For decades Dungeons & Dragons players have wanted the ability to play as a dragon. Any DM worth his screen knew that it was a bad idea to give a player that kind of power. Dragons were monsters after all. So other alternatives were created. The half-dragon, the dragon blooded, even the sorcerer class was set up so you could tie yourself to a draconic ancestor. So when 4th edition rolled around the developers decided to make a draconic race. What they came up with was the Dragonborn.
The Dragonborn look very much like a bipedal dragon without the tail and the wings. They did get to keep the ability to breath an element (Fire, ice, acid, lightning), which adds to their power suite. Otherwise this new race is in line with the other races in the Players Handbook. The problem was the PHB didn’t have enough space in it to detail the background of this new race. To supplement that original information, Wizards of the Coast recently released Players Handbook Races: Dragonborn.
The supplement is a 32 page full-color soft cover book with, from what I can tell, both new and recycled artwork. The first few pages detail the history of the Dragonborn race, giving theories to their creation, and the rise and fall of their empire. Next the book gives roleplaying suggestions for most of the classes released thus far by power type, i.e. martial, divine, arcane, etc. At the end of most of these entries is a new paragon path option flavored just for the Dragonborn. The last two sections of the books are Dragonborn specific feats and magical items, some of which are collected from the electronic Dragon Magazine articles.
The supplement is definitely a great resource if you enjoy playing Dragonborn. It gives plenty of ideas for how to roleplay, and background stories for your character. That doesn’t mean it’s not without it’s problems. First off, the feat section is sorely lacking a summary table like in every other book. I’m sure it was dropped to save room, but with about three dozen feats presented it makes finding the right one difficult. I don’t want to have to read each one every time I roll a new character.
The second problem is the inconsistent writing. Its easy to tell that the different suggestions for your characters were written separately and thrown together. Some of them ask you thought provoking questions, some speak as though you are already in the clan, and others simply discuss an idea; all for different class options in about 4 paragraphs. Fortunately most will skip to the class they want to play and just read that section.
However the biggest sticking point of the book has to go to the price. The book retails for $10. That seems overpriced for a 32 page book filled mainly with fluff for a single character race. If there were more rules in the book, I might not feel the same way. As it is, it ends up feeling like an issue of dragon magazine devoted to the Dragonborn.
If you like playing Dragonborn this is the supplement for you. If not either wait for the race you do play most or for the inevitable Players Handbook Races collection.
- Players Handbook Races: Dragonborn
- by James Wyatt
- Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
- MSRP: $9.99
- Buy it from Amazon.com
- Note: This review is based on a review copy of the book