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.

Also, while I'm required to put in ratings for the product, my personal philosophy is you can't assign numbers to complex opinions. Take that as you will.

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.