D&D 5E How many dragons do we need?

jgsugden

Legend
Dragons are iconic creatures in D&D - we all know the game is named after them. I was doing an inventory of my miniatures yesterday and began to look at the dragons in it and began to wonder: How many dragons do we really need?

In popular lore we really only get one for the most part - an evil fire breathing dragon. D&D (over the editions) has added to that concept with:

4 other evil dragon types with different breath weapons
5 metallic dragons
2+ Dragon Gods
Skeletal / Lich Dragons
5 Gem Dragons
5 Space Dragons
5+ Metal Dragons (Iron, Steel, etc...)

... and then we have relatives like:
Sea Serpents
Dragon Turtles
Wyverns
Hydras
Faerie Dragons

... and in my lore I added
Drakes (essentially - dumb dragons that are intended to be used only as mounts)

In lore, dragons tend to be special. They tend to live in remote areas that are remote because the dragon is there. I have a massive primary world in my setting. The surface world is 12 times larger than Earth, and there is a Dyson Sphere like Underdark surface that is of nearly the same size. I don't have room for all of these dragons out there in my world, and I've been developing it for 40 years.

Are we diluting the specialness of the dragon by having so many types?

(And yes - I know the obvious answer - if you do not like them in your game, do not use them. My question is not aimed at how to fix my world - it is aimed at what the D&D brand is doing overall).
 

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DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
I think it has been at that point for some time.

I only use the base 10 "true dragons" as dragons. Although WotC gave the others the "dragon" creature type, I don't consider them dragons except for Faerie Dragons maybe, but more Fey than Dragon IMO.
 

ECMO3

Hero
Dragons are iconic creatures in D&D - we all know the game is named after them. I was doing an inventory of my miniatures yesterday and began to look at the dragons in it and began to wonder: How many dragons do we really need?

In popular lore we really only get one for the most part - an evil fire breathing dragon. D&D (over the editions) has added to that concept with:

4 other evil dragon types with different breath weapons
5 metallic dragons
2+ Dragon Gods
Skeletal / Lich Dragons
5 Gem Dragons
5 Space Dragons
5+ Metal Dragons (Iron, Steel, etc...)

... and then we have relatives like:
Sea Serpents
Dragon Turtles
Wyverns
Hydras
Faerie Dragons

... and in my lore I added
Drakes (essentially - dumb dragons that are intended to be used only as mounts)

In lore, dragons tend to be special. They tend to live in remote areas that are remote because the dragon is there. I have a massive primary world in my setting. The surface world is 12 times larger than Earth, and there is a Dyson Sphere like Underdark surface that is of nearly the same size. I don't have room for all of these dragons out there in my world, and I've been developing it for 40 years.

Are we diluting the specialness of the dragon by having so many types?

(And yes - I know the obvious answer - if you do not like them in your game, do not use them. My question is not aimed at how to fix my world - it is aimed at what the D&D brand is doing overall).

Ok first off my Faerie Dragon familiar Spinner wants you to know she is a Dragon and not a "spinnoff". She tells me to have you look in the monster manual where it clearly says she is a tiny Dragon.

With that out of the way, I would argue good Dragons do exist in the lore in the far east and they chose to live near people. So I would argue that is at least two types and moriffs.

Personally I would like to see the Gem Dragons hunted to extinction so we don't have to deal with them any more. I don't get what thematic purpose they serve and they are almost never in published adventures and usually not even referenced in the plot in the Dragon oriented plots like Tyranny of the Dragon or Dragonlance. Dragonlance is really telling; the entire world is about the good gods fighting the evil gods with the Neutral gods mediating and keeping both sides in check. Dragons play a dominant roll as servants of good or evil, but even here in this dragon-intensive setting the gem dragons do not make an entrance.

The rest I am happy with, and there are alot of players that want more dragon appearances. My son for example says and adventure is not D&D unless there is a Dragon.
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
In my lore, True Dragons are essentially all the same, but their outer form reflects their inner nature. Red dragons aren't all prideful because they're born that way, but rather they become a red dragon because arrogance is their defining personality trait. A red dragon who chooses to follow a nobler path could, over time, transform into a gold dragon. Similarly, a gold dragon who grows too arrogant would gradually transform into a red dragon. To them, this sort of change is totally natural.

As for whether there are too many kinds? IMO, the more the merrier. I'd rather have a ton of dragons that I never use, but always have a good option for any draconic adventures I'm planning, than not have enough and have to scrap the adventure because I don't have time to homebrew what I need.
 

Xamnam

Loves Your Favorite Game
I'll admit, in my homebrew world, I have the dragons function as patron protectors of the lands and their peoples, so I was thrilled to have so many already detailed options, but they also less aggressive than standard depiction. But even in other settings, I love them and the opportunities they provide, though I think it's fair to imagine that maybe not every type has an ancient one active in the world.
 

all the dragons. We need all the types. Not for an individual game per say, but so we can pick and choose what dragons we want for the game.

Off hand I think that an individual MM 1 needs to be Metalic and chromantic with maybe a few 'other' off hand I want deep draco lich and shadow. Then I think the others are great for later books.
 


the Jester

Legend
I think the more the merrier, as long as they aren't truly redundant. Like, we have red dragons, so we probably don't need another evil fire breathing dragon with no other distinguishing characteristics. But cloud dragons? Shou lung (and the other lung dragons)? Brine dragons? Steel dragons? Song dragons? Gem dragons? Catastrophic dragons? Heck yeah. Bring 'em.
 


One reason to have lots of dragons: Humanity has lots of dragons.

Western/Euro dragons and wyverns and "serpents." Norse myth having Jormungandr, Nidhogg, and Fafnir. Greek myth having a whole host of drakontes and drakainai of varying types and significance, as well as the Spartoi (no relation to Sparta), the "Sown Ones," who arose from sown dragon's teeth and the Ophiogeneikos (literally "Serpent-born") who claimed descent from dragons, and even mythological founder-heroes like Erichthonios who was often depicted with scaled legs and even a tail. Zirnitra, the Wendish god of sorcery, was apparently a dragon. Aždaja and other Middle Eastern dragons. The Mesopotamian myths about dragons and dragon-like creatures. Eastern/Asiatic dragons and lung and such. A whole host of additional myths, both heroic and villainous: the dragons of wind and water who tend to the seasons and the rivers; the dragons of the oceans; the Yellow Emperor who is also a dragon himself. Yamata-no-Orochi, the eight-headed dragon. Dragons and dragon-like creatures (feathered serpents, serpents who breathe fire, the Rainbow Serpent, etc.) found in the tales of the Americas, in Polynesia, in Australia.

Humanity LOVES dragons. We, collectively, think they're the coolest mythological thing since humans with animal characteristics (or vice-versa.) It is in our nature to think of dragons as powerful, important, and usually at least a little mysterious/misunderstood/inscrutable. Dragons have been gods and monsters, divine messengers and transformed thieving dwarves, literal bringers of salvation and literal world-ending apocalyptic threats, weapons of war and personifications of natural forces far greater than any human. They have been enemies, allies, overlords, intermediaries, lovers, rivals, and everything in-between.

Frankly, the fact that we've stuck relatively cleanly to only a small handful of types (five chromatic, between five and ten metallic depending on which canon you read, five prismatic, a handful of Asiatic-style dragons, some relatives like dragon-turtles and couatls, etc.) is demonstration of some relatively meaningful restraint on the part of TTRPG creators.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
One reason to have lots of dragons: Humanity has lots of dragons.

Western/Euro dragons and wyverns and "serpents." Norse myth having Jormungandr, Nidhogg, and Fafnir. Greek myth having a whole host of drakontes and drakainai of varying types and significance, as well as the Spartoi (no relation to Sparta), the "Sown Ones," who arose from sown dragon's teeth and the Ophiogeneikos (literally "Serpent-born") who claimed descent from dragons, and even mythological founder-heroes like Erichthonios who was often depicted with scaled legs and even a tail. Zirnitra, the Wendish god of sorcery, was apparently a dragon. Aždaja and other Middle Eastern dragons. The Mesopotamian myths about dragons and dragon-like creatures. Eastern/Asiatic dragons and lung and such. A whole host of additional myths, both heroic and villainous: the dragons of wind and water who tend to the seasons and the rivers; the dragons of the oceans; the Yellow Emperor who is also a dragon himself. Yamata-no-Orochi, the eight-headed dragon. Dragons and dragon-like creatures (feathered serpents, serpents who breathe fire, the Rainbow Serpent, etc.) found in the tales of the Americas, in Polynesia, in Australia.

Humanity LOVES dragons. We, collectively, think they're the coolest mythological thing since humans with animal characteristics (or vice-versa.) It is in our nature to think of dragons as powerful, important, and usually at least a little mysterious/misunderstood/inscrutable. Dragons have been gods and monsters, divine messengers and transformed thieving dwarves, literal bringers of salvation and literal world-ending apocalyptic threats, weapons of war and personifications of natural forces far greater than any human. They have been enemies, allies, overlords, intermediaries, lovers, rivals, and everything in-between.

Frankly, the fact that we've stuck relatively cleanly to only a small handful of types (five chromatic, between five and ten metallic depending on which canon you read, five prismatic, a handful of Asiatic-style dragons, some relatives like dragon-turtles and couatls, etc.) is demonstration of some relatively meaningful restraint on the part of TTRPG creators.
Yeah, even with just European lore, there are more than just the fire breathing dragon. In fact, the fire breathing dragon was probably lesser known than others, like the lindworm, Cuélebre, guivre, Knucker, Azhdahak, Balaur, Lambton Worm, and the dragon of St. George (which spit venom, not fire).

As far as when will be enough? Probably never. If there's one constant between editions, it's making more dragons. These are just the 1e ones found in Dragon magazine, in addition to all the ones found in other books:

Dracolich 62
Dracones 64
Aquatic 65
Arack 66
Astral 67
Dragon, Chinese 68
T’ien Lung 70
Shen Lung 70
Li Lung 70
Pan Lung 70
Lung Wang 70
Yu Lung 70
Cobra 70
Draken 72
Electrum 72
Faerie 72
Fang 74
Grey 74
Ichthyodrake 75
Minidragon 75
Night 76
Obsidian 77
Orange 78
Phase 78
Purple 79
Rainbow 79
Sand 80
Scintillating 81
Steel 82
Stone 83
Yellow 84
Drake, Crystal 84
Drake, Demon 86
Drake, Shadow
 




J.Quondam

CR 1/8
It's nice to have lots of options and different takes on dragons. They may or may not have to be in any particular setting. Choice is a nice thing about a creative hobby like D&D.
 

Incenjucar

Legend
More dragons is fine as long as the hook is good enough. The good hook is important, though.

Serpents should be their own thing. I personally enjoy the idea of serpents as rivals to dragons that dare to spend too much time out of the sky.
 

Dioltach

Legend
Apparently I'm the odd one out, because I believe in only evil dragons. Maybe adapt them to their environment: a cloud dragon if I want something invisible in the sky, a sand-coloured dragon that blasts superheated sand in the desert, perhaps something like a black dragon in swamplands. But essentially they're all the same type. And all evil.
 

CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
I agree it’s nice to have options, I’d like lots of different types of dragons, wyrms, wyverns, drakes and the all the rest, but what we don’t want is redundancy, we don’t need a separate entry for a red, gold, ruby, green and blue dragon when all that is different between them is their alignment or elemental affinity, give us the base templates of the different types to work off of and the tools we need to make the changes required for an entire legion of dragons each one unique.
 

gamerprinter

Mapper/Publisher
In one homebrew setting I was attempting to create viable numbers of dragons in such a way that the world isn't inundated with vast populations of dragons. I opted to determine all dragons as the same species, and colors or metals are determined by acquired alignments not by genetics. All dragons are born neutral and gray, as they become adolescents they acquire alignments. So the same litter of dragons could grow up into red dragons, gold dragons, perhaps gem dragons too. Now you can have all the varieties of dragon-kind without the need for mated pairs of every kind of dragon species to provide all world's dragons. Now animosities between dragon kind aren't solely based on speicial differences, rather sibling rivalries lead to these animosities...
 

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