Review – Dungeons & Dragons: Bigby Presents Glory of the Giants, and The Practically Complete Guide to Dragons
Do you wanna learn about Giants, kiddo? How about Dragons?
|Designer||James Wyatt, Susan J. Morris and others|
|Artist||Cynthia Sheppard, Clint Cearley and others|
|Publisher||Wizards of the Coast|
|Category||D&D RPG Supplements|
|Length||192, 128 pages|
If you’ve ever wondered if there was more to some of the largest creatures in Dungeons & Dragons, wonder no more. Wizards of the Coast have just recently come out with 2 new supplement books: Bigby Presents Glory of the Giants, and The Practically Complete Guide to Dragons. Both are brimming with information, story hooks, and creatures. Bigby’s book also features many character creation options should you want to play as a giant or giant-adjacent character. So are these books a must-have, or just the scribblings of insane giant-loving wizards? Read on for the review!
As with other D&D books, players or dungeon masters will use the information to fill out the world their fellow players inhabit, be it with giants, demigods, dragons, enemies, magic, items, or other adventure-related things. Some of the more evil enemies in the bestiary may be disturbing for some due to their undead nature or hideous appearance. Little to no blood and no gore is shown.
In Bigby Presents Glory of the Giants (shortened to Bigby’s hereafter) the wizard Bigby presents his findings and knowledge after many encounters with giants and repeated contact with the giant demigod Diancastra, who also makes notes on his notes throughout the book. It’s much like Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything or Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft, but often with 2 sets of notes in the margins. At times, this can be a little much, but in the end I can see what they were going for, as if Diancastra is Bigby’s editor, giving the reader a little background or first-hand context to Bigby’s learnings.
Right out of the gate, chapter 1 made me want to immediately roll up a Barbarian to do the Path of the Giant, which basically gives you the ability to Hulk out starting at level 3 with Giant’s Havoc. With this Feature you gain Crushing Throw (add your Rage Damage bonus to the attack’s damage roll) and Giant Stature, which increases your reach by 5 feet and if you aren’t Large, you become Large sized. Hulk Smash! There’s even a 14th level version called Demiurgic Colossus which bumps your reach up by 10 feet, and you can become Large or Huge among other bonuses. There are also many Giant Foundling options for players who don’t want to be barbarians, including origins and traits tables to roll on as well as Rune Carver options and Tall Tale story hooks to link your character’s origins back to the Giants.
Chapter 2 gives dungeon masters information on how to use Giants in Play such as roleplaying options, Giant’s religion and social structures, as well as how they organize, unite, and struggle with each other. There are also several pages of tables to help with behaviors, names, story hooks, and statuses. Chapter 3 delves more specifically into Giant Adventures, giving readers encounters, adventures, and campaign setups for players looking to thrust themselves into an extra-large setting. The tables are also helpfully set up by giant type, and the chapter does a good job of explaining what would be a good difficulty for different leveled groups or characters.
Chapters 4-6 are mostly tables and stat blocks, but very useful nonetheless. Chapter 4 explains Giant Enclaves, and gives life to the larger-than-life hideouts and cloisters that Giants call home, complete with tables and maps to incorporate into your games. Chapter 5 goes over Giant Treasure, while Chapter 6 is the Bestiary. Again, while these are more standard or straightforward chapters, they are filled with good information and possible hooks for anyone looking to add some Giants to their campaign.
The Practically Complete Guide to Dragons is written, journal-style, from the perspective of Sindri Suncatcher, a Kender Wizard who thinks highly of himself. Sindri details everything from their horns down to the tail, complete with margin notes such as “Watch out for the tail! It can whip and snap and cause incredible injury.”
More helpful are his tables such as the one where he breaks down each Dragon type’s special abilities, from a Black Dragon being able to create darkness or summon insect plagues, to a Gold Dragon being able to see the future or create an awe-inspiring glow. There’s even a table of Common to Draconic words should you wish to test your players or learn Dragon’s language yourself.
Later in the book Sindri goes into depth on each kind of dragon, giving each its own chapter with facts, features, lifespan, lairs (including diagrams) and combat knowledge. These are where the book is more helpful, but since much of a Dungeons & Dragons game is communicated verbally, I’m not sure it will help a dungeon master much to know the usual shape of different dragon’s wings and horns. Most players will just know (or learn quickly) that Chromatic (black, blue, red, white) dragons are evil, and Metallic dragons are usually more neutral or good.
Near the back of the book, Sindri details different Dragonkin, from Wyrms to Draconians, Dragonborn, and Kobolds. The last few pages discuss how to partner with and ride dragons, should one be interested. While most of it seemed basic, I didn’t consider that dragons have a wide turning radius that includes a sizable blind spot, making a helpful rider a benefit to the dragon in question. This sums up how I ended up feeling about Sindri’s guide – mostly not terribly practical or useful, with a few bright spots of new information.
Out of the 2 books, I definitely enjoyed and would recommend Bigby’s more as it just has a lot more information and possible additions to a campaign, whereas the Guide to Dragons is more of a journal written by an enterprising wizard. They’re both well done but if forced to choose, the choice is easy: go with the giants. With fun class options, tons of story hooks, and a lot of background on an often-misunderstood Monster Manual entry, Bigby’s gives players what they’re looking for in a D&D supplement book.
Review copies were provided by the publisher.
The Bottom Line
With fun class options, tons of story hooks, and a lot of background on an often-misunderstood Monster Manual entry, Bigby’s gives players what they’re looking for in a D&D supplement book.