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How I explained the 5e Arcane Casters in my DL game

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  • How I explained the 5e Arcane Casters in my DL game

    I was listening to the canticle episode on 5e magic using classes. I have a different opinion on how to integrate the magic of bards, warlocks and sorcerers into the Dragonlance campaign setting and how High Sorcery interacts with them. I have copied and pasted my handout for my players on Roll20 below, but tldr; The Order of High Sorcery oversees magic rather than containing every form of arcane magic within their organization.

    High Sorcery

    Each of the Pantheons of Good, Evil and Neutrality produced an heir to contain the chaos of arcane magic, and guide mortal creatures in mastery of its study. The wizards initiated into their secrets and rites blended arcane and divine magic, creating an arcane tradition known as "High Sorcery". This arcane tradition is an Order of Wizards distinguished by the color of their robes.

    The Order of White Robes worships the moon Solinari, and learn secrets of magic related to defense, protection and support. They are inclined to learn the traditions of Abjuration and Divination.

    The Order of the Red Robes worships Lunitari and learn secrets of magic related to utility and change. They are inclined towards the arcane traditions of Illusion and Transmutation.

    The Order of the Black Robes worships Nuitari and learn secrets of magic related to power and domination. They are inclined towards the schools of Enchantment and Conjuration.

    Masters of the school of Evocation can be found in all of the Orders of High Sorcery.

    To be accepted into the Orders of High Sorcery, one must take a challenging test which will forever leave a mark of sacrifice upon the wizard. The rewards are great however, as the Order is the repository of magical lore and training unmatched upon the continent of Ansalon.

    Low Sorcery

    Low Sorcery is the practice of arcane magic that is tamed by the rites and mysteries of the lunar gods. As such, low sorcery is considered by the Wizards of High Sorcery to be dangerous, as spells are cast out of instinct rather than with the skill of a craftsman honed by years of study.

    Arcane Tricksters and Eldritch Knights

    The study of magical spells lower than 3rd level is not considered to be magic that is particularly dangerous by the Order of High Sorcery. Thus, 1st and 2nd level spells can often be found in mageware shops or used as texts in the education of those who can afford one. However, those spells of third level and above are closely guarded secrets taught only to wizards who have passed the Test of Magic in a Tower of High Sorcery. Those who refuse to take the test often turn to theft, adventuring and other unsavory methods to learn higher level spells.

    Some eldritch knights and arcane tricksters who join the Order of High Sorcery find employment within the Orders as assassins, gifted with magical crescent shaped swords and daggers enchanted to slay renegade magic users.

    Bardic Magic

    Bardic Colleges were a tradition of magic where the pure expressive power of music tapped found expression in arcane power. This form of magic also has a divine patron, the Bard King Habbakuk, god of musicians and poets. Where bardic colleges exist the Order of High Sorcery sends an observer to work and study alongside them. As long as bards restrict themselves to the study of bardic magic and obey the laws of magic they are considered to have fellowship with the Order of High Sorcery.


    The secrets of necromancy, though a form of wizardry, is generally not the province of the god of black magic Nuitari, but rather the teachings and secrets of the Lord of Undeath, Chemosh. His promises of eternal life and power over death are a siren song to black robes who dabble in necromancy. As the most powerful secrets of necromancy are mostly forbidden by the Order of High Sorcery, some wizards forsake the Order and continue their studies under the protection of the clergy of Chemosh.

    Sorcerers, Bloodline

    Magical creatures can through love or darker passions leave their imprint in the bloodlines of mortals when they assume a mortal shape. Their mortal offspring cast their magical spells through instinct, and given the fact that the magic is innate to their soul the study of wizardry is often useless to containing their power. Fortunately, binding magic to the soul of a mortal creature seems to lessen and contain the influence of Chaos. To this end, the wizards merely record the existence and bloodlines of these "changelings" to ensure that they obey the laws of magic.

    Sorcerers, Wild

    Wild sorcerers are those mortals with an innate gift for magic who have never received training in the rites and mysteries of wizardry. As such, the power of wild magic usually surges out of control when wielded by pure instinct. Stories abound of foolish sorcerers driven mad while lost in their own divinations, contorting into a monstrous form after a wayward enchantment, or being dragged to their death after creating a rift in the barrier between worlds. The Order of High Sorcery is eternally vigilant against these reckless magic-users and demand either to learn the mysteries of wizardry, or face death.


    When a patron imbues the knowledge of sorcery into a mortal's mind, they are offering a quick and easy path to power, usually for nefarious ends. Like wild sorcerers, the Order of High Sorcery fears the influence of Chaos on these magic-users and considers them enemies. However, occult magic by its very nature is secretive and many warlocks elude detection for years, sometimes even posing as wizards themselves. Warlocks who have even risen high in the ranks of the Conclave of Wizards before being discovered.

    If secrecy fails, a number of warlocks organized into a coven can usually match the power of the few agents of the Order of High Sorcery sent against them. The study of wizardry is difficult and few attain true mastery, while the bargain with a patron for magical power is easy.

    Renegade Wizards

    The Test of Magic undertaken in the Tower of High Sorcery is dangerous often leading to death for those wizards who do not have sufficient mastery of the chaotic power of arcane magic. Even for those that survive, they are often permanently mentally or physically changed by the experience.

    Fear of the test leads many wizards to avoid taking it. Some put away the study of magic, becoming tradesmen, clerics or soldiers instead. Others limit themselves to minor magics, becoming very proficient in casting these low level spells with unexpected power.

    For some however, fear of the test or disdaining the Order of High Sorcery's laws continue their studies. The Order attempts to keep spellbooks and scrolls containing spells of 3rd level or higher as their personal secrets, often forcing renegade wizards to turn to theft, the black market or research their own spells from first principles. Many of the most dangerous and innovative spells have come from the spellbooks of renegade wizards.

  • #2
    I decided in my own games, that for draconic bloodline sorcerers, that after the Overlords died and their totems were destroyed, all those dragon souls they absorbed were suddenly released back into the world, and sort of infected random people in the nearby area. Thus, some people basically had parts of draconic souls grafted onto their own, giving them strange and unique gifts. So far, the Conclave is still investigating what is causing this and whether it can be stopped or reversed.
    Formerly Daos Soulstaff


    • #3
      I'm not really worried about making sure every subclass is common on Krynn. I have a divine soul sorcerer in my game from a guy who isn't really familiar with the setting, so rather than dumping all the backstory about mysticism, I just allowed him to pick a deity to be descended from (he picked Solinari) and he is a unique and strange character that will never encounter another divine soul sorcerer.

      I think you and I are unusual though among Dragonlance Dungeon Masters in that we don't have restrictions on what people can play. There seems to be a common sentiment in the community that Dragonlance can't have any type of arcane caster other than wizards or that only DL races that were around in AD&D are appropriate for the setting as player characters. I can't really abide that.


      • #4
        Well I think my way is probably described in that Canticle (factions powers vs classes), but here's my take. Sorry for any repeated info.

        Renegadism vs High Sorcery.

        Renegadism if the application of chaos into one's magic. High Sorcery is the codification of magic to prevent chaos. This schism stems from three sorcerers in the Dragonwars causing major magical destruction, which forced the Moon gods to intervene, teaching a method to cast spells safely, forming the WoHS.

        So, all arcane magic (and psionics) are in some way brought into the world via Chaos (and his greygem). All arcane magic, therefore have a potential of creating massive amount of uncontrolled destruction, except those specifically bound by the Gods of Magic (i.e. their method of wizard magic). To ally with the magic gods is to turn your magic towards a more orderly and safer form of magic.

        Basically anyone casting unsanctioned magic by the three magic gods and the conclave is considered a "renegade." That includes magical creatures that use magic-like abilities such as dragons, irda, etc. Yes, that's a big and possibly unrealistic list of people/creatures to track, but the magic gods are all about controlling magic, and directing it in a healthy way back to the world. Therefore anything casting magic and causing major devastation is worthy of the Conclave's attention. Any discovered users are then tracked.

        Since I use factions, and magic feats available by high renown in the WoHS, if you have alliance with the magic gods, you get magic bonuses we normally see like the moon bonus chart. Sub-factions exist which a WoHS chooses. So a white-robed necromancer can never have the higher renown of a white-robed abjurer. With faction-based feats, this then doesn't interfere with the wizardly subclass traditions including War Magic and Blade Singer. It's because WotC can throw any crazy subclass they create, that it's just easier this way. I hate telling a player that he can't be a white-robed war mage because white-robes and war magic are dueling subclasses.

        So, all other classes and subclasses can be members of the Moon Magic/Conclave faction (as well as belonging to other compatible factions at the same time) A good example would be a Kingfisher (Faction with Conclave, subfaction Order of White Robes, Faction with Knights of Solamnia subfaction Order of the Kingfishers. Likewise, an evil eldritch knight would be a Thorn Knight, (Faction of Knight of Takhisis, subfaction Order of the Thorn).

        To be a renegade is to explore new ways of making magic, but at the risk of chaotic disasters and wrath of the moon gods. Increase renown as a renegade allows more metamagic feats to change parameters of ones spells. This comes at a cost where such metamagic manipulation can possibly unleashing chaos (i.e. to random spell results from a chart from 2e). Obviously things that give you renown as a renegade reduces renown as a Conclave member. Now renegadism is defined, I can now get to classes.



        Wizards use learned knowledge and practiced, codified spells. Anyone can cast this type of magic as long as they study it. Hence it's inherent danger because anyone with brains can start studying it. A wizard doesn't have to delve deeply into a faction, but the further one does toward moon magic, leads to more faction feats. Interestingly, I have an faction power for the divine caster, a god (DM) given 9th level divine spell slot from that god. So it's very possible a Black-robed wizard with absolute devotion to Nuitari can get the Moon magic, and Holy Order of Star faction and get that 9th level spell slot.

        Sorcerors, Bloodline

        The sorcerer has a past where a magical creature influenced the sorcerer, giving one magical powers. This can be through ancestry or magical alteration like Sindri Suncatcher calling into a vat of magically altered dragon's blood. Such creatures, if avoiding the traps of being a renegade, will be left alone and tracked by the Conclave,

        Sorcerers, Wild

        These sorcerers were influenced directly by Chaos, either by contamination via the greygem or divine curse of Chaos. Being one practically bars for from the Moon Magic faction.


        Depending on the patron, and how the Warlock uses their powers, the wizards will track warlocks just to prevent danger to people and magic. The Great Old One patron would probably be the greygem/Chaos. This would practically include renegadism as a faction for these types of Warlocks.

        Bards, Arcane Tricksters, Eldritch Knights, etc.

        These classes and subclasses and how they are treated is proportional to which faction they belong. Bards who strike an alliance with Habbakuk, Gilean, and Hiddukel (clerical orders also are a faction) are monitored but not considered renegades unless they start using Renegade faction feats. Bards choose Renegadism will obviously to confronted. Eldritch knights like the Thorn Knights will obviously be considered enemies unless they regain their alliance with Nuitari (in my future campaigns, Sargonnas, Morgion, and Nuitari leader the Lily, Skull, and Thorn knight of the New Knights of Neraka in my campaign).