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Player's Handbook Races: Dragonborn (4e)
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Player's Handbook Races: Dragonborn (4e)

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Proud and Honorable Warriors

If you want to play the ultimate dragonborn hero, this book is for you.

This DUNGEONS & DRAGONS expansion of the Player's Handbook core rulebook explores the mysteries of the dragonborn. It presents players with exciting new options for their dragonborn characters, including unique racial feats, powers, paragon paths, and epic destinies.

This book also includes ways to flesh out your dragonborn character's background and personality.

Product History

"Player's Handbook Races: Dragonborn" (2010), by James Wyatt was the first of a pair of racial splatbooks for D&D 4e. It was published in January 2010.

Off the the Races. By 2010, D&D 4e was two years old, and Wizards was looking to try our new lines. The first of them was "Player's Handbook Races". These books were short, at just 32 pages each, and also the first paperback sourcebooks that Wizards had published since the 4e line had begun. They offered a much cheaper alternative to Wizards' other 4e suorcebooks, and were probably a sales and marketing experiment.

The dragonborn were an obvious race to being the series with, since they were one of the high profile "new" races for 4e — alongside the eladrin and tieflings. This new book mixed fluffy details about their history (focused on the Points of Light world) with crunchy backgrounds, equipment, feats, powers, and paragon paths.

Unfortunately, the "Races" line was very short-lived. "Player’s Handbook Races: Tieflings" (2010) would appear in June, but was the only other entrant in the line.

A History of Dragon People. Reptilian humanoids had been with D&D since almost the start. Lizard men premiered in Supplement I: Greyhawk (1975) while troglodytes showed up in the AD&D Monster Manual (1977).

The first draconic humanoid was the draconian from the original Dragonlance Saga (1984-1986). There were five types of draconians and they were an important element in every Dragonlance adventure from DL1: "Dragons of Despair" (1984) to DL14: "Dragons of Victory" (1986). The Dragon Mountain kobolds of Dragon Mountain (1993) came next; they were the first kobolds with a definitive draconic heritage. The Dark Sun setting then introduced the next draconic humanoids: the dray, a race created by the undead sorcerer-king Dregoth, as described in City by Silt Sea (1994). Meanwhile the dragonspawn offered another sort of draconic humanoid in the Dragonlance Fifth Age line (1996-2000).

Draconic humanoids really came to the forefront in D&D 3e (2000). The default kobold became wholly draconic in that edition's Monster Manual (2000), then the Draconomicon (2003) introduced half-dragons. However, 2006 was really the year of the dragon. Races of the Dragon (2006) introduced spellscales and gave even more attention to kobolds, then Dragon Magic (2006) revealed numerous dragon-blooded humanoids, from fireblood dwarves to glimmerskin halflings.

Oh, and Races of the Dragon introduce one other draconic humanoid … the dragonborn!

A History of the Dragonborn. The dragonborn first appeared in Races of the Dragon, but they were considerably revamped when the dragonborn became a core race for D&D 4e (2008). Where before they'd been a product of a ritual, and sworn to Bahamut, now they were an actual race.

The inclusion of dragonborn as a core race in 4e was a surprise, but the designers thought it was a good idea for multiple reasons. Richard Baker said, "it was important to grow the D&D world by allowing the mix of characters to evolve in the new edition." Gwendolyn Kestrel stated more simply: "Players want as an option a race that captures the power and majesty of dragons."

Dragonborn got attention from the start in Dragon magazine. "The Ecology of the Dragonborn", by Chris Sims, in Dragon #365 (July 2008) developed the race (and was a source for this book), while "Io'Vanthor: Lost City of the Dragonborn" (November 2008), by Robert J. Schwalb, revealed a ruined Dragonborn city.

Expanding Points of Light. The dragonborn are the descendants of the ancient dragonborn empire of Arkhosia, adversary to the tiefling empire of Bael Turath. The history of the Points of Light world thus gets considerable attention in "Dragonborn", from the fall of Arkhosia, to the creation of the scattered dragonborn clans of Bahamut and Io.

Future History. The 4e dragonborn was later used as the foundation for other classic draconic races. The dray were reinvented as dragonborn in the Dark Sun Campaign Setting (2010), then Krynn's draconians were reimagined as dragonborn in "You Say Dragonborn, I Say Draconian", by Daniel Helmick, in Dragon #421 (March 2013).

The dragonborn were iconic and evocative enough that they remained a core race in D&D 5e (2014), which also retains the connection between dragonborn and Krynn's draconians.

About the Creators. 2010 would be Wyatt's last year of regular production for D&D. However, he still had several products to come, including the Dungeons & Dragons Fantasy Roleplaying Game Starter Set (2010) that kicked off D&D Essentials.

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to shannon.appelcline@gmail.com.

 
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