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How do you slay a red dragon?

roytheodd

First Post
I’m trying to work up a lair for a mature red dragon that takes into account all the common tricks PCs use to slay dragons, such as feats, spells, and special attacks. The thing is, I’ve never faced a dragon in D&D and I don’t know what all is useful. I’m using a textbook dragon, straight out of the Monster Manual. Anybody care to help me generate a list of what I need to know?
 

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MatthewJHanson

Registered Ninja
Publisher
Very carefully!

Seriously though...

Most PCs will know that red dragons are vulnerable to cold, so he should find some way to protect against it (such as taking protection from energy as a sorc spell).

Conversly most PCs will probably protect themselves against fire.
 

MarkB

Legend
WotC recently posted a series of articles providing Tactics and Tips on facing dragons of each colour. I suggest you start with the Red Dragons article - it covers some common tactics and things to look out for.

That aside, reds are weak against cold attacks, so they're likely to be used - although more experienced players may expect the red to have cold resistances up as a matter of course, and thus not bother with cold attacks.

At Mature Adult level the dragon has some serious DR and SR, so they'll be breaking out the magic weapons and using no-SR spells like the various Orbs.

They'll probably come equipped for flight, assuming that the dragon will want to take the fight into the air, so have it keep an eye out for whatever's holding them up. A dispel magic targeted at a character's summoned steed or Winged Boots at just the wrong moment can really spoil his day.

If the fight is in the open, ensure that you make the most of the dragon's speed. Take a look at the flight-related feats in the Monster Manual, and give it at least one. On the other hand, make sure you play its Poor manoueverability accurately - dragons don't exactly turn on a dime (unless they have Wingover :D ).
 

MoogleEmpMog

First Post
Ranged Threat feat.
Iron Kingdoms longarm with an enchantment allowing it multiple shots.
Dragon attempts to disarm, shoot, crit.
Dragon attempts to fire the rifle. Quickdraw a pistol, shoot, crit.

I ended up doing somewhere in the vicinity of 200 damage with those two AoOs, which was sufficient to kill the injured dragon.

Don't ask me WHY the dragon in question tried to disarm my rifle, or why it tried to shoot it, or why the GM was allowing me to quickdraw and autofire, but that was my most memorable dragon-slaying. :D

In terms of serious suggestions:

Adventurers often try to attack dragons with the opposite element: cold, in the case of a red. Energy immunity (fire) is the first priority, whether from a wizsorc scroll or an item.

Adventurers also often try to attack from choke points where the dragon can't get to them except with its breath weapon, especially against a Huge or larger dragon (which can't squeeze into a 5 ft. gap). Don't leave these kinds of gaps!

Adventurers ALWAYS protect themselves from a dragon's breath weapon. So, any offensive spells the dragon memorizes should target other weaknesses. And sticking electricity or acid or sonic traps rather than fire traps would make them much more effective. Expect PC fighters to dive into lava without batting an eye when fighting a red. If the dragon has item-based cold immunity, use cold extensively, because it will be immune to that, to, whereas the adventurers won't be. :]
 

Lord Zardoz

First Post
Its one thing when players take a moment to buff up before entering a room in a dungeon. But the steps they will take when they know they are about to throw down with a dragon will cover pretty much every angle they can possibly cover. They will take as long as they need to review every spell and item they have access to. If given the opportunity, they will activate every defensive ability they have, buff up their attacks, and try for an overwhelming first round ambush.

Every party is different, so the exact preparations will differ. There will be overlap in the defensive measures. Only a fool wont try for some measure of fire protection, and you can be pretty sure that any buff to AC and saveing throws will be used too.

My suggestion would be to take a shot at reversing the situation a bit. Give the dragon two lairs. One where he keeps his hoard. And one where he actually lives.

The hoard lair would be the typical dragon lair. Hard to get to, some reasonable traps, and well guarded. But not by the dragon. Let the dragons minions worry about guarding the dragons hoard. Half dragon fire giants perhaps. Or maybe some hatchlings. Or any other sort of minion you find adequate. Just so long as the minions are weak enough that they wont cross the dragon. This lair would also have an escape route that the dragon could use to vacate the lair if it was ever facing a losing fight within this lair.

Continuing the dual lair setup, I would have the lair that the dragon lives in be a place that the dragon can go to safely recover. I would make this lair something like the summit of an active volcano, which does constant heat / fire damage to those not protected. I would also have the lair be a place that the dragon would get the benefit of faster healing, so that one full day in that lair puts him at full HP.

Let the players raid the hoard lair, and then let them wonder where the hell the big dragon is. Let them squirm for a while over it. And let the dragon hit them on the way out after they burned off their buffs and protections against the minions. Its not beyond the realm of possibility that the dragon would have some way of knowing if its lair was raided. I would bet that a dragon could find a way to mark and track every single coin, gem and jewel in his horde.

You can hit the players on their way down the mountain, or a few days later at an Inn, which gives you an excuse to have the dragon raze a few towns. You could make it clear that the anyone caught with this dragons treasure is under the curse of "The angry mature dragon that can find you and will kill you". They could have the treasure, but they might not be able to safely keep it until they do kill that dragon.

If you want to make the dragon fight memorable, simply letting the dragon fight on terms of its choosing will have the most impact in negating most player anti-dragon strategies. Just consider the implicatoins of a Dragon hitting the players fully buffed with Stone Skin, Improved Invisibility, Haste, and maybe even Spell Turning? Consider the effect of the dragon having the means to just up and fly away as soon as the players start to get the upper hand. Such a dragon will scare the crap out of your players.

END COMMUNICATION
 


Zweihänder

First Post
A Wish spell.

...what? That's how I'd do it.

Seriously, though, if there's 1 thing I learned from the writings of R. A. Salvatore, it's that a dragon should NEVER sleep right under a GIGANTIC STALACTITE. This is a patently bad idea.
 

Plane Sailing

Astral Admin - Mwahahaha!
roytheodd said:
I’m trying to work up a lair for a mature red dragon that takes into account all the common tricks PCs use to slay dragons, such as feats, spells, and special attacks. The thing is, I’ve never faced a dragon in D&D and I don’t know what all is useful. I’m using a textbook dragon, straight out of the Monster Manual. Anybody care to help me generate a list of what I need to know?
The key question is this.

Are the party plain PHB/DMG or has a whole range of spells and stuff been allowed from other sources? If the party have feats/spells/items from other sources, the fight can go dramatically worse for the red dragon as so many 'dragon killing' things have been added to the game (including SR reducing spells, and damaging spells that do lots of damage and ignore SR like the Orb spells).

The main things that the dragon needs in its lair are multiple ways out. His biggest advantage is his flying manouverability and speed, and if he loses that he is in difficulty. His lair should be full of lava and smoke to cut down on party visibility and use up their protection from energy spells.

The dragon is a fearsome grappler and crusher, so unless the party is blessed with plenty of freedom of movement, that is an excellent option to use on them.

In a 1-on-1 the dragon can destroy similar foes, but fighting a party is much more difficult. Consider the use of area-control spells to split the party up as much as possible (blade barrier/wall of stone/wall of force and such like.

Definitely worth letting the dragon have his own lair protected by an Unhallow spell, with appropriate spell tied to it - something like dispel magic or dimensional anchor affecting his foes, or protection from cold affecting himself, for instance.

Cheers
 


XO

First Post
Prepared versus Unprepared

DO keep in mind that a dragon's CR presumes forewarning.

If hunting for a dragon, then, the CR applies.

Sean K Reynolds had a breath spell to change energy type in one of the Malhavoc books, for a mere 1st level spell (if memory serves). If using this or similar tricks, expect TPK !
 

pawsplay

First Post
Your front line guys need miss chances, preferably blur, concealment, mirror image (rings of minor spell storing can do this), and so forth. The dragon's attack bonus is high enough to hit, hit, and hit.

In fact, withstanding full attacks is just a bad idea in general. Make one attack, then Tumble away, even unskilled. One AoO is better than a full attack.

Rings of fire resistance, whatever's appropriate for your level. Just taking ten points off each attack can be the difference between the cleric burning spells and the party dying.

Someone should be designated to ready to interrupt any spell the dragon casts. Magic missile, archery, or a a character in charge range can accomplish this.

Summoned monsters. Lots of summoned monsters. They clutter up the dragon's movement, and who knows? some of them may roll 20s. In the meantime, they provide flanking.
 


werk

First Post
One thing that I've seen from DMs is to either give the dragon a lair that is easily escaped, like multiple entrances/exits, so they can play hit and run, or to put the dragon deep in a hole that is very perilous to enter, for one spectacular showdown.

I'm rather fond of the deep, secure, hole. Throw a couple forbiddances on the way in, traps (curses and non-fire energy attacks), guards (rogues+low walls+blacklight=fun), and difficult terrain (slick, sloping floors and such).

Dragons don't sleep on a pillow in the middle of a field, they sleep on a pile of gold at the heart of Fort Knox.
 

Cedric

First Post
werk said:
One thing that I've seen from DMs is to either give the dragon a lair that is easily escaped, like multiple entrances/exits, so they can play hit and run, or to put the dragon deep in a hole that is very perilous to enter, for one spectacular showdown.

I'm rather fond of the deep, secure, hole. Throw a couple forbiddances on the way in, traps (curses and non-fire energy attacks), guards (rogues+low walls+blacklight=fun), and difficult terrain (slick, sloping floors and such).

Dragons don't sleep on a pillow in the middle of a field, they sleep on a pile of gold at the heart of Fort Knox.
Yes, but make sure you leave a backdoor to Fort Knox and trap the bejeesus out of it. Had one GM that set us up like that...so my character went in through the back door. Turns out that the 'back door' was the Dragons privy and as soon as the Dragon breathed fire in that direction the privy exploded also, doing extra damage.

Even as a cleric with fire protection up (2nd edition here), I barely survived that blast.
 

Thunderfoot

First Post
From a DM standpoint, no dragon's lair is a "single entity. I think on the level of the Egyptian tombs of the Phaoroh's. Multiple false rooms, traps out the ying-yang, arieal getaway paths (ie a sun-roof or three:)) Treasure vault located away from the sleeping chamber or perhaps have them together but seperated from the rest of the lair via a "Special" entrance way (pit of lava, frozen lake, swamp water, pool of sand, etc) and several smaller, well-cared-for buffer monsters to both soak damage, deplete party resources and warn of the impending attack (so that I might have the dragon outmanuever them and so carry on the tradition of NEVER allowing dragons to be a, "hey, we need XP and money so lets go fight a dragon", monster.)

Member of B.A.D.D. (Bothered About Disposible Dragons) for a long, LONG, time.
 

Mechnomancer

First Post
round one: Area dispell magic

round two: Swoop and grab cleric. Drop as free action from sky.

Round three: swallow whole arcane magic user.

Round four: Stay out of range and plink away at pcs with spells and breath.

The Draconomicon has a bunch of feats to help with your TPK.
 

Mr Vergee

First Post
Seeing how you have no experience with dragons, I'll assume your players don't either. A mature red dragon is enough of a challenge as it is. Do not try to make it too powerful either, unless you want your party to fail.

The ideas of some kind of protection vs. cold and soem nifty escape routes out of its lair are quite nice though, but I wouldn't go much further than that.
 

Barendd Nobeard

First Post
Place the dragon's lair underneath The Tomb of Horrors. Any PCs that survive the tomb and get to the lair will be softened up a bit for the dragon.
 

heimdall

Dwarven Guardian
With the proper set of minions, even early warning kobolds that go running in to wake up said dragon (so he can attack the party on the wing), you can make the dragon impossible to defeat. Is that what you're after or are you just trying to keep the dragon from dying in the first 2 rounds?
 

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