Dragons, lances and some other stuff
Dragonlance is a setting in D&D taking place on the world of Krynn; a high fantasy world in which the gods of good and evil continually struggle against one another. The gods are joined in their struggle by mortal beings as well as their true children, the dragons. The setting was first created by Laura and Tracey Hickman with over 190 novels having been written about Dragonlance and many D&D modules including a setting book for 3.5e. Dragonlance is also the setting of the 5e campaign, Shadow of the Dragon Queen releasing 6th December 2022.
The setting takes its name from the “Dragonlance”; the only weapon with which a mortal can kill a dragon. Dragonlances were first created during the 3rd dragon war of Krynn for the purpose of killing evil dragons. They can only be created when god-blessed artefacts are used to create them. A lesser dragonlance can be created with a single artefact and are blessed with the power of evil while greater dragonlances are created using 2 god-blessed artefacts and are created using the power of good.
Most of the novels and adventures in the Dragonlance setting occur on a small continent known as Ansalon though others have occurred on a continent northeast of Ansalon, known as Taladas. These continents are part of the world of Krynn which is the third, and most highly populated world of Krynnspace.
Locations in Ansalon
Abanasinia is a region of the continent Ansalon primarily made up of human settlements and is the primary area in which the Dragonlance books are set. It includes:
- Anktavaka: A town on the west coast of Abanasnia that used to be part of the Empire of Ergoth until the cataclysm struck and the town was left behind. It then became ruled by the Seekers until the old religion was restored.
- Darken Wood: Guarded by undead warriors that failed to keep their oath to the Forestmaster in life, these warriors must now serve as guardians in their undeath. Several clans of centaurs also live here under the rule of a unicorn known as the Forestmaster.
- Haven: The political and religious centre of Abanasnia, it is from here that the Seekers ruled the region until the city was captured by red dragons during the war of the lance.
- Gateway: A town about half way between Haven and Solace that was ruled over by the Seekers until the War of the Lance.
- Pax Tharkas: A fortress originally built by dwarves, elves and humans as a symbol of peace (Pax Tharkas literally meaning Citadel of Peace in Elvish). It was later taken by the red dragon army during the war of the lance until the Heroes of the Lance freed the human slaves there and killed Lord Verminaard who ruled his dragon army from here.
- Plains of Dust: Before the cataclysm, a nation lived in the plains of dust, ruled from the capital, Tarsis, but after the cataclysm, the plains became barren and hostile making them treacherous to cross. Tarsis became isolated from most of Abanasnia as a result.
- Que Shu: A city of plainsmen surrounded by a circular wall and led by a chieftain. The city and its people were destroyed during the War of the Lance with the only survivors being the Chieftains daughter, Goldmoon and her betrothed, Riverwind, both of which were Heroes of the Lance.
- Solace: Once part of the Qualinesti realm of the elves, it was abandoned by the elves after costly battles and due to its distance from the capital of Qualinost. The humans that settled there eventually built their homes in its strong trees to protect themselves from frequent goblin attacks. It is also the town in which the Heroes of the Lance join together for their quest in the Dragonlance Chronicles
- Tarsis: A very important port city up until the cataclysm. It was known for large, white sailed ships and being a highly important trading post between various nations. Once the cataclysm struck, the sea it was built next to was emptied causing the city to lose much of its trade and lose much of its commerce. It was taken by the dragon armies during the War of the Lance.
- Xak Tsaroth: Formerly a city of Solamnia, the place fell partially into a ravine created by the cataclysm causing it to be abandoned. Gully dwarves later made the place its home and were then enslaved by the draconians that settled there under the leadership of Lord Verminaard during the War of the Lance. The city fell collapsed completely when the Heroes of the Lance killed the dragon Khisanth and it thrashed around.
Blood Sea Isles
A group of islands left mostly untouched by the War of the Lance as a maelstrom kept the islands separate from Ansalon, though some people from here did join in the war as soldiers. Most people of the Blood Sea Isles are seafarers of some kind whether it be fishermen, traders, transporters or merchants. The place is mostly inhabited by minotaurs.
A once powerful nation that caused a fracture in the elven realms of Silvanesti into Silvanesti and Qualinesti during the Kinslayer wars. It wasn’t until rebels took over domination of Ergoth that it became diminished in power. The cataclysm further reduced Ergoth’s dominance by creating a split between 2 portions of the Empire, creating 2 smaller kingdoms, Northern and Souther Ergoth.
Silvanesti is the original home of the elves in Ansalon. The capital is Silvanost, a beautiful forest city of marble buildings and great towers. The city is now abandoned as ogres drove the elves away during the War of Souls.
Qualinesti is where the breakaway elves from Silvenesti settled with their capitol, Qualinost. The kingdom is almost an opposite of Silvanesti which is most beautiful at night, Qualinesti is most beautiful during the day. The kingdom is located near to Haven.
The largest nation of Ansalon and he original home of the Knights of Solamnia who were eventually disbanded and despised when they failed to prevent the events of the cataclysm. The nation is mostly made up of several Lordships that rule areas of the kingdom.
When the Empire of Ergoth began to fall, another empire rose in prominence, that was Istar. Kingpriests rule over the people from lavish palaces. During the cataclysm though, the entire empire of Istar was destroyed and sent to the bottom of the ocean forming the Blood Sea of Istar and was believed to be a portal to the Abyss.
Goodlund can be found east of Balifor and south of the Minotaur Empire. It is where the majority of Kender call their home with the Kender capital, Kendermore, being located here. During the War of the Lance, many of the surrounding nations allied with the white dragon army, the kender resisted the dragon armies. Kronin Thistleknot was able to lead a successful rebellion against the dragon armies, driving them out of Kendermore and Balifor. The armies retreated to the east of Goodlund even after the War of the Lance had ended.
In the furthest southerly portion of Ansalon is Icereach, a frigid region of huge glaciers. The region used to be fought over by tribes of barbarians and ogres but the ogre civilisation fell apart long ago and is now primarily fought over by the Thanoi, Ice Barbarians and white dragons. Prior to the cataclysm, Icereach wasn’t as barren as it is now and even had a great kingdom established there, but this kingdom is no more.
The major Gods of Krynn are made up of the High God and his children who represent different alignments and motives; Paladine is the God of good, Gilean of neutrality and Takhisis of evil. They are all opposed by Chaos who seeks to destroy Krynn. Clerics draw their power from these gods while wizards draw their power from the 3 moon gods; Solinari, Lunitari and Nuitari. Solinari is the son of Paladine and a patient god of good alignment. He often acts slowly allowing events to resolve themselves. His followers are the order of the white robe. Lunitari is the God of neutral magic having been born from the thoughts of her father, Gilean. Her followers are the order of the red robes. Nuitari is the god of evil magic and his followers are the black robed wizards of high sorcery.
Around the time of the cataclysm, however, the people of Krynn had mostly turned from the gods which led to a cataclysmic event that destroyed and scarred much of Krynn. For the 300 years following the cataclysm, and up until the War of the Lance, the people did not worship the old gods, nor did blessings come from them. That is until Takhisis invaded the world with her dragon armies and began bestowing powers upon new clerics. This was soon followed by clerics beginning to worship the gods of good as well such as Goldmoon who became a cleric of Mishakal (the goddess of healing and restoration) and Elistan who became a cleric of Paladine.
The world of Krynn is made up of many races. Humans are the most populous race but the world is also home to elves, dwarves, kender (halflings), gnomes and minotaurs. Depending on the time period, dragons are either rare or common on Krynn. Dragon-like humans called draconians can also be created through a corruption of dragon eggs and are often used as soldiers in the various wars of the land. Good draconians are formed from the corruption of evil dragon eggs and evil draconians from the eggs of good dragons.
The history of Krynn is split into 5 ages each of which is defined by key events such as the creation of Krynn and the cataclysm.
Age of Creation
The Age of Creation (sometimes known as the Age of Starbirth) is when the gods created Krynn. First, they aligned themselves with one of the 3 primary deities; Paladine, the god of good, Gilean, the god of neutrality and balance and Takhisis, the goddess of evil. These 3 gods chose their companions and between themselves, they guided Reorx in the shaping of Krynn and the creation of the first dragons. Only Chaos was excluded from the creation of Krynn.
The ever deceitful Takhisis corrupted the first dragons in her image creating the first chromatic dragons, those of red, green, blue, white and black. Even now, most chromatic dragons are evil and align themselves with Takhasis. Paladine was dismayed at the corruption of his first children and had Reorx build monuments to them. He transformed these monuments into metallic dragons of gold, silver, bronze, copper and brass. Even now, most metallic dragons are good-aligned and follow Paladine.
This led to Takhasis creating more treachery which started the All-Dragons War. The war became so profound that the gods had to remove themselves from Krynn to prevent complete destruction of the planet. Each created a realm to inhabit, the gods of light creating the dome of creation, the gods of dark creating the abyss and the gods of balance creating the Hidden Vale.
This did not prevent them continuing their fight and they soon discovered the potential stars have as spirits. This began the All-Saints War as the gods fought over the spirits of the stars. The High God was forced to intervene and allowed each group of gods to give one gift to the star spirits. The gods of light gifted them with a physical form, the gods of dark gifted them with ambition and desire and the gods of neutrality gifted them with free will. From these spirits with their new gifts were formed the races of elves, humans and ogres which then began to inhabit Krynn.
Age of Dreams
With the creation of the peoples of Krynn ame the Age of Dreams, spanning from 9,000 PC to 1,000 PC. At first, the different races began to stake their claim for different parts of Krynn, occupying different lands. The ogres claimed the mountains, the elves claimed the forests, the humans went to the plains and the gnomes inhabited the continent of Taladas.
During the first 3,000 years of this age, the ogres adopt an attitude of cruelty to the humans, enslaving them and forcing them to build their cities. As both nations grow, the humans become powerful enough to rebel against their overlords and break free from their ogre subjugation. Without their slaves to help them build their cities, the ogre civilisation begins to crumble.
At the decay of the ogre civilisation comes a decay of the race itself, deforming into more base races such as goblins, giants and half-ogres. Some ogres realise that their race is deforming and split off, forming a pure, master race of ogres, calling themselves the Nzunta led by Doom.
Around 4,000 PC, the elves unite under Silvanos Goldeneye and decide to migrate from their ancestral lands, to magical lands that will eventually become known as Silvanesti, the new homeland of the elves. It is around this time that Gargath captures a stone known as the graygem, keeping it in the tower of Gargath. The gnomes lay siege on the tower to free the graygem. Once they do this, they are transformed with curious gnomes becoming kender and greedy gnomes becoming dwarves.
Around 3,900 PC, the ogres and the chromatic dragons follow the elves to Silvanesti to attack them, starting the First Dragon War. The war lasts for about 350 years before the elves manage to defeat the ogres and the dragons. In 2692 PC, the ogres and chromatic dragons attack Silvanesti again, beginning the Second Dragon War. This war lasts 47 years when the elven mages amnage to release a spell that kills the attacking chromatic dragons. During this time, the chromatic dragons manage to kill all the metallic dragons apart from 2 of each type, a male and a female.
In 2,600 PC, the Empire of Ergoth is founded. About 10 years later, wizards found the order of high sorcery and begin building new towers of high sorcery. When Sithel Silvanos (speaker of the stars) is killed by brigands in 2192 PC, war breaks out between the elves of Silvanesti and the humans of Ergoth. It is known as the Kinslayer War and doesn’t end until 2,140 PC. An end to all hostilities between the humans, dwarves and elves is achieved when a treaty is made in 2073 PC which leads to the building of the fortress, Pax Tharkas. This peace is mostly maintained for 2,000 years until the cataclysm strikes.
The end of the Age of Dreams occurs at the end of the Third Dragon War in 1,018 PC. Huma Dragonbane leads the people to victory but is also killed in the battle. It is at this point that Tahisis is banished back to the Abyss.
Age of Might
The Age of Might begins at the conclusion of the Third Dragon War of Krynn in 1,000 PC and ends in 0 PC. During this age, the Empire of Istar becomes the mightiest empire on Ansalon. They become a highly religious nation following the protection of the city by a cleric of Paladine, instituting Kingpriests as their rulers and becoming a moral centre for the world around 280 PC. It’s also during this time that the Kingpriests begin suppressing freedoms, listing acts of evil and enforcing execution or time in the arena to those accused of indecencies. The elves seclude themselves in their forest kingdoms as a result.
In 94 PC, the Kingpriest declares that certain races are inherently evil and as a result, attempts to subjugate them. This leads to a war with the minotaurs and the Empire of Istar which results in the enslavery of the minotaurs. By 19 PC, tensions have increased between the clerics and the wizards of high sorcery leading Istar to start the war of Lost Battles against the wizards. Two of the towers of high sorcery were destroyed during this war and as a result, the wizards agreed a pact with Istar to exile themselves to the Tower of Wayreth which ends the conflict. It’s also during this time that Istar begins employing mind readers to ensure that no one thinks evil thoughts leading to a great increase in punishments from the clergy.
By 0 PC, the audacity of the Kingpriests has reached its peak and Kingpriest Beldinas decides that with the aid of the disks of Mishakal, that he will ascend to godhood. The people of Istar are overjoyed to see their Kingpriest make such high aspirations and applaud his efforts but the gods do not share their enthusiasm.
To warn the people of Istar from this blasphemous folly, the gods send 13 signs to warn them from this path. These signs include the vanishing of true clerics, trees weeping blood and a never-ending storm battering Istar. The people though, mistake these signs as being works of evil and press on with their plans. The Kingpriest continued his preparations and on the 3rd day, the cataclysm was sent, destroying the whole kingdom of Istar, rending the lands of Ansalon and Taladas, flooding areas that had no water and draining seas where they once had been.
While the blasphemy of the Kingpriest and his people was the catalyst for the cataclysm, in reality, the people of Krynn had long turned from true worship of the gods. Istar simply demonstrate the height of the people’s arrogance and lack of understanding of true religion.
Age of Despair
The cataclysm marked the entirety of Krynn and even became the point at which calendars were marked. For the 300 years following the cataclysm, the period was known as the Age of Despair, a period of economic and mental depression through which the gods had abandoned the people of Krynn and very few prayers were answered until the War of the Lance began.
The War of the Lance
The War of the Lance occurred about 300 years after the cataclysm beginning in 348 AC and is the 4th Dragon War fought on Krynn. It occurs at the return of the gods to Krynn after their long absence when the cataclysm hit and also sees the return of dragons. It’s during this period that Theros Ironfield forged the first new dragon lances since the cataclysm to combat the dragon armies that were now invading Ansalon.
The Queen of Darkness, Takhisis is the one that initiated the War of the Lance. She awakened the evil dragons from their slumber and began imbuing power into clerics after a 300 year absence of the gods of Krynn. To prevent the good dragons from entering the war and balance the conflict, agents of Takhisis stole the eggs of the good dragons threatening to kill their offspring if they joined the war and promising to return the eggs at the end of the war. Unknown to the good dragons, Takhisis corrupted the eggs anyway, giving way to the new race of draconians.
Takhisis was prevented from entering Krynn herself by Jasla and her brother Berem who took one of the emeralds from the foundation stone. This stone infused into Berem’s chest giving him immortality, but also accidentally killed his sister. Takhisis’ forces searched for Berem, the Everman, so that the emerald could be returned and Takhisis could enter Krynn.
The Heroes of the Lance fought against the dragon armies and were chosen by Paladine through his avatar, Fizban, to fight against Takhisis. This group was made up of:
- Flint Fireforge – A hill dwarf
- Tanis Half-Elven – The bastard son of an elf and a human
- Sturm Brightblade – One of the few remaining knights of Solamnia
- Caramon Majere – A powerful mercantile warrior
- Raistlin Majere – A red-robed (and later, black-robed) wizard of high sorcery and twin of Caramon
- Tasslehoff Burrfoot – A roguish kender
- Goldmoon – Daughter of the chieftain of Que Shu and the first new cleric of Mishakal after the cataclysm
- Riverwind – Husband of Goldmoon and a ranger
Age of Mortals
The Age of Mortals is the period from which we now find ourselves. It begins in 384 AC with the theft of the world by Tarkhisis after the Chaos War. It is a time marked by Tarkhisis taking control of the nations of Krynn and is a time of much grief and despair.
The Dragonlance setting has spawned a myriad of books starting with the Chronicles trilogy written between 1984-1985 by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. Over 190 books have stemmed from this setting including:
- Dragons of Autumn Twilight
- Dragons of Winter Night
- Dragons of Spring Dawning
- Dragons of Summer Flame
- Time of the Twins
- War of the Twins
- Test of the Twins
- Dragons of a Fallen Sun
- Dragons of a Lost Star
- Dragons of a Vanished Moon
The Dragonlance setting also gave rise to a setting sourcebook back in 2003 for D&D 3rd edition as well as a myriad of campaigns and adventures. With rumours swirling that Wizards of the Coast may be ready to revisit Dragonlance with a new sourcebook, hopefully, we’ll have chance to revisit Krynn with whole new adventures soon.
Are there still Dragonlance books being written?
Yes, the last Dragonlance books to be written were the Dragonlance Legends trilogy, but Wizards of the Coast have commissioned a new trilogy of books known as the Dragonlance Destinies trilogy. Volume 1 of this trilogy will be called Dragons of Deceit and will be available on the 9th August 2022 and will be written by the original Dragonlance creators, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.
The release of this book may have been delayed due to a legal case the writers brought against WOTC for a breach of contract back in October 2020 that has now been resolved.
Dragonlance in D&D 5e
Wizards of the Coast recently announced that for the first time, Dragonlance will be coming to 5e with a brand new adventure releasing in late 2022. This adventure will be called “Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen” and will be released alongside a board game that follows a linked narrative. Little else is known about this adventure for now.