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Book of Drakes
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Sam B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/16/2016 13:09:05

Let's talk dragons. Right from the beginning, we're told by one of the writers that he likes dragons conceptually, but how they're handled devolves into quote "mindless monsters" which is sad. I agree: give me a Smaug to slay over a typical claw-claw-bite with a breath weapon.

So then we get to the meat of the book. The different drakes (as they call these lesser dragons), as well as the three subtypes (esoteric, geographic, material) are clever and likable. These are great designs and great ideas.

But then, we get to the best, and worst, part of the book: designing your own drakes. How can it be both, you ask? Well...you get a number of feature points to build with. It says 10 per hit die, but by the exact wording of the document, I can't tell if that's supposed to be for EACH hit die or if it's supposed to be for each hit die AFTER THE BASE DICE. If the former case, my tiny drake has a base of 20 feature points, which is kind of a lot. If the latter, what's the base value? This is but one of the issues with this section.

Don't get me wrong, it's a great idea, but come ON guys, this is like the best part of the book and you're derping it up pretty bad! The example creation at the end involves the Vine Drake, which doesn't seem to add up: When you lose the Fly speed and the wing attack, you're supposed to get 5 + 3 feature points in return by the features section, but in the example, you get 5 + 4. I am willing to come in and help edit for the price of the book, guys. Just ask.

I might also suggest rebalancing the feature point section - just eyeballing it, there's a lot of choices for making a drake, and you get a LOT of points. I would suggest 10 feature points, +5 per hit die, personally, but that's just my take from looking at the current values. I'd also recommend increasing the ability scores directly per hit die, if they're meant to be monster characters.

But then we have one more problem: I would like to make a drake, using this system, that is a playable character. Is this just not going to happen here? Should I just go with the ARG from Paizo? And if it is, how do I account for that?

I give an actual rating of 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3. I really want to mark it as 4 stars, I really do. But this last section, the one I probably looked most forward to, seems to need some editing and reworking.

[3 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Drakes
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Kenneth A. C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/04/2012 09:56:33

I love dragons and I love playing in settings where dragons have an important and prominent role to play. However, this is not a book of dragons, but a book of drakes!

Let me start by saying that this book is among the most beautiful that I've seen to date, and I am talking about the print version, which is black and white! I believe the pdf is in colour. Everything in this book has the feel of an old book of drakes and that is also how most of it is written, as a treatise on drakes.

First we get a little overview of drakes (how they are classified and how they are different from dragons), then we get the meat of the book, the player's section. This chapter presents you with new feats, alternate class abilities, an alternate class (the drake tamer), a prestige class (the master of drake forms), rules on how to play either a pseudodragon or a candle drake, spells, magic items and some more general adventuring gear. There is a lot to like here, especially the rules to play a pseudodragon or candle drake.

Next up is the bestiary! This book presents a lot of drakes, 20 drakes to be precise, with some amazing artwork. Personally, I am not a big fan of the whole drake philosophy (as this book presents it), that drakes are all over the place and come in an infinite number of shapes, however, those few that the book presents are really useful and will certainly bring the wondrous drakes into the game. And not to worry, while the drakes seem cute and harmless (especially if you look at the cover), there are evil drakes lurking among the shadows, like the sewer and mist drakes. This chapter ends by presenting rules on how to build your own drakes (basically a point-buy system). I haven't tried this system out, so I don't know if they work.

I really liked this book, although I would hardly use drakes as the book suggests. The book of drakes sets out to bring drakes into the world and they succeeds beautifully in doing this! Good work!

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Drakes
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/10/2011 21:21:05

The Book of Drakes is a beautiful and useful product. The drakes provide a wealth of adventure ideas and roleplaying opportunities. While they may seem ‘cute’ that is only true of a few of them, many of the drakes are quite serious creatures and can be used in a range of roles. The Book of Drakes provides the tools to use them as allies, enemies or some mix of the two.

The Book of Drakes is a 62-page PDF (57-pages if you remove the cover, OGL page and ads) for the Pathfinder RPG designed by Adam Daigle and Mike Welham and published by Open Design.

The layout is primary traditional two columns and the charts are easy to read. The art is beautiful, lavish and -mostly- full color. No one should have any complaints about the appearance of this product. Additionally, it is fully book marked for easy navigation.

The Book of Drakes begins with a short introduction and moves into Chapter 1: Ecology of the Drake. Which talks about the origin and spread of the drakes and gives ideas of where they may be found. A list of ten famous drakes give a wealth of plot seeds and ideas for roleplaying drakes.

Chapter 2: Players and Drakes, this provides the mechanics for integrating drakes into a campaign as well as some advice for the roleplaying side of things. New feats, new drake-aligned archetypes even the Drake Handler base class make their appearance here along with new drake-based spells and items. But perhaps the most interesting section is the option of drakes as a player character race (for Candle Drakes and Pseudodragons) which could be quite fun for the right group but will not fit every campaign.

Chapter 3: Games Masters and Drakes, this section provides twenty drakes and rules for creating your own (which includes the vine drake as an example, so you really get twenty-one drakes). The drakes are divided by what they are associated with: geographic (such as the crag or tor drake), material (glass or paper) and the catch all, esoteric, category (dream or pact). Each is a unique blend of powers with a distinct personality. The gear drake, for example, loves to build -and dismantle- machines while the sewer drake lives where you would expect and are dangerous -if lazy- predators in their environment. The drakes’ CR range from 1 to 14 so they can be easily fit into most campaigns

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Drakes
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/29/2011 08:01:11

Nothing quite as sweet as a miniature dragon, perhaps of a suitable size to hold in your arms like a pet... but drakes are not pets, but sentient beings in their own right, fascinating creatures to have around in your game. (I had to add 'in your game' lest I start to conjure fantasies of one coming in my back door...).

The Introduction talks about, despite - because of? - their iconic nature, how difficult it can be to actually have a DRAGON wandering around in your game. They're big, they're tough, and they tend to amass game-unbalancing amounts of treasure. Moreover, they're supposed to be the creatures of myth and legend, not someone you meet down the pub for an ale and a few hints about the next adventure. This is where creatures such as drakes come in: all the awesome features of real dragons without actually breaking the legend that dragons ought to be in your alternate reality.

Then on to The Ecology of the Drake. If you want to have them around, it's important to know a bit about how they live, what they eat (especially when adventurers are out of season), and so on. Whilst fitting in to the Open Design setting, Midgard, most is applicable to any game world, at most you'll need to change a few names and locations. It all started off with pseudodragons, which are the first of the class of critter now called 'drakes' to be recorded. Popular with wizards as familiars, and even around the house, some tried to call them 'common drakes' but it never caught on, they are too, well, uncommon! Yet, once they were established in the popular mind, other types were discovered and these were even less common. Most are tagged by some 'feature' that is associated with them - generally esoteric, geographical or material. So you get glass and ash ones, those which embody an idea, and those associated with an area or geographical feature. They are definitely related closely to dragons: reptilian, winged, and with a breath weapon. But there are differences too. For a start, you cannot tell just by a glance at the colour of one what its alignment might happen to be, and they do not have all of the magical abilities dragons have. They tend to get on better with ordinary people as well, building rather more sustainable links than those based on slavery or lunch. Drakes and dragons don't always get on, either. Some dragons don't like these pesky upstarts, others think they'd make neat pets.

Drakes do like to hoard, but rather than going for gold and gems, a common theme is the 'curiousity' - unusual items, maybe of historical interest - or ones based on the type of drake that they are. Even aside from the geographic drakes, many choose to live someplace that is appropriate to their type, like the colony of ash drakes that live amongst the smokestacks of the foundaries of Zobeck. One section runs through many of the known drake types and where they are to be found in Midgard. The chapter rounds off with a list of some ten famous individual drakes: drakes of renown, even if your characters never meet them, they might have heard of them.

Next, Chapter 2: Players and Drakes looks both at companion drakes, and at those who want to actually play a drake character. (Don't laugh, I have a pseudodragon PC in one of my games who is great fun, even if he did set an entire monastery church alight through incautious use of his breath weapon!) For those seeking a drake companion, remember that they are not good at following orders, and are certainly not the docile creature that some familiars appear to be. Even if you choose not to use the rules for Wilful Companions (which are a delight for the mischevious GM to contemplate), they ought to be played as distinct personalities in their own right, often a bit superior, convinced that they are by far the most important members of the party and probably counting 'I told you so!' as one of the first phrases they learn in Common! Several feats aimed at drakes are presented, including ones for those who become companions. Drakes can choose any character class as their companion (and yes, they tend to see it that way round!), but different types prefer different classes, and - a rather neat thing - confer slightly different mechanical benefits based on class. For example, Cavaliers can choose a new order, the Order of the Drake, and Monks can develop a style based on how drakes fight. Those who really, really like drakes can take a whole new class, the Drake Tamer; and a prestige class, the Master of Drake Forms, aimed at anyone who enjoys shapeshifting.

The second part of this chapter looks at actually playing a drake character. Beginning with the pseudodragon, and using this as a framework to construct the necessary game mechanics to create any of the drakes in this book, you'll find all that you need if you fancy playing one of these small but fascinating creatures. Advancement and the sort of roles a drake PC might occupy are also discussed. This is followed by some new drake-related spells and magic items made for or by drakes. Finally, mundane items that are of use to drakes, including such useful concepts as blades that can be attached to wing or tail.

Next is Chapter 4: Game Masters and Drakes. The meat of this chapter is a full run-down on no less than 20 drakes to be used as allies or enemies in your game. This is a bestiary rather than a collection of NPCs, you will have to add specifics relating to each individual as you need them. Alehouse drakes sound rather fun, whilst candle drakes are useful to have around despite the unusual diet (they not only produce light, they eat candles, you see!). Others, such as crimson drakes and deep drakes, are inimicable by nature and far more likely to serve as foe than friend. There are some fine illustrations of the different types, too, the sort you want to print or project so you can say "You see this!" to your players. This fine array is followed by a set of rules for creating additional drake types to your own design.

This tome is quite a gem, particularly notable for the flexibility of approach from a bestiary to everything you need to create your own drakes as monsters or characters... if it's drakes you want, you will find them here.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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