Dragon Magic
Written by Owen K. C. Stephens and Rodney Thompson
Published by Wizards of the Coast
ISBN: 0-7869-3936-2
160 full color pages

I had a coupon for 50% off a single book at Half-Price Books. Looking through the shelves over at the old Village Crossing Mall, I came across Dragon Magic at $14.98. With the coupon, it was less than $10. I figured if nothing else, itíd make for some interesting reading.

And it did.

But I havenít used it.

See, Dragon Magic is an interesting experiment by WoTC. Sure, it follows the standards in terms of format and price. Sure, it has the benefits of good layout and design, as well as a plethora of talented artists like Wayne England, Jeff Easley and Ralph Horlsey among others but itís not quite the standard book.

See, this book takes a bunch of different dragon themed mechanics and puts them all in one book. It starts off with providing some variant racial abilities. For example, Silverbrow humans are descendants of half-silver dragon blooded humans. Their name comes from the silver streak or highlights in their hair. While being human, they lose their bonus skill points, but gain dragonblood, feather fall, and a +2 bonus on Disguise checks. Itís an interesting idea but further customization in character creation is needed in the D&D game about as much as new core classes, feats, and PrCs.

The good thing about these races though, is that theyíre not all standard races. We have Viletooth Lizardfolk and Sunscorch Hobgoblins as well as Frostblood Orcs to make things a little interesting for the GM as well.

But what if you donít want to change your race, but still want something of the dragon? How about alternative class features? Arranged in alphabetical order instead of by class, draconic class features replace one ability with another. For example, maybe you donít want a standard paladin mount but instead a drakkensteed? Maybe youíre a cleric who doesnít want to turn undead, but rather, to rebuke dragons?

A wide variety of feat types are also covered including ceremony, divine, draconic, and initiate feats. Initiate feats included Bahamut and Tiamat among others and include a benefit like gaining skills to add to your class skills and new spells that become added to your spell list. Initiates of Io for example, gain a +2 bonus on saves against dragons and dragonblood creatures.

For those few who can never have enough core classes, youíll want to look over the dragonfire adept. With a poor bab, good fort and will saves and d8 hit dice, the dragonfire adept brings a breath weapon and draconic invocations to the game. While the breath weapon starts off at 1d6, it ends at 9d6 at 20th level. However, you can choose between a cone or a line, and the radius increases as you crow in levels. You can also use it as a standard action. And as you gain levels, you can select different breath effects that have different adjustments. For example, Force breath deals force damage but enduring breath deals damage over two rounds.

Itís an interesting class with a lot of abilities and while itís high hit dice seem out of touch with itís more mystical functions, itís lack of bab and lack of proficiency with martial weapons and armor, will keep it out of the front line.

PrCs seemed an bunch of different options with a lot of them focusing on arcane users. One nice addition was a psionic based PrC dealing with gem dragons, the Diamon Dragon.

For those looking for new spells, the interesting thing to me, was seeing new shugenja and wu jen spells alongside the hexblade and assassin. Not a huge selection or anything mind you, but seeing some support for the more esoteric classes was a nice touch and didnít take up a lot of room. One of my favorite wu jen spells, channel the dragon, provided you with either breath weapon and resistance or damage reduction that varies depending on your favored element.

Also included are a handful of new psionic powers, warlock invocations, soul melds, vestiges, and draconic auras. Itís not much, but itís a nice touch to see support for these often neglected classes where even support from Dragon, a monthly magazine, is rare. The fact that the vestige is Ashardalon is another nice touch to the original adventure path from the 3.0 adventures.

Another game mechanic, dragonpact allows a sorcerer of 4th level or higher, can sacrifice a spell slot, their treasure and a loss of hit points, in exchange for the ability to use spell-like abilities based on the level of the spell lost. For example, giving up an 8th level spell to a shadow dragon provides the sorcerer with expeditious retreat 3/day, nondetection 3/day, dimension door 3/day, and shadow walk 2/day. Now that loss of an 8th level spell also cost the sorcerer 50 hit points so itís not something to be taken lightly.

Another odd game mechanic, the companion spirit original described in the DMG II is expanded with draconic companion spirits. While there are several Ďstandardí magic items, the thing that surprised me was the inclusion of the Wyrmbane Helm, a legacy item.

GMs get some firepower in this book as well. There are new monsters including aspects of Bahamut and Tiamat. The drakkensteed that the paladin can swap out for is also detailed but the good news is that there is only ONE dragonspawn detailed here.

Where players got to swap out special abilities, DMs can look over variant dragon abilities. Change the dragonic presence or swap out the innate special abilities.

Chapter five, Draconic Campaigns, seemed a little weak to me. Might be because weíve seen Races of the Dragon and Dragonomicon among other books but the initial generic advice wasnít as useful to me as other parts like the affiliations that follow the format from the Playerís Handbook II, or the section on draconic locations that includes a dragon lair, library, sacrifice site, and temple of Tiamat with full color maps. Heck, for those wanting to introduce themes of the book, theyíve even included a short adventure, the Battle of Dragon Fall for 11th-13th level characters.

While the book has a lot of the elements I want in a sourcebook, support for the esoteric stuff, it just didnít click for me. The core class felt like a collection of abilities, a lot of the PrCs felt redundant with some of the core ideas of the game (sorcerers being descendants of dragons for one.), and itís narrow focus means that if youíre not running a game with dragonic influences, itís pretty much only useful as a player tool.

Still, if you want to see how these books of crunch can look that supports more than just the core rules, and youíre desperate for resources for your poor Binder or more power for your sorcerer, you might want to look over Dragon Magic.