Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Putting the Dragon Back in Dungeons and Dragons

"Never laugh at live dragons." - J.R.R. Tolkien

Today, while picking up a few extra gifts for my little little brother's birthday, I saw the Dragons Collector Boxed Set on sale at my friendly neighborhood gaming shop.  So, I picked it up.

First of all, I'm very impressed.  I'm ready to have these dragons throw down against an unsuspecting party.  Or, maybe a suspecting party.  Half of the reason I picked it up was because dragons are the iconic monster of Dungeons and Dragons (the game is named after them).  The more I've been thinking about it though, the more I've realized that the monster has seemed to fall out of favor.

Maybe this isn't true for every game and every group.  However, in my experience, I always pass over dragons and simply look for other "big bads".  In heroic tier, it's a goblin lord, or a gnoll chieftain, or some evil from the Feywild.  By the time epic tier hits, people are fighting gods and what not.  What happened to these beasts of legend?
I want dragons to come back and be a force.  Like Smaug, from The Hobbit.  Make players fear them.  

I almost had one character of my own die against a dragon.  He barely escaped by the skin of his teeth.  I know that these beasts are not to be trifled with.  The question is, do the other plays think that?  Only time will tell.

To start off with some inspiration, here's what I'm thinking to use for these dragons:

White Dragon: Ice and snow, obviously.  I have two sets of the Icewind Dale tiles, and I plan on making the most of them.  There are plenty of ice monsters to be used, or the other monsters can just be reflavored to deal cold damage.  Out of all the lower level solo dragons, the white dragon is the lowest level, so one could easily begin a campaign in a snow covered region where a white dragon is terrorizing the local populace.  Bitterstrike, from the Nentir Vale Monster Vault is another solo white dragon that is large sized, so it fits as well.  This gives 4e DM's 3 solid solo White Dragon monsters to use.

Blue Dragon: I made the mistake of thinking this guy was aquatic.  It would've made it a lot cooler, as I could've then thrown him into the Kraken's Skull (giving a solid boss at the end), but alas, he doesn't have one.  I'm still working on this one.

Black Dragon: Swamps, aka the Witchlight Fens Dungeon Tiles.  I know these are the obvious locations, but at heroic tier, I think that a lot of the ideas should be somewhat obvious, with various twists and what not.  After reviewing his stats, I realized that this was the aquatic dragon, so I think he will be a fitting villain for the end of the Kraken's Skull adventure.  I'll reveal more about this boss in later blogs.

Red Dragon: Fire.  I want a volcano, as I think that would be pretty epic.  The problem is some people may feel that it's not the best time to pull that off at heroic tier.  For me, I think you can do whatever you want.  The sculpt of that mini is probably my favorite, so I would love to use it.  My group is getting ready to get back together, and we'll be starting with Madness at Gardmore Abbey (I will be reflavoring it for our home campaign world).  The adventure has a red dragon in it, so this will probably be the first dragon mini I will be using.  I'm very excited.

 Green Dragon:  Forests are obvious terrain, but it is one that I will eagerly accept.  Perhaps I can do something Feywild-ish with it.  I'm a huge fan of the Feywild, so I will probably do something like that after Gardmore (called Dovesong in my campaign world).  I've been debating about running the Garden of Graves after Gardmore, so we'll see if I can find a way to get the green dragon into my campaign soon.

Hopefully, some of my thoughts will inspire you to bring dragons back into your games.  Make them mighty.  Make them fearless.  And most of all, make them monstrous.

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