D&D 5E What Level To Hunt A Great Wyrm?

Just for sake of argument, let's assume 15th level characters. I want to spitball ideas on what the adventure looks like in the lead up.

All that said, 15th level characters will have lots of tools up their sleeve. I am sure there is plenty of magic that could potentially be used to locate the dragon and bamf into its lair, and I would like to make that harder. The dragon slept for half a millenia and had to be secure from dragon slayers and (more importantly) other dragons hoping to take its lair and hoard for their own. So the lair should be protected against scrying at least, if not also teleportation.

Forbiddance is a permanent spell that the dragon could have made a deal to acquire, or taken a lair belonging to another dragon that already had it. If you go Forbiddance, it took a month to cast so there's no reason there wouldn't also be an array of Glyphs of Warding cast by the cleric. Don't bother with the zot version, load them with spells triggered by command words or gestures.

Another defense to scrying is completely obscure the dragon's resting area. Opaque water, mist, vapors, fog, smoke, etc should be the norm when resting or under attack.

If the dragon is sufficiently crafty, it will create similar decoy environments elsewhere (i.e. a statue of a dragon in same obscurement) to get those handful of teleport errors. Fill it with monsters that don't use the dragon's element so any preparations are wasted. Add some kind of triggered Sending (maybe via a Glyph of Warding) to notify the dragon of someone entering a decoy.

I think Legend Lore would really only provide the same information the elves could give, because it has to be lore someone knew at some time.

Speak with dead or similar might work. Even a side quest to find a vampire or other elder undead., preferrably one with a known grudge against the dragon.
 

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Reynard

Legend
Supporter
What magic items are you giving them? I personally think each PC should have a legendary item or two very rare items.

I also don't really need to think about predicting abilities -- I think that is a trap in running higher level games. Instead, create a book of strategies your creature relies on for more generic threats. This lets the players surprise you with their approach THEN think about how the dragon might answer. You'd want to answer these questions:

  • Does it move locations?
  • Does it send forces?
  • Do it use a ritual to cast spells upon them from afar?
  • Does it trigger hazards and traps?
  • Does it call for help?
  • Does it try to bargain with them from afar?
  • Does it stand and fight or lure them into trouble?
  • Does it try to flee when badly hurt or rely on one of the above strategies when near death?

These things are comprehensive; all you have to do is have two to three versions of each answer, which creates a book of strategies that you can draw from and then mold to fit the situation at hand. This saves you the work of having to guess PC abilities from the literally hundreds of spells, features, and magic items they can together draw upon, and gives you a foundation so you aren't just pulling everything out of your bum.
I kind of don't see the difference between what I was talking about and your list. The dragon would have general precautions against being caught unawares while it slept, and those precautions would still be in place. Once the PCs land, it needs to start thinking about defending against them, too, but it is also an arrogant monster that thinks it is literally the pinnacle of power.

It is important to remember that this exercise is meant to enable an exciting dragonhunt adventure, not deny everything it is possible for the PCs to do.
 

I kind of don't see the difference between what I was talking about and your list. The dragon would have general precautions against being caught unawares while it slept, and those precautions would still be in place. Once the PCs land, it needs to start thinking about defending against them, too, but it is also an arrogant monster that thinks it is literally the pinnacle of power.

It is important to remember that this exercise is meant to enable an exciting dragonhunt adventure, not deny everything it is possible for the PCs to do.
I'm so confused about why you said that second paragraph. What in my post had anything to do with denying everything the PCs are doing? I was just giving you a list of easy to answer questions with the exercise =\ Not sure how we got here.
 


Reynard

Legend
Supporter
I'm so confused about why you said that second paragraph. What in my post had anything to do with denying everything the PCs are doing? I was just giving you a list of easy to answer questions with the exercise =\ Not sure how we got here.
That was more generally directed, not necessarily at you. A lot of responses are turning into "how to stymie the PCs" which isn't really the goal.
 

If you don't want the PCs to face a dragon in a terrain of the dragon's choosing that has the maximum preparations (aka the dragon's lair), simply don't let the lair be located (scrying returns blurry images, divinations report "uncertain", etc) and force them to ambush the dragon in the open.
 

Good, because it isn't. I'm telling you, 14th level is the minimum. Its where most classes get their last subclass feature, which is usually the strongest, and they may have Forcecage, which many high CR monsters cannot counter, amongst all their other spells. It'll be very tough but is doable.

Keep in mind, Forcecage won't work on many winged Large creatures while in flight (or with their wings extended to make slam attacks), many Huge creatures can be more than 20ft tall (some giants) or long (tyrannosaurus) and Gargantuan critters just ain't going in there ever.

And if they don't fit completely inside the (max 20'x20'x20') cage , it doesn't trap them.

"Creatures only partially within the area, or those too large to fit inside the area, are pushed away from the center of the area until they are completely outside the area.
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
If you don't want the PCs to face a dragon in a terrain of the dragon's choosing that has the maximum preparations (aka the dragon's lair), simply don't let the lair be located (scrying returns blurry images, divinations report "uncertain", etc) and force them to ambush the dragon in the open.
I don't want anything other than a fun dragon hunt with the PCs deciding how they are going to approach it, but a high degree of danger in any case. The kinds of defenses and contingencies the dragon hasshpuld make sense in the fiction: a recently elevated Great Wyrm emerging from its chrysalis and causing untold depredation on a small country.
 

Stalker0

Legend
Since a lot of people on this thread may not be savvy onto the A5e Elite dragon (which you can find on their site here btw: Great Wyrm Red Dragon | Level Up). This dragon imo is WAY tougher than the normal great wyrm reds for a few reasons, but here is a couple of highlights:

  • This dragon can cast anti-magic field, and in the A5e version it can't be dispelled. So the dragon can start this party knocking out a lot of the tricks the party might bring to the table. You are going to have to get through a +17 concentration save.....and 3 legendary resistances before that AM field gets turned off (and if you want to get really technical, it should be able to apply an extra d10 to the save as a reaction when it fails). Until then you have a party of PCs without any magic against a CR26 dragon.... It is hard to overstate what an advantage this is, until the AM field is down the dragon should dominate this fight.
  • Once the dragon is blooded, any hit it takes in melee makes the enemy lose their fire resistance or lowers immunity to resistance until the beginning of that enemy's next turn. So even once your past the AM field you still can't full rely on fire reductions to save you.
  • Any PCs that fails against the dragon's breath takes ongoing fire damage. That's already annoying for your concentrations, but you are also frightened while you take it. And if you are brought back up healing word shenanigans, the ongoing damage puts you right back down. The only way to shake that is to spend an action, which is an eternity in any high level fight. Now I would expect a party of this level to have fear immunity through something (probably a hero's feast), but of course than the AM field comes back into play.
 
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