Fizban's Treasury Chapter 3

Dragon Magic

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I picked up Fizban's Treasury of Dragon and have been reading it cover to cover. This is my review of the book, chapter by chapter. In this post, I discuss Chapter 2: Dragon Magic.

There are just 7 spells in this chapter, which takes up about a third of this 9-page chapter. The rest of the pages are filled with magic items, hoard items (formerly mundane objects that become embued with magic just by lying around in a Dragon's hoard), and "Draconic gifts" (special powers granted to players by Dragons.) I never complain about getting new spells, but I also value diversity, so I very much appreciate that this chapter isn't just a bunch of spells that many players aren't likely to encounter. Spells often have to lie around in books, waiting for the right player to notice them and actually use them. But magic items and powers that are endowed upon player characters can be revealed to players by the Dungeon Master.

The spells that stand out, for me:

  • The Ashardalon's Stride spell is a haste spell.
  • Fizban's Platinum Shield is a personal but movable Circle of Protection variant.
  • Nathair's Mischief is an AOE with a kind of wild magic style table for determining its effect.
  • Rime's Binding Ice is a cold-themed Arms of Hadar. This spell is one of my favourites primarily because it's winter-themed, and I really don't think there are near enough cold spells.

The full list includes spells from 2nd to 7th level, with each spell-casting class (including the Artificer from Tasha's Cauldron) having access to at least one.

Magic items

There's about 2 pages of magic items, and in my opinion it's hard to go wrong with a magic item. Even the ones that seem useless encourage players to try unusual things. In fact, if I had any complaints about the items in this book, it would be that all of them were maybe too useful. There are some very powerful objects here, including a gemstone that grants flight, a belt that replenishes a monk's ki points, a sapphire buckler that deals thunder damage, and not just one item that allows a player character to transform into an adult dragon.

Kind of amazing.

And yet, my favourite item, because it warms my heart to see it in print after so many years, is the dragonlance. A dragonlance, in 5e terms, is a +3 lance or pike, with an additional 3d6 force damage on a successful hit. In addition to that, any dragon you can see within 30 feet can immediately use its reaction to make a melee attack. Assuming you're riding on a Dragon while using the lance, that means that when you hit, your Dragon gets to take a swipe at your target for free.

This is a really interesting rewrite of the original dragonlances. In AD&D Dragonlance, there were two different dragonlances, one for footsoldiers and one for mounted dragon riders. A footman's lance granted +1 to attack, and dealt 1d6 damage to human-sized targets or 1d8 to anything larger. Against a dragon, it additionally dealt a number of points equal to the number of your hit die (if you had 14 hit die, then your lance dealt 14 points.)

A mounted lance granted +2 to attack, and dealt 2d4+1 damage to human-sized targets or 3d6 to anything larger. Against a dragon, it additionally dealt a number of points equal to the number of your hit die plus the number of your mount's hit die (if you have 14 hit die and are riding a dragon with 40 hit die, you dealt 54 points).

By my calculation, the 5e version of the dragonlance averages out at 22 (7 for lance + 3 bonus + 12 on 3d6) damage, assuming no Strength bonus. Assuming a nearby Dragon gets a free melee attack, there could be an additional 15 to 20 points of damage, resulting in a total of, say, 42 damage on average. Chance is involved, so technically it's possible to deal just 6 damage on a hit, but by the time player characters fight a Dragon, a botched dragonlance would hardly spoil the encounter. I'm less worried, when I'm DM for a 5e game, about my players rolling disappointing damage with a legendary weapon than I am about them ending the combat before my monster gets a counter attack.

I admire this conversion, and I'm happy to see the dragonlance in an official book.

Hoard items

According to this section, items in a Dragon's hoard can gain magical powers through a kind of arcane osmosis. The more powerful the Dragon, the more powerful the item is likely to become. Magic items often get explained away as a wizard's experiment gone very right or very wrong, or a curse, so it's nice to have another origin story to fall back on.

Four items are provided in this chapter. Each one has traits assuming the item has been "steeping" in a Dragon that's anywhere from Young to Ancient.

I like the lore of an item absorbing magic from a hoard, but to me the items described in this chapter are essentially a roundabout way of granting feats. Each item is a collection of arbitrary bonuses you get from an arbitrary and probably forgetful object. If the object gets stolen by a pickpocket, or looted after a momentary defeat, you probably won't remember to remove the bonuses.

Draconic gifts

Speaking of roundabout ways of granting feats, Draconic gifts are an arbitrary collection of bonuses you can have a Dragon grant characters. I think this is a pretty brilliant way to make the presence of a Dragon meaningful in a campaign. Imagine a metallic or gem Dragon granting the party an assortment of powerful and memorable Draconic traits, or the party earning these traits after defeating a chromatic Dragon. Your players aren't going to forget that, and even if they only encounter the Dragon once its presence in the campaign will reverberate for the duration of the adventure. Unlike hoard items, these gifts can't go missing, they can't be sold off for some spare gold pieces. It's an overlay of Draconic magic your players can put on their characters, and it's a constant reminder of how Dragons affect the game world.

Flavour of the Dragon

The fact is that in most campaigns, you can't make Dragons a regular occurrence. But you can make their effects known. This chapter is invaluable for making Dragons a part of your game.

Next chapter is Dragons in play, maybe for those campaigns you can flood with Dragons.

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