Dragons (1986)

This is Dragons (1986 second edition, originally 1984), part of Mayfair’s Role Aids line for Dungeons & Dragons. I am sure its existence has nothing to do with Dragonlance, right? RIGHT? Oh, wait, no, there is a dragonlance right there on the cover. And “Dragonlord” is giving off some big “legally distinct from Dragon Highlord” energy. I dig the tie-in with Grenadier’s Dragonlords (which was what they renamed their D&D line after TSR dickishly pulled the license in order to fail at producing their own miniatures) and the dragon of the month club.

The sourcebook section is great. It takes a monster everyone loves but about which not a lot is definitively known, and just fleshes out all the details. This is the best book on D&D dragons until 3.5E’s Draconomicon. You have social structures, connections to the gods, detailed aging processes, diseases, physiology, parasites, pets, creatures that live in symbiosis, magic, specific plant and geological lore known by dragons. It’s shockingly exhaustive and there is still room for detail on setting, the dragonlord sub-class and three adventures. Solid art throughout, too — Dawn Wilson on the cover, Jeff Busch and Robin Wood inside.

I can’t help but read the adventures as a direct knock-off of Dragonlance. The first one incorporates “board game” elements, there’s a civil war, someone is using magic to coerce dragon support and the whole thing culminates in a temple. It’s just the broad strokes, but it makes me laugh that they got it done in one.

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