D&D 5E Wandering Monsters: Not-Dragons

Plaguescarred

D&D Playtester for WoTC since 2012
Not-Dragons
Wandering Monsters
By James Wyatt

Drakes and dragonspawn have been the bone of contention in recent discussions at the office. See what the team says about them, and then weigh in with your own input.

What do you think?

dnd_4wand_20131001_pic2_en.jpg
 

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Plaguescarred

D&D Playtester for WoTC since 2012
I prefer the name drake to felldrake - feels more natural. I can see wizards and hobgoblins using drake as guardian or mount. I pretty much liked all of the drake in 4E and think they a demonstrate well that dragons do exist in many forms and species.

As for dragonspawn, i don't know much about these so no comments.
 

I'm A Banana

Potassium-Rich
The Dragonspawn: One of the few D&D Monsters that could ice skate.

I think the way to telegraph dragons in the world is not to just slap scales and a breath weapon into everything. That's dumb. Equally dumb is dressing up a guard dog in scales and teeth. If there is a scales-and-teeth critter in the world, it should do something more than just be a guard dog, because guard dogs are guard dogs. Also dumb: the word "felldrake." ("It's like that Canadian rapper tripped and broke his hip.")

So my hope would be to see dragons telegraphed more by their relationship with various humanoids. Black dragons and lizardfolk. White dragons and giants. Red dragons and dwarves/orcs. Green dragons and goblins/elves. Blue dragons and undead. This embedds them deeper into the world and makes them part of the story of creatures you use en masse, and at low levels, without dressing them up in funny suits.

That's not to say "get rid of the drakes/dragonspawn," though. I pretty much think that there's a nest of a good idea buried in most creatures. What the drakes need is a tighter connection to the world than "a wild dragon-like-thing appears!", and what dragonspawn need is coherence and a bit more seriousness.

Maybe the hobgoblins are kind of the answer here, eh? What if their breeding focused on dragon-things. Or at least the breeding of one tribe of hobgoblins, perhaps.

Or, if you can tether it to a setting or a class or something, that might help anchor them a bit. But a good anchor is what they need (Spawn of Tiamat isn't bad, but it's a little niche, and "I belch fire and skate on ice! Now fight me to the death!" isn't gonna win very many fans), and that can happen.
 

pemerton

Legend
I prefer Drake to Felldrake. I ticked "like" to the 4e drakes I've used - Rage Drake, Guard Drake, Spitting Drake. I would have ticked "like" to the Fell Titan Drake if I'd been allowed to, cause I've used that one too.

I ticked "don't like" to Dragonspawn - I first encountered them in the 4e MM and I've never been inspired to use them.

I like wizards and hobgoblins using drakes as guards rather than owlbears (a classic monster that doesn't do a lot for me) or guard dogs (why bother with a fanatsy world at all, then?).
 

MarkB

Legend
I found the irony in Argument 1 rather biting - dismissing the drake as a re-skinned guard dog, whilst suggesting the owlbear as an alternative. What is the owlbear if not an ordinary animal with a simplistic mechanics-lite re-skin?

I like drakes generally, but they could be a little more flavoursome - give them some form of special ability that makes them more than a guard dog with scales.

Dragonspawn are cool if used sparingly. Their main problem was that they were allowed to proliferate into too many different forms with too little aesthetic sense.
 

Aloïsius

First Post
Drakes could be used, but their relation with the pridefull and superior dragons should be explained. Are they to dragons what lemurians or monkeys are to humans ? Would dragons be angry if they learn that mammals are using drakes are pet guards ?
Anyway, they should be rare. Most wizards would use dogs to guard their home. Those powerful (or silly...) enough could use more dangerous beast like owlbears. Only the richests wizards, or wizards schools/alliances/guilds would use drakes. You won't find a drake guarding a two-story high wizard's tower in a small village.
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
hmmmm...how to sum up my thoughts...

1) Felldrake sucks. Drop it. Drakes works just fine.

2) If question number 3 allowed you to choose as many as you want, like the question says, I seVEREly doubt answer #1 would be the highest rating.

3) Who sez hobgoblins need to "wrangle or breed" any kinda creature?

4) Who sez a wizard needs to guard their tower with guard dogs, owlbears or drakes? Hello?...Wizard here...ever heard of magic spells? Alarm? Guards & Wards? Pay a cleric friend for a Glyph of Warding? Why does a wizard need or want a smelly animal that requires charming or training and feeding (all of which costs money!)? This is what these "professional game designers" get paid to talk about?!

5) Dragonspawn are badidea unnecessarynonsense. Lose 'em.

6) "Drakes are to dragons are as specters are to ghosts"...In the immortal words of Cleveland Brown, "Surriously"?! See #4. Need I say more...and fyi, I don't know too many low-level PCs who are going around fighting a buncha spectres without getting their energy-drained dead butts handed to them. I mean, I get the explanation of them as "story-lite baby dragon"...but I would hardy make the same distinction between spectres and ghosts.

6a) It's spelled "specTRES", btw, I don't care what the article or ENworld's spellcheck says!
 

Gilladian

Adventurer
I like both drakes and felldrakes. I'm fairly okay with adding "dog in lizard skin" because if described and encountered appropriately, it can be really cool. I have a few reskinned ordinary creatures in my world just for that "not in Kansas anymore" feel; one culture rides giant Moa, just because it is so visually fun - but they're really still very much "horses with two legs and wings". So, more different and cool drakes are fine with me (under either name).

Dragonspawn I don't like. I've never really used the whole Tiamat/Bahamut thing in my campaign world; it doesn't fit the cosmology or religious structure I use, and was never necessary. As someone else upthread said, I've no problem with them appearing in some monster book or other, but I will not be likely to use them myself.
 

Derren

Hero
There are imo too many dragon like things in D&D. If you want to have a weaker dragon use wyverns. Everything else is just too much.
Also, not everything needs to be fantastic. Want a guard dog? Use a guard dog instead of some fantasy creature with scales and "Dr" in the name. Whats the point? And for high level wizards there are always golems.
 

Klaus

First Post
For some reason, the poll boxes aren't loading up for me.

1 - I prefer drake to felldrake.

2 - In past editions we've had many types of dragons, with the core ones referred to as "true dragons". I see a place for drakes here, where the core species are dragons and the ancillary ones (including wyverns, pseudodragons and others) are drakes.

3 - Dragonspawn: I see a place for them. Just like a dragon's presence alters the environment to suit its nature, I see a dragon's presence altering the creatures in said environment into draconic creatures over the course of generations. That's another reason why most people would move out of a dragon's nesting territory. Plus, I just adore Francis Tsai's illustration of the purplespawn nightmare in Draconomicon.

4 - Guard drake vs. Guard dog. I see a human castle protected by guard dogs, just as an elven stronghold is protected by cooshee. I see no reason why a wizard or sorcerer or dragonborn couldn't use a guard drake. But instead of being a specific type of drake, I'd use a variety of drakes (spitting, crested, spiretop), much like a human would use an alsatian, a rottweiller or a mastiff as guard dogs.
 

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