Dragonlance Returns – A Review of the New Book from D&DDecember 6, 2022
The Dragon Queen has returned, and her fanatical draconian armies wage a brutal war of conquest. As the Dragon Armies march on the unprepared nation of Solamnia, only the stalwart defenders of Kalaman stand in their way. But there is more to this war than meets the eye, as elements within the Dragon Queen’s service seek a magical weapon that could assure dominance over Krynn for all time.
Thus, the backdrop for Dragonlance: War of the Dragon Queen is set, and it is available now on D&D Beyond and in your favourite local retailer. The campaign is set during the legendary War of the Lance, which should make fans of this classic setting giddy as they return to this mysterious world.
Before the review begins there is one important clarification: this is primarily an adventure campaign, not a Dragonlance campaign setting. It is a closer spiritual companion to Baldur’s Gate: Descent into Avernus than it is to Eberron: Rising from the Last War.
That isn’t a bad thing by any stretch, it’s just important so people know what to expect from this product.
What’s in it?
The prelude of the book is chock full of lore and detail that adventurers can use to create characters appropriate for the World of Krynn. Players will get some incredible lore about Krynn; the time before the cataclysm, during, and after the cataclysm; the Dragon Queen and her armies; and, the War of the Lance, arguably the most famous event in all Dragonlance. The history takes up only a few pages in the book, but it’s enough to get fans unfamiliar with the setting up to speed.
Chapter One is the character creation section and includes all players need to know about the people of Krynn. The lineages of beings that occupy the world are similar but different from other worlds in the D&D Mythos.
Dwarves, Elves, each with their own diversity of lineage, Gnomes, Humans, and of course Kender.
Kender is a race unique to Dragonlance. Kender were once Gnomes but were altered by unbridled curiosity and bound to their current form. They are known as insatiably curious and often amass vast collections of curiosity from around the world.
And of course, a world-altering adventure that will take players from level 1 to 11.
New player content
Kender, as mentioned, is a new race to add to your games. These small humanoids are fearless and gain benefits against fear-based attacks, with some proclivity toward roguish skills such as Investigation, Sleight of Hand, etc. They also can taunt foes into attacking them.
What might be missing for fans of previous editions is that the obvious “Kender as thieves” trope has been eliminated. It has been replaced by flavour text about their natural curiosity and collection of unique and various objects from all over. In third edition, Kender had the “Kleptomania” tag. No longer.
Two new backgrounds have been added for a thematic flair for your Draglonlance games – Knight of Solamnia and Mage of High Sorcery, both organizations within Krynn.
What’s different about Dragonlance: War of the Dragon Queen is that it seems like a campaign that might challenge players…based on this one line from the character creation chapter.
“Whatever background you choose for a character in a Dragonlance campaign, you gain bonus feats, as detailed below.”
If character creation is dropping free feats…stuff is getting real.
The book also offers pages of new feats, which are magic/combat-focused, and thematic. For example, the Knight of the Crown feat, taken at fourth level, adds a Strength or Constitution bonus, and a Commanding Rally.
Also included is a new subclass for Sorcerers: Lunar Sorcery. On many worlds, the power of the moon inspires worship and devotion. Krynn is no different. Its three moons offer power to those with lunar lineage.
If you fancy a campaign with dramatic tension, set before a background of near-global war, Dragonlance: War of the Dragon Queen, is a game for you. It will offer complicated moral choices (as is often the case in war) and vicious combat.
The world is yours to develop and explore. The book offers DMs information, but the expectation is that they will develop a Krynn that’s unique and all their own.
The adventure is War of the Lance adjacent and is telling new stories within that overarching plot, so the amount of familiarity with the events and characters may vary depending on your experience level, but the most critical point is this:
there is enough familiar Dragonlance to make passionate fans happy, without overwhelming new fans with too much information.
It isn’t cumbersome. It’s a nice balance.
Optional Board Game
Fifth edition is a remarkable achievement and has made D&D more popular than ever, but one thing its rules aren’t geared for is mass combat. The mass combat that the war scenarios of Dragonlance: War of the Dragon Queen offers.
To solve this problem, the D&D Studio developed an optional board game, which can help resolve the mass combat battles in a satisfying way. It takes the abstraction of troops, and heroes, and gives it a forum to thrive.
(If you’re curious about what comes in the box, you can see our full unboxing video of the Dragonlance: War of the Dragon Queen Deluxe Edition here.)
Full disclosure, this writer has not yet played Warriors of Krynn the mass battle supplement, but some whom I trust said that not only does it serve the campaign well, but it also stands on its own as an enjoyable gaming experience.
Once it’s gotten the table, I will offer an updated story.
Should you buy it?
As always it depends – there are some cool player features in the campaign book as always, but if you’re a forever player the book’s usefulness might be limited for you.
Kender are a fun and unique addition to the D&D lineage collection, no doubt, but if you aren’t a Dragonlance fan, to begin with it might not be enough of a draw.
If you’re a collector, the soft-touch Lord Soth alternate cover (available exclusively at your friendly local game store) is exquisite, though the holofoil cover in the deluxe edition box might just be my favourite. You’ll be pleased with how they both look on your shelf.
If you are a DM whose group enjoys the gritty side of D&D, where combat is a struggle, and hope is a flickering candle burning in the distance? Dragonlance: War of the Dragon Queen is an adventure book for you. It features high thrills and victory is *not* assured.
Can the forces of good oppose the Dragon Queen long enough to ensure the artifact doesn’t fall into her army’s hands?
That’s a story only you can write.
A copy of Dragonlance: War of the Dragon Queen was provided for this review
Images copyright Wizards of the Coast and used with permission