Sagas from the lands of Krynn are filled with valiant heroes destined to discover ancient secrets and vanquish terrible evils. Like those great champions, you will band together with brave companions to set forth on daring adventures. The tales of those bold deeds will become the newest legends in the world of Dragonlance.
From Solamnic Knights and Dragon Riders to kender, tinker gnomes, and draconians, the rich tapestry of the Dragonlance world comes alive in this campaign setting for the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game. With historical content covering eras from the War of the Lance to the War of Souls, along with expanded rules for aerial combat, the Dragonlance Campaign Setting provides the character races, prestige classes, feats, spells, monsters, and maps you need to fully explore the world of Dragonlance.
Dragonlance Campaign Setting (2003), by Margaret Weis and Don Perrin with Jamie Chambers and Christopher Coyle, is the core campaign book for Dragonlance under D&D 3.5e. It was published in August 2003 for the first Gen Con Indy.
Origins (I): A True Campaign Setting. Much like Greyhawk before it, the world of Krynn was originally revealed through adventures: the original Dragonlance Chronicles modules (1984-1986). The setting sort of got a campaign book for AD&D 1e when TSR published Dragonlance Adventures (1987), but it focused on classes, races, and history, offering almost no details on the geography of Krynn — though Atlas of the Dragonlance World (1987) simultaneously presented a non-gaming look at the world. Players of Krynn finally got a proper sourcebook with Tales of the Lance (1992) for AD&D 2e, but sadly that Dragonlance revival (1992-1993) faded out almost immediately.
What Dragonlance desperately needed — what it had always needed — was a dense campaign book that mixed mechanical crunch with extensive setting fluff … and that was then expanded by a series of adventures and supplements to create a well-detailed, well-supported world. The Dragonlance SAGA line (1996-2000) came the closest, but was faced with many problems — including the death of TSR, shifts in its creative vision, and the fact that not all players were happy with the game's mechanics.
Now, there was a chance to try again, this time using the core D&D rules.
Origins (II): The Sovereign & Its Council. The story of the Dragonlance Campaign Setting ironically begins with the demise of Dragonlance: in January 2001, Jim Butler of Wizards of the Coast announced that Wizards would no longer be publishing Dragonlance material. SAGA was dead, and there would be no d20 conversion to replace it. Fortunately, Wizards was also willing to anoint fans to "officially" continue their cancelled lines on the web. With the support of Tracy Hickman himself, a group of fans from the Dragonlance-L mailing list came together to update Dragonlance for D&D 3e (2000). They called themselves the Whitestone Council.
Their website, dl3e.com, appeared around February 2001. It would soon become known as The Dragonlance Nexus. In its earliest days, there were twelve members on the Council: Brimstone, Clarion, Doug, Dragonbane, Dragonhelm, Fraisala the Furry, Granak Red-Silver, Josh Fink, Mark, NS Bane, Paladin, and Sirrion — and they were supported by both Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. Within a few months, unofficial Dragonlance classes and races were appearing on the website. Jeremy Forbing wrote rules for many Krynnish races, while André La Roche and James O' Rance both detailed classes for knights and magicians and Trampas Whiteman introduced a Dragon Knight prestige class. Cam Banks took another tack, updating the Heroes for the Lance for D&D 3e. The plan was for these variants to be supplemented with official rules in September 2002.
But those plans would soon change …
For the rest of the story, we must examine Margaret Weis' own RPG publishing house, Sovereign Press. It was founded in 1998 by Don Perrin and Margaret Weis to produce a roleplaying game based on the world of Loerem, which had been created by Larry Elmore and was soon to be the subject of Sovereign Stone trilogy of novels (2000-2003) by Dragonlance alumni Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. The Sovereign Stone RPG was previewed by Sovereign Press in 1998, then released as the Sovereign Stone Game System (1999, 2000). Unfortunately, it ran smack dab into the release of D&D 3e and the d20 system. Loerem was converted to d20 as the Sovereign Stone Campaign Sourcebook (2001), but the world would only last a few years more, as it fought against the d20 boom and bust. Fortunately for Sovereign Press, they were offered another roleplaying opportunity: in March 2002, they acquired a license to publish Dragonlance material for D&D 3e.
As Sovereign Press began work on an official Dragonlance release using the 3e rules, the Whitestone Council's original plans were necessarily scrapped. However, their effort wasn't wasted. The Whitestone Council was asked to review Sovereign's manuscript and in a few cases also got to submit minor bits for the new setting book. The Council would continue to be important to Sovereign following the publication of the Dragonlance Campaign Setting, with a few members contributing increasingly large amounts to later releases.
Origins (III): Many Sources. When Sovereign Press produced the Dragonlance Campaign Setting, they drew upon the entire rich history of the setting. In particular, Christopher Coyle speed-read more than 90 Dragonlance novels over the course of three months. He then ranked the novels "based on their continuity", for usage in the new sourcebook.
Though the Campaign Setting book went broader than any previous Dragonlance gaming supplement, bringing in novels and short stories that had never been before included in gaming supplements, it also focused on the most important sources. That started with Tracy Hickman's own ideas and with the Dragonlance Chronicles (1984-1985) and Dragonlance Legends (1986) novels written by Hickman and Weis. Other novels were also given importance for specific eras; for example Richard Knaak's The Legend of Huma (1988) and Kaz the Minotaur (1990) and Chris Pierson's Kingpriest Trilogy (2001-2003) were the most important sources for the early ages of Krynn while Jean Rabe's Dragons of a New Age trilogy (1996-1998) was considered the "voice of the Fifth Age".
Origins (IV): A 3.5e Campaign. The Dragonlance Campaign Setting started life as a D&D 3e supplement, but as it neared completion, D&D 3.5e (2003) was coming. Advanced copies of the new rules and NDAs had to be sent on to Sovereign Press (and to the Whitestone Council beyond). But, the 3.5e rules still weren't finalized, so the Campaign Setting was being updated and revised for the new rules until it went to press.
Unsurprisingly, this made Dragonlance the first campaign setting for D&D 3.5e — though it was followed by White Wolf's Ravenloft Player's Handbook (2003) just a month later. It took Wizards themselves almost a year to join in, with the updated Player's Guide to Faerûn (2004) and the brand-new Eberron Campaign Setting (2004).
About the Book. Though Sovereign Press produced Dragonlance Campaign Setting, it was published as a handsome hardcover volume by Wizards of the Coast. This was a one-time deal: the later Dragonlance 3e books would all be published by Sovereign themselves.
Reinventing SAGA. In the late '90s, the Dragonlance setting underwent some big changes during its "Fifth Age", but those changes were only seen in the SAGA gaming system. So how did they translate to D&D now that Dragonlance was returning to the fold? The answer is pretty well … because some aspects of D&D 3e actually harked back to the SAGA system.
To start with, Dragonlance brought some graphic design with it. The dragon head, arrow, and shield icons that are used throughout D&D 3e adventures all originated in the Dragonlance SAGA game. More notably, 3e's class system synced D&D with SAGA by introducing the sorcerer class that had appeared in Dragonlance's own Fifth Age. This also made it easy for Dragonlance to introduce a mystic class to D&D, which was the divine equivalent of a sorcerer.
Another real boon to Dragonlance was D&D 3e's system of prestige classes. This offered a new foundation for the Dragonlance's numerous class variants such as the Knights of Solamnia and the Wizards of High Sorcery.
Expanding D&D. Dragonlance Campaign Setting adds quite a bit to the D&D 3e game. There are two new base classes: besides the mystic, there's also the noble, a class not focused on fighting — a real rarity in Wizards' versions of D&D. Dragonlance Campaign Setting also features a large number of variant races including classics like the many dwarf and elf races of Krynn, the gnomes, and the kender. Ogres and centaurs were more innovative, but also troublesome under D&D 3e rules because massive Effective Character Levels made them hard to use in play. However the most exciting race was surely the draconian, which was available to PCs for the first time.
Prestige classes also proliferated. Besides Solomanic Knights and Wizards, Dragonlance Campaign Setting also introduces Knights of Neraka, Steel Legionnaires, and a few others. The Legionnaires were particularly interesting because the class was just three levels — an innovation that showed how D&D 3e was still evolving, though at least one prior example existed, the Emancipated Spawn in Savage Species (2003).
Many of the Campaign Setting's new races and classes would be revised by later books in the Sovereign line, because D&D 3.5e continued to evolve as it introduced substitution levels and other new ideas, and because Sovereign was intent on making their Dragonlance setting maximally playable.
Dragonlance Campaign Setting also contains a few feats, some new spells, and even a system for aerial combat! Finally a short section on experience suggests giving out rewards for mission completion, roleplaying, and other noncombat encounters. This followed old Dragonlance tropes, which had never fit precisely with D&D's standard experience system.
Exploring Krynn. The Dragonlance Campaign Setting is set six months after the end of the War of Souls trilogy (2000-2002), in 422 AC. That was a big step forward for the Dragonlance line, which had previously been set in 414 AC for most of the SAGA line, then jumped back to 383 AC for its final releases. More information on this new era would appear in the Age of Mortals (2003) supplement, but for now fans got a look at all the peoples of the land and the general geography of Ansalon following its latest War.
Of course, there were also lots of old details in Dragonlance Campaign Setting thanks to Coyle's extensive research. One of the challenges in bringing so much material together was resolving the conflicting information which had appeared in the Dragonlance line over the years. Rather than just excising information, Coyle did his best "to make the conflicting information work".
Monsters of Note. A small bestiary brings many Dragonlance beasts into the 3e era, including favorites like death knights, draconians, the Fifth Age dragonspawn, minotaurs, shadow persons, and the thanoi.
Future History. A web enhancement on "Minor Dragon Overlords of the Fifth Age" (2003) supplemented the Dragonlance Campaign Setting. Meanwhile, Sovereign had plenty of plans to expand the line, with the Age of Mortals setting book and adventure path already in process. Sovereign tended to produce their books more slowly than their optimistic schedules, but nonetheless they'd publish 20 well-regarded supplements from 2003-2007.
About the Creators. Chambers was the lead designer for Dragonlance Campaign Setting (and also the line editor for Dragonlance going forward). Chambers, Coyle, Perrin, and Weis all wrote sections for the project, with Weis also checking and editing everything. Members of the Whitestone Council supported the project with feedback and some small text contributions of their own.
About the Product Historian
The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.