Dragonlance 5e Review: Shadow of the Dragon Queen
Published on November 22, 2022, Last modified on September 21st, 2023
Beyond its deadly foes, epic battles, and dragon-filled world, Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen contains an epic adventure with interesting and unique new character options.
Cynthia Sheppard - Wizards of the Coast - Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen Cover
Table of Contents
Quick Review (No Spoilers)
What does Shadow of the Dragon Queen contain?
Pages: 224 pages
Published: November 22nd, 2022 (early preorder release), December 6th (general release)
Shadow of the Dragon Queen is an adventure for the 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons (5e) that takes players to the long-awaited Dragonlance setting. On the world of Krynn—the realm in which Dragonlance takes place—the party will become embroiled in a war between the evil Dragon Queen’s armies and the free people of Krynn. The fate of the world will rest on the party’s shoulders as they embark on high stake missions to undermine the Dragon Armies’ attempts to uncover a powerful relic.
Player options found in this book and include:
- A new sorcerer subclass, Lunar Sorcery
- A new playable race, the kender
- 2 new backgrounds, the Knight of Solamnia and Mage of High Sorcery
- 9 new feats
- 8 new magic items
DMs will find everything they need to run this adventure, including:
- An adventure that takes players from 1st-11th level
- 22 new monsters
- New “mass combat” mechanics
- The adventure is full of meaningful choices and player agency, which can make players feel like their very much a part of the world.
- The “large-scale battle mechanics” that were toted are simple and effective. Also, not having the board game doesn’t take away from the play experience at all.
- Characters that choose the Mage of High Sorcery background can actually take a version of the Test in the adventure and choose the color of their robes, which is pretty cool.
- The Lunar Sorcery subclass is easily the most versatile sorcerer subclass, which is a welcomed boost to a class with limited spellcasting options.
- The adventure can be played without any prior knowledge of Dragonlance.
- Fans of Dragonlance are not the target audience of this book. They skirt around swathes of lore, the mention of most established characters, and prominent locations on Ansalon in favor of making the adventure streamlined for new players.
- A lot of infamous Dragonlance villains (Lord Soth, adult chromatic dragons, etc.) are simply out of the player’s league and, while they show up in the adventure, you don’t actually get to face off against them.
- Going with the con above, the adventure doesn’t really reach a solid conclusion because of the level (and, presumably, page count) restrictions.
A Note About Dragonlance
This adventure was written without the guidance of Dragonlance’s founders, Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis, and it’s meant to be approachable to players who have never encountered the series. As someone who read the books when they were younger, this book barely feels like it was set in Dragonlance. Yes, there are Dragon Armies and kender and
Wizards Mages of High Sorcery, but Wizards of the Coast mostly gives established Dragonlance lore a wide berth.
If you’re looking to get involved in the War of the Lance with Tanis, Tasslehoff, Sturm, and the Majere brothers, I would look elsewhere for your adventure. If, like me, you enjoyed your time in Dragonlance and now want to be a part of a new story and new era, then this adventure will be just fine.
In-depth Review (Spoilers Ahead!)
The first thing you’ll notice when you look at the player options in Shadow of the Dragon Queen is “wow, these are strong.” The feats, backgrounds, and featured subclass are all significantly more powerful than even options found in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.
The Lunar Sorcery subclass gives sorcerers gives out 15 spells, discounts to Metamagic, and powerful passive abilities; the backgrounds all provide free feats at 1st-level; and the feats are just plain strong, no question about it. This is, however, supposedly on purpose. First of all, some of these backgrounds and feats are “locked” to the Dragonlance setting. This is the first time we’ve seen prerequisites like this appear in fifth edition and it seems to signal a change in the game’s design philosophy as it leads up to One D&D. Second of all, this adventure features some tough encounters, and the strong player options are meant to make your player’s characters feel like Heroes of the Lance as they clash with the Dragon Queen’s armies.
All in all, there’s nothing in this book that I would outright ban from my table (looking at you, silvery barbs,) and they did a good job making the backgrounds and feats thematic with the setting. The Mage of High Sorcery background, in particular, is cool because players can take the Test of High Sorcery and choose the color of their robs in the adventure. They even did as good a job as they could possibly do with the kender race, making it annoying, but not too annoying.
I haven’t played through the adventure yet, but it looks really solid. The players get roped into a burgeoning conflict when the Dragon Queen’s armies attack the cute little village the party is hanging out in. From there, you head to the city of Kalaman with the town’s refugees where you’re recruited into the military and undergo strategic missions against the Dragon Armies.
Eventually, the party discovers a clue as to what the Dragon Armies might be planning, which sends them to a remote area where they hex crawl their way around. This part was probably my favorite, as it features a lot of open-world RPG elements, like enemy bases you need to attack, and string all of the potential locations together well. The party then heads back to Kalaman for a siege where you (hopefully) drive the Dragon Armies off.
One thing to keep in mind is that this adventure is very heavy on combat, though there is a solid amount of exploration as well. If you’re a more social-focused group that wants to roleplay, this adventure might not be for you.
Another thing to note is that the adventure doesn’t even begin to resolve the War of the Lance in which it is set. The conclusion of the adventure has your party and the defenders of Kalaman drive off the Red Dragon Army, but there are 4 other Dragon Armies currently warring with the continent of Ansalon. Players might be surprised to learn, “that’s it” when they end the siege on the city. So, if you’re not willing to homebrew the rest of the campaign, they could be left with an unsatisfactory conclusion.
If you’re interested in seeing how the adventure plays in real-time, check out our live play of Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen:
Mass Battlefield Play
“Mass battlefield play” is something that was toted as one of the selling features for this adventure. A lot of the encounters your party will experience take place in the middle of a larger battle, which is why these new mechanics are necessary. There are two ways to play these out.
- You drop $150 USD on the “Deluxe Edition,” which comes with the Warriors of Krynn board game, as well as a D&D Beyond digital and physical copy of the book. I haven’t played the board game, so I can’t make any claims to how it plays, but you certainly don’t need it to play through the adventure.
- If you’re not using the board game, the book provides a battlemap with a 15ft border around the sides for each “mass combat” encounter. The border is called “the fray” and is meant to represent the battle going on around your party. If someone enters the fray, they have to make DEX saving throws or take damage. They also provide a table of random battlefield events that you can roll on each turn, which helps simulate the battle going on around the party. Honestly, the combination of these two things is a relatively streamlined approach for mass combat and helps the encounters feel different from encounters in other books.
What’s the verdict on Shadow of the Dragon Queen?
I really liked Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen and think it’s a pretty solid product all around. That said, before I play this with my tables, I’ll definitely be making sure everyone knows what type of adventure they’re getting into, as this definitely isn’t for everybody.
You will love this module if:
- Your players want to play as heroes who throw themselves into conflict for no other reason than to defeat evil
- Your group likes strategy and combat
- You’re interested in trialing some new player options that are trending toward what One D&D will play like
- You’re okay with leaving the adventure on a cliffhanger or homebrewing further adventures to “finish” the campaign
You won’t love this module if:
- You like the social pillar of D&D and want to roleplay extensively
- You’re looking for a lore-accurate Dragonlance setting
- You want the conflict to be completely resolved by the end of the adventure