Many have been the rumors of travelers who have crossed the void of the night sky or come by hidden paths from worlds not of Krynn.– Dragonlance Adventures, page 12
Back when Dragonlance Adventures was written, the designers thought it likely that Dungeon Masters might take their players from an existing campaign into the original Dragonlance modules. As such, they would be bringing existing characters into the setting. To address this, Dragonlance Adventures had a section called “Travelers From Beyond.”
Over 35 years later, Wizards of the Coast continues the tradition with Shadow of the Dragon Queen. In this case, the intent is to allow players to play any race in a Dragonlance campaign. Here is the sidebar in question.
PEOPLE FROM BEYOND
Peoples who aren’t native to the world still might find their way to Krynn. It’s possible to find individual members—or even small enclaves—of folk like dragonborn, halflings, tieflings, or any other race in Ansalon. Perhaps such individuals stepped through a portal and found themselves on Krynn, or traded with one of Krynn’s great empires before the Cataclysm. Use such possibilities to play characters of any race you please in your adventures across Krynn.– Shadow of the Dragon Queen, p. 24
This solution allows players to not feel constrained while playing in the world of Krynn.
Alternatives to Other Worlds
While portals are a viable option within the D&D multiverse, it’s not the only option to allow in races that are not standard to Krynn. Here are just a few examples.
- The character is from another continent beyond Ansalon. Your tabaxi might be from the jungles of Taladas, or your tortle comes from a remote island.
- You could re-imagine a race as a Dragonlance race. Maybe your half-orc becomes a half-ogre or even a Tarmak. Or your dragonborn could be a form of draconian or dragonspawn.
- You were transformed. Perhaps your kender warlock, out of curiosity, makes a pact with Jiathuli (example Fiend), transforming you into a tiefling. Looking at you, Bristlehex Sojourner.
- You or your ancestors were a creation of the Graygem. As a physical manifestation of Chaos, the Graygem was responsible for the creation of many of the races of Krynn. By the book, shifters wouldn’t be allowed in Krynn as they are descended from lycanthropes, which don’t exist on Krynn. The Graygem provides an alternative, changing your ancestors and giving you animal-like abilities.
A Few Words of Caution
Adding a non-standard races to Krynn can be fun, but there are a few things that might cause a few red flags. It is recommended that the player consult with the dungeon master first and let the other players know what you’re playing.
Here are a few pitfalls to avoid.
- Avoid commenting about a character’s “strange appearance.” Focusing on some physical feature, such as skin color, would not go over well. You don’t have to ignore the character’s appearance, but be sure to approach it in a way that is mature and welcoming. When in doubt, consult your dungeon master and fellow players.
- For many players, D&D is an escape from the problems of the real world. Having a certain amount of realism in D&D games can add depth, but things like fantasy racism don’t have to be one of them. If you are a DM and utilize this theme in a game, consult your players first to see if this is a red flag for anybody. Those themes should be reserved for villains, not players.
- Don’t be a gatekeeper. Nobody likes that player that says, “You’re playing a firbolg? Firbolgs don’t exist in Krynn!” Note that the gatekeeper may be wrong. Maybe the race was there all along and was unknown to the rest of the world.
- Make certain the non-standard race doesn’t hog the spotlight. Imagine a warforged who finds himself in Mt. Nevermind. He’s going to draw attention quickly.
- Not every race works in every campaign. Certain races fit the tones of some settings better than others. A plasmoid, for example, is great fun in Spelljammer, but would be out-of-place in Dragonlance.
Certainly, there are other potential pitfalls. Just be respectful of everyone in your group and you will be fine.
Having “travelers from beyond” can be great fun, but keep in mind that there may be pitfalls. Keep in mind the tone of the game. When in doubt, consult your dungeon master and fellow players.