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5E Breath Weapon Recharge Variant


I usually DM, and have rarely played in my 20 years of playing D&D. In a game I'm now playing in, the DM did this thing where he didn't use a monster's breath weapon right away. Instead, he just started rolling the recharge. It ended up making things extra tense. I liked it.

I'm wondering how a formal change like this to breath weapons could make monsters play out. Imagine if breath weapons rolled recharge at the end of the turn, and you know when they have recharged. Players would then have a round to prepare, like seeing the dragon inhale.

It might make fights more tense. Allow for more tactical decisions. It might also weaken monsters, because they might die before they get one breath weapon off. So CRs may need to be adjusted.

What do you think?

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The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
While I see your logic, for me it is the other way around. If you fear something so much (like a dragon's breath) you should always be prepared for it IMO. Not knowing if it is coming or not until the dragon's turn is what makes it suspenseful to me.


Mathematically, I think that weakens the dragon, who would normally have it charged and ready to go to start the encounter. Rolling a recharge every round may mean that dragon doesn't live long enough to use it a single time. Meanwhile all the actions of the players are focused on killing the dragon instead of healing injured party members, changing positioning to not be in a cone formation, etc.
Personally, if I were going to alter the design, I would let it start the combat with one and give it a guaranteed second time to use it as a reaction when the dragon reaches half health. Plus I would stack conditions, like ongoing acid, electricity, or fire damage on a failed save. Plus I would consider giving higher level dragons elemental damaging auras for those who stand toe-to-toe with it, potential damage to nonmagical weapons that strike it as well as potential damage to nonmagical shields and armor that withstand attacks.
Dragons are part of the namesake of the game and should be greatly feared, IMO.

While starting that way may tone down the fight a bit (or at least ensure it doesn't start on a huge bang), I would never roll it in front of my players and let them know what it meant. That would take some of the fun out of for me, both as a player and as a DM. It doesn't quite fit my play style.