The world of Dragonlance has several iconic elements to it, but perhaps none so much as its factions. You could be a heroic Knight of Solamnia, a villainous Knight of Neraka, or a Steel Legionnaire. Or perhaps you want to be a powerful Wizard of High Sorcery or a faithful member of one of the gods’ holy orders. The list goes on.
In prior editions, the way to handle this would be to create a prestige class (or similar mechanic) to represent the role. Dragonlance was, in my opinion, the poster child for a perfect world for prestige classes. We should just create subclasses to fill all these roles, right?
As I mentioned in the prior article in this series, we must look through the lens of the current system. We could do subclasses for all these roles, such as the Purple Dragon Knight fighter subclass in the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide. However, this isn’t as elegant of a solution for Dragonlance.
For example, let’s say you want to play a Knight of the Rose. You’re going to have to advance through the Orders of the Crown and Sword Knights first. How do you represent that with just one subclass per class? What about your Wizards of High Sorcery? Do you go with one wizard subclass, or one per order? What if you wanted to take on another arcane tradition?
It gets messy. There’s a better solution.
Let’s take a look at factions. With factions, you can have both typical and atypical members of an organization. Derek Crownguard didn’t have levels as a Knight of Solamnia in 3rd edition because he wasn’t LG in alignment, yet he definitely was a member of the Knighthood. Some prime examples are characters like Bram di Thonn or Galen Pathwarden. Factions accommodate them.
What I propose is that factions are used for broad groupings, then subclasses and/or feats can be used for more specialized roles. For example, any wizard can be a Wizard of High Sorcery (so long as they past the Test), but a wizard may take on the griffon wizard subclass to represent more specialized training.
There really is no one right path here. If you like using subclasses to fill these roles, then go ahead. For the reasons I list above, I would rather focus on factions first.