Thursday, August 27, 2009


In the online gaming community, a lot has been written about the latest, fourth, edition of the Dungeons & Dragons game. Inevitably change brings with it debate, and the debate about 4E, especially in the early days of the new edition, has often been quite heated.

I had been on a bit of a hiatus from D&D in the latter days of 3E (3.5, I suppose I should say). Whether you love it or hate it (and for the record, I love it) a new system like 4E represents an opportunity to reimagine all our favorite stories and characters, and soon after the D&D Character Builder was released I hit on the idea of seeing how I could represent the Heroes of Lance and the Heroes of Legend -- the characters from the Dragonlance adventures -- under the new rules.

In 1988, as a kid in Grade 6 (or "the sixth grade", or "Year Six", depending on which English-speaking country you live in), the Dragonlance Chronicles novels became my introduction to D&D. I read them, loved them, and when I got to the end of Dragons of Autumn Twilight I saw an advertisment for D&D. My reaction was more or less, "Holy shit, there's a game?!"

My friends and I became avid gamers, adventuring in the world of Krynn. As the early 90s went on, we moved on to the Forgotten Realms and other worlds, and Dragonlance, with its seemingly endless novels of dubious quality and bizarre continuity (or lack thereof) became almost an embarrassment, a setting "we used to play". (Many years later, in 2008, I reread the Chronicles and found that the writing doesn't hold up well to the eyes of an adult. Nonetheless, that sense of fun was still there, and the old familiar characters were still enjoyable.)

In spite of all this, some of the fondest gaming memories I have are of running my players through the original Dragonlance modules, DL1 to DL14 (published from 1984 to 1988). I suppose today we'd call that kind of thing an "adventure path". The first of those modules, Dragons of Despair, is in my opinion a very well-done adventure (rated 25th in the "30 Greatest Adventures of All Time" as published by Paizo in Dungeon #116), and those that followed may have been of varying quality, but they had a lot of unique features and bright ideas as well.

Getting back to the D&D Character Builder, I think one of the great things about those Dragonlance modules (and novels) were their beloved heroes. Tinkering with the Character Builder, I started building various versions of the heroes, selecting feats and powers that I thought fit with their personalities. Eventually, I started thinking about how these characters would fit together as a group of player characters if one were to run an adventure for them. That in turn led to me thinking about what it would be like to update the Dragonlance modules to 4th Edition.

And so here we are. I've embarked on a project to update the classic DL modules to 4E. I've been thinking a lot about what such a conversion requires and in reviewing the classic modules I see that there are going to be a lot of hurdles on the way. I've also taken a good look at the 3rd Edition conversion of the modules published by Margaret Weis Productions to see how they handled some of the issues I perceived with the modules.

I decided to start this blog to write some notes and thoughts about the process, and hopefully gain some feedback from anyone who might be interested. I've been hard at work on DL1, "Dragons of Despair", and soon I'll have a first draft to share for critique.

I hope you'll find my notes interesting and I hope that readers will share their insight. Although I've been a DM for many years, I'm definitely learning a lot about the fine art of both module writing and module converting, and learning (I think) a lot about some of the theory behind the 4th Edition ruleset as well. It's an ongoing process.

I'll leave you with a rundown of the builds for the heroes of the Dragonlance saga as I eventually setted on them. I'll discuss my reasoning behind some of these choices in a future entry. Here they are:
  • Tanis Half-elven, half-elf hybrid warlord | ranger (resourceful presence)
  • Sturm Brightblade, human fighter (great weapon fighter/two-handed weapon talent)
  • Caramon Majere, human fighter (guardian fighter/one-handed weapon talent)
  • Raistlin Majere, human wizard (war wizard/tome of readiness implement mastery)
  • Flint Fireforge, dwarf fighter (battlerager fighter)
  • Tasslehoff Burrfoot, halfling rogue (trickster rogue/artful dodger)
  • Goldmoon, human cleric (devoted cleric)
  • Riverwind, human ranger (archer ranger)
  • Tika Waylan, human hybrid fighter | rogue (ruthless ruffian)
  • Gilthanas, elf swordmage (ensaring swordmage)
  • Laurana, elf warlord (inspiring warlord)
  • Elistan, human invoker (preserving invoker)
  • Derek Crownguard, human paladin (avenging paladin)
  • Aaron Tallbow, human ranger (beastmaster ranger)
  • Serinda, elf bard (valorous bard)
  • Kronn Thistleknot, halfling fighter (tempest fighter)


  1. I for one was a little dissapointed that Dragonlance wan;t selected as the setting to be released in 2010. I too have nice memories of the novels.
    The character builder includes a version of Raistlin Majere in it, btw.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, NewbieDM (really like your blog, by the way). I haven't really started this blog in earnest yet (still playtesting my conversion of DL1) but I do have some (I hope) interesting things to talk about coming up.

  3. I found many of your character class choices interesting and whilst they were not what I originally thought of for the characters I find your reasoning very sound.

    So in my head Tanis is now a hybrid Warlord / Rannow ger 8-).