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D&D 5E 5e Updates: Monstrous Compendium

Stalker0

Legend
Red Dragon, Young Adult
Large dragon, chaotic evil
View attachment 126952
Armor Class 20 (Natural Armor)
Hit Points 230 (20d10 + 120)
Speed 40 ft., climb 20 ft., fly 120 ft., swim 30 ft.
View attachment 126953
STRDEXCONINTWISCHA
23 (+6)16 (+3)23 (+6)16 (+3)13 (+1)20 (+5)
View attachment 126954
Saving Throws Str +11, Dex +8, Con +11, Wis +6, Cha +10
Skills Athletics +11, Perception +11, Stealth +8
Damage Immunities fire
Senses blindsight 50 ft., darkvision 120 ft., passive perception 21
Languages Common, Draconic
Challenge 14 (11,500 XP)
View attachment 126955
Dragon Magic (5/Day). The dragon uses its innate magic, requiring no components, to create the following spell-like effects (spell save DC 18, +10 to hit with attacks) as if they are 5th level spells: continual flame, fireball, flaming sphere, heat metal, hellish rebuke

Dragon Traits. The dragon can use the following Dragon Tactics: snatch, wing buffet

Keen Senses. The dragon has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks.

Magic Weapons. The dragon’s weapon attacks are considered magical weapons.

Unstoppable (2/Short Rest). At the start of its turn, the dragon can take 20 hit points of damage and immediately end all conditions or effects afflicting it is suffering. After taking the damage, the dragon cannot take reactions until the start of its next turn.

ACTIONS
Multiattack.
The dragon makes three attacks: two with is claws and one with its bite.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +11 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 17 (2d10 + 6) piercing damage plus 7 (2d6) fire damage.

Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +11 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 13 (2d6 + 6) slashing damage.

Immolate Foe. The dragon selects up to one target it can see within 60 feet of it, which becomes wrapped in magical flames. The target must make a DC 18 Constitution saving throw or loose any resistance to fire damage for 1 hour.

Tail Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +11 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit: 15 (2d8 + 6) bludgeoning damage. If the target is a Medium or smaller creature, it must succeed on a DC 19 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone.

Fire Breath (Recharge 5-6). The dragon exhales fire in a 60-foot cone. Each creature in that area must make a DC 19 Dexterity saving throw, taking 77 (14d10) fire damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

LEGENDARY ACTIONS
The dragon can take 2 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action option can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. If the dragon has unspent legendary actions at the end of the round, it may spend and immediately use its remaining legendary actions. The dragon regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.

Detect. The dragon extends its senses and makes a Wisdom (Perception) check.
Move. The dragon can move half its speed.
Tail Slam (Cost 2 Actions). The dragon makes a Tail Slam attack.

So I'm starting with this dragon because I think a legendary CR 14 would often serve as the campaign boss for a common campaign (aka ones that end in your 8-10ish level range...which seems common based on WOTC polls). So that's my mindset, how does this dragon serve in that capacity? I did also look at the CR 18 to compare how the two scaled off each other.

Wisdom: I would bump up the wisdom to a 16. This rounds out the saving throws (no weaknesses!) and reinforces the "perceptive" dragon stereotype.

Spellcasting: I do like the straight up 5/day, pick what spells you want. A lot simpler and very inline with dragon's "sorcerer like casting". As noted in that other Enworld thread, spells are a pain for DMs to run, and many DMs find its the trickiest part of a creature to run. So I'm going to spend some real effort looking at the spells to see if they really make sense for the dragon. My goal is...what is the smallest array of spells that gets you the "Dragon experience" you are looking for.

Hellish Rebuke: I think its going to be very easy for a DM to miss this spell, they see a bunch of "action" spells and go "nah, I want my dragon to just get in melee and breathe fire and kick butt". However, as a reaction...this is theory should be a solid part of the Dragon's DPR (33 DPR, almost half the breath weapon). I guarantee that DMs are going to miss this effect. Further, I believe the desire was to make dragons less "spellcastery", while they have magics, they aren't necessarily spellcasters as a primary option. But with this spell, the dragon should be casting magic every round...which again feels off in flavor. Personally I would drop this spell and adjust the offensive DPR accordingly.

Flaming Sphere: Not a great spell to use in combat, but its alright if the dragon catches wind early and gets a round to prepare (gives them a bonus action option)...or uses it to send fire down a tunnel or something. So this spell has some use, I think its worth keeping it in.

Heal Metal: Unlike flaming sphere, you have to wait till combat stars to get use. While I love this spell, its still not a great trade off versus the dragon's normal tactics. However, I have an idea! (see my notes on Immolate Foe).

Fireball: Fireball to me is a good spell for the dragon. It mimics a mini breath weapon, gives the dragon some good range options...and if you hit enough people can actually compete on DPR with the dragon's normal attack routine. This feels like a spell worthy to use on the list.

Continual Flame: Pure fluff spell. I would just say in the lair description that a dragon often has continual lights throughout and be done with it.

Dragon Tactics: These need to be spelled out in the statblock. Right now you are expecting a lot of work from the DM, finding the abilities, scaling them based on age category, etc. Also something I noticed as I was looking over the tactics for this review, Snatch and Throw occurs much earlier in the block than Snatch....if I was a DM quickly building my monster....it would be very easy to see the first entry and assume they were the same (maybe it was a mistake and they just forgot the "and Throw" in the ability description). So I would also change the name of Snatch and Throw to something completely different.

Unstoppable: I personally like the previous version better (reaction to lose condition on your turn, or 30 damage + reaction to remove condition immediately). Problem with this version is, it leaves your dragon very vulnerable if it gets hit early in the round. A quick example, party blinds the dragon and entire group gets advantage on him and just wails into it, and the dragon doesn't get to deal with that until its turn. It leaves the dragon very "initiative vulnerable", which is something legendary monster stats specifically try to address.

I don't think there was anything wrong with the previous version. It functioned as a weaker legendary resistance, and did its job well.

Immolate Foe: I agree with other reviews that this ability is too niche to consume an action, legendary or otherwise. The 5e action economy is tight, if a creature is going to hold its weight (especially a "boss monster"), an action has to pressure the party. But I think it can be salvaged by merging it with the heat metal effect. So instead of having heat metal the spell, we include it as an effect from this ability. Such as:

Immolate Foe: The dragon selects up to one target it can see within 60 feet of it, which becomes wrapped in magical flames. The target must make a DC 18 Constitution saving throw or loose any resistance to fire damage for 1 hour. At the start of its turn, if the target is wearing metal armor or holding metal objects, it takes 5d8 fire damage and has disadvantage on saving throws and ability checks. This effect last for 1 minute.

What I've done is wrap most of the heat metal spell in with your resistance strip effect. Even though the damage effect is not that much compared to a normal dragon routine, by adding in an "automatic, mostly irresistible" damage to a single character, you suddenly put a lot of pressure on the party. This makes a dragon fight feel more than just "damage back and forth", but actually scary. Now this is an action worthy of replacing a dragon's full attack routine....at least some of the time.

Legendary Actions: This is a personal preference, but I prefer dragons with 3 legendary actions. My thinking is... legendary actions are to counter multiple party members, and its not like the party grows at higher levels. More legendary actions allows the dragon to adapt to the changing fight against multiple foes. Even if on paper a stronger dragon action + 2 legendary actions balances out....I think in play more LAs will create a more dynamic fight.

"Cool" Abilities: I feel that the CR 14 is missing some of the coolness you add in to the CR 18. The detect adding advantage is awesome (though its a bit unclear if it works on the next attack, or all attacks....I think it should on all attacks), I like how your ignite effect creates obstacles on the battleground and changes the terrain, and I feel the dragon is really missing out not having frightful presence. As I stated at the beginning of the review, I feel that CR 14 is where the first "campaign boss" type monsters should show up.... and so I would like see the CR 14 get some of these cool "boss like" effects. I completely agree that lower CR dragons don't need all the big stuff, they aren't alpha predators yet. But I think by CR 14, the dragon is ready to inherit the "big boss package"..... as this may be the highest CR dragon many parties will ever face.
 

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Stalker0

Legend
Red Dragon, Wyrmling
Challenge
2 (450 XP)

I like the "slippery" ability, its a fun quirk to give a baby dragon that they grow out of it, and it adds some "cuteness" to them.

I personally would remove the tail attack, its not really providing any value at this CR compared to your other attacks, and that lets you trim the statblock slightly.
 


dave2008

Legend
Red Dragon, Wyrmling
Challenge
2 (450 XP)

I like the "slippery" ability, its a fun quirk to give a baby dragon that they grow out of it, and it adds some "cuteness" to them.

I personally would remove the tail attack, its not really providing any value at this CR compared to your other attacks, and that lets you trim the statblock slightly.
I like it too - glad you noticed. I have had "pet" iguanas, nile monitors, savannah monitors, basilisks, geckos, and even an alligator. It always amazed me how difficult to hold on them they could be if they really started thrashing. That was the inspiration for this ability.
 

Stalker0

Legend
Red Dragon, Young
Medium dragon, chaotic evil
Challenge 6 (2,300 XP)

I think the multi-attack notes here are needlessly complicated. I would just have a Bite and a Tail routine, and drop the Tail damage to equal the current claw damage. That gives you the proper damage values with no multi-attack complexities, simple and easy as a good CR 6 bruiser should be. If it seems weird that the creature doesn't use claws...you can note in flavor that dragon claws don't mature as fast as its tail and bite or something...I don't think that's necessary but its easy to flavor if it feels off.

Also the CR looks off to me. Even if I account for the really good saving throw bonuses I'm getting a Defensive CR 5 and Offensive CR 5....I'm a missing some ability that I'm not factoring in?
 
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dave2008

Legend
So I'm starting with this dragon because I think a legendary CR 14 would often serve as the campaign boss for a common campaign (aka ones that end in your 8-10ish level range...which seems common based on WOTC polls). So that's my mindset, how does this dragon serve in that capacity? I did also look at the CR 18 to compare how the two scaled off each other.
I understand your position and there is a certain logic to it. However, I personally would never consider using anything other than an Adult dragon or older. So I definitely don't see the Young Adult as a good metric to start with. Young Adults can't even use Lair Actions.

I a group wanted a CR 14 dragon as an end boss, I would go with an Adult Black or White Dragon.
Wisdom: I would bump up the wisdom to a 16. This rounds out the saving throws (no weaknesses!) and reinforces the "perceptive" dragon stereotype.
I can see that. However, it still has expertise in perception and Keen Senses, so it is very perceptive. I will consider it,
Spellcasting: I do like the straight up 5/day, pick what spells you want. A lot simpler and very inline with dragon's "sorcerer like casting". As noted in that other Enworld thread, spells are a pain for DMs to run, and many DMs find its the trickiest part of a creature to run. So I'm going to spend some real effort looking at the spells to see if they really make sense for the dragon. My goal is...what is the smallest array of spells that gets you the "Dragon experience" you are looking for.

Hellish Rebuke: I think its going to be very easy for a DM to miss this spell, they see a bunch of "action" spells and go "nah, I want my dragon to just get in melee and breathe fire and kick butt". However, as a reaction...this is theory should be a solid part of the Dragon's DPR (33 DPR, almost half the breath weapon). I guarantee that DMs are going to miss this effect. Further, I believe the desire was to make dragons less "spellcastery", while they have magics, they aren't necessarily spellcasters as a primary option. But with this spell, the dragon should be casting magic every round...which again feels off in flavor. Personally I would drop this spell and adjust the offensive DPR accordingly.

Flaming Sphere: Not a great spell to use in combat, but its alright if the dragon catches wind early and gets a round to prepare (gives them a bonus action option)...or uses it to send fire down a tunnel or something. So this spell has some use, I think its worth keeping it in.

Heal Metal: Unlike flaming sphere, you have to wait till combat stars to get use. While I love this spell, its still not a great trade off versus the dragon's normal tactics. However, I have an idea! (see my notes on Immolate Foe).

Fireball: Fireball to me is a good spell for the dragon. It mimics a mini breath weapon, gives the dragon some good range options...and if you hit enough people can actually compete on DPR with the dragon's normal attack routine. This feels like a spell worthy to use on the list.

Continual Flame: Pure fluff spell. I would just say in the lair description that a dragon often has continual lights throughout and be done with it.
I'm taking the opposite approach, for some of the reasons in the other thread. The spells are for flavor only and can be complete forgotten in combat. You do not need them. The dragon's listed abilities should almost always be a better option. A DM doesn't need to worry about remember these, but they are there if the want them.
Dragon Tactics: These need to be spelled out in the statblock. Right now you are expecting a lot of work from the DM, finding the abilities, scaling them based on age category, etc. Also something I noticed as I was looking over the tactics for this review, Snatch and Throw occurs much earlier in the block than Snatch....if I was a DM quickly building my monster....it would be very easy to see the first entry and assume they were the same (maybe it was a mistake and they just forgot the "and Throw" in the ability description). So I would also change the name of Snatch and Throw to something completely different.
Same as the spells. They are there for flavor and for those DMs who want the extra work. They have no effect on the the ability of the stat block to do its job. They are extra flavor if you want them. Plus, there is no room to put all of these in. I can come up with a different name for snatch and throw if that helps ;)
Unstoppable: I personally like the previous version better (reaction to lose condition on your turn, or 30 damage + reaction to remove condition immediately). Problem with this version is, it leaves your dragon very vulnerable if it gets hit early in the round. A quick example, party blinds the dragon and entire group gets advantage on him and just wails into it, and the dragon doesn't get to deal with that until its turn. It leaves the dragon very "initiative vulnerable", which is something legendary monster stats specifically try to address.

I don't think there was anything wrong with the previous version. It functioned as a weaker legendary resistance, and did its job well.
I'll look at it again. The reason I made the change was because some conditions don't allow reactions and thus could, in theory, nullify the effect. Though it is listed as trait and not a reaction, I thought it was confusing.
Immolate Foe: I agree with other reviews that this ability is too niche to consume an action, legendary or otherwise. The 5e action economy is tight, if a creature is going to hold its weight (especially a "boss monster"), an action has to pressure the party. But I think it can be salvaged by merging it with the heat metal effect. So instead of having heat metal the spell, we include it as an effect from this ability. Such as:

Immolate Foe: The dragon selects up to one target it can see within 60 feet of it, which becomes wrapped in magical flames. The target must make a DC 18 Constitution saving throw or loose any resistance to fire damage for 1 hour. At the start of its turn, if the target is wearing metal armor or holding metal objects, it takes 5d8 fire damage and has disadvantage on saving throws and ability checks. This effect last for 1 minute.

What I've done is wrap most of the heat metal spell in with your resistance strip effect. Even though the damage effect is not that much compared to a normal dragon routine, by adding in an "automatic, mostly irresistible" damage to a single character, you suddenly put a lot of pressure on the party. This makes a dragon fight feel more than just "damage back and forth", but actually scary. Now this is an action worthy of replacing a dragon's full attack routine....at least some of the time.
I like that idea. However, I think it works fine as a 1 action legendary action. The other 1 action legendary actions are move & detect.
Legendary Actions: This is a personal preference, but I prefer dragons with 3 legendary actions. My thinking is... legendary actions are to counter multiple party members, and its not like the party grows at higher levels. More legendary actions allows the dragon to adapt to the changing fight against multiple foes. Even if on paper a stronger dragon action + 2 legendary actions balances out....I think in play more LAs will create a more dynamic fight.
I believe in not having more legendary action than necessary. Originally, the Young Adult didn't have any legendary actions and then I added them in, but wanted it to be a little less than an Adult as it is not fully mature (Adults + get 3).
"Cool" Abilities: I feel that the CR 14 is missing some of the coolness you add in to the CR 18. The detect adding advantage is awesome (though its a bit unclear if it works on the next attack, or all attacks....I think it should on all attacks), I like how your ignite effect creates obstacles on the battleground and changes the terrain, and I feel the dragon is really missing out not having frightful presence. As I stated at the beginning of the review, I feel that CR 14 is where the first "campaign boss" type monsters should show up.... and so I would like see the CR 14 get some of these cool "boss like" effects. I completely agree that lower CR dragons don't need all the big stuff, they aren't alpha predators yet. But I think by CR 14, the dragon is ready to inherit the "big boss package"..... as this may be the highest CR dragon many parties will ever face.
I think about. I don't see Young Adult dragons, regardless of CR as "big boss" type monsters. My plan was for Adult dragons to be the first "true" dragons and when they get most of their cool things.
 

dave2008

Legend
Red Dragon, Young
Medium dragon, chaotic evil
Challenge 6 (2,300 XP)

I think the multi-attack notes here are needlessly complicated. I would just have a Bite and a Tail routine, and drop the Tail damage to equal the current claw damage. That gives you the proper damage values with no multi-attack complexities, simple and easy as a good CR 6 bruiser should be. If it seems weird that the creature doesn't use claws...you can note in flavor that dragon claws don't mature as fast as its tail and bite or something...I don't think that's necessary but its easy to flavor if it feels off.
I agree, it needs to be simplified. I just wanted to give it options. I often include things a creature should be able to do, even if it is not the best DPR.

FYI, this modeled after the MM Wyrmling (CR 4) which only has a bite attack - no claws or tail.

Also the CR looks off to me. Even if I account for the really good saving throw bonuses I'm getting a Defensive CR 5 and Offensive CR 5....I'm a missing some ability that I'm not factoring in?
It is off, I just checked my spreadsheet (I have one for each age) and I have it at 4.5. Not sure what happened. I will get it corrected.

Thank you!
 

Stalker0

Legend
I understand your position and there is a certain logic to it. However, I personally would never consider using anything other than an Adult dragon or older. So I definitely don't see the Young Adult as a good metric to start with. Young Adults can't even use Lair Actions.

That's a fine viewpoint, in that case I would go with your note below that you originally did not have legendary actions for this dragon. I think legendary actions basically signal "big boss"... so it seems a solid cut off that an Adult Dragon gains legendary actions, and therefore evolves into a "boss monster".

I'm taking the opposite approach, for some of the reasons in the other thread. The spells are for flavor only and can be complete forgotten in combat. You do not need them. The dragon's listed abilities should almost always be a better option. A DM doesn't need to worry about remember these, but they are there if the want them.

A fine viewpoint. In this case than you really should remove Hellish Rebuke, as written it is not a flavor spell, it has a major impact to the offensive CR of the creature. The other spells are fine with the context of flavor spells.

Same as the spells. They are there for flavor and for those DMs who want the extra work. They have no effect on the the ability of the stat block to do its job. They are extra flavor if you want them. Plus, there is no room to put all of these in. I can come up with a different name for snatch and throw if that helps ;)

Also makes sense for the Dragon Tactics....it might be good to note this somehow. I wouldn't want a DM thinking they needed to stat this section up to run the monster "at CR". Maybe you could note a "side statblock" that includes spellcasting and tactics for DMs who want more complex dragons.
 

dave2008

Legend
Red Dragon, Young
Medium dragon, chaotic evil
Challenge 6 (2,300 XP)

I think the multi-attack notes here are needlessly complicated. I would just have a Bite and a Tail routine, and drop the Tail damage to equal the current claw damage. That gives you the proper damage values with no multi-attack complexities, simple and easy as a good CR 6 bruiser should be. If it seems weird that the creature doesn't use claws...you can note in flavor that dragon claws don't mature as fast as its tail and bite or something...I don't think that's necessary but its easy to flavor if it feels off.

Also the CR looks off to me. Even if I account for the really good saving throw bonuses I'm getting a Defensive CR 5 and Offensive CR 5....I'm a missing some ability that I'm not factoring in?
I cleaned it up.

Regarding the CR. IF you just crunch the numbers it still comes in at a 5 (but I did bump the damage and HP). However, I remember why I bumped it up: fire immunity. Not a big deal at higher CRs, but per the guidelines it is at lower CRs. I checked the MM dragons and they do the same thing (that is why I did it).
 

dave2008

Legend
That's a fine viewpoint, in that case I would go with your note below that you originally did not have legendary actions for this dragon. I think legendary actions basically signal "big boss"... so it seems a solid cut off that an Adult Dragon gains legendary actions, and therefore evolves into a "boss monster".
That is a possibility. I will note that the unicorn is a legendary monster and it is CR 6 and the aboleth is a legendary monster and it is CR 10. But I get your point. I might give it something a little unique.
A fine viewpoint. In this case than you really should remove Hellish Rebuke, as written it is not a flavor spell, it has a major impact to the offensive CR of the creature. The other spells are fine with the context of flavor spells.
Agreed, I was think about that when I wrote my response. I was concerned about when I made the list originally.
Also makes sense for the Dragon Tactics....it might be good to note this somehow. I wouldn't want a DM thinking they needed to stat this section up to run the monster "at CR". Maybe you could note a "side statblock" that includes spellcasting and tactics for DMs who want more complex dragons.
That is definitely possible.
 

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