Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons proves adeptly that dragons are not just the same old creatures we’ve been battling in D&D with lots for DMs to enjoy but that’s a little light on new player options (even if those options are excellent).
Fizban, the eccentric and often befuddled avatar of Paladine, god of light in the Dragonlance universe and creator of the dragon race upon Krynn is the fictional author of Wizards of the Coast’s latest source books. As you’ll no doubt have worked out, Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons is a book focused on, would you believe it, dragons in the Dungeons & Dragons universe. Despite the name of the game, it can be easy to forget dragons as some of the primary antagonists in D&D with such a feast of alternatives available from undead liches to psychic mind flayers and all sorts of other nasties. It might also be said that dragons so far in 5e have lacked a little flavour and originality. Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons gives Wizards the opportunity to rectify this oversight, and on that front, we’re pleased to report that Fizban’s both manages to give adequate information about dragons while giving greater flavour to the creatures that has been lacking for several years now with many new variations and even character options to play around with.
It’s worth noting that Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons clocks in somewhere in the middle of Wizard’s publications at 224 pages, the same number as Wizard’s most similar book, Volo’s Guide to Monsters. And there are similarities here. Although Volo’s has a broader range of monsters within its pages, both contain extensive lore on some of the creatures found in the D&D universe as well as extensive lists of creatures and stats for Dungeon Masters to access for their own campaigns.
Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons has 17 pages dedicated to character options with 2 new, dragon related subclasses, 3 new types of dragonborn races and 3 draconic feats that can be used as feats. There’s also draconic flavoured magic including 7 new spells, 13 new magic items, additional, optional rules around hoard items and 8 draconic gifts that can be granted to players. You’ll also get 29 pages dedicated to dragon lore, 9 more pages about dragon lore and hoards, 78 pages detailing different types of dragons (including rules to create your own type of dragon) and a bestiary containing stats for 70 different dragon types and related creatures you might encounter in the D&D universe. And if that’s not enough… Well, I’m not sure what will be, how many types of dragons can you possibly want!?
The character options in Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons are not vast but do offer some interesting variations on existing races and subclasses. As you’d expect, the races are focused around 3 types of dragonborn; Chromatic, Gem and Mettalic. Each of these 3 types can have a variant of its own so chromatic dragonborns can vary in colour (blue, red, green, black and white), gem dragonborns vary in heritage of gem dragons (amethyst, crystal, emerald, sapphire and topaz) and metallic dragonborn vary in the metallic glint of their scales (brass, bronze, copper, gold and silver). Each variation offers different types of powers based on their type so a red dragonborn breathes fire, a white dragonborn breathes icy coldness an crystal dragonborn breathes radiance and a bronze dragon breathes lightning.
Each dragonborn type derives slightly different gifts from their dragon heritage. All have the ability to use their breathe as a weapon, but gem dragonborn, for example, receive the ability to manifest spectral wings, giving them temporary flight, metallic dragonborn receive different types of breathe attacks and chromatic dragonborn can become immune to the damage type associated with themselves. These draconic races do offer interesting alternatives to many other races with a nice amount of variation in type depending on the type of dragonborn you want to play.
Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons also offers up 2 new subclasses related to dragons; the Way of the Ascendant Dragon Monk and the Drakewarden Ranger. Way of the Ascendant Dragon Monks practice combat inspired by dragons, with trumours that this order of monks was founded by the avatar of Bahamut in the guide of a monk. This subclass will allow monks to add draconic damage types (such as acid or fire) to their unarmed strikes, use their ki to create destructive waves of energy like dragon breathe, use temporary wings to grant flight for a turn and develop a draconic presence that inspires fear or resistance. As a drakewarden, you become connected with draconic creatures, learning to speak draconic and obtaining a drake as a companion and yes, you can ride your drake once it grows large enough. Your drake will also develop powerful attacks, resistances and even breath attacks.
Both subclasses are exciting and add some nice flavour, and lets be honest, who hasn’t dreamt of having a personal drake mount to fly them around!
Finally, within this section, you get draconic feats. New, optional feats that can be used by any character, not just a dragonborn or draconic subclass as any character can have ties to dragonkind in some way. Sorcerors and warlocks may draw upon a draconic heritage or patron for their magic, clerics and paladins may be gifted powers from the worship of a draconic deity and other classes may simply have been mentored by a dragon. Whatever the connection, the option of draconic themed feats helps characters have a more draconic flavour to them.
There are 3 feats in Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons; the gifts of the chromatic, gem and metallic dragons. These feats will give you abilities that match each dragon type, for instance, allowing you to infuse weapons for a minute with a chromatic damage type, using reactions to telekinetically push an opponent away and damage them or manifesting spectral wings that can provide additional protection as a reaction to yourself and allies. These are all great feats with unique abilities that are quite different from the feats found elsewhere.
Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons also provides 7 spells with a draconic flavour that can be used by spellcasters. These range from 2nd to 7th level, culminating in a draconic transformation where the caster takes on draconic features and abilities such as a powerful breath weapon and the power of flight. Other spells include Ashardalon’s Stride, which lets you shoot flames from your feet giving you a burst of speed while causing fire damage to those nearby; Fizban’s Platinum Shield, which provides powerful protection from damage; and Summon Draconic Spirit which, well, let’s you summon a draconic spirit.
These are a nice bunch of spells to add to the repertoire for spellcasters, but considering the magicality of dragons, a few more spells might have really completed this section.
You’ll get a few more dragon-themed magic items in Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons; 13 to be exact. Some of these include a Dragon Wing Bow, which shoots forth arrows infused with the powers of a dragons breath; a dragonlance, a powerful +3 lance that’s especially powerful against dragons (that shares its name with the Dragonlance campaign setting); a Potion of Dragon’s Majesty that can transform the imbiber into a dragon type that’s the same as the scale used to create the potion; and a platinum scarf which allows the wielder to remove scales from the scarf to provide powerful benefits such as healing, a weapon and a shield.
Dragons love to hoard magical items and on top of the usual magic items found in books like the Dungeon Master’s Guide, it’s nice to have a few more dragon flavoured items to add to the hoard.
On top of this, there are 4 items known as “Hoard Magic Items” that have varying levels of ability depending on how long they’ve spent in a dragon’s hoard, increasing in magical ability/how long they’ve been away from the dragon’s hoard. It’s an interesting concept to have items that vary in ability over the time and while only 4 items are provided, rules are also given on how to create your own hoard items too.
Similar to Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft with it’s dark gifts granted by the Dark Powers, dragons are also common patrons for adventurers and may choose to bestow gifts on adventurers. Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons provides you with draconic marks that can be a symbol of the gifts received as well as 8 options for draconic gifts that operate like feats.
Dragons in Play
As you may have noted from the vast number of draconic stat blocks contained in Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons, there are a lot of different types of dragons. Each has different abilities, intentions and agendas, but most also follow certain common traits; they are hardy, powerful, have terrifying breath, live to an old age and are usually highly intelligent and crafty. This section gives you tools on how to role play this ancient and powerful creature from simple things like providing examples of names, to more complex atributes like mannerisms and flaws that can be exploited.
This sections also provides ways in which DMs can demonstrate the differences in dragons, allowing them to create a unique challenge to players, noting that some dragons might rejuvenate or burrow beneath the ground. Ideas like these can really help build up the challenge and the puzzle-solving required to defeat such a fearsome foe. Along with this, you can learn of variants of dragons such as ancient wyrms (the most ancient of dragons that are also the most powerful), half-dragons, undead dragons (such as the terrifying dracolich), dragon deities (like Bahamut and Tiamat) and shape-shifting dragons. It’s almost like Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons is on a mission to remind you that dragons are not all the same…
You’ll also gain insight into how organisations and relationships with dragons might look in an adventure. For instance, there are cults dedicated to dragons, some dragons operate as crime bosses, others set themselves up as emperors or nobles within a region, others are gods that deign power upon their worshippers or patrons that grant power to followers in return for their service. Some are more benign, operating as teachers or parental figures.
This section also provides ideas for encounters with dragons with adventure hooks and campaign ideas to be utilised by DMs. You’ll even learn of mythical dragons of half-forgotten legends in bygone eras giving you a variety of hooks to draw your players in with.
Lairs and Hoards
This small section details ideas and some rules on running lairs and hoards for dragons. You can implement rules and ideas for discovering treasure in a hoard including lists of mundane items adventurers might find or curses that might be laid upon the treasure. You’ll also learn about regional effects that might give clues about the lair or affect a party in certain ways. This can include water that when drunk, can charm an individual, unusual weather patterns, the appearance of half-dragons within the region, the appearance within the region of planar portals or strange magical effects in the area such as the occurrence of menacing dreams. You’ll even get ideas for lair actions that can be used by dragons being fought in their lair.
While previous Dungeon Master focused sections of Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons have focused on vaguer ideas and more general tips on utilising dragons in your campaigns, the Draconomicon is much more specific. In here are detailed 20 different types of dragons you might encounter, each with an example battle map for a lair and a plethora of ideas for personality traits, ideals, spells, adventure hooks and connections for each type of dragon along with some of the difference that might be experienced with dragons of different ages as well.
These are much more detailed ideations that are great for those DMs looking to homebrew a great dragon adventure with enough ideas and tools to create a very solid outline for an adventure without too much effort on the DM’s part. It also helps DMs get to grips with the different dragon types and how adventures with these types of dragons might vary considerably.
The final section of Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons details creature stats for a vast array of dragons and draconic creatures (70 to be exact). This is a near unprecidented number that proves that there’s still a lot of uniqueness to be had in the “classic” dragon species.
Of course, the usual suspects are here (apart from things like the chromatic and metallic dragons which are covered in the Monster Manual). Things like gem dragons make an expected appearance as well as draconians and dragonborn. There’s also terrifying beasts such as ancient wyrms which make their 5e debut as very old, and thus, very powerful dragons. Elder brain dragons are some kind of unholy union of an elder brain and dragon with powerful psychic abilities merged with the tough exterior of a dragon. Dracohydras are multi-headed dragons that show the 2 (or more) heads are better than one. And speaking of our multi-headed friends, of particular excitement are stats for the aspect of Tiamat as well as adjoining stats for the aspect of Bahamut, the 2 major deities of dragonkind.
There really is a huge amount of variety on show, perhaps more than this particular dragon-doubter could have imagined and this really demonstrates the best part of Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons; proving the sheer volume and variety that can be had in utilising dragons in campaigns. Most of these beasts are not the fire-breathing hoarders we’re all used to, most are quite different and Fizban’s finally helps us see this.
Fizabn’s Treasury of Dragons is a little unique. It’s a highly focused monster manual, similar to Volo’s Guide to Monsters or Mordenkeinen’s Tome of Foes, but with only one type of creature. For starters, if you’re not that fussed about dragons, then you’re probably not going to get much from this book. I probably stand primarily in this camp, preferring more unique and less well-used enemies in my campaigns. Having said this, Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons has certainly shown me that there’s far more to dragons than I’d originally thought and I might perhaps choose to use some of the more flavourful dragon types in my campaigns such as the elder brain dragon or the aspect of Tiamat. On this quest, Wizards of the Coast have certainly succeeded in giving dragons a new lease of life in 5e and for those that love dragons, their lore and using them in their campaigns, then this is absolutely the book for you.
As a DM’s resource, the book is highly useful and certainly worthwhile for any dragon aficionados. For players, what the book provides is all very good with a pair of great subclasses, race variations for dragonborns, spells and feats, but what is there is a little limited with not enough to really justify this book as a purchase for those that are not DMs. A few additional subclasses, feats and other player options would have really enhanced the offering and made it a worthwhile purchase for players as well. Overall, Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons is a solid book with plenty for DMs but not really enough for players.