The 5th Edition book for the Dragonlance setting has turned out to be less a setting book and more an adventure with some setting data. In an attempt to make up the difference, I recently purchased two Dragonlance books written by fans from DMs Guild. In this post, I'm reviewing Dragonlance Companion.
From the beginning, 5e source books have consistently been reductionist, boiling down established settings into just the generally important parts. It's a choice the 5e team made, and there's an argument for it. There's a lot of lore in the D&D multiverse, and it just isn't technically important for anybody to know the details. From a certain perspective, it pays for Wizard of the Coast to not give the impression that special knowledge is required to play. The message they're probably trying to send is that you can play D&D without knowing anything about D&D.
In a previous review, I praised Tasslehoff's Pouches of Everything for being a book for the Dragonlance fan. It improves things in the official 5e book, and adds a lot more besides. But it is, admittedly, filled with a lot of detail. You don't just get elves in that book, you get Silvanesti, Qualinesti, Kagonesti, and even Dimernesti (plus half-elven variants). You get two kender types, minotaurs, ogres, half-ogres, and so on. Tasslehoff's Pouches of Everything is all about the minutiae of Dragonlance.
Dragonlance Companion is not.
As it says in the title, Dragonlance Companion is a companion volume for the official 5e book. While Tasslehoff's Pouches includes the stuff you can't even imagine 5e bothering with, each chapter in Companion adds just the obligatory content you can imagine the 5e book left on the cutting room floor due to space issues.
Chapter 1 makes Draconians a playable race, and also provides the half ogre and thanoi races.
Chapter 2 provides sub-class options, including an Artificer Flesh Sculptor, a Rogue Tinkerer, a Monk of the Divine Way, and more. There's one sub-class for each class, so everyone gets something new.
Chapter 3 has backgrounds: a Knight of Neraka and a Seeker Guard. I'm not sure how valuable either of these are. I wouldn't allow my players, at least, to choose these evil backgrounds. Maybe Seeker Guard would be acceptable, but I don't have a great association with Seekers, and definitely not the Dark Knights. Tasslehoff's Pouches included the Dark Knights as a faction, but that's broadly useful for NPCs as well as for the odd evil-aligned campaign. These backgrounds are pretty limited, and they're the only two backgrounds provided.
Chapter 4 includes a bunch of spells. I love new spells, can't get enough of them. This section has spells 19 new spells, including two cantrips and one 9th level spell.
Chapter 5 contains magic items. It's not as good as the Tasslehoff's Pouches magic item section, but you can't really go wrong with magic items. They're fun to read about, fun to give to players, and they're useful as significant quest item.
The most intriguing magic item are spell runes, a whole subsystem allowing a player to sew magic, in the form of runes, into their robes. It's a fascinating system, and one I'd love to see a player use.
I love subsystems like this, and for me the magic chapters of this book are by far the strongest.
After all the player content, there are two chapters of lore. These are strong chapters, but my favourite is the chapter about the gods. It uses a Piety system so you can make the gods feel real in the world, and it has a full page on each of the gods of Light, Dark, and Neutrality. It has beautiful artwork, and lots of great information.
Finally, the book features a two short encounters, and a 20-page adventure.
I really like the idea of having some brief encounters. I love a good "side quest" but sometimes a side quest practically becomes its own campaign. These encounters are truly short and manageable.
The adventure is appreciated, and I'm eager to run it. I'll write a separate review, but I like this adventure a lot, and I feel it sets a great example of how to run an adventure in a world that's incidentally at war.
Finally, there's a bestiary. As with spells and magic items, I think it's hard to go wrong with a bestiary. That said, there are some pretty specific monsters here, and some are seemingly reprints (the Zombie, for example) from the Monster Manual.
Dragonlance Companion is the book that sits comfortably between the official 5e book and Tasslehoff's Pouches of Everything. It's got more utilitarian content than the official 5e book, but not as much detail as Tasslehoff's. If you're a fan of the 5e Dragonlance book, then this is a great investment. If you're a fan of Dragonlance, and you incidentally want to run it in 5e, then Tasslehoff's Pouches of Everything (and Dragonlance Companion, for the magic items and adventure if nothing else) is for you.
Dragon art by David Revoy. Creative Commons BY.