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 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 30 of 69
  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    TheSessionTapes's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2019
    Location
    England, United Kingdom
    Gender
    Male

    Default Regarding Dragons

    Been doing some work with my setting... and I'm almost completely sold on scrapping the entire Chromatic/Metallic dragons idea. While I've never been a huge fan of "colour coded dragons", recently I've felt really stymied by the trope. The idea that players (whether intentionally metagaming or not) can get a ridiculous amount of information from just knowing what colour a dragon is I find really crippling to building tension and creating Dragons as realistic NPCs with realistic motivations.

    For example:

    Local folk talk about a dragon seen flying around the peak of Mount Dragonplace (clue's in the name, really). The intrepid adventurers track the creature back to its lair, but when they arrive they see it has silver scales. They are immediately put at ease, and openly greet their new friend, "Shimmershine the Uber-Powerful-Pandimensional-Beast-Who-For-Some-Reason-Is-Really-Nice-To-Everyone".

    Another example:

    Same setup above, but when they reach the mountain, they see a flash of Red Scales. Immediately, they know a) This is going to be a fight (most likely), or at least a situation where they will be facing an aggressive foe b) Fire spells and attacks won't work. c) They need to load up on fire resist.

    Even if you buck the Alignment conventions and let Dragons all have their own personalities, within the confines of this system, they're still predictable in terms of their capabilities. To my mind, this takes a lot of the terror and splendour out of dragons... they become a "stock encounter" (You're not a real adventurer until you've beaten a Dragon!). Like with all my villains/allies, a prefer a more nuanced and flawed approach.

    Sure, that dragon is nice to you now. But he's still a DRAGON; a supergenius intellect in a flying dinosaur's body that oh yeah can also breathe fire. So you'll want to tread REALLY carefully, in case you accidentally insult his Mom or something.

    What's everyone else's take on Colour-Coded dragons in D&D / Pathfinder? Do you agree that they're a bit outdated? Or is there an elegance there that I'm missing?
    The Session Tapes
    Actual Play D&D 5E Podcast

    FB: @TheSessionTapes

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Daemon

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Tampa, FL
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Regarding Dragons

    I kept the "color == element" association (but changed it a bit due to symmetry concerns), but dropped the alignment differences. They're also not different species, but individual characteristics. Each hatchling (an inserted lifecycle step before wyrmlings) develops an affinity for a particular element and seeks out a concentrated source of it, morphing into a wyrmling of the appropriate color. Chromatic or not doesn't develop until later, usually sometime in the young phase. Often not until they're adults. Metallic wyrmlings are rare.

    For me, the differences between metallic and chromatic dragons come down to their willingness to learn "lesser" forms of magic beyond their innate magic nature. Metallics are all spell-casters, and usually are more willing to engage with mortals for good or for ill, because they had to learn mortal-style spell-casting. This leads to them picking up shape-shifting as a very common trait. In fact, a dragon who learns to shape-shift will change color (from the chromatic to the metallic variant) as a natural side-effect. Chromatics tend to be more isolationist with regards to mortals, treating them as threats, people to be dominated, or just ignoring them to the extent possible.

    None of this tells you anything about their personality, however. It tells a little about preferred lair locations, but only a bit.

    Red and Silver: Fire. Mountains vs Plains
    Blue and Brass: Air (lightning/thunder respectively). Deserts.
    Green and Copper: Earth (acid spray and scouring corrosive sand, both dealing acid damage). Forests/swamps/jungles.
    White: Water (cold). Glaciers/cold mountains
    Brass: Water (superheated steam = fire damage, but are aquatic). Coastal/reefs
    Black: Metallic necrotic (associated with the Shadow plane), rare.
    Gold: Metallic radiant (associated with the Astral plane), rare.
    Dream of Hope: a 5e setting. http://www.admiralbenbo.org
    PhoenixPhyre's Extended Homebrew Signature
    5e Monster Data Sheet--vital statistics for all 693 MM, Volo's, and now MToF monsters: Updated!

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    WolfInSheepsClothing

    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Italy
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Regarding Dragons

    I've completely scrapped the color-coded alignment myself, and the climax of my campaign involved the revelation that the most ancient gold dragon was actually the villain and was trying to unite all dragons in a crusade against humanoids out of concern that humanoids would take up all the land and there would be no more place for dragons. the gold dragon cohort of the party was secretly his agent, and betrayed the party. but then, the second most ancient gold dragon was one of those that sided with the humanoids.

    I gave dragons a relation of dependency with humanoids that turned out really well:
    I stated that dragons need loot to survive. more accuratey, they feed off the natural magic field, and this allows them to break all kind of natural laws, first of all the square/cube law when they fly. when they are young, the natural magic field is enough, but as they grow older, they need a focus for it, and that's treasure.
    And nothing produces treasure like humanoids, digging gold or making magic items. So, dragons like that there are humanoids making stuff that ends up in their loot.
    On the other hand, dragon population is limited by the availability of loot to a few tens of thousands of adult individuals. and a high level humanoid party can take on any dragon - not to mention, since the invention of gunpowder, artillery is the bane of anything big enough to make a good target. Humanoids breed really fast compared to dragons, and they aren't so strongly limited in their numbers by external factors. So, dragons are concerned that humanoids growing in number may pose a threat to them. either by encroaching all their land, or by deciding that they actually want the loot for themselves.
    being worshipped as gods and offered sacrifices works even better than loot, but it tend to attract heroes.

    I also strongly reduced the "individualistic" part, out of necessity. dragons are smart, they realize that a high level human party can kill any of them, or a bunch of golems carrying cannons, and so they realize that they have to unite, at least to some extent. dragons are still independent, but they do have a loose organization and chain of command, mostly working by age.

    I am really happy of how that worked into my campaign. I never liked how traditional dragons do most stuff "just because". This way, I gave them plenty of good reasons to interact with human society either for good or bad. they have good reasons to want to fight humans, cooperate with humans, stay away from humans, or anything in between.

    as for elemental affinity, though, I left it there. to be honest, i never even considered changing it. a red dragon is red because red is the color of fire, of course it breath fire.
    on the other hand, i tried to make dragons individually by giving each one a personal fighting style. the greater dragon had high dexterity which he used to get a mild tripper build (mild because i didn't want to be too harsh on the players). he also had a homebrewed enlarged version of antimagic field that could cover him completely, while the spell is normally to small to enclose a colossal creature.
    another dragon was a wizard; instead of casting as a sorceror of 19th level, he did cast as a wizard, and he had a wider spell selection. he also had access to quicken spells, which i didn't give to other dragons.
    another dragon was younger, but he had monk levels. I increased his damage from natural weapons and his spell resistance quite arbitrarily, to be fair, to reach the power level I wanted.
    Another dragon was specialized in tail attacks.
    And so on.
    And it also worked well to make each dragon opponent unique.
    In memory of Evisceratus: he dreamed of a better world, but he lacked the class levels to make the dream come true.

    Ridiculous monsters you won't take seriously even as they disembowel you

    my take on the highly skilled professional: the specialized expert

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Firbolg in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Denmark
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Regarding Dragons

    I ditched dragons entirely. Sure, they are iconic monsters - but here's what: Back in 1994 or so, my barbarian had dragonscale armor from red, green, blue and black great wyrm dragons, and a full collection of horns from every race except white. Why not white? Because he couldn't arsed to find and kill one, it was too weak a foe, didn't give enough loot or xp, and basically wasn't worth it.

    Dragons are not iconic monsters. They're cannon fodder.

    Also, Dragon Lance. Yea, way to turn what little respectability they had into 'no, you're now a mount .. you're so common, you're cavalry'.

    The last two dragons I used were, respectively, a three-headed dragon, which the party didn't see coming - and an ice dragon (not a white, though there was no visible difference - but the 'ice dragon' breathes not cold but ice shards, physical damage with no save for half ... oh, it's not unfair - it makes an attack roll).

    If I ever use a dragon again, it'll be ... different. What springs to mind right now is The Wind. Literally. Good luck fighting that. Although players will find a way, they always do. But that's only really fun (to me at least) if they find it by being creative - not by reading the Monster Manual.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Faily's Avatar

    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Gender
    Female

    Default Re: Regarding Dragons

    Scrap alignment and "color-coding for your convenience". Make each dragon a unique creature with unique abilities and traits. Make them something extra special, so that when PCs encounter a dragon, it's really an "OMG"-moment.

    A dragon could have green-gold coloring and breathe electricity (say, maybe it has a strong link to the nature forces, or it is a servant of a deity with a suitable portfolio)?
    RHoD: Soah | SC: Green Sparrow | WotBS: Sheliya |RoW: Raani | SA: Ariste | IG: Hemali | RoA: Abelia | WftC: Elize | Zeitgeist: Rutile
    Mystara: Othariel | Vette | Scarlet

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Alabenson's Avatar

    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Regarding Dragons

    I keep the color coded aspect, but I'll also have the dragons themselves be aware of it and occasionally use it to their own advantages, for example:

    Quote Originally Posted by TheSessionTapes View Post
    Local folk talk about a dragon seen flying around the peak of Mount Dragonplace (clue's in the name, really). The intrepid adventurers track the creature back to its lair, but when they arrive they see it has silver scales. They are immediately put at ease, and openly greet their new friend, "Shimmershine the Uber-Powerful-Pandimensional-Beast-Who-For-Some-Reason-Is-Really-Nice-To-Everyone".
    Then, when the players have lowered their guard, Bloodscale the Eater of Orphans" devours them all whilst congratulating himself on having the foresight to learn disguise self
    If brute force isn't working, that just means you're not using enough of it.

    When in doubt, set something on fire. If not in doubt, set something on fire anyway.

    My Homebrew


  7. - Top - End - #7
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    OrcBarbarianGuy

    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Vancouver, BC, Canada

    Default Re: Regarding Dragons

    You could use the Incarnum Dragons (even exclusively if you like). They can be LG, CG, LE or CG but all are purple.

    Light the lamp not the rat LIGHT THE LAMP NOT THE RAT!!!

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Mid-Rohan
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Regarding Dragons

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    Dragons are not iconic monsters. They're cannon fodder.
    That depends on what the dragon's relative CR is. Some of my dragons have been punked.

    Some I've had to scale back from unintentional TPKs.
    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
    Some play RPG's like chess, some like charades.

    Everyone has their own jam.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Firbolg in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Denmark
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Regarding Dragons

    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    That depends on what the dragon's relative CR is. Some of my dragons have been punked.

    Some I've had to scale back from unintentional TPKs.
    No - it doesn't really have anything to do with relative CR. It has everything to do with commonality. I have, literally, fought more encounters with dragons than with goblins. It's not that they're pushovers - they often are - no, the problem is that they're just 'The Boss Monster'. At the end of every arch or campaign: The Dragon.

    They are common as muck. And ... I don't mean to speak on behalf of anyone but myself, but they are the most cliché, boring, unimaginative enemy the game has.

    Which is why the last two dragons I used, more than a decade ago, where unique. And if I ever use a 'dragon' again, it will be .. something else. A force of nature, or a universal constant, or some such. Not a scaly fire breathing lizard on a pile of gold.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Planetar

    Join Date
    May 2018

    Default Re: Regarding Dragons

    Quote Originally Posted by TheSessionTapes View Post
    What's everyone else's take on Colour-Coded dragons in D&D / Pathfinder? Do you agree that they're a bit outdated? Or is there an elegance there that I'm missing?
    I don't think they're outdated. However, I do think getting rid of them is a good idea for a lot of tables.

    Colour-coded dragons are just part of the greater scheme of "races are homogeneous, up to few exceptions":
    + Extraplanars always behave accordingly to their alignment
    + Each race has a unique culture (dwarf are lawful, ...), and when you need a new culture, you create a new race (dark elves, or whatever)

    But those choices are not laziness and bad writing. When you have a game where those questions are secondaries, following stereotype is advised, as it means players will need to remember less information, and to ask themselves less irrelevant questions. For example, a lot of gear are made with dragon scales, and you might not want to have the question "But does that mean an innocent and clever being has been killed just so that I can have +1 in AC?". Having entire races of dragons that are evil make this kind of questions much easier to answer: "It is red dragon scales".

    When morality questions, subtle plots and/or secrets are primordial to your game, you can (and should) get rid of some of those stereotypes.

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Daemon

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Tampa, FL
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Regarding Dragons

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    No - it doesn't really have anything to do with relative CR. It has everything to do with commonality. I have, literally, fought more encounters with dragons than with goblins. It's not that they're pushovers - they often are - no, the problem is that they're just 'The Boss Monster'. At the end of every arch or campaign: The Dragon.

    They are common as muck. And ... I don't mean to speak on behalf of anyone but myself, but they are the most cliché, boring, unimaginative enemy the game has.

    Which is why the last two dragons I used, more than a decade ago, where unique. And if I ever use a 'dragon' again, it will be .. something else. A force of nature, or a universal constant, or some such. Not a scaly fire breathing lizard on a pile of gold.
    That's a failure of campaign design, not monster design. By comparison, in 4+ years of running 3 campaigns simultaneously (ie 12+ total campaigns),
    * one or more dragons has appeared in each campaign
    * Only 2 have been killed, of which
    ** one was an insane green dragon with tentacles growing out of its back. And he was not even the boss of that arc--the Elder Brain that had dominated it was.
    ** one wasn't killed in combat, but was talked into an existential crisis to the point that he suffered a catastrophic existence failure[1]

    They've encountered friendly dragons (including rescuing one from imprisonment), neutral dragons, dragon-shaped McGuffins (a mated pair of a gold and a dracolich[2]), even an unfriendly one[3], but only rarely outright hostile ones.

    [1] long story. The party was rather bummed that he blew up instead of letting them talk him down.
    [2] unwillingly undead, was bummed out that he couldn't hoard butterflies because they kept dying around him
    [3] there's an albino black dragon that's an antagonist, but he's a coward and thinks he's the best manipulator around so he stays in humanoid form and stirs up trouble against the "good guys" instead of fighting directly.
    Last edited by PhoenixPhyre; 2019-09-06 at 07:36 AM.
    Dream of Hope: a 5e setting. http://www.admiralbenbo.org
    PhoenixPhyre's Extended Homebrew Signature
    5e Monster Data Sheet--vital statistics for all 693 MM, Volo's, and now MToF monsters: Updated!

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Orc in the Playground
     
    False God's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Location
    Wyoming
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Regarding Dragons

    I keep it in much the same way that Devils are made of evil stuff. It's true for the majority of the population (which is small) that most members of *color/metal* dragon tend towards the given alignment in the books. BUT, that doesn't mean there aren't evil metallics and good chromatics, and ones who sometimes do good or evil outside of their alignments.

    The way I wrote it up, the dragons were made by their respective gods. Meaning their alignment issues are a literal "we don't really have free will" issue. It makes chromatics almost sad and empathetic, as they're designed to do evil. It makes a metallic who does evil as the only way they can express their freedom and individuality almost sympathetic. It's why many older dragons go insane, they're constantly analyzing every decision, every behavioural pattern to see which ones are them and which ones are "design choices".

    It really depends on your group. Some players enjoyed the "deeper" concept of dragons with moral and ethical implications of what it means to be made of evil but want to do good, or be made of good but do evil. Some players don't, sometimes you just want to beat up a monster lizard.
    Last edited by False God; 2019-09-06 at 07:37 AM.
    Knowledge brings the sting of disillusionment, but the pain teaches perspective.
    It looks like freedom but it smells like death, it's closing time.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Firbolg in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Denmark
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Regarding Dragons

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    That's a failure of campaign design, not monster design.
    It's nowhere near as simple as that. Look through this thread, and you'll find a dozen examples of how people have made their own dragon designs - because of the failed monster design. But yes .. sometimes it's also a question of failed campaign design.

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Daemon

    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Tampa, FL
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Regarding Dragons

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    It's nowhere near as simple as that. Look through this thread, and you'll find a dozen examples of how people have made their own dragon designs - because of the failed monster design. But yes .. sometimes it's also a question of failed campaign design.
    I was responding to the idea that dragons were simply cannon fodder. Sure, I don't particularly like the monster design for dragons, but that's more due to the legacy concerns. But monster design doesn't make something cannon fodder, campaign design does.
    Dream of Hope: a 5e setting. http://www.admiralbenbo.org
    PhoenixPhyre's Extended Homebrew Signature
    5e Monster Data Sheet--vital statistics for all 693 MM, Volo's, and now MToF monsters: Updated!

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Mid-Rohan
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Regarding Dragons

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    No - it doesn't really have anything to do with relative CR. It has everything to do with commonality. I have, literally, fought more encounters with dragons than with goblins. It's not that they're pushovers - they often are - no, the problem is that they're just 'The Boss Monster'. At the end of every arch or campaign: The Dragon.

    They are common as muck. And ... I don't mean to speak on behalf of anyone but myself, but they are the most cliché, boring, unimaginative enemy the game has.

    Which is why the last two dragons I used, more than a decade ago, where unique. And if I ever use a 'dragon' again, it will be .. something else. A force of nature, or a universal constant, or some such. Not a scaly fire breathing lizard on a pile of gold.
    How does something being more common make it less iconic? Wouldn't it be the other way around? What do you mean by "iconic" at this point?

    Forces of nature and universal constants can also be cannon fodder in RPGs. The rule is, "if it has stats, we can kill it." That definitely takes away some of the grandeur. But that doesn't make them any less *iconic*.

    The standard premise that the players are meant to win the game tends to take the teeth out of the concept of monstrocity, which is why I mentioned pumping the CR if you want the fight to be more harrowing and the conflict more dramatic. They definitely feel like more legendary adversaries when they push the heroes to the brink of defeat.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    That's a failure of campaign design, not monster design.
    Also this. Boss monsters really aren't best used unless they are confronted near the end of the adventuring day, before the players get to reset their combat assets. In D&D at least, there's not really a boss that won't get punked by a fresh party, unless the fight was just unreasonable
    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
    Some play RPG's like chess, some like charades.

    Everyone has their own jam.

  16. - Top - End - #16
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Faily's Avatar

    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Gender
    Female

    Default Re: Regarding Dragons

    Quote Originally Posted by Alabenson View Post
    I keep the color coded aspect, but I'll also have the dragons themselves be aware of it and occasionally use it to their own advantages, for example:



    Then, when the players have lowered their guard, Bloodscale the Eater of Orphans" devours them all whilst congratulating himself on having the foresight to learn disguise self

    Something similar happened in our long-lasting Pathfinder campaign in Mystara.

    Our brave adventurers heard rumors of a great dragon terrorizing a place, and as heroes do they set out to defeat the evil! None of the witnesses could confirm the color of the dragon (it was dark and the dragon seemed kind of dark? they were mostly "omg a dragon!!!! panic!!!" themselves so they didn't stop to look closely).

    So we head out to where the lair is rumored to be, and lo and behold, a Black Dragon appears! Casters get Resist Energy up, the Magus starts to prep up his best Electricity stuff, and as we engage the Dragon in melee, the Magus unleashed his Intensified Maximized Shocking Grasp on the Dragon... with a Critical Hit to boot! And look, he got through Spell Resistance too!

    Cue the haughty laugh of the Dragon as he reveals himself to be a Blue Dragon in disguise (Illusion spells are great).
    RHoD: Soah | SC: Green Sparrow | WotBS: Sheliya |RoW: Raani | SA: Ariste | IG: Hemali | RoA: Abelia | WftC: Elize | Zeitgeist: Rutile
    Mystara: Othariel | Vette | Scarlet

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Firbolg in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Denmark
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Regarding Dragons

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    I was responding to the idea that dragons were simply cannon fodder. Sure, I don't particularly like the monster design for dragons, but that's more due to the legacy concerns. But monster design doesn't make something cannon fodder, campaign design does.
    I have to disagree. Or .. no, I agree with you, but I also disagree.

    Dragons are cannon fodder because they been abused and overdone to the point that someone, somewhere, had the massive stroke of insanity to think that Dragonlance was a good idea. So in the end, dragons are cannon fodder because of marketing. And thus it is will all things bought and sold. Succes turns gold into ****.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    How does something being more common make it less iconic? Wouldn't it be the other way around? What do you mean by "iconic" at this point?

    Forces of nature and universal constants can also be cannon fodder in RPGs. The rule is, "if it has stats, we can kill it." That definitely takes away some of the grandeur. But that doesn't make them any less *iconic*.

    The standard premise that the players are meant to win the game tends to take the teeth out of the concept of monstrocity, which is why I mentioned pumping the CR if you want the fight to be more harrowing and the conflict more dramatic. They definitely feel like more legendary adversaries when they push the heroes to the brink of defeat.
    If you view iconic as a positive, then dragons aren't it. Not to me.

    If by iconic you mean done to death and way beyond, then sure - they're so iconic it hurts my eyes merely to cast the slightest gaze upon the horrid ruin thereof.

    I'm not going to make statements on anyone's behalf but my own. But if I include a dragon in one of my games, I'll consider that a critical failure of creativity. Dragons are bad enemies for a number of reasons. They are boring and bland, and no CR is going to change that. Sure, if you're in it for the challenge, dragons can certainly be challenging - absolutely. But however challenging, they're still boring. This may be because I've become immune to 'challenges'.

    I have a few ... rules of thumb. Let your motivation be about love, for instance. Goes for characters but especially for villains. Make enemies believable, with believable motivations (love - of something - never fails). For this reason, Dracula and Frankensteins monster works as villains.

    For the same reason, dragons do not. They're all fireworks and no substance.

    Anyways ... I have my reasons for disliking them. Not asking anyone to accept my reasons =)

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Orc in the Playground
     
    RedWizardGuy

    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Bamako

    Default Re: Regarding Dragons

    You could also take some inspiration of some of the source material and decide that a dragon is what a person (dwarves are prime candidates) turns into when they start hoarding treasure too much. The type of dragon will be determined on the base of their original race, how they came to have their hoard, the environs etc. Type of course only in terms of stats and appearance, because in terms of alignment they'll all be some variation of Awful Greedy.

  19. - Top - End - #19
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Mid-Rohan
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Regarding Dragons

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    If you view iconic as a positive, then dragons aren't it. Not to me.

    If by iconic you mean done to death and way beyond, then sure - they're so iconic it hurts my eyes merely to cast the slightest gaze upon the horrid ruin thereof.

    I'm not going to make statements on anyone's behalf but my own. But if I include a dragon in one of my games, I'll consider that a critical failure of creativity. Dragons are bad enemies for a number of reasons. They are boring and bland, and no CR is going to change that. Sure, if you're in it for the challenge, dragons can certainly be challenging - absolutely. But however challenging, they're still boring. This may be because I've become immune to 'challenges'.

    I have a few ... rules of thumb. Let your motivation be about love, for instance. Goes for characters but especially for villains. Make enemies believable, with believable motivations (love - of something - never fails). For this reason, Dracula and Frankensteins monster works as villains.

    For the same reason, dragons do not. They're all fireworks and no substance.

    Anyways ... I have my reasons for disliking them. Not asking anyone to accept my reasons =)
    This makes me feel you might be using dragons as a rigid stablock.

    They're intelligent creatures. They should have NPC motives.

    Humans are bland and overly common, but any given human can be unique and interesting.
    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
    Some play RPG's like chess, some like charades.

    Everyone has their own jam.

  20. - Top - End - #20
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    WolfInSheepsClothing

    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Italy
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Regarding Dragons

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    It's nowhere near as simple as that. Look through this thread, and you'll find a dozen examples of how people have made their own dragon designs - because of the failed monster design. But yes .. sometimes it's also a question of failed campaign design.
    I believe d&d is not a game by itself, but rather like a bunch of lego blocks.
    I mean, you take all rules and sourcebooks at face value, you get a horrible, unplayable mess. you can get a low-op tier 5 class together with a high-op tier 5 class together with more or less optimized tier 1 classes, you get hundreds and hundreds of races that you haave to wonder how can they all fit within the same world, you get dozens upon dozens of fluff that often contradict each other, you get the worst level of kitchen sink fantasy.

    From this disjoined mess, you take some pieces and give them shape. You can build a fairy tale sword-and-sorcery. You can build a urban fantasy intrigue setting. you can build an overarching epic. you can build a stone age setting, a post-apocaliptic setting, a modern setting. A high-op setting or a low-op setting. a black and white morality, a shade of grey morality, or a completely grey morality. just like from a bunch of lego you can build a space base or a medieval castle.
    i consider any manual, including core, to be just that; a box full of concepts and ideas that I can arrange in whatever way I see fit to get the desired outcome.

    dragons, they are just one of those building blocks. you can fit it into your construction in a variety of ways. you can also leave it out altogether.
    a dozen people have made a dozen different thing with dragons, and that's not a problem with dragons or campaign desing, that's great! that's what should be. the same building block used in different ways.

    d&d is a game primarily about creativity and imagination. if there weren't different people doing different things with the building blocks, then it would be a failure of the players, not the design.

    Quote Originally Posted by MoiMagnus View Post
    "But does that mean an innocent and clever being has been killed just so that I can have +1 in AC?". Having entire races of dragons that are evil make this kind of questions much easier to answer: "It is red dragon scales".
    In my world, dragons routinely sell their scales for money. they need to get a loot somewhere, and stealing from humanoids has too much chance of retaliation. scales regrown with magic don't have the same properties, so they can't do it too often and that prevents dragonhide from becoming too common.

    every dragonhide armor is marked, and dragons try to keep track of them. there are the armors made from sold scales. there are those made before the gentlemen agreement with humanoids was enforced (it states roughly "if one of us messes up with you, you will be free to retaliate, and viceversa". it's called the gentleman agreement because there isn't a formal threaty, it just happened gradually at the end of the last big war). dragons are ok with those, as they are too pragmatic to not see their value. plus, at least one dragon made for himself an armor of humanoid skins, so that's even.
    sometimes dragons gift scales in gratitude, and armors marked that way give a diplomacy bonus with other dragons. when the party rescued a young dragon from an undead monstruosity, the dragon's mother gifted some of her scales to the party to make an armor with.
    a dragonhide armor without seals, or with forged seals, people going after dragons for their hides, now that would be something dragons would treat with utmost concern. And by the gentlemen agreement, they would be free to chase and slay the dragon hunters without other humanoids interfering.
    In memory of Evisceratus: he dreamed of a better world, but he lacked the class levels to make the dream come true.

    Ridiculous monsters you won't take seriously even as they disembowel you

    my take on the highly skilled professional: the specialized expert

  21. - Top - End - #21
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    LordCdrMilitant's Avatar

    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Inner Palace, Holy Terra
    Gender
    Female

    Default Re: Regarding Dragons

    Quote Originally Posted by TheSessionTapes View Post
    Been doing some work with my setting... and I'm almost completely sold on scrapping the entire Chromatic/Metallic dragons idea. While I've never been a huge fan of "colour coded dragons", recently I've felt really stymied by the trope. The idea that players (whether intentionally metagaming or not) can get a ridiculous amount of information from just knowing what colour a dragon is I find really crippling to building tension and creating Dragons as realistic NPCs with realistic motivations.

    For example:

    Local folk talk about a dragon seen flying around the peak of Mount Dragonplace (clue's in the name, really). The intrepid adventurers track the creature back to its lair, but when they arrive they see it has silver scales. They are immediately put at ease, and openly greet their new friend, "Shimmershine the Uber-Powerful-Pandimensional-Beast-Who-For-Some-Reason-Is-Really-Nice-To-Everyone".

    Another example:

    Same setup above, but when they reach the mountain, they see a flash of Red Scales. Immediately, they know a) This is going to be a fight (most likely), or at least a situation where they will be facing an aggressive foe b) Fire spells and attacks won't work. c) They need to load up on fire resist.

    Even if you buck the Alignment conventions and let Dragons all have their own personalities, within the confines of this system, they're still predictable in terms of their capabilities. To my mind, this takes a lot of the terror and splendour out of dragons... they become a "stock encounter" (You're not a real adventurer until you've beaten a Dragon!). Like with all my villains/allies, a prefer a more nuanced and flawed approach.

    Sure, that dragon is nice to you now. But he's still a DRAGON; a supergenius intellect in a flying dinosaur's body that oh yeah can also breathe fire. So you'll want to tread REALLY carefully, in case you accidentally insult his Mom or something.

    What's everyone else's take on Colour-Coded dragons in D&D / Pathfinder? Do you agree that they're a bit outdated? Or is there an elegance there that I'm missing?
    There's a lot about dragons I hate, but I like the color-coded dragons. Sort of. Color of the dragon definitely denotes the element, and I like this mechanic as a short hand for how the dragon will attack so the party can prepare and be ready. In general, though, I default to red.

    However, I don't really subscribe to the dragons as being fixed good/evil, so they just are.

    They also vary in degrees of intelligence by portrayal when I run games, from fairly animalistic to generally blending in with regular society. When they're more animalistic, they're generally kill-on-sight serious threats that maraud about the countryside burning fields and killing cattle until someone stops them. When they're more intelligent, they're generally treated with a degree of fear, but also normalcy, since they're, after all, intelligent enough not to make the local humanoids hate them.

    I don't include dragons often, though [but to be fair, I run Sci Fi games far more than fantasy]; usually their influence appears in the form of whatever anti-aircraft weapon I chose to feature in my games. The most recent one I included directly was the lord of a definitely-not-Viking settlement that she had led from being a small backwater into at least a rich, successful, and fairly influential backwater [at the expense of her neighbors, of course]. She answered her liege's call to war, managed her city, lead her army, collected taxes, and was eventually slain by the party during the relief of a city under siege by the not-Viking army.
    Last edited by LordCdrMilitant; 2019-09-06 at 09:46 AM.
    Guardsmen, hear me! Cadia may lie in ruin, but her proud people do not! For each brother and sister who gave their lives to Him as martyrs, we will reap a vengeance fiftyfold! Cadia may be no more, but will never be forgotten; our foes shall tremble in fear at the name, for their doom shall come from the barrels of Cadian guns, fired by Cadian hands! Forward, for vengeance and retribution, in His name and the names of our fallen comrades!

  22. - Top - End - #22
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Imbalance's Avatar

    Join Date
    Dec 2018

    Default Re: Regarding Dragons

    Being new to D&D, the color-coding is a fresh take to me. I'm more used to them either being mindless fire lizards or deific avatars of change, with scads of other interpretations in between and all extremes of variety in power, abilities, and appearance. It's nice to have a set of standards within the fiction, for once.

  23. - Top - End - #23
    Firbolg in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Denmark
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Regarding Dragons

    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    This makes me feel you might be using dragons as a rigid stablock.
    Yes - obviously everything I've said would give you that idea.

  24. - Top - End - #24
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    WolfInSheepsClothing

    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Italy
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Regarding Dragons

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    Yes - obviously everything I've said would give you that idea.
    Actually, it does. strongly.

    But if I include a dragon in one of my games, I'll consider that a critical failure of creativity. Dragons are bad enemies for a number of reasons. They are boring and bland, and no CR is going to change that.

    I have a few ... rules of thumb. Let your motivation be about love, for instance. Goes for characters but especially for villains. Make enemies believable, with believable motivations (love - of something - never fails). For this reason, Dracula and Frankensteins monster works as villains.

    For the same reason, dragons do not. They're all fireworks and no substance.
    you are stating that dragons do not have proper motivation. which means that you are using them as a rigid statblock. "it's a fire-breathing flying lizard with an EVIL tag, do your job".
    Everything you say about motivation can apply to a dragon as well as to anyone else. and here several people posted ways that worked for them to give dragons more depth. If someone sets up a dragon as a villain without proper motivations and personality, then it's a campaign design failure.

    as for monster design failure, as I commented earlier, every monster is a failure if taken at face value, and every monster is good if you work it well into your campaign. because they are just building blocks, concepts that we can keep or leave or tweak to fit into our world. but if they are taken as yet-another-thing in the fantasy kitchen sink? then of course they are a failure.
    In memory of Evisceratus: he dreamed of a better world, but he lacked the class levels to make the dream come true.

    Ridiculous monsters you won't take seriously even as they disembowel you

    my take on the highly skilled professional: the specialized expert

  25. - Top - End - #25
    Firbolg in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Denmark
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Regarding Dragons

    Quote Originally Posted by King of Nowhere View Post
    Actually, it does. strongly.
    Sure - if you ignore 90% of it, that is certainly true. Have a wonderful .. well, night, here.

  26. - Top - End - #26
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    TheSessionTapes's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2019
    Location
    England, United Kingdom
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Regarding Dragons

    Quote Originally Posted by Faily View Post
    Scrap alignment and "color-coding for your convenience". Make each dragon a unique creature with unique abilities and traits. Make them something extra special, so that when PCs encounter a dragon, it's really an "OMG"-moment.

    A dragon could have green-gold coloring and breathe electricity (say, maybe it has a strong link to the nature forces, or it is a servant of a deity with a suitable portfolio)?
    That is absolutely my take on Dragons. They should all be unique, and all have something which makes them special. They're not Monster-of-the-Week baddies, they're campaign BBEGs. Or, conversely, they're not random quest givers, they're that one long-lasting NPC ally that the players keep wanting to work with.
    The Session Tapes
    Actual Play D&D 5E Podcast

    FB: @TheSessionTapes

  27. - Top - End - #27
    Banned
     
    MindFlayer

    Join Date
    Sep 2019

    Default Re: Regarding Dragons

    Quote Originally Posted by TheSessionTapes View Post

    What's everyone else's take on Colour-Coded dragons in D&D / Pathfinder? Do you agree that they're a bit outdated? Or is there an elegance there that I'm missing?
    I disagree.

    THIS is a game play stlye problem. Period.

    And it's not just Dragons, it's every monster and literlay the whole game of D&D.

    Lets call your example way Z. So, you read the rules in the book...and then just give up. Colors suck, D&D is trash and so on.

    Ok...now lets try way A:

    A:The players have their characters approch the red dragon all immune to fire and snicker the whole time. Then the Red Dragon breathes on them and the players just giggle and laugh......until the DM says "I blast of icy frost". The players just sit there in pure shock as the DM rolls the frost damage...that goes right through the fire immunity. Three characters DIE, right there from massive damage. The lone forth player misses with thier melee attacks, and the dragon pounces on that character and rips them to shreads.

    So what happened here? Well, Way A is a Rules Example. Sepcificaly 3.5E, as it's the Metabreath feat energy mixture(I'm not sure if other editions have this, but the point is the do have other rules)

    Way B: The players have their characters approch the red dragon all immune to fire and snicker the whole time. Then the Red Dragon breathes on them and the players just giggle and laugh......until the DM says "The dragon fire burns so hot that it ignores any fire protection". Four characters die.

    So, this is the Homebrew Rules Example. There is a feat in the book Sunstorm, super fire or something, that make fire ''so hot" it ignores fire protection. This DM simply made a Super Fire Metabreath weapon feat.

    Way C: The players have their characters approch the red dragon all immune to fire and snicker the whole time. Then the Red Dragon breathes on them and the players just giggle and laugh......until the DM says "The dragonfire also burns your characters souls". Four characters die.

    So, this way is very simliar to way B, except it's not really ''just a homebrewed rule", it's more of just a ''special thing". The DM simply says X, and the game rolls on...don't like it: leave. (AKA a typical 1E or 2E game).

    Way D: The characters march off to slay the dragon as the players snicker as they have fire immunity and anti fire stuff. Except...once the character get within a mile of the lair....they enter the kill box trap. TONS of monsters, traps, effects, and things will pile on the characters. Each character will have thier hit points mowed down, their ''daily uses" of stuff used, use up healing, be subject to dozens of lasing effects and be hit with a dozen or so dispel magics. So the characters that finnaly get to the dragon fight will have used about 75% of thier resourses, will have less then 25% of thier HP, will have lost several important itmes and have lost most, if not all protections. Only THEN will the dragon show it self and attack......and kill the characters.

    So way D is the classic Meatgrinder way. There is no 15 minute game day here.

    Way E: The characters march off to slay the dragon as the players snicker as they have fire immunity and anti fire stuff. they find the area and lair oddly empty.....until an invisible/etherial/teleporting/something else dragon attacks them With Compleate Supprise! The dragon 'pops' in does some damage...and 'pops' out...not leaving the characters any chance to counter attack. Slowly, over a whole game day, the dragon kills each character.

    So way E is the ''new" meatgrinder way: The Alien Way. Simply put, the dragon does not fight ''fair".

    Way F: The characters march off to slay the dragon as the players snicker as they have fire immunity and anti fire stuff....and Supprise: it's NOT a dragon. Oh sure maybe there is an illusion of a dragon, or a shapeshifting monster or maybe a mechanical clockwork creature. But it's NOT a dragon.

    Way F is just the classic supprise. You ''thought" it was a dragon....but, supprise, it's not.

    Way G: This way uses the silver dragon example. The players see the silver dragon and just laugh "oh whatever it's a silly good dragon, we ignore it". And then the dragon attacks and kills the characters. Why? Well, they simply were not good enough....

    Way G is more the Role Playing way. Players think that just as they are ''good", that ''all good" is thier ally....but that is not always true. And most of the time, most characters are not exactly ''pure" good anyway.....

    Way H: Agression. You might have noticed all my above examples had this Way in common: Agression. The Dragon wants to KILL the characters. Period. KILL the CHARACTERS! No safe spots, no do overs....just character death.

    Way H(and the above ones too) all use this Major Playstlye of ''Mosters kill the Characters". Yes, kill the characters. Yes, if poor Bob's character is killed they have to stop playing the game and go sit in the corner (not really....but they could). Really...this one is HUGE.


    So....buch of ways.

    Now you might not like some of the Ways....maybe you hate all the above Ways....maybe you think Way Z (that's the players must always auto win vs a dragon) is the "only" way to play the game.

    And, if you do like Way Z (or like ways I through Y whatever they are), that is JUST FINE.

    But there ARE other ways.....

  28. - Top - End - #28
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Mordar's Avatar

    Join Date
    Mar 2008

    Default Re: Regarding Dragons

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    It's nowhere near as simple as that. Look through this thread, and you'll find a dozen examples of how people have made their own dragon designs - because of the failed monster design. But yes .. sometimes it's also a question of failed campaign design.
    I'm struggling to see how it is an issue of failed monster design. They are iconic, which of course leads to the path of frequent use which leads to burnout or iconoclastic choices. If they've been super-common in your campaigns (particularly if there's a high overlap of players from one to the next), I totally agree that dragon burnout would render them meaningless. I've been in too many undead-centric campaigns and they all leave the same kind of taste in my mouth now.

    I'll agree in general with the alignment issue...but the coloration is a not-terribly abstract way of representing how creatures from a particular environment have evolved. And alignment stuff is fun to subvert for some tables.

    But just because people know/learn the strategies to fight these death machines doesn't mean they're badly designed. Do you re-style all of the other "special" kinds of monsters? Make trolls that don't regenerate and aren't especially vulnerable to fire? Convert your vampires so they burn in snowstorms, not sunlight? Have half the pit fiends rocking Good alignments? Make rust monsters destroy anything non-metallic?

    - M
    No matter where you go...there you are!

    Togashi Ishi - Betrayal at the White Temple
    Da Monsters of Da Midden - GitP Blood Bowl Manager Cup Season VI

  29. - Top - End - #29
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Mid-Rohan
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Regarding Dragons

    Quote Originally Posted by Mordar View Post
    I've been in too many undead-centric campaigns and they all leave the same kind of taste in my mouth now.

    - M
    Pretty much rule 1 of undead is you don't go around licking them.
    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
    Some play RPG's like chess, some like charades.

    Everyone has their own jam.

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Orc in the Playground
     
    False God's Avatar

    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Location
    Wyoming
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: Regarding Dragons

    Quote Originally Posted by Mordar View Post
    But just because people know/learn the strategies to fight these death machines doesn't mean they're badly designed. Do you re-style all of the other "special" kinds of monsters? Make trolls that don't regenerate and aren't especially vulnerable to fire? Convert your vampires so they burn in snowstorms, not sunlight? Have half the pit fiends rocking Good alignments? Make rust monsters destroy anything non-metallic?

    - M
    To be fair, I hear a lot of people suggest basically these things when their players start to become genre savvy. I don't understand the issue really, adventurers may not be the brightest bunch but you'd think they'd hear a few stories about trolls, vampires and dragons and their potential weaknesses before they ever encounter one.

    Also, just want to echo: the fact that I decided to get creative with dragons, their histories, their powers and their behaviours is not at all a failure of the design, but simply my own creativity.
    Knowledge brings the sting of disillusionment, but the pain teaches perspective.
    It looks like freedom but it smells like death, it's closing time.

Posting Permissions

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