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5E Is Neil Gaiman Wrong?

Reynard

Legend
I like the idea -- which I have read a few times over the years from different sources, so I don't know where it originated -- that in D&D there are only really 2 species of dragon: chromatic and metallic. A chromatic dragon goes through all the colors, molting both as it ages and when it moves environments. Sometimes a dragon just decides to stay someplace and thus you get an Old White, but much more commonly a dragon hunts out its territory and has to move on. Therefore it is much more likely that any of your Ancient dragons are going to be Red or Blue or Silver or Gold.
 

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Reynard

Legend
From the Monster Manual (1977) intelligence of dragons:
Black: Average
Blue: Very
Brass: High
Bronze: Exceptional
Copper: High
Gold: Genius
Green: Average-Very
Red: Exceptional
Silver: Exceptional
White: Average

None are beasts (in terms of intelligence), and all dragons are at least human intelligence (average) and most are more intelligent than that.

I would say that's a little different than your average elephant.
Well, elephants are thought to be about as smart as a person (just differently smart, so no pachyderm projectile weapons). An average intelligence (or smarter dragon) doesn't have to be "demi-human" kind of smart. It can still be "dragon smart" and not necessarily recognizable as an "intelligent creature" from the self centered perspective of two-legs.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Sir Fang's Dentist
Well, elephants are thought to be about as smart as a person (just differently smart, so no pachyderm projectile weapons). An average intelligence (or smarter dragon) doesn't have to be "demi-human" kind of smart. It can still be "dragon smart" and not necessarily recognizable as an "intelligent creature" from the self centered perspective of two-legs.
Maybe. Except no. Not at all.

It's not my position to comment on the relative intelligence of creatures, but while elephants aren't dumb, they also aren't as intelligent as the average human.

It's also not the point made in the "game world" of the Monster Manual in 1e, which in the introduction specifically discusses the intelligence rankings and says that if they are "intelligent creature" or "cunning" smart that will be listed in the description, NOT in the intelligence block.

So ... I just can't agree with this from a "real world" or "game" perspective.
 

Iry

Adventurer
It's up to you. The default dragons of D&D are assumed to be beatable with considerable effort. But if you want dragons to be unkillable then simply make it so, or introduce a Smaug style weakness that requires questing to accomplish.

I go both ways. I've had dragons that were killable through brute force, some that require questing, and in one game there were only 5 dragons and they were over a mile long. People sought them out as sages, not engines of destruction.
 

We can agree dragons are in the top of the food chain, but they aren't totally invincible. They can be killed by giants, maybe the closest one to a natural enemy.

Usually as predators dragons would rather bigger preys. Would you kill a rabbit when you can hunt a great deer?

If the dragon sleeps in a cave, this could become a trap if it's attacked with siege engines as catapults.

Or be tricked to go to a small room within a building to fall in the trap.

Paladins with flying mounts could attack against the wings and altough the dragon survived the fall it could be attacked with giant crossbows.

Elves could discover a lot of magic tricks.

Even a dragon could discover it shouldn't attack the temple in a little village to be not punished by an angry god. Worse if it's tricked to attack the temple or the shaman of the enemy tribe.
 


Reynard

Legend
Maybe. Except no. Not at all.

It's not my position to comment on the relative intelligence of creatures, but while elephants aren't dumb, they also aren't as intelligent as the average human.

It's also not the point made in the "game world" of the Monster Manual in 1e, which in the introduction specifically discusses the intelligence rankings and says that if they are "intelligent creature" or "cunning" smart that will be listed in the description, NOT in the intelligence block.

So ... I just can't agree with this from a "real world" or "game" perspective.
I mean, it's your game. Talky dragons can certainly be interesting. I was just pointing out that just because a dragon is "smart" doesn't mean you have to play it with human intelligence.

As to the real world stuff, the idea of "intelligence" is such a human-centric notion it certainly isn't worth arguing over.
 

Reynard

Legend
My brother described what he liked about d&d a long time ago. I don’t want to kill a hill giant. I want to kill 20 hill giants.
Different people have different appetites for "awesome" (for lack of a better term). Not everyone likes super powered heroes, and even those of us that do don't necessarily like them all the time.
 

Mistwell

Legend
Can dragons be defeated?

Sure they can, but is it plausible? I know, I know, plausibility, is something subjective when we are talking about a magical fantasy world, so let me better explain where I am coming from and where am I going.

I have a player that totally despise the idea of beings from the size of a dragon's toe facing a Gargantuan Magical Intelligent beast. He can't concede on that. There is no argument, no magic weapon, no number of warriors, nothing. In his words "We would need an army, all fully equipped with very powerful weapons, and a lot of luck to get a small chance to survive. There is no such thing as a dragon hunt."

Neil Gaiman said that one of the reasons why he wrote Coraline was because he wanted to tell his kids that dragons could be defeated. He even quoted GK Chesterton on it.
So, how do you cope with that?
How do you make you dragon quests plausible and interesting?
Is my player right? Or Gaiman/Chesterton are ?
What do you think?
Humanity hunted mastodons to extinction and routinely hunt blue whales. I am not even understanding the objection - humanity is clever and uses tools which can slay even the largest of beasts.
 



Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I have a player that totally despise the idea of beings from the size of a dragon's toe facing a Gargantuan Magical Intelligent beast. He can't concede on that.
Consider this - a human takes up a 5x5 square. A gargantuan creature takes up a 20x20 square. It is the size of a house, but not a very big house. So, you might want to check the "size of a dragon's toe" thing.

Humans, without magic and superpowers, can demolish a house. So, with magic and tools and superpowers, why not demolish a house-sized creature?
 

Mort

Hero
Supporter
Um, with respect, dinosaurs went out 65 million years ago. Homo erectus became a thing about 2 million years ago. There's a 60+ million year gap, such that there's no real connection between those events.
This guy just sat around, snapping his fingers. Wherever he went, he kept snapping his fingers. People were beginning to get annoyed. Finally a man walked up to him and asked him why he kept snapping his fingers.

"To keep the elephants away," was the reply.

"Elephants? There aren't any elephants within 1,000 miles of here!"

"Then it must be working!"
 





CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Neil Gaiman is as wrong as you want him to be. The way I see it, not all dragons are Dragons, and "defeat" doesn't always mean "kill."
  • That wyvern on the east side of the moor, that's been poaching cattle and terrorizing the countryside? Sure it can be slain. Get a posse together and go hunting!
  • That fire-breathing dragon that just moved in to the mountaintop next door, the one that kidnapped the princess and started bankrupting the kingdom with extortion? Sure, you can slay it...but you're gonna need a knight or two in shining armor, possibly wielding a magical McGuffin.
  • Tiamat, the 5-headed Draconic Goddess, the Progenitor of Hell? She's not going to be slain by a mere mortal. No, the best you can hope for is to somehow lock her away with a powerful binding spell, until her cult of followers somehow manage to unleash her upon the world once more.
 
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Can dragons be defeated?

...

I have a player that totally despise the idea of beings from the size of a dragon's toe facing a Gargantuan Magical Intelligent beast. He can't concede on that. There is no argument, no magic weapon, no number of warriors, nothing.
I'd recommend both of you (or anyone, really) pick up a copy of Shadow of the Colossus. I played through it on PS2, and there's an HD remake out there.

One of the things that makes SotC completely stand out is its sense of scale. You play a human that is literally tasked with killing 16 colossi. The aspect of size in this is something that should be experienced to understand. You have a sword and a bow and a horse. Even traveling across the world takes a serious amount of time; and there are no low-level goons or random encounters.

After experiencing that game, I can concede your player has a point. It's too easy to handwave scale in D+D. A lot of times people just look and squares and hitpoints and just plain don't get how impressive a big bad monster should be. But SotC shows the other side as well; that which is large can still fall.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Don'tthe reallybig really old dragon lay low in the lairs for years not bothering anyone directly out of fear of their enemies?

In D&D, it's the young ones that are challenged by parties. Ifan ancient dragon is challenged by a party, it's an epic level party collocted from epic heroes across the world. AKA that dragon done messed up bad.
 

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