Table of Contents - A handy way to check out my articles by topic
My most recent Guides:
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
You can reach me at:

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Dungeons & Dragons - The Witchlight Carnival Dice and Miscellany Set


You can buy this dice set right here.

You can buy The Wild Beyond the Witchlight right here

Today we're going to take a look at the new dice set, which is linked to the Feywild-themed adventure The Wild Beyond the Witchlight. 

I decided to look at the other dice sets real quick as a comparison and poked around online to see which sets are liked the best. Two things stuck out to me:

  1. The Descent Into Avernus set is actually somewhat hard to find, now (It's going for around $50 on ebay currently). Looking back, I'd say it's definitely the coolest set they've put out so far.
  2. Laeral Silverhand's Explorer Kit dice set is $14.99 on amazon! The thing I like most about that set is that the d20's are larger. I sort of feel like I should poke around and see what D&D products are dirt cheap right now on Amazon.

So! Here's what you get in this set:

  • Box with felt interior
  • Orange and blue dice, complete set plus 1 additional d20 and 3 additional d6's.
  • Small poster map of the carnival (carnival art on the flip side). Is slightly larger than a normal Dunder-Mifflin-sized piece of paper.
  • 20 Cards, most of which detail NPCs from the adventure or carnival games.

The retail price on this is $29.99. My first instinct is that these things are just too expensive, especially when you can get a set of dice in the $20 Essentials Kit or the Starter Set. 

Here's another thing to ponder. Part of the appeal of these dice sets, to me, is that if I'm running the adventure live and in person with my group, I can bust this out and make things real "official." I can show the group that we are doing this thing all the way.

But how many people are playing online, whether on roll20 or zoom? They're not even going to see it, right? 

The Dice Set

The Box: The actual box is great. It is a little odd that the bottom part has a black design while the top has a bright orange foil design. The felt interior is really nice. You can soothe your troubled spirit by slowly running your finger across the softness, even if just for a moment.

The Dice: In general, I don't like glossy dice because they roll forever. I know you can roll them in the box, but it still feels wrong to me. I still haven't recovered from all those kids rolling their dice right off the table when I ran games at the game store.

These dice are glossy, but not as much as sets in years past. For example, the red dice in the Essentials Kit are so slippery. I'd never touch them, I swear it. They are the sloppiest wandering dice I've ever encountered. In comparison, these are better.

I do wish they'd have made the d20's larger than the other dice though. Bigger d20's with some heft are easier to roll, and everyone at the table can clearly see what the result is.

The Poster Map

by Stacey Allen and Will Doyle
We get a map of the carnival. Looks good, seems useful. In fact, if I was running this, I'd probably want each player to have one of these. The actual adventure actually comes with a HUGE version of this same map, so you could slap the huge one on the table for the group to use (and hopefully not spill drinks on) while you can use this smaller one for your own personal reference behind the DM screen.

In the book's poster map, the other side has a map of the domain of Prismeer. In this dice set, the other side has art- a scene from the carnival. I'm a little torn on whether I'd prefer the Prismeer map here. On the one hand, the group could use the Prismeer map. But! Overland travel isn't a constant.. you could go sessions without referring to the Prismeer map, and when you do use it, it would likely only be for 10 minutes.

The art really goes a long way in helping the group imagine what it's actually like to be at the carnival. It looks cool and I love the style. This could go quite a long way when it comes to immersion.

The Cards

Let's take a look at these.

Game Cards: 6 of the cards feature different games at the carnival. One side has art, the other side has the game - brief explanations of the game and how to win. I really appreciate the brevity, makes it very easy to understand and run. 

You could hand the card to a player partaking in the game. The one thing that gave me pause is that the DC is right there on the card. Gave me flashbacks to a certain dude in high school who would almost certainly do the old "roll, declare the result, and then scoop up the die before anyone could verify the result" maneuver. But then, if you have a player in your group who does this kind of thing, you have a whole other set of problems to worry about, anyway.

NPC Cards: These 12 cards make up the bulk of the set. The cards don't have stats, they contain descriptions of each individual. These seem like good props to hand to the group as they encounter the various creatures.

The one that sticks out the most is the displacer beast named Dirlagraun. Looks really cool, has a plot hook (missing kitten), I like it a lot (I also wrote a guide to displacer beasts a while back). 

Carnival Prizes: One single card lists trinkets on one side, and the rules of the carnival on the other.

  • Favorite Trinket: "Flask of glowworms that change color to reflect the mood of the flask's holder."
  • Favorite Carnival Prize: "Bottle of Witchlight Wine. The bottle plays calliope music whenever it's uncorked and there is liquid inside."

Survey: The last card invited us to take a survey to let them know what we think of the dice set.


I like this set. I guess it's not necessary to own, but if you're going to run The Wild Beyond the Witchlight or if you want a cool dice set for your games, this is a no-brainer.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Dungeons & Dragons - Dungeon Master's Screen Dungeon Kit

You can buy this screen right here.

Last year, I reviewed the Dungeon Master's Screen Wilderness Kit. This year, they've put out a new on, centered on dungeons. I really liked the Wilderness kit, so let's see what we've got this time around.

 So we've got:

  • A 4 paneled DM Screen. Very sturdy.
  • A folder, still a bit flimsy.
  • A laminated "Actions in Combat" card, always handy. On the other side is a blank grid map, scaled for minis.
  • Sheets of cards to be punched out.
  • A box to hold the cards.

The Screen

I think this is the same artist from last year, with the art that looks pretty real yet grainy at the same time. The blue dragon looks pretty great.

Also, a nitpick. The screen depicts areas that look more like caves than a dungeon. When I hear "dungeon" I think of a crafted area with square tunnels and hewed stone like the Tomb of Horrors. I know, I know, super-nitpick.

Charts: On the interior, we have a lot of the same stuff as last year. Most of it is pretty essential, in my opinion. Some of it includes:

  • Setting a DC
  • Damage by Level
  • Object Armor Class/Hit points
  • Concentration rules!
  • Exhaustion (100% essential)

We get a hilarious "Improvising Damage" chart. What does 24d10 damage, you might ask? The answer:

"Tumbling into a vortex of fire on the Elemental Plane of Fire, being crushed in the jaws of a godlike creature or a moon-sized monster.

Conditions: A huge chunk of the screen is devoted to conditions (charmed, incapacitated, etc.). Considering that this set comes with reference cards detailing each condition, this seems unnecessary.

We also get some dungeon-specific stuff that seems broadly useful.

Cards: I really enjoy turning these perforated sheets into a box and cards. The boxes hold up really well. We have four different types of cards:

Condition Cards: These are really handy. I can never remember all the little details. Handling what a blinded character can and can't do is always tricky to me.

Molds and Slimes: I have such a hard time finding these when I need them! And here they are. With art! What a great idea. There are three: Yellow Mold, green slime, and brown mold.  

Initiative Cards: Hand these to players so they know who goes when. I personally wouldn't use these, as I have a tried and true method for swiftly tracking initiative (I will never forget, as a kid, where we're all sitting there for what seems like 10 minutes until my friend finally realized it was his turn).

Geomorphs: That's right. We have DUNGEON GEOMORPHS. What's a geomorph, you ask? Why, it's a slice of a dungeon that can be mixed and matched with other dungeons. We get a TON of these.

"Geomorph" is one of the most fun words to say out loud, right up there with "apoplectic" and "ichor" (but only if you pronounce it "EYE core").

I hate to say this, but I have a concern here. I feel like we need these maps in pdf form, too. Because I feel really weird making a dungeon with these and physically writing room numbers on them. They're my only copy! I'm going to ruin them, and might not even be able to show them to players.

I tried looking around the internet to see if these are available in a larger .png form, can't find them. But I did find the mapmaker, Dyson Logos, who apparently has made FREE GEOMORPHS that you can download right here.

You know, you could also use these to make a version of the Chris Perkins tesseract dungeon from Bzallin's Blacksphere


I like this product. It definitely leans on the geomorphs a lot. The screen is great, though. 

The price is $24.99. It is very weird to me that this costs more than the Starter Set or the Essentials Kit. Maybe those are "loss leaders". Although, amazon does cut the price. This product goes for $19.80 right now.

Wait a sec. The Starter Set right now, brand new, can be bought for $6.77 on amazon! Holy crap. That's like... I'll buy one just to have it, even though I already own one. That's the price of  a deodorant two-pack!

Let's check the price of the Essentials Kit. It's... $15.49. Good price, but not crazy like the Starter Set. 

So.. wow. Heck, buy someone the Starter Set and this screen for Christmas! Damn! 

Thanks for Reading!

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos Review


by Magali Villeneuve

You can buy Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos here.

You can get a digital version of this book on D&D Beyond.

Today we're going to go through Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos, another D&D book that converts Magic the Gathering lore to D&D. They call this a sourcebook, but the majority of this book contains a huge adventure that takes place over the course of 4 years.

I've never been very into Magic (although its popularity nearly killed my D&D group way back when), so I went into this one pretty much blind.

Review: Before we go through Strixhaven and pull out fun stuff to look at, let me just tell you what I think about this book: I love it. I love this more than Tyranny of Dragons. I love this more than the Waterdeep books. This is right up there with the best published 5e adventures.

Now, there is one huge catch to this. Whether or not your group will like this depends entirely on your play style. This is not a typical D&D adventure. 

I am guessing that most RPG fans had the same reaction when they read or saw Harry Potter for the first time: "That would make for an awesome D&D campaign." Right? 

That's more or less what this is. A massive adventure that takes place over 4 years, taking the group (students) all the way through their time at Strixhaven University. If your group is up for this, then definitely buy this book.

One more catch: All of the heroes should have at least some spellcasting ability, as that is the focus of the school. There's plenty of leeway, but your players should probably focus on making wizards, warlocks, bards, druids, clerics, and sorcerers.

The Art: A lot of the art in this book comes off as flat or weird to me. There were a few times times when I flipped through the monster section that I thought, "What am I even looking at?" Some of the creatures are very bizarre.

In the past, I've complained about the art being clipped or partially obscured. Often, when you see the full image online, the version in the book doesn't do it justice in comparison. That effect is lessened in this book. The one thing I did note is that the colors still come off a bit flat in the book, but not as bad as in the past.

I have placed my favorite pieces of art from the book in this review. Apparently I am a big Piotr Dura fan.

Now let's go through the book! There's a lot of fun things I'd like to tell you about, so you can decide if you want to buy this product.

Welcome to Strixhaven

by Piotr Dura

Studying at Strixhaven: This explanation appears on page 5:

"Study at Strixhaven isn't about learning to be a wizard, but about learning to be a historian, an artist, an orator, a scientist, or some other profession - while using one's magic to enhance one's studies."

Anyone with any kind of magical abilities can study at Strixhaven. An example given is a barbarian who follows the Path of the Ancestral Guardian from Xanathar's Guide to Everything.

Placing Strixhaven: As I read through this book, I was thinking about how I'd convert it to my campaign. Strixhaven is on a world called Arcavios, which formed when two planets smashed together. The book also mentions that you can place Strixhaven wherever it fits your campaign. 

My first thought is that it belongs in Sigil, as there's already creatures of all types living together in that city. But then, that might take away from the specialness of the University.

Strixhaven is broken into five colleges, each linked to one of the dragons that founded it:

  • Lorehold: College of Archaeomancy (History)
  • Prismari: College of Elemental Arts  (Art & Magic)
  • Quandrix: College of Numeromancy (Math)
  • Silverquill: College of Eloquence (Poetry/Writing/Oration)
  • Witherbloom: College of Essence Studies (Life & Death)

Students: Creatures from "all over the multiverse" attend Strixhaven. Examples include a pixie, a dryad, a giant, a treant, a genasi, and more. I would have a lot of fun cooking up student NPCs.

Snarl: An area where spells can be amplified or distorted. There is a snarl in the campus library.

Star Arches: Floating arches made from spokes of natural materials, and are said to spring forth when a great mage is a born, or where a lost spell resides.

There's more on the Oracle, archaics, and the Founder Dragons, but I don't want to spoil too much. I will say that the archaics in particular are really cool.

Chapter 1: Life at Strixhaven

by Manuel Castanon

We get details on the various locations in Strixhaven, going from one college to the next. We also get info on the main members of the faculty. 

There is a poster map in the back of the book that depicts the entire campus. 

Detention Bog: All of the D&D versions of school tropes in this book make me laugh. They are awesome. When Witherbloom students misbehave, they are sent to DETENTION BOG, a foul swamp that is "...also an excellent place to gather herbs for certain cures and curses."

Chapter 2: Character Options

Owlin: The owlin is a new race - humanoid owls. They are "...distant kin of giant owls from the Feywild." Owlins can fly, right from level one. I always get worried about low-level characters being able to fly, and whether it will ruin an adventure, but for the most part, it never does. Mostly because only that one character can fly. 

Backgrounds: There are new backgrounds for students of each college. They give you access to certain spells, and have their own personality traits and trinkets. 

Spells: We get a few new spells (all of which are 1st to 2nd-level), each linked to one of the schools. The spell that sticks out to me the most is kinetic jaunt, which only takes 1 bonus action to cast and gives you:

  • +10 feet to walking speed.
  • You don't provoke opportunity attacks.
  • You can move through the space of another creature.

Concentration, lasts up to one minute.

There are also about 10 new magic items, 5 of them being primers linked to each of the colleges. These primers give you +1d4 to skill checks 3 times per day, and, when studied at the end of a long rest, you can pick one spell from the bard or sorcerer spell list and, sometime before our next long rest, cast it without expending a spell slot.

Chapter 3: School is in Session

Now we get to the bulk of the book - the adventure! This will take the group from level 1 to level 10. I am dying to see how they are going to handle certain things. The first thing I notice is:

Relationship Points: The players should choose at least one NPC to be either a Friend, a Beloved (!), or a Rival. Seriously.. I am fighting the urge to cook up a huge list of goofy NPC students for the group to pick from. This sounds like so much fun. 

There is a Strixhaven Tracking sheet, which I have posted above. It will allow you to track relationships, extracurriculars, your JOB, and yes, how did on your report cards. I am dying of laughter, what a great idea. Can you cheat on your test? Can you have someone else do your book report? Do you have to roll to see how you did on an oral report? Do you have some kind of science fair where you make a mini-erupting volcano?

Extracurriculars: OK I'm just blown away. I don't want to just go page-by-page here because this review will never end, but this is so tremendous. Doing extracurricular activities gives you rewards - either a student die (which gives you +1d4 to a d20 roll under certain conditions) or a relationship point, which allows the character to boost or diminish their relationship with an NPC.

Some of the extracurricular activities include:

  • Dragonchess Club!
  • Fantastical Horticulture Club
  • Live-Action Roleplaying Guild
  • Mage Tower Cheer Squad 

Jobs: Jobs pay 5 gp per week (I think the average wage in D&D is 2 gp per week), and they gain a relationship point with a co-worker. We get a list of job options, including working at the Firejolt Cafe or the Biblioplex (library).

Exams: We really do get rules for exams. And yes, there are rules for cheating! 

Relationships: This section seems important in a broader sense, as out of everything so far, this system seems like it could be used in almost any campaign involving recurring NPCs.

Relationships Points start at 0 with a given NPC. They increase or decrease by 1 each time a character interacts with them. 

  • When you have 2+ points with an NPC, you gain a Bond Boon
  • When you have -2 (or lower) points with an NPC, you receive a Bond Bane.

Bond Boons and Banes are specific to each NPC. We are given details on 10-15 students, and listed on each are specific boons and banes. 

So, for example, if you gain a Bond Boon with the Chaotic Good Gnome on page 57, you get: "Whenever you travel any significant distance, you can reach your destination in half the normal time."

If you end up with a Bond Bane with her, you get: "Whenever you participate in sports on campus, fouls are constantly called on you." (The NPC in question is a referee on the Intramural fields).

Campus Kerfuffle

by Piotr Dura

This is the first of the four adventures.

Is there a summary of the adventure? Yep. I'd prefer if it was more specific, but we do get a broad idea of what this is about. Again, I don't want to spoil too much. 

The heroes will get involved in an orientation scavenger hunt, and later on, a frog race. Their first examination is on a topic dear to my heart: The Slaadi. There are also exams on owlbears and otyughs.

There is a scenario where the group might do improv on stage in front of the student body, which is funny to me, because usually in D&D if the group gets involved in an in-game play, they don't stick to the script, so I find this to be really fun. The group is expected to do wacky things and for chaos to ensue. 

Exploring Rooms: The one "concern" I have with this adventure is that there are a number of "dungeon" type areas - the group must explore a place room-by-room, each of which has some kind of encounter (often a monster). 

I don't know. For me, as time rolls on, I just don't want to do those any more. At least, not a place with 22 rooms. Just a few rooms is fine. In real life, it becomes a drag because a group can spend 4 hours on just a couple of rooms, meaning that this locale might eat up weeks of game time. It becomes a bit of a slog. 

As I read this, I prefer this adventure to be full of unique scenarios, like the exams. All the "D&D School" stuff is gold. That said, I'm sure plenty of people are expecting this adventure to have dungeon-type locales to explore, so hey it's easy for people like me to trim it out. 

Chapter 4: Hunt for the Mage Tower

It is time for year 2 at Strixhaven! Our heroes are sophomores and should be 4th level.

This chapter revolves partially around a game called Mage Tower, where two teams face off in the stadium and attempt to steal the other team's 'mascot' (mascots are small creatures of various types described in the last chapter).

The heroes might take a test on a glyph of warding. This just cracks me up. I really like this adventure a lot. 

As the year progresses, the group will get into various hijinks (in addition to being stalked by mysterious entities), leading up to the big Mage Tower Game (The "Battle of Strixhaven"). We actually get a Mike Schley map for the stadium. I was expecting piles and piles of rules for the game, but to my relief it's in one single column. 

Although.. I notice that some rules are on page 99, while others are on page 122. Seems like they should have squeezed it all onto a single page. 

Still, it looks like a lot of fun. 

Chapter 5: The Magister's Masquerade

by Piotr Dura

Things get a bit more serious in year 3, where a magic item linked to the main villain is uncovered and might begin to harm the students.

The group may end up involved in the planning and execution of a Masquerade Ball. I still maintain that there is a universal truth in D&D: All players love in-game parties.

We also get something I have never seen in D&D: A fashion show. Sitting back and thinking about it, I'm totally baffled as to how you run this in D&D. Members of the group might be designers, or model (the idea of rolling to see how well you walk in a fashion show is so hilariously awesome to me) 

One thing that jumps out is that a character who is a fashion designer will need to choose someone to model for them. Which NPC? Their Beloved? Does a Rival weasel their way into it just to ruin it? So many possibilities. 

Later, there is a section on taking dance lessons. We actually get a chart of "Dance Partner Quirks" which includes:

  • Treats a dance like a competitive, full-contact sport.
  • Is fantastically clumsy or gets dizzy easily.
  • Tries to mask their discomfort by complaining about how stupid all this is.

This chapter culminates with the Masquerade Ball and the chaos that the mysterious item has created.

Chapter 6: A Reckoning in Ruins

by Jinho Bae

The faculty has become aware that the villain is on campus and the group, now seniors, are expected to help protect the other students.

This might be one of my favorite things in the book: The group are tasked with being detention monitors for a day. What do you go to detention for in Strixhaven? Things like:

  • Accidentally sending another student to an extra-dimensional space.
  • Summoning a storm in the dining hall. 
  • My favorite: "Reprogrammed a janitorial golem to clean his dorm, with disastrous results."

This chapter mostly involves a pair of dungeon crawls, culminating in the heroes attempting to stop the villain from completing a ritual that will likely kill most of the people at Strixhaven University.

Chapter 7: Friends and Foes

by Chris Cold

Monsters and NPCs! Let's take a look at some that stick out to me.

Archaic: Mysterious giant entities that possess great knowledge, complete with a cool secret origin. It has a reaction that allows it to cast a spell that someone else has just cast. It even has a "reverse gravity" type of power.

Mascots: Mascots are pretty prominent in this adventure. Let's look at them real quick:

  • Art Elemental Mascot: (Prismari College) A small elemental with an outer shell of swirling colors.
  • Fractal Mascot: (Quandrix College) A small construct made of "facets of hard light." 
  • Inkling Mascot: (Silverquill College) These tiny oozes are living blobs of ink. 
  • Pest Mascot: (Witherbloom College) Ferret-sized hairless caterpillars that contain 'fuel' that powers Witherbloom magic.
  • Spirit Statue Mascot: (Lorehold) Students bind spirits of the dead into statues, to talk with and learn from them. These spirit statues can walk around, and act as mentors to certain students.

The Founder Dragons: These dragons aren't typical D&D dragons, like a red dragon or a gold dragon. These are unique entities - dragons linked to a certain spellcasting class.

  • Beledros Witherbloom: (Druid) She's interesting because she looks so evil, but she's essentially a draconic druid who focuses on life and death. Her breath weapon is of "decaying energy".
  • Galazeth Prismari: (Sorcerer) A sorcerer, this dragon "embodies the flow of magic from inspiration into artistic expression." Breath weapon: Dancing elements of fire and ice.
  • Shadrix Silverquill: (Bard) A master of light and shadow. Breath Weapon: Illuminating shadow breath that can blind.
  • Tanazir Quandrix: (Wizard) Can alter physical properties and manipulate the flow of thought. Breath weapon: Diminution breath! It doesn't actually shrink you, just weakens.
  • Velomachus Lorehold: (Wizard) Mastered the magic of order and chaos. Breath weapon: Battle Tide Breath, thunderous sound that pushes. 

Daemogoth: Huge fiends with five arms, very cool-looking. They feed on misery and "are creatures of forbidden knowledge." This is one where the translation from Magic: The Gathering to D&D is very apparent in the stat block. I like it, but that "Pact of Pain" power has one long description. 

Daemogoth Titan: These are gargantuan creatures that blight the land around them. These things are really cool.

First-Year Student: I love little stat blocks like this. It has two amusing powers:

  • Excited to Be Here. The student has advantage on initiative rolls.
  • Beginner's Luck (2/Day). When the student fails a saving throw, it can reroll the d20. It must use the new roll.

Final Thoughts

As I said up top, I really like this adventure a lot. One thing that I would change, though, is the villain. I feel weird spoiling what the main villain of this scenario is, but I can say that to me, it's a bit too cartoonish-looking. It's a low level monster that I just don't think I could portray as threatening. I honestly imagine a group actually laughing when they see what it is. 

I would probably change the bad guy so that it was a daemogoth that wants to become a daemogoth titan. I'd probably have to make up some BS story about it being a former student who somehow became a daemogoth - or perhaps it just was a daemogoth who tried to behave itself as part of the student body and failed miserably.

Minor gripes aside, this book shocked me with it's greatness. I definitely understand that this isn't an adventure that every group will like, but if your group is up for playing a Harry Potter-type campaign, definitely consider running it.


I added lore from this book to a few of my other guides:

Guide to the Slaad

The Great List of Food and Drinks

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Fizban's Treasury of Dragons Review


Cover by Chris Rahn

You can buy Fizban's Treasury of Dragons here.

Buy the digital version on D&D Beyond here

Buy the Alternate Cover here.

Fizban's Mini-Planner 2022

Today we're going to check out Fizban's Treasury of Dragons, a dragon-centric D&D 5e supplement.

This book is not hard to review. It contains about 30 pages of stuff for players - a few subclasses, a few new racial types, a few new spells. The rest is all material for DMs.

By far, my favorite chapter is the last one, which details new monsters, all of which are dragon-related. There's such a great variety, and a lot of cool ideas. 

The fifth chapter, which is full of dragon lairs, is incredibly handy. Any time your group wants to go meet with, steal from, or kill a dragon, you've got a mountain of material at your disposal. Each section is just a few pages long but has pretty much everything you need. Then you just grab some monster from the back to flesh the lair out. Piece of cake!

The thing I really like about the lairs is that the magic influences the surrounding area, and can go a long way in helping you make a unique village or town. There's a lot of fun to be had and it doesn't seem like it would take too much effort to bring it to life.

The Art: I'm a big D&D art enthusiast. I'd say the art in here is a mixed bag. There seems to be a real problem with making cool-looking humanoids in the 5e books. I don't know why, but a lot of the NPC art just looks too vague or... off somehow. There are a number of large pieces that I feel just don't cut it - they're too "muddy." Not enough detail, and the style just doesn't work.

That said, there's plenty of awesome pieces. I was able to place my absolute favorites in this review. 

Quick Verdict: Is this book worth buying? Yes! Is it mandatory? I'd say... yes! I think that Fizban's is necessary if you are going to try to use a dragon in your campaign. I mean, the game is called Dungeons & Dragons. You should probably have your group deal with a dragon at least once in any campaign, probably more than once.

Handling the D&D Multiverse: One concept in this book is the idea that D&D is embracing a bit of a Marvel-style multiverse. In previous editions, D&D worlds all existed in the Material Plane, and you could get to one or another by flying on a magically-powered ship known as a Spelljammer. So.. you could fly from Toril (the Forgotten Realms setting) to Oerth (the Greyhawk Setting). The Spelljammer products even gave you exact routes to take to do so.

As far as I can tell, all of that still exists. But there is a new wrinkle - certain beings exist on more than one world, as if there was an 'alternate universe' version of themselves. This idea goes a long way in explaining how the Forgotten Realms has slightly different versions of certain entities and NPCs. It also is handy when it comes to handling Takhisis from Dragonlance, who is very similar to Tiamat. 

I would guess this is partly a way to handle the continuity issues of streaming shows, as well as Critical Role doing things with major NPCs that conflict with the 'official story' of D&D (if there is such a thing).

This brings up an interesting question. Sigil is the city at the center of the multiverse. There is just one Sigil, right? Does that mean you might run into alternate universe versions of the same NPC? This book specifically has dragons (who are not gods) that have "echoes" of themselves living on multiple prime worlds. So in theory, you could go to Sigil and bump into three echoes of the same dragon.

Do "echoes" of your characters exist? Is there an Eberron version of your adventuring party? A Greyhawk version?

I've always said that my campaign world is an alternate universe. I consider the "prime" universe to be whatever the D&D makers are running. So.. Gary Gygax's Castle Greyhawk campaign. Monte Cook's Praemal campaign. The Chris Perkins Iomandra campaign. The Acquisitions Inc games.

Calling my own game an alternate universe gives me leeway. My brother ran Drizz't as a character a long time ago. He died in prison. So.. Drizz't isn't running around in my setting. But, that's OK, because he's an alternate universe Drizz't. The 'real' Drizz't is doing whatever R.A. Salvatore writes down. 

Let's get into the book. I'm going to go through and talk about anything notable, as well as try to give you a sense of what is in this book without spoiling too much, so you can decide if you want to buy it.

Elegy for the First World

Tiamat by Chris Rahn

Bahamut and Tiamat worked together to create the Material Plane in the form of a First World. 

Sardior: The "first-born of dragonkind." Bahamut and Tiamat created Sardior together, who was apparently a ruby-red dragon. "Sardior then joined with Bahamut to create the metallic dragons and with Tiamat to craft the chromatic dragons."

Sardior may have been destroyed and shattered along with the First World. This obviously would make for a very cool campaign - finding and exploring the First World.

Dragonsight: Some dragons (often gem dragons) can sense their other incarnations that exist on different worlds of the Material Plane. This allows dragons to amass knowledge that spans the Material Plane. 

This sort of suggests that the Material Plane is more of a multiverse, right? In 2nd edition, all worlds, even Dark Sun, were in the same universe, each contained in their own crystal sphere. Changing it to having each setting existing in its own sliver of the Material Plane does make sense to a degree, as each has a cosmology that somewhat contradicts the others. Eberron has its own planes. The Forgotten Realms has its own versions of certain NPCs.

Chapter 1: Character Creation

by Olivier Bernard

We get rules for making chromatic dragonborn, gem dragonborn and metallic dragonborn. Very cool, very brief, which I greatly appreciate. 

I really like how the gem dragonborn can communicate with telepathy. 

Then we get subclasses.

Monk: Way of the Ascendant Dragon: "The dragon god Bahamut is known to travel the Material Plane in the guise of a young monk, and legend says that he founded the first monastery of the Wat of the Ascendant Dragon in this guise."

My favorite origin: "After a dream featuring a five-handed dragonborn, you awoke with the mystical breath of dragons." A five-handed dragonborn?? At first I thought it said five-headed and imagined a cool dragonborn villain linked to Tiamat. 

These characters get a breath weapon at 3rd level and can sprout wings for short periods of time at 6th level. 

Ranger: DrakeWarden: This ranger has a 'draconic spirit' sidekick that evolves as the ranger levels up. It can eventually become a mount, gains a breath weapon, and when you hit 15th level it becomes Large.

Chapter 2: Dragon Magic

by Tyler Jacobson

We get a few new spells! Very cool.  am guessing some of these are converted from older editions. I know there were some Forgotten Realms dragons that had unique spells.  My favorite:

Nathair's Mischief: "You fill a 20-foot cube you can see within range with fey and draconic magic." It's sort of like a wild magic surge... and I love random tables. Those in the cube might be charmed, blinded, laughing or effectively slowed.

We also get magic items. Check it out:

Gold Canary Figurine of Wondrous Power: I believe these were used int he final adventure of the Scales of War adventure Path. In that path, these were actually Bahamut's advisors, all gold dragons. In this book, these figurines become giant canaries. But, if you have half your hit points or less, you can opt to turn them into gold dragons. 

Potion of Dragon's Majesty: "When you drink this potion, you transform into an adult dragon.." lasts one hour!

We also get "Hoard Magic Items." What's a hoard magic item? They are special items that have absorbed ambient magic of a dragon's hoard. Each has 4 states:

  • Slumbering:
  • Stirring (found in a young dragon's hoard)
  • Wakened (found in an adult dragon's hoard)
  • Ascendant (found in an ancient dragon's hoard)

The item must have been in the hoard for at least 1 year to gain this property. It's kind of funny, your character could sneak in, stash an item, then come back a year later and steal it back. You must remain attuned to the item, however.

If the dragon is slain: The item goes up one state if left in the hoard for another 8 hours. 

The item also gains a quirk, most of which are beneficial (glows when within 60 feet of a dragon, gives advantage on History checks, etc).

We get a few hoard items. My favorite is the Dragon Vessel - a container which can magically fill with a potion once per day. The type of potion is determined by the state of the item. It also can be filled with different types of alcohol, including mead, wine, or whiskey.

Draconic Gifts: "The death of a dragon can result in its power taking root in a character, whether that person is the dragon's chosen heir or the dragon's killer." 

You gain an ability! This is a great idea. You might become a dragonborn, gain blindsight, or gain the ability to use telekinesis once per day. 

Chapter 3: Dragons in Play

Tiamat by Tyler Jacobson

We are given tons of info on fleshing out a dragon, including bonds/flaws, a name generator, and customization. There's an idea here about red dragons actually being healed by fire damage, which I really like a lot. 

There's a section on what dragons are doing at each stage of their life. I got a lot of inspiration from these. For example, a young dragon has a goal of establishing a liar and amassing as much treasure as possible. It is entirely possible that your group is loaded up with magic items, right? And they might have a cool base, or they just cleared out a dungeon that would make for a cool dragon lair. 

Suddenly, they young dragon is hunting the heroes to steal their items for its hoard, and bringing them to its dungeon lair.

We are also given ways that dragons reproduce. My favorite: "By eating a significant portion of their own hoards, dragons cause themselves to lay clutches of eggs."

There's another one about dragon eggs growing on a tree in the heart of the world. Dragons seek it out and must persuade the guardian to relinquish an egg. Tremendous!

Dragon Organizations: We are given details on the Cult of the Dragon (from Tyranny of Dragons), The Chamber (from Eberron) and more. The "Hidecarved Dragons" are clumps of 3-5 dragons who are devoted to a common goal. They carve arcane sigils on their hides that give them special defenses, such as magic resistance or immunity to being polymorphed.

Dragon Campaign: Amidst the notes on using dragons in a campaign, there's some stuff on the Rod of Seven Parts:

"When an artifact called the Rod of Law was shattered into seven parts during the Battle of Pesh, seven ancient metallic dragons were assigned to be the guardians of its fragments. Even sundered, this mighty artifact was so powerful that great cities sprang up near the dragon lairs, forming the centers of civilization. The dragons are patrons of the seven cities, and their roles as guardians are all but forgotten."

Wow. So that's the deal in 5e! Which cities, I wonder. Each piece is in a dragon's hoard? I assume these dragons would have to be lawful...? Gold dragons, black dragons. I hope they make a big 5e Rod of Seven Parts adventure one day.

Chapter 4: Lairs and Hoards

by David Auden Nash

We get guidelines on how big a dragon's hoard would be. An adult dragpn has a hoard worth around 15,000 gp. They might have more than one hoard (up to 8!) . The hoard of an ancient dragon is worth 200,000 gp. Fun fact: If a dragon's lair no longer holds 10,000 gp, the site is no longer considered a lair.

"By gaining access to a hoard and making off with a significant portion of that wealth, characters can diminish the dragon's connection to both that lair and its associated territory."

Hoard Generator: We get a pile of charts to help us make a dragon hoard. I love random tables. Let's roll and make an adult dragon hoard!

  • 4,600 cp
  • 15,000 sp
  • 26,000 gp
  • 3,300 pp 

7 Mundane Items

  • Large wind chime.
  • 2 paintings by an artist long forgotten.
  • Small shrine devoted to a god worshiped by the dragon's minions.
  • A cask containing 65 gallons of drinking water.
  • An hourglass filled with sparkling sand.
  • A jar containing a dead illithid tadpole.

25 gems worth 13,480 gp

13 art objects worth 2,175 gp

5 Magic Items

  • Potion of Supreme Healing
  • Potion of Longevity
  • Spell Scroll (7th level - Let's go with Plane Shift)
  • Ammunition +3
  • Sun Blade

Chapter 5: Draconomicon

by Julian Kok

This is a huge section of the book, looks like it's about 80 pages long. It contains detailed lairs for dragons of all types.

We get 3-4 pages of details on each lair. most, but not all, get maps. I still don't understand why they are making print-friendly maps instead of full color stuff, but the maps are fine. 

My first reaction to these was that I was disappointed that they were general. There's no room-by-room description, just options for what would be in there. Again, it's more of a toolkit to create a lair than a specific, fully-fleshed out lair.

But, upon reading through these entries, they give you everything you need. It definitely makes you want to run a "dragon hunter" campaign.

Once I got to the faerie dragon section, I paused. What the heck would a faerie dragon lair be like? I've never even thought about it. I guess I just assumed they flew through the forest and slept on tree branches or something.

The answer: Their lairs are often near portals to the Feywild. They live in nests in crevices, in ancient trees, attics, that kind of thing. 

Let's look at the lair of my favorite type - Gold dragons. I don't really know why they're my favorite. I like to try to figure out ways to use a good-aligned dragon in D&D. I'm going to pull out my favorite ideas from each section and make my own gold dragon lair.

Gold dragon lair map piece by Dyson Logos

Personality Traits: "Disguises allow me to bestow small kindnesses and experience the simple pleasures of companionship without constantly being petitioned. I'm proud of my acting ability and never break character."

I can see how some people might get tired of the "I'm actually a dragon in humanoid form" trope, but it never gets old to me. It can be hard to hide, though. There's something about the wise, mysterious NPC who gives a knowing wink that clues players in that this person is a dragon in disguise. It's still fun, though.

Ideals: "Objectivity. I remain impartial in my judgments and refuse to let personal feelings get in the way of what's fair or necessary."

These are hard to choose from, as each one is fairly vague.

Spellcasting Options: A young gold dragon has a DC of 17 and can cast: Bless, cure wounds, slow, suggestion, and zone of truth.

So my gold dragon probably uses the disguise of a healer, or a cleric.

Adventure Hooks: "A gold dragon has been attacking travelers in an effort to drive them away from the dragon's territory, which holds a deadly artifact at its center."

I think I would change this so that the dragon is using some cover story or something to keep people away from its lair. I love the idea that the dragon kills evil creatures and takes their loot for its hoard, but it took a cursed item, or an evil artifact that is now contaminating the dragon's lair. 

Although.. what kind of item would be something that a gold dragon couldn't handle, but an adventurer could? The item would have to particularly harmful dragons or something.

Connections: "A young gold dragon and an archmage are uneasy companions, bound to defend each other by the dying wish of a heroic warrior they both loved."

OK. So, an archmage living with a dragon. The hoard is right there! The archmage probably is dying to get their hands on some of the loot. Then, the dragon brings home this cursed item and the archmage snatches it, but the gold dragon can't bring itself to fight the archmage, who is becoming more corrupted by the magic each day.

Lair: We get a map and all sorts of details. There's a waterfall and pavilions. In the cave is a grand hall and many smaller areas, including a treasury hall, the hoard, and a secret vault. 

Regional Effects: We get a list of effects in the area around the lair. I'm very interested to see what they came up with. There are 3:

"Small runes in the shape of a gold dragon appear to creatures in great need, marking a subtle trail to the dragon's lair."

"Creatures that spend a year within 6 years of the dragon's lair value fairness and justice over their personal feelings."

"Within 6 miles of the dragon's lair, any creature attempting to tell a deliberate lie must succeed on a DC 15 CHA save or find itself accidentally revealing the truth it was attempting to conceal. The first time a creature fails this saving throw, it is immune to this effect for 24 hours."

That last one is hilarious. Imagine there's a town within 3 miles of the gold dragon lair. A town where nobody lies. The heroes show up and are taken aback by the direct, perhaps brutal honesty there. Over time, they've probably become used to the truth, and heck maybe they are even more easily duped. Or, perhaps they don't trust outsiders because of the dishonesty they exhibit.

Then, how do you mix in our disguised gold dragon an the archmage? Does the dragon hang out at the bar and complain about their roommate all the time? Is the archmage the town hero, keeping it safe and helping the populace with their magic?  

Art Objects: A couple quick notes before I pick one item from the list of 10:

Gems and pearls are culinary delicacies to gold dragons. 

They like items they can learn from, such as texts, scrolls, and prophecies.

They often guard dangerous artifacts as a form of public service.

Let's see. I'll go with this one: "A clever clockwork music box that, when cranked, recites a prophecy in modron."

I might change that to a device that counts down to the next Great Modron March. Or, perhaps a device that shows the route of the next modron march, plane-by-plane. If it's a prophecy, It could be about a modron plan to push another stone into Limbo, one that will bring order to the chaos there (despite all previous attempts having backfired spectacularly).

We got all that from 4 pages and a map! Very useful section.

I should also note that throughout this chapter, we get sidebars on prominent dragon NPCs of different types. A lot of them are from the Forgotten Realms. Ashardalon gets a blurb. Ashardalon is mentioned a number of times throughout this book. This red dragon was the villain in Bastion of Broken Souls, a super high level 3rd edition adventure. 

I also really like shadow dragons. They only get three pages in this lair section, no map.

Chapter 6: Bestiary

by Kieran Yanner

The last 65 pages of the book feature monsters and stat blocks for those monsters. 

Since this book focuses so much on gem dragons, I feel like it's a good idea to give you a broad overview of what the different gem dragons are like.

Amethyst Dragon: They "...psionically manipulate the fundamental principles of the multiverse, from the force of gravity to the emanations of the Outer Planes."

They hate the Far Realm.

They "...are intrigued by and fond of flumphs." I cherish any flumph lore.

Crystal Dragon: They enjoy an innate connection to the positive plane (I actually wrote a guide to the plane of positive energy here). 

The study the stars, and see glimpses of the future in the patterns. 

Their breath weapon is starlight! Which does radiant damage. 

In local news, this very much overlaps with my homebrewed "star dragon" that I made when I was a kid. I'll probably just rip off this stat block if I ever use the star dragons again.

Emerald Dragon: They create illusions, often disguising themselves and infiltrating settlements, looking for interesting magic. 

Moonstone Dragon: From the Feywild, these dragons can project themselves into the real of dreams to communicate with creatures who sleep near their lairs. Their breath weapon is moonlight, which does radiant damage. You'd think that since moonlight is sunlight refracted, it would do half damage. Am I right? Ho, ho! Wait, don't leave.

Sapphire Dragon: Militant and territorial, sapphire dragons are always on the watch for Far Realm incursions. Their breath weapon is sonic energy (aka thunder damage).

Topaz Dragon: "Their psionic power manifests the fundamental entropic principle that mortal beings and their creations are ultimately doomed...." Favorite food: Giant squid. Breath weapon: Necrotic energy that weakens targets.

Gem Greatwyrm: These are like.. the ultimate gem dragons. A sidebar explains that there are 5 in particular who are going from world to world, absorbing their "echoes" (we're really all-in on the D&D multiverse in this book) with the ultimate goal being for the 5 gem greatwyrms to merge and become Sardior reborn.

Now let's look at the rest of the monsters. I'll just highlight some of my favorite stuff.

Aspect of Tiamat: Let's see what lore we get here.She is trapped in the Nine Hells, but she can send her aspect to the Material Plane. Not too much here, but it's an essential thing to have in a book like this. 

Dracohydra: "Amalgmating the magic of chromatic dragons with the blood of a hydra resulted in a many-headed draconic monster with wings and multiple snakelike tails."

The image of the dracohydra has 2 white dragon heads, 2 green dragon heads, one blue head, and one red head. The breath weapon is a single shot - "Prismatic breath" which does a type chosen by the dracohydra: acid, cold, fire, lightning, or poison.

I just love the idea of some kooky old wizard, or a cabal of wizards, hiring the heroes to kill a bunch of chromatic dragons and to bring back their blood. Then, kill a hydra and bring its corpse back. The wizards then make a dracohydra which of course, gets loos3e and the group has to deal with.

Dragonborn of Tiamat: I just like the small, simple stat blocks that they often give NPCs. These dragonborns serve Tiamat and work to get her out of the Nine Hells. Their breath weapon does necrotic damage. 

Dragonflesh Grafter: These are creatures who grafted parts of a dragon onto their body. I just think it is a cool idea. I'd like to know more about who or what are actually doing the grafting and making it actually work. You could graft a dragon's wings to your back, or a dragon's head to your shoulder. Lots of fun possibilities.

Elder Brain Dragon: What a tremendous idea. An elder brain is a huge thing that usually just sits in a pool and psychically commands a colony of mind flayers. But here, we see that an elder brain can press its tentacles into a dragon and essentially ride it and control it. It has a crazy breath weapon that I don't want to spoil. 

Ghost Dragon: It haunts it's old hoard! Love it. Your group is out in some forest and are attacked by a dragon. They kill it. They learn that its lair is far away and decide to go there to loot it. Uh oh... the ghost of the dragon is here, possibly attached to a single priceless object that becomes the focus of the undead dragon's existence.

Hoard Mimic: OK, that's funny but not nice. You kill a dragon, oh look, there's the hoard. Oh wait, it's actually a mimic that emits caustic mist that kills the already-wounded party. Tread carefully, my fellow DM.


This is such an easy thumbs up. If you're a player, there's really not a lot of player stuff. But if you're a DM, this is pretty much a must-buy.


I updated 3 of my guides with info from this book: