So it beings…
“A whirring noise was heard. A red light touched the points of standing rocks. The dragon came.” The Hobbit
I read Beowulf today, so it seems only appropriate that I review a product with dragons in it. It has been written somewhere, that products that center around dragons sell better than any other products. Folks love dragons. It’s in the name, and I can safely say that I fall into this category.
The mythology of dragons has been with us a long time. Earlier today, I was thinking that there are two basic types of dragon mythology, the western dragon and the eastern dragon. Being in China, this is how I am thinking about them. I just flipped through to Wikipedia and here is what they said:
The dragon is a legendary creature with serpentine or otherwise reptilian traits that features in the myths of many cultures. The two most familiar interpretations of dragons are European dragons, derived from various European folk traditions, and the unrelated Oriental dragons, derived from the Chinese dragon.
I remember when I first saw the 1st edition MM, I flipped right to the section on dragons. Since that time, whenever I see a new MM, the dragon section is always one of the first sections I go to. Now I will be the first to admit that we probably do not really need any books that are focused solely on dragons. The 3rd ed Draconomicon was an excellent resource for all things draconic. It had fluff, it had crunch, it had new classes, it had art work by Todd Lockwood, and it was probably a bit too much.
So what does Paizo’s Dragons Revisited have to offer that has not been already covered? Well, let’s get into it.
The layout is exactly like Paizo’s earlier Classic Monsters Revisited. The book covers the classic ten dragons, giving each dragon a six page spread with a sample dragon at the end of each section. The first page of each section has a half page art work of the dragon followed by an inspirational quote to build up the theme of the dragon.
Let me first say that the artwork is very good. Paizo has given each dragon a different look than the 3.5 edition imaging. If one is a big fan of the 3.5 look, then one may not like the new dragon looks of Paizo's dragons. I will be the first to say that when it comes to dragons, the art work is even more important. The dragon is such an iconic figure in fantasy lore, they need to measure up to these lofty standards. The dragons by Todd Lockwood clearly do, and the other artist that Wizards employed try to measure up to his high standards, which is no easy task. Paizo makes liberal use of Hou, Wooten and Concept Art House, and these artists are also very good, but the dragons look different than what one sees in the books by WotC.
With this said, there are a number of great pieces in the book and I will list out a couple that stick out in my mind:
1. The black dragons on page 3 and page 6 are excellent, and I think I like these better than the 3.5 edition black dragon.
2. The blue dragon on page 10. Paizo blue dragon is a sleek beast compared to WotC's chunky blue rhinoceros dragon (not that there is anything wrong with rhinos).
3. The bronze dragon on page 22 attacking the shark is a very evocative piece.
4. The art piece on page 46 captures the fury of the red dragon unleashed.
5. I really like piece on page 58, with a frost giant attacking a white dragon, while another one gets ready to join the combat.
It is important to note that this is a fluff book. Outside the sample dragons at the end of each section, the rest is fluff, which is done by design. The intent of the “Revisited’ series is to provide a new spin on classic creatures, which the emphasis on fluff rather than crunch. Upon reading through the write ups, I would say that Paizo has aligned most of the commonly held dragon themes together, and there are very few surprises contained inside. That is not to say that the write ups were predictable or unimaginative, but they captured commonly held canon, and expanded on these ideas a bit, with a Golarion theme woven throughout. Even if one is not using the Pathfinder’s universe, the book is still quite usable. By removing the crunch, Paizo has made the book usable for all editions of play, which I applaud them for. The content was very enjoyable to read through, and although most of the ideas were familiar to me, I still found them interesting and engaging. Perhaps my favorite write up was the crafty and manipulative blue dragon, which happens to be one of my favorite of the evil dragons.
To conclude, do we need another fluff book on dragons? No, probably not. However, Paizo has done a nice job in packaging this one, that I think will appeal to all the folks out there that just like dragons, which still seems to be a considerable number of folks. Do I think this one will sell well? Yes I do. It’s a nice book just to flip through, if you are just looking for some ideas on how to make a dragon interesting. While the Draconomicon maybe a more exhaustive tome, Paizo’s version is more of a reader’s digest version, and sometimes that is all one really needs anyway.
Rating: 4 Dragons (on a scale of 5)