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How many dragons?

How many actual dragons are there in your Dungeons & Dragons?

  • Literally no dragons.

    Votes: 4 4.5%
  • Maybe one or two dragon encounters per campaign.

    Votes: 58 65.2%
  • A dragon usually turns up every few game sessions.

    Votes: 17 19.1%
  • I shoehorn a dragon into every game session I can.

    Votes: 3 3.4%
  • All of my PCs are dragons and so are most of the NPCs.

    Votes: 7 7.9%

  • Total voters
    89
  • Poll closed .

dnd4vr

Explorer
There's a huge gap between "once or twice per campaign" and "every few game sessions". I'll have a dragon* show up every now and then - maybe not every few sessions but way more often than once or twice per campaign (or I bloody hope so anyway, seeing as I tend to run 10+ year campaigns). :)

* - including the occasional decent one that isn't out to kill the PCs on sight and might even be talked into helping them out....
Yeah, I felt I couldn't even vote because honestly it is more than once or twice per campaign (which spans months to years of actual game play) to every few sessions. You really needed a category in between IMO since that is where my vote would have gone. Too bad really.

I would have to say maybe once or twice per tier of play is where our group lands.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad day
My last 3 campaigns ran 5 years, 7 years, and 4.5 years. I *really* need an option between "1-2 a campaign" and "every few sessions".

I'd say once every few months. So about once per 8-12 sessions. Not always as combat encounters. And sometimes there's a rash of them for a particularly dragon-full plot.
 

Shiroiken

Explorer
I think the big issue is how long most campaigns go. Given that most campaigns end around level 10, and most young dragons are TPKs in waiting before level 5 or so, this doesn't give a long time period to use many dragons. I generally try to use a few dragons per campaign, not only because they're iconic but also memorable encounters.
 
I

Immortal Sun

Guest
My next campaign I want to do this, now: "All of my PCs are dragons and so are most of the NPCs."
As an interesting note, it's not really that hard and I ran mine straight from the book. Since the "power level" of the game basically starts at 11 and goes up from there it's very self-balancing. Significantly more powerful players encounter significantly more powerful monsters on a significantly more regular basis. Sure I had to custom-design some of the "top tier" dragons, but that's half the fun.

Some other notes: I experimented with the concept in 3.5 with just using the "stats" of the race, but replacing racial HD with class HD (so, a lot less). Dealing with the higher-powered stats isn't a problem in that edition and the lower HD made the characters substantially more manageable.
 

Voadam

Adventurer
Every couple of campaigns for me.

I'm running a 5e conversion of the Carrion Crown Gothic Horror/Lovecraftian Adventure Path and don't expect any real dragons until they potentially hit a linnorm and then a ravener/dracolich in the last one.

My last two Yawning Portal White Plume Mountain games did not include any dragons but my homebrew one before that centered on hunting down one.

I can remember in running Pathfinder previously there was a Tatzylwyrm and a White Dragon in Reign of Winter and a behir which is sort of dragonish in a one shot I ran. None were in my Freeport campaign which was pirate/city/Mythos themed.
 

Brashnir2

Villager
My current campaign was originally intended to be light on dragons. My original vision had more to do with demons/devils and the lower planes as the ultimate high-level destination. But then we got a Paladin of Bahamut in the party, and then some other real bad stuff happened - so now for the back half of the campaign, there is going to be all of the dragons.
 

Reynard

Adventurer
I like using dragons as Big Bads in campaigns, so while there are only one or two encounters with them in a given campaign, they are "present" throughout in the sense that the dragon is a major force in how the world works.

Unfortunately, I am not very good at the tactical use of dragons versus the party so it is pretty common for the Final Battle to be pretty anticlimactic when the mid to high level party wipes the floor with the supposed most powerful monster in the world.
 

Scott Graves

Villager
Since we are playing Tyranny of Dragons they show up a lot. I even tossed in a spare one for them to fight to bump most of them to 6th level. We are playing Adventure League so I tend to run between 4 and 10 players, most of the time 7. So the experience gets spread a tad thin. I needed to give them an extra dragon between the castle in the swamp and the hunting lodge so they have a chance of succeeding the last bit.
 

jayoungr

Explorer
It depends on the campaign. I ran the full Tyranny of Dragons campaign for my group, capped off with a 5E conversion of the last few adventures of Scales of War to get them to level 20. So there were dragons and dragon-related creatures all over the place all the time, starting with kobolds and progressing through half-dragons before working up to older and older "full" dragons.

But my current campaign for the same group is set in Ravenloft, so no dragons at all there.
 
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Gilladian

Adventurer
In my last campaign, no dragon until the very very end. They retreated from it after a brief conversation, and swore they were never going in that direction again. In my current campaign the PCs are 4th level, and will soon meet (depending on their choices) a clockwork felldrake. They've had some info that dragons were common in this region in the past; this is a warning to them that dragons WILL be part of the campaign as time goes by. Not too much further in, I intend to have a dragon spotted flying over the campaign region, and if the PCs continually ignore it, then it may eventually come raiding. So it will become a large plot point, if they don't insist on ignoring it. If they do, they'll get to hear about another adventuring party succeeding in dealing with it (or not...).
 

LuisCarlos17f

Registered User
If a dragon with age categories is canon in D&D or Pathfinder then it has to be in my "multiverse". The trick is almost all are in a demiplane between elemental limbo and feywild, the islands of Io's blood. Some dragons weren't born from eggs, but ordinary humanoids who used arcane powers to "digi-evolutionate". The most of noble houses (Stark, Targaryen, Lannister, Baratheon..) are from "monster" origin (lord feys, genies, giants, therianthropes and half-dragons for example).
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
My last 3 campaigns ran 5 years, 7 years, and 4.5 years. I *really* need an option between "1-2 a campaign" and "every few sessions".

I'd say once every few months. So about once per 8-12 sessions. Not always as combat encounters. And sometimes there's a rash of them for a particularly dragon-full plot.
That's my experience as well - there might be a long run without seeing any dragons then suddenly you're in a situation where there's several all at once.

As a very rough guess I'd say the overall average (made up of highly variable per-adventure numbers) in my game is probably about one to one-and-a-half per adventure, ignoring the very low-level days. That'd equate to maybe one per 10-12 sessions overall I think.
 

Satyrn

Villager
This might be a silly question, but how often/frequently do dragons appear in your Dungeons & Dragons game? Back in college, we used to jokingly call the game "Dungeons & Dungeons" because there were plenty of dungeons but dragons were of questionable frequency. Later on in my "career" as a DM, I instead made it a point to make sure that dragons were as prominent as Dungeons in my D&D, or damn near to it.

So how often are their dragons in your Dungeons & Dragons?
Not often enough. I try to use them more than I did in the past, but even still, there are only a half a dozen or so places in my megadungeon where I've specifically placed dragons, and the players have only actually been to one of them.

I also seem to have made them too rare on my wandering monster tables because none have showed up that way.
 

Brashnir2

Villager
Not often enough. I try to use them more than I did in the past, but even still, there are only a half a dozen or so places in my megadungeon where I've specifically placed dragons, and the players have only actually been to one of them.

I also seem to have made them too rare on my wandering monster tables because none have showed up that way.
It's tough to justify dragons in a megadungeon, so I wouldn't worry too much about it. They make a lot more sense in places where they are known about, or able to conceal their identities. They are important enough entities that they impact the politics of the land, unless they're just wyrmlings.
 

Satyrn

Villager
It's tough to justify dragons in a megadungeon, so I wouldn't worry too much about it. They make a lot more sense in places where they are known about, or able to conceal their identities. They are important enough entities that they impact the politics of the land, unless they're just wyrmlings.
That is true.

I just realized, though, that it might've been cool if I'd put a dragon lair on every single level of the place. Like most of them would be hidden, requiring extensive exploration of the level to find, so the players could spend their entire adventuring career as dragon hunters if they wanted to.

. . . I might have some retrofitting to do. Sometime in the future, like maybe in 2021.
 

Brashnir2

Villager
That is true.

I just realized, though, that it might've been cool if I'd put a dragon lair on every single level of the place. Like most of them would be hidden, requiring extensive exploration of the level to find, so the players could spend their entire adventuring career as dragon hunters if they wanted to.

. . . I might have some retrofitting to do. Sometime in the future, like maybe in 2021.
That does sound like a fun gimmick, especially if the players know about it and are able to actively search for them.
 

Satyrn

Villager
That does sound like a fun gimmick, especially if the players know about it and are able to actively search for them.
I've just added the idea to my to-do list, with this note: "One of these dragons - or a family of them - ought to be called Brashnir II - after the Enworlder who inspired the idea."
 

ParanoydStyle

Peace Among Worlds
I've always used very young dragons as generic fodder, for as long as I've been running games. Given that a dragon tends to die whenever it shows up, I figured there must be tons of them out there, for any of them to survive to adulthood.
Huh! I never use young dragons as generic fodder because my assumptions are the exact opposite of yours.

See, my default headcanon for dragons came from Shadowrun which I was exposed to before D&D, so all of my assumptions are the exact opposite of what you just said. I see adult and older dragons being genius master manipulator archmagi whose physical status as fire-breathing flying dinosaurs is often a last resort. Dragons do not have babies like a frog releasing tons of tadpoles hoping a few will survive, they generally have one egg at a time. Wyrmlings are incredibly rare and precious and virtually never unguarded; wyrmlings that are orphaned are sometimes fostered by other dragons (in the first session of my most recent now probably dead campaign the PCs killed a wyrmling green dragon, actually pretty impressive because there were only two of them that session and they were 3rd level; anyway I later worked out that green wyrmling was being fostered by the young black dragon in one of the other caves of chaos). Killing a wyrmling is the single most reprehensible thing you can do and is the surest way to bring all dragons in the area

With the exception of the huge swathes of the original Dragonlance campaign that I ran for my ex in 3.5, where dragon death was not uncommon, particularly not once the PCs actually started arming themselves with the titular dragonlances which are really quite good at killing dragons, unsurprisingly...anyway, in all other D&D that I've run, dragons virtually NEVER died when they showed up. I don't mean because dragons in 3.5 had the [Awesome] subtype and I love to TPK my players--I just play dragons as extremely smart and extremely focused on self-preservation (assuming it can reasonably have the spell, the first turn I take with any dragon is casting Protection From Energy specifying the type it's vulnerable to). My thinking in that case is that dragons wouldn't live to be thousands of years old in a world where everyone wants to kill them for their valuable body parts and ample treasure if they were not incredibly careful.

Likewise, I have had dragons 'flee' fights while they were still at hundreds of hp. Sometimes, granted, the out of game reason for this was to keep all my players from winding up in the dragon's belly, but the in-game reason was always that the dragon has a lifespan of millennia at stake--with that much to gain, and with time on your side, why take any chances? Of course I have roleplayed some dragons that were stupid or reckless--this was specified in some cases in Dragonlance--but generally speaking I play them crafty and cautious.

Other idiosyncracies of my use of dragons: I have never been a believer in the idea that all chromatic dragons are evil or that all metallic dragons are good. Crazy, right? But I dunno, the idea that someone can tell whether you're a good or bad person dragon just by looking at the color of your skin scales never sat right with me. In spite of that though, funnily enough I can't think of an instance of my ever actually having used a nonevil chromatic or a nongood metallic in one of my campaigns. But they're there!

OUT OF CURIOSITY: was anyone who picked either the first or last option on the poll NOT joking about their vote?

Someone mentioned the Underdark as being one place there were no dragons, and someone else mentioned there being no dragons on the plane of Ravenloft. I feel like there would be shadow dragons in both of those locations, since the Shadowfell touches the Underdark and I presume the plane of shadow has links to Ravenloft.
 

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