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4E Draconomicon 3E or 4E

TheAlkaizer

Game Designer
Simple question, I've been interested in diving in some books from older editions that I never got to read. Some of these are the Draconomicons. I know that 4th edition took some liberty and strayed away from some classic D&D concepts, however, the two Draconomicon books seem to have great reviews and not be too controversial. However, 3rd edition's Draconomicon was published when I was still quite young and I don't have any idea how it compares.

As I'm shopping for these books, which edition of the Draconomicon would you recommend? 3rd or 4th edition?
 

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the Jester

Legend
The 3e version is one of the best, and most beautiful, D&D books ever released, in my opinion. The 4e version is cool and has a bunch of cool stuff in it- but it's a pale shadow of the 3e one. And I say this as a great fan of 4e; a lot of people will judge the book harshly just because it's a 4e book. I don't have that baggage.
 

The benefit of the 3e book is it has both the chromatics and metallics in it. You need 2 books for that in 4e. However, the 4e books have non-traditional dragons outside the typical 5 each. Not sure which had the better fluff though, but with 2 books vs 1, you get a lot more stuff with the with the 4e versions.

dragon hall of game is nice in the 4e books, I do t recall if they had that in the 3e book.
 

dave2008

Legend
The 3e version is one of the only 3e books I ever bought a hard copy of, so I think it is very good. However, I have used my 4e books (I & II) a lot more so I am more familiar with them. Both are better than the 2e version.

I think everyone looks for different things, but I would pick the 4e versions for the Dragon Hall of Fame.
 



Zaukrie

New Publisher
All I can really recall about the 4e version is that it also has encounters.....which is great. IIRC, it had advice on social encounters and combat encounters also. Unfortunately, these were among the books I sold when I moved, alas.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
On an unrelated note, I recall that the 3E Draconomicon includes the rules for advancing dragons beyond the "great wyrm" age category, first seen in the Epic Level Handbook. But what tickled me about that idea was how each subsequent age category was referenced in the Immortal's Handbook Epic Bestiary, i.e. that each such age category gets another "great" tacked onto the dragon's listing.

So the sample advanced dragon in the 3E Draconomicon, which has seven additional age categories applies to it, is a "great great great great great great great great red wyrm." :D

Please note my use of affiliate links in this post.
 

The 4e ones are the only ones I've actually ever read. Forgot 2e even had such a book, lol.
The 4e Draconomicons are interesting. I think their main fault is coming early in the 4e cycle, so the monsters are somewhat obsolete, and a lot of them, being solos/elites weren't the strongest designs. The dragons themselves are good, and with a few tweaks any of the stat blocks can work well.
The flavor stuff is of course good, as most of 4e's flavor stuff is. Really I didn't see much in these books that diverged heavily from existing lore. Some of it you might have to delve back into early 80's Dragon issues to find, but only a very few bits of the 2nd volume (Metallic Dragons) really appeared to be genuinely new.
 

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
I think that while the 4e Daconomicon is good, the 3.5 one is better for edition neutral lore. Don't get me wrong, both books have a lot of edition specific content, but the 3.5 version just has more lore and the lairs described are more easily used across editions than the encounters in 4e.
 


Voadam

Hero
3.5 Draconomicon has good metallics and mechanics and stats that are fairly compatible and usable in Pathfinder 1e.

4e's Draconomicon I shifts the description narratively with the Dawn War background and the Io split into Tiamat Bahamut story and some tidbits about Arkhosia and the dragon sponsored dragonborn empire. Mechanically this is fairly early on in 4e so the monster stats, particularly solos are not as tuned as they get in later monster books.

4e's Draconomicon II has the unaligned and mercenary metallics with crusading Bahamut leading some to paladiny goodness so there is a background to have them traditional good guys or as antagonists to good PCs.

2e's Draconomicon was a Forgotten Realms Sourcebook that introduced Io and a jokester dragon god, I did not care for either of those story elements, particularly how Io seemed to marginalize and diminish Tiamat and Bahamut, but the necromancer dragon god in the expanded dragon pantheon had a bit of appeal.
 
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3.5 Draconomicon has good metallics and mechanics and stats that are fairly compatible and usable in Pathfinder 1e.

4e's Draconomicon I shifts the description narratively with the Dawn War background and the IO split into Tiamat Bahamut story and some tidbits about Arkhosia and the dragon sponsored dragonborn empire. Mechanically this is fairly early on in 4e so the monster stats, particularly solos are not as tuned as they get in later monster books.

4e's Draconomicon II has the unaligned and mercenary metallics with crusading Bahamut leading some to paladiny goodness so there is a background to have them traditional good guys or as antagonists to good PCs.

2e's Draconomicon was a Forgotten Realms Sourcebook that introduced Io and a jokester dragon god, I did not care for either of those story elements, particularly how Io seemed to marginalize and diminish Tiamat and Bahamut, but the necromancer dragon god in the expanded dragon pantheon had a bit of appeal.
Those dragon deities in the 2e version existed before the publication of the book. The 2e Monster Mythology (which was piblished before the Draconomicon) has them, for example, although FR uses alternate names for them (which is pointed out in the text). Io (Monster Mythology) = Asgorath (FR) and Hlal (FR) = Aasterinian (MM). The draconic deities were featured in Dragon Magazine articles even further back, I believe...
 
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Voadam

Hero
Those dragon deities in the 2e version existed before the publication of the book. The 2e Monster Mythology (which was piblished before the Draconomicon) has them, for example, although FR uses alternate names for them (which is pointed out in the text). Io (Monster Mythology) = Asgorath (FR) and Hlal (FR) = Aasterinian (MM). The draconic deities were featured in Dragon Magazine articles even further back, I believe...
Check the descriptions in the links for the publishing dates. 2e's Draconomicon "was originally released by TSR in October 1990, then rereleased by Wizards of the Coast in 1999 with a new dragon on the cover."

Monster Mythology was May 1992.

But good point that the 2e Draconomicon has different names for them, Io is not mentioned but the Creator Dragon god who spawned everything is called Asgorath and Tiamat and Bahamut's natures and origins are mysteries while it is Monster Mythology that gives us Io and Tiamat and Bahamut being his self-spawned children representing his LG and LE aspects.
 
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TheAlkaizer

Game Designer
3.5 Draconomicon has good metallics and mechanics and stats that are fairly compatible and usable in Pathfinder 1e.

4e's Draconomicon I shifts the description narratively with the Dawn War background and the Io split into Tiamat Bahamut story and some tidbits about Arkhosia and the dragon sponsored dragonborn empire. Mechanically this is fairly early on in 4e so the monster stats, particularly solos are not as tuned as they get in later monster books.

4e's Draconomicon II has the unaligned and mercenary metallics with crusading Bahamut leading some to paladiny goodness so there is a background to have them traditional good guys or as antagonists to good PCs.

2e's Draconomicon was a Forgotten Realms Sourcebook that introduced Io and a jokester dragon god, I did not care for either of those story elements, particularly how Io seemed to marginalize and diminish Tiamat and Bahamut, but the necromancer dragon god in the expanded dragon pantheon had a bit of appeal.
I do use the Dawn War Pantheon with a few extras for my games.

I have no interest at all in the stat block and I'm looking for lore, story and possible hooks I can use in adventures.
 

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
I do use the Dawn War Pantheon with a few extras for my games.

I have no interest at all in the stat block and I'm looking for lore, story and possible hooks I can use in adventures.
Then I'd suggest the 3.5 Draconomicon. It features a nice amount of lore (Chapter 1 is basically all lore), and has detailed descriptions of the chromatic dragons along with sample lairs, and many random treasure lists for these lairs. It has more lore, and some of the monsters are easier to adapt to 5e.
 

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