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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Making a "big" Dragon playable

    Hello Y`all!


    An old friend, but new D&D (and almost ceompletely new RPG) player, has decided to join an upcoming higher Level game.

    He is at the moment absolutely fascinated with Dragons and really REALLY wants to play one. Since he is very much not an optimizer (heck he played once or twice at most^^) and I am the DM, we decided to allow it, IF we can get it done within the following limits (and since I expect it: No, transforming into a Dragon or being a Halfdragon are declined^^):


    Achieve "useful and powerful feeling" play without too much handwaving/homebrewing
    Allow them all to be more or less "equal" (the Druid Player is the least optimizing) within the expected Range until the end of the game at level 19-20ish
    Not make the Dragon complicated to play.
    Have fun.


    Party is at Level 12-13 when he joins (using medium to slightly above OP, consists of a Druid, a Bard (with some extra goodies and Sublime Chord) and a Paladin/Warblade Gestalt).



    I have so far found no even remotely RAW way to do this. I am open to Homebrewing/modifications as long as they fulfill the above and are not COMPLETELY out of whack.

    Now my thoughts, if going homebrew/mod-heavy at the moment where kicking any LA and allowing him to play an adult or so that starts without casting and would gain that within the next few levels, but even that would need lots of work.....


    Thanks in advance for your help.
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    RogueGuy

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    Default Re: Making a "big" Dragon playable

    Well, ignore LA. Let him play a dragon with 12hd. He will feel powerful, but really will be a high stat warrior with good saves and a 1d4 round area attack. Fun dynamic, but by no means gamebreaking.

    He will have 1st, maybe 2nd level spells. Fun to play with, but not powerful.
    Last edited by Fouredged Sword; 2017-12-29 at 06:39 PM.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Making a "big" Dragon playable

    You could just build a dragon from the monster manual with about the right power (maybe CR equal to party level) and give it to the player.
    Advance and rebuild as necessary to maintain parity as the party levels.
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    PirateGuy

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    Default Re: Making a "big" Dragon playable

    If you could find whatever issue that was of Dragon magazine that had racial class progressions for dragons, it’s a good start and keeps you from having to do most of the leveling work. I second ignoring LA, as I find replacing any of those levels with another RHD a better option.

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    Default Re: Making a "big" Dragon playable

    +1 to going by HD (and ignoring LA completely). Make it a xorvintal dragon too for more thematic dragon goodies and ease of use. Look into the alternative racial features in dragon magic. Consider allowing draconic breath effects a la dragonfire adept as feats.
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    ElfRangerGuy

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    Default Re: Making a "big" Dragon playable

    Quote Originally Posted by thethird View Post
    +1 to going by HD (and ignoring LA completely). Make it a xorvintal dragon too for more thematic dragon goodies and ease of use. Look into the alternative racial features in dragon magic. Consider allowing draconic breath effects a la dragonfire adept as feats.
    +2

    I got a dragon in my game right now. We just ignore the LA. It works good.
    Last edited by martixy; 2017-12-29 at 09:35 PM.
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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Making a "big" Dragon playable

    Or you could port in the "Draconians" from Dragonlance, and let him play one of those. Technically they are still dragons (mutated in the egg).
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    RogueGuy

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    Default Re: Making a "big" Dragon playable

    Your only tier 3 is a geastalted innitiator with really high saves. The dragon will do more consistant damage, the initiator will do more peak damage and more other stuff.

    At level 11 and large you are looking at very young gold dragon, so no casting to worry about for a while.

    He can even turn human or animal if he wants to be stealthy. I had a dm who had a gold dragon that liked to fly around as a hummingbird.
    Last edited by Fouredged Sword; 2017-12-30 at 12:04 AM.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Making a "big" Dragon playable

    BTW, as a general rule, I really don't recommend starting a new player out with high power, high OP characters. That's kind of like teaching a kid how to drive, using a Funny Car.
    "Sleeping late might not be a virtue, but it sure aint no vice. The old saw about the early bird and the worm just goes to show that the worm should have stayed in bed."

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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    RogueGuy

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    Default Re: Making a "big" Dragon playable

    Yeah, but playing a dragon isn't the worst way to go about it. Sometimes there is only one table in town. He will be able to learn the rules and have enough cool stuff (breath weapon/alternate form) to do. On the other hand his character can be played straight off the srd.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Making a "big" Dragon playable

    And when he goes to his next game (assuming that he does), and CAN'T play a dragon?
    "Sleeping late might not be a virtue, but it sure aint no vice. The old saw about the early bird and the worm just goes to show that the worm should have stayed in bed."

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    Default Re: Making a "big" Dragon playable

    Ah, the age-old question.

    There is the obvious way: to ignore the restrictions WOTC put on playing a non-whelp true dragon. And there is a different, difficult way. The way that will make certain people hate and revile you forever, while others will applaud your ingenuity. It WILL let you use a character build that stays fully within the Rules, but at the cost of entering into a dark, demanding pact with the Rules themselves.

    Basically, it's the way of refluffing. If it is Huge like a dragon; fights with its claws and teets and powerful burning breath like a dragon; flies with good maneuverability and great overland endurance (and swims, too); is subject to any effects that specifically affect/target dragons; has superhuman senses, including blindsense and scent, and a fearful presense that makes mortals cover…

    Then can you (and your DM, and the players around your table) believe it's a dragon?


    Because if you can, you can have it all. You just need to play a Dragonborn Anthropomorphic Baleen Whale* Dragonfire Adept (with maybe a single-level dip into Cloistered Cleric), pick some necessary feats and pay for spellcasting services to get a Caster Level 30 permanencied Enlarge Person effect on you.

    Interested?

    *It's a completely existing, legal and endorsed-for-being-played PC race in 3.5. Using it to play a dragon is, if anything, probably less whacky than using it as intended in a party with Tordek and Krusk. Look, WOTC authors did the rulebook writing, it's not for us to judge them on the approach they took to our beloved heroic fantasy; our job is to use everything they wrote and printed to enhance our gaming experience as much as we can.


    P. S. It took a lot of jumping through hoops to fit everything together in a ECL 5 build, back when i was gonna play that dragon (for example, getting dragonborn flight to work overland when it does not do so until HD 6 took dipping Divine Mind to get exhaustion immunity; and my grandfather never thought i'd ever fall so far i'll dip Divine Mind). Luckily for you, in a ECL 12 build, most of the hoops won't be necessary at all: for example, you won't have to deal with level-based limitations on Dragonborn flight, and you won't have to scrounge out bonus feats from being tainted.
    Last edited by Lord Haart; 2017-12-30 at 02:49 AM.
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    When I first wanted to build a gish, I wanted to be the guy that threw fireballs, lightning bolts, wore spiked fullplate and reigned death and destruction (…)

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    Default Re: Making a "big" Dragon playable

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Haart View Post
    Ah, the age-old question.

    There is the obvious way: to ignore the restrictions WOTC put on playing a non-whelp true dragon. And there is a different, difficult way. The way that will make certain people hate and revile you forever, while others will applaud your ingenuity. It WILL let you use a character build that stays fully within the Rules, but at the cost of entering into a dark, demanding pact with the Rules themselves.

    Basically, it's the way of refluffing. If it is Huge like a dragon; fights with its claws and teets and powerful burning breath like a dragon; flies with good maneuverability and great overland endurance (and swims, too); is subject to any effects that specifically affect/target dragons; has superhuman senses, including blindsense and scent, and a fearful presense that makes mortals cover…

    Then can you (and your DM, and the players around your table) believe it's a dragon?


    Because if you can, you can have it all. You just need to play a Dragonborn Anthropomorphic Baleen Whale* Dragonfire Adept (with maybe a single-level dip into Cloistered Cleric), pick some necessary feats and pay for spellcasting services to get a Caster Level 30 permanencied Enlarge Person effect on you.

    Interested?

    *It's a completely existing, legal and endorsed-for-being-played PC race in 3.5. Using it to play a dragon is, if anything, probably less whacky than using it as intended in a party with Tordek and Krusk. Look, WOTC authors did the rulebook writing, it's not for us to judge them on the approach they took to our beloved heroic fantasy; our job is to use everything they wrote and printed to enhance our gaming experience as much as we can.


    P. S. It took a lot of jumping through hoops to fit everything together in a ECL 5 build, back when i was gonna play that dragon (for example, getting dragonborn flight to work overland when it does not do so until HD 6 took dipping Divine Mind to get exhaustion immunity; and my grandfather never thought i'd ever fall so far i'll dip Divine Mind). Luckily for you, in a ECL 12 build, most of the hoops won't be necessary at all: for example, you won't have to deal with level-based limitations on Dragonborn flight, and you won't have to scrounge out bonus feats from being tainted.
    If your going to do this.

    1: Gestalt it with Vanilla PHB Fighter + the Dead Levels variant/expansion rules.

    2: Made the Base Anthro Whale a Water Creature. +2 to Con and I think they get some extra Swim Speed out of it.

    3: Make it A Mineral Warrior. It should keep the only parts your player cares about.

    4: Also make it a Half Minotaur if you have Dragon Mag access.

    5: After Dragonborn, give it the Bahamet touched Template. Which is just a pallet swap of the Lolth Touched Template from MM4.


    It makes sure it has the Muscles and Durability to go with it for the sell, and that it's as good as he's gonna want to be at using the parts he should care about. Flight, melee competency, and Breath Attacks, as well as a pinch of magic.
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    Default Re: Making a "big" Dragon playable

    When you say "big" dragon, what exactly do you mean by it? Medium? Large? Huge?

    Also keep in mind that he won't be advancing by dragon HD as he levels up, dragon HD only come with age, 1HD at each 1/3rd of an age category, then up into the next age category. That means, unless you're doing some incredibly long time skips, your dragon is gonna be advancing by class levels.

    If we assume you want something at least large, then you're looking at the large-scale evil dragons, wyrmling starts at medium, and very young jumps into large at an acceptable 10HD. The good ones tend to have an extra HD ontop, so a very young gold dragon has 11HD, but in the draconomicon, you also have pyroclastic dragons (with their very good disintegrating breath weapon) who come in at 10HD, and tarterian dragons with their very nice always on freedom of movement at 11HD. If you're gonna be using homebrew, I would recommend using my optional gestalt/LA homebrew system that's linked in my signature, I've quite thoroughly playtested it through my games, and you can use it to essentially "gestalt" your dragon LA alongside it's racial HD. It's not as "free" as everyone else just recommending to throw away the LA completely, but I've found the system makes many high LA races much more tolerable to play without making them too good that they're automatic picks.
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    Default Re: Making a "big" Dragon playable

    Quote Originally Posted by Metahuman1 View Post
    If your going to do this.

    (…)
    I don't actually agree with all of that: Gestalt is something that has to be specifically asked from DM (and preferably be in play for the entire table), and this build isn't really much subpar without it (of course gestalt makes it better, but gestalt makes everything better), so it's not necessary to be functional (i tried to offer something that is completely legal in a default assumptions game, with no GM catering needed); Water Creature, if i remember correctly, takes away air breathing even if base creature was amphibious (though i might be wrong); and Mineral Warrior either takes away dragonborn wings, or gets mostly negated by dragonborn (and it's LA +1, not LA +0, so not really worth the cost on ECL 12; it mostly rules levels 2-5 or so). I did use Half-Ogre (Half-Minotaur was banned by my DM), but it's norm on GiTP to not assume Dragon material avaiable by default.

    Besides, i tried to pitch the short version to see if OP is interested, not to list the full suite. If he is, i'll of course explain how easy it is to get blindsense, scent etc. and offer ways to optimise it for various degrees of optimisation.
    Last edited by Lord Haart; 2017-12-30 at 07:07 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elitarismo View Post
    Complaining about martial characters dipping many different classes is like complaining that the sun is hot.
    Quote Originally Posted by ArqArturo View Post
    When I first wanted to build a gish, I wanted to be the guy that threw fireballs, lightning bolts, wore spiked fullplate and reigned death and destruction (…)

    So I rolled a cleric.

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    Default Re: Making a "big" Dragon playable

    Houserule Divine Minion wildshape to count as the druid class feature, enter MoMF at ECL 3, get the ability to wildshape into any dragons up to Gargantuan in size at ECL 12. You could be something like an Ibranlin (MoF) without further wild shape level boosts, and even more powerful dragons if you invest in the right gear.
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    Default Re: Making a "big" Dragon playable

    Druid-12, take Dragon Wild Shape (Draconomicon, p. 105), and get a permanent Enlarge Person (at a high caster level to avoid dispelling), and Natural Spell. Large size dragon, spellcasting, breath weapon, and at 12th level two uses of Wildshape lets you keep it up 24/7. Technically not a dragon, but... well, very, very close.
    Of course, by the time I finish this post, it will already be obsolete. C'est la vie.

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    Default Re: Making a "big" Dragon playable

    I did a rewrite of dragons in my New/Redone monsters thread, partially in an attempt to make them playable. You could just take the statblock right off the page, add some feats and skills, and be ready to play.

    Here: http://tgdmb.com/viewtopic.php?p=483328#483328
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    Default Re: Making a "big" Dragon playable

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack_Simth View Post
    Druid-12, take Dragon Wild Shape (Draconomicon, p. 105), and get a permanent Enlarge Person (at a high caster level to avoid dispelling), and Natural Spell. Large size dragon, spellcasting, breath weapon, and at 12th level two uses of Wildshape lets you keep it up 24/7. Technically not a dragon, but... well, very, very close.
    Quote Originally Posted by Inevitability View Post
    Houserule Divine Minion wildshape to count as the druid class feature, enter MoMF at ECL 3, get the ability to wildshape into any dragons up to Gargantuan in size at ECL 12. You could be something like an Ibranlin (MoF) without further wild shape level boosts, and even more powerful dragons if you invest in the right gear.
    Didn't the OP literally call these exact suggestions out as ones he doesn't want?

    Quote Originally Posted by GrayDeath View Post
    and since I expect it: No, transforming into a Dragon or being a Halfdragon are declined^^
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    Default Re: Making a "big" Dragon playable

    Dragon #320 and #332 provide 20-level "Monster Class" progressions for all the core dragons. I would suggest picking a dragon with the Alternate Form ability, so they can pass as human if need be. Among the Chromatic dragons, this means Bronze, Gold, or Silver... except Bronze doesn't get Alternate Form until ECL 14, so that probably takes it out of the running.

    At ECL 13, the Gold is still a medium-sized wyrmling, but has 8d12 HD, 200' fly speed, NA +8, Alternate Form 3/day, water breathing, immunity to fire, and a 3d10 breath weapon. It might be a little underpowered compared to 13 class levels, but it's 100% dragon.

    Silver is a possibility, but at ECL 13 it's still a small-sized wyrmling, but can use Alternate Form to assume any animal or humanoid form up to medium. 9d12 HD, fly 100', NA +8, Alternate Form 3/day, cloudwalking, immunity to acid and cold, and a 4d8 breath weapon.

    A Steel Dragon (Dragons of Faerun) has Alternate Form early, and you could probably kitbash a Very Young or Young monster progression out to ECL 13, but it's still small or medium size until Adult.
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    Black Sparrow (Master of Many Forms)


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    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Making a "big" Dragon playable

    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonexx View Post
    I did a rewrite of dragons in my New/Redone monsters thread, partially in an attempt to make them playable. You could just take the statblock right off the page, add some feats and skills, and be ready to play.

    Here: http://tgdmb.com/viewtopic.php?p=483328#483328

    Ill give it a read, thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darrin View Post
    Dragon #320 and #332 provide 20-level "Monster Class" progressions for all the core dragons. I would suggest picking a dragon with the Alternate Form ability, so they can pass as human if need be. Among the Chromatic dragons, this means Bronze, Gold, or Silver... except Bronze doesn't get Alternate Form until ECL 14, so that probably takes it out of the running.

    At ECL 13, the Gold is still a medium-sized wyrmling, but has 8d12 HD, 200' fly speed, NA +8, Alternate Form 3/day, water breathing, immunity to fire, and a 3d10 breath weapon. It might be a little underpowered compared to 13 class levels, but it's 100% dragon.

    Silver is a possibility, but at ECL 13 it's still a small-sized wyrmling, but can use Alternate Form to assume any animal or humanoid form up to medium. 9d12 HD, fly 100', NA +8, Alternate Form 3/day, cloudwalking, immunity to acid and cold, and a 4d8 breath weapon.

    A Steel Dragon (Dragons of Faerun) has Alternate Form early, and you could probably kitbash a Very Young or Young monster progression out to ECL 13, but it's still small or medium size until Adult.
    Now if I only had acces to them (I do not expect them to be online and free?), that sounds good as well.


    @ all: Please, as fun as the hoopjumpoing and shapeshifting would be if I was to play that, he just wants a simple, yet powerful and cool, Dragon. And yes, large is the absolute Minimum.

    Everything doing that, please keep suggesting (unless you alla gree the solutions above are best for that^^), thanks!


    Also for those worrying that we are doing this with a new plaer: It was something like that or building a more complicated OP Character for him, as the Game already exists, he is simply joining it, so ...yeah.
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    Default Re: Making a "big" Dragon playable

    I almost forgot...

    Ambush Drake Monster Class.

    This might be everything he wants. It's a 7-level monster class with no LA, ECL 7. So you can throw on 5-6 class levels on top of the 7d12 dragon hit dice. It has bite/claw/claw attacks, poison attack, 30' fly speed, dragon immunities, SR 16, and best of all... large size.

    If he wants Alternate Form, you can add that with the Alternate Form feat from Dragons of Eberron and 5th level Sorcerer casting (Sorcerer 1 dip + Practiced Spellcaster if need be). Or go Ambush Drake 7/Dragonfire Adept 6 and take the Humanoid Shape invocation for change shape at will. This also gives him a better breath weapon that he can use every round.
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    GOLD
    Verelka Thunderfoot (Serene Guardian)
    Vampire Hunter D (Risen Martyr)
    Vultag Thunderkeg (Great Rift Skyguard)
    SILVER
    Vreeb Veebilbrixt (Twisted Lord)
    Dokar Jaggedfang (Hand of the Winged Masters)
    BRONZE
    Black Sparrow (Master of Many Forms)


  23. - Top - End - #23
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    Default Re: Making a "big" Dragon playable

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Haart View Post
    I don't actually agree with all of that: Gestalt is something that has to be specifically asked from DM (and preferably be in play for the entire table), and this build isn't really much subpar without it (of course gestalt makes it better, but gestalt makes everything better), so it's not necessary to be functional (i tried to offer something that is completely legal in a default assumptions game, with no GM catering needed); Water Creature, if i remember correctly, takes away air breathing even if base creature was amphibious (though i might be wrong); and Mineral Warrior either takes away dragonborn wings, or gets mostly negated by dragonborn (and it's LA +1, not LA +0, so not really worth the cost on ECL 12; it mostly rules levels 2-5 or so). I did use Half-Ogre (Half-Minotaur was banned by my DM), but it's norm on GiTP to not assume Dragon material avaiable by default.

    Besides, i tried to pitch the short version to see if OP is interested, not to list the full suite. If he is, i'll of course explain how easy it is to get blindsense, scent etc. and offer ways to optimise it for various degrees of optimisation.
    The OP is the DM of the game, and is already allowing another player to do it. A Paladin // Warblade. This is also the only party member that doesn't have the potential to have 9th level spells.

    Since DFA is low to mid Tier 3, and Fighter isn't that strong a class, I figured that just bumped the build up to high tier 3. Which is a reasonable place to be at at default. All it really does is make sure that "Dragons are dangerous melee combatants." idea is given a pick me up, and that there's enough feats to go around to not feel feat starved.




    Mineral Warrior would keep the stat bonuses, the DR, and maybe the Nat Armor. That's really all you care about. As an acquired Template, the LA can be bought off very quickly after gaining it in the character progression. Before play even beings in fact.

    Water Creatures don't actually gain Water Breathing that I saw listed on the SRD. They get extra help with there swim speed, some attack bonuses and AC/Save Penalty's related to fire that they would lose in becoming Dragonborn, and an extra +2 Con.

    Half Minotaur, I did mention IF there was Dragon Mag access.

    Bahumute Touched would be picked up after Dragon Born, and thus not loose anything, and would as mentioned, be a refit of Lolth touched, for a LG god instead of a CE goddess. Mechanically other than alignment stuff nothing need change.




    All told you get,

    Maybe a boost to your swim speed/swim skill checks.

    Maybe Scent.

    Maybe a couple of horns you can add to your attack routine sometimes.

    Maybe some more natural armor.

    A small dex penalty.

    Fear Immunity.

    Some DR.

    A nice Boost to Con.

    A nice boost to Str.

    A nice boost to BAB.

    A Nice boost to Hit Die Size.

    Some bonus feats to play with to help with melee options and expanding uses of breath weapons and improving your flight.

    All of that seems pretty classically dragony to me, and at most, you have a high Tier 3 character, in a party with a Tier 2 to Tier 1 character depending on spell selection, A Tier 1 character, and another High Tier 3 character.
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  24. - Top - End - #24
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    Default Re: Making a "big" Dragon playable

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Haart View Post
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    Ah, the age-old question.

    There is the obvious way: to ignore the restrictions WOTC put on playing a non-whelp true dragon. And there is a different, difficult way. The way that will make certain people hate and revile you forever, while others will applaud your ingenuity. It WILL let you use a character build that stays fully within the Rules, but at the cost of entering into a dark, demanding pact with the Rules themselves.

    Basically, it's the way of refluffing. If it is Huge like a dragon; fights with its claws and teets and powerful burning breath like a dragon; flies with good maneuverability and great overland endurance (and swims, too); is subject to any effects that specifically affect/target dragons; has superhuman senses, including blindsense and scent, and a fearful presense that makes mortals cover…

    Then can you (and your DM, and the players around your table) believe it's a dragon?


    Because if you can, you can have it all. You just need to play a Dragonborn Anthropomorphic Baleen Whale* Dragonfire Adept (with maybe a single-level dip into Cloistered Cleric), pick some necessary feats and pay for spellcasting services to get a Caster Level 30 permanencied Enlarge Person effect on you.

    Interested?

    *It's a completely existing, legal and endorsed-for-being-played PC race in 3.5. Using it to play a dragon is, if anything, probably less whacky than using it as intended in a party with Tordek and Krusk. Look, WOTC authors did the rulebook writing, it's not for us to judge them on the approach they took to our beloved heroic fantasy; our job is to use everything they wrote and printed to enhance our gaming experience as much as we can.


    P. S. It took a lot of jumping through hoops to fit everything together in a ECL 5 build, back when i was gonna play that dragon (for example, getting dragonborn flight to work overland when it does not do so until HD 6 took dipping Divine Mind to get exhaustion immunity; and my grandfather never thought i'd ever fall so far i'll dip Divine Mind). Luckily for you, in a ECL 12 build, most of the hoops won't be necessary at all: for example, you won't have to deal with level-based limitations on Dragonborn flight, and you won't have to scrounge out bonus feats from being tainted.
    I'd suggest taking this, fluffing it as a "regular" dragon, and not telling him where you pulled the stats from. He sees a bunch of stuff on the page, thinks, "Ooh, shiny! Dragony!" and doesn't know what the stats originally came from.

    All legal. All good.

    If he asks where you pulled the stats from and you don't think he would take it well, tell him you'll let him know after he plays a few sessions, first. Then let him in on D&D's biggest secret: fluff and crunch and how to disassociate the two.
    Last edited by MaxiDuRaritry; 2017-12-31 at 05:28 PM.
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    Default Re: Making a "big" Dragon playable

    Spiked Felldrake (Draconomicon) and Tylor (Bestiary Of Krynn, Revised) are both Large and LA +2 (6 and 7 racial HD)

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    Default Re: Making a "big" Dragon playable

    I think faking it is janky and difficult. There is already an LA system in effect for you to use, the only problem is that it doesn't match your group's optimization level. An optimized level is worth more than an unoptimized one. Solution: find a conversion factor. Probably about 3/4 is good from what you described, but use your best judgement to adjust from there.

    The dragon should be at minimum young to be away from its nest. You seem to want adult though. Let's see:

    Problem
    Brass: young (M) ECL 15-16. Adult (L) ECL N/A (>25)
    Bronze: young (M) ECL 20-21; Adult (H) ECL N/A
    Copper: young (M) ECL 16-17; Adult (L) ECL N/A
    Gold: young (L) ECL 21-22; Adult (H) ECL N/A
    Silver: Young (M) ECL 19-20; Adult (H) ECL N/A

    Gold dragon seems like the best bet for a big dragon. But even 3/4 of that is still a bit high and it's not actually an adult. Let's look at why it's so high, especially compared to the gold dragon's CR of 9 (I'll use gold dragon for now to keep things easy on myself):
    • Great HP, BAB and saves. Plenty high for gold dragon's 14 HD/level 14 and the party is only level 12-13.
    • +14 str, +6 con, +6 int, +6 wis, + 6 cha. These on top of the good stats from dragon HD make quite a difference.
    • Having 6 attacks is pretty darn good, especially with multi-attack.
    • Breath weapon is so-so for the level. Not a major factor.
    • Spellcasting is only 1st level. Nice because it opens up minor spells and staffs, but not a major factor.
    • SLAs, special abilities (water breathing, alternate form, luck bonus, etc.), frightful presence, immunities, blindsense 60', flight, large size. Very handy abilities but at high level, high op and plenty of magic they're not a huge factor.
    • PC ability scores. This is part of what makes the ECL higher than the CR.
    • WBL. This is the biggest thing that makes ECL higher than the CR.

    So there are some options to play with. The easiest one seems to be PC ability scores. Dragons are already special enough without having elite array. Ditch that and it's an easy -1 to the ECL. Instead roll 3d6 for all ability scores, or use a point buy similar to the nonelite array(13,12,11,10,9,8) or slightly lower. We can probably tack on -1 because some of their abilities aren't a big deal to a high level high op group; even on top of the 3/4 level value.

    The biggest problem bumping up the ECL is PC WBL. Ditch that and you could drop ECL a lot. The problem is how you explain the dragon having low treasure and not taking a full share of treasure in an adventuring party. It seems extremely contrary to their character. Requiring the player to dedicate a portion of his treasure to his horde is one solution I've seen before. I don't like the idea of dragons doing nothing with their hoarde. I think they should at least be investing it in minions or something to make even more wealth. And an adventuring dragon would probably see magic items as a worthy investment. But this solution does work really well for dropping ECL. Instead of 3/4 ECL you could use half ECL. And then you can even allow adult dragons.

    Solutions
    So with 3d6 ability scores / NPC point buy (plus racial bonuses) and a forced horde (little usable WBL), the ECL formula would be (HD+LA-2)*50%. I'd make the adult dragon LA 1 higher than the young dragon LA (before multiplying everything by 50%). You may adjust the 50% based on what you know about your groups optimization and/or how the game goes.

    The other solution would be to allow a young gold dragon with full PC WBL. The formula for that would be (HD+LA-2)*75%. Again adjust the 75% based on your knowledge of your group's optimization. That yields a starting ECL of (15+7-2)*3/4=15. Still a bit high. You could say he has 1/3-1/2 WBL because backstory and that will keep things fair until the party can catch up. Triple standard monster treasure for him is only 13,500 gp anyway, whereas PC WBL is 66,000-88,000 gp. If anything 1/3-1/2 WBL is more than the average dragon.

    Advancement: Dragon advancement by HD is by age, so advancement by class probably makes more sense. For optimization purposes remember that all that dragon HD gives a lot of feats. Help him pick his feats since he's inexperienced.

    So there's an easy way to play a true big dragon without settling for a lesser dragon.
    Last edited by ericgrau; 2018-01-01 at 03:05 PM. Reason: dragon strength
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    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Making a "big" Dragon playable

    Hmmm, that might fit very well.

    He loves fluffy explanations, so I might go with 3d6 for stats and close to no wbl aside from a few Items to start, explaining it as "you were driven out of your Hoard by....". He`ll get normal loot from then on, but needs to rebuild his hoard, ergo half goes into that.

    Lets say this puts an adult GOld Dragon at around our entry level, no?


    Yes, I think I like this solution a LOT. lets see what he says. :) THanks a lot!
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  28. - Top - End - #28
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    Default Re: Making a "big" Dragon playable

    Quote Originally Posted by GrayDeath View Post
    Hmmm, that might fit very well.

    He loves fluffy explanations, so I might go with 3d6 for stats and close to no wbl aside from a few Items to start, explaining it as "you were driven out of your Hoard by....". He`ll get normal loot from then on, but needs to rebuild his hoard, ergo half goes into that.

    Lets say this puts an adult GOld Dragon at around our entry level, no?


    Yes, I think I like this solution a LOT. lets see what he says. :) THanks a lot!
    Cool glad to help.

    Using the formula I posted adult gold dragon is (24+7-2)*50% = ECL 14. But I was assuming 90+% WBL into horde from there to keep it at 50%. At half WBL maybe it'll be around 65%. And 50% or 65% is just an estimate, you may want to tweak that based on your knowledge of your group. So adult gold dragon is in the right ballpark at least, though maybe a little strong.

    With low WBL other types of adult dragons are viable options too. With more WBL young gold dragon is still an option, and it's still large size. Young is the lowest age at which dragons live solitary lives btw.
    Last edited by ericgrau; 2018-01-01 at 02:52 PM.
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    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Making a "big" Dragon playable

    Yep, gonna tweak it a bit, once (as I am sure he will) he agrees.

    Half was only an estimate, as Is aid he is a fluff before crunch player, so hell probably insist on more towards the hoard anyway.

    Really, that is a great way to mod them fairly, once someone wants to paly a dragon more than optimize, and the group is strong enough.

    heck, might do it myself some time
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  30. - Top - End - #30
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    Default Re: Making a "big" Dragon playable

    Hmm and since advancement will probably be by class level and not HD & dragon abilities, actually he should keep some portion of treasure. And the class levels would likewise be counted 100% towards ECL not 50-75%. 50% to hoard is probably about right for this, then close to regular treasure around ECL 18-22ish if the campaign even goes past 18. You just need to deal with his initial power possibly being a little high if he's an adult gold dragon. Other types of adult dragons would have a lower ECL by the formula, for example.
    Last edited by ericgrau; 2018-01-01 at 03:30 PM.
    So you never have to interrupt a game to look up a rule again:
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    Utilities: Magic Item Shop Generator (Req. MS Excel), Balanced Low Magic Item System
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