Dragonlance: Dragons of Krynn by Libertad!
Clans of the DragonOriginal SA post
For a 3rd party publishing company, Sovereign Press did quite well in producing large books with high production values. In its 4 years it made 3 map packs, 3 era/setting companion books, a Bestiary and a Revised update as part of its own print run, a 3-book conversion of the original AD&D Dragonlance Modules, a D20 adventure path trilogy of its own making, an obligatory “Races of Ansalon” race sourcebook, 3 class-based sourcebooks drawing from popular setting archetypes, and a Lost Leaves from the Last Home which was full of in-character journals, poems, and recipes with real-world cooking instructions. With the exception of the map packs each book was a lengthy tome, easily reaching 160 pages and a few over 300.
But all good times must come to an end, and soon the company would lose its publishing license with Wizards of the Coast. So for their final book, they wanted to focus on that most iconic of creatures that made up half the name of both D&D and Dragonlance.
Dragons of Krynn is a rather notable book in that it breaks from the format of its predecessors. It has chapters, but each of the chapters are grouped as their own Books which cover their own broad subject matter. Book One focuses on the “true dragon” clans, but also just as important are Books Two and Three, which go into detail on draconians, dragonspawn, and the reptilian races with draconic connections such as lizardfolk, kobolds, wyverns, etc. As the draconians were oddly not present in the older Races of Ansalon sourcebook, Dragons of Krynn also serves as 3rd Edition Dragonlance’s Draconian Sourcebook.
Finally, there are eight in-character sidebars penned by Palanthian scholars discussing notes on all things draconic, ranging from innovations in warfare with the presence of dragons on the battlefield to instructions for humans saddled with the unenviable task of raising an orphaned true dragon wyrmling. In reality the authors of said sidebars include a mixture of adventure writers and novelists who weighed in to give their own personal touches.
Book 1, Clans of the Dragon
Chapter 1: True Dragons
Book One, unsurprisingly, focuses on the true dragons of Ansalon. Encompassing all of the dragon monsters with age categories, they are the first children of the gods of light and darkness. We have several Origin Myths regarding dragons based on the various mortal races and cultures; the dragons themselves refuse to confirm or deny anything, so the oldest records are more folkloric than factual. Each origin story uses the races’ cultural name for specific gods, but I’m using the universal ones for ease of reference.
The dwarves assert that the ten clans of dragons were fashioned by Reorx, god of the forge. The first five were fashioned from five metals given to him by Takhisis for their bodies, and their spirits wrought from Chaos: said dragons were later corrupted by her, and so he then made five for Paladine wrought of untarnished metals.
The elves claim that the gods sought to compose a Song after the creation of Krynn to celebrate their finished task, and the dragons were born to serve as a chorus. Takhisis added five additional verses which were sung by half of the dragons and ended up corrupting them due to the discordant lyrics.
The gnomes approach this query as a taxonomic study rather than a folkloric origin story. The Committee for the Establishment of Consensus in the Matter of the Origin of Draconic Species theorizes that there were a small group of ur-dragon life forms that existed before the Graygem’s warping of Krynn. They in essence serve as an evolutionary root for all of the “true” dragon clans and their cousins. In spite of centuries of study the Ur-Dragon Theory is “Unverified but Plausible,” and the various non-gnomish scholarly orders do not put much weight in it.
The kender’s origin story is structured more as a silly children’s tale: when Reorx created the world he kept a journal as to how he made all of the myriad life forms and geological features. But he misplaced the journal and asked the gods in helping him find it. The tale involves several of the gods going into Krynn’s remote reaches, looking under rocks, grabbing their hands into clouds, or digging through sand where they inexplicably find a dragon of one of the ten clans. Every time they ask them if they saw Reorx’s journal, and every dragon’s answer is “nope.” Reorx was sad that his journal could not be found (it was later found in his own pocket), but on the other hand his search helped the gods find the dragons!
The ogres assert that before civilization the gods made war in the sky. Takhisis sought to learn from Reorx the secrets of fire and stone to achieve victory and fashioned five serpents from a volcano. Paladine was afraid of what she had wrought, and begged for Reorx to teach him as well. So five serpents made of metal were made, but they were not as strong as Takhisis’ which forced Paladine to plead for an end to the war. She asked for something in return, and Paladine gave her the mountains as her own. Which in turn would become the homeland of the ogres.
The book only details two human cultures’ origin stories, the Khur (Dragonlance’s Arab equivalent) and the Solamnics (feudal Germanics with KNIGHTS). The Khur say that dragons were wrought from the bodies of genies, the first servants of the gods, to end a war among their. The dragons forced the genies to retire to the elemental realms after making a pact between their races.
Solamnia asserts that the world of Krynn was given to mortals by the gods, and the animals in turn would be ruled by the Dragons who were born of the world itself and its elements. Paladine and Takhisis both sought to court the dragons for their own purposes, causing the ten clans to abandon their animal charges who then became like simple beasts. The High God was displeased over this violation of the order. Gilean, acting as mediator, said that Paladine and Takhisis’ bonds with their dragons would remain as long as they remained gods, while Chislev the goddess of nature would assume mastery of all animals. The Dragons then became creatures of Conscience.
As for the dragons themselves...they refuse to speak of any origin or theories of their own among non-dragons.
I like these myths. Each of them shares just enough commonality to piece together an inkling of a draconic origin story while also reflecting the worldviews of the various people of Krynn.
A Brief History
This Ansalonian-centric section looks over the history of dragonkind and their most famous members as well as significant contributions to the continent. Sadly, it almost entirely focuses on major wars.
Prominent sages believe that the chromatic and metallic clans once warred upon each other before the creation of the mortal races, and designated names to famed champions among their kind who came to represent their clan: Akis the White, Arkan the Blue, etc. Sages also believe that the dragons are the literal children of their respective patron deities, and their birthplace is somewhere within the two major mountain ranges on Ansalon. At this time the races’ handling of arcane magic was still in its infancy and would not be developed in an appreciable manner until the breaking of the Graygem. Dragonkind had closer ties to the two-legged races, either living among them as relative equals or dominating them like the chromatics did.
The First Dragon War happened when a red dragon warlord by the name of Crematia assassinated three of the five metallic clan leaders. The good dragons petitioned aid from the mortal races of Krynn to counter Crematia’s Ogre armies. Silvanos, the later founder of the first elven nation, aided the dragons with this and were bestowed with five dragon stones to capture the souls of the chromatic dragons. The forces of Good won, and almost all of the chromatic dragons were slain or put into soulless slumber. Eventually the exiled Crematia would manipulate the dwarves into accidentally unearthing the now-buried dragon stones, her son taking over the mantle of warlord and calling upon Takhisis’ aid.
The Second Dragon War began when the reawakened chromatic survivors assaulted the elven nation of Silvanesti. This time the elves were pushed into a seemingly unwinnable situation, and three elven sorcerers conducted an arcane ritual with which they knew little about given the newness of the knowledge of spells. The chromatic dragon army was wiped out, but so was much of Silvanesti’s landscape. The three Gods of Magic teleported the sorcerers into a hidden citadel in order to teach them how to master their powers, and the metallic dragons dedicated the next few centuries to helping the humanoid races rebuild society.
The Third Dragon War* was the most famous one of its kind in Ansalonian history and folklore when it comes to dragons. Takhisis once again sought to take over the world, but this time the mortal races had raised veritable civilizations of their own: knights, wizards, empires, and all that good stuff were present for a properly-epic fantasy feel. It was during this time that a humble Knight of Solamnia by the name of Huma Dragonbane would go on a quest with his wizard companion and other friends. Eventually he would come to wield the mighty Dragonlance, a new and unknown weapon at the time, to fight Takhisis herself. This mere mortal defeated a god and forced her to withdraw her power from Krynn along with her chromatic minions via an Oath. This Oath also bound the metallic dragons due to the Balance, and they went into a self-imposed exile to the distant Dragon Isles. Dragons then became so rare as to be mythical on Ansalon at this time, the legacy of Huma and the Dragonlances passing into the annals of myth and legend.
*Which amusingly is referred to dragonkind as the Human War due to most nations involved being human and whose warriors and leaders were the major focus of said war.
The Age of Despair and War of the Lance was also a monumental time, for it marked the return of dragons to Ansalon. After the collapse of the Empire of Istar and the departure of the gods from the world, Takhisis enacted a series of secret plans to regain influence in the mortal realm. By stealing the metallic dragon eggs while they slept, she blackmailed them into noninterference while her mortal champions raised a Dragon Empire in her name. With the aid of divine magic, draconic might, and having the only standing army of significance on the continent, they cut a bloody swath across Ansalon. It was the actions of a few good friends who would later become known as the Heroes of the Lance who would save Krynn from evil: they not only rediscovered divine magic, but also the forge of the legendary Dragonlances as well as the secret location of the metallic dragon eggs. They had help from others, such as the silver dragon D’argent who violated her peoples’ oath of noninterference to subtly supply aid in regards to the latter two actions. Many of the most famous dragons in recent memory would be huge players in this war, and the skies over major battlefields were full of hundreds of dragons and their mounted riders clashing across the horizon.
After Takhisis’ defeat yet again, the dragons would become regular fixtures in the lives of mortals, helping their respective sides rebuild or conquer territory. The Chaos War would bring the deaths of dragons on both sides, but the most catastrophic time was yet to come. When Takhisis stole the world to make herself the One God of Krynn, she passed by alien realms in the Ethereal Sea. And one such realm was home to titanic dragons, a half-dozen of which made their way to Krynn. Their sheer size and ability to reshape the land itself would cause them to be dubbed the Dragon Overlords, and their possession of strange magical items known as skull totems let them grow even more powerful with the skulls of slain dragons. The Overlords took over wide swathes of the continent and expended much of their power and resources in hunting down and killing as many dragons as possible. This act of genocide would later become known as the Dragon Purge. Add to this the semi-related War of Souls where Takhisis’ new faith clashed against the Overlords and all those who did not bow before her, and almost the entire draconic race was wiped off the face of Krynn.
Today, the dragons are rarer than ever. Gone are the days where they numbered hundreds in armies. Gone are the days where their respective progenitor deities of Paladine and Takhisis stood watch over Creation. Such drastic changes have left their mark on each and every one of them, and how they choose to spend their lives in this new Age of Mortals varies wildly by both clan and individual.
The Nature of Dragons
This section is far more brief than the historical entries. It covers some universal standards among true dragons, including their physiological abilities along with some new Krynn-specific things: an internal organ near their heart and lungs is known as a draconis fundamentum which is as unique to a dragon as a fingerprint is to a human. It powers all of their inherent abilities, from magic to breath weapons to flight. Dragonlances are intentionally constructed to cause internal harm to this body part even if it does not touch the organ itself in a strike.
Dragonlance’s magic is more restrictive than that of other settings: magic is generally divided into two varieties, either being from that of the gods or ambient energy drawn from the world itself. Even wizardry, which is reliant upon the phases of the moons, failed to work when Takhisis stole the world, and sorcery and mysticism only came in practice among the non-draconian mortal races when the Graygem broke and released Chaos into the world.
Dragons are a unique case: their magic is inherent to their being, requiring neither Chaos, the moons, nor the gods to wield. It is technically ambient magic not unlike primal sorcery but can be wielded regardless of the era. Dragons are capable of learning wizardry or even becoming clerics, although such circumstances are rare: dragons can replicate much of clerical magic via their own powers even if they are otherwise devout. Which in 3rd Edition terms explains how dragons can cast some cleric spells as sorcerer spells!
Draconic names have their own cultural traditions. All dragons have a true name they choose for themselves shortly after birth and are kept a close secret from non-dragons. They acquire other names with age, often adopted when taking mortal guises or from titles and important life events. When choosing names for non-Draconic languages they often pick ones reflective of their clan or appearance, such as the red dragon Flamestrike or the gold dragon Pyrite who were both present in the original novels and modules.
As for the Draconic language, it is the oldest spoken tongue in Krynn, and barring shorter-lived speakers such as kobolds does not much in the way of drastic dialect changes over time. Draconic runes written 3,000 years ago are just as easily read to a dragon in the current Age as the English language in the 1960s would be to a modern speaker. It has been learned by various non-reptilian civilizations over millennia, and many empires and churches adopted it as a sort of lingua franca for their holy books or borrowing terms to use in legal documents and records. The human language Nerakese, which ironically was the tongue of the region which served as the Dragon Empire’s first territory, has common word roots in Draconic.
The Dragons of Taladas
Our final entry for this prologue chapter covers the othlorx (Draconic for “Uninvolved), the members of the ten dragon clans on Taladas who refused to heed the call of their brethren during the War of the Lance and chose to stay ‘neutral’ in said conflict. Their Ansalonian counterparts disapprove of this choice and often cause them to be disrespected (in the case of the metallics) or outright attacked (in the case of the chromatics) by their brethren. Generally speaking, their reasons for doing so vary by clan, but even this is not an absolute: some had prior conditions on Taladas which they could not leave behind, while some found themselves unable to relate to their Ansalonian clanmates on a cultural level anymore. In the case of the chromatics, some did not trust Takhisis’ promises of power, figuring that said war was unimportant in the grand scheme of things, or having seen her last big failures in the prior Dragon Wars decided that working for her was a losing bet. Takhisis was very unpleased with the chromatic othlorx and imposed various curses on them based upon their clans: greens became sterile, blues are physically incapable of going against a promise or commitment, etc.
The exception among the clans is that there are no gold othlorx: they are the most loyal to Paladine, and those few who are still in Taladas remain there due to their now-mortal gods’ orders.
We have one scholarly for this prologue chapter: one tells of a famed dragon by the name of Wyrmfather who was forged by Sargonnas to have the strengths of all ten clans. He was strong enough even to battle the gods themselves before Kiri-Jolith triumphed over him and embedded him deep in the mountains. It is said that his body after death became the substance known as dragonmetal, from which all Dragonlances are forged.
Ending this chapter is a house rule for draconic breath weapons. Back in 1st Edition D&D when the original modules were written, dragons did not have immunity to the energy types of their breath weapons and so those of the same clan could damage each other in combat this way. Breath-on-breath action was a common element in both the novels and modules, but sadly cannot be replicated in the 3rd Edition rules due to immunity to their related elemental type. Instead, this variant rule grants dragons their typical energy immunities, but when against breath weapons of that specific energy type they lose this immunity and gain Improved Evasion instea: half damage on a failed save, no damage on a successful one. Overall I think it’s a good rule: dragons’ Reflex saves are their worst one and their breath weapons can still deal a lot of damage. Perhaps not as much as a full attack with their natural weapons in melee, but can be good if there’s some distance between two or more serpentine battlers.
Thoughts So Far: This chapter has a strong start. I liked the creation myths as well as the brief touching on non-Ansalonian affairs. Taladas never got a proper update to 3rd Edition, so there isn’t much one can use from this book to run a game on said continent, but it is an indication of how this sourcebook sought to be different from the others. I am not exactly a fan of how virtually all of the history section focuses on a few major wars; although perhaps standard for the setting, it makes dragons feel vestigial in the grand scheme of things rather than capable beings who forged civilizations alongside the humans, elves, and other races. I understand that there was talk of non-warfare activities, but said information was an afterthought.
Join us next time as we cover Chapter 2: Clans of Color!
Clans of ColorOriginal SA post
Book 1, Chapter 2: Clans of Color
The next three chapters have a similar structure: an overview of each of the true dragon clans, including 6 not part of the original ten, detailing their societies and culture along with a list of famous members of said clan. They’re also quite heavy in pictures, averaging one per dragon type. They’re quite cool and have quite a bit of action going on in them so it pains me to use just a few: 16 pics is a bit much
Based on the prior chapters’ origin myths, the chromatic clans are wrapped up in the history of Takhisis, with each of the clans representing the Dark Queen’s* virtues: wrath for the red dragons, entropy for the blacks, a soldiery discipline for the blues, and greens with silver tongues to manipulate others. The whites got the short end of the stick with feral instinct. The book notes that these tendencies are cultural rather than biological, and while millennia worth of tradition cannot be wiped away so easily the death of Takhisis has allowed for more independence. The white dragons are an exception: Takhisis was using her divine influence to prevent their mental faculties from raising beyond a nigh-animalistic existence, but being gone white dragons are getting smarter!
*another popular name for Takhisis.
Black Dragons are divided into two subgroups: alkaline and acidic dragons. Alkalines tend to have more smooth and have angular features, while acidics are larger and have more pronounced bones which gives them a skeletal look. Both dragons’ biology has an effect on their surrounding environment, turning the water brackish and increasing the ambient humidity into the air. Black dragon culture teaches that all things must come to an end, which makes them less outgoing and willing to take risky gambits than other clans. When Takhisis died some became even more isolated, figuring that if a god can die then so can all of dragonkind. During the War of the Lance black dragons were notable for their poor morale, only fighting under the Dark Queen if they were sufficiently compensated and willing to retreat if the tide of battle began to turn. They weren’t exactly devout followers of her, either, and preferred the company of reptilian humanoid servants to their own kind save when it came to the raising of children.
Blue Dragons prefer hot and arid regions of Ansalon. They are notable for having the most tight-knit and martial society of the chromatic clans, and Takhisis frequently used them as loyal soldiers in her various Dragon Wars. They are also the most willing to interact with humanoid societies, and many serve as aerial units among the Dark Knights.* They will not betray or desert even mortal companions and command structures short of extraordinary circumstances. When Takhisis died the blues sought to live by their dead goddess’ example and continue the fight against her ancient enemies, effectively becoming a “spiritual but not religious” clan.
*formerly the Knights of Takhisis, who absorbed the Dragonarmy remnants during the Chaos War and are now a secular organization of Nerakan nationalists following the death of their goddess.
Green Dragons prefer to live among the forests of Ansalon, making liberal use of illusion and mind-controlled minions to act as guards and spies. They are more cautious combatants than others, loathe even to use their breath weapon due to the fact that its chlorine content creates vast destruction of surrounding plant-life and thus allows their enemies to more easily track them down. They are anti-social even among their own kind, and only worshiped Takhisis under duress; they were known to mock her many failed wars in private. After said goddess’ death many now worship Hiddukel, the Chaotic Evil god of trickery and greed.
Although mostly self-centered, the elven involvement in the deaths of the notable green dragons Beryl and Cyan Bloodbane during the respective wars of the 4th and 5th Ages have caused the clan to become violently racist against all elvenkind. They have begun taking humanoid forms to better enact political changes that will bring hardship among the elven diaspora communities. I find this rather ironic, considering that Beryl was one of the Dragon Overlords and thus helped contribute to the Dragon Purges for her skull totem power. But looking up on the Dragonlance Lexicon she had quite a number of green dragons minions herself. It still seems an odd thing for a mostly anti-social clan.
Red Dragons are the most physically powerful of the chromatic clans, preferring the mountainous regions of central Ansalon. Although Chaotic Evil, red dragon culture encourages following the universal Oath of Crematia, said to be the first of their kind: “Mercy is weakness, and weakness is death.” After the death of Takhisis they are now more self-centered, not as willing to fight for the sake of Evil or revenge and abandoned the Dark Knights in droves unless they felt that a mission or cause was worth their time. The text contradicts itself here, saying that without Takhisis’ iron grip they rebel against any form of control, but have been known to make temporary alliances with organized crime and bandits (which inevitably end in the dragon killing everyone). They strangely have a clan-wide truce with the phaethons, a race of mountain-dwelling elves who can manifest wings of fire, and both sides avoid each others’ territories.
White Dragons are the smallest and weakest of all the true dragon clans and mostly live in Ansalon’s far south. Many of them moved to Southern Ergoth after the White Dragon Overlord Sleet terraformed the island into an arctic wasteland. White dragons are less political and scheming than other chromatics, focusing mostly on personal survival and living day to day. The death of Takhisis freed up a goddess-imposed curse on them, making them become less beastlike and able to comprehend long-term planning. They are surprisingly loyal to their own family units: they mate for life and maintain ties with their children well into adulthood, even if the younger generation goes off to find their own lairs.
Our first scholarly side-bars for this chapter includes a Dark Knight report on an autopsy of a dead dragon’s anatomy which ends up setting the entire laboratory on fire. The second is an account of the portrayal of dragons in artwork and folklore over the ages. There is some variety among the cultures mentioned, such as Ergothian tales turning dragons into more comic figures in children’s fables, or chromatic dragons being replaced by more generic monsters in Istaran art so as to distance any confusion between the angel-like metallics and Takhisis’ servants. Chromatic dragons were favored antagonists in Solamnic literature and were often described as being impossibly large, being the size of cities and mountains.
Book 1, Chapter 3: Clans of Metal
As Takhisis is the chromatics, so is Paladine to the metallics. And like their counterparts, each clan’s cultural attributes reflect his virtues: the golds exemplify justice, the silvers inspiring others to worthy causes, the bronzes patience and protection of others, and the copper and brass the charitable need to lend aid in their own ways. Although Paladine is now mortal, the metallic dragons felt that this was a failure on their part, that they could’ve done more to prevent this, and all have their own ways of coping with this.
Brass Dragons prefer warm climates and are the most sociable of all the true dragon clans. They go out of their way to interact with others regardless of race, and many among their number take up the study of linguistics so as to broaden their horizons. It’s not unknown for brass dragons to safeguard local communities by adopting the equivalent title of leader* in a ceremonial manner. They do not directly govern in most cases, but protect the settlement from dangers in exchange for food, artwork, and friendly company. After the Dragon Overlords warped much of Ansalon’s landscape for the worst, brass dragons became patrons of environmentalist causes, supporting the efforts of scholars and spellcasters in healing the land. They do this after the example of a famed member of their race, Iyesta.
*Most bandits and armies are loathe to assault a town which has a dragon as mayor.
Bronze Dragons prefer to live anywhere with a sizeable body of water, and often dig their lairs along shorelines to take advantage of tidal flows both to guard against intruders and to catch seafood. They are often fond of disguising themselves as animals to passively observe mortal affairs, and the clan as a whole has historically close ties to the Knights of Solamnia. After the War of the Lance they served as mounts for Dragonlance-wielding Knights, replacing the silvers in this endeavor after said clan went into isolation during the current Age. Those not part of the Knighthood took up roles as wandering vigilantes going where their talents are needed most, patrolling the oceans to save ships at sea, or even joining the Legion of Steel.* The clans’ own culture is a matriarchal gerontocracy where gender and age determines leadership structure, and they worship the other Gods of Light after Paladine’s willing abandonment of godhood. Habbakuk, good-aligned god of the sea, is a favorite choice.
*a more modernist knighthood which operates via independent cells.
METAPLOT ALERT: I’ve seen this mentioned in a few of the other 3rd Edition Dragonlance books, but Shinare the neutral-aligned goddess of trade is gaining increased prominence among the Knights of Solamnia. Some even rumor that her advocates wish her to replace Paladine as one of the Knighthood’s three patron deities. Her involvement is worrisome to more than a few people, including the bronze dragons, although the deity’s church seems to have benevolent goals so far in rebuilding communication and trade routes in post-war times.
Copper Dragons live primarily in low mountain ranges and hills, with the other territories claimed by other clans both chromatic and metallic. Having red and blue dragons as precarious neighbors taught them to be stealthier than usual, and coppers tend to be wildly emotional and mercurial. They can be lovable companions and are ineverate pranksters, but their moods quickly darken regarding those who don’t react positively to their jests. Historically Takhisis’ forces went out of their way to target the clan during the various dragon wars, making coppers the most rare clan on Ansalon. As a result the clan has recently entered into alliances with humanoid races to ensure their survival, and the gnomes of Mount Nevermind have offered living space for copper dragons on their island. Most have not taken up the gnomes on this offer due to a nearby red dragon* living near the mountain. Said red dragon tried to take over Mount Nevermind, but found trying to govern the gnomes a maddening affair and has retreated into isolation.
Gold Dragons are the oldest of the metallic dragon clans and the most religious. They have been known to live anywhere on Krynn, provided that they can build a lair of stone in the area. But most nowadays live in the capital city of the Dragon Isles and spend most of their time conducting research into some subject such as magic, history, or the arts. They’ve been known to disguise themselves as humanoids to covertly join academies and trade guilds. In the current Age of Mortals the gold dragons seek to find a new homeland for the elven diaspora, or hiring mercenaries to help drive out the minotaur invaders from Silvanesti.
Gold dragon family trees are matrilineal and a knowledge of one’s ancestry is highly encouraged to avoid inbreeding. After Paladine’s fall, seven among their number swore to guard their god-turned-mortal in elven forms. Some gold dragons devote themselves to more theological pursuits, helping restore temples and religious orders destroyed during the War of Souls.
Silver Dragons traditionally lived among the tallest snow-capped peaks of Ansalon, but now they rarely inhabit their lairs. The majority has been traumatized by Paladine’s fall, more so than the other clans. Some find themselves losing control of their own emotions in mental breakdowns or seize up in combat from PTSD, while others retreated from the world fearful that the gods will punish them for their “failure” to protect their former patron deity. Some sought to find atonement, such as finding ways to revert the draconian race to their “pre-corrupted” state, follow their god on his mortal journey across Ansalon, join the Legion of Steel or Knights of Solamnia, and other ways of doing good in the world. A notable number allied with the merchant guilds of Tarsis, using the city as a staging point for reclaiming Qualinesti from the Dark Knights while safeguarding trade routes across the Plains of Dust.
We have three scholarly sidebars for this chapter. The first is a female Knight of Solamnia writing on the many difficulties of raising eight highly energetic brass dragon wyrmlings and a list of amusing “do’s” and “don’ts.”* The second is a narrator writing of the things they saw in a now-abandoned copper dragon’s lair. Whose former inhabitant was said to have been a star-crossed lover of a red dragon. The third is a military journal talking about tactical breakthroughs during the War of the Lance due to the introduction of aerial dragon units on both sides of the conflict.
Sample Do’s and Dont’s posted:
Keep ample food handy and be sure to remind your young dragons that sheep are not playthings.
Do not allow dragonlets to fly indoors. Such activity helps keep the cobwebs down, but dragon talons are hard on the tapestries.
Do not engage eight brass dragons in an argument all together. Brasses can talk con-men into insensibility. Arguing with more than one at a time will make you lose your reason.
Thoughts So Far: I really like this chapter. I don’t have many bad things to say about it, and while the chromatic dragons are a bit predictable, I do like how the clans have a more direct impact on the setting. The Blue and Metallic clans in particular have close ties to nations and social orders, doing their part to work with the humanoid races in pursuit of some larger goal. This particularly works well in the fact that while Dragonlance’s most popular eras take place when dragons are rarest, it gives more opportunities for why and how PCs doing Big Important Hero Stuff will cross paths with these serpents of legend. Even more so when you consider the fact that the core setting book has a literal Dragonrider Prestige Class where you gain a mount of the species as a class feature. Having said mount show up as a shape changing vigilante, as part of a knightly order, or safeguarding travelers in the wilderness makes for a better hook than “there’s now a dragon in the vicinity for some reason.”
I found it a bit strange that even the chaotic-aligned clans had some unity in this regard, and found the brass dragons odd choices for environmentalists. But overall we have a strong start.
Join us next time as we cover the final two Chapters of Book One, detailing the minor true dragon clans, the clans spawned by Chaos, and an overview of the Dragon Isles in the current Age of Mortals!
Other DragonsOriginal SA post
Book 1, Chapter 4: Other Dragons
This chapter details six new true dragon clans. Two of them are warped by Chaos’ touch, while the other four have mostly uncertain origins. There’s a bit of a watery bias, in that three of the four non-Chaos clans involve the habitation of underwater realms.
Amphi Dragons are toad-like dragons who can live on both land and water. They are rather clumsy out of water and as such tend to make their lairs in sea caves and shipwrecks. They are quite aggressive in spite of their relatively small size in comparison to the chromatic and metallic clans, and instead of wings they can attack with a long grasping tongue in addition to spitting a line of corrosive acid. Nobody else, even other dragons, have managed to make peaceful contact with them, so what is known about their society is that they are solitary hunters in coastal and swampy regions. Lord Toede is the only person known to have had such a dragon as a mount.
It’s not in this entry, but amphi dragons are created when a black and sea dragon (detailed later) mate.
Aquatic Dragons are good-aligned beings who worship Habbakuk. They claim to come from Krynn’s northern pole, having once lived in isolated caves of ice in a civilization known as Saturnalia. They were forced to migrate south during the War of Souls when a sea dragon known as Urchin wrecked their civilization and placed a curse upon it. Their diets are similar to whales, eating small sea creatures filtered through their mouths. They can survive in warmer ocean climates but prefer to find lairs which remind them of home. They tend to be rather whimsical and curious, and often act as protectors of natural oceanic ecosystems such as coral reefs.
Fire Dragons were creations of Chaos after the breaking of the Graygem, and reflect this entities’ destructive nature. It is theorized that they were artificial creations rather than a true species in their own right by this ungod, but it seems that his mad designs exceeded beyond anyone’s wildest imaginings and now they are effectively a true clan all their own. They appear to be made of animated magma, and although sapient do not seem to possess any free will or higher intellect. They seek only to destroy, and even in combat alter their attacks between enemies at random. The only times it seems when they do not act violently is when it comes time to mate, and the mothers raise their children until they come of age at which point they’re violently driven off to spread Chaos.
Frost Dragons are the other Chaos Dragon clan, and have origins far older than Fire Dragons. When the Graygem made its way across Krynn during the Age of Dreams, a group of white dragons within vicinity grew warped and insane from Chaos’ mind. They exiled themselves to the farthest south pole of Krynn in Icereach’s wasteland, and came north when the Graygem broke to lay waste to Creation. After their patrons’ defeat, they are now doing their best to survive in a realm alien to them, competing with the white dragons for territory. Frost dragons have no emotions: they are driven by the need to fill their all-consuming hunger, and are immune to fear-based and mental manipulations.
Sea Dragons are the evil counterparts to Aquatic Dragons. They have not been known to the people of Ansalon until the Fourth Age, although the sea dragon Midori is the oldest known creature on Krynn. Their origins are unknown, but scholars theorize that they were either created by Zeboim as a means of competing with Takhisis at creating her own dragon clan or an offshoot of black dragons. Most are native to warm waters and reside in remote ocean trenches, coming out of hibernation to embark on a destructive path of seemingly endless gluttony. They are sadists who get off on torturing others, care for nobody else, and only reproduce due to an instinctual drive. They only bothered to worship the evil gods if blackmailed or sufficiently threatened.
Shadow Dragons have unknown origins even compared to the other dragon clans, and have grayish-dark scales which blacken with age. True to their name, they stick to the most lightless environments possible. It is theorized that they are not ‘born’ so much as artificially created: the first known shadow dragon, Necridian, was believed to have been a chromatic dragon who made a pact with Nuitari for unique powers. The shadow dragon Whisper, who was summoned by Fistandantilus to watch over his fortress during the Dwarfgate Wars, is believed to hail from the Plane of Shadow. As such, they do not have a typical family social structure and tend to make alliances of sorts with other races, although said relationships are usually superficial given their chaotic evil natures.
Book 1, Chapter 5: the Dragon Isles
The final chapter of Book 1 details the remote homeland of the metallic dragons. Although detailed to some extent in the War of the Lance sourcebook, this update is more in-depth and discusses things in the more modern Age of Mortals. This archipelago’s ecosystem has been artificially shaped to be an ideal tropical resort for the metallic clans, and is capable of teleporting around Krynn’s oceans to prevent others from easily discovering it barring a selected few.* Although they lived all over the place, the five clans retreated to the Dragon Isles after the end of the Third Dragon War as part of a pact wrought from Takhisis’ defeat. The only time the Isles came into real danger was when the chromatic clans stole the eggs of the metallic dragons during the Age of Despair, and later on during the Age of Mortals when the Second Cataclysm caused deadly storms and invasion by the forces of Chaos.
*The Isles always maintain their equatorial feel regardless of where they’re present.
As of now the Dragon Isles are still a largely peaceful place, albeit with more isolated corners full of monsters. Chromatic dragons and pirates in particular linger on isolated roads and the fringes of waterways. There are various non-draconic races living here in small villages with no hint of racial strife, and the capital city of Auralastican is a grand place with mansions sized for both humanoid and dragon occupants. It is ruled by a council of dragons made up of the five clan leaders in theory, but in reality they leave most communities to govern themselves save in times of crisis. More political factions arose after the end of the War of Souls. The first is the Cirraculum, a cabal of wizards who inhabit a floating citadel and gather magic items of all kinds to destroy them. It is thus believed that they want to destroy magic itself. The Harmony of the Heart was formerly a religious movement preaching peace and equality for all people, but has been perverted into a xenophobic and violent sect seeking to keep the Dragon Isles free of foreigners. The Legion of Steel operates openly as a legitimate faction in several villages. Finally, the Order of Brass is a joint humanoid-brass dragon organization which uses supplies and resources to guard their island against outside threats and also handle immigration matters.
We have a list of interesting places to adventure in, such as five mysterious brass pyramids visited at night by strange creatures performing rituals, a magical coral reef home to magical seaweed which grants the ability to temporarily breathe water to those who eat it, a once-pristine silver mountain lake whose scenic nature has been disturbed by what people believe to be Chaos spawn, a massive growing sinkhole in the center of the forested island of Alarl, and a Chaos-touched goblin cave lord* who has taken control of a once-peaceful tribe of goblins to perform more warlike pursuits.
*A special subrace of uber-goblinoid unique to Dragonlance, who gain more power by feasting on the flesh of their fellow goblinoids.
Thoughts So Far: The newer dragon clans don’t really hit that sweet spot like the traditional ten do. They feel a bit one-note in function and their lack of history among the historical Paladine-Takhisis rivalry makes them feel out of place. There are no true stats for them either, meaning that you’ll have to consult the Bestiary of Krynn sourcebook for mechanical information.
The Dragon Isles during the War of the Lance era were like the Shire: a mostly-ideal utopia which is the type of place PCs defend from outside evil rather than having adventures involving domestic problems. The War of Souls changed things around quite a bit, and making its magical seclusion from the world no longer work forces its inhabitants to deal with outside problems. I overall like these changes, although there is still the inevitable question of “why aren’t the powerful true dragons handling this” that will come up even if the metallic clans are less numerous than ever before.
Join us next time as we move on to Book 2 and learn of all things Draconian!
Base DraconiansOriginal SA post
Book 2: Children of the Dragon
Chapter 1: Base Draconians
As warforged are to Eberron, as thri-kreen are to Dark Sun, the draconians are to Dragonlance. They are popular outside their setting fandom and hold a lot of appeal even though they did not get status as a PC race until 3rd Edition,* and even then only the baaz and kapak subraces. But Dragons of Krynn seeks to make all five subraces, as well as their Noble draconian counterparts, playable for the first time...using the underpowered Savage Species style monster class rules. This chapter heartily recommends readers to check out the Kang’s Regiment book series for further reading. From what I heard the series is quite good: it details how the draconian remnants of the Dragonarmies eventually discovered the female eggs of their species and found a nation of their own in a post-Takhisis world.
*to my knowledge, any readers can feel free to correct me.
The term “base draconian” is a bit of a neologism, used by noble draconians to describe the original draconians created by the Dragonarmies as a sort of alchemy term for “base metals.” Said original draconians regard this as a slur, so in the interest of political correctness I’m going to say “original draconians” instead where differences are important. We get a brief history on not just draconians, but also prior attempts in Ansalon’s history of creating human-dragon hybrids or artificial dragons. Said creations never amounted to much beyond unpredictable monstrosities, and it was only during the rise of Takhisis’ Dragon Empire that the draconians as a race came into being. Initially brainwashed soldiers who knew of no other life than warfare, human officers kept their numbers low via only using male dragon eggs for the ritual. The dissolution of the Empire, combined with the recovery of the female eggs by a regiment of draconian troops, has allowed draconians to become a “true race” rather than expendable shock troopers.
Draconians are still finding their place in the world: although they have a city-state of their own by the name of Teyr complete with civilian occupations, old habits die hard and many still found themselves fighting under various forces such as the Dark Knights or the Dragon Overlords. Their martial ancestry still exhibits itself, and many draconians often used rank and regiment labels as surnames. In the case of civilians in Teyr, the name of their profession is used. Personal names are drawn from Nerakese, the human tongue of central Ansalon which saw the rise of the Dragon Empire. Their death throes, which cause deadly side effects upon their enemies should they die, has resulted in a rather curious outlook on mortality. Many draconians are taught to not throw their lives away lightly, or without forethought. The destruction their bodies can do make them mindful of collateral damage, and in lieu of traditional burials most draconians gather the combusted remnants of the fallen into jars. In the event of mass deaths and war, draconians gather as much of the substance as possible and bury it under a large marble block with a memorial listing the names of the fallen. In the event that no physical remnants can be recovered, the deceased draconians’ friends and family take their prized possession or something representing their life and bury it in a small casket. Older generations of draconians who are proud of their time in the Dragonarmies are sometimes known to wear their old uniforms and armor as a reminder of their service, more as ceremonial than protection given the age and wear of said uniforms.
Every draconian, even ones born after Takhisis’ death, experience dreams which manifest of an alternate life. Of how things would be if they were born as a true dragon instead. Draconians interpret these dreams as differently as humans would in regards to prophetic visions: some take it as an ideal or life path to guide them, others an unpleasant reminder of their ‘warped’ origin. Like true dragons they possess a draconis fundamentum which supplies innate supernatural abilities and violently ruptures as they die, resulting in their iconic death throes. Their relationship to true dragons and noble draconians is complicated: in the case of chromatics they served under many of them during the War of the Lance, although with Takhisis’ death and the Dragon Empire’s deception of their origins many draconians feel like they were taken for fools by their creators. They view noble draconians as arrogant and there’s still bad blood between the races due to the inevitable fallout when the noble ones rebelled against the Dragonarmies. They feel some measure of sympathy for dragonspawn given that both have similar origins of artificial creation. They overall do not like their metallic forebears: original draconians view the Oath of Neutrality as a betrayal or abandonment rather than grieving parents not wanting their children to be killed. The fact that many metallic dragons consider killing draconians an act of mercy is viewed as rank hypocrisy.
Aurak Draconians are derived from gold dragon stock and are born with innate sorcerous powers. They tend to be quite arrogant and lonesome, as they were often deployed as special forces during the War of the Lance. They were the first among the subraces to discover that Takhisis was hiding aspects of their heritage, and although prized for their talents were the most likely of subraces to desert. In modern times they are the least likely to adapt to a regimented military subculture, but many auraks found the concept of a draconian nation appealing and moved to Teyr en masse. Female auraks are more likely to be of good alignmen, as unlike many of their older male counterparts they were not raised in the environments of the Dragonarmies.
Baaz Draconians are the least powerful and most numerous of the draconian subraces. Derived from brass dragon stock, they are rowdy and reckless and are often prone to alcoholism, although the women are likelier to end up as qualified leaders.* Their human pseudo-parents in the Dragon Empire would often pit them against the kapaks in competitions to keep the draconians divided from uniting against them. While there was quite a bit of racism between the two groups, such attitudes are now fading in the modern era save among the older generation. The majority of baaz are nonreligious, not eager to run into the arms of a deity after being manipulated by Takhisis. They’re more likely than other draconians to suffer discrimination from mainstream society on account that their subrace was responsible for the majority of violent deaths during the War of the Lance.
*Exemplified by the males and females having Bluff or Diplomacy as respective class skills.
Bozak Draconians are the second draconian subrace to have inborn sorcerous abilities and come from bronze dragon stock. The Dragon Empire taught them that their abilities were divine blessings from Takhisis, and their subrace’s natural charisma saw many of them put them in charge of baaz and kapak units as well as serving as priests among their subrace. They are quite social and even feign politeness and friendship, either for their own self-benefit or to preserve social niceties. They’re also the subrace most likely to become wandering adventurers, and also the most likely to convert to another god after Takhisis’ death. There are still some who still honor her memory in spite of her passing.
Kapak Draconians are the second-most populous subrace after the baaz and have copper dragon ancestry. They are naturally adept at being stealthy and their glands can produce a special saliva. males produce paralyzing venom, and females a supernatural mucus with healing properties. They were often used as spies and assassins during the War of the Lance, and many in the modern era find their talents applicable to organized crime or hiring themselves out as mercenaries. They’re the most likely subrace to be anti-religious, and most of them cast off Takhisis as their patron goddess even before she died. Many of them feel that it should be draconians and draconians alone who determine their race’s destiny. Small groups often have a communal wealth pool to pay for things for the whole group, and those who leave often are given a share of what’s necessary to survive and can be used to buy their way into a new kapak band.
Sivak Draconians are the largest of the metallic subraces and have obvious silver dragon origins. They served as an elite fighting force and infiltration units in the Dragonarmies, and as such find their talents in high demand. As a result they’re the subrace least likely to transition to civilian life. They enjoy gambling and games of chance and are loyal to fellow soldiers and adventuring companions, although they are not zealous in this regard and will not charge to their deaths unless there is no other option. When it comes to religious matters they’re more likely to follow the beliefs of a mortal authority figure or if a cleric or divine caster made a positive impression on them in regards to a keen tactical mind and martial expertise.
Racial Traits and Classes: In this chapter we also have rules for draconians as a race: both their core abilities as a full-fledged member of a respective subrace, and traits given out piecemeal over the course of five draconian “monster classes.” They use Savage Species’ rules for combining Hit Dice and Level Adjustment to come up with an Effective Level, and as such most are not exactly friendly for low-level games. The Baaz and Kapaks are the most likely to be beginner-friendly as 3rd and 4th level classes, but Bozaks, Sivaks, and Auraks are 7, 10 and 12 levels respectively.
When it comes to how balanced said monster classes are, it’s a bit mixed. Their Dragon Racial Hit Die gives them high skill points, hit points, good saving throws, and all subraces have level-scaling spell resistance and natural armor as defensive measures. Various minor nifty abilities include immunity to all diseases, the ability to glide in the air (save for the wingless auraks), natural weapons, and death throes which can inconvenience nearby enemies with what is usually a blast of damaging energy. They also usually get a smattering of free weapon and/or armor proficiencies reflecting their subrace’s specialties during service in the Dragonarmies, with only the Aurak having just Simple Weapons Proficiency and nothing else.
There is one noticeable change from the 2003 Dragonlance Campaign Setting corebook: the wording for being “inspired by evil dragons” removes the ‘evil’ part, meaning that draconians can be inspired with a +1 morale bonus on attack rolls and saving throws when within the presence of a true dragon whose alignment is no more than one step removed from their own.
Generally speaking, the pay-off of the “monster levels” of a draconian as a worthy option depletes the more powerful the subrace. The Baaz and Kapak get a lot of things for their race in exchange for their dragon hit dice and low level adjustments, but a Bozak is clearly not as good as an equivalent 7th-level gish who is of a “core” race.
Bozak and Aurak both have effective sorcerer levels of 4 and 8 respectively, and the aurak gets some sweeter abilities such as the ability to shoot energy rays out of their hands and short-range teleportation. Sivaks are Large size, can outright Fly, have a natural trip attack with their tails, and depending on their gender can either have chameleon-like camouflage and cast disguise self (if female) or convincingly shapeshift into the form of a humanoid they just killed (if male).
Book 2, Chapter 2: Noble Draconians
During the late War of the Lance, a group of brave heroes with the aid of the silver dragon D’argent managed to rescue the metallic dragon eggs being used to create draconians. Deprived of their primary fighting force, Emperor Ariakas instituted a plan to use chromatic dragon eggs. As said dragons would not willingly give up their eggs, he managed to take them by trickery or from those dragons who during the war disobeyed orders or committed crimes against the Empire. The new subraces were said by Ariakas to be “strong and noble” upon seeing the first clutch of lightning draconians, although it soon became clear that they'd be more of a hindrance than an aid. Whereas the original draconians can be of any alignment, the gods viewed this latest plan as a violation of the Balance and thus made the noble draconians innately good-aligned.* The Dragonarmies found this out quite early, and began slaughtering them en masse; the weaker frost draconians were enslaved, but many managed to escape.
*In this chapter we get an explanation that true dragons have less free will than mortals in determining their moral outlook, thus explaining why true dragons are “Always [lawful/chaotic] [good/evil]” in their stat blocks.
Noble draconians are far fewer in number than the traditional kind, and many people do not even realize that they exist. Most races on Ansalon view them as being monsters like their metallic kin, and the original draconians hate them as well in no small part due to many being killed by said noble draconians for those who served the Dragonarmies, Knights of Takhisis, and Dragon Overlords. As a result, many noble draconians are isolated, depressed individuals constantly on the move, possessed by strong drives to make the world a better place even if most of said world hates them. Additionally, no female chromatic eggs were used in the creation of their race, so unlike the original draconians they have no hope of propagating their numbers.
Noble draconians have a lot of biological similarities to original draconians: they have a draconis fundamentum, wings, death throes, disease immunity, etc. However, when they dream of the chromatic dragons said dreams are often violent fantasies of them lording their power over others. The fact that noble draconians find these dreams subconsciously enjoyable is something which scares them all deeply.
Flame Draconians are the most physically powerful of the noble draconians and are predictably of red dragon heritage. They are quite passionate, and can become obsessed with fighting evil to the exclusion of other ways of doing good. There aren’t many of them left, and as such are typically solitary travelers. They are also the least “good” of the innately good draconians; although willing to fight evil, systemic discrimination has made them untrusting of most people. They are likely to go out and kill evil people without regards to the future consequences or considering the possibilities of nonviolent resolution.
Frost Draconians are the smallest, weakest, and most numerous of the noble draconians, although in the latter case that usually means they can be seen gathered in small bands at most. Like their white dragon ancestors they are not very bright, but are quite sociable. Many of them were forced to slave in the mines of the Dragon Empire, and when confronted with threats their first instinct is often to resist in light of never wanting to go through such suffering again. Unlike most of their brethren they’ve made peaceful contact with some settlements in southern Ansalon.
Lightning Draconians were the first of the noble subraces to be created and seek to embody the compliment Emperor Ariakas gave them, albeit in ways he’d hate. They all share the same blue dragon mother, Cacophanax, who still lives in the modern era. It’s for this reason that they feel a greater need than usual to make up for her crimes. They alone among the noble draconians receive divine power from the Gods of Light, manifesting as paladin class features up to 6th level (and can stack with the class), which causes them to act very honorably and knightly. Some have been known to gain the trust of some Knights of Solamnia, and after Paladine’s fall many rededicated themselves to other good-aligned deities.
Vapor Draconians are green dragon-descended draconians who prefer to make their homes in the wild reaches of Krynn. Oddly among the noble draconians, a few worship neutral-aligned deities yet still remain good-aligned as a race. Born with innate powers of mysticism* they often have a more spiritual outlook on life and have been known to earn acceptance as seers and herbalists in remote villages. They dedicate their evil-smiting by specializing in fighting the leftover spawn of Chaos. Some even made an unlikely alliance with Dark Knight elite scouts who hunting said spawn as well.
*Mystics are to clerics what sorcerers are to wizards, innately divine spellcasters.
Venom Draconians are like kapaks in that they’re the clear “sneaky rogue” subrace. They are more self-hating than other noble draconians, viewing their black dragon heritage as a reminder of their corruptive ancestry. They honor the gods of light every once in a while due to a belief that they’re unworthy of their grace. Venom draconians are better able to hide their physical features* which allows them to operate better in larger population centers, and they have a complicated relationship with the Legion of Steel. These draconians have been known to share information with the knightly cells, but they typically aren’t recruited outright.
*not in an innate or supernatural way, the text merely claims this.
Racial Traits and Classes: As mentioned before, noble draconians share much of the universal base abilities as the original draconians, although there are some differences. One, it’s strongly implied that they’re biologically good-aligned and as such cannot become evil. Secondly, their starting languages are different: they begin play knowing Nerakese and must learn Common as a bonus language. For normal draconians it’s the other way around: Common as base, Nerakese as a bonus language. Although the Speak Language skill costs a mere 2 skill points (not a class skill for any of them), this can be a heavy cost for the dumber ones such as flame and frost draconians who have -2 Intelligence.
Flame Draconians are an 11-level class. They’re Large and in charge, have an innate fire breath weapon, and can cast Fireball as a spell-like ability as part of their more notable class features. Frost Draconians are a 3-level subclass whose only truly unique feature is Cold Resistance which tops out at 10. Lightning Draconians are the other 11th-level Large martially-inclined class, have a natural trip attack, and the abilities of 6th-level paladins. Vapor Draconians are a 7th-level class who has a single divine domain and the spellcasting capabilities of a 4th-level Mystic as their unique class features. Finally, the Venom Draconian is a 4th-level class who has the ability to produce a natural Dexterity-damaging poison like kapak draconians and a 1d6 Sneak Attack as their unique abilities.
Said noble draconians’ death throes are rather predictable and involve exploding into gouts of flame, acidic vapor, or similar energy. But Lightning Draconians are special in that their death throes are arcing electricity and identical to the Chain Lightning spell.
Much like the normal draconians, the pay-off for noble draconian PCs diminishes the higher their “monster class” is in levels.
For these two chapters (and indeed all of Book 2) we have only 2 scholarly sidebars. The first is a Red Robe Wizard compiling interviews of one of Kang’s more innovative battles where they used a fake flying dragon laden with explosives and magical illusions to trick and kill a goblin army. This is in fact a scene from the Kang’s Regiment series. The second is written by Ed Greenwood and has nothing to do with the book: in fact, it’s a short tale which takes place in the modern real world, and details the narrator reflecting back on how his aunt disagreed with her evangelical Christian pastor’s view of the afterlife and explaining her view of things to him.
That last one really sticks out when you’re in the middle of reading game mechanics for Noble Draconian PCs.
Thoughts So Far: It’s safe to say that I like what Dragonlance did with draconians. Although initially the setting’s stand-in for orcs, the writers more or less deconstructed the “innately evil” aspect and has a more realistic examination of how their cultures evolved once the Evil Empire falls apart. The examination of the difficulties in casting off old habits and the rocky transition to civilian life are nice touches as well. Some still cling to the past, others realize that they were exploited by Takhisis, and some seek to carve out a homeland for their own with Teyr. While their influences were definitely Nerakan in origin, they took existing traditions such as burial rites and surnames and made them their own.
The noble draconians rub me the wrong way. Their innate goodness to “preserve the Balance” is strange when the original draconians’ alignment tendencies are explicitly spelled out as cultural rather than biological. We don’t have as many differences among the subraces, either: almost every noble draconian without exception is ashamed of their heritage, loners too few in number to create a larger society of their own, and are faithful to the good-aligned gods. Most of their racial classes feel uninspired and unoriginal, either aping the original draconians such as Venom, or the bulk of their features coming from existing classes like with Lightning and Vapor.
Join us next time as we cover the rest of Book 2, where we discuss the twisted origins of the Dragonspawn as well as the new draconian nation of Teyr!
DragonspawnOriginal SA post
Book 2, Chapter 3: Dragonspawn
For you Dragonlance grognards who stopped reading the novels after Dragons of Summer Flame, Dragonspawn are a new pseudo-race introduced in the Age of Mortals. As mentioned earlier, Takhisis’ stealing of the world caused Krynn to pass by some strange realms in the Ethereal Sea. When she stopped, she accidentally put it next to a world full of absolutely titanic dragons. About a half-dozen of these “Dragon Overlords” moved to Krynn and began taking it over in no short order with some new magic thanks to the use of grisly Skull Totems. Khellendros, the blue dragon mount of Kitiara, was actually an early immigrant and one of these alien dragons all along, and sought to reincarnate Kitiara into a more suitable form. During his experiments he found a means of taking a draconian and imbuing said being’s soul into another humanoid. This would prove obviously fatal to the draconian, but turn the host humanoid into a dragonspawn. The magic used in the ritual made the dragonspawn a brainwashed and utterly loyal minion to the Dragon Overlord. The secrets of creating dragonspawn were leaked to the other competing Overlords via spies, who all began creating dragonspawn with their own twists.
Dragonspawn are divided into colors based on the chromatic type of their creator Overlord, looking like hulked-out, scale-covered versions of their host’s original race. They are more physically powerful, grow sharp teeth and claws, and gain latent sorcerous powers if they did not possess them already. They maintain a psychic link to their Overlord creator at all times and can be compelled by said creator via the dominate monster spell (no saving throw allowed) to hijack their free will if desired. However, this link has been severed in most dragonspawn: due to the plotlines of the War of Souls books all but the White Dragon Overlord are dead. And in the Key of Destiny Adventure Path, said Overlord is the final boss!
The destruction of the Dragon Overlords is a big game-changer for the dragonspawn. Most of them exploded or were reduced to bestial intelligence from the deaths of their Overlords, but a rare strong-willed few managed to survive. And fewer still remember their old lives as pre-dragonspawn memories flood back into their minds. And yes, there’s an entire sidebar for handling this: Fortitude saves to avoid exploding, Will saves to avoid mental degradation, with the result of said Will save also determining if they regain their memories upon the death of an Overlord. PC dragonspawn are considered to have made their saves, with or without their memories based upon the player’s desires.
The societies and outlooks of dragonspawn differ depending on their creator. The Black Dragonspawn were created by the depraved Onysablet who sought to use magic and alchemy to turn southern Ansalon into a swampy nightmare. They managed the best to retain their minds, although quite a few manifest minor personality quirks with compulsive monomania being quite common. Blue Dragonspawn prefer belonging to a larger organization or cause rather than working alone, so they tend to join military and religious orders. A group known as the Bluescales are lead by a half-elf and are striving to make restitution for the evils their Overlord Khellendros caused. Green Dragonspawn served Beryllinthranox and most were tasked with locating the Tower of High Sorcery in Qualinesti before the death of their leader. Like the blues they are quite social and look for a new cause or society to belong, but they have huge egos and are constantly striving to climb to the top of the pecking order with the belief that they can do the best job.
Red Dragonspawn are the strongest of the dragonspawn subraces and are highly elitist and bigoted to everyone else. They view even the other subraces as deformed abominations who cannot hope to measure up to those fashioned by the greatest Overlord, Malystryx. Their arrogance makes them believe that they can achieve anything, and as such can be quite passionate in the vocations they follow. White Dragonspawn still have members of their race bound to the surviving Overlord Gellidus. Said Overlord delegated much of their creation to dragon minions by using magical items known as Scales of Proxy, and most of them now live a hunter-gatherer existence in the polar Icereach or the terraformed Southern Ergoth. Finally, the Sea Dragonspawn are almost never seen on land, their ranks bolstered from kidnapped sailors and fisherfolk unlucky enough to be caught by the Overlord Brunseldimer’s minions. Like the white dragonspawn they too mostly live a subsistence existence, but some yearn for a longing to live on dry land long-term.
We have racial traits for all six subraces, but no monster classes. Unlike draconians they are a template which is applied to a human or a half-human subrace.* As universal traits they all gain the spellcasting capabilities of a 1st-level sorcerer (or cast as 1 level higher if already a sorcerer), natural armor bonuses, claws and teeth natural weapons, and a mind-control link with their Overlord in addition to their base racial traits.
*Attempting to turn nonhumans into dragonspawn causes them to become a Dragonspawn Abomination, a unique beast which is not detailed in this book but instead the Bestiary of Krynn.
Further subraces get their own abilities. All of them have Death Throes which manifest as appropriate energy explosions of their draconic parent, a Breath Weapon which manifests as a line or cone the same energy as said parent, immunity to damage from said energy type, and a fly speed (or swim in the case of sea dragonspawn). They gain bonuses to a wide assortment of ability scores depending upon their subrace, although physical ability scores are preferred and the numbers in question get larger the more powerful their draconic parent type. They sadly all have very large level adjustments (ranging from white’s +1 to red’s +4), which bizarrely increase by +2 if they are not bound to their Overlord. Which seems like a silly rule, given that the Level Adjustment is being paid for cool abilities but rather to “buy off” a penalty which can let the GM hijack your character. The breath weapon, flight, and energy immunity are quite nice to have, but are really only make a big difference at lower levels than higher ones. Which is sad because this text has some role-playing advice and encourages the possibility of making them as PCs.
Book 2, Chapter 4: Teyr
The Age of Mortals may be maligned by Dragonlance fans for changing the setting too much, but one thing we can agree on that’s cool is that draconians are no longer always evil cannon fodder but now a playable race unto their own. Sometime after the War of the Lance, a bozak draconian officer by the name of Kang discovered the existence of female draconian eggs. Now that they no longer had to rely upon the Dragonarmies or Takhisis for their existence, they could take destiny into their own hands. So Kang and his allies sought to claim some abandoned dwarven ruins in northern Ansalon to forge a city-state of their own. And perhaps in due time, draconians can find a life besides war: lives where they can raise families, build roads, houses, and farms just like every other race on Krynn. The city would still have an army of course, for they still have many enemies, from those who suffered their peoples’ depredations during the War of the Lance to the Dark Knights who seek to bring the draconian race under their control like the bad old days.
Teyr began as a city-state, but it expanded its reach to outlying areas, some newly raised towns and (in one case) the mostly-human city of Robann who pledged allegiance in exchange for protection. A caravan network of traders and rangers ensure that the roads remain both safe and prosperous, linking as far as the grand city of Palanthas in the west and Solace in the far south. The creation of a civilian class was necessary for all the industries required of civilization, but Teyr still has a very martial subculture and the hot political issue of the day is whether or not to institute a universal conscription of adults. The reason for this is that a sizeable segment of older generation and soldier class feel that the younger generation needs to understand the sacrifices which made Teyr possible. And the practicality of having civilians who can be mustered into a standing army.
Major draconian holidays center around their origins as war machines for Takhisis’ Dragon Empire. The largest holidays are the Victory of the Living and Victory of the Dead: the first is a nationalistic parade, while the second is a day of quiet reflection and mourning for soldiers who died or went MIA in conflicts. The Day of Hope celebrates Kang’s discovery and retrieval of the female draconian eggs, which is an all-purpose cultural festival where art, music, competitive games, and other displays of joy are held. The Day of Hope is also a popular day for weddings where women (who are far less numerous than men) announce who they seek to be their husband.
In terms of folktales, most of them come from old war stories which then take on an increasingly fictionalized account to pass on important lessons. Some are quite bitter about their metallic dragon ancestors: one involves a troop of draconians coming upon a seemingly peaceful town which is in reality a trap by the metallic dragons to kidnap them. Once they find out they cannot change their children back, they slaughter them all. The moral is that draconians should be wary of even their ancestors, who “will destroy you if you don’t become what they want.”
Newer folktales are more light-hearted with the first two generations of draconian parents, and often feature silly and clever stories of Kang and other famous draconians which may or may not have been undertaken during the War of the Lance.
Troubles in the Kingdom: Not all is well and good in Ansalon’s newest nation. Kang has his plate full with all manner of problems foreign and domestic. Although most armed forces serve the government, there’s been talk among some commanders forming private mercenary companies “in the service of the draconian race,” while a few units have been raiding non-draconian border towns. The gender ratio is still balanced in favor of men, and there’s a bit of misogynistic possessiveness: while it is the standard for women to choose their mates (and not necessarily for life), a riot among the sivaks once broke out when the two sole existing women of their subrace* married the same officer together. Kang also had a vast spy network operating as double agents under the Dragon Overlords, but with said Overlords having fallen said spies have found themselves with less gainful employment as they cannot operate as well in traditionally humanoid lands.
*Which makes you wonder how you’d get future generations of sivaks without incest. Unless draconians can breed between subraces, although I don’t recall the text confirming this one way or the other.
Then there are the various problematic factions. A draconian by the name of Gott is encouraging a democratic form of government which can provoke a bloody civil war with the military dictatorship. The Queen’s Own are a group of Takhisis fanatics who believe that Kang’s regime has forgotten their origins and are planning a coup among sympathetic voices in the military. A group of draconian supremacists known as the Draconia Consortium aren’t fond of Kang’s alliances with other races and seek to make Teyr an all-draconian nation...violently. Finally, there are a group of monarchists who hero-worship Kang and believe that his bloodline should form a monarchy to rule Teyr and are thus enemies of the Queen’s Own.
And if that’s not bad enough, there’s a secret order of noble draconians encouraging the civil strife and infighting in the belief that Teyr will inevitably show its true colors for “evil feeds upon itself.” And the Dark Knights seek to foment rebellion and seize upon prejudices in neighboring Nordmaar and Solamnia to isolate Teyr and starve out the fledgling nation.
Our section ends with a one and a half page description of Teyr’s geographic environs and interesting places. The nation is mostly an arid savanna with some marshland to the east, with migrating herd animals and game a secondary food supplement in addition to farmland. Teyr has made an alliance with a village of gnomish scientists in the swamps to help grow crops, while in the western mountains there’s a maddened silver dragon named Ascandia who kidnaps draconians in the hopes of turning them into true dragons out of a twisted sense of maternal protection. Teyr’s Corps of Engineers are building a castle which they hope to turn into a flying citadel, an aerial mobile fortress once used by the Dragonarmies in the War of the Lance. An outlying community by the name of Nowhere has been besieged by bandits taking slaves to mine the nearby mountains, and the draconians are planning to fight the bandits to get the settlement in their good graces.
Thoughts So Far: The dragonspawn suffer from the Fifth Age’s attempts at trying to be new yet familiar. Like draconians they are artificial creations of evil overlords of differing color themes, much like the Dragonarmies of the War of the Lance. And they also find themselves with new purpose after the fall of their old masters. But unlike draconians they...don’t have as much going for them, in terms of established iconic status in the setting. They could have a role as shell-shocked victims who became aware of their old lives, but too much of their culture reads them as “still evil and violent, but now independent” barring rare exceptions like the Bluescales. Their lack of Dragon Racial Hit Dice due to being a template makes them rather poor options as PCs in comparison to draconians.
But Teyr, on the other hand, is a very strong chapter. It’s brief, but what it has packed into its pages are ripe for adventure material while also making the draconian nation feel alive and evolving. The numerous political factions, along with the conflict between the older soldier and new civilian classes, makes the future of the nation feel uncertain that can go down a potential number of paths.
Join us next time as we move on to Book 3, Kindred of the Dragon!
Draconic CousinsOriginal SA post
Book 3: Kindred of the Dragon
Chapter 1: Draconic Cousins
This chapter covers the various monsters of the Dragon type which aren’t true dragons, dragonspawn, or draconians, including some specific to the Dragonlance setting. Generally speaking they do not have a universal creation story like the chromatic and metallic clans: most of them are later creations of the gods or by mortals for some specified task. Each one gets a handy stat block, even ones already in the core Monster Manual. The wyvern’s the odd exception, where we instead have an Advanced Challenge Rating 14 Greater Wyvern which is Gargantuan in size.
Dragon Turtles are creations of Zeboim, the Chaotic Evil goddess of storms and the sea. Although they are violent creatures representing her wrath, they are mostly Neutral aligned for some reason. They mostly care for survival and typically become allies or mounts of aquatic races who can provide them with enough food. The aquatic ogres have been known to decorate their shells with enchanted paint to infect their bloodstreams with bacteria. Such organisms are harmless to the dragon turtle, but deadly to those they bite (and yes we get stats for it as a poison).
Dragonnes originated as sapient lions, tigers, panthers, etc living on the Dragon Isles who had close ties to the metallic clans. When Takhisis’ chromatic minions snuck onto the Isles to steal the metallic dragon eggs, said animals detected their presence and fought to save the eggs. They failed and were slaughtered. When the metallic dragons woke up, they despaired not just at the loss of their eggs but at the deaths of their furry friends. Paladine decided to bless the few survivors, turning them into dragonnes. Said monster’s roar represents the emotional pain felt during these dark times, which is why it saps the energy and makes those who hear it tired. Most dragonnes still live on the Dragon Isles, but a few during the War of the Lance moved to Ansalon in search of draconians out of curiosity and an attempt to make sense of their origins.
Faerie Dragons are small, playful beings which mostly dwell in forest glades. Different cultures have their own theories on their origins, ranging from having ties to the alien huldrefolk to being the children of Habbakuk. They have close ties to the elven forest nations and have been helpful in safeguarding said homes from their many enemies, from the Dragonarmies to the Dragon Overlords. The latter group has caused many faerie dragons to become displaced across the continent due to supernatural changes in terrain.
Stat-wise they are Small, extremely good flyers (100 feet, perfect maneuverability), have a non-damaging breath weapon which can daze opponents, and a variety of spell-like abilities centering around misdirection, illusion, and nature.
Feeders are dagger-sized dragons who appear like said weapon but with a pommel shaped like a dragon’s head. Their ‘blade’ is a blood-sucking proboscis, and is actually a common ingredient for wizards designing weapons which cause magical bleeding. The feeders were created by Takhisis as a cruel jest to sow paranoia; feeders will often lay dormant, appearing much like normal weapons before seemingly coming to life and stabbing their owner to death. In spite of this origin the chromatic clans feel no love for them, believing them to be pathetic pretenders and vermin to be destroyed.
Stat-wise feeders are extremely small (Diminutive size), have a primary stab attack which deals Constitution damage as it drains blood, and has a +10 bonus to Disguise checks to pass itself off as a dagger.
Fogdrakes are bipedal dragons which naturally create a radius of magical mist around their bodies. It is believed that they were artificially created to hunt down spellcasting elves during the Age of Dreams, and their innate ability to sense arcane magic as well as their hatred for such phenomena lends credence to this theory. Most of them are bound in magical prisons in suspended animation dating to the Second Dragon War, although quite a few have been broken due to dwarven miners stumbling upon them.
Statwise fogdrakes are Huge melee-focused dragons who can full attack on a charge and Rage like a barbarian. They have no breath weapon and glide instead of fly, and constantly exude the equivalent of an Obscuring Mist spell which does not hinder them thanks to a 60 foot radius of Blindsight.
Hatori are crocodile-like dragons which can swim through sand and earth as naturally as a fish through water. They never stop growing for their entire lives, and a few can become truly massive. They are solitary hunters due to the rarity of food in their regions, and frequently migrate. They are sapient (Intelligence 7) and are capable of mating with true dragons whose offspring are known as Tylors.
Statwise Hatori are Large sized creatures but can Advance up to Colossal size. They have a slow base land speed of 10 feet, but can burrow much faster through earth at 60 feet. They are built for melee, capable of full attacking on a charge, can charge while burrowing, can start a free grapple every time they hit a smaller-sized opponent, and can swallow said grappled opponent.
Pseudodragons are much like their basic D&D versions: tiny playful beings with a cat-like disposition but a good heart. They have only recently made themselves known to the world at large during the Age of Mortals, and tend to bond with individual mortals who earn their respect or amuse them. They are high-maintenance familiars and demand frequent attention, and will part ways with a mage who acts cruelly to the pseudodragon or others.
Sand Beasts are dinosauric-like dragons living in deserts believed to be behir-hatori crossbreeds. They are nocturnal hunters and have very keen eyes and are capable of sudden bursts of speed. Their mating season occurs during the Night of the Eye, when all three of Krynn’s magical moons are full, and the males fight and crash into each other for the right to mate with present females. During the War of the Lance the Green Dragon Highlord Salah-Khan often assigned disfavored officers with the unenviable task of capturing said beasts as a potential gift to Emperor Ariakas. No officer succeeded in this task, and it took the efforts of a green dragon to capture one by the closing years of the War of the Lance. And even then the sand beast somehow escaped!
Statwise sand beasts are Large dragons which deal bonus damage on a charge attack (a whopping 4d6+24 total) and can also gore opponents they trample over. Every 1d4 rounds they can get a supernatural speed boost, taking an extra standard or move action. They are faster than hatoris on land but have a slower burrowing speed.
Tylors are the half-elves of dragonkind. The result of a hatori-true dragon pairing, they are often scorned by their mostly-chromatic parents but treated as fond cousins by metallic clans. Their appear much like wingless dragons with angular heads and long necks. Their scales match that of their dragon parents, but have a duller color and their bodies have knobby ridges on the lower parts much like a hatori. They do not have the biological moral compulsions as their true dragon heritage, and during the War of the Lance served either the Dragonarmies or the Whitestone forces on a case by case basis. Like true dragons they have been known to serve as mounts for riders, although the chromatic breeds make for more short-term relationships while sea tylors refuse to serve anyone.
Tylors have more varied stat blocks in Bestiary of Krynn, but we have a sample green tylor stat block in this product. They are Large-sized dragons who can burrow instead of fly, and can cast spells as a 5th-level sorcerer in addition to spell-like abilities mostly centered around misdirection (blur, pass without trace, invisibility, longstrider). They have the Frightful Presence of their true dragon parents.
Wyverns are our final entry. Their origins are unknown and differ from culture to culture: some theorize they are descended from black dragons due to a mistranslation of elven poetry, while gnomes believe they share a common ancestry with pseudodragons. Metallic dragons claim that they were allies of the bakali (lizardfolk) and other reptilian humanoids. Most wyverns live in mountain ranges and served as flying cavalry for various forces in Krynn’s long past. They fell out of favor among the Dark Queen’s armies during the Second Dragon War and are much more isolated. They are not very bright and live simple lives as hunters, although they are respectful of true dragons and have been known to become minions (in the chromatics’ case) and potential friends (in the metallic’s case). But their poor impulse control and lack of intelligence is something many true dragons find annoying. They are notoriously ornery and hard to train as mounts, although the Dark Knights have had some success in convincing a few to join their ranks.
We have a Greater Wyvern stat block instead of the base variety: it is a 21 Hit Die Gargantuan version of its species and as such has a much more powerful assortment of natural weapons along with a debilitating Constitution-damaging stinger attack.
Thoughts So Far: Overall this chapter is a bit of a mixed bag: I do like how the sourcebook expanded on some of the existing mythology and placement of the core Monster Manual creatures in the world. The Dragonnes’ roar reflecting a traumatic origin and also being on a quest to find the link between draconians and the stolen metallic eggs is my favorite. The wyverns being more akin to an isolated society than animalistic monsters I found to be an interesting touch. But some are not so different than their base entries, with the dragon turtles and pseudodragons hardly different from their setting-less versions. The hatori and sand beasts are really just “monster dragons” to use as combat encounters
Book 3, Chapter 2: Bakali Races
We’re in the home stretch baby! This chapter details the iconic scaly races of Dungeons & Dragons (plus two new ones) and their place in the existing Dragonlance canon. Collectively known as the “bakali” due to a common ancestral lineage, they include the lizardfolk, their larger and meaner jarak-sinn cousins, troglodytes, kobolds and their larger cousins the sligs, and nagas. Much like the draconians, the authors did a good job at making three-dimensional societies for most of them as well as PC material in the form of racial classes. The naga sadly have no classes, as the authors explain that their abilities are too powerful and unbalanced as playable options.
A Brief History talks about a shared origin history. The bakali claim to be a primordial race of ur-lizardfolk* who lived before the rise of the three elder races of humans, ogres, and elves who they call the Starborn. The dragon clans visited the bakali tribes and declared themselves as masters, worshiped as virtual gods. The dragons shared a few secrets and taught them to build great cities and master various forms of magic. The dragon-god’s cities warred upon each other for territory and resources, which angered the true gods of Krynn. Said gods visited earthquakes, storms, and other natural disasters to destroy their civilizations. Chislev and Sirrion, the gods of nature and fire respectively, disagreed with the rest of their pantheons’ cruelty and trained the bakali survivors in fire and the weaving of clothes to survive the oncoming Ice Age. And so the bakali today worship those two gods above all others.
*and lizardfolk today still call themselves bakali.
So besides the big obvious Cataclysm, this is not the first or even second time the gods of Krynn apparently committed genocide upon ancient civilizations. The War of the Lance sourcebook details them doing the same to the City of Lost Names whose ruling sorcerers mastered the art of time travel: a few of the gods mustered a force of red dragons to burn down said city, including the supposedly good-aligned god Solinari.
Losing the secrets of their original civilization, the bakali suffered, and over the years found themselves joining the forces of Takhisis during various Dragon Wars, either through trickery (her posing as Chislev or Sirrion) or in a few cases due to genuine devotion. During the War of the Lance, lizardfolk matriarchs guarded the hatcheries of chromatic dragons while their parents warred for the Dragon Empire. Kobolds notably served as shock troops in the Blue Dragonarmy’s forces. In the current Age of Mortals the bakali see the current era as a golden age in the making. A time where they can reclaim their old ancestral grounds and make a name for themselves. The founding of the draconian city-state of Teyr was partially this inspiration, but so was the Black Dragon Overlord Onysablet’s experimentation in making bakali super-soldiers for her territory.
Lizardfolk comprise three races: the base bakali, the jarak-sinn, and the underground troglodytes. The bakali live in wet and humid environs in small villages, and those who lair near the pre-Ice Age ruins regard such cities as sacred and guard the holy grounds against intruders from outsiders to among their own race. The jarak-sinn are technically a subrace of lizardfolk tainted by Takhisis to be bigger and stronger with innate violent and dominant tendencies. Jarak-sinn cannot reproduce with each other and require a bakali mate, but they inevitably attempt to steer lizardfolk towards more warlike pursuits in the tribes where they do show up. Lizardfolk lay eggs in communal hatcheries and as such are raised as a whole by the village rather than by specific parental units. Bakali and Jarak-sinn are distrustful of wizardry, regarding it as “elven magic” and exile clerics and druids who do not worship either Sirrion or Chislev. Mystics are held in high regard, viewed as being inheritors of the ancient lost art of their first civilization, although they often struggle with clerics and druids for shared social status.
Troglodytes are very different than their base setting-neutral kind. They are not mostly Chaotic Evil, being rather isolated and inoffensive creatures who live as scavengers in Krynn’s dark tunnels. They often clash with dwarves, although more due to territory than anything else. Troglodytes are matriarchal in nature: their tales teach that it was male leaders who were responsible for their elder civilizations’ wars and thus only appoint women as leaders. Furthermore, they are quite proud of their underground homes and will tell outsiders who make friendly contact of the various subterranean wonders their clan encountered.
When it comes to other races the lizardfolk are isolationists. A few have made positive trade relations with neighboring humans and a few migrated to Teyr in belief that it will be a safe haven for reptilian people. But overall they are feared and disliked, in some cases mistaken for draconians by those less learned of both creatures, while elves are disliked due to the lizardfolk having long memories of fighting them during the Second Dragon War.
Kobolds and Sligs are bakali who were warped by the passing of the Graygem into races of their own. They are quite similar to their base versions: regarded as pests and monsters by most races, hate gnomes, and are known for their legendary trapmaking. Not very original, but the trapmaking aspect has a bit of a spin on it as the two races are rather jealous of the gnome’s technological prowess. Kobolds are almost universally bullied by the other evil races, and sligs are bigger, beefier versions of them who believe that their cousins are innately slaves made to serve them. The kobolds hate the sligs and other races for mistreatment, and often develop sadistic tendencies and inferiority complexes as a result. Kobolds are often fond of trash talk and threats, hoping that their bluster can avoid fights before they begin. Inter and intra-kobold conflict often uses this first as a possible deterrence to outright violence. Kobold tribal leadership is determined via democratic vote, while sligs use ritualized trial by combat. All forms of labor are devoted to food production and survival. Trapmakers and priests are the exception, with specialized roles to which they dedicate their lives and are supported by the rest of the community. Sligs live in both nuclear and extended family units, although kobolds recognize no concept of marriage and children are raised exclusively by the tribe’s women. Interestingly kobolds and sligs give birth to live young much like mammals instead of laying eggs.
Many kobolds are quite fond of the former Blue Dragon Highlord Kitiara. By hiring so many of their race as soldiers during the War of the Lance, she was one of the few non-kobolds who seemed to regard their race with respect. It is for this reason that she became something of a folk hero among their tribes.
The death of Takhisis has caused a cultural upheaval among the slig: their priests and lorekeepers are going into full-on propaganda mode, insisting that they never worshiped such a weak goddess and replacing her role with that of Sargonnas (Lawful Evil deity of vengeance and strength). Kobolds for their part still hold Takhisis fondly but have also transferred their faith to Sargonnas. Both sligs and kobolds strongly prefer divine magic over arcane, with no particular bias towards clericism or mysticism.
wizardly magic: the kobold necromancer Master Yap Sizzlegizzard, who rose to play a minor role in the restoration of the Dragons’ Graveyard just months after the War of Souls. Yap had been a sorcerer of some talent prior to the return of the gods, and he was among those visited by Nuitari with an offer of patronage. Yap’s progress after this point, together with the story of how he passed the Test of High Sorcery, remains unknown. Following the incident at the Dragons’ Graveyard, Yap went on to pursue his dark arts and generally cause trouble for others, much to the chagrin of other Black Robe wizards.
Fun Fact: Master Yap is a kobold DMPC of the Key of Destiny Adventure Path, the only real long-term one who joins the party mid-way through the second book. He’s had something of an ascended fandom among Dragonlance gamers.
Nagas are serpent-like beings with humanoid heads. They come in three varieties who each have their own languages (Celestial, Abyssal, or Aquan) and behavior. They are very low in number and cannot lay claim to any true settlements, but they have a bit of commonalities. Their origins are unknown but many sages place their creation during the Second Dragon War. Nagas are not social creatures and tend to stick to single places over the course of their long lives if they can help it. Guardian nagas choose holy sites and act as protectful watchers over the area, while the evil-aligned spirit nagas are a bit more sociable and often manipulate others to do their bidding:
Spirit nagas, in particular, have a knack for using lesser races to do their bidding. They know how to read creatures like kobolds, goblins, hobgoblins, and even nomad humans and trolls; knowing their tendencies allows them to know how to hold power over them. Knowing that kobolds will feel bound to fulfill a debt or favor owed, a spirit naga might do something to help their tribe, knowing not only that she can call in that favor later but that, until she does, the tribe feels beholden to her. She would know that goblins are easily intimidated but aren’t likely to honor a debt, so she might use power and threats—such as a threat to have her kobold allies attack—to hold a local goblin clan in line. Meanwhile, a bakali settlement nearby needs assistance building a small flood control dam, so she enlists her goblin vassals to do it (thus ensuring the bakali owe her a favor, as well). Actual webs of intrigue set up by spirit nagas can get much more complex.
Errr, you trying to tell us something, book?
Nagas are naturally gifted at arcane magic, wielding primal sorcery much like dragons and capable of using it even in pre-Chaos War eras. They worship various gods depending upon their alignment and nature, but have a more lackadaisical attitude towards outright devotion: a small shrine with a few objects related to the deity’s area of influence is considered adequate for most nagas.
Naga language often adopts peculiarities even when speaking in other tongues: the water naga’s Aquan has no pronouns of any kind and sounds quite odd:
Example of Water Naga Speech posted:
Greetings, human, please forgive Cantha for frightening human; Cantha did not mean to do so nor does Cantha mean human harm. Cantha’s name is Cantha, what is human’s?
Racial Traits and Classes: All of these reptilian races save the naga have both base racial traits for making characters as well as Savage-Species style level progressions. The Dragonlance kobold has no Hit Dice or Level Adjustment and can be played much like a core race, although they get one new nifty trait on top of their Monster Manual features: Great Ally. This reflects kobolds being good team players, where their aid another and flanking bonuses given to allies is +3 and +4 respectively instead of the default +2.
Sligs are a 5 level class with the crappy Humanoid type. They have some pretty nice bonuses on all three physical ability scores but a penalty to Charisma, and they have Martial Weapon Proficiency in a variety of polearms. Their more eye-catching features includes the ability to spit acid as a ranged touch attack which can also temporarily blind targets, and they have Fire Resistance 10.
As for the three Bakali races...the base lizardfolk is exactly like its Monster Manual version save with more bonus languages: they’re underpowered with some natural weapons and a nice Armor Bonus along with being able to swim, but nothing else significant for their effective 3 level class. Jarak-sinn are like Lizardfolk Ogres: they are Large size, have higher Strength and Constitution bonuses than their base race but -4 Intelligence, a +9 instead of +5 natural armor bonus, and the unique ability to coat their melee weapons with corrosive acidic saliva which deals 1d4 damage and only works on living non-reptilian creatures. All for a 6 level class. Not very impressive either.
Finally, troglodytes have a nice 90 foot darkvision (most races have 60 feet at most), the Multiattack as a bonus feat along with natural weapons, and a +4 racial bonus on hide checks which increases to +8 in stoney and underground surroundings. They have good natural armor at +6, but their most iconic ability includes a constant 30 foot radius of musk which sickens all within the AoE for 10 rounds. The troglodyte has no means of suppressing this ability, which is rather debilitating for a 4 level PC class.
Thoughts So Far: In terms of expanded society and culture, this is a great book. Non-evil troglodytes are a novel concept, and I liked how the lizardfolk were made an interesting race with rich history while maintaining their iconic features. The kobolds and naga didn’t really add much new, and the racial classes are predictably underpowered.
Appendix: Rules of the Dragon
The final segment of our book includes feats, spells, equipment, magic items, and two new templates along with charts and tables for age, height, and weight for all of the draconian and new races detailed in Dragons of Krynn. Quite a bit of this material has previously existed in earlier Dragonlance sourcebooks, but are repeated here for their relevance to dragons and dragonkind.
Several of the new Feats enhance existing draconian abilities, and as such vary in quality. Feats which improve death throes are never going to see use in all but high-level play at which point the party cleric can resurrect you, while a Draconian Glide/Fly series of feat trees can give you outright flight but can cost up to 4 feat slots. Improved Energy Ray is a rather cool aurak-only feat which increases the damage of their innate energy ray and can imbue their melee attacks with it. Potent and Greater Potent Saliva increases the die types of a kapak’s poison/healing saliva, and due to Dexterity damage being better than outright healing damage is more useful to the males. Alternate Form allows any Adult or older true dragon to shapeshift into a single animal or humanoid form, while Draconic Vampirism allows a true dragon to gain temporary hit dice by absorbing the souls of other true dragons they slay.
The five Spells are situational to varying degrees. Detect Dragon allows you to sense the presence of creatures with the Dragon type but is very high-level in comparison to other detect spells and not as useful. Dragon’s Blood grants you immunity to the frightful presence of dragons and a scaling resistance bonus on saving throws against the abilities of a certain true dragon type determined by casting the spell. Dragonbane grants a weapon the ability to be unaffected by the death throes of a draconian and can automatically bypass any damage reduction of a dragon type creature. Dragonwise grants you a nice +10 bonus on Charisma skill checks when dealing with dragon type creatures, and finally Globular Hoard makes all unattended items touching one another to be considered to have all of the items’ combined weight for the purposes of manipulation; a common anti-theft measure for dragon hoards.
Equipment includes some new weapons and armor developed by respective races, and most of them are nothing special. But we have a new thrown ranged weapon known as a wyrmbarb: this barbed metal spear is connected to a 20 to 60 foot length of chain purchased separately. When thrown at a dragon or another flying opponent it can lodge in said opponent if they are hit and fail a Reflex save. This limits their movement within the chain’s length unless they succeed on a Strength check or dislodge it as a full-round action, taking damage while they do so.
For Magic Items, we have Mounted Dragonlances which deal more damage than the base but suffer attack penalties unless you are riding on a mount; a Shield of Breath Absorption which grants you Evasion against all breath weapons; and Stinkberries which can be thrown as sling bullets and cast Stinking Cloud upon impact. The artifacts include the deadly Dragon Orbs which can control evil-aligned dragons, drive draconians insane, and even let you peer into the past or future, but at the risk of being mentally dominated by the chromatic dragon spirit living inside. The Dragonlance of Huma is the most powerful of its kind, having more powerful abilities in the hands of a Lawful Good wearer while also granting said wearer the Mounted Combat for free and the Dismissal spell-like ability which can even banish gods from Krynn! The Dragonpurge Amulet was created by Malystryx the Red Dragon Overlord, and is used to absorb the skulls of dead dragons in an extradimensional storage space while granting scaling natural armor bonus to the wielder based on the number of stored skulls. The Heart of Dracart is capable of creating new draconians from already living ones by shattering the soul of a sacrificed draconian: said souls go on to create hundreds or even a thousand new draconians, but they are barely sapient and are good for little more than manual labor and brute combat. Finally, the Scale of Proxy can be used by someone nominated by a Dragon Overlord, granting them the ability to create Dragonspawn on their own.
Speaking of which, we have a base Dragonspawn template which only includes the bare-bones universal features of said subrace but without their more unique clan-based features. The other template is the Heart of Dracart Draconian. They are basically scaled-down draconians of the sacrificed host, with lesser natural armor and 2 less Hit Dice. They lose much of their innate supernatural abilities such as death throes, and they have middling ability scores: 10 in physical, 5 in mental, and lose all of their skills and feats save for Listen and Spot which are a static +2 bonus. They retain the host’s class but cannot cast spells due to their mental scores and cannot advance in levels. They’re predictably pitiful creatures meant only as mooks, but their existence as a template without sample stat blocks means that the DM will have to start making his own Dracart Draconians for this role. And given the preponderance of existing Draconian mooks in Dragonlance sourcebooks, this feels more like something done to gamify aspects from the novels than something which will be useful in actual play.
The last scholarly sidebar of this book is a rather interesting full-page one: it details a goblin hunter among his clan who spotted a blue tylor, and later described his encounter at seeing a hatori breaking free of the Dark Knights while a slave in their mines. The hatori’s rampage allowed him and the rest of his goblin kin to run or fight their way to freedom.
Final Thoughts: Back in the 1980s, the original DL Modules sought to “put the Dragons back in Dungeons & Dragons,” and every adventure featured one such monster in a role beyond that of a typical beast. As the final stand-alone product in the 3rd Edition era of the setting, Dragons of Krynn more or less follows upon this original mission statement but for all of Ansalon. As a sourcebook it is great and appeals to both players and Dungeon Masters, and the nation of Teyr is very detailed for its relatively short page count. The entries are fun to read and, in spite of Dragonlance’s status as a cliche fantasy romp, it is willing to make some big subversions on the various iconic monsters. It even gave the monstrous wyverns a novel historical role!
For the weak points, I’d say that these include the attempts at monster racial classes, and the feats and spells in back are not exactly appealing character options save for a few. But as those are in an Appendix rather than being a large portion of the book, this is not as bad as other D20 System products of its era.
I hope that you enjoyed this Let’s Read, for it will be my last Dragonlance-related review in a while. For my next Let’s Read it looks like it will be the al-Qadim Campaign Setting. Unless SIGMATA manages a surprise upset in the last 24 hours as of this posting.
I look forward to the next time we walk upon Ansalon’s shores together.