Dragons in Echelon

About a month and a half ago I posted an article that said that I expected it to be tricky to implement dragons in my ‘monster reconstruction’ scheme. That may still be so, but I realized recently that they may actually be quite easy in Echelon.

It was a fair bit of work to get this article together, it is probably the longest one I’ve written (I’m not counting those where I was just copying from other sources to show how they could be used). Lots and lots of thinking involved, but with the exception of where I said to hell with it and kludged because it’s late and I’m tired (natural attacks, I’m looking at you) this mostly came together quickly and easily. Most of my time was spent on formatting and (hopefully) I didn’t introduce any errors when writing the things down, rather than thinking about whether things were reasonable or not.

I like easy monster creation. A lot.

Silver Dragons

Let’s look at silver dragons first. I’ll tackle the easy bits first and see how close we can get.

Age Size

CR

Hit Dice

Hit Points

Con

Armor Class

Natural Armor

BAB
Wyrmling Small

4

7d12+7

52

13

17/T 11/FF 17

+6

+7

Very Medium

5

10d12+20

85

15

19/T 10/FF 19

+9

+10

Young Medium

6

13d12+26

110

15

22/T 10/FF 22

+12

+13

Juvenile Large

10

16d12+48

152

17

24/T 9/FF 24

+15

+16

Young Adult Large

13

19d12+76

199

19

27/T 9/FF 27

+18

+19

Adult Huge

15

22d12+110

253

21

29/T 8/FF 29

+21

+22

Mature Adult Huge

18

25d12+125

287

21

32/T 8/FF 32

+24

+25

Old Huge

20

28d12+168

350

23

35/T 8/FF 35

+27

+28

Very Old Huge

21

31d12+186

387

23

38/T 8/FF 38

+30

+31

Ancient Gargantuan

23

34d12+238

459

25

39/T 6/FF 39

+33

+34

Wyrm Gargantuan

24

37d12+333

573

29

42/T 6/FF 42

+36

+37

Great Wyrm Colossal

26

40d12+400

660

31

41/T 2/FF 41

+39

+40

As usual in Echelon, start by assuming the Challenge Rating is the intended ‘level’ of the creature and work from there. Silver dragons always have Hit Dice higher than their Challenge Rating, but that shouldn’t be much of a problem here.

Age Size

CR

Hit Points

Hit Points

Con

Armor Class

Natural Armor

BAB
Wyrmling Small

4

13+4(2+13)/2

43

13

17

+2

+4

Very Young Medium

5

15+5(2+15)/2

58

15

19

+4

+5

Young Medium

6

15+6(2+15)/2

66

15

20

+4

+6

Juvenile Large

10

17+10(2+17)/2

112

17

25

+6

+10

Young Adult Large

13

19+13(2+19)/2

156

19

30

+8

+13

Adult Huge

15

21+15(2+21)/2

193

21

31

+8

+15

Mature Adult Huge

18

21+18(2+21)/2

228

21

36

+10

+18

Old Huge

20

23+20(2+23)/2

273

23

38

+10

+20

Very Old Huge

21

23+21(2+23)/2

287

23

41

+12

+21

Ancient Gargantuan

23

25+23(2+25)/2

335

25

41

+12

+23

Wyrm Gargantuan

24

29+24(2+29)/2

401

29

42

+12

+24

Great Wyrm Colossal

26

31+26(2+31)/2

460

31

42

+14

+26

I’ll have to explore natural armor in more detail in another post. I am thinking of making ‘natural armor’ just that – natural armor. It gives you a bonus to your armor class, but does not stack with actual armor. Moderate natural armor (say, +4 and +5) can use either Dexterity or Strength as the armor class ability score, while heavier natural armor (+6 and up) can use Strength. This may require that the physical ability scores are normalized (returned to a nominal 3-18 range), though this would likely throw off the hit point calculations a fair bit unless I scale the base hit points to be a multiple of Constitution based on creature size (which I am inclined to do). I am tempted also to give the Reflex save benefits for heavy armor to creatures with high natural armor – the dragon is unlikely to outright dodge the fireball, but his scales are thick enough he can simply take the hit without so much worry.

The above assume the dragons have the same ability scores as in the RSRD and that they use Dexterity (all have Dexterity 10) for armor class rather than Strength (as heavy armor users do). You’ll notice that the natural armor bonuses have been reduced to about one third the RAW values, but I think these are much more in line with the actual armor benefit. Silver wyrmlings have scales roughly on par with leather armor, very young and young silver dragons have scales roughly on par with a chain shirt, and so on. I find it much easier to imagine a +14 natural armor bonus on a colossal dragon (silver great wyrm) than a +39 natural armor bonus.

It also fits well with my expectation that the natural armor bonus talent could provide about two points of armor class per tier (see the ogre example from a few weeks ago). Most characters will do better to simply buy armor, but the talent natural armor bonus looks reasonable.

Despite these changes, the dragons above have armor classes quite close to the values provided. Hit points are somewhat lower, largely because of the lower Base Attack Bonus (in RSRD terms, I reduced their hit dice by quite a bit). However, I think the overall improvement to armor class (touch armor class is meaningless) will help make up for that. Toughness (20 hit points per tier) can make up for a fair bit of that – the Great Wyrm above is Epic+ (seventh tier, for 140 hit points).

Let’s see what talents the above might need to spend for the abilities above. The ‘Ex..Ep+’ columns below show how many talent slots remain after buying the indicated talents.

Age Level Talents Ex H M C L Ep Ep+
Wyrmling 4 Expert Martial Training, Expert Improved Martial Training, Expert Natural Armor

3

Very Young 5 Heroic Martial Training, Expert Improved Martial Training, Heroic Natural Armor

4

0

Young 6 Heroic Martial Training, Expert Improved Martial Training, Heroic Natural Armor

4

1

Juvenile 10 Master Martial Training, Heroic Improved Martial Training, Master Natural Armor

5

4

1

Young Adult 13 Champion Martial Training, Master Improved Martial Training, Champion Natural Armor

5

5

4

0

Adult 15 Champion Martial Training, Champion Improved Martial Training, Champion Natural Armor

5

5

5

2

Mature Adult 18 Legendary Martial Training, Champion Improved Martial Training, Legendary Natural Armor

5

5

5

4

1

Old 20 Legendary Martial Training, Legendary Improved Martial Training, Legendary Natural Armor

5

5

5

5

3

Very Old 21 Epic Martial Training, Legendary Improved Martial Training, Epic Natural Armor

5

5

5

5

4

0

Ancient 23 Epic Martial Training, Epic Improved Martial Training, Epic Natural Armor

5

5

5

5

5

2

Wyrm 24 Epic Martial Training, Epic Improved Martial Training, Epic Natural Armor

5

5

5

5

5

3

Great Wyrm 26 Epic+ Martial Training, Epic Improved Martial Training, Epic+ Natural Armor

5

5

5

5

5

4

1

As should be evident, the basic physical abilities above account for only a smallish subset of the talent slots available once you get past wyrmling stage. This leaves lots of room for other abilities, and I’ve ignored a few things (such as the four-point bump to Constitution when going from Ancient to Wyrm stages – easily handled with Great Constitution, but not addressed yet).

So, what other abilities do silver dragons have that have not been accounted for?

  • Breath Weapon is probably the big one, and does 2d8 per stage (or paralysis)
  • Flight
  • Frightful presence
  • Various natural attacks
  • Size
  • Senses (darkvision 120′, blindsense 60′, keen senses)
  • Immunity to acid, cold, sleep, paralysis
  • Vulnerability to fire
  • Alternate form
  • Damage Reduction
  • Spells
  • Spell Resistance
  • Ability scores
  • Cloudwalking

Looking at it, though, it seems there is likely to be enough talent slots available to grow into each of these areas.

Breath Weapon

The breath weapon does 2d8 points of damage per stage, ranging from 2d8 as a wyrmling, up to 24d8 as a great wyrm. The breath weapons are usable every 1d4+1 rounds, maximum, and the size of the affected area is based on the size of the dragon. I would be willing to have the breath weapon be a ‘two-slot’ talent, giving 2d8 per tier/slot. In most cases below it can be pushed higher than the RAW values (a wyrmling could do 4d8 damage instead of 2d8) but I’ll try to keep close to the RAW values for now. There are some other abilities to be paid for yet.

I’m not sure what to do about the alternate breath weapon (paralyzing gas). Since it’s basically a save or die I’m inclined to either drop it, or make it worth as much as a normal breath weapon (instead of 2d8 damage per tier/slot, perhaps this is used to calculate the save DC and rounds paralyzed). Alternatively, calculate the damage as if it were cold (but ignoring any cold resistance) and if the character would be dropped, it is instead paralyzed for a few rounds.

Age Level Talents Ex H M C L Ep Ep+
Wyrmling 4 Expert Martial Training, Expert Improved Martial Training, Expert Natural Armor, Expert Breath Weapon (2d8)

2

Very Young 5 Heroic Martial Training, Expert Improved Martial Training, Heroic Natural Armor, Expert Breath Weapon, Expert Improved Breath Weapon (4d8)

2

0

Young 6 Heroic Martial Training, Expert Improved Martial Training, Heroic Natural Armor, Heroic Breath Weapon, Expert Improved Breath Weapon (6d8)

3

0

Juvenile 10 Master Martial Training, Heroic Improved Martial Training, Master Natural Armor, Heroic Breath Weapon, Heroic Improved Breath Weapon (8d8)

5

2

1

Young Adult 13 Champion Martial Training, Master Improved Martial Training, Champion Natural Armor, Master Breath Weapon, Heroic Improved Breath Weapon (10d8)

5

5

1

1

Adult 15 Champion Martial Training, Champion Improved Martial Training, Champion Natural Armor, Master Breath Weapon, Master Improved Breath Weapon (12d8)

5

5

3

2

Mature Adult 18 Legendary Martial Training, Champion Improved Martial Training, Legendary Natural Armor, Champion Breath Weapon, Master Improved Breath Weapon (14d8)

5

5

4

3

1

Old 20 Legendary Martial Training, Legendary Improved Martial Training, Legendary Natural Armor, Champion Breath Weapon, Champion Improved Breath Weapon (16d8)

5

5

5

3

3

Very Old 21 Epic Martial Training, Legendary Improved Martial Training, Epic Natural Armor, Legendary Breath Weapon, Champion Improved Breath Weapon (18d8)

5

5

5

4

3

0

Ancient 23 Epic Martial Training, Epic Improved Martial Training, Epic Natural Armor, Legendary Breath Weapon, Legendary Improved Breath Weapon (20d8)

5

5

5

5

3

2

Wyrm 24 Epic Martial Training, Epic Improved Martial Training, Epic Natural Armor, Epic Breath Weapon, Legendary Improved Breath Weapon (22d8)

5

5

5

5

4

2

Great Wyrm 26 Epic+ Martial Training, Epic Improved Martial Training, Epic+ Natural Armor, Epic Breath Weapon, Epic Improved Breath Weapon (24d8)

5

5

5

5

5

2

3

Yes, it looks like the breath weapons can be cranked up somewhat. Using only the unassigned slots above (without trading out something else), Wyrmling could go to 4d8, Juvenile up to 10d8, Young Adult to 12d8, Adult up to 16d8, Mature Adult up to 18d8, Old up to 20d8, Very Old up to 20d8, Ancient up to 24d8, Wyrm up to 24d8, and Great Wyrm up to 28d8. This means they don’t have those slots for other purposes, though… but just as I like having the option of trading down or out (such as a dragon that pursues magic instead of sheer physical power by trading out natural armor and martial training for other talents), I like the idea of dragons being able to trade up a little, at the cost of not being able to take other abilities.

Size

Let’s knock of another easy one. I’ve consistently thought of each size above Medium being a talent slot, starting with Heroic for most creatures (I am tempted to reduce it for animals because they frankly need it in many cases, but that’s not important here). I don’t yet know what to do about smaller than Medium.

Age Level Talents Ex H M C L Ep Ep+
Wyrmling 4 Expert Martial Training, Expert Improved Martial Training, Expert Natural Armor, Expert Breath Weapon (2d8)

2

Very Young 5 Heroic Martial Training, Expert Improved Martial Training, Heroic Natural Armor, Expert Breath Weapon, Expert Improved Breath Weapon (4d8)

2

0

Young 6 Heroic Martial Training, Expert Improved Martial Training, Heroic Natural Armor, Heroic Breath Weapon, Expert Improved Breath Weapon (6d8)

3

0

Juvenile 10 Master Martial Training, Heroic Improved Martial Training, Master Natural Armor, Heroic Breath Weapon, Heroic Improved Breath Weapon (8d8), Large Size

5

1

1

Young Adult 13 Champion Martial Training, Master Improved Martial Training, Champion Natural Armor, Master Breath Weapon, Heroic Improved Breath Weapon (10d8), Large Size

5

4

1

1

Adult 15 Champion Martial Training, Champion Improved Martial Training, Champion Natural Armor, Master Breath Weapon, Master Improved Breath Weapon (12d8), Huge Size

5

5

2

2

Mature Adult 18 Legendary Martial Training, Champion Improved Martial Training, Legendary Natural Armor, Champion Breath Weapon, Master Improved Breath Weapon (14d8), Huge Size

5

5

3

3

1

Old 20 Legendary Martial Training, Legendary Improved Martial Training, Legendary Natural Armor, Champion Breath Weapon, Champion Improved Breath Weapon (16d8), Huge Size

5

5

4

3

3

Very Old 21 Epic Martial Training, Legendary Improved Martial Training, Epic Natural Armor, Legendary Breath Weapon, Champion Improved Breath Weapon (18d8), Huge Size

5

5

4

4

3

0

Ancient 23 Epic Martial Training, Epic Improved Martial Training, Epic Natural Armor, Legendary Breath Weapon, Legendary Improved Breath Weapon (20d8), Gargantuan Size

5

5

5

4

3

2

Wyrm 24 Epic Martial Training, Epic Improved Martial Training, Epic Natural Armor, Epic Breath Weapon, Legendary Improved Breath Weapon (22d8), Gargantuan Size

5

5

5

4

4

2

Great Wyrm 26 Epic+ Martial Training, Epic Improved Martial Training, Epic+ Natural Armor, Epic Breath Weapon, Epic Improved Breath Weapon (24d8), Colossal Size

5

5

5

5

4

2

3

Frightful Presence

Frightful presence starts at young adult (13th level here). I’m inclined to treat it as a condition effect that goes up with tier of the talent spent. As a Master talent it can cause the victims to be shaken, as a Champion talent it can cause the victims to be frightened, as a Legendary talent it can cause the victims to be panicked. The effects may instead be increased by the difference in tiers, so a Master Frightful Presence can frighten ‘Heroic characters’ and panic ‘Expert and Basic characters’.

Alternate Form

This is fairly easily done using the Polymorph and Wildshape options described a few weeks ago. All silver dragons might have this to some degree. Wyrmlings can only shape normal creatures, more powerful silver dragons may have it at a higher tier and thus be able to shape more powerful creatures (or could keep it at only a lower tier, so their ‘human forms’ actually are rather weaker than their actual draconic forms… I’m just fine with this).

As implemented below, though, I’ve kept Alternate Form to a maximum. The RSRD version says ‘any animal or humanoid form of Medium size or smaller’, but the option below will let the silver dragon take on larger forms or the like pretty freely, or taken forms with radically different abilities (such as Martial Disciplines or talents derived from Iron Heroes).

Spell-Like Abilities

Silver dragons get some pretty trivial spell-like abilities, starting at the Juvenile stage. According to the Spell-Like Abilities post, being able to use first- and second-level spell-like abilities 3/day would cost two Expert slots, which can get the Juvenile silver dragon both spell-like abilities (rather than the one the RSRD grants).

Age Level Talents Ex H M C L Ep Ep+
Wyrmling 4 Expert Martial Training, Expert Improved Martial Training, Expert Natural Armor, Expert Breath Weapon (2d8), Expert Alternate Form

1

Very Young 5 Heroic Martial Training, Expert Improved Martial Training, Heroic Natural Armor, Expert Breath Weapon, Expert Improved Breath Weapon (4d8), Expert Alternate Form

1

0

Young 6 Heroic Martial Training, Expert Improved Martial Training, Heroic Natural Armor, Heroic Breath Weapon, Expert Improved Breath Weapon (6d8), Expert Alternate Form

2

0

Juvenile 10 Master Martial Training, Heroic Improved Martial Training, Master Natural Armor, Heroic Breath Weapon, Heroic Improved Breath Weapon (8d8), Large Size, Master Alternate Form, Expert Spell-Like Abilities (x2 – 3/day feather fall and fog cloud)

3

1

0

Young Adult 13 Champion Martial Training, Master Improved Martial Training, Champion Natural Armor, Master Breath Weapon, Heroic Improved Breath Weapon (10d8), Large Size, Champion Alternate Form, Expert Spell-Like Abilities (x2 – 3/day feather fall and fog cloud)

2

4

1

0

Adult 15 Champion Martial Training, Champion Improved Martial Training, Champion Natural Armor, Master Breath Weapon, Master Improved Breath Weapon (12d8), Huge Size, Champion Alternate Form, Expert Spell-Like Abilities (x2 – 3/day feather fall and fog cloud)

3

5

2

1

Mature Adult 18 Legendary Martial Training, Champion Improved Martial Training, Legendary Natural Armor, Champion Breath Weapon, Master Improved Breath Weapon (14d8), Huge Size, Legendary Alternate Form, Expert Spell-Like Abilities (x2 – 3/day feather fall and fog cloud)

3

5

3

3

0

Old 20 Legendary Martial Training, Legendary Improved Martial Training, Legendary Natural Armor, Champion Breath Weapon, Champion Improved Breath Weapon (16d8), Huge Size, Legendary Alternate Form, Master Spell-Like Abilities (x2 – 3/day feather fall, fog cloud, control winds) 5

5

2

3

2

Very Old 21 Epic Martial Training, Legendary Improved Martial Training, Epic Natural Armor, Legendary Breath Weapon, Champion Improved Breath Weapon (18d8), Huge Size, Legendary Alternate Form, Master Spell-Like Abilities (x2 – 3/day feather fall, fog cloud, control winds) 5

5

2

4

2

0

Ancient 23 Epic Martial Training, Epic Improved Martial Training, Epic Natural Armor, Legendary Breath Weapon, Legendary Improved Breath Weapon (20d8), Gargantuan Size, Epic Alternate Form, Master Spell-Like Abilities (x1 – 3/day feather fall, fog cloud, control winds), Champion Spell-Like Abilities (x1 – 1/day control weather)

5

5

4

3

3

1

Wyrm 24 Epic Martial Training, Epic Improved Martial Training, Epic Natural Armor, Epic Breath Weapon, Legendary Improved Breath Weapon (22d8), Gargantuan Size, Epic Alternate Form, Master Spell-Like Abilities (x1 – 3/day feather fall, fog cloud, control winds), Champion Spell-Like Abilities (x1 – 1/day control weather)

5

5

4

2

4

1

Great Wyrm 26 Epic+ Martial Training, Epic Improved Martial Training, Epic+ Natural Armor, Epic Breath Weapon, Epic Improved Breath Weapon (24d8), Colossal Size, Epic+ Alternate Form, Master Spell-Like Abilities (x1 – 3/day feather fall, fog cloud, control winds), Legendary Spell-Like Abilities (x1 – 1/day control weather, reverse gravity)

5

5

4

5

3

2

2

Damage Reduction

The Damage Reduction perhaps isn’t worth very much. By the time it comes up most PCs have ways around it such as having the correct kinds of items or just using spells that ignore it altogether. However, it should be worth something, so let’s pretend it’s worth an Heroic talent for DR 5/magic and bump it by one tier for every five more points of Damage Reduction. It honestly isn’t worth it, but we have lots of slots.

Damage Reduction really deserves its own article, but let’s use this for now.

Spells

Silver dragons, per RSRD, can cast as sorcerers starting at the Young stage, and also have access to the Air, Good, Law, and Sun domain spells as arcane spells. For simplicity, let’s pretend that each silver dragon has access to one thread (three spells known per spell level available) and a ‘silver dragon’ thread with the domain spells. Caster level goes up two per stage, so let’s use that to determine maximum spell level castable. Caster level will actually be somewhat higher (basically level bonus – level/2 – + maximum castable level). In each case the dragon can prepare and cast three spells per spell level per day, chosen from the (approximately) six per spell level known. Assuming a tradition exists for ‘Silver Dragon Magic’ that includes the spells of the threads, the dragon could also take those and can spontaneously cast from those spells… but this is not included below.

Age Level Talents Ex H M C L Ep Ep+
Wyrmling 4 Expert Martial Training, Expert Improved Martial Training, Expert Natural Armor, Expert Breath Weapon (2d8), Expert Alternate Form

1

Very Young 5 Heroic Martial Training, Expert Improved Martial Training, Heroic Natural Armor, Expert Breath Weapon, Expert Improved Breath Weapon (4d8), Expert Alternate Form

1

0

Young 6 Heroic Martial Training, Expert Improved Martial Training, Heroic Natural Armor, Heroic Breath Weapon, Expert Improved Breath Weapon (6d8), Expert Alternate Form, Expert Thread (x2, max SL 1, CL 4)

0

0

Juvenile 10 Master Martial Training, Heroic Improved Martial Training, Master Natural Armor, Heroic Breath Weapon, Heroic Improved Breath Weapon (8d8), Large Size, Master Alternate Form, Expert Spell-Like Abilities (x2 – 3/day feather fall and fog cloud), Expert Thread (x2, max SL 2, CL 7), Heroic Thread (x1, max SL 2, CL 7)

1

0

0

Young Adult 13 Champion Martial Training, Master Improved Martial Training, Champion Natural Armor, Master Breath Weapon, Heroic Improved Breath Weapon (10d8), Large Size, Champion Alternate Form, Expert Spell-Like Abilities (x2 – 3/day feather fall and fog cloud), Heroic DR (5/magic), Expert+Heroic Thread (x2, max SL 3, CL 9)

0

1

1

0

Adult 15 Champion Martial Training, Champion Improved Martial Training, Champion Natural Armor, Master Breath Weapon, Master Improved Breath Weapon (12d8), Huge Size, Champion Alternate Form, Expert Spell-Like Abilities (x2 – 3/day feather fall and fog cloud), Heroic DR (5/magic), Heroic Thread (x4, max SL 4, CL 11)

3

0

2

1

Mature Adult 18 Legendary Martial Training, Champion Improved Martial Training, Legendary Natural Armor, Champion Breath Weapon, Master Improved Breath Weapon (14d8), Huge Size, Legendary Alternate Form, Expert Spell-Like Abilities (x2 – 3/day feather fall and fog cloud), Master DR (10/magic), Heroic+Master Thread (x2, max SL 5, CL 14)

3

3

0

3

0

Old 20 Legendary Martial Training, Legendary Improved Martial Training, Legendary Natural Armor, Champion Breath Weapon, Champion Improved Breath Weapon (16d8), Huge Size, Legendary Alternate Form, Master Spell-Like Abilities (x2 – 3/day feather fall, fog cloud, control winds), Master DR (10/magic), Heroic+Champion Thread (x2, max SL 6, CL 16) 5

3

1

1

2

Very Old 21 Epic Martial Training, Legendary Improved Martial Training, Epic Natural Armor, Legendary Breath Weapon, Champion Improved Breath Weapon (18d8), Huge Size, Legendary Alternate Form, Master Spell-Like Abilities (x2 – 3/day feather fall, fog cloud, control winds), Champion DR (15/magic) , Master+Champion Thread (x2, max SL 7, CL 18) 5

5

0

1

2

0

Ancient 23 Epic Martial Training, Epic Improved Martial Training, Epic Natural Armor, Legendary Breath Weapon, Legendary Improved Breath Weapon (20d8), Gargantuan Size, Epic Alternate Form, Master Spell-Like Abilities (x1 – 3/day feather fall, fog cloud, control winds), Champion Spell-Like Abilities (x1 – 1/day control weather) , Master+Legendary Thread (x2, max SL 8, CL 19)

5

5

2

2

1

1

Wyrm 24 Epic Martial Training, Epic Improved Martial Training, Epic Natural Armor, Epic Breath Weapon, Legendary Improved Breath Weapon (22d8), Gargantuan Size, Epic Alternate Form, Master Spell-Like Abilities (x1 – 3/day feather fall, fog cloud, control winds), Champion Spell-Like Abilities (x1 – 1/day control weather), Legendary DR (20/magic), Champion+Legendary Thread (x2, max SL 9, CL 21)

5

5

4

0

1

1

Great Wyrm 26 Epic+ Martial Training, Epic Improved Martial Training, Epic+ Natural Armor, Epic Breath Weapon, Epic Improved Breath Weapon (24d8), Colossal Size, Epic+ Alternate Form, Master Spell-Like Abilities (x1 – 3/day feather fall, fog cloud, control winds), Legendary Spell-Like Abilities (x1 – 1/day control weather, reverse gravity), Legendary DR (20/magic), Champion+Epic Thread (x2, max SL 10, CL 23)

5

5

4

3

2

0

2

Spell Resistance

Spell Resistance is pretty consistently “6+CR”. A previous article suggested that ‘6+level’ might be a decent starting point, but scale it by tier rather than by level. I am thinking of something like

Tier Benefit
Basic Spell Resistance 6 + level (up to 4)
Expert Spell Resistance 6 + level (up to 8)
Heroic Spell Resistance 6 + level (up to 12)
Master Spell Resistance 6 + level (up to 16)
Champion Spell Resistance 6 + level (up to 20)
Legendary Spell Resistance 6 + level (up to 24)
Epic Spell Resistance 6 + level (up to 28)
Epic+ Spell Resistance 6 + level (up to 32)

Improved Spell Resistance increases the base value (6) to 11, but otherwise limits the maximum number of levels that may be applied.

Do note that I’m not satisfied with this, but will accept it for the sake of this article. Spell Resistance is due more consideration.

Natural Attacks

It is difficult to do the natural attacks because I have not yet worked out how multiple attacks per round should work. For now I will assume they are as presented, so each attack should have its own talent.

For simplicity, let’s call the Medium dragon natural attacks an Expert talent, and Small a Basic talent. This will scale up to the Colossal natural attacks being Legendary. This may be a little unfair to the dragon, but it’s getting late and I’m tired.

Age Level Talents B Ex He M C L Ep Ep+
Wyrmling 4 Expert Martial Training, Expert Improved Martial Training, Expert Natural Armor, Expert Breath Weapon (2d8), Expert Alternate Form, Basic Natural Attacks

4

1

Very Young 5 Heroic Martial Training, Expert Improved Martial Training, Heroic Natural Armor, Expert Breath Weapon, Expert Improved Breath Weapon (4d8), Expert Alternate Form, Expert Natural Attacks

5

0

0

Young 6 Heroic Martial Training, Expert Improved Martial Training, Heroic Natural Armor, Heroic Breath Weapon, Expert Improved Breath Weapon (6d8), Expert Alternate Form, Expert Thread (x2, max SL 1, CL 4), Expert Natural Attacks

5

-1

0

Juvenile 10 Master Martial Training, Heroic Improved Martial Training, Master Natural Armor, Heroic Breath Weapon, Heroic Improved Breath Weapon (8d8), Large Size, Master Alternate Form, Expert Spell-Like Abilities (x2 – 3/day feather fall and fog cloud), Expert Thread (x2, max SL 2, CL 7), Heroic Thread (x1, max SL 2, CL 7), Heroic Natural Attacks

5

1

-1

0

Young Adult 13 Champion Martial Training, Master Improved Martial Training, Champion Natural Armor, Master Breath Weapon, Heroic Improved Breath Weapon (10d8), Large Size, Champion Alternate Form, Expert Spell-Like Abilities (x2 – 3/day feather fall and fog cloud), Heroic DR (5/magic), Expert+Heroic Thread (x2, max SL 3, CL 9), Heroic Natural Attacks, Master SR (6+13=19)

5

0

0

0

0

Adult 15 Champion Martial Training, Champion Improved Martial Training, Champion Natural Armor, Master Breath Weapon, Master Improved Breath Weapon (12d8), Huge Size, Champion Alternate Form, Expert Spell-Like Abilities (x2 – 3/day feather fall and fog cloud), Heroic DR (5/magic), Heroic Thread (x4, max SL 4, CL 11), Master Natural Attacks, Master SR (6+15=21)

5

3

0

0

1

Mature Adult 18 Legendary Martial Training, Champion Improved Martial Training, Legendary Natural Armor, Champion Breath Weapon, Master Improved Breath Weapon (14d8), Huge Size, Legendary Alternate Form, Expert Spell-Like Abilities (x2 – 3/day feather fall and fog cloud), Master DR (10/magic), Heroic+Master Thread (x2, max SL 5, CL 14), Master Natural Attacks, Champion SR (6+18=24)

5

3

3

-1

2

0

Old 20 Legendary Martial Training, Legendary Improved Martial Training, Legendary Natural Armor, Champion Breath Weapon, Champion Improved Breath Weapon (16d8), Huge Size, Legendary Alternate Form, Master Spell-Like Abilities (x2 – 3/day feather fall, fog cloud, control winds), Master DR (10/magic), Heroic+Champion Thread (x2, max SL 6, CL 16), Master Natural Attacks, Champion SR (6+20=26) 5 5

3

0

0

2

Very Old 21 Epic Martial Training, Legendary Improved Martial Training, Epic Natural Armor, Legendary Breath Weapon, Champion Improved Breath Weapon (18d8), Huge Size, Legendary Alternate Form, Master Spell-Like Abilities (x2 – 3/day feather fall, fog cloud, control winds), Champion DR (15/magic) , Master+Champion Thread (x2, max SL 7, CL 18), Master Natural Attacks, Legendary SR (6+21=27) 5 5

5

-1

1

1

0

Ancient 23 Epic Martial Training, Epic Improved Martial Training, Epic Natural Armor, Legendary Breath Weapon, Legendary Improved Breath Weapon (20d8), Gargantuan Size, Epic Alternate Form, Master Spell-Like Abilities (x1 – 3/day feather fall, fog cloud, control winds), Champion Spell-Like Abilities (x1 – 1/day control weather) , Master+Legendary Thread (x2, max SL 8, CL 19), Champion Natural Attacks, Legendary SR (6+23=29)

5

5

5

2

1

0

1

Wyrm 24 Epic Martial Training, Epic Improved Martial Training, Epic Natural Armor, Epic Breath Weapon, Legendary Improved Breath Weapon (22d8), Gargantuan Size, Epic Alternate Form, Master Spell-Like Abilities (x1 – 3/day feather fall, fog cloud, control winds), Champion Spell-Like Abilities (x1 – 1/day control weather), Legendary DR (20/magic), Champion+Legendary Thread (x2, max SL 9, CL 21), Champion Natural Attacks, Legendary SR (6+24=30)

5

5

5

4

-1

0

1

Great Wyrm 26 Epic+ Martial Training, Epic Improved Martial Training, Epic+ Natural Armor, Epic Breath Weapon, Epic Improved Breath Weapon (24d8), Colossal Size, Epic+ Alternate Form, Master Spell-Like Abilities (x1 – 3/day feather fall, fog cloud, control winds), Legendary Spell-Like Abilities (x1 – 1/day control weather, reverse gravity), Legendary DR (20/magic), Champion+Epic Thread (x2, max SL 10, CL 23), Legendary Natural Attacks, Epic SR (6+26=32)

5

5

5

4

2

2

-1

2

I ended up bending things a little on the natural attacks. I probably should have handled them individually (which would consume lower-tier slots, with extra damage coming from the size increases). The Natural Attacks talents in bold for each stage use slots that strictly weren’t available. In most cases there were higher-tier slots available, or I should have been able to build an acceptable set of natural attacks out of the copious lower-tier slots.

Add to that that I am likely to restrict the sheer number of natural attacks available, I’m not going to worry too much about this kludge tonight.

Senses

The senses don’t seem to change from age group to age group. Improved Darkvision is probably two Basic slots (one for darkvision 60′, one to increase it to 120′). I haven’t considered blindsense before so have no idea yet what it’s worth. Keen senses might be Basic or Expert.

Ability Scores

I’m ignoring these for now. Normalizing the ability scores (removing effects of tier capstone bonuses and size modifiers) mostly reduces the ability scores to normal ranges (and lower than, in fact; silver great wyrms have normalized Strength scores of about 5, according to Echelon). Dragon ability scores are strange anyway, since they get automatically scaled by stage, whereas most other monsters don’t.

Immunities and Vulnerabilities

This topic deserves its own article, and I have entirely ignored them in the above. Energy Resistance 15 per tier to a single energy type is largely equivalent to immunity to that kind of energy from attacks of a similar tier (an Heroic fireball does 5d6-8d6 points of damage; 30 points of fire resistance will usually protect against this, especially after saving throws are considered). I am considering the immunities outside the scope of this article.

Flight

I overlooked flight. This too should have an article dedicated to it. The basics, though, are that small creatures might be able to fly as a Basic ability with average (or perhaps poor) maneuverability. Each size up or maneuverability level raises the talent’s tier, each size down or maneuverability level raises the talent’s tier. Thus, a Huge, clumsy flier might need to spend an Heroic or Master talent slot to fly. They simply don’t do it very well because they are big and heavy and awkward.

This means, though, that a Legendary Large flier might be fairly nimble in the air.

Cloudwalking

This is roughly equivalent to part of the benefit of the Champion Ride talent but can probably be reduced somewhat. However, considering that silver dragons are expected to fly I don’t imagine the ability to walk on mist and clouds should really be an issue.

Conclusion

This is not complete, of course. However, it looks as though I have accounted for most of the abilities of the silver dragon at each stage, providing scores and values fairly close to those from the RSRD. This was complicated somewhat by the Challenge Rating presented for each stage, since it left me with inconsistent numbers of talent slots. If I were to do this from scratch I would probably ditch the Challenge Ratings provided in the RSRD and work up from 2+stage*2 (so ranging from 4 to 26, in two-step intervals). This would give me some multiple of three of the top-tier slots and five of each tier below that, which should make for much easier development. I had to kludge around a few places where the slots that made sense for the build at that stage weren’t available.

I think this looks pretty good. In some ways the dragons are toned down (lower hit points, lower base attack bonus), in others they have room for improvement (lots of lower-tier slots available to the older dragons). I still need to account for some of the more awkward bits (immunities and vulnerabilities especially), but given the defense benefits (Reflex save bonuses for heavy armor) I am contemplating the energy immunities might not be as important.

All things considered, I’m pretty happy with where this is going.

No related content found.

9 Comments

  1. Violist

    Especially since I just realized that these look pretty dang close to valid PCs.

    The HP drop concerns me a little although making them more brick-like and less sponge-like appeals. Somehow I never really got into the mental idea of gelatinous dragons soaking up everything you threw at them.

  2. GreyKnight

    A nice system that’s coming together here. It’s already inspired me with a few solutions for a roleplaying system of my own (which has been in the works for about 2.5 years now… about time I got finished).

    This reminds me of a “dragon construction kit” I made once to reduce the different types of dragon down to a set of fixed parameters. Trying to juggle all the different age categories and types (especially if you include gem dragons!) was a bit of a pain, and I was doing a lot with dragons at the time. :-)

    Natural armour might be a bit tricky. Part of the problem, IMAO, is that D&D’s Armour Class conflates “avoiding being hit” (Dexterity) and “avoiding damage” (actual armour) into a single number, which can sometimes be confusing.

    I think a largish problem that’s just reared its head, though, is that of properties which are mostly negative (small size and energy vulnerabilities; more so the latter, being small does have SOME advantages). There are a few possible solutions that are obvious:

    1: Bundle the negative property with a positive one that outweighs it, mitigates it, or provides some other benefit (example: bundle energy vulnerability with energy resistance/immunity)
    2: Make the negative property PROVIDE a talent slot instead of consuming one (basically like the above, but lets the player decide what benefit to bundle it with)
    3: Ignore the problem :-)

    Possibly you’ll come up with some other cunning scheme, hopefully we will find out soon!

  3. hadsil

    In 2E and 4E it bugs me that monsters are created with different rules than PCs and are allowed to do things PCs can’t, such as multi-attacks and no PSP expenditure for psionic monsters in 2E and regular ability to recover encounter powers in 4E. In 3E they’re roughly equivalent to rules a player would use to build the monster, but they can go overboard with Natural Armor and Spell-like Abilities. Overall, what really bugs me is that monsters tend to be built arbitrarily. They just give a monster stuff. If the given rules can support it, great. Otherwise, tough feces PCs.

    I really, really like what you’re doing here. You are making monsters pay for their abilities, just like PCs must pay for theirs. A monster still might be able to do something a PC never or rarely could, has to be since you are basing it on already existing abilities, but they are following the same build rules players use. This ensures fairness.

  4. Thanks, Hadsil. If I can have monsters built on the same framework as player characters (and it’s simple in both cases) I’ll be happy. Even though the abilities may be fantastic, a consistently-applied framework makes it easy for me to manage.

    The primary benefits for me is that the abilities gained are by definition appropriate for the level of the creature. As long as I have a decent mix of abilities I can expect the creatures to be reasonably balanced.

    The other happy thing for me is that I still have the option of deviating from the framework if I feel it necessary.

  5. > Natural armour might be a bit tricky. Part of the problem, IMAO, is that D&D’s Armour Class conflates “avoiding being hit” (Dexterity) and “avoiding damage” (actual armour) into a single number, which can sometimes be confusing.

    Yeah, this is something that’s still bugging me a little. Armor is now awfully nice to have (two equally-trained combatants can expect to have about a 50% chance of hitting each other… and a +8 armor bonus from armor cuts this way, way down), and it scales with level. This was a deliberate goal, but I’m still considering trading armor class for damage reduction.

  6. I considered the ‘negative effects’ thing in an earlier post. I have considered the three options you described and lean toward either the first (fold it into something else, such as fire vulnerability with cold immunity) or third (ignore it, since in many cases it just means ‘you won’t be doing this’… but very few ogres are likely to want to be wizards anyway, so it’s not really much of a problem, yeah?).

    Mind, it would probably make things easier once I decide how to handle energy resistance and immunity.

  7. Pingback: Dragons in Echelon, Part 1: Introduction | Echelon d20 - An RPG framework based on the d20 system.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *