What you need to know about Dragonlance Chronicles

All the essential spoilers

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The digital edition of the 5e Dragonlance Shadow of the Dragon Queen pre-order has been delivered, and I eagerly read through it in a day. I've been waiting for this book since the start of 5th Edition, but I wasn't sure what its scope would be. Now I know when in Krynn's long history the book is set, and the book gives you plenty to work with, but if you want more context then this post is a whirlwind tour of the main plot points of Dragonlance Chronicles.

Warning: This post contains nothing but spoilers. There's a lot that's not here, though. If you really really want all the lore, read at least Dragonlance Chronicles (the original three books) and then Legends (the sequel trilogy.)

If you don't have time to read this post right now, you can also view this article on Youtube.

A tale of two times

The world of Dragonlance is Krynn, and it's impossible to talk about Krynn without acknowledging that in a way it's a world of two times. Krynn itself has a very clear timeline, which is recorded meticulously by the scribe Astinus of Palanthas. However, everyone on Krynn knows that there was a world-changing disaster a few hundred years ago: The true gods of the world were forgotten, their clerics disappeared off the face of the planet, as did the good metallic dragons, the oceans rose, the land shifted, and Krynn would never be the same. It's called the Cataclysm, and basically everything on Krynn is spoken of in terms of "before the Cataclysm" and "after the Cataclysm." Even world maps are still catching up to the changes of the world, and with so many long-lived creatures on Krynn, the memories of pre-Cataclysmic Krynn are often all too fresh.

The 5e Dragonlance product, like the original trilogy, takes place post-Cataclysm, during a terrible war sparked by the invasion of the evil five-headed dragon goddess, Takhisis.

Dragons of Autumn Twilight

A group of friends reunite in the idyllic treetop town of Solace after 5 years of having gone their separate ways on personal quests. They are:

  • Tanis Half-Elven (Qualinesti/human)
  • Flint Fireforge (Mountain Dwarf, originally from Thorbardin)
  • Tasslehoff Burrfoot (a kender, from Kendermore)
  • Sturm Brightblade (a human from the regal principality of Solamnia)
  • Caramon Majere
  • Fistandantilus Raistlin Majere
  • Kitiara Uth Matar

Except that Kitiara doesn't actually turn up, but sends a note saying that she's busy with her day job as a mercenary.

And Raistlin shows up a full-blown red wizard (not of Thay, that's Forgotten Realms), but with strange golden skin and hourglass eyes.

This fellowship finds the once peaceful region dominated by a religious zealot ("the high theocrat") and strange lizardfolk (Draconians, actually). When two barbarians, Goldmoon and her fiancé Riverwind, are unjustly assaulted by the local authorities, our heroes pledge their aid, becoming instant enemies of the state.

Lots of adventures happen, with the group eventually reaching the ancient city of Xak Tsaroth. A black dragon dwells there now, and in a battle it kills Riverwind. Miraculously, Goldmoon is able to channel the power of the long forgotten goddess Mishakal to resurrect Riverwind. This makes Goldmoon the first true cleric since the cataclysm.

Raistlin, the young wizard, acquires an ancient spellbook from the ruins of Xak Tsaroth, and so he too has leveled up.

A few new companions

Along the way, the heroes pick up a few friends:

  • Gilthanus: Childhood friend of Tanis
  • Laurana: Former girlfriend of Tanis
  • Tika Wayland: Waitress from Solace
  • Fizban: Bumbling old man who claims to be a great wizard but can rarely remember his own name


Lots more happens, but in the end it becomes apparent that there's a fullscale war brewing. Strange new corrupted beings, born of dragon eggs stolen from good dragons, are invading to make way for their evil queen. The Dragon Highlord, Verminaard, is leading an army of Red Dragons to conquer Abanasinia. Krynn doesn't stand a chance.

But the heroes do what they can, at least, taking a stand against the oncoming armies. With the help of the unlikeliest of allies, they manage to convince a senile ancient red dragon Matafleur that the nearby Dragon Highlord, Verminaard, is threatening her children (her children are long dead). There's a final battle, Verminaard and his dragon are killed, and the region is saved, for now.

Dragons of Winter Night

This book is mostly Sturm's. In it, Sturm Brightblade decides to return to the homeland that exiled him as a child, to earn official knighthood and to help fight the dragon invasion. Along the way, he meets Alhana Starbreeze, a Silvanesti elf, who bestows him with a magical token of her affections.

Alhana Starbreeze happens to be the daughter of Lorac, the king of the Silvanesti, and she's heading home to find her father. To get there, the heroes must brave haunted lands full of undead and living nightmares, and it's here that literally the rest of the Dragonlance story is revealed. Through a series of visions, each hero (and the reader) sees the future. And it's not a trick. You really do find out how the story ends, although without context it's confusing and misleading.

When they find Lorac, the king of the Silvanesti, they discover that he's essentially melded with an Orb of Dragonkind (yes, the one from the Dungeon Master's Guide). The orb has taken over Lorac's mind, and the surrounding land has become haunted and corrupt.

Huma, dragons, and knights

As they leave familiar territory, the heroes meet Silvara, a Kaganesti (wood elf) guide who takes them to the ancient burial site of Huma. A war hero from before the Cataclysm, Huma Dragonbane was the bearer of a mythical dragon lance, and is credited for defeating the evil dragon forces long ago.

Silvara and Gilthanas fall in love, but she rejects him in the end. Silvara turns out to be the silver dragon D'Argent, which reveals that the good dragons are not gone from Krynn!

Could the good dragons unite and help Krynn fight the evil dragons?

Fizban and Tasslehoff visit Mount Nevermind, a Gnome fortress, to try to learn more about the dragon orbs.

Sturm goes to Solamnia to earn the title of knighthood, only to find that the remnants of the Solamnic order is in disarray. In-fighting, greed, and pride have reduced the once great order into a bureaucratic and self-serving institution incapable of defending its own homeland.

Knighthood or not, Sturm goes to defend his homeland against the oncoming blue dragon army. He stands alone on a tower, his father's sword in his hand, and fights to buy Tasslehoff and Laurana time, as they uncover a dragon orb and a dragon lance from deep under a castle.

Sturm falls to the Dragon Highlord Kitiara (yes, the same Kitiara who used to spar with him in Solace, more than five years ago). But he lasted long enough that Tasslehoff and Laurana have recovered a dragon orb and a dragon lance, possibly the keys to raising an army to fight for Krynn.

Tanis is captured, however, but is quickly recognized by Kitiara, who invites him in to her army, and her bed chambers. He doesn't argue, and succumbs to the allure of the dark side.

Laurana leads what's left of the local army to liberate some key cities, and becomes a war hero and general as a result.

Dragons of Spring Dawning

Tanis, Flint, Tasslehoff, Caramon, Tika, and Raistlin board a ship to get out of the occupied city of Flotsam. There's a shipwreck, but they're rescued by Apoletta, a beautiful Dimernesti (sea elf.) Raistlin, however, abandons them all and teleports himself to Palathas, where he studies ancient tomes to become an even more powerful wizard.

We learn that Kitiara has made a bargain with the death knight, Lord Soth, in her progress toward power.

In the meantime, Gilthanas and Laurana learn from Silvara that Takhisis keeps her brood of stolen dragon eggs in Neraka, an underground volcanic lair. This is also where her army is headquartered. As described in Shadow of the Dragon Queen, there are five Dragon Highlords, one for each color of evil dragon, and each one leads an army. Takhisis encourages inner conflict, believing that only the strongest contender for the title of Dragon Highlord should rule.

The city of Kalaman is the capital of the Solamnic province of Nightlund. It's detailed in Chapter 4 of Shadow of the Dragon Queen It becomes the target of Takhisis's wrath. Laurana and Tasslehoff are kidnapped, Laurana as a bargaining token and Tasslehoff because he got in the way.

Flint Fireforge dies of a heart attack as the heroes search for Laurana. The remaining party invades Neraka, Tanis giving himself up in exchange for Laurana. He pretends to re-join Kitiara as her lover and conspirator. At the last moment, though, Tanis is able to kill Takhisis's general, Ariakas, throwing the army into an internal power struggle. Raistlin appears, wearing the black robes of evil wizardry, and repays his debts to Tanis. The forces of Takhisis are in disarray, Neraka falls, and at least the overt war is over. Krynn is at peace, but has balance between the good, neutral, and evil gods been restored?

A bunch more

Not surprisingly, this isn't by any means the whole story of the Dragonlance Chronicles. I haven't mentioned the Gully Dwarves and the part they play in victory, I skipped the part where Tasslehoff breaks a dragon orb, and the dragonriding, and the battles fought with the dragon lances. I barely mention anything about Caramon, or Tika, or Elistan. There's so much good story in these first three books. Go read them yourself. They're awfully good, and you'll get to know these characters as friends.

I've gone back to these books time and time again over the years. They're my default fantasy read. Give them a try, and maybe they'll become yours, too.

Dragon art by David Revoy. Creative Commons BY.

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