PHR: Dragonborn Mini-Review

I picked this up today. It was a short read, so I thought I'd post a mini-review. Also, since my FLGS had it wrapped, I'd be happy to answer any general questions about the book. However, given the low price, its eventual inclusion in DDI, and one other point made below, I won't be answering too many specifics.

Summary: Straight up, those of you who are hoping for a book full of crunch will almost certainly be disappointed with this book. If you're a DM or player of Dragonborn, you may find it worth checking out. Whether you'll like it to the tune of $10 will likely depend on your purchasing preferences. I'm no art connoisseur, but I didn't see any atrocious pieces, and there are some fairly neat ones. Overall I'm content with the purchase, though not ecstatic.

Breakdown: The book is 32 pages. I would estimate roughly 8 pages for art, 11-12 pages of crunch, and the rest (12-13 pages) is fluff.

Fluff: The fluff includes a short story (two pages) that I honestly only skimmed over. There's also several short essays. "The Blood of Io" covers origins and alignment, "Scions of Arkhosia" covers history and adventuring, and "Family and Clan" covers society. There are also short articles covering each of the four main power sources (Arcane, Divine, Martial, Primal) with regards to Dragonborn. These, as well as Family and Clan, include backgrounds for players to use; some might consider these crunch, but I do not. There's also a final assay on Quests that basically covers long-term goals for the player that I found lacking.

Personally, I found a lot of the essays getting my creative juices flowing, especially "Blood of Io." It talks about the divide between Bahamut and Tiamat, and a third option who worship them in duality. I have this neat idea for my upcoming campaign now that Dragonborn will follow the ideas of Aristotle's phronimos, as an extension of that. The power source articles contain a lot of little hooks that could be expanded upon by a DM in world-building. Overall I was pleased.

Crunch: As can be imagined, most of the crunch involves the Dragon Breath power. Each of the four main power sources has a single paragon path at the end of the essay (Ninefold Master, Platinum Templar, Honorable Blade, Storm Dragon). Of these, I really have to call out the Storm Dragon PP for a poor choice of inclusion. As a prerequisite, you have to be able to use your dragon breath dealing lightning damage. This seems very restrictive to me, considering there are only four PPs in the book, and only one for Primal. Yes, there are feats to make your breath do lightning damage, but I don't think it should be so limiting.

There's about four pages of feats. Personally, I think this is the best part of the crunch. There's roughly the same amount of feats for each tier, whereas DDI tends to focus on Heroic tier overly much. Most key off dragon breath, so having Dragonborn be a prerequisite makes sense. There are a couple that could be generalized (Glorious Victory in particular) but only a couple. The feats fall into three general categories: class-specific feats, general feats to bolster dragon breath, and element-specific feats bolstering dragon breath (in Paragon/Epic tier). The most popular of these by far will be Bolstering Breath, a heroic tier feat which causes your breath to target enemies instead of creatures.

There's two pages of items, including one set (Silver Dragon Regalia). The set items were neat, the general ones were okay but nothing special. I would have preferred them to make the items more related to dragonborn; I think that's why I like the set better. There's one Epic Destiny (Avatar of Io) that basically supercharges your breath weapon and gives you a fly speed with hover. I'm not a huge fan of EDs in general, so this didn't blow my skirt up.

Final Notes: Personally, as is I think it would work better at $7, but that's just me. I would have preferred a little more crunch for $10, though the fluff held up it's end. Specifically, I would have liked to have seen at least one more paragon path per power source. It would have been a nice treat to have one for Psionic, given the impending release of PHB3. I could see that and Shadow being a DDI add-on. Personally, I think this would have worked better as a month-long Dragon theme (ala the Assassin release) versus a soft-cover. In particular, the fluff pieces (mostly geared towards players) would be a decent addition to fill-out slow days in the schedule, although I suspect some would be upset at that.

Given the low amount of crunch in the book, I'd be happy to answer general questions, but I won't be posting stuff wholesale. If you want to have detailed crunch, pick it up, it's not expensive. Alternatively, wait for it to be released on the Compendium/CB next month.
 

Piratecat

Writing Fantasy Gumshoe!
Good review - I'll be giving this product a miss and getting the crunch from DDI, I think.

Could you please repost it in our review database? (Click "reviews" at the top of the page.)
 
Good review - I'll be giving this product a miss and getting the crunch from DDI, I think.
Personally, I think that's what a lot of people will end up doing.

Could you please repost it in our review database? (Click "reviews" at the top of the page.)
You can't tell me what to do man! :cool:

Actually, I wasn't sure what the status of the Reviews page was, especially with the impending switch to vB4.

EDIT: It's posted on the reviews page now.
 
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Dragonhelm

Knight of Solamnia
Is there any mention of draconians in the book? If so, how are dragonborn related to draconians, if at all?

Is the book color or B&W?
 
Is there any mention of draconians in the book? If so, how are dragonborn related to draconians, if at all?
No mention of Draconians, or any other setting specific (FR/Eb/DL/DS) stuff. Artificer and Swordmage get brief mentions in the section on Arcane Dragonborn, but get no specific crunch.

Is the book color or B&W?
It's in color. The pages themselves are, to my detection, the same stock as from the hardcovers. The cover itself is a thicker weight, rigid material that I think is card-stock. I don't know much about publishing, so those might be misleading terms (except "thicker weight").

As an aside, I love the colors on the front of the book; the purple/magenta/red is very aesthetically pleasing.
 

Zaukrie

Adventurer
I skimmed it, hoping for about 15-20 pages of fluff. There are 8 pages at the front dedicated to fluff. All the rest of the fluff is either side bars or hidden in character backgrounds (which were uninspiring to me, but I only read 2), or in the paragon paths or in the crunch. Very, very disappointing. I have no idea who this is aimed at. There isn't enough fluff to be meaningful, and the powers will be in DDI (I guess it is aimed at those that don't get DDI).
 

Coldwyn

Visitor
I skimmed it, hoping for about 15-20 pages of fluff. There are 8 pages at the front dedicated to fluff. All the rest of the fluff is either side bars or hidden in character backgrounds (which were uninspiring to me, but I only read 2), or in the paragon paths or in the crunch. Very, very disappointing. I have no idea who this is aimed at. There isn't enough fluff to be meaningful, and the powers will be in DDI (I guess it is aimed at those that don't get DDI).
Or for people like me who need something physical to whack his gm with because dragonborn got houseruled-out in our campaign ;)
 

Obryn

Hero
It was my add-on for free shipping on the Underdark book. :) Good to know it's got some decent amounts of fluff.

-O
 

Dire Bare

Adventurer
I have no idea who this is aimed at. There isn't enough fluff to be meaningful, and the powers will be in DDI (I guess it is aimed at those that don't get DDI).
It's an experiment. We haven't seen this format in 3rd or 4th edition, and actually even in earlier editions. Sure in 2nd we had the "Complete" book of every race and every class splats, but while serving the same niche this book brings a new format to the game. If this and the tiefling followup do well, we'll see more.

This book is "aimed" at those who dig dragonborn and would jump at an inexpensive book all about the race (and, yes, $10 is "inexpensive" nowadays). We get some new background fluff about the race, geared towards players, and a decent sampling of some new crunch.

It's also changing up the release model of the game. You could say it's aimed at folks weary of shelling out $20-$40 each month for a new hardcover. The "location" books coming soon are aimed at this purpose for the DM (Hammerfast, Vor Rukoth)

I haven't seen the book yet myself, but I'm excited to purchase a copy. I'm also looking forward to the tiefling book, and I'm hoping to see an eladrin book followup as well.
 
A couple things I noticed were at least one recycled art piece from the Ecology of the Dragonborn as well as all of the feats from that article. I'll have to see if any other material from that article was included as well.

Ok, I just looked at the intro that I had skipped when glancing over the book earlier and they do specifically state that the material in PHR: Dragonborn draws on and expands the material from the Ecology article.
 
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Zaukrie

Adventurer
I'd guess it's aimed at people who want fluff for the Dragonborn, since the DDI doesn't supply that.
Which is what I wanted. But, not even 1/3 of the book is fluff. It's mostly crunch, with a tiny bit of fluff in the crunch. If it was more fluff, as I said in my post, I'd want it. It wasn't aimed at people that want deep, rich fluff. I've read Dragon articles with more fluff. And, as pointed out above, some of us have already paid for this once. I vastly prefer the fluff from Goodman, as it is more than a couple of pages.
 
But, not even 1/3 of the book is fluff. It's mostly crunch, with a tiny bit of fluff in the crunch.
I'm sorry, but I can not even begin to agree with this. I counted the pages, and at least 50% of the book is fluff. I won't even be generous with this count: about 1/2 page for each PP, three pages of feats (taking into account the art on p.23 and 25, and the sidebar on p.22), 2 pages of items, and one page for the ED. That's eight pages of crunch. With eight pages of art, that leaves sixteen pages of fluff. And no, the backgrounds don't count as fluff, because there's a whole one line (out of ~48 lines per page) devoted to the mechanics.

You're talking out of your ass, plain and simple. If you want to debate the quality of the fluff, that's one thing. But you can't argue with fact. You don't like the book, and that's fine - everyone is entitled to their opinion. Give actual reasons for not liking it, instead of broad generalizations with no basis in fact.
 
Which is what I wanted. But, not even 1/3 of the book is fluff. It's mostly crunch, with a tiny bit of fluff in the crunch. If it was more fluff, as I said in my post, I'd want it. It wasn't aimed at people that want deep, rich fluff. I've read Dragon articles with more fluff. And, as pointed out above, some of us have already paid for this once. I vastly prefer the fluff from Goodman, as it is more than a couple of pages.
I must have got a special version of the book, because my copy has well over 50% of the book dedicated to fluff. Every page has at least some small bit of fluff, and before you get to the feats, fluff comprises 50-100% of the page content.
 
This book is "aimed" at those who dig dragonborn and would jump at an inexpensive book all about the race (and, yes, $10 is "inexpensive" nowadays).
Aimed at being an impulse buy? Sounds like a good format of product to have in the line - enough to maintain interest without overly pushing budgets.
 

Derulbaskul

Explorer
I rather like it.

Actually, there seems to be less white space than is usual for 4E books. I wonder if this would be 64 pages if the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide layout was used? ;)

Despite liking it, essentially it's just a large Dragon article. This is definitely, for me at least, the sort of book that would be better produced as a PDF rather than as a softcover.
 

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