After taking players to the far-off reaches of space with Spelljammer the next campaign book that we'll be receiving is putting players' feet back on solid ground, but not into a familiar setting like the Forgotten Realms, instead, players will be setting out to explore Dragonlance. A few weeks ago we had a chance to sit down and hear from Wizards of the Coast about the upcoming Campaign Book, Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen, and got a deep dive on how Warriors of Krynn will work and what players can expect.
What is Dragonlance?
For those who might be new to the party, let's first just get an idea of what Dragonlance is. First published in 1984 by TSR the Dragonlance universe began in the first edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons with the game module, Dragons of Despair, as well as a novel, Dragons of Autumn Twilight. The setting has exploded to feature Dragonlance-based content not only throughout each Dungeons & Dragons edition but there have been over 190 different novels that use Dragonlance and the world of Krynn as their setting.
Since 5th Editions' release in 2014 there hasn't been any new content related to Dragonlance, but with a new campaign book, a board game, and a new trilogy of novels, Wizards of the Coast is ready to dive feet first back in.
Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen
To walk us through Shadow of the Dragon Queen, the Campaign Book, we were able to hear from F. Wes Schneider, the Lead Designer. To give an overview of Shadow of the Dragon Queen, this will be the first return to Krynn for 5th Edition. Fans who have enjoyed the books, or played previous editions will find a lot that's familiar, but also a war-torn world. The War of the Lance has already inflicted so much damage on the world, and the Dragon Queen is looking to capitalize on an already broken world.
Schneider explained as we were shown images of Red Dragons and adventurers in the middle of a war that a lot of what shaped not only the look of the book, but the narrative itself was the goal to create a cinematic depiction of war that could be shared across the table. One of the chapter-opening images depicted a Red Dragon standing between two marching paths of soldiers off to war. These two-page spreads showing the larger scale of war are meant to help illustrate to the DM just how big this conflict is.
The adventure will pick up with the player characters in a small fishing village that will be new to those in the know. From the start, the adventurers will find themselves linked to the war giving them not just chances to participate, but to also help shape it. This village is celebrating its Kingfisher Festival where players can take part in fishing activities and other festival entertainments.
DMs get a lot of assistance building up the fishing village to be a quaint and safe place, but as the setting starts to move to the full war they will hear stories of dragon-looking humanoids, and other rumors that are a result of the stirring conflicts.
Dragonlance Players Options - The Kender Race And More
The new player race that will be joining the expansive list of other playable races in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition is the Kender. The Kender are a shorter race of humanoid characters, often being described as reaching 4 foot in height, and "unlike halflings, they wear shoes." Known also for their curiosity and their fearlessness, they've been compared to the Hobbits of Tolkein's world.
As Krynn is a wholly newly established setting with different regions and themes there will also be informed as to where you might expect Krynn to be populated with Dwarves, Elves, Tinker Gnomes, and more. This can help to inform your decisions during character creation to make sure you're part of the world.
What is Mass Combat in Dragonlance?
Mass Combat will be a part of the Shadow of the Dragon Queen book where the Campaign Book will give you a path to take if you're using the campaign book alone, but if you've got a copy of Warriors of Krynn you'll be directed to use that. Mass Combat will have its own set of rules to read up on so you can always see which way you prefer to resolve this kind of combat.
For those playing via traditional 5th Edition combat, you'll be playing what will be a smaller fight within the much larger scale war. Schneider compared it to the moment in Lord of the Rings when Eowyn was facing the Witch King, you don't care as much about the orcs that are fighting all around them, but it's certainly still happening. Mass Combat will just give you your own spotlight pocket within the larger conflict.
If you have Warriors of Krynn you'll be directed to a specific scenario in the Scenario Book, you'd run that session within the board game, and then depending on the outcome you'll then return to Shadow of the Dragon Queen and that will affect the outcome. This is designed to keep the feel of a 'single product' as intact as possible while also providing a different way to play these larger-scale combat sessions.
Alternatively, you can play Warriors of Krynn as a stand-alone product that can have its own narrative to itself.
Dragonlance: Warriors of Krynn
Moving away from the TTRP and onto the TT board game Lead Designers Rob Daviau and Stephen Baker took to the stage. Because Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen does consist of so many larger scale encounters on top of the standard combat that fans of 5th Edition would be used to Dragonlance: Warriors of Krynn is an alternative way to engage in combat to match this larger scale.
Daviau spoke to reiterate that this is a board game that is meant to allow you to be able to take your characters and put them on the field and have a larger impact than just the one-on-one style combat that is standard.
Warriors of Krynn will come with 12 scenarios in the book, while there is a number that is heavily tied into key story moments of the campaign there are other skirmishes that are less defined allowing for flexibility or easier standalone play. These 12 scenarios are broken out into four at low-level, mid-level, and high-level play depending on where your characters are. Inside the box, players will find a rulebook, scenario book, a variety of different cards, tokens, custom 6-sided dice, and a small collection of miniatures.
Learning from his time making legacy games Daviau explained that there are components in the box for the mid to high-level play that will explicitly tell players to not worry about it until scenario #5 or later. The purpose of each of these scenarios is to just play a scenario once and then move on, with the outcome of each scenario shaping what will occur next in your adventure.
In Warriors of Krynn you'll have visual representations of each of the battlegrounds and you'll see the different types of foot or mounted troops but the battle is "bigger than you" and it's definitely not traditional wargaming. Daviau explained that the player can put their finger on the scale and attempt to shift what's happening but they're not setting up the formations or fighting themselves. The heroes will have their own special mission, will hear it in the Command Tent before combat begins, and then they'll need to try to accomplish that.
Spoiling Scenario #1 Daviau detailed the special mission which consists of having the players put out fires and escorting villagers to the coast, while also trying to make sure that the combat doesn't overtake the village. A battle might only have two flanks in the early Scenarios but then expand once you get to #10 and higher.
Putting your own player character into Warriors of Krynn
While the game includes a number of miniatures to stand in for the player characters it's also designed to take the miniatures that you are already using in your home D&D games. To import your character from the TTRP into Warriors of Krynn there are certain abilities that their class affords them that they can use on the battlefield. As you progress through the Scenarios the abilities that are available to you will expand showing the growth of the power of your characters.
Your abilities can allow you to slightly shift the side of battles. These can mean that you can affect the die rolls of combat, alter the sides of battle to push things in your favor, or even to take on stress to boost your own abilities at the cost of your own character.
What makes up a turn in Dragonlance: Warriors of Krynn?
Each Scenario takes place over a certain amount of turns. This sets a finality to each skirmish and if it's just that you need to be holding an objective you only need to manage that for a certain amount of time, but if you need to obtain something or escort people then it sets a time limit on how quickly you need to accomplish these tasks.
- Turn Start
- A card is revealed from the Event Deck which should be immediately resolved, this is likely something bad but could be neutral (What cards are in this deck are determined by the Scenario)
- Four Actions can be taken by each of the characters (These actions are also used to 'buy' dice to give you additional chances in combat)
- Battle between each side ensues
What are examples of Event Cards?
These are the different events that will happen on the battlefield. They might indicate that a battle is about to continue, which flank it will be on, and which lines of battle might be fighting with one another.
What Actions can I take?
Actions can include simple things like moving, but they can also include using abilities and working on objectives. When moving as long as there is a road to follow, indicated by a yellow arrow, you can start in one area and carry all the way across to the next. Another action that was highlighted was that you could navigate to a Commander, such as the leader of the village Raven Uth Vogler, who might not be combat proficient but attempt to use your wisdom to calm her. It allows for the introduction of role-playing elements into the board game. As each commander will also be a character encountered over the course of the story relationships will already be in place.
Daviau reminisced that during playtesting while people weren't playing D&D they still understood that it was D&D and because of that they wouldn't just announce what they were doing per a card but would roleplay the effects of it.
What role does the DM play in Warriors of Krynn?
Warriors of Krynn is set to be a game for 3-5 players but can be flexible. If the party is only three people strong then the DM can fill in to take one of those slots and pick a random character class and ability, or they can work to control the NPC and roleplay elements as well as run the game.
The Dragon Army will always have a scripted approach to combat that will tell you what to do and how to play it. Whereas the players working together are always able to pick different approaches to combat.
Is Warriors of Krynn a legacy game?
Warriors of Krynn is what Daviau describes as a Campaign game. There won't be things your marking down or tear up after each campaign is complete but there are a few elements that you will be able to use to enhance future rounds. An example given was by completing goals and winning scenarios you can earn Reputation and Medals. Based on those wins you're able to use that reputation in future Scenarios to give yourself an added edge. This reputation system is designed with the idea of roleplay in mind, giving players a sense of importance and reverence on the battlefield.
What changes between the Scenarios?
As you continue to progress through each of the Scenarios while you might begin with two simple flanks and tasks that push you between them all a lot will change as you get to higher-level Scenarios. Daviau described not only situations where there would be up to six flanks on the board, but also times where your objectives might force you to play a specific way so that you're not just learning to become better, but are also being constantly challenged.
Higher Scenarios will also give you access to more advanced abilities that you'll need to learn to master. This is a good representation of your party's growth and how they can make bigger waves across the battlefield while still not becoming overpowered.
Dragonlance Release Is Utilizing D&DBeyond
Since the purchase of D&DBeyond, the big question has been whether there will be a way to buy the physical and digital editions at a discounted price and with the Physical/Digital bundle there is, and it even comes with an early access perk. DMs will be able to buy this bundle for $59.94 and receive their copy of Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen at launch on December 6th, but they'll also be able to get access to Dragonlance on D&DBeyond and read it as early as November 22nd.
There will also be a deluxe edition of the above package. This will include the Physical and Digital editions of Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen but will also include the Dragonlance: Warriors of Krynn board game. This Deluxe edition will cost $154.98.