Dungeons and Dragons is a fantasy game which tends to involved parties of adventurers exploring vast underground systems looking for treasure and glory, battling goblins, zombies, and all sorts of horrors along the way. Not every game needs a dungeon, of course, but they are fun and they are part of the game; the clue is in the name. And at some point, if you’re lucky, you’ll face a dragon.
Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons is a rules expansion that concentrates on one particular monster, and the book is crammed with a wide variety of ways of putting dragons into your game. Even the titular Fizban, who is presented as a doddery old wizard, is in fact, famously, a dragon in disguise. Like previous books such as Volo’s Guide To Monsters, this is a book intended for both players and Dungeon Masters.
The book opens with a poem/prophecy called the Elegy of the First World. This bit of lore attempts to bind together D&D’s decades of dragon related lore into one solid idea that you can expand on in your campaign. Essentially dragons are woven into fabric of the game from a storytelling perspective; it’s a neat trick and one DMs and players can use to enhance their own games.
For the players, they are new spells and character creation options. Up until now , if you wanted to play a Dragonborn, they were all based on the ‘chromatic’ races of dragons, which are traditionally the baddies. The new book lets you pick metallic or crystal Dragonborn, which not only have slightly different flavour, their powers are just different enough to make you pause. Draconians (the sinister race from the Dragonlance books) aren’t presented as a playable race, but we do get stats for them later in the book. They’re presented in a way that means they can be used in any campaign setting, like all the information in this book.
Monks and Rangers get a dragon themed sub-classes as well. The Drakewarden is essentially a ranger with a pet dragon; and yes that’s as cool as it sounds. Rangers are sometimes maligned as being one of the less interesting D&D options, but honestly, Drakewardens are cool. Monks get ‘The Way of the Ascendant Dragon’, which let’s you play a fire breathing, wind-walking martial artist.
Most of the new spells are named after dragons from other D&D books or adventures, and we get a few new feats, as well as dragon themed powers for players to attempt to earn in play.
The real meat of the book details dragon lairs and their hoards. There’s some nice idea here that a dragon’s hoard is a source of magical power, with a variety of different effects to use in a campaign. The various races of dragon each get a lair description and a list of ideas of how to run that encounter. Fighting a dragon should be a big deal in any game of D&D and this book gives you plenty of ways to do that.
There is of course, a bestiary in the back, full of dragons. The various types of crystal dragon get a full write-up, finally bringing the neutral, mind-reading, aloof and frankly weird beasties into fifth edition. We also get some cool new dragon-inspired horrors. The Elder Brain Dragon is a creature possessed by a cosmic horror that breathes mind-controlling parasites on it’s victims. The Hollow Dragon is the skin of a dead chromatic dragon, filled up with holy power, and of course, there’s the hoard mimic; a people eating monster disguised as a pile of treasure.
The book is very well produced, formatted in a way that’s easy to access (the index is quite useful) and the art is fantastic. They are plenty of nods to multiple D&D settings throughout and a slight nod to Magic the Gathering, which of course much more closely tied to the game these days.
Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons nails it’s brief very well; it draws upon D&D’s long history of cool dragon related ideas and adds to them in a way that useful for anyone who plays the game. Does this mean that the idea of Dungeons and perhaps even the Ampersand will get similar treatment? Time will tell.