Friday, August 19, 2016

5E Dragonlance?

Over on G+ I was asking about the feasibility of running the old DL series of modules as a sandbox.

The game would be set during the events of the War of the Lance, but the Heroes of the Lance may or may not emerge. Tanis Halfelven and co. aren't around. The players can choose to try and take on the dragonarmies, join up with them, or just go around exploring ruins and looting them while the world burns.

All the dungeons from the modules would be there, I just wouldn't be pushing the players to recreate the novels.

And I'd run it with 5E. Just because. (Of course, by the time I actually get around to playing this campaign, if ever, I may decide to go with AD&D 1E, or LL/AEC, or my own modified BECMI system...)

The thing I like about 5E is that it seems fairly modular enough to mold it into the tropes of Krynn.

For example, races.

Human, Elf, Half-Elf and Dwarf work as is.

Orcs and Half-Orcs don't exist on Krynn [except in that one crappy Tasselhoff novel], but Minotaurs (smaller than normal D&D minotaurs, but still big and tough) are a potential player race. And reskin the 5E Half-Orc as a Minotaur and you're good to go. All you need to change are the name and starting language from Orc to Minotaur.

One of the 5E playtest packets had Kender as a race. Exchange the Halfling's subclasses for the Kender abilities from the playtest (trust me, if you didn't see it, it handles the kleptomania in a way that won't butthurt other players). Done.

One of the Gnome subraces is the tinker/alchemist type. Only allow that one.

Tieflings don't exist. Done. Dragonborn don't exist [and the similar Draconians that do exist aren't playable at this time period]. Done.

For classes, things get a bit more complicated.

Clerics are just being discovered again at this time. So they're out (at least at first). I'd probably ban Druids as well for similar reasons (they're still sort of religious type magicians and the gods of Krynn are deaf to mortal pleas).

Paladins could work for Knights of Solamnia. Rijigger the Oaths to the three orders of knighthood (Crown, Rose, Sword). It's not quite how I remember it working in the novels or the Dragonlance Adventures sourcebook, where the Knights of the Rose and Sword were like prestige classes a Knight of the Crown could graduate into, but this doesn't need to be perfect.

Wizards and Sorcerers would both need to conform to the strictures of the Towers of High Sorcery (or be labeled as rogues and hunted down). I'd need to develop paths for the White, Red and Black robes that both classes would need to choose from. Warlocks (if I allow them - I've yet to witness anyone use the class yet actually so the question may be moot) would always be considered rogue mages. Bards would also either be banned (as Clerics/Druids) or else also need to conform to the three robes subclasses.

Or maybe these aren't paths (the normal paths for these classes could be used), but the choice of robes is required, and still affects spellcasting depending on the moons' phases.

Barbarians, Fighters, Rangers, problem. Monks may be allowed, but probably not. Eldritch Knights and Arcane Tricksters may have entanglements with the Towers of High Sorcery.

Backgrounds probably don't need much work.


  1. Knights of Solmania aren't paladins (they don't possess the special abilities, nor are they restricted in alignment). They probably work best as a specific talent tree/specialization of the fighter class.

    In the original DL, barbarians = rangers. The abilities of the plains folk (like Riverwind) translated directly, and were the only example of rangers in the saga. The berserking ability of 3E+ isn't found (except, perhaps, as a minotaur racial ability).

    Overall, the idea isn't terribly uninteresting (I'm surprised to find myself saying so), but you'd really need a good mass combat system to go along with it. I'm not sure 5E has one that might be more "D&D-ish" to use the Krynn setting in the days that immediately followed the Cataclysm, as many of the world's dungeons arose from that apocalyptic event. Of course, without clerics things get a might tougher...then again, isn't 5E nearly as "death proof" as 4E was?

    1. Good points. On using the Paladin for KoS, I was thinking that they don't get spells, only the smites, at least until the gods return (if they return). You're right that the auras and immunity to disease and stuff don't really fit.

      Maybe Squire of the Crown needs to be a background option? And/or, as you say, Fighter specialization paths.

      Re. barbarians, you have a good point as well. I don't mind dropping the class. Outlander/Ranger (or Outlander/other class) would work well for the Plainsfolk or Kagonesti Elves.

      And if the campaign takes off, and goes long enough that the players get to be movers and shakers in the world, and take part in the War of the Lance...well, the old BECMI War Machine rules may port over easily enough.

      As for the lethality level, it depends a lot on how you run the rest/hit dice mechanics. By the book, it's pretty generous. But just make a few small tweaks (in our current campaign, long rests refreshes half of your lost hit dice, but no hit points) and it can feel fairly deadly.

  2. What about: White Robes are Wizards, Red are Sorcerers, Black are Warlocks (their moon being their patron.

    1. And changing your robe color means multiclassing? Something to think about, but since the only real difference in the colors is alignment of the caster, I'd rather they all be of the same class if possible. So Sorcerer may be out too, if I do this thing. Or Sorcerers (and Warlocks and Bards?) exist but can never take the tests and are always considered renegades if they gain the ability to cast 3rd level spells.

    2. @ Dennis (& Jesse):

      Ugh. The tri-colored wizard orders of DL was actually one of the coolest ways I've seen magic-users handled in ANY campaign setting. Making the classes color-specific (as opposed to all having the same abilities but different outlooks-alignments) is...ugh! Terrible!

      And it just reminds me how little I actually find cool about the 5E spell-caster classes...when you have the standard MU spells divided up over multiple classes to create some sort of new, artificial niche protection (a wizard can't summon monsters? Really? No astral travel? Jeez!).

    3. Yeah, one thing on my to do list is reference the spell schools for each robe color in DLA and sort out which 5E spells each color gets.

  3. Yo, the minotaurs of Krynn got an unofficial 5e update in one of the Unearthed Arcana articles that Wizards puts out.

    Check it:

    1. No prob!

      You know, the Dragonlance novels were one of the two main things that got me into D&D when I was in elementary school, but to this day I never actually *played* any Dragonlance in any edition, ever.

  4. Majere had Monk followers, not clerics. They might even have carried through the traditions during the Cataclysm.

    1. DLA does mention monks as being a possibility, and the Sword Coast book's appendix for Krynn suggests monks might follow Majere. I may not list them as an option, but if a player really wants to play one, I'd allow it.