Dungeons & Dragons: Fizban's Treasury of Dragons Sets a New Bar for 5E Books
Fizban's Treasury of Dragons is everything I've wanted out of a Dungeons & Dragons book for years – a hoard of useful tools for both players and Dungeon Masters that expands on the game in meaningful and useful ways. The very first page of Dungeons & Dragons' new book Fizban's Treasury of Dragons makes it clear that the new tome is very different than just about everything else released by Wizards of the Coast in recent years. The book opens with an "ancient Draconic tome" titled "Elegy for the First World" which provides an intriguing new take on the origins of D&D's Material Plane and its ties to the iconic dragons who have a seemingly oversized sway on the various worlds of the D&D multiverse. The poem is used to set the tone for over 220 pages of draconic material touching almost every corner of D&D, but it's also used as a framing device of sorts that's referred back to at multiple points in the book. It's a subtle bit of writing, but it provides a level of cohesiveness that we really haven't seen before in this style of D&D book during the game's current Fifth Edition.
A spiritual sequel to the Dracomonicon, a classic D&D rulebook about dragons, Fizban's Treasury of Dragons is the lastest bestiary-type book released by Wizards of the Coast for Dungeons & Dragons. Similar to its predecessors Volo's Guide to Monsters and Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, the new book contains both monster statblocks and tools for both players and DMs to use when creating their game. But while the previous books were a bit scattershot in their approach, Fizban's Treasury of Dragons is much more focused simply because it focuses on one "aspect" of the game - namely dragons. After establishing that "Elegy for the First World" is an (optional) origin story for all dragons, Fizban's Treasury of Dragons then dives into a variety of resources for dragons ranging from new subclasses and subraces to new magic items and spells.
Fizban's Treasury of Dragons is split into six chapters. After the opening lore-focused introduction, the first two chapters provide D&D players with new character creation tools and various dragon-related feats, magic items, and spells. The dragonborn race found in the Player's Handbook receives an overhaul with three distinctive subclasses derived from the three types of dragons. The previously playtested dragon-themed subclasses for the ranger and monk also appear in the book. The Drakewarden Ranger receives some functional upgrades from its playtest, while the Way of the Ascendent Dragon Monk receives some minor downgrades (and thus puts it on par with other slightly disappointing subclasses for the Monk). While few in number compared to last fall's Tasha's Cauldron of Everything, the magic spells and items in Fizban's Treasury of Dragons are slightly more crunchy than what we've seen in the past, with most of the spells and items imbuing multiple effects and benefits. There's also a new mechanic around taking magic items from a dragon's hoard, with templates around a weapon or item growing in power when it absorbs ambient magic from a dragon's hoard.
After the opening 30 pages, the rest of Fizban's Treasury of Dragons is meant primarily for the DM. The third chapter provides guidelines and tips on how to roleplay as dragons or build a dragon adventure or campaign. The fourth chapter provides more building blocks for DMs to use, this time focusing on building a custom dragon lair or dragon hoard, complete with potential complications. The fifth chapter is the longest in the book and provides in-depth looks at 20 different types of dragons and what makes each dragon different besides their hide color and their breath weapon. This might be the most important chapter in the book, as it not only comes with a compendium of lair maps ready to be populated and dropped into any D&D adventure, but also in that it provides meaningful and in-depth guidance that can be used by both new DMs and D&D veterans with ease.
The final chapter of Fizban's Treasury of Dragons contains 70 new statblocks ranging from new kinds of dragons to dragon-related creatures like draconians or dragonnels. There is a good mix of new D&D innovations (the eyedrake is a particularly goofy and terrifying creature) to classic creatures like the liondrake. There's also a good range of creatures based on their Challenge Rating, with creatures ranging from CR 1/8 to CR 30.
Fizban's Treasury of Dragons feels much more focused than past D&D bestiary-style books. While Volo's Guide to Monsters and Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes touched on just about every corner of the D&D multiverse, Fizban's Treasury of Dragons felt much more like an "old school" D&D supplement that expanded upon one aspect of the game. More importantly, Fizban's Treasury of Dragons tries to address some of the game's current glaring weaknesses. Like Candlekeep Mysteries, the book provides players with more "plug and play" style material, intended for players to use in any campaign with only modest tweaking. Additionally, the book also contains a number of high CR creatures intended to provide challenges for players beyond Tier 2 play.
There are a couple of notable weaknesses in Fizban's Treasury of Dragons. For example, the much-heralded greatwyrms are sadly disappointing in design. They use the Mythic monster template (which makes sense) but are still frustratingly basic in nature when it comes to its action set. Most of the weaknesses in Fizban's Treasury of Dragons are tied to the underlying flaws of D&D Fifth Edition instead of specific issues tied to the subject matter or designs found in this book.
Overall, Fizban's Treasury of Dragons is probably the strongest D&D release in recent memory. It's a much more satisfying book than last year's Tasha's Cauldron of Everything, which suffered from the issue of trying to do too much in too many places. By focusing on one part of the game, the D&D design team is able to provide a really in-depth take on a subject and really innovate and grow the game in a fun way. More importantly, Fizban's Treasury of Dragons is a very useful book for all D&D players. and should be pulled off the shelves countless times in the years to come. Pre-orders are available on Amazon now.0comments