Advanced Search

Dragonlance: Fifth Age Dramatic Adventure Game (SAGA)Click to magnify
Quick Preview
Full‑size Preview

Dragonlance: Fifth Age Dramatic Adventure Game (SAGA)


Welcome to the GM's Day sale! From now through March 10th, this title has been marked down by up to 40%! For more values, visit our GM's Day sale page.

A generation ago, the War with Chaos heralded a new age for the world of Krynn - the Age of Mortals. Just as the shattered land of Ansalon had begun to recover, a new threat from across the sea descended upon the populace: the Great Dragons. Larger and more fierce than any wyrms ever to battle in the wars of past ages, these beasts have brought terrible oppression to the land they now claim. Humans and elves, dwarves and centaurs, minotaurs and kender all suffer under their shadow.

But the FIFTH AGE is not without its heroes. Born of myriad races, these valiant souls found inspiration in legends of the heroes of yore. They now take up sword and lance, master an almost forgotten primordial magic, and harness the untold energies of the human heart to defend their people from the dragon lords of Ansalon.

Dragonlance: FIFTH AGE is an all new role-playing game that builds on the foundation of the best-selling novel Dragons of Summer Flame, by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. The game features the unique SAGA dramatic adventure rules, designed to reproduce the sweeping romance and fantastic epics of the Dragonlance tradition.

Note: Currently this download does not include the Fate Deck cards nor the Ansalon map.

Product History

Dragonlance: Fifth Age (1996), by William W. Connors, Sue Weinlein Cook, and others, is the core rules for a new SAGA-based roleplaying game set in the world of Krynn. It was published in August 1996.

About the Box. Fifth Age came in a digest-sized box packed with components, including: the 128-page "Book of the Fifth Age" book, which detailed the new SAGA rules; the 96-page "Dusk or Dawn" book, which described the setting of Dragonlance; the 48-page "Heroes of a New Age" booklet, which featured Fifth Age's first adventure; a deck of 82 Fate cards; 18 character cards; a sheet of translations between AD&D and Fifth Age; and a full-color poster map of the continent of Ansalon.

Origins (I): The End of an Era. The original creators of Dragonlance, Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis, both left TSR in the late '80s, with their last major work being Dragonlance Adventures (1987). The Dragonlance line survived for half-a-decade without them: it was even revitalized following the publication of AD&D 2e (1989) with the "DLE" adventure series (1989), the Time of the Dragon (1989) setting, and a few years later the Tales of the Lance (1992) world book. However, none of this was ultimately enough to sustain a roleplaying line. The Dragonlance roleplaying books ended in December 1993 with DLR3: "Unsung Heroes" (1993). It was part of a general reshuffling at TSR, which also saw the end of the Spelljammer (1989-1993) and Greyhawk (1978-1993) settings and even the Basic D&D line (1977-1993).

Meanwhile, Dragonlance remained wildly successful in fiction form, now including some 60 novels and anthologies. TSR wanted to bring those fiction fans back into the roleplaying fold if they could, and so a new team was set to work to create a new Dragonlance game.

Origins (II): A New Game. The Fifth Age team originally proposed that the new Dragonlance game could use a rules-lite form of AD&D. However, TSR management instead wanted a totally new game, with a new card-based system. Creator Director Harold Johnson put together the various requirements and decided to create a "storytelling" game that could better capture the fictive essence of Krynn. Game designer William W. Connors was brought in to lead this effort.

Origins (III): A Summer of Fire. However, Connors wouldn't be the only one leading Dragonlance work in the mid '90s. Dragonlance creators Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman were simultaneously making a surprise return, with a contract to write a new trilogy of books, the "Dragonlance Chronicles II". They began work in February 1994 at "The Barn", Weis' renovated house in Wisconson. There, they plotted out the story of Krynn's next epic, one that would transition the world into the Fifth Age, the Age of Mortals.

TSR pointed the way to the new era with The Second Generation (1994), a short story anthology that included three stories that Weis and Hickman had written in 1987 for some of the earlier Dragonlance anthologies as well as two newer pieces. Dragons of Summer Flame (1995) then appeared a year and a half later; it contained the plot that had originally been intended for three books, very tightly compacted. The decision to make this change from a trilogy to a single book may have soured Hickman and Weis on TSR — though Weis stayed in contact with the Fifth Age crew, and eventually gave the game her "stamp of approval". In any case, Dragons of Summer Flame was the last book that Weis and Hickman produced for TSR.

Meanwhile, the team working on Fifth Age got advanced copies of the new book in 1995 and suddenly had to account for the massive changes created by it. Sue Cook rather politely stated that they were "surprised at the turn of events". Cook said that "it gave [them] an interesting jumping-off point" and that Connors "took the disappearance of the gods [in the novel] as a challenge". Steve Miller conversely said that it was "a fantastic waste of [Dragonlance's] potential" and stated that he worked hard to balance Fifth Age material with classic material from the setting.

Origins (IV): A New Era. Though Weis and Hickman opened up vast new vistas for Dragonlance following the events of Dragons of Summer Flame, they didn't offer the Fifth Age team any guidance on what came next. Thus, Fifth Age moved into a new era of Dragonlance storytelling that was quite divorced from what came before while simultaneously breaking lots of new ground, without the input of Dragonlance's original creators.

Origins (V): The Tales of Krynn. TSR actively supported the new Fifth Age game with lots of new fiction. Jean Rabe led the way with a short story called "Kindling" (1996) in Dragon #225 (January 1996). It was the first story set after Dragons of Summer Flame, and thus the first hint at the coming of the Great Dragons, who would become some of the major adversaries of Fifth Age. Dragon magazine would publish Krynn short stories throughout 1996, advancing the timeline as they did. Meanwhile, Jean Rabe took over as the core chronicler of Krynn with The Dawning of the New Age (1996), set contemporary with the new Fifth Age game, 30 years after Dragons of Summer Flame.

What a Difference an Edition Makes: The Controversy. Fifth Age was quite controversial, which might have been a factor in the line's ultimate demise — although Wizards's decision to focus on a single game system with the release of D&D 3e (2000) would be another issue. However, whether they was important to the game's ultimate success or not, fans had numerous issues with Fifth Age.

First, many fans weren't happy about the major setting changes from Dragons of Summer Flame, which moved the timeline 25 years past the original Chronicles, removed the gods from Krynn, messed up magic, and also killed some fan favorite characters. This discontent started bubbling up with the release of the paperback edition of The Second Generation, which revealed the fall of two minor characters, and it only grew from there. Fifth Age itself pushed the setting another thirty years forward, and though its changes weren't as notable, when piled on top of the previous changes, they created even more resistance.

Second, some fans weren't happy that Weis and Hickman were now gone and that Rabe had become the central chronicler of Krynn. The fact that Fifth Age was based not just on Weis and Hickman's Dragons of Summer Flame but also Rabe's Dawning of a New Age made it more problematic.

Third, some fans didn't like the fact that the new game wasn't AD&D, because Dungeons & Dragons had always been the heart of Dragonlance. Even if the new game could better tell the stories of Dragonlance's epics … that wasn't necessarily what roleplaying fans were looking for.

Major edition changes have often been quite controversial for roleplaying publishers, and Fifth Age included the two most problematic sorts of changes: a total revamp of the game system and a big time-jump for the setting. Though TSR had successfully skated through their previous edition changes, even the relatively big updates of AD&D 2e (1989), they ran into major fan pushback for the first time here. It'd be a preview of the controversies that would become more common in the 21st century.

What a Difference an Edition Makes: The Storytelling. The new game system of Fifth Age was designed with a different focus that D&D. It was intended to be a "narrative" game that could better support the "rich literary heritage" of Dragonlance. Connors worked to "minimize conventional role-playing mechanics" and instead focus on the sort of freeform narrative roleplaying that many people enjoyed as children. Rules systems like timekeeping and precise movement mechanics were minimized to help center the game on "drama and adventure". Instead, Connors designed freeform and player-oriented rules systems, such as a magic system that allows players to spontaneously design spell effects.

Storytelling design of this sort was just appearing in roleplaying games of the '90s. Vampire: The Masquerade (1991) and the rest of the World of Darkness games actively pushed the phrase, but it was smaller press games like Jonathan Tweet's Over the Edge (1992) that more clearly embodied the ideas of freeform play and player agency. Fifth Age fit right into this stream of game design, which was quite notable for a game from industry leader TSR.

These storytelling game would evolve into the narrative-focused indie games of the '00s and '10s.

What a Difference an Edition Makes: The Cards. Fifth Age's other major advance came through its use of cards. This was another popular trope in the mid '90s, starting with R. Talsorian's Castle Falkenstein (1994) and Wizards of the Coast's Everyway (1995), which both did away with dice in exchange for card-based resolution mechanisms. Fifth Age does the same, using cards for character creation, then for resolution with the game itself. One of the most clever elements of the game is that the cards also represent health: as a character is wounded, he discards cards, simultaneously reducing his health rating while reducing his efficiency in the future due to more limited choice.

However, Fifth Age's cards aren't just randomizers and health tokens. They also represent one of the earliest uses of a resource management mechanism in the roleplaying field. As with most mechanisms of this sort, Fifth Age's cards increase the players' agency: players get to decide when to use great cards (because it's dramatically important to succeed at a task) and when it might be acceptable to use a poor card (and fail).

What a Difference an Edition Makes: The Future. Ultimately, the SAGA rules wouldn't succeed as a long-lived game system. However, some of the mechanics might have influence D&D 3e (2000), particular the use of "difficulty ratings" for tasks. Fifth Age also makes extensive use of in-line icons, which would recur in D&D 3e products.

Adventure Tropes. As a storytelling game, Fifth Age obviously places the focus of its adventures on story. They're explicitly not "map-keyed" like traditional D&D delves, but instead are "storydriven and scene-based".

The sample adventure, "Heroes of a New Age", puts players right into the middle of the metaplot of the Fifth Age: they're searching for a MacGuffin gem stolen from one of the setting's great dragons, Beryllinthranox. Like any traditional Dragonlance adventure, it begins in the Inn of the Last Home. From there it's encounter-based, as promised, moving the players from one scene to another.

The scene-based format is interesting because each of those scenes is very carefully defined, similar to the encounter-based organization of the Dark Sun (1991) flip-book adventures — and much later, the encounters of D&D 4e (2008). In each scene, specific sections overview the story, get the scene started, provide the atmosphere, list actions, detail characters, and suggest outcomes.

Adventure Tropes: Quests. Fifth Age also includes a system of "quests", which are the experience points of the game. A GM could award a player a quest whenever he finishes an adventure, but alternatively he could use them to denote more personal story accomplishments. In either case, it's a big change from the monster-killing experience of AD&D.

Resurrected Races. Fifth Age supports many traditional Dragonlance races, including the centaurs and minotaurs who are fairly unique to Krynn as PC races. Dwarves include hill dwarves and mountain dwarves, while elves include Silvanesti, Qualinesti, and Kagonesti.

Kender of course return as one of the most distinctive Dragonlance races, but they're also the one race that's seen the biggest changes; the kender are now divided into true kender and afflicted kender. The latter are a new gloomy sort of kender who fled the ruined Kender nation. Sue Cook says that their purpose was "to drive home to the reader the fearsomeness of the new dragon overlords". Steve Miller, who came up with the original backstory for the afflicted kender, imagined that afflicted kender had previously popped up after the first Cataclysm, but that they'd faded away after a few generations — but his theory never made it into print.

The afflicted kender were another controversial change in Fifth Age (and one that emerged from the new development team, rather than from Dragons of Summer Flame).

Exploring Krynn. Fifth Age makes a massive jump in the Dragonlance timeline, advancing not just to the Summer of Chaos in 383 AC, but beyond that to 31 SC, after the dragon overlords have landed on Krynn and solidified their grasp on the land.

This new time frame brought with it many new elements including: the appearance of the Legion of Steel; disappearance of the gods and clerical magic; the rulership of the dragon overlords; the affliction of the kender; and the appearance of mysticism and sorcery. Many of these ideas, such as the introduction of mysticism and sorcery were new to the Fifth Age development team, but they were extrapolated from the scant hints at the end of Dragons of Summer Flame. Later books would expand upon them.

Fifth Age also includes an extensive atlas that details how Ansalon has changed in the passing years. New locales such as the Citadel of Light and the Academy of Sorcery are spotlighted.

Monsters of Note: Dragons. One of the directives from Fifth Age came straight from Vice President of Creative Services James Ward, who said, "Put really big, mean dragons in the game." This was the genesis of the great dragons or dragon overlords who would form the heart of the day Age metaplot. They succeeded at making dragons dangerous once again, at least in the world of Krynn.

NPCs of Note: Dragon Overlords. The various members of the Fifth Age design team named the dragon overlords. Sue Cook named Beryllinthranox, Skip Williams named Gellidus, Bill Connors named Malystryx, and Steve Miller named Onysablet. The blue overlord, Khellendros, had previously existed as Kitiara's dragon, Skie.

Future History. The new backstory of Fifth Age was closely tied to a new series of novels being written by Jean Rabe. This first of them, The Dawning of a New Age, appeared in September 1996. Two more would appear in the next two years, forming the "Dragon of a New Age" trilogy. Meanwhile, five follow-up products were already in process for Fifth Age itself, something which Stan! said was "the first time that books and RPG products were developed concurrently".

The Dragonlance SAGA game would run through about 15 publications, the last of which was Rise of the Titans (2000) in February 2000. Meanwhile, TSR also developed a variant of the system for the Marvel Super Heroes Adventure Game (1998), which was eventually published by Wizards of the Coast after their purchase of TSR.

About the Creators. Before the publication of Fifth Age, Connors was primarily known for his work on the Ravenloft game. Now, he was the lead designer for Fifth Age. Sue Cook was primarily an editor for TSR, but she was the lead author on the "Dusk or Dawn" setting book in Fifth Age.

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and 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

We (Wizards) recognize that some of the legacy content available on this website does not reflect the values of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. This content is presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is a strength, and we strive to make our D&D products as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end.

 Customers Who Bought this Title also Purchased
Reviews (1)
Discussions (29)
Customer avatar
Lee S November 25, 2023 5:28 pm UTC
For people still waiting for the Saga Companion:

I just discovered that the section on alternate skills first appeared in Dragon Magazine #237. A few were renamed, but they're exactly the same and the article reads the same.

For those still needing Fate Cards:

I also discovered that Dragon Magazine #240 gave advice on using the Tarokka deck in place of the Fate Deck, while #264 gave advice on using a standard deck of playing cards.

Meanwhile, there's a deck of cards on DTCards, called the Octo Deck with eight suits, that could be used as well. Use A-9 of each suit for the non-Dragon suits, then pick ten face cards to use for the Dragon cards.

(Note: I have a physical copy of the core box set and the Saga Companion I bought yeas ago. The box is falling apart. I'm wanting to purchase this here to have a backup copy.)
Customer avatar
Lee S November 23, 2023 6:01 pm UTC
Still waiting for a complete product with cards and a release for the Saga Companion.
Customer avatar
Matthew U April 16, 2023 3:11 pm UTC
Could we at least get a POD of the rules? Cards would be great too.
Customer avatar
Corey C December 20, 2022 10:46 pm UTC
Please make this print on demand.
Customer avatar
Corey C June 27, 2022 11:35 am UTC
Print on demand please
Customer avatar
Simon C April 05, 2022 5:37 pm UTC
For anyone wishing to improve the game rules in this book, the following rules changes proposed by Steve Kenson, one of the contributors to the original line, can be found here:
Customer avatar
michael M January 28, 2022 7:29 pm UTC
Print on Demand Please
Customer avatar
James P January 28, 2022 12:06 am UTC
Need a pod option for all the Dragonlance SAGA books and cards.
Customer avatar
Lee S June 21, 2021 11:24 pm UTC
Dragonlance: Fifth Age really needs the Companion.
Customer avatar
Luigi C December 15, 2020 5:05 pm UTC
Will the Saga Companion ever be available?
Customer avatar
Kevin M August 22, 2019 3:02 am UTC
Agree with everyone else, where's the fate deck? Ridiculous that it's not included, at the very least a print 'n play version!
Customer avatar
Geert-Jan W July 13, 2019 10:29 am UTC
Will we see a POD version of the books combined like the other supplements at least?
I found it's actually nice to have some of them as printed books, where I either could not find the original supplement or just have it as a reserve copy..

Ofcourse we still have the issue of no deck.. but I doubt we ever see that happen. It seems like such an essential thing, they probably would have done it by now if they cared to do so.
(for POD reasons, having the deck as a seperate title to purchase I'd also be totally fine with!)
A reall shame..
Customer avatar
Douglas A May 16, 2019 12:34 am UTC
I occasionally check back to see if the fate deck has been added. Please add the fate deck and this will be an instant purchase. I'll probably even buy gift copies for my gaming group.
Customer avatar
Ryan N July 30, 2019 9:55 pm UTC
I do the same.
Customer avatar
September 20, 2018 12:32 am UTC
Honestly, SAGA sounds terrible.
Customer avatar
September 20, 2018 12:26 am UTC
No Fate Deck:-(
"Never give a SAGA an even break,"
--Mel Brooks
Customer avatar
Ryan N September 07, 2018 9:12 pm UTC
Would love to have the Fate Deck added to this. My originals are so torn up at this point they're basically unusable :(
See 16 more
Browse Categories
$ to $
 Follow Your Favorites!
NotificationsSign in to get custom notifications of new products!

Product Information
Electrum seller
Rule System(s)
File Size:
108.42 MB
Scanned image Click for more information
Scanned image
These products were created by scanning an original printed edition. Most older books are in scanned image format because original digital layout files never existed or were no longer available from the publisher.

For PDF download editions, each page has been run through Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software to attempt to decipher the printed text. The result of this OCR process is placed invisibly behind the picture of each scanned page, to allow for text searching. However, any text in a given book set on a graphical background or in handwritten fonts would most likely not be picked up by the OCR software, and is therefore not searchable. Also, a few larger books may be resampled to fit into the system, and may not have this searchable text background.

For printed books, we have performed high-resolution scans of an original hardcopy of the book. We essentially digitally re-master the book. Unfortunately, the resulting quality of these books is not as high. It's the problem of making a copy of a copy. The text is fine for reading, but illustration work starts to run dark, pixellating and/or losing shades of grey. Moiré patterns may develop in photos. We mark clearly which print titles come from scanned image books so that you can make an informed purchase decision about the quality of what you will receive.
Original electronic format
These ebooks were created from the original electronic layout files, and therefore are fully text searchable. Also, their file size tends to be smaller than scanned image books. Most newer books are in the original electronic format. Both download and print editions of such books should be high quality.
File Information
Watermarked PDF Click for more information
Watermarked PDF

These PDF files are digitally watermarked to signify that you are the owner. A small message is added to the bottom of each page of the PDF containing your name and the order number of your purchase.

Warning: If any files bearing your information are found being distributed illegally, then your account will be suspended and legal action may be taken against you.

Here is a sample of a page from a watermarked title:

File Last Updated:
June 27, 2016
This title was added to our catalog on June 28, 2016.