D&D 5E How many dragons do we need?

aco175

Legend
The same question could also apply to PC races. I would be for a large enough group of dragons to make things interesting, but I also tend to place monsters in certain places or terrain that makes sense.
 

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Scribe

Legend
Why are there so many types of dragons?

The same reason there are so many types of Elves (in my view/settings). They are magically beings who attune to their environment over time.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
I really like an aspect of the Nenthir vale setting: each cardinal point was blocked by a dragon ...

this is a somewhat small setting, so 4 was enough. But the lesson I would retain is that each dragon is unique. It's not "a" white dragon, it's the white dragon.

And with such a model, having several kinds of dragons available is good.
 


pointofyou

Adventurer
You might need one set of dragons while I need a different set. It makes plenty of sense for WotC to provide a superset of dragons that includes both the set you need and the set I need while including the sets other DMs who are running different games from yours or mine need. None of that inherently makes the dragons in your setting or mine less special.
 



Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
True Dragons - I dont like colour coding dragons so all True dragons are a single species with scales adapted to habitat, all breath fire and acid spray. All use magics according to elemental preferences.

Also:
Celestial astral Tien-lung dragon (gold)
Radiant rainbow cosmic dragon (silver)
Song Dragons - Weredragon cult who serve the Rainbow Dragon queen

Not Dragons:
Sea Dragon - sea serpents intelligent with acid spray
Faerie Dragons
Dragon turtles there are three worshipped and given tribute by sailors in their respective territories
 
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RoughCoronet0

Dragon Lover
I can never have too many dragons. My own world has the following.
  • 12 Chromatic dragons
  • 12 Metallic dragons
  • 12 Gem dragons
  • 10 Catostrophic dragons
  • Several shado/necrotic-touched dragons such as shadow dragons, nightshade dragons, ghost dragons, vampiric dragons, Dracoliches, etc.
  • Several Fey-touched dragons such as fairy dragons, mirage dragons, arch-blessed dragons, ect.
  • Primal Dragons/linnorms for every natural biome.
  • Several outer plane dragons such as hellfire wyrms, stygian dragons, radiant dragpns, battle dragons, void dragons, ect.
  • Many lesser dragons such as dragon turtles, sea serpents, drakes, Wyverns, dragonettes, dragonels, ect.
  • 8 Dragon gods and a dozen or so unique dragon exarchs.
 

jgsugden

Legend
It is Dungeons and DRAGONS, after all. You think they ought to skimp on the dragons?
Yeah - I noted the use of Dragons in the name of the game in my starting line ...

But by having so many different yet similar dragons - do we dilute the concept and make it less significant? If the Avengers had fought 40 Thanoses before Infinity War and Endgame, would the battles against him have mattered as much?
do you mean integrated into a setting or as options? as those are separate options.
I thought I was clear on that - especially in my last line. In any setting you can do what you want. In mine, with a world about 23 times the size of the Earth if you include the Underdark - 75% of the Dragons are the Chromatic Evils and offshoots (Wyverns, Hydras, Dragon Turtles). 20% are the Metallic. Then the other 5% are these other dragon types .... and with Dragons being very rare ... well, most non-chromatic and metallic dragons will never be encountered.
 

Incenjucar

Legend
Dragons can have more and less pronounced differences. Deep dragons, shadow dragons, amber dragons, and cataclysmic dragons all mix things up.
 

Clint_L

Hero
I agree with OP - too many dragons and they become just another creature. I use them very sparingly, so when they appear, it's a big deal. I also don't bother with basically any of the D&D lore about metallic=good and coloured =bad, etc.. I treat each one as its own character with its own motivations and agenda (I don't use alignments anyway).

I also think dragons are kind of a generic monster unless you are very careful with how you deploy them. It's not like D&D invented dragons; almost every fantasy setting has dragons. Dragons are a dime a dozen. I am way more interested in creatures like the Beholder that were invented for the game. Dragons might be in the title, but that's just because they are a comfortable concept that doesn't need explaining. I'm so "meh" on Dragons that Fizban's is one of the only sourcebooks that I haven't even opened.
 

Incenjucar

Legend
I tend to use dragons as Big Deal elements.

In my last campaign, the PCs were on a planejammer pirate ship with a skeletal shadow dragon imbedded in it, who basically used a geas curse to control the crew until they served sufficiently. This dragon then had the crew find its granddaughter so it could turn her into a new heart, and later its daughter so it could be reborn with her body. Another dragon encountered became the living forge in which they merged two magical swords into one.
 

Question: Why do dragons need to be "special"? In my opinion, they should be pretty common; maybe not quite as much as the other half of the game's title, but common enough that your typical campaign should encounter several of them. If not, you're basically providing false advertisement to your players by using the game's title. It's not "Dungeons & Maybe One Dragon If You're Lucky", after all...
 

For my own work (unrelated to the game I'm currently running), I wanted to make metallic and chromatic dragons line up more cleanly. So I ended up with the following:

Gold: As standard in D&D, linked to fire.
Silver: As standard in D&D, linked to cold.
Copper: As standard in D&D, linked to acid.
Iron: Lightning damage.
Cobalt: Thunder damage.
Wolfram: Radiant damage.
Tyrium: Psychic damage.

The Chromatics would originally have been the Prismatic dragons, gemstones.

Ruby => Red
Diamond => White
Emerald => Green
Onyx => Black
Sapphire => Blue
Topaz => Yellow (essentially unknown to mankind)
Amethyst => Purple (essentially unknown to mankind)

This allows both an element-to-element matchup and a separate color-to-color matchup (Gold/Yellow, Silver/White, Wolfram/Green, etc.) for interesting thematic parallels. With seven colors, there's slightly more variety outside of the black/white distinction. As noted, Yellow and Purple dragons are essentially unknown in this framework, and there haven't been any Prismatic dragons for so long, most people don't know they ever existed. Tiamat (I use a different name in this setup) is the corrupted, fallen version of the original ruler of all dragonkind, chosen by Io (again, different name) as their intended successor; Tiamat only has five heads, matching the five kinds of generally-known Chromatic dragons. For complicated plot reasons, that successor fell, leaving Bahamut (again, different name) to rule alone. The fall of Tiamat partially damaged reality, and Bahamut can't fix it on their own.
 
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Cadence

Legend
Supporter
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

Don't forget:
Quasar 96
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
Don't forget:
Quasar 96
Oh, the #s weren't the dragon issue #. They were page #s. I had compiled all the OD&D/1e monsters from Strategic Review and Dragon all into a single book (466 of them).

Unfortunately, no I can't share this, so don't ask (in general, no just to you). This was a private thing I did for myself. And don't expect WoTC to do something like this either. Recently I spoke with Ray Winninger and he had some great insight. There was never great recordkeeping or licensing with TSR back in the day, so it's really all up in the air as to who actually own the content from Dragon back then. Apparently when WoTC released the digital Dragon compilation (1-250), several people got upset because they said they owned the rights to their contributions and WoTC didn't, and no one could find original contracts. So you'll never see anything like that again.


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For my own work (unrelated to the game I'm currently running), I wanted to make metallic and chromatic dragons line up more cleanly. So I ended up with the following:

Gold: As standard in D&D, linked to fire.
Silver: As standard in D&D, linked to cold.
Copper: As standard in D&D, linked to acid.
Iron: Lightning damage.
Cobalt: Thunder damage.
Wolfram: Radiant damage.
Tyrium: Psychic damage.

The Chromatics would originally have been the Prismatic dragons, gemstones.

Ruby => Red
Diamond => White
Emerald => Green
Onyx => Black
Sapphire => Blue
Topaz => Yellow (essentially unknown to mankind)
Amethyst => Purple (essentially unknown to mankind)

This allows both an element-to-element matchup and a separate color-to-color matchup (Gold/Yellow, Silver/White, Wolfram/Green, etc.) for interesting thematic parallels. With seven colors, there's slightly more variety outside of the black/white distinction. As noted, Yellow and Purple dragons are essentially unknown in this framework, and there haven't been any Prismatic dragons for so long, most people don't know they ever existed. Tiamat (I use a different name in this setup) is the corrupted, fallen version of the original ruler of all dragonkind, chosen by Io (again, different name) as their intended successor; Tiamat only has five heads, matching the five kinds of generally-known Chromatic dragons. For complicated plot reasons, that successor fell, leaving Bahamut (again, different name) to rule alone. The fall of Tiamat partially damaged reality, and Bahamut can't fix it on their own.
what is wolfram and tyrium?
 



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