The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed - Coming in December and available for pre-order now
Page 1 of 5 12345 LastLast
Results 1 to 30 of 125
  1. - Top - End - #1
    Troll in the Playground
     
    WhamBamSam's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Michigan
    Gender
    Male

    Default The Truest of the True: A Handbook to non-Kobold Dragons

    The Dragon Handbook


    "Dragons you say? Tell me more."

    Table of Contents

    I. Introduction: Acknowledgements, Aims, and the First Two Rules of Dragon Club
    II. The Basics: Rules for Dragon PCs, An Overview of Dragons’ Pros and Cons
    III. Choosing Your Dragon: Playable Dragon Varieties
    IV. How To Train Your Dragon I: Build Concepts, Sovereign Archetypes
    V. How To Train Your Dragon II: Classes, Templates
    VI. Tending the Hoard: Feats, Uses of WBL
    VII. Creatures of Magic: Adding Cheese to your Dragon Burger
    VIII. Taking Flight: Sample Builds
    IX. The Dragon’s Den: Running a Dragon Encounter
    X. Flying High: Sample Dragon Encounters

    Acknowledgements

    This thread over at Brilliant Gameologists has been a tremendous boon. This forms the foundation for all of my draconic knowledge, with the occasional other thread here or there also helping my research into the subject along.

    I’d also like to specifically acknowledge the following users. Listed in alphabetical order.

    Fax Celestis called my attention to the Xorvintaal dragon template.

    Gavinfoxx reminded me of the oversight of the guide missing Scintilating Scales.

    Gemini and Karnith provided summaries of the Dragon Psychoses, which I would not otherwise have had access to at the time. Karnith also called my attention to the Horned Felldrake and Bozak Draconian as good Alter Self forms for natural armor.

    JaronK has been generally forthcoming with helpful knowledge.

    Larkas made it possible for me to add the Orange, Purple, and Yellow dragon varieties to the list of dragons.

    mattie_p made a number of suggestions and explanations which have made this into a better resource for working with and around the dragon aging rules.

    OMG Ponies provided the rules citation for the counterargument to the RAW legality of taking Racial Substitution Levels out of order.

    RelentlessImp called my attention to Dragonslayer as a way to meet weapon proficiency prereqs for dragon gishes. Using the class, he also provided an improved version of a standard Steel Loredrake gish from the one I had previously, which required an age curse, though I did introduce a few tweaks.

    Reshy discussed a number of things pertaining to the handbook with me at length and wrote homebrew racial classes for most/all dragon varieties.

    thethird has offered up a huge number of useful suggestions for this guide. He deserves special thanks.

    Vaz made the Spyro build from Iron Chef XLV, which drew my attention to the Divine Conversion PrCs.

    123456789blaaa made it possible for me to add the Ferrous dragon varieties to the big list o' dragons.

    Introduction: Our Dragons are Different

    Dragons are awesome. Because dragons are so awesome they have a bunch of HD in order to make them more difficult for PCs to kill, and have a bunch of extra abilities beyond those of the standard races, which translate into high LA. These things tend to make them unplayable. And yet, dragons remain awesome, so every week or so, we get a thread here from someone who wants to know how to make a playable one. Instead of giving the same limited advice over and over again, this Handbook aims to compile the various things that dragons can pull off and do well into one place, and to give a more in depth look into these options. Because I agree that dragons are awesome, and want to help out those who want to take that awesomeness to its logical conclusion in their builds. Nothing ruins your concept of an awesome dragon like having that dragon suck, so I’m going to do my utmost to ensure that doesn’t happen. Many of the tricks here could also be used by DMs to spice up Dragon encounters and enhance Dragon NPCs, and I’ll be adding some stuff specific to dragon encounters at the end. Everybody wins!

    But before we get underway, I want to establish a few ground rules about how this thread is going to operate.

    First Rule of Dragon Club: Do not talk about Kobolds.

    There’s a solid chance that someone will bring up Dragonwrought Kobolds in any given Dragon thread, and it’s usually wholly unnecessary to do so. They are some of the most well known cheese in 3.5, and it can be pretty safely assumed that if they aren’t what a prospective dragon player wants in the vast majority of cases. I will occasionally mention them, as they have access to much of the same cheese that other dragons do, and hence are a useful benchmark for whether a given concept is worth being stuck with dragon HD/LA. It’s handy to be able to ask "could a kobold do this better" when examining a dragon PC, but "just be a dragonwrought kobold" is not the end all, be all answer to the question of how to be a dragon.

    Second Rule of Dragon Club: Do not talk about Kobolds.

    Specifically, please do not attempt to start a debate over whether or not they are True Dragons. For the purposes of this thread I’ll try to remain mostly neutral on the topic, but I may vacillate back and forth from one interpretation to the other to serve various purposes. For instance, I might at certain times assume that they are True Dragons, because it sets the bar higher when making the comparison with a given dragon PC build. Just saying "Oh Steel Dragon qualifies for Loredrake and Dragonwrought Kobold doesn’t" is a cop out, even if you believe that it’s true and even if that’s not enough to close the gap between the two in and of itself. Alternately, I may pay lip service to anti-kobold arguments when discussing other dragon types for which some of the same ambiguity applies. For instance, if Kobolds don’t live long enough to be True Dragons than neither do Rattlyrs, and that’s worth mentioning.

    Rankings

    These rankings are used to represent how good I feel a given option is for a dragon from a mechanical perspective. That means I might occasionally advise against things which would generally be seen as high powered choices because those are things which a Human or Kobold could do better. Also, because there’s a wide range of things being covered, the rank of any given thing may fluctuate wildly depending on what you’re trying to do.

    Red – Bad. Doesn’t play to your strengths or is just generally weak.
    Purple – Below Average. Might work for some rare situations/concepts, but suboptimal on the whole.
    Black – Average.
    Green – Good. This is a pretty solid choice worthy of consideration.
    Blue – Better still. An excellent option.
    Gold – The best options available. Go with this unless you have a very good reason not to.

    Abbreviations

    The following are the abbreviations I use to denote various 3.5 sources.

    (BoED) - Book of Exalted Deeds
    (BoVD) - Book of Vile Darkness
    (CA) - Complete Arcane
    (CAdv) - Complete Adventurer
    (CC) - Complete Champion
    (CD) - Complete Divine
    (CM) - Complete Mage
    (CP) - Complete Psionic
    (CW) - Complete Warrior
    (Dcn) - Draconomicon
    (DCS) - Dragonlance Campaign Setting
    (DoE) - Dragons of Eberron
    (DoF) - Dragons of Faerun
    (DM) - Dragon Magic
    (DM#) - Dragon Magazine, with issue number
    (DMC) - Dragon Magazine Compendium
    (DotU) - Drow of the Underdark
    (LM) - Libris Mortis
    (LoM) - Lords of Madness
    (MIC) - Magic Item Compendium
    (MM) - Moster Manual, numbered in roman numerals
    (RoF) - Races of Faerun
    (RotD) - Races of the Dragon
    (RotW) - Races of the Wild
    (SRD) - SRD
    (Sh) - Sharn: City of Towers
    (ShS) - Shining South
    (SS) - Savage Species
    (ToB) - Tome of Battle
    (ToM) - Tome of Magic
    (XPH) - Expanded Psionics Handbook
    Last edited by WhamBamSam; 2014-07-25 at 11:04 PM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Troll in the Playground
     
    WhamBamSam's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Michigan
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Truest of the True: A Handbook to non-Kobold Dragons

    The Basics

    Rules For Dragon PCs
    Pages 141-144 in Draconomicon lay out the rules for dragon PC characters. Essentially what those rules boil down to is having to devote your levels to advancing in Dragon HD/LA every few years, and you gain the benefits of having advanced to a new age category only once you’ve leveled through the whole 3HD and 1 LA since the last one. Generally speaking, this is pretty bad. Even in the best case scenario where sticking to the racial progression is actually what you want, you’re waiting four levels for the stat boosts and minor abilities that pass for your class features. The more likely scenario, is that you’ll get saddled with a few extra floating HD/LA which screw up or at least slow down your intended class progression with no benefits beyond those which the HD give you (see below). You want to avoid this if at all possible, so it’s best to play a dragon in a campaign which has a time frame within 2 years. Thankfully, most campaigns should meet this criterion, and you’ll be able to stick to your regular wyrmling HD/LA and ignore the prospects of growing up except when you want to (see the cheese section). At the very least, see if you can get your DM to give you a rough idea of the in-game timeframe of when you’ll be hitting which level, so that you can try to plan your level progression around your aging. Note also that the biggest speed bump to leveling is downtime from back orders of custom magic items, as it takes less than a week of full time adventuring to level up. You may be able to speed the crafting along by flying off to solicit the services of other craftsmen (dragons are about the best thing after teleportation for long distance travel), or through some other bit of cleverness on your part.

    Rules for Advancing Racial Spellcasting
    There are also some rules to navigate through when it comes to using the racial spellcasting that your dragon PC might posess (or dragon NPC if you're the DM and adding class levels). On the plus side, racial casting and casting from class levels explicitly stacks.
    Quote Originally Posted by SRD
    A spellcasting class is an associated class for a creature that already has the ability to cast spells as a character of the class in question, since the monster’s levels in the spellcasting class stack with its innate spellcasting ability.
    Emphasis mine. Unfortunately, there is a minor hiccup in doing the thing that all good casters do and PrCing out as quickly as possible. Specifically, PrCs which advance casting use the following language
    Quote Originally Posted by Caster PrCs
    At each level, you gain new spells per day and an increase in caster level (and spells known, if applicable) as if you had also gained a level in an arcane spellcasting class to which you belonged before adding the prestige class level.
    but the rules for innate spellcasting say this
    Quote Originally Posted by SRD
    A spellcasting creature is not actually a member of a class unless its entry says so, and it does not gain any class abilities. A creature with access to cleric spells must prepare them in the normal manner and receives domain spells if noted, but it does not receive domain granted powers unless it has at least one level in the cleric class.
    Again, emphasis mine. So if you're, say, a Steel Dragon, you have to take at least one level of Sorcerer before you can advance spellcasting through PrCs, even if you qualify for those PrCs by virtue of racial casting alone.

    An Overview of Dragons’ Pros and Cons

    So you’re a dragon. What does that mean for you?

    Racial Hit Dice – Dragon HD are actually quite good. They give you…
    • d12 HP – Well, only d10s if you’re a Loredrake, but either way, not dying is cool.
    • Full BAB – Always Nice.
    • All Good Saves – Also never a bad thing.
    • Skills – Dragons get 6+Int Skill Points per HD. True Dragon class skills are Listen, Search, Spot, Concentration, Diplomacy, Escape Artist, all Knowledge Skills, Sense Motive, Use Magic Device, and a few others depending on draconic variety. Pretty respectable if I do say so.
    If it were just these RHD and the various dragony racial abilities serving as your class features, Dragon would be a decent, playable class to take up through the Wyrmling HD.
    Level Adjustment – Unfortunately, Dragons also have relatively high LA, and LA is made of fail. If LA buyoff is disallowed or the RHD/LA is too high to manage it, it becomes very hard to play a dragon. The fact that RHD don’t count toward LA buyoff is a big part of why they’re not rated higher.
    Stats – Varies depending on the type of dragon, but in general while they’re usually better than those of a human, a dragon’s racial stat modifiers are a bit low for its ECL.
    Natural Weapons – You always at least get two claws and a bite and you can gain more attacks for being a larger size category, five total for medium dragons, and six at large size. Many dragons start out as small or tiny, and of course size increasing spells don’t stack, but it can still be possible to sufficiently expand yourself and consequently your attack routine with a little chicanery.
    Special Attacks/Special Qualities – Breath Weapons and Flight and Immunities, oh my! The various bells and whistles that dragons get are the reason you’re here in the first place, and in general they are pretty nice even if you’re just a wyrmling.
    Sovereign Archetypes – From Dragons of Eberon pg. 30. A True Dragon can trade away its extra sorcerer spell choice options (if any) in favor of something which is almost always better. These are the reason why people care whether Dragonwrought Kobolds are True Dragons or not. I’ll go into the specifics of the various Archetypes in more detail in section IV, but for now I’ll just say that pretty much every Dragon PC should take one.
    Cheese – As we know from Kobold shenanigans, dragon based cheese can be quite potent. There’s even some that Kobolds don’t have access to. The fact that dragons weren’t meant to be played can cut both ways. This ranking is highly dependent on how permissive your DM is. It can boost your power tremendously if allowed to do so, or it can be a complete non-factor, depending on the table. See section VII for further information on dragon based cheese.
    Last edited by WhamBamSam; 2014-07-20 at 06:40 PM.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Troll in the Playground
     
    WhamBamSam's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Michigan
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Truest of the True: A Handbook to non-Kobold Dragons

    Choosing Your Dragon:
    Playable Dragon Varieties

    Much of this list is owed to or directly copied from the Brilliant Gameologists thread. I’ve made a few additions and gone into more detail on some draconic varieties. Some day I may try to convert all of this into a pretty table for easier reference.

    Adamantine (DM321) 9HD/4LA medium. breath weapon: fire, breath weapon: hold monster, increased damage, improved sunder, natural weapons treated as adamantine for damage reduction, immunity to fire. It's not terrible as big brutes go, but it's not worth ECL 13.

    Ambush Drake (online, MM3) 7HD/0LA medium. In general it isn’t bad, but as it’s probably not a true dragon (it does get stronger as it gets older, but it has less than 12 age categories) it doesn’t have access to a lot of the best tricks. You’re probably better off with a Brown Wyrmling or a White Wyrmling for most of the things that Ambush Drakes can do. Not having access to LA buyoff would even the playing field a little bit, but even then I feel this is an overrated choice of dragon. Note also that whether the Ambush Drake is 7HD/0 LA or 7HD/-- LA is a point of some contention, and it may not even be a valid PC choice.

    Amethyst (MMII) 7HD/4LA medium - breath weapon: force damage which can be non-lethal if desired, planar travel to the inner planes, force resistance, 20ft burrow and 10ft swim speeds. Decent as high ECL dragons go.

    Arboreal (DM321) 5HD/6LA medium. breath weapon: piercing, immunity to acid, sonic, and mind affecting. I'd be hard pressed to come up with anything worth 6 LA, and I can assure you it'd be far beyond this thing. It's completely underwhelming as a wyrmling. At Young Age (11HD/6 LA) it gets an Alternate Form which allows the forms of medium or smaller fey in addition to the usual humanoids and animals. This is ripe for abuse with Assume Supernatural Ability or Metamorphic Transfer, but then, lots of things can jump up a few tiers at high levels.

    Astral (DM344) 5HD/4LA medium - breath weapon: sandstorm of astral wind, breath weapon: dismissal, astral familiarity, detect extraplanar. If you're going to be spending a lot of time on the astral plane or fighting a lot of extraplanar creatures, this could be decent, but in general it's too high ECL.

    Axial (DM321) 6HD/5LA medium - breath weapon: force, immunity to fire, acid, and disease. Again, bloated RHD/LA are making things rough, especially as it doesn't have great stats apart from Con. Force is a nice breath type though and the extra immunities don't hurt.

    Battle (Dcn) 5HD/2LA tiny – breath weapon: sonic, breath weapon: cone of fear gas, perform as a class skill. Gets perform without the somewhat suboptimal Passion’s Flame Sovereign Archetype, so if you want to sneak into a Bard PrC this can be a decent choice.

    Beast (DM321) 6HD/3LA small - breath weapon: half cold and half electricity, track, immunity to cold and electricity, stealth skills and a few other not terrible ones as class skills. I'm of half a mind to rate this thing green, but I don't think it quite cuts it. That third point of LA preventing buyoff is something of a sticking point.

    Black (MM) 4HD/3LA tiny, breath weapon: acid, Hide and Move Silently as class skills, water breathing, swim speed. It's mental stats aren't as bad as the White Wyrmling, but on the whole it's not really worth the higher ECL. It does stay at LA+3 through its first three age categories though, which might come in handy.

    Blue (MM) 6HD/4LA small – breath weapon: electricity, bluff and spellcraft as class skills. The ECL sucks, but it has the skills to qualify for Ur Priest right out of the box, and so can make for a decent CoD-zilla type at high levels with a bit of cheese. It's rating goes down to black below level 15ish though.

    Bozak Draconian (DCS) 4HD/3LA medium, casts as a 4th level Sorcerer, natural armor +8. The Steel Loredrake makes for a better dragon Sorcerer, with more dragon flavor, but this still isn't bad, and the +8 natural armor makes it a handy Alter Self form.

    Brainstealer (DM337) 7HD/5LA medium - illithid mind blast instead of breath weapon, 4 tentacle attacks with improved grab/extract in place of bite and wings, slow fly speed. It's Mind Flayer, the dragon. Not really worth its ECL.

    Brass (MM) 4HD/2LA tiny - breath weapon: sleep.

    Bronze (MM) 6HD/4LA small - breath weapon: lightning or compulsion to flee, water breathing. Doesn't really have anything to warrant its ECL, but it's not that bad. Can be aged one category without increasing LA.

    Brown (MoF, updated in DoF) 6HD/2LA medium - tremorsense 500ft, burrow 60ft. Dat tremorsense. It’s also got a good burrow speed, decent stats, and Hide as a class skill. If you want to make a stealthy dragon, this is one of the better ways to do it.

    Chaos (Dcn) 6HD/4LA small - breath weapon: random type energy damage, breath weapon: confusion, immunity to compulsion.

    Chole (DM344) 6HD/4LA medium - breath weapon: high Cha and Wis damage poison, no flight but decent swim and climb speeds, mute, no wing attacks, but two 10ft reach tentacles that attack on their own with you only able to tell them what not to attack, and some number of other tentacles (you get a different 1/day SLA and different damage type on the tentacles based on the total number of tentacles (4 tentacles gets Magic Circle Against Law and slashing damage tentacles, 7 tentacles gets Fly and piercing damage tentacles, 9 tentacles gets Dispel Magic and tentacles dealing piercing and slashing, 13 tentacles gets Haste and bludgeoning tentacles) , frightful presence from wyrmling age. This thing is just so weird that I want to find something to do with it, but the high ECL and being mute and mostly flightless are problematic.

    Chromium (DM356) - 6HD/2LA small, breath weapon: line of cold, or cone of ice shards that deals Dex damage. Seems like a pretty decent choice, though the ECL is a bit of a problem.

    Cobalt (DM356) - 5HD/4LA tiny, breath weapon: line of force that bull rushes those affected with a check equal to the damage dealt. If you can pump the damage enough to make the bull rush check a legitimate threat, this could be a lot of fun combined with Dungeoncrasher Fighter.

    Concordant (DM321) 5HD/3LA tiny - breath weapon: damage based on distance of foes' alignment from TN, detect good/evil/law/chaos, poison immunity, surprisingly slow fly speed (only 50ft), but with perfect maneuverability.

    Copper (MM) 5HD/2LA tiny – immune to acid, spider climb, breath weapon causes slow.

    Crested Felldrake (MM2) 2HD/2LAsmall – scent. Can’t fly, and isn’t a true dragon. Almost any afflicted Lycanthrope will make a superior monster character in just about every way.

    Crystal (MMII) 5HD/5LA - breath weapon: apparently untyped damage and blindness, planar travel to the inner planes, 5ft burrow and 40ft swim speeds.

    Deep (DotU, updated in DoF) 6HD/4LA tiny - burrow, detect magic, true seeing, immune to charms.

    Dzalmus (DM349) 4HD/LA -- small - breath weapon: damage and con damage, save only appears to apply to the latter, three heads with all three bites called out as primary attacks. Only one head can use the breath weapon at a time normally, but a single extra head added with multiheaded, amusingly, allows all four heads to fire it off simultaneously. Sadly, no LA was printed, which for a monster means it has LA -- and is not playable.

    Elysian (DM344) 4HD/4LA tiny - breath weapon: line of sonic, breath weapon: cone of inebriation (sickened but with +1 to saves against fear), immunity to poison and sonic. It's great fun at parties, but not really all that great, certainly not worth 4 LA.

    Emerald (MMII) 6HD/4LA small - breath weapon: sonic plus fort save against deafening, planar travel to the inner planes, object reading psi-like at will, 5ft burrow and 60ft swim speeds. As with the Amethyst, it's good as high ECL dragons go, but hardly anything is worth that much HD/LA.

    Ethereal (Dcn) 4HD/2LA tiny - breath weapon: force, immunity to ether cyclones, crappy flight speed for a dragon. No real ethereal related abilities at wyrmling age sadly, apart from the breath weapon. Being the lowest ECL and especially lowest LA true dragon to get a force damage breath weapon natively might be its saving grace, as it's pretty bad otherwise.

    Faerie (Dcn) 8HD/2LA small - decent SLAs, breath weapon: daze. It can be advanced in HD/size without changing LA, though I’m not sure why you’d want to do that unless you were really committed to just being a dragon. Not a true dragon.

    Fang (Dcn, updated in the PGtF web enhancement) 3HD/3LA tiny - no breath weapon, bite inflicts Con drain, increased damage, trip, sound imitation, detect/read magic. It might be decent in a Confound the Big Folk type build, and with Expansion can make for an effective tripper. All the Web Enhancement changes is adding bluff, jump, and survival as class skills.

    Gloom (DM344) 4HD/4LA - breath weapon: apathy (makes foes who fail their save helpless), frightful presence and fear aura from wyrmling age, bite inflicts a Cha draining disease with a day long incubation period, can prevent resurrection of dead foes at least two size categories smaller (so pretty much no one, even if you're rocking expansion, unless you can somehow shrink enemy corpses). If it were medium instead of tiny this would probably be green, but the penalties to intimidate checks and inability to use its ability without considerable item support means it has trouble making up for its LA.

    Gold (MM) 8HD/4LA medium – breath weapon: fire, breath weapon: Str damage, alternate form. The ECL is brutal, but if you really, really, just want to play a dragon without using puny human classes, Silver and Gold dragons are just about the best ways to go about doing that.

    Green (MM) 5HD/5LA small - breath weapon: cone of acid, Hide and Move Silently as class skills, water breathing. That LA is just dumb, but at least it doesn't get any higher for a few age categories.

    Hex (DM343) 4HD/4LA small - breah weapon: Con damage poison, retributive curse (sicken someone who hit you as a free action), +4 to saves against enchantment or negative energy damage, Str penalty at wyrmling age, slow flight but good maneuverability, very young age has another point of LA, but gets suggestion 3/day level of sorcerer casting with knowledge of all enchantment and necromancy sorcerer spells for its trouble. The LA stops me just short of just marking this green. The breath weapon is pretty snazzy though, Retributive Curse is potentially interesting with things like Robilar's Gambit or various ToB maneuvers/stances, and even if the schools aren't the greatest and you lose a ton of caster levels, getting all those free spells known is nice. If you don't want to age up, regular Sorcerer levels are also an option.

    Horned Felldrake (MMII) 4HD/LA -- medium, natural armor +7. Does not appear to have a listed LA, which makes it unplayable, but the high natural armor makes it somewhat useful as an Alter Self form if you're in a setting that doesn't have Bozak Draconians.

    Howling (Dcn) 9HD/4LA medium - breath weapon: sonic, breath weapon: Wis damage, immunity to sonic, frightful presence from wyrmling age.

    Incarnum (MoI) 4HD/2LA tiny - Meldshaping (Soulborn list).

    Iron (DM356) 7HD/4LA medium, breath weapon: cone of half fire, half electricity or sleep. It's not all that different from a Gold Dragon.

    Oceanus (Dcn) 7HD/4LA small - breath weapon: lightning, breath weapon: daze, amphibious, immunity to electricity.

    Orange (DMC) 5HD/3LA small - oily line breath weapon that explodes on those caught in it two turns later. The Orange Dragon is more interesting than it is actually good, since many combats won't last long enough for the breath weapon to come to fruition, and that third point of LA means you can't buy more than one LA off pre-epic.

    Mercury (DoF) 3HD/2LA tiny - 200' perfect flight. Now we’re getting somewhere. The ECL is manageable, the LA can be bought off, it’s a true dragon with access to sovereign archetypes, and that fly speed is wonderful. There are a lot of builds that Mercury Wyrmlings can do really well.

    Mist (DoF) 3HD/2LA tiny - breath weapon: fire, mist form (gaseous form that you can cast in), bluff as a class skill. Makes a better Ur-Priest base than the Blue Wyrmling, despite you needing to get spellcraft from class levels or Loredrake.

    Nickel (DM356) 4HD/3LA tiny, swim speed, breath weapon: cone of acid. Basically the same as the Black Dragon.

    Purple (DMC) 7HD/4LA medium - breath weapon cone of force damage, breath weapon blast of blindness, breath weapon replacing bite in a full attack with a blade that deals half breath weapon damage on a touch and can make iteratives (though the blade is nonfunctional by RAW as it is a (Su) ability and therefore a standard action), better stats than Red and Gold Dragons. I can't really recommend this thing with the ECL it saddles you with, but if you want to go full on dragon, and don't care about the iconic-ness of the Red/Gold/Silver varieties, this is an okay option.

    Pseudodragon (MM) 2HD/3LA tiny - telepathy, spell resistance, decent poison with its sting attack. Not a true dragon. Has a racial hide bonus that makes it a handy Alternate Form option.

    Pyroclastic (Dcn) 7HD/4LA medium - breath weapon: half fire and half sonic, breath weapon: disintegrate (successful save negates entirely), immunity to fire and sonic, frightful presence from wyrmling age. The save or die breath might warrant this being green despite the ECL. It's certainly one of the best out of the bigger, higher ECL dragons.

    Radiant (Dcn) 9HD/4LA medium - breathe weapon: line of force, breath weapon: cone of blindness (targets dazzled on a successful save), immunity to light effects.

    Rattelyr (ShS) 2HD/2LA tiny - immune to fire, resist elec 20, no flight, burrow 60', no breath weapon, strong fear ability, tremorsense 60'. It ages five times as quickly, which will often be a big problem, but I suppose it could be beneficial if you really want to play a dragon progressing through its age categories instead of character classes. Also note that as they only live to be about 300, they might not be true dragons according to one of the arguments that gets used against kobolds. Losing out on Sovereign Archetypes is kind of a drag.

    Red (MM) 7HD/4LA medium – Like Gold, but a bit weaker due to the lack of alternate form.

    Rust (Dcn) 6HD/4LA small – metal resistance, rusting bite. Starting at ECL 10 with no hope of buying off the LA is bad, but rusting things can be fun if you don’t mind destroying potential loot.

    Sand (Sandstorm) 3HD/2LA tiny - Immunity to Fire, 20' burrow, Tremorsense 60 ft.

    Sapphire (MM2) 5HD/2LA tiny - breath weapon: sonic & causes panic (not listed as mind or fear effect), all four movement modes, planar travel to the inner planes, (Ex) spider climb, . If you want to be a Gem Dragon, this is just about the only way to do it at a lowish ECL, though they don’t have Psionic abilities worth mentioning at any reasonable age category for a PC.

    Shadow (Dcn, updated in PGtF web enhancement) 4HD/3LA tiny - breath weapon: energy drain, hide and move silently as class skills, high mental stats, +7 natural armor (also makes it an excellent Alter Self form), 80ft land speed. A Soul Eater dip qualifies it for the energy drain feats in Libris Mortis, which work with its breath weapon. Native stealth skills (per the PGtF web enhancement, which I believe should apply to the Dcn version) and a racial +4 to Int make this one of the better skillmonkey/assassin dragons. It also has a racial +4 to Wis, which makes Ravening easier to swallow. Also gains the ability to blend into shadows at Very Young age, and has the same LA for its first three age categories, so while the 3 LA prevents more than one point being bought off, shadow dragons can handle longer campaigns with more grace than other varieties.

    Song (MoF, updated in DoF) 5HD/5LA - breath weapon: electricity, change shape, true seeing, tongues, immunity to light, darkness, electricity, and poison.

    Silver (MM) 7HD/4LA small - alternate form, breath weapon: cold, breath weapon: paralyze. Pretty much mirrors my thoughts on the Gold Dragon. The trade-off here basically amounts to getting a better breath weapon in exchange for being a worse beatstick.

    Spiked Felldrake (Dcn) 6HD/2LA large – Makes for a better mount (at Paladin -6), than it does as a character. It is among the lesser dragons which can be advanced in HD/size without changing LA though, so that’s something.

    Spinewyrm (DuM110) 3HD/3LA tiny - no breath weapon, spine attacks (just one at wyrmling/very young age) in place of claw/wing/tail attacks, improved natural attack (bite) as a bonus feat, improved grab on creatures up to one size category smaller with bite, deals impale damage with its spines on a successful grapple check, can make a number of ranged attacks with its spines equal to its age category as a standard action, every hit with one of its spines forces a save (Dex based DC) against a debuff effect which stacks with itself, only 60ft fly speed but perfect maneuverability, probably counts as a psionic creature despite lack of a PP pool due to (Psionic) subtype. Unfortunately, this thing can't really use most of its abilites without 10 effective Binder levels for Zagan (or maybe ML 9 Expansion if you're very young aged), and there's less than I'd like that can be done to optimize the spine volley when you're limited to one shot per age category. I wan't to like this thing more than I do, but it's a tough sell for PCs.

    Spire (Sh) 2HD/2LA tiny - breath weapon = fog cloud, high dex, evasion. Not a true dragon, but still alright.

    Steel (DoF) 4HD/2LA small - alternate form, 1st level Sorcerer casting. Racial Spellcasting, manageable ECL, LA which can be bought off. This will be brought up as the best dragon for PCs more often than not, and for good reason.

    Styx (Dcn) 5HD/5LA small - breath weapon: line of acid that persists for 3 rounds, damage dealt to those in the area halved each round, breath weapon: Int damage, loses claws and wings for two tail blades, amphibious, improved grab on the tail blades, constrict, bite inflicts stygian wasting (Cha damage disease, 1 day incubation), immunity to poison, disease, and harmful effects of the River Styx, LA unchanged up to young age. You might be better off taking it up to very young age for stat boosts and medium size so you at least have a chance of optimizing the improved grab ability and can pick up frightful presence. Either way, that LA is pain for what is otherwise a really interesting dragon.

    Tartarian (Dcn) 8HD/4LA medium - breath weapon: force damage, breath weapon: crushing despair effect, constant freedom of movement (only works against magical effects, not grapples), bonus on saves against force effects, compulsions, and charms, frightful presence and SR from wyrmling age. Another one of the better PC options for bigger, higher ECL varieties of dragon, but still kinda rough to play.

    Tome (DM343) 3HD/5LA - 3rd level arcane casting (knows all sorcerer divination/conjuration spells and knowledge domain). Since the divination/conjuration spells are automatically known, and not added options for spells to learn, it doesn’t lose them when it adopts a Sovereign Archetype, LA remains unchanged at very young age which gets you a decent boost to stats, the ability to use metamagic without increasing casting time, and one point of free metamagic per spell. The LA is painful, but even so, this almost makes it up to the same level of Steel and Mercury Wyrmlings. If you're looking for a Dragon Cohort, this might give you the most bang for your buck, as LA would be reduced by 3.

    Topaz (MMII) - 7HD/4LA small - breath weapon: apparently untyped damage and evaporates water, water breathing, planar travel to the inner planes. As with most of the other gem dragons, it's cool, but its ECL is just too darn high.

    White (MM) 3HD/2LA tiny - breath weapon: cold, has all four movement modes, spider climb on icy surfaces, hide and move silently as class skills. The -4 Int penalty is really rough for rogue types, but the flight and swim speeds and lower ECL makes it about on par with the Brown Wyrmling for stealthy builds.

    Yellow (DMC) 3HD/2LA tiny - breath weapon: salt encrusting (debuff effect), supernatural flight 150ft (good), excellent swim speed, bonus to attack rolls while flying, Str, Int, and Cha penalties with same Dex and Con bonuses as the mercury wyrmling. This is essentially Mercury Dragon-lite, but it's not bad by any stretch.

    Yu Lung (OA/Dcn/DM318) 6HD/1 LA tiny - 30ft blindsight, water breathing, plane shift to spirit world, 90ft swim, only 20ft land speed, no flight, can't leave water for more than an hour, high Dex and small Con bonus, but penalties to all mental stats, has perform, disguise, and swim as class skills if you use the OA update in Dragon Magazine 318. If you're in an aquatic campaign then maybe. The low LA and blindsight are tempting, but it doesn't exactly seem underpriced.
    Last edited by WhamBamSam; 2014-08-27 at 10:02 PM.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Troll in the Playground
     
    WhamBamSam's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Michigan
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Truest of the True: A Handbook to non-Kobold Dragons

    How to Train Your Dragon I

    Build Concepts

    Dragon PCs, like any other PCs, are expected to fulfill some role within the party. Rankings here indicate how well dragons can worm (or wyrm if you prefer) their way into various roles. So for example, full caster is rated not on the basis of how powerful spellcasting is in general, but on how well a dragon pc can fit into that role relative to the standard races.

    Full Caster – This is actually Red most of the time, as lost caster levels are just about the worst things that you can have in such a build, but with some cheese there are some interesting ways to make a dragon spellcaster.
    • Tome Dragons – As mentioned in the previous section, Tome Dragons know all Conjuration and Divination spells, and can take Loredrake with no consequence apart from having only 3d10 hit dice at ECL8. Even with Loredrake, they’re down three caster levels as a sorcerer, but if you accept Age Cursing (see section VII), they can manage 9th level spells, and having all those extra spells known means that they’re much less limited than the average Sorcerer who just barely scrapes his way to 9ths. They also could benefit from any cheese that involves knowing spells at a higher level than they can cast.
    • Divine Conversion – There are three PrCs in Draconomicon which have this class feature at first level; Dispassionate Watcher of Chronepsis, Sacred Warder of Bahamut, and Unholy Ravager of Tiamat. It trades in racial dragon casting for an increase in the dragon’s effective divine spellcasting level equal to the number of sorcerer levels sacrificed. The RAI was probably that you increase the effective level of one divine spellcasting class in this way, but I agree with the interpretation that Vaz put forward in his Spyro build – that by RAW, referring to "effective divine spellcasting level" in generality the way that these PrCs do means that you progress all the divine casting classes. It specifically needs to be racial Sorcerer casting as a result of your draconic variety, however, which the rules for racial spellcasting quoted above probably prevent from working all that well.
    • Ur Priest – Blue Wyrmling has the skills to qualify right out of the box, and a number of others including Steel and Mist Wyrmlings get everything but spellcraft, which the Loredrake Sovereign Archetype or class levels can grant. The only big downsides compared to Savage Bard entry are that you won’t be theurging it with Sublime Chord and also Level Adjustment, but a lot of Ur Priest builds do quite nicely with dragons as the base.
    • Dragon Psychoses - The Dragon Psychoses from Dragon 313 include two (Riddled and Spellhoarding) which are caster oriented and powerful enough to potentially be worth losing caster levels. A third (Ravening) also has some potential for use with persistomancers using the breath spells.

    Gish – In general, this is more in line with a dragon’s capabilities than being a straight up caster is. It makes use of the full BAB from RHD, and the dragon’s natural weapons, natural armor, etc. There are a number of ways to snag the holy grail that is 9th level spells and 16 BAB. Most of the ways mentioned for pulling off a full caster also work in Gish builds, as do many of the means of hitting things as a more mundane draconic beatstick.
    Stealthy Character – There are actually a fair number of solid ways to do this with a dragon. A number of dragons get hide and/or move silently as class skills straight out of the box, and having a bunch of natural weapons is nice if you’re making Sneak Attacks or the like.
    Skillmonkey – Dragon HD get you some of the class skills that you need to pull off a skill monkey build, but miss out on others. That means you need to get out of the dragon racial class and into rogue or factotum or something at a relatively low level. Unfortunately, the best low ECL sneaky dragon is the White Wyrmling, which has a -4 penalty to Int. Also, Able Learner has a racial requirement, so you can’t get around the shortcomings that way. With enough hoop jumping, you might be able to force some varieties into this role by mid to high levels, but a skillmonkey (skillizard?) takes a bit of work.
    Beatstick – Then again, maybe you just want to rip straight into your enemies with fang and claw, and not bother with fancy magic. Most dragons can fly and/or have other special movement modes, which helps a lot, but once you get up close and personal, what are you using to tear into your enemies tender flesh?
    • Natural Weapons Alone – Can result in damage being a bit lower, but it saves you on feats which you can devote to things like the Multiattack and Rapidstrike lines or to improving your flight maneuverability if you’re not a Mercury Wyrmling, or whatever. This is a decent default option.
    • Unarmed Strikes – A dragon capable of assuming humanoid form – like a Gold Dragon, Silver Dragon, or Steel Dragon – is proficient in all simple weapons, and simple weapon proficiencies aren’t terribly hard to come by, so for the price of a feat, you can add a couple of extra blows to your full attack routine. And really, is there any better way to justify attacking with pelvic thrusts than being a D&D dragon?
    • Two-hand Weapons – You can get martial weapon proficiencies from Wyrm of War or from classes easily enough, but dragons don’t have particularly good strength or size for their HD/LA, and you lose both of your claw attacks. Under normal circumstances, this is playing directly against your strengths, but it becomes somewhat more workable if you use a Mouthpick Weapon (replacing your bite instead of both claws and automatically granting proficiency *cough* spiked chain *cough*).
    • Two-Weapon Fighting – Like two-handing, this costs you claw attacks, but there are some situations where it might be leveraged into something beneficial, and Wyrm of War is nice with how feat intensive it is, so it’s not to be dismissed entirely.
    • ToB Maneuvers – Obviously, maneuvers can work in conjunction with any of the above means of swinging at things. ToB is good for melee in general, but it can be of even more benefit to dragons as it has ways of making you relevant with just standard action attacks as opposed to full attacks, which facilitates Flyby Attacking, and has ways of using small size to your advantage, which is nice for most Wyrmlings. Note also that RHD count for a half initiator level, just like non-ToB class levels do.

    Ranged Combatant – By being a dragon, you can access some nice breath weapon types that would otherwise be difficult to acquire. Unfortunately, your natural breath weapon's damage doesn’t really progress as you level unless you’re aging up as a dragon, but there are ways to remedy that somewhat (especially through items) and having access to Dragon Magazine material. With the Ravening Dragon Psycosis, breath weapon blasting goes up to blue or even gold, as it makes true dragonhood hugely important to the breath blasting concept and is actually not very kobold friendly. Having flight and other fancy movement modes can also be handy for ranged builds, and Wyrm of War can cover feats and proficiencies for archery should you want to go that route, though you lose access to some race-specific options which are very good for archers, like Chameleon.
    Support Character – Maybe you came in looking to be a terrifying beast savaging enemies with fang and claw, but then realized that every manageable ECL dragon is the size of a cat and kind of adorable. So now you just want to be the team mascot. Well good news! Just about everything you might think to do with this sort of character can be done on a Flyby Attack, and you can likely still manage the feats and BAB to stay competent at hitting things.

    Sovereign Archetypes

    As I mentioned earlier, Sovereign Archetypes are found on page 30 of Dragons of Eberron, and afford a dragon various benefits in exchange for losing its extra options for Sorcerer spell selection, if it had any, and that this trade is overwhelmingly positive for a Dragon PC in the vast majority of cases. So you’re definitely adopting a Sovereign Archetype, but you’re only allowed to pick one. Which should it be?

    Child of Eberron – You learn Druidic, get survival as a class skill, and can cast spells from the Druid list as Arcane spells. It’s a potential means of getting into Foluchan Lyrist, but it’s really only a good one for Kobolds. Trying to make a Foluchan Lyrist work around dragon HD/LA is like pulling teeth even with the Druidic language requirement taken care of. It can be cool for an NPC dragon, but it’s nothing to write home about for PCs unless you really want access to druid spells.
    Flame of the Forge – Adds craft and use magic device as class skills, increases caster level by two for the purposes of creating magic items, and gives a few creation themed bonus spells known/added to spellbook. Use magic device is already a class skill for true dragons and like with Child of Eberron, this can be interesting on a dragon NPC, and has some cheese potential on a kobold, but I don’t really see a reason for dragon PCs to bother.
    Fortune’s Fang – Add bluff and disguise as class skills and cast spells from the Cleric list and the Feast, Luck, and Trickery domains as arcane spells. Bluff and disguise are pretty common, if not universal dragon class skills, and the spellcasting options aren’t really any better than what you give up most of the time. This really isn’t worth it.
    Guide of the Weak – Diplomacy and intimidate are added as class skills and you can cast Cleric spells and spells from the Community and Protection domains as arcane spells. Diplomacy and intimidate are already class skills for true dragons, and the spell selection is generally no better than it was before.
    Lightkeeper – You get a divine aura as a cleric of your caster level, can take Extra Turning without meeting the prerequisites to gain 4 turn or rebuke attempts per day, and can cast spells from the Cleric list and from the Glory, Law, Sun, and War domains as arcane spells. The benefits aren’t astonishing, but turn/rebuke attempts are handy, and since the archetype has no restrictions on which alignments get turning and which get rebuking, this can be used in conjunction with other sources of turning/rebuking as a means of getting a pool of each.
    Loredrake – Effective Sorcerer level increases by two, and spellcraft is added to your list of class skills, but dragon HD are reduced to d10s. Loredrake is infamous in Kobold builds, and it’s still pretty great for regular dragons. You need to get those caster levels back if you seriously intend to use spellcasting, and getting spellcraft is nice for a number of things, including Ur Priest qualification as a Steel Dragon.
    Master of the Hoard – Appraise, diplomacy, and sense motive are added to your list of class skills, and you can cast spells from the Cleric list and the Charm, Commerce, and Travel domains as Arcane spells. Diplomacy and sense motive are already class skills for true dragons, and the spell selection isn’t notably better than usual for dragon spellcasting.
    Passions Flame – Adds perform to your list of class skills and gives you rage the same number of times per day as a barbarian of your caster level. Not too bad. All you really lose out on is the ability to adopt a better archetype, and it can make for a few interesting builds.
    Stalking Wyrm – Adds hide, move silently, and survival as class skills, gives you Track as a bonus feat, lets you cast spells from the Air, Animal, and Earth domains as Arcane spells, and you gain favored enemies as a ranger of your sorcerer caster level. Like Passion’s Flame, it’s really not bad, just inferior to Loredrake and Wyrm of War. It does allow you to be sneaky as a Steel or Mercury Wyrmling as opposed to a White or Brown, which might be worth it on rare occasions.
    Wyrm of War – Gain proficiency with all simple and martial weapons and all armor, and get a bonus fighter feat or combat feat tied to draconic abilities that you qualify for every 4 HD. Note that that’s every 4 HD, not every 4 dragon HD. So if you can buy off all of your LA that’s 5 bonus feats by level 20. Suck it puny humans. This is very, very good. Unless you need the casting boost from Loredrake, you should probably take this.
    Wyrm of War (Maneuver Variant) – Instead of the proficiencies and feats, you gain the ability to permanently sacrifice sorcerer spell slots for Tiger Claw maneuvers known with your initiator level equal to your Sorcerer level. Note that you still get all of your usual Sorcerer spells known. You just have fewer slots to cast them out of. By my reading of the entry and the rules for maneuvers in non-initiator classes from Tome of Battle, I believe the maneuvers work the way they would if they were granted by the Martial Study feat for the most part. In most cases, the relevant text simply references maneuvers known in absence of levels in an initiator class, with a parenthetical aside to the Martial Study feat, but there are cases where maneuvers granted by the Martial Study feat are specified, in which case the maneuvers from this archetype don’t count. By RAW, it seems that you should also keep all maneuvers you gain through this archetype if you trade in your effective Sorcerer level through Divine Conversion. In general, this is an inferior option to using the standard Wyrm of War and an initiator class, but it’s interesting and can be useful for some builds.
    Last edited by WhamBamSam; 2014-07-20 at 06:41 PM.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Troll in the Playground
     
    WhamBamSam's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Michigan
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Truest of the True: A Handbook to non-Kobold Dragons

    How to Train Your Dragon II

    So you’ve picked out a dragon, decided what you want it to do, and selected an archetype accordingly. You’ve established your foundation, and now it’s time to select the materials with which to build upon that foundation and make your dream of an effective dragon character a reality. Some standard optimization fare will be skipped over in favor of discussing things which are specific to or especially beneficial for dragons or pose unusual problems for dragon builds that don’t really come up when using a more conventional race. That said, there are probably considerable oversights here or things that were missed entirely due to my personal predelictions, and this is the section that could probably benefit the most from suggestions.

    Dragon Specific Classes

    Classes Requiring the Dragonblood Subtype – If you buy the auto-qualification cheese (see section VII), these can be very handy.
    • Disciple of the Eye (RotD) – A monkish PrC which stacks its levels for unarmed speed and flurry. At second level you gain a fear ability which affects anything you attack with fewer HD than you, and at fourth level you get a swift action fear ability against a target within 30 feet. A Mercury Wyrmling with Great Flyby Attack and the usual Never Outnumbered/Imperious Command setup could spread terror across entire battlefields, though at high levels immunity to fear is too common for the tactic to be reliable.
    • Singer of Concordance (RotD) – A full casting PrC. It has ½ BAB and abilities that are generally geared toward full casters, so you won’t go very far in it unless you’re building a full-caster Tome Dragon, but it’s a fantastic two level dip for a dragon gish. At second level, the class gives a bonus domain (the rules for non-Clerics gaining domains are on page 20 of Complete Divine) from the list that Io has available (Knowledge, Travel, Strength, Dragon, Wealth, Healing, Magic). I'll often suggest trading in the domain for a devotional feat or for another domain via the Substitute Domain spell (as the worship of Io is among the prerequisites you ignore, and you can therefore make the domain be any one you want).

    Divine Conversion PrCs – If you don’t mind a bit of 20 level build syndrome, Divine Conversion can be handy, though unfortunately the fact that it limits the Sorcerer level you can trade in to what you can get through your race and maybe Loredrake, depending on whether you read those two Sorcerer levels as being part of the dragon's "age and draconic variety" or not.
    • Dispassionate Watcher of Chronepsis (Dcn) – The first Divine Conversion PrC is also easily the best one, as its entry requirements are the least stringent by a huge margin, and allow you to lose fewer caster levels pre-conversion. Unfortunately, Chronepsis’ fluff limits the adventures you can undertake, as it makes you into the draconic version of this guy.
    • Sacred Warder of Bahamut (Dcn) – Needing +15 BAB makes it impossible to pull off the same level of shenanigans as Dispassionate Watcher can. Worse still is the DR5/Magic requirement. Swift Wing or Vow of Poverty will meet the prereq, but it's still annoying. Still, this can be okay and allows you to be more heroic with your divine magic.
    • Unholy Ravager of Tiamat (Dcn) – One of the prerequisite feats requires large size, so it’s impossible for a Steel Wyrmling to enter unless you're temporarily qualifying through something like Expansion or Polymorph.

    Other Noteworthy Classes

    Spellcasting Classes
    Spoiler
    Show
    Abjurant Champion (CM) – This is pretty much the Arcane Gish PrC, and that hasn’t really changed, but be aware of the prerequisite of proficiency in a martial weapon that you usually get to ignore. Some dragon builds might have to take an extra dip into a martial class or burn a feat beyond the usual tax of Combat Casting in order to get in.
    Cleric (SRD) – Cloistered Cleric is a good dip in general, and for dragons it can be even better. Dragons really like devotional feats, Knowledge Devotion especially, so getting them for free, and a turn/rebuke pool to fuel the ones that need it is nice. Also, as gung ho as I am about trading alternate spell selections away for sovereign archetypes, the Cleric list is fantastic, and has a number of things that dragons really like (i.e. Bestow Curse/Remove Curse at lower spell levels, Mark of Justice, Righteous Might).
    Dragonslayer (Dcn) - Requires two bad prerequisite feats (well one if you can use the Otyugh Hole), but is a decent 1 level dip for full BAB and spellcasting advancement. It also grants proficiency in all martial weapons, which is handy for meeting prereqs.
    Eldritch Knight (SRD) – Similar to with Abjurant Champion, this requires martial weapon proficiencies which you’re less likely to have than a non-dragon gish, but Eldritch Knight requires proficiency in all martial weapons, not just one.
    Geomancer (CD) – The faux theurge entry is as annoying as ever, but since you’re already likely devoting some op-fu to boosting your large number of natural attacks, tacking on a few more such attacks is nice, as are the other features.
    Jade Phoenix Mage (ToB) – We already know that JPM is a great Gish PrC, but it’s worth mentioning here because it interacts with the variant Wyrm of War archetype in interesting ways, some of which are actually good. Getting the bad news out of the way first, you can qualify with just maneuvers learned by trading in Sorcerer spell slots, but it is inadvisable to do so. The rules for ToB PrCs qualifying without initiator classes state that the number of maneuvers you can ready is equal to the number of maneuvers learned through the Martial Study feat plus the number of maneuvers readied granted by the PrC in the absence of levels in an initiator class. So in essence, you’ll lose the ability to initiate your maneuvers if you try to force your way into JPM that way. On the bright side, because you explicitly get to add your JPM level to your initiator level, and have an initiator level equal to your effective Sorcerer level, so many of the JPM levels count twice, and you can potentially qualify for high level maneuvers a few levels early.
    Mindbender (CA) - The popular 1 level dip for Mindsight is less valuable for a dragon that it would be normally, as creatures with blindsense are beaten by Darkstalker even if they use some other sense by RAW. Unless your DM throws you a bone, or you're stripping yourself of your racial blindsense somehow, it does nothing for you.
    Ur-priest (CD) – As mentioned in the previous section, there are a number of nice ways to qualify as a dragon, and the fantastic Cleric spell list is even nicer when you get access to more of it through fast progression.
    Ruathar (RotW) - Might look appealing at first, what with the whole "slowing the aging process" thing, but it in fact only increases the age at which you begin each age category, meaning it doesn't do anything to stop you from having to take more levels of Dragon HD/LA, except for the ones which actually come with class features. Barring a houserule from a kind DM, this is a class to avoid.
    Sorcerer (SRD) - If you want to progress racial spellcasting with PrCs, you need a Sorcerer dip. Sad but true. Try to make the best of it. The familiar is better on gishes, what with the high HP and BAB you'll have, but there are a number of other good options in terms of ACFs. Metamagic Specialist is a good one, as the usual rules for metamagic on spontaneous spellcasting are obnoxious, and Dragonblood Sorcerer is a good way to catch some of the things that fall through the cracks with auto-qualification (draconic soulmelds, non-fire energy damage with Dragonfire Inspiration, etc.). Battle Sorcerer and Stalwart Sorcerer are bad options, even for gish dragons, since you won't even be staying in the base class long enough to get much out of them, unless you're using Spellhoarding, which removes the downsides by trading out your Sorcerer casting for Wizard casting.
    Wu Jen (CM) - Giant Size and Body Outside Body are awesome for dragons, but man do those lost caster levels sting.

    Sneaky Classes
    Spoiler
    Show
    Assassin (SRD) – Making lots of Sneak Attacks/Death Attacks is cool, but the White Wyrmling’s -4 Int penalty is kind of a bummer.
    Factotum (Dsc) – If you’re not saddled with an Int penalty a few levels of Factotum can be as nice as ever. Having every skill as a class skill also opens up a lot of possibilities for age cursing cheese. Use a preexisting Mark of Justice to increase your age as a free action, you have (6+Int)x3 skill points to pour into any skill you like (possibly cross class, but whatever) and have Cunning Knowledge and Brains Over Brawn on top of that. It comes online a bit late but it's still pretty cool.
    Ninja (CAdv) – Sudden Strike on a bunch of natural attacks or a Flyby Attack/Great Flyby Attack is nice, and a single round of invisibility can mean a lot more with a dragon’s mobility.
    Ranger (SRD) – A one level dip is probably a better way of getting Track than Stalking Wyrm, and the Fangshields substitution level at Ranger 2 can get you Multiattack which can help with the making of big sneak attacks.
    Rogue (SRD) – Gets you Sneak Attack and has UMD as a class skill.
    Scout (CAdv) – Sure, why not? Flight and racial senses are handy for scouting out things, and skirmish damage and Flyby Attack/Great Flyby Attack play nicely together. It’s a shame that fast movement only increases your land speed though.
    Swordsage (ToB) – A Shadow Hand focused Swordsage can do stealth quite well, can get a couple of Sneak Attack dice through Assassin’s Stance, has strike maneuvers to use with Flyby Attack, and potentially more versatility beyond that. If you’re making a sneaky dragon, this is probably at least worth a dip.

    Martial Classes
    Spoiler
    Show
    Barbarian (SRD, CC) – If you’re optimizing around making lots of attacks, the one level dip for Whirling Frenzy and Pounce is a good one.
    Binder (ToM) - Even if it is only once per 5 rounds and can provoke AoOs, Paimon's Dance of Death compares pretty favorably to Great Flyby Attack. Plus, he grants Weapon Finesse for free so long as you've got a dagger in one claw (and if you're optimizing toward breath weapon use at all, you'll want a dragonfang dagger anyway). You can also pick up a few natural weapons that are otherwise difficult to come by (Amon's ram attack, for instance), a number of ways to punch through DR you might otherwise have trouble with, various things that facilitate flyby attacking despite the class being distinctly lacking in any sort of flight of its own, and Zagan is just about the only thing that can make grappling viable as an undersized baby dragon.
    Crusader (ToB) – Crusader is a great melee class. If you’re going JPM, a Crusader entry allows you to snag better maneuvers from Devoted Spirit, and if you’re a Gish using Sorcerer casting there’s more Cha synergy here than with the other martial adepts.
    Fighter (SRD) – If you still need feats even with Wyrm of War, then sure, take a Fighter dip. Alternately, if your feat based needs are met, the Sneak Attack variant gets you bonus damage without costing you BAB. Also, Mercury Dragons will love the Hit and Run variant.
    Knight of the Sacred Seal (ToM) - The feat tax for entry is easily paid by Wyrm of War, and if you're focusing on a specific vestige, this is really a no-brainer. You probably want to avoid the capstone though, as changing your type to outsider loses you access to a significant amount of dragon type cheese and possibly your Sovereign Archetype as well.
    Monk (SRD) – As always, Monk is a one or two level dip, but it can be a good one if you’re expanding your attack routine with unarmed strikes.
    Totemist (MoI) – Yo dawg, I heard you like natural attacks so I shaped Girallion Arms so you can make natural attacks while you make natural attacks. I also heard that Mercury Dragons have Jump as a class skill, and so can use Landshark Boots to get four hits on a Flyby Attack. Optimization around making a lot of attacks as a Totemist synergizes well with optimization around making a lot of attacks as a dragon, as one might expect, though there is some slight overlap between Totemist abilities and innate abilities. Note also, that by RAW, dragons do not have access to draconic soulmelds, as they are not on the list of things that auto-qualification grants you, though there are a number of ways you can get the subtype back relatively painlessly.
    Ranger (SRD) – As mentioned above, the Fangshields substitution level at Ranger 2 can get you Multiattack, which can be helpful if you're making something really feat intensive.
    Soul Eater (BoVD) - If you take the more permissive reading which allows you to deal a negative level with each natural weapon hit, this can be very good with a dragon's attack routine.
    Swordsage (ToB) – Of the three martial initiator classes, Swordsage works the best for smaller sized characters, so if you’re not interested in investing the resources to increase your size for bigger and more numerous natural weapons, this is a good way to go melee-wise. Also, Tornado Throw is stupid fun with dragon flight speeds if you can get all the way up to 9th level maneuvers.
    Warblade (ToB) – Access to Tiger Claw means there’s some potential synergy with the variant Wyrm of War, and there are certainly worse ways to be getting various martial weapon proficiencies to qualify for Gish PrCs. The biggest dragon specific thing that Warblade brings to the table is the ability to end Bestow Curse with Iron Heart Surge, which is handy for Age Cursing.

    Support Classes
    Spoiler
    Show
    Bard (SRD) – For DFI do anything other than fire damage you need to use the same feats that a human does. So it’s not enough to just be a dragon, you have to be a half-dragon dragon or a dragon with draconic heritage. Also note that with the number of levels you’ve already spent on dragon HD, you can get Bardic music from various PrCs which might offer better alternatives to the ¾ BAB and Bard spellcasting which you won’t be able to progress adequately with all the levels lost to HD/LA.
    Prestige Bard – Gets basically everything you would have gotten from Bard, except it grants access to the Bard specific list for your Sorcerer spells known instead of giving you a new spellcasting progression that you’re doomed to suck at.
    Warblade (ToB) – Flyby Flanking Maneuver, Great Flyby Covering Strike, White Raven Tactics, Iron Heart Surge de-cursing, and other things besides.
    Warrior Skald (RoF) – Another way of getting Bardic music without bothering with regular Bard. Easy to qualify for coming off of the RHD of a Passion’s Flame dragon or a Battle Dragon, and the trade off compared to Bard levels is favorable.
    War Chanter (CW) – You need Inspire Courage to get in, but once you do, you get some nice buffing abilities out of it. As with Warblade, the buffs are standard actions, so you can use them with Flyby Attack, which could potentially be useful if you need to manage an entire army, or just want more freedom in your positioning.

    Psionic Classes
    Spoiler
    Show
    Ardent (CP) - Ardent manifesting progression is based on manifester level only, so you can fix the problems of lost ECL with Practiced Manifester and reach 9th level powers. The Substitute Power ACF also allows you to pick and choose the powers you need.
    Fist of Zuoken (XPH) - Manifests from the PsyWar list and progresses Monk abilities, which can be nice.
    Psion (XPH) - Probably a bad idea, as you lose a lot of manifester levels, but it might be useful in some corner cases where you really want limited psionics and Ravening
    Psychic Rogue (Web Enhancement) - The power list will likely have you burning feats on Expanded Knowledge, but sneak attack is still nice with dragon natural attack routines, and like Psion, it might play a bit nicer with Ravening due to being Int based. Worse than PsyWar most of the time, but better if you're going for a Confound the Big Folk build.
    Psychic Warrior (XPH) - Expansion is one of the few ways to increase your size by multiple categories, and Psionic Lion's Charge can be handy if you don't have any other means of pouncing. Remember that you can't spend a number of PP exceeding your manifester level, so the magic number for expansion is ML7 to increase size by two categories, or ML9 to do so as a swift action or with a minutes/level duration.
    Sanctified Mind (LoM) - A solid Psi-Gish PrC, especially if you can meet the feat prereq with the Otyugh Hole. Also gives a Flyby Attack friendly smite against psionics using creatures (or magic using creatures if you have the Magic Mantle, so pretty much everyone). Shame it only goes for 6 levels, but ah well. The prereqs include proficiency in all martial weapons, but unlike Sorcerer gishes, you're probably a Wyrm of War and don't need to worry about that too much.
    Slayer (XPH) - If you're Psi-gishing out of PsyWar or Ardent, you're probably going Slayer at some point.
    War Mind (XPH) - Better BAB than PsyWar and some good abilities, but it requires you to have a preexisting PP pool probably through Hidden Talent, and you don't get the bonus feats. Also, the movement restrictions on sweeping strike are obnoxious. Pretty much even with PsyWar, in my opinion.
    Wilder (XPH) - Slower manifesting progression than Psion, but with 3/4 BAB and Cha as the manifesting stat. Potentially useful for pretty much the same reasons (that is, Ravening's Wis penalty).

    Breath Blasting
    Spoiler
    Show
    Binder (ToM) - If you're a Ravening Dragon, and you don't have access to a Bag of Tricks or a steady enough supply of edible enemies, then Naberius is one of the better ways around suffering Con damage. You can also bind Astaroth for crafting (though it can be a dangerous game when you're in a race against time to not have to take more levels in dragon) which helps ease the tax breath blasting puts on your WBL. Note however that Binder breath attacks are not breath weapons and do not work for the purposes of Ravening, Metabreath feats, or the like.
    Dragonfire Adept (DM) - You can get another type of breath weapon, though it'll be weak and really only serve the purpose of giving you another secondary breath option through your Crown of the North Wind unless you plan on taking a lot of levels, which I wouldn't really recommend with all the levels of progression you lose to RHD/LA. If you're going to dedicate yourself to being a dragon imitator, be an imitator.
    Dragon Shaman (PHBII) - Like DFA, but takes 4 levels to get your new breath type. If you're starting from a dragon that doesn't have acid/cold breath and you really want slowing/paralyzing breath and spider climb/icewalking, then maybe consider this. Otherwise, skip it.
    Dungeoncrasher Fighter (Dsc) - If you're a Cobalt Dragon, this is probably the reason why.
    Factotum (Dsc) - Cunning Surge+Ravening allows you to spam your breath weapon. You also have access to the breath spells through Arcane Dilettante, though Factotums lack the tools for metamagic reduction. Keeping UMD as a class skill allows you to use scrolls (or wands with Sanctum Spell cheese) of those spells though.
    Marshal (MH) - If you're a Cobalt Dragon, this is gold as the Art of War Minor Aura is the only thing I've found that works to increase the Bull Rush check for your breath weapon that doesn't involve simply optimizing for damage, as it's not actually a Str check, and therefore doesn't work with other things which refer to "Str checks to bull rush an opponent" or "Str checks (such as Bull Rush checks)" instead of just "Bull Rush checks." Otherwise, Marshal doesn't do that much for breath weapon optimization, though Motivate Wisdom can help Ravening Dragons make the Wis check to regain control if they don't manage to eat enough.
    Soul Eater (BoVD) - If you're a Shadow Dragon, you should take at least one level, as it qualifies you for a number of useful feats based around the bestowing of negative levels (which you do with your breath weapon).
    Talon of Tiamat (Dcn) - A half-casting PrC which grants a bunch of different breath types with actually decent damage for the level you get them. If you can get past the ick factor of lost caster levels, then it's not bad.
    Totemist (MoI) - The Strongheart Vest is another way of preventing Ravening's Con damage if you ever fail to eat enough, but like Binder breaths, most of the Totemist soulmelds that imitate breath weapons are not actually breath weapons. The Dragonfire Mask's throat bind does give an honest to god breath weapon with comparable damage to what your regular breath will be getting with a Crown of the North Wind if you invest enough essentia, but it does fire damage, requires your throat chakra to be open, and as mentioned above, is not actually available to you unless you pick up the real dragonblood subtype somehow.


    Templates

    Dragon Psychoses (DM313) - A set of insanity based templates from Dragon Magazine 313 which can be applied to True Dragons. They have no listed LA, and per this line in the SRD...
    Quote Originally Posted by SRD
    A template’s description provides a set of instructions for altering an existing creature, known as the base creature. The changes that a template might cause to each line of a creature’s statistics block are discussed below. Generally, if a template does not cause a change to a certain statistic, that entry is missing from the template description. For clarity, the entry for a statistic or attribute that is not changed is sometimes given as "Same as the base creature."
    that means they have LA+0 by RAW, cheese be damned. I could have listed them right after the Sovereign Archetypes, or in the cheese section where I used to have them, but I decided this was a happy medium. Even with all of my permissiveness and love of dragons, I'd at strongly consider banning Riddled and Spellhoarrding, though I really quite like Ravening.
    • Nameless - Only applies to true dragons of adult age or older, so a PC isn't taking it. Trades away spellcasting and takes a -10 to all Int based skills in exchange for nondetection, immunity to mind affecting, increased SR, being harder to know stuff about, and automatically knowing if its name is spoken by anyone within 100 miles.
    • Ravening - Allows you to fire off your breath weapon on three consecutive rounds, even if you apply metabreath feats. Also has +4 Str, -4 Wis, gives you a fire shield effect that does the same type of energy damage as your breath weapon, and needs to eat its body weight every day or suffer Con drain and Wis checks against madness. There are ways to manage the downsides pretty effectively. Mandatory for breath blasters if allowed.
    • Riddled - Use Int in place of Cha for determining spell DCs and bonus spells in exchange for one of your spell slots at each spell level, and some vulnerabilities to riddles and the maze spell, which really just boil down to fluff as they should be pretty manageable in gameplay. Also has +6 Int, -4 Wis, and +4 to saves against mind affecting spells. This is great for Tome Dragons.
    • Spellhoarding - Replaces Sorcerer casting with Wizard casting, using your scales as a spellbook, which it calls your spellhoard. You can also lose spells from your spellhoard to ignore exp or gp costs for a spell or to cast the spell as if from a scroll. You also get improved counterspelling with the ability to add anything you counterspell to your spellhoard. Finally you gain +2 Int, -4 Wis, Eschew Materials and Scribe Scroll as bonus feats, and +5 to Spellcraft. You do need to have 3 more Int than is normal for your dragon variety, and max Knowledge(Arcana) ranks but why wouldn't you?
    • Wandering - You lose half of your spells per day, but if you have a caster level you can get a Haste effect as a free action for a number of rounds equal to that caster level three times per day. You also gain partial concealment from an ongoing (Su) illusion effect. Has +6 Dex, -4 Con, -10 to Spot, Listen, and Search, and doesn't sleep. Could be fun on a Mercury Dragon.


    Other Templates - Stacking LA on top of LA removes all chances of ever buying it off, so buy off your regular dragon LA before even considering most templates, and even then they’re probably not worth it. There are a few interesting ones that warrant mentioning though.

    • Archdragon (DM321) - Alignment changes to NG, CN, NE, or LN and you gain the corresponding alignment subtype. You gain some immunities, 100ft Telepathy, always on True Seeing, better flight maneuverability, and a 1/day status effect aura, extra domain access, and rider effect on your breath weapon based on alignment. NG gives you an aura which fast heals good creatures, harms evil ones, and makes everyone else within the area take a -1 on attack and damage rolls and makes undead hit by the breath weapon make a save against disintegration. The CN aura causes damage creatures without the chaotic subtype, miss chance to everything except the dragon, and the breath causes a Glitterdust effect until the dragon can use its breath weapon again. The NE aura deals a point of Wis damage and a point of Con damage to non-evil living creatues each round, and the breath infects targets with Demon Fever. The LN aura affects non-lawful creatures as by a doom spell, and the breath weapon makes targets and their gear affected as if by Antimagic Field. The Law Archdragon's breath is fantastic, and there's definitely interesting stuff here, but the auras are likely to not play nicely with other party members and it's LA+4 which is probably a bit much for a dragon PC to swallow. It's probably underpriced on the other side of the DM screen, as the CR adjustment is only +1
    • Dracolich (Dcn) – You gain a Paralyzing Gaze attack, and 1d6 Cold damage and a paralysis save-or-lose on all of your physical attacks. The fluff says that this is for spellcasters, but that’s clearly ridiculous. If you’re melee, and can stomach the +4LA, this could be fun, though there are a few downsides as well that are worth mentioning. First, in a weird quirk of RAW, you can’t possess your own corpse if it’s smaller than medium, so you may need to massacre some lizardfolk or something. Second, undeath has its downsides for dragons, as it takes away a lot of the cheese they’d previously been enjoying and a Con score which usually has a racial bonus. In general, I’d chalk this up on the list of things that are better for Kobolds.
    • Shadow Creature (LoM) – The fluff seems to point to this being an inherited template, but it’s not explicitly specified as such. If you can buy off your regular LA and then become a Shadow Creature, it might be worth it. Multiplying your speed by 1.5 is seriously nice. That’s 300ft perfect flight for a Shadow Creature Mercury Wyrmling, along with a few other bonuses.
    • Multihead (SS) – You gain an extra head, granting you another bite, the ability to fire off two breath weapons at once, a couple of bonus feats, +2 Con, though it means eating +2 RHD and +2 LA. It’s more fun than actually good, but it’s there if you want it, and it might be okay from a DM perspective.
    • Hoarding (online) - Turns the dragon into a neat sort of ethereal undead. It makes for a cool enemy monster but with LA+4 and the fact that it takes away age cursing it's not really playable for PCs.
    • Xorvintaal (MMV) - Fluffed as dragons betting their hoards on a game of Calvinball played with humanoid lives, this trades away innate spellcasting for various cool abilities. This would be great for any non-spellcasting dragon PCs, but sadly it requires Young Adult age. Per the same poor writing quoted above for the dragon psychoses, it's technically LA+0, and while it removes spellcasting, it doesn't affect any sort of pseudo-magic, like non-Magic Mantle psionics (the standard transparency rules are insufficient in this regard), pact magic, incarnum, etc, though that generally won't have a chance at mattering for you, because, again, it requires you be a Young Adult.
    Last edited by WhamBamSam; 2014-11-23 at 10:01 PM.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Troll in the Playground
     
    WhamBamSam's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Michigan
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Truest of the True: A Handbook to non-Kobold Dragons

    Tending the Hoard

    As with the previous section, there are probably some oversights here, so feel free to offer suggestions. I’m also sticking to the same policy of glossing over a good deal of everyday optimization to focus on stuff that pertains specifically to dragons. You don’t need me telling you that Persisted Spells are generally good, but persistable dragon specific spells are potentially noteworthy.

    Feats

    Caster Feats
    Spoiler
    Show
    Dragon Familiar (Dcn) - Allows you to use one of the MMI true dragon wyrmlings as a familiar. Nice for sharing spells as it will benefit from many of the same spells you do, whether you're trying to do natural attack things or boost your breath weapon or whatever. Don't use any fast aging method on it though, or it will cease to be your familiar. Improved Familar and Planar Familiar are naturally also options, but most of the extra dragon synergy they might have .
    Initiate Feats (DM) - The initiate feats in Dragon Magic are available to dragons via auto-qualification regardless of whether or not they are Clerics of the deities in question or even worship them at all. They add a few spells each to the Cleric spell list (or Ur-Priest spell list, as it's explicitly stated to be identical, or arcane caster list with the right Sovereign Archetype/dragon variety) and other grant minor abilities.
    • Initiate of Aasterinian - This one adds Expedious Retreat, Soul of Anarchy, Greater Invisibility, and Shadow Walk to your Cleric spell list and adds a Bluff, Disguise, Speak Language, and Sleight of Handas Cleric class skills.
    • Inititate of Astilabor - Adds Hoard Gullet, Knock, Non-detection, and Sequester as Cleric spells, and makes Open Lock, Disable Device, and Search Cleric class skills.
    • Initiate of Bahamut - Adds Feather Fall, Wingblast, Lord of the Sky, and Aspect of the Platinum Dragon to your Cleric spell list, and gives a 1/day Smite Evil based on Cleric level (though it stacks with other sources that allow you to smite evil). I don't really like most of these spells for builds that have already devoted huge build resources to being a dragon, but the smite might be good for something.
    • Initiate of Falazure - Adds Rot of Ages, Vampiric Touch, Waves of Fatigue, and Waves of Exhaustion to your Cleric list. Your inflict spells become slightly better at healing undead.
    • Initiate of Garyx - Adds Flaming Sphere, Ferocity of Sanguine Rage, Lesser Dragonshape, and Haze of Smoldering Stone as Cleric spells and grants a 1/day Sudden Empower for [Fire] spells. Mostly kinda dull, but being able to DMM Ferocity of Sanguine Rage with a dragon's attack routine is potentially cool.
    • Initiate of Hlal - Adds Hideous Laughter, Least Dragonshape, Greater Heroism, and Mind of the Labyrinth as Cleric spells. Grants a bonus equal to your CL to Escape Artists checks to escape a grapple 3/day, and grants an extra use of Bardic Music per day if applicable.
    • Initiate of Io - Adds Detect Dragonblood, Dragoneye Rune, Magic of the Dragonheart, and Kiss of Draconic Defiance to your Cleric spell list. Grants a bonus on saving throws against the abilities of dragons and dragonblood creatures.
    • Initiate of Lendys - Adds Detect Thoughts, Soul of Order, Lesser Geas, Hold Monster, and Justice of the Wyrm King to your Cleric spell list. Adds Sense Motive and Gather Information as Cleric class skills.
    • Initiate of Tamara - Adds Disrupt Undead, Chill Touch, Undying Vigor of the Dragonlords, Call of the Twilight Defender, and Sunbeam to your Cleric spell list. Cure spells heal living creatures for slightly more.
    • Initiate of Tiamat - Adds Charm Person, Curse of the Elemental Lords, Dominate Person, Glorious Master of the Elements, and Aspect of the Chromatic Dragon as Cleric spells. Intimidate becomes a Cleric class skill and you deal 1d6 extra damage to creatures under some manner of fear effect.

    Practical Metamagic (RotD) – With auto-qualification cheese you can potentially nab this a little earlier than usual, which might come in handy.
    Persistent Spell (CA) - The the various breath spells originally published in Draconomicon were rewritten in the Spell Compendium so that a) they actually function and b) they can be persisted. Persisted Dispelling Breath is a pretty nice thing if you can somehow find a way to deal with the +6 to spell level.


    Combat Feats
    Spoiler
    Show
    Beast Strike (DM355) - Lets you add your claw damage to unarmed strikes. Yes, you can use it without forgoing claw attacks on a full attack. It's also a Fighter Bonus Feat, so you're explicitly able to take it with a Wyrm of War feat. Unfortunately, due to small size, your claw damage is likely something of a small dice, but I think enhancement bonuses and the bonus damage from Beast Claws should apply even if other sources of bonus damage like sneak attack don't get added a second time. If you use unarmed strikes and Dragon Magazine material is allowed, it's worth considering.
    Flyby Attack (SRD) – It’s Spring Attack++ and only has a fly speed as a prerequisite. Fly up, take any standard action, then fly away. If you’re a Mercury Dragon, this goes up to Gold and you take it at third level at the very latest, no questions asked.
    Great Flyby Attack (SS) – It’s less of an absolute slam dunk than the regular Flyby Attack, but smacking every enemy in a long line can be cool.
    Improved Dragon Wings (RotD) - If you're playing a flightless dragon, say a Brown or a Rattlyr, gain flight for the price of a feat. So this isn't really black so much as it is Gold for flightless dragons and redundant for others. Requires auto-qualification cheese.
    Improved Flight (RotW) - If you're not a Mercury Dragon, this is the best way of increasing your maneuverability, as it doesn't have the rough prerequisites that Improved Maneuverability does.
    Improved Rapidstrike (Dcn) - Adds 4 iterative attacks on a pair of natural weapons (so claws or wings generally for dragons). Note that it doesn't require that you have Rapidstrike for the same pair of natural weapons, just that you have it, so Rapidstrike (claws) will qualify you for both Rapidstrike (Claws) and Rapidstrike (Wings).
    Improved Unarmed Strike (SRD) – Add pelvic thrusts to your attack routine. You can get it with a level in Monk or a Wyrm of War feat.
    Knowledge Devotion (CD) – You have a nice long attack routine and all knowledges as class skills. One level of Cloistered Cleric or two levels of Singer of Concordance can snag this for free. You’re probably going to want this.
    Rapidstrike (SS) – Gets you an extra claw or wing attack in your attack routine.
    Strength Devotion (CD) – Adding a slam attack is nice and this is a relatively low cost way of getting your many attacks through material DR. It needs Turn or Rebuke attempts to fuel it though, which is kind of unfortunate.
    Travel Devotion (CD) – Needing Turn or Rebuke attempts for more than a single use per day is kind of a drag, but being able to move as a swift action only gets better with different movement modes and higher speeds.

    Breath Weapon Feats
    Spoiler
    Show
    Metabreath feats become a lot better for Ravening dragons, as they defer having to wait to recharge their breath weapons until after three consecutive rounds of being able to use it. Most combats won't last long enough for you to suffer the drawbacks of breath weapon novas.

    Clinging Breath (MMIV) – Breath weapon deals half-again as much damage on the following turn, but increases the recovery time by a round.
    Entangling Exhalation (RotD) – Solid battlefield control once every 1d4 rounds against anything without outright immunity to the energy type of your breath weapon or Evasion and a high reflex save? Hell yes. If you can spare the feat, this is well worth it.
    Flyby Breath (DCS) - Allows you to use your breath weapon as a free action as long as you don't do anything else except move on your turn. Potentially worth it in the right build.
    Heighten Breath (Dcn) – Raises the save DC of your breath weapon in exchange for increasing the recovery time.
    Improved Energy Drain (LM) - Gives you a small buff for an hour after you inflict a negative level on someone, such as with a Shadow Dragon's breath. A 1 level dip in Soul Eater lets you qualify.
    Life Drain (LM) - If you're a Shadow Dragon, this is a nice little boost to your breath weapon. As above, you can qualify with a 1 level dip in Soul Eater.
    Lingering Breath (MMIV) – Your breath stays where you put it for an extra round per round of increased recovery time. Has Clinging Breath as a prereq.
    Maximize Breath (Dcn) – Your breath weapon gets the maximum result on all dice rolled. However, the recovery time for your breath weapon increases by 3 rounds. It also requires you to use a full round action on the breath attack. If you're a Cobalt Dragon you should probably take it, because you need to deal your damage all at once to bull rush effectively. It also might be worth it if you have Travel Devotion or something to reliably move with your swift action.
    Power Surge (DM313) - Increases the save DC or damage by 1 point per dice for a (Su) ability such as a breath weapon. However it forces you to wait a round before using it again, and unlike metabreath feats, it's language suggests the wait time might not be deferred by Ravening. It states that "if you must normally wait to use the supernatural special attack, you must wait one round in addition to the normal period you would wait to use the ability again." That could be parsed as an addition to the recharge time, like with metabreath feats, but it could also be read as introducing a separate cooldown that happens on your next turn regardless of whether you still have turns left for Unnatural Power. Unless of course Unnatural Power is more specific and the needing to wait is swept aside by the ability to use your breath weapon that round. Ask your DM. I'll take the most problematic reading as ways of circumventing this problem are worth noting. At any rate, jacking up breath damage is pretty good for Cobalt Dragons.
    Quicken Breath (Dcn) – This is a nifty little feat. It never received errata (likely due to growing pains of the 3.0 to 3.5 transition which appear throughout Draconomicon), so it's still a free action. Yes, Ravening Dragons can spam it as many times per round as they have free actions. I generally treat it as a 1/turn free action when talking about Ravening breath blasters.
    Rapid Breath (SS) – Has the somewhat bizarre requirement of Quicken Spell or Quicken SLA, but reduces your breath weapon cooldown by a round. If you rule that Power Surge's cooldown isn't deferred with Ravening like metabreath feats, this can remove said cooldown, which is probably worth it.
    Recover Breath (Dcn) – Rapid Breath, but with prereqs that non-spellcasters can pull off. If you’re focusing on breath attacks without stacking the cooldown increasing metabreath feats, this is well worthwhile. It should also stack with Rapid Breath, which means you can reliably get multiple breaths off in a given fight even without Ravening. If you are Ravening however, this won't solve the Power Surge problem as it explicitly works with recharge time like metabreath feats do.
    Spell Drain (LM) - Lets you steal a prepared spell lost by a creature you bestow a negative level on. Requires Improved Energy Drain and CL5. Note that Factotums have a caster level.
    Strafing Breath (DCS) - Exactly what it says on the tin. Being able to hose down a whole battlefield can come in very handy.


    Other Feats
    Spoiler
    Show
    Alternate Form (DoE) - If you really need alternate form (or more uses/day if you're a Steel Dragon) and have 5th level Sorc casting, this is how you get it.
    Dragontouched (DM) - If you need the dragonblood subtype, and aren't getting it from a dip in DFA or Dragonblood Sorcerer, then this is where you need to go.
    Vow of Poverty (BoED) – Now I know what you’re about to say. Your fingers are already itching to type the words "Sam, what are you thinking? The Vow of Poverty is full of fail!" Well, yes it kind of is, but hold on a moment. Thanks to innate flight and some dragony cheese, you can get around some of the vow’s worst problems. Moreover, if you're in an all VoP campaign, it will mean considerably less downtime for magic item back orders, which means you can advance more quickly in level and consequently be less likely to run into that first extra level of dragon. If VoP characters and dragons are both on your list of suboptimal things you’d like to try playing, doing both at once isn’t actually that bad. I also personally find the idea of a dragon forsaking its hoard quite compelling. However, if you're planning on breath weapon blasting, this is red as you will be considerably more wealth dependent.
    Half-Dragon Form (DoE) - When using Alternate Form you become a half-dragon whatever, giving you 18 Str, 10 Dex, 12 Con, adjusted by the modifiers of the base race you transform into. This means that a Steel Loredrake with this feat can simply dump Str and Dex and then gish it up as a Flind Gnoll or Greensnake Naga or something. I personally don't like this feat, because it ultimately means you're not really playing a dragon so much as a half-dragon flind gnoll, but it's certainly a powerful option.


    Uses of WBL

    So assuming you aren’t taking the Vow of Poverty, what are you doing with all that money you don’t have to blow on items of permanent flight and the like?

    Melee Stuff
    Spoiler
    Show
    Amulet of Mighty Fists (SRD) – You can only get +x bonuses with the amulet, but it’s a relatively cheap way of improving all of your many natural attacks.
    Beast Claws (SS) - Gets a +2 enhancement and an extra 1d6 damage on natural claw attacks.
    Mouthpick Weapon (LoM) - Replaces your natural bite with a weapon that can make iterative attacks. If you aren't using Unarmed Strikes for iteratives, these aren't a bad way to go. Also, if you plan to use your breath weapon often, make sure it and the mouthpick weapon will play nicely together before you shell out for one, though at least in the LoM description there doesn't seem to be any RAW reason that they shouldn't. You automatically gain proficiency in a mouthpick weapon you wield as well, so you might actually be able to cheese your way out of paying a feat to get into Abjurant Champion with one of these.
    Necklace of Natural Attacks (SS) – It’s more expensive than the amulet for anything more than a claw/claw/bite routine, but the ability to add fancy enchantments is probably worth it.
    Ring of Growth (SS) – Increases your size by one category. It makes your natural attacks stronger and more numerous, but sadly it's overpriced and is only usable 1/day with a 9 minute duration.


    Breath Weapon Equipment
    Spoiler
    Show
    Bag of Tricks (SRD) - If you're a Ravening Dragon and enemy corpses or daily hunting aren't options for feeding, one of these is worth the expenditure. The grey one is unreliable, as 60% of the time you get a diminutive sized animal, but the rust one will be more than enough for a small or tiny dragon to eat its body weight daily.
    Crown of the Northwind (DoF) - Gives you the secondary breath effects of the standard five Metalic Dragons if you deal the same type of damage with a breath weapon and lets you treat your age as Young for effects of the breath weapon that depend on age (like damage, effect duration, or number of negative levels if you're a shadow dragon).
    Dragon Spirit Cincture (MIC) - Roll an extra dice for breath weapon damage. If you have a magic weapon that adds the type of damage that your breath weapon deals to your attacks, the cincture also increases the DC of your breath weapon by 1.
    Dragonfang Weapon (Dcn) - A +1 or better dragonfang weapon from a dragon of an appropriate variety is a magic weapon that deals damage of the same type as your breath weapon. and therefore you can use a dragonfang dagger as a cheap means of meeting the requirement for the save DC boost of the Dragon Spirit Cincture. Note that this will cease to work if you're using Breath Weapon Substitution, as the weapon probably won't be keyed to your breath weapon specifically, as the weapons are made from the remains of deceased dragons.
    Metabolic Fire Graft (RotD) - A graft that gives you a 6d8 damage breath weapon of any energy type. It's expensive, especially as it requires you have another draconic graft already, and it's time consuming when you're on the clock to avoid the looming specter of more RHD/LA, but devoted breath blasters will want it for the higher damage and ability to vary energy types/Crown of the North Wind status effects.
    Psychokinetic Weapon (MIC) - If your DM rules that force damage is not an energy type, then this is a +1 enhancement which will work to get you the save DC boost from the Dragon Spirit Cincture.


    Other Equipment
    Spoiler
    Show
    Some reliable access to Bestow Curse/Mark of Justice and Remove Curse – If you can’t cast the spells yourself, you should be getting some items to do it for you. As for why, see the cheese section that I’m segwaying into right now.
    Last edited by WhamBamSam; 2014-08-27 at 10:57 PM.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Troll in the Playground
     
    WhamBamSam's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Michigan
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Truest of the True: A Handbook to non-Kobold Dragons

    Creatures of Magic: Adding Cheese to your Dragon Burger

    At last, we’ve reached the section that pertains to delicious, delicious cheese. I’ve been hinting at this stuff throughout the whole damn guide, so here’s hoping it lives up to your expectations.

    Fast Aging

    Age is power for dragons, so any means by which you can tap into your potential that doesn’t involve using your precious exp on more HD and LA is potentially awesome. This is the one big thing that kobolds absolutely cannot do, regardless of where you stand on the True Dragon argument.

    Age Cursing – Book of Vile Deeds has a number of alternative curses, one of which is
    Quote Originally Posted by Book of Vile Deeds page 28
    The victim effectively ages, moving him or her to the beginning of the next age category.
    Some people feel this is an unspeakably stinky bit of cheese, but I personally think that it makes sense for creatures of innate magic to respond to spells differently than other creatures might. In my opinion it doesn’t really need any more justification than that, but if you feel it does, you can also fluff it as any number of different things. As far as I’m concerned, this is an emergency ace in the hole for any dragon character, and the capstone when you’ve reached the maximum level for your campaign. So, now that I’ve spent a paragraph making a case for the legality and use of Age Cursing, what does it mean for you?

    Increased ECL – Might as well start with the downside. In most cases, your ECL will go up by 4 when you get cursed up an age category. This means the amount of exp that you gain is significantly reduced, which is why this is only an emergency measure until you’ve reached a high enough level or gotten far enough in your campaign so as not to care about leveling further.
    Increased BAB/Saves/HD – Three more of those excellent dragon HD without spending levels on them. Can I get a hell yes? That’s a +3 to your BAB, a boost to all your saves and a bunch of extra HP. Even if your character level goes into Epic territory you don’t have to bother with Epic Attack Bonus or Save Bonus foolishness, as the rules explicitly work differently for RHD than for class levels. So if you’re short of your fourth iterative, this can fix that.
    Racial Stat Bonuses/Abilities – Generally, you’ll get +2 to a few stats, and maybe get a new ability that you didn’t have as a Wyrmling. These bonuses are relatively minor, but still nice.
    Increased Size – Many dragons get an increase in size from Wyrmling to Very Young. This is generally pretty nice, and might even stack with other magical size boosts depending on your interpretation of how Bestow Curse works.
    Skills – Three HD worth of 6+Int skill points. Need to make a skill check? Curse yourself up and put points in accordingly. This comes on too late to be a perfect slam dunk for skillmonkeying, but Factotum-esque tricks are always snazzy.
    Extra Feats – You’ll always get at least one feat from going up 3 HD. If you’re a Wyrm of War, and you aren’t cursing up from a level divisible by four, you’ll get a second one. Even better, since Remove Curse is a thing, you can de-curse and re-curse yourself to change these feats at any time.
    More Sorcerer Levels – Steel Dragons, Tome Dragons, and older dragons of other varieties have their effective Sorcerer level increased when they go up an age category, generally by two levels. This means that you can hit 9th level spells by getting up to Sorcerer level 16 instead of 18 on a Steel Dragon Gish, which allows you considerably more flexibility. Also, as with the extra feats, you can always remove the curse and apply a new one. This allows you to re-select your two highest level spells known, and swap out one of your lower level spells known since you’ll always hit an even numbered level. For example, a Steel Wyrmling with an effective Sorcerer level of 16 would be able to choose an 8th level spell and a 9th level spell, and could replace any spell known of up to 7th level when cursed up to Very Young age. This allows you to play at being a Wizard, which is pretty cool. I’m not exactly sure what happens to the retrained spell known when the curse is removed. It’ll either revert to the original selection or stay swapped out. Either option is pretty abusable.

    If you’re applying curses on the fly, Mark of Justice can be a better option than Bestow Curse, as it can be applied at your leisure, and then triggered by saying or thinking "squiddlydoodlefluffer" or "By Crom!" or performing any other predetermined free action/non-action.

    There is an argument that this, and indeed all fast aging methods, do not work due to the rules on age advancement in Draconomicon, though it seems that age cursing at least works, the rationale being that it does not actually age you, but rather imposes the effects of being a higher age category by magic. That is, if you curse up a Wyrmling's age, it is still a Wyrmling, but has all the improvements of a Very Young dragon magically imposed upon it. This is a good thing for you, but it does mean that multiple iterations of the curse from different sources (say, by using Bestow Curse and then Bestow Greater Curse) probably don't stack, as both the curse and the greater curse would be applying the effect of increasing your age category from Wyrmling to Very Young, rather than one bringing you up to Very Young, and the next further increasing your age category to Young.

    There's also the word "effectively" in the description of the age curse in BoVD to consider. The description of dragon aging specifically calls things out the increases in HD and abilities as "benefit[s] of reaching a new age category," and without gaining those benefits, so the dragon can't be said to have been "effectively" aged, if it doesn't gain things which are explicitly noted as effects fo aging.

    Dragonborn of Bahamut (RotD) - The section on the Rite of Rebirth says...
    Quote Originally Posted by Races of the Dragon page 8
    Age: After a dragonborn underoes the Rite of Rebirth, she emerges as an adult creature regardless of her previous age. If she lives for 200 years (see Table 1–1, page 10), she enters middle age.
    So on the one hand, a dragon that becomes a Dragonborn of Bahamut fast ages to adult, which is some damn potent cheese, a step or three beyond what even I'd allow, and despite the text for dragonborn saying that they're all Humanoid (Dragonblood), there's a sidebar on the Ritual of Rebirth which states that the creature retains its original type. On the other hand, it now has the age categories described in the table on page 10, of which there are less then 12, and of which only "Adult" and "Old" have a specific meaning for dragons, meaning that for the Adult to Middle Age and Old to Venerable transitions, the dragon will revert to the standard aging rules and not become physically less powerful. Thus it would cease to meet either the Draconomicon criterion (getting stronger as it gets older) or Dragon Magic criterion (having 12 age categories) for being a True Dragon and might no longer qualify for Sovereign Archetypes (though that depends on how you interpret the still counting as its original race thing or what exactly a Sovereign Archetype is (ie, is it a template which you can cease qualifying for by acquiring a new . More to the point, non-kobold Adult Dragons have LA --, so this will result in the character being turned into an NPC. It's not even a particularly useful way for Bahamut to swell the ranks of his army, except in pressing emergencies, as the dragonborn dragons will die out centuries before ones that grow up naturally, and won't ever become as powerful. It does have some use for lesser dragons, assuming you use the more sensible text in the Ritual of Rebirth sidebar and they retain the dragon type, as it gives them age categories they otherwise wouldn't have, and allows them to become Old to qualify for epic feats.

    Reincarnate/True Reincarnate (SRD/SpC) – Reincarnate brings you back as a Young Adult. Sadly, or happily, depending on your perspective, the spell says that determining the new body or table of new bodies is entirely up to the DM for non-humanoids. Then there's the problem that most Young Adult dragons don't have listed LA, so there's a good chance that the DM will just use the opportunity to turn you into an NPC.

    Time Stop – Does not work as the dragon is aging naturally within the Time Stop, meaning it needs to gain levels in order to age its way up. You can spend as many thousands of years’ apparent time in Time Stop effects as you like, but you won’t get any older without the necessary exp.

    Reverse Aging

    By contrast, sometimes extra dragon HD are a huge pain that you want to avoid. How do you go about doing that?

    Psionic Restoration (EPH) - Drain away the level of dragon imposed on you by natural aging, then pay some Psion to use Psionic Restoration to recover the exp. Essentially the argument is that you have now met the requirement of gaining the level in dragon due to your age, and can now put the exp toward class levels instead. This is more than a little sketchy, and might get really weird if you get to the point of naturally increasing your age category, but it might be of use in a high power campaign.

    Quintessence (XPH) - Put yourself in stasis during campaign downtime, which is the biggest obstacle to making it to 20th level before gaining more RHD or LA. Since you're likely to be small or tiny you can make a Futurama freezer tube with a considerably smaller amount of the stuff.

    Smoky Confinement (CM) - An easier means of putting yourself in stasis than quintessence in some ways, but you need it to be recast each time, so it can be more costly and irksome in the long run as you'll want to save yourself time on a daily basis.

    Steal Life (BoVD) - It's an 8th level spell, and a very, very evil one, but if cast at the full moon it seems that it can forestall gaining a dragon HD or LA for a few weeks.

    Auto-qualification

    While in the process of writing Races of the Dragon, several someones at WotC done goofed. One of them was responsible for this glorious little sentence.
    Quote Originally Posted by Races of the Dragon page 4
    Dragons automatically qualify for any classes, prestige classes, racial substitution levels, feats, powers or spells that require the dragonblood subtype.
    They probably intended for dragons to be able to qualify for things as though they had the dragonblood subtype, but that's not what they wrote. Automatically means automatically. That means dragons don’t need to meet prerequisites for things that require the dragonblood subtype by RAW. As I mentioned earlier, I’m quite fond of a two level Singer of Concordance dip for Knowledge Devotion on Gish builds or a Bonus Domain, and there are a few other interesting tricks that this opens up.

    Some also argue that this opens up the ability to take the later Racial Substitution Levels in the Dragonblood Sorcerer and Dragonblood Cleric (RotD) without taking the other levels first, as the dragonblood subtype is listed as a prerequisite alongside the appropriate level of Sorcerer or Cleric. The argument is that by ignoring the "Cleric level 9th" or "Sorcerer level 7th" prerequisite, the dragon can skip the prior levels. However, there are broader rules about Racial Substitution Levels which prohibit this.
    Quote Originally Posted by Races of the Dragon, page 105
    A substitution level is a level of a given class that you take instead of the level described for the standard class. Selecting a substitution level is not the same as multiclassing—you remain within the class for which the substitution level is taken. The class features of the substitution level simply replace those of the standard class’s level.
    So while you may qualify for the higher racial substitution level at all times, you cannot take it at any level other than the corresponding level in the class. Essentially, the only time you can check to see if you qualify in any meaningful way is when you are about to take the level being substituted.
    Last edited by WhamBamSam; 2015-04-12 at 01:32 AM.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Troll in the Playground
     
    WhamBamSam's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Michigan
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Truest of the True: A Handbook to non-Kobold Dragons

    Taking Flight: Sample Builds

    Now that we’ve gone through all the rules and advice, what might a dragon build look like when everything’s been put together? Feel free to offer suggestions to be added here, as I’ve only scratched the surface. Builds will be broken down into four categories based on how they handle longer campaign timespans or lack of LA buyoff. I may eventually try to do some sorting based on whether multiclass penalties are enforced as well, as they're not commonly in effect, but are pretty awful when they are (especially as the favored class rules are somewhat unkind to dragons).

    Best Case Scenario

    This section assumes both that you will be able to buy off your base Wyrmling LA, and that everything will be wrapped up within the first two years of your dragon's lifespan, meaning you won't have to take any more RHD.

    Loredrake Steel Wyrmling 4/Sorcerer 1/Singer of Concordance 2/Dragonslayer 1/Abjurant Champion 5/Spellsword 1/Eldritch Knight 6 – This is essentially the stock build for a Steel Dragon Gish. Reaches 9th level spells and 18 BAB. If you don't like the Singer of Concordance or Spellsword dips, then a second level of Sorcerer and another few levels of Eldritch Knight will also work.

    Loredrake Steel Wyrmling 4/Sorcerer 2/Singer of Concordance 2/Dragonslayer 1/Abjurant Champion 5/Spellsword 1/Jade Phoenix Mage 5 - Has to burn a lot of feats, but Jade Phoenix Mage is just so much more fun than Eldrich Knight.

    Ravening Loredrake Steel Wyrmling 4/Sorcerer 1/Binder 1/Anima Mage 10/Singer of Concordance 2/Archmage 2 - A high-op caster dragon, but one using Ravening as opposed to Riddled or Spellhoarding for a change of pace. Worship a deity with the Fate or Retribution domain so that you can acquire Mark of Justice by having a wand/friendly Cleric to Substitute Domain your bonus domain from Singer of Concordance (you could use Arcane Disciple instead, and drop Singer of Concordance in favor of more Archmage or 4 levels of Incanatrix or something, but that necessitates a high Wis investment with the penalty from Ravening). Vestige Persist Dispelling Breath and have Quicken Breath as a feat. Now you can attempt to dispel enemy buffs as a free action throughout three straight rounds of every combat all day long, while using your regular actions to do cool caster things. At high levels, you can also cast any spell on the Sorcerer list once per day as an immediate action by age cursing up to get new spells known and using Vestige Casting. At high levels, you'll have access to Steal Life to avoid taking extra levels in dragon, and can use your newfound free time to craft all manner of cool things between age cursing spell access and binding Astaroth. Binder, Marks of Justice, Contingencies, and the like can also be used to help prevent catastrophies from hunger induced insanity.

    Wyrm of War Blue Wyrmling 6/LA 4/Ur-Priest 4/Singer of Concordance 2/Sacred Fist 4 – With Wyrm of War and an Oyutugh hole you can eventually nab all the feats needed to put together a Sacrilegious Fist and still pull off Persistomancy through Divine Metamagic. At high levels this becomes a viable Ur-Priest-zilla.

    Wyrm of War Mercury Wyrmling 3/Swordsage 17 - It doesn't need to be straight Swordsage. Dips in Monk, Warblade, and Cloistered Cleric are all potentially worthwhile, and PrCing into Shadow Sun Ninja or Master of Nine are viable, but you do need to buy off the LA to reach 9th level maneuvers for the hilarity that is Tornado Throw without resorting to using an age curse. This one is right on the verge of being in the next category, but I think I'm ultimately more comfortable leaving it here.

    Some Flexibility

    These builds can afford to lose 2-4 levels due to either not getting LA buyoff or having to eat a few HD of natural aging.

    Loredrake Steel Wyrmling 4/Sorcerer 1/Ur Priest 2/Singer of Concordance 2/Geomancer 10 – Persist some buffs. Righteous Might should be one, and Divine Power and Ferocity of Sanguine Rage via Initiate of Garyx are good choices as well. Pounce on your enemies with a nice long natural attack routine. You have 10th level Ur-Priest casting and some low-mid level Sorcerer casting on top of that. Those last two levels of Geomancer are nice (cheetah pounce is snazzy with a base speed of 150 ft), but really they could be anything from HD from aging, to un-mitigated base LA, to a dip in Monk or Totemist or something to enhance your attack routine. In fact, you hit 9ths with your Ur Priest casting at Geomancer 5, so you could even potentially shave more levels still off the top if absolutely necessary.

    Wyrm of War Battle Wyrmling 5/Warblade 1/Warrior Skald 4/War Chanter 10 – Provide support to your allies via Flyby Attack while still having full BAB and a few feats to spare on combat. Song of the White Raven allows you to Inspire Courage as a swift action, Dragontouched gives the dragonblood subtype so you can get something other than fire damage with DFI, and you can easily snag White Raven Tactics by spending a Wyrm of War Feat on Martial Study. The levels of Warrior Skald past first can be lost to RHD/LA if absolutely necessary, or traded in for more Warblade as suits the player's taste, though that may result in Extra Music being necessary, as War Chanter levels stack with Bard levels for determining the number of Bardic Music uses per day, but don't seem to stack with the pool granted by Warrior Skald by RAW.

    Wyrm of War Mercury Wyrmling 3/Binder 4/Knight of the Sacred Seal (Paimon) 4/Binder +7 - A pretty simple and straightforward Mercury Dragon Binder. Dance of Death with your nice long movement rate, using Tumble to avoid AoOs. Other vestiges can be varied according to taste. Malphas or Andromallius can add precision damage. Tenebrous can be used to fuel Death Devotion. Ronove can be combined with Shadow Blade and maybe Beast Strike to get Dex to damage and higher damage dice (though unarmed strikes require you to enter opponents' squares, unlike bite attacks, and therefore necessitate more tumbling). At higher levels Marchosias can just make each attack a Save or Die. Also Zceryll is a thing, and the ability to just fly around dropping pseudonatural lions into the world is pretty fun. Ravening is probably good for this build, and you can use your Wyrm of War feats to pick up Martial Study (Strength Draining Strike), as you're probably going for Assassin's Stance for precision damage and/or Shadow Blade anyway, and it'll allow you to pour on Str damage alongside Ravening+Weakening Gas Breath (Fire Damage+Crown of the North Wind)+Quicken Breath. If multiclass penalties aren't in effect, one might consider dipping around for less of a pure Binder build. In any case, this should handle a few levels worth of RHD/LA just fine.

    Wyrm of War Mercury Wyrmling 3/Fangshields Ranger 2/Monk 2/Ardent 2/Slayer 10/Ardent +1 - Had to have at least one dragon Psi-Gish in here. Using Magic Mantle shenanigans, you can double dip Practiced Manifester and Practiced Spellcaster to get full ML for all purposes except PP. It's possible to scrape your way to 9th level powers and 16+ BAB with just Practiced Manifester by dropping the second Monk level (or really any of the martial class levels except Ranger 1) for more Ardent (though this incurs multiclass penalties). Essentially, you use the Substitute Power ACF to grab Expansion, Pouncing Charge, Hustle, and Form of Doom. Pounce on targets from the remote distance, Rapidstriking like mad, then Hustle away. If they survive, their PR will be effectively obliterated thanks to Slayer, so pick up a good no-save power or three to capitalize. Losing a few martial class levels to not getting LA buyoff or extra levels of dragon can be managed, and you should be able to pick up Quintessence as a power to prevent the latter even in a relatively long campaign.

    Wyrm of War Mercury Wyrmling 3/Totemist 2/Hit and Run Sneak Attack Fighter 3/Swordsage 2/Factotum 3/Swashbuckler 3/Rogue 2/X 2 – Mercury Dragons have ADD by fluff, so make the most of it and enjoy having an IC reason for your diptasticness, though you’ll still need to do some darting back and forth between classes to avoid multiclass penalties if they're enforced. Bind Landshark Boots and Flyby Attack with four claws every round with Knowledge Devotion, Sneak Attack, Int x2, Str, and Dex to damage. Wyrm of War helps with the feat starvation. Take Craven because duh, Daring Outlaw for a few more Sneak Attack dice, and consider Maiming Strike as ability damage is harder to heal and therefore nice for hitting and running. Being stuck with a few more HD/LA or not having buyoff are manageable, as the last few levels would likely just be more useful dipping. If psychoses are available, Wandering might not be a bad choice. Factotum gives you a CL for the Haste ability and the only downsides are the penalties to perception skills.

    Wyrm of War Mercury Wyrmling 3/Whirl-Pounce Barbarian 1/Cloistered Cleric 1/Warblade 2/Disciple of the Eye 5/Singer of Concordance 2/Sacred Fist 6 – A Mercury Wyrmling of War that doesn’t use Flyby Attack (or rather, only uses it until its 5th character level). Take Improved Unarmed Strike, Combat Reflexes, Stunning Fist, and the Rapidstrike line for your claws through Wyrm of War, Knowledge Devotion and Travel Devotion with Cloistered Cleric, Strength Devotion through Singer of Concordance, and get a hold of Combat Casting, Ironheart Aura, Stormguard Warrior, Imperious Command/Never Outnumbered, Snap Kick, and Extra Rage with your regular feats. Pounce on someone from up to 480ft away, making touch attacks (15 of them by my count, though some of the later iteratives start to have pretty low attack bonuses, up to 17 if the size increase from age cursing stacks with Righteous Might and you get Wing attacks) to power up Stormguard Warrior and forcing every enemy within 10ft to make save against fear if they aren’t immune, then fly 240ft away with Travel Devotion. On your next turn, pounce on the same enemy again and watch them explode into a fine red mist, then fly away again with Travel Devotion. Rinse and repeat. The first Disciple of the Eye level gets you flurry, but the levels past that are just getting some minor bonuses and fear abilities, so you can potentially squeeze in a few more HD/LA if forced to.

    Wyrm of War Mist Wyrmling 3/Wu Jen 1/Singer of Concordance 2/Ur-Priest 2/Mystic Theurge 8/Wu Jen +2/Mystic Theurge +2 - This was my gold medal build from the Dragons+Mystic Theurge-Kobolds round of Junkyard Wars, and I'm occasionally prone to shameless self promotion. The basic idea is to Persist Divine Power and use Giant Size/Body Outside Body to send colossal dragon duplicates of yourself to fight while you hang out in Mist Form and cast spells. It actually manages one or two levels of LA/RHD reasonably well, though that will cost you 3 CL on your Blasphemies.

    Wyrm of War Shadow Wyrmling 4/LA+3/Battle Dancer 1/Soul Eater 1/Barbarian 1/Divine Crusader of Talona 4/Talontar Blightlord 1/Singer of Concordance 2/Talontar Blightlord +3 - A Cha-SAD Level-draining nerf-bat. Ravening helps, as ever. If you get LA buyoff and the time you need either take a Binder level for potential Con drain from Ravening, or drop the Pouncebarian dip for two levels of Paladin of Slaughter for Cha to saves. If you think you'll have to take an extra level of dragon, try to time it as your 7th character level, in place of the Barbarian dip. That'll give you the BAB you need to qualify for Divine Crusader and you'll still get all the caster levels. Talona's favored weapon is the unarmed strike, which should work as a natural weapon for the purposes of Weapon Focus thanks to Battle Dancer giving you the Monk's unarmed strike, meaning you should be able to use the same Weapon Focus to qualify for both Soul Eater and Divine Crusader. Between the Suffering Domain and the Blightbringer Prestige Domain, you get both Enervation and Energy Drain to trigger Life Drain and Spell Drain, while the Magic Domain gained through Singer of Concordance helps you strip immunities to negative levels.

    Broadly Applicable

    These builds are even more flexible, to the point of being usable in just about any campaign. They can roll with campaigns lasting 5-8 years in-game and which disallow LA buyoff.

    Ravening Wyrm of War Cobalt Wyrmling 5/LA 4/Marshal 1/Zhentarim Soldier Dungeoncrasher Fighter 10 - A somewhat unconventional almost pure Fighter and party face. Fit a few White Raven Martial Study feats into your many Fighter feats to keep Diplomacy as a class skill and snag WRT, and maybe put a few more toward Shock Trooper, even if you won't be in melee much for Power Attack and Improved Bull Rush will just be sitting there taunting you in its non-functionality. Pick up Imperious Command/Never Outnumbered for some fear-op (even with the size penalties you'll take on intimidate checks you should still be pretty good), and maybe make your first level feat Apprentice (Criminal) for bluff. Otherwise just focus on improving your breath weapon and breath damage as much as possible, then smash people against walls with your breath weapon, boosting the check with Art of War. If you're aiming for Metabolic Fire, ask your DM if using your breath weapon counts as attacking for the purposes of activating the Frightful Crest graft. Even if the swift action intimidate from Zhentarim Soldier Fighter 9 is nice for this build, Fighter levels are still fighter levels and after the boost to Dungeoncrasher damage, you won't lose much if you have to take a few levels of RHD (no extra LA between Wyrmling and Very Young age), want to dip Binder for Naberius and better face skills, or what have you.

    Wyrm of War Shadow Wyrmiling 4/LA 3/Factotum 8/Soul Eater 1/X 4 - That X can be any combination of more RHD (there are 3 more HD and no more LA required to age to Very Young), Warblade, a one level Binder dip (if you're Ravening and want a little extra security), more Soul Eater, more Factotum, a Cloistered Cleric dip for Knowledge Devotion and Death Devotion, Assassin, or a number of other things, depending on taste, whether multiclass penalties are in effect, etc. Blast the enemy with your draining breath and make Flyby Attacks (possibly with more Energy Drain or Death Attack) in the same round thanks to Cunning Surge. You can focus on Int (the Wyrmling has a +4 and at Very Young it increases to +6) and Con (+2 racial at all relevant age categories) with Cha (+4 racial at Wyrmling and +6 at Very Young) being a tertiary stat for UMD and Lifedrain. Improved Energy Drain is a minor bonus, but with it and your Factotum CL you also qualify for Spell Drain, so if you ever catch a prepared caster with his robes down, you can turn his best magic against him. If you do get LA buyoff there are things that can be done with an extra level, but it's not necessary by any means. This build manages better without access to Ravening than some other breath blasters might, but it would really like to have it if available.

    Corner Cases

    These builds assume some weirdness, such as unusual timeframes that allow natural aging to Very Young (6-8 years) or to Young (16-19 years). They may also assume LA buyoff. These builds are the most problematic when trying to insert a dragon PC into a garden variety campaign, but can sometimes better capture the dragony flavor.

    Very Young Riddled Tome Loredrake 6/LA+5/Sorcerer 1/Incanatrix 8 - Only reaches 8th level spells without age cursing, but gets Incanatrix Persistomancy, one free metamagic per day, and an extra point on top of the usual metamagic reduction that Incanatrixes get, the ability to spontaneously cast from a spells known list which contains all of Conjuration and Divination, and a casting stat of 30 before level boosts or items.

    Very Young Wyrm of War Spinewyrm 3/LA +2 (after buyoff)/Binder 10/Spinewyrm +3 HD/+1 LA/Warblade 1 - Wyrm of War feats help pick up Ranged Pin prereqs, as well as the Crushing Weight of the Mountain stance. Warblade's Weapon Aptitude shifts the racial Improved Natural Attack from your bite to your Spines. Bind Zagan so you can be treated as Large for grappling purposes, then use spine volleys for ranged pins with the detachable spines debuff, impale damage and constrict damage. Since you've got the time, use Astaroth's floating crafting feat to get Wyrmgrafter and nab yourself a breath weapon, which you can use to hose down pinned enemies, and allows you to contract Ravening for, among other things, a strength boost. You can also make ranged pins with a longbow (as hilarious as it looks for a Spinewyrm to wield one, you've explicitly got the proficiencies) or improved grab attacks with your bite.

    Young Arboreal Dragon 11/LA+6/Psion 3 - With the Psion bonus feat and 12th level feat, you pick up Practiced Manifester and Metamorphic Transfer. You can now take the form of small and medium sized fey, and snag (Su) abilities from them. Among the options is the leShay from the ELH (there's no HD cap on Alternate Form). If you have access to Psychic Reformation or Chaos Shuffling, then you can use Ardent instead and also get up to 6th level powers by using the Magic Mantle to double dip Practiced Manifester and Practiced Spellcaster, and also acquire the Half-Dragon Form feat to make your Alternate Form shenanigans even more potent.
    Last edited by WhamBamSam; 2014-08-28 at 01:09 AM.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Troll in the Playground
     
    WhamBamSam's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Michigan
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Truest of the True: A Handbook to non-Kobold Dragons

    The Dragon’s Den:
    Running a Dragon Encounter

    But as fun as dragon PCs can be, that’s not really what the creatures are in the game for. No, what really puts the dragons in Dungeons and Dragons are the epic struggles between older, more powerful dragons and the plucky groups of adventurers who venture forth to slay them. Dragons are quite powerful for their CR right out of the box, so really all the DM needs to do is not screw up too badly and the encounter should be suitably challenging to the average party. I’m going to try to start with advice for lower levels of party optimization and work up, but your mileage may vary. Things will be broken down into bite sized chunks, but the majority of this can be summed up with a single statement…

    Dragons Are Not Dumb Brutes


    Charges and Full Attacks are for Suckers – While a dragon’s full attack routine can be tempting, it often has better options, and flight is too valuable to waste by plopping the dragon down in the middle of the battlefield where the PCs can just whale on it. So strafe with Flyby Attacks and throw down breath attacks, SLAs, and spells as appropriate. Unless the dragon is designed specifically to be a straightforward bruiser, it shouldn’t act like it, and its full attack routine should only be brought to bear when it suits the dragon, or the PCs manage to force the issue. To wit, it’s kind of boring to simply win the DPS battle against the bite/claw/claw/whatever routine, but using all your cunning and ability to force the dragon to a fight on your terms and then overcoming the primal savagery of the cornered beast in hand to hand combat is pretty awesome.

    The Dragon Probably isn’t Expecting Another Fight That Day – There’s no reason for a dragon to save up its spell slots unless it expects the PCs to try skirmish tactics. If the dragon considers the party to be a legitimate threat, it’s going to pull out all the stops with its innate casting, and might employ items as well so long as it’s still going to turn a net profit on the PCs gear.

    The Players Will Target Touch AC – Or at least they will if they have any sense, as it’s the proverbial weak point on any given dragon’s underbelly. An inexperienced DM with more savvy players can have a Great Wyrm dropped by a single Shivering Touch if its SR is beaten. So that leaves the question of what reasonable precautions the dragon might take to prevent this. The dragon likely has a lower CL than a caster in a level appropriate party, which makes counterspelling problematic, there’s only so much that can be done to increase SR, and neither of those really do anything against an ubercharger with Wraithstrike. Intelligent fighting and AoOs can help to keep the PCs from delivering a death boop too easily, but sometimes you need a straight up no button. Scintillating Scales is the go-to spell to fix this problem. For the cost of a second level spell slot, your natural armor counts toward your touch AC for 1 minute/level. I’m also fond of a more mundane countermeasure – specifically, ToB counter maneuvers. Dragons have a ton of HD, which means a) they have a lot of feats, up to three of which can be spent on Martial Study, and b) their Sense Motive checks (for Baffling Defense), attack rolls (for Wall of Blades), and the like are nigh impossible for PC attack rolls to overcome, so you can shut down one touch attack per encounter with such a maneuver as an immediate action.

    The Action Economy is a Thing – The average party has four times as many actions as the dragon they’re fighting. When you design the dragon, try to give it things to do with its swift/immediate actions and maybe Quickened Breath for a useful free action. Buff and/or summoning spells are good bets for spells known so that it can make use of more of its spellcasting abilities without burning through actions during the fight.

    The Dragon Should be Well Prepared – There’s really no reason why a powerful dragon wouldn’t have access to warding, divination, or just good old fashioned scouting mooks that would let it know when the town it’s been terrorizing has hired a band of unlikely heroes to get rid of it. The dragon should be ready for what’s coming if the players have done anything to draw its attention, and at higher levels it should have Weirdstones, False Visions and the like set up to prevent standard scry and die. What exactly that means varies with the power level that you play at. It could mean that the dragon has a rough outline of its plan of action for when it’s time to throw down. It could mean that traps were set up or wands and scrolls were purchased with the specific purpose of dealing with the PCs. It could mean that the dragon is really an age category younger than it will be during the fight and has tailored its most powerful spells and one of its lower level spells specifically to deal with the party through age cursing. It could mean that the dragon has a spell list well equipped to challenge the PCs, either by shuffling its spell list through age cursing or just through good old fashioned strong spell selection and UMD, or it could mean that the dragon has been setting up contingencies for its contingencies since before any of the PCs were born.
    Last edited by WhamBamSam; 2014-07-25 at 11:02 PM.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Troll in the Playground
     
    WhamBamSam's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Michigan
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Truest of the True: A Handbook to non-Kobold Dragons

    Flying High:
    Sample Dragon Encounters

    Finishing this guide off on what I hope is a high note, here are some sample dragon encounters to throw at players. As in previous sections, feel free to offer suggestions. I’m far from being the most experienced DM in the world, and I’m sure some of you can offer dragon fights that are as good as mine or better. Note that I’m currently sticking to the more iconic Chromatic and Metallic dragons from the SRD, and that these tactics generally assume that the party is decently optimized and somewhere around T3 and perhaps at a slightly lower optimization level than I usually operate. If you’re dealing with T2s and T1s, or higher player optimization, the dragons will have to lean on their maxed UMD ranks to level the playing field a bit, and you may have to build something a bit nastier for them. In addition, while I’m a huge fan of monsters with class levels when it comes to my own DMing, I’m refraining from advancing any dragons that way here. Encounters are listed in order of increasing CR.

    Nerddrake: Loredrake Young Adult Brass Loredrake

    Size/Type: Large Dragon (Fire)
    Hit Dice: 16d10+46 (136 HP)
    Initiative: +0
    Speed: 60 ft., burrow 30 ft., fly 200 ft. (poor)
    Armor Class: 24 (-1 size, +15 natural), touch 9, flat-footed 24
    Base Attack/Grapple: +16/+24
    Attack: Bite +19 melee (2d6+4 damage)
    Full Attack: Bite +19 melee (2d6+4 damage), 2 Claws +15 melee (1d8+2), 2 Wings +15 melee (1d6+2), Tail Slap +15 melee (1d6+2)
    Special Attacks: Breath Weapon (Line of Fire 5d6/Cone of Sleep 1d6+5 rounds, save DC 21), Speak With Animals 3/day, Endure Elements 1/day, Casts as a 7th level Sorcerer.
    Special Qualities: Immunity to Fire, Vulnerability to Cold, DR5/magic, SR 18, Frightful Presence DC 20
    Saves: +13 Fort, +10 Ref, +12 Will
    Abilities:19 Str, 10 Dex, 17 Con, 14 Int, 15 Wis, 14 Cha
    Skills: Spellcraft +21 (+23 to decipher scrolls), Spot +21, Listen +21, Use Magic Device +21 (+23 when using scrolls), Concentration +21 Knowledge(Arcana) +26, Knowledge(Geography) +26, Knowledge(The Planes) +17, Knowledge (Nature) +17
    (Factors in synergy bonuses and Collector of Stories skill trick)
    Feats: Flyby Attack, Knowledge Devotion, Power Attack, Recover Breath, Practiced Spellcaster, Multiattack
    Challenge Rating: 10
    Treasure: Triple Standard
    Alignment: Chaotic Good
    Spells Known: 1st Level: Alarm, Mage Armor, Protection From Evil, Shield, Comprehend Languages. 2nd Level: Summon Monster II, Resist Energy, Web. 3rd Level: Tenacious Dispelling, Haste.

    Given warning of the PCs arrival, the dragon will use the opportunity to buff up, set up Webs, summon up a few minions, and finally boost himself and her summons with Haste. While her minions attack, the dragon keeps her distance, firing off Flyby Attacked Targeted Dispels to break down any anti-fire, anti-sleep, and anti-fear protections that the PCs might have put up in preparation. Thanks to Loredrake and Practiced Spellcaster, she has CL 11, and her dispels are actually relevant against a level 10 party. After a bit of this, she’ll make a pass with one of her breath weapons, either using the webs to deal extra fire damage or trying to take party members out of the fight with the sleep effect, then finally making her dive and biting face in melee with some nice extra bonuses from Knowledge Devotion. All through the fight, she’ll jabber on to anyone within earshot, geeking out about magic and things.


    Cold Old Ironheart: Wyrm of War (Maneuver Variant) Mature Adult White Dragon

    Size/Type: Huge Dragon (Cold)
    Hit Dice: 21d12+105 (241 HP)
    Initiative: +0
    Speed: 60 ft., burrow 30 ft., fly 200 ft. (poor), swim 60 ft.
    Armor Class: 28 (-2 size, +20 natural), touch 8, flat-footed 28
    Base Attack/Grapple: +21/+37
    Attack: Bite +27 melee (2d8+8 damage)
    Full Attack: Bite +27 melee (2d8+8 damage), 2 Claws +21 melee (2d6+4), 2 Wings +21 melee (1d8+4), Tail Slap +21 melee (2d6+4)
    Special Attacks: Breath Weapon (Cone Cold 7d6 save DC 25), Fog Cloud 3/day, Gust of Wind 3/day, Maneuvers, Crush 2d8.
    Special Qualities: Immunity to Cold, Vulnerability to Fire, Icewalking, Blood in the Water DR10/magic, SR 20, Frightful Presence DC 21
    Saves: +17 Fort, +12 Ref, +13 Will
    Abilities:27 Str, 10 Dex, 21 Con, 12 Int, 13 Wis, 12 Cha
    Skills: Hide +16, Move Silently +16, Jump +32, Spot +25, Listen +25 Use Magic Device +25, Swim +20 (can always take 10)
    Feats: Multiattack, Flyby Attack, Martial Study (Wall of Blades), Power Attack, Martial Study (Iron Heart Surge), Blind Fight, Martial Study (Pouncing Charge), Snatch
    Challenge Rating: 12
    Treasure: Triple Standard
    Alignment: Chaotic Evil
    Maneuvers Known: Wolf Fang Strike, Sudden Leap, Wall of Blades, Iron Heart Surge, Pouncing Charge.
    Stances Known: Blood in the Water
    Spells Known: True Strike, Expedious Retreat, Alarm (Only has one 1st level spell slot).
    A beatstick dragon done right. Old Ironheart hides as best he can with his huge size, using his Fog Cloud ability and Icewalking, then makes a Flyby Attack Wolf Fang Strike against one of the party members. If either attack hits, he grapples them as a free action with Snatch and keeps flying, dropping them 100 or so feet away as another free action at the end of his move. On his next turn he’ll turn back around and depending on what the party does, either loose his breath weapon or try to put an individual party member down with Pouncing Charge. Once, he’s in melee he’ll stay there unless things start going badly for him. He can shut down one attack (probably a touch spell) in the encounter with Wall of Blades, can Sudden Leap to better position a full attack once, can Iron Heart Surge away a single problematic spell effect, and has the advantage when fighting in one of his Fog Clouds thanks to Blind Fight.

    He can be advanced to Old Age for a CR15 encounter, which gives him an additional feat to work with, the Freezing Fog SLA, and a few 2nd level spells, one of which should be Resist Energy.

    Sun Sets and Darkness Falls: Wyrm of War Old Black Dragon

    Size/Type: Huge Dragon (Water)
    Hit Dice: 25d12+125 (287 HP)
    Initiative: +0
    Speed: 60 ft., fly 150 ft. (poor), swim 60 ft.
    Armor Class: 32 (-2 size,+24 natural), touch 8, flat-footed 32
    Base Attack/Grapple: +25/+42
    Attack: Bite +32 melee (2d8+9 damage)
    Full Attack: Bite +32 melee (2d8+9 damage), 2 Claws +15 melee (1d8+4), 2 Wings +15 melee (1d6+4), Tail Slap +15 melee (1d6+4)
    Special Attacks: Breath Weapon (Line of Acid 16d4, save DC 27), Darkness 3/day, Corrupt Water 1/day, Plant Growth 1/day, Casts as a 7th level Sorcerer, Counter Charge, Baffling Defense, Balista Throw, Crush 2d8.
    Special Qualities: Immunity to Acid, DR10/magic, SR 22, Frightful Presence DC 24
    Saves: +19 Fort, +14 Ref, +16 Will
    Abilities:29 Str, 10 Dex, 21 Con, 14 Int, 15 Wis, 14 Cha
    Skills: Sense Motive +30, Spot +30, Listen +30, Use Magic Device +30 (+34 with scrolls), Concentration +33, Spellcraft +7 (+9 to decipher scrolls), Decipher Script +7, Search +10, Hide +20, Move Silently +20.
    Feats: Flyby Attack, Entangling Exhalation, Martial Study (Counter Charge), Clinging Breath, Martial Study (Baffling Defense), Shape Breath, Hover, Lingering Breath, Maximize Breath, Snatch, 18th level feat, Power Attack, Large and In Charge, Travel Devotion, Martial Study (Balista Throw).
    Challenge Rating: 16
    Treasure: Triple Standard
    Alignment: Chaotic Evil
    Spells Known: 1st Level: Mage Armor, Protection From Good, Rot of Ages, True Strike, Karmic Aura. 2nd Level: Summon Monster II, Greater Alarm, Ghoul Glyph 3rd Level: Summon Monster III, Haste

    As always, given warning of the party’s arrival, the dragon will buff up and summon things, ideally having her various spells and Travel Devotion active when they arrive. Her lair is overgrown with plants thanks to her Plant Growth SLA and has a few Ghoul Glyphs scattered throughout. When the actual fight begins, she opens by using a full round action on Shaped Maximized Lingering Clinging Breath (possibly Entangling as well depending on how much the battlefield control seems to be worth relative to more damage) to engulf the party in a cone of acid, before using her swift action on Travel Devotion movement, stopping to Hover above the party, kicking up dead leaves and other plant detritus for the blinding effect and putting them within her Bite reach so she threatens them, while her summons move into position around the cone to attack any PCs who try to get out. Using her Setting Sun counters and Large and In Charge she attempts to stymie PC attempts to attack or to escape the Lingering Breath effect. If anyone does manage to get out of the breath she’ll spend her following action on a Flyby Attack Snatch and drop or a Flyby Attack Balista Throw to drop them back into the cloud for the extra damage before it disperses. After that it’s just Travel Devotion/Hover for position and swing away with full attacks until one side wins.

    This fight can also be run at CR18 with an Old Green Dragon, which has the advantage of not needing Shape Breath to make a cone, and being generally a bit more powerful.

    While I am Still a Dragon: Wyrm of War Ancient Copper Dragon

    Size/Type: Huge Dragon (Earth)
    Hit Dice: 32d12+192 (400 HP)
    Initiative: +24
    Speed: 40 ft., fly 150 ft. (poor)
    Armor Class: 36 (-2 size,+28 natural), touch 8, flat-footed 36
    Base Attack/Grapple: +32/+51
    Attack: Bite +41 melee (2d8+10 damage)
    Full Attack: Bite +41 melee (2d8+10 damage), 2 Claws +30 melee (1d8+5), 2 Wings +30 melee (1d6+5), Tail Slap +30 melee (1d6+5)
    Special Attacks: Breath Weapon (Line of Acid 20d4/Cone of Slow 1d6+9 rounds save DC 32), Spider Climb, Stone Shape 2/day, Transmute Rock to Mud or Mud to Rock 1/day, Wall of Stone 1/day, Casts as a 15th level Sorcerer, Crush 2d8.
    Special Qualities: Immunity to Acid, DR15/magic, SR 28, Frightful Presence DC 31
    Saves: +24 Fort, +18 Ref, +23 Will
    Abilities:33 Str, 10 Dex, 23 Con, 20 Int, 21 Wis, 20 Cha
    Skills: All important Knowledges are sitting at +35 mods so that Knowledge Devotion always works to full effect, then maybe toss Spot, Listen, or what have you on top of that. Max UMD because duh.
    Feats:Knowledge Devotion, Hover, Power Attack, Entangling Exhalation, Quicken Breath, Empower Spell, Maximize Spell, Metamagic School Focus (Abjuration), Arcane Thesis (Explosive Runes), Practiced Spellcaster, Large and In Charge, Quicken Spell-Like Ability (Wall of Stone), Improved Initiative x6
    Challenge Rating: 22
    Treasure: Triple Standard
    Alignment: Chaotic Good
    Spells Known: 1st Level: Comprehend Languages, Swift Expedious Retreat, Hoard Gullet, True Strike, Magic Missile. 2nd Level: Greater Alarm, Detect Thoughts, Dissonant Chant, Wraithstrike, Magic Mouth. 3rd Level: Explosive Runes, Dispel Magic, Nondetection, Arcane Sight 4th Level: Aerial Alacrity, Scrying, Celerity, Summon Monster IV. 5th Level: Wall of Dispel Magic, Teleport, Mana Flux, Refusal. 6th Level: Antimagic Field, Greater Anticipate Teleport, Analyze Dwoemer. 7th Level: Kiss of Draconic Defiance, Antimagic Ray.

    Tactics are getting complicated at this level, but this guy is basically here to ask the question of "what would happen if we turn the magic off?". The dragon’s lair is a great stone area with a layer of dust covering the ground. Except that stone on the ground is a) really mud that the dragon has transmuted to stone with his Mud to Rock SLA, and b) blanketed in castings of Maximized Empowered Explosive Runes that they can’t read yet through the dust. The dragon’s ideal game plan is to be hovering over the party in threat range with an AMF up, suppressing not just their magic, but also the Mud to Rock SLA on the floor beneath them. Thanks to a few quickening feats he can also get them Entangled and Slowed through his breath weapon, and penned into the AMF via Wall of Stone. So your high level party is now slogging through the mud fighting against a ferocious monster. And if they manage to force their way out? The hovering has kicked up all the dust on the floor, leaving the words "I cast Explosive Runes on [date about 100 years ago by the game’s calendar]" all too visible. In the end, when they’ve disjoined or soldiered through all his abjurations and obstacles, and his corpse lies on the ground, having his Hoard Gullet ripped open by your evil players in their rapacious avarice, they’ll have (hopefully) earned their treasure.

    Note that this dragon can’t really be adapted for Age Cursing shenanigans because Antimagic Field will suppress the curse.



    So that’s the guide. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this and get some use out of it in your games.
    Last edited by WhamBamSam; 2014-07-20 at 09:36 PM.

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Troll in the Playground
     
    WhamBamSam's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Michigan
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Truest of the True: A Handbook to non-Kobold Dragons (WIP)

    Reserved for future use.

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Troll in the Playground
     
    WhamBamSam's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Michigan
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Truest of the True: A Handbook to non-Kobold Dragons (WIP)

    Reserved for future use part II, the re-reserving.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Troll in the Playground
     
    WhamBamSam's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Michigan
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Truest of the True: A Handbook to non-Kobold Dragons (WIP)

    Final reserved post, going off the reservation.

    Feel free to tear into anything I've said now.

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Fax Celestis's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Fairfield, CA
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Truest of the True: A Handbook to non-Kobold Dragons (WIP)

    Not a 'tear into', but please include the Xorvintaal dragon template out of MMV as an option. It's like Sovereign archetypes, but different. And awesome.

    And sort of like Calvinball.

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    DruidGuy

    Join Date
    Feb 2012

    Default Re: The Truest of the True: A Handbook to non-Kobold Dragons (WIP)

    I think you really need to mention the feats
    Half Dragon Form (Cheezy as hell without dragon magazine with constrictor naga but pretty ok with flind gnoll)
    Improved Dragon Wings (since you can ignore the pre reqs getting flight for a feat is nice and could help give some versatility to dragons without flight speeds)
    and maybe Hidden Strength ( if you can figure out a way to cheese it maybe aging yourself with a spell then changing form or saying your half dragon form is your dragon form... thought I dont think this would work it might still have some uses)

  16. - Top - End - #16
    Troll in the Playground
     
    thethird's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2013

    Default Re: The Truest of the True: A Handbook to non-Kobold Dragons (WIP)

    It took me a while to found it but... this is what I used as a reference guide when I built Ornixen.

    Its two main sources of power where dragon pacts and dragonblood spellpacts. Which are really good and deserve mention (they are found in dragons of faerun).

    My favorite goodie for dragons is also found there, quite hidden actually. They take the immunity to fear away, and give larger penalties to fear effects They are the fear moths (pg 104).

    You probably want to mention the breath of unlife (same book, pg. 47) as it is a gimmie for undead dragons. Which allows to use Cha instead of Con to qualify for metabreath feats.

    The crown of the northwind is also a really good item (pg. 126).

    ---

    Similarly note the feats in pg. 15 of the dragons of Eberron, I personally love to have an alternate form on my dragons so they can play around.
    Thanks a lot Gengy for the awesome... just a sec... avatar. :)

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Karnith's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2013

    Default Re: The Truest of the True: A Handbook to non-Kobold Dragons (WIP)

    You may want to at least mention that the Ambush Drake savage progression was almost certainly not intended for player use, given that it has no LA built into the progression, that Ambush Drakes were LA: - in MM3, and that the article says that it's intended to model younger Ambush Drakes as encounters.
    Last edited by Karnith; 2013-09-13 at 08:42 PM.
    Tier System for Classes | Why Each Class Is In Its Tier

    On the use of the tier system:
    Quote Originally Posted by Darius Kane View Post
    "What's this? A TV Guide? How dare you tell me what movies I should watch! Fitness guide? Burn it, I can take care of my health by myself, thank you very much!"

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Troll in the Playground
     
    HalflingRogueGuy

    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Truest of the True: A Handbook to non-Kobold Dragons (WIP)

    Improved Dragon Wings is definitely a solid one... dragons auto qualify for it since it requires dragon blood. If your dragon is low on wings, why not get them with a single feat?

    It should be mentioned in the auto qualify section (along with everything else that requires Dragonblood).

    Might want to mention the whole Dragonblood Sorcerer/Dragonblood Cleric super cheese, at least for completeness sake (with the warning that using these in all but the cheesiest of campaigns will get multiple books thrown at your head).

    JaronK

  19. - Top - End - #19
    Troll in the Playground
     
    WhamBamSam's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Michigan
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Truest of the True: A Handbook to non-Kobold Dragons (WIP)

    Quote Originally Posted by Fax Celestis View Post
    Not a 'tear into', but please include the Xorvintaal dragon template out of MMV as an option. It's like Sovereign archetypes, but different. And awesome.

    And sort of like Calvinball.
    Oh god that's wonderful. Requiring Young Adult Age means non-kobold players don't have access to it though, and the loss of spellcasting is a bit painful.

    I'm also noticing that by RAW a dragon can trade all its racial spell slots away for maneuvers with the variant Wyrm of War, and then keep those maneuvers when it undertakes the Ritual of Xorvintaal. Now I really want to play in a no magic ToB-centric setting based on a bunch of dragons playing Xorvintaal with each other.

    Quote Originally Posted by Srasy View Post
    I think you really need to mention the feats
    Half Dragon Form (Cheezy as hell without dragon magazine with constrictor naga but pretty ok with flind gnoll)
    Improved Dragon Wings (since you can ignore the pre reqs getting flight for a feat is nice and could help give some versatility to dragons without flight speeds)
    and maybe Hidden Strength ( if you can figure out a way to cheese it maybe aging yourself with a spell then changing form or saying your half dragon form is your dragon form... thought I dont think this would work it might still have some uses)
    I considered putting Half-Dragon Form in, but ultimately decided that wasn't really playing a Dragon so much as playing an improved Half-Dragon Flind Gnoll.

    Improved Dragon Wings is nice for flightless dragons. So Rattlyrs, Brown Dragons, and a few others. I'll make a note to add that to the feat section.

    Quote Originally Posted by thethird View Post
    It took me a while to found it but... this is what I used as a reference guide when I built Ornixen.

    Its two main sources of power where dragon pacts and dragonblood spellpacts. Which are really good and deserve mention (they are found in dragons of faerun).

    My favorite goodie for dragons is also found there, quite hidden actually. They take the immunity to fear away, and give larger penalties to fear effects They are the fear moths (pg 104).

    You probably want to mention the breath of unlife (same book, pg. 47) as it is a gimmie for undead dragons. Which allows to use Cha instead of Con to qualify for metabreath feats.

    The crown of the northwind is also a really good item (pg. 126).

    ---

    Similarly note the feats in pg. 15 of the dragons of Eberron, I personally love to have an alternate form on my dragons so they can play around.
    I've read that thread, and felt like I could do better. It's a little sparse on information, and a lot of the age advancement stuff is non-WotC material or depends on getting to build a new Greater Curse around the aging - meaning it needs the DM to actively go along with you instead of just let you get away with RAW. Also, the link to the fully explained list of dragons is now broken.

    Dragonblood Pacts are interesting, but kind of high exp cost for a player who might already be a bit behind with LA buyoff and occasional reduced exp from age cursing. Dragon pacts are actually in Dragon Magic. I need to go over them again, but as I recall it's about an even trade. I'll make a point of going over them again and writing stuff in on the subject soon though.

    The fear moths look fun. I don't really have a big section on lairs, but if I eventually end up making one, they'll be mentioned.

    Going undead has the problem removing the age cursing option. Breath of Unlife is a gimme feat for undead dragons, though, I agree.

    Crown of the Northwind is pretty snazzy for breath blasting. Do you know of any way other than Talon of Tiamat to get breath weapons for all occasions?

    Quote Originally Posted by Karnith View Post
    You may want to at least mention that the Ambush Drake savage progression was almost certainly not intended for player use, given that it has no LA built into the progression, that Ambush Drakes were LA: - in MM3, and that the article says that it's intended to model younger Ambush Drakes as encounters.
    I'd meant to put the link back into the Ambush Drake entry, but forgot to do it.

    Quote Originally Posted by JaronK View Post
    Improved Dragon Wings is definitely a solid one... dragons auto qualify for it since it requires dragon blood. If your dragon is low on wings, why not get them with a single feat?

    It should be mentioned in the auto qualify section (along with everything else that requires Dragonblood).

    Might want to mention the whole Dragonblood Sorcerer/Dragonblood Cleric super cheese, at least for completeness sake (with the warning that using these in all but the cheesiest of campaigns will get multiple books thrown at your head).

    JaronK
    Improved Dragon Wings will go in the feats section, with a note that it relies on auto-qualification cheese.

    I'll add the Dragonblood Sorcerer/Cleric into the auto-qualification section.

    All of this should get done sometime this weekend.

  20. - Top - End - #20
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Larkas's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Truest of the True: A Handbook to non-Kobold Dragons (WIP)

    Might I barge in a little and ask for you to consider the three true dragon varieties found in Dragon Compendium? I'm not so sure any of them are really playable, but, IMHO, all three are AWESOME, and are sure worth a closer look!
    Quote Originally Posted by cerin616 View Post
    I just like to think that Smaug's "cry of pain" was "OH GOD, MY PRETTY! YOU HIT MY RIGHT IN THE PRETTY."
    Metal Perfection - a template for creatures born on Mirrodin.
    True Ferocity - a simple fix for Orcs and Half-Orcs.
    Monastic Magus - a spiritual successor to the Unarmed Swordsage.
    Pathfinder-ish Synthesist - a simple fix making Synthesist Summoners follow polymorph rules.
    Sword & Sorcery for Sneaky Scoundrels - rogue archetypes/fixes that aim to turn the rogue into a warrior/caster.

  21. - Top - End - #21
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Karnith's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2013

    Default Re: The Truest of the True: A Handbook to non-Kobold Dragons (WIP)

    Some minor typographical errors - in post # 2 ("The Basics") you've got an extra [b]old tag in front of "Natural Weapons," in post #4 ("How to Train Your Dragon I") you're missing the first [b]old tag in front of the word "Ur-Priest," and in post #10 ("Flying High") the bold tags around each of the Spells Known sections are missing the slashes.

    Not a big deal, but I thought you might want to know. Also, I am a pedant.
    Last edited by Karnith; 2013-09-13 at 08:53 PM.
    Tier System for Classes | Why Each Class Is In Its Tier

    On the use of the tier system:
    Quote Originally Posted by Darius Kane View Post
    "What's this? A TV Guide? How dare you tell me what movies I should watch! Fitness guide? Burn it, I can take care of my health by myself, thank you very much!"

  22. - Top - End - #22
    Troll in the Playground
     
    thethird's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2013

    Default Re: The Truest of the True: A Handbook to non-Kobold Dragons (WIP)

    Quote Originally Posted by WhamBamSam View Post
    I've read that thread, and felt like I could do better. It's a little sparse on information, and a lot of the age advancement stuff is non-WotC material or depends on getting to build a new Greater Curse around the aging - meaning it needs the DM to actively go along with you instead of just let you get away with RAW. Also, the link to the fully explained list of dragons is now broken.

    Dragonblood Pacts are interesting, but kind of high exp cost for a player who might already be a bit behind with LA buyoff and occasional reduced exp from age cursing. Dragon pacts are actually in Dragon Magic. I need to go over them again, but as I recall it's about an even trade. I'll make a point of going over them again and writing stuff in on the subject soon though.

    The fear moths look fun. I don't really have a big section on lairs, but if I eventually end up making one, they'll be mentioned.

    Going undead has the problem removing the age cursing option. Breath of Unlife is a gimme feat for undead dragons, though, I agree.

    Crown of the Northwind is pretty snazzy for breath blasting. Do you know of any way other than Talon of Tiamat to get breath weapons for all occasions?
    There is another compiled list here. On pointing the thread I just mentioned it's existence, nothing else, I'm sure you can do better (hell you're already doing better).

    Oh, yes, dragon pacts are in dragon magic, my wording was stupid. Dragonblood spellpacts are nice when you have chunks of free xp, or specially nice when the whole party is made of dragons, and considering that you can access spells from domains/cleric/druid list you can access a good deal of them. Dragon pacts can be personalized though, and with the wide selection of spells that you can access... well... you can cherry pick.

    The fear moths are fun, I still want to glue them to my dragon or to any of my fear spellcasters, and say that they travel with him.

    On being undead I personally LOVE the hoarder dragon far from op but I just love it, specially with the feats from ghostwalk, still it makes a good enemy, not a good player.

    Surprisingly that's one of the few niche things that the talon of tiamat does well. You ca always pay to get the metabolic fire graft attached, which gives you a breath weapon, and only costs money.

    Some other stuff that hasn't been mentioned:

    Flyby breath and strafing breath, both from the dragonlance campaign setting are really useful, and help a lot with mobility.

    Equipment wise dragon spirit cincture (Magic item compendium; pg. 95, 2000 gp) increases damage with breath weapons by 1 die, add dragonfang weapons (Draconomicon; pg. 117, +300 gp) to also increases the DC by 1. That's really cheap.

    You might also want to look in beast claws from savage species, they are really handy when it comes to enhancing claws.

    Another thing that you might want to consider (if you feel funny) is that some wyrmling dragons such as fang dragon make good dragonborn of Bahamut. Actually in my game dragonborn fang dragons with the sovereign archetype of wyrm of war and the xorvintal dragon template are the avatars of Bahamut.

    ---

    Of the dragons of dragon compendium, I personally like the yellow one, its fly speed is really nice.
    Thanks a lot Gengy for the awesome... just a sec... avatar. :)

  23. - Top - End - #23
    Bugbear in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2011

    Default Re: The Truest of the True: A Handbook to non-Kobold Dragons (WIP)

    There's actually already a dragon handbook. As you can see from the link, it's from the minmaxboards, the successor site to BG (where the BG posters moved after BG got infected with viruses). It compiles info from the BG thread you linked as well as a few other BG threads on dragons. It covers some of the same stuff yours does but yours does have some unique stuff as well. I'd suggest contacting the author of the MM dragon handbook and perhaps talking about merging the two. Having duplicate handbooks on two different sites is less confusing than having two, partially different handbook on the same subject on two different sites.

    Man, I'm not really annoyed at you as much as generally annoyed but it bugs me when people link to BG handbooks/threads when the minmaxboards often have an updated version of those. I'm not sure how to make more people here aware of the minmaxboards though...

  24. - Top - End - #24
    Troll in the Playground
     
    WhamBamSam's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Michigan
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Truest of the True: A Handbook to non-Kobold Dragons (WIP)

    Quote Originally Posted by Larkas View Post
    Might I barge in a little and ask for you to consider the three true dragon varieties found in Dragon Compendium? I'm not so sure any of them are really playable, but, IMHO, all three are AWESOME, and are sure worth a closer look!
    I don't have the Dragon Compendium readily available to me. Any chance someone could go over the pertinent information for the Wyrmling and maybe Very Young ages?

    Quote Originally Posted by Karnith View Post
    Some minor typographical errors - in post # 2 ("The Basics") you've got an extra [b]old tag in front of "Natural Weapons," in post #4 ("How to Train Your Dragon I") you're missing the first [b]old tag in front of the word "Ur-Priest," and in post #10 ("Flying High") the bold tags around each of the Spells Known sections are missing the slashes.

    Not a big deal, but I thought you might want to know. Also, I am a pedant.
    Thanks, it's fixed.

    Quote Originally Posted by thethird View Post
    There is another compiled list here. On pointing the thread I just mentioned it's existence, nothing else, I'm sure you can do better (hell you're already doing better).
    Thank you . I generally stay away from dandwiki, but that list looks like it might come in handy. Shame it doesn't say anything about them beyond where they can be found.

    Oh, yes, dragon pacts are in dragon magic, my wording was stupid. Dragonblood spellpacts are nice when you have chunks of free xp, or specially nice when the whole party is made of dragons, and considering that you can access spells from domains/cleric/druid list you can access a good deal of them. Dragon pacts can be personalized though, and with the wide selection of spells that you can access... well... you can cherry pick.
    Yeah, having the little dragons trading their spells around like pokemon cards does indeed sound fun.

    Unfortunately, Dragon Pacts aren't available to PC Wyrmlings, as Dragon Magic says...
    Quote Originally Posted by Dragon Magic page 87
    The identity of the dragon entering the dragonpact is not crucial to completing the task, though it must be of an appropriate kind, of at least adult age, and capable of casting spells of the level of the slot being offered up by the sorcerer.
    Emphasis mine. This is why we can't have nice things.

    The fear moths are fun, I still want to glue them to my dragon or to any of my fear spellcasters, and say that they travel with him.
    Yeah. It's a shame DoF doesn't have them statted or priced out, just there as a CR4 "thing" that might be present in a lair. Meaning if you want one as a PC you have to either talk the DM into it, or wander into a dragon's lair with butterfly nets and hope for the best.

    On being undead I personally LOVE the hoarder dragon far from op but I just love it, specially with the feats from ghostwalk, still it makes a good enemy, not a good player.
    Yeah, I might add that under templates with the note that it's more flavorful than powerful and really doesn't work well for PCs.

    Surprisingly that's one of the few niche things that the talon of tiamat does well. You ca always pay to get the metabolic fire graft attached, which gives you a breath weapon, and only costs money.
    Huh, so the only way to get all the full use of a Bahamut themed item is to serve Tiamat. Ah well, you can pull it off the head of a metallic dragon you kill or buy it off some other unscrupulous adventurer who has already done that for you.

    Flyby breath and strafing breath, both from the dragonlance campaign setting are really useful, and help a lot with mobility.
    I knew about Flyby Breath, though being able to take an extra move action seemed only a bit better than using the breath weapon with a regular Flyby Attack. Dragonlance Campaign Setting is another glaring gap in my collection though, so I'm not sure of the particulars of Strafing Breath.

    Equipment wise dragon spirit cincture (Magic item compendium; pg. 95, 2000 gp) increases damage with breath weapons by 1 die, add dragonfang weapons (Draconomicon; pg. 117, +300 gp) to also increases the DC by 1. That's really cheap.
    You sure it's dragonfang weapons? They appear to just add +1 and energy damage to the weapon.

    You might also want to look in beast claws from savage species, they are really handy when it comes to enhancing claws.

    Another thing that you might want to consider (if you feel funny) is that some wyrmling dragons such as fang dragon make good dragonborn of Bahamut. Actually in my game dragonborn fang dragons with the sovereign archetype of wyrm of war and the xorvintal dragon template are the avatars of Bahamut.
    Actually, while reading the stuff on Dragonborn of Bahamut, I found this...

    Quote Originally Posted by Races of the Dragon page 8
    Age: After a dragonborn underoes the Rite of Rebirth,
    she emerges as an adult creature regardless of her previous age. If she lives for 200 years (see Table 1–1, page 10),
    she enters middle age.
    So on the one hand, a dragon that becomes a Dragonborn of Bahamut fast ages to adult, which is some damn potent cheese, a step or three beyond what even I'd allow. On the other hand, it now has the age categories described in the table on page 10, of which there are less then 12. Hence, it might stop being a True Dragon and no longer qualify for Sovereign Archetypes depending on how you interpret the still counting as its original race thing.

    Xorvintaal requires Young Adult age. You might be able to cheese your way into taking it with a slightly lower ECL by being Young, cursing up, adopting the template, then removing the curse, but in general its more of a DM thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by 123456789blaaa View Post
    There's actually already a dragon handbook. As you can see from the link, it's from the minmaxboards, the successor site to BG (where the BG posters moved after BG got infected with viruses). It compiles info from the BG thread you linked as well as a few other BG threads on dragons. It covers some of the same stuff yours does but yours does have some unique stuff as well. I'd suggest contacting the author of the MM dragon handbook and perhaps talking about merging the two. Having duplicate handbooks on two different sites is less confusing than having two, partially different handbook on the same subject on two different sites.

    Man, I'm not really annoyed at you as much as generally annoyed but it bugs me when people link to BG handbooks/threads when the minmaxboards often have an updated version of those. I'm not sure how to make more people here aware of the minmaxboards though...
    That handbook has been brought up. It seems pretty minimal, to be honest. I think the only thing it has that mine doesn't is some stuff which is sketchy or non-WotC in its fast aging section, and stuff on Draconic Polymorph. Draconic Polymorph has the problems of a) being better for dragony things that aren't saddled with the RHD/LA, and b) not really being a dragon anymore, just a Polymorphing Sorcerer Gish, defeating the purpose of devoting all the resources to being a dragon in the first place.

  25. - Top - End - #25
    Troll in the Playground
     
    thethird's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2013

    Default Re: The Truest of the True: A Handbook to non-Kobold Dragons (WIP)

    Quote Originally Posted by WhamBamSam View Post
    Huh, so the only way to get all the full use of a Bahamut themed item is to serve Tiamat. Ah well, you can pull it off the head of a metallic dragon you kill or buy it off some other unscrupulous adventurer who has already done that for you.
    Dragonfire adepts also make great use of it, of course dragonfire adepts are also better when serving Tiamat.

    Quote Originally Posted by WhamBamSam View Post
    I knew about Flyby Breath, though being able to take an extra move action seemed only a bit better than using the breath weapon with a regular Flyby Attack. Dragonlance Campaign Setting is another glaring gap in my collection though, so I'm not sure of the particulars of Strafing Breath.
    The strafing breath makes the breath area dependant on your fly speed, if you fire a cone you basically make a rectangle as wide as the wide of your cone and as long as half your fly speed.

    Quote Originally Posted by WhamBamSam View Post
    You sure it's dragonfang weapons? They appear to just add +1 and energy damage to the weapon.
    I'm sure it's dragonfang, the increase in the DC comes from the cincture (as long as you are holding a magical weapon that deals damage of your breath type the DC increases by 1, so make your beastclaws out of dragon bone).

    Quote Originally Posted by WhamBamSam View Post
    Actually, while reading the stuff on Dragonborn of Bahamut, I found this...

    So on the one hand, a dragon that becomes a Dragonborn of Bahamut fast ages to adult, which is some damn potent cheese, a step or three beyond what even I'd allow. On the other hand, it now has the age categories described in the table on page 10, of which there are less then 12. Hence, it might stop being a True Dragon and no longer qualify for Sovereign Archetypes depending on how you interpret the still counting as its original race thing.

    Xorvintaal requires Young Adult age. You might be able to cheese your way into taking it with a slightly lower ECL by being Young, cursing up, adopting the template, then removing the curse, but in general its more of a DM thing.
    Man... that's cheesy.
    Thanks a lot Gengy for the awesome... just a sec... avatar. :)

  26. - Top - End - #26
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Sweden
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Truest of the True: A Handbook to non-Kobold Dragons (WIP)

    Are you going to make a write-up about the Dragon Psychoses? There are a few neat ones, and a bunch of them are LA+0.

    They also have Spellhoarding, which is pretty well known for it's cheese.

  27. - Top - End - #27
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Larkas's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Truest of the True: A Handbook to non-Kobold Dragons (WIP)

    Quote Originally Posted by WhamBamSam View Post
    I don't have the Dragon Compendium readily available to me. Any chance someone could go over the pertinent information for the Wyrmling and maybe Very Young ages?
    Sure thing! Let's see...

    Orange Dragon
    Wyrmling: LA +3, 5 RHD, Small, Scores 13/10/13/12/11/8, Breath 2d10 (13), Speed 40 ft., fly 100 ft. (average), swim 40 ft., AC 16 (5 NAC), Poison Immunity, Water Breathing.
    Very Young: LA +3, 8 RHD, Medium, Scores 15/10/15/12/11/0, Breath 4d10 (16), Speed 40 ft., fly 150 ft. (average), swim 40 ft., AC 18 (8 NAC), Poison Immunity, Water Breathing.

    The orange dragon's breath weapon works differently from other dragons. They basically spit an oily substance in a line, which covers any creature caught in the area. After 2 rounds, the substance explodes in a 15 ft. burst centered on each creature. The creature takes full damage, with no saving throw, while all others on the area save for normal damage. Any creature takes damage from this breath weapon only once per detonation. The recharge rate of the breath weapon is slower: it can only be use once every 1d6 rounds.

    Visually, orange dragons are basically exploding oil-spitting crocodiles, and have the (water) subtype.

    Purple Dragon
    Wyrmling: LA +4, 7 RHD, Medium, Scores 19/10/15/14/13/12, Breath 2d10 (15), Speed 40 ft., fly 150 ft. (poor), burrow 20 ft., AC 15 (5 NAC), Night Flier.
    Very Young: LA +5, 10 RHD, Large, Scores 23/10/17/14/15/14, Breath 4d10 (18), Speed 40 ft., fly 150 ft. (poor), burrow 20 ft., AC 17 (8 NAC), Night Flier.

    The purple dragon's breath weapon is even weirder than the orange's, but much more awesome IMHO. It can take 3 forms: a cone of searing energy, a burst of blinding power, or a deadly blade of pure energy. In cone form, it works as usual, dealing the listed damage. In burst form, it blinds people permanently if they fail a Fortitude save (the burst radius is 30 ft. for medium and 40 ft. for large purple dragons). In blade form, the purple dragon forms a blade of pure energy to slash at its enemies within its normal melee reach. It can make iterative attacks with the blade, which ignores all physical barriers, targeting touch AC. It deals half the damage listed for the breath weapon, and does not add strength to damage due to the energy nature of the blade. The dragon can use the blade in conjunction with all its other natural attacks but bite. The blade dissipates at the end of the dragon's next turn. Oh, and the breath weapon deals force damage!

    Night Flier means that a purple dragon flying at night gains a +10 racial bonus on all Hide checks and ignores the standard size penalty on Hide checks.

    The purple dragon is a very slender and gargoyle-like creature. The imagery resembles a shadow dragon that took soulknife levels.

    Yellow Dragon
    Wyrmling: LA +2, 3 RHD, Tiny, Scores 7/14/13/8/11/8, Breath 1d6 (12), Speed 20 ft., fly 150 ft. (good), burrow 20 ft., swim 80 ft., AC 15 (1 NAC), Air Mastery, Water Breathing.
    Very Young: LA +3, 6 RHD, Small, Scores 9/16/13/10/11/8, Breath 2d6 (14), Speed 20 ft., fly 200 ft. (good), burrow 20 ft., swim 80 ft., AC 16 (2 NAC), Air Mastery, Water Breathing, Obscuring Mist 3/day.

    Continuing the trend, the yellow dragon's breath weapon works a bit differently from other dragon's. It breathes a cone of salt, Reflex allowing a creature to avoid becoming covered in salt. Creatures caught encrusted in salt suffer effects based on how many times they failed against the effect. A creature takes a -2 penalty on attacks, AC, Reflex saves, and Strength-, Dexterity- and Constitution-based skill checks per failed save against the breath weapon. It also takes a -10 penalty on speed per failed save. A creature reduced to 0 speed can't move. Flying creatures crash to the ground. These effects all fade at once after 10 minutes. A gallon of water can wash away the salt of one attack. Lastly, the breath's damage is non-elemental.

    Air Mastery means that, as long as the yellow dragon is flying, it gains a +2 bonus on attacks.

    Oh, and its flight is (Su)pernatural, as it flies without wings. If forced to land due to the loss of this ability, it gains the benefits of Feather Fall as if cast by a 20th level sorcerer.

    The yellow dragon looks like a snake with legs, and relies on great dexterity rather than great strength. It has the (air) and (water) subtypes.
    Last edited by Larkas; 2013-09-14 at 10:23 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by cerin616 View Post
    I just like to think that Smaug's "cry of pain" was "OH GOD, MY PRETTY! YOU HIT MY RIGHT IN THE PRETTY."
    Metal Perfection - a template for creatures born on Mirrodin.
    True Ferocity - a simple fix for Orcs and Half-Orcs.
    Monastic Magus - a spiritual successor to the Unarmed Swordsage.
    Pathfinder-ish Synthesist - a simple fix making Synthesist Summoners follow polymorph rules.
    Sword & Sorcery for Sneaky Scoundrels - rogue archetypes/fixes that aim to turn the rogue into a warrior/caster.

  28. - Top - End - #28
    Troll in the Playground
     
    WhamBamSam's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Michigan
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: The Truest of the True: A Handbook to non-Kobold Dragons (WIP)

    Quote Originally Posted by thethird View Post
    The strafing breath makes the breath area dependant on your fly speed, if you fire a cone you basically make a rectangle as wide as the wide of your cone and as long as half your fly speed.
    Nice. Shame the Mercury Dragon's breath weapon is a line, and just does fire damage. Just another thing that would've helped my Mercury Wyrmling 3/LA 2/Disciple of the Eye 2/Sorcerer 1/Singer of Concordance 2/Talon of Tiamat 10 idea that I didn't come up with in time for that IC.

    What are the prereqs for Strafing Breath, just out of curiosity?

    I'm sure it's dragonfang, the increase in the DC comes from the cincture (as long as you are holding a magical weapon that deals damage of your breath type the DC increases by 1, so make your beastclaws out of dragon bone).
    Ahhh, I see. Sorry, I was being dumb.

    Man... that's cheesy.
    Yep. I'll add it to the fast aging section as a supercheese.

    Thanks a lot for all your input by the way. You've been a big help.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gemini476 View Post
    Are you going to make a write-up about the Dragon Psychoses? There are a few neat ones, and a bunch of them are LA+0.

    They also have Spellhoarding, which is pretty well known for it's cheese.
    This is making me feel really bad about my collection of material. Dragon Magazine marks thing I'm not super well versed in number three. I seem to remember there was some debate in the Kobold thread over whether they were LA+0 or LA -- though. Anyone feel like going into them in detail?

    Quote Originally Posted by Larkas View Post
    Orange Dragon
    Wyrmling: LA +3, 5 RHD, Small, Scores 13/10/13/12/11/8, Breath 2d10 (13), Speed 40 ft., fly 100 ft. (average), swim 40 ft., AC 16 (5 NAC), Poison Immunity, Water Breathing.
    Very Young: LA +3, 8 RHD, Medium, Scores 15/10/15/12/11/0, Breath 4d10 (16), Speed 40 ft., fly 150 ft. (average), swim 40 ft., AC 18 (8 NAC), Poison Immunity, Water Breathing.

    The orange dragon's breath weapon works differently from other dragons. They basically spit an oily substance in a line, which covers any creature caught in the area. After 2 rounds, the substance explodes in a 15 ft. burst centered on each creature. The creature takes full damage, with no saving throw, while all others on the area save for normal damage. Any creature takes damage from this breath weapon only once per detonation. The recharge rate of the breath weapon is slower: it can only be use once every 1d6 rounds.

    Visually, orange dragons are basically exploding oil-spitting crocodiles, and have the (water) subtype.
    That third LA is painful, as you can't buy off more than one point pre-epic. The Breath Weapon is cool though.

    Purple Dragon
    Wyrmling: LA +4, 7 RHD, Medium, Scores 19/10/15/14/13/12, Breath 2d10 (15), Speed 40 ft., fly 150 ft. (poor), burrow 20 ft., AC 15 (5 NAC), Night Flier.
    Very Young: LA +5, 10 RHD, Large, Scores 23/10/17/14/15/14, Breath 4d10 (18), Speed 40 ft., fly 150 ft. (poor), burrow 20 ft., AC 17 (8 NAC), Night Flier.

    The purple dragon's breath weapon is even weirder than the orange's, but much more awesome IMHO. It can take 3 forms: a cone of searing energy, a burst of blinding power, or a deadly blade of pure energy. In cone form, it works as usual, dealing the listed damage. In burst form, it blinds people permanently if they fail a Fortitude save (the burst radius is 30 ft. for medium and 40 ft. for large purple dragons). In blade form, the purple dragon forms a blade of pure energy to slash at its enemies within its normal melee reach. It can make iterative attacks with the blade, which ignores all physical barriers, targeting touch AC. It deals half the damage listed for the breath weapon, and does not add strength to damage due to the energy nature of the blade. The dragon can use the blade in conjunction with all its other natural attacks but bite. The blade dissipates at the end of the dragon's next turn. Oh, and the breath weapon deals force damage!

    Night Flier means that a purple dragon flying at night gains a +10 racial bonus on all Hide checks and ignores the standard size penalty on Hide checks.

    The purple dragon is a very slender and gargoyle-like creature. The imagery resembles a shadow dragon that took soulknife levels.
    7HD/4LA is rough, but it's better than the comparable ECL Red, Gold, and Silver dragons. Does it have Hide as a class skill?

    Yellow Dragon
    Wyrmling: LA +2, 3 RHD, Tiny, Scores 7/14/13/8/11/8, Breath 1d6 (12), Speed 20 ft., fly 150 ft. (good), burrow 20 ft., swim 80 ft., AC 15 (1 NAC), Air Mastery, Water Breathing.
    Very Young: LA +3, 6 RHD, Small, Scores 9/16/13/10/11/8, Breath 2d6 (14), Speed 20 ft., fly 200 ft. (good), burrow 20 ft., swim 80 ft., AC 16 (2 NAC), Air Mastery, Water Breathing, Obscuring Mist 3/day.

    Continuing the trend, the yellow dragon's breath weapon works a bit differently from other dragon's. It breathes a cone of salt, Reflex allowing a creature to avoid becoming covered in salt. Creatures caught encrusted in salt suffer effects based on how many times they failed against the effect. A creature takes a -2 penalty on attacks, AC, Reflex saves, and Strength-, Dexterity- and Constitution-based skill checks per failed save against the breath weapon. It also takes a -10 penalty on speed per failed save. A creature reduced to 0 speed can't move. Flying creatures crash to the ground. These effects all fade at once after 10 minutes. A gallon of water can wash away the salt of one attack. Lastly, the breath's damage is non-elemental.

    Air Mastery means that, as long as the yellow dragon is flying, it gains a +2 bonus on attacks.

    Oh, and its flight is (Su)pernatural, as it flies without wings. If forced to land due to the loss of this ability, it gains the benefits of Feather Fall as if cast by a 20th level sorcerer.

    The yellow dragon looks like a snake with legs, and relies on great dexterity rather than great strength. It has the (air) and (water) subtypes.
    That's -4 Str, -2 Int, -2 Cha, -50ft with worse maneuverability relative to the Mercury Dragon, but it's certainly neat. The other two will probably go up as black, but this one'll be green or blue.

    I'll try to get all the edits up sometime later today.

  29. - Top - End - #29
    Troll in the Playground
     
    thethird's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2013

    Default Re: The Truest of the True: A Handbook to non-Kobold Dragons (WIP)

    The prereqs for strafing breath are fly speed, breath weapon, flyby attack, flyby breath.

    ---

    You're welcome.

    ---

    The dragon psychosis don't have a listed LA (that might mean that it doesn't change it) but it is not specifically mentioned to be the case. Of course dragons are not normally expected to be player characters. But, after all, they are like sovereign archetypes.

    Personally I like nameless for xorvintaal dragons, so old that they have forgotten everything but the game.

    ---

    Note that the yellow dragon keeps its good maneuverability even at old ages, so ancient, wyrm and great wyrm beat mercury dragons in speed/maneuverability, of course that probably won't ever come up, because it makes a good dragon mount for an npc not much else.
    Thanks a lot Gengy for the awesome... just a sec... avatar. :)

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Karnith's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jan 2013

    Default Re: The Truest of the True: A Handbook to non-Kobold Dragons (WIP)

    Quote Originally Posted by WhamBamSam View Post
    This is making me feel really bad about my collection of material. Dragon Magazine marks thing I'm not super well versed in number three. I seem to remember there was some debate in the Kobold thread over whether they were LA+0 or LA -- though. Anyone feel like going into them in detail?
    Dragon Psychoses are acquired templates that can be applied to any True Dragon. They don't have Level Adjustments listed in their descriptions, which per the rules for templates, means that they don't change the LA of the base creature. Per the SRD:
    Quote Originally Posted by SRD, Templates, Reading a Template
    A template’s description provides a set of instructions for altering an existing creature, known as the base creature. The changes that a template might cause to each line of a creature’s statistics block are discussed below. Generally, if a template does not cause a change to a certain statistic, that entry is missing from the template description. For clarity, the entry for a statistic or attribute that is not changed is sometimes given as "Same as the base creature."
    (Emphasis mine)

    The Dragon Psychoses are Nameless, Ravening, Riddled, Spellhoarding, and Wandering.

    Spoiler
    Show
    Nameless Dragons are so-called because they intentionally try to make it hard to know about themselves, by destroying information, not sharing information, and deliberately forgetting things (including and especially their own names). The template can only be applied to True Dragons of adult age or older. They lose all spellcasting ability and spell-like abilities, and in return gain a continuous supernatural nondetection effect, immunity to mind-affecting effects, increased SR, a -10 penalty to all Intelligence-based skill checks, and a +10 bonus to Hide and Move Silently checks. It also gets some less important abilities that are mostly fluff, like the ability to know whenever someone within 100 miles speaks their name.

    Ravening Dragons are, well, really hungry all the time. It can be applied to any True Dragon. They can use their breath weapons for 3 consecutive rounds before having to wait to use their breath weapon again, the save DC for their breath weapon increases by 2, they get a kind of fire shield effect keyed to the energy type of their breath weapon (but only if they were capable of casting spells beforehand), they get Str +4 and Wis -4, and they need to eat a lot (the rough equivalent of their own body mass in creatures) every day or take Constitution drain, which makes them go nuts.

    Riddled Dragons are obsessed with, you guessed it, riddles and puzzles. The template can be applied to any True Dragon. They gain the lawful subtype, can use their Intelligence rather than Charisma score for bonus spells and spell save DCs for their casting, they lose a spell slot of each level, can become fascinated by riddles (by failing opposed Knowledge checks), are more vulnerable to Maze effects than normal, get a +4 bonus on saves against mind-affecting spells and effects, and get +6 Int and -4 Wis.

    Spellhoarding Dragons are obsessed with collecting spells rather than normal hoard items (like, say, gold). It can only be applied to True Dragons with an Intelligence score at least 3 points higher than the average for its type and age category, that have a caster level, and that have max ranks in Knowledge (arcana). Spellhoarding Dragons cast as wizards rather than sorcerers, put spells on their scales in place of a spellbook, can use its spellhoard in place of gold or XP for spell components, get improved counterspelling and can add countered spells to their spellhoard, can casts spells from their spellhoard like scrolls, get Int +2 and Wis -4, a +5 bonus on Spellcraft checks, and Eschew Materials and Scribe Scrolls as bonus feats. It's the cream of the crop, as far as psychoses go.

    Wandering Dragons don't sleep, and spend all of their time roaming the world. The template can be applied to any True Dragon. It gets half the normal number of spell slots of each level that it can cast, it gets a supernatural haste effect as a free action 3 times per day if it has a caster level, it has an aura of spontaneous illusions surrounding it that gives any attack made within the aura a 20% miss chance (that fools sonic-based blindsight and blindsense) and imposes a -4 penalty to physical-ability-score-based skill checks, it gets Dex +6 and Con -4, and gets a -10 penalty on Listen, Search, and Spot checks.
    Last edited by Karnith; 2013-09-14 at 02:58 PM.
    Tier System for Classes | Why Each Class Is In Its Tier

    On the use of the tier system:
    Quote Originally Posted by Darius Kane View Post
    "What's this? A TV Guide? How dare you tell me what movies I should watch! Fitness guide? Burn it, I can take care of my health by myself, thank you very much!"

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •