The name of the game is Dungeons and Dragons, so if you are going to make a book on dragons you had better bring something new to the table. “Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons” thankfully does deliver on that while also trying to connect the various campaign settings and editions of the long running Dungeons and Dragon’s Universe. Told with a quirky style, it’s a good tool if you are acting as the Dungeon Master, although it will also serve the player who wants to create a character with a cool draconic background.
The character which comments throughout the book, Fizban, comes from the Dragonlance setting. He is a stand-in for the godlike Paladine who is linked to the Platinum Dragon. He’s basically the good dragon god (as opposed to evil Tiamat) who enjoys masquerading around the realms in human form exploring and sometimes getting into trouble. Like the characters who spotlight other Dungeon and Dragon sourcebooks, Fizban’s in-character commentary is spaced throughout the pages in boxed text. Unlike the unreliable narrator Volo, from Volo’s Guides or even the wickedly funny Tasha from “Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything,” Fizban is more cosmic and godlike. The Fizban quote I best enjoyed in “Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons” is, “I know I didn’t make dragon turtles, and Tiamat swears she didn’t, so where did they come from? More importantly why?”
The book begins with an “Elegy for the First World.” It is an eight stanza poem, with each stanza having eight lines. It purports that dragons made the First World of the Prime Material Plane. This First World and its magic are part of what makes dragons so old, powerful and necessary. Then, as this creation myth goes, gods from the outer planes (D&D’s Great Wheel Cosmology) began to inhabit this new world with elves, dwarves, humans and the rest.
These beings made war on the dragons, and this splintered the First World into the many different worlds of the Prime Material Plane, which is code for the different settings of Dungeons and Dragons. There are four settings which are named in the book. Toril (The Forgotten Realms), Oerth (Greyhawk), Krynn (Dragonlance) and Ebberon are listed along with how dragons are treated differently in each setting.
I am always amazed how the ghost of Greyhawk makes being mentioned in Fifth Edition books as a viable setting. It has not had a Fifth Edition setting book like Forgotten Realms, Spelljammer, Ravnica, Ravenloft, Theros, Ebberon, Strixhaven (which we will be covering very soon too) or Dragonlance. Greyhawk is kept alive more by fanservice than official recognition. While the Fifth Edition module “Mysteries of Saltmarsh” is set in Greyhawk, the readers of that book are given ways to place it in Ebberon, the Forgotten Realms or strangely, another old setting that was used when D&D stopped using Greyhawk, Mystara.
But that is for a different article, which I will call, “The Greyhawk Ghost.” So, back to dragons!
This book gives spells and inherent magic back to dragons. It does this by stating, “The magic woven through the fabric of the Material Plane is concentrated in dragons and their lairs.” This is interesting because it shows how the size of a dragon’s hoard of treasure directly contributes to making it more powerful. So, if you end up stealing a lot of that treasure, you could effectively weaken a dragon – and will certainly get their full attention. It also introduces new spells and legendary magic items like the Flail of Tiamat and Draconic Gifts that a player character can receive upon killing or befriending a dragon.
The chapter, “Dragons in Play” give lots of characteristics, physical details and tips on how to roleplay these magical monsters. It also gives ideas on how a dragon could be more than just a lizard sitting on a pile of gold. They can run criminal, secret enterprises or control a whole kingdom. Greyhawk comes up again as an example of one type of dragon that prefers to live amongst humans disguised as mortal beings called steel dragons.
The chapter “Draconomicon” lists all the dragon types.: Metallic (good), Chromatic (evil) and new for the book Gem (neutral). The chapter “Lairs and Hordes” gives game mechanics of the magical effect dragons have on their environment, and how it will impact characters who may be fighting them. The largest chapter, “Bestiary,” gives over twenty entries of new dragons with stat blocks.
The lead designer on this book, James Wyatt, is to be commended for making a creation myth that links dragons to the worlds the adventurers inhabit and letting them become spellcasters again. This has increased the strength and importance of these monsters that are half of the name of the game.
So, if you want a dragon themed adventure in Fifth Edition, or to make a dragon-like character for yourself, get this book.