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D&D 5E DragonRiders - Campaign Brainstorming (+)


So, an idea I'm having for a campaign is one where the characters all have a dragon-like companion or a dragon mount. Planning to start characters at 2nd level, maybe 3rd. The idea is a touch of Dragonlance, How to Train Your Dragon, Dragonriders of Pern, and the latter part of Game of Thrones.

It's very early in the process and I'm rattling my brain for adventures and world-building ideas.

Adventures. I'm expecting this to be very different from standard D&D, with a higher power level than the standard game. Approximately 50% to 75% outside or in areas where the dragon mount or companion will be helpful, but the characters should still be the stars. Adventures revolve around the actions of their characters, not their powerful companions. Dungeon delves should be relatively short and purposeful endeavors. Social and Exploration pillars should drive adventures and be where most XP is derived from. Those enemies to be faced will be rogue dragons, enemy dragonriders, and dragonslayers in addition to the standard fare. Characters are members of an elite social class that has access to these creatures and a step above the average person.

Worldbuilding. The main empires of the world each have some sort of powerful and prominent force of magical creature riding knights. Dragons are most common, but there are also griffin-riders, pegasus riders, wyvern riders, mercenary dragons and powerful spellcasters with flight and devastating magic. There is a sort of cold war status among the prominent nations and the three superpowers use proxy wars among the lesser realms in which to face off against each other. However, everyone is careful to not escalate matters into a full-blown war.

Nations. As I'm just brainstorming, the nations have not yet been firmly named (just placeholders), and the map not yet drawn. Some ideas for the nations as follows:

  • Bastion. A realm of lawfulness and good, one of the three superpowers. Its dragon knights protect not only the home realm, but are sent to other realms to aid wherever they can.
  • Hatefell. A realm of chaos and evil, one of the three superpowers. Its dragon knights raid the populace for tribute, sport and entertainment of its populace in the arenas. The knights of Hatefell bully who they can, coerce the foolish and undermine those who resist.
  • Thalos. This realm is ruled by a Magocracy who despise dragon riders. They protect their own realm viciously, and offer aid (often unasked for) to other nations to keep them from being under the thumb of other nations. Thalos has many spies and advisers throughout the realms.

- The Lesser Kingdoms. A variety of twelve lesser nations scattered across the realm, composed of and ruled by a wide variety of races. Most have only recently come into existance or are the shattered offshoots of ancient realms from the Dragon War. Each is moderately aligned with at least two of the three superpowers. At least one lesser kingdom is ruled by defiant giants (and their kin) who rebuff all three of the Great Kingdoms.

- The Borderlands. A Y-shaped strip of no man's land between the three superpowers. It is filled with city-states and bandit kingdoms whose individuals seek to elude the sight of the three kingdoms.

- Triland. At the joint of the borderlands lies a neutral city-state devoted to trade. While it rebuffs absorption by any of the Greater Kingdoms, it is willing to deal with all three realms. It is a sort of Casablanca of the world, filled with spies, secret deals, black markets and secret societies.

- The Lost Realms. Beyond the borders of the great three are cities and lands that have been in ruin since the Dragon War. Their ruins are overrun with foul creatures, rogue dragons, the hateful spawn of imprisoned gods and other monstrosities or curses that prevent them from being absorbed by the Great Kingdoms. Legends, artifacts and trinkets of power attract exploration of the realms and there are constant expeditions into the strange realms.

- Drakkon. A city-state in a volcanic crater under the thumb of an ancient dragon who has forged an army of blindingly loyal dragonborn. In times of war - which is almost a constant thing, the dragonborn willingly allow themselves to be transformed into draconians to fulfill the will of their lord.

- Rockhome. Built deep into the mountains between Hatefell and Thalos, this fortified bastion is ruled by dwarves but home to a myriad of races who fear the deprivations of the dragons. They are a secretive realm, with an extensive underdark network that allows them to interact with most of the continent through satellite strongholds.

- Elfhome. A wooded valley of seclusive elves near Bastion and Thalos protected by griffon riders and powerful magics. It holds many secret and powerful artifacts dating back to before the Dragon War. Its borders are protected by magical menhirs that keep enemy forces at bay.

History. Dragons feature prominently in the worlds past. The world once belonged to them, but their arrogance and terror caused the other races to unite and lay them low. Many dragons were slain and their power over the world was broken. They were forced to coexist with the other races and developed a sort of symbiosis with the other races. For the most part, dragons understand that if they were once again in control, they would likely destroy the world - and they want to help the other races from making similar mistakes. However, there are a few ancient and powerful dragons who would very much like to once again be the rulers of the world - but must move silently and cautiously to avoid being felled like their ancient brothers.

Gods. The ancient gods that helped the races rise up against the dragons were slain or imprisoned in the ancient wars. Priests can still call upon their power in their name, but for all intents and purposes, the gods are dead. There are cults and individuals however, who seek to fill the vacancy left behind by the old gods.

Here is my initial thought for the Dragon Mount statblock. One of the problems with true dragons is that they are simply too powerful to be allies/mounts as statted out in the MM. While the Mount below is still powerful, the Mount is meant to be something usable, but not overwhelming. One trick will be to prevent PCs or enemies from targeting a too-easily disposed of rider - while it may be a valid tactic, it would too easily ruin the flavor of the campaign. Besides the special Reaction ability of the mount, one standard ability of riders will be to use their Reaction to split an attack's damage between rider and mount (this gives the Riders two chances per round to mitigate damage to an otherwise susceptible target).

Also, contemplating upgrades (level-based, in addition to regular character advancement) that can be used to personalize and advance the mount.


Dragon companions would be drawn from the list below, each with customization to allow it to advance, be personalized and be useful throughout the game as well as on par in usability with those who choose Dragon Mounts. The advantage of the Companions is that they can be brought along on "indoor" adventures.

Faerie Dragon

Ambush Drake
Guard Drake
Dragon Wymling

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