Orrinyath’s Guide to Dinosaurs is the final in this series of Chamomile’s guides to everything. This is the guidebook to Dragons, obviously, but also sorcerer’s and even more Kaiju. I’m using a hard copy for the review with screenshots cropped from the pdf (with permission). You can pick one up at Drivethrough or itch, in physical or digital versions.
Orrinyath’s follows a similar format, twenty or so pages of player content and twentyish for DMs, and yes most importantly, includes rules for playable dragons. A top requested feature for lots of folks, and a favorite of many D&D players. We also get some half-dragons, thematic sorcerer rules, some additional subclasses, rules for kaiju fights, flying battles and rules for using dragon parts. As a DM, our content is focused around draconic culture, ecology, and hoards.
Playing dragons kicks off the book, and it’s a big task. You’ve got to feel like a dragon, but dragons also happen to be the big boss of a lot of games. So, you can’t overshadow the rest of the players. Chamomile’s powerful races options (known as transformations) step in here to make that work pretty well. Our of the box you get the stuff you want a dragon to have. Claws, bites, flight, breath weapon, energy resistance, scales, etc. It’s not going to be as straight forward as 3e’s “Pick up the monster manual and use those stats” approach, but it works. From there, you can undergo transformations at level 5, 9, and 17. You can pick a couple (5) paths to follow, which are similar to, but not exactly the classic chromatic dragon types. All of them give better breath weapons, some magical spell like abilities, increased size, and more powerful abilities in general. By the end, Tier 3, you are potentially gargantuan size, which is IMO a requirement for someone playing a dragon. You don’t need it day 1, but if I can’t aspire to it by the end of the campaign, something is missing.
Regarding classes, we get a couple of new subclasses and an essay on sorcerers. I am a big fan of diversifying some of the more generic classes, and the Thematic Sorcerers option does a pretty good job. Essentially, instead of saying “All sorcerers can learn all spells” each subclass has a limited list of spells they could learn. This list is thematic and helps differentiate each of the various subclasses. The Clockwork Soul gets robot themed spells (shocking grasp, animate objects, etc). The Divine Soul gets things like bless and toll the dead. Its a neat idea, but I don’t see many players bringing it to the table and asking for self nerfs, even with the optional small counter buff. Except maybe for wild sorcerers, but who knows what they will do (they roll on charts for spells learned).
Don’t worry though, we also get an Aerial Knight subclass, focused on riding a sweet mount and is geared for your dragonrider types who may want to enter a lance war. A Dragonic Pact, for warlocks, and frankly its surprising WoTC didn’t write one. People getting power from dragons is super common in lore. This is very similar to the old Dragon Disciple style of classes that WoTC made a hundred of in 3e, where you slowly gain dragon powers (claws, armor, fangs, wings, breath, etc). Except instead of being terrible, the powers in Orrinyath are level appropriate and worth taking. Lastly, we have a third subclass called Oath of the Dragon, which is for paladins sworn to a dragon. It comes with chromatic dragon rules, so presumably it is for evil paladins, but you could modify it to good dragons with minimal effort.
Anytime my group slays a dragon, we instinctually try to preserve as much of the body as we can. We can also almost never find anything RAW to do with it, and instead the DM improv’s something offhand about armor that gives elemental resistance or something. Orrinyath’s gives us some rules for what to do, outside of DM improv.
A big draw for me to Orrinyath’s, was the chapter called “Apocalypitic Encounters: Fighting Kaiju”. Fighting giant monsters is cool, and WoTC refuses to engage with the idea. They even reduced the max size of size categories from 3/4 to 5e, shrinking the size of their foes. Because apparently there was an outcry that dragons had just gotten too big from the community that I missed. Here, we get some guidance for how to go about running gigantic fights, and the concept of Kaiju HP, KHP is a pretty solid way to let me play god of war.
Getting into the DM focused sections, we kick off with Draconic Culture and Ecology. Chamomile’s entries into why monsters act the way they do are always great, and his take on dragons is no exception. It’s different than RAW, obviously, and not exactly what I’ve seen other groups do, but it certainly works. The real win though, is that’s it’s a coherent vision that gives a lot of storytelling potential, and describes why dragons might mate, how dragon eggs work, why dragons want treasure, and their culture might look like. The big draw to me, is the use of gold in egg laying. There’s an inherent motivation for a dragon, and there is an inherent conflict in their nature. The dragon wants cash, people have cash, how do they resolve it? Furthermore, should the players take the cash back and use it to buy a mansion and magic items, or should they let this dragon grow more dragons? What if it’s a good dragon?
Orrinyath’s is the final book in the series, and it’s fitting. Dragons are often the final boss in an adventure, and one of the two titular features of the game. Dragons are in a weird spot with official content. There is tons of it made, but most of it isn’t the stuff people need. More unique dragon statblocks, or another magic item that gives a bonus vs them is cool and all, but the more helpful and practical stuff is actually subclasses for players, and advice for DMs. I’ve certainly shared my thoughts on dragons extensively, and happily recommend that DMs give Orrinyath’s Guide a read through when looking for advice for running dragons.