The Practically Complete Guide to Dragons reviewAugust 30, 2023
The Practically Complete Guide to Dragons is published by Dungeons & Dragons but it isn’t a typical manual like their other recently release Bigby Presents: Glory to the Giants or Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons, no. Instead, it’s something altogether unique.
On store shelves as of last week, The Practically Complete Guide to Dragons is described as “part field guide, part illustrated storybook,” and invites D&D fans into the magical, and mysterious, world of one of D&D’s most fearsome foes: dragons.
It’s important to set fans’ expectations for this book, as it’s a lore book, not a game manual. If you’re looking for stat blocks or new game rules for using dragons, this isn’t the book you want. You will get some game information, like a given dragon’s maximum height or weight, but how many dice their breath weapon does, or how many attacks they get per round is found elsewhere.
This lavishly illustrated tome includes in-depth details on each dragon lineage (and even some dragonkind, like dragon turtles and pseudodragons).
Have you ever asked where a silver dragon lays its eggs? What about how to tell a white dragon apart from other dragons…if its white scales are obscured?
The Practically Complete Guide to Dragons contains all this information and more, in an easy-to-follow format. Most common dragon types are represented, and each has a description of its basic characteristics, distinguishing features, lairs and more.
It’s a light, but enjoyable, read with most every piece of information you’d need to build a rich, dragon-infused world.
Should you buy it?
As always, this depends.
What sets The Practically Complete Guide to Dragons apart from other D&D books released in the past few years is its format – it’s free of the rules tables that accompany so many D&D books, so flipping through is a luxurious experience. Each page pops with stunning art and fun facts about dragons, very useful if you’re planning on running a D&D campaign that is dragon-heavy.
As mentioned previously, it’s rules-light, so if you’re looking for something a bit heavier and more structural, for building dragon combats or encounters, Fizban’s might be a better choice.
If you have younger children, whom you want to indoctrinate into D&D…rather…teach, about D&D, this is a great book for you. It isn’t explicitly for kids, but you’re an awesome DM, and I know you’ll be able to find the story that will capture their minds and open them to the innumerable possibilities D&D offers as a hobby.
As a player, The Practically Complete Guide to Dragons isn’t a must-have, but it’s gorgeous, and based on how much time you spent painting your main character’s mini, I know how much you love pretty things. While not a game manual, The Practically Complete Guide to Dragons fits a unique niche in the pantheon of D&D books and could be a nice addition to your shelf.
If your budget is limited, this title may not be the best fit for you. It’s gorgeous, and while reading it I’m instantly transported to my childhood excitement of thumbing through Monster Manual, but your RPG dollars might be better spent on an adventure book (like the forthcoming revision to the classic Phandelver adventure, Phandelver & Below: The Shattered Obelisk) or a rules manual like the just released Bigby Presents: Glory to the Giants.
Thanks for reading, and here’s hoping your next roll is a natural 20!
All images courtesy Wizards of the Coast and used with permission
A copy of The Practically Complete Guide to Dragons was provided for this review.