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Blog (A5E) Meet Level Up's Dragonborn

We’ve already taken a look at the planetouched tieflings and aasimar, but now it’s time to peek at the mighty dragonborn! The dragonborn evolved somewhat during the playtest process, and we’re excited about the final result.


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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey







Stalker0

Legend
Man that wings version still seems incredibly broken to me. I can fly anywhere within 180 feet with no penalty.
 
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Bunker

Hero
Man that wings version still seems incredibly broken to me. I can fly anywhere within 120 feet with no penalty.
I've played plenty of RPGs with flight in them (fantasy and sci-fi), and movement modes really aren't that big a deal. So one character can fly across the ravine or whatever. It honestly doesn't break anything. I think eladrin can even teleport in 5e? Movement modes are a pretty weak benefit, even flight.
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
I've played plenty of RPGs with flight in them (fantasy and sci-fi), and movement modes really aren't that big a deal. So one character can fly across the ravine or whatever. It honestly doesn't break anything. I think eladrin can even teleport in 5e? Movement modes are a pretty weak benefit, even flight.
Nobody tell WotC!

(. . . should somebody tell WotC?)
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Man that wings version still seems incredibly broken to me. I can fly anywhere within 180 feet with no penalty.
That's if you Dash, and if you do it for three rounds you take fatigue. And that can be pretty nasty. Even if this level can be gotten rid of easily, it'll stack with other levels that can only go away in a haven.
 

Stalker0

Legend
That's if you Dash, and if you do it for three rounds you take fatigue. And that can be pretty nasty. Even if this level can be gotten rid of easily, it'll stack with other levels that can only go away in a haven.
Only 3 rounds if you don't land, again meaning you can fly all you want as long as you stop every 3 rounds.... that's an incredible amount of mobility.

1) Rivers - Non-issue
2) Scaling a mountain - Trivial
3) Got a combat with melee only monsters - Fly up for 3 rounds and be completely immune to the combat.

Levelup is pushing to make exploration and journeying more important than ever before, and so flight's ability to just negate a whole swath of obstacles is extremely powerful. Also, any time a player has the ability to go and check out things the rest of the party can't.... that is immediately an incredible power because it grabs spotlight time. A flying character will be able to look at a whole swath of things the rest of the party cannot, and so they will begin to absorb a lot of the "exploration screen time". So its both mechanically powerful, and very narratively strong as well.

The Eladrin teleport is also quite powerful but its once per short rest.... this ability is basically at will. So yes the Eladrin can get in some seriously cool moments, but its fleeting in comparison.
 


Stalker0

Legend
Also just noting because I didn't see a thread for the Planetouched article.

Tieflings get Fire Resistance -> Fire Immunity with a paragon gift. Solid.

Aasimar have Radiant Resistance -> Necrotic Immunity? Is that intentional, that seems weird to me that they just get an entirely different immunity instead of upgrading their current resistance.
 

dave2008

Legend
1) Rivers - Non-issue
Would a river over 90 ft wide be an issue? I mean in the dry season the Amazon can be over a mile wide. It seems to me rivers are still an issue.
2) Scaling a mountain - Trivial
Again, I wouldn't call having to stop every 90-180 ft trivial. A mountain is minimally 2000 feet after all.
3) Got a combat with melee only monsters - Fly up for 3 rounds and be completely immune to the combat.
Still in range of a longbow at least.

I have had a flying PC in one of my groups for years and it never made that much of a difference. When you can't carry much, it doesn't help the group that much. Flying is noisy and easy to spot. You reveal your location and become a target. It is best avoided unless absolutely needed IME.

And a humanoid dragon absolutely should be able to fly IMO.
 

Stalker0

Legend
Would a river over 90 ft wide be an issue? I mean in the dry season the Amazon can be over a mile wide. It seems to me rivers are still an issue.

Again, I wouldn't call having to stop every 90-180 ft trivial. A mountain is minimally 2000 feet after all.
A river over 90 ft wide is basically an encounter, a part of the journey that normally would involve various boating and swim checks, or possible climbing over rope. Or... the dragonborn just ferry's each person over.

Stopping every 180 feet on a mountain is very trivial compared to the series of athletics checks that would normally be expected.

My issue is not that a flying creature can thwart these encounters.... afterall that just lets the character feel special. Its that they can do it ALL THE TIME, and so the DM's repertoire of challenges is permanently limited due to this one ability, aka I have to consider the flight ability in every single encounter I design.

If the flight was like 1 minute but always gave 1 fatigue regardless of duration...I would be fine with it. Then its just spending a resource to get something cool....no issue with that at all. Its the fact that I can get 3 rounds of flight over and over and over again with no penalty is my issue.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
A river over 90 ft wide is basically an encounter, a part of the journey that normally would involve various boating and swim checks, or possible climbing over rope. Or... the dragonborn just ferry's each person over.

Stopping every 180 feet on a mountain is very trivial compared to the series of athletics checks that would normally be expected.

My issue is not that a flying creature can thwart these encounters.... afterall that just lets the character feel special. Its that they can do it ALL THE TIME, and so the DM's repertoire of challenges is permanently limited due to this one ability, aka I have to consider the flight ability in every single encounter I design.

If the flight was like 1 minute but always gave 1 fatigue regardless of duration...I would be fine with it. Then its just spending a resource to get something cool....no issue with that at all. Its the fact that I can get 3 rounds of flight over and over and over again with no penalty is my issue.
Throughout the playtest process and the survey respondents, your view was uncommon, I'm afraid! We've not found it to be a problem at all (in fact many thought it slightly weak, with the armor restriction). But you should totally leave it out of your own game if you're uncomfortable with it. I'd suggest trying it first though; I think you'll find it's not as powerful in practice as you think.

(And not to get into a big debate about it, but one person using an ability to succeed at a certain type of low level exploration challenge is totally fine. We expect that in many skill challenges somebody will have a spell or ability which helps them overcome [their part of] it and lets them shine - it doesn't help everybody else though! Everybody gets to be awesome from time to time.)
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Only 3 rounds if you don't land, again meaning you can fly all you want as long as you stop every 3 rounds.... that's an incredible amount of mobility.

1) Rivers - Non-issue
2) Scaling a mountain - Trivial
3) Got a combat with melee only monsters - Fly up for 3 rounds and be completely immune to the combat.
For only one person. The rest of the party is left behind. The only way that the flying dragonborn can help is by hauling up ropes so the rest of the party can climb. And the only way this actually makes rivers and mountains a non-problem is if the entire party has a flying speed. If they don't... well, no party really likes staying still will one or two people do all the scouting ahead. You'll either get the players talking it out or inter-party conflict.

You're also going to end up really ticking off the rest of the party if you avoid all combat by flying above it (and if you give XP for killing monsters, that PC gets no XP). If you are instead using missile ranged from afar--well, that's not much different from being a caster who hangs out in the back away from the melee combatants. I don't know how LU is dealing with firing into melee, but I think the RAW/RAI for 5e is that if you fire someone who's protected by cover, and you miss, you hit the cover. Combat may be enough to count as at least a bit of cover when attacking from outside of it. And I for one would say that a miss when firing into a melee means you hit a person next to your target--which could be a teammate. If I had to deal with a flying PC, I'd definitely use that rule.

Also, don't forget that when you're flying, if your speed becomes 0 or you're knocked prone, you fall. If you use your wings to slow or stop your fall (as per Xannies'), that counts as a round of flying, which could mean fatigue. Falling causes damage, possibly enough to trigger Massive Damage (there's a System Shock table in the DMG).

And a bit of meta-gaming stuff: on the ground, you can be surrounded by 8 creatures. In the air, you can also be surrounded by creatures below and above you. Assuming a grid, that's an additional 9 creatures above you and 9 more below you.

Finally... if it's logical for the enemies, don't have them be melee-only.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Also, I can't help but notice: one of the illustrations (for presumably a gold dragonborn; it's above the Paragon gifts section) looks an awful lot like the "half-dragons" from the old Council of Wyrms setting. A homage to that? Either way, it's pretty neat. It goes to show you can have dragonborn that aren't just anthros.
 

dave2008

Legend
A river over 90 ft wide is basically an encounter, a part of the journey that normally would involve various boating and swim checks, or possible climbing over rope. Or... the dragonborn just ferry's each person over.
Except the DB can't because they can fly over that distance without stopping (personally I say they can't carry a Medium sized creature too, but I assumed that was default)
Stopping every 180 feet on a mountain is very trivial compared to the series of athletics checks that would normally be expected.
Isn't that kinda of the point of being able to fly? I mean only being able to travel 90-180 feet actually seems weak to me. I haven't given our dragon character such a restriction and it hasn't been an issue for us.
My issue is not that a flying creature can thwart these encounters.... afterall that just lets the character feel special. Its that they can do it ALL THE TIME, and so the DM's repertoire of challenges is permanently limited due to this one ability, aka I have to consider the flight ability in every single encounter I design.
I don't personally feel it limits my repertoire of challenges, but I can see that others may feel differently. Honestly, that is not how I DM. I don't look for ways to challenge the PCs so much, it just comes naturally (or not).
If the flight was like 1 minute but always gave 1 fatigue regardless of duration...I would be fine with it. Then its just spending a resource to get something cool....no issue with that at all. Its the fact that I can get 3 rounds of flight over and over and over again with no penalty is my issue.
Every table is different of course. This is just not an issue for my table.
 

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