5E Understanding Adult Red Dragon

So, as my group is coming close to finally encountering Cirothe in EN Publishings "How to slay a dragon" (or rather "Holdenshire Chronicles", I want to make sure I understand how an adult red dragon works in 5e.

Going by what D&D Beyond shows, am I right in thinking that this is a possible series of actions?

* Round 1
-- At ini count 20, ARD uses a lair action (say, magma eruption)
-- At his own ini, ARD uses multiattack to strick with Frightful Presence, 1 bite, 2 claws
-- At the end of the 1st characters turn, ARD uses Tail attack
-- At the end of the 2nd characters turn, ARD uses Wing attack (no more Legendary Actions this round)

* Round 2
-- At ini count 20, ARD uses a lair different action (say, tremor)
-- At his own ini, ARD uses multiattack to strick with Frightful Presence, 1 bite, 2 claws
-- At the end of the 1st characters turn, ARD uses Tail attack
-- At the end of the 2nd characters turn, ARD uses Wing attack (no more Legendary Actions this round)

* Round 3
-- At ini count 20, ARD uses a different lair action (say, magma eruption again, or volcanic gas)
-- At his own ini, ARD uses multiattack to strick with Frightful Presence, 1 bite, 2 claws
-- At the end of the 1st characters turn, ARD uses Tail attack
-- At the end of the 2nd characters turn, ARD uses Wing attack (no more Legendary Actions this round)


Is this how a dragon would work? I mean, I know we're talking CR17 here, but, all things considered, that's pretty heavy stuff.

Or did I do / get something wrong?
 

Dausuul

Legend
You are correct that this is a valid sequence. Although usually there's a breath weapon in there someplace, too.

You'd be surprised how much punishment a high-level party can take... and dish out. But if you don't think your PCs are up to it, you can always scale back a bit.
 

Enrico Poli1

Explorer
Besides, you can choose the most appropriate Legendary Action of the dragon. You could choose Tail Attack three times; or begin with the wings (2 actions) and then the tail, or a perception check...

If possible, the dragon breathes the first round, so he can begin to recharge.

Tactically, a dragon will try to fly as soon as possible.
 

Coroc

Adventurer
So, as my group is coming close to finally encountering Cirothe in EN Publishings "How to slay a dragon" (or rather "Holdenshire Chronicles", I want to make sure I understand how an adult red dragon works in 5e.

Going by what D&D Beyond shows, am I right in thinking that this is a possible series of actions?

* Round 1
-- At ini count 20, ARD uses a lair action (say, magma eruption)
-- At his own ini, ARD uses multiattack to strick with Frightful Presence, 1 bite, 2 claws
-- At the end of the 1st characters turn, ARD uses Tail attack
-- At the end of the 2nd characters turn, ARD uses Wing attack (no more Legendary Actions this round)

* Round 2
-- At ini count 20, ARD uses a lair different action (say, tremor)
-- At his own ini, ARD uses multiattack to strick with Frightful Presence, 1 bite, 2 claws
-- At the end of the 1st characters turn, ARD uses Tail attack
-- At the end of the 2nd characters turn, ARD uses Wing attack (no more Legendary Actions this round)

* Round 3
-- At ini count 20, ARD uses a different lair action (say, magma eruption again, or volcanic gas)
-- At his own ini, ARD uses multiattack to strick with Frightful Presence, 1 bite, 2 claws
-- At the end of the 1st characters turn, ARD uses Tail attack
-- At the end of the 2nd characters turn, ARD uses Wing attack (no more Legendary Actions this round)


Is this how a dragon would work? I mean, I know we're talking CR17 here, but, all things considered, that's pretty heavy stuff.

Or did I do / get something wrong?
Absolutely not. The frightful presence is quite automatic. The first real attack of a dragon will absolutely be a breath attack. Lair action what the heck.
This guy does not need his lair acting for him, he is enough action for a party even as a solo mob if played right.
After breathing he will single out the most vulnerable character and shred and bite him to pieces.
Maybe the party is lucky and his breath does not recharge, otherwise next thing is breath again.

Adult dragon means not only big beast but also superhuman cunning intellect and wisdom acquired through centuries. Only very stubborn dragons would make tactical errors in combat that is.

And do not forget the dragon will fly if possible even if it is just to reposition itself.
 

akr71

Explorer
Tactically, a dragon will try to fly as soon as possible.
YES! A flying dragon is so much scarier and more difficult encounter. It is faster and more maneuverable in the air. Strafe the party with the breath weapon and fly out of range - circling until breath weapon recharge and strafe again.

Even having the dragon perched somewhere up high helps too. Keep in mind that every dragon lair does not need to be a closed in. It can be open to the air, or if it is a cave perhaps it has on overhead escape route.
 

MarkB

Hero
Absolutely not. The frightful presence is quite automatic.
Not so. Frightful Presence is listed under Actions, not general abilities, so it requires an action. It can be activated as part of a Multiattack sequence, but can't be used in conjunction with other actions, such as the breath weapon.

Even having the dragon perched somewhere up high helps too. Keep in mind that every dragon lair does not need to be a closed in. It can be open to the air, or if it is a cave perhaps it has on overhead escape route.
A smart dragon will also build its lair to allow it to move easily while inhibiting its opponents. Points of egress may be across streams or waterfalls of lava, or vents of scorching steam, taking full advantage of the red dragon's fire immunity.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Others have made some good points, I'll just add a note.

There's no reason for a dragon to fight fair. If this is their home territory, they're going to be flying around, ducking behind total cover, flying by and using reach attacks to target the weakest members of the party. Heck, just fly off and pick up something heavy followed by flying high over the party and bombing them. Use lair effects to split them up.

An adult dragon should never get into melee unless they absolutely have to and should do everything in their power to divide and conquer. Groups vs solos are heavily weighted towards the party so set up the environment to favor the dragon.
 
Thanks for all the input.
Just to clarify: I am NOT in the least worried about the dragon. If you guys don't know the campaign, this is 4 characters of level 7 armed with 4 (well, rather 3) artifacts facing the adult red. So, what I'm trying to work out is, if they even stand a snowballs chance in hell, or rather not. :)

See here for more background.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I'm not familiar with the mod (or the artifacts) all I can say is that a CR 17 monster should defeat a 4 person level 7 party even if the party has a chance to prep.

Personally I'd probably change the encounter to a young red dragon, but again I don't know how what the artifacts powers are.
 

dnd4vr

Hero
Also, depending on the lair, don't forget dragons are great climbers! In a recent session our DM had the dragon climbing the walls of its cave, keeping out of the reach of melee characters (who had to resort to much weaker ranged attacks) and focus everything on spell casters, who it considered more of a threat.

Finally, if you say this is a party of 4 characters, only 7th level... well, they are dead. Even with powerful magical items, the dragon should--literally-toast them.

In the session I mention, we had 5 characters, 9-10th levels, and almost died facing an adult red dragon. And we had powerful items as well (not artifacts, of course, but still).

I agree with @Oofta that a young red dragon would be a better match for a party of 7th level characters unless the party (with those artifacts) is pretty OP.
 
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dnd4vr

Hero
As an aside, yeah in 5E dragons don't have spells. Our DM has given them to them in some cases, but in others none at all. Of course, he screws with us by changing breath types and such as well LOL!

IIRC, I think he gives spell casting dragons the spells equal to a caster half their CR or so. In this case, the dragon could have the spells of about a 9th level caster if you wanted. This way, even a very young dragon might have a level of spellcaster and a couple spells to surprise the party with.

Just an option.
 
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Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
As an aside, yeah in 5E dragons don't have spells. Our DM has given them to them in some cases, but in others none at all. Of course, he screws with us by changing breath types and such as well LOL!

IIRC, I think he gives spell casting dragons the spells equal to a caster half their CR or so. In this case, the dragon could have the spells of about a 9th level caster if you wanted.

Just an option.
I've used the optional rules myself to add levels of sorcerer to dragons that I want to be a real threat. Because nothing says challenge like an ancient red dragon with several levels of sorcerer and stilled silent spells. No counter for you!

Of course that was for a high level party and solos tend to be underpowered unless you cheat give them advantages.
 

dave2008

Hero
As an aside, yeah in 5E dragons don't have spells.
That is not correct, there are variant rules in the MM for dragon spellcasting, Here they are:

"A young or older dragon can innately cast a number of spells equal to its Charisma modifier. Each spell can be cast once per day, requiring no material components, and the spell's level can be no higher than 1/3 the dragon's CR (rounded down). The dragon's bonus to hit with spell attacks is equal to its proficiency bonus + its Charisma bonus. The dragon's spell save DC equals 8 + its proficiency bonus + its Charisma modifier."

So the the adult red can cast 5 spells per day. The spells can be up to level 5. Therefore, you could give it up to 5 level 5 spells if you want. With a a spell DC of 19 and a spell attack bonus of +11
 

dave2008

Hero
So, as my group is coming close to finally encountering Cirothe in EN Publishings "How to slay a dragon" (or rather "Holdenshire Chronicles", I want to make sure I understand how an adult red dragon works in 5e
I would suggest something more like:

* Round 1
-- At ini count 20, ARD uses a lair action (say, magma eruption)
-- At his own ini, ARD uses breathweapon & moves before or after (or both) depending on what the plan is.
-- At the end of the 1st characters turn, ARD uses Tail attack
-- At the end of the 2nd characters turn, ARD uses Wing attack and moves (no more Legendary Actions this round)

* Round 2
-- At ini count 20, ARD uses a lair different action (say, tremor)
-- At his own ini, ARD uses multiattack to strike with Frightful Presence, 1 bite, 2 claws (rolls for recharge) & moves before or after (or both) depending on what the plan is.
-- At the end of the 1st characters turn, ARD uses Tail attack
-- At the end of the 2nd characters turn, ARD uses Wing attack and moves (no more Legendary Actions this round)

* Round 3
-- At ini count 20, ARD uses a different lair action (say, magma eruption again, or volcanic gas)
-- At his own ini, ARD uses multiattack to strick with Frightful Presence, 1 bite, 2 claws (rolls for recharge) & moves before or after (or both) depending on what the plan is.
-- At the end of the 1st characters turn, ARD uses Tail attack
-- At the end of the 2nd characters turn, ARD uses Wing attack and moves (no more Legendary Actions this round)

By Round 4 the dragon should have gotten a breathweapon recharge in and repeat the process from round 1. Of course if you give the spell casting option, it can get more interesting.
 

dnd4vr

Hero
That is not correct, there are variant rules in the MM for dragon spellcasting, Here they are:

"A young or older dragon can innately cast a number of spells equal to its Charisma modifier. Each spell can be cast once per day, requiring no material components, and the spell's level can be no higher than 1/3 the dragon's CR (rounded down). The dragon's bonus to hit with spell attacks is equal to its proficiency bonus + its Charisma bonus. The dragon's spell save DC equals 8 + its proficiency bonus + its Charisma modifier."

So the the adult red can cast 5 spells per day. The spells can be up to level 5. Therefore, you could give it up to 5 level 5 spells if you want. With a a spell DC of 19 and a spell attack bonus of +11
It bothers me a lot when people open their posts like this. It encourages me to retaliate, which is never productive.

The option you quote is a variant. Just like multiclassing, re-rolling initiative each round, using speed factors, feats, etc. Pointing out an option or variant that is not a built-in rule does not mean dragons have spells by default. They don't.

You can give them spells of course, following either the variant or something else. For all I know, that might even be what our DM uses (although it seems like his dragons have more spells...) or he uses something else. I'd have to ask him.
 

dave2008

Hero
It bothers me a lot when people open their posts like this. It encourages me to retaliate, which is never productive.
Good point - sorry about that!

The option you quote is a variant. Just like multiclassing, re-rolling initiative each round, using speed factors, feats, etc. Pointing out an option or variant that is not a built-in rule does not mean dragons have spells by default. They don't.
Not exactly the same thing. There are several monsters with variants in the MM, but they are built-in rules. And I would argue that, IMO, by default the rules are there to use if you want.

Note you said they "don't have them." This, to me, would give the impression that you would need some sort of houserule to give them spells. But you don't, the rules are right there for you to use. IMO, it is more akin to giving an Orc a sword instead of a greataxe. You are just picking the spells (like picking a different weapon). Except even more "default" as it mentions in the monster entry that you can do this (instead of the introduction).
 

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