Dragons, General (2.5e Variant Rule)
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Dragons are an ancient, winged reptillian race. They are known and feared for their size, physical prowess, and magical abilities. The oldest dragons are among the most powerful creatures in the world. Most dragons are identified by the color of their scales.
There are many known subspecies of dragons, several of which fall into three broad categories: Chromatic, Gem, and Metallic dragons. Chromatic dragons include black, blue, green, red, and white dragons; all are extremely evil and are feared by most. The Metallic dragons are the brass, bronze, copper, gold, and silver dragons; these are noble and good, highly respected by wise people.
The Gem dragons are the amethyst, crystal, emerald, sapphire, and topaz dragons; they are neutral with respect to good and evil, and are very charismatic and suave, masters of persuasion who delight in riddles. Though generally smaller and slower than other dragons, gem dragons are often wiser and more intelligent, and have other powers to compensate, like psionics.
In addition to the dragons in these three classifications, there are other dragons that may at first seem to be members of those categories. For instance, the steel dragon seems to be a metallic dragon, but has only one breath weapon; while each "true" metallic dragon has two. Likewise, the brown dragon seems to be a typical, evil chromatic dragon; but has no wings, so is not a "true" chromatic dragon.
Although all subspecies of dragons are believed to have come from the same roots tens of thousands of years ago, the present subspecies kep to themselves, working together only under extreme circumstances, such as a powerful mutual threat. Good dragons never work with evil dragons, however, though a few neutral dragon specimens have been known to associate with evil or good dragons. Gold dragons occasionally associate freely with silver dragons, and emerald dragons are sometimes found with sapphire dragons.
When evil dragons of different species encounter each other, they usually fight to protect their territories. While good dragons of different subspecies are more tolerant of each other, they are also very territorial. They usually try to work out differences in a peaceful manner. Gem dragons often settle inter-species disputes with riddling contests.
All subspecies of dragons have 12 age categories, and gain more abilities and greater power as they age. Dragons range in size from several feet upon hatching to more than 100 feet, after they have attained the status of great wyrm. The exact size varies according to age and subspecies. A dragon's wingspan is about equal to its body length; 15-20% of a dragon's body length is neck.
Generally, when multiple dragons are encountered they are a mated pair and young. Mated dragons are always young adults, adults, or mature adults; young dragons found with their parents are of the young adult stage or younger. To determine the age of young dragons roll 1d6: 1 = egg; 2 = hatchling; 3 = very young; 4 = young; 5 = juvenile; 6 = young adult.
During the early part of a dragon's young adult stage it leaves its parents, greed driving it on to start a lair of its own. Sometimes, although rarely, juvenile dragons leave their parents to start their own lives. As a pair of mated dragons age byeond the mature adult stage, they split up, independence and the lust for treasure driving them apart. Older dragons of either sex sometimes raise young, but only on their own -- the other parent leaves when the eggs are laid.
Dragons, especially older ones, are generally solitary due to necessity and preference. They distance themselves from civilization, which they consider to be a petty and foolish mortal invention.
Dragons are fearsome predators, but scavenge when necessary and can eat almost anything if they are hungry enough. A dragon's metabolism operates like a highly efficient furnace, making use of 95% of all the food the dragon eats. A dragon can also metabolize inorganic material, and some dragons have developed a taste for such fare.
Although dragons' goals and ideals vary among subspecies, all dragons are covetous. They like to hoard wealth, collecting mounds of coins and gathering as many gems, jewels, and magical items as possible. They find treasure pleasing to look at, and they bask in the radiance of the magical items. For a dragon, there is never enough treasure. Those with large hoards are loath to leave them for long, venturing out of their lairs only to patrol the immediate areas or to get food. Dragons like to make beds of their treasure, shaping nooks and mounds to fit their bodies. By the time they mature to the great wyrm stage, hundreds of gems and coins are imbedded in their hides.
A dragon's Armor Class improves as it gets older and the creature becomes tougher. Old dragons or older dragons are immune to normal missiles; their gem-encrusted hides deflect arrows and other small projectiles. Large missiles (from catapults, giants, etc.) and magical missiles affect them normally. Young adult and older dragons radiate a personal aura that makes them partially resistant to harmful magic. A dragon's resistance to magic increases as it ages.
Dragon skin is prized by armorers with the skill to turn it into shields and armor, valuable because of its appearance and the protection it affords. Dragon armor grants its wearer an Armor Class of 4 less than the Armor Class of the dragon it was taken from, for a minimum Armor Class of 8. For example, armor from a juvenile brass dragon (AC 0) grants its wearer AC 4. Dragon armor is supple and non-bulky, weighing only 25 pounds.
The scales of gem dragons take on properties of actual gems; they are faceted and reflect light. They are slightly more brittle than those of other dragons, so armor made from them requires repair more often.
Dragon armor affords no extra protection, such as resistance to fire or cold, although the armor can be enchanted to provide such protection. A dragon's resistance to certain elements is based on its total makeup, not just its skin. Plain dragon armor is expensive to make, costing 1,000 - 10,000 gp, based on the workmanship and protection the armor affords. Dragon skin armor can be enchanted, just as other forms of armor can, to a maximum of +5.
Dragon shields also offer no additional protection. They are made of stretched hide over a wooden frame. Such shields weigh 3 pounds (if small) or 8 pounds (if large) and cost 20-120 or 30-180 gold pieces.
All dragons have excellent senses of sight, smell, and hearing. Their enhanced senses enable them to detect all invisible objects and creatures (including creatures or items hidden in darkness or fog) within a radius equal to 10 feet times their age category. All dragons possess a natural clairaudience ability with respect to their lairs; the range is 20 feet per age category. The dragon must concentrate on a specific section within its lair or surrounding area to hear what is going on.
Some dragons are able to communicate telepathically with any intelligent creature. The percentage chance for a dragon to speak is based on its Intelligence and age category. Refer to individual descriptions for percentages.
All dragon lairs are far from mortal civilization, and they are difficult to find because the dragons take careful measures to cloak their coming and going. There is usually little, if any, wildlife around the lairs because neighboring creatures fear the dragons, and most dragons eat the few creatures that are foolish enough to remain.
When a young adult dragon leaves its parents in search of its own lair, it spends a few years moving from place to place to find a cave or cavern which best suits its personality. In most cases, the dragons search for increasingly larger caves which can easily accommodate them as they grow. Usually by the time a dragon has reached the mature adult stage, it has selected a large lair it plans to keep for the remainder of its life. A dragon at this stage has gathered a considerable amount of treasure and is loath to move it to a different location.
The location and character of dragon lairs vary based on each subspecies; consult individual dragons for specific information. However, one thing remains constant: any dragon considers its lair and neighboring areas its domains. A creature which violates or threatens the lair is threatening the dragon and will be dealt with harshly. Some good dragons may be more lenient than other subspecies in this matter. All dragons keep their treasure hidden deep within their lairs, and some dragons create hazarous conditions within their lair to keep unwary creatures from reaching the treasure.
|Age Category||Age (in years)||Hit Dice Modifier||Combat Modifier||Fear Radius||Fear Save Modifier|
|2. Very Young||6-15||-4||+2||Nil||Nil|
|5. Young Adult||51-100||+1||+5||15 yards||+3 (+7)|
|6. Adult||101-200||+2||+6||20 yards||+2 (+6)|
|7. Mature Adult||201-400||+3||+7||25 yards||+1 (+5)|
|8. Old||401-600||+4||+8||30 yards||0 (+4)|
|9. Very Old||601-800||+5||+9||35 yards||-1 (+3)|
|10. Venerable||801-1,000||+6||+10||40 yards||-2 (+2)|
|11. Wyrm||1,001-1,200||+7||+11||45 yards||-3 (+1)|
|12. Great Wyrm||1,200 +||+8||+12||50 yards||-4 (0)|
Dragon Hit Dice Modifier
Dragon Combat Modifier
A dragon's combat modifier varies with age category. The bonus or penalty applies to damage rolls for each physical attack. It does not apply to a dragon's breath weapon. The combat modifier is also applied to the dragon's base spellcasting level (age category), to determine the actual level at which the dragon casts spells (thus, a great wyrm casts spells at 24th level of ability).
A dragon can use its claws to attack creatures to its front and sides. If the dragon kicks with one rear leg, it can attack with only one claw (the other must be used to maintain balance).
Because of a dragon's long neck, it can bite creatures to its back and sides.
Young adult and older dragons can employ their wings in combat; targest must be at the dragon's sides. The damage inflicted is the same as a claw attack, and creatures struck must roll their Dexterity or less on 1d20 or be knocked prone.