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Cult of the Dragon (2e)

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No longer can the members of one of the most infamous clandestine organizations in all the Realms lurk in their confortable shadows. No more can these men, women, dragons, dracoliches, and... others... scheme to subjugate all that is good and true while the rest of Faer?n waits unaware. For centuries has the evil secret society founded by the mad mage and Chosen of Mystra, Sammaster, labored secretly-well, no more!

This 128-page book lays bare the secrets of Sammaster and the secret society he created over 400 years ago. Herein is written the story of Sammaster's life, his triumphs, and his ultimate fall from grace, along with the history of the Cult of the Dragon, beginning with its foundation based on an obscure line in a tome of ancient prophecy. Learn of the Cult's most powerful current cells, their leaders, the dragons and dracoliches that work with them (or for them), and their goals. Discover the many foes the Cult has earned in over four centuries of treachery and industrious malevolent dealings. Also included are the details of some of the spells and magical items of the Cult and its dragons and dracoliches, including the one item that no Cult member will ever admit the existence of, much less claim to possess.

Read about the many magical variant and hybrid creatures that the Cult uses to exercise its will across the face of Faer?n. And finally, decide the best way to incorporate the Cult into a Forgotten Realms campaign by browsing the numerous adventure hooks for just the right scenario to tempt and terrify players of any gaming style.

Product History

Cult of the Dragon (1998), by Dale Donovan, is a prestige sourcebook for the Forgotten Realms. It was published in January 1998.

About the Cover. The cover for Cult of the Dragon is drawn from the cover for the early editions of Spellfire (1987).

Origins (I): The Eighth Black Book. Cult of the Dragon is the eighth book in the prestige, black-bound series that had been running throughout the '90s. Yet, we can't really call it "FOR8".

The last book definitely in the series, FOR7: Giantcraft (1995) had appeared more than two years previous. In the years since, handsome squarebound Realms publications like Pages from the Mages (1995), Wizards and Rogues of the Realms (1995), and Warriors and Priests of the Realms (1996) appeared, and some sources consider those part of the "FOR" series. As a result, one can't really call Cult of the Dragon "FOR8" (or "FOR11" for that matter) without some confusion.

In any case, like the rest of the "FOR" series proper, Cult of the Dragon is an in-depth look at a group within the Realms that's branded with a black cover.

Origins (II): More Dragons. Cult of the Dragon was actually the second draconic book in the "FOR" series. FOR1: Draconomicon focused on living dragons, while Cult of the Dragon is about fanatics who worship undead dragons.

A History of the Cult of the Dragon. The Cult of the Dragon originated in Ed Greenwood's own Forgotten Realms campaign. Greenwood describes them as a "behind-the-scenes" adversary who bedeviled his group throughout the early '80s. For example, they are one of the organizations known to have assaulted Myth Drannor when it was being guarded by the Knights.

The Cult was introduced to the rest of the world in "The Cult of the Dragon", an expansive article by Ed Greenwood for Dragon #110 (June 1986), which has details on the cult as well as the first stats for a dracolich. Unsurprisingly, they reappeared in Greenwood's first novel, Spellfire.

In his introduction to "The Cult of the Dragon" article, Greenwood offered an interesting comparison between the dragons of Krynn and the Realms. He says that the Cult is for "those DMs who like their dragons less dominant [than in Krynn], but still fancy some sort of dragonkind organization or power group". The result is "[l]ess powerful … [and] more secretive".

Exploring the Realms. Cult of the Dragon is entirely focused on the cult, with little on specific locales in the Realms.

Monsters of Note. The dracolich of course reappears, alongside zombie dragons, skeleton dragons, and ghost dragons! There's also a variety of other draconic monsters including: the dracimera (a chimera/dragon), the dracohydra, the generic-sounding dragon-kin, the mantidrake (a manticore/dragon), the wyvern drake (a wyvern/dragon), and the yuan-ti related ur-histachii.

The hybrids all originated in "Crossing Dragons with Everything" in Dragon #170 (June 1991), while the undead dragon variants first appeared in "The Draconomicon" in Dragon #234 (October 1996), which also included many more options. The dracohydra originated in FOR1: Draconomicon and the dragon-kin in Dragon Mountain (1993).

NPCs of Note. The most important NPC in Cult of the Dragon is obviously founder Sammaster, whose entire history is laid bare. He'd been briefly mentioned in any number of previous sources on the Cult, from the original Dragon article onward.

There are also three dracoliches who get special attention: Aurgloroasa, Daurgothoth, and Dretchroyaster. Of them, Daurgothoth is the most prominent having appeared in the fifth "Wyrms of the North" article in Dragon #234; this was an impressive series by Ed Greenwood that ran from Dragon #230 (June 1996) to Dragon #259 (May 1999) and detailed a unique dragon for almost every letter of the alphabet, complete with Greenwood's typical extensive background on the Forgotten Realms.

Organizations of Note. Cult of the Dragon is of course all about the Cult of the Dragon. One of the most interesting elements of the Cult may be its interaction with more typical Tiamat worshipers. Greenwood addressed this in his original article, saying there is "a splinter group or independent sect, the devil-worshiping Dragon Lords who serve Tiamat directly". Donovan's Cult of the Dragon adds more detail, saying that the Church of Tiamat and the Cult of the Dragon have become enemies in recent decades and that the Church has begun to infiltrate the Cult since the Time of Troubles.

This all eventually leads to Hoard of the Dragon Queen (2014) and The Rise of Tiamat (2015) where the Cult of the Dragon has actually been taken over by Tiamat worshippers!

About the Creators. Donovan was an author and editor at TSR and Wizards in the late '90s and early '00s. He'd previously contributed to Heroes' Lorebook (1996) and in 1998 would also author Villains' Lorebook (1998), Empires of the Shining Sea (1998), and For Duty and Deity (1998) for the Realms.

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

We (Wizards) recognize that some of the legacy content available on this website does not reflect the values of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. This content is presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is a strength, and we strive to make our D&D products as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end.

Reviews (5)
Discussions (1)
Customer avatar
Matt B March 08, 2018 5:27 pm UTC
POD is an excellent copy.
Customer avatar
Can U October 09, 2020 10:34 pm UTC
Does it have the title on spine?
Customer avatar
Matt B October 10, 2020 12:23 am UTC
No. This book has no title on the spine. FYI, I prefer any book fat enough to have titles on the spine.
Customer avatar
Can U October 12, 2020 1:38 pm UTC
I saw some reviews that said they have the title on the spine. Seems its random.
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This title was added to our catalog on May 23, 2017.