcery and mysticism gradually uncovered. As a side effect of moving Krynn, the Material Plane was placed near a world home to truly gigantic and powerful dragons. Five dragons regarded as “weaklings” in this world discovered Krynn and decided that they could live like kings by invading it. These five dragons became known as the Dragon Overlords, able to grow their power via absorbing the souls of slain dragons into Skull Totems. More political upheaval occurred along with spirits being unable to pass on to the afterlife remaining on Krynn, with the events later becoming known as the War of Souls. A young orphan girl known as Mina was raised in the Citadel of Light, and eventually received visions from Takhisis disguised as the One God. With the power of a goddess at her side, she took over the Knights of Neraka. Mina’s army grew in power, taking over territory across Ansalon while also fighting the Dragon Overlords who had their own conquering ambitions. She was able to kill two of the Dragon Overlords, but the surviving Heroes of the Lance were busy at work in setting things right: Raistlin used Tasslehoff and his Device of Time-Journeying to help the rest of the gods return to Krynn, and when Takhisis attempted to enter the world once more the rest of the gods stripped her of her godhood. Paladine became mortal in order to maintain the balance. Takhisis was killed by Silvanoshei, the noble son of the Silvanesti and Qualinesti elf rulers. Mina killed him in revenge and took Takhisis’ corpse in her arms and swore to kill all elves. The War of Souls ends when the gods reestablish themselves, only one Dragon Overlord currently survives, and primal sorcerers and mystics are here to stay on Krynn.

In fact, the death of the last great Dragon Overlord becomes the focus of the last third of the Key of Destiny Adventure Path!

Thoughts: I’d say that this chapter covers many of the important events in Dragonlance history. It makes sense that the 4th and 5th Ages get the most attention, and the events for the Age of Despair are more or less brief yet accurate and help paint a picture of the setting in broad strokes. It may be due to my inexperience with that particular era, but the Age of Mortals feels quite clustered and jumbled. You not only have the establishment of new magical types and academies for them, you have multiple bad guy factions in the form of the Knights of Neraka who Mina later takes over, the Dragon Overlords, and while it was briefly mentioned the minotaur empire managed to invade and occupy Silvanesti. And this says nothing of Chaos’ monsters who are still running around, less an organized power bloc and more single-minded eldritch monstrosities. This is to say nothing of Ansalon going through what is basically a Second Cataclysm, where Chaos and the Dragon Overlords permanently altered Ansalon’s terrain. It does make the setting feel full of problems for the PCs to solve even in the post-war peace, but the confluence of multiple world-defining events kind of detract from each other in feeling overdone.

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Chapter 10: Geography of Ansalon

The final chapter of Tasslehoff’s Pouches of Everything goes over the major regions and kingdoms of Ansalon. While it details the continent in the “current era” post-War of Souls, the text also describes how things were during the Age of Despair where appropriate given that era is the most popular one for Dragonlance campaigns. We even have both a two-page map (Age of Despair era) and a stand-alone PNG file of the continent, which is a lot more detailed than the one we have in Shadow of the Dragon Queen. Sadly the latter has a huge filesize, and screenshotting the one in the book is impractical as most of its text is very small and unreadable when zoomed in, so I cannot show it to you. But there are plenty of maps of Ansalon online for people to find, should one wish to see the following locations and their relation to each other.

Abanasinia is a frontier region in southwestern Ansalon. Its close proximity to many other kingdoms and groups such as the dwarven kingdom of Thorbadin, elven nation of Qualinesti, and the last remaining Tower of High Sorcery make it one of the most diverse regions of Ansalon. There’s a group of indigenous nomadic humans who live here known as the Plainsfolk, but they and humans of various types from all over Ansalon are collectively referred to as Abanasinians. The region is also noted for hosting the continent-famous Inn of the Last Home, which besides having delicious spiced potatoes is where the Heroes of the Lance first converged on their journey to liberate the continent from the Dragonarmies.

Balifor is a region in eastern Ansalon home to warm savannas and deserts in the Age of Despair, and in the current era it’s a wasteland known as the Desolation due to the Red Dragon Overlord’s foul magical experiments. Most of the population post-Cataclysm is nomadic, with the nominal capital being the seaside town of Port Balifor. Being one of the first regions conquered by the Dragonarmies and the former home of the most powerful Dragon Overlord, Balifor is a place that is sadly familiar with generations of tyranny.

Blöde is a nation in south-central Ansalon. Most of its population are humans and ogres, who traditionally are autonomous and only have reach so far as their warbands. They were one of the first nations to pledge allegiance to Takhisis’ Dragon Empire during the War of the Lance, and during the Age of Mortals the Black Dragon Overlord turned much of the terrain into dangerous swampland.

Estwilde is a large stretch of marshland flanked by mountains in north-central Ansalon. It is dominated by human tribes, with the largest groups being the good-aligned yet reclusive Lor-Tai people, the Lahutians who are cannibals that frequently capture and eat those who pass through their territory, and the Mountain Folk who have the most contact with outsiders and frequently hire themselves out as mercenaries. The city of South Shore is its major urban population center. During the Age of Despair it was conquered early by the Dragonarmies, but day-to-day living didn’t change much besides more military bases built to launch attacks into adjacent territories.

Goodlund is a peninsula that makes up the territory east of Balifor. It was created by the Cataclysm, one of the largest bodies of land to remain above sea level when Istar sank beneath the waves. Its notable inhabitants include the centaurs of the Wendle Wood, the kender of Kendermore, and the gnolls, goblins, and other monstrous humanoids of the Laughing Lands to the east. The Red Dragon Overlord held sway over this land during the 5th Age, and her destruction of Kendermore created the subrace known as the Afflicted Kender.

Icereach is the southernmost region of Ansalon, connecting to the polar region of Chorane which is more or less unknown. There used to be an ogre Kingdom of Suderhold here, and the terrain was still cold and barren. But the Cataclysm made the land even colder and more inhospitable, and the only significant civilizations are human tribes known as the Icefolk who call themselves the Arktos, the walrus-people known as Thanoi, and white dragons.

Khur is a nation in eastern Ansalon dominated by desert and mountains. Nomadic human tribes collectively known as the Khur are the region’s primary inhabitants, and are famous for their horses that are in high demand across the continent. During the Age of Despair one of the nomad leaders, Salah-Khan, became the Green Dragon Highlord and used his position to subjugate rival tribes. During the Age of Mortals, sections of Khur would come under control of either the Red Dragon Overlord or the Knights of Neraka, the latter still holding sway in several population centers.

Nightlund is technically part of Solamnia, but gets its own special entry due to its history. It was sparsely populated even before the Cataclysm, being the traditional familial holdings of the Soth family. When Lord Soth was cursed, so was the land which until modern times remained under perpetual twilight. After the Chaos War, Raistlin’s apprentice Dalamar moved the Tower of High Sorcery of Palanthas into a forest in the region. The end of the War of Souls broke the curse of twilight.

Nordmaar is a kingdom in the far north of Ansalon. And since Ansalon is in the southern hemisphere, this makes it a warm, tropical land home to the sprawling Sakhet Jungle. Its mostly-human inhabitants are a mixture of groups, including the Nordmen who live in various cities and the Horselords who pledge allegiance to the Khan of the Southern Wastes. They traditionally have been close friends of Solamnia, and during the Age of Despair they were the first nation to be invaded by the Dragon Empire who took it over in two weeks. It’s also home to the Fountain of Renewal and the Dragon’s Graveyard, the former of which is a holy site to Mishakal and the latter the final resting place of deceased metallic dragons. Both locations play a prominent role in the Key of Destiny adventure path, the other big Dragonlance campaign besides the original Chronicles. While the book doesn’t out and out say this, Nordmaar has been portrayed as a curious eclectic of fantasy counterpart cultures: Scandinavian, Aztec, and Central Asian influences if we go by naming conventions.

Northern Ergoth is an island nation and the spiritual successor to the human Empire of Ergoth. A land-bound nation pre-Cataclysm, that terrible event saw the empire split into two islands. While currently eclipsed by Solamnia, Ergothians today are known for being experienced seafarers, with trade networks stretching across the continent. Physically speaking most Ergothians are dark-skinned, and their culture is inspired by real-world Rome complete with a Senate and reigning Emperor. Northern Ergoth has been a rather placid land during much of the Fourth and Fifth Ages, blessedly removed from the worst of the wars gripping the mainland continent. Two autonomous nations coexist alongside the Ergothian humans: the kender in the forest of Hylo, and the goblins of Sikk’et Hul.

Plains of Dust dominate Ansalon’s far south, sitting north of Icereach, Abanasinia and Qualinesti to its west, Silvanesti to its east, and Blöde to its north. It is sparsely populated, made up of harsh deserts, plains, and badlands inhabited by nomadic human and centaur bands. Ironically, the terraforming of the Green and Black Dragon Overlords have made regions of the Plains more fertile, allowing life to flourish in places. The only major population center is the city-state of Tarsis, once a thriving trading port pre-Cataclysm that fell into economic ruin when the sea waters receded and left it permanently landlocked. In the Age of Mortals they’ve taken advantage of the fertile terraforming, its nobility working with the Dark Knights to harvest the land’s new natural resources.

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Qualinesti is one of the two major elven kingdoms of Ansalon. Even during the Age of Despair it was a magical place, with the nearby Tower of High Sorcery producing White Robe mages who were treated with respect whereas in other lands they were distrusted and even hated. They suffered greatly when the Red Dragonarmy invaded during the War of the Lance, seeing much of their population displaced to Southern Ergoth. But the kingdom was dealt an even more terrible blow during the War of Souls, when the Green Dragon Overlord crashed into the capital city upon his death, forming the Lake of Death. In current times the land is in control of various rival factions of outlaws and goblins.

Sancrist is an island nation off the western coast of Ansalon. Dominated by forests and mountain ranges, it has been the traditional homeland of the gnomes who live in Mount Nevermind. During the Age of Despair it was the last bastion of the Knights of Solamnia, where their home kingdoms forcefully expelled them in blaming them for being unable to stop the Cataclysm. After the Chaos War the top half of Mount Nevermind exploded by the gnomes (book doesn’t say why or if this was intentional), but the lower levels of the mountain are still functional.

Silvanesti is the other major elven kingdom of Ansalon, located in the continent’s far southeast. Dominated by great forests, they put up a tough fight when the Dragonarmies invaded, only for their king to make use of a Dragon Orb to repel them. This accidentally turned the land into a nightmarish realm and forcing his population as well as the Dragonarmies to flee the country. After war’s end the returning Silvanesti undid much of the damage, but once again they were forced into exile where the Minotaur Empire invaded their country and took it over at the end of the War of Souls. Its capital, Silvanost, is regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and even during the elven exiles there were remnants of its beauty to be found amidst the abandoned streets.

Solamnia is one of the largest and most prosperous realms of Ansalon, dominating the continent’s northwest. It doesn’t have a single centralized ruler, being made up of various provinces and city-states united by a common heritage and order known as the Knights of Solamnia. Its largest city, Palanthas, is also one of the largest cities in Ansalon in general and is considered by many to have weathered the Cataclysm the best. It is a major deep water port, which made it a valued strategic target by the Dragonarmies and Knights of Neraka during their respective wars.

Southern Ergoth is the other island nation making up the former Empire of Ergoth. Unlike Northern Ergoth it is a much more rural realm. The city of Daltigoth was reclaimed by ogres, and its forests are home to the Kagonesti elves. Both the Qualinesti and Silvanesti settled in refugee colonies here during the War of the Lance, where they enslaved the Kagonesti to build their cities. The Dragonarmies took over much of the island, and during the Age of Mortals it was the seat of the White Dragon Overlord who turned the land into a harsh arctic climate.

Taman Busuk, aka Neraka, is a region in southern Ansalon home to the Khalkist mountain range. Being the place where Takhisis transported the Temple of Istar to begin her plans for world domination, Taman Busuk has long held a sinister reputation as being under the persistent sway of evil. But not all Nerakans were loyal to the Queen of Darkness, and the capital city of Neraka was home to an underground resistance movement during the War of the Lance. Taman Busuk’s three major population centers are Gargath, Sanction, and Neraka. Neraka is the nominal capital of the region, but after the Age of Mortals they are all effectively autonomous city-states. However, Neraka serving as the administrative center of the Knights of Neraka makes that city-state very powerful and influential.

Teyr is the newest nation of Ansalon, built during the Age of Mortals by the former Dragonarmy Bozak officer Kang. Its foundations were formed from the ruins of a failed dwarven colony, and is a military dictatorship in line with how most draconians were trained and raised. The presence of female draconians and the necessity of a civilian workforce has led to equal measures of hope and uncertainty about their future, where for once draconians may be something more than expendable soldiers serving at the whims of others.

Thoradin is a dwarven nation in central Ansalon. It existed for thousands of years, but during the Cataclysm much of it was destroyed, being renamed Zhakar and its people becoming evil. The dwarves of Thorbadin occupied it during the Age of Mortals, but tunnels to it were sealed off during the war with the Green Dragon Overlord. The exiled prophet of Reorx, Severus Stonehand, made his way to Zhakar. Once there, he assembled a following to overthrow Zhakar’s government and heal them of their mold plague which earned their eternal gratitude. The nation was renamed Thoradin, with Stonehand seeking to restore it to its former glory.

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Thorbadin is the primary mountain dwarven kingdom, located in southwestern Ansalon. It is inhabited by different clans of dwarves, being a complicated network of levels and tunnels with a giant stalactite known as the Life-Tree serving as the administrative center. Dwarves from all clans and the Council of Thanes meet at the Life-Tree for business and politics. Countless natural springs above the surface flow into the mountain, supplying the dwarves with reliable water sources and water-clocks used to keep track of time in the absence of sunlight. Excellent urban planning allows travelers to quickly find desired residences and businesses.

Throtl is a rugged land located east of Solamnia and north of Lemish.* Humans and goblinoids traditionally live here, often at war. During the Chaos War the hobgoblins made significant progress in taking over human settlements along with annexing a portion of Estwilde.

*A country that this book doesn’t cover, unfortunately. To quickly sum it up, it’s south of Solamnia and has been ruled by tyrannical nobles who broke off from Solamnia. They didn’t want to be held to standards of how an ideal ruler should treat their subjects in comparison to the more good-aligned Knights of Solamnia. Its major city is a crime-ridden hive of scum and villainy. Lemish allied with the Dragonarmies in hopes of using them to take revenge upon Solamnia, and their ports were used as part of a supply line for the Red Dragonarmy’s occupation of Abanasinia.

Thoughts: In covering 21 realms in 7 pages, the individual entries are quite brief, mostly focusing on geography, recent history, and in some cases brief descriptions of capital cities. It pales in comparison to the more detailed setting guides of some prior Editions, being pretty bare-bones and giving more of a general rundown of countries. There isn’t much for a DM here, who will either have to make things up or borrow from more detailed sourcebooks for more involved adventures.

Thoughts So Far: The bestiary only gives a small sampling of creatures in Dragonlance, with heavy emphasis on the draconic evil minions of the setting’s BBEGs. The chapters covering the history and geography of Ansalon are functional, and more useful than Shadow of the Dragon Queen which only focuses on one particular region of Solamnia rather than Ansalon as a whole. Personally speaking, I found 3rd Edition’s Dragonlance Campaign Setting and War of the Lance better use for covering Ansalon’s realms in detail. But for a book that’s a general 5th Edition player’s guide, these chapters are serviceable.

Overall Thoughts: As someone who read the original Tasslehoff’s Pouches of Everything, the Revised version greatly expanded on its content. For a sourcebook seeking to pull Dragonlance into 5th Edition, it overall does its job in covering the major points, from comprehensive overview of the major races, the gods, the world and its history, and the conversion of various popular magic items fans are sure to like.

When it comes to player options in the form of subclasses, feats, weapons, and the like, there are quite a few options that are more powerful than others, which need to have rules language cleared up, or otherwise will lead to dissatisfied players who then find the choices to be underpowered or not reflective of their intended character concept. But such examples are exceptions to the general rule, and overall I can see both newcomers and fans finding a lot of things to like without feeling lacking in some areas.

And now, I covered two of the big fanmade player’s guides for Dragonlance on the Dungeon Master’s Guild. For my next post, I will make side-by-side comparisons between the two sourcebooks, showing their relative strengths and weaknesses.

I should note that there’s a third such player’s guide: Dragonlance Peoples & Paragons, but it isn’t as well-known and is the work of one person rather than a fan community. I haven’t read it either, so I can’t include it as a comparison.
 
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Side by Side Comparison

Now that I reviewed both Tasslehoff’s Pouches of Everything and the Dragonlance Companion, how do they stack up against each other?

First off, in terms of total content Tasslehoff’s is 140 pages, while the Companion is 182. 32 out of 140 pages of Tasslehoff’s are dedicated to an adventure, while 78 out of 182 pages of the Companion are dedicated to encounters and adventures. For their respective bestiaries, Tasslehoff’s is 12 pages but has 19 monsters, while the Companion also has 12 pages but only covers 9 monsters. For what can be deemed player-friendly content (including magic items), Tasslehoff’s has 75 pages of content, while the Companion has 80.

When it comes to Races, Tasslehoff’s clearly wins out. The only race the Companion has that Tasslehoff’s doesn’t is the Thanoi, but besides them it has an incomplete Draconian subrace and a Half-Ogre. Tasslehoff’s not only provides new races, it also explains in detail what place existing races have in the world, and to better differentiate them the classic humans/elves/dwarves have their own new subraces. What the Companion has over Tasslehoff’s, however, is using Tasha's alternative of being able to freely assign one’s ability score bonuses. Tasslehoff’s are still locked in to specific abilities which can limit character customization, but that isn’t as big of a problem if the DM allows Tasha’s customization.

When it comes to direct comparisons, Tasslehoff’s Draconians are closer in conception to the lore of prior Editions: their death throes are built-in rather than requiring a feat, for one. As for their features, Companion’s require a reaction to negate falling damage for winged draconians, but Tasslehoff’s ignores it as long as they have room to spread their wings. The Bozak subrace in Tasslehoff’s is more overtly offensive early on, and gets a better battlefield control spell via Web rather than Scorching Ray at 5th level. As for the Kapak, Tasslehoff’s one is stronger in that its paralytic poison can last for more than one turn, but the Companion can also produce healing saliva as an alternative. The Sivak’s shapeshifting trait is much more limited in the Companion in having a 1 hour time limit, but Tasslehoff’s can last as long as they desire until they revert or die.

As for their Half-Ogres, the Companion wins out in having more broadly useful abilities. For example, compare Tasslehoff’s AC increase that only applies when not wearing armor, vs the Companion who gets a flat +1 AC no matter what.

For Subclasses, Tasslehoff’s has 15 while the Companion has 13. When it comes to generalities, Tasslehoff’s wins out in the “authentic Dragonlance” department, having more subclasses that directly tie into the setting in some way or have existed in prior official material. An area that the Companion does win out in is having a better explanation of how to insert Warlocks into Dragonlance within the existing confines of magic by basically having them dedicated to a deity. Tasslehoff’s makes it so that non-gods are capable of granting arcane spellcasting to others, which doesn’t work in the traditional lore. Not even in the Fifth Age, where Primal Sorcery is less of a patron-granted power and more of a “natural feature” of the world.

When it comes to overall balance, I found Tasslehoff’s subclasses to swing a lot less between the underpowered/overpowered scale. I didn’t see anything on the scale as a Warlock Deity patron’s insane DPS potential, for instance. Additionally, Tasslehoff’s comes with a lot of nice things for martials and noncasters: the Knight of Solamnia’s Rose abilities, Way of Mantis Monk, and Nightstalker Rogue all get some very nice features. As for the Companion, the Path of the Dragon Barbarian and Tinkerer Rogue are quite good, and the Fewmaster has some nice features, but a lot of that subclasses’ features aren’t congruent with each other.

While most subclasses were unique enough, I did see a few that stepped on each other’s toes. Tasslehoff’s Path of the Dragon Totem and the Companion’s Path of the Dragon are both really close in both name and concept. I’d have to go with Companion’s on account of granting flight and immunity to the frightened condition, which help overcome problems with the Barbarian class staying in melee more reliably, as well as a better breath weapon capstone. And while they’re both part of different classes, the Circle of the Elements Druid and Elemental Blade Sorcerer both occupy the “spellcaster with an elemental weapon” niche. The Druid one wins out on being not as squishy as a Sorcerer and the expenditure of its class-based resources (Wild Shape, Sorcery Points) comes with more substantial and longer-lasting benefits.

Personally speaking, I’d give this one to Tasslehoff’s.

For Backgrounds and Feats, Tasslehoff’s provides us with broader options for both, while the Companion is more closely focused on certain races and archetypes. The Companion hews closer to focusing on making iconic organizations with built-in benefits, much like Shadow of the Dragon Queen did with giving the Knights of Solamnia and Mages of High Sorcery unique backgrounds and bonus feats. And of its non-organization feats, all of those are specific to particular races. Sadly, the Companion is limited in that both of its organizations only exist at certain points in the timeline: Seekers disband shortly after the return of the non-evil true gods and the Knights of Neraka are formed near the end of the Age of Despair. As for Tasslehoff’s, the backgrounds and feats are varied enough for a wide variety of character concepts, even if some are less balanced than others.

Another win for Tasslehoff’s.

Here’s the first of the big divergences: Tasslehoff’s has Weapons, but the Companion has Spells. Such comparisons are going to be apples to oranges, as different gaming groups are going to be attracted to different material.

For the coverage of the Gods, Tasslehoff’s is closer to original lore and doesn’t throw in fanon-feeling things like evil-aligned priestesses of Mishakal or Shinare having an “I hate poor people” Libertarian ethos. The Companion, however, makes serving the gods come with more built-in rules and benefits in the form of Piety and Herald Items.

Although I’m not as much a fan of the fanon changes, given their prominence in the stories I like the mechanical rewards for serving the gods, so I’m giving a point to the Companion.

For Magic Items, Tasslehoff’s has only 16 magic items, while the Companion has 22. However, the ones covered in the former are much more recognizable and iconic, such as the Blue Crystal Staff and the different types of Dragonlances. A lot more of the ones in the Companion are either original or perhaps from more obscure sourcebooks. It also does a weird thing in making the hoopak weapon a magic item. Frostreaver axes exist in both sourcebooks, but the one in the Companion is much stronger.

I’m leaning towards Tasslehoff’s on account that there are a few magic items whose inclusion really tells you that you’re in a Dragonlance campaign, and I don’t just mean Dragonlances. More gaming groups are going to be familiar with something like the Brightblade rather than the Oathkeeper, or find the mechanics of the Staff of Magius more fun than the Spellbook of Magius.

For their Bestiaries, Tasslehoff’s is much more tightly focused. While it has double the monsters in terms of stat blocks, around half of those are dragonspawn and draconians, and draconians already exist in Shadow of the Dragon Queen. For the rest of the monsters, they’re a small mixture of animals, a pair of undead, a desert dragon, ogre titan, and the skrit beetle. As for the Companion, it has more diversity, with quite a bit of fiends and undead. The skrit is the only monster that exists in both products, with the major differences in that Tasslehoff’s skrit is more of a death by a thousand cuts type in its slow drain of a target’s maximum hit points. The Companion, conversely, deals a lot of acid damage when biting a paralyzed target. The Companion also has a sidebar for people who want to have a skrit as a mount.

I favor the Companion over Tasslehoff’s in this regard, especially given that we already have draconian stat blocks in Shadow of the Dragon Queen. I will note that the adventures in both books give more stat blocks than what’s in the bestiary, albeit Champions of Krynn only has stats for specific NPCs and the monstrous enemies are derived from the existing core rules.

For Setting Material, Tasslehoff wins hands down. The Dragonlance Companion is more or less focused on mechanics with a few adventures and encounters in back. Tasslehoff’s paints a more complete picture of Ansalon beyond what is provided in Shadow of the Dragon Queen.

When it comes to Adventures, the Dragonlance Companion has more material in general: 2 short encounters and 2 full-length adventures. While I haven’t reviewed it yet, the adventure that comes with Tasslehoff’s is a short adventure for 1st level PCs that involves investigating a goblinoid takeover of a town in Throtl. It’s a lot more cliche and by the numbers in that regard, while the adventures in the Companion are more detailed and original in feel. One point to the Companion.

Overall Thoughts: Tallying up the votes, we have 5 for Tasslehoff’s and 3 for the Companion. The places where the Companion wins are the gods, bestiaries, and adventures, which ironically makes Tasslehoff’s the superior option in terms of player-friendly material. This result matches more or less how I felt during my initial readings, although doing a detailed rundown helped me see the Companion’s strengths a bit more. While the Dragonlance Companion has its own strengths, if you had to ask me directly I’d point fans towards Tasslehoff’s Pouches of Everything.
 

That's generally my opinion too.

Pouches has a big win in the races department. I have some quibbles, like the fact that so many of the dwarf subraces seem optimised to be armoured casters, and the rather pointless natural armour on the half-ogre, but it covers a lot more ground and most of the options are pretty usable. I'd be a little wary of the irda though, the unlimited at-will shapeshift seems a bit much for me. It's not as lore-friendly, but I'd just use Firbolg stats for them, or else limit their shapeshifting to one pre-decided form per point of proficiency bonus, as a balancing factor.

On the whole, I think i prefer the player options from Pouches too. Companion has some good stuff, but Way of Divinity Monk, Dreamwalker sorcerer, and Tinkerer rogue are the only ones I'd really miss. Pouches has a few I don't like very much, Windrider especially, but i can deal with most of them and some are legit good. Plus, the Pouches player options fit in better with the feat-driven approach from SotDQ, which is a plus for me,

I'm looking at a War of the Lance era game, so the big pagecount devoted to mystics in Pouches, and time travel in Companion, are both of limited use to me personally. I do like the adventures in Companion, but probably won't use them. The treatment of the deities is pretty much a wash for me - I don't think I'd ever use the Piety system, though i appreciate the effort. I think i prefer the magic items from Companion - Pouches limits itself closely to items from the novels, which PCs are less likely to get their hands on. On the other hand, Oathkeeper for example is an item with definite plot potential though.
 

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