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SouthpawSoldier
2014-11-28, 11:14 PM
Prompted by the whole 5E Conjure Woodland Beings>Pixies>Polymorph>Pwnage argument (not going to rehash that here, there's other threads dedicated to the topic) I found a point that prompts question; in the 5E text of Polymorph, it states that shapeshifters are immune to the effects.

At first, I thought this nullified the argument, since draconic shapeshifting is a standard feature of dragons. This is how half-dragons, sorcerers/bards, red-dragon disciples, and the other dragon descended classes and races are fluffed across DnD derived media. Yet as far as I can tell, by 5E, only Metallic Dragons can shift into humanoid forms. Flipping through my 3.5 MM1, Alternate Form is a feature of only Metallics, excepting Copper and Bronze dragons (may need errata'd).

Is this something universal across editions? Has this ever been explained in official media (novels, splatbooks, etc)? How is this reconciled with Neverwinter Nights' RDD class? It isn't hard to come up with fluff justifying the difference; I'm just curious if there's ever been official word on the topic.

Mark Hall
2014-11-28, 11:55 PM
I don't have the Rules Cyclopedia handy to check how it handled Lawful dragons, but it was pretty standard in 2e... the only standard dragons that could shapeshift naturally were Gold and Silver, with Bronze dragons being sometimes limited to non-humanoids. There were some others who could... deep dragons, steel, Waterdeep, Greyhawk, Iron, and a lot of the Eastern Dragons, but the core dragons? Gold, Silver, and sometimes Bronze. This is actually covered in Dragon 206, where they go over the various types of half-dragons not covered in Council of Wyrms (2e half-dragons, the first place rules were developed for them, had to be the mating of a male dragon and a female demihuman, and only of species of dragon with natural shapechanging ability, not merely a 4th level Polymorph Self).

Shalist
2014-11-29, 12:00 AM
All dragons eventually gain powerful sorcerer spellcasting, allowing most to eventually mingle, if they wish. There's also the 'alternate form' feat (Dragons of Eberron pg 15, req caster level 5) that grants any dragon said ability, so you could take that to mean any dragon could learn to obtain an alternate form.

Worth mentioning, the Wryms of the North (http://archive.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/wn/20041201a)archive on the Wizard's site, which has tons of writeups of different dragons, and occasionally touches on the subject (i.e. several dragons being frustrated by their inability to take an alternate form, others using magic to do so, etc.).

Jeff the Green
2014-11-29, 12:03 AM
At least in 3.x, all true dragons cast as sorcerers, meaning they can eventually learn to cast polymorph. (Exactly when varies from mature adult for reds and the metallics to ancient for the whites.) And of course even before that they have hoards they can invest in wands and phylacteries of change. Also at least in 3.5, none of the core true dragons have the shapeshifter subtype, which is reserved for creatures for whom shapeshifting is a central feature of their existence, not just one of many magical abilities they have.

Sartharina
2014-11-29, 12:14 AM
.... why would a dragon want to change form? That takes all the fun out of it!

BeerMug Paladin
2014-11-29, 10:58 AM
I always thought that only the metallic dragons would try to shapeshift into the form of a humanoid race in order to interact with them, and the vanity and arrogance of the chromatics made them unwilling to demean their own majesty by taking the form of such a pitifully weak creature.

I just always interpreted having the ability to just mean that type of dragon's personality would be likely to use a human form to accomplish something. While not having that ability meant the dragon wasn't likely to use such a form to communicate.

AkuArkaine
2014-12-01, 10:19 PM
All dragons in my games can shape shift once they hit adulthood (suck it rules). Several times I've had groups be hired to raid a dragon's lair by some random quest giver NPC, only for him to turn out to be the dragon who's lair they raided. If they weren't too greedy they'd be rewarded with a hefty amount of gold (the greedy just got BBQ :smallbiggrin:).

Sith_Happens
2014-12-01, 10:39 PM
.... why would a dragon want to change form? That takes all the fun out of it!

To simply the mechanics of boinking everything that moves, of course.:smallwink:

NikitaDarkstar
2014-12-01, 11:46 PM
All dragons in my games can shape shift once they hit adulthood (suck it rules).
Pretty much how my old group did it too, and how I intend to handle it. Granted some dragons may be more or less prone to using it than others, but at least the option is there. That and it'll save me some headaches (and most likely create a few new ones).

Sartharina
2014-12-02, 07:02 PM
To simply the mechanics of boinking everything that moves, of course.:smallwink:Figuring out the mechanics is so fun, though! And getting creative trying to make seemingly-incompatible things compatible.

Sith_Happens
2014-12-02, 08:40 PM
Figuring out the mechanics is so fun, though! And getting creative trying to make seemingly-incompatible things compatible.

Problem is, many dragons are lazy.:smalltongue:

BrokenChord
2014-12-03, 02:55 AM
Problem is, many dragons are lazy.:smalltongue:

The many spawn a single dragon often has would suggest that calling them lazy is inaccurate. As would, most likely, all those not-dragon parents trying to keep up with dragon stamina. Which I guess isn't actually a thing because physical ability score change, but eh.

BeerMug Paladin
2014-12-03, 08:14 AM
Dragons do mostly just sit in a den somewhere on or around a big pile of treasure and sleep. They also don't seem like the type for tetris style puzzle solving.

Valefor Rathan
2014-12-03, 11:05 AM
The dragonborn stuff in the PHB sites chromatic dragons as a potential heritage so they have to be able to get frisky with humanoids somehow. Unless their lineage is completely magical in origin, like some kind of Frankenstein.

jedipotter
2014-12-03, 01:55 PM
Is this something universal across editions? Has this ever been explained in official media (novels, splatbooks, etc)? How is this reconciled with Neverwinter Nights' RDD class? It isn't hard to come up with fluff justifying the difference; I'm just curious if there's ever been official word on the topic.

Good dragons have always gotten changing shape into humans/elves. So they can hang out together.


This is a great example of the unbalanced view that very much was in effect for 1E and 2E of the ''good old days'' and before 3E started the muddy slide to everything being fair and balanced. This is the same reason that good dragons are more powerful then evil dragons(and good outsiders are more powerful then evil ones, and even elves are more powerful then orcs). Evil just destroys stuff, so they don't need perks like shapechange or anything that is not destruction.

And Old E was very much a Good Hero Game with a very light vs dark mentality. You did not have any of them modern alignment problems. Some creatures are good and some are evil, always, and they fight. Period.


Though even by mid 2E, it was mostly ignored. Countless stories have every dragon of every color changing shape.

And sadly, this is just another one of the things they just have ''cut and pasted'' ever sense.

Sith_Happens
2014-12-04, 02:43 PM
The dragonborn stuff in the PHB sites chromatic dragons as a potential heritage so they have to be able to get frisky with humanoids somehow.

Depending on whether the dragon is the mother or the father, the answer is likely "hit points.":smallamused:

Aelfinn
2014-12-04, 04:09 PM
in the 5E text of Polymorph, it states that shapeshifters are immune to the effects.


Regardless of the rules inconsistencies in d&d, dragons aren't actually the shapechanger subtype, so I don't think they're immune to polymorph.

Mark Hall
2014-12-04, 04:13 PM
Note: Due to the large number of shapeshifters, approximately 1 in 5 NPCs will secretly be a dragon, ogre mage, Raksasha, or other shapeshifter.