Draconic Bloodlines

When the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game was released it included many changes. One that I quite liked was changing the sorcerer class by adding ‘bloodlines’. Each bloodline gave knowledge of one spell per spell level, some bonus feats, and bloodline abilities gained at 1st, 3rd, 9th, 15th, and 20th level. The Pathfinder® Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook™ identified ten bloodlines, and more have been added since.

Draconic Bloodlines cover
Draconic Bloodlines cover

Of particular interest today is the ‘draconic’ sorcerer bloodline. It grants knowledge of nine spells, access to nine bonus feats, and some bloodline powers representing the influence of distant draconic ancestry. There are some slight differences, mostly in energy types and the shape of the breath weapon eventually gained. With the exception of those small differences, though, sorcerers with the draconic bloodline didn’t vary much in ability.

Anthony asked on Facebook if anyone had extended the ‘dragon colors’ table to include dragons released in later bestiaries. Pathfinder® Roleplaying Game Bestiary™ presented the chromatic and metallic dragons, which were included in the draconic bloodline, but the four bestiaries that followed added the primal (elemental), imperial (Asian), outer (space), and esoteric (occult) dragons. The draconic bloodline has not been updated to include them, but it seemed pretty simple to answer Tony’s question by adding the energy types and breath weapon shapes to table.

Then I realized that we can do much better than that. Why limit ourselves to the shape and energy type of the breath weapon, and energy type of some of the other bloodline powers?

I have gone through the first four bestiaries and created a specific draconic bloodline for each of the twenty-five dragon types described (I skipped esoteric dragons for now, their powers are different enough to not fit well). Each bloodline counts as the base draconic bloodline for prerequisite purposes, but they are much more specific than that generic bloodline.

For example, a sorcerer with the black draconic bloodline is well-suited to living in the swamp, and can make better use of her breath weapon in some circumstances.

Black Draconic Bloodline

Dragon Family Chromatic (water subtype)

Class Skill Stealth

Bonus Spells mage armor (3rd), darkness (5th), water breathing (7th), plant growth (9th), insect plague (11th), form of the dragon I (13th), form of the dragon II (15th), form of the dragon III (17th), wish (19th).

Bonus Feats Ability Focus (breath weapon), Alertness, Combat Expertise, Flyby Attack, Improved Initiative, Improved Vital Strike, Power Attack, Skill Focus (Stealth), Vital Strike, Weapon Focus (claws)

Bloodline Arcana Whenever you cast a spell with the [acid] descriptor, that spell deals +1 point of damage per die rolled.

Bloodline Powers

The power of the black dragon flows through you and manifests in a number of ways.

Claws (Su)

Starting at 1st level, you can grow claws as a free action. These claws are treated as natural weapons, allowing you to make two claw attacks as a full attack action using your full base attack bonus. Each of these attacks deals 1d4 points of damage plus your Strength modifier (1d3 if you are Small).

At 5th level, these claws are considered magic weapons for the purpose of overcoming DR.

At 7th level, the damage increases by one step to 1d6 points of damage (1d4 if you are Small).

At 11th level, these claws deal an additional 1d6 points of acid damage on a successful hit.

You can use your claws for a number of rounds per day equal to 3 + your Charisma modifier. These rounds do not need to be consecutive.

Swamp Dweller (Ex)

At 3rd level, you can move through bogs and quicksand without penalty at your normal speed.

At 9th level, you gain water breathing and can breathe underwater indefinitely.

At 15th level, you can freely use your breath weapon, spells, and other abilities while submerged.

Breath Weapon (Su)

Save DC 10 + 1/2 sorcerer level + Charisma modifier

At 9th level, you gain a breath weapon. This breath weapon is a 60-foot line and deals 1d6 points of acid damage per sorcerer level. Those caught in the area of the breath receive a Reflex save for half damage. At 9th level, you can use your breath weapon once per day.

At 17th level, you can use your breath weapon twice per day.

At 20th level, you can use your breath weapon three times per day. Once per day you can instead breathe acid to create an acid pool with a 50 foot radius. When the acid pool is created, any creature in its area takes 20d6 points of acid damage (Reflex half). Each round on your turn, the number of dice of damage is halved (until less than 1d6) and creatures in the acid pool take damage again (Reflex half). The acid pool floats on water and deals damage to anything on the surface.

Wings (Su)

At 15th level, leathery dragon wings grow from your back as a standard action, giving you a fly speed of 60 feet with average maneuverability. You can dismiss the wings as a free action.

Power of Wyrms (Su)

At 20th level, your draconic heritage becomes manifest. You gain immunity to paralysis, sleep, and acid damage. You also gain blindsense 60 feet.

The changes are highlighted below.

  • The bloodline skill is changed from Perception to Stealth.
  • Four of the bloodline spells are changed (resist energy to darknessfly to water breathingfear to plant growth, and spell resistance to insect plague).
  • The claws, wings, and power of wyrms bloodline powers are not changed, but the dragon resistances and breath weapon bloodline powers are replaced or changed.
    • Dragon resistances, increasing amounts of energy resistance and natural armor, are replaced by swamp dweller (ability to move through bogs and quicksand unhindered, water breathing, and ability to use your breath weapon, spells, and other abilities under water).
    • Breath weapon is expanded at 20th level to include the use of the black dragon’s acid pool ability once per day, a 50-foot radius pool of acid doing 20d6 points of acid damage in the first round, 10d6 damage in the second round, 5d6 in the third round, 2d6 in the fourth round, and 1d6 in the fifth round.

This is now distinctly different from other draconic bloodlines, all of which show similar deviation from the base draconic bloodline.

Closing Comments

I like to see qualitative differences between things. I like player decisions to mean something more than what numbers are applied or how a particular number is applied (such as resistance to fire vs. resistance to cold). The twenty-five draconic bloodlines in this book are designed around those preferences: while each of the draconic bloodlines shares a base design, each is distinctly different from that base design.

The book will be available in PDF next week.

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  1. Pingback: Fey Bloodlines | In My Campaign - Thoughts on RPG design and play

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