Chatting With James Wyatt About D&D's Fizban's Treasury Of Dragons

This week, Wizards of the Coast will be releasing their latest D&D book as players will have a chance to check out Fizban's Treasury Of Dragons. Before the book comes out this week, we had a chance to chat with one of WotC's game designers, James Wyatt, about his contributions to the book and talking about some of the additions players may get a kick out of.

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Credit: Wizards of the Coast

BC: Prior to the book, how much research had you done on dragons in D&D for other books?

JW: I've been pretty deeply involved in dragon lore for D&D since working on Draconomicon for Third Edition in 2003. I had my managerial fingers in the two Draconomicons we published for fourth edition, and my trilogy of novels set in the world of Eberron is called Draconic Prophecies! I also wrote a little book on Dragonborn, and looked pretty closely at the history of dragons in the game for a series of web articles leading up to the release of Fifth Edition. So… quite a bit!

What kind of content did you get to create for this book that hadn't been released in previous lore?

What's new in Fizban's Treasury of Dragons is an exploration of the mythological origin of dragons in the worlds of D&D, linking them to the creation of the Material Plane and the primordial First World. Along with that, the book is a concerted effort to sort of "re-mystify" dragons (I wish I could remember who came up with that phrase, because it's very apt!)—to shroud them in the magic and mystery that they deserve as such a primal and powerful part of the game and its lore. Things like exploring where dragon eggs come from—in a way that's more magical and mysterious than the obvious answer—is just the most obvious step in that direction.

What was the process for you in setting up guidelines for possible campaigns?

The first step was looking back—looking at settings in the history of D&D (and of Magic: The Gathering, since I worked on the Magic team for a number of years) that have put dragons in a central place, and lifting up three examples that could inspire DMs. Then step two was extrapolating from there to find additional inspiration. I took a look at all the various parts that make up a campaign and tried to imagine putting dragons there: What if the major events in a campaign are driven by dragons? What if the gods of a campaign world are dragons? What if dragons were deeply involved in the mythic history of a particular world? What if the dungeons that characters explore in a campaign are part of the dragon ecosystem in some way? What if the organization's characters belong to are headed by dragons?

How do you tend to find a balance between giving DM's and players enough info and too much so there's room to play with?

The way I see it, a book like this isn't about answering all those "what if?" questions for you. It's about asking them and sketching out the range of possibilities. I don't expect that most people are going to read something in the "Dragon Campaigns" section and do exactly that thing in their campaign. More likely, they'll read a couple of different things that spark their imagination and seem interesting, and they'll start making exciting connections, and they'll end up weaving something entirely new. Throughout the book, there are a ton of tables full of tiny nuggets of highly concentrated story ideas. Hopefully, each one is enough to spark inspiration in someone's mind. But they're all small enough to fit on a table! The goal is to give a player or a DM enough tools to work with so that, when inspiration takes hold, you have what you need to build the campaign you want.

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Credit: Wizards of the Coast

What was the experience like for you expanding this particular topic in 5e?

The amazing thing about working on a book that is so full of inspiration is that my brain is bursting with ideas! Every time I sit down to talk about the book, I end up on tangents discussing some new direction that has come to my mind, thinking about some new possibility. One of these days I'm going to have to start a new campaign and start putting these ideas to good use! 

Is there any particular piece you're most proud of and look forward to seeing what players do with it?

There's a section at the very end of "Dragon Campaigns" that's just a list of ideas for how dragons might play a role in the mythic history of your world. One of them is a nod to the most recent campaign I ran, where the scattered pieces of an artifact called the Rod of Seven Parts were each guarded by a metallic dragon. Another suggests that dungeons might form in the world above and around slumbering dragons. I love these little nuggets of story ideas, and I can't wait to hear how they inspire players to do similar things with truly legendary dragons in their games. 

Any thought about the book before it's released?

I think it's worth highlighting the amazing art in this book! One of my favorite things about working on the Magic-related books we've done (Guildmaster's Guide to Ravnica and Mythic Odysseys of Theros)—as well as Magic art books—was the opportunity to take card art that originally appeared at such a small size and print it across a half-page of a book. For Fizban's we were able to give the same treatment to some of the awesome dragon art from the Adventures in the Forgotten Realms set, like the Chris Rahn portrait of Tiamat. Of course, the new art in the book (including Zoltan Boros's portrayal of Laurana and Kitiara from the Dragonlance setting) is just as awesome!

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About Gavin Sheehan

Gavin is the current Games Editor for Bleeding Cool. He has been a lifelong geek who can chat with you about comics, television, video games, and even pro wrestling. He can also teach you how to play Star Trek chess, be your Mercy on Overwatch, recommend random cool music, and goes rogue in D&D. He also enjoys hundreds of other geeky things that can't be covered in a single paragraph. Follow @TheGavinSheehan on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vero, for random pictures and musings.
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