Draconomicon: The Book of Dragons by Andy Collins, Skip Williams, and James Wyatt is a Dungeons & Dragons sourcebook from the 3.5 ruleset. I have had this book for years due to my love for dragons, and I picked it up recently to re-read it as reference for a novel that I am working on, as well as an adventure campaign for a table-top session of D&D (Dungeons & Dragons) that I’m creating. Now, y’all will know just how much of a nerd I truly am, I say very proudly. I believe it was the first-ever comprehensive release on dragons that I’ve ever read (maybe even the first one ever written) and I loved it immensely.
Draconomicon is virtually a complete and all-inclusive guide on dragons, including information pertaining to their physiology, religion, the different types, and more. Additionally, it includes details on how to include dragons in adventures as a DM (Dungeon Master/Mistress) and as a player.
There’s only a handful of chapters in the book, but each one goes into great detail regarding the specific subject matter. For example, chapter one is all about dragon basics. It’s broken into categories with succinct yet thorough explanations of each respective category (The Dragon’s Body, Internal Anatomy, Life Cycles, Combat Abilities, Why They Hoard Treasure, etc.).
The breakdown of each individual dragon type and how they differ from one another was my favourite part of the book. I never truly realised the depth of the differences between a red dragon and a copper dragon, or a copper dragon and a gold dragon. The minute details that come together to give each breed their distinctiveness was so much fun to read about! If I had to choose one trait about each one that I was wholeheartedly addicted to, it would be the various elements that dragons are associated with. The way their body processes elemental energy, and how their anatomy is equipped to store and use specific elemental energies was brilliant!
You can see the stunning illustrations below and how meticulously they are crafted to highlight all of the differences and identifiers that set one kind of dragon apart from another. The one below these is an example of the portrayal of the wingspans of dragons, from the size to the shape, with descriptions of the varying sorts of flight capabilities that they allow for.
After we learn about the fundamental facets about dragons as beings, we learn about how to properly utilise them in adventures, or in my case, storytelling. The DM section is quite large and expansive that provides essentially every single piece of information that you can think of that will be necessary to run a successful dragon-oriented campaign, or even just an encounter. The same can be said for the section that is specifically designed for characters. It defines the technicalities of playing as a dragon or having one as a familiar, as well as the various sorts of prestige classes and draconic items available.
The final sections round off new monsters that are unique to this book (for the 3.5 ruleset), and appendices for calculating the value of dragon hoards and sample dragons with their respective challenge ratings.
If I could choose any shortcoming with the book it’s the use of the word “dragon.” I understand with a book dedicated to a specific creature or race of beings, the creature’s name shall be used a lot. But to start every single sentence with “The dragon” is extremely annoying after a certain point and the repetition can become difficult to look past. So, the structure of the book’s writing and grammar is definitely dated, to say the least (it was released in 2003).
All in all, I adore the Draconomicon. I know that there more modern variations out in the market now with whole books dedicated to specific types (for example there’s a sourcebook solely for metallic dragons), but I appreciate this original. It’s an excellent, concise yet comprehensive resource about these magnificent creatures that is perfect for players of table-top RPGs, as well as for people who are brainstorming ideas for other fantasy-related shenanigans. Highly recommended.
4 hoards outta 5!