Designing DL5e: Overview


During the 3rd edition era of Dragonlance gaming, I learned an important lesson from Cam Banks. When you design a setting a game for a new system or a new edition, you have to look at the setting through the “lens” of the rules you are designing for.

For example, during the early DL3e days, many fans wanted sorcery and mysticism to function much like they had in SAGA. Yet those two systems are so totally different it wasn’t funny. I remember Andre’ La Roche coming up with how spellshaping worked in D&D 3rd edition – metamagic feats.

With Dungeons & Dragons 5e, we must do the same. I know that the temptation is there to turn every prestige class in the 3rd edition books by Sovereign Press/Margaret Weis Productions into subclasses. Likewise, we could examine every race, feat, piece of equipment, and so forth and carry it on into infinity.

Don’t get me wrong. If you find converting rules fun then by all means, have at it! However, I believe that we should follow the tenets of KISMIF (Keep It Simple, Make It Fun). Where you might be tempted to make a new rule, see if an existing one will work with some reskinning.

A recent article on EN World compiled some thoughts from Mike Mearls on the design philosophy of 5th edition.

“In terms of players, we focus much more on narrative and identity, rather than specific, mechanical advantages. Who you are is more important than what you do, to the point that your who determines your what. In broad terms – and based on what we can observe of the community from a variety of measures – we went from a community that focused on mechanics and expertise, to one focused on socializing and storytelling. Mechanical expertise is an element of the game, but no longer the sole focus. Ideally, it’s a balanced part of all the other motivators. If balanaced correctly, every has their fun. Enjoyment isn’t zero sum.”

It’s this philosophy that I believe we should take with Dragonlance in 5th edition. Dragonlance is one of the most narrative of D&D settings. It’s a world of story, adventures, and wonderful characters. That’s what I want to focus on.

In future installments of this series, I’ll be talking about Krynnish races, classes, and archetypes, and how we can approach Dragonlance gaming with a philosophy of “less is more.”

So stay tuned. We’re going to have some fun.

About Trampas "Dragonhelm" Whiteman

Trampas “Dragonhelm” Whiteman is best known for co-creating and administering the Dragonlance Nexus fan site. He is co-author of three Dragonlance books – Holy Orders of the Stars, Knightly Orders of Ansalon, and Races of Ansalon. When not evangelizing Dragonlance and other settings, Trampas is a husband, father, podcaster, and web designer. Trampas also enjoys reading comics, reading fantasy and scifi novels, and playing D&D.
Bookmark the permalink.


  1. I look forward to this. I have taken on the task of conversion to 5e for a home campaign. This, of course, means some homebrew rules; which included not allowing Monks, Bards, Warlocks, or Sorcerers because I did not feel they fit the flavor of Krynn. At any rate, I would enjoy seeing another take on the DL setting; especially on the archetypes which I was afraid to touch.

    • Hi Ed! I’m definitely going to be talking about the various archetypes, and they’re not as hard as you might think. Stay tuned!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Memorable Quotes

    What do I ever see with these eyes of mine, Half-Elf? I see death, death and destruction. I see war… The constellations have not returned. The Queen of Darkness is not defeated.

    — Raistlin Majere, Dragons of Autumn Twilight