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Fizban's Treasury of Dragons: An In-Depth Review

Fizban's Treasury of Dragons, the latest D&D dragon compendium, breaks with tradition by not being titled Draconomicon. That's likely to avoid confusion with prior four Draconomicons and follow the 5E trend of supplements having a famous in-world author like Tasha's Cauldron of Everything.

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A Few Disclaimers​

First, I've always loved the dragon side of D&D more than the dungeon part. After all, dragons are cool. Second, I love the gem dragons and was disappointed they weren't included in the 5E Monster Manual. Third, comparing everything in FToD to the previous dragon books would make this review longer than the FToD so as much as I'd enjoy that, it's just not feasible.

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Meet Fizban's​

For those who don't know, Fizban is a character from the Dragonlance saga. Seemingly an absent-minded wizard who tends to show up in the nick of time and is frequently surrounded by seven canaries, Fizban is actually Paladine, the platinum dragon and god of good dragons (the canaries are actually gold dragons in disguise) in the world of Krynn. So Fizban's comments and notes through the text are both well informed and whimsical.

The project leader for FToD is James Wyatt, a long-time D&D and Magic the Gathering designer, who was one of the developers for the third edition Draconomicon. It's apparent this is as much of a passion project for Wyatt as Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft was for F. Wesley Schneider and like that book, it reflects well in the work.

FToD is a book for both players and DMs, and it's dense with content and inspiration. For those who like numbers, it includes 34 creatures with 70 stat blocks (as with the Monster Manual, dragons get stat blocks for their different ages). The Draconomicon chapter is about a third of the book's 224 pages. The Bestiary chapter is roughly another third with the first third providing players options and DM advice.

But the first thing you'll encounter after the table of contents is Elegy for the First World, a one-page piece of fiction that explains the creation of the First World and how both the Material Plane and all the other settings came about. It ties the actual creation of the D&D multiverse to dragons, specifically Bahamut and Tiamat, who then created Sardior, the ruby dragon and first of the gem dragons.

Don't mistake the one-page elegy for fluff. It actually provides insight to where D&D is going with its multiverse, and, I believe, is a hint that Planescape or something similar is one of the settings to come. It also closely ties dragons to creation and explains the echoes of some named creatures throughout the D&D multiverse, such as Paladine and Bahamut. It then follows with specific advice for the classic settings Greyhawk, Dragonlance, Eberron, and, of course, Forgotten Realms, as well as explaining dragonsight. That's an ability some old dragons develop that allows them to see variations of themselves throughout the D&D multiverse.

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Dragonborn “Reborn”

Draconic player options begin with, of course, the dragonborn. We got a glimpse of this earlier when WotC released the Unearthed Arcana on Draconic Races. In the Players Handbook, dragonborn breath weapons inflict 2d6 damage on a failed save. In the UA version that changed to 2d8. The final version in FToD is 1d10 damage.

One thing I liked is that they changed the breath weapon shape. In the PHB half of the breath weapons had a cone shape and half had a line but there was no rhyme or reason as to which was which. For example, brass dragonborn had a fire breath weapon in a line and gold and red dragonborn had cone-shaped fire breath weapons. Now it's simplified to chromatic dragonborn have breath weapons in the shape of a line and metallic and gem dragonborn having cone-shaped breath weapons. Instead of increasing by 1d6 at 6th, 11th and 16th levels, damage increases by 1d10 at at 5th, 11th and 17th levels.

Appropriately, gem dragonborn get different types of breath weapons. While chromatic and metallic dragons have fire, cold, acid, or lightning breath weapons, depending upon their lineage (and green dragonborn get poison), gem dragonborn have either radiant, force, psychic, thunder, or necrotic damage.

As per the UA version, chromatic dragonborn get chromatic warding, which makes them immune to damage that matches their breath weapon type, but only for 1 minute, not the 10 minutes in the UA, and it happens at 5th level, not 3rd. Gem dragonborn get gem flight, which creates spectral wings they can use to fly for 1 minute starting at 5th level, using the same speed as they do for walking.

The extra ability for metallic dragonborn was similarly tweaked from the UA to FToD version and now with cool names. At 5th level they get a second breath weapon that can be used one of two ways until recharged by a long rest (chromatic warding and gem flight also recharge on a long rest). Repulsion breath pushes the target away unless the target succeeds on a Strength save, and Enervating breath incapacitates the opponent until the start of the dragonborn's next turn unless the opponent makes a Constitution save.

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Draconic Subclasses and Feats​

FToD adds two new dragon-flavored subclasses for monk and ranger players, and I like both of them.

I've never played a monk because generally other classes interest me more. However, the Way of the Ascendant Dragon is intriguing. Legend says that the platinum dragon Bahamut, in the guise of a young monk, created this form to allow practitioners to be more connected to the world and its magic. A random table provides inspiration as to how the monk learned this style. Draconic Strike allows the monk to turn their unarmed strike into either acid, cold, fire, lightning or poison damage—a handy trait when fighting something immune or vulnerable to certain types of damage. It's especially useful since there's no limitation on using it. Breath of the Dragon allows the monk to substitute a breathe weapon for one of their attacks. With Wings Unfurled the monk sprouts spectral wings till the end of their turn, and they can repeat that as many times as the number of their proficiency bonus. Aspect of the Wyrm grants either Resistance for protection or Frightful Presence for intimidation. Ascendant Aspect boosts prior abilities into Explosive Fury, Augmented Breath, or Blindsight.

But the subclass getting the most attention is the Drakewarden Ranger. In this case the ranger's connection to nature forges a relationship with a draconic spirit which takes a drake's physical form and whose abilities grow with the ranger. The Drake Companion begins as a small dragon, but it eventually can become a larger winged dragon the ranger can ride. How cool is that? Some of the abilities the ranger gets as they go up in level stay focused on the Drake Companion, like Drake Breath, which gives the ranger a breath weapon that refreshes after a long rest. Others include: Perfected Bond, which provides the Empowered Bite option for the drake; Large Drake, which enhances its size; and Reflexive Reaction.

But the fun isn't limited to these subclasses or dragonborn. A table offers inspiration on how to add draconic flair to any character. New feats are another option. Gift of the Chromatic Dragon allows a martial weapon to be infused with the damage type of a chromatic dragon or Reactive Resistance. Gift of the Gem Dragon allows an ability score increase or Telepathic Reprisal (a telekinetic wave as a reaction after taking damage). Gift of the Metallic Dragon provides Draconic Healing or Protective Wings.

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Draconic Magic​

One of the things the lore in FToD does, especially the elegy, is that it ties dragons closely to the magic of the D&D multiverse, saying that magic is concentrated in them and their lairs. Appropriately, FToD includes seven new spells, ranging from 2nd to 7th level. These spells can be used by monsters or player characters, with the DM's permission. The DM's decision is important, because the average caster isn't likely to just randomly run across draconic spells.

For similar reasons, the 13 new draconic magic items are given a rarity to reflect that the most powerful items should be given for plot-related reasons. Of course, one is a dragonlance and it's legendary tier. In addition to +3 to attack and damage from the lance, it delivers an additional 3d6 force damage against dragons AND lets the wielder grant any dragons they wish within 30 feet the ability to use its reaction for melee attack. So if the wielder is working with a group of dragons against other dragons, it's especially powerful. At the other end of the magic item power tier is the emerald pen, which requires no ink and allows the user to cast illusory script at will and without material components.

Another way players can gain dragon magic is through draconic gifts. These are boons, similar to the options in the Dungeon Masters Guide. One way to receive a draconic gift is by killing a dragon, but I'm happy that that is not the only option provided. A dying dragon could designate a character its heir. Or maybe a dragon grants a boon to reward a great service done for it. Draconic gifts are also ranked by rarity. At the low end of the scale is a draconic familiar gift to Scaled Toughness at the other end. That legendary gift bestows resistance to slashing and piercing damage.

Regardless of how or why the DM decides to grant a draconic gift, the player is marked visually. That can range from their eyes changing to a dragon's appearance to transforming into a dragonborn.

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Hoards – Design, Magic and More​

Hoards, not surprisingly, get a lot of attention. The Hoard Magic Item section in Chapter 2 addresses what happens to items kept in a dragon's hoard (they can absorb magic from the hoard and gain quirks.

Chapter 4 – Lairs and Hoards – dives into even more detail about dragon lairs. The magic of a dragon's hoard and lair can change the region surrounding it. This chapter covers plundering hoards, linking hoards, the age of the hoard and how it affects its power, cursed hoards, quirks, how to create a hoard and what's in it.

Chapter 5 – Draconomicon – has more hoard information. This chapter is broken down by the type of dragon so here you get the specifics of a dragon's treasures and preferred art objects as opposed the broader information in Chapter 4. Personally, I hate having to flip through three different sections while reading about or designing a hoard, but the alternative of putting it in all one chapter could be unwieldy.

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Building a Dragon

Chapter 3 – Dragons in Play – is a fun chapter for DMs. It has advice for how to roleplay a dragon. After all, when you have a dragon show up, you want it to be awesome and not just a routine big bad. DMs get random tables for inspiration on creating the dragon's appearance, mannerisms, name, bonds, flaws, secrets, plus more tips. Goals are also addressed by a dragon's age.

But wait, there's more! This chaper also addresses a dragon's territory, reproduction, dragon egg origins, and half-dragon origins. If there's a chance that the players (or an NPC) kills a dragon there's guidance on a dragon's death throws, passing the mantle, and how a region will recover after the dragon's death. But death isn't always the end in Dungeons & Dragons. Undeath for dragons is also addressed.

Gods and religion is another thorny topic. After all, Bahamut and Tiamat are dragon gods and the primordial creators of the First World. Yet dragons aren't terribly religious. That contradiction is addressed as well as the fact that humanoids may worship dragons, which ties into organizations like Cult of the Dragon and its followers. Mixed in with all of this are adventure hook ideas and ideas for dragon encounters, dragon adventures and dragon campaigns. DMs also get advice on how to run dragon NPCs as monsters, schemers, or power players.

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The Really Good Stuff​

FToD is packed with lots of useful information and inspiration. If you like dragons, chapters 5 and 6 will probably be your favorite. As I said before, chapter 5 is the Draconomicon, but it takes a somewhat different approach than its namesake predecessors. Rather than solely having long paragraphs of details, each entry contains some tables that provide inspiration for aspects of the dragon. This allows the DM to customize the dragon so no two dragons are alike.

The dragons covered in this section include amethyst, black, blue, brass, bronze, copper, crystal, deep, emerald, faerie, gold, green, moonstone, red, sapphire, shadow, silver, topaz, and white dragons plus dragon turtles. Each of those gets information and tables for personality traits, adventure hooks, ideals, connection is by age, treasures, and lair features. Dyson Logos provides lair maps for every dragon in this section, except the dragon turtle because they live in caverns along the ocean floor or among coral reefs. Mixed in are sidebars for named dragons.

The Bestiary chapter has almost everything I've wanted since the Monster Manual was released without gem dragons. Stat blocks are provided for wyrmling, young, adult, and ancient entries for the amethyst, crystal, emerald, sapphire, topaz, deep, and moonstone dragons. To supplement the standard dragon turtle MM entry ancient, young, and wyrmling stat blocks are added for that species. Aspects for Bahamut and Tiamat are also included.

Then Wyatt and team borrow an idea from his work on Mythic Odysseys of Theros. The Chromatic, Gem, and Metallic Greatwyrms are formidable creatures (CR ratings of 26-28). In addition to legendary actions like ancient dragons get, greatwyrms get mythic actions for an epic feel.

Familiar creatures like dragonnels, liondrakes, dracohydras, hoard mimics, and ghost dragons get an update for 5E. Then the creature options get interesting – or weird depending upon how you view them.

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Intriguing Creature Options​

Have you ever wanted to learn more about parasites that target dragons? Now you can! Egg hunters are low level parasites, with egg hunter hatchlings being CR 2 and egg hunter adults being CR 5. The elderbrain dragon, however, is a terrifying concept even before you realize it's CR 22.

Metallic Peacekeepers and Metallic Warblers are made by metallic dragons from the metal they're associated with and animated by their breath. The peacekeepers are created when a metallic dragon wants to protect a community. The warbler is a like a metallic songbird that can watch over the community and warn of threats. Animated Breath is awesome. Some chromatic dragons can harness their magic and use it to focus their breath weapon with an animating connection to the matching elemental plan, creating a bipedal animated elemental.

More powerful is a Draconic Shard. Since gem dragons have psionic abilities, sometimes a gem dragon's mind and will refuses to go and instead inhabits an item in the dragon's hoard, usually a weapon. In its true form, it looks like a spectral dragon but people typically see the item it inhabits. The Draconic Shard will continue to pursue the original dragon's agenda. Formidable foes, Draconic Shards are difficult to destroy, are a CR 17, and have legendary actions.

Dragonblood Ooze is the result of misbegotten alchemical experiments. Dragonbone golems are appropriately creepy and at a CR 11, a tough fight. Hoard scarabs, solo or as swarms (both get stat blocks) are another threat to those trying to raid a dragon's lair even if its owner isn't there.

If a beholder obsesses over a dragon, such as a rival, the beholder's thoughts can eventually create an eyedrake. This creepy looking aberration has six rays ranging from freezing to death.

Moonstone dragons are gem dragons touched by the feywild. When the First World was invaded by gods creating their own followers, a dragon hid their clutch of eggs in the feywild, which transformed them. They can inspire artists and poets that live near their lairs by visiting their dreams. They also cherish treasure that doesn't have a material value, like a locket of hair of a beloved person or the memory of a song's heartfelt performance. That said, they're still fond of silver, mithral, and platinum.

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Quibbles & Questions​

I've been a fan of the art and art direction for the last few D&D books and loved what they did with the core trilogy. I much prefer this art over portrayals of gem dragons in other media, where they've been sometimes depicted as having gems attached to them, making them look like growths. The art in FToD is so good. The greatwyrms look fierce. The Animated Breath, Metallic Peacekeeper, and Draconic Shards are inspiring. The Dragonblood Ooze is creepy.

The gem dragons have scales that glint like gems or, in the case of the sapphire dragon, have a depth of color appropriate for its namesake. And yet, if you look at the art that goes with the gem dragon stat blocks and compare it to the counterparts for metallic and chromatic dragons the art doesn't have the same majesty. I can't put my finger on why, but a side-by-side comparison makes the difference noticeable even though the new art is otherwise perfectly fine. It's a small quibble, but the difference is odd.

No art was provided for the dragonic magic items. That's especially disappointing since the magic item art in the DMG is especially good and magic items in the adventure books almost always have accompanying art. It's a strange omission.

I have no quibbles about the exterior art. The cover for the mass market version by Chris Rahn features a battle between a crystal dragon and a red dragon while Fizban tries to protect bystanders. It's perfect. The limited edition game store cover by Anato Finnstark also features battling crystal and red dragons, but the metallic inks give it depth and a luscious look.

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Should You Buy It?​

I love dragons, but that doesn't guarantee I will automatically like a dragon bestiary or every version of gem dragons. In fact, sometimes it means I'm more critical because I want to see it done right.

With Fizban's Treasury of Dragons, Wyatt and his team have built on prior Draconomicons and added fresh ideas. It also looks like it may be laying groundwork for revivals of Planescape and Dragonlance. Time will tell on that point.

I'm also really happy to see the gem dragons restored to the setting for 5E. Regardless of what WotC does with alignments, chromatic dragons being predominantly evil and metallic dragons being predominantly good will probably remain. Gem dragons fill the gap by being predominantly neutral. In my opinion they should have been standard in every Monster Manual in every edition since they first appeared in Dragon Magazine #37.

Should you buy FToD? Absolutely. It contains plenty of content for both players and DMs. Even beyond subclasses and such, if you like to play dragonborn the suggestions in FToD for connecting dragonborn more closely to their true dragon counterparts and the dragon lore will provide plenty of fodder. And DMs get a wealth of inspiration for any method or level of adding dragons to your campaign.

The only way that FToD might not be useful is if you and your players don't use dragons or dragonborn. Still, while FToD is a terrific resource for both players or DMs it's less important in overall gameplay than Xanathar's Guide to Everything is.

Fizban's Treasury of Dragons hits a sweet spot between serving players and DMs. It highlights one of the most iconic aspects of D&D, adding to the draconic information that already exists in 5E, reviving dragons from prior editions, and adding new dragon-inspired creatures. That makes it an A+. for me.
 
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Beth Rimmels

Beth Rimmels

In Dragonlance, the Black Dragons were originally Lead Dragons before they were turned evil by Takhisis (Tiamat). In the current setting, a redeemed Black Dragon has reverted to being a Lead Dragon.
I'd love a source on that one, as obsessively getting ideas for new D&D dragons to throw into NWN for fun is a hobby, and heck knows I'd love to throw another canon source into things after I fished the original Orange dragon out of a random issue of Dragon
 

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CasvalRemDeikun

Adventurer
I'd love a source on that one, as obsessively getting ideas for new D&D dragons to throw into NWN for fun is a hobby, and heck knows I'd love to throw another canon source into things after I fished the original Orange dragon out of a random issue of Dragon
It comes from two 3.5E Dragonlance Sourcebooks. The events occur in the Spectre of Sorrow adventure module and the history of Dragons is in the Dragons of Krynn sourcebook. These are officially licensed products available on Drive Thru RPG.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Bronze and brass are also seen as "worth" something, whereas lead and iron are necessary for construction but you don't consider either one as a treasure. And if you are selecting metals to denote a creature whose raison d'etre is having a massive hoard of treasure... you'd probably go with the ones that were treasurable in themselves.

No idea if that was the case... but I myself would not consider a tin dragon or aluminum dragon or iron dragon to have exactly the grandeur that you would probably want.
 
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RavinRay

Explorer
In Dragonlance, the Black Dragons were originally Lead Dragons before they were turned evil by Takhisis (Tiamat). In the current setting, a redeemed Black Dragon has reverted to being a Lead Dragon.
I remember that too, and it's neat how each base metal dragon becomes a specific chromatic dragon based on its color when it is corrupted, ie. iron dragons rusted so they turned into red dragons.
 

Bronze and brass are also seen as "worth" something. Whereas lead and iron are necessary for construction, but you don't consider either one as a treasure. And if you are selecting metals to denote a creature whose raison d'etre is having a massive hoard of treasure... you'd probanly go with the ones that were treasurable in themselves.

No idea if that's the case... but I myself would not consider a tin dragon or aluminum dragon or iron dragon to have exactly the grandeur that you would probably want.
A lead dragon would be some massive flightless almost beetle thing and an iron dragon just sounds badass.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
A lead dragon would be some massive flightless almost beetle thing and an iron dragon just sounds badass.
I have no doubt a designer could make both types work... but I'm also not surprised they weren't first choices for one of the five Good metallic dragons when the originals were being created.

Honestly, I'm actually more surprised that Electrum wasn't one of the original five, since the other four coinage metals were represented in three of the main group plus the Good dragon deity.
 

see

Pedantic Grognard
And since we're on the topic of D&D dragons, two to three things have always bothered me about them:
  • Metallic dragons getting fire breath twice and no poison breath.
That was an accident of game evolution.

In the beginning, there were six colors of dragon, one being golden, rather than a chromatic/metallic split. And when that was the case, the golden dragon, rather than have a single breath weapon of its own, had the breath weapons of both the red and green dragons.

Then came the very first-ever D&D supplement, and four new dragons were added, named after metals, and the golden dragon was retconned into the gold. Following the pattern of the now-designated gold, all the metallics had two breath weapons, though one was a non-damaging effect; the weakest (Brass) having both sleep and fear gasses rather than a damaging breath weapon. In 1st edition AD&D, this pattern remained; the gold had both poison gas and fire, while the brass had sleep and fear gasses.

Then came AD&D 2nd edition, and in the general upgrade of dragons in the new edition, it was noticed fear gas was rather duplicative with the fear aura that had been added to dragons in AD&D 1st and enhanced in the new edition. So the desert-dwelling brass dragon got a damaging breath weapon of "blistering desert heat". Gold dragons remained with their since-the-beginning fire and poison (chlorine) combination.

Then in D&D 3rd edition, damage types were standardized and poison wasn't one of them, so now green dragons had an acid breath weapon (doubling the black, and sensible enough since chlorine is as much corrosive as it was poisonous), and the gold lost poison gas in favor of weakening gas (now matching the other metallics with a non-damaging "secondary" breath weapon). At the same time, the brass dragon breath was changed from "heat" to the standardized 3rd edition "fire" damage type (doubling the gold).

Come 5th edition, poison was adopted as a standard damage type, so the green dragon's breath was retyped as poison breath (avoiding duplication with the black), the brass kept the 5th edition standardized damage type of fire (consistent with 3rd edition and in obvious continuity with AD&D 2nd's heat), but the gold dragon kept a non-damaging secondary breath weapon (matching all the other metallics) rather than reverting to poison gas.

If, of course, the design had all been done together at the beginning, the obvious move would have been to give the brass poison as a damaging weapon (matching the chromatic and metallic damaging breath weapons five-for-five), while giving the gold a non-damaging secondary breath weapon (matching all the other metallics).

Alternatively, if one feels particularly retro for 5th edition dragons, one could reach back to the OD&D/1st edition AD&D "fear" breath weapon and given the brass's breath weapon the psychic damage type, and give the gold its pre-3rd poison breath as its alternate breath weapon.
 





I don't reject the new red haired but I suposse it is a warning by WotC about the future Dragonlance will be a reboot and a lot of details are going to be changed or retconnected.
 

That was an accident of game evolution.

In the beginning, there were six colors of dragon, one being golden, rather than a chromatic/metallic split. And when that was the case, the golden dragon, rather than have a single breath weapon of its own, had the breath weapons of both the red and green dragons.

Then came the very first-ever D&D supplement, and four new dragons were added, named after metals, and the golden dragon was retconned into the gold. Following the pattern of the now-designated gold, all the metallics had two breath weapons, though one was a non-damaging effect; the weakest (Brass) having both sleep and fear gasses rather than a damaging breath weapon. In 1st edition AD&D, this pattern remained; the gold had both poison gas and fire, while the brass had sleep and fear gasses.

Then came AD&D 2nd edition, and in the general upgrade of dragons in the new edition, it was noticed fear gas was rather duplicative with the fear aura that had been added to dragons in AD&D 1st and enhanced in the new edition. So the desert-dwelling brass dragon got a damaging breath weapon of "blistering desert heat". Gold dragons remained with their since-the-beginning fire and poison (chlorine) combination.

Then in D&D 3rd edition, damage types were standardized and poison wasn't one of them, so now green dragons had an acid breath weapon (doubling the black, and sensible enough since chlorine is as much corrosive as it was poisonous), and the gold lost poison gas in favor of weakening gas (now matching the other metallics with a non-damaging "secondary" breath weapon). At the same time, the brass dragon breath was changed from "heat" to the standardized 3rd edition "fire" damage type (doubling the gold).

Come 5th edition, poison was adopted as a standard damage type, so the green dragon's breath was retyped as poison breath (avoiding duplication with the black), the brass kept the 5th edition standardized damage type of fire (consistent with 3rd edition and in obvious continuity with AD&D 2nd's heat), but the gold dragon kept a non-damaging secondary breath weapon (matching all the other metallics) rather than reverting to poison gas.

If, of course, the design had all been done together at the beginning, the obvious move would have been to give the brass poison as a damaging weapon (matching the chromatic and metallic damaging breath weapons five-for-five), while giving the gold a non-damaging secondary breath weapon (matching all the other metallics).

Alternatively, if one feels particularly retro for 5th edition dragons, one could reach back to the OD&D/1st edition AD&D "fear" breath weapon and given the brass's breath weapon the psychic damage type, and give the gold its pre-3rd poison breath as its alternate breath weapon.
So, changing the brass dragon to radiant damage might be a way to reproduce the original "heat ray" intent.
 

I was super excited for the arrival of the liondrake in 5e — the dragonne is my all-time favorite D&D monster — but I'm really not loving the artwork. It looks super goofy. The long neck and emphasis on a furry lion's body rather than a dragon's body is really throwing me. To be fair, one early edition rendition of the dragonne also seemed to sport a more leonine body, but compare to these renditions of dragonnes based on earlier versions of the creature:
Those look ferocious and scary. The thing in the stat block art looks like a giraffe and a lion mated and their offspring magically sprouted wings.
 
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