Table of Contents:
Oops All Dragons!
The newest official D&D book is out and in all its scaly-winged glory! As a sort of catch-all grab bag of new content (like Tasha’s cauldron of everything) Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons joins the 5e library bearing a dragon’s hoard of races, subclasses, lore, magic items and monsters. Is this hoard full of treasures worth a dragon’s wrath? Get your most fireproof outfit on as we go through everything you need to know.
What’s in the Book?
The Wild Beyond the Witchlight weighs in at 224 pages, which is quite a bit shorter than recent adventure paths but a good chunk bigger than “Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything” which I would consider to be its closest comparison. While it’s in the middle ground as far as WotC book sizes go, they stuck with their “lower price” and most places are offering it at around $29.99.
In it we get a little bit of everything tied together by the overarching theme of dragons and everything dragon related. We get dragon lore, dragon subclasses, dragon magic items, and a good lot of new dragon stat-blocks. All together the book contains:
Fizban’s has three new dragonborn lineages that essentially replace the existing dragonborn race (you can still use the race, but these are obviously replacements). Each lineage is based on the three main dragon ancestries, so we get chromatic dragonborn, metallic dragonborn, and gem dragonborn (more on gem dragons in a bit). These lineages are very similar with a couple key features swapped around, but each one is generally stronger than the original dragonborn race (often seen as a weak option) and the new stuff is flavorful and fun. Think of these as more of an update and rework of the previous dragonborn race rather than “new options” exactly, though they’re definitely welcome and I highly doubt anybody will use the old version now that these babies are available.
Fizban’s contains the new monk subclass Way of the Ascended Dragon and the ranger subclass Drakewarden. We’ve actually had both of these kicking around in unearthed arcana for a while and they’ve both sadly been nerfed from the UA versions, especially the monk subclass. Features now cost more ki points, have fewer uses, and they seem to have just beaten them both with the nerf stick quite a bit which is sad considering both the monk and ranger are typically considered lower power classes and they could have used some stronger offerings. Still, even in their nerfed form we’re happy to see them in print and allowing your ranger to raise a drake baby sounds amazing.
Here we get 3 new feats, each one phrased as a blessing from either chromatic, metallic, or gem dragons. They’re also very specifically dragon based in a way that feels weird to just “get” without draconic help. I expect most DMs will “open these up” to players or even bestow them as gifts for quests rather than adding them to the general list of pickable feats but from a power level perspective they’re on par.
New Magic Items
Fizban’s gives us a ton of dragon-themed goodies here, my favorite of them is the Dragonhide Belt which grants extra ki points to monks, a type of item I’ve been sorely missing for some time now. The most interesting of these are the “hoard items” which are functionally leveling items literally “soaked” in a dragon’s hoard to obtain dragon powers. The stronger the dragon, the stronger the hoard items. This is a neat way to create both leveling items, but I also love the narrative aspect providing reasons why the sword in the ancient wyrm’s hoard is just so much better than the one in a wyrmling’s.
These are minor and major boons that a dragon can bestow onto their favored champions. I’ll get into it more in just a bit but this really ties into the theme of building a campaign around a dragon rather than just using them as a big boss monster. I wrote a campaign a while back that specifically had dragon boons like these and it’s really nice to see them worked up as a full mechanic.
Fizban’s is FULL of lore, a little more than half of the book is devoted just to different kinds of dragons and all sorts of lore, random tables, and fluff to make your dragons more interesting. We’ve got lore for the old dragons you’ve already used, lore for the new dragons in the book, lore for dragon deities, lore for dragons from other planes, lore for dragon personalities, lore for dragon strategies, and it just goes on and on. More than anything this lore seems designed for plot hooks, player interactions, and generally making a dragon a central character in your game rather than just describing them as dangerous monsters (though they are that).
Dragon Lairs and Hoards
I’ve encountered some pretty sad dragon lairs in even official adventure paths that amount to nothing more than a big room with a dragon in it. Fizban’s gives you advice on how to construct lairs specific to the type of dragon with a bunch of tables and mechanics for making them and the treasure within them interesting and unique.
Adventure Ideas and Maps
Fizban’s definitely wants you to build your adventures around a dragon and gives you a heap of tools to do just that specific to each major dragon type. This is honestly the type of thing I hope gets more common. Rather than just a snippet of lore and a stat block, this gives you tons of tools and inspiration for actually building your adventure around that monster. We also get 7 small lair maps to work with, which are fairly basic but give you everything you need for specific dragons without doing the work to make your own.
70 New Monsters
If about half the book is lore than the other half is monster stat blocks to the point that I’d almost call this book a bestiary. This is separate from the lore about dragons and falls more in line with how the previous bestiaries are designed. 70 is also counting all the age versions of all the dragons, so it’s closer to like 40 “new” monsters + variants, but that’s still a hefty number. I was particularly enamored with the “hoard mimic” which I plan on subjecting my players too at my next opportunity.
What’s Good About the Book?
Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons gives you a little bit of everything and a LOT of everything you could possibly want for putting dragons in your adventures. Before this book came out, dragons in 5e were honestly a bit bland and uninteresting to fight, now you get everything you need to make dragons into core characters in your adventures as well as terrifying monsters. We get the 5e take on old creatures like the gem dragons and a ton of entirely new creatures. We get a slew of new character options in the form of lineages, subclasses, spells, and magic items, and a ton of new toys for the DM to play with in the form of gifts, random tables, maps, and lore.
What’s Bad About the Book?
This is a weird and very specific hang-up, but as I also play Magic the Gathering, I couldn’t help notice that roughly half of the art in this book was just featured on magic cards in the recent D&D themed MTG set. This isn’t bad exactly, but it feels really weird to see this art I’ve already seen doing double duty on multiple WotC products. It probably won’t bother you, but I know it bothered me and it ties into my main problem with the book.
I can’t shake the feeling that this book feels a bit slapdash and just simply not as the writers intended. The “dragon” theme doesn’t work for everything here and I get a bit of a “random stuff bag” vibe from the whole thing. It all just feels a bit thrown together rather than having a specific purpose. I feel like the closest analog here is Tasha’s but unlike that book Fizban’s isn’t a full system upgrade, it just has some reworked and replacement things here and there.
It feels like somebody told WotC that their dragons were boring, and this was their comeback. From a player’s perspective, this book offers a small smattering of player options, but not nearly as many as earlier offerings. From a DM’s perspective half of this book is an excellent bestiary, and the other half provides everything you’d need for using dragons as major characters or plot drivers in your adventures. But if you don’t want specifically a dragon as a major plot element in your adventure, a massive chunk of this book does literally nothing for you.
The lore and adventuring content preceding the bestiary portion is exactly what I’d like to see on all monsters, and I think more than that it’s what WotC has been planning. Here’s my theory, Fizban’s is composed of content meant for 6th edition. There’s been a lot of rumbling about a potential new edition, and I think Fizban’s either represents more of what they plan on doing for a new edition, OR it was literally 6e content that got reworked back after WotC decided to keep going on 5e. This is just speculation, but especially with how the new dragonborn lineages functionally replace the old dragonborn, it makes me think that’s exactly what they were designed to do in the next edition.
My tinfoil hat theories aside, Fizban’s still feels a bit slapdash to me, it’s not bad but I have to ask who it’s actually for. If you aren’t a DM specifically planning on building a campaign around a dragon NPC, then half the book is completely useless to you. If you are a DM planning on a big dragon NPC, then this is absolutely amazing content. And if you’re a player, you get a smattering of content, but it’s nothing that terribly impactful unlike what we got in Tasha’s that every player needed, on this you can really give it a miss. Especially after they nerfed the subclasses.
It’s not bad, you’re not wasting your money on it, and it is good content, I just can’t escape the feeling that it wasn’t as well planned or perhaps was the result of changing plans. It feels not rushed exactly but more like I can see the stitches where this content was put together from disparate projects.
If you are a DM who specifically wants to run a dragon-centric adventure, this is a nearly perfect book for you. For everybody else it’s just pretty good.
Final Score: 6.5 out of 10
Final Score: 9.5 out of 10 (For Dragon-Centric DMs)
Last updated: January 27, 2019
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