Reviews of 'Knightly Orders of Ansalon'
Reviews of 'Knightly Orders of Ansalon'
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Knightly Orders of Ansalon is a gaming sourcebook written for the Dragonlance Campaign Setting using the Dungeons and Dragons game rules. The book is published by Sovereign Press and written by Sean Everette, Nicole Harsch, Clark Valentine and Trampas Whiteman.
The book is divided into five chapters, with full-color art throughout and the celtic-knotwork style page border that has become a staple of the Sovereign Press Dragonlance sourcebooks. The first chapter gives general background information on the lives and dealing of knights throughout Ansalon. The background info on knights in general and the Knights of Solamnia in particular are excellently written and very handy. If you want to know all about the aspects of life as a knight on Krynn, this is the book to look at, because I don't think this kind of material is available in any other DL book. Much like Towers of High Sorcery and Holy Orders of the Stars, Knightly Orders addresses topics that aren't given much (if any) face time in the novels or older sourcebooks.
There are a number of new feats and magic items, all of which seem balanced, some have appeared elsewhere (the discipline, education and heroic surge feats), and a number relate directly to knightly play styles (mounted combat and shield feats). I like the shield feats particularly as they can help increase the utility and defensive value of the shield in play.
The next three chapters deal with the three most famous knightly orders: the Solamnics, the Knights of Neraka and the Legion of Steel. Each one gives a wealth of information on history and organization (both ranking structure and orders of battle) that should be useful whether you're running a small-scale game with one knight in a typical adventuring party or a campaign that features large-scale battles and wars. In either one, you'll know exactly where your knight falls in the order. Each order also has a group of prestige classes (hereafter referred to as PrCs). A lot of posts I've seen on message boards have clamored for a revision of the Knights of Solamnia PrCs and they're delivered here. It was interesting that all spellcasting progression has been removed from all three of the Solamnic PrCs. If you want to play a spellcasting Knight of the Sword, you need to take clerist substitution levels as you level up in the Knight of the Sword PrC. I find this method a bit cumbersome, especially since I'm not familiar with the mechanics of substitution levels. I think a simpler way to have handled it would have been to make a separate clerist PrC.
I was glad to see the background info on the Knights of Neraka, as it hadn't been clear to me in the new novels what exactly is going on with them in the current (post-War of Souls) time. Although the original Knight of Neraka PrCs from the Dragonlance campaign setting book are not reprinted here, three new dark knight PrCs are available: the Adjudicator of the Code (a knight who enforces the conduct of the other Knights of Neraka), the Blood Oath Archer (interesting to see an archery PrC in a knight sourcebook) and the Vision Partisan (a knight who holds true to the vision of Takhisis, even after her death), each is 5-level and very flavorful. Not having the dark night PrCs here is a bit inconvenient, but the new ones help make up for it, as they may be used in lieu of or in addition to the base PrCs.
The Legion of Steel section is probably the chapter in the book with material that is most likely new to most of the readership. The Legion of Steel is the youngest of the orders presented in the book, and the PrCs associated with it are either all-new or revised from the Age of Mortals sourcebook. The 3-level Steel Legionnaire from the campaign setting book has been chucked in favor of 4 10-level PrCs: Legion Warrior, Legion Mystic, Legion Sorcerer and Legion Scout. This is convenient both for those who have a specific focus for their Legion character and for those who can't remember how many n's are in legionnaire. This chapter is a tremendous asset to those who are not familiar with the Legion and are curious as to what the fledging order of knights is all about.
It would have been nice to see some of the minor orders that were reported to have been included but were cut. But on the bright side, two of the minor orders that were cut (knights of the divine hammer and ergothian cavaliers) are available for free download from the Dragonlance website. The book weighs in at 162 pages and retails in hardcover form for $34.99 USD or in PDF form for $24.99 USD. The price is $5 higher than the going rate for 162-page color hardbacks at the moment, but is well worth it for the most comprehensive source material on the three famous knightly orders of the Dragonlance campaign setting. If you're on a tight budget and don't mind ebooks, the PDF may be a better buying option for you, as this is the first of Sovereign Press's Dragonlance sourcebooks to be fully bookmarked in the PDF version.
Point grade: 8/10 (a couple minor issues [clunky substitution levels and lack of base Knight of Neraka PrCs] that somewhat detract from ease of use, but overall excellent and useful content.)
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