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5E 5e Updates: Mythic, Epic, and Hardcore Monsters

Stalker0

Legend
OK, I want to get this figured out before I do the dragons, so here is what I am thinking. I think we have a basic trait that is then modified by: the amount of damage, the number of conditions, the number of uses. Something like this:

Unstoppable (# of uses). The (monster) can use a reaction, take (#) hit points of damage and immediately end (#) condition(s) or effect(s) it is suffering.

CRDamage/Condition# of conditions# of uses
0-5511/Short Rest
6-101012/Short Rest
11-151513/Short Rest
16-202023/Short Rest
21-25252unlimited
26-30303unlimited

What do you think?

So I think the 30 damage number felt right at the CR 16ish level where I have used some of your monster ideas, so I would be fine with that.

In terms of number of conditions, again its too much to track (well which effects will I remove, how many do I have left, etc). I think unstoppable is unstoppable, if its activated, all conditions are dropped. Realistically I rarely see that many conditions stacked on a monster at one time, once he's disabled the party moves on to condition another creature....or they just wail on it.

# of uses: My combats very consistently last about 3 rounds (in fact one of my players actually noted that recently himself). Also looking at the boards, 3 rounds seems to be a common duration for your general fights. So again I say...just make it an innate part of the monster, very rarely are you going to eck out more than 3 uses of it.

What you could do is keep the damage high at the lower CRs. So yeah, those monsters can use it as much as they want....except they are REALLY killing themselves to do it, so they are going to be loathe to commit to it that often. So the system balances itself, if the DM wants to keep using it at lower levels to do a ton of damage to his monster, than the party kills it all the quicker.
 

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dave2008

Legend
Since your going to do so many dragons, I'll just note a few of my desires and pet peeves about the standard dragons.

To me, Dragons are supposed to be Alpha Predators, top dogs on the planetary food chain (and of course the namesake of the franchise). They are the embodiment of the living tank....they combine a strong durable defense with an incredible offense. Its not that dragons are the toughest things, and its not that they are the most damaging things....its that they combine high strengths in both to generate a weapon you just do not mess with.

So a few notes:

1) Dragons as written have incredible senses and even get detect as a legendary action. But it doesn't do anything, its just perception. I wish this was pushed further, dragons don't just see you....they see "through you". They see your soul, your thoughts, your intentions. This could be manifested as a form of foresight, advantage against foes they use detect on, able to exploit a vulnerability (aka vulnerability the game mechanic) you didn't even know you had, etc.

2) Dragon breath weapons are their hallmark, and though they do good damage, they aren't always the sexiest option. I like to see breath's really scale up on the higher dragons, they can burn away magics, alter their shapes, linger and shape the battlefield, recharge more often at high levels, etc.

3) Dragon defenses should always be tough....and the high level dragons are I think worthy of true Damage Reduction (similar to the heavy armor mastery feat, but against magic weapons too). Its not a damage threshold, but true honest to god damage reduction. Also top dragons should get proficiencies in all saves, dragons don't have weak points to exploit like lesser monsters, they are always tough, its just some things are tougher than others. That said, I wouldn't not give them magic resistance, as dragons are innate creatures of magic, and frankly that mechanic is used way too often for higher CR monsters. Though of course, some kind of "unstoppable" ability as you have already used in other monsters.

4) I like that dragons are magical creatures and so get magical effects as they age, but spellcasting never feels right for them. I would love to see some magics imbued into their abilities. They have mage armor on all the time (reflected in their AC), some dragons breath blows you away like gust of wind (included in the breath stat block), some essence dragons have a passwall innate abiity that they can literally just pass through walls and barriers. So just ideas, but the thought being is that dragons should not "cast" spells in a fight, magic is an innate part of them, they are magic, so its either always on, or always applied to their attacks and movements.
I generally agree with this and feel I captured most of the concepts to some extent in my red dragon drafts. However, I will keep them in my mind as I move forward.

On of my issues with 5e dragons is that they are all the same. Other than breathweapon, the dragons are basically indistinguishable. The will change with my dragons.

PS - from my avatar I hope you can guess I have a bit of a dragon crush. I too agree they are alpha predators and plan to stat them as such.
 

dave2008

Legend
So I think the 30 damage number felt right at the CR 16ish level where I have used some of your monster ideas, so I would be fine with that.

In terms of number of conditions, again its too much to track (well which effects will I remove, how many do I have left, etc). I think unstoppable is unstoppable, if its activated, all conditions are dropped. Realistically I rarely see that many conditions stacked on a monster at one time, once he's disabled the party moves on to condition another creature....or they just wail on it.

# of uses: My combats very consistently last about 3 rounds (in fact one of my players actually noted that recently himself). Also looking at the boards, 3 rounds seems to be a common duration for your general fights. So again I say...just make it an innate part of the monster, very rarely are you going to eck out more than 3 uses of it.

What you could do is keep the damage high at the lower CRs. So yeah, those monsters can use it as much as they want....except they are REALLY killing themselves to do it, so they are going to be loathe to commit to it that often. So the system balances itself, if the DM wants to keep using it at lower levels to do a ton of damage to his monster, than the party kills it all the quicker.
Thanks for the input, I will take it into account and try to get these standardized before I do the dragons.
 

dave2008

Legend
So I think the 30 damage number felt right at the CR 16ish level where I have used some of your monster ideas, so I would be fine with that.

In terms of number of conditions, again its too much to track (well which effects will I remove, how many do I have left, etc). I think unstoppable is unstoppable, if its activated, all conditions are dropped. Realistically I rarely see that many conditions stacked on a monster at one time, once he's disabled the party moves on to condition another creature....or they just wail on it.

# of uses: My combats very consistently last about 3 rounds (in fact one of my players actually noted that recently himself). Also looking at the boards, 3 rounds seems to be a common duration for your general fights. So again I say...just make it an innate part of the monster, very rarely are you going to eck out more than 3 uses of it.

What you could do is keep the damage high at the lower CRs. So yeah, those monsters can use it as much as they want....except they are REALLY killing themselves to do it, so they are going to be loathe to commit to it that often. So the system balances itself, if the DM wants to keep using it at lower levels to do a ton of damage to his monster, than the party kills it all the quicker.
I just realized the DMG already has a metric from Legendary Resistance:

Each use increases effective HP by 10 (CR 1-4), 20 (CR 5-10), or 30 (CR 11+)

So that gives a baseline to use for unstoppable. However, Legendary Resistance is a little stronger as it reduces damage from the attack and has no action cost. Unstoppable cost a reaction and does not reduce the damage. However, if unstoppable ends all conditions, maybe it is a wash. Though I tend to agree that multiple conditions applied is rare in 5e.

I think I've got the HP cost about figured, but what about action cost. Original it was a reaction, but what if it required a bonus action or a standard action? Every monster has reactions, so I figure that would be the standard, but I am just trying to cover my bases.

OK, here is my next attempt:

Unstoppable. The (monster) can use a reaction, take (#) hit points of damage, and immediately end all conditions or effects it is suffering.

# = 5 (CR 1-4), 10 (CR 5-10), 20 (CR11-15), 30 (CR 16+)

EDIT: Just realized that some conditions don't allow you to use reactions which would create confusion in how this works with unstoppable, so:

Unstoppable. At the start of its turn, the (monster) can suffer (#) hit points of damage, and immediately end all conditions or effects afflicting it.

I think this is clear and simple and doesn't interact with other conditions or effects. Additionally, it allows the spell to be effective until he monster's turn. So it is not a complete nerf.
 
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dave2008

Legend
Since your going to do so many dragons, I'll just note a few of my desires and pet peeves about the standard dragons.

To me, Dragons are supposed to be Alpha Predators, top dogs on the planetary food chain (and of course the namesake of the franchise). They are the embodiment of the living tank....they combine a strong durable defense with an incredible offense. Its not that dragons are the toughest things, and its not that they are the most damaging things....its that they combine high strengths in both to generate a weapon you just do not mess with.

So a few notes:
Generally I agree, but I just want to point out that I am going with the standard D&D trope that dragons get stronger as they age. They are only "Legendary" when the get to Adult and after that they get more more versatile and powerful. So anything younger than Adult will not really be "Alpha Predator," but getting there!
1) Dragons as written have incredible senses and even get detect as a legendary action. But it doesn't do anything, its just perception. I wish this was pushed further, dragons don't just see you....they see "through you". They see your soul, your thoughts, your intentions. This could be manifested as a form of foresight, advantage against foes they use detect on, able to exploit a vulnerability (aka vulnerability the game mechanic) you didn't even know you had, etc.
Very good idea, I will make use of that!
2) Dragon breath weapons are their hallmark, and though they do good damage, they aren't always the sexiest option. I like to see breath's really scale up on the higher dragons, they can burn away magics, alter their shapes, linger and shape the battlefield, recharge more often at high levels, etc.
I already do some of this with my dragons. The trick is finding the right balance. The issue you have to be careful with is the affect on CR as the breathweapon plays a lot into that, so expecting to be used more often means everything else is weaker. Now, I have given my dragons a legendary recharge action before. Spend legendary actions to recharge your breathweapon, but use it can balance things out.
3) Dragon defenses should always be tough....and the high level dragons are I think worthy of true Damage Reduction (similar to the heavy armor mastery feat, but against magic weapons too). Its not a damage threshold, but true honest to god damage reduction. Also top dragons should get proficiencies in all saves, dragons don't have weak points to exploit like lesser monsters, they are always tough, its just some things are tougher than others. That said, I wouldn't not give them magic resistance, as dragons are innate creatures of magic, and frankly that mechanic is used way too often for higher CR monsters. Though of course, some kind of "unstoppable" ability as you have already used in other monsters.
I'm already improving saves for monsters generally, and agree with you on dragons getting them all. Not sure about true damage reduction. We use it in our games, but it doesn't seem like it gets much traction with the general gaming audience. Messes with CR calculations too. I'll think about it.

Regarding magic resistance, you used a double-negative implying you would keep magic resistance, but it seems you want to be removed? Or are you suggesting it be removed from other monsters? I've used Limited Magic Resistance before (advantage on spells up to a certain level). MR hurts CR (+2 to effective AC) so getting rid of it would allow more design space. With high saves dragons would be good mostly without it except for Dex. Maybe they have something similar to "Evasion" as that only adds +1 to AC.

Dragon Scales. The dragon is immune to all damage, except psychic damage, unless the attack or effect inflicts more than 10 hit points of damage, in which case it takes damage as normal. Additionally, if the dragon is subjected to an effect that allows it to make a saving throw to take only half damage, it instead takes no damage if it succeeds on the saving throw, and only half damage if it fails.

4) I like that dragons are magical creatures and so get magical effects as they age, but spellcasting never feels right for them. I would love to see some magics imbued into their abilities. They have mage armor on all the time (reflected in their AC), some dragons breath blows you away like gust of wind (included in the breath stat block), some essence dragons have a passwall innate abiity that they can literally just pass through walls and barriers. So just ideas, but the thought being is that dragons should not "cast" spells in a fight, magic is an innate part of them, they are magic, so its either always on, or always applied to their attacks and movements.
I agree in general, but it gets unwieldy in a stat block quickly. I typically give them some themed magical things (red dragons are good with fire so I give them some fire themed magic), but don't go overboard. What I think might work is to give them innate abilities similar to magic items, like their bite is similar to a sword of sharpness or something similar. Maybe that is what you mean by, "imbued into their abilities."

I also tend to give older dragons access to lair actions, without being in their lair. I am think lair actions should scale as the dragon ages as well.
 

Stalker0

Legend
Regarding magic resistance, you used a double-negative implying you would keep magic resistance, but it seems you want to be removed? Or are you suggesting it be removed from other monsters? I've used Limited Magic Resistance before (advantage on spells up to a certain level). MR hurts CR (+2 to effective AC) so getting rid of it would allow more design space. With high saves dragons would be good mostly without it except for Dex. Maybe they have something similar to "Evasion" as that only adds +1 to AC.

Dragon Scales. The dragon is immune to all damage, except psychic damage, unless the attack or effect inflicts more than 10 hit points of damage, in which case it takes damage as normal. Additionally, if the dragon is subjected to an effect that allows it to make a saving throw to take only half damage, it instead takes no damage if it succeeds on the saving throw, and only half damage if it fails.

What I think might work is to give them innate abilities similar to magic items, like their bite is similar to a sword of sharpness or something similar. Maybe that is what you mean by, "imbued into their abilities."

Apologies for the confusion, I meant that I think magic resistance is not necessary for the dragon. I think the ability is used too much on higher level monsters as a crutch, but if dragons are given all good saves its not needed.

I like Dragon scales, the "super evasion" is a nice touch that gives it some identity. Though I like damage reduction, a 10 damage threshold still ensures that the "riff raff" are put away...you can't beat a high level dragon with an army of archers (as in LOTR style, all the arrows just bounce off), you need elite soldiers to do the job. And even at higher levels, a 10 threshold is enough where some regular attacks just will not get through unless you have highly magic weapons for the extra damage....which again is perfect within flavor.
 

dave2008

Legend
A RED DRAGON'S LAIR
A red dragon's lair can be found on great hills or on soaring mountains. From a high perch they haughtily survey their territory, which they consider to be everything that can be seen from their position. Red dragons prefer to lair in large caves or cavern systems that extend deep into the earth, the most prized locations are connected to thermal vents or volcanoes. Red dragons are particularly notorious for taken over mines or subterranean strongholds from creatures they deem less deserving than themselves (which is pretty much any creature).

Some red dragons create large and elaborate lairs and...more to come.

A dragon in its lair is a more dangerous opponent. Raise the dragons CR by one when it is encountered in its lair.

LAIR ACTIONS
An adult or older red dragon can use lair actions while in its lair. As the dragon ages, these effect become more potent. On initiative count 20 (losing initiative ties), the dragon takes a lair action to cause one of the following effects; the dragon can’t use the same effect two rounds in a row:
  • Clairaudience. The dragon can hear sounds at a location it chooses within its lair as if it was there. This affect last until the dragon uses a lair action to relocate its clairaudience to another location, it uses a different lair action, or it losses concentration as if concentrating on a spell. The dragon can also end the effect at will (no action).
  • Pillar of Fire. The dragon opens a fissure to the elemental plane of fire, causing flames to erupt from a point on the ground the dragon can see within 120 feet of it, creating a 20-foot-high, 5-foot-radius column. Each creature in the area must make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw, taking 21 (6d6) fire damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.
    • Ancient: Increase the range to 180 feet; increase the height and radius of the geyser to 40 feet and a 10-foot radius respectively. Additionally, increase the save DC to 17.
    • Great Wyrm: Increase the range to 240 feet; increase the height and radius of the geyser to 80 feet and a 15-foot radius respectively. Additionally, increase the save DC to 20.
  • Tremors. The dragon causes the ground of the lair to shake in a 60-foot radius around the dragon. Each creature other than the dragon on the ground in that area must succeed on a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw or be knocked prone.
    • Ancient: Increase the radius to 120 feet and the save DC to 17.
    • Great Wyrm: Increase the radius to 180 feet and the save DC to 20.
  • Volcanic Gases. The dragon conjures a cloud of noxious vapors in a 20-foot-radius sphere centered on a point the dragon can see within 120 feet of it. The sphere spreads around corners, and its area is lightly obscured. It lasts until initiative count 20 on the next round. Each creature that starts its turn in the cloud must succeed on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or be poisoned until the end of its turn. While poisoned in this way, a creature is incapacitated.
    • Ancient: Increase the radius to 30 feet, the range to 180 feet, and the save DC to 17.
    • Great Wyrm: Increase the radius to 40 feet, the range to 260 feet, and the save DC to 20.
REGIONAL EFFECTS
The region containing a legendary red dragon’s lair is warped by the dragon’s magic, which creates one or more of the following effects:
  • Small earthquakes are common within 6 miles of the dragon’s lair.
    • Ancient: Increase the radius to 8 miles.
    • Great Wyrm: Increase the radius to 10 miles.
  • Water sources within 1 mile of the lair are supernaturally warm and tainted by sulfur.`
    • Ancient: Increase the radius to 2 miles.
    • Great Wyrm: Increase the radius to 4 miles.
  • Rocky fissures within 1 mile of the dragon’s lair form portals to the Elemental Plane of Fire, allowing creatures of elemental fire into the world to dwell nearby.
    • Ancient: Increase the radius to 2 miles.
    • Great Wyrm: Increase the radius to 4 miles.
If a creature makes a successful DC 15 Intelligence (Nature) check after observing one of these effects, it successfully ascertains that the cause of the effect is that a red dragon's lair is in the area. The creature has advantage on the check if it has observed two or more of the regional effects. If the dragon dies, these effects fade over the course of 1d10 days.
 
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dave2008

Legend
A BLUE DRAGON'S LAIR
Blue dragons typically lair in deserts; arid, windswept plains; and hot humid badlands. They enjoy the bleak terrain because there are few obstacles, only an occasional rock outcropping or dune, to interrupt the view of their territories. They spend hours looking out over their domains, watching for trespassers and admiring their property.

A dragon in its lair is a more dangerous opponent. Raise the dragons CR by one when it is encountered in its lair.

LAIR ACTIONS
An adult or older blue dragon can use lair actions while in its lair. As the dragon ages, these effect become more potent. On initiative count 20 (losing initiative ties), the dragon takes a lair action to cause one of the following effects; the dragon can’t use the same effect two rounds in a row:
  • Clairaudience. The dragon can hear sounds at a location it chooses within its lair as if it was there. This affect last until the dragon uses a lair action to relocate its clairaudience to another location, it uses a different lair action, or it losses concentration as if concentrating on a spell. The dragon can also end the effect at will (no action).
  • Cave In. The dragon causes part of the ceiling to collapse above one creature that the dragon can see within 120 feet of it. The creature must succeed on a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw or take 10 (3d6) bludgeoning damage and be knocked prone and buried. The buried target is restrained and unable to breathe or stand up. A creature can take an action to make a DC 10 Strength check, ending the buried state on a success.
    • Ancient: Increase the saving throw DC to 17, the damage to 17 (5d6), and the Strength check to 15. Additionally, one Medium or smaller creature adjacent to the target must make a DC 17 Dexterity saving throw or talk half the damage of the initial target, but is not knocked prone or buried.
    • Great Wyrm: Increase the saving throw DC to 20, the damage to 24 (7d6), and the Strength check to 17. Additionally, all Medium or smaller creatures adjacent to the target must make a DC 17 Dexterity saving throw or talk half the damage of the initial target, but is not knocked prone or buried.
  • Sand Cloud. The dragon conjures a swirling cloud of sand in a 20-foot-radius sphere centered on a point the dragon can see within 120 feet of it. The cloud spreads around corners. Each creature in the cloud must succeed on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or be blinded for 1 minute. A creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.
    • Ancient: Increase the range of the cloud to 180 feet and the saving throw DC to 17.
    • Great Wyrm: Increase the radius of the cloud to 30 feet, the range of the cloud to 200 feet and the saving throw DC to 20.
  • Arc Lightning.Lightning arcs, forming a 5-foot-wide line between two of the lair’s solid surfaces that the dragon can see. They must be within 120 feet of the dragon and 120 feet of each other. Each creature in that line must succeed on a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw or take 10 (3d6) lightning damage.
    • Ancient: Increase the range of the effect and distance from the dragon to 180 feet. Increase the saving throw DC to 17 and the damage to 17 (5d6).
    • Great Wyrm: Increase the range of the effect and distance from the dragon to 240 feet. Increase the saving throw DC to 20 and the damage 24 16 (7d6).
Regional Effects
The region containing a legendary blue dragon’s lair is warped by the dragon’s magic, which creates one or more of the following effects:
  • Thunderstorms rage within 6 miles of the lair.
    • Ancient: Increase the radius to 8 miles.
    • Great Wyrm: Increase the radius to 10 miles.
  • Dust devils scour the land within 6 miles of the lair. A dust devil has the statistics of an air elemental, but it can’t fly, has a speed of 50 feet, and has an Intelligence and Charisma of 1 (−5).
    • Ancient: Increase the range of the dust devils to 8 miles.
    • Great Wyrm: Increase the range of the dust devils to 10 miles.
  • Hidden sinkholes form in and around the dragon’s lair. A sinkhole can be spotted from a safe distance with a successful DC 20 Wisdom (Perception) check. Otherwise, the first creature to step on the thin crust covering the sinkhole must succeed on a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw or fall 1d6 × 10 feet into the sinkhole.
    • Ancient: Increase the DC of the throws to 22 (Wisdom) and the 17 (Dexterity) and the depth of the sink hole to 2d6 x 10 feet.
    • Great Wyrm: Increase the DC of the throws to 24 (Wisdom) and the 20 (Dexterity) and the depth of the sink hole to 3d6 x 10 feet.
If a creature makes a successful DC 15 Intelligence (Nature) check after observing one of these effects, it successfully ascertains that the cause of the effect is that a red dragon's lair is in the area. The creature has advantage on the check if it has observed two or more of the regional effects. If the dragon dies, the dust devils disappear immediately, and the thunderstorms abate within 1d10 days. Any sinkholes remain where they are.
 
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dave2008

Legend
A GREEN DRAGON'S LAIR
Green dragons lairs can be typical found in sub-tropical and temperate forests, the older the forest and bigger the trees, the better. The sights and smells of the woods are pleasing to the dragon, and it considers the entire forest or woods its territory. Sometimes the dragon will enter into a relationship with other evil forest-dwelling creatures, which keep the dragon informed about what is going on in the forest and surrounding area in exchange for their lives. If a green dragon lives in a forest on a hillside, it will seek to enslave hill giants, which the dragon considers its greatest enemy. A green dragon makes its lair in underground chambers far beneath its forest.

A dragon in its lair is a more dangerous opponent. Raise the dragons CR by one when it is encountered in its lair.

LAIR ACTIONS
An adult or older green dragon can use lair actions while in its lair. As the dragon ages, these effect become more potent. On initiative count 20 (losing initiative ties), the dragon takes a lair action to cause one of the following effects; the dragon can’t use the same effect two rounds in a row:
  • Clairaudience. The dragon can hear sounds at a location it chooses within its lair as if it was there. This affect last until the dragon uses a lair action to relocate its clairaudience to another location, it uses a different lair action, or it losses concentration as if concentrating on a spell. The dragon can also end the effect at will (no action).
  • Entangling Roots.The dragon causes grasping roots and vines to erupt in a 20-foot radius area centered on a point on the ground that the dragon can see within 120 feet of it. That area becomes difficult terrain, and each creature there must succeed on a DC 15 Strength saving throw or be restrained by the roots and vines. A creature can be freed if it or another creature takes an action to make a DC 15 Strength check and succeeds. The roots and vines wilt away when the dragon uses this lair action again or when the dragon dies.
    • Ancient: Increase the radius of the roots to 30 feet, the range to 180 feet, and the saving throw and check DC to 17.
    • Great Wyrm: Increase the radius of the roots to 40 feet, the range to 240 feet, and the saving throw and check DC to 20.
  • Wall of Thorns. A wall of tangled brush bristling with thorns springs into existence on a solid surface within 120 feet of the dragon. The wall is up to 60 feet long, 10 feet high, and 5 feet thick, and it blocks line of sight. When the wall appears, each creature in its area must make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw. A creature that fails the save takes 18 (4d8) piercing damage and is pushed 5 feet out of the wall’s space, appearing on whichever side of the wall it wants. A creature can move through the wall, albeit slowly and painfully. For every 1 foot a creature travels through the wall, it must spend 4 feet of movement. Furthermore, a creature in the wall’s space must make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw once each round it’s in contact with the wall, taking 18 (4d8) piercing damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. Each 10-foot section of wall has AC 5, 15 hit points, vulnerability to fire damage, resistance to bludgeoning and piercing damage, and immunity to psychic damage. The wall sinks back into the ground when the dragon uses this lair action again or when the dragon dies.
    • Ancient: Increase the length of the wall to 80 feet and the saving throw DC to 17.
    • Great Wyrm: Increase the length of the wall to 100 feet and the saving throw DC to 20.
  • Fog. Magical fog billows around one creature the dragon can see within 120 feet of it. The creature must succeed on a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw or be charmed by the dragon until initiative count 20 on the next round.
    • Ancient: Increase the range to 180 feet, and the saving throw and check DC to 17.
    • Great Wyrm: Increase the range to 240 feet, and the saving throw and check DC to 20.
Regional Effects
The region containing a legendary green dragon’s lair is warped by the dragon’s magic, which creates one or more of the following effects:
  • Thickets form labyrinthine passages within 1 mile of the dragon’s lair. The thickets act as 10-foot-high, 10-foot-thick walls that block line of sight. Creatures can move through the thickets, with every 1 foot a creature moves costing it 4 feet of movement. A creature in the thickets must make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw once each round it’s in contact with the thickets or take 3 (1d6) piercing damage from thorns.
    Each 10-foot-cube of thickets has AC 5, 30 hit points, resistance to bludgeoning and piercing damage, vulnerability to fire damage, and immunity to psychic and thunder damage.
    • Ancient: Increase the range to 2 miles.
    • Great Wyrm: Increase the range to 4 miles.
  • Within 1 mile of its lair, the dragon leaves no physical evidence of its passage unless it wishes to. Tracking it there is impossible except by magical means. In addition, it ignores movement impediments and damage from plants in this area that are neither magical nor creatures, including the thickets described above. The plants remove themselves from the dragon’s path.
    • Ancient: Increase the range to 2 miles.
    • Great Wyrm: Increase the range to 4 miles.
  • Rodents and birds within 1 mile of the dragon’s lair serve as the dragon’s eyes and ears. Deer and other large game are strangely absent, hinting at the presence of an unnaturally hungry predator.
    • Ancient: Increase the range to 2 miles.
    • Great Wyrm: Increase the range to 4 miles.
If a creature makes a successful DC 15 Intelligence (Nature) check after observing one of these effects, it successfully ascertains that the cause of the effect is that a red dragon's lair is in the area. The creature has advantage on the check if it has observed two or more of the regional effects. If the dragon dies, the rodents and birds lose their supernatural link to it. The thickets remain, but within 1d10 days, they become mundane plants and normal difficult terrain, losing their thorns.
 
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dave2008

Legend
A BLACK DRAGON'S LAIR
Black dragons are found in swamps, marshes, rain forests, and jungles. They revel in a steamy environment where canopies of trees filter out most of the sunlight, swarms of insects fill the air, and stagnant moss-covered ponds lie in abundance. Black dragons are excellent swimmers and enjoy lurking in the gloomy depths of swamps and bogs. They also are graceful in flight; however, they prefer to fly at night when their great forms are hidden by the darkness of the sky.

A dragon in its lair is a more dangerous opponent. Raise the dragons CR by one when it is encountered in its lair.

LAIR ACTIONS
An adult or older black dragon can use lair actions while in its lair. As the dragon ages, these effect become more potent. On initiative count 20 (losing initiative ties), the dragon takes a lair action to cause one of the following effects; the dragon can’t use the same effect two rounds in a row:
  • Clairaudience. The dragon can hear sounds at a location it chooses within its lair as if it was there. This affect last until the dragon uses a lair action to relocate its clairaudience to another location, it uses a different lair action, or it losses concentration as if concentrating on a spell. The dragon can also end the effect at will (no action).
  • Grasping Water. The dragon magically controls pools of water that it can see within 120 feet of it, making them surge outward in a grasping tide. Any creature on the ground within 20 feet of such a pool must succeed on a DC 15 Strength saving throw or be pulled up to 20 feet into the water and knocked prone.
    • Ancient: Increase the range to 180 feet and the reach and pull to 30 feet. Additionally, increase the save DC to 17.
    • Great Wyrm: Increase the range to 240 feet and the reach and pull to 40 feet. Additionally, increase the save DC to 20.
  • Insect Swarm. The dragon summons a cloud of swarming insects that fill a 20-foot-radius sphere centered on a point the dragon chooses within 120 feet of it. The cloud spreads around corners and remains until the dragon dismisses it as an action, uses this lair action again, or dies. The cloud is lightly obscured. Any creature in the cloud when it appears must make on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw, taking 10 (3d6) piercing damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. A creature that ends its turn in the cloud takes 10 (3d6) piercing damage.
    • Ancient: Increase the range to 180 feet and the swarm to a 30-foot radius. Additionally, increase the saving throw DC to 17 and the damage 16 (5d6) piercing.
    • Great Wyrm: Increase the range to 240 feet and the swarm to a 40-foot radius. Additionally, increase the saving throw DC to 20 and the damage 24 (7d6) piercing.
  • Darkness. The dragon conjures magical darkness that spreads from a point the dragon chooses within 60 feet of it, filling a 15-foot-radius sphere until the dragon dismisses it as an action, uses this lair action again, or dies. The darkness spreads around corners. A creature with darkvision can’t see through this darkness, and nonmagical light can’t illuminate it. If any of the effect’s area overlaps with an area of light created by a spell of 2nd level or lower, the spell that created the light is dispelled.
    • Ancient: Increase the range to 90 feet and the sphere to a 20-foot radius. Additionally, the darkness will dispel magical light created by a 3rd level spell or lower.
    • Great Wyrm: Increase the range to 120 feet and the sphere to a 30-foot radius. Additionally, the darkness will dispel magical light created by a 4th level spell or lower.
Regional Effects
The region containing a legendary black dragon’s lair is warped by the dragon’s magic, which creates one or more of the following effects:
  • The land within 6 miles of the lair takes twice as long as normal to traverse, since the plants grow thick and twisted, and the swamps are thick with reeking mud.
    • Ancient: Increase the radius to 8 miles.
    • Great Wyrm: Increase the radius to 10 miles.
  • Water sources within 1 mile of the lair are supernaturally fouled. Enemies of the dragon that drink such water regurgitate it within minutes.
    • Ancient: Increase the radius to 2 miles.
    • Great Wyrm: Increase the radius to 4 miles.
  • Fog lightly obscures the land within 6 miles of the lair.
    • Ancient: Increase the radius to 8 miles.
    • Great Wyrm: Increase the radius to 10 miles.
If a creature makes a successful DC 15 Intelligence (Nature) check after observing one of these effects, it successfully ascertains that the cause of the effect is that a red dragon's lair is in the area. The creature has advantage on the check if it has observed two or more of the regional effects. If the dragon dies, vegetation remains as it has grown, but other effects fade over 1d10 days.
 
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dave2008

Legend
A WHITE DRAGON'S LAIR
White dragons live in chilly or cold regions, preferring lands where the temperature rarely rises above freezing and ice and snow always cover the ground. When temperatures become too warm, the dragons become lethargic. White dragons bask in the frigid winds that whip over the landscape, and they wallow and play in deep snow banks.

A dragon in its lair is a more dangerous opponent. Raise the dragons CR by one when it is encountered in its lair.

LAIR ACTIONS
An adult or older white dragon can use lair actions while in its lair. As the dragon ages, these effect become more potent. On initiative count 20 (losing initiative ties), the dragon takes a lair action to cause one of the following effects; the dragon can’t use the same effect two rounds in a row:
  • Clairaudience. The dragon can hear sounds at a location it chooses within its lair as if it was there. This affect last until the dragon uses a lair action to relocate its clairaudience to another location, it uses a different lair action, or it losses concentration as if concentrating on a spell. The dragon can also end the effect at will (no action).
  • Freezing Fog. The dragon creates a magical fog that fills a 20-foot-radius sphere centered on a point the dragon can see within 120 feet of it. The fog spreads around corners, and its area is heavily obscured. Each creature in the fog when it appears must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw, taking 10 (3d6) cold damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. A creature that ends its turn in the fog takes 10 (3d6) cold damage. A wind of at least 20 miles per hour disperses the fog. The fog otherwise lasts until the dragon uses this lair action again or until the dragon dies.
    • Ancient: Increase the range to 180 feet and the radius to 30 feet. Additionally, increase the save DC to 15 and any damage to 16 (5d6).
    • Great Wyrm: Increase the range to 240 feet and the radius to 40 feet. Additionally, increase the save DC to 17 and any damage to 24 (7d6).
  • Ice Shards. The dragon causes jagged ice shards to fall from the ceiling, striking up to three creatures underneath that the dragon can see within 120 feet of it. The dragon makes one ranged attack roll (+7 to hit) against each target. On a hit, the target takes 10 (3d6) piercing damage.
    • Ancient: Increase the range to 180 feet, the attack bonus to +10, and the damage to 16 (5d6).
    • Great Wyrm: Increase the range to 240 feet, the attack bonus to +13, and the damage to 24 (7d6).
  • Wall of Ice.The dragon creates an opaque wall of ice on a solid surface it can see within 120 feet of it. The wall can be up to 30 feet long, 30 feet high, and 1 foot thick. When the wall appears, each creature within its area is pushed 5 feet out of the wall’s space, appearing on whichever side of the wall it wants. Each 10-foot section of the wall has AC 5, 30 hit points, vulnerability to fire damage, and immunity to acid, cold, necrotic, poison, and psychic damage. The wall disappears when the dragon uses this lair action again or when the dragon dies.
    • Ancient: Increase the range to 180 feet and the length of the wall to 60 feet. Additionally, each section of the wall has 40 hit points.
    • Great Wyrm: Increase the range to 240 feet and the length of the wall to 90 feet. Additionally, each section of the wall has 50 hit points.
Regional Effects
The region containing a legendary white dragon’s lair is warped by the dragon’s magic, which creates one or more of the following effects:
  • Chilly fog lightly obscures the land within 6 miles of the dragon’s lair.
    • Ancient: Increase the radius to 8 miles.
    • Great Wyrm: Increase the radius to 10 miles.
  • Freezing precipitation falls within 6 miles of the dragon’s lair, sometimes forming blizzard conditions when the dragon is at rest.
    • Ancient: Increase the radius to 8 miles.
    • Great Wyrm: Increase the radius to 10 miles.
  • Icy walls block off areas in the dragon’s lair. Each wall is 6 inches thick, and a 10-foot section has AC 5, 15 hit points, vulnerability to fire damage, and immunity to acid, cold, necrotic, poison, and psychic damage.
    If the dragon wishes to move through a wall, it can do so without slowing down. The portion of the wall the dragon moves through is destroyed, however.
    • Ancient: The walls 1-foot thick and each section has 20 hit points. Additionally, a destroyed portion of a wall reforms in 1d4 rounds.
    • Great Wyrm: The walls 1-foot thick and each section has 30 hit points. Additionally, a destroyed portion of the wall reforms at the end of the dragons next turn.
If a creature makes a successful DC 15 Intelligence (Nature) check after observing one of these effects, it successfully ascertains that the cause of the effect is that a red dragon's lair is in the area. The creature has advantage on the check if it has observed two or more of the regional effects. If the dragon dies, the fog and precipitation fade within 1 day. The ice walls melt over the course of 1d10 days.
 
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As I am preparing to make the chromatic dragons, I felt the need to provide some additional lore support. Therefore, I give you: True Dragons.

Let me know what you think.

Looks good so far. I am curious to see where you are going to go with this, and whether you are going to stick with the AD&D 2e based lore or are going to head off in your own direction.

Once the alternate abilities are posted, I will be sure to give you feedback on them.
 

dave2008

Legend
Looks good so far. I am curious to see where you are going to go with this, and whether you are going to stick with the AD&D 2e based lore or are going to head off in your own direction.

Once the alternate abilities are posted, I will be sure to give you feedback on them.
The 2e stuff was easy to copy and paste (Monstrous Index) then I just modified a bit. I will say the 9 age categories doesn't match 2e and I am make separate stat blocks for each age, not a table for each type of dragon.

But I don't want to get too much into lore - it takes to much time. But dragons are special, so I thought I would go the extra distance ;)
 

The 2e stuff was easy to copy and paste (Monstrous Index) then I just modified a bit. I will say the 9 age categories doesn't match 2e and I am make separate stat blocks for each age, not a table for each type of dragon.

But I don't want to get too much into lore - it takes to much time. But dragons are special, so I thought I would go the extra distance ;)

Wow you really have gone all-in on the different attack modes haven't you :)

I absolutely agree with you, dragons are special, and to have them be treated as simply normal monsters is doing them a disservice IMHO.

Do you want someone to playtest these dragon rules? I can probably do so providing that I have a suitable stat block.
 

dave2008

Legend
Wow you really have gone all-in on the different attack modes haven't you :)

I absolutely agree with you, dragons are special, and to have them be treated as simply normal monsters is doing them a disservice IMHO.

Do you want someone to playtest these dragon rules? I can probably do so providing that I have a suitable stat block.
Absolutely, I should wrap up my first pass on the alternate actions today and then I want to get some feedback if possible. Thank you for the offer.
 

dave2008

Legend
OK, I have the drafts of the True Dragons and True Dragons: Alternate Actions up for review and comment. I am working on updated the Lair Actions of the chromatic dragons and then I hope to incorporate any feedback. Then I will get to making the chromatic dragons!

I would love to get any feedback from typos, to more concise language suggestions, to new actions. I'm looking at you: @Matrix Sorcica , @Stalker0, @Just Passing Through, and any others who would like to contribute.

Also, I know this amount of information is a throwback to older editions and overly complex. That is fine. The stat blocks will have everything you need to run a dragon. This additional information is just helpful in truly making dragons the title monsters of the game and campaign ending threats they could be. More tools and the toolbox for the DM that was a dragon battle to be something a little extra special.
 

Stalker0

Legend
Alright here is my review:

My first note, I'm not sure how much you are putting into the statblock directly vs leaving as like dragon intro text, so I'll make notes of what I think should go in the statblock.

True Dragon Flavor

Initial flavor text is good and solid.

Dragon Fear
I think we can tighten this up to more normal 5e language, we can probably take out the special notes about flying overhead and just make the dragon's fear effect has a large radius (because why not, dragon fear is a key ability of the creature). So here's a version below:

Aura of Menace
This ability effects all creatures within 150 feet (this value increases depending on the specific statblock) that have CR/level equal or less than half the dragon's CR. Such creatures are automatically frightened. While frightened, the creature must use the dash action and spend all of its movement to move away from the dragon. After 1 minute the creature must make a DC X Wisdom saving throw to end the effect, repeating the save every minute until successful. This save is made at disadvantage if the creature can see, hear, or smell the dragon. Once the save is made, the creature is immune to the ability for 24 hours.

The dragon may choose creatures to be immune from this effect (this is to allow for dragon servants)

Frightful Prescence
The dragon can apply its Aura of Menace against creatures whose CR/level is equal or less its CR. These creatures get an immediate saving throw, and may make a new one at the end of each turn until successful.

Dragon Armor

I like this block a lot because its such a common question whenever my players kill a dragon. I do want to check if the armors are supposed to allow a dex bonus....they are noted as medium armor which normally does allow it. I do think the higher shields are really good, +3 is basically a legendary shield...and shield bonuses when stacked with magical armor as well tend to create ACs some consider outside bounded accuracy.

Dragon Hoard
I don't know if the values are "good" (I don't usually use treasure tables myself), but I really like this note and inclusion.

Dragon Tactics
Shaped Breath: Its a good ability, but its not that strong for what seems to be the capstone of dragon tactics.

Strafing: So we need to add some language to handle cones. I would say something like. For cone breaths, the width is equal to the normal length of the breath.

Sustained Breath: I think you can go a few ways with this. The simplest way is to simply say "3 Legendary Actions: The dragon automatically recharges its breath weapon". However, if you want this to be more of a sustain, I think its got to have some kind of "lingering effect".

Snatch and Throw: So it seems I am giving up my claw attacks for an auto throw if I get in my bite. The damage tradeoff doesn't seem that great, I guess there is the benefit that many creatures wouldn't be able to get in a melee attack routine afterwards....so maybe, I'd have to see it in play.

Dragon Flight
Ultimately I think this is way too fiddly and complicated. I think we can greatly simplify this.

Overland Flight: If a dragon is not engaged in an encounter and is moving in a straight line, they can move 10 times their normal fly speed.


Multiclaws: Solid, I like it.

Crush: Is the intention that this would be your action?

Dive: This one seems needless with the other fly options.

Stall: A bit too complicated. First I think we just add this into the multiattack options instead of limiting its specific attacks. And then simplify the effect:

"Wing Buffet: The dragon must be flying and this action consumes X amount of movement. All attacks against the dragon are at disadvantage, and the dragon gains +5 AC against ranged attacks. If the dragon is within 10 feet of the ground containing loose dirt and debris, than all creatures within 150 feet (scaled based on fear aura) make a DC X con save or become blinded. All effects last until the start of the dragon's next turn."

Lair Actions
I really like the clairvoyance idea, simple and cool.

Red Dragon: Magma Eruption - The effect is fine but the flavor is a little off. If its a pillar of "fire", than the damage is fine. But the damage is too low for "lava"... so I would just update the flavor text slightly to be more in line with the damage.

Blue Dragon: They are described to live in deserts not caves, so cave in is ann odd ability.

Green Dragon: The wall of thorns may be really strong at the mid CRS when mobility is still a bit limited.
 

Matrix Sorcica

Adventurer
Chromatic dragons include black, blue, green, red, and white dragons; all are extremely evil and are feared by most. The metallic dragons are the brass, bronze, copper, gold, and silver dragons; these are noble and good, highly respected by wise people
I know this is old school, but I liked the variety of 4e dragon alignment.

A pair of mated dragons age older than the Elder stage generally does not stay together long, in

They distance themselves from civilization, which they consider to be a petty and foolish mortal invention.
They are mortals themselves.

The mere sight of a Adult or older dragon causes creatures with only 1 Hit Die (as well as all noncarnivorous, nonaggressive creatures with 10 Hit Dice or less) to be frightened for 1 minute
Familiars? Paladin mount? Skill check?

Additionally, the dragon can extend this ability to creatures directly below it when it flies. The first time a dragon flies over a creature each day, the dragon can choose to use is Frightful Presence on that creature, depending on the height of the dragon above the creature:
  • Adult: The dragon must be 150 feet or closer to the creature.
  • Elder: The dragon must be 200 feet or closer to the creature.
  • Ancient: The dragon must be 250 feet or closer to the creature.
  • Wyrm: The dragon must be 300 feet or closer to the creature.
  • Great Wyrm: The dragon must be 400 feet or closer to the creature
This is convoluted. I suggest double range when it flies. Makes it easier to remember.

Dragon Hide.
No dex to AC armor?

but only when a reaction is used to provide the resistance to the triggering damage type.
I like this 🙂

Dragon Tactics.
As dragon's age they master new ways of using their bodies and abilities in combat.


Edit: tactics tomorrow 🙂
Sleeping time in my part of the world
 
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dave2008

Legend
Alright here is my review:

My first note, I'm not sure how much you are putting into the statblock directly vs leaving as like dragon intro text, so I'll make notes of what I think should go in the statblock.
I don't think any of this is going in the stat block, except a reference with a hyperlink. This is all supplemental information for people who want more detail / options for their dragons.

Also, thank you for taking the time to review and comment!
Dragon Fear
I think we can tighten this up to more normal 5e language, we can probably take out the special notes about flying overhead and just make the dragon's fear effect has a large radius (because why not, dragon fear is a key ability of the creature). So here's a version below:

Aura of Menace
This ability effects all creatures within 150 feet (this value increases depending on the specific statblock) that have CR/level equal or less than half the dragon's CR. Such creatures are automatically frightened. While frightened, the creature must use the dash action and spend all of its movement to move away from the dragon. After 1 minute the creature must make a DC X Wisdom saving throw to end the effect, repeating the save every minute until successful. This save is made at disadvantage if the creature can see, hear, or smell the dragon. Once the save is made, the creature is immune to the ability for 24 hours.

The dragon may choose creatures to be immune from this effect (this is to allow for dragon servants)

Frightful Prescence
The dragon can apply its Aura of Menace against creatures whose CR/level is equal or less its CR. These creatures get an immediate saving throw, and may make a new one at the end of each turn until successful.
I like the idea of simplifying it. The plan was to keep Frightful Presence as is and this just augments / give more context. I will think about how to clean it up.
Dragon Armor
I like this block a lot because its such a common question whenever my players kill a dragon. I do want to check if the armors are supposed to allow a dex bonus....they are noted as medium armor which normally does allow it. I do think the higher shields are really good, +3 is basically a legendary shield...and shield bonuses when stacked with magical armor as well tend to create ACs some consider outside bounded accuracy.
I did a little be of comparing to the official crafting rules, but not to much. The bonus are intended to be exceptional as you have kill a at least CR 26 wyrm to or mythic great wyrm to get them. But I'm sure it could be tweaked for more balance, but I am not sure that is the point. At some time I will loot at more. FYI, you might want to look at Monster Loot on the DMs Guild it gives information like this for all the monsters. The dragon entries include info for claws, fangs, wings, lungs, and glands (for making breath weapons). This is based somewhat on that work, but I didn't want to go into that much detail. Though dragon teeth should probably get an entry.
Dragon Hoard
I don't know if the values are "good" (I don't usually use treasure tables myself), but I really like this note and inclusion.
The tables in the DMG only go up to 17+, so every add on is more treasure than suggested in the DMG.
Dragon Tactics
Shaped Breath: Its a good ability, but its not that strong for what seems to be the capstone of dragon tactics.
It is just flavor for good dragons really, I don't see a lot of evil dragons caring to use this trait.
Strafing: So we need to add some language to handle cones. I would say something like. For cone breaths, the width is equal to the normal length of the breath.
That language is already in the definition of cone I believe. Though I am planning on including a sketch instead of more text.
Sustained Breath: I think you can go a few ways with this. The simplest way is to simply say "3 Legendary Actions: The dragon automatically recharges its breath weapon". However, if you want this to be more of a sustain, I think its got to have some kind of "lingering effect".
I think that language is confusing as that is not what I am going for - it is specifically not a recharge. However, I will think about simplifying it. For the math to work I need it to take the dragons action and all its legendary actions on both turns. I just wasn't sure of the best way to say that.
Snatch and Throw: So it seems I am giving up my claw attacks for an auto throw if I get in my bite. The damage tradeoff doesn't seem that great, I guess there is the benefit that many creatures wouldn't be able to get in a melee attack routine afterwards....so maybe, I'd have to see it in play.
Options, that is the important thing. The key for most of these options are that they are things the dragon should be able to do if it wants, even if it doesn't make sense from a DPR perspective. I just want to give DMs options for a memorable battle. Also, once you throw the poor fighter at the mage on the back line, it starts to even out damage wise.
Dragon Flight
Ultimately I think this is way too fiddly and complicated. I think we can greatly simplify this.

Overland Flight: If a dragon is not engaged in an encounter and is moving in a straight line, they can move 10 times their normal fly speed.
Your absolutely correct, I over thought this one. I still might keep some of it, but much to complicated at the moment.
Crush: Is the intention that this would be your action?
Yes.
Dive: This one seems needless with the other fly options.
I almost deleted it, but it seemed like something a dragon should be able to do in aerial combat, so I kept it. The important thing I think is the stunning aspect, as the victim would start falling.
Stall: A bit too complicated. First I think we just add this into the multiattack options instead of limiting its specific attacks. And then simplify the effect:
"Wing Buffet: The dragon must be flying and this action consumes X amount of movement. All attacks against the dragon are at disadvantage, and the dragon gains +5 AC against ranged attacks. If the dragon is within 10 feet of the ground containing loose dirt and debris, than all creatures within 150 feet (scaled based on fear aura) make a DC X con save or become blinded. All effects last until the start of the dragon's next turn."
Thanks, that is a lot better.
Lair Actions
I really like the clairvoyance idea, simple and cool.
I got the idea from the 2e dragon write up.
Red Dragon: Magma Eruption - The effect is fine but the flavor is a little off. If its a pillar of "fire", than the damage is fine. But the damage is too low for "lava"... so I would just update the flavor text slightly to be more in line with the damage.
It was called magma eruption in the MM, but I thought the lack of bludgeoning damage seemed of for magma. I have not issue with the amount of damage though. I will probably just change the name to something fire related. The regional effects include fissures to the plane of fire so that makes sense.
Blue Dragon: They are described to live in deserts not caves, so cave in is ann odd ability.
Desert caves I guess? This straight from the MM. However, I to thought it a bit odd and think it best to change it. Any suggestions?
Green Dragon: The wall of thorns may be really strong at the mid CRS when mobility is still a bit limited.
This is pretty much straight from the MM, other than age category increases. I am open to improving though (or replacing it).
 

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