I originally didn’t want to make this post. I thought it was going to be a furious dismissal of Wizards of the Coast’s first Player’s Handbook Races product, Dragonborn.
But then I took a much closer look at the book, and saw that my main complaint is that it wasn’t Goodman Games’ Hero’s Handbook: Dragonborn. I still prefer the latter, but the former has its charms… for players, anyway.
Wizard’s Dragonborn is a fairly short book at 32 pages, and costs about $10 US. It is mainly a resource for players, and that’s my problem. See, I purchased it as a DM. This book has very little for DMs. If anything, information on Dragonborn for DMs is better found in the two Draconomicon books, in particular, the first of the two, Chromatics.
Most of what’s to be found in Wizard’s Dragonborn is mainly extensions of the background information in the two Player’s Handbooks, providing some interesting options for Dragonborn origins. Some of these, like the one where your powers come from Tiamat as opposed to Bahamut, do make for some thoughtful twists, and thus this book will likely help Dungeon Masters, however indirectly. I would have prefered something not wholly geared for players, though, as much of the book is otherwise monopolized by new powers, feats and magical items, none of which are overly interesting… or very well balanced.
And that brings us to Hero’s Handbook: Dragonborn, by Goodman Games. Do note I no longer own this, I picked up a copy at Gencon for Yoni, our Dragonborn fanatic, and thus it’s in his posession now. I still own the one for Tieflings, however, and when Player’s Handbook Races: Tieflings is released, a more in-depth comparison will be in order.
For now, though, in short: The information in Goodman’s Dragonborn is geared for both, players and DMs, providing background information and story hooks that, while specific to Goodman’s setting, are easily transplanted to your own games. Much thicker than Wizard’s Dragonborn, Goodman’s book is not only longer, but it does more with its space.
Both books are decent enough buys, but if you want more for your money, go with Goodman’s Dragonborn. Skip on Wizard’s.
… And this is why I dislike the GSL. You know that, under the OGL, we’d have some five Dragonborn books to choose from. And one of them would have been by Green Ronin. That would have ruled. Instead, we’re stuck with this, and need to piece together things ever so slowly.
Ah well. We wouldn’t Game Master if we didn’t enjoy a challenge, would we?