Dragonlance Lunar Sorcery: A Preview from Shadow of the Dragon Queen

WotC has posted a preview from the upcoming Shadow of the Dragon Queen on D&D Beyond, diving into the Lunary Sorcery subclass.

lunar-socerer-featured.jpg


Traditionally magic in Krynn has been represented by the Wizards of High Sorcery, who owe their allegiance to one of the black, red, or white moons (and gods) of magic. Sorcerers weren't around in D&D when Dragonlance was created.

Lunar Sorcerers also draw power from the moons, based on the moon's phase (Full, New, Crescent). You choose the phase each day (though at later levels you can do so more often). The subclass gets a lot of spells (15 additional spells!)


 
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
In the old days, a major change to the mechanics of a new edition usually resulted in some sort of major, world changing event or cataclysm so that the new rules work with the revised setting. Because sadly, game worlds are created with editions in mind.

Eberron was created with 3e in mind, and it's updates have been lackluster as a result.

Dark Sun really doesn't work the same way after 2e; crazy psionic wild talents and strange rebalancing of classes* (not to mention jacked up ability scores) just don't jive with modern game design.

*some classes have their magic removed, like the Bard, and others double down on their magical abilities at very high levels.

And talking about what has been done (and undone) to the Forgotten Realms is a thread in of itself.

Dragonlance has dealt with this as well over the years.

It seems WotC has learned that radically altering a setting upsets the fans, but it's hard to have it both ways; you can't turn back the clock and have a setting work just like it did back in the day when so much has changed about the game. Because it's not just more races, classes, and subclasses that have changed; the classes themselves are not the same as they once were.

Heck, even Dragonlance introduced strange new rules for it's own setting in the past; like the complex system of advancement for the Knights of Solamnia, with entirely different classes for each of it's sub-orders, the ebb and flow of magic as a result of the moon phases, dividing all Wizard schools into three different subclasses (White, Red, and Black), and so on.

This used to be par for the course with many settings; many pages would be devoted to what's different, and what's allowed. Ravenloft came with a dozen pages of altered spells and even class abilities, ranging from "nope, doesn't work" to "oh you want to have an animal companion? Let's see what the Dark Powers have to say about that!". Planescape was the same way, and even Spelljammer had copious notes on how some spells could be used in space travel (and what spells would lead to doom in the Phlogiston). Dark Sun had, as mentioned, altered and even bespoke classes (Defiler, Templar, and Gladiator). Council of Wyrms had you playing actual dragons!

There's a reason why we see so much Forgotten Realms stuff from WotC; it's the setting that, at least on the surface, is the most like the base game (if one ignores spelldancers, spellsingers, spellfire, circle magic, incantatrixes, elven high sorcery...).

But these days, you walk a tightrope when you try to update an old setting. A lot of what made it unique was an artefact of the time it was created, and the days when you'd get a huge boxed set to cover all of what made the setting unique and different from any other game of D&D. WotC's business model doesn't support that, so any product is going to include:

*a brief summary of what the world and setting are like.
*some new character options.
*maybe a few alternate rules.
*monsters.
*maybe some brief notes on how to recapture the classic "feel" of the setting.
*a huge pile of "and you can figure out the rest on your own" for DM's.
 

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Micah Sweet

Legend
In the old days, a major change to the mechanics of a new edition usually resulted in some sort of major, world changing event or cataclysm so that the new rules work with the revised setting. Because sadly, game worlds are created with editions in mind.

Eberron was created with 3e in mind, and it's updates have been lackluster as a result.

Dark Sun really doesn't work the same way after 2e; crazy psionic wild talents and strange rebalancing of classes* (not to mention jacked up ability scores) just don't jive with modern game design.

*some classes have their magic removed, like the Bard, and others double down on their magical abilities at very high levels.

And talking about what has been done (and undone) to the Forgotten Realms is a thread in of itself.

Dragonlance has dealt with this as well over the years.

It seems WotC has learned that radically altering a setting upsets the fans, but it's hard to have it both ways; you can't turn back the clock and have a setting work just like it did back in the day when so much has changed about the game. Because it's not just more races, classes, and subclasses that have changed; the classes themselves are not the same as they once were.

Heck, even Dragonlance introduced strange new rules for it's own setting in the past; like the complex system of advancement for the Knights of Solamnia, with entirely different classes for each of it's sub-orders, the ebb and flow of magic as a result of the moon phases, dividing all Wizard schools into three different subclasses (White, Red, and Black), and so on.

This used to be par for the course with many settings; many pages would be devoted to what's different, and what's allowed. Ravenloft came with a dozen pages of altered spells and even class abilities, ranging from "nope, doesn't work" to "oh you want to have an animal companion? Let's see what the Dark Powers have to say about that!". Planescape was the same way, and even Spelljammer had copious notes on how some spells could be used in space travel (and what spells would lead to doom in the Phlogiston). Dark Sun had, as mentioned, altered and even bespoke classes (Defiler, Templar, and Gladiator). Council of Wyrms had you playing actual dragons!

There's a reason why we see so much Forgotten Realms stuff from WotC; it's the setting that, at least on the surface, is the most like the base game (if one ignores spelldancers, spellsingers, spellfire, circle magic, incantatrixes, elven high sorcery...).

But these days, you walk a tightrope when you try to update an old setting. A lot of what made it unique was an artefact of the time it was created, and the days when you'd get a huge boxed set to cover all of what made the setting unique and different from any other game of D&D. WotC's business model doesn't support that, so any product is going to include:

*a brief summary of what the world and setting are like.
*some new character options.
*maybe a few alternate rules.
*monsters.
*maybe some brief notes on how to recapture the classic "feel" of the setting.
*a huge pile of "and you can figure out the rest on your own" for DM's.
Long-time posters on this site know of my love for 2e settings. Those that made it to 3e were mostly done well too, imo. 5e's setting offerings just don't have the meat I'm looking for.
 




Micah Sweet

Legend
It's a good thing the 2e stuff is still around then!
It sure is. I think I own almost all of it on pdf, and nearly all the 2e and 3e Ravenloft stuff in print. I just would have liked them to keep making stuff like that.

I know it's not going to happen though. The world has moved on.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
It sure is. I think I own almost all of it on pdf, and nearly all the 2e and 3e Ravenloft stuff in print. I just would have liked them to keep making stuff like that.

I know it's not going to happen though. The world has moved on.
Yep. So long as people are willing to pay them more $$$ for setting books that are half the size and contain a tenth of the lore needed for the setting, they aren't going to bother to put in more work or quality.
 

Micah Sweet

Legend
Yep. So long as people are willing to pay them more $$$ for setting books that are half the size and contain a tenth of the lore needed for the setting, they aren't going to bother to put in more work or quality.
As has been said by myself and others, WotC has no reason to innovate, and every financial reason to keep things close enough to the same for people to not feel threatened, but different enough to make them want to shell out more cash. Not a good recipe for interesting game design, but that's clearly not what they want.
 


Quickleaf

Legend
I'm five pages in, are any posts about the actual preview, or are they all about how things were twenty or thirty years ago?
The 6th level Lunar Boons seems like the coolest part of the subclass. Being able to reduce the cost (in sorcery points) of Metamagic, even if only a no. times per day = prof bonus, is pretty sweet.

I know others want sorcerers to have more spells, but I'm not in that camp. I'd like to see sorcerers more specialized/focused around doing several things with a narrower bandwidth of magic (in order to differentiate them from other casters). So the extra 15 spells or whatever that this new subclass gets? I'm not a fan. I think it's just adding more choice points for players desiring a simpler spellcaster experience to get tripped up on.

However, I do appreciate the tweak to the sacred fire cantrip – I've often mentioned in sorcerer conversations that have come up over the years that they should be the class that builds upon just a few cantrips, but goes all in on those with ways to power-up or modify them.

I do wish the preview included the flavor text of the subclass. I don't like DNDBeyond's penchant for divorcing flavor from mechanics in their "sneak peek" articles – I think it does both a disservice to the designer's vision & makes it more difficult for the reader to get into the "feel."
 


Zaukrie

New Publisher
The 6th level Lunar Boons seems like the coolest part of the subclass. Being able to reduce the cost (in sorcery points) of Metamagic, even if only a no. times per day = prof bonus, is pretty sweet.

I know others want sorcerers to have more spells, but I'm not in that camp. I'd like to see sorcerers more specialized/focused around doing several things with a narrower bandwidth of magic (in order to differentiate them from other casters). So the extra 15 spells or whatever that this new subclass gets? I'm not a fan. I think it's just adding more choice points for players desiring a simpler spellcaster experience to get tripped up on.

However, I do appreciate the tweak to the sacred fire cantrip – I've often mentioned in sorcerer conversations that have come up over the years that they should be the class that builds upon just a few cantrips, but goes all in on those with ways to power-up or modify them.

I do wish the preview included the flavor text of the subclass. I don't like DNDBeyond's penchant for divorcing flavor from mechanics in their "sneak peek" articles – I think it does both a disservice to the designer's vision & makes it more difficult for the reader to get into the "feel."
I agree with all of this
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Ya, while I like the idea of the fiction of tracking, I doubt anyone I play with would....
What's funny is that it's probably a lot easier nowadays to track the moon phases than it was way back then, because it wouldn't be hard for programming-savvy people to write a script to do it for them. But I think that yeah, it'd still be annoying to have to track.
 

Azzy

KMF DM
What's funny is that it's probably a lot easier nowadays to track the moon phases than it was way back then, because it wouldn't be hard for programming-savvy people to write a script to do it for them.
There are modules for Foundry VTT that track moon phases. I used one for my Forgotten Realms LMoP/DoIP campaign. I tried to use it with my Eberron campaign, but I couldn't get all the different moons to line up properly.

But I think that yeah, it'd still be annoying to have to track.
IMO, it is still a pain. I'm bad about meticulously keeping track of days and have a tendency to handwave these things.
 


cbwjm

Legend
I'm 90% certain the only relevant conversation was someone saying sorcerer doesn't belong until the Age of Mortals.

I'm half tempted to start a new thread where we, ya know, discuss the mechanics and flavor of the sub.
I think the flavour would be great for a wizard of high sorcery, I'm thinking of adapting it to a wizard subclass.
 

Remathilis

Legend
The 6th level Lunar Boons seems like the coolest part of the subclass. Being able to reduce the cost (in sorcery points) of Metamagic, even if only a no. times per day = prof bonus, is pretty sweet.

I know others want sorcerers to have more spells, but I'm not in that camp. I'd like to see sorcerers more specialized/focused around doing several things with a narrower bandwidth of magic (in order to differentiate them from other casters). So the extra 15 spells or whatever that this new subclass gets? I'm not a fan. I think it's just adding more choice points for players desiring a simpler spellcaster experience to get tripped up on.

However, I do appreciate the tweak to the sacred fire cantrip – I've often mentioned in sorcerer conversations that have come up over the years that they should be the class that builds upon just a few cantrips, but goes all in on those with ways to power-up or modify them.

I do wish the preview included the flavor text of the subclass. I don't like DNDBeyond's penchant for divorcing flavor from mechanics in their "sneak peek" articles – I think it does both a disservice to the designer's vision & makes it more difficult for the reader to get into the "feel."
So I am the opposite. I think the sorcerer hurts too much currently from its small spell selection and spell list. The current sorcerer is always picking the most efficient spells at the cost of flavor or theme. You're always going to want magic missile, misty step and fireball regardless of what your subclass is, and with some themes (shadow or non-fire dragons) there aren't enough spells to be on theme.

Granted, I don't know what the final list looks like, but the old list gave a decent mix of defense, radiant damage, illusions and even a little healing, stuff very on flavor for the moon(s) that a sorcerer could never fit in their selection, even if they somehow found a way to get it on the sorcerer's list at all.

Lastly, the lunar sorcerer really doesn't have that many powerful class features that aren't just improved spellcasting. Their level 1 abilities are bonus spells, a bonus augmented cantrip, and a free first level spell. At 6th, they get the ability to switch phase and a discount on metamagic. You have to be 14th level before the class gives you a feature that isn't just more spells and free metamagic. Compared to clockwork soul which gives you all sorts of dice shenanigans and protection abilities and it is kinda boring. So a lot of the wealth of it comes from that huge list of spell options.

I gave the other sorcs bonus spells (dragon, wild, shadow, divine and storm) after Tasha, and people have been happy with the improvement. It's a good stopgap until 1D&D playtests the sorcerer.
 




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