Posted on April 6, 2009 by Megan
Intended to serve as a collection of information about red, blue, green, black, and white dragons (as described in the Monster Manual, as well as a few newcomer dragons in the shape of grey, brown and purple ones, this work launches straight into its subject with a chapter on Dragon Lore. Much has already been written about dragons and yet the surface of the possible information about these truly epic creatures has been merely scratched. This chapter takes a wide-ranging look at dragons as they exist in the alternate reality of Dungeons & Dragons, including origins, biology, society and outlook, culminating in details of the chromatic dragons. Did you know that a dragon has no ears, and that it grows a complete new set of teeth each time it increases in size? But lest such comments suggest a mere biological creature to studyas you would any other, fear not: the notes portray a clear picture of a being that is truly awe-inspiring, the stuff of legend indeed.
Chapter 2: The DM’s Guide to Dragons goes into greater detail about how to integrate dragons into your campaign world and how to create adventures in which they feature. It falls into four main parts. Firstly, draconic encounters, how to handle affairs when the characters for whatever reason happen to meet a dragon in the course of their adventures. Both combat and social encounters are covered (although given the touchy nature of your average dragon, mishandle the latter and you are in the middle of the former!). Should you seek greater involvement, the sections on draconic adventures (ideas and adventure seeds for exploits involving dragons as friend or foe) or draconic campaigns – you may wish to create a whole story arc revolving around the party’s interactions with a dragon – might prove fruitful. All types of interaction are well-detailed, with enough reference to the relevant rules for you to be able to tailor events to your needs with ease. The chapter winds up with a section on draconic hoards… assuming the characters survive long enough to clap eyes on one! Plenty of detail to enable you to design a hoard, or even just throw one together on a pure level basis; along with some draconic artifacts and rituals to add that magical twist.
Next, Chapter 3 looks at Draconic Lairs. Earlier we heard about the different sorts of places favoured by dragons of different colours, now here’s the necessary detail should your characters wish to pay a visit. The fundemental reason for a dragon having a lair is not so much that he needs somewhere to sleep or to hang his hat, but a place in which he can keep his hoard safe – and that is, of course, the main reason most adventurers would like to visit! After a brief discussion of locations, three sample lairs for each tier of play are presented. These can of course be adapted and customised to suit your needs but provide a good starting point, and each is presented with sufficient detail that you could run it ‘as is’ should the characters catch you on the hop with the desire to call in on a dragon. It’s not just a map with defenders listed, though, each has a potted history of the dragon whose lair it is and all the detail you need to make it come alive.
Chapter 4: New Monsters looks at the grey, brown and purple dragons introduced earlier; as well as the sorts of minions and thralls dragons might have, variant dragons, undead ones and various templates to enable you to customise dragons to suit your campaign needs. There are also a few famous dragons – complete with background and history – to use as they stand or for inspiration for your own designs. If you fancy some babies, there are details for the ‘wyrmlings’ of each variety as well – wonder what would happen if your party chanced on a clutch of eggs that hatched in the absence of their draconic parents?
If you want dragons to feature in your Dungeons & Dragons game (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?), this is a good place to start. While there are rules in abundnance where needed, this work presents a whole mass of flavour to make dragons really live in your campaign, not just be mechanically-sound components of your world. Rare or commonplace, this is the place for draconic lore.
Review by Megan Robertson