fizban’s treasury of dragons is a player’s handbook made just for dungeon masters

© Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon WizKids’ new gargantuan Tiamat keeps watch over the collector’s edition of Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons.

Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons, the latest sourcebook for Dungeons & Dragons, is a bit of an oddity. It’s certainly not a full campaign, like Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden. It’s also not a book about a specific setting, like Eberron: Rising From the Last War. And while it does have a few new options for building characters upfront, the resources included for player characters feel almost like an afterthought. Fizban’s Treasury is something unique, a book specially made for Dungeon Masters.

At the core of Fizban’s Treasury is a section called the Draconomicon, nearly 80 pages of content devoted to 20 different species of dragons. That includes gem dragons — amethyst, crystal, emerald, sapphire, and topaz — which have been absent from official D&D books for nearly 20 years. It’s not a traditional bestiary, however, filled with stat blocks and snippets of lore. That comes later in the book. Instead, the Draconomicon is a kind of miniature Player’s Handbook built for DMs.

fizban’s treasury of dragons is a player’s handbook made just for dungeon masters

© Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

The Draconomicon riffs on the darklord creation system that was first published in Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft, and later expanded on with the download-only Domains of Delight. DMs pick a dragon type — say, a brass dragon — then, just as a player would when making their character for the first time, DMs roll some dice to determine the dragon’s personality and ideal. Your brass dragon might delight in sharing knowledge, or be fascinated by intelligent magical weapons. It could be obsessed with accumulating knowledge, or with ensuring that all creatures have a right to self-determination. Slowly but surely, a well-rounded non-player character (NPC) begins to take shape.

fizban’s treasury of dragons is a player’s handbook made just for dungeon masters

© Photo: Charlie Hall/Polygon

From there, DMs can daydream about what that dragon’s lair might look like. Fizban’s Treasury is filled with gorgeous full-page maps by Dyson Logos, each one beautifully setting the mood for each dragon’s preferred home. Other sections of the book detail exactly what a lair and a dragon’s hoard of treasure mean, both narratively and mechanically, to each species of dragon. Before long you’ve got a compelling villain that can be dropped literally anywhere in the D&D multiverse, ready for players to butt heads with. Or maybe your dragon isn’t a villain at all. Fizban’s Treasury also provides guidance for setting your dragon up as an ally, a local crime boss, a warlord, or even as a patron.

Fizban’s Treasury has a few good bits for player characters as well. The drakewarden, a new subclass for rangers, is particularly exciting. Who doesn’t want their own dragon spirit that they can ride into battle? But more than any other sourcebook published in the last few years by Wizards of the Coast, this book empowers DMs to actively create their own character. The rest of the book supports that premise, with loads of lore and lots of interesting adventure hooks.

To me, that means Fizban’s Treasury has two primary uses.

Many published campaigns dump players out around level 8, maybe level 10. The upcoming Critical Role: Call of the Netherdeep is an anomaly, starting players out at level 3. But even that book is expected to end around level 12. Once a published campaign is over, it can be hard for a DM to keep the story going. Many, myself included, opt instead to discard existing player characters and kick off a new campaign at level 1. With Fizban’s Treasury, DMs can instead go to ground and create a new, personalized, high-level dragon villain (or ally) for those powerful characters to contend with. Using the source material from the last campaign as well as all the bits of lore in this book, canny DMs should be able to generate another five or more levels of gameplay after just a few hours’ work.

Alternately, DMs could use Fizban’s Treasury as the seed for an entire adventure of their own creation. A valuable strategy would be hosting a lengthy night of character creation, using a session zero brainstorming event to create strong concepts for players characters first. Then, once all those conflicts and relationships are penciled in, DMs can go back to the Draconomicon to create the perfect villain or ally to help move the story along.

Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons isn’t a book that every fan of D&D needs to own. Instead, it’s a book that skilled DMs can use to level up their existing games, or to create a thrilling new world of their own. You can find it at local game stores and online starting Oct. 26.

Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons was reviewed with a final retail version provided by Wizards of the Coast. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. You can find additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy here.

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