My Favorite Era For Dragonlance Gaming

Art by Greenedera

One of the most interesting parts of Dragonlance is that there are multiple eras that one can play in. The War of the Lance is perhaps the most popular as it is what started it all.

Yet there are other eras to play in. The Cataclysm, the Chaos War, the War of Souls, and several alternate timelines all offer something different for players.

Which one is the best is purely subjective. That being said, let me tell you about my favorite era. It’s the time between Legends and Dragons of Summer Flame. Here’s why.

The World is Yours

The War of the Lance is over. The story of the Heroes of the Lance has been told. Now is the time for new heroes.

The Dark Knights have not yet invaded Ansalon. Chaos has not reared his fiery head. The Age of Mortals is far in the horizon. It’s a simpler time.

The post-Legends era is exemplified by the Tales of the Lance boxed set. It’s a fantastic product for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd edition. You get a glimpse of the world after the war, as Ansalon settles down.

This era is great for exploring a post-war world, where the Dragonarmies were defeated, but not completely destroyed. With their decline, peace settles across the land. The gods have returned, causing a change among the people of Krynn and how they view faith.

This era was filled with possibilities. You were the one who could shape the future.

Easier Buy-In

In order for someone to know the core story of Dragonlance for the end of the Age of Mortals era, one has to read around 20 books. That is far too much to ask anybody to read. The goal should be to remove as many barriers as possible for gaming in Dragonlance.

Instead, it’s easier to just have new players read the Chronicles trilogy. Legends and even Lost Chronicles would be a bonus, but are not necessary. For that matter, a player only really needs a copy of Dragonlance Adventures or the Tales of the Lance boxed set.

All the Gods are There (Well, Mostly)

In this era, the gods have returned to the world and their faiths are being re-established. It’s a time when Dragonlance’s 21 classic gods are present. The High God is there, but Chaos has not made his return yet. Plus, Mina is still in her slumber.

Contrast this to the post-War of Souls era. While the gods returned, the two core gods of the setting, Paladine and Takhisis, are missing. Yet Gilean remained, meaning there was one more neutral god than good or evil gods. The good part of this era was that other gods got some spotlight. Then we added Mina as a god, who remained separate and had no clerics. While her story was interesting, it added another level of complication.

The simpler post-Legends era is more conducive to having all of Dragonlance’s gods available with less barriers for new players.

Magic is Less Complicated

When Dragonlance was an Advanced Dungeons & Dragons setting, magic was pretty simple. There was either arcane or divine. Yet after Dragons of Summer Flame, arcane and divine magic as we knew it went away. In its place came sorcery and mysticism, the ambient arcane and divine magics of the world. This ambient magic was more of a personal magic.

After the War of Souls and the release of the Dragonlance Campaign Setting, suddenly all four types of Krynn’s magic were available. One could be either an ambient caster or a god-focused caster of either arcane or divine magic. This organization and explaining what classes used what magic could be complicated.

With the post-Legends era, there are once again only two forms of magic. Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition offers more classes that use these forms of magic, but they are easier to explain. It makes sense to have the Orders of High Sorcery governing all of arcane magic, not just the type granted by the gods. Likewise, the concept of mysticism goes against the return of true healing in Chronicles.

While some class choices, such as the warlock, are a bit of a harder fit, it’s easier to tackle that fit with just two power sources.

Choices on Villains

One of the great parts of this era is that you have plenty of villains to choose from. You might have remnants of the Dragonarmies. Are they falling apart and disorganized? Or has a new highlord emerged to unite the Dragonarmies once more?

Likewise, you can fast forward a few years to when the Dark Knights are preparing to invade Ansalon. Chaos has not been released from the Graygem yet. It’s just Ariakan’s vision for an evil knighthood that has learned the lessons of the past and has not turned on itself.

Or, you can have smaller scale villains. Perhaps a Black Robe or a dark cleric pose as thorns to the players’ sides. Or perhaps a faction within a city pose a threat. The options here are endless.

Conclusion

While each era of Dragonlance offers a different experience, the post-Legends era offers a back-to-basics experience that allows dungeon masters and players alike to make the world their own.

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.
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