First Impressions – “Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons”

Cover Art for “Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons”. Source

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Of all the various monsters and species that exist within any given setting for Dungeons and Dragons, one of my favorites are the Dragons. Majestic, cruel, magnanimous, and capricious, Dragons can serve as both mentors and assets in a campaign as well as providing dangerous opponents for a party of player characters. Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons, the latest release from Wizards of the Coast for Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition, is a welcome addition to the catalogue of content they’ve released.

Aside from providing Dungeon Masters with new types of Dragons to use (specifically the Gem Dragons), there are a number of additional features that are included in the book. Two subclasses are provided, one for the Monk Class (Way of the Ascendant Dragon) and one for the Ranger Class (Drakewarden). New write-ups are provided for players who want to make Dragonborn characters (a sub-species of bipedal dragons that share many of the same characteristics as their larger kin).

The Way of the Ascendant Dragon is an interesting archetype for the Monk Class, primarily because it gives a Monk dragon-like abilities, including a breath weapon and flying capabilities. It does seem a bit over-powered in a few cases (the number of uses for the breath weapon is based off the Monk’s Proficiency bonus rather than an expenditure of Ki points). The Drakwarden, on the other hand, is a reworking of the Beast Master archetype and a much-needed overhaul of that archetype. When a Ranger takes on the archetype, they receive a drake (or small dragon-type creature) that can later serve as a mount and animal companion. The stats for the drake increase as the Ranger’s level increases, which was a feature completely missing from the Beast Master build in the original Players’ Handbook for 5th Edition. A crafty Dungeon Master could easily replace the Drake Companion with another animal type and use the base rules (with some modifications depending on the animal selected).

For the Dungeon Masters, the sections covering how Dragons can be used in game is extremely helpful. From using Dragon Hoards to enhance magical items to tips for how to use Dragons in your campaign, Chapters 3, 4, and 5 will provide enough tricks to use at the table to give players any number of challenges and potential allies. The Hoard Magic Items chart is a particularly ingenious way to incorporate magical items that are typically found in a dragon’s hoard and how the item can become more powerful the longer it remains part of the hoard. This could allow a Dungeon Master to take a lower-tier magical item (like the Uncommon or Rare items) and increase their value and capabilities without having to come up with a throwaway reason for the increased power level. There are also some nifty rules for odd quirks that can be ascribed to a Dragon’s Hoard that Dungeon Masters might find useful.

But any Dungeon Master worth their salt is looking for how to use Dragons and dragonkin as potential adversaries in their campaigns and this book does not disappoint in that regard. The Gem Dragons are a welcome addition, bringing truly Neutral-aligned Dragons into the fray that have a number of psionic (or psychic) abilities. Each of the Gem Dragons has a unique set of psionic abilities as well as completely different breath weapons that can wreak havoc on a party of player characters. Since these Gem Dragons also have Neutral Alignments, they can easily serve as both allies or antagonists without having to do too much legwork on the Dungeon Master’s part.

The Bestiary section of the book provides stat blocks for all of the dragonkin in the book, including a few new options for Great Wyrms (the oldest and most powerful type of Dragon in Dungeons and Dragons). Of particular note is the Awakening ability now granted to Great Wyrms, which allows them to regain a significant chunk of their hit points back, recharges the Dragon’s Breath Weapon Attack, and regain expended Legendary Resistances (which allows a Dragon to essentially shrug off magical spells and abilities that could harm it). With this new Awakening option, the players will have a much tougher fight taking on these Great Wyrms, which is why these types of encounters should only be used as end-game encounters for high-level parties.

One of the biggest criticisms I’ve had of 5th Edition is the lack of high-level threats for campaigns that reach 15th level and above. The counterpoint to my criticism is that most campaigns don’t reach that level (with most usually stopping somewhere around 8th to 12th level). Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons definitely provides threats that would challenge most high-level parties but they really should only be used as end-game boss fights that you gradually build up to rather than something that just gets thrown at the players without any rhyme or reason.

Overall, I think Fizban’s is an excellent addition to the 5th Edition catalogue and I can’t wait to start using some of the ideas presented in the book in my own campaigns.

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