Hello, everyone, and happy New Year! The latter half of 2017 saw the start of TBM Games, and through your support, I’m having a blast writing these reviews and my own game content. 2018 will hopefully be even bigger and better! Today’s review is for Kobold Press’s Dragon Magic, the 13th installment in the Deep Magic series, which will likely see incorporation into the upcoming Midgard Heroes Handbook later this year.
Dragon Magic uses the same conventions and formatting as other entries in the Deep Magic Series, a precisely defined (if a little busy) format which is reminiscent of official Wizards products, but distinct. Nothing looks inconsistent or out of place, though the background at times can clutter real estate on the page which should be given predominantly to the text. The supplement utilizes art assets from previous products as well as some new art.
The Dragon Mage
Dragon Magic introduces only one new subclass, the Dragon Mage, an Arcane Tradition for Wizards. The Dragon Mage, at each Arcane Tradition feature, gains access to an additional Dragon Aspect. A wizard manifests these Dragon Aspects by expending spell slots to produce passive bonuses for a fixed number of rounds. The rules regarding Dragon Aspects are a little muddy as well – the sidebar describing how they operate concerning game mechanics implies that you can manifest only one Aspect at a time, but it is not explicitly stated to be the case.
While conceptually the Dragon Mage is an interesting take on the Wizard class, I feel that it misses the point of being a Wizard – when playing this class, you are tapping into arcane power in its most modular form, meaning that your primary focus in gameplay is learning and casting new spells. The Dragon Mask imposes Disadvantage on your spell attacks and grants Advantage to saves against your spells, and it, the Dragon Heart, and the Dragon Tail each provide the caster with melee-oriented abilities which can outshine existing melee characters. Unlike traditional spells, the Aspects don’t require Concentration, making them much more potent self-buffs than anything that other Wizard subclasses could produce, and capable of stacking with already-powerful spells such as Haste. Overall, the Dragon Aspects seem like they might be better tailored to a Barbarian subclass or another class which does not offer so many spell slots than a class primarily focused on casting spells.
Feats and Spells
Half of the feats described in Dragon Magic are specific to Dragon Mages. Some lessen the restrictions imposed by the subclass, such as removing the penalties to spell attack rolls under the Dragon Mask or increasing the number of Dragon Aspects a Wizard can manifest. These feats run against design philosophies of Fifth Edition by being almost necessary to play a Dragon Mage. Additionally, certain feats incorporate mechanical features which are not present in this edition of Dungeons & Dragons, such as dealing damage with multiple types.
Certain spells within this supplement also have been written in ways which, while unique, straddle the line between in-story effects and mechanical ones poorly. For example, the spell Legend Killer is a spell which requires Concentration and negates the target’s ability to execute Legendary Actions. Legendary Actions are not a product of an in-universe effect, but rather an abstraction designed to make a monster a more viable threat against Player Characters. It makes as much sense to cast a spell to prevent a target from “taking Legendary Actions” as it would be to cast a spell to replace a target’s d20 with a d10.
Since Dragon Magic runs only $3, you aren’t at a severe financial risk if you purchase this supplement, but overall I would not recommend it – the supplement simply doesn’t invoke the excitement behind harnessing the power of dragons. If you’re looking for a supplement at this price point, I would instead recommend Elemental Magic, Clockwork Magic, or Rune Magic. However, if you do decide to purchase Dragon Magic(or anything else from the Kobold Press Store for that matter), please consider using this referral link to let Kobold Press know that you arrived at their site through mine.