Reviews of 'Dragonlance Campaign Setting'
Reviews of 'Dragonlance Campaign Setting'
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I've been a fan of the Dragonlance Novels for a number of years now (well... 95% of them). I've also been running the original Dragonlance modules in a campaign for the past year. Until now, I've had to work with both my own 3rd edition convertions and unofficial materials I've found online. However with the return of the official campaign setting (designed for edition 3.5), my preparation for the RP sessions have gotten much easier.
The campaign book contains the history of the world of Krynn in its covers. Whether you're new to the world or if you are an old time DL gamer, the Campaign Setting has what you need to get started.
It has everything needed to play a Knight of Solamnia (of any order), a Knight of Neraka (of any order), or a Knight of the Legion of Steel. It also contains the information describing the full benefits of becoming a Wizard of High Sorcery, and shows how different the abilities of the three Robes are. A variety of races are available for play (including two of the Draconian types, Minotaurs, Gnomes, Kender, two Sea Elven races, etc...) along with good descriptions of each.
Although the book covers everything up to just after the end of the War of Souls novels, enough is here to let you run at any time in Krynn's history. Much more specific details for each era will be coming out in the upcoming years. I already have the 5th Age book, and it gives what I think of as additional 'required' information in order to play in those times. But the DLCS is what is needed to get the broad general overview which anyone (especially a newbie to the world) should become familiar with before diving into the details. But if you don't wish to get the additional books, don't worry. There is enough in here to get you going in order to develop your own Krynnish campaign.
In short, the book is well put together. The coverage of the pantheon is clear. The timeline explains clearly how things came about. The new classes I look forward to using. The prestige classes I'm already having fun with.
Dragonlance fans can breathe a collective sigh of relief beginning next week: the long wait for the Dragonlance Campaign Setting is finally over. The Dragonlance Campaign Setting is the most anticipated Dragonlance project of the year for many Dragonlance fans, and the final product will not disappoint. (Full disclosure: my name appears in the credits as having been a contributor to the book.) There are some rough edges, but the Dragonlance Campaign Setting is a solid world sourcebook that provides everything any player or DM would need to know in order to adventure in the Dragonlance campaign.
The book itself is beautiful. The cover is a dark purple with wraparound Matt Stawicki artwork depicting a dragon battle over the High Clerist's Tower. All of the 288 pages are printed in full-color, with green headings that really set them apart from the rest of the text. Color illustrations by artists such as Larry Elmore and Jeff Easley are mixed with others from lesser-known artists, and the book certainly has that "Dragonlance" feel to it.
Chapter one covers the Dragonlance races, and provides ample information for anyone adventuring in the Dragonlance setting. The Dragonlance Campaign Setting takes the traditional D&D races and faithfully transforms them into the Dragonlance archetypes. Kender, Irda, ogres and half-ogres, minotaurs, centaur, and Baaz and Kapak draconians are included as playable races. Particularly adventurous characters can even play a Dargonesti or Dimernesti elf.
The second chapter covers the classes and prestige classes of the Dragonlance saga. New core classes include the mystic and the noble, while the "core" D&D classes have notes accompanying them detailing how they fit into the Dragonlance world. The prestige classes are where the true archetypes of the Dragonlance setting are found: prestige classes for each of the orders of the Knights of Solamnia and Knights of Neraka are found here. In addition, there is a 3-level PRC for the Legion of Steel, while aspiring wizards can take levels in the Wizard of High Sorcery prestige class. Other prestige classes include the dragon rider, inquisitor, legendary tactician and the righteous zealot.
The next two chapters cover magic and deities, respectively. The magic chapter contains a short description of how magic operates in the Dragonlance setting during the various ages of Krynn, as well as a number of new spells such as Dalamar's Lightning Lance and the infamous Palin's Pyre. The game statistics for the dragonlance are also included at the end of the chapter. The chapter on deities provides a brief description of the cosmology of Krynn, and includes a color map of the constellations—without Takhisis and Paladine, of course. These two deities are also omitted from the chapter on deities, but are included later in the book in the chapter on other eras of play. Each deity's entry is done in the normal format, and there is an illustration of each god's holy symbol along with their entry.
A chapter detailing the geography of Ansalon follows the chapter on deities. The descriptions of the lands provide excellent background information on each region. In addition, there are a number of beautifully detailed maps included in the chapter. However, the chapter is extremely difficult to use. The regions are listed alphabetically, and the maps are inserted in the text at locations that do not necessarily correspond to the region that the text is describing. Consequently, a lot of additional page turning is necessary in order to place the appropriate map with the correct description. Additionally, while the maps appear to be a part of a larger contiguous map, a complete map of Ansalon with cities and major geographical features marked on it is not included in the book.
Chapter six provides guidelines for the Dungeon Master to use when running a campaign in the Dragonlance setting. Some of the tips include places to adventure, major ruins and other "dungeons" that might contain forgotten riches, as well as the motivation of characters adventuring in the world and how even the contributions of "everyday" people make a difference on Krynn. There are some unique additions as well—rules for placing a dying curse (such as the one placed on Lord Soth) on a character, and detailed descriptions of the languages, coinage and timekeeping methods in the Dragonlance setting. The complete timeline of Krynn is also presented, and it has been brought up to the present day, culminating with the end of Dragons of a Vanished Moon in 420 AC.
No Dragonlance sourcebook would be complete without monsters for the PCs to fight, and the Dragonlance Campaign Setting does not disappoint. Chapter seven begins with the Death Knight template, and really hits its stride with the write-ups of the various draconian races. Some of the classic monsters from Dragonlance Adventures are also included, such as the fetch, thanoi, and the shadowpeople, while a number of newer monsters like the dragonspawn, tarmac ("brutes"), and the fireshadow are also included.
The most important element in any Dragonlance campaign are the menace of the skies, the dragons. The Dragonlance Campaign Setting presents a brief description of each chromatic and metallic dragon type in chapter eight. However, these entries are limited to a brief history and that particular dragon type's context in the Dragonlance setting; DMs will have to refer to the Monster Manual for the game statistics for each dragon type.
One of the more interesting parts of the dragons chapter are the aerial combat rules. The Dragonlance Campaign Setting presents combat rules in such a way that they can be played out on a grid with miniatures, and also provides two different scales—one for close battle and another termed "chase" scale. Details, such as hiding in the clouds and the effect of altitude are also covered in the chapter.
While the Dragonlance Campaign Setting is designed for players adventuring in the "present day" following the return of the gods at the end of Dragons of a Vanished Moon, there is a chapter on other eras of play that gives basic information on the gods and lands during the other eras of Krynn's storied history. Some abilities of specific character classes are also affected based on the era of play, and these are detailed as well.
Finally, the Dragonlance Campaign Setting contains two short adventures—The Sylvan Key, and The Ghost Blade. The former is appropriate for 1st or 2nd level characters, while the second is appropriate for characters of 5th level. Both are brief, but provide a good starting point for a DM and group of players just getting their feet wet in the Dragonlance setting.
On the whole, the Dragonlance Campaign Setting lives up to its billing and the eager anticipation of many fans is certainly warranted. It is not perfect, however. The lack of a contiguous world map and the arbitrary placement of maps in the chapter on geography make that chapter difficult to use. A major oversight in the Dragonlance Campaign Setting is the omission of all racial weapons from the book—and that includes the infamous kender hoopak. Finally, the Dragonlance Campaign Setting does not have an index in the back of the book, which will make finding references more difficult for players and DMs alike. Still, the positives outweigh the negatives by a very wide margin. With new core classes and prestige classes for the various Knights and the Wizards of High Sorcery, new monsters, spells, deity descriptions and much more, the Dragonlance Campaign Setting is incredibly complete and comprehensive in its scope.
So, should the Dragonlance Campaign Setting be in your collection? The answer is an unqualified yes for those who have been waiting to run an adventure or a campaign within the Dragonlance setting. For those that don't play D&D, the Dragonlance Campaign Setting is still an excellent reference for all of the additional background information it provides on the various monsters, gods and regions of Ansalon that are normally overlooked in the novel line. With so many compelling details, the Dragonlance Campaign Setting is a must for any Dragonlance fan's collection.
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