Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons Review
Published on October 26, 2021
Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons contains a trove of new dragon lore, including new dragon monsters, DM tools for creating adventures around dragons, and a wealth of new player options.
Chris Rahn - Wizards of the Coast - Fizban's Treasury of Dragon Cover
Quick Review (No Spoilers)
What is Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons?
Pages: 224 pages
Published: October 19, 2021
Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons is a supplement for the 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons (5e) that is wholly focused on dragons. This book is a literal trove of dragon lore that aims to expand the DM’s knowledge when it comes to using dragons in their campaigns. As is the formula for 5e supplements, this book contains a mix of information for players and DMs.
Player options account for approximately 20 pages of this book and include:
- 3 new dragonborn subraces (chromatic, metallic, and gem)
- 2 new dragon-related classes (Way of the Ascendant Dragon monk and Drakewarden ranger)
- 3 new draconic feats
- 7 new dragon-related spells
- 8 new draconic gifts
- 13 new magic items, including 4 new types of item that gets stronger the longer they stay in a dragon’s hoard.
DM-specific dragon lore accounts for the remaining 200 or so pages and includes:
- Tips and world-building tables for when you use dragons in your game
- Ways to customize a dragon’s lair and their hoard
- A Draconomicon that goes in-depth into crafting personalities for certain types of dragons, inspiration for building adventures, details about lairs, ideas about the kinds of treasures that dragons favor, and battlemaps of dragon’s lairs
- 80 new dragon-related monsters with CRs varying from 1/8 to 30.
- This book is shorter than other recent supplements, but also doesn’t waste time getting to the good stuff. Any chapters that aren’t new, high-quality player options are full of very actionable information when it comes to dragons in D&D.
- The information provided in Chapter 5 can easily be wrangled into some sort of Monster Hunter-type campaign. Everything about hunting and attacking dragons in their lair is included, including battlemaps, suggested additional monsters, and post-mission loot. Combine that with the hoard items from Chapter 2 and you have a really fun, episodic campaign.
- The new races, subclasses, spells, feats, draconic gifts, and magic items all look really good. Most of the monsters in the bestiary are well designed, with the exception of the CR 30 inclusions.
- This book is mainly for groups that homebrew campaigns. Most of the information in this book, outside of monsters, magic items, and player options, can’t be used in prewritten campaigns without majorly reworking the world and story, with the exception of the Tyranny of Dragons saga.
- If you’re not planning on heavily involving dragons in your homebrew campaign, this information will not be of much help. That being said, once you’ve read through this book you’ll certainly be an expert on dragons, so maybe you should plan on heavily involving dragons in your campaign. Which came first, the dragon or the egg?
In-depth Review (Spoilers Ahead!)
Introduction: Elegy for the First World
This section details how the First World was made by Tiamat and Bahumat. When the gods of other creatures, like humans and elves, and their followers attempted to settle in the First World, it sparked a war between the outsiders and the dragons. This resulted in the destruction of the First World and the birth of the multiverse.
The introductory chapter serves as a primer to what will come in the rest of the book: dragon culture, the introduction of gem dragons, and the ability for dragons to see and join with their echoes in other planes of existence.
The First World
There isn’t a whole lot to say about this chapter as it’s only 4 pages long. I do like the introduction to the lore of the First World and how it explains why dragons are primordial, magical beings.
Retcons and recaps
This chapter has a section that discusses how the events described in the Elegy of the First World can fit into the worlds with established lore like Eberron, Grey Hawk, and Dragonlance. I understand why this needs to be set up in order to explain how dragons work with the multiverse, but it feels a bit heavy-handed to try to inject their lore into worlds that weren’t built with this idea of creation in mind.
Chapter 1: Character Creation
This section contains the new player options (except for spells, which are covered in Chapter 2). The dragonborn race is reworked, two new dragon-related subclasses are introduced, as well as three new feats.
The new dragonborn races are definitely a hit. Their breath weapon now scales with level, can be done a number of times equal to your proficiency modifier, and can replace an attack instead of being a full action. The new races also get access to another feature at 5th level, depending on the subrace chosen.
The ranger’s drakewarden subclass continues the success that Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything set out for the class. The flavor is awesome, the progression of the drake’s companion from a young wyrm to a fearsome rideable, dragon is great, and the fact that you get fireball-esque damage, albeit 5 levels late, is a great bonus.
Way of the Ascendant Dragon nerfs
I really liked how the Way of the Ascendant Dragon looked when it was in Unearthed Arcana, but doubling the ki cost for the first ability, reducing the 11th level ability from 30ft to 10ft, and making the capstone feature do no damage on a successful save hurt what is already a struggling class.
Goodbye to Racial ASIs
These new dragonborn races, and likely all races going forward, don’t follow the original formula of getting set racial ASIs. Starting with The Wild Beyond the Witchlight, players can decide their own ASIs by adding +2 to one ability score and +1 to another, or +1 to three different abilities. I think this is an unnecessary subtraction from races because Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything already introduced the optional rule to change racial ASIs in this manner.
No Draconic Bloodline Sorcerer Errata
I wasn’t holding out much hope for this, but after Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything revamped the Beast Master ranger, there was a small glimmer of hope that some of the out-of-date sorcerer classes would get reworked. I would have loved to see an addition of bloodline spells to the Draconic Bloodline like the Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything sorcerers got, but alas.
Chapter 2: Dragon Magic
Dragons are inherently magical beings, so it makes sense that there would be an entire section dedicated to the magic that can be bestowed by these powerful creatures. This chapter introduces a couple of new spells, some new magic items, and draconic gifts.
The magic items include a new system for hoard items, which can gain power by being placed into a dragon’s hoard for an extended period of time, or by killing a dragon in the presence of the item.
Also introduced are draconic gifts, which are essentially pseudo-feats. Unlike feats, these abilities, which are granted by dragons, are organized into varying levels like magic items and are meant to be treated as such. This section provides information about when to provide these gifts to players, which is mainly dictated by the age of the dragon that bestows these gifts.
Hoard magic items
I love the ability to scale your magic items as the game progresses. The mechanics that increase the power level of your magic items, based on the age of the dragon that you deal with, can be an entire campaign’s story arc.
I’ve wanted there to be power levels associated with feats for a long time. This is a step in the right direction and it’s nice that they provide a list of feats that can be used as draconic gifts.
I love the flavor and mechanics of all the spells provided in this book. I especially like Ashardalon’s Stride for melee artificers and rangers, Raulothim’s Psychic Lance, and Rime’s Binding Ice because new elemental damage spells are never a bad thing.
Lack of Different Damage Types
Seeing as this is a book about dragons, and dragons are the masters of elemental damage, I would have liked more variety in elemental damage spells, especially in the early game. You can get access to just about any type of damage through summon draconic spirit, but it’s a 5th level spell slot and quite restricted in which classes can use it.
Chapter 3: Dragons in Play
This chapter has tons of tables with amazing tools to help flesh out dragons in your campaign world. Everything you could possibly be looking for when it comes to running dragons as part of your campaign’s world can be found here: tips and tricks for roleplaying dragons, exploring the relationship between dragons and their followers, suggestions for building encounters around dragons, different roles dragons can play in your storytelling, and exploring ways that campaign arcs can revolve around dragons.
While all of the tables in this section are useful, by far my favorite is the Dragon Encounter Complications table. In D&D, too often combat ends with one side killing the other in a slugfest without any movement or strategy. This table provides a ton of cool leaping-off points when it comes to planning unique and dynamic encounters.
Honestly, I have nothing negative to say about this chapter. I am all for giving DMs new ideas when it comes to planning their campaign and running sessions.
Chapter 4: Lairs and Hoards
A dragon isn’t truly a dragon without a dangerous lair and a hoard of treasure. This chapter dives into methods for making a dragon’s lair feel more unique and provides guidelines around what should be in a dragon’s hoard based on the age of the dragon in question.
I will admit that I think the monetary system is broken in 5e, but this isn’t the place to get into it. Faulty economics or not, I appreciate the guidelines provided in this section. Too many times have I planned a dragon encounter just to be at a loss for what kind of unique and valuable items might be found in the dragon’s lair.
Between the information about lairs provided in Chapter 5, Chapter 6, and the Monster Manual (depending on the dragon in question), I found the section in this Chapter about lairs to be unnecessary. Sure, it’s only two and a half pages and the information doesn’t hurt anything, but I think the extra space could have been used to print another subclass or other unexplored territory.
Chapter 5: Draconomicon
This section comes in at a whopping 80 pages and provides a bunch of amazing information about the three primary dragon families as well as the most important dragon offshoots.
Everything in this chapter is exactly the type of content I was looking for in this book. Each entry contains such extremely actionable information. My personal favorites are the dragon-specific adventure hooks, the types of creatures that associate with each type of dragon, and, most importantly, battlemaps for dragon lairs.
The information in this chapter, combined with the hoard items, is enough to formulate a simple, episodic campaign where the party travels to different lairs, slaying dragons and upgrading their loot. This would be a great campaign idea for groups that have trouble getting together regularly and just want to dive into some dungeons and fight dragons.
This chapter is full of awesome content that can be easily applied to anyone that wants to bring dragons to their table. It saves time prepping for campaigns and adventures and is exactly the kind of stuff I buy D&D books for.
Chapter 6: Bestiary
This chapter has a slightly shorter page length than the Draconomicon but is even more chock full of dragon-y goodness. The Bestiary introduces you to 80 new dragon and dragon adjacent creatures, ranging the full span of Challenge Rating. This chapter includes the new updates on creature stat blocks released in October 4th’s Sage Advice – Creature Evolutions article. As with any change in a system as fleshed out as 5e, innovation will be accompanied by growing pains. I have outlined my thoughts on the new stat block, as well as the new monsters, below.
I think that this book really nailed the lore and flavor of these dragons. Yes, they’re nothing revolutionary when compared to the stat blocks of their chromatic and metallic cousins, but the breath weapons are flavorful and unique. Additionally, innate spellcasting is a feature I think dragons need to have as a default, rather than the way the Monster Manual treated it as an optional rule.
I like the new formula for stat blocks that Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything set out with the new summon spells and ranger companion. These stat blocks provide different variants of monsters that each have unique features. I think it’s a good way to create variability and choice while limiting the space it takes up in these expansion books. A good example of these modular monsters are the Animated Breath and Gem Stalker.
Where the new stat blocks get it right
I was keeping an eye out for enemy spellcasters because that seems to be one of the biggest changes made to monster stat blocks in this book. The first non-dragon spellcaster I came across was the Draconian Mage and I’ve got to say, I think it looks great. Instead of being bogged down with spell slots and trying to figure out which spell will work best in combat, the stat block gives you a go-to spell that the caster will use for damage, as well as some utility spells for unique situations. Easy as that.
I started to like this new format even more when I saw the Draconic Mastermind and the Magic Shield ability. It is essentially the Shield spell but under the Reaction section in the stat block that displays a number of uses for the specific ability.
These changes will impact some class features like the counterspell spell and the Oath of the Ancients’ Aura of Warding, because the stat block now has a “Spell Attack” that isn’t technically “Casting a Spell”. This is an issue because it won’t activate class features that specify they can only be used on “spells”. That said, I think that with some simple errata it will end up as a better system in the end.
No more Frightful Presence
I really dislike how they removed the Frightful Presence for all of these new dragons, especially when this book is written by Fizban, a character in the Dragonlance novels where Dragon Fear was a key story point. I get that they are trying to streamline the DMs job of running enemies in combat, and not overloading monster stat blocks is important for that, but I just feel disappointed that this change was seen as necessary.
I can see how Frightful Presence could be considered an “anti-fun” mechanic, but combat in D&D is about strategy. If monsters just turn into bags of hit points with few differentiating abilities to keep the players guessing, it will be detrimental to the system as a whole.
Bahumat / Tiamat Avatars & Great Wyrms
I listed some situations under “The Good” where I feel like the new system for simplifying stat blocks has paid off. Here, I think it really hurts the out-of-the-box playability of these monsters. They have basically turned into a huge pile of hit points with legendary resistances and use the same attacks round after round. The “mythic” activation only exacerbates the issue by effectively doubling the creature’s hit points and legendary resistances. I can’t see any circumstances where I would run the CR 30 Aspect of Tiamat over the one already published in Rise of Tiamat.
I’m not super surprised by this disappointment. 5e isn’t known for giving the higher tiers of play much support. In the past, I’ve always homebrewed the BBEGs of my campaign because they are always unique creatures and it’s something I have fun with. Based on the higher CR creatures released in this supplement, I don’t imagine this will change in the future.
What’s the verdict?
I liked reading this book. I think it has enjoyable lore, introduces a new, interesting family of dragons, and provides some mechanically fun, highly playable character options. There are things I will change when I use them in my games, but that’s the beauty of 5e. I see a lot of people online talking about how “rulings over rules” is something that’s turned them off of the system, but honestly, it’s what drew me into 5e. As long as we get foundational information like the contents of this book to support our imagination, I’m excited about the future.
You will love this supplement if:
- You love dragons, duh.
- You are interested in lore and learning about the worlds of Dungeons & Dragons.
- You homebrew campaigns and want to involve dragons more.
- You want to play the cool new subclasses. Even with the issues I talked about in that chapter, I really want to play a Way of the Ascendant Dragon. I think I would combine it with a metallic dragonborn subrace so I can spam dragon breath attacks all day.
You won’t love this supplement if:
- You don’t like the direction the new races and monster stat blocks have gone. There’s tons of content out there already that follows the original 5e formula.
- You’re looking for an easy-to-follow, step-by-step adventure. If you are, consider checking out our comprehensive guide to choosing a published D&D adventure, or maybe even one of our own.
- You homebrew content but tend not to run high-fantasy campaigns.