PDA

View Full Version : (D&D 3.5) How much of a nerf is taking away spellcasting from True Dragons?



Coidzor
2010-07-10, 11:46 AM
Just letting them embrace their outer melee brute with an irregular ranged attack and natural flight instead. Maybe leave 'em with some of the dragon-centric spells as SLAs, such as scintillating scales.

Just curious as to where that would adjust the CRs of dragons and their appropriateness to send against different parties.

I apologize if this has come up before, but my googlefu was unable to hack it.

Kylarra
2010-07-10, 11:50 AM
That's sort of addressed with the Xorvintaal variant of dragons, but overall since spells > all in D&D, it becomes a significant nerf since they're no longer able to compete on that field and become slightly better tarrasques, but not by much.

Coidzor
2010-07-10, 11:52 AM
That's sort of addressed with the Xorvintaal variant of dragons, but overall since spells > all in D&D, it becomes a significant nerf since they're no longer able to compete on that field and become slightly better tarrasques, but not by much.

Yeah, but those get something to ostensibly "cover" the loss, and so it doesn't actually lower their CR to be used as a judge of how much weaker the designers thought they'd be. Right?

Kylarra
2010-07-10, 11:53 AM
Yeah, but those get something to ostensibly "cover" the loss, and so it doesn't actually lower their CR to be used as a judge of how much weaker the designers thought they'd be. Right?Right, but the sheer number of SLAs and special abilities the X dragons get to cover for simple "loss of spellcasting" does prove my point, and the X template is generally regarded as a nerf despite not lowering CR anyway.

Jack_Simth
2010-07-10, 11:57 AM
Just letting them embrace their outer melee brute with an irregular ranged attack and natural flight instead. Maybe leave 'em with some of the dragon-centric spells as SLAs, such as scintillating scales.

Just curious as to where that would adjust the CRs of dragons and their appropriateness to send against different parties.

I apologize if this has come up before, but my googlefu was unable to hack it.

Hard to give a good generalization, because the True Dragons are so varied. It depends. For the dragons that only have access to 1st level spells? Not much difference. Depending on the level of optimization on spell selection (e.g., Wraithstrike and Wings of Cover vs. Scorching Ray and Acid Arrow), it may or may not make much difference to dragons that have 2nd or third level spells, as well. If you're talking about the dragons that do 9th level spells, then yes, it's a very hefty nerf. But it depends heavily on the degree of optimization, and how much spellcasting that dragon would be getting in the first place.

Coidzor
2010-07-10, 11:58 AM
^: So they start to feel it at about 4th level spells then?
Right, but the sheer number of SLAs and special abilities the X dragons get to cover for simple "loss of spellcasting" does prove my point, and the X template is generally regarded as a nerf despite not lowering CR anyway.

Yes. I know it's a nerf even though they get SLAs. I'm just asking how much of a nerf we're talking here, especially vis a vis a Dragon who gets nothing or only gets scintillating scales as necessary to mitigate shivering touch cheese.

The fact that the X dragons don't have their CR changed means that I don't know how much of a nerf they are without having played for years and DM'd or spent my time crunching numbers like a TO'er.

I'm neither of those things, hence seeing if there was anyone around who had the experience to hazard some thoughts.

Jack_Simth
2010-07-10, 12:02 PM
^: So they start to feel it at about 4th level spells then?

Depends on optimization. The dragon that makes use of Mage Armor and Shield is a fair amount harder to kill (for the Fighter and Rogue, at least) than the Dragon that can cast Magic Missle and Burning Hands. One will feel the loss a lot more than the other - even at 1st level casting.

How does this sound: For certain degrees of optimization of spell selection, removing spellcasting completely reduces their CR by 1 per level of spell lost. So that CR-20 dragon that would normally be able to cast 5th level spells drops to CR 15.

Coidzor
2010-07-10, 01:05 PM
Depends on optimization. The dragon that makes use of Mage Armor and Shield is a fair amount harder to kill (for the Fighter and Rogue, at least) than the Dragon that can cast Magic Missle and Burning Hands. One will feel the loss a lot more than the other - even at 1st level casting.

How does this sound: For certain degrees of optimization of spell selection, removing spellcasting completely reduces their CR by 1 per level of spell lost. So that CR-20 dragon that would normally be able to cast 5th level spells drops to CR 15.

Hmm, that sounds like a useful rubric to start judgment from.

awa
2010-07-10, 01:25 PM
.Like anything involving casting it depends on the spells the dragon would have picked Iíve seen premade dragons with god awful spell selection like a fireball on a red. Personally I would say if your party is on the lower end of the optimization just give the dragon some good feats and the fact that dragons are typically strong for their cr will even out.
If the party is optimized then the situations gets worse because dragons have as has been mentioned some big weakness such as touch attacks.

jiriku
2010-07-10, 02:21 PM
I use the xorvintaal template pretty heavily as a DM, both to surprise my players (they're generally not familiar with it) and to simplify my life when building and running the critter.

Against my first party, the template was probably power-neutral. They never quite new what to expect, it kept them guessing, and the dragon's physical prowess kept them on their toes. We had several hard-fought encounters with dragons of CR 12-15.

Against my second party, a set of high optimizers, I've run one CR 13 dragon and it was seriously one-sided without defensive magic. When they managed to get into position, the players were hitting it for 80-120 per PC per round, and the dragon spent most of the combat maneuvering defensively to avoid the PCs. I discreetly gave it an extra 100 hp during the fight just to keep the combat from being anti-climactic, and the PCs still won a resounding, lop-sided victory.


(Interesting anecdote: while the players didn't have access to shivering touch, they ran a great gambit in which one player cast spectral hand in the latter part of the fight and they tricked the dragon into thinking he was setting up for shivering touch. This pulled it off one of the other PCs and gave him breathing room at a time when it was needed).

My take is this: stock monsters are a good match for stock PCs. As the PCs optimize more, the DM needs to optimize in turn to ensure that encounters with level-appropriate CRs remain challenging. Taking away spellcasting gives you as the DM fewer tools for optimizing your dragon. Against a low-op party, you won't notice the difference. Against a high-op party, it's a handicap.