Use of dragons in adventures

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Snarkythekobold
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Use of dragons in adventures

Post Wed Aug 22, 2018 9:23 am

I am sort of a newb when it comes to the RPG thing and have only played a few written modules (all BFRPG). I have noticed that dragons are ultra powerful. And they should be, their frickin' dragons. My question is: How do they get incorporated into adventures? Do they only get used when playing with very high level characters? To me, it seems like you would have to have an army to kill one and even then, half of them would die.

For you who have played modules throughout the years, how have they been used and, most importantly, how have they been used well?

Thanks!
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Metroknight
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Re: Use of dragons in adventures

Post Wed Aug 22, 2018 9:58 am

I've used Dragons less than a handful of times in my games over the years of running D&D games. Very rarely has there been any true combat as they are so powerful and they are rightly feared but they are also very rare usually.

The most recent use of a dragon was when a party was looking for a specific landmark (an ancient bridge ruin over a massive river) and they encountered it as the dragon pretended to be a small child fishing off the bridge. One of the party treated the child politely, one was rude, and the rest was indifferent. After leaving the child to do his thing the party encounter a rather large orc horde (they got the surprise) and retreated undiscovered back to the bridge. One party member told the boy to warn his kin while the rest of the group argued about what they should do and ignored the boy.

Long story short, that night the dragon destroyed the horde then greeted the party in it's true form which caused the party to start filling their armor in terror (this group was first level characters) then it took the one party member that was kind to the child to it's lair and gave that character one minor magic item (the player got to choose from a small list of items presented to the character) then returned the character back to the party. That character also received some helpful information on where to find what they were looking for.

When the party was about to leave the bridge, they saw the dragon change back to the boy and go back to fishing while hearing in their minds something that the players took to heart "Not everything is what it appears to be" which was a clue to something that was happening in the overall arc of the campaign.
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teaman
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Re: Use of dragons in adventures

Post Wed Aug 22, 2018 10:59 am

I've killed PC's with dragons.

That said, once players are higher level, they can handle them. Once Magic Users start getting big time spells like fireball and Wall of Stone, they really come into their own.

That said, dragons are still dragons. Use with caution, or urge the players to be more cautious.

Or just let the dice fall where they may, heh heh....
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Re: Use of dragons in adventures

Post Wed Aug 22, 2018 3:02 pm

Metroknight wrote:
Wed Aug 22, 2018 9:58 am
I've used Dragons less than a handful of times in my games over the years of running D&D games. Very rarely has there been any true combat as they are so powerful and they are rightly feared but they are also very rare usually.

The most recent use of a dragon was when a party was looking for a specific landmark (an ancient bridge ruin over a massive river) and they encountered it as the dragon pretended to be a small child fishing off the bridge. One of the party treated the child politely, one was rude, and the rest was indifferent. After leaving the child to do his thing the party encounter a rather large orc horde (they got the surprise) and retreated undiscovered back to the bridge. One party member told the boy to warn his kin while the rest of the group argued about what they should do and ignored the boy.

Long story short, that night the dragon destroyed the horde then greeted the party in it's true form which caused the party to start filling their armor in terror (this group was first level characters) then it took the one party member that was kind to the child to it's lair and gave that character one minor magic item (the player got to choose from a small list of items presented to the character) then returned the character back to the party. That character also received some helpful information on where to find what they were looking for.

When the party was about to leave the bridge, they saw the dragon change back to the boy and go back to fishing while hearing in their minds something that the players took to heart "Not everything is what it appears to be" which was a clue to something that was happening in the overall arc of the campaign.
That’s good stuff, Metro! Perfect usage! The fiction writer in me got jealous!
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Re: Use of dragons in adventures

Post Wed Aug 22, 2018 3:17 pm

Snarkythekobold wrote:
Wed Aug 22, 2018 9:23 am
I am sort of a newb when it comes to the RPG thing and have only played a few written modules (all BFRPG). I have noticed that dragons are ultra powerful. And they should be, their frickin' dragons. My question is: How do they get incorporated into adventures? Do they only get used when playing with very high level characters? To me, it seems like you would have to have an army to kill one and even then, half of them would die.

For you who have played modules throughout the years, how have they been used and, most importantly, how have they been used well?

Thanks!
There are endless possibilities for using a dragon in low level party adventures...as long as you keep in mind combat is unlikely. Remember, dragons are very intelligent and evil is not a requirement. They also like to keep a low profile. Only evil dragons (who might kill for sport), or a starving dragon (which is quite rare since they’re extremely powerful and darn near anything is a good food source) will initiate combat, which would, of course, end in the slaughter your 1st level adventurers 99.9% of the time.

Otherwise, use them creatively. Some dragons are mischievous and enjoy playing the puppet master (cryptically sending the party on strange or foolish quests, etc) simply for amusement. Some like to help the helpless, and aid them without being overt about it.

My only recommendation is to keep dragons rare. If you use one, don’t immediately throw in another in the next adventure. Coming into contact with a dragon is mostly a once-in-a-lifetime event, especially for low-level newbs. It should be an awe-inspiring and terror-filled experience that will be ingrained in the characters memory for life.
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orobouros
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Re: Use of dragons in adventures

Post Wed Aug 22, 2018 7:08 pm

Dragons are supposed to be the ultimate monster in most fantasy RPGs. If they're a reasonable challenge to a high-level party then a lower-level party really shouldn't have a chance against one in combat. Of course, it also comes down to skill of your players, too. Maybe they concoct a way to lure the zombie hoard into the dragon's lair, something that might turn the tide in favor of the PCs where direct combat would end quickly in a loss.

That being said if you want a dragon in your campaign but your players aren't a very high level, there's a few things you can do. Baby dragons are weaker -- and I think there are rules that cover this. A dragon chained up or confined in a small area, and possibly magically or otherwise weakened, might be a winnable challenge for a low-mid party. You can of course add a dragon in full strength that the party isn't meant to survive fighting. If it comes to town and destroys the place that's a good adventure hook if you want your party to start off stranded. Maybe it's blocking a road and the point of the mission/campaign is to find/open a way around it. A dragon may even "play" fight with a low-level party for its amusement.

But overall, dragons are typically considered rare and the mightiest monsters. However you do it, I wouldn't introduce any dragons ever without thinking it through long and hard.
mjhyke
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Re: Use of dragons in adventures

Post Sun Sep 23, 2018 1:51 pm

The other choice for using dragons is to say its a dragon when its not. How many people have actually seen one in your world? This would let you use all sorts of giant lizards or dinosaurs, Which can be smaller and/or less intelligent. This could keep the adventure less dangerous for low level parties. A young TREX that is hitting the local herds could appear to be a dragon as far as any peasant would now. Make it less then 18 hit die and might work for your party.

Now I have read that dinosaurs are smarter than dogs the TREX was suppose to work as pack animal with members of different ages helping with the hunting soooo it might be to tough for your party but get the idea.

The deinonychus has only 3HD and might make a good dragon for a party of 1st level
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