Dragons of Faerûn

John Cooper

Explorer
Dragons of Faerûn

DRAGONS OF FAERÛN
By Eric L. Boyd and Eytan Bernstein
Wizards of the Coast product number 953797200
160 pages, $29.95

Dragons of Faerûn is the latest Forgotten Realms sourcebook, this one devoted less to an area of the world (like many FR sourcebooks) and more to the races of dragons that occupy that world. Actually, I suppose it's closer to the mark to say that it's focused specifically on those dragons that have appeared in various Forgotten Realms products, including novels, short stories, and Ed Greenwood's "Wyrms of the North" series of articles that appeared in the pages of Dragon Magazine several years ago. While there is some material that is more "generic" in nature, like details on the Cult of the Dragon and the Church of Tiamat, the majority of the information in this book is focused on specific dragons - there's not only a whole chapter devoted to them, but also an exhaustive index in the back detailing nearly every individual dragon that's ever appeared by name in the Forgotten Realms, even the dead ones (not just the dracoliches, either, mind you - also the ones that have been slain). I'll say this for Eric Boyd: he's certainly a completist, and he can tie together material from different sourcebooks like nobody's business. If you wish to drown in Forgotten Realms trivia, then he's definitely the guy for you. If you're just looking for a cool book to make the dragons in your campaign more interesting, or you'd just like a nice handful of ready-to-go dragon stats, avoid this book like the plague. (Or pick it up, knowing full well ahead of time that Dragons of Faerûn has the absolutely worst stats of any Wizards of the Coast book I've ever seen - and yes, that includes the now-infamous Monster Manual III).

You know, I think I'm going to forego my normal review format (I'd normally next move on to the artwork, the book's contents, and so on before getting to the stat block errors), but the crappy stats and dismal editing are really the biggest points about the whole book, so I'm going to jump right into them first. Those of you still interested in the book after that can then see what else I have to say about the other aspects of the book.

Let's start with the proofreading, since, as horrendous of a job as this was, it's still going to take a much shorter time to discuss than the stat blocks. As is normal for Wizards of the Coast, no proofreader is listed in the Credits section; proofreading falls under the general "Editing" category. So, we have three editors: Beth Griese, Cindi Rice, and Kim Mohan - and Kim even pulls double duty as the Editing Manager. A word of advice to these three: should either of them ever seek an editing job anywhere else besides WotC, I'd strongly suggest dropping Dragons of Faerûn from their résumé. Seriously, it doesn't look like either of the three even bothered with a simple spellchecker program - how else to explain words like "suvvessfully" (instead of "successfully"), "firat" (instead of "first"), "damagd" (instead of "damage"), or "approcahing" (instead of "approaching")? You'd think that the company that actually owns D&D might be able to correctly spell some of its own monsters, but no: we've got "griffins" instead of "griffons," "aaracokra" instead of "aarakocra," and even "Tiama" instead of "Tiamat." (There are other examples with some of the individual dragons' names, like is it "Iyrmith" as on page 147 or "Iymrith" like on page 151?) You'd think a spellchecking/grammar-checking program would catch things like "perday" instead of "per day," "turn ing" instead of "turning," "Hook,s" instead of "Hooks," and the multiple occurrences of two periods at the end of a sentence. Of course, the best spellchecking program in the world is of little use if the editors don't even bother using it - and it doesn't look like these three did. There are also things that it takes a human (well, an alert human, anyway) to notice and correct - things like how to correctly split a compound word between two lines via hyphenation, and standard conventions like italicizing spell names, capitalizing the names of ability scores, and so on. The editors weren't so keen on doing that job very well, either. A final example: the scattergloom spell description (on page 118) describes "four cylinders of magical darkness" - yet the italicized text that describes the spellcaster casting the spell refers to "six puffs of shadow" which "burst forth from your location" - so which is it, guys, 4 areas of darkness or 6? That's the kind of thing that's bound to come in handy to know when anyone wants to try casting that spell.

However, the stat blocks make the proofreading and editing jobs look like they were handled by top-notch professionals. No kidding: this is the absolute worst job of creating stat blocks I've ever seen in a Wizards of the Coast product. The only one I can accurately point my finger at is Jesse Decker, who's listed as "Development Manager" - beyond that, there are Evan Jamieson, Thomas M. Costa, and George Krashos, lumped together under "Additional Design or Development." Since it's the developers that take the credit - and blame - for the stat blocks, it's Jesse and any or all of the other three who should seriously consider finding a job they're better suited at, or perhaps willing to actually do for once, because if their job description consists of "creating accurate stat blocks for D&D books," they're seriously shirking their duties.

Okay, I guess I've probably gotten across my feelings of outrage by now; let's get to the actual mistakes, shall we? With the usual provisos (this list is what I found wrong with the stat blocks during a single read through Dragons of Faerûn, and as such is not guaranteed to be all-inclusive, and since I'm just one guy doing this during my own free time it's entirely possible that I overlooked something myself - and if I did manage to make any errors in correcting the numerous errors in this book, please point them out to me so I can update the "unofficial errata"), let's begin.
  • pp. 13-14, Aerosclughpalar, male old gold dragon druid 11 [Mielikki]: His 11 levels of druid aren't factored into his Hit Dice or hit points; HD should be 40, not 29, and (average) hp should be 518, not 391. Since he lives in human guise as a druid, it's somewhat surprising that despite his Int 24, he never learned to speak Common! Tail slap damage should be 2d8+23, not 2d6+23, as base tail slap damage for a Gargantuan dragon is 2d8. (See page 69 of the Monster Manual.) He should have 8 1st-level spells/day, not 7 (5 as a Drd11, +3 for having Wis 28). The Fortitude save for his gust of wind sorcerer spell should be DC 19, not DC 20 (10 + 2nd-level spell + 7 Cha). The Will save for his ghost sound sorcerer spell should be DC 17, not DC 18 (10 + 0-level spell + 7 Cha). The spell "owl's wisdom" should be italicized, like all the rest of the spells. (I know that has no effect on running the dragon, but still.) Skills should include Use Rope +0 (+2 bindings) (0 ranks, +0 Dex, +2 synergy from Escape Artist). Survival should be at +23 (+25 in aboveground natural environments and following tracks), due to +2 synergy bonuses from Knowledge (nature) and Search.
  • pp. 19-20, Claugiyliamater, female ancient green dragon rogue 4/druid 4: Senses lists Listen and Spot at +38 each, but Skills lists each at +43. Flat-footed AC should be 38, not 37 (she doesn't lose her +1 Dex bonus when flat-footed, due to uncanny dodge). Ref should be +24, not +23 (+18 as a 32-HD dragon, +4 as a Rog4, +1 as a Drd4, +1 Dex). Will should be +29, not +28 (+18 as a 32-HD dragon, +1 as a Rog4, +4 as a Drd4, +6 Wis). Bite attacks should be at +45 melee, not +49 (+38 BAB, -4 size, +10 Str, +1 Weapon Focus). Claw, wing, and tail slap attacks should be at +42 melee, not +46 (+38 BAB, -4 size, +10 Str, -2 secondary attack with Multiattack). Her flaming sphere druid spell should have a Reflex save of DC 18, not DC 17 (10 + 2nd-level spell + 6 Wis). Her charm animal and entangle druid spells should have saves of DC 17, not DC 16 (10 + 1st-level spell + 6 Cha). SQ should include trapfinding, trap sense +1, and wild empathy +9 (+5 magical beasts). With 40 HD, she should have 14 feats, not just 12. Is the feat "Quicken" supposed to be "Quicken Spell," "Quicken Breath Weapon," or something else entirely? Skills should include Use Rope +1 (+3 bindings) (0 ranks, +1 Dex, +2 synergy from Escape Artist). Survival should be +28 (+30 in aboveground natural environments and following tracks), due to +2 synergy bonuses from Knowledge (nature) and Search. "Use Magic Device" has no number attached to it, so its inclusion as-is does very little for the DM.
  • p. 26, Jalanvaloss, female mature adult steel dragon: So, despite an Int 20 and numerous human guises, she speaks only Draconic and not Common? Not bloody likely. Swim speed should be 30 feet, not 60 feet (according to the steel dragon info on page 141). Claw damage should be 1d8+3, not 1d8+4 (half of a +6 Str bonus = +3). Wing damage should be 1d6+3, not 1d6+4 (for the same reason). Feats aren't alphabetized. Disguise should be +12 (+14 acting) due to a +2 synergy bonus from Bluff. Skills should include Use Rope +0 (+2 bindings) (0 ranks, +0 Dex, +2 synergy from Escape Artist) and Survival +4 (+6 following tracks) (0 ranks, +4 Wis, +2 synergy from Search). Her cone breath weapon damage should be 7 Con/7 Con, not just 7 Con (the victim takes secondary damage 1 minute after the initial damage). Also, the Frightful Presence paragraph uses "Claugiyliamatar's" instead of "Jalanvaloss'" - obviously, a copy-and-paste error that nobody caught.
  • p. 28, Nartheling, male ancient fang dragon: Senses lists both Listen and Spot at +25, but Skills puts them both at +38. (It looks like +38 is correct.) The frightful presence Will save should be DC 30, not DC 28 (10 + 15 + 5). (Note that this is correct in the "Frightful Presence" paragraph at the end of the stats but wrong in the stats themselves.) Fort should be +23, not +27 (+17 as a 30-HD dragon, +6 Con). Ref should be +17, not +20 (+17 as a 30-HD dragon, +0 Dex). Will should be +22, not +26 (+17 as a 30-HD dragon, +5 Wis). Bite attacks should be at +37 melee, not +41 (+30 BAB, -4 size, +11 Str). Claw, wing, and tail slap attacks should be at +35 melee, not +39 (+30 BAB, -4 size, +11 Str, -2 secondary attack with Multiattack). He should have 5 5th-level sorcerer spells/day, not 7 (4 as a Sor11, +1 for Cha 20). Survival should be +33 (+35 in aboveground natural environments and following tracks) due to +2 synergy bonuses from Knowledge (nature) and Search. Ability drain Fortitude save should be DC 33 if Constitution-based (10 + 15 + 6 + 2 Ability focus), DC 38 if Strength-based (10 + 15 + 11 + 2), or DC 32 if Charisma-based (10 + 15 + 5 + 2), but not DC 30 as listed. Crush Reflex save should be DC 31, not DC 28 (10 + 15 + 6). Snatch damage from a bite should be 6d8+11, not 6d8+16 (bite damage is a straight +11 Str bonus, it's not multiplied by 1.5). Why is there no Fortitude save against ability drain when snatched? Sound imitation Will save should be DC 30, not DC 28 (10 + 15 + 5). Tail sweep Reflex save should be whatever DC is correct for the ability drain (DC 33, DC 38, or DC 32), not DC 30.
  • pp. 33-34, Saryndalaghlothlor, female adult crystal dragon wizard 1: Senses lists Listen and Spot at +18 each, but Skills puts them each at +19. I'm not sure why she has resistance to fire 15, as that's not standard for crystal dragons and none of her listed possessions grants fire resistance. Will should be +17, not +15 (+12 as a 20-HD dragon, +2 as Wiz1, +3 Wis). "Wizard Spells Prepared" shouldn't have "(3/day)" and "(2/day)" - and in any case, they're swapped from where they would be if that was the standard format. If "ML 5th" (manifester level 5th) specifically means as a psion 5, then she should know 11 powers, not 12. Skills should include Survival +3 (+5 following tracks) (0 ranks, +3 Wis, +2 synergy from Search).
  • pp. 39-40, Tchazzar, male fiendish great wyrm red dragon, dragon ascendant 12: Awesome aura Will save should be DC 45, not DC 44 (10 + half of dragon Hit Dice + Cha bonus + half of dragon ascendant levels = 10 + 20 + 9 + 6 = 45). Kind of odd that it rules a country of humans, but doesn't speak Common, huh? (And with an Int 26 to boot!) Fort should be +42, not +41 (+22 as a 40-HD dragon, +8 as a DAs12, +10 Con, +2 Great Fortitude). Will should be +40, not +41 (+22 as a 40-HD dragon, +8 as DAs12, +8 Wis, +2 Iron Will). Speed should be "50 ft. (10 squares), fly 220 ft. (clumsy)," not "70 ft. (14 squares), fly 270 ft. (clumsy), swim 70 ft." - great wyrm red dragons have a base speed of 40 ft. (8 squares), fly 200 ft. (clumsy), and the Improved Speed feat adds +10 ft. to land speed and +20 ft. to fly speed. (And red dragons don't swim.) Base Attack Bonus should be +52, not +53 (+40 as a 40-HD dragon, +12 as a DAs12). Grapple should be at +86, not +87 (+52 BAB, +16 size, +18 Str). Bite attacks should be at +62 melee, not +63 (+52 BAB, -8 size, +18 Str). Claw, wing, and tail slap attacks should be at +60 melee, not +61 (+52 BAB, -8 size, +18 Str, -2 secondary attack with Multiattack). Survival should be +8 (+10 on other planes and following tracks) due to +2 synergies from Knowledge (the planes) (which was factored in) and Search (which was not). Awesome aura should affect those with 51 HD or less, not 40 HD or less. (Or, if you only take dragon HD and not HD from classes into account, then it would be creatures with 39 HD or less.) Breath weapon should be a 70-foot cone of fire, not a 60-foot cone of fire (this is standard for Colossal dragons).
  • p. 42, Tostyn Alaerthmaugh, male young adult mercury dragon: AC should be 26, not 29 (-1 size, +3 Dex, +14 natural). Flat-footed AC should be 23, not 26. The "Immune" entry should include magic missiles (courtesy of Chassabra's pendant, one of the new magic items from this book). Spell-Like Abilities should include the following: "At will-see invisibility, feather fall" (also due to Chassabra's pendant). Grapple should be at +19, not +24 (+15 BAB, +0 size, +4 Str). The "Atk Options" entry lists "Blinding Sheen" - what's this? The mercury dragon entry on pages 138-140 have no description of such a combat feature. His color spray and hypnotic pattern spell-like abilities should be at will, not 1/day (according to page 139). Skills should include Survival +2 (+4 following tracks) (0 ranks, +2 Wis, +2 synergy from Search).
  • pp. 46-47, Alasklerbanbastos, male great wyrm blue dracolich: The "Immune" entry should include polymorph, cold, and electricity. Since its combat gear includes the orb of dragonkind (blue dragon), its AC and saves are those of an ancient blue dragon, regardless of its own statistics (see DMG, page 281). Thus, Fort should be +25 (not "—"), Ref should be +18 (not +21), and Will should be +23 (not +27); plus AC and flat-footed AC should both be 38 (not 46). (Kind of makes the orb of blue dragonkind a bit of a bummer, huh?) 3/day, it should have the opportunity to use an ancient blue dragon's breath weapon (120-foot line, 20d8 electricity, Reflex save DC 33) instead of its own, and 1/round it can cast haste (CL 10th, Fortitude DC 17 negates), both effects also due to the orb of blue dragonkind. Tail slap damage should be 2d8+21 plus 1d6 cold plus paralysis, not 2d6+21 plus 1d6 cold plus paralysis (base tail slap damage for a Gargantuan dragon is 2d8). He should cast spells as a 17th-level sorcerer, not a 21st-level sorcerer, so delete all 9th-level spells (unless Practiced Spellcaster, a feat from Complete Arcane - which I don't have - adds +4 to caster level, which seems pretty powerful for a feat!). [Edit: apparently it does, after all. Thanks, coriolis! (See his comment, below this review.)] The greater stunning breath spell's save should be DC 24, not DC 36 (10 + 7th-level spell + 7 Cha). Skills should include Survival +6 (+8 following tracks), due to a +2 synergy bonus from Search. Tail sweep Reflex save should be DC 36, not DC 37 (10 + 19 + 7).
  • p. 51, Iltharagh, male very old topaz dracolich: Senses lists Listen and Spot at +25 each, but Skills puts them at Listen +40, Spot +37. AC is correct at 47, but the breakdown is wrong: it should include +32 natural, not +34 (+30 as a very old topaz dragon, +2 from the dracolich template). I'm not sure why it has resistance to fire 15, as that's a trait present in neither topaz dragons nor dracoliches. Fort should be +17, not "—" (+17 as a 31-HD dragon, +0 Con, for effects that do affect objects). Ref should be +17, not +22 (+17 as a 31-HD dragon, +0 Dex). Will should be +24, not +32 (+17 as a 31-HD dragon, +7 Wis). Speed should be "40 ft. (8 squares), fly 150 ft. (poor, supernatural), burrow 5 ft., swim 60 ft.," not "70 ft. (14 squares), burrow 15 ft., fly 150 ft. (poor, supernatural), swim 70 ft. - the Speed of Thought feat requires psionic focus, which isn't a given, and even so, a 40-ft. base land speed + 10 ft. (from Speed of Thought) still only equals 50 ft., not 70 ft. Bite attacks should be at +40 melee, not +42 (+31 BAB, -2 size, +11 Str). Claw, wing, and tail slap attacks should be at +38 melee, not +40 (+31 BAB, -2 size, +11 Str, -2 secondary attack with Multiattack). Tail slap damage should be 2d6+16 plus 1d6 cold plus paralysis, not 2d6+5 plus cold plus paralysis (1.5 times a +11 Str bonus = +16, and you need to specify the amount of cold damage). For that matter, all of the creature's melee attacks should specify "plus 1d6 cold" instead of just "plus cold." With 31 HD, he should have 11 feats, not just 10. Skills should include Knowledge (nature) +9 (0 ranks, +7 Int, +2 synergy from Survival). As a dracolich, he shouldn't have a crush attack. Breath weapon should be a 50-foot cone, not a 60-foot cone (as a Huge dragon). Breath weapon Reflex save should be DC 33, not DC 35 (10 + 15 + 8).
  • p. 61, Otto and Ivo, male Tethyrian human rogue 4/fighter 2: Initiative should be +6, not +8 (+2 Dex, +4 Improved Initiative). They should have 6 feats, not 5 (3 as 6th-level characters, 1 bonus human feat, and 2 bonus fighter feats). Skills should include Diplomacy +3 and Disguise +1 (+3 acting), due to +2 synergy bonuses from Bluff.
  • p. 64, Morven, female Mulan human cleric 7: Skills are missing Listen +3 and Spot +3 (which are correctly listed under Senses). Skills should also include Appraise +2 (+4 alchemical items) (0 ranks, +2 Int, +2 synergy bonus from Craft (alchemy)).
  • p. 65, Reveilaiean, male dracolich (augmented half-black dragon Chondathan human) wizard 6: Fort should be +4, not "—" (+2 as Wiz6, +0 Con, +2 cloak of resistance). Spells/day should be 4/5/4/3, not 4/6/5/4 (4/3/3/2 as a Wiz6, +0/2/1/1 for Int 20). Caster level should be 6th, not 9th. Skills should include Appraise +5 (+7 alchemical items) (0 ranks, +5 Int, +2 synergy bonus from Craft (alchemy)). His spellbook should include all 0-level spells. Paralyzing touch should force a DC 17 Fortitude save, not a Will save.
  • p. 66, Aeroth, male Damaran human wizard 6/wearer of purple 3: Listen +3, Spot +3 is listed under Senses but not Skills. (According to the new stat block layout, they should be in both places. Hey, I didn't design the silly thing!) AC line includes a +4 bonus from mage armor, but mage armor isn't listed as one of his prepared 1st-level spells, nor is it even in his spellbook! (You might want to drop shield and replace it with mage armor, then annotate it as already cast.) Base Attack Bonus should be +4, not +5 (+3 as Wiz6, +1 as WoP3). Grapple should be at +3, not +2 (+4 BAB, -1 Str). Skills should include Appraise +4 (+6 alchemical items) (0 ranks, +4 Int, +2 synergy bonus from Craft (alchemy)) and Gather Information +2 (0 ranks, +0 Cha, +2 synergy bonus from Knowledge (local)). Since he has a masterwork light crossbow with 30 bolts listed as possessions, add the following to his stat block: "Ranged mwk light crossbow +6 (1d8/19-20)"
  • p. 66, Eldrisithain, male wyrmling green dragon: First of all, let's get one thing straight with this guy: he's Aeroth's familiar. (Aeroth has the Dragon Familiar feat, and this guy's stats are the very next in line, plus he fits the qualifications for being a familiar as per the Dragon Familiar feat, and he has unexplained improved evasion and an unexplained +2 natural armor bonus above that of a wyrmling green dragon that perfectly matches a wyrmling green dragon familiar to a 9th-level wizard; Aeroth is the equivalent of a 9th-level wizard with his 3 levels of wearer of purple [and isn't that just about the dumbest name for a prestige class you've ever heard of?] tacked on to his 6 levels of wizard.) So, given that, average hit points should be 37, not 45. (37 hp is the average for a wyrmling green dragon, and that's higher than he'd have as a familiar, but he gets the higher of the two, so 37 hp it is; it's just coincidental that Aeroth has 37 hp, too.) Fort should be +5, not +6 (+4 as a 5-HD dragon, +1 Con). Ref should be +4, not +5 (+4 as a 5-HD dragon, +0 Dex). Will should be +8, not +5 (+5 as a Wiz6, +3 as a WoP3, +0 Wis). Bite attacks should be at +7 melee, not +8 (+5 BAB, +1 size, +1 Str). Bite damage should be 1d6+1, not 1d6+2 (+1 Str). Claw attacks should be at +2 melee, not +3 (+5 BAB, +1 size, +1 Str, -5 secondary). Claw damage should be 1d4, not 1d4+1 (half of a +1 Str bonus gets rounded down to +0). Skills should include Survival +0 (+2 in aboveground natural environments and following tracks) (0 ranks, +0 Wis, +2 synergy bonuses from Knowledge (nature) and Search).
  • p. 68, The Guardian, pseudonatural chuul: Should have resistance to acid 15 and electricity 15, not 10 (as per the pseudonatural template, since it has 11 HD). Spell Resistance should be 22, not 21 (double its HD). Challenge Rating should be 9, not 8 (CR 7 as a chuul, +2 from the template). Also, the feat is called "Blind-Fight," not "Blindfight."
  • pp. 76-78, Church Guard, male human fighter 4: Will should be +1, not +2 (+1 as Ftr4, +0 Wis). Speed should be 30 ft. (6 squares), not 20 ft. (4 squares) - chain shirts don't cause a movement penalty.
  • pp. 81-82, Braeden, female half-brown dragon half-human favored soul 10: Listen +2, Spot +2 are listed under Senses but not Skills. AC should be 30, not 29 (+1 Dex, +5 natural, +10 armor, +4 shield) - of that, +4 of its natural armor is as a half-dragon, and +1 is from an amulet of natural armor. Flat-footed AC should be 29, not 28. Speed should be 20 ft. (4 squares), not 15 ft. (3 squares) - 30 ft. base, dropped to 20 ft. for wearing heavy armor. +2 heavy pick attacks should be at +14 melee, not +16 (+7 BAB, +4 Str, +2 magic weapon, +1 Weapon Focus). I'm not sure about favored souls, not having the book that they appear in, but why is she CL 9th if she has 10 levels in the favored soul class? As a half-dragon, she should have claw and bite attacks, so another Melee entry should be "Melee 2 claws +11 (1d4+4) and bite +6 (1d6+2)"
  • p. 83, Malise, High Priest of Tiamat, male human cleric 14 [Tiamat]: Listen +5, Spot +5 are listed under Senses but not Skills. Speed should be 20 ft. (4 squares), not - 30 ft. base, dropped to 20 ft. for wearing heavy armor. +1 flaming morningstar damage should be 1d8+1 plus 1d6 fire (which wasn't specified). "Smite good" should be just called "Smite," and it should be at a +4 bonus to hit, not +1 (this is a Destruction domain ability). He should have 7+1 1st-level spells, not 8+1 (5+1 as a Clr14, +2 for Wis 20). Skills should include Survival +5 (+7 on other planes) (0 ranks, +5 Wis, +2 synergy bonus from Knowledge (the planes)).
  • p. 84, Kolchis, male lizardfolk cleric 8 [Tiamat]: Listen +3, Spot +3 are listed under Senses but not Skills. Ref should be +8, not +5 (+3 as a 2-HD humanoid, +2 as Clr8, +0 Dex, +2 Lightning Reflexes, +1 cloak of resistance). Speed should be 20 ft. (4 squares), not 15 ft. (3 squares) - 30 ft. base, dropped to 20 ft. for wearing heavy armor. "Smite good 1/day (+0 attack, +8 damagd)" should be "Smite 1/day (+4 attack, +8 damage)." Command undead rolls should be at +0, not +2 (+0 Cha, not enough ranks in Knowledge (religion) for a synergy bonus). Should only have 5+1 1st-level spells/day, not 6+1 (4+1 as Clr8, +1 for Wis 16).
  • p. 84, Stendak, male human cleric 8 [Tiamat]: Listen +3, Spot +3 are listed under Senses but not Skills. Speed should be 20 ft. (4 squares), not 15 ft. (3 squares) - 30 ft. base, dropped to 20 ft. for wearing heavy armor. Should have 4+1 2nd-level spells/day, not 5+1 (3+1 as Clr8, +1 for Wis 16).
  • p. 85, Lucrezia, female human rogue 3/cleric 3 [Tiamat]/talon of Tiamat 4: Listen +3, Spot +3 are listed under Senses but not Skills. Special Qualities should include trap sense +1. Smite 1/day should be at +4 attack, not +2. Command undead rolls should be at +2, not +4 (+2 Cha, not enough ranks in Knowledge (religion) for a synergy bonus). Skills should include Disguise +2 (+4 acting) (0 ranks, +2 Cha, +2 synergy bonus from Bluff). Her cold breath weapon should be a 30-foot cone, not a 60-foot cone (as a Medium dragon). Her acid breath weapon should be a 60-foot line, not a 30-foot line (as a Medium dragon). Breath weapon Reflex saves should be DC 16, not DC 15 (10 + 5 + 1).
  • pp. 85-86, Ohanzee, male human sorcerer 10: Listen +0, Spot +0 are listed in Senses but not in Skills. Flat-footed AC should be 20, not 14 (+1 natural, +1 deflection, +4 armor, +4 shield). With a +2 Con bonus, average hit points should be 46, not 55. (He must have rolled well!) Masterwork quarterstaff attacks should be at +5 melee, not +4 (+5 BAB, -1 Str, +1 masterwork). Should have 5 feats, not 4 (4 as a Sor10, +1 human bonus feat). Skills should include Diplomacy +6 (0 ranks, +4 Cha, +2 synergy bonus from Bluff), Disguise +4 (+6 acting) (ditto), and Intimidate +6 (ditto).
  • pp. 86-87, Slavin'krath'magaal, female fiendish juvenile brown dragon blackguard 4: Since the AC values and saves are otherwise all off by 2 points, I think it's safe to say that the ring of protection +2 was supposed to have been a cloak of resistance +2 - since the dragon would look kind of funny wearing a cloak, let's make it a ring of resistance +2, with properties exactly the same as the magical cloak. Speed should be 60 ft. (12 squares), not 30 ft. (6 squares). Smite good (fiendish) should be at +19 damage, not +20 (+1/HD, and she has 19 HD). Survival should be +19 (+21 following tracks), due to a +2 synergy bonus from Search. Skills should include Knowledge (nature) +4 (0 ranks, +2 Int, +2 synergy from Survival).
  • p. 95, Half-Black Dragon Ophidian: "(Augmented Humanoid)" should be "(Augmented Monstrous Humanoid)," since ophidians are monstrous humanoids. Since the half-dragon template increases his 3d8 HD to 3d10, average hit points should be 19, not 15. Fort should be +2, not +6 (+1 as a 3-HD monstrous humanoid, +1 Con). Ref should be +5, not +3 (+3 as a 3-HD monstrous humanoid, +2 Dex). Will should be +3, not +6 (+3 as a 3-HD monstrous humanoid, +0 Wis). Speed should include a 15-ft. climb speed and a 50-ft. swim speed. BAB should be +3, not +5 (as a 3-HD monstrous humanoid). Grapple should be at +8, not +17 (+3 BAB, +5 Str). Scimitar attacks should be at +8 melee, not +7 (+3 BAB, +5 Str). Bite attacks should be at +8 melee, not +7 (+3 BAB, +5 Str). Claw attacks should be at +6 melee, not +4 (+3 BAB, +5 Str, -2 secondary attack with Multiattack). With 3 HD, should have 2 feats, not just 1. (Normal ophidians have Alertness and Dodge, so either of those would be a good choice.) Skills should include Climb +13 (0 ranks, +5 Str, +8 racial) and Swim +13 (0 ranks, +5 Str, +8 racial). Serpentine curse Fortitude save should be DC 12, not DC 11 (10 + 1 + 1).
  • pp. 105-106, Bluespawn Stoneglider: This creature should be a magical beast, not a monstrous humanoid: it's built like a giant termite with blue dragon features. It should also be of Small size, not Medium, as evidenced by its +1 size bonus to AC and its -4 size penalty to Grapple attacks. (I'm going to assume it's a Small magical beast while evaluating the rest of the creature's stat block.) As such, average hit points should be 37, not 36. BAB should be +5, not +4 (+5 as a 5-HD magical beast). Grapple should be at +3, not +2 (+5 BAB, -4 size, +2 Str). Bite attacks should be at +11 melee, not +9 (+5 BAB, +1 size, +2 Str, +2 racial, +1 Weapon Focus). No Advancement is provided.
  • pp. 106-107, Krathbairn: Melee attacks are in an odd order; usually, the primary attack is listed first. Skills should include Use Rope +3 (+5 bindings) (0 ranks, +3 Dex, +2 synergy bonus from Escape Artist) and Survival +1 (+3 following tracks) (0 ranks, +1 Wis, +2 synergy bonus from Search). No Advancement is provided.
  • p. 108, Redspawn Birther: With HD 16d10+112, average hit points should be 200, not 184. (It looks like they calculated it with d8s, but magical beasts get d10s for HD. This is another reason why the "improved" stat block should spell things out a bit more than it does; had they kept the "old" way of listing HD, this mistake may not have been made.) Bite attacks should be +27 melee, not +28 (+16 BAB, -1 size, +10 Str, +1 amulet of mighty fists, +1 Weapon Focus). Improved Natural Attack isn't an attack option, it's a given for a creature, and ditto with Weapon Focus - neither should be listed under "Atk Options." I'm not sure why the heat exhaustion aura Fortitude save is DC 19; following the standard formula, the DC should be 10 + 8 + [the relevant ability modifier], but none of the creature's ability scores has a +1 bonus. If it's Constitution-based (which seems logical), it would have a DC of 25. The standard rule for "interior AC" is 10 + half of the normal natural armor bonus, so in the Swallow Whole blurb, the gizzard should be AC 15, not AC 12. No Advancement is provided.
  • p. 109, Spectral Spitting Felldrake: Cha should be 13, not 12 (Cha 9 as a spitting felldrake, +4 from the spectral template). Initiative should be +5, not +2 (+5 Dex). Fort should be +1, not +5 (+1 as a 3-HD undead, no Con modifier). Will should be +5, not +6 (+3 as a 3-HD undead, +2 Wis). Base Attack Bonus should be +1, not +3 (as a 3-HD undead). Bite attacks should be at +7 melee, not +4 (+1 BAB, +5 Dex, +1 Weapon Focus). Spit attacks should be at +6 ranged touch, not +8 (+1 BAB, +5 Dex,). With 3 HD, it should have 2 feats, not just 1. (Spectres have Alertness, Blind-Fight, and Improved Initiative, so either of those would be a logical choice.) Jump is a silly skill for an incorporeal creature with a fly speed to have, but even as a "carryover" from its days as a normal spitting felldrake, it should be Jump +2 (as spitting felldrakes put 2 points into the Jump skill, and there is no Strength score to further modify it). No Advancement is provided.
  • p. 140, Young Mercury Dragon: Touch AC should be 12, not 10 (+2 Dex).
  • p. 140, Juvenile Mercury Dragon: Touch AC should be 13, not 10 (+3 Dex).
  • p. 140, Young Adult Mercury Dragon: Grapple should be at +19, not +23 (+15 BAB, +0 size, +4 Str). Attacks (meaning primary attacks) should be at +19, not +18 (+15 BAB, +0 size, +4 Str.) AC should be 27, not 26 (+3 Dex, +14 natural).
  • p. 140, Adult Mercury Dragon: Touch AC should be 12, not 9 (-1 size, +3 Dex).
  • p. 140, Mature Adult Mercury Dragon: Grapple should be at +33, not +37 (+21 BAB, +4 size, +8 Str). Attacks (meaning primary attacks) should be at +28, not +27 (+21 BAB, -1 size, +8 Str). AC should be 33, not 32 (-1 size, +4 Dex, +20 natural). Touch AC should be 13, not 8. Flat-footed AC should be 29, not 28.
  • p. 140, Old Mercury Dragon: Grapple should be at +37, not +41 (+24 BAB, +4 size, +9 Str). Attacks (meaning primary attacks) should be at +32, not +31 (+24 BAB, -1 size, +9 Str). AC should be 36, not 35 (-1 size, +4 Dex, +23 natural). Touch AC should be 13, not 8. Flat-footed AC should be 32, not 31.
  • p. 140, Very Old Mercury Dragon: Touch AC should be 12, not 8 (-2 size, +4 Dex).
  • p. 140, Ancient Mercury Dragon: Touch AC should be 12, not 8 (-2 size, +4 Dex).
  • p. 140, Wyrm Mercury Dragon: Touch AC should be 10, not 6 (-4 size, +4 Dex).
  • p. 140, Great Wyrm Mercury Dragon: Touch AC should be 10, not 6 (-4 size, +4 Dex). Also, "touch 8, flat-footed 44" shouldn't be italicized.
  • p. 143, Wyrmling Mist Dragon: Ref should be +3, not +5 (+3 as a 3-HD dragon, +0 Dex).
  • p. 144, Orothaumyth, male old mist dragon: According to page 142, the Challenge Rating for an old mist dragon is 15, not 18. Spell Resistance should be 21, not 25. Speed should be 40 ft. (8 squares), not 60 ft. (12 squares). (The other movement rates are correct as listed.) Bite attacks should be at +31 melee, not +33 (+24 BAB, -2 size, +9 Str). Claw, wing, and tail slap attacks should be at +29 melee, not +31 (+24 BAB, -2 size, +9 Str, -2 secondary attack with Multiattack). He should know 9 0-level sorcerer spells, not 8. Skills should include Disguise +3 (+5 acting) (0 ranks, +3 Cha, +2 synergy bonus from Bluff) and Survival +3 (+5 following tracks) (0 ranks, +3 Wis, +2 synergy bonus from Search). His breath weapon should be every 1d4-1 rounds, not every 1d4 rounds (due to his Recover Breath feat), or 1d4 rounds if using Shape Breath.
Anybody still with me, or have you all given up in disgust by now? In any case, there are two different ways I can calculate the stat block error rate: I can lump all of the different size categories for the new dragons together (which kind of makes sense, since they're abbreviated stats blocks anyway - no skills, feats, attacks, etc.), or I can consider each size category to be a completely separate entity. I usually use the former approach, but I'll calculate it both ways so nobody can say I'm tailoring my methods to put Wizards of the Coast in the worst possible light. Using the former method, I count 31 individual sets of full stats and 3 new types of dragons (each with 12 age categories, but considered just to be 3 stat blocks), for a total of 34 stat blocks, of which I found errors in 31 of them, for an overall stat block error rate of...(drum roll please)...91%! I'm sure Wizards of the Coast would rather we calculate it as if each age category for the new dragon types (mercury, steel, and mist) were a separate stat block, in which case we get 67 individual stat blocks (the original 31 plus 36), in which I found errors in 40 of them, for a stat block error rate of...(drum roll please)...60%! Personally, I'm calling it a 91% stat block error rate, but if Jesse and company would rather consider it "only" an error rate of 60%, and can actually hold their heads up high and feel good about the jobs they did on this book, well, more power to them, I guess. Congratulations, guys - if nothing else, you certainly made Dragons of Faerûn stand out from the crowd.

So, just in case anybody's still interested, here are my views on the rest of the aspects of the book.

The cover artwork is a wraparound painting of a red dragon burning up no less than 11 soldiers with its fiery breath weapon, while a rather impractically-clad woman (a sorcerer or wizard, I presume) hides in safety behind a stone pillar. It's a very effective piece - I love the looks of horror on the faces of the soldiers (or, in one case, what's left of his face), and the way one of the soldiers' shields is actually beginning to melt from the heat - but, in perhaps a fitting indication of the general dedication to accuracy in the book, the Credits page attributes the cover painting to Lucio Parrillo, while the piece is quite obviously signed "Lockwood" on the bottom left of the back cover. Either it was a collaborative work, or the editors couldn't even be bothered to give proper credit to the cover artist.

The interior artwork consists of 8 monochromatic drawings (with the chapter headings) and 34 full-color illustrations by 9 different artists, plus 11 full-color maps by cartographer Kyle Hunter. In a book as messed up as is Dragons of Faerûn, the artwork has an opportunity to become the best thing about the book - and for the most part, it does. My personal favorites include Daarken's painting of Nartheling fighting against 4 beholders on page 27 (sadly, while Daarken does an absolutely fantastic brown dragon here, Nartheling is supposed to be a fang dragon! - still, it's a great piece of work, if not entirely accurate); Howard Lyon's back-alley transaction on page 73 (he does an excellent wererat, even if his female rogue is kind of standing funny); Howard Lyon's bluespawn stonegliders in a temple to Tiamat on page 79 (he accurately connects all six termitelike legs to the creatures' thoraxes, instead of sticking some to their abdomens, like Tomas Giorello does in his illustration of the creature on page 105 - do some research on insect anatomy next time, Tomas!); Anne Stokes' depiction of a dragontooth of Lareth (great hilt!); and William O'Connor's painting of Aerosclughpalar on page 13 (I'm not a fan of the 3.0/3.5 "redesign" of the gold dragon, so anyone who can make one look good gets high praise from me). One problem I had with a piece of artwork wasn't so much the art but the caption: Fred Hooper's painting of an icy claw spell on page 116 is fine, but the caption refers to "two adventurers" when only one is depicted - can the copy writer not count to 2? As for the cartography, Kyle's maps are pretty clear for the most part, with the exception of the Underground Complex map on page 63, which is a bit too dark and thus it's difficult to read some of the room numbers.

Dragons of Faerûn is laid out as follows:
  • Introduction: A chapter-by-chapter breakdown of what's in this book, what other books you'll need to use this one, and a handy list of abbreviations of other books that are referenced in this one
  • Chapter 1 - True Dragons of the World: Sections on the history of dragonkind, dragon roles, and then details of 15 living dragons and 4 undead dragons (where they lair, who they interact with, how they survived the recent dracorage, and (messed up) NPC stats for about half of them)
  • Chapter 2- Cult of the Dragon: History of the cult, its internal organization, cells, and a short adventure for 4-6 9th-level PCs
  • Chapter 3- Tyranny of the Dragon Queen: Details on the lands of Unther and Threskel, the church of Tiamat, and a short adventure for 4-6 13th-level PCs
  • Chapter 4- Orders of Dragonkind: Details on the Blood of Morueme (a group of dragons and draconic hobgoblins), the church of Tchazzar (the red dragon responsible for restoring Tiamat's power on Faerûn), the Confluence (hidden dragons of Waterdeep), House Orogoth (black dragons and their spawn), the Sisterhood of Essembra (half-song dragons), and the Talons of Justice (silver dragon paladins)
  • Chapter 5- Dragon Lairs: Lair traps, lair hazards, and 4 new monsters (the bluespawn stoneglider, krathbairn, redspawn birther, and spectral creature template)
  • Chapter 6- Dragon-Related Spells: 25 new spells and 3 new epic spells, most of which are dragon-related
  • Chapter 7- Magic Items: 3 magic weapons, 16 various magic items, 3 minor artifacts, and 6 major artifacts
  • Chapter 8- New Dragons: Monster Manual-like entries on the mercury dragon, steel dragon, and mist dragon (in that order - I'm not sure why they're not alphabetized)
  • Appendix - Roll Call of Dragons: a 13-page chart showing a few details of virtually every dragon ever to be mentioned by name in a Forgotten Realms sourcebook or story
A major plot point in recent Forgotten Realms fiction has been about the dracorage, which causes even good-aligned dragons to strike out in a frenzy every 300 years or so (whenever the King-Killer Star - a comet - flies within range of the planet). A good chunk of Dragons of Faerûn recaps what all happened in the recent novels, detailing how this particular dragon escaped falling into a dracorage by sleeping through it or this other dragon just stayed in Waterdeep, which has an epic-level spell protecting dragons within the city (in humanoid disguise, naturally) from falling under its sway. While it's nice that Eric and Eytan provided us details about the effects (and origins) of the dracorage, much of it seemed like "filler" from the novels - and if you've already read the novels, you already know this stuff, and if you haven't, it doesn't really matter a whole lot in your own Forgotten Realms campaign. I think that's by second-biggest problem with this book: so much of it seems like an attempt to document what's been going on in the "real" Forgotten Realms campaign, and not enough of it is geared towards providing you with material you can use in your campaign. (Do we really need that 13-page appendix in the back, letting us know which dragons survived the latest dracorage and which ones didn't? Surely that's for each DM to decide on his own, as best fits his own campaign, wouldn't you think?)

I was rather disappointed to see two new types of dragonspawn of Tiamat cropping up in these pages, as well. Here's a quote from page 74: "While the commonly known spawn are based on the five chromatic dragons, there might be more types emerging in the future." Uh oh, I can see it now: here come the shadowspawn, brownspawn, purplespawn, orangespawn, yellowspawn, etc. I had hoped that the spawn of Tiamat would have been confined to the pages of Monster Manual IV, but it looks like we'll be seeing a steady stream of the little buggers in future releases. Yippee.

Some other random things I wanted to point about the material in the book:
  • "Dragonback Mountain" just sounds too much like "Brokeback Mountain" for it to be taken very seriously anymore. Blame the movie.
  • The fact that dragon eggs fall from the sky in the Forgotten Realms raises some interesting questions about draconic origins, but I'm not too sure that "dragons come from outer space" is necessarily a good way to go, at least in the Forgotten Realms campaign, considering all of the contradictions that causes.
  • The lair hazards start out interesting but get silly really fast. Dragon moss: cool. Fear moths: odd, but feasible in a world where magic is common. Magic shrieker moss - who thought this was a good idea, and did he really not feel like putting any more thought and effort into the concept than this?
  • Why does the same blurb have a Knowledge (arcana) check of DC 10 for a bluespawn stoneglider but a DC 12 for a krathbairn, when the verbiage is identical?
To keep this from review from focusing entirely upon the negative, I should spend some time on the positive aspects of Dragons of Faerûn. As I said before, Eric does a simply phenomenal job on grabbing appropriate material from other Forgotten Realms books, as needed. The fact that the Introduction had to provide abbreviations for the 27 other books (besides the three core rulebooks) that are referenced in this book shows the level of detail that Eric is willing to go to - he's without a doubt the most logical person to have written this book, as he's probably one of the top Forgotten Realms experts on the planet. I was also pleased to see a little bit of information being updated on some old 3.0 material; despite the fact that only the mercury, steel, and mist dragons got the full Monster Manual dragon stat block treatment, there's a nice sidebar updating brown dragons, deep dragons, and song dragons to the 3.5 rules, and another sidebar updating the "wearer of purple" prestige class (from Faith and Pantheons) to 3.5. The two short adventures did a good job of actually using the new material in this book (most notably, the new monsters), which was nice to see. I also enjoyed seeing both versions of the scrap of prophecy from The Chronicles of Years to Come, from one of which Sammaster deduced that "dead dragons" would eventually rule the world. (Of course, the main thing I got out of that was just how important proper sentence structure and punctuation can really be, which is a sadly ironic lesson to take from a book filled with this many editorial problems.)

When all is said and done, though, I really cannot recommend Dragons of Faerûn to any but the diehard collectors or Forgotten Realms junkies who have to have every product in the line. This is by far the worst Forgotten Realms book I've ever seen, and just about the worst Wizards of the Coast book I've ever seen to date. The fact that it will probably sell well (it's got "Dragon" in its title, and we all know that any book with the word "Dragon" and/or "Magic" is a sure-fire bestseller) does little for those of us who might hope that one day, Wizards of the Coast - or more specifically, those who get paid by WotC to do professional-level jobs - might actually put a little effort into the accuracy of the stats blocks. If they put out crap and it still sells well, why bother fixing the problems with their current system? (After all, they've still got that sucker John Cooper doing their post-publication errata work for free.)

I give Dragons of Faerûn a low "2 (Poor)."
 
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