Revised and rebalanced dragons for 1e AD&D

Celebrim

Legend
Hit Dice by Chromatic Dragon Species
Age Category
Category Name
AC
Move Rate
Small White
White
Black
Green
Blue
Red
Huge Red
1
Hatchling
2
12"/24" C
1+3
1+3
1+3
1+3
2+6
2+6
2+6
2
Very Young
1
12"/24" C
2+8
2+8
3+12
3+12
4+16
4+16
4+16
3
Young
0
12"/24" C
3+12
4+16
4+16
5+20
6+24
6+24
7+28
4
Young Adult
-1
12"/24" C
4+16
5+20
6+24
7+28
8+32
8+32
9+36
5
Adult
-2
12"/24" D
5+25
6+30
7+35
8+40
10+50
11+55
12+60
6
Old
-3
9"/24" D
6+30
8+40
9+45
10+50
12+60
13+65
14+70
7
Venerable
-4
9"/24" D
7+35
9+45
10+50
12+60
14+70
15+75
17+85
8
Ancient
-5
9"/24" E
8+48
10+60
12+72
14+84
16+96
17+102
19+114
9
Wyrm
-6
9"/24" E
10+60
12+72
14+84
16+96
18+108
20+120
22+132
10
Great Wyrm
-7
9"/24" E
11+66
13+78
15+90
17+102
20+120
22+132
24+144


General Abilities and Defenses of Dragons
Very young and young dragons have an effective Dexterity of 18 with respect to reaction modifiers and saving throws versus attacks. Sub-adults and young adults have an effective Dexterity of 17, and older dragons have an effective Dexterity of 16.

A dragon has a 10% chance per HD of having acquired the power of speech. Those with the power of speech and with greater than 1 HD automatically gain spell casting ability as an M-U with caster level of half their HD (round fractions up). Spells for a dragon are determined randomly, with duplicates indicating the spell may be used multiple times per day. Dragons may cast all spells using only the power of their dreadful voice and require no other components. In addition to such spells as they know naturally, dragons of at least 15HD may also study spell books and prepare spells as M-U does.

The intelligence of dragon is normally the same as their HD (maximum 25), save that any dragon with the power of speech has an intelligence of at least nine. Dragons speak their own language, plus a number of additional languages of their choosing up to the limit provided by their intelligence. Should it be necessary to know, the effective wisdom of a dragon is normally ½ that of their intelligence plus 2d4. When it matters, the charisma of a dragon is normally the same as their wisdom.

A dragon of up to 2HD has natural armor that counts as scale armor. Those of 3 or 4 HD count as mail, dragon hide of dragons of 5-9HD counts as plate armor, and those of 10HD or higher counts as full plate armor. Dragons of at least 5HD count as large size creatures. Those of 10HD or more take -1 damage from weapons other than siege weapons or those wielded large sized creatures. Those of 15HD or higher take -2 damage, and those of 20 HD or higher take -3 damage. Dragons of 17HD or higher have hides so impervious that they also may only be struck by magic weapons.

All dragons are highly resistant to magic. They receive a +2 bonus on all saving throws. Additionally they have magic resistance of 10% per age category. Young adult dragons or older also receive an additional +4 bonus (total +6) on saving throws versus poison, and those of old or higher age category also receive an additional +4 bonus (total +6) on saving throws versus illusion, fear and enchantment magic. Although they may wish otherwise, all dragons are immune to the effects of magical aging, such as the aging attacks of a ghost!

All dragons are immune to disease save for a few rare magical diseases which are unique to their race. Any creature or attack which can be thwarted by cure disease, such as green slime or rot grubs, when encountering the dragon’s unique physiology and poisonous acidic humors either has no effect on a dragon and if it persists dies instantly as having been treated by cure disease.

All dragons ignore the first 10 points of damage per age category from attacks of the same sort as their breath weapon. All dragons except those breathing acid ignore the first 2 points of damage per age category from acid attacks. Those which do not have cold breath weapons also ignore the first 1 point of damage per age category from fire attacks, and those which do not have fire breath weapons also ignore the first 1 point of damage per age category from cold attacks.

All dragons take half damage from poisons of all sorts. If the poison is such that a failed save normally indicates outright death, a dragon instead takes 30 points of damage.

A dragon is roughly 3’ long per HD it possesses. This length is more or less equally divided between its serpentine neck and head, its body, and its long tail. The larger the dragon, the more human sized foes can engage it in melee at once. The formula is generally 2 attackers plus two additional attackers per 3HD of the dragon, though circumstances may allow for more or less if the attackers can attack in ranks or tiers.

Dragon Sensory Powers
All dragons have senses at least as acute as birds of prey. They can see as well during the day as an eagle, have the acute sense of smell of a vulture, and have the superior night vision and acute hearing of an owl. A dragon also has infravision to 9”, and has nearly perfect spatial memory so that remembers even the slightest details of the layout of its lair and positions of objects within it. Unless a dragon is in a deep slumber or extreme magical measures are employed to mask all indications of a trespasser’s presence, a dragon is never surprised. An awake dragon can detect the presence of an invisible or otherwise concealed creature with 1” per age category, but cannot necessarily pinpoint the exact location except within half that distance and only if the creature makes noise or emits a scent. A -30% penalty on attempts to move silently or hide in shadows is incurred with respect to dragons.

Dragons have a particularly acute sense of smell when it comes to smelling other dragons. A dragon can detect the scent of dragon within 1 mile per age category of the dragon. From this scent they are able to determine the general direction the dragon lay in, how far away it was, how recent the scent is, as well as the race, age, gender, and even mood of the dragon at the time the scent was made. So subtle is the powers of the dragon nose with regard to their own kind, that they can track anything marked by a dragon’s passage for up to 10 weeks after the event. This most certainly includes any treasure that was a part of their horde, as well as their eggs or young!

Dragon Natural Weaponry and Attack Forms
All dragons possess powerful jaws filled with dagger like teeth as their primary weapon, and also large claws with which to slash foes, and may bash foes with their powerful frequently spiked tails and wings. Thus, a dragon may make up to six attacks per round. Dragons of up to 3HD may employ all of their attacks against a single medium sized target, while those of 4HD or more may only employ their claws and bite against a single medium sized foe, and may only use their tail and wing to attack foes in different quarters and may not employ both wings against the same medium sized foe. They may still however direct all attacks against a large sized creature. Dragons of 14HD or more may only make one attack on each medium sized foe, but may direct both bite and claws against large creatures and employ tail and wing attacks against creatures on different quarters.

A dragon in flight may not employ its wings in combat.

Damage for each attack depends on HD, as is shown in Table 2.

Table 2: Dragon Attacks and Damage
HD
Bite
Claw
Wing
Tail
Special Attacks1
1
1d4
1d2
1
1
Breathe Weapon, Constrict
2
1d6
1d2
1
1
Breathe Weapon, Constrict
3
1d6
1d3
1
1d2
Breathe Weapon, Constrict
4
1d8
1d3
1d2
1d2
Breathe Weapon, Constrict, Wing Storm
5
1d8
1d4
1d2
1d3
Breathe Weapon, Constrict, Wing Storm
6
1d10
1d4
1d2
1d3
Breathe Weapon, Wing Storm
7
1d10
1d6
1d3
1d4
Breathe Weapon, Wing Storm
8
1d12
1d6
1d3
1d4
Breathe Weapon, Wing Storm
9
1d12
1d8
1d3
1d6
Breathe Weapon, Wing Storm
10
2d6
1d8
1d4
1d6
Batter, Breathe Weapon, Wing Storm
11
2d6
1d10
1d4
1d8
Batter, Breathe Weapon, Trample (1"), Wing Storm
12
2d8
1d10
1d4
1d8
Batter, Breathe Weapon, Trample (1"), Wing Storm
13
2d8
1d12
1d6
1d10
Batter, Breathe Weapon, Crush, Snatch, Trample (1"), Wing Storm
14
3d6
1d12
1d6
1d10
Batter, Breathe Weapon, Crush, Snatch, Tail Sweep, Trample (1"), Wing Storm
15
3d6
2d6
1d8
1d12
Batter (double damage), Breathe Weapon, Crush, Snatch, Tail Sweep, Trample (1 1/2"), Wing Storm
16
3d8
2d6
1d8
1d12
Batter (double damage), Breathe Weapon, Crush, Snatch, Tail Sweep, Trample (1 1/2"), Wing Storm
17
3d8
2d8
1d8
2d6
Batter (double damage), Breathe Weapon, Crush, Snatch, Tail Sweep, Trample (1 1/2"), Wing Storm
18
4d6
2d8
1d10
2d6
Batter (double damage), Breathe Weapon, Crush, Snatch, Tail Sweep, Trample (1 1/2"), Wing Storm
19
4d6
3d6
1d10
2d8
Batter (double damage), Breathe Weapon, Crush, Snatch, Swallow Whole (Dwarf Sized), Tail Sweep, Trample (1 1/2"), Wing Storm
20
5d6
3d6
1d10
2d8
Batter (triple damage), Breathe Weapon, Crush, Snatch, Swallow Whole (Dwarf Sized), Tail Sweep, Trample (2"), Wing Storm
21
6d6
3d8
1d12
3d6
Batter (triple damage), Breathe Weapon, Crush (Ogre Sized), Snatch, Swallow Whole (Dwarf Sized), Tail Sweep, Trample (2"), Wing Storm
22
4d10
3d8
1d12
3d6
Batter (triple damage), Breathe Weapon, Crush (Ogre Sized), Snatch, Swallow Whole (Dwarf Sized), Tail Sweep, Trample (2"), Wing Storm
23
6d8
4d6
1d12
3d8
Batter (triple damage), Breathe Weapon, Crush (Ogre Sized), Snatch, Swallow Whole (Human Sized), Tail Sweep, Trample (2"), Wing Storm
24
5d10
4d6
2d6
3d8
Batter (triple damage), Breathe Weapon, Crush (Ogre Sized), Snatch, Swallow Whole (Human Sized), Tail Sweep, Trample (2"), Wing Storm
1Adult dragons regardless of HD also have an Awe attack. All dragons capable of speech also have spell abilities, and a hypnotic gaze attack.

Special Attacks
Awe: Dragons develop the power to panic enemies as they mature. At adult age and older flies overhead or charges they radiate a powerful aura which causes a fear as follows:

1. All creatures under 1 hit die, as well as non-carnivorous creatures of any sort which are not trained for warfare or basically not fearless or aggressive will flee in panic. Such rout will be made at fastest speed possible away from the dragon, and it will continue for 4-24 turns.
2. Creatures with fewer than 3 hit dice must save versus magic or be paralyzed with fear (50%) for as long as the dragon remains in view or else panic as above (50%).
3. Creatures with 3 or more hit dice will fight at a penalty of -1 on their hit dice unless they also save versus magic.
4. Creatures with 6 or more hit dice automatically disregard the aura affect.

The aura of adult, old, and very old dragons is not as powerful as that of ancient and older dragons, so saving throws applicable to their auras are at +5, +3, and +1 respectively.

Breathe Weapon: The most famous and feared power of a dragon is its deadly breath. Each dragon has a breathe weapon particular to its race which it may employ in lieu of its bite attack. A very young or young dragon may only employ its breath weapon every 4th round, and so must wait three rounds before using it again, while those of sub-adult and young adult status may use their deadly weapon on every 3rd round. Adult dragons and older may choose to breathe ever other round, pausing only a single round.

White: Cone of Cold – 1d6 damage/age category. The cone is 1” long per age category and has a base half as wide as it is long.
Black: Line of Acid – 1d8 damage/age category. The line is 1 ½” long per age category and is ½” wide.
Green: Cloud of Acid – 1d6 damage/age category. The cloud begins as a line ½” wide and up to 1” long per age category. At its maximum length or whenever it strikes a solid object, the breath billows into a cloud of ½” diameter plus ½” per age category centered at its point of impact. Those caught within the cloud have only half the usual benefit (rounded down) from dexterity, shield use, or solid cover with respect to saving against the attack.
Blue: Line of Electricity – 1d8 damage/age category. The line is 2” long per age category and is ½” wide.
Red: Cone of Fire – 1d8 damage/age category. The cone is 1” long per age category and has a base half as wide as it is long.

In all cases, a saving throw versus breath weapons indicates but half damage is taken.

Hypnotic Gaze: Any dragon which has the power of speech, if it fixes its gaze on a single enemy and locks eyes with it, may employ hypnotism against that foe as the illusionist spell of the same name. Caster level is the same as the age category of the dragon, but saving throws have a +4 bonus if the dragon is not yet at least a young adult.

Wing Storm: A dragon of at least 4 HD can, when on the ground, employ its wings to make a powerful gust in a particular direction, equal in effect to a gust of wind with caster level equal to the dragon’s HD, save that it effects a cone 1” long and ½” wide for each HD of the dragon. A dragon of at least 14HD can manage the same effect, but in all directions radiating out from the dragon, but in this case the effective caster level is ½ of the dragon’s HD. If a dragon employs this ability, it may not attack with its claws or wings in the same round.

Constrict: A dragon of up to 5 HD remains sinuous and supple enough that it may wind its tail and perhaps even portions of its serpentine body around its foe. This requires a successful tail attack, but it succeeds the foe has been grabbed and their after automatically takes tail damage in each round thereafter. The victim also has a -2 penalty to hit owing to its dilemma, while the dragon has a +2 bonus to hit and may employ all of its attacks each round against the hapless victim. Likewise, the foe has a -2 penalty on saving throws to resist the dragon’s breath weapon, owing to his limited options to evade such an attack.

Batter: A dragon of at least 10 HD may use its head or tail against a structure with the force of a battering ram. Those of at least 15 HD inflict twice the normal structural damage of a battering ram with either attack, and those of 20 HD or higher triple normal damage!

Trample: A dragon of at least 11 HD gains a trample attack. Trample attacks preclude the dragon using its claws for making any other sort of attack. To use a trample attack, the dragon must either charge or land. If a charge, the attack effects a swath as long as the charge and 1” wide, while if the attack is made by landing the area of effect is 1" wide and half as long as the dragon. All creatures in the area of effect must be human sized or smaller, or such an attack may not be attempted. Creatures in the area of effect must make a save versus Petrification/Polymorph or receive claw damage as from a successful claw attack and be knocked prone. 16HD dragons effect a swath 1 ½” wide, while those of 21 HD or higher effect a swath 2” wide.

Crush: A dragon of at least 13 HD may employ a special crush attack, by stomping on a foe of human sized or smaller. Treat this as a normal claw attack, save that if it is successful, the foe is crushed to the ground and pinned by the weight of the dragon. Thereafter, the victim takes automatic claw damage on each successive round and may not move. A dragon may only continue to employ the crush attack if it does not move from its current position, but it may otherwise continue to employ its other attacks without penalty. To free themselves from the crush attack, the victim must either make a successful bend bars/lift gates roll or else deter the dragon by making attacks on its limb. Attacks by a victim being crushed are at a -4 penalty to hit, owing to the uncomfortable and debilitating circumstances, and may only be made against the limb that pins them but if they are successful they may force the dragon to withdraw, for if the dragon takes total damage from such attacks to its limb equal to twice its HD, the limb is considered temporarily crippled and the dragon may no longer engage in crush attacks and has its ground speed halved until the wound is healed. A dragon of at least 21 HD may crush foes of up to ogre size, including horses and the like, and those wishing to escape such attacks have a -20% penalty on their bend bars/lift gates rolls to escape. A dragon may always voluntarily end a crush attack, and automatically ends a crush attack whenever it moves.

Snatch: A dragon of at least 13 HD may employ a special claw attack, by catching a human or smaller sized foe within one of its claws just as a man might grip something within his fist. This requires a normal claw attack, but does no damage. Rather, the victim must make a save versus Petrification/Polymorph or be grasped by the dragon. In such cases, 40% of the time the victims shield arm is pinned, 40% of the time the victims sword arm is pinned, and 20% of the time both of the victims arms are pinned and helpless. The victim may attack with a free arm provided they have a suitable weapon, but owing to the circumstances attacks are made at a -4 penalty to hit and may only be made against the limb by which they are held. Otherwise, they must make a successful bend bars/lift gates roll to free themselves. The victim may attempt to escape each round, but if the dragon has taken wing then escape means a certain plunge to the ground below! A dragon may move with a victim in hand at half ground speed, or full flight speed. They may also inflict if they choose various torments on their hapless prey - including any of the following: deliver a bite attack to the victim at a +4 bonus to hit, squeeze the victim for automatic damage equivalent to half claw damage, or fling the victim away like a discarded toy. If the victim is flung they land anywhere within 30’ of the dragon that the beast desires, unless they fall onto a particularly soft surface, the damage is as a fall of at least 30’.

Tail Sweep: Dragons of at least 14HD are so large that they may attempt to bowl over anyone in a wide swath with the sweep of their tail, rather than picking out an individual target, or strike their tails against multiple targets which are closely gathered together. All targets of such an attack must by legal targets for the attack of their tail (that is, they must be in the dragon's rear quarter if it has employed an attack on some other front), and a dragon may not combine its tail sweep attack with or target any victim of it with its constrict special attack. Targets in the effected area must save versus Petrification/Polymorph or suffer damage as from a tail attack and be knocked prone. A dragon of at least 14 HD effects all targets in a 1" square area; a dragon of at least 19HD effects all targets in 1 1/2" square and those within must save at -1, while a dragon of at least 23HD effects all targets in a 2" square and saves are at a -2 penalty on the die. All targets within the area of effect must be human sized or smaller, or such an attack may not be attempted. Alternatively, a dragon may strike multiple targets which are closely grouped together... TBD.

Swallow Whole: A dragon of at least 19 HD can swallow dwarf or smaller sized prey whole on a roll of 20 when making a bite attack. Swallowed victims take damage as from the dragon’s full breath weapon each round, with no chance of saving throw. They may attempt to fight their way out of the dragon’s gullet against an effective AC of 10, but only light piercing or stabbing weapons such as a dagger may be employed and for each round that passes they have a cumulative -1 penalty to damage from such attacks. Nonetheless, any creature that succeeds in doing at least 20 points of damage will be regurgitated from the dragon. Dragons of at least 23HD may swallow human sized or smaller prey whole in the same manner, and swallow dwarf sized or smaller prey on a roll of 19 or 20.

Chromatic Dragon Behavior
Chromatic dragons are highly aggressive creatures, particularly toward other dragons. Each dragon seeks out a territory and a lair which it defends against intruders. Upon obtaining adulthood, female dragons will tolerate a mate of the same race having a territory which overlaps their own, but generally prefer if possible that this mate be younger than themselves so that it represents no threat to them and that they may bully it if necessary. Conversely, male dragons attempt to carve out a territory which overlaps as many breeding age females as possible, driving out all males, but potentially tolerating females of sub-adult status or older.

In addition to territory, all dragons desire to accumulate a great horde of treasure, for a dragon is not content until it has a vast bed of treasure to slumber upon. The larger and deeper this bed, the more comfortably they may sleep and of course the bed must expand in size to accommodate the dragon’s ever expanding bulk.

The older a dragon becomes, the less often it ventures from its lair, and the less widely it is willing to travel. This is particularly true once the dragon has accumulated a horde and found a secure lair. For dragons are ultimately lazy, cowardly, and greedy creatures and as they age the fear that something might steal the treasures that they have accumulated becomes increasingly overbearing. As a dragon ages, they spend more and more of their time in torpor – a state of half-sleep or hibernation in which the dragon is motionless but remains half-aware of its surroundings. Younger dragons tend to pass from torpor into periods of true sleep in which they are insensible to their surroundings, but older dragons rarely sleep but instead rest motionless for decades at a time with their eyes half lidded and their ears and nose keenly attuned to all that goes on around them. While younger dragons are voracious eaters, consuming all that they can hold and as frequently as they can, older dragons with well-established lairs fast for as long as they are able between meals, going forth to gorge only when hunger becomes uncontrollable. For this reason, dragons on the wing are generally not disposed to any conversation or negotiation with anything they might consider food, until such time as they’ve satiated themselves and are beginning to feel the return of contended sleepiness.

Such behavior however means that as a dragon ages, it mates less and less frequently, as the instinct to mate becomes subordinate to the dragon’s fears regarding protecting its horde. Ironically, this means that the majority of mating behavior by male dragons occurs among the youngest adults, who stealthily invade the vast territories of the more ancient dragons in order to seek out willing females, during the periods where the ancient worms are lying in torpor. Such behavior is dangerous to the male in the extreme, for not only are they certain to be devoured by larger territorial males if they are detected, but if they are smaller than the females whom they attempt to woo, there is a not insignificant chance that after mating, the larger female will attempt to devour them to satiate their hunger after a long torpor.

Dragons first become capable of reproducing as young adults, though females of this age will lay only small clutches of mostly unviable eggs and tend to produce smaller and less healthy hatchlings. After mating, a female dragon will lay a clutch of eggs about 90 days after mating. Eggs are hard dark colored globes 10-18” across depending on the race and the age of the female. The coloration of the egg allows an expert to deduce the race of dragon that produced it, and from that estimate the age of the female that laid it. Fortunately, owing to the aforementioned behavior, these are often the prime breeding ages of a dragon as older dragons mate more and more infrequently.

In order to hatch successfully, the female must carefully tend and incubate the eggs, rotating them, heating or cooling them with their body and small puffs of their deadly breath. When properly tended, an egg will hatch approximately two years after being laid. However, eggs which are not properly tended have been known to lay in a dormant state for decades after being clutched, only to be reawakened when environment factors approximate the necessary conditions for maturation. While few eggs subjected to such treatment and neglect will hatch, enough may that infestations of dragons may reoccur years after dragons have been exterminated from a given area.

Male dragons – even the father - are not welcome within the lair of a female dragon who is guarding eggs. However, once the eggs have hatched, a male dragon may return both with the hope of soon siring a new clutch and to insure the health of his offspring by bringing tributes of food. For the maternal instinct of a female dragon is not such that she will risk her horde to feed young dragons. Indeed, life within the dragon crèche is hardly one of bliss and domestic tranquility, for siblings will fight to the death for shares of food and greedily devour smaller siblings. Without the additional provisions brought by the father, few young dragon hatchlings will survive of a given clutch, for assuredly the largest will devour all the rest. Reports of ‘mated pairs’ living together invariably refer to two dragons partially cohabitating during this period of child rearing, for dragons of any sort are not naturally social and cooperative creatures and lack affection even for their mates. Again, younger males often make the better fathers, for older males will weigh their offspring’s interests against the need to protect the treasure in their own ever growing hordes, and so venture forth for shorter periods and less frequently.

Female dragons guarding eggs or young will do so ferociously and will pursue trespassers vindictively. In such situations, the female dragon gains a +1 bonus to hit and will do +2 damage with attacks.

Young dragons are born alert and dangerous – fully capable of killing any prey smaller than themselves - but will attempt to stay in the safety and protection of their mother’s lair for up to two years after hatching. The longer such hatchlings stay however, the more they risk triggering the mother’s instinctive fear of other dragons and instinctive hunger for the flesh of other dragons – overriding the mother’s maternal instincts. This risk is greatest among the largest and healthiest young dragons, which must depart the sooner, while those runts who by cunning manage to survive the attentions of their siblings may linger in their mother’s presence the longest. In any event, young dragons will be driven from the lair prior to the hatching of the next generation, for the mother knows that any malingers from the prior clutch will certainly devour the hatchlings of succeeding clutches.

Once young dragons depart the lair, it will disperse as quickly and stealthily as it can seeking lands which show no signs of the presence of other dragons. During this period, dragons are of a size that they are quite vulnerable not only to other dragons, but to other larger predators and most especially to the hunters of humanoid species – who not only know to destroy any young dragon which enters their territory before it can grow to a terror, but prize dragon body parts as magical reagents of great puissance. While in ancient times, many dragons survived this period, as the humanoid races have grown in power and technology, and spread over wider and wider lands, fewer and fewer dragons survive to adulthood. Somewhere between obtaining adulthood and old age, the balance of power shifts, for only the mightiest heroes dare face the fury of such creatures. While younger dragons survive only by constantly moving or keeping the location of their lair quite secret, mature dragons can usually lair secure in the knowledge that few will seek them out and fewer still will survive doing so. While the greatest nations are capable of mustering the resources to drive out or slay an adult dragon, on the fringes of civilization this tends not to be true and inhabitants must either decide to live with the presence of dragons they cannot possibly hope to fight back against or else simply pack and move far enough away that they are seldom victims of the dragon’s marauding. Some communities find ways to channel a dragon’s aggression, by offering tribute of livestock, treasure and even youths at regular times and locations in hopes on controlling the costs of a dragon living nearby and avoiding destruction of property. Such unspoken agreements may last decades, with the dragon learning that they may acquire food and treasure regularly at comparatively low cost in time away from its lair, and so not venturing forth save to claim its tribute. But such agreements are only long enduring from the perspective of short lived and short sighted races, for as a dragon ages its greed, gluttony, and pride surely and steadily grows until it is no longer satisfied with only what it is given. In the long term, communities that offer tribute and even worship, only delay the inevitable and are eventually plundered at the dragon’s whim.

The area round about the lair of a mature dragon is referred to as its desolation. In a broad sense, this may refer to the wide swath of wild land, often containing the ruins of communities which lay abandoned and into which civilization dare not any more intrude. But in its most narrow and technical sense, the desolation of a dragon is the area around the lair in which the normal ecology has been disrupted and destroyed, invariably becoming denuded of even natural vegetation during the decades of the dragon’s inhabitation. This occurs as both an active and passive consequence of the dragon’s presence. Active, because dragons of a certain age will actively use their lashing tails and breath weapons to clear from the entrance of the lair any natural cover which might impede their vision of the surroundings or provide opportunities for hunters to ambush them. Passive, because the urine, dung, blood, and breath of a dragon is acidic, noxious and toxic to most other life, and a lairing dragon will gradually begin to pollute its environment, causing disease and death in nearby plant and animal life. Streams and springs in their vicinity become bitter and vinegary, pools become stagnant and deadly, and the ground becomes unsuitable for foliage or crops. Trees sicken and die and their denuded trunks, if not consumed by fire, begin to rot. Everywhere the reek of the dragon and its deadly breath will linger in the air, and nearest the lair a foul slime can be noted coating the ground. An adult dragon once it has lived in an area for a decade will generally produce a desolation of this sort a mile across, and the radius of the desolation will increase over time by roughly 1 mile per additional age category. The lore-wise will immediately recognize a dragon desolation for what it is, and what it portends, and so know to avoid intruding on the dragon’s privacy. Those of exceptional knowledge can even determine the sort of dragon from the peculiar reek it makes.

Dragons of the ancient or older sort seldom venture forth from their lairs, laying in torpor self-satisfied in their power for years or even decades, and when they do venture forth usually only for as brief of period as possible most often in search of large prey that they can kill and devour quickly and to search for the presence of other dragon’s within the area they consider their territory. However, if something stirs such beasts into periods of heightened activity, it can be a civilization ending event for any nearby society on par with natural disasters and plagues of the greatest magnitude. This most often occurs when a dragon becomes suddenly dissatisfied with the state of its horde or the size of its lair, and desires to enlarge one or both to accommodate its newly acquired girth and length. Fortunately, dragons are rather slow growing, and so it is rare indeed that dragon survives the trials of the centuries and obtains the largest size. There are no more than a handful of great wyrms of each dragon race throughout the whole world and the infamy of such beasts is so great, that they will be known by name across wide regions of the world and their deeds and forays will be subject of tavern talk for many hundreds of leagues about their lair.

Weaknesses of Dragons
All dragons, are exceptionally vain creatures with a natural inclination to see themselves as the most beautiful, impressive, important, and noble of all creatures – and they are pleased greatly when other creatures recognize these truths without having to have it pointed out to them. A dragon which does not feel threatened, enraged, or ravenous hunger is particularly vulnerable to flattery and subtle bribery, and may at the least pause to hear the pretty flattery of any creature – even one whose best possible destiny is in the opinion of the dragon to be devoured by the dragon. They also enjoy greatly boasting about their own abilities and even demonstrating their magnificence to any awed onlookers. This behavior oddly occurs even when the dragon’s intelligence informs it the flatterer is attempting to trick them, for although the dragon knows it is being duped, it’s great vanity allows it to delude itself that because it knows it is being duped it is not in fact being duped, and it will always be able to at some future point avenge itself on the would be trickster by some plot or stratagem it is devising while listening to the flattery. The fact that highly intelligent dragons may in fact be right in this only contributes to the tendency to over-confidence.

All dragons are lazy creatures that make as little of effort as possible. Although capable of arousing themselves in a wrath almost instantly and can move with startling swiftness, they prefer rather to slumber on their horde and to take action only if they must. Thus they can be made to procrastinate regarding anything other than the safety of their person, their horde – and in the case of female dragon’s, immediate threats to the safety of their progeny. They tend therefore to be reactive in their nature rather than proactive, secure in the belief that they can later deal with whatever threat arises. And they spend large portions of their life in state of half-sleep, which, invariably falls into true insensible slumber some of the time – during which time they are vulnerable to stealthy attack. The chance that a dragon in its lair will be slumbering is 10% per age category, to a maximum of 99% for great wyrms. However, the chance that this slumber does not render the dragon unconscious and insensible is the same, so that though an adult dragon in its lair is slumbering 50% of the time, in 50% of these cases it is fully aware of its surroundings and quite capable of noting the approach of all but the stealthiest creature. An ancient dragon slumbers in its lair 80% of the time, but likewise 80% of the time it slumbers it is in a state of but half-sleep or torpor. Only the most lore-wise will be able to recognize the difference by subtle differences in its breathing. Even a sleeping dragon though will be awakened by any loud sound in its vicinity.

Although no dragon would ever admit it even to itself, dragons are inherently cowardly creatures whose pride and confidence in their own abilities, if ever shaken, reveals a great fear of death as well as any being that manifests powers beyond its own. Although their vanity often makes them rash and overbold, no dragon will knowingly risk death over anything less than the integrity of its horde, for only wrath at the loss or risk of loss of its treasure is enough to overcome its fear of death. If encountered outside its lair in the course of some other pursuit, a dragon will certainly flee if it is injured or at the first sign that it may be outmatched. Most of the time, a dragon will avoid any pitched combat, preferring instead to repeatedly strafe targets using it’s breathe weapon until they succumb. A lucky arrow hit that pierces its scales enough to sting may then be enough to drive away an attacking dragon for a time, if it perceives it is threatened by disciplined volleys of massed missile fire. A dozen such hits may startle the dragon enough to give even a large dragon pause. Unfortunately for the inhabitants of towns, such lucky hits are rare in the extreme against such dragons large enough to contemplate attacking a fortified stronghold, and rarer still is the archer that survives for long after attracting large dragon’s attention.

It is possible to subdue a dragon with non-damaging attacks and acts of intimidation so that it is forced to realize that its attacker could have easily killed it if they had chosen to do so. If done boldly and correctly, such an action will activate the natural cowardice of the dragon, and cause it to instinctually seek to submit to the will of the one that subdued it rather than face its death.

To subdue a dragon it must be dealt deliberately non-damaging attacks which must be totaled up just as normal damage would. When the total damage forgone by choosing to use non-damaging attacks exceeds the hit points of the dragon, the dragon may realize it could have been defeated and even killed by its enemies, and it will instinctively submit and cower to such a powerful foe. The chance that it does so at the end of any round is the same as the percentage of non-damage which is in excess of its hit points. For example, a dragon with 50 hit points, which has taken 51 subdual damage has a 2% chance of submitting, while the same dragon that takes 60 subdual damage has a 20% chance of submitting. Only non-damaging attacks may be used in the process of trying to subdue a dragon. If a dragon takes lethal damage during the process, instead of submitting and cowering it instinctively flees and fights to the death if prevented from doing so.

A subdued dragon is initially subservient and responds to any commands that it is capable of understanding except when directed to act in an obviously suicidal nature, or in the case of a female if directed to harm or ignore harm to its young or eggs. Over time however, the dragon becomes more and more surly, resentful, restless and ultimately rebellious. The duration over which a dragon may be trusted to remain subdued is somewhat random, but in general well-treated and less intelligent dragons remain subdued for longer, while those which are of greater intelligence and which are mistreated rebel sooner.

Dragon Treasure
Dragon hatchlings and very young dragons generally have not yet developed hordes of their own nor settled into a long term lair. Young dragons will have only 25% of the indicated treasure, while young adult dragons will have 50% of the indicated treasure, and adult dragons 75%. Old dragons have 100% of the normal treasure, while venerable dragons will have 150%, ancient dragons 200%, wyrms 250%, and the legendary hordes of great wryms will be a full 300% of the normal treasure type.

Dragon Numbers and Frequency

Whenever a dragon is encountered, it is first necessary to determine the age and sex of the beast. Three quarters of all dragons encountered are female, for male dragons more frequently kill one another struggling for mates and territory. The age of the dragon can be determined by the following table.

Die Roll (d6,d6)
Age Category
1,1-6
Hatchling
2,1-6
Very Young
3,1-4
Young
3,5-6
Young Adult
4,1-2
Young Adult
4,3-6
Adult
5,1-4
Old
5,5-6
Venerable
6,1-2
Venerable
6,3-4
Ancient
6,5
Wyrm
6,6
Great Wyrm

If the dragon is female, at least a young adult, and encountered in her lair, there is a chance she has eggs or young. The chance of either is present is the same as the chance a dragon of that age will NOT be slumbering. If a brood is present, they will be eggs 40% of the time and young 60% of the time. A female dragon will normally lay a clutch of 1d6 eggs per age category (minimum 4d6). Seventy-five percent of the eggs of a young adult will fail to hatch, while 50% of the eggs of an adult and 25% of the eggs of an old dragon will not be viable. Once the eggs hatch, a period of contest between the siblings typically ensues, as the larger and stronger beasts seek to devour their smaller crèche mates, and smaller dragons flee the nest as soon as they are strong enough to do so. As a result, any young discovered within the lair will only be 20-80% of the number of viable eggs. All dragons leave the mother’s protection while they are still wyrmlings.
There is a small chance that the female’s consort will be temporarily present in the lair, providing the brood with presents of food to ensure its survival and minimize the amount of fighting among the brood. If young are present, determine the age of the father, ignoring any result of young or lower. The chance that the consort is present is the same as the chance that a dragon of that age will not be slumbering. Although the lair of the male may be nearby, dragons generally are jealous creatures that will not lair together or share treasure, and while dragons may have a preferred mate for self-interested reasons, they have no loyalty to one another and do not form stable pair bonds or monogamous relationships. Reports to the contrary are generally misunderstandings or the result of unusual pressure or outside influence on the dragon’s behavior.
Except for the rare case of encountering a dragon in a place that it considers sacred ground, and where a truce is therefore enforced amongst its own kind, dragons will outside of the above arrangements never be encountered in social groups.

Variant Dragons
While the statistics given here are typical for dragons of their race, there is considerable variation within the species and individuals may possess atypical traits.

Size of Dragons: Statistics given are for dragons of average size. About 20% of dragons of a particular race are smaller than their fellows. Such dragons use the HD and attack damage of dragons typical of the next smaller race of the same age category, and saves versus their breath weapon attacks are at a +1 bonus. For example, a small adult green dragon has the HD and attack damage from its natural weapons of an adult black dragon. About 10% of dragons of a particular race are much larger than their fellows. These huge dragons use the HD and attack damage of dragons of the next larger race, receive +1 damage per die on their breath weapon attacks, and saving throws versus their breath weapons are at a -2 penalty.

Incendiary Greens: Sages that study dragons believe that some point in the past, a large green dragon female bred with red dragon male, and the resulting linage bred true. Approximately 5% of green dragons descend from this line and possess the ability to breathe a cone of fire as a red dragon, in addition to the normal breathe weapon of a green dragon. They correspondingly resist fire attacks much more strongly, while lacking resistance to cold attacks. These dragons can sometimes be recognized at a difference by subtle signs of their linage such as the presence of scattered brown or rust colored scales upon their hides and a relative abundance of backswept horns adorning their skull, but they are otherwise identical to other green dragons.

Multi-Headed Dragons: Some female chromatic dragons, referred to as the Daughters of Tiamat, have more than one head. Fortunately these dragons are exceptionally rare - with less than a handful known to exist for each evil dragon race – for they are exceptionally dangerous and potent creatures. Each head beyond the first grants the dragon one additional bite attack, and 4 additional hit points per HD of the dragon. Each head is largely independent of all other heads, and has the same breathe weapon and spell-use capabilities. Dragons with extra-heads are also exceptionally difficult to magically control for each mind will question the motives of the other and so break the enchantment. If magically charmed or dominated they may make a new saving throw each round to shake off the control and return to their normal senses. Multi-headed dragons will have 50% greater treasure than usual per additional head.

Serpentine Dragons: Although young dragons are supple enough to curl their bodies and tails around a foe, most dragons as they age become too thick and inflexible to continue to employ this attack. Some 20% however retain this ability until they reach 10HD.

Venomous Dragons: All dragons have a mildly toxic physiology and their blood, saliva, and other humors are inimical to most life and which causes various issues after prolonged contact. However, in a small fraction of dragons this is especially pronounced, so that their bite becomes venomous and contact with their blood potentially immediately fatal to the attacker. Anyone bitten by such a dragon takes 3 points of damage per age category of the dragon. A successful save versus poison reduces this damage to half (rounded down). Any attacker which employs and edged melee weapon against such a dragon, if they inflict damage on the dragon greater than their weapon length, must make a successful save versus petrification/polymorph or suffer 3 damage from the spray of acid and toxic blood which results from the wound they have inflicted. Roughly 5% of all evil dragons are exceptionally venomous, though 10% of the black dragon species has this nature.

Wingless Dragons: A few dragons are born with either missing or small deformed wings that are incapable of producing flight. Most wingless dragons are killed by their mothers shortly after they hatch as ugly embarrassments. Those that are not, tend to receive especial attention from their aggressive siblings and are killed and devoured in the crèche. Thus, the few wingless dragons that survive tend to be the rare situation of a young and inexperienced mother and a wingless hatchling that is either was the sole viable hatchling or else the largest of the brood. Only about 2% of dragons encountered will be of the wingless sort. However, if encountered, wingless dragons are only 5% of the time of the small sort, and are 30% likely to be huge. They are half as likely to have developed the power of speech, but twice as likely (40%) to be serpentine in form. A wingless dragon loses the power of flight, and the ability to make any attacks or special attacks with its wings.

Table 4: XP Value of Chromatic Dragons by Age and Species
Age Category
Small White
White
Black
Green
Blue
Red
Huge Red
1
III/72 + 2/hp
III/72 + 2/hp
III/72 + 2/hp
III/72 + 2/hp
III/130 + 3/hp
III/130 + 3/hp
III/130 + 3/hp
2
III/130 + 3/hp
III/130 + 3/hp
IV/245 + 4/hp
IV/220 + 4/hp
IV/340 + 5/hp
IV/340 + 5/hp
IV/340 + 5/hp
3
IV/280 + 4/hp
IV/430 + 5/hp
IV/430 + 5/hp
V/750 + 6/hp
VI/1175 + 8/hp
VI/1175 + 8/hp
VI/1825 + 10/hp
4
IV/430 + 5/hp
V/750 + 6/hp
VI/1175 + 8/hp
VI/1825 + 10/hp
VIII/3000 + 12/hp
VIII/3000 + 12/hp
VIII/4500 + 14/hp
5
V/750 + 6/hp
VI/1175 + 8/hp
VI/1825 + 10/hp
VIII/3000 + 12/hp
IX/5850 + 14/hp
IX/7500 + 16/hp
IX/8700 + 16/hp
6
VI/1175 + 8/hp
VIII/3000 + 12/hp
VIII/4500 + 14/hp
IX/5850 + 14/hp
IX/8700 + 16/hp
X/10450 + 18/hp
X/11950 + 18/hp
7
VI/1825 + 10/hp
VIII/4500 + 14/hp
IX/5850 + 14/hp
IX/8700 + 16/hp
X/11950 + 18/hp
X/14050 + 20/hp
XI/19750 + 25/hp
8
VIII/3000 + 12/hp
VIII/4950 + 14/hp
IX/8700 + 16/hp
X/11950 + 18/hp
XI/15850 + 20/hp
XI/19500 + 25/hp
XIV/32600 + 30/hp
9
IX/5850 + 14/hp
IX/8700 + 16/hp
X/13750 + 18/hp
XI/18250 + 20/hp
XIII/27300 + 25/hp
XIII/28600 + 30/hp
XVII/45600 + 35/hp
10
IX/8700 + 16/hp
X/11950 + 18/hp
XI/18250 + 20/hp
XII/24300 + 25/hp
XV/36600 + 30/hp
XVI/43200 + 35/hp
XVIII/55800 + 35/hp

Table 5: Additional XP Award for Unusual Spellcasting Ability
Age Category
Small White
White
Black
Green
Blue
Red
Huge Red
1
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
15
15
15
2
15
15
65
25
40
40
40
3
25
75
75
125
175
175
275
4
40
125
175
275
400
400
600
5
125
175
275
400
Auto
Auto
Auto
6
175
400
600
Auto
Auto
Auto
Auto
7
275
600
Auto
Auto
Auto
Auto
Auto
8
400
600
Auto
Auto
Auto
Auto
Auto
9
600
850
Auto
Auto
Auto
Auto
Auto
10
850
1200
Auto
Auto
Auto
Auto
Auto

Chromatic Dragon Species

White Dragons
Alignment
: Chaotic Evil
Treasure Type: B,O,P,T
White dragons are cold loving creatures that inhabit ice floes and tundra, where they prey upon large herd animals such as caribou and mammoths as well as large pinnipeds such as walruses. When they are able to, they compete for territory with red dragons for they are at home in glaciated alpine regions, with blue dragons where the tundra turns to grasslands, and with green dragons in the great forested regions that encircle artic lands, and even black dragons amongst the moors and peat bogs of subarctic marshlands. The breath weapon of a white dragon is a cone of severe cold. White dragons are the smallest of the chromatic dragons, and the least intelligent. Individually they are no match for their larger kin, but they are also the fleetest of the chromatic dragons when on the wing and the most fecund of the chromatic dragon species. They have also the benefit that the strongholds of their power are far from the lands normally inhabited by humanoids, and so they have vast reserves of breeding pairs lairing far beyond the threat normally posed by knights and adventurers. Thus, they are able to exploit any gap in a rival’s territory, and establish themselves before larger dragon species are able to mature sufficiently to become a great threat.
White Dragons have a flight speed of 30” rather than the usual 24”, and while not as at home in water as their large black kindred, they have a swim speed of 9”. Further, in addition to great resistance to cold, they take half-physical damage from the impact of falling ice or icy missiles. The magic resistance of white dragons is slightly less than their larger kin, and is but 8% per age category. They also have half the usual chance of acquiring the power of speech, and are twice as likely as other dragons to be smaller than average for their species. However, the clutch size of a female white dragon is 50% larger than chromatic dragons of similar age.
White dragons are associated with and may in fact be physical incarnations of the destructive power of winter. A white dragon that has attained at least old age and which has acquired speech may 1/day employ ice storm as the spell, but only to create driving sleet. However, the diameter of the effect is 80”. For each age category beyond old that they attain, they may employ this power one additional time per day. An ancient white dragon which has acquired the power of speech may 1/day control temperature as the spell of the same name, save that they may only adjust the temperature downward by 50 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the effect is in a sphere of 2000’ diameter. Each ability is otherwise as a caster of 14th level. Both powers require the dragon employ its roar and so may not be used in conjunction with bite attacks, breathe weapon attacks, or other spell-use.

Black Dragons
Alignment:
Chaotic Evil
Treasure Type: H,Q
Black dragons are semi-aquatic creatures that prefer to inhabit marches and swamps of every sort, from sub-arctic salt-marshes to mangrove swamps. They are among the least numerous of the chromatic dragons, for suitable terrain for their kind is rare and large prey species within such lands scarce. A black dragon must content itself with such large fish, crocodilians, and monstrous amphibians which inhibit swamp regions, and such seasonal food sources as migrate through its territory. Black dragons therefore are almost always hungry, and little disposed to negotiate with any potential food source, and quite likely to be a terror to any nearby livestock or villages. Black dragons have few dragon rivals for their undesirable regions, but may come into conflict with white dragons at the limits of their range, with green dragons in heavily wooded swamps, and more rarely with blue dragons in grassy wetlands.
Black dragons are the most agile and stealthiest of the chromatic dragons, and have the best night time vision. The breath weapon of a black dragon is a line of acid. A black dragon of any age may move silently and hide in shadows as a thief of 3rd level, and has infra-vision to 12”. A black dragon’s effective DEX is 1 higher than normal for a dragon of its age, and consequently a black dragon’s AC is one higher than that of similar species of the same age. Black dragon's have a swim speed of 12" and may hold their breath underwater for 10 minutes per age category. If a black dragon remains motionless and in a state of near torpor, it may remain underwater for up to 2 hours per age category without requiring a breath. A black dragon which is not on the wing, and which is in marshy terrain, surprises its foes 4 times in 6. On the other hand, the magic resistance of black dragons is slightly lower than that of larger species, but is still a robust 9% per age category.
Black dragons are associated with plagues and disease. A black dragon of at least old age can employ cause disease, as the spell of that name, 1/day. An ancient black dragon which has acquired the power of speech, may cast insect plague 1/day as the spell but with a diameter of effect of 360”. Black dragon wyrms may invoke this power twice per day, and great wyrms three times per day. Both powers require the dragon employ its roar and so may not be used in conjunction with bite attacks, breathe weapon attacks, or other spell-use. Caster level is 14th.

Green Dragons
Alignment:
Lawful Evil
Treasure Type: H,Q,S
Green dragons prefer to dwell in lands with dense forest cover. Like black dragons they are semi-aquatic, and at ease in lakes and broad rivers. Green dragons have a swim speed of 9”. Green dragons above all other chromatic dragon species, prefer the sorts of terrain which humans and humanoids prefer to carve their civilizations within, and so are the most commonly encountered if not the most numerous of the chromatic dragons. Green dragons prey upon large forest animals such as deer, antelope, bovines, giraffes, and elephants, but they also have a tremendous fondness for livestock and larger ones may devour whole herds within the course of a few days before disappearing into their lairs for years at a time to sleep off their meals. In recent years, green dragons have been driven from much of their prior range, and now have strongholds largely in remote steamy jungles and subarctic coniferous forests far from inhabited lands.
Green dragons have a well-earned reputation for cunning and cruelty. They enjoy toying with their food like a great cat, and stampeding prey and devouring the wounded and dead. More so than any other dragon, they enjoy psychologically torturing intelligent victims, and are most likely of all evil dragons to have encouraged a system of tribute or worship of them from intelligent humanoids living within their territory. A green dragon of young adult or older has +1 intelligence compared to others of its race, with corresponding increases in the chance of having acquired the power of speech and spell-casting ability. Those of Venerable or older have +2 intelligence compared to others of their race. Twenty percent of green dragon spell-casters cast spells as Illusionists, rather than M-U’s. Green dragons are also the only race of evil dragons that occasionally manifest psionic ability, with the same percentage chance of occurrence and range of potential power of a human with similar mental ability.
The hypnotizing gaze of a green dragon is particularly strong, and saves against it have a -1 penalty compared to that of other dragons. Moreover, those of at least old age can cast mass suggestion 1/day as a 14th level illusionist, and one additional time per day per age category beyond old. Green dragons are associated with flooding and the devastating effects of water. A green dragon of at least ancient age can 1/day cause natural bodies of water to overflow their banks, similar to the effects of the spell raise water but with 10 times the usual radius of effect. Both powers require the dragon employ its voice and so may not be used in conjunction with bite attacks, breathe weapon attacks, or other spell-use.

Blue Dragons
Alignment:
Lawful Evil
Treasure Type: H,Q,S,T
Blue Dragons are very large dragons that dwell in open arid country, including deserts, scrublands, badlands, and grasslands. They contest these regions occasionally with white dragons in colder lands, or with black dragons in wetter environments, but their greatest hatred and rivalry lies with red dragons amongst the foothills and badlands that surround the red dragon’s alpine strongholds. Blue dragons feast on the herd animals which are common to their preferred terrain, and also – when they can get them – on whales and large fish when their lair lies near the sea. Compared to other dragons, they spend a large amount of time on the wing, for they are always patrolling their territory against trespassers. They seldom land to do battle, but prefer to keep their distance and employ their spells and breathe weapon. The breath weapon of a blue dragon is a potent line of electricity, which is greatly feared by other chromatic dragons, for they have no natural defense against it. Blue dragons are humorless, paranoid, pitiless and surly, even by the standards of dragons. Any caravan or nomad that strays too close will certainly be perceived as having designs upon the dragon’s horde.
Blue dragons are associated with thunder, sandstorms, hurricanes, and the devastating power of wind. A blue dragon which is at least old age can control winds as the spell of the same name 1/day as a 14th level caster, and one additional time per day per age category beyond old. A blue dragon of at least ancient age can control weather 1/day as a 14th level druid, but with an area of effect of 40d4 square miles. Blue dragon wyrms may control weather 2/day, and great wyrms 3/day. Both powers require the dragon employ its roar and so may not be used in conjunction with bite attacks, breathe weapon attacks, or other spell-use.

Red Dragons
Alignment:
Chaotic Evil
Treasure Type: H,P,Q,S,T
Red dragons are the largest and most dangerous of the chromatic dragons, and are consequently the most prideful of their race. They exhibit all the traits common to chromatic dragons, but to extremes even for dragon kind. Red dragons prefer to lair in high mountain regions, with volcanic lairs – whether dormant or active - being the most desirable, but they will claim any ruin with an appropriate large horde of treasure save those which are underwater or lay in the coldest regions. It is not unknown for a red dragon in need of a lair to decide to make one of a city, and lay waste to its inhabitants. A red dragon will kill or bully a dragon of any other race if it becomes large enough to do so, and so dragons of all other races make special effort to kill young red dragons that trespass into their territory before the creatures become too large to deal with. The rivalry between red and blue dragons is especially fierce, and this is fortunate, for it depletes the numbers of this formidable beasts that would otherwise be a plague upon civilization. As it is, the arrival of a large red dragon into an area can be civilization ending, for few indeed are the heroes that can deal with so considerable of a threat. Even some gods might pause before stirring up the wrath of the largest of these creatures.
Red dragons are associated with volcanism and earthquakes.
A red dragon of at least old age may 1/day invoke a minor volcanic event, with effects identical to Firestorm as cast by a 14th level druid. For each age category beyond old, a red dragon may do so one additional time per day. A red dragon of at least ancient age may produce an earthquake, as the spell, save with a diameter 100”. Those of ancient age may do so 1/day, while wryms may do so 2/day, and great wryms 3/day. The use of either power requires that the red dragon be in contact with the ground and so may be not invoked in flight, and both powers require the dragon employ its roar and so may not be used in conjunction with bite attacks, breathe weapon attacks, or other spell-use.
 
Last edited:

Celebrim

Legend
This is a bit of a work in progress. Expect me to make minor revisions and additions over time. I'm also fighting the EnWorld formatting, and currently it's winning.

The impetus of this work was reflecting on my decade or more DMing 1e AD&D in light of the understanding of the game I've gained since that time and the concepts introduced in more modern editions.

One thing that in particular I notice now that I did not notice then was how very unbalanced 1e AD&D was, and how poorly served high level characters were by published material.

That dragons were broken was nothing new to myself or the community at the time, but looking back it's easy to see that while many knew that dragons for all the elegance of their design in some areas weren't working, no one seemed to really be able to put their finger on why. Many valiant efforts were attempted over the years, but in retrospect none quite worked right because they set about fixing the wrong problems.

This is my attempt to fix the 1e AD&D dragon while preserving at least some of its unique character. In particular, two sacred cows of the 1e AD&D dragon do have to die: fixed HD and breathe weapons equal to hit points. While it made for simplified stat blocks, it just has too many problems. On the other hand, I hope that my offering is more recognizably a 1e dragon than the complete rewrite of 2e (which was ported subsequently into 3e).

One other reason I wanted to undertake this exercise is that I'm not particularly happy with the 2e inspired 3e dragon either, and I am hoping that by going back to first principles and imagining the 1e dragon as it should have been, it will make it easier to imagine what the 3e dragon should look like as well.

Please feel free to leave feedback.
 
Last edited:

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
That dragons were broken was nothing new to myself or the community at the time, but looking back it's easy to see that while many knew that dragons for all the elegance of their design in some areas weren't working, no one seemed to really be able to put their finger on why. Many valiant efforts were attempted over the years, but in retrospect none quite worked right because they set about fixing the wrong problems.

This is my attempt to fix the 1e AD&D dragon while preserving at least some of its unique character. In particular, two sacred cows of the 1e AD&D dragon do have to die: fixed HD and breathe weapons equal to hit points.
Yeah, I got rid of both those constraints ages ago too. :) I dialled back the breath damage a bit and put a variable on it - usually it's a small number of d6 plus a big constant e.g. 3d6+50, and I expanded the possible hit die range a lot while divorcing their hit dice from their size.

I didn't do nearly as comprehensive a rebuild as you've got here; beyond those two changes I really beefed up both their h.p. and the damage done by their melee attacks; with the bigger dragons getting more enhancement.

As written they're glass cannons - any combat with a dragon is going to be short as either it or the party will die very quickly.

Lanefan
 

Celebrim

Legend
As written they're glass cannons - any combat with a dragon is going to be short as either it or the party will die very quickly.
This is a reoccurring problem with most 1e AD&D end game monsters. Very few have a combination of hit points and defenses that would allow them to survive more than a single round against a well equipped party of name level or higher. The greater daemons are just about the only example I can name of 'out of the box' monsters with defenses sufficient to accomplish that.

I felt the comprehensive rebuild was justified owing to the number of problems the original design has:

a) Young dragons have the same 'to hit', damage, AC, and XP award (and technically length!) of the larger ones. Consequently, as dragons get larger and older they on the whole get relatively less fearsome, the opposite of what would be desirable.
b) A dragon's breathe weapon will TPK a party they are meant to fight in 1 or 2 rounds, unless that party is magically prepared against its breathe weapon. But a combat with a dragon is unlikely to go more than a single round any way. As a result, by the time you get to the initiative roll, the battle is basically over.
c) Aside from the breathe weapon, no dragon was really designed to challenge parties above 10th or 11th level. The core rules for an end game monster like a dragon should provide basically unlimited gameplay, and suggest monsters effective against a party of basically any level. I'm reasonably confident that the huge great wyrm red is the most powerful non-divine, non-unique monster published for 1e, and is at least comparable to beings such as Oonga and Demogorgon. And if your 23rd level PC party isn't impressed by that, try a three headed venomous version on them.
d) The sort of dragons which the DM would want to select for game reasons ('appropriate challenge') should not be limited by ecosystem. There should be reasonably weak dragons available even if you aren't in the arctic, and reasonably strong ones even if you aren't in a volcano. For example, you have to be quite high level before a huge three-headed great wyrm white dragon is not serious problem. On the other hand, a small very young red is a 12' long dragon that you might be able to make into a highly satisfying boss monster against a 4th level party and make them fill like BDHs when they defeat it.
e) Dragons need to not die cheesy deaths, but should legitimately require heroes taking risks to defeat them.
f) The breathe weapon is no longer the overriding concern. Combat with a party probably will go at least 5-6 rounds, yet the breathe weapon damage over that period while threatening, isn't on its own a TPK threat. Combat is therefore more unpredictable, more reactive, and hopefully 'cinematic' with visually interesting attack options and movement, rather than the straight forward beat down I'd expect against typical 1e dragons.
g) As much as possible I wanted to support the diversity of Western dragons as they actually appear in myth and story out of the box. You don't think dragons have wings? Fine. Your dragons loop around St. George like a coiling snake? I can cover that. You want your bog standard dragons to breathe fire. I can work with that. Does the bite of your dragon poison the hero even after they deliver the fatal wound. Ok. You might can tell though I have a bit of a problem with the 'mated pair' concept, which - compared to how often non-solitary dragons appear in myth and story - felt like a gamist concession to the fact that one dragon might not be enough mechanically to be a problem. I left it in there as an option, but discouraged it.
 
Last edited:

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
This is a reoccurring problem with most 1e AD&D end game monsters.
True that.

I felt the comprehensive rebuild was justified owing to the number of problems the original design has:

a) Small dragons have the same 'to hit', damage, AC, and XP award (and technically length!) of the larger ones.
They do? I guess I must have changed that without realizing it. :)

b) A dragon's breathe weapon will TPK a party they are meant to fight in 1 or 2 rounds, unless that party is magically prepared against its breathe weapon. But a combat with a dragon is unlikely to go more than a single round any way. As a result, by the time you get to the initiative roll, the battle is basically over.
Particularly if either side somehow gets surprise. (invisible dragons for the win!)

c) Aside from the breathe weapon, no dragon was really designed to challenge parties above 10th or 11th level.
I find they can't even seriously threaten a larger party of 7th-9th levels. Sure, one or two will die when the breath gets 'em, but no TPK concerns anywhere as they simply swarm the thing.

The core rules for an end game monster like a dragon should provide basically unlimited gameplay, and suggest monsters effective against a party of basically any level. I'm reasonably confident that the huge great wyrm red is the most powerful non-divine, non-unique monster published for 1e, and is at least comparable to beings such as Oonga and Demogorgon. And if your 23rd level PC party isn't impressed by that, try a three headed venomous version on them.
Yeah, the Tarrasque is a later invention, isn't it.

One other way to beef 'em up - though more of a headache for the DM - is to seriously jack up their spellcasting abilities...and then give them pets or servants who aren't bothered (much) by the dragon's breath attack. Thus, instead of having to deal with just a single dragon the party has to fight its way through the pets/servants while the dragon blasts away from behind the lines with spells and breath weapon.

Now you've got a combat. :)

d) The sort of dragons which the DM would want to select for game reasons ('appropriate challenge') should not be limited by ecosystem. There should be reasonably weak dragons available even if you aren't in the arctic, and reasonably strong ones even if you aren't in a volcano. For example, you have to be quite high level before a huge three-headed great wyrm white dragon is not serious problem. On the other hand, a small very young red is a 12' long dragon that you might be able to make into a highly satisfying boss monster against a 4th level party and make them fill like BDHs when they defeat it.
I've never found this to be a problem, in that dragons come in all sorts of different sizes and age categories. Finding something to challenge a lower-level party is simple.

e) Dragons need to not die cheesy deaths, but should legitimately require heroes taking risks to defeat them.
f) The breathe weapon is no longer the overriding concern. Combat with a party probably will go at least 5-6 rounds, yet the breathe weapon damage over that period while threatening, isn't on its own a TPK threat. Combat is therefore more unpredictable, more reactive, and hopefully 'cinematic' with visually interesting attack options and movement, rather than the straight forward beat down I'd expect against typical 1e dragons.
Well, given that most dragons have pretty good magic resistance and-or saving throws, it'll still come to a melee beatdown in the end provided they can somehow get the dragon on the ground. Also, dragons - for all their grace in the air - are kinda big and clumsy on the ground and are probably not helping their own cause by trying to move much.

g) As much as possible I wanted to support the diversity of Western dragons as they actually appear in myth and story out of the box. You don't think dragons have wings? Fine. Your dragons loop around St. George like a coiling snake? I can cover that. You want your bog standard dragons to breathe fire. I can work with that. Does the bite of your dragon poison the hero even after they deliver the fatal wound. Ok. You might can tell though I have a bit of a problem with the 'mated pair' concept, which - compared to how often non-solitary dragons appear in myth and story - felt like a gamist concession to the fact that one dragon might not be enough mechanically to be a problem. I left it in there as an option, but discouraged it.
Two things here:

First, there's always the "oriental" dragons from FF and MMII - I've found these can provide some interesting variants and twists...particularly when they can fly without wings! :)

Second, in terms of numbers I've sometimes gone the other way - sometimes you don't just find a mated pair but what amounts to a small flock, be it a family unit (parents and offspring) or a community who have found strength in numbers and have managed not to eat each other yet. I think the most I've ever run at one go was a family of 5 blacks - ma, pa, and three young-ish offspring - against a party of something like 17 mid-level characters (long story as to how and why the huge party). Ma and pa were typical adult dragons (but not huge or ancient or anything like that) while the "kids" were merely young adult, i.e. a threat in their own right. Result: several party deaths and black dragon scale souvenirs all round.

But most dragons are still loners, yes.

Lanefan
 

Celebrim

Legend
True that.

They do? I guess I must have changed that without realizing it. :)
I think you've changed a lot without realizing it. More on that in a bit.

Yeah, the Tarrasque is a later invention, isn't it.
It is, and while it looks formidable on paper, it's a terrible design by someone that isn't particularly familiar with high level play. The problem with it is that it cannot fly and has no ranged weapons. It's also fairly slow moving, has only marginal physical defenses, and lacks magic resistance so even if you can't fly you can kite it. So while it's a brute up close, it is just a brute. It's some good defenses against common ranged attacks, and if you haven't encountered the stat block before some of its defenses might come as an unpleasant surprise, but ultimately a party that can take flight and pelt with ranged weapons shouldn't have much of a problem eventually killing it. They might be surprised at first when it keeps coming back, but ultimately it's just not well designed as a challenge. Oonga, with his 6" vertical jump and devastating ranged attacks, is much more on point. Tarrasque versus dragon is probably a stand off. The dragon can't compete up close with the Tarrasque's bite of sharpness, but the Tarrasque's shell prevents the dragon from easily roasting the Tarrasque from the air.

The Tarrasque is rated at 37500 XP, which I think is excessive because it's too easy to cheese it. You'll also note that 37500 means that there are several dragons on my list that are considered worse: huge blue great wyrm, red great wyrm, huge red wrym, and huge red great wrym. And several of the variants (huge psionic green great wyrm, two-headed huge green great wyrm, etc.) would also top that number.

I've never found this to be a problem, in that dragons come in all sorts of different sizes and age categories. Finding something to challenge a lower-level party is simple.
Well, unless I'm missing some note somewhere, played straight, a very young red dragon though it has only 20 h.p. is still a 10HD monster that has a 6d6 bite attack. The problem is that while 1e AD&D dragons do scale, they don't actually scale evenly. They still retain many features of their full sized version.

Well, given that most dragons have pretty good magic resistance and-or saving throws...
I'm pretty sure that dragon's don't get actual magic resistance until 2e AD&D. The 1e ones have saves that scale with hit points, so that an ancient red dragon might save as a 17HD monster, and they have various small bonuses on their saving throws, but they don't get real magic resistance. Now sure, my variant dragons have exceptionally good magic resistance, and you are very unlikely to defeat one with a 'save or die' effect, but that's not the way they work out of the box. And really, in 1e, nothing that doesn't have at least enough magic resistance to make killing it with wands problematic is really tough against high level foes.
 
Last edited:

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Well, unless I'm missing some note somewhere, played straight, a very young red dragon though it has only 20 h.p. is still a 10HD monster that has a 6d6 bite attack. The problem is that while 1e AD&D dragons do scale, they don't actually scale evenly. They still retain many features of their full sized version.
Hmmm...on carefully reading the MM (not something I often do :) ) it looks like their size (small-average-huge) is rolled on a d8 - and this d8 roll is also their hit dice - while their age category is rolled on a separate d8 which also locks in how many points per hit die it gets.

What this means is that by RAW it's possible (though a bit silly) to generate a huge very young dragon with 8 HD and 8 h.p.

There's also a serious disconnect between the above and some of the actual stat blocks given in the write-ups for each dragon type. For example the stat block for Red Dragon shows HD: 9-11 where by the rules above it can't have more than 8. One would think this isn't the first time this has been noticed and that there's a Dragon article or Sage Advice from way back when to fix this...I hope. :)

So, if you run them as per their stat blocks you can't have weak (i.e. low HD and h.p.) ones, while if you run them by the d8 and d8 system you can get some strange results and can't have anything more than 8 HD.

I'm pretty sure that dragon's don't get actual magic resistance until 2e AD&D. The 1e ones have saves that scale with hit points, so that an ancient red dragon might save as a 17HD monster, and they have various small bonuses on their saving throws, but they don't get real magic resistance.
Yep, on further review this seems to be the case - MR "standard" for pretty much the lot.

Lanefan
 

Celebrim

Legend
What this means is that by RAW it's possible (though a bit silly) to generate a huge very young dragon with 8 HD and 8 h.p.
Yes. That is correct. 'Huge' just means it is of above average size for its age and species. You can generate a huge very young dragon from my rules as well. For example, to get a huge very young black, cross reference the HD for a very young green (3+12 HD, in this case), and build the dragon using that as a base and using the modifications described in the entry for black dragons. A small blue uses the same column as a green. This is why 'small white' and 'huge red' have to get their own category.

Hmmm...on carefully reading the MM (not something I often do :) ) it looks like their size (small-average-huge) is rolled on a d8 - and this d8 roll is also their hit dice - while their age category is rolled on a separate d8 which also locks in how many points per hit die it gets.
I think you are misunderstanding the results of the two d8s. The first D8 doesn't determine the HD, but only results in HD +/- 1 depending on whether it is small or huge. For a huge result, add 1 to the HD, and for a small result subtract one.

The equivalent of two rolls you are reading about are used to generate random dragons in the above write up, only its a D% to determine size (see 'Size of Dragons') and a (d6,d6) matrix to determine age (see 'Dragon Numbers and Frequency'). That is to say, my rules make ancient dragons less common than younger sorts rather than equally common as the original rules do.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Chromatic Dragon (Tiamat)
Frequency: Unique
No. Appearing: 1
Armor Class: -9
Move: 6”/24” E
Hit Dice: 33+198 (462 hp)
% in Lair: 99%
Treasure Type: B x 6, H x 6, Q x 6, O x 6, P x 6, S x 6, T x 6, U x 6
No. Of Attacks: 8
Damage/Attack: 2d8, 3d6, 3d8, 5d6, 4d10, 2d8, 2d8, 4d10 + poison
Special Attacks: Crush, breath weapon, hypnotic gaze, magic use, poison, spells, swallow whole, trample, wing storm
Special Defenses: Disease immunity, energy resistance, poison resistance, weapon resistance, regeneration, +2 or better weapon required to hit
Magic Resistance: 100%
Intelligence: Godlike
Alignment: Lawful Evil
Size: L (100’ long)
Psionic Ability: Nil
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil
Level/XP: XXIII/123180
Chance of:
Speaking: 100%
Magic Use: 100%
Sleeping: 1%
Str: 25, Int: 25, Wis: 21, Dex: 15, Con: 25, Chr: 21

Tiamat is the legendary queen of evil dragons, mother of monsters, and foe of the gods. She is said to have in some primordial era been a goddess of surpassing loveliness, but in response to some perceived slight, transformed herself irrevocably into a hideous and terrible monster. All evil dragons are her offspring, and many acknowledge her as their suzerain and deity. All fear her terrible world shaking wrath, and even among mortals there are strange cults which honor or propitiate Tiamat as the goddess of calamity, natural disasters, greed, and vengeance and who worship her progeny as living gods. Tiamat appears in the form of a dragon of tremendous size, having five heads – one representing each of the common sorts of chromatic dragons. The heavy scales of her body are orange and purple, and those of her spiked and barbed tail a rusty brown.

Tiamat is legendary as being indestructible, for she has the resistances and immunities common to her offspring, but in many cases to a greater degree giving the impression that nothing can cause her permanent harm. Her heavy hide counts as full plate armor, and may only be penetrated by weapons of +2 magical prowess or greater. Owing to her great size and the thickness of her hide, any physical weapon which successfully strikes the dragon queen short of a siege weapon or those wielded by large sized creatures, has its damage reduced by 5 to a minimum of 0. Tiamat has 100% magic resistance with respect to spells cast at by a caster of 11th level or lower, and fails saving throws only on a throw of 2 or less, and against poison or enchantment magic only on a 1. She is immune to diseases and the effects of magical aging. Any creature or attack which can be thwarted by cure disease, such as green slime or rot grubs, when encountering Tiamat’s poisonous and acidic humors dies instantly as having been treated by cure disease.

Tiamat ignores the first 50 points of damage from any attack involving fire, electricity, acid, or cold. She takes half damage from poisons of all sorts, and if the poison is such that a failed save normally indicates outright death, Tiamat instead takes but 20 points of damage. If Tiamat fails a saving throw which would otherwise result in immediate death or is subject to a spell effect such as Power Word: Kill which would otherwise result in immediate death, Tiamat instead takes but 40 points of damage.

Because of the plurality and cunning of Tiamat’s minds, whenever Tiamat is effected by enchantment magic, she is allowed a new save every round to permanently shake off the effect.

Tiamat’s supernatural vigor allows her to regenerate up to 8 hit points per round as long as at least half of her hit points remain – 3 hit points per round applied generally and 1 hit point per round for each head which has been specially targeted (see below). Below half of her hit points remaining, her wounds cause her to regenerate but 1 hit point per turn.

Tiamat five heads each have the sensory powers common to chromatic dragons of the greatest possible age.

Tiamat’s bulk precludes her employing her claws in the normal fashion when on the ground, but she may otherwise make eight attacks per round – 5 bite attacks as a great wyrm dragon of the appropriate type, two wing strikes, and lash foes with her mighty tail. Her tail attack is greatly to be feared, for her tail is barbed with many barbs resembling that of a wyvern but in great numbers, and the blow causes 30 poison damage with a successful save at -4 indicating 15 damage still incurred. She may normally make but one such attack on each medium sized foe, and her bite attacks, each wing attack, and tail attack must all strike foes on different quarters. As with other dragons, she cannot employ her wings as weapons when in flight, but though ponderous on the wing, when flying she may strike any flying creature that strays into her reach with her claws for 6d8 damage for each successful attack.

Tiamat is capable of many of the special attacks associated with dragons of great size. Each of Tiamat’s heads swallows whole human sized foes on a roll of 20, and dwarf sized or small foes in a roll of 19 or 20. Those that are swallowed whole are subject on subsequent rounds to the full strength of all five of Tiamat’s breathe weapons each round with no saving throw allowed! Although Tiamat may not use her claws to make normal attacks, she may employ the crush and trample special attacks common to large dragons dealing 6d8 damage against foes of up to ogre size. When Tiamat uses a trample special attack, it deals damage over a path 2 1/2” wide. Each of Tiamat’s heads or tail may batter structures as a triple strength battering ram.

Each of Tiamat’s five heads has a breathe weapon equal to a great wyrm of the corresponding type – white, black, green, blue, and red. Each head may employ it’s breathe weapon every other round either separately or in concert with one or more other heads. The white dragon head has the spell casting ability of a 7th level M-U, the black that of a 8th level M-U, the green head that of a 10th level illusionist, while the blue head has the powers of a 11th level M-U, and the fearsome red head that of both a M-U and evil cleric at 12th level of ability. Each head is capable of employing spell books and will possess the most useful and best possible selection of spells.

Each head has the hypnotic gave ability common to spell casting dragons, but saves against the power are at -1 on the die. For each head that fixes its gaze on the same victim, the saving throw difficulty increases cumulatively by a further -1 on the die, but only a single saving throw is required to resist regardless of the number of heads acting in concert.

Each head also is capable of manifesting the special powers of a great wyrm of the appropriate sort, namely, the white head may 5/day employ ice storm as the spell to create driving sleet over a diameter of 80”, and 3/day control temperature to adjust temperature downward by 50 degrees Fahrenheit below the normal natural temperature in a sphere of 200” diameter. The black dragon head may cast cause disease 5/day, and insect plague with a diameter of 360” 3/day. The green dragon head may cast mass suggestion 5/day, and cast raise water 3/day with 10 times the usual radius of effect. The blue dragon head may cast control winds 5/day, and control weather 3/day but with an area of effect of 40d4 square miles. The red dragon head may cast fire storm 5/day, and earthquake with a radius of 100” 3/day. Caster level on all powers is 16th. The bite attack, gaze attack, breath weapon, and special powers are mutually exclusive, and each head may only engage in one such action per round.

Tiamat’s individual heads can be specially targeted, but doing so incurs a -4 penalty on ‘to hit’ rolls unless the target has been subject to a bite attack (successful or not) by that head in the past round, owing to the viper like quickness and litheness of the head. Damage of 88 hit points or more to a single head however renders that head unable to perform actions, and damage incurred to a head attempting spell-casting interrupts that heads spellcasting efforts. Damage to heads is not separate for any other purpose, and cumulative damage to the heads can cause the death of the dragon, though the maximum damage a head may sustain is 100 hit points, and further blows do no extra harm. Removal of a head as by a vorpal weapon or the like causes a minimum of 88 damage, but does necessarily kill Tiamat unless all five heads have been so removed. Tiamat will however require a period of 1d8 days to regrow and regenerate lost heads.

Tiamat nominally gives her allegiance to the courts of the Nine Hells, and is the nominal ruler of the first layer of that wretched realm. However, it is doubtful that this fealty is more than a convenience for each side of the alliance, and Tiamat for her part remains wholly concerned only with the interests of her own offspring. The lords of the Nine Hells gain for their part a most formidable guardian to the entrance to their realm, while Tiamat for her part gains legions of votaries bringing tribute for her vast bed. Tiamat’s horde in the heart of a vast mountain on the plane of Avernus is said to be one of the greatest accumulations of treasure in all of the multiverse, and no doubt many items of great significance and value have found their way into her horde. Tiamat is attended by five selected consorts, one for each chromatic dragon species, which are male great wryms of the largest possible size and most formidable nature. Tiamat for her part spends most of her time brooding over huge clutches of eggs and dragon hatchlings, and guarding her horde against any intrusion, leaving the actual administration and governance of her realm in hands of a large number of feudal lords.
 
Last edited:

Celebrim

Legend
Multi-headed White Dragon (Estasobitum, Daughter of Tiamat)
Frequency: Unique
No. Appearing: 1
Armor Class: -7
Move: 9”/30” E//9"
Hit Dice: 15+330 (405 hp)
% in Lair: 99%
Treasure Type: B x 9, O x 9, P x 9, T x 9
No. Of Attacks: 10 (bite/bite/bite/bite/bite/claw/claw/wing/wing/tail)
Damage/Attack: 3d6, 3d6, 3d6, 3d6, 3d6, 2d6, 2d6, 1d8, 1d8, 1d12
Special Attacks: Batter (double damage), breath weapon, crush, hypnotic gaze, magic use, spells, snatch, trample, wing storm
Special Defenses: Disease immunity, energy resistance, poison resistance, weapon resistance
Magic Resistance: 80%
Intelligence: Very
Alignment: Lawful Evil
Size: L (45’ long)
Psionic Ability: Nil
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil
Level/XP: XV/45550
Chance of:
Speaking: 100%
Magic Use: 100%
Sleeping: 1%
Str: 23, Int: 15, Wis: 11, Dex: 16, Con: 23, Chr: 11

Estasobitum is the least well known of the daughters of Tiamat, for she is said to lair on a desolate ice covered rock deep in the frozen land of the south far from any mortal habitation, and few reliable reports exist regarding her, for not only do few venture into such inhospitable realms but even fewer return from them. If the reports are to be believed however, Estasobitum is not only a great wyrm of the most tremendous size, but the only known five headed dragon other than her mother Tiamat. She regards herself as the queen of all white dragons and such reptilian creatures as dwell in frozen lands, though it likely that few such creatures have the intelligence to offer her homage or even be aware of her existence.
Estasobitum takes 2 less damage from weapon attacks except for siege weapons and attack by large size creatures. She takes 100 less damage from all cold attacks, and 20 less damage from all acid attacks, and like all her kindred takes but half physical damage from the impact of falling ice or icy missiles.
Each of her five heads cast spells as a magic-user of 7th level of ability, and is capable of summoning a storm of sleet as per the spell ice storm 5 times daily but with an 80” diameter, and lower the temperature 50F below the natural temperature 3 times per day as the spell control temperature but with a 200” diameter. If three of her heads act together in concert to produce an ice storm, then she may summon not mere sleet but hail (as described in the spell description) over the same 80” diameter! Each head may also breath every other round, a cone of cold 10” long and 5” wide at the base, and all those within must save versus breath weapons at -2 or take 10d6+10 damage with a successful save indicating but half damage.
Estasobitum is the least intelligent of the daughters of Tiamat, but arguably one of the more pragmatic, for her instinct to breed is the strongest of her peers, and her plan – such as it is - is simply to breed as many offspring as possible and cover the world with her brood. She is said to brood impossibly enormous clutches of eggs in her icy nest, and only the shortage of food stuffs in her chosen clime prevents a nigh unstoppable tide of wrymlings from plaguing the world. She is the most doting and forgiving of the daughters of Tiamat as well, at least with respect to her own offspring, culling her brood hardly at all nor fearing the strength of any of her offspring, and so for this reason comparatively great numbers of white dragons having two, three, or even four heads are encountered in the remote regions of the world. Her loyalty to her mother is great, though she is well aware Tiamat lightly regards her or her brood, she hopes to show her devotion and worth by the great horde of offspring she produces.
The comparative weakness of her knowledge of magic is a concern to her, and she hordes magical scrolls and the spell books of her victims in hopes of being able to enlarge her magical understanding. Although cruel and usually famished with hunger, a careful flatterer might be able to strike a bargain with the sovereign of white dragons by offering tribute of magical writings and foodstuffs.
 
Last edited:
a) Small dragons have the same 'to hit', damage, AC, and XP award (and technically length!) of the larger ones. Consequently, as dragons get larger and older they on the whole get relatively less fearsome, the opposite of what would be desirable.
Small dragons (e.g. 9HD for red dragons) have a lower "to hit" chance than huge dragons. In general, given the typical dragon hit dice ranges (blocks of three), since the "to hit" table increases by blocks of two hit dice, there's always a difference between the different dragon sizes. So, average and huge red dragons have the same "to hit", which is higher than the small's one.
XP awards also depend not only on hit dice, but also on actual hit points. So a very young, small red dragon will be worth a lot less XPs than a small, ancient red.

By the way, have you seen the expanded rules for 1e dragons in the 1e Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting? (the grey box) They give dragons two additional age categories, an increased number of attacks, and the possibility to "aggregate" and "split" the total damage potential of the breath weapon.
 
Last edited:

Celebrim

Legend
Small dragons (e.g. 9HD for red dragons) have a lower "to hit" chance than huge dragons.
That's true, but it's not really relevant to what I was trying to communicate.

What I was trying to communicate is that a newly hatched average sized red dragon with 10 hit points is supposedly by virtue of being much younger than an ancient dragon with 80 hit points, also a much smaller dragon. But by the normal rules this newly hatched dragon still attacks as a 10HD monster, still has a 6d6 damage bite, and still is technically 42' long (or however long reds are supposed to be normally) because 'young' and 'ancient' dragons by the normal rules share the same stat block. This lack of uniform scaling becomes very important when you are trying to pick a dragon to be a good challenge to a 1e party. If you pick a young dragon with low hit points and consequently a small breath weapon, you are getting a monster that delivers outsized bite damage and is very difficult for the party to hit. But once the party gets high enough level to deal with larger breath weapons, the damage from the physical attacks become trivial and the same dragon is trivially easy to hit. This leads to a 'glass cannon' syndrome where the fight is basically over by the initiative roll and no really interesting cinematic combat can occur.

In my opinion, good combats tend to go 3-5 rounds. Shorter ones involve little decision making and are too abstract to visualize in any way that is fun, and longer ones tend to drag. These dragons are intended to survive at least 3-5 rounds versus even large well equipped parties of an appropriate level, while during that time achieving a middle ground between dealing overwhelming amounts of damage and doing enough damage to be threatening. One thing you might note is that I've extended the monster level table up above X, to suggest monsters that are much more potent than even name level parties can easily face. The Huge Great Wyrm Red Dragon is for example listed by me as monster level XVIII, which suggests you shouldn't be fighting one of these at all at merely 10th level and would need to be 15th level or higher or otherwise be a very large party (perhaps 12 characters) to consider this anything like a fair fight. This Tiamat, with more hit points than Zeus, is monster level XXIII, suggesting you need a true end game party to face her. And I dare say she's a more interesting fight than '100 liches' or other 'Bloodstone' style encounters, and indeed a far more interesting foe than the version of Tiamat that appears in that series.

Normally, with monsters with any sort of special abilities, the value of XP from hit points is a relatively small percentage of the total XP. You can see I'm aware of how 1e XP works by examining "Table 4: XP Value of Chromatic Dragons by Age and Species", and you should note that if it wasn't for the fact that I'm giving my version of dragons much more 'bonus hitpoints' than is usual with 1e AD&D design that the amount of XP from the hit points would be rather small. Only because I'm doing things like HD like '10+50 HD' that you otherwise only see with 1e Daemons, do the XP bonus from hit points get relatively significant.

By the way, have you seen the expanded rules for 1e dragons in the 1e Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting? (the grey box) They give dragons two additional age categories, an increased number of attacks, and the possibility to "aggregate" and "split" the total damage potential of the breath weapon.
I'm aware of all the 1e rules for dragons, including the 1e FR rules and those published on several occasions in Dragon magazine. I was referencing rules such as the FR rules when I wrote, "That dragons were broken was nothing new to myself or the community at the time, but looking back it's easy to see that while many knew that dragons for all the elegance of their design in some areas weren't working, no one seemed to really be able to put their finger on why. Many valiant efforts were attempted over the years, but in retrospect none quite worked right because they set about fixing the wrong problems."

The FR rules are an example of good intentioned fixes that are in fact fixing the wrong problems and thus making the actual problems worse. Upping the number of attacks per round just made the dragon even more of a glass cannon, and splitting the breathe weapon up made sense only if the dragon was engaged with 0th level warriors and had nothing to do with the more pressing problem of dragons engaged with player characters. The only thing I've really kept as a nod to the FR or Dragon magazine rules from that era is the 10 age categories, as opposed to the 8 of early 1e era dragons or the 12 of 2e era dragons. I figure 10 is enough, and it makes some of the math a bit easier. You could go to 12 age categories if you wanted, and you'd get even bigger nastier dragons, but as my examples show I'd prefer to create end game content using a slightly different approach.
 
Last edited:

Celebrim

Legend
Questions relating to balance:

So I realize the very idea of balance sounds weird and antithetical to the usual approach of 1e AD&D, but lack of balance was also a repeated problem in my 1e AD&D play and the problem was that as a teenage DM I just didn't have the tools to address the issue.

My question is simple. If you are playing 1e AD&D or some OSR clone, would the above dragons seem balanced at appropriate times to the abilities of your party.

#1) My biggest concern is that I've over compensated for the dragons vulnerability to magic by making their magic resistance too good. Keep in mind that 1e Magic Resistance is applied to an 11th level caster, and it's +/-5% for being above or below that level. For a party of the expected level, this is the expected level of effective magic resistance for different dragons:

Small White White Black Green Blue Red Huge Red
48% 48% 49% 50% 50% 50% 50%
56% 56% 53% 55% 55% 55% 55%
59% 59% 62% 60% 55% 55% 55%
67% 62% 61% 65% 55% 55% 55%
70% 65% 70% 65% 60% 60% 60%
73% 63% 69% 70% 70% 65% 65%
81% 71% 73% 80% 75% 75% 70%
79% 79% 82% 85% 80% 80% 65%
82% 82% 86% 90% 80% 80% 60%
90% 85% 90% 95% 80% 75% 65%

I already nerfed white and black dragon magic resistance a bit, because otherwise M-U's would be pretty useless facing white or black dragons at a point where such dragons could otherwise legitimately threaten the party. Even so, dragons as described above are nearly immune to magic until the party is well above the expected level. What is a reasonable value for magic resistance, keeping in mind the goal that parties should not be able to 'cheese' a dragon by applying some single spell as a 'win button'.

#2) Is the expected damage per round from physical attacks reasonable? This is a bit harder to calculate because different sizes of dragons can 'focus fire' to different degrees, but keep in mind that I'm trying to keep dragons alive 3-5 rounds. So ignoring area of effect damage from trample and breath weapons, are the dragons doing enough damage to threaten a party over that period so that if/when the dragon goes down everyone breathes a big sigh of relief and talks about how that was getting tense?

#3) Are the defenses enough to keep the dragon alive (or at least, any dragon bigger than a hatchling) for the 3-5 rounds I'm theory crafting? I'm assuming a reasonably well equipped, moderately large (6-8 PCs) party with access to the Unearthed Arcana rules. Treasure and ability score assumptions of course vary widely between campaigns, but assume something appropriate to your campaign and power scale.

#4) Is something like this welcome? Would you use something like this? Is it easy to use and understand in the current format? What did I get wrong?
 
Last edited:

Celebrim

Legend
Table #: Hit Dice by Metallic Dragon Species and Age

Hit Dice by Metallic Dragon Species
[/TH]
Age Category
Category Name
AC
Move Rate
Small Brass
Brass
Copper
Bronze
Silver
Gold
Huge Gold
1
Hatchling
0
12"/24" C
1+3
1+3
1+3
2+6
2+6
2+6
2+6
2
Very Young
-1
12"/24" C
2+8
3+12
3+12
4+16
4+16
4+16
5+20
3
Young
-2
12"/24" C
4+16
4+16
5+20
6+24
6+24
7+28
8+32
4
Young Adult
-3
12"/24" C
5+20
6+24
7+28
8+32
8+32
9+36
10+40
5
Adult
-4
12"/24" D
6+30
7+35
8+40
10+50
11+55
12+60
13+65
6
Old
-5
9"/24" D
8+40
9+45
10+50
12+60
13+65
14+70
16+80
7
Venerable
-6
9"/24" D
9+45
10+50
12+60
14+70
15+75
17+85
18+90
8
Ancient
-7
9"/24" E
10+60
12+72
14+84
16+96
17+102
19+114
21+126
9
Wyrm
-8
9"/24" E
12+72
14+84
16+96
18+108
20+120
22+132
24+144
10
Great Wyrm
-9
9"/24" E
13+78
15+90
17+102
20+120
22+132
24+144
26+156
[TD="colspan: 7"]

General Abilities and Defenses of Metallic Dragons

In almost all physical respects, metallic dragons are identical to their chromatic cousins. They have the same defenses, attacks, and special capabilities that are general to all dragons. They differ only markedly in social skills and general disposition, for where the chromatic dragons are uniformly evil and destructive the metallic dragons are generally benevolent and benign. Except for the rare case of a metallic dragon being orphaned, all metallic dragons acquire the power of speech shortly after being hatched. Owing to their generally more social nature and greater self-control, the wisdom and charisma of a metallic dragon is generally one half of its intelligence plus 2d6 (maximum 25). Otherwise, the same abilities may be assumed.

Special Attacks

Metallic dragons share all the special attacks common to dragons and their chromatic kin.

Like their chromatic kin, metallic dragons have breath weapons. Unlike chromatic dragons, metallic dragons are usually capable of breathing forth one of several kinds of breath weapons. When enraged, metallic dragons breathe forth a destructive breath weapon similar in almost all respects to their chromatic kin, but they are also capable when in doubt or when the threat is less severe of breathing for a cloud of incapacitating magical gas which they will use when lethal force is not obviously justified.

The sorts of breathe weapons depend on species as follows:

Brass: Either a Line of Fire doing 1d8 damage/age category. The line is 1 ½” long per age category and is ½” wide. Or a cone of sleep gas that is 1" long per age category and 1/4 as wide at it's termination as it is long.
Copper: Either a Line of Acid doing 1d8 damage/age category. The line is 1 ½” long per age category and is ½” wide. Or a cloud of slowing gas (in effect as the spell) which is 3/4" long per age category and 2/3rds as wide and high as it is long (round fractions generally upward). Thus a young adult breathes a cloud roughly 3" long and 2" wide, while an ancient copper dragon breathes one 6" long and 4" wide and high.
Bronze: Either a Line of Electricity doing 1d8 damage/age category. The line is 2” long per age category and is ½” wide. Or else a cloud of replusion gas (as the spell) which is 3/4" long per age category and 2/3rds as wide and high as it is long (round fractions generally upward).
Silver: Either a Cone of Cold doing 1d8 damage/age category. The cone is 1” long per age category and has a base half as wide as it is long. Or a cloud of paralyzing gas which is 1" long per age category, and 3/4's as wide and high as it is long.
Gold: Either Cone of Fire doing 1d8 damage/age category. The cone is 1” long per age category and has a base half as wide as it is long. Or else a cloud of weakness gas which is 1" long per age category, and 3/4's as wide and high as it is long and those that fail their saves are reduced to 3 strength for a number of turns equal to the dragons age category, losing all advantages of strength and receiving -3 to hit probability and -1 damage adjustment on all attacks.

When damage is indicated a saving throw versus breath weapons reduces damage to one half. In all other cases the effect is negated by a successful save versus breath weapons. As with chromatic dragons, the huge examples of their race receive +1 damage per die on their breath weapon attacks, and saving throws versus their breath weapons are at a -2 penalty, while the breath weapons of small examples are made at a +1 bonus.

Metallic Dragon Behavior
Where chromatic dragons are aggressive creatures, metallic dragons are generally secretive and retiring creatures that eschew violence and prefer to lair in pristine and remote places far any disturbances. They are lovers of places of natural beauty, and travel far and wide before finding a hidden natural wonder which will provide the suitable habitat for a lair. Unlike chromatic dragons, metallic dragons have a certain civilized air about them, and will prefer to lair in spaces which have been carved out in likeness not unlike a palace of a mortal lord with several rooms suited to various purposes - such as receiving guests, dining, research, hobbies, and the like. The older and grander the dragon, the more elegant, refined, and complex they design their dwelling place. Like all dragons, metallic dragons are great hoarders of wealth, but they do not desire it in disorganized mounds to be beds alone, nor do they prize items solely for their value. Rather, metallic dragons consider themselves refined collectors, and in addition to hording coins, gems, and other obviously valuable items, each considers themselves a specialist in some exotic item which it aspires to have the finest possible collection there of. These objects are varied and eccentric and could include such things as exotic plants, paintings, teas, wines, porcelain vases, glassware, spoons, books, necklaces, masks, or even wooden chairs, children's toys or ladies handbags.

The numbers of metallic dragons in the world were never great, and are presently diminished for they are both frequently distrusted and misunderstood by mortal races, and also the sworn foes of the chromatic dragons who will certainly seek to destroy any smaller metallic dragon that they encounter. No more than a few dozen of each species likely still dwells in the world, though greater numbers have no doubt sought sanctuary in the wild spaces of the planes. However, unlike their chromatic kin, metallic dragons are quite social creatures, and enjoy the company of others of their kind and those few mortal individuals with sufficient wit, lore, and gracious manner to entertain them. They often sojourn for long periods with relatives, and even form mated pairs who will dwell together companionably for extended periods. Likewise, the metallic dragons are excellent and attentive parents, wholly uneager to drive their offspring from the nest. It is therefore possible to find younger dragons dwelling with their parents up until the onset of young adulthood, when the urge to found a lair and collection of their own becomes overwhelming. Biologically, reproduction is much the same as it is with chromatic dragons, however the scarcity of clutches eggs generally owes not to well-placed fear of any potential mate, but simply the keen desire to find a congenial and appropriate mate and suitable quarters for safely rearing a family of young, as well as the often great distances that lay between any two metallic dragons which might otherwise form a family.

Both males and females are ferocious and fearless in protection of their offspring, gaining a +1 bonus to hit and doing +2 damage with attacks.

Quite unlike chromatic dragons, the presence of a metallic dragon is generally a boon to the surrounding ecosystem, which they will tend as a patient and loving gardener. Whatever natural beauty is present will be subtly enhanced, and whatever life can survive in even the inhospitable regions they may dwell will flourish. The metallic dragon derives most of its nourishment from magical auras in the land, and from the healing rays of the sun, and as such is not prone to the hunger induced mindlessness which afflicts chromatic dragons. They may dine on meat and drink as refreshment and for pleasure, but they may also lie beneath the sun and stars for many years, taking in the beauty and growing strong from it as a plant flourishes in a suitable climate. Game is killed and eaten raw in dragon fashion on occasion, but only as a gamewarden may seek to improve the herd by taking the old and sick or to prevent overpopulation upsetting the balance.

Weaknesses of Metallic Dragons
Despite their benevolence, metallic dragons are still very draconic in their nature. They are haughty, vain, imperious creatures that are quick to take offense at perceived slights and very slow to forget or to forgive. Like their chromatic kin, they are prone to being boastful and vain-glorious, and delight in showing off their magnificence and power. As with less noble dragons, they can be induced to delay or otherwise make less than perfect judgments with suitably pretty flattery. Like all dragons, they can be overcome with single minded greed, especially in the case of metallic dragons as it pertains to their collections. Unlike their chromatic kin, they tend to be wise enough to recognize that these traits are in fact vices, though such recognition does not universally lead to self-control or self-chastening, much less humble contrition.

Metallic dragons think of themselves as contemplative creatures. They would not admit to themselves how indolent they tend to be despite there being little observable difference from being contemplative and lazy. Owing to the need to protect their young and their treasure, and the fact that they generally do prefer quiet and solitude most of the time, they tend to lair far from habitation and keep the location of their lairs with the strictest secrecy. Those creatures that win their good graces must swear to strictly maintain this secrecy regarding the location of and means of entrance to their lair, and not abuse the good dragon's tolerance by bring uninvited guests into their confidence - on penalty of the dragon's displeasure. A metallic dragon is not above frightening away any generally good aligned beings that happen to settle too near to it with acts of pretend ferocity (and no small amount of genuine annoyance), and will swiftly dispatch any settlers that it suspects of less benevolent disposition.

Like other dragons, metallic dragons spend large portions of their life in state of half-sleep, which invariably falls into true insensible slumber some of the time – during which time they are vulnerable to stealthy attack. The chance that a dragon in its lair will be slumbering is 10% per age category, to a maximum of 99% for great wyrms. However, the chance that this slumber does not render the dragon unconscious and insensible is the same, so that though an adult dragon in its lair is slumbering 50% of the time, in 50% of these cases it is fully aware of its surroundings and quite capable of noting the approach of all but the stealthiest creature. An ancient dragon slumbers in its lair 80% of the time, but likewise 80% of the time it slumbers it is in a state of but half-sleep or torpor. Only the most lore-wise will be able to recognize the difference by subtle differences in its breathing. Even a sleeping dragon though will be awakened by any loud sound in its vicinity.

Metallic dragons may be subdued through the same means as chromatic dragons, however even if subdued a metallic dragon cannot be compelled to act in a way it will find dishonorable, and will overcome any fear of death or punishment if put in a position where it must knowingly kill innocents.

Dragon Treasure
Dragon hatchlings and very young dragons generally have not yet developed hordes of their own nor settled into a long term lair. Young dragons will have only 25% of the indicated treasure, while young adult dragons will have 50% of the indicated treasure, and adult dragons 75%. Old dragons have 100% of the normal treasure, while venerable dragons will have 150%, ancient dragons 200%, wyrms 250%, and the legendary hordes of great wryms will be a full 300% of the normal treasure type.

Metallic Dragon Numbers and Frequency
Metallic dragons are equally distributed between males and female. The age of the metallic dragon can be determined by the following table.

Die Roll (d6,d6)
Age Category
1,1-6
Hatchling
2,1-6
Very Young
3,1-4
Young
3,5-6
Young Adult
4,1-2
Young Adult
4,3-6
Adult
5,1-4
Old
5,5-6
Venerable
6,1-2
Venerable
6,3-4
Ancient
6,5
Wyrm
6,6
Great Wyrm

Whenever a metallic dragon is encountered in their lair which is at least an adult, there is a 10% chance they have a companion. Roll again to determine age of the companion, and if the result is at least an adult, then 95% of the time it is a mate of the opposite sex. In all other cases it is a visiting relative of some other sort.

If a mated pair is present in a lair, there is a chance they have eggs or young. The chance of either is present is 1% per age category of the female. If a brood is present, they will be eggs 20% per of the time, hatchlings 40% of the time, and older offspring 40% of the time. A female metallic dragon will normally lay a clutch of 1d4 eggs per age category (minimum 4d4). Owing to the joint attentive care of both parents, all eggs normally hatch into healthy offspring, though if one parent is missing for an extended period only but 90% of the eggs will successfully hatch. Hatchlings are affectionate toward other members of their brood and form lasting bonds. However, eventually wanderlust and the innate desire for long periods of solitude sets in, and the hatchlings will spend longer and longer periods away from the lair and parental care. Thus but 80% of hatchlings will be present in the creche at any given time after the first few years. If older offspring are indicated, there is an equal chance of 2d4 very young offspring, or 1d6 young offspring still remaining with their parents. Young adults or older will only be present as temporary companions on a comparatively short duration visit (no more than a few months or perhaps a year) unless they are in fact a mate. Although these clutches can produce quite large broods, they are typically spaced quite far apart - often by a century or more - and this explains the rarity of the metallic species.

Variant Metallic Dragons
Less variance is found amongst the metallic dragons compared to their monstrous cousins, but some differences between individuals may be noted.

Size of Dragons: Statistics given are for dragons of average size. About 20% of dragons of a particular race are smaller than their fellows. Such dragons use the HD and attack damage of dragons typical of the next smaller race of the same age category, and saves versus their breath weapon attacks are at a +1 bonus. For example, a small adult green dragon has the HD and attack damage from its natural weapons of an adult black dragon. About 10% of dragons of a particular race are much larger than their fellows. These huge dragons use the HD and attack damage of dragons of the next larger race, receive +1 damage per die on their breath weapon attacks, and saving throws versus their breath weapons are at a -2 penalty.

Flameless Brass: Some 20% of brass dragons belong to a lineage that has lost completely the power to breathe flame, and thus lacks the Line of Flame breath weapon. Instead, these dragons have acquired a second non-lethal power, that of a Cloud of Fear (effects as the wand). This cloud is 1" long per age category, and 3/4's as wide and high as it is long.

Chlorine Golds: In the opposite direction, some 20% of gold dragons belong to a lineage that has lost completely the power to produce non-lethal gas, and rather than a cloud of weakness produce a cloud of corrosive chlorine gas which is identical in all respects to the breath weapon of a green dragon. Acid breathing gold dragons gain resistance to acid damage appropriate to a dragon which breathes acid.

Serpentine Dragons: Although young dragons are supple enough to curl their bodies and tails around a foe, most dragons as they age become too thick and inflexible to continue to employ this attack. However, metallic dragons are particular serpentine and flexible, and so some 40% retain this ability until they reach 10HD, while a full 20% retain this ability even until reaching 15HD.

Chosen of Bahumut: Any metallic dragon of at least 16 WIS has a chance equal to 1/2 of its HD of having been chosen as a representative of their chief Bahumut. These creatures have additional spell-casting power as a good aligned cleric of 1/2 of their HD, to a maximum of 9th level of ability.

Psionic Metallic Dragons: All metallic dragon species occasionally produce individuals with psionic ability. The chances and range of powers observed is the same as for PC's of equivalent ability scores, save that metallic dragons receive a bonus of 1d10 additional psionic ability points per age category that they have attained.

Metallic Dragon Species

Brass Dragon
Alignment:Chaotic Good
Treasure Type: H,I
A young brass dragon has scales of a dark brown color, which gradually lightens and brighten with age until it becomes a silvery yellow with depths of green. There eyes are faintly radiant azure orbs with flecks of white. The voice of a brass dragon is very rich, warm, and musical, and their breath smells of spice and charred wood, like burned incense or the remains of campfire made from some particularly aromatic wood.
Brass dragons dwell exclusively in the arid wastes, preferring to lair atop solitary stone spires or outcroppings surrounded by seemingly endless ergs, or in hidden oasis lost to the knowledge of mortal races. They have a great love for sunrises, sunsets, clear nights filled with stars, and the shimmering air rising above glaring sands or salt pans. Brass dragons are capable of burrowing into loose sand or similar material at the rate of 1" per round, and lying beneath this protective canopy for long periods. From such a position, they may surprise anything that strays near 4 times in 6. Despite or perhaps because of the penchant for lonely lairs in inhospitable lands, brass dragons are the most welcoming of the metallic dragons with respect to visitors, and most likely to engage on friendly terms with any courteous traveler that has sought the out or stumbled upon them. They have an especial fondness for the company of the more noble sorts of Jann and for well spoken merchants and travelers from afar. Brass dragons have a great talent for languages, and are capable of learning twice the usual number of languages indicated by their intelligence. They have a great love of new words and of talk in general, and will regale visitors for hours or even days with tales, stories, and remanences about past deeds. Once allowed to have their say, and if the listener has been patient, they are eager to here like news and tales laid out well, and can be impressed by the excellence with which a traveler spins a tale, especially one that is long in the telling but filled with suspense. Brass dragons are particularly greedy beasts, especially for a normally noble creature, and once they are allowed to bring up their collection on their own, it becomes safe to bargain with them - for brass dragons delight in haggling and barter and pride themselves on the shrewdness of their negotiation. A brass dragon will see no conflict in entering into a bargain that is entirely to its advantage, provided it adheres to the strict letter of its word and said nothing false, nor will it conversely fail to honor a bargain in which it was tricked to entering by the same means. Because brass dragons are so shrewd, they are difficult to best in such exchanges, and from them comes the greater portion of its wealth.
Brass dragons have a natural power to kindle hope and drive away darkness. In addition to their normal spell use, a brass dragon may exercise the following powers: remove fear, as the spell save that it effects all creatures in a 4"x4" area, and create light as the spell. Further, if the brass dragon has been exposed to the rays of the sun within the last 24 hours, the light it produces will be the same in all regards as natural sunlight, and will effect such creatures which cannot withstand the rays of the sun with like regard. A brass dragon may use each once per day for each age category it has attained. A brass dragon which as attained at least ancient age, may once per day cure pestilence, as the spell cure disease except effecting up to 10 persons per age category the brass dragon has attained provided that they are all within 15" of each other, and any unattended disease source within this area will be cleansed and made safe, as by purify food and water or cure disease as applicable. Minor parasites such as lice or fleas or even rot grubs in this area of effect will desiccate and wither. A wyrm brass dragon may exercise this power twice per day, and one which has reach great wyrm status may do so three times per day. The caster level of these abilities will be the same as the dragon's hit dice.

Copper Dragon
Alignment:Chaotic Good
Treasure Type: H, I, R
Copper dragons are born a dull reddish color, not unlike sandstone, but their scales gradually brighten with age to bright pinkish hue which reflects light. A young copper dragon may be easily mistaken for a red dragon by all but the most lorewise observer. The eyes of copper dragons are the rich green of gem grade malachite. The breath of a copper dragon smells of loam, baked breads, and citrus, with the acidic notes becoming dominate and overpowering when their mood is darkened.
Copper dragons are good humored beasts that delight in mischief, japes, practical jokes, and pleasant surprises. They are never malicious in their humor, and their japes are cruel only to the cruel - never more than the lightest of justice on those that deserve ridicule and chastisement. To the kind-hearted and humble, they delight in being secret benefactors and they are the most generous of the good dragons - regretting only slightly parting with a bauble if doing so brings weal and delight in others. In many ways, they are the least draconic of the metallic creatures, suffering less from the usual vices of vanity and greed. However, things can be pushed too far, and they are very slow to forgive anyone that they feel has misused them or taken advantage of their good humor. Copper dragons flee battle when at all possible, and fight only as a last resort to defend their lairs, offspring, or the helpless and innocent. For companions, they prefer those with which they can exchange a joke, and with which they can share a good belly laugh.
Copper dragons make their lairs in a variety of climates, but always in rocky badlands, canyonlands, outcroppings of karst, and in igneous provinces of flood basalt. They prefer arid or semi-arid climes to those that are wet, for they enjoy the beauty of exposed stone, and their lairs are always in subterranean places which showcase polished stone or the majesty and diversity of natural cave formations. Alone of the metallic dragons, copper dragons have humors which are when concentrated detrimental to life and so form a sort of desolation around their lair from the inevitable effluent - though not one as foul, reeking, or large as those of chromatic dragons - and this may also in part explain their fondness for areas relatively devoid of vegetation when positioning a permanent lair.
Copper dragons have powers of creativity and regeneration. A copper dragon of any age may once per day per age category employ the spell material to create any simple material that they desire, and likewise once per day per age category they may employ the spell mending.
Once per day, a copper dragon of at least adult age may create food and wine, as the spell create food and water save that the results are the most delicious sorts of delicacies and most delectable viands, sufficient to feed 10 human sized creatures per HD of the copper dragon. As with the spell create food and water, this bounty must be consumed within 24 hours or the feast will spoil, the wine turn to a foul vinegar, etc. Upon obtaining ancient age, the effects of consuming this food over the course of an hour is exactly the same as that of a heroes feast. Further, a copper dragon of at least ancient age may once per day employ the power of regeneration as the 7th level clerical spell regenerate. Those who have received this gift describe the healing as a very painful process, but whether this is an inevitable consequence of the process, a practical joke of some sort, or a lesson by the dragon intended to discourage a repeat performance cannot be said. A copper dragon of wrym age may perform the feat twice per day, and those of great wrym status three times per day. All spells have a caster level equal to the HD of the dragon.

Bronze Dragon
Alignment:Lawful Good
Treasure Type: H, I, R, S
The scales of a young bronze dragon are a sort of dull orange color, but as the dragon ages they become both darker and more reflective, until they become a deep metallic brown. The eyes of a bronze dragon are a shining pale green, and their breath smells of sea foam and summer rain.
Bronze dragons are water-loving creatures that make their lairs in remote and untamed regions, preferring sea-side cliffs, sea caves or deep beneath tropical lagoons or coral atolls. More rarely they lair near large freshwater bodies or great rivers, especially those that are particularly torrid and have great cascades. They have a swim speed of 9", and can hold their breath for one turn per age category and three times as long if they remain motionless and generally torpid. Bronze dragons are great lovers of nature in all its violent spectacle, delighting in storms, thunder, crashing waves and abundant, colorful, and vibrant living things. With respect to mortal visitors, they are very loathe to reveal their presence, but often observe mortal affairs secretly using their shape-changing powers described below.
Of all the metallic dragons, bronze dragons are the most temperamental, quick to take offense, and prone to outbursts of violence. They do not shun a fight with those that provoke it, and those within their territory which engage in overtly evil acts or any act of wanton destruction are most likely to find cause to regret it. The aid a bronze dragon provides is most likely to be done in secret, while it's vengeance is likely to be performed openly and with great wrath. They do not delight in those that would meddle in their affairs, or which would seek their aid or council. They prefer to be inscrutable and can seem harsh even when doing good or their disposition is favorable. They are covetous creatures always seeking advantage for themselves, who may aid the survivors of a shipwreck, but fully expect to claim its cargo as salvage. Alone of the metallic dragons, they are merely usually good rather than always good, and some bronze dragons have truly inscrutable motives and deviant morality compared to their kindred. Although lawful good is dominate, every other alignment but evil is known to occur, and one notable bronze of great age and apparent wisdom is so aberrant as to serve the Slaad Lord Ylorg for reasons known only to the creature. Even other metallic dragons tend to shun bronze dragons as strange, taciturn, prideful and dour creatures with inflexible notions regarding honor and justice - notions which all too often are based on private codes and only discovered after the dragon has been offended. Of the few companions which they allow into their private lives, bronze dragons prefer those with great dignity, elegant manners, and scrupulous codes of honor - most especially those whose notions of honor most closely resemble there own (that is, they share alignment).
When a bronze dragon is encountered, 80% will be Lawful Good. The remaining 20% have alignment determined as follows: (1,2) Lawful Neutral, (3) Neutral Good, (4) Chaotic Good, (5) Neutral, (6) Chaotic Neutral. No bronze dragon, however wise, which is not good is ever chosen by Bahumet as a representative. However, 20% of spell-casting Bronze dragons which are neutral in some component of their alignment, employ druidic magic rather than M-U spells, and of these 20% are able to cast spells both as druids and M-U with level equal to 1/2 of their HD.
Bronze dragons have powers of energy and transformation. All bronze dragons are able to change into animal form, one per day per age category, exactly as a druid, with the exception that the size of the animal so assumed must not be smaller than an eagle or small dog, nor larger than their own size. However, since bronze dragons may reach a very large size, older bronze dragons may - and often do - assume the form of elephants or whales. Most often a bronze dragon assumes the form of some animal so as to go about its affairs without attracting attention to itself. It will always first observe and interact with any mortals in its territory in animal form, first watching inconspicuously from afar and then perhaps if it wishes to offer covert aid or learn more about the nature of the trespassers performing antics nearer by. The forms which it may assume are extremely varied, but when interacting it prefers intelligent, colorful or ostentatious creatures like parrots, porpoises, sea eagles, wild dogs, elephants or whales. Any attempt to penetrate this disguise, or overt sign that the person suspects the animal of being a bronze dragon, will cause all further aid to be withdrawn. Any attack on a bronze dragon when in animal form will not be lightly forgiven, and is generally responded to immediately with great ferocity. In addition using these shape changing powers for disguise, a bronze dragon may also transform into a fish or other aquatic creature, so as to journey submerged in comfort.
In addition to its spellcasting powers, a bronze dragon may cast aid and dispel magic once per day each per age category of the dragon. A bronze dragon of at least ancient age may as well cast polymorph any object once per day, and that has attained the age of wrym or great wrym may do so two or three times per day respectively. All special powers have a caster level equal to the HD of the bronze dragon.

Silver Dragon
Alignment:Neutral Good
Treasure Type: H, I, R, S, T
The scales of a young silver dragon are a very pale grey mottled with pale blue and white. They may be easily mistaken for a white chromatic dragon by this less lore wise, however it is rare in the extreme for a silver dragon to allow itself to be observed in its natural form for they are masters of shape-changing magic. As a silver dragon ages, its scales become more uniform and reflect more and more light, until the shimmer with the radiance of finely polished silver. The eyes of a silver dragon are opaline, and its breath smells of flowers and subtle perfumes.
Of all the metallic dragons, silver dragons are the gentlest, most social, and most fond of mortal company. Silver dragons often spend many years of their life changed into the form of an elf, human, or other mortal creature, going about with mortals, learning about them and from them, and aiding them covertly in various small ways. Young silver dragons are encouraged by their parents to undertake these sabbaticals in their youth before taking a mate. Elven form is most usual, since it provides the greatest cover for the long lives of the dragon, and because silver dragons have an especial fondness for elves with their love of artistry, song, nature, and demeanor usually closely akin to the silver dragon own companionate and good-hearted nature. However, many silver dragons will take other forms, leaving and going to a distant place when anyone begins to suspect there is something is unusual about them or guesses at their true nature.
Silver dragons make their lairs atop the most inaccessible snow capped peaks. Since they often stay away from their lairs for long periods, they prefer lairs with hidden entrances accessible only by powerful fliers. If the entrance is often wrapped in clouds and racked with ice storms, then so much the better. The inner chambers of their lairs are decorated with the most exquisite taste and elegance, for the silver dragon uses part of its time among mortals to master arts like painting and sculpture - pretending to be a young apprentice seeking out a master. When the silver dragon is away from its lair, it arranges it to be guarded and protected by the most powerful wards and dangerous traps that it can devise. For all their gentleness, the silver dragon is a dragon, and still desires to protect its horded wealth.
There are few good hearted beings that a silver dragon does not enjoy the companionship of, but only rare being will gain their confidence or be allowed to view the wonders of their lair. Silver dragons admire valorous and compassionate beings, particular those which are lovers and makers of beautiful things. The have some friends among the sylph and the djinn and other good hearted powers of the air, and above all other metallic dragons love the company of others of their kind. Whenever an adult or older silver dragon is not in their lair, there is an 90% chance some trusted creature has been left as a sworn guardian of the treasure until the silver dragon returns. There are likely to be: 1) 1d4 sylph 2) 1 djinn, 3) 1d2 lillend, 4) 1 coatl.
Once per day per age category, silver dragons may shape change into the form of any humanoid as the spell polymorph self. They generally use this power only to be inconspicuous and avoid attracting attention. They will not assume the face of an a humanoid for the purpose of deception or trickery except under the most dire circumstances, such as to save the life of an innocent.
Silver dragons have powers of comfort and healing. A silver dragon may cast mass sanctuary by word or touch or protection from evil, 10' radius, once per day each per age category it has attained. The power of mass sanctuary works as the spell sanctuary save it may effect up to 4 targets may be effected per age category of the dragon which are within 4" of the dragon. When casting protection from evil, 10' radius the radius of effect increases by 10' per age category of the silver dragon up to a maximum of a 100' radius. Upon obtaining ancient age, a silver dragon may cast mass heal other by word or touch, once per day, which works in all respects as the spell heal save that it effects one target per age category of the silver dragon and the caster may not target themselves. Upon attaining the status of a wyrm, the silver dragon may cast mass heal other twice per day, and silver dragon great wryms may do so three times per day. Caster level of spell powers is the same as the HD of the silver dragon. A silver dragon of any age, if moved to great sorrow, may shed tears which act in all regards as a potion of healing if they fall upon someone that is injured or are collected. This will not be done lightly, but only if an innocent which has become dear to the silver dragon has suffered harm or the silver dragon otherwise witnesses something which causes great sorrow, and in any event no more than seven such tears may be collected in a day.

Gold Dragon
Alignment:Lawful Good
Treasure Type: H, I, Q, P, R, S, T
Gold dragon young are born with shiny yellow scales which gradually become more and more reflective until they are the color of purest gold. The eyes also are golden. The breath of the gold dragon smells of sandalwood smoke and rare incense. Gold dragons dwell in remote areas in all climates, but always in places of great natural grandeur and always in palaces made of stone with interiors decorated in the most elaborate fashion. When dealing with mortal visitors, they almost never reveal their true form, but take the guise of wealthy mortal lords, high ranking monks, or retired merchants of great wealth.
Gold dragons are the wisest, most farsighted, and most powerful of their kind. Unfortunately they are also exceedingly rare, with many noble dragons having been slain over the centuries by chromatic dragon marauders, evil giants, or mortals seeking the fabulous treasures that they guard or simply out of fear of anything with draconic form. Gold dragons in former times travelled far and wide in mortal lands, but some have become resentful and now restrict themselves to communion with their own kindred. Those that observe the older practices, go forth among mortals in the guise of wandering scholars, wizards, sages, and gurus, often dressed simply and begging for alms, for gold dragons are masters of shape changing magic and may assume many guises. When among mortals, gold dragons seek out master tradesman and artisans with which to share ideas and work on joint projects, so as to master crafts and develop the most refined sense of style. They apply these highly cultivated skills to the manufacture of their palaces. Whilst among mortals, gold dragons are always looking for ways to enlarge their wealth and procure valuable decorations for their lairs, and are likely invested in some well thought business scheme involving long distance trade or exploitation of hither unused resources. A gold dragon among mortals is loathe to reveal its true form, and instead seeks to bring evil doers to justice by guile and by aiding local authorities without the need to resort to violence.
When a gold dragon is away from its horde, it prefers to have some benevolent ally swear to defend its horde and palace against intrusion until it returns. These are likely to be: 1) 1 Noble Djinn, 2) 2d4 Lantern Archons, 3) 1 Movanic Deva, 4) 1 Guardian Naga, 5) 1 Lammasu or 6) a pack of 5-20 blink dogs. It will also employ whatever elaborate magical and physical defenses it can arrange.
Once per day per age category, gold dragons may shape change into the form of any humanoid or animal as the spell polymorph self. They will not assume the face of an a humanoid for the purpose of deception or trickery except under the most dire circumstances, such as to save the life of an innocent.
A gold dragon has powers of clarity and knowledge. A gold dragon may cast divination and prayer once per day each per age category it has attained. A gold dragon of at least adult age may cast quest once per day, targeting a number of individuals equal to its age category. A gold dragon of at least ancient age may cast exorcism and true seeing once per day each, and may cast each spell a second or third time per day upon obtaining wyrm or great wrym age respectively. Caster level of all abilities is the same as the gold dragons HD. Owing to their powerful and disciplined minds, if a gold dragon manifests psionic ability, then it receives a bonus of 1d20 psionic ability points per age category it has attained, rather than the 1d10 usual for metallic dragons.
 
Last edited:

Celebrim

Legend
Right now I'm on hiatus from my D&D campaign (owing to a job situation) and running a CoC campaign, and have little hope of starting up a pure nostalgia game to test my ideas. However, if anyone is running 1e AD&D or an OSR type game and decides that these rules are just the thing to fix dragons in your game, I would love to get a play test report.
 

Flexor the Mighty!

18/100 Strength!
One thing I noticed from playing S&W, and digging though OD&D more, is that the dragons, and a lot of the 1e MM creatures, work a lot better in an OD&D context than 1e. Especially PC created in later 1e with crazy power ups like UA. 30 HP means a lot more when there are almost no stat bonuses to attacks and damage unless you are a fighter, and even then its a lot more dialed back than even the PH stuff, much less the weapon specialized UA material. And likewise 1d6 damage from a claw attack hurts a lot more on a D8 HD fighter with a max of +1 to HP rolls.

1e steadily broke itself as it moved later into its run, then 2e learned the wrong lessons and made dragons demigods.

Not sure this really relates to your work here but I like to spout off. I doubt I'll apply your dragon rules to S&W but if I do I will let you know.

Good thread!
 

Celebrim

Legend
One thing I noticed from playing S&W, and digging though OD&D more, is that the dragons, and a lot of the 1e MM creatures, work a lot better in an OD&D context than 1e.
Define 'worked'. So, there are a lot of things wrong with the 1e AD&D dragon. One of them is what you focus on in the rest of your post, namely, that the hit points and claw/claw/bite damage of a dragon seem to be balanced against a party with fewer hit points and less damage per round capacity than what a 1e AD&D party can actually generate. And I'd actually agree. But that's only the tip of the iceberg.

One problem not addressed by that is that the breath weapon is actually balanced against a party with even more hit points than a 1e AD&D party is likely to have. The breath weapon as written TPK's a party in as much that you'd generally expect the PC to die even if they pass their saving throw. Now you could argue that that is intentional, and the idea is that if you meet a dragon then you have to defeat it by subterfuge of some sort and that is by design, but if that is the case then it totally undermines what you've just said about the combat ability of the dragon. Why is there such a binary thing where if the dragon breathes, then it's probably a TPK, but if it does claw/claw/bite then it would be at least balanced and potentially weak? Or to put it more generally, why is the most exciting part of the combat the initiative roll to determine who goes first?

Further, Gygax attempts to simplify the dragon entry down to about three pages by using a single stat block to represent a whole range of dragons and he does this by fixing the hit points of the dragon based on age. At first glance this looks really clever. We can use the same stat block to challenge a 3rd level party with a rather young dragon, and a much higher level party with an ancient dragon or a mated pair of adults. And, certainly looking at the DMG this seems to be Gygax's intention. But it doesn't really work, because scaling the hit points only scales part of the challenge. If we assume that the adult version with like 5 hit points per HD is well balanced against its intended level party, then when a lower level party faces a younger dragon its AC becomes a more serious challenge and its claw/claw/bite attack becomes proportionately more problematic both because it's using the same attack matrix and generating the same damage. At the extreme, you have a wyrmling dragon doing a bite that does 6d6 damage (average 21). That's extremely threatening to a lower level party, yet the same party 8 levels later is now facing an ancient dragon that does only the same damage and likely even the party M-U can take that hit. That uneven scaling means that not only is the stat block unintuitive process simulation (surely a younger dragon should be shorter and do less damage with its bite) but generating interesting encounters gets harder for the DM. For example, if I want to have a fight with a brood of dragons, I probably don't want each individual baby dragon mechanically working just like the momma dragon and differing only by hit points.

That raft of problems remain even if you don't bring UA into the mix or don't particularly power creep the expectations of a PC party.

I'm not familiar enough with OD&D to assert how balanced a dragon would be in that case, nor do I even know what the stat blocks look like.
 

Flexor the Mighty!

18/100 Strength!
crap, deleted my comment.

But yes dragons were screwy in OD&D too. I was making more of a general observation about monster design in that book. Assuming I'm doing it right, a 5 HD very young dragon has 5 HP but does 5 attack rolls in melee doing 1d6 each. Same as a 5 HD Ancient with 40 HP. Not the best way to handle that.
 

Advertisement

Top