Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen & Warriors of Krynn Assessment | EN World | Dungeons & Dragons

Dragonlance is again with a brand new journey for 5E, referred to as Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen, and accompanied by the board sport Dragonlance: Warriors of Krynn, which will be performed independently or along side the RPG.

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Welcome to Dragonlance​

For these unfamiliar with the setting, Dragonlance started throughout AD&D days with the module, Dragonlance: Dragons of Despair (March 1984) by Tracy Hickman, and the novel, Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight (November 1984), by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. Recreation designers Tracy and Laura Hickman, creators of Ravenloft, got here up with the preliminary thought for Krynn, a world that survived a cataclysm, is dominated by dragons and deserted by the True Gods, through the street journey to Wisconsin the place Hickman was making use of for a job at TSR.

Within the authentic adventures, a bunch of companions come collectively, rediscover the True Gods, bringing true clerics again to Krynn, and battle in what turns into the Struggle of the Lance to fend off the forces of evil dragon goddess Takhisis. Dragonlance turned vastly well-liked and spawned extra novels, comedian books, video video games, and adventures created for 2nd version, 3.5, and the SAGA System (however not 4E).

A 5E model of Dragonlance has been a long-time coming, and it brings with it a board sport to check out a distinct manner of enjoying an RPG for individuals who personal each. Which means there’s quite a bit to cowl, so let’s dive in.

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Getting Began​

First, let’s cope with the stats. D:SotDQ takes gamers from 1st by means of eleventh degree, and is optimized for 4-6 gamers. It has 28 stat blocks however six of these are sidekicks, 11 are creature stat blocks, and the remainder are for NPCs, named or for a common class of NPCs. The creature stats embrace lesser and larger dying dragons. You possibly can by no means have too many varieties of dragons in D&D!

The sidekicks can be utilized to fill out the group for those who solely have a few gamers. They may be utilized by drop-in gamers or as a fast substitute if a PC is killed at an inopportune time. 4 magic gadgets are included as are 5 different gadgets that vary from gear just like the Kender hoopak to gnome siege weapons just like the boilerdrak.

Greater than 70 prior Dragonlance adventures, dietary supplements, and supply books (and are largely out there on DMs Guild) so lead designer F. Wesley Schneider determined to open D:SotDQ with a chapter that provides newcomers an summary of Krynn, its folks, gods, and a abstract of its historical past. It isn’t meant to be exhaustive as a result of the opposite sourcebooks nonetheless exist, which is smart and matches with WotC’s present publictation technique, however could displease lore lovers. Both manner, the primary chapter offers extra data on Krynn than the skimpy setting data in this summer season’s Spelljammer set so I will depend that as a win regardless of being a low bar to cross.

Readers are given an summary of how elves, dwarves, gnomes, and so on. perform in Krynn and a short peek at their cultures. Gully dwarves are omitted. Purists could complain, however D:SotDQ would not endure from the omission.

I’ve all the time favored Kender and was thrilled to search out them in one of many early D&D Subsequent playtest packets. The model of Kender offered listed here are good. Their Taunt potential nonetheless exists, however their Fearlessness potential has merely turn into Benefit on rolls in regard to the Worry situation. A Kender’s immunity to the worry attributable to dragons was a small edge for gamers that could possibly be very useful if used strategically. Downgrading it to rolling with Benefit would not actually enhance sport steadiness in my view, particularly since I did not suppose it broke the sport within the authentic model.

HOWEVER, designating the hoopak, the normal weapon of Kenders, a martial weapon actually annoys me. Since authentic Dragonlance companion Tasslehoff Burrfoot is a rogue, it means his 5E model could not use a hoopak or must use a feat to do it, which is a waste. It is particularly foolish since a hoopak is actually a sling connected to a brief spear (the tip reverse the sling is pointed), each of that are easy weapons. I perceive the sport design logic of two easy weapons changing into a martial weapon when mixed, however I strongly disagree with its implementation.

Knights of Solamnia and Mages of Excessive Sorcery are coated underneath organizations with backgrounds for each. New Feats present skills for knights and adepts of the purple, white or black robes are included. I am not a fan of Feat Bushes/stacked stipulations for Feats, however primarily based on feedback at press occasions and the main points on this guide, it seems to be like WotC is heading in that path. If they’ll preserve them from being unwieldy, it’s going to be positive, however we’ll see if they’ll pull it off.

Lunar Sorcery is a brand new subclass for sorcerers to mirror the moon’s magical associations on this planet of Krynn. Lunar sorcerers can even channel the magic of the complete, crescent, or new moon phases and acquire additional spells because of this.

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Prelude to Struggle​

That is the apt title of the second chapter, lays out the course of the entire journey for the DM, with a flowchart (yay!) and a listing of NPCs with a pronunciation information (double yay!). D:SotDQ takes place throughout occasions we have already seen earlier than and through the Struggle of the Lance. Krynn is an enormous world and Takhisis plans to beat all of it. The unique books centered quite a bit on the blue dragon military led by Kitiara Uth Matar. D:SotDQ takes place on the continent of Ansalon and the invasion of Solamnia by Kansaldi Fireplace-Eyes and the purple dragon military. It is a smart move. I commend Schneider for as a result of it would not change or change the unique modules or novels. It simply shifts focus to a different a part of the battle.

The remainder of the chapter focuses on three quick prelude encounters for the primary degree characters to allow them to begin to get a way of what’s to return, starting with a message concerning the dying of a good friend in Vogler (extra on that village under). One prelude hints on the thriller of the draconians. One other allows characters to begin the street to changing into a mage of excessive sorcery. The final is concerning the return of the gods and the true nature between them and the folks of Krynn.

I actually just like the preludes. It is a sensible strategy to give first degree characters one thing to do this’s degree applicable, tease them towards the following step of the journey, and lays the groundwork for the gamers to turn into emotionally invested within the story. That final half is vital as a result of in the end D:SotDQ is a narrative about the price of battle and the toll it takes. That story is much less efficient if run as a “rah, rah, fight!” scenario. By as a substitute investing the gamers within the consequence of the invasion, the gamers may have a greater expertise.

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Struggle Arrives​

Chapter three focuses on the fishing city of Vogler. A small gazetteer on this chapter helps DMs set the stage for the beautiful little village the place gamers will attend their good friend’s funeral and take part in its Kingfisher Event. It is also the place they first meet Darrett Highwater, a squire NPC the gamers will proceed to satisfy over the course of the journey because the battle progresses and Highwater advances in ability by necessity.

I might play up the connections to Vogler much more than the guide suggests, like suggesting at the least one participant lived within the city sooner or later. Giving the gamers different associates on the town, like Mayor Raven Uth Vogler, would additionally assist with making them really feel extra invested in Vogler’s destiny.

By the tip of the chapter, everybody is aware of of the Dragon Queen’s invasion, and the residents of Vogler have been evacuated, setting the stage for the following part.

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Shadow of Struggle​

Whereas Dragonlance has all the time been the D&D setting centered on battle, it would not need to be a tactical battle sport. As a substitute, it focuses on a small group of heroes whose actions can have an effect on a bigger battle. That is what the remainder of D:SotDQ focuses on with a chapter devoted to town of Kalaman.

One other small gazetteer helps the DM set the scene. The gamers have arrived with refugees from Vogler, and their good friend Highwater encourages them to hitch him in serving to Kalaman’s navy. The gamers will be capable of scout the enemy’s territory and uncover extra concerning the purple dragon military’s targets and methods.

In chapter 5, the gamers discover the Northern Wastes, searching for to search out the Metropolis of Misplaced Names and uncover why the notorious Lord Soth thinks it could possibly be the important thing to the dragon military’s victory. Lord Soth is a kind of NPC stat blocks within the again however at CR 19 he is probably not designed for the gamers to tackle. Consider him right here as Thanos within the first Avengers film—too highly effective for a brand new group to tackle straight. As a substitute of taking Lord Soth on in a one-on-one battle, the PCs are inspired to comply with him within the hopes of thwarting his plans.

Whereas the gamers might be concerned in battlefield scenes, particularly in the event that they cross over to D:WoK, they will have smaller goals in these battles. The remainder of the time they will be doing a variety of exploring and sneaking to evade Takhisis’ forces, uncover their plans, and perhaps even restore one of many legendary dragonlances.

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Going Deluxe​

Whereas D:SotDQ will be performed by itself as a pure RPG expertise, WotC determined to attempt a number of new choices. One is hiring veteran board sport designers Rob Daviau (Threat Legacy, Pandemic Legacy, Axis & Allies Pacific) and Stephen Baker (HeroQuest, HeroScape) to create the board sport Dragonlance: Warrriors of Krynn as a substitute of constructing mass fight RPG guidelines to accommodate the bigger scale of battles used Dragonlance. The opposite was creating varied bundles together with bodily/digital combos of the guide and a Deluxe Version that has the RPG, board sport, and DM display screen.

The Dragonlance Deluxe DMs display screen artwork is a fiery four-panel battle scene by Anato Finnstark. The within has the standard information (Circumstances, setting DCs, cowl, and so on.) and helpful random encounter charts for inside a battle zone, the Northern Wastes and Kalaman, dragon military provides, and prisoners.

I even have to present WotC a shout-out for listening to suggestions. The Deluxe Version’s outer field is glued shut identical to the Terrain Case and Creature Case have been as a result of the contents are too heavy for tuck flap bins. Nonetheless, the Deluxe Version has tear strips to make opening the outer field straightforward. This addresses the issue with the instances, which have been tough to open with out shredding them or probably damaging the field inside.

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Warriors of Krynn​

The variety of sport elements for D:WoK will be daunting at first look. Sure, there are a bunch of playing cards, tokens, and customized d6s, however the setup is not a Twilight Imperium redo. I feel it was really simpler than Axis & Allies setup however your mileage could range.

Equally, there’s quite a bit to maintain observe of at first, similar to exhaustion, fight turns, and so on., however it’s logical, and also you get the dangle of it shortly. By the tip of the primary situation, I believed it was pretty straightforward to recollect the foundations whereas nonetheless permitting for lots of technique throughout play.

You do need to watch out throughout setup as a result of sure playing cards are marked to remain wrapped till you are instructed to open them throughout play. That mentioned, D:WoK is not a legacy sport the place playing cards are destroyed through the course of play (although Daviau’s present area of interest as a sport designer is legacy video games). As a substitute that is about avoiding surprises.

The cooperative board sport comes with six heroes, every of which will get an unpainted miniature. The minis are the identical dimension and scale as these used for RPGs, which was sensible. That additionally lets you use your personal minis for those who’re enjoying each video games and bringing over your characters.

In case you’re enjoying each video games, when play strikes over the board sport, the DM isn’t left within the lurch. They will both play a spare hero or roll cube for the villains and deal with that aspect of the sport.

The board sport offers a variety of eventualities, however the designers assume that folks may even make their very own. Additionally they assume that folks would possibly kitbash D:WoK to make use of it for mass fight in different D&D campaigns. I have not tried to make my very own situation, however it appears straightforward sufficient to do.

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RPG Meets Board Recreation​

Web page 71 of D:SotDQ is the primary incident the place the 2 Dragonlance merchandise can work together for those who personal each and select to make use of them that manner. A sidebar field in D:SotDQ is labeled “Warriors of Krynn State of affairs X” and offers a short abstract of the situation with instructions to go to its matching situation materials in D:WoK. The remainder of the field explains what to do when D:WoK play is over. Throughout press occasions Schneider referred to this materials as offering “a tender touchdown” for coming again to the RPG.

That entails what occurs on the RPG aspect if the board sport situation resulted in a win, maintain, or loss. Wins could embrace gaining particular gadgets or boons. Notes on NPC’s conduct and actions are additionally included in addition to instructions as to what to run subsequent. For instance, a DM can select any encounter from the “Invasion of Vogler” part through the evacuation.

Whether or not you want this forwards and backwards between the 2 video games is very private and at the least partially dependent upon how you’re feeling about board video games. If you do not have D:WoK, you may proceed the RPG journey and ignore the D:WoK situation bins. In case you solely have the board sport, it performs simply positive with out the RPG element.

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Wanting Good​

The standard of the art work is superb. Apart from a number of quibbles right here and there, I like the design of the 5E books, and credit score for that goes to Senior Artwork Director Kate Irwin. For D:SotDQ, the crew raised the stakes by opening chapters with a web page and a half of art work to offer a way of scope and the bigger scale applicable for battle.

My favourite is Daarken’s artwork for chapter 4, “Shadow of Struggle.” It has a way of scale, conveys the burden of coming battle, and on the identical time the canines working fortunately alongside the knights are a glimmer of the on a regular basis life that’s underneath risk.

That piece can be one of many few massive items that is not darkish. I perceive the concept the literal fires of battle (and dragon breath) would create a variety of smoke, however my quibble with a number of the artwork is {that a} darkish scene can nonetheless be “lit” in a manner that figures at midnight nonetheless have clear definition. To place it by way of movie cinematography, take into consideration the distinction between Underworld, the place you may clearly see folks carrying black at midnight, versus The Batman (2021).

Fortuitously, not the entire artwork falls into that “darkly lit” entice. Some are on a smoky battlefield that is nonetheless well-lit by hearth. And a few artwork, just like the dragons chickening out by Crystal Sully, experience superb coloration.

I haven’t got any quibbles concerning the three guide covers. Sure, THREE.

The usual version cowl painted by Cynthia Sheppard showcases the invasion of Kalaman with a purple dragon prominently featured, and it is terrific. Anybody shopping for the Deluxe Version that comprises D:SotDQ, a DM display screen, and the D:WoK board sport will get a distinct guide cowl, that includes “Escape from Vogler” by artist Ralph Horsley. The metallic inks used within the artwork do not present up in pictures however look nice in individual.

The alternate cowl bought by means of video games shops is simply as beautiful. Chase Stone created a picture of Lord Soth that appears so actual you nearly suppose you possibly can attain out and contact him. It rivals my favourite D&D covers by Hydro74.

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Ideas on the Execution​

It is actually apparent that Schneider and his writing crew put a variety of thought and care into this Dragonlance revival. Specializing in one other entrance within the Struggle of the Lance was a really sensible transfer, and it leaves room to do the identical in one other space of Krynn if this one sells properly sufficient. The crew was clearly attempting so as to add to and improve what got here earlier than in Dragonlance as a substitute of redoing or changing it.

Additionally they made some very sensible design selections in D:SotDQ. The prelude adventures (and preliminary occasions in Vogler) are an effective way to tug the characters in and begin to emotionally make investments them within the toll battle takes on folks. I’d have amped this up much more by giving gamers extra ties to the city, however a DM might simply do this on their very own with little effort.

Deciding to not do a bigger gazetteer is smart contemplating the in depth sourcebooks that exist already, however the lore lover in me is disillusioned. They nonetheless gave us lots to work with (much more than Spelljammer did), and even sea elves, who are sometimes uncared for, get some consideration. However I actually dislike the hoopak’s weapon classification and the way Kender Fearlessness was outlined. I might change each at my desk.

The gnome siege weapons are intelligent and typically present simply sufficient humor to lighten an in any other case critical situation.

So I am principally proud of how D:SotDQ turned out, however I additionally realized that I did not personally need a Dragonlance revival as a lot as I believed I did. When it first got here out in 1984 it appeared contemporary, and my gaming buddies and I devoured the novels and loved enjoying the modules. Whereas I nonetheless depend myself a Dragonlance fan, studying D:SotDQ made me understand that a lot of my heat, fuzzy emotions for the setting are tied up in that point, place, and other people, and no revival, even when very properly achieved, will create those self same emotions. My tastes have additionally modified over time.

And since we have already had Hoard of the Dragon Queen and Tyranny of Dragons, even this dragon-obsessed gamer could need to change one more Tiamat/Takhisis attempting to beat the world story with a distinct dragon-centric journey, like Journeys Via the Radiant Citadel. Or perhaps one thing with the impartial gem dragons enjoying the chromatic and metallic dragons in opposition to one another for mysterious causes.

I am equally conflicted with the twin sport strategy for this Dragonlance. On one hand, I recognize taking possibilities. The secure guess would have been to make commonplace RPG mass fight guidelines. Making a board sport that may crossover with the RPG is a daring transfer, and it really works. However not all RPG gamers like board video games and shopping for each is a steeper worth level. WotC was sensible to make enjoying each completely optionally available.

I do like that they assume folks will customise D:WoK for different campaigns, homebrew or not. Nonetheless, timing and circumstances are a bit in opposition to them. My D&D sport moved to Discord in March 2020, and we’re nonetheless enjoying that manner for a wide range of causes. I do know we’re not alone in that. That takes away incentive to cross over to D:WoK for D:SotDQ’s battle sequences.

As a standalone board sport, D:WoK is strong. I do know a number of associates who will prefer it.

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Ought to You Purchase It?​

Usually at this level in a evaluation I listing a number of “for those who like A, then Z” statements to assist reader assess if a product is true for them. For revivals of legacy settings as long as the brand new model is properly achieved, it is often a no brainer to say, “In case you like X setting you will like this model.” However as I discussed above, the way you get pleasure from this set probably relies on your relationship with the Dragonlance setting.

To my thoughts, it seems to be and looks like a Dragonlance journey, and a great one at that. They even took nice care to have this journey sit subsequent established Struggle of the Lance adventures as a substitute of changing or altering the unique materials. However if you would like that actual feeling the unique gave you within the Eighties, properly, because the saying goes, you may’t go house once more.


Summing It Up​

From a design standpoint, I actually like most of what they did with D:SotDQ, and D:WoK is an efficient board sport. However I used to be by no means emotionally engaged whereas studying it and nothing hit that “I’ve to run/play this” button in me.

Nonetheless, D:SotDQ is certainly the superior setting revival in comparison with Spelljammer, which I wished to like and loved elements of. It simply did not have sufficient of something and had one critical stumble. Against this, D:SotDQ simply did not fairly hit the highs that Radiant Citadel and Van Richten’s Information to Ravenloft had, each of which have been additionally Schneider initiatives, however is a strong, considerate revival.

So D:SotDQ is well a B+, and perhaps an A- if my outdated love of Dragonlance rekindles sooner or later or I am within the temper for a battle setting.


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