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SYFY WIRE Dungeons & Dragons

‘Fizban's Treasury of Dragons’ adds ghost dragons, liondrakes, and much more to D&D

By James Grebey

Fizban's Treasury of Dragons, the next Dungeons & Dragons book, lives up to its name. There's a whole hoard of draconic content inside its pages, including several new dragons and dragon-adjacent monsters that dungeon masters can throw at their players. In advance of Fizban's Oct. 26 release, SYFY WIRE spoke with the book's lead designer, James Wyatt, for an exclusive preview of some of the new monsters in the book.

In addition to introducing new dragon-related subclasses, player race options, and lots of lore, Fizban's features more than 30 new entries in its bestiary. Some of those are just a single stat block, while others have two or more, depending on if the monster in question has different forms or age categories. When creating these new monsters — especially the proper dragons — Wyatt said the pressure was on, since they're, you know, half of the game's name.

"The bar for the new full-on dragons in the book — the five gem dragons, the deep dragon, and the moonstone dragon — is pretty high," he tells SYFY WIRE. "We need them to be interesting in combat without being ridiculously difficult to play, and they need solid hooks that make them different from other dragons. They also need legendary actions, lair actions, regional effects, breath weapons, and enough solid story text to help the DM understand why they might want to use a crystal dragon (for example) in place of a white or silver dragon in an adventure. These dragons also come with a lot of expectations from their past appearances in the game. So it's a big task, for sure."

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One of the new monsters that Wyatt helped create is a ghost dragon — a dragon that lingers after its death because it has such a deep attachment to its hoard. Ghost dragons' breath deals cold damage and induces nightmares that leave victims paralyzed and frightened. (These ghost dragons are different from Miirym, a ghostly dragon found in an earlier D&D release, Candlekeep Mysteries.)

All of the monsters in Fizban's bestiary have some connection to dragons — "otherwise, they wouldn't belong in the book," Wyatt says — but not all of them are dragons themselves. Take hoard scarabs, which are coin-like beetles that inhabit dragon hoards.

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"As we discussed the list of creatures that would appear in the book, we liked the idea of including some number of creatures that reflect the ecosystem that comes into being around such a powerful and important creature. What kinds of creatures might live in a dragon's lair aside from the creatures the dragon wants to live there?" Wyatt explains. "Hoard scarabs were one answer to that from past editions of the game, though they're not necessarily specific to dragons' lairs. Beetles that look like coins, have painful bites, and help dragons track treasure thieves… and sometimes swarm in large numbers!"

The book also brings liondrakes into D&D's Fifth Edition. These lion-headed dragons have been in every edition of the game, and Wyatt says they are "probably the oldest manifestation in the game of the idea of a half-dragon, as they were originally described as 'a weird cross between a brass dragon and a giant lion.'"

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However, they were called "dragonnes" prior to Fourth Edition, when they were renamed liondrakes to make things less confusing. That name change almost didn't stick, however.

"I actually had them in Fizban's as 'dragonnes' until pretty late, well into the layout process. Dragonnes and dragonnels [a completely different monster] were right there on facing pages, though, and [D&D Senior Story Designer] Chris Perkins gently told me that was a terrible, terrible idea. So there's a nod to the original name in the text, but we've embraced 'liondrake' again in this edition."

Although Fizban's and its bestiary is dragon-focused, Wyatt stresses that the monsters inside can be used in all sorts of campaigns, even ones that aren't primarily focused on a dragon.

"You could be running a deep-Underdark campaign with mind flayers as the ultimate villains, and throw a deep dragon in as a side threat, a sapphire dragon in as a potential ally, or an elder brain dragon as the ultimate foe at the end of the campaign!" Wyatt teases.

Fizban's Treasury of Dragons comes out on Oct. 26