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Dragon Player Characters

Saelorn

Adventurer
What is the justification for adding Strength modifier to AC? If it's supposed to represent a thick hide, then that's done by adding Con bonus to AC.

There's already a requirement of a minimum Strength before choosing this RCC, and a racial bonus to Strength, so adding that same bonus to hit and damage and AC is kind of over the top.
 

ingeloak

Villager
fair enough. that said, if this is intended to be some side-shoot of a dragon that doesnt have the stats from the MM, saying that the class is "past wyrmling" is inaccurate. i was using that stat-block as a measuring stick. according to everyone who replied to me, i should not. i retract my earlier posts, and withdraw.

one last opinion as someone who loves dragons, and hated the underpowered playable race available in the MMO Horizons: your draconic racial class is quite underpowered compared to those from the MM, but might work as a playable race in a conventional game. if you are trying to do them justice, you need to increase the abilities to be equal to at least Wyrmling. there are no other comparisons available from 5E, so the MM is it.

this discussion is probably why Dragons are seen as too powerful for PCs, unless they are in their own campaign setting, such as the Io's Blood Islands
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
What is the justification for adding Strength modifier to AC? If it's supposed to represent a thick hide, then that's done by adding Con bonus to AC.
Why Con? Strength represents muscle density, and in some other games (notably GURPS, which emphasizes realism) Strength is actually used to calculate hit points. In this case, a stronger dragon can carry more weight so their scales naturally grow thicker.

...The real reason is that I had an AC bonus progression in the class, and then noticed that it very nearly matched the Strength progression (this was back when I gave the class a Strength bonus instead of a Maximum Strength increase), so I eliminated it and just decided to make Strength a factor in their AC, which wound up being simpler all around.

There's already a requirement of a minimum Strength before choosing this RCC, and a racial bonus to Strength, so adding that same bonus to hit and damage and AC is kind of over the top.
No more over-the-top than Dexterity, which does all that AND adds to really good skills and a very common save.
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
Why Con? Strength represents muscle density, and in some other games (notably GURPS, which emphasizes realism) Strength is actually used to calculate hit points. In this case, a stronger dragon can carry more weight so their scales naturally grow thicker.
GURPS has a Health stat rather than a Con stat. The major difference is that Con represents how tough you are. Also, there's precedent within the edition.

No more over-the-top than Dexterity, which does all that AND adds to really good skills and a very common save.
None of the most damaging weapons use Dex, where dragons have a high-power weapon automatically. Dexterity is also limited to contributing for characters who otherwise have lower-end AC (with the best AC coming from heavy armor, where Dex isn't a factor).

From a game playability standpoint, and having fun, it's also just not as much fun when the class gets so much from the one stat. It feels like you have less meaningful choices. Even a Barbarian gets to choose whether to increase Strength or Con, and Monks can choose between Dex or Wisdom.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
Well, those are some good points. In my next revision I may revert to the Strength-bonus approach (instead of Max Strength) and then it makes more sense to have a fixed AC progression as well. Part of the idea is to emphasize Strength in an effort to siphon off Ability Score Increases, but that's kind of subtle and artificial: it would be better to just give the class fewer ASIs if that's an important balancing factor.
 

mikeoregan

Villager
Hi @771M
I know this thread is 3 years old but ... on Wed night one of my players brought an unexpected guest. Combat was just about to begin, we have an "if you stay you play" policy and the only available "character" to give her was a copper wyrmling who the group rescued and befriended a year and a half ago (game time) 6 months-ish real time. It was her first time playing D&D loved it and I'm going to covert the wyrmling to a PC for her using your rules. But I need to tweak them just a bit. Homebrew your homebrew. I'd love to be able to tweak them electronically and send her an updated copy. So I don't suppose there's any chance you could share an editable version is there? If not I completely understand ... just thought it'd be cool.

For the record, the character (Nesing called Nessy) could already change shape into a little boy at will, so I want a restricted "change shape" which I'm calling "switch shape" at level 1. Action to switch from true shape to one particular humanoid shape and back as often as he pleases. Push "Large Size" out to level 5. Recharge the breath like a normal dragon on a 5-6 on a d6 at level 1. 4-6 at level 6 and 3-6 level 15. With "Force-of-Nature Breath Weapon" adding in an extra 1/6th chance.

Anyway, great work and looking forward to regretting letting a dragon into the party!
Mike
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
I finally got around to revising this. It's a nearly complete rewrite, and I'm pretty happy with it.

- Racial traits are still too strong. I think the problem here is the movement modes. Flight 60 feet is very strong at 1st level because you can zip around the battlefield and get out of danger quickly, and giving Burrow 15 feet to a 1st-level character is just sick. I thought about delaying these movement speeds but they are so closely linked to the dragon's environment and theme. I can't imagine a blue dragon without burrow or a black dragon that's not amphibious. I guess my feeling is that the problem should even itself out by around 5th level, when every spellcaster and his uncle can cast fly and misty step.

- I ditched the subclasses altogether, in favor of invocation-like "evolutions" that you can pick as you level up. I moved a lot of minor dragon traits into here. I think it's also easier to balance than the subclasses were; most of the damage scaling for the class is found in the core features.

- My goal is not to perfectly reproduce the dragon stats in the MM, but to get as close as possible. At 1st level, a dragon is much weaker than a wyrmling, mostly due to low hit points and low breath weapon damage. But you should catch up around level 7-8, and by high levels, you can (if you pick the right evolutions) have stats remarkably similar to a Young dragon, and at 20th level you are starting to resemble an Adult dragon.

- The wyrmling background is now optional; you can pick any background that makes sense.
 
What's the point of mithril and adamant scales? I mean yeah I can see why a dragon would want to take one of those, but having both seems pointless. I mean in what instance would a dragon not take adamant instead of mithril?
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
Huh, that's a great question. The intention was that the Mithril scales were for Dex-based dragons who also had Razor Claws and maybe some levels in rogue or monk. But it appears I goofed -- since there's no downside to Adamantine scales, and Mithril attains at most the same AC, there's really not any point. :(
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
Well I fixed the scales thing although I'm not totally satisfied with it. I increased the max dex bonus of Mithril scales to +4 so it can reach AC 19 if you pump Dex. Every other solution I came up with seemed clunky.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
The base AC is 14 + Dex (max +2) so it only goes up to 16. It is deliberately identical to breastplate -- dragons can't wear armor, so they get a decent medium armor, for free. Unfortunately that's not such a great deal for someone who wants to actually dump Dex down to -1, which I think should be as viable for dragons as it is for fighters/paladins etc. I just can't bring myself to give dragons a penalty on all Stealth checks, which is the traditional "downside" to heavy armor. (I put that in quotes because, if you're already dumping Dex down to -1, you're probably not stealthing around too much anyway.)
 

Gar360

Villager
Hi, first time posting. I want to leave a review on your original version of the class, which is no longer available. I have played the class from level 3 to level 6, with both combat and social encounters. I played as a blue dragon, and adventured with a humanoid party. My chosen subclass was Great Serpent with chosen skills of Intimidation and Deception. Overall, I really enjoyed the playing the class. I will go into detail first on what I thought could be improved, what I absolutely loved about playing this class, and my quick thoughts on your new version of the class.

First of all, the class was super MAD, leading to difficulties in some areas. Its impossible to get good stats in your three/four core stats of strength, constitution, charisma, and dexterity. Despite a single strong roll of 18 put towards strength, I had to leave charisma and dexterity as weak stats. Dexterity is absolutely not a priority stat for a dragon. In addition, dragons cannot wear armor or shields, or take the Defense fighting style. With these limitations, the dragon character's AC will never be high compared to a fighter, paladin, ranger or even rogue. For a martial character, the dragon's AC was very low. I would compare its AC to that of a barbarian or monk, both similarly MAD classes. However, the monk has ways to mitigate engagement, while the barbarian has such vast quantities of health that its AC is really secondary. The dragon has flight yes, but cannot engage in a meaningful way to utilize flight in a similar manner to the monk. The dragon has a D10 hit die, but not the phenomenal rage or D12 hit die of the barbarian. Before my 5th level, it just felt so squishy(this was remedied by spell choice through the Great Serpent subclass, more on that later). I believe this could be remedied with a slight buff: a D12 hit die instead of a D10. It is a dragon after all, and would still be in line with playable classes.

Second, the breath weapon is practically useless. I did not use my breath weapon once, despite many combats between levels 3 and 6. 2d6 damage and 3d6 damage is basically garbage unless fighting multiple trash mobs. For the first 7 levels, your breath weapon is as strong as a dragonborn's. Had I been an Apex Predator subclass, I would likely have never used the capability of my breath weapon until 9th or 11th level. I cannot attest to how the Force of Nature subclass interacts with the breath weapon, as I have not played it. For the Great Serpent subclass (my chosen subclass) I simply use my spells instead of my breath weapon. In version 2 of the subclass, I see you have greatly increased the damage of the breath weapon, which is very good. I saw your thoughts that the dragon is not a true martial, instead a martial/breath weapon hybrid. However, the breath weapon is not nearly as strong as even 1st level spells, so I do not believe that concern is valid in play-test. Burning hands does 3d6 of damage and is considered a weak spell. Conclusion: breath weapon desperately needs a buff.

Third, my review on the Great Serpent subclass. At 3rd and 4th levels, the subclass was pretty underwhelming. It seems its power was roughly aligned with the other two subclasses, so this is not too much of a concern. It is also probably because my spell choices were not the best for my current campaign. At 5th level, I took the spell Blur. This completely changed how I was able to fight. Instead of taking massive amounts of damage because of my low AC and low (compared to barbarian) health, I could stand in fights and dodge attacks. 5th level is a huge power spike for the Great Serpent, much more so than for the other 2 subclasses because of these level 2 spells. This might cause thoughts of alarm, of overpoweredness or whatever, but let us compare it to classes from the PHB. Take for example the Eldritch Knight fighter and the Arcane Trickster rogue. Both receive a similar spike in power and are published in the PHB. To make up for this power spike, they have weaker subclass features outside of spells. The Great Serpent subclass follows this closely, for one major exception. It has half-caster progression, like a paladin or ranger, as opposed to third-caster progression such as Eldritch Knight or Arcane Trickster. This might and I stress might need to be remedied. The subclass is balanced out by its distinct lack of reliable spell slots and spells known. It is quite strong at lower levels, especially around levels 5 and 6 (second level spells and second breath weapon/spell usage). I am not sure whether it is balanced against the third caster subclasses. It might need to be reworked to be a true third-caster, with a distinct number of spell slots and spells learned. I think this would make it more comparable to PHB subclasses, and given the situational nature of the breath weapon and weakness of martial durability, I think this would be a balanced move.

Fourth, the martial damage was about on par with that of a barbarian or melee fighter, but falls short of paladin or ranger. I do not think it needs an adjustment.

Fifth, the flight mechanic. The flight mechanic is very strong, but also quite limited. Given I did not play at levels 1 and 2, I cannot attest to how powerful flight was at those levels. Flight opened many opportunities otherwise unavailable. It allowed me to scout places that would be otherwise too dangerous for my party to go. Examples include: landing on a cursed reef too dangerous for the party to step foot on, investigating a wizard's tower (and tearing a hole in the roof and dragging him to be murdered by my friends), going up cliffs, and quickly travelling over difficult terrain. However, due to the dragons large size, flight was rendered useless indoors. In addition, flight is a much greater concern when the user has a ranged attack. The dragon's ranged attack has very limited uses, so this does not even matter. Insane mobility in a fight is not broken or overpowered when you must still engage in melee combat and still risk taking damage. The dragon's large size also hindered its usefulness in dungeons, as it prevented ranged characters from standing behind the tank (the dragon) and shooting past it. Overall, I believe flight was balanced on its situational nature and lack of ranged attacks, although this differs from campaign to campaign.

Sixth, I believe the classes suffered from lack of ability score increases. Now, hear me out. I believe the class is most similar to barbarian or monk, but lacks some of their more flashy options in exchange for Maximum Strength and Flight. But, Maximum Strength is just not that useful for players who use point-buy instead of rolling for stats. It tries to push the class into a SAD direction, while it is clearly MAD enough to suffer for not putting stats into Constitution or Dexterity. I believe one extra ability score increase would greatly help the class, especially at early levels. Perhaps at level 6? I have not put too much thought on this point, but I do not believe punishing players by forcing them to put all of their points into Strength is the correct move.

Overall, I loved playing your class. It was fun, engaging, and seemed reasonably balanced. Honestly, the best part was being a god damn dragon. My incredible strength let me tear down structures, my flight let me scout ahead or quickly initiate onto encounters while also remaining hidden from commonfolk, and roleplaying as a dragon is super fun. My size and just being a dragon allowed me to intimidate and destroy in equal measure. It opened so many options that would not be available to humanoid PCs. Roleplay, connections to the world, combat, its all there. Despite some balancing aspects which really did not affect play, it was super fun. Good things of your design philosophy, listed: Maximum Strength, subclasses, Wyrmling background limitations, dragon race limitations, and weapon design (nice and simple, 2d6 for each attack). I like some of the high level concepts, such as dragon senses, the archetype features (humanoid form, Pythian oracle, tail slap, and cataclysm), legendary resistance and lair, however I have not had a chance to play test these.

Finally, thoughts on your revised edition, Version 2. Honestly... I'm not a big fan in its current state, although I see where you were going and I see its potential. The big improvements I saw were the breath weapon damage increase and the new system of customization. I also loved the possibility of the second breath weapon for metallic dragons. It is obviously a work in progress, and I would love to submit feedback as it gets improved.

There needs to be clarification on several points, which I will try to list:
A. Multiattack. How many attacks do I get? 3 attacks, 2 claws 1 bite? This is decently confusing as it is laid out. This is also a HUGE spike in damage if my interpretation was correct. That's an additional 2d6+2d6+Str mod+Str mod per turn if each attack hits. That's absolutely insane. Its martial damage may be less than every single martial class at level 5 due to lacking extra attack, but this huge level 11 buff confuses me on what you want the class to be. Is it a martial? Is it a breath weapon user? It CAN be both, but I don't think this is the way to do it.
B. I think I understand that you were trying to separate Breath Weapon and Improved Breath weapon for the case of multiclassing, but that is needlessly complex.
C. Why would anybody ever use the claw attack before level 11? Its practically useless.


Suggestions:

1. Dragon evolution is a great idea. Although I loved the subclasses, this is another way to accomplish a similar thing. I wish you could implement both subclasses and evolution, but I do not know how feasible this would be.
2. Evolution, while neat and cool, is severely lacking compared to subclasses. It is just so limited. Although there are a lot of evolution options, which is good, they are hard to earn. Most campaigns take place at low levels, but there are only 2 dragon evolutions before level 9! It is far too loaded onto the later end of the level curve. I would suggest, at level 3, allowing 2 dragon evolutions to be chosen instead of 1, similar to the warlock invocations.
3. I do not think the dragon evolutions are that strong. I think, after fixing multiattack, it would be reasonable for subclasses and evolutions to coexist and still have the dragons with power consistent with PHB classes.
4. Humanoid form: Although I like that it can be taken at level 1, I am unsure about the extension to all martial weapons and medium and heavy armor.
5. I think Breath Weapon's save should be based off of the dragon's constitution, not charisma. Constitution is going to be essential anyways, and besides, that is how the monster manual dragon's saves are calculated.
6. Although I just referenced the monster manual, it is vital to remember that you're not making dragons, you're making playable classes. People who tell you that your class is not really like a dragon are wrong. I played your version 1, and I felt like a dragon. It was super fun! Nobody really cares if its weaker than a wyrmling, its a player character for gods sake its not a monster.
7. Innate spellcasting evolution is really weird. That's all there is to it. I think re-implementing subclasses would solve this problem if the dragon was a third caster. Currently, trying to play an spellcasting dragon is punishing in Version 2 because it limits the other evolution options, would would be really fun. Or, the dragon could just take one really strong spell with the Innate Spellcasting evolution and call it a day, which does not seem very fun to me.
8. The level requirements on the evolutions are typically too high. 13th level for +1 AC? Fighters get that at level 1. Lower Tempered Scales to level 1. Persistent breath might seem strong, but it is not a true refresh ability like a true dragon, it is instead a 1/3 chance your breath is not refreshed. I would definitely lower that, maybe to 7, 9, or 11? Extra breath's level could be lowered as well, maybe to 9. Elemental Aura is actually very weak as it consumes a reaction, I might even put that to level 5.
9. Wyrmling background. If you are intent on adding skills to the Wyrmling, may I suggest you replace Stealth with Survival? As someone who has played the dragon class in the game with 8 Wisdom and no proficiency in survival, I am basically a helpless child. I cannot hunt, I cannot feed myself. I have to rely on my allied ranger to find me food or I have to buy it. Its kind of hilarious honestly, but the Survival skill is essential for self-sufficient dragons.
10. Freezing Breath, the white dragon's evolution, is actually way stronger than the other chromatic breath weapons. Restrained is a HUGE status condition, allowing ALL attack rolls to hit with advantage, while also applying disadvantage to dexterity saving throws. The white dragon can apply this to multiple enemies at level 3? That's insane! I think it takes the wizard until level 7 to cast Evard's Black Tentacles to do a similar effect. Perhaps the white dragon could focus its breath on one target, ignoring others, and apply the restrained effect and damage? That would be much more in line, while still strong, with other abilities of a similar level (ensnaring strike).
11. The white dragon also has 3 separate movement types, while most other dragons only have 1. This is balanced in the Monster Manual with white dragons being significantly weaker (and dumber) than other dragons, but it is not reflected here. These movement types make the white dragon the optimal choice.


Overall, I loved the first version of your class and looking forward with what you do with the second. But don't let the first version die out! I'm still playing V1, and my DM couldn't find the version because you had uploaded a new version. Its a good thing I have it printed, but it would be really great if you could re-upload V1 to downloads. I hope you incorporate more of the design aspects from the first version into the second version, like subclasses and extra attack. Let me know if you want any specific feedback or if you want more help with your class.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
Wow, [MENTION=6974509]Gar360[/MENTION], thank you for all the feedback!

I'm really glad you enjoyed playing this class! I re-uploaded the original document for you. I had taken it down because I didn't think many people were all that interested.

I also made a number of changes based on your feedback. At a high level, I'm glad to hear that your experience was "roughly balanced" because the V2 dragon's attacks/AC/HP are pretty much on par with V1. And I agree with you about breath weapon; it was just too low in V1. I was really worried about it overshadowing spellcasters. But now I've played enough 5E to see how absolutely terrifying spellcasters (and all PCs) can become at level 11+ and I'm no longer so worried about that. I'm also glad to hear that your character was effective despite the MAD; I'm generally a fan of MAD, especially for classes that can go in several different directions. I especially want tension between melee and breath weapon -- maximizing both should be hard, but it should be possible to maximize one and let the other still be "ok, not sucky, but just ok."

Changes in V2.2:
  • Split up Multiattack: Now you get 2 attacks at level 11 and 3 attacks at level 17. I'm still not sure if this is balanced though (it really feels too weak, compared to what high level fighter/barbarian/paladin can dish out). Then I bumped the legendary tail attack up to 20th level, which feels more appropriate, and made the bonus-action Frightful Presence into an evolution, because that's kinda nice but most players I think won't care.
  • Moved AC improvements into the base class, which let me clean up the AC evolutions a bit. So now your AC will gradually get better automatically. But most people will still probably take the AC evolution in order to dump Dex.
  • Give 2 dragon evolutions at 3rd level, just like a Warlock. That was a very good idea. It gives a little more customization early-on, without cluttering up the class table too much.
  • Weakened the white dragon's Freezing Breath evolution considerably. There was just no way to balance doing full damage plus restrained. So now it's a weaker condition, about as good as the green dragon's Toxic Breath.
  • Made Humanoid Form a little more interesting by letting you keep the more magical dragon abilities while in humanoid form. I'm keeping the weapon and armor proficiencies because I want a dragon in humanoid form to still be a viable character in terms of damage and AC, and even with Draconic Might they're still way worse than a fighter/barbarian/paladin, at all levels.
  • Increased damage on the Elemental Aura so that it's competitive with similar abilities like the barbarian's counterattack. I may have made it too strong, since it's auto-hit, unlike most similar abilities.
  • Background gives Survival instead of Stealth, at your suggestion. Survival really makes a lot more sense. I only gave them Perception and Stealth because those are the two skills that every single dragon in the MM has. But players can swap out the skills if they really want that.
 

JSN824

Villager
I was surprised to see this, and that it was still being actively updated!

My wife is a new-ish player in one of my campaigns and has asked me to run a solo campaign for her, and she wanted to be a dragon! So I am going to take a look at these and hope it works out. It will be an added challenge as a 1 PC campaign too. So while I wont have much feedback in terms of balance vs. standard PCs, I will let you know how the rules worked out for us!
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
[MENTION=6977856]JSN824[/MENTION], that's fantastic! I can't wait to hear how it goes. What kind of adventures are you thinking of running?
 

JSN824

Villager
Its what I am calling "Little Dragon, Big World" - in other words a survival based adventure where she is a young dragon trying to survive in a dangerous world. I have a homebrew campaign setting where normally it takes place about 1000 years after a catastrophic Mage War. So instead she is playing during, and immediately after, said war. So lots of danger, lots of magical enemies and elementals, and less having to worry about political/civilized settlements and fitting a Dragon in with regular folks.

Since she is a solo PC I am being generous with some of the character gen: reroll 1s when rolling stats, always take at least half of the Hit Die when leveling, and I am giving her a beast companion using the Ranger UA stats in addition to her class features. Granted its a pseudodragon (fitting with the theme) so it wont be tilting combat too heavily, but gives her someone to talk to and aid a little in combat (probably by just using Aid)
 

Kide

Villager
[MENTION=12377]77IM[/MENTION], We're starting a campaign and I'm very excited to get to play a Silver Dragon there! One of the other people will be using my character as a mount, and with Mounted Combatant feat, it should be fun :D

A few questions on the class balance though:
1. The previous version of the caster system was Warlock-ish, is there a reason you changed spellcasting into once per long rest? Also, at the moment you can't change the chosen spells, is this intended?
2. It seems the tail attack will only be relevant on level 20 as a legendary attack or if you take the Tail Slap. Maybe it could be incorporated into the Multiattack, as an option for the Bite?
3. Level 13 seems to currently give nothing new to the character. Yes, proficiency and breath weapon do increase, but it's doesn't quite spark excitement like the other levels. I assume the fifth ASI was dropped because of Draconic Might?
4. Does Intense Breath seem kind of sub-par, especially after the first few levels. Or is it just me?
 

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