What Do I Know About First Impressions? Shadow of the Dragon Queen (D&D 5e); Part One
We’re going to do something a little different this time around. If you’ve been following me on social media, you may have seen some of this, but I’ve been looking at Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen a chapter at a time, and I’m pulling all of my social media thoughts together in one place, here on the blog.
Looking Through Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen
I am slowly reading a chapter at a time in Shadow of the Dark Queen, so I don’t go totally off the rails on other projects that I’m working on. It’s interesting to me that while the One D&D rules-language is getting less “natural,” the language in this adventure is less formal.
Even compared to earlier D&D 5e adventures, it feels like some of the language in this adventure is a little more careful not to assume that people reading the book have read years’ worth of other D&D adventures.
For context, I’m just now finished with the opening preludes, so that still leaves a lot of adventure left to see if the more direct and relaxed language continues for the more complex scenes and encounters.
For the record, I’m a fan of talking to DMs like they are using a game product, instead of presenting lightly defined terminology that has been in place for decades, so I’m saying this is a good thing.
Setting Backstory and Game Rules (War Comes to Krynn and Chapter 1: Character Creation)
I’m not going to spend too much time on the the opening setting information or the character creation section, other than to say that is a solid, succinct summation of the history of Krynn, the Gods of Krynn, and the region where the adventure will take place.
The character creation section provides some context for existing D&D ancestries, addressing dwarves, elves, gnomes, and humans, and introduces kender. They leave the door open for a DM that wants to allow characters from some other world to wander into Krynn to participate, but they also introduce the idea that maybe some ancestries got trapped on Krynn during the Cataclysm, even though they aren’t native to the world, and some descendants of those people might be around.
I don’t have a lot to say about the Backgrounds and Feats, mainly because I already did two rounds of analysis of these back when they were in Unearthed Arcana playtest form.
Chapter 2: Prelude to War
The setup for this adventure has the PCs all connected to the same NPC, who has passed away. They all get letters to gather at a specific village to celebrate his life. This provides us with a similar “old friends gather” moment that we had from the original adventures, but it allows the PCs to build the details of their connections.
While the characters travel to the village, there are three different preludes that can happen on the road. The preludes address some unique aspects of the Dragonlance setting for characters that could benefit from some additional context. The preludes are:
- Broken Silence
- Eye in the Sky
- Scales of War
Broken Silence provides a moment where a character that is specifically drawn to the divine to is introduced to one of the gods of Krynn, allowing that character to work as that god’s special agent in the world, and addressing that War of the Lance concept of finding the gods anew.
Eye in the Sky introduces the Night of the Eye as a time when an arcane spellcaster can come across a magical site that introduces the concept of eventually taking the Test of High Sorcery by delivering a message.
Scales of War is the general introductory piece, where the PCs run into draconians for the first time, but without much context, so the PCs can say, “WTF were those things?”
I like this, it’s a good start and it ticks all of the boxes. I’ll get into echoes of the previous adventures later, but I like the connection to the Heroes of the Lance meeting at the Inn of Last Home, but in a different way that feels unique to the group.