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The D&D Boss Fight (Part 4)

August 20, 2010

Dragons in My World

Before I display my young red dragon, I just want to add some flavor to the mix. As I’ve said, the Boss Fight System was primarily designed to make my dragons more awesome and I’ve also said that I wanted Boss Monsters to be very versatile. However, I also love consistency. I like for my players to be able to pick up on common themes and assumptions. Because I have a feeling I will be posting several dragons in the near future, I’m going to share some of my common themes and assumptions.

First of all, I’ve decided that all dragons in my world will have Draconic Alacrity and Draconic Resilience to cover the action economy and the condition problem. It’s not that I am trying to take the easy way out, it’s just that I want those to be uniquely dragon things. Dragons are incredibly fast and resilient. Other Boss Monsters might have similar powers, but dragon, in my game, will always mean Alacrity and Resilience first.

Second, I love the flavor of dragons described in the preview book Worlds and Monsters. I love the idea that they were some of the first sentient beings the gods created and they were nothing more than raw elemental fury wrapped in a mortal body by Io and then given life. In my world, as dragons progress through their stages, their elemental furnace starts to spill out.

One of the interesting problems with dragons – particularly at higher levels – is that all of their attacks are tied to elemental damage. A tenth level wizard can easily render all of their attacks useless. I didn’t want to take away the elemental nature of their attacks though, so I’ve decide that it is something that grows throughout the combat. The young red dragon’s attacks all become fiery as the battle progresses.

At the same time, all dragons will have a growing aura as their elemental fury becomes less and less contained. When its attacks become their most elemental, their aura also starts scouring away resistances. As you will see, there is still a benefit to having an elemental resistance, but it doesn’t shut down all of the dragon’s attacks.

In my world, the chromatic dragon is the baseline. It is raw elemental fury in a mortal shell that starts to spill out during the battle. The aura and the attacks becoming more elemental are traits of chromatic dragons because of how they were made. Metallic dragons in my world were sort of a second attempt at dragons. Io had some practice and worked with Moradin to incorporate alchemical radicals into his draconic creations. The resulting metallic dragons are more mortal creature, more magical, and less raw elemental. They will have a similar feel, but they won’t be as strongly focused on auras and elemental attacks. On the contrary, my catastrophic dragons go in the other direction. They are uncontrolled elemental power in the vague shape of a dragon. So, I’ve created a spectrum (get it?) for my dragons that emphasize their bestial nature or their elemental nature.

One last note: I understand that elemental resistances and vulnerabilities on monsters can become problematic (as 3.5 showed us with its damage resistance, critical hit/sneak attack immunites, and so on). At the same time, I don’t like losing them. The Boss Monster structure has given me a chance to compromise. At the beginning, a chromatic dragon has a vulnerability to an element (but no resistance).  As its elemental fury begins to spill out, it gains resistance to the appropriate element and also loses its vulnerability (as its own element overwhelms anything outside of it). So, the red dragon starts off vulnerable to cold, but, by the end, it is resistant to both fire and cold. Again, this will be a common trait for dragons in my world.

Download the Young Red Dragon (Level 9 Boss Solo) as a pdf

The Young Red Dragon (Stage 1) Stat Block

The Young Red Dragon (Stage 1)

The Young Red Dragon (Stage 2) Stat Block

The Young Red Dragon (Stage 2)

The Young Red Dragon (Stage 3) Stat Block

The Young Red Dragon (Stage 3)

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