There's probably no debating that Dragons are the most popular monster in Dungeons & Dragons. Heck, it's part of the name! But for a long time there was a problem with dragons, dating back to the first Monster Manual for AD&D. Instead of striking fear into the hearts of adventurers the way they should, the appearance of a dragon was usually cause for celebration by players. There was never any doubt that they were going to defeat the dragon, and haul away a truckload full of loot and magic items. There were two reasons for this: One, dragons originally were vastly under-powered, and two, DM's were often not skilled enough to take advantage of all the dragon's abilities.
Thankfully these days we don't have the former problem, and really shouldn't have the latter problem either. Dragons have been upgraded to the terrors they should be, and are no longer as generic as the average Orc. When it comes right down to it, no two dragons are alike. They are unique in their personalities and their motivations. Afterall, these are extremely intelligent creatures.
Wizards of the Coast's latest supplement is Dragons of Faerun, a compendium of unique dragons, new dragons, new dragon spells, new magic items, ready-to-play adventures, and much more. These unique dragons run the gamut from the young adult Mercury dragon named Tostyn Alaerthmaugh with a CR of 8, to the great wyrm red dragon who is Tiamat's Chosen champion, Tchazzar with a CR of 40! But before we get to the unique dragons, the book provides a very detailed history of Dragons and the unending war between Tiamat and Bahamut.
The book goes into great detail on each of the unique dragons featured, with details on all of their abilities/feats and powers, history, treasure hoard, lair, known allies and enemies, and tactics. In addition, each entry provides various knowledge checks for players to locate the dragon's lairs and other information, and adventure hooks for players and DMs to encounter the various dragons. One caveat is that a few of the unique dragons do not have their stats listed but instead your directed to use the stats of a typical specimen as described in the "Draconomicon" and abilities from various other supplements. These notes even give the page number to these other books but it would still have been nice for them to be included all in one spot. In addition, 25 more dragons are each given a capsule notation. These dragons originally appeared in Ed Greenwood's long running series "Wyrms of the North" in Dragon Magazine and the original articles are available on the Wizards of the Coast website for free.
But the book isn't just 160 page of dragons, there's lots more here. The Cult of the Dragon, the Church of Tiamat, and other dragon orders are featured which include short, but in-depth complete adventures. One of my favorite chapters is on dragon lairs and provides new, and devious traps, tactics, and monsters, all to help protect a dragon's lair. Your PC's won't think they're on the way to a tea party after encountering the Exhaustion Trap or new monsters like the Redspawn Birther. The Birthers were abnormal Red Dragon spawn but are now being bred by the Church of Tiamat.
Some two dozen new spells and a like number of new magic items, including both minor and major artifacts are also included. Finally three new dragon types are described: The Mercury Dragon, Steel Dragon, and Mist Dragon, although if memory serves there were earlier incarnations of these many years ago in Dragon magazine. The book concludes with a 10 page appendix of every known dragon on Faerun.
The Dragons of Faerun is a perfect complement to 2003's Draconomicon. Even if you don't want to use the Dragons in the book, it will help players to devise unique dragons of their own. This may be my favorite supplement of 2006 so far!
Reviewed by Tim Janson