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D&D’s Clerics Create A Dragonlance Timeline Problem

The clerics in Dungeons & Dragons present a timeline problem in the upcoming Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen campaign, due to how divine magic is treated in the setting. The Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen campaign brings the classic setting into D&D 5e, with players facing an evil army during the early days of the War of the Lance. This gives players the chance to take part in one of the biggest conflicts in the history of D&D, as the world of Krynn is threatened by chromatic dragons.


The world of Krynn differs from other D&D campaign settings in a number of ways. There are some races from the Player’s Handbook that do not exist in Krynn, such as halflings, orcs (and half-orcs), dragonborn, and tieflings, to name a few. Some of the familiar races are also different, with gnomes being inventors that are obsessed with creating elaborate devices that seldom work as intended. Dragonlance has the kender race, which might be the most unpopular D&D race among DMs, thanks to how annoying their endless curiosity and disregard for the property of others can be.

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The three D&D magic types exist in Krynn, but they are also different. The practitioners of magic are also different, with arcane spellcasting being far more regulated and controlled in this setting than it is in other worlds, thanks to one powerful arcane order. Divine magic is also different in Krynn, due to how the gods stopped providing it for years. The gods are coming back in Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen, which causes issues when it comes to the timeline of the setting, as clerics of the gods of Krynn don’t exist in the period when the story is set.

Clerics Ceased To Exist In Dragonlance For Years

The Dragonlance D&D campaign setting differs from other D&D worlds in a number of ways. In Krynn’s past, an event known as the Cataclysm nearly brought about the apocalypse, which was followed by the gods vanishing, taking divine magic with them. When the novel series begins, divine magic and the gods of old have entered into the realm of myth. Arcane magic still exists, as the Mages of High Sorcery in Dragonlance still exist, but spellcasters are often mistrusted, if not outright hated by the common folk, turning them into an insular order that rarely interferes in global events. The world of Krynn was harsh enough after the Cataclysm, but the loss of divine magic was a major blow, as magical healing was off the table, and people had to fend for themselves.

The only true D&D clerics and paladins that existed in the world of Krynn in the lead-up to the first novel were evil ones. The goddess Takhisis (the Krynn version of Tiamat) was secretly planning to take over the world for years before the other gods returned. As such, a few clerics of Takhisis exist among the dragonarmies, but their numbers are few. The in-fighting among the forces of evil also ensured that many of these early clerics didn’t survive past the War of the Lance, though Takhisis had no shortage of fresh converts.

Clerics Eventually Returned After The War Of The Lance Began

A major part of the story of the first Dragonlance novel from nearly forty years ago, Dragons of Autumn Twilight, involves the return of the true gods and divine magic to the world. This is accomplished through the Heroes of the Lance, as they find the Disks of Mishakal, which are platinum disks that contain knowledge about the good gods. Goldmoon of the Heroes of the Lance recovered the disks after becoming the first cleric of Mishakal, the goddess of healing, and was tasked with delivering them to another. She found a man named Elistan, who would become the first cleric of Paladine (the Krynn version of Bahamut), and they would spread the word of the return of the gods.

Related: D&D Buffs Character Content For Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon QueenAs the series progressed, clerics of the old gods returned, but they were not as common as in D&D settings like the Forgotten Realms, which was home to many shrines, temples, and powerful clerics. Many of the clerics who survived the War of the Lance were still coming to grips with their faith and their new powers. This was why the death knight Lord Soth was able to attack the city of Palanthas with his undead forces during the Dragonlance Legends trilogy, as there were no clerics powerful enough to stop them.

Shadow Of The Dragon Queen Is Set Just Before The War Of The Lance

All of the cleric lore in the Dragonlance novels causes an issue with the upcoming and hard Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen campaign, as it’s set shortly before the War of the Lance, and clerics hadn’t returned to the world yet. This means that clerics and paladins shouldn’t be allowed in the campaign, at least not at the beginning, as word of the return of the gods hasn’t spread yet. Druids can skate by, with the excuse that their spells are powered by Primal magic that is tied to nature, but even they should be extremely rare.

In a recent press event for Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen, D&D Senior Designer revealed that clerics will be part of the campaign. Clerics will also be part of the Dragonlance: Warriors of Krynn campaign board game that will be released alongside the campaign. The intention is for the cleric situation to be addressed in several prequel adventures that will be included in Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen, which will introduce different aspects of the world of Krynn to those who are new to the setting. It’s unclear how this will be accomplished, but Krynn is a big place, and it’s possible to hand wave the situation by saying that other Dungeons & Dragons clerics appeared at the same time as Goldmoon and Elistan, who had similar adventures and roles in different parts of the world, and spread the word of the true gods return in secret, and their accomplishments during the War of the Lance went unnoticed, compared to those of the Heroes of the Lance.

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