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Dimthar
09-15-2007, 06:14 PM
OK ... We all love roleplaying, but truth is I always enjoy kicking some "Monster's Butt".

On the other hand, I have noticed that most of the DMs I've played (including myself) seem to struggle when lashing Multi-ability / Multi-attacks monsters against the players, They (we) never seem to unleash the full power of these monsters against the PCs.

Therefore, Dragons, Lichs and Beholders seem to die sometimes "easily". May have to do with our INT 9.

So, please share your best strategies when playing these monsters.

----
- For Dragons I always rule that when they hit their opponents, the PCs are slammed against the nearest wall or thrown away (if fighting in the open).

starfalconkd
09-16-2007, 08:16 AM
For Dragons: buy the Draconomicon and use the meta breath feats. Dragons with quicken breath and maximize breath are fun. Also, dragons are smart. They usually know that adventurers will be protected from their energy type if people have seen the dragon. Plan accordingly. Dragons shouldn't be afraid to get in the middle of the pcs and mix it up, attacking all out with every weapon at their command. Remember to have the dragon use spells and magic items from it's hoard to protect itself. Shield and Mage Armor raise the Dragon's AC by eight points, very handy for not getting hit. Scintillating Scales, from the spell compendium, changes your natural armor bonus into a deflection bonus to help your touch AC. Cast Cat's Grace to improve your Dexterity score. If you have an energy weakness, use the best spell you have to shield against it (ex. fire shield, protection from energy, resist energy, or energy immunity from the spell compendium if you can cast it). You are a dragon, squish the lesser creatures like the almost god-like being you are.

Liches: are usually pretty bright. They should pick their battle spot very carefully, be surrounded by minions, have spells cast before the party arrives in the room with plenty of time to spare on their duration, and have nearly fool proof escape plans. Example: A lich's choice of battleground could be a maze filled his servants and deadly traps. Not only does the lich know the maze perfectly, he also has numerous phase doors scattered around so he can jump through a wall (or the floor or ceiling) and not be followed. Also in this scenario, use wall spells to separate the party into smaller groups.

Beholders: should also have plenty of cannon fodder handy. They should try to get into a position to use as many eye beams as possible. Think three dimensionally as they can always go up and over. Also remember they can turn upside down while airborne. Having a charmed low level arcane caster on hand makes for an invisible beholder hanging out near the ceiling.

Ed Zachary
09-16-2007, 09:25 AM
Enemy Spellcasters: In the play by post game I'm running, the humanoid bad guys wait in ambush while the characters' caravan rambles on with the stealth of a circus caravan. Twice they attacked the caravan while it was crossing a river, hitting the party while they were at their most vulnerable. And when the party finally got the upper hand, they were able to Dimension Door out and escape.

Don't let the players get the surprise when they don't deserve it. In fact the bad guys should get surprise when the situation warrants it. And just like the player Wizards will Teleport out when the battle starts going bad, so should the bad guys.

Ed Zachary
09-16-2007, 09:38 AM
Dragons: Dragons can fly and have a ranged breath weapon at their disposal. They should fight by staying out of range of characters' ranged weapons, and dive to use their breath weapon over and over again until the party is significantly weakened or scatters. Once the party scatters the Dragon should quickly kill one character at a time. Like I killed Moritz' Dwarf Fighter.

The Dragon's Damage Reduction is very helpful, as is its Sorcerer Levels. Don't pick the spells at random, the Dragon is intelligent. Pick spells like Detect Magic, and Invisibility or Mirror Image.

Oldgamer
09-17-2007, 09:59 AM
I've never had a problem with not using the monsters to their best potential...I always tell my players I am their Storyteller...their referee...and their enemy :D I figure we can always roll another character up...it adds spice. Though some players tend to get mad...I had one not too long ago decide to fight Lolth one on one instead of running, and naturally with one swipe he was dead. So he pouted the rest of the game (all of 15 minutes left) and refused to play with us anymore...:rolleyes: He's in his mid 40's and he acted like a 10 year old. I told him paper is cheat and rolling is fun, so roll up another character..

Farcaster
09-17-2007, 12:11 PM
They usually know that adventurers will be protected from their energy type if people have seen the dragon. Plan accordingly.

Sage advice, Star. Debuffing spells are your friend. Often, the party will know ahead of time that they will be facing a dragon, and they will dutifully buff up before going into combat. As a dragon, if I have access to cast dispel magic, either from my spells or an item, it's one of the first things I am going to do.

InfoStorm
09-17-2007, 12:45 PM
I write myself a lot of personal reminders in order to try and keep myself from failing to use creatures to their full potential. You can see this in the "tactics" area of the Were-Slavers (http://www.penandpapergames.com/userpages/showentry.php?e=29&catid=5) adventure I have posted in the articles. I wrote all those notes for myself. Other things I've done so I don't have to decide what type of attack a creature is going to use is just setup some semi-random guidelines before hand.

An example from a Samarai/Warblade NPC I wrote had an attact section of:
Attack: (roll 1d6)
1-2: Katana +3 +22 (1d10+8 (17-20/x2))
3-5: Maueuver Attack: Katana +3 +22 Damage: as maneuver
6: Recover Maneuver (or use maneuver if all recovered)
Fill Attack: (roll 1d6)
1-4 Katana +3 +22/+17/+12 (1d10+8 (17-20/x2))
5: Maneuver Katana +3 +22 - Damage: As Maneuver
6: Recover Maneuver (or use maneuver if all recovered)

I didn't narrow down the specific maneuver because the list is small for a warblade and easy to choose.

I've had some of those random block get long with "if <50% hp" & if "< 20% hp" sections in them, but they do include things like potions(or other item) use, retreating etc.

My comment to self is, "When in doubt, kill a tree before hand".

Moritz
09-17-2007, 02:50 PM
"Sam" would always whine that it's not fair that the 'enemy' was using tactics, smarter, and had more stuff than he did.

starfalconkd
09-18-2007, 06:55 AM
Sage advice, Star. Debuffing spells are your friend. Often, the party will know ahead of time that they will be facing a dragon, and they will dutifully buff up before going into combat. As a dragon, if I have access to cast dispel magic, either from my spells or an item, it's one of the first things I am going to do.

Another good choice is the Breath Weapon Substitution spell from the spell compendium or the Breath Weapon Admixture spell if you can cast ninth level spells.

Ed Zachary
09-18-2007, 11:32 AM
My Young Adult Red Dragon can only cast spells as a fifth level Sorcerer, which limits it to second level arcane spells. So far it used 'divide and conquer' to kill one character, Detect Magic to nearly kill another, and surprise to severly damage another. It still has some nasty tactics that it can use. Unfortunately there is a reasonable limit to how powereful a monster you can throw at 10 eighth level characters. For now they're all cowering in a hole in the ground, safe for the time being. That may change soon...

starfalconkd
09-19-2007, 06:25 AM
My Young Adult Red Dragon can only cast spells as a fifth level Sorcerer, which limits it to second level arcane spells. So far it used 'divide and conquer' to kill one character, Detect Magic to nearly kill another, and surprise to severly damage another. It still has some nasty tactics that it can use. Unfortunately there is a reasonable limit to how powereful a monster you can throw at 10 eighth level characters. For now they're all cowering in a hole in the ground, safe for the time being. That may change soon...

Obviously I don't know the scenario here but why haven't they attacked the dragon. A group that large should be able to kill it... with minimal casualties.

Oldgamer
09-19-2007, 08:16 AM
I was just in a campaign where 5, level 4 and 5 characters, were destroyed by a young adult black dragon....none of us could hit his AC without rolling a 19 or 20 and my sorcerer's spells were limited to Daze and Sleep which Daze only worked for one round at a time making the battle just drag out longer since no one could hit him anyway...so they would run, but it would fly and catch them and spew his hellish acid all over us...plus we were on small 20' wide islands that we had to swim between...so there really wasn't too much running going on....a full plate clad Darkguard (yes we were evil) went straight to the bottom...my light-weight sorcerer didn't have the strength to continue swimming so had to stand his ground to the bitter (acidic) end...:rolleyes:

Vimachipal
09-19-2007, 12:06 PM
Obviously I don't know the scenario here but why haven't they attacked the dragon. A group that large should be able to kill it... with minimal casualties.

Allow me to answer...

We arrived at the ruins of an old castle where the dragon has its lair, down in spells and a bit wounded. Most of us made it to a protected tower, except for a certain dwarf who chose to run alone in full plate armor rather than be helped by a Dimension Door spell. He was cut off and easily killed. [Later on we traded two of our prisoners to get his body back, see next paragraph.]

We were chasing a group of villains who may be in league with the dragon, we're not sure yet. The next day we chose to sneak attack the five bad guys instead of the dragon. We won, but one of them escaped. We didn't count on the bad guys having three Glabrezu with them. Ouch! I think that was the right move, we didn't want to attack the dragon and have five humanoids help it.

However a few of us strayed or ventured outside the protect tower we were in and got badly burned by its breath. We used up at least half of our spells in our earlier attack, so we can't attack the dragon until tomorrow. If we stay alive until then.

It has been dropping rocks on our tower to be able to get at us, and has broken a hole in the roof. Once it gets inside it will be able to breath into our underground room. It may even be able to dig though the earth above us.

I've been trying to kill it with Phantasmal Killer, but it made two of two saves so far. It can't make its saves forever, I just cast a third spell at it. I just need to stay out of range of its teeth and claws. I'm well protected against its fire.

If we can stay alive until tomorrow and recover our spells, we'll be able to kill it. But that will depend on how Ed plays the dragon, and how much help it will have from its allies. There's at least one that escaped us.

starfalconkd
09-20-2007, 06:58 AM
You guys beat three glabrezu demons at 8th level? I'm impressed. Amusingly, their individual CR is equal to the dragon.

Ed Zachary
09-20-2007, 06:21 PM
You guys beat three glabrezu demons at 8th level? I'm impressed. Amusingly, their individual CR is equal to the dragon.

That shows that CR is much less than an accurate predictor.

It helped alot that a Priestess (Cleric) cast Align Weapon for some of the fighter types. The Demons were surprised by well enhanced fighters. They'd probably beat the Dragon easily if they could catch it underground by surprise where it couldn't fly.

Tactics matter.

starfalconkd
09-20-2007, 07:02 PM
That shows that CR is much less than an accurate predictor.

Tactics matter.

I've found both of those to be very true. And dragons are the baddest motherf***er's on the block. Excepting super creatures like demon lords and such.

Ed Zachary
09-20-2007, 07:08 PM
I've found both of those to be very true. And dragons are the baddest motherf***er's on the block. Excepting super creatures like demon lords and such.

Right... this Dragon stays out of weapon reach, and uses its breath and the few spells he has to good advantage.

It now has the characters trapped in an underground room, and will breath fire again as soon as it recovers from its last blast.

The only way the charaters can get to it is to climb up a narrow portal, right into its teeth and claws.

Bwahahaha!!!

shilar
09-20-2007, 11:38 PM
The trick to fighting dragons is surprise. Force them to face you where you want to. And for all that is right and good don't keep your party together attack from multiple angles to make the dragon take each party member one at a time.

RealmsDM
09-25-2007, 08:28 AM
One thing that most DMs probably do not do (cuz they have a heart) is when a dragon is found in its lair, make the lair the most favorable terrain imaginable for the dragon.
Say a white dragon in an slick ice cave, with pools of slushy water, or a rapid ice flow.... you get the idea. This can be devastating to a party.

Ed Zachary
09-25-2007, 11:02 AM
One thing that most DMs probably do not do (cuz they have a heart) is when a dragon is found in its lair, make the lair the most favorable terrain imaginable for the dragon.

Say a white dragon in an slick ice cave, with pools of slushy water, or a rapid ice flow.... you get the idea. This can be devastating to a party.

Ha!!!

My play by post group is about to attack the Red Dragon in its lair...

I do not have a heart, it will be very tough terrain.

Vimachipal
09-25-2007, 05:36 PM
My play by post group is about to attack the Red Dragon in its lair...

I do not have a heart, it will be very tough terrain.

Giving our fighters AIR WALK (and many other enhancement/protection spells) will neutralize that.

Your dragon will die like a roach under our collective shoe!

InfoStorm
09-26-2007, 09:35 AM
Dragon's deadliest tactic: Minions.
Even the weakest of evil dragons likes to flaunt it's power of weaker beings. And in a fight. If the dragonslayers are going after you, they they are opening themselves up to your minions, and vica versa. The best minions are those immune to the dragon's breath weapon. Red Dragon = Salamanders, for example.

Dimthar
09-26-2007, 12:27 PM
Dragon's deadliest tactic: Minions.
The best minions are those immune to the dragon's breath weapon. Red Dragon = Salamanders, for example.

That's true, almost when we thought we had the upper hand, the dragon used a ring and summoned an Efreet.

By the way, does any of you (other than Bilbo Baggins) had the chance to chat with a Dragon?

Farcaster
09-28-2007, 06:13 PM
Dragon's deadliest tactic: Minions.

Don't forget traps! If a party is so brazen to confront a dragon in its own lair, they should certainly have to deal with a myriad of nasty traps.

Typhon
09-28-2007, 09:44 PM
Don't forget traps! If a party is so brazen to confront a dragon in its own lair, they should certainly have to deal with a myriad of nasty traps.

We just started charging the dragon in its lair.

What kind of traps would it set up?

Digital Arcanist
09-29-2007, 04:40 PM
Any kind you can think of. Chromatic dragons often have slaves or pacts with the evil races, not to mention their aptitude for spellcasting.

Ed Zachary
09-29-2007, 10:09 PM
Any kind you can think of. Chromatic dragons often have slaves or pacts with the evil races, not to mention their aptitude for spellcasting.

I can think of alot of deadly traps, but I don't see trap making as a skill Dragons wold be good at.

Digital Arcanist
09-29-2007, 11:30 PM
I can think of alot of deadly traps, but I don't see trap making as a skill Dragons wold be good at.


Apparently reading comprehension is not one of your skills.

A dragon could employ a trapsmith or enslave the appropriate individuals to build any traps they desire, and of course devour said individual to ensure no one knows the secrets. Dragons can also change shape to gain the manual dexterity and size required to build the traps as well. Dragons are long-lived and it is no stretch of the imagination that a dragon would spend some of its life learning many skills not pertaining to flying, devouring lesser beings, and spell casting. Dragons hoard jewels, and sometimes roguish skills are needed to acquire rare or protected baubles.

Ed Zachary
09-30-2007, 05:36 AM
I can think of alot of deadly traps, but I don't see trap making as a skill Dragons would be good at.


Apparently reading comprehension is not one of your skills.

I'm sure with your powerful skills of observation you'll enlighten me of my erroneous ways.


A dragon could employ a trapsmith or enslave the appropriate individuals to build any traps they desire, and of course devour said individual to ensure no one knows the secrets.

So a Dragon is good at something because you assume it will hire someone to do it for them.

I missed in the core books where Dragon's are employers of skilled artisans. Which book and page was that written on?


Dragons can also change shape to gain the manual dexterity and size required to build the traps as well.

A Dragon can "Change Shape"?

If they can, I'm sure they can also greatly supplement their 10 Dexterity.


Dragons are long-lived and it is no stretch of the imagination that a dragon would spend some of its life learning many skills not pertaining to flying, devouring lesser beings, and spell casting. Dragons hoard jewels, and sometimes roguish skills are needed to acquire rare or protected baubles.

I always assumed that Dragons spent their time eating, sleeping, accumulating treasure, and defending its gains. I never realized that the Chromatic ones were so scholarly.

Ghezryln
10-01-2007, 06:19 PM
Dragons don't set traps, they lay ambushes.

Farcaster
10-04-2007, 01:48 PM
Here are a series of quotes I found from Wizard's Tactics and Tips Series: "Tougher, and Meaner than You" which have some suggestions for the types of snares and traps dragons might employ:

"Green dragons use plant growth to cover up the entrance to their lair, to hide pit traps that surround it, and to make life miserable for their opponents during combat."

"Blue dragons live in desolate, inhospitable deserts full of flowing sand. Their bodies are exquisitely designed for both burrowing through sand and soaring for hours above the dunes. Because of this, parties rarely can use the terrain to their advantage when fighting a blue dragon. Instead, they should be mindful of the terrain so they don't fall into a blue dragon's trap."

"Red dragons live in mountainous terrain, preferably with large caves formed from volcanic activity and boasting tall cliffs from which they can survey their domain. This rocky terrain is typically treacherous for the ill-prepared -- watch out for rockslides (natural and traps), pits, and sheer cliffs that the dragon can bull rush you over.

Old and older dragons make extensive use of suggestion on "allies" to keep them compliant and to coax potential attackers to drop their weapons or walk into the many traps that line their lair. As with the green dragon, if you're talking with a red dragon (a bad idea all around), watch out for odd behavior in your companions."

"Be warned, however, that if you wish it ill, the brass dragon's "waiting room" is a death trap in disguise. If it becomes angered or is attacked, brass dragons (particularly older ones), typically have the roof set to collapse with a simple trigger."

"Adult and older bronze dragons use create food and water mainly to provide for guests, but also to put out food for traps and as a lure for the unwary. While they would never stoop to poison this food, they may set it up over a covered pit or beneath some other trap."

"If you find the entrance to a copper dragon's lair, be prepared for a twisting maze of tunnels, pits, traps, and other 'amusing tricks' on the way to the main chamber."

"Gold dragons make their lairs in any sort of terrain, though they prefer warm plains and always set up home inside places made of stone -- caves, or preferably, castles and other crafted stone buildings. Their caves or castle lairs are designed for both defense and comfort. Welcome guests find these places warm, inviting, and comfortable, while enemies soon discover that they are in dangerous territory, full of traps."


A chromatic dragon may also have a following of kobold minions. Kobolds are vicious little trap makers, so I'd expect to find a myriad of kobold traps protecting the dragon's lair. This article has a number of kobold traps you could use: http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/we/20060127a

In my campaigns, any dragon with a respectable level of casting ability also sets as many magical traps as they can to protect their coveted treasure hoards. Even a lowly spell casting dragon will probably protect their lair with a well placed alarm spell or two. More magically apt dragons can also employ glyphs, contingency spells and illusions to confound potential hoard seekers.

So, traps are definitely an option for dragons. It just depends on the type, intelligence, spell casting ability and available minions. Don't forget that organizations like the Cult of the Dragon in Forgotten Realms can be utilized by dragons to help protect their hoards will magical traps as well.