" ...Really only useful to those who are about to undertake a dragon rich campaign or who are playing a dragon oriented setting (like Dragonlance)... "
Title: Draconomicon by Wizards of the Coast
Format: D&D Big Book of Dragons
Reviewing Monkey: Dungapult
The Hype: In a game as diverse as D&D everyone gets their own tome and this time up are the dragons. More than just an addendum to the monster manual, the Draconomicon gives you every imaginable angle for putting dragons in your campaigns. But is it enough to justify a $40 book? Read on, my monkeys, and find out.
What This Monkey Thought...
Story and Drama: Surprisingly rich, the Draconomicon gives players and DMs almost 100 pages of story and background for dragons and their uses. From examining their senses to giving you ideas of how to incorporate them into campaigns, there is a ton of dragon information to be found. Unfortunately, the distribution can be a bit skewed and the lack of dramatic information can be down right painful. Numerous pages are spent on trivialities that only loosely affect even the most twinkish of strategy gamers, like movement and flight, while only a sparse 2 pages is spent on dragon society and almost no time is spent on the finer points of dragon interaction and familial structure. Thus those favoring deep roleplaying who were excited about the possibilities of learning the finer points of dragon interactions and societal drama will be left little more informed than they were before. 2 out of 5
Layout and Presentation: All in all the layout is nice and logical. Though the dragon facts can be spread out a bit and require a somewhat excessive amount of index referencing to navigate, all in all you won't have too much trouble finding what you want. Illustrations are the usual good on average, but widely varying, painted illustrations we've come to expect from Wizards and include some remarkably standout pieces by Lars Grant-West and Ron Spencer but some decidedly mediocre work by the likes of Stephen Tappin and Richard Sardinha. 4 out of 5
Playability: Occupying the bulk of the
book, the Draconomicon is rich with playable options. Including new classes
and prestige classes, magic items, armor and weapons, dragon encounters, and
some new draconic monster variants, this book is a trove of dragony goodness.
Though really only useful to those who are about to undertake a dragon rich
campaign or who are playing a dragon oriented setting (like Dragonlance), this
book even includes information on dragon melee tactics.
But how playable is it? The answer is "somewhat". The prestige classes are often good but not particularly intriguing, the weapons and other goodies are appealing but nothing groundbreaking, and the encounters are a bit generic. Really the only thing that makes the Draconomicon's playability noteworthy is that it is designed exclusively around the dragon, which while interesting will only be of use for those running a very selective campaign. 3.5 out of 5
Desired Content: Amusingly the one thing I personally really wanted from this book, a diatribe on dragon social orders, is missing and what's given instead is a ton of information for campaigns that play dragons as common as kobalds. If that's not you, you may not find much you like here. In my case I thought it was entertaining but not particularly valuable. 3 out of 5
|In the end the Draconomicon may be a valuable book for your library but, unless you're PCs are making sweet dragon love every other week, you won't use it much. This belies that rather exorbitant price tag we talked about earlier and means if one person you know has it it may be more than enough.|
The Good: Tons of dragon rules.
The Bad: Not much dragon background or ways to make dragons more useful.
The Overall Ugly: I'm betting that from the moment I finish this review it's at least 8 months or a year before I finally use it again.
What it's Worth: 20 bucks tops, or to buy one communally for reference.