Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons review

After a short delay associated with the current supply chain issues, Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons has been released, bringing with it a veritable hoard of dragon-based information and game options. Of course, as part of an ongoing promotion, each new book release comes with a free question, is it worth your limited time and hard-earned money? Here at Dice Cove, we have you covered with a review to help you make an informed purchase.

What’s in the Book?

Let’s start off with the easy part, the book has an overall draconic theme and is primarily focused on DMs, with a small amount of content for players. For context, this book falls into a similar category as Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes (MToF) and Volo’s Guide to Monsters (VGtM), with the main focus on new monsters, monster lore, and ecology, but with a smattering of player-relevant options that match the theme of the book.

The notable parts of the book for players are:

The notable parts of the book for DMs are:

  • New dragon-themed magic items
  • A system for dragon horde-powered magic items
  • Draconic Gifts, which are boons to award your players
  • In-depth lair information and roleplay tools for every kind of major dragon
  • Stat blocks for new dragons and dragon-themed monsters, including aspects of Bahumet and Tiamat, and the mew Mythic tier of dragons.

We’ll now review different aspects of the book and give each section a score out of 5, which you may recognize from our guides, and finally rate the overall book. For the purposes of the review, we will consider a 3 or above as a pass but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t, or shouldn’t be better done and it certainly doesn’t mean it passes the strict (or let’s face it for some of us not so strict) quality standards your wallet imposes on your purchases!

Player Options: 4/5

There’s not a lot of things here for players, but what’s here is flavorful and, for the most part, good:

Dragonborn

The new dragonborn options address the complaints of the PHB original, rather than giving us a different take altogether like the variant options presented in Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount. The stat increases are changed to the DIY version, present since the new lineage options presented in Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft (VRGtR), as well as the age and height following suit to a more generic template. The change to the breath weapon’s action economy and damage feels a lot more rewarding to use, as well as remaining relevant as you gain levels. An additional 5th level ability gives each kind of dragonborn more identity, whilst making them a more competitive option. The new gem option focuses on non-elemental damage types, as well as psionic-themed abilities. It’s not all sunshine, roses, and gold pieces, however, as the 5th level ability for the Chromatic version feels lackluster in comparison to its kin, and setting the shape of their breath weapon by overall type rather than color feels like a small loss of individuality in exchange for simplicity. Primarily just improvements here overall, regardless of the small complaints.

Subclasses

If you wanted to play a fire bender and were disappointed with the Way of Four Elements, the Way of the Ascendant Dragon may have what you seek. This subclass focuses on giving you the various aspects that make a D&D dragon what they’re famous for including an improved charismatic presence, flight, and breath weapon. Somewhat unsurprising, Ascendant Dragon received some nerfs from the Unearthed Arcana, but overall gives you a diverse set of abilities without putting a heavy tax on your limited Ki reserves. Ideally, the flight ability would have allowed additional uses at cost, not to mention some of the later abilities are lackluster, but this all adds up to a very average subclass, not a bad one.

Who doesn’t want a pet dragon? Let me rephrase that, who doesn’t want a house-broken pet dragon? Well, the Drake Warden doesn’t give you that but a drake is close! This subclass is like a draconic-themed Beast Master, allowing you to summon a spirit in the form of a drake who gets more powerful and dragon-like as you level. The drake can empower the strikes of those near it for more damage and does increasingly more damage itself. It’s important to keep in mind a portion of that damage will always remain nonmagical, and this may feel like unnecessary accounting for the player. 

The breath weapon presented is very competitive in terms of raw damage, but punches deceptively above its weight as you’re able to not only determine the elemental damage type, but also the shape of the breath weapon and whether it originates from yourself, or your drake. This subclass breaks the tradition established in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything (XGTE) and doesn’t give you an expanded spell list, but the drake and other features are good enough that it’s not really missed. Overall a well-designed subclass with a fun concept that will have you riding your own flying dragon (kind of) by the end of your character’s career. 

Feats

Following the draconic fashion of the book, three new feats are provided, one for each type of dragon: chromatic, metallic, and gem. Each feat has a different theme based on the dragon it draws inspiration from: the chromatic feat allows you to do more elemental damage and become resistant to elemental damage you take as a reaction, the metallic feat allows you to heal and protect yourself and others, and the gem feat improves a mental score whilst giving you a psionic reaction. The feats are solid additions to the game, although they could go a little further, such as the damage aspect of Gift of the Chromatic Dragon being used once per short rest instead of once per long rest, and the Cure Wounds portion of the metallic feat could be cast at 2nd level instead of 1st.

Spells

With seven new spells added by this book every casting class gets something except for the Cleric and Paladin, with the Sorcerer notably getting every new spell. This is refreshing as the Sorcerer normally gets left out of the summoning spell fun, but gets the new 5th level spell Summon Draconic Spirit. There are no 1st level spells included, which is a shame as the book gives us two 2nd level spells when we already have Dragon’s Breath for a  2nd level dragon-themed spell. The higher-level support is welcome, however, and this spell list is overall solid, with a standout spell being Rime’s Binding Ice for an outstanding combination of effect, thematics, and value. The table that compiles the spells is very well laid out, allowing you to see important information about the spells, such as what classes can take them or if they require concentration, from a glance.

DM Options: 5/5

The lion’s, or should I say dragon’s share of content in Fizban’s is aimed towards DMs, with a sizable amount of lore and worldbuilding for dragons, as well as a large bestiary.

Draconic Gifts

Similar to the Dark Gifts included in VRGtR, FToD equips DMs with Draconic Gifts to reward and empower players in a dragon-themed fashion. These abilities range from gaining a pseudodragon as a familiar to permanent resistance to piercing and slashing damage, oh and you can morph into a dragonborn permanently. There’s a suggested table to determine what physical manifestation these gifts might have, but it’s only a d4 which feels a little lacking, especially for a larger party who would prefer unique marks. The power of these gifts varies pretty widely, but they feel appropriate as DM-awarded gifts, perhaps handed down by a powerful dragon or absent-minded dragon god.

Magic Items

The magic items in this book also vary greatly with the obvious stand-out item being a bird statuette which can turn into an adult gold dragon once a year, for when you want to show off at your guild’s reunion. An item that catches the eye, not for its raw power but the hole it fills, is the Dragonhide Belt. This item allows a Monk to regain some Ki points and increases their Ki save DC, similar to how a Wand of the War Mage would increase a Wizard’s. Players have longed for more Monk-specific magic item support in the game and this definitely smoothes over the disappointment left by TCoE. All of the items here are fun and interesting, with most of them tending to be legendary or very rare, indicating they’re most likely to support higher-level play.

Hoard Magic Items

Introduced with the new magic items, is a whole new system for magic items to work with a dragon-heavy campaign: hoard magic items. These items have different states, the higher the state the more powerful the item, with the state increasing by allowing the item to ‘steep’ in the power of a dragon’s hoard. The older the dragon, the higher the state of the hoard item, with an item normally needing to steep for one whole year before it ascends to the state that dragon’s age will allow. Of course, waiting a year for your good dragon buddy to power up your item isn’t the way of the adventurer, there’s a world to save! Luckily if you kill heroically slay a dragon, the magic of its hoard becomes volatile, meaning you can increase the level of your item in only 8 hours, as long as you put it into the hoard within one hour of the dragon’s death. 

The items themselves are a mixed bag, but trend towards being very powerful. One notable outlier, Dragon Vessel, is a little disappointing. This is a fun and interesting system, besides some items being a little weaker, my only criticism would be keeping track of the type of dragons used. This is because you can gain power based on a certain type of dragon with one state, but the next state may use an entirely different type of dragon. The variation is nice but maybe too much bookkeeping for some tables. It’s worth noting this system can serve as a valuable template for DMs wanting to use scaling magic items, replacing steeping the item in a hoard with something more relevant to their campaign, perhaps having it next to an interplanar portal.

Dragon Lore and Roleplaying

As you might expect, FToD is a veritable dragon’s hoard of information on dragons and tools on how to better use them. The entire third chapter is dedicated to how dragons may come up in your game and basic supporting lore, like how long they live and what might happen when they die. There are a series of useful tables, half of them using a d20, which allow you to roll up the appearance and personality of a dragon, as well as a fairly comprehensive table for constructing a draconic name. This chapter has a massive amount of information on the different ways you can build adventures and campaigns around dragons, including the various kinds of followers a dragon, or group of dragons may have. This chapter is well-written and provides great jumping-off points and tools to create your own dragon-based adventures, or simply help you add more depth and interesting aspects to a prewritten campaign.

Dragon Lairs and Hoards

Previously, to many players and DMs, a dragon’s hoard likely just represented the sum of its compulsively-collected treasure, however, Fizban’s informs us a hoard is actually a nexus for the magical energies of a dragon. This leads to a variety of interesting plot hooks provided to us in the book where others may seek to exploit the magic of the hoard for various reasons including creating powerful magic wards and opening planar portals. Interestingly, we learn that for a hoard to really count it must be worth at least 10,000GP, as well as the various gold amounts and ages attached to each progressive age category. There are some exciting aspects to add to your draconic hoards, such as hauntings and curses, but unfortunately, the hoards themselves largely refer back to the treasure hoard tables in the DMG.

For the lairs that hold these impressive collections of treasure, we get a table presenting unusual features about a lair’s location to give it more personality as well as new regional effects and lair actions. The book does refer to the already published options for these iconic lair features, however, it gives us several new examples of how the dragon’s magical presence could warp the surrounding area, altering the weather and terrain. There are even examples of how the region can become connected to other planes of existence or be subject to a dragon’s extended magical influences. All in all, there are enough new details here to make a journey to a dragon’s lair an exciting and potentially perilous one. 

The lair actions, on the other hand, are thinner on the ground, offering up only four new options you can potentially add to your scaly friend’s home arsenal. The effects themselves are powerful, ranging from an additional opportunity to recharge a breath weapon, to giving the dragon damage resistances, but for there to be so few new options included is a little disappointing.

Draconomicon

Whilst the book already gives a lot of lore and general draconic information, the Draconomicon chapter is what really cements this book’s place as a must-have for a dragon-loving DM. Every variety of true dragon is covered and given tables to help you determine the dragon’s connections to other creatures based on the age of the dragon, adventure hooks, and a breakdown of the dragon’s typical lair layout, covering the main features and providing a generic map. This information is invaluable to creating your own lairs or fleshing out part of a published adventure that is either too vague or lackluster for your liking. Unfortunately, it’s very obvious and rather odd almost every type of dragon gets a map for their lair apart from the deep, faerie, moonstone, shadow, and dragon turtles. Whilst it might have been for space or budget reasons, the lack of maps for those entries sticks out and is a shame, as they could have proved to be some of the most interesting lairs to run encounters in.

Bestiary 

Do you want dragon stat blocks? Well, this book has got them alright! Despite dragons tending to be more higher-level creatures, there’s actually a nice balance of lower to higher CR creatures in this bestiary. The Draconians in particular give you a spread of different minion-type creatures to flesh out an adventure, or provide some additional action economy to a dragon encounter. It’s nice to see continued support for older game options, with the dragonnel being given as an option for a Paladin to summon with the Find Greater Steed spell, pending DM approval. The art overall in this chapter is great, however, it looks like concept art is used in conjunction with the final drawings. This gives a very unpolished and low-budget look to the chapter in places that’s very unfortunate, had the images been laid out together rather than spread over the monster entries, then they could have served as nice additional content or useful anatomical references. 

Fizban’s introduces us to Mythic monsters with the aspects of Bahumet and Tiamat, as well as the great wyrms and the ancient dragon turtle. This concept boils down to having to defeat a creature twice, once you reduce their hit points to zero once, they reset to a slightly lower number, with resetting of the breath weapon and any expended uses of Legendary Resistance, and the monster now has access to additional legendary actions, dubbed mythic actions. This is an interesting way to support tier 4 play, giving even the most powerful of characters a challenge worthy of their level, it would have been nice to have more active abilities given by the mythic status, instead of just more legendary actions.

Art: 4/5

The art pieces in this book are overall fantastic, from the cover which conveys the epic scale a clash of dragons operates on, to the expressiveness clearly shown in the faces of some creatures depicted. A prime example of the latter is an image that shows the titular Fizban arguing with a mundane statue, whilst a full-grown dragon lurks in the background with a bemused expression mixed with ‘please, Dad, don’t touch my things’ written on their face. Another image shows a gold dragon in flight and conjures nothing short of magnificence about the powerful yet elegant creature. The art falls short of a full 5 rating, however, as there are some pieces that feel out of sync with the overall artistic direction of the book. This is best described as a more cartoon style at times and a style that’s more reminiscent of older editions of the game at other times.

Lore: 3/5

Lore is something that is both incredibly interesting and divisive about this book, primarily stemming from the poem Elegy for the First World and the concept of dragonsight. The poem establishes dragons as the first creatures, scattered throughout the many worlds when a war with the newly arrived gods shattered the first world, giving an explanation why dragons are a constant in some form in all settings. This lore is interesting and the concept of a dragon becoming aware of other versions of itself in other settings/worlds opens up a new dimension for dragons, elevating them beyond just large flying creatures with a breath weapon. The divisive part of this lore is that it is setting agnostic establishing itself as a creation myth, something that might or might not be true, which directly conflicts with the existing lore of most settings. This can understandably rub fans of those settings the wrong way, as it overwrites the story they fell in love with, whilst also opening up potential plot holes when looked at through the lens of that setting. Others might take a dislike of the lore presented here because it’s so noncommittal, being very explicit that it’s all potential truths in an attempt to leave things open for DMs to adjust as needed. Whatever your reaction to this lore, it is certainly very interesting to read and think about with consequences that elevate every dragon into something greater than itself. 

The lore overall only gets a 3, not only for what has already been mentioned but the distinct lack of a dedicated section on kobolds and dragonborn. There are multiple references to these races and what their potential origins could be, but to not cover the two iconic draconic races, in detail, in a book revolving around dragons is a notably missed opportunity.

Overall

A must-have supplement for any dragon lover, this book provides a large bestiary of new dragons and dragon-themed magic. Of the standout things in this book is the art which, with the exception of the odd piece that doesn’t quite fit the style of the book, is just lovely to look at. The art not only invokes a sense of scale and grace to the dragons but is sure to get your imagination pumping and make for some wonderful tokens if you use a virtual tabletop (VTT). The layout of the book is done well, but it’s an understandable shame you have to directly reference others at times, rather than this be the only book you need for your dragon adventures. Monster stat blocks and player options are well-designed for the most part; the mythic monsters could use more options than just additional legendary actions, and the player options could have gone a little further power-wise.

Overall, this book is a fun read, with amazing art, and mechanics that will get the job done whilst serving as a springboard for your own imaginative ideas. Not quite a home run, but definitely worth your time and hard-earned gold pieces if you’re a fan of dragons.

  • Player Options
    4/5 Good
  • DM Options
    5/5 Amazing
  • Art
    4/5 Good
  • Lore
    3/5 Neutral
4/5
Total Score
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