Champions of Krynn is the first in a three volume series of titles set in AD&D's Dragonlance campaign setting developed by SSI using their Gold Box Engine. It would be followed by two sequels: Death Knights of Krynn (1991) and The Dark Queen of Krynn (1992).
It opens at the end of the War of the Lance and the defeat of the Dragon Armies. The player controls a party of adventurers hired by the Knights of Solamnia, guardians of the outposts of Northeastern Ansalon, to carry out missions and investigate reports that evil still stalks the lands of Krynn.
It is part of SSI's Gold Box series of games that implement TSR's Advanced Dungeons and Dragons ruleset and take place in the Forgotten Realms. It continues to the use the Gold Box engine first pioneered with Pool of Radiance and then enhanced for use in this series with Gateway to the Savage Frontier. Because it is based on the same engine behind SSI's Gold Box series of RPGs. only the setting has changed.
The game, based as it is on the Gold Box engine, continues to use the grid-based, 3D system wherein the world is viewed from a first-person perspective with 90° turns and movement spaces. As with nearly every Gold Box game, party members were displayed in the upper right hand corner along with hit points and armor class. Random enemy encounters would provide combat opportunities within the game against mixed groups of foes, providing experience.
When combat would start, a tactical turn-based system was used to display the battlefield viewed from an isometric perspective. Every member of the party including each monster were shown as individual icons that had a limited number of moves onscreen. The player was challenged to maneuver their party on the map, take cover behind obstacles such as wells, or even block doorways and act as tanks in order to protect their spellcasters.
Upon starting, a verification question is shown which directed the player to find the indicated word answer in either the rule book (the manual) or the included Adventurer's Journal. The disks themselves did not have any copy protection allowing players to make copies and play on them instead.
As with the previous games, there was an extensive amount of documentation included with the package:
- A basic manual with setup instructions and an outline of the rules
- An Adventurer's Journal going into detail on the races, classes, and the magic system of the game; it would also double as an additional layer of copy protection as it contained the scene description references for the game. It would also recount a summary of the War of the Lance leading up to the events in the post-war environment of Ansalon and where the party steps in to help solve a mystery
- A Quick Reference card for commands
It is the end of the War of the Lance and the forces of good have reclaimed the continent of Ansalon from the Dragon Armies of the Dark Queen and Goddess, Takhisis. Outposts have been built to watch over these lands as the armies that had fought for them slowly returned to their homes. The player's party is sent to one of these outposts to help keep watch. However, not everything is as it seems as rumors of strange occurrences and behavior among the soldiers already there make the rounds.
Although the forces of darkness have been vanquished leaving only stragglers behind to threaten travelers, the party's first patrol out encounter a draconian raiding party. As the party struggles to help the travelers that are being attacked, they witness an aurak draconian seize an ancient book from their cargo and Dimension Door away, ignoring them.
They return to the outpost only to discover that a Solamnic Knight, Sir Karl, is fighting their commandant! He manages to kill him and as the commandant falls, his body transforms into that of a sivak draconian. Sir Karl explains that he has been sent by his order to investigate reports of renewed evil within the region and the party quickly fill him in on what they have discovered in their own patrol. Sir Karl realizes that the outpost has been used as a convenient, and secret, base of operations for evil. By taking it over and sending back false messages, the forces that had infiltrated it have slowly wiped out the real defenders.
Concerned at the state of the other outposts and the defenders assigned to protect them, Sir Karl indicates to the party that they must travel to Throtl, an abandoned hobgoblin city currently occupied by forces led by Caramon Majere, one of the Heroes of the Lance. In attempting to enter the city, the party force their way past the hobgoblin guards and discover that it is overrun with the undead wearing the armor of the missing patrols. They discover the Caramon was ambushed and captured and manage to free him. He tells them that the draconians are attempting to create more of themselves by corrupting more good dragon eggs somewhere within the city.
The party eventually find a temple where evil priests are attempting to change the good dragon eggs, performing the same rituals that had created the draconians in the first place in order to create another army. The attempt is a failure, however, as they do not have the complete rite which was lost during the War, although the party discovers evidence of something called "The Plan". Fighting their way through Throtl, they recover some of the eggs and with Caramon's report, provide enough proof that the forces of good must mobilize once more to counter this new threat before it is too late.
At the next outpost, the party is sent to Gargath on the rumors that there may be a Dragonlance hidden there. These weapons were used in the War of the Lance to help destroy the evil dragons that led the armies of Takhisis across Ansalon. However, the city is already under the control of evil infiltrators who the party fights through. The Dragonlance, however, has already been seized by Myrtani, the aurak draconian who was seen with the book earlier, and as he leaves, taunts the party.
The party is then sent to Jelek to investigate the city as well as obtain a silver rose for Sir Karl. They discover that someone named Sir Lebaum has been very active in building an undead army. After fighting their way through the undead there, they continue their adventures and slowly whittle even more of evil's grip on the lands around them. They gain a powerful ally in the spirit of Sir Dargaard in one such adventure and an ally in the ogre, Gravnak.
Eventually, the party make their way to the Southern Outpost. No one has heard from this remote base in awhile, so the party is sent to investigate why. They quickly discover that it has also fallen to the forces of evil and fight to clear them out before returning to the main outpost to inform Sir Karl of their work.
But Sir Karl has gone missing, but an ally of his arrives to help. Maya, a Silver Dragon...as well as Sir Karl's lover...takes them to the fell city of Neraka and must fight their way through its powerful defenders to free the kidnapped Knight. They find the Solamnic Knight as well as Tanis Half-Elven, another Hero of the Lance, fighting to free the slaves held there. Unfortunately, Sir Karl dies in his escape attempt.
As the forces of good continue to gather and prepare to march against the city of Sanction, the party goes to the city of Sanction ahead of them in order to prepare the way. Sanction has been discovered to be a part of Myrtani's plan and as the armies march against it, the forces of evil within its walls prepare themselves for the assault. They battle their way through Sanction and finally face off against Sir Lebaum who is really a Death Knight. In a climactic battle, the party manage to defeat this powerful agent of evil, but not before his messengers leave to deliver word to his master, Myrtani, that the Plan is succeeding.
Unbeknownst to the party, this is exactly what Myrtani had wanted to happen all along. By luring the forces of good to believe that Sanction was the real threat, they will be expected to muster their best in the attack. What they don't know is how powerful the undead army that Sir Lebaum has put together is nor the attack that Myrtani will stage from against them in order to crush the forces of good in a trap that the party has unwittingly set for them. Aided by gold dragons, the party take off after the messengers and encounter a flying citadel over the city of Kernen.
They assault the citadel, aided by another Hero, Tasselhoff Burrfoot, and take control of it. Tasselhoff flies the mighty structure into another citadel, throwing the party into it and forcing them to escape before it also falls from the sky. Once they have done so, they find themselves in Kernen and penetrate the main gate into the base. After many battles, they confront Myrtani and manage to defeat him, ultimately ending the threat to Ansalon. The book that he had stolen was the complete ritual to converting dragon eggs into draconians. The second phase of the plan would have involved many of these newly created draconians to fall upon the forces of good as they battled the undead army, catching them in between these two armies and then grinding them into obivion.
Had it not been for one party of brave adventurers and their allies, he might have succeeded in sparking another War.
Champions of Krynn is the first game in the Dragonlance series of SSI's Gold Box titles. The same Gold Box engine that was created for Pool of Radiance continues to see use in this campaign series with few changes. All of the gameplay mechanics are based on the 2nd edition of the Dungeons and Dragons ruleset, otherwise known as AD&D (Advanced Dungeons and Dragons) from TSR.
Players begin Champions of Krynn by creating a party of six heroes. The parameters used in creating each character include race, class, affiliation & alignment as well as the likeness of the icon that will appear in combat. These factors will dictate what sorts of weapons & armor your characters can use, if they use magic & what kind of spells they can learn.
After creating the type of character, players can determine the value of a series of attributes that he or she will begin the game with. Players can roll and re-roll their statistics until satisfied with the levels of Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Dexterity, Constitution, Charisma, Hit Points, Armor Class and Experience Points. Players' approach to the game will depend on the mix of characters to be added to your party.
Once the party is assembled, gameplay consists of taking assignments from the commandants of Knight outposts and NPCs in the towns which you visit as well as encounters you have while traveling between locations on the overworld map. Combat is turn based and includes character movement which impacts tactical decisions such as ranged vs melee attacks, deployment of party members and order of targeting. Successful battles will result in the party earning XP & currency as well as looting items and weapons from your fallen enemies.
With the introduction of the Gold Box series as a part of the Dragonlance campaign series with this title, seven races are now available for players to choose from and is the first step in creating a new characte.
Players can also select what kind of sex their character is which has no effect on their abilities, only in their appearance for the character portrait.
- Mountain Dwarves: Excellent warriors, expert craftsmen, and strong workers, they also harbor a strong hate for giants and their diminutive nature allows them to dodge their attacks much easier. Their hate for goblins and hobgoblins also gives them bonuses in battle against their kind. They are also a hardy race and able to resist the effects of magic and poison.
- Hill Dwarves: They are just as stubborn and as tough as Mountain Dwarves although not as charmismatic.
- Qualinesti Elves: Long lived and resistant to sleep and charm spells, elves are often considered among the best spellcasters in the Realms although they are also skilled with a sword. They cannot be resurrected, however, but they can multi-class in many more different combinations than others. They are also much friendlier than their Silvanesti cousins.
- Silvanesti Elves: They are just like the Qualinesti, although are typically more arrogant.
- Half-elves: These share the hardiness of their human half along with the sleep and charm resistances of their elven parent, but not their long lives. And like their elven parents, are capable of noticing things out of the ordinary.
- Human: The most common race on Ansalon, they are average in most respects but have no major weaknesses, either. Capable of dual classing.
- Kender: They are a diminutive people who bear an extreme curiosity often "misinterpreted" by others as thievery. They are very resistant to magic and poison and can easily taunt others with a silver tongue often making their opponents go into an uncontrollable rage. Their dexterity adds to their accuracy with their weapon of choice, the hoopak, or in picking a few locks to satisfy their inquisitive nature.
Each character has a set of basic attributes that affect various abilities as defined by the 2ed AD&D rules that the game is based on.
These determine factors such as combat prowess and how many spells a magic user can memorize before they must rest and re-acquire their spells once again. During character creation, the player may re-roll as many times as they want. Prime requisite attributes are those that are a requirement for certain classes. For example, Fighters must have a good Strength score in order to be effective.
The natural maximum for any attribute is an 18, although it can go higher depending on factors such as race and magical effects. Throughout the game, unless it is due to an outside intervention such as a spell or a piece of equipment, these attributes never change even when a character levels.
- Strength (STR) - determines physical power and damage with weapons; also affects encumbrance in combat
- Dexterity (DEX) - reflexes and the ability to remain hard to hit in combat; affects ranged weapons such as bows as well as a thief's abilities
- Constitution (CON) - a character's health is determined by this and hit points are derived from this score and a bonus calculated against it with every level. This also determines a character's chances for coming back to life with a resurrection spell, but in the process, a point of constitution is permanently lost.
- Charisma (CHA) - affects the perception that others have of a character
- Intelligence (INT) - affects the ability to reason and think. This is an important score for magic users as it determines how many spells they can memorize and use per level.
- Wisdom (WIS) - this is important to clerics and determines how many spells they can store in memory and use
Attributes, such as Strength and Dexterity, are also affected by the selection of race and certain bonuses and minuses are spread across them as a result. For examples, dwarves are inherently stronger than the other races and, thus, have a bonus to their Strength and Constitution scores.
AD&D's alignment system determines what a character's outlook is. Players can choose what alignment their character starts off with, although actions within the game can slowly shift it. Certain character classes are very much restricted to certain alignments.
- Lawful Good - Characters that are based on this alignment strictly interpret the rules and respect order above all else for the benefit of everyone
- Lawful Neutral - Moderation is far more important than the extreme, balancing their decisions between good and evil
- Lawful Evil - The strong survive to enslave the weak, but one must rule in order to conquer and order must keep those that follow this character in line. An army is always stronger than a mob.
- Neutral Good - Some rules are needed along with the freedom to decide what is best depending on the situation at hand
- True Neutral - Everything must be balanced; both good and evil have their place and neither must overcome the other
- Neutral Evil - Law and chaos aren't as important as the results in bringing evil to the world
- Chaotic Good - Random actions and the freedom to implement them are more important than the rules in valuing life and ensuring the welfare of others
- Chaotic Neutral - Randomness and chaos are more preferable to being evil or good
- Chaotic Evil - This character will go to any lengths to grab power and influence, disregarding anything that may make sense or in cooperating with others to achieve their goals. Unpredictable and ruthless.
Gender is treated only as a cosmetic choice in the game as with many others, but race plays a major part in determining what classes a character may be restricted in playing as. The game allows dual and even triple classing among characters depending on certain options such as race.
From the stock of basic classes, players can pick from certain combinations, although experience is divided among the classes that a character belongs to. As a result, they level much more slowly than a character dedicated to a single class.
The basic classes are:
- Fighters - They can fight with any armor or weapons, but have no magical ability. When they reach 7th level, they can get an extra attack per round.
- Solamnic Knights - They are the pinnacle of chivalric honor on Krynn and are divided into three orders: the Knights of the Crown, the Knights of the Sword, and the illustrious Knights of the Rose. They start out with plate mail, a long sword, and a shield, but with very few coins to spend. In addition to this vow of poverty, 10% of their monies are sent back to the order every time an outpost is visited. When Knights of the Sword or Rose rise to sixth level, they are able to use some clerical spells.
- Rangers - They are a fighter and can defend themselves without the need for armor and weapons if need be. They do bonus damage against giant-sized creatures and must be of good alignment.
- Thieves - They can disarm traps, undo locks, and help themselves to anything that isn't well protected. They can't wear any armor heavier than leather, but they can backstab in combat for critical damage.
- Clerics - Fighting priests that can wield a mace, but no edged or pointed weapons, as well as use armor. They pray for their spells and automatically memorize any of the spells available for a level when they reach it. Clerics can only be of an alignment the same as that of their chosen god.
- Magic Users - Powerful spellcasters are always welcome in any party. They start out weak and remain physically fragile throughout their careers, but the powers they command at higher levels can rend parties of monsters apart in the blink of an eye. Nothing like a little human-sized artillery to bring onto a battlefield. On Ansalon, their spells are also affected by the wax and wane of its moons. As with Knights, mages are also split into three orders based on alignment with their own strengths, abilities, and favored moon.
White Robes - good aligned mages belong to this order
Red Robes - those of a neutral persuasion belong to this order
Black Robes - evil mages are often members of this order; cannot be PC characters in this game
Non-human characters can multi-class with a mix of these to enhance their abilities by sharing skills across them, although they level up at a slower rate because of the experience distribution across different disciplines.
The Moons of Magic
The three moons of Krynn figure prominently within the game's magic system depending on their phases: Solinari (the white moon), Lunitari (the red moon), Nuitari (the black moon). Their phases are displayed onscreen as a part of the interface.
Mages of the White Robes, for example, gain their power from the white moon, Solinari, and gain two additional memorized spells as a result of it being a full moon.
Several locations are available at each town and outpost within the game, offering a number of services and opportunities to explore:
- Inns - These provide a safe place to rest although it will cost some coin.
- Shops - A variety of supplies such as armor, healing salves, and nearly anything else that the party may need can be purchased here. Inventory changes from time to time.
- Temple - Where healing and resurrections can take place if the party has enough coin to donate. Resurrections are particularly expensive.
- Bar - Visiting one of these allows the player to catch up on the latest news and gossip within an area
- Vault - Maintained by the Solamnic Order, deposits of money (not equipment) can be made at each branch in allotments of 100 pieces at a time. A fee is also charged for the service.
- Commandant's Office - Where the party goes to receive mission briefings
Overland travel was displayed when the party left a civilized area such as a town or an outpost. Cursor keys allowed the player to maneuver them across this map and the Area command could toggle the view between the 3D first-person look or back to the overland view depending on availability. Random encounters would often make travel dangerous, but unavoidable. Likewise, travelers encountered on the road may offer their help with certain services.
Proximity to certain areas on the map will generate specific encounter groups based on the makeup of the region. For example, moving further east into dangerous lands will spawn encounters with hill giants, great spiders, and draconians.
The Gold Box RPGs had standardized themselves with a basic system that was shared across most of the party-based entries. The interface both for party management and information display were similar across titles such as this one making it easier for veterans to get into the game and creating a similar look.
Fighting in the game continues to be handled through random and set encounters wherein experience, items, and gold are earned. When combat begins, an isometric view (the combat map) is presented with every member and attacking monster shown as an icon.
It is a turn based system with each side taking their turns to maneuver and issue commands. This tactical approach, in conjunction with the obstacles present onscreen such as walls and doorways, allowed the player to create their own strategies.
Initiative played an important role in determining who goes first. Each round is divided into ten segments and every character and foe act on a specific segment determined by their initiative. Actions can be delayed and held until the end of round and the computer can fight for the player using the Quick command.