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D&D 3E
The problem with dragons... 
19th-Mar-2007 10:10 am
I have created a campaign involving the slow birth of things the players are familiar with, such as orcs, druids, and all other staples of fantasy. This is interesting for the PC's because the races are not just something that happened some years ago, but something the players are intimately familiar with and besides that involved with.

Now so far, I have not really used dragons at all. There were these Sand worms in the desert, which were basically giant sand snakes, whose breath weapon was molten glass. I want to introduce a fantasy dragon as a juvenile to fight the party.

Just some background. There are a few things I want to discuss and get opinions on.

1. I have always had a problem with dragons special ability "frightful presence". It's really no fun for a party where half of them are running away from the giant dragon. I always have to be really careful with challenge ratings anyway, but it just doesn't make sense to me that a party who fights the living dead is scared of a lizard.

Regardless of whether the ability is realistic or balanced or not, if I want to eliminate it completely, what can I replace it with.

2. Secondly, I'm looking for something new to do with dragons, as I intend to eventually combine the standard dragons with the sand worms to form the big puppies. Any differences i can do to make them still classical dragons, but different?

This is mostly a ramble, but lets see what everyone has to say on the subject of dragons.
19th-Mar-2007 02:56 pm (UTC)
1) Characters of 5th level or higher never 'run away' (in 3.5) from a dragon.

On a failure, creatures with 4 or less HD become panicked for 4d6 rounds and those with 5 or more HD become shaken for 4d6 rounds.

Shaken sucks, but its only a -2 to most checks. Your PCs should be alright, albeit hampered at that.

If you want to replace it, adding something that makes the PCs Sickened instead (which is a little worse, -2 to the same checks PLUS weapon damage) or Fatigued (-2 Str and Dex is different, but similar). There are downsides to changing Paladins are no longer immune, Warforged become immune, etc.)

2) Dragon Magic and Draconomicon have a lot of alternative dragons and dragon abilities. You may want to check them out.
19th-Mar-2007 03:46 pm (UTC)
*sigh* Woeful that dragons should be called "lizards." Besides the point.

1) Don't like frightful presence? Daunting Presence is a nice feat, works -almost- the same way, but requires more effort than simply being a dragon who swings his tail around or roars.

2) Magic magic magic. Change them from classical dragons by playing with their magic. Do they have more magic? Less magic? No magic? Different/specific schools of magic? It's kind of a drive straight to the heart, as a dragon whose magical abilities are changed is no longer truly the same dragon that he was. I'm not talking the difference of...instead of being able to cast fireballs, the dragon tosses electric balls around (though Energy Substitution is great, IMO). We're talking about restrict dragons to casting only spells of the Abjuration and Necromancy schools, and can take spells from any and all class lists, and suddenly they're radically different than they were two seconds ago.
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