Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A to Z Challenge: D is for Dragons!

Dragons!  The titular beast of our beloved roleplaying game.  Dragons though have never quite lived up to my expectations as the most fearsome creatures in a manual, bestiary or compendium.  Sure they were huge and powerful but they lacked oomph, longevity and something to set them apart, something other than tacked on spell casting.  If you would like a quick history lesson on Dragon's through the ages, Delta's D&D Hotspot is always happy to provide.  In the very same post he elicited a number of responses on whether or not Dragon's should be granted immunity to missile fire and potentially non-magical weapons.  I am of the opinion that they could use both but others did not see the need to.  So in sprucing up Dragon's we'll add both to the list.  Taichara's Hamsterish Horde has d10 ways of taking your dragon to the next level and many of them are particularly evocative.  Great ideas but I'm looking for something more fundamental to the Dragon, although I must say these variants will certainly be memorable for your players so try them out!

So in order to beef up our particular version of Dragon's let look at what they are most well known for.  Their breath weapon, their size, their flight, their scales, their long lives and equally long slumber.  Here is what I'm proposing:

  • Age Categories
    • Hatchling(0)  1-6 HD
    • Adult(1)  7-12 HD
    • Venerable Wyrm(2) 13-18 HD
    • Elder Dragon(3) 19-24 HD
      • That's an awful lot of dice to spend.  We'll have to get creative on ways to spend it all.
  • Breath Weapons
    • The Dragons have a pool of dice for their Breath Weapon equal to their total Hit Dice
    • They may breathe an intense gout of flames focusing all or most dice on a small area blast
    • They may fire a salvo of elemental rain during a strafing run assigning dice for each blast
    • They recover a number of dice each round equal to their age category (a value of 0-3)
    • If using a Wounds system damage is split evenly between HP and Wounds on a failed save.
      • Wounds are typically equal to your Constitution score (or equivalent)
      • Do note that throwing this many dice at someone and potentially hitting their Wounds will only work with a Rule of Three system.
        • Rule of Three:  You may only benefit from three dice.
        • So if you roll 6 dice you would only keep 3.
  • Scaly Hide
    • All but hatchlings are immune to non-magical missile weapons.
      • A critical hit negates this property.
    • Venerable Wyrms and Elder Dragons may only be harmed by magical weapons or critical hits.
    • Dragons reduce all incoming damage equal to their age category (A value of 0-3)
  • Flight
    • A Dragon's flight is twice the speed of a mounted rider
    • Dragon's older than hatchling have difficultly maneuvering their great bulk
      • It takes an entire move to turn around in a wide lazy arc
  • Size
    • A dragon's immense bulk provides them with a number of additional melee attacks targets equal to their age rating (0-3)
    • Dragon's of great size are quite adept at disrupting formations of fighting men when they land.
      • Their age rating dictates the number of formations that are either squashed or knock around from the shockwaves generated in landing.
      • Smaller and more mobile groups are far more capable of getting out of dodge.

    • Elemental Aura's
      • Venerable Wyrms and Elder Dragons are possessing of great elemental strength after such long slumbers.
        • The elements physically manifest from their body at all times.
          • It also grants immunity to their particular element.
        • This also changes the environment of their lairs.
      •  Our Color Coded Dragons each have an additional effect added to their Breath Weapon
        • Red:  The increased arid heat makes an adventurer's gear more likely to combust and if the adventurer fails their save they are immolated, taking fire damage each round.
          • Directly to Wounds if applicable.
        • Blue:  Static electricity permeates the air and electrons flow freely among uninvited guests.  Whenever the Dragon breathes on an adventurer that failed her Saving Throw it immediately Arcs to another one outside of range dealing one less die of damage (per additional arc).
        • Green:  Noxious fumes pour out of its lair and between the creaks and crevices of its scaly hide. Adventurers have a cumulative -1 Saving Throw VS Poison (and Poisonous Breath Attacks) for each round they stay in the cloud.
          •  Their breath weapon also lingers forcing anyone who remains within to continue making saving throws.
        • Black:  An acidic haze permeates the area, non-magical equipment begins deteriorating upon entering and and each item must make a Saving Throw after the Adventurer fails their Saving throw vs the Dragon's Breath Weapon.
        • White:  A cold stillness envelops the room, a frozen prison awaits those who stop moving.  If the adventurer fails their Saving throw vs Breath Weapon they must immediately make a Save vs Petrification or equivalent or be frozen in a block of ice.
      • Our Color Coded Dragons also have elemental effects pouring out of their hides.  They may deduct dice from their Breath Weapon pool to both deal damage as a reprisal and visit ruin upon their attacker.
        • Red:  Magma now runs through its blood, whenever it takes damage from a Critical hit  the attacker receives a spray of burning blood and their weapon is potentially slagged.  The dragon may deduct dice from its breath weapon pool to melt the attacker and the weapon must make a saving throw or be destroyed.
          • If the weapon survives the red-hot weapon now deals damage each round to its wielder equal to the dice deducted from the breath weapon pool (max 3)
        • Blue:  The Dragon is one big collected static charge, anytime a critical hit is struck with a metallic weapon the dragon may deduct d6's from its breath weapon pool to electrocute the attacker.  The weapon retains this electrified charge and it is actively repelled by the Dragon's hide, a -1 to hit for each die spent (max 3).
        • Green: Striking the Dragon releases a concentrated blast of lethal gas, the attacker is blind within the cloud and will quickly die if they do not escape.  The dragon creates a killer cloud in that zone creating a separate die pool, all creatures that enter in are subjected to the Dragon's breath weapon with damage equal to the dice invested.
          • The cloud remains for a number of rounds equal to the dice spent (max of 3)
        • Black:  Jets of acid spew out after every successful critical hit.  For each die of damage spent the weapon deals 1 less damage and armor is 1 less point effective (maximum of 3)
        • White:  After a critical hit against the dragon the attacker finds their blade chilled and their limbs numbed.  They suffer a -1 point to speed and a +1 to speed factor (if applicable) for each die of damage assigned.

    Well that should certainly be more than enough to up the ante on our Scaly Kings.  Feel free to try them out in your games and please let me know if any of the elemental effects for the older dragon's makes a big impression on your players.


      1. Goodness, that red weapon melting effect is scary. If the player doesn't have a decent sidearm (and many I play with don't) they're toast and are forced to run for their lives.

        And I totally didn't get your "monster" hint in the last post, haha!

        1. Come to think of it the only time my players carry a backup weapon its always a thrown weapon or ranged weapon. I think weapon specialization may be the culprit here.

          Yeah I think Red and Black's would be the most feared by players, although Green could be quite hazardous if you play it as a game of hide and go seek in the poison mists. Blue on the other hand seems very weak at first glance. compared to the others. I'll have to think of something with a bit more oomph for the rewrite. Perhaps weapons become magnetized and are stuck to its hide or perhaps they form a blade barrier. We'll see!