The Practically Complete Guide to Dragons Review

As if to continue the rivalry between giants and dragons, just one week after the release of Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants Wizards of the Coast has released a new book on dragons. The Practically Complete Guide to Dragons is not a replacement for Fizban's Treasury of Dragons. In fact, it's a bit of a puzzlement as to where it fits among other Wizards of the Coast D&D books.

Continuing the trend from other D&D 5E lore and reference books, TPCGtD is supposedly written by someone in universe. In this case that's Sindri Suncatcher, “the greatest Kender wizard who ever lived.” The cover art by Clint Cearley shows Sindri having tea with a silver dragon, and the book has a distinct Kender perspective. The actual writers are project lead James Wyatt, who also spearheaded FToD, Susan J. Morris, and Lisa Trutkoff Trumbauer.

PCGD_Cover Art by Sindri Suncatcher_and Silver Dragon Art by Clint Cearley cropped.png

What's Inside?

The most notable thing is what isn't inside TPCGtD – stat blocks. While yes, classic dragons such as blue dragons, gold dragons, etc. each get their own entries, any information on their specific powers and abilities are specifically omitted. By contrast, FToD had full stat blocks.

And despite the “practically complete” in the title, it's far from it. While it includes a few related dracon kin and draconic subspecies like shadow dragons and dracoliches, it completely omits the gem dragons, among others. Instead, it primarily focuses on metallic and chromatic dragons along with dragonborn, kobolds, etc.

TPCGtD seems to fall somewhere between FToD and the Dragons & Treasure book from Jim Zub's excellent Young Adventurers series. It focuses on dragon life cycle, anatomy, lairs, hoards, etc. The draconic language gets a full-page table translating various words. Draconic script gets another page as does another on polite phrases in draconic.

When it switches to entries on specific dragons, it includes facts like favorite food, habitat, favorite treasure, and natural enemies in addition to maximum wingspan, breath weapon, height, and weight. Lair and combat information round it out.

The art is good with some magnificent images of adult dragons. I also liked the vaguely taxonomic drawings of dragons that accompanies the start of the Types of Dragons chapter. The image of kobolds dragging treasure to their dragon overlord also amuses me, and I agree with Sindri's note that the one wearing a skull seems to having a great deal of fun.

However, I can't credit any of those specific artists because unlike other Wizards of the Coasts books, individual art credits are missing entirely. I've complained about how hard Wizards makes them hard to read in the usual D&D books, but omitting them entirely seems really unfair.

The cartographer's credit is easy – Todd Gamble. His lair maps have a certain minimalist charm and look like something Sindri might have sketched out. Still, I prefer Dyson Logos' maps from FToD.

PCGD_Red Dragon_Art by Kieran Yanner smaller.png

Summing It Up

TPCGtD is a fun book to read. If you're a dragon lover like I am, it's probably of interest. That doesn't mean it's one you need to rush to buy it, though. If you want stat blocks and more hardcore information for campaigns instead of inspiration for how to run dragons in your campaign, you might want to skip this one.

Wizards has previously published A Practical Guide to Dragons in 2008 and 2010, written by Susan J. Morris and Lisa Trutkoff Trumbauer. I don't have those for comparison but suspect at least some copy may have carried over from those, based on the writing credits.

I'm just really puzzled as to where/how Wizards feels this book fits into its releases. The Young Adventurer Guides are geared to younger readers, making D&D concepts and lore easy to understand and inspire them to try playing the game. Those books also have some useful material for new D&D players of any age.

If TPCGtD is intended to entice fans of fantasy in general and dragons in particular so they try D&D, that could work. It just seems like a book that is betwixt and between.

If you're a sucker for dragon lore like I am, The Practically Complete Guide to Dragons is a B-. For anyone else, it might be a C+, not because it's a bad book. It just seems redundant and lacking the inspiration and adventure hooks both FToD and BPGotG had.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Beth Rimmels

Beth Rimmels

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
This is encouraging to me. Perhaps my favorite 5e book was Volos Guide to Monsters. I liked having the crunch and fluff mixed together. Stat blocks with lairs and lore. I've been kind of bummed out that WotC has moved in a different direction because, apparently, most of their customers find the fluff to be just filler. Having separate lore and lair books is a good compromise. Not sure if I'll get this or not until I page through it, but I'm glad they are making books focused on lore. Even though I like world building and do not stick to "official" lore, I still enjoy reading it and it often inspires new ideas.
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

This is encouraging to me. Perhaps my favorite 5e book was Volos Guide to Monsters. I liked having the crunch and fluff mixed together. Stat blocks with lairs and lore. I've been kind of bummed out that WotC has moved in a different direction because, apparently, most of their customers find the fluff to be just filler. Having separate lore and lair books is a good compromise. Not sure if I'll get this or not until I page through it, but I'm glad they are proving books focused on lore. Even though I like world building and do not stick to "official" lore, I still enjoy reading it and it often inspires new ideas.
I'm with you on Volo's Guide to Monsters. I would have loved to see more like that. Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes (not the newer Monsters of the Multiverse) was still good, but I felt like Volo's was just better somehow.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I dunno why such reviewers do not post more images from the book as example. One measly artwork only? When on youtube, you can find leaf-throughs of the whole book.
Unboxings and reviews are entirely different things for different mediums. We do reviews. Unboxings are cool too. You can look at both! Here, you get somebody's opinion about (or "review of") a book in a text-based medium.

(When it comes to reviews, 'fair use' is a thing. I have no idea what the legislation regarding unboxing is, but I imagine that easily available static images of every page of a book on a web page like this is not a thing that a publisher would welcome).
 

Remove ads

Latest threads

Remove ads

AD6_gamerati_skyscraper

Remove ads

Upcoming Releases

Top