Design Diary 14

"Dragon!!"

Dragons have always been one of the iconic monsters of D&D (little surprise, since they're named in the title), and they've always been one of the most powerful creatures in the Monster Manual of any given edition. In 1E, the ultimate mark of a hero was to be able to claim a very old red dragon kill. 2E got rid of the oddball hit point system (age category x Hit Die), giving dragons even more hit points (the older ones had a couple hundred). 3E gave them even more Hit Dice and hit points, along with a host of SLAs, automatic spellcasting, and beefed-up breath weapons. It's little surprise that dragons are considered overpowered.

I've made several changes which, while reducing power only slightly, make them fit into the world a little better.

* Dragons are now elemental creatures. All dragons except for silver and white already have elemental subtypes (Air, Earth, Fire, Water), and those two have air-related abilities, so it was easy to tweak them a bit to make them more "elemental" in nature. Like sorcerers, they are innately magical, creatures created from the primal Chaos in the beginnings of time. With that in mind, I had to adjust their SLAs a bit - blacks are corruptors; greens have more druidic spells; reds are diviners (odd choice, really, but I just expanded their selection); golds are a mix of insight and fire; and the others didn't really change.

* Dragons now have a chance of spellcasting ability. I went back to the 1E MM and pulled the percent chances of spellcasting ability - instead of having it automatically, each type has a chance (which increases with age) of manifesting it. This allows the DM the option to not have a spellcasting dragon, if he doesn't want to deal with it or thinks it would be too overpowered.

* Dragons' base speeds have changed. I thought it was absurd that a Tiny dragon could zip around at speed 150, so I dropped the speeds to more reasonable numbers. Dragons still fly faster than most creatures their size, and the speed increases with their Strength (i.e., each age category); it tops out right around it was before (frex, a great wyrm silver has a Fly speed of 200, just like the MM silver).

* Also of note, dragons' base Strength scores have changed. Tiny creatures do not have Strength 11 - that's even in the guidelines in the back of the MM - so I dropped it to 7. Small dragons likewise dropped to 9. This makes the weaker species (black, white, brass) weaker.

* Some dragons' sizes were tweaked. Reds, golds, and silvers, at great wyrm, are now Titanic (the category above Colossal). This came about because of calculations in natural armor bonus and me trying to get a nice progression, but it makes sense - the cutoff for Titanic size is 128 feet long, and a great wyrm is most likely going to hit that.

Aand… that's about it.

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