Written in the Stars
The mortal races of Krynn can see the presence of the gods by simply turning their gaze to the night sky. There the constellations of the gods of good, evil, and balance wheel about in silent struggle to influence their children who live and die on the world below. The gods have blessed the world with miracles of healing and salvation, but so also have they inflicted war and terrible cataclysms.
Clerics, holy warriors, and people of strong belief serve the gods, working to bring about the aims and ends given to them through prayer and meditation. They wield the divine powers of true healing and magic, and most will live and die for their cause. Powerful champions wield holy artifacts, some created by the gods themselves.
Holy Orders of the Stars is a resource for games set in the world of DRAGONLANCE. Contained within these pages are resources for players, including information on the gods and the races of Krynn, new prestige classes, spells, and magical items. Detailed descriptions of the churches of all of Krynn’s gods are present, including the “lost” gods, Paladine and Takhisis. Dungeon Masters will discover resources on the gods and their aims, including their various aspects—ideal for incorporating divine forces into an ongoing campaign. All information within this volume is fully compatible with the revised edition of the d20 System game.
Holy Orders of the Stars (2005), by Sean Everette, Cam Banks, Chris Pierson, and Trampas Whiteman, is a clerics sourcebook for Dragonlance 3e. It was published in September 2005.
Continuing Sovereign's Dragonlance Saga. Sovereign Press' class splatbooks kicked off with Towers of High Sorcery (2004), a look at the very popular wizards of Krynn. Almost exactly a year later, Sovereign continued the line with Holy Orders of the Stars (2005), which covered the priests of Krynn (and their gods!). It would be the second of three such sourcebooks, with the third — Knightly Orders of Ansalon (2006)— following a year later like clockwork.
Expanding D&D. The biggest changes in Holy Orders revolve around how it describes gods. Much of this was the result of a Gen Con breakfast between Cam Banks and Tracy Hickman where they discussed the cosmology of Krynn. There, Hickman revealed a vision of the gods as cosmic forces, not as powerful persons. This led the Sovereign design team to discard most of the ideas about gods from Deities and Demigods (2002), including divine ranks and godly stats. They also totally renovated the idea of avatars, replacing them with "aspects". Unliked avatars, aspects weren't more-limited forms of the gods … because cosmic forces don't have stats in the first place! Instead, aspects were specific faces that the gods adopted when they manifested in Krynn — like Takhisis who could appear both as a temptress and a five-headed dragon. The concept fit well with Dragonlance's history — going back to the appearance of Fizban, who premiered in DL3: "Dragons of Hope" (1983), and running up to the reinvention of Chemosh seen in Amber and Ashes (2004).
Clerics of course gets lots of expansion too. That includes 18 different prestige classes, one for each major Krynn god other than the three moons. Many of these prestige classes were also appropriate for classes other than clerics; sidebars talk about how bards, blackguards, druids, monks, paladins, and rangers work as part of the various divine orders.
Holy Orders also contains new divine domains: charm, commerce, madness, nobility, planning, rune, time, tyranny, and undeath. The commerce domain had appeared previously in the Eberron Campaign Setting (2004), while all of these domains would reappear in Wizards' Spell Compendium (2005) a few months later.
However, the most interesting expansion for clerics may have been a little box labeled "Variant Rule: Spontaneous Domain Casting". D&D clerics had always been somewhat troubled by a one-size-fits-all class that didn't always match the many different deities being worshiped. If adopted, the spontaneous domain casting rules allow clerics to cast any of their domain spells in place of prepared spells, rather than being limited to healing and damage spells like typical 3.5e clerics.
Expanding Krynn. The deities of Dragonlance were one of the earliest creations for the setting. They sprang from the imagination of Jeff Grubb, and were originally used in his college games at Purdue University before he contributed them to Krynn. GMs also learned about them very early on thanks to DL5: "Dragons of Mystery" (1984), which showed the constellations of Krynn, detailed the origins of the world, and listed all 21 gods.
Despite that, gods (and their clerics) have more often been absent from Dragonlance than present. That started with the War of the Lance Saga (1984-1986), which only gave attention to Takhisis and Paladine, with the other gods largely absent from the world. Then, following Dragons of Summer Flame (1995), the gods were barred from Krynn again! As a result, the divine sourcebooks of the era focused on mystics instead of clerics, in supplements like Heroes of Hope (1997) and Citadel of Light (1998).
Following the War of Souls (2000-2002), the gods of Krynn were finally back to stay; Holy Orders of Stars was thus the setting's first major look at clerics and gods. Besides covering the beliefs of the many humans and other races of Ansalon, Holy Orders also overviews the entire cosmology of Krynn. This gave the designers the opportunity to investigate and codify the core philosophies of all the gods, finally taking the spotlight off of Paladine and Takhisis. The result was one of the most progressive books in the Sovereign Dragonlance line — one that really revamped and expanded the world of Krynn.
One deity-related topic was somewhat controversial: some material on the High God and Chaos from the Dragons of a Vanished Moon (2002) appendix was ignored. Despite its appearance in the novel, it wasn't considered official canon for the setting. As a result, Holy Orders contained no discussion of Chaos as a fallen angel called Ionthas nor of the High God being perfect — which was considered too Miltonian (or Tolkienesque) by the designers.
Holy Orders also visits the Citadel of Light following the War of Souls. It had been an important location in the SAGA Dragonlance game (1996-2000) and in early Age of Mortals novels such as The Silver Stair (1999) and the War of Souls itself (2000-2002). Now, following the destruction of the War of Souls, it was reborn as a place where mystics and clerics could come together. The SAGA book The Citadel of Light (1998) was of course a major source for the reborn Citadel.
NPCs of Note: A short section on "Children of the Gods" details some notable lesser deities from the Dragonlance pantheon.
- Ariakan was a pivotal force in Dragons of Summer Flame (1995) as the founder of the Knights of Takhisis. His previous gaming appearance had been as a teenager in Dragonlance Classics 15th Anniversary Edition (1995).
- Artha is a repugnant daughter of Chemosh and Takhisis who was one of the second wave of Dragonlance baddies. She made her debut in DLE1: "In Search of Dragons" (1989).
- Harkunos the Boar was the first beastlord to appear for the setting, way back in DL7: "Dragons of Light" (1985), which didn't give any clues of his divinity.
- Jiathuli is a demon who first appeared in DLS4: "Wild Elves" (1991). She was involved with suspiciously drow-like elves there, who don't actually exist in Krynn. Now, the designers salvaged her by omitting that connection.
Artifacts of Note. A few notable artifacts from the novels also appear here. The most iconic are:
- The Kender Spoon of Turning which was used by Tasslehoff in Dragons of Summer Flame (1995).
- Miceram, the Crown of Power, an evil crown that had been around since Dragons of Spring Dawning (1985) and appeared most prominently in the Kingpriest trilogy (2001-2003).
About the Creators. Though some of the contributors for Holy Orders were members of the Whitestone Council rules team (including creator Trampas Whiteman, making his first major appearance in publication), there were slews of contributing writers as well. Many were relatively new to Dragonlance, which provided an outside perspective that was useful for a design working to break out of the classic Paladine-Takhisis dichotomy.
About the Product Historian
This history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to firstname.lastname@example.org.