It’s strange to think that Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons is the first book we’ve had in years that focuses on the D&D monster; you’d think a creature that makes up half the name of one of the best tabletop RPGs would get more attention. That’s why project lead James Wyatt and his team wanted to set the record straight with one of the latest Dungeons & Dragons books. The result is suitably impressive, but it’s unexpectedly hair-raising as well.
“We started the design process for the bestiary chapter with two lists: a list of creatures from past editions we wanted to bring forward (including the gem dragons and the moonstone dragon) and a list of creature ideas we wanted to flesh out,” he says during our interview. The moonstone dragon from second edition D&D is an example of the former, while the hideous eyedrake sits in the latter category. As an unholy spawn of the many-eyed beholder, this addition to Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons is quite literally the stuff of nightmares.
“The eyedrake began life literally as a line in a spreadsheet that said, ‘beholders dream of dragons, creating a draconic inspired beholderkin’… Our in-house concept artist, Shawn Wood, helped [turn this] into the hideous monstrosity we see in the book. His visual design absolutely informed the monster design. Shawn managed to find the perfect fusion of beholder features with dragon shape, down to the central eye that’s inside the dragon’s gaping maw.”
However, this creativity introduced some problems of its own.
“The trick for any monster design is to make sure it’s evocative and fun and does cool things in combat without becoming too complicated for the DM to handle at the table,” Wyatt tells us. “With dragons, there’s always the risk of piling too many abilities into one stat block, so we had to keep a close eye to make sure things didn’t get out of hand!”
Not that the eyedrake isn’t a force to be reckoned with, of course. When I asked what would win in a scrap between a beholder and its dragon-inspired offspring, Wyatt revealed that this new monster wouldn’t go down easy.
“Going strictly by the numbers, the beholder would probably win. It’s a significantly more powerful threat at challenge rating 13 compared to the eyedrake’s 8. But I think the beholder might be so offended and unsettled by the eyedrake’s appearance that it’s not at the top of its game, which could give the eyedrake an edge.”
Waking the dragon
The updated moonstone dragon – including that moonstone dragon wyrmling you can see below – sits at the opposite end of the scale. Despite having been introduced in the 1998 version of D&D, they weren’t particularly well defined. With that in mind, Wyatt and co reintroduced them for Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons as a representative of the Feywild (the parallel world seen in The Wild Beyond the Witchlight). They were also tied to the myth of D&D’s original world that’s long since been lost. Indeed, the first moonstone drakes have been retconned as the result of eggs carried by First World refugees that were changed by Feywild magic.
The team still managed to keep something of the old moonstone dragon in these new rules, though.
“In their original incarnation in second edition, moonstone dragons were strongly linked to dreams. They were mysterious in many ways, but sometimes showed up in people’s dreams to offer guidance or advice”, Wyatt explains. “Their Dream Breath is one manifestation of that connection; they also have the ability to communicate in dreams with creatures that sleep near their lairs as a regional effect, and a lair action that can temporarily banish creatures to a dream plane.”
We’ll be able to test-drive these abilities for ourselves soon enough; Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons is set to launch this October 26. It’s up for pre-order now (opens in new tab).
Want something to keep you busy until then? Don’t forget to check out the best board games. It’s also worth bookmarking our guide to the upcoming Dungeons & Dragons Black Friday deals, not to mention our page of Black Friday board game deals.