DnD publisher Wizards of the Coast has given its first detailed look at Dragonlance 5e, showing off the campaign’s first chapter at a press event on October 27. Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen is an adventure set during The War of the Lance, so players will naturally expect to be on the front lines of battle. Its first chapter also shows off what life in the nation of Solamnia was like before it faced conflict, though – and it’s filled with gnome flingers and fishing competitions.
Senior D&D designer F. Wesley Schneider showcased the campaign book’s first chapter. “In the first chapter of the adventure, there’s not a massive conflict”, Schneider says. Instead, the party has a chance to mooch around the quiet fishing town of Vogler. “The players have the opportunity to meet up and celebrate the life of a mutual friend, and get to know this quaint little town”, Schneider adds.
The early campaign takes place during the Kingfisher festival, so players can also try their hand at carnival games or challenge Vogler’s mayor to a fishing contest. Another lighthearted addition is the introduction of the Tinker Gnomes – an old-school D&D race that loves inventing and engineering. In Vogler, they’ve set up a “rapid transportation” catapult known as the gnome flinger. “There are a few elements like what to do when you’ve been launched which are still being worked out”, Schneider says.
At this stage of the campaign, no one yet knows that Takhisis the Dragon Queen is marching Dragon Armies across the land. “We spend a significant amount of time helping DMs build up Vogler as a pleasant place,” Schneider says, “and then slowly all of that starts to get threatened”.
“As the first chapter moves from its first act to its middle stages, there’s more rumours, threats, and things that don’t necessarily make sense”, he adds. “There are stories of dragon-like people sneaking around the hinterlands of the community. Soon it becomes obvious that Vogler is the first stop for an incursion of new, largely unknown enemy forces from farther east that are sweeping towards the town.”
It’s up to the players how they respond to the approaching threat, but Schneider shares a few tips. “A big element is taking inspiration from real-world history like Dunkirk”, he says. “If you need to evacuate town, how are you going to do that?” If you can find a way to safely land, that gnome flinger might be a solid option.
Schneider also revealed other content included in the early pages of Shadow of the Dragon Queen. Chapter openers will now be two-page spreads of large-scale battles and vistas. It’s also been clarified that rules from One D&D won’t be used in Shadow of the Dragon Queen (though this is one of the DnD books that will be compatible once DnD 6e is an actual in-our-hands thing).
There’s also a gazetteer and three prelude chapters that aim to introduce players to key Dragonlance lore before the story starts. “Dragonlance has a lot of lore and wild stuff that’s going on”, Schneider says. “We don’t want players who are coming to this for the first time being asked if they’ve done their Dragonlance homework”.
Shadow of the Dragon Queen also provides guidance on using the world’s DnD races to create a character. Schneider says the Kender, pointy-eared humanoids that are native to the campaign’s planet Krynn, are the “most noteworthy people in the setting.” “We give you all you need to play them, as well as what you need to play Dwarves and Elves and others in the setting”, he adds. Old-school Dragonlance fans may want to note that Gully Dwarves don’t seem to be making an appearance.
Speaking of pre-5e Dragonlance, Schneider gave a rough indication of where Shadow of the Dragon Queen falls in the setting’s grand timeline. “There’s an incredible amount of Dragonlance media, but the story of your Krynn is very much for DMs and players to define,” he says. “Where all of that happens is 100% up to you; but were we to place that somewhere literally, this would take place before a lot of the novels and before the stories of the Heroes of the Lance – by several months to several years.”
Along with the campaign, Schneider and Wizards showed off the Dragonlance: Warriors of Krynn scenarios, setup, and how it plays in the press briefing.
D&D is having a field day revisiting some of its most iconic DnD settings – check out our Spelljammer guide or Spelljammer Adventures in Space review for another recent example. Or, for more party times, here are our top DnD campaigns.