D&D 5E Pitching Dragonlance to new players

toucanbuzz

No rule is inviolate
I polled my gamers about where'd they like our next adventures to take place and what kind. No matter their age, not a one has played anything before 5E (I'm from the AD&D days), but they seem to enjoy the mystery behind why lots of people were, or are, excited about these other settings they've never played. Dragonlance has come up as one of those.

I've run it, but never tried to pitch it, build up excitement, find the words that trigger a thrill to see what's there. In contrast, we did Dark Sun 5E and my gamers loved it because it was so different from anything they'd played.

So, if you had to pitch Dragonlance (Taladas or Ansalon or the DL Classics War of the Lance epics) in writing, how would you do it? What would you say to build that excitement? I know it's there, and my gut says treat it like Dark Sun. Don't overwhelm them with history but mystery. Get them inspired by what's cool or different or new from the Realms. Show some art, make the world live and breathe. Even so, I haven't found the words I want.

And please, I'm not looking to turn this into a thread to argue DL sucks or rocks. If you personally wouldn't run it, great, but we might.
 

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ECMO3

Hero
I polled my gamers about where'd they like our next adventures to take place and what kind. No matter their age, not a one has played anything before 5E (I'm from the AD&D days), but they seem to enjoy the mystery behind why lots of people were, or are, excited about these other settings they've never played. Dragonlance has come up as one of those.

I've run it, but never tried to pitch it, build up excitement, find the words that trigger a thrill to see what's there. In contrast, we did Dark Sun 5E and my gamers loved it because it was so different from anything they'd played.

So, if you had to pitch Dragonlance (Taladas or Ansalon or the DL Classics War of the Lance epics) in writing, how would you do it? What would you say to build that excitement? I know it's there, and my gut says treat it like Dark Sun. Don't overwhelm them with history but mystery. Get them inspired by what's cool or different or new from the Realms. Show some art, make the world live and breathe. Even so, I haven't found the words I want.

And please, I'm not looking to turn this into a thread to argue DL sucks or rocks. If you personally wouldn't run it, great, but we might.
Go with war of the Lance and start by describing Krynn - Dragons are myths and monsters used to scare children. Fables say the Gods suppsedly abandoned humankind during the Cataclysm .... if they ever really existed at all. There are Charlaton's running around taking money and using illusions to pretend to be healers. That is what I would start with from memore, read DL1 for a little more detail on Solace and go from there running the story in DL1 with modern 5E rules.

I would also use the characters from DL1, with Goldmoon and Riverwind being NPCs unless you have so many players they need to be PCs too. Give players some freedom to reskin their characters using 5E point buy system for abilities and perhaps change sex and race and change say Fighter to Barbarian or Ranger if it makes more sense, Wizard to Sorcerer or Warlock etc. But keep the same backstories and no Druids, Clerics, Paladins or healing magic to start.
 

Having played through the War of the Lance and the DL1+ modules (I think all the published DL modules), I would say you could use that time and setting, but please don't run those modules as written. And if any of your players have read any of the books, do not use the pregens. Sorry @ECMO3 , but that was the worst railroad and lack of player agency experience I've ever had.

To me, the strength of DL are the knighthoods and the 'civility' of the setting. Not that their are not gritty parts, but to me its the opposite of Dark Sun (except the lack of healing magic, depending upon your time frame). It's a setting that thrives on the players being agents of one of the kingdoms or forces. It's the chance for players t not just survive, but impact the future of kingdom or the world. Thats what I would focus on.
 

I don't think you need to "pitch" much of anything. Just drop them into DL1, which is a pretty good module (you might want to do something about the gully dwarves). Use the novels to fill out the rest of the campaign - do not let your players read them!
 

I've run it, but never tried to pitch it, build up excitement, find the words that trigger a thrill to see what's there. In contrast, we did Dark Sun 5E and my gamers loved it because it was so different from anything they'd played.
What did you like about running a Dragonlance campaign? What kind of campaign do you want to run this time? What do you want to showcase from Dragonlance?

I've found I'm much better at building a campaign when I'm motivated and there's a particular type of story I'm interested in.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
Having played through the War of the Lance and the DL1+ modules (I think all the published DL modules), I would say you could use that time and setting, but please don't run those modules as written.

100% agreement here. The overall intrigue is fine, and it should not be too difficult to make it less linear depending on what the PCs do. But the adventures and especially the dungeons are terrible, give the players means to shortcut or bypass them. After that, the characters are interesting, but unbalanced, maybe they could be redone with standard classes in 5e without trouble, that way you keep the imagery.
 

What did you like about running a Dragonlance campaign? What kind of campaign do you want to run this time? What do you want to showcase from Dragonlance?

I've found I'm much better at building a campaign when I'm motivated and there's a particular type of story I'm interested in.
It's a story driven heroic fantasy epic. There isn't much more to say about it than that. If you like epic fantasy and are willing to put up with some railroading is does it's thing. If you prefer to mooch randomly around the countryside murder-hoboing monsters for coin its not for you.

It's like playing the Fellowship in LotR, but without the spoilers.
 


aco175

Legend
I would be careful about not having healing magic. It is built into the game and assumed that the PCs have access to it. It may lead you to doing more work adjusting encounters and such. Maybe it can be reskinned as herbs and poultices rather than divine healing. I would introduce it before they start needing bigger healing though.
 



ninjayeti

Adventurer
Dragonlance is like:
-Star Wars with dragons instead of spaceships
-Game of Thrones without all the moral ambiguity
-Lord of the Rings if the hobbits were way more annoying

(edit: Kender joke intended to reflect the commonly expressed sentiment, not to imply that they are objectively bad or bash DL)
 
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bennet

Explorer
The books were good for something written in the 80s. But I never heard of something actually liking the Dragonlance campaign setting or modules. Its like running a middle earth game, but hobbits are little pricks, and none of the iconic locations.
 


For me at least, "you can ride a dragon into battle" would be a major selling point. The 'eventually' stings, but it's still a cool visual even if doesn't make any sense in the setting.
 



aco175

Legend
I assume that a hoopak can be a finesse weapon. I would give it 1d4 sling part and 1d6 staff part. Maybe sallow the sling part to be used without an attack of opportunity when next to a bad guy, to make up for the damage drop.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
I only played a tiiiny bit of Dragonlance, but my impression of its uniqueness was...
  • War ravaged land with marching/occupying dragonarmies, often better to avoid direct confrontation
  • Points of hope/light scattered throughout, offering "Rivendell" moments (some less secure than others)
  • Deep focus on character relationships (PC-PC, and PC-NPC) - probably the most defining feature
  • Character relationships extending to touch cultural & political issues (microcosms)
  • Literary "romance" feel, with chivalric ideals worked into the quests requiring courage & sacrifice
  • Weird spooky society of color-coded wizards who you should keep an eye on
  • Gods may or may not have abandoned humanity, faith is not usually proved through divine magic
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
What worked for me: Friend: "Read this novel" hand over Dragons of Autumn Twilight
Been a fan of DL and D&D ever since.

Well, first, honestly, the novels are not that good. I will say that they are at the top of the D&D litterature, but that is not saying much. Second, if you do that, you basically give the whole plot of the campaign, which is honestly the best thing of the DL world. I won't go as far as saying the only thing, but frankly I've not been impressed by anything published on DL for D&D after the War of the Lance...
 

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