D&D 5E What is up with Adult and Ancient Dragons' Bites???

DND_Reborn

Legend
But thats not true, since the bite attack does fire damage too. Pushing the damage to fire means raging barbarians get even more damage for ancient. I don't think its a mistake. (Wouldn't be my first choice since they tried to make damage related to weapon size).
Yeah, I get that, but take out the fire damage and the bite difference is only 4 points (which is entirely from Strength), when one is a large creature and the other gargantuan. That is ridiculous IMO.

Also, as for the fire damage in the bite, both a wyrmling and a young do +1d6 fire, even though a young dragon's breath weapon is more than DOUBLE what a wyrmling does (16d6 vs 7d6!). So, it would make sense IMO that the young should do +2d6 fire damage. This is an illogical design there that just goes against my grain.

Though I agree the damage is wonky, I disagree that a gargantuan dragon has a larger head than. A huge T. rex. Different body types generally speaking. Though I think an ancient dragon should do 4d10
Well, the T-Rex does 4d12, so having a larger (gargantuan) dragon do 4d10 seems appropriate to me.

Anyway, if you look at the artwork for the largest (ancient?) dragons, their heads are often bigger than the heroes fighting them. A T-Rex's head would be a bit smaller IMO, but rationalizing it has an incredibly powerful jaw, having it do more damage is fine I suppose. I certainly don't think a larger dragon's bite should be less than HALF the T-Rex (the default 2d10 vs. the 4d12).

So you go on to explain that, it's not symmetry, it's aesthetics. That seems like quite a hair to split.
I don't really see it as that hard a distinction.

It's aesthetics > rules function. And from you, someone who has actually come forth with some surprisingly balanced and well-executed house rules or rules designs for PCs, it's utterly bizarre to see this sort of "ignores the rules, ignores the guidelines, ignore balance, aesthetics >>>>> everything" approach with monsters. It's a complete clash of approaches.
Again, I appreciate the props! :)

Given the points I've made above and upthread, I see the weak adult and ancient dragon bites as unbalanced to the smaller dragons and other monsters and how they have been designed. Larger creatures add more dice for damage--it is a pretty simple design philosophy that is followed elsewhere, but not in dragon bites and claws.

Also, the changes in damage, as I pointed out are not huge or gargantuan (pardon the pun), but keep pace with higher tiers. Also, the young red dragon breath should be a bit lower IMO since it is simply too close to the damage done by an adult.

As for ignoring the guidelines, the CR system (as presented in the DMG) is not very intuitive or accurate for the monsters we see in the material IME. Perhaps I am misunderstanding its nuances?
 
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Ondath

Adventurer
One way to see if this was interpreted as an error by other designers is to check other 5E-adjacent systems that had their own dragons and see if they change the Claw and Bite damage. I don't have my A5E dragons on hand right now, but could someone say if those dragons also follow a wonky damage progression as well or not? IIRC the people doing the monster design in A5E were quite meticulous (the team included the Blog of Holding guy who analysed 5E's CR system to the point of simplifying it to a business card-sized document) so they must have noticed this similar oddity.
 

cbwjm

Legend
I'm kind of glad this thread popped up, I'm changing my dragons around and consolidating them down to 5 different dragon types (rather than metallic vs chromatic) so when I write them up, I'll be including an increase in damage for the larger dragons. I'm going to have stats for a single dragon for each age category, and then templates for the different types so that I can easily create a frost, flame, or storm dragon.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
I'm kind of glad this thread popped up, I'm changing my dragons around and consolidating them down to 5 different dragon types (rather than metallic vs chromatic) so when I write them up, I'll be including an increase in damage for the larger dragons. I'm going to have stats for a single dragon for each age category, and then templates for the different types so that I can easily create a frost, flame, or storm dragon.
Sounds cool. Hope you share it when you're done. :)
 

cbwjm

Legend
Sounds cool. Hope you share it when you're done. :)
I can do, I wouldn't expect it to be too much different to what we have, but it will be simpler than the large number of dragons we have now. I don't need them all in my world and it was getting a little weird with the Dragon Elders in my games cramming the different colours into specific flights of dragons. So the Elder known as the Earthshaker (with powers over earth and fire) had both the red and gold dragons as his dragon flight, I figured I may as well reduce them down to a single dragon colour/type. I have 9 dragon elders in my homebrew, 5 of these have a dragon flight, 4 call to others to join them or bless newborn dragons.
 

So you go on to explain that, it's not symmetry, it's aesthetics. That seems like quite a hair to split.

It's aesthetics > rules function. And from you, someone who has actually come forth with some surprisingly balanced and well-executed house rules or rules designs for PCs, it's utterly bizarre to see this sort of "ignores the rules, ignores the guidelines, ignore balance, aesthetics >>>>> everything" approach with monsters. It's a complete clash of approaches.
I think it is more the idea that the bite attack damage should go up. An ancient red dragon should do more damage on its bite than a young red dragon, yet they both do 2d10. That doesn’t seem odd to you?
If the increased damage would increase the CR, then increase the CR - simple. Or they could keep the same CR wi toh increased bitdd Ed and clad damage by modifying the legendary actions ( make the tail attack cost 2 actions)
 

Yeah, I get that, but take out the fire damage and the bite difference is only 4 points (which is entirely from Strength), when one is a large creature and the other gargantuan. That is ridiculous IMO.

Also, as for the fire damage in the bite, both a wyrmling and a young do +1d6 fire, even though a young dragon's breath weapon is more than DOUBLE what a wyrmling does (16d6 vs 7d6!). So, it would make sense IMO that the young should do +2d6 fire damage. This is an illogical design there that just goes against my grain.


Well, the T-Rex does 4d12, so having a larger (gargantuan) dragon do 4d10 seems appropriate to me.

Anyway, if you look at the artwork for the largest (ancient?) dragons, their heads are often bigger than the heroes fighting them. A T-Rex's head would be a bit smaller IMO, but rationalizing it has an incredibly powerful jaw, having it do more damage is fine I suppose. I certainly don't think a larger dragon's bite should be less than HALF the T-Rex (the default 2d10 vs. the 4d12).


I don't really see it as that hard a distinction.


Again, I appreciate the props! :)

Given the points I've made above and upthread, I see the weak adult and ancient dragon bites as unbalanced to the smaller dragons and other monsters and how they have been designed. Larger creatures add more dice for damage--it is a pretty simple design philosophy that is followed elsewhere, but not in dragon bites and claws.

Also, the changes in damage, as I pointed out are not huge or gargantuan (pardon the pun), but keep pace with higher tiers. Also, the young red dragon breath should be a bit lower IMO since it is simply too close to the damage done by an adult.

As for ignoring the guidelines, the CR system (as presented in the DMG) is not very intuitive or accurate for the monsters we see in the material IME. Perhaps I am misunderstanding its nuances?
You can’t go by the art. Think about a dragon the fits in a 20’ square. But as I said, I agree with the 4d10 for the bite.
 

As for ignoring the guidelines, the CR system (as presented in the DMG) is not very intuitive or accurate for the monsters we see in the material IME. Perhaps I am misunderstanding its nuances?
The guidelines are largely accurate. Though they did run into a problem with dragons. Dragons are actually low in their CR. I think this was on purpose (like fireball), but I think they have decided not to follow that trend. The great wyrm dragons in Fizbans have a CR of 26-28 ( greater than ancient dragons) yet do less DPR! The main culprit being breathweapons that do less damage than an ancient red
 

One way to see if this was interpreted as an error by other designers is to check other 5E-adjacent systems that had their own dragons and see if they change the Claw and Bite damage. I don't have my A5E dragons on hand right now, but could someone say if those dragons also follow a wonky damage progression as well or not? IIRC the people doing the monster design in A5E were quite meticulous (the team included the Blog of Holding guy who analysed 5E's CR system to the point of simplifying it to a business card-sized document) so they must have noticed this similar oddity.
IIRC A5e corrected this problem, but I don’t have my books with me.
 

dave2008

Legend
Yes, dragon physical attack damage has been a known issue for a long time @DND_Reborn . The reason is likely CR related, but it was a poor choice for a design fix. Adjust the CR, not the damage IMO. The primary method I used to compensate for increasing the claw in bite damage with my dragons, without changing CF, was to make the tail attack a 2 action legendary action. It can therefore only be used once, instead of 3 times. It makes more sense to me from an action economy standpoint and fixes the DPR issue.
 
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Ondath

Adventurer
IIRC A5e corrected this problem, but I don’t have my books with me.
Just checked the MM and this is indeed the case: Adult Reds in A5E hit 3d10+8 piercing + 1d8 fire with their Bite, and Ancients hit 4d10+10 P + 2d8 fire. So it seems the A5E designers agreed with @DND_Reborn that this was not just meaningless symmetry but an actual design problem.
 

dave2008

Legend
Yeah, I get that, but take out the fire damage and the bite difference is only 4 points (which is entirely from Strength), when one is a large creature and the other gargantuan. That is ridiculous IMO.

Also, as for the fire damage in the bite, both a wyrmling and a young do +1d6 fire, even though a young dragon's breath weapon is more than DOUBLE what a wyrmling does (16d6 vs 7d6!). So, it would make sense IMO that the young should do +2d6 fire damage. This is an illogical design there that just goes against my grain.


Well, the T-Rex does 4d12, so having a larger (gargantuan) dragon do 4d10 seems appropriate to me.

Anyway, if you look at the artwork for the largest (ancient?) dragons, their heads are often bigger than the heroes fighting them. A T-Rex's head would be a bit smaller IMO, but rationalizing it has an incredibly powerful jaw, having it do more damage is fine I suppose. I certainly don't think a larger dragon's bite should be less than HALF the T-Rex (the default 2d10 vs. the 4d12).


I don't really see it as that hard a distinction.
You can't trust the artwork. The artwork for a greatwyrm red shows it towering over a city, yet it also does 2d10 bit damage!

A T. Rex is approx. 40' long, quite a bit larger than the 15' square of Huge and its head alone is Medium. A dragon "fills" a slightly larger 20' square, but is generally represented has having a longer neck, body, and tail when compared to a T. Rex. If you take the game structure into account, not the artwork, it is likely an ancient dragon's head is a bit smaller than a T-Rex head, IMO. So I am completely fine with 4d10 vs 4d12 for dragon vs rex bite damage.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
@Uni-the-Unicorn! and @dave2008

I know the artwork isn't a great guideline for size, but the issue lies also in (again) the design of 5E. ANY creature that is gargantuan fits in a 20x20 square (ridiculous), because they have no size category larger (like colossal--where did you go?).

You can't trust the artwork. The artwork for a greatwyrm red shows it towering over a city, yet it also does 2d10 bit damage!
Which is precisely the problem. :)

Why scale damage for every other creature except dragons? If it is a CR thing due to their system, I agree, change the fricken CR! Or if the damage issue is the problem lower the breath weapons a bit to compensate (since that damage is only guaranteed once in an encounter really).

In short, any sort of representative scaling would be fine with me, it doesn't have to be 1d10, 2d20, 3d10, 4d10. It could be 2d4, 2d6, 2d8, 2d10 or even 1d6, 1d8, 1d10, 1d12, or whatever, depending on the damage value you think dragons' bites should have by age.

FWIW, I've already decided to house-rule the damages to scale (for bites and claws), and will probably adjust the breath weapons (I mean, seriously, 16d6 for young and 18d6 for adult???).

I just know oftentimes there are errata that has been released I might have missed, and wondered if this one of those things. I hope they "fix" this in 2024...
 



Oofta

Legend
The damage for dragons is based on their CR calculation, I agree with @dave2008. When/if I use one I'll probably adjust the other attacks or simply up the the bite damage and not worry about the CR calculation.

As far as T Rexes, don't underestimate the bite force of an adult. Their bites could crush bone and as far as we know the strongest bite force of any terrestrial animal ever [1].
 

delericho

Legend
It feels like you're indulging in one of the worst kinds of rules-design practices.

Symmetry for the sake of symmetry. Or in this case, regularity or repetition for the sake of regularity or repetition.

Rather than looking at the appropriate damage output for a monster of that CR, and then comparing that to what you're getting.

This.

That said...

So no one else is seriously entertaining the idea that it could be an actual error?

There's also a distinct possibility that this is also true. :)
 

dave2008

Legend
@Uni-the-Unicorn! and @dave2008

I know the artwork isn't a great guideline for size, but the issue lies also in (again) the design of 5E. ANY creature that is gargantuan fits in a 20x20 square (ridiculous), because they have no size category larger (like colossal--where did you go?).


Which is precisely the problem. :)

Why scale damage for every other creature except dragons? If it is a CR thing due to their system, I agree, change the fricken CR! Or if the damage issue is the problem lower the breath weapons a bit to compensate (since that damage is only guaranteed once in an encounter really).

In short, any sort of representative scaling would be fine with me, it doesn't have to be 1d10, 2d20, 3d10, 4d10. It could be 2d4, 2d6, 2d8, 2d10 or even 1d6, 1d8, 1d10, 1d12, or whatever, depending on the damage value you think dragons' bites should have by age.

FWIW, I've already decided to house-rule the damages to scale (for bites and claws), and will probably adjust the breath weapons (I mean, seriously, 16d6 for young and 18d6 for adult???).

I just know oftentimes there are errata that has been released I might have missed, and wondered if this one of those things. I hope they "fix" this in 2024...
I hope they fix it, but I'm not confident. But honestly I like my dragons better than any I've seen by WotC or any 3PP, so I don't really need them. I've already made them!
 



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