The Practically Complete Guide to Dragons is not itself a roleplaying game book, although it is the same size to fit alongside Dungeons & Dragons on your shelf. While Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons brought a D&D game reference for dragons, The Practically Complete Guide to Dragons is exclusively an exercise in world-building – mostly an informal, adorable, cute sort of world-building. This makes sense in that The Practically Complete Guide to Dragons is mostly a compilation of existing material, from the best-selling (and pretty expensive to pick up) A Practical Guide to Dragons and its sequels, which were more expressly aimed at the middle grade crowd.
Presented by a kender wizard, The Practically Complete Guide to Dragons is something of a young reader’s field guide, with illustrated information on dragon physiology, habitat, and culture. Also, because this is D&D, treasure and combat. There’s an extended breakdown for each of the five standard chromatic and metallic dragons, with basic facts (size, breath weapon, favorite foods, etc.), distinguishing features (other than the color), where they lay their eggs, what wyrmlings are like, and what kind of lair they create. There’s also information on The Dragon Queen (Takhisis/Tiamat), the Platinum Dragon (Paladine/Bahamut), and some dragon-adjacent creatures – faerie dragons, dragon turtles, psuedodragons, dracolichs, and (because the author is from Krynn) draconians. There’s at least as much illustration as text on every two-page spread, if not more, and it’s all quality (especially if you like the style of 3E D&D art). My eight-year-old’s favorite bit was the discussion of the draconic language, including an alphabet, a small glossary, and the author’s note on the sort of homework assignments they got.
The Practically Complete Guide to Dragons is probably best suited for younger readers (maybe grades 3-6, although kids vary a lot) with a D&D-loving parent. It can help serve as an introduction to the world of D&D, wow with the lush illustrations, entertain with the clever words, and then get stored along with the parent’s game books.
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