Posts Tagged ‘catastrophe’

UPDATE: The statistics for these catastrophic dragons have been moved, but fear not! You can now grab them in a totally awesome Pay What You Want PDF on the DMs Guild.

Thank you for all the feedback. Catastrophic dragons have been revised and added in full PDF glory to the Free Game Resources page on this site. You are all awesome! I really need to thank John Four over at Roleplaying Tips for the inspiration. He picked the theme of races for last month’s RPG Blog Carnival. Killer stuff that got me thinking about how much I loved fourth edition’s catastrophic dragons and if there was a way to bring them into fifth edition. Here we are a month later and I’ve brought the blizzard, earthquake, tornado, typhoon, and volcanic dragons fifth edition ruleset.

ef477-blizzarddragon

But Wait… There’s More!

A dragon who cannot cast spells is like French onion soup with cheese. Yes, technically it is indeed the thing it claims to be, but I’m pretty disappointed with the result. Catastrophic dragons, like their chromatic and metallic counterparts, can cast spells. Instead of relying on Charisma, their spells use Intelligence. Why? Well, mechanically it’s because catastrophic dragons have lower Charisma scores and higher Intelligence scores than other dragon types. Also, everyone (including me) loves a good story reason for game mechanics so here’s mine.

Much of a catastrophic dragon’s innate magical ability is used in holding its new raging elemental body stable. To keep from exploding, catastrophic dragons must focus their natural magical energies on controlling their chaotic forms.

This does not mean a catastrophic dragon cannot learn to cast spells. Many pour over ancient tomes and texts, learning magic long forgotten, and some even create their own spells which they are eager to show off.

Because these spells are learned and not innate abilities of catastrophic dragons they use the following variant rule.

Variant: Catastrophic Dragons as Spellcasters

Some catastrophic dragons keep spellbooks, just like wizards. A young or older catastrophic dragon can cast and prepare a number of spells per day from its spellbook equal to its Intelligence modifier, requiring material components as usual. The spell’s level can be no higher than one-third the dragon’s challenge rating (rounded down). The dragon’s bonus to hit with spell attacks is equal to its proficiency bonus + its Intelligence bonus. The dragon’s spell save DC equals 8 + its proficiency bonus + its Intelligence modifier.

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If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends, share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

UPDATE: The statistics for these catastrophic dragons have been moved, but fear not! You can now grab them in a totally awesome Pay What You Want PDF on the DMs Guild.

Know what’s pretty terrifying and gripping? A volcanic eruption. When you see volcanoes erupt in nature films part of your brain says, “That’s the scariest thing I’ve ever seen.” The other half of your brain is like, “This is sweet! Nature is crazy!”

Last week I explored bringing fourth edition’s catastrophic dragons into fifth edition D&D. The blizzard and earthquake dragons were first on my list. Today I’d like to share the volcanic dragon with you. This dragon is the baddest of the bunch and has an attitude to match.

A Recap Of Catastrophic Dragons in General

Here are a few quick words about my take for catastrophic dragons. This is from my first post last week. You can just skip ahead of you’ve already been reading these posts.

Catastrophic dragons were once chromatic dragons who desired more than a hoard and a lair. For while others stole and hid from the humanoids over whom they claimed superiority, these dragons knew that all other life in the multiverse should be bowing to their will. Power is a far greater reward than any material possession and as the smartest and strongest in the land, dragons deserved to be in charge. Any thought other than this was impractical and stupid.

These dragons tried to convince their brethren to leave their caves and make the humanoids submit to their will. The other chromatic dragons did not like this sudden interest in the affairs of lesser beings and so with greater numbers they did come together. They banished their radical kin to the elemental planes. For hundreds of years these rebellious chromatic dragons were locked in seas of fire, ice, wind, and stone. Those who did not die were shaped by elemental forces and remade into catastrophic dragons.

Each trapped catastrophic dragon has its imprisonment tied to the soul of a chromatic dragon on the material plane. If one of these gatekeeper chromatic dragon should die before it can pass the responsibility onto another, the catastrophic dragon can leave the plane of its imprisonment and wreak havoc on the world.

Catastrophic dragons once wanted to dominate all life in the multiverse. After years of suffering the harsh terrain of the elemental planes, their minds are warped and they desire only to kill all those inferior to them, especially chromatic dragons whom they hate above all others.Their memories are long and catastrophic dragons do not forget their betrayal at the hands of their kin. If they escape their bonds, they may keep a hoard, but usually only for the purpose of attracting other dragons and killing them.

Volcanic Dragons

Volcanic dragons have skin made of barely cooled molten rock. Cracks in their skin large and small show off the dragon’s glowing lava insides, which grow brighter as the dragon becomes more agitated. Heat and embers radiate from the dragon’s form and getting too close can result in a toxic death before the dragon ever lays claws onto a victim. A dry heat wave heralds the volcanic dragon’s approach.

Righteous Rage. Like all catastrophic dragons, rage constantly simmers in the heart of the volcanic dragon. The rage of the volcanic is one of a wronged creature out for justice. Volcanic dragons see the destruction of life as their righteous mission. As the mutliverse’s superior beings they must destroy any non-elemental they come across as just punishment for their imprisonment. Most carry this twisted belief in their heart until the end of their days.

Chromatic Hunters. With a warped idea of justice in their minds, volcanic dragons are the dragons most likely to hunt and kill chromatic dragons. Since they share a love of volcano lairs, volcanic dragons will often challenge an established red dragon and try to take its home. These battles are brutal, as both creatures are unaffected by the heat and must use claws and jaws to battle.

A Volcanic Dragon’s Lair

Volcanic dragons tend to create lairs in their namesake. Since many volcano lairs are occupied by red dragons, volcanic dragons do not build their own, but rather siege the lair of a red dragon, kill the host, and claim the volcano as their own.

Volcanic dragons do make modifications to their stolen homes. They open cracks in the walls of the tunnels, allowing even more lava and noxious fumes inside to make the place habitable only by creatures who fear neither fire nor poison. Pieces of the defeated red dragon’s corpse are mounted here and there as a show of the volcanic dragon’s dominance.

The cunning volcanic dragons rig their lairs with all manner of unexpected traps as well. Knowing their opponents may have prepared with spells and items to help them resist flames, volcanic dragons often create magic traps which deal acid, cold, and lightning, to show any who might think themselves clever that they cannot hope to outsmart a cunning dragon in its home.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends, share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

UPDATE: The statistics for these catastrophic dragons have been moved, but fear not! You can now grab them in a totally awesome Pay What You Want PDF on the DMs Guild.

I loved a lot of things in fourth edition Dungeons and Dragons. The balance, the monster stat blocks, the warlord class, the shardmind race, and more. While that edition has been panned for many worthy and unworthy reasons, it created some of my favorite beasties ever – the catastrophic dragons.

It’s no surprise we didn’t see the blizzard, earthquake, and volcanic dragons in the fifth edition Monster Manual. The book already has over thirty pages of draconic goodness between the chromatic and metallic dragons. Still, you know what the great thing about TRPGs is? We can, nay, we are encouraged to create things on our own for our games. Well I thought I’d share my version of the catastrophic dragons with you over the next week or so for feedback and use in your own game. Once I’m happy with it and after reading your feedback, I’ll put these bad mamma jammas on the Free Game Resources section of this site!

But First, a Shoutout!

I probably wouldn’t be writing this post if it weren’t for this month’s RPG Blog Carnival theme of races, chosen by John Four over at Roleplaying Tips. Now I know by races John means PC races, but I’m going to write about a few new races of dragons! I want to use these baddies in my Exploration Age campaign, so here I’ve given them a story that should work in most game worlds in case you want to use them in yours too.

Crafting the Story

When you look at the catastrophic dragons description in the Monster Manual 3 for fourth edition, you learn these beasts are tied to primordials and the Dawn War. Essentially once Io died, some chromatic dragons were all like, “Tiamat’s my jam!” and the metallics were all righteous and like, “Bahamut’s the shiz, brah.” Some dragons, though, were like, “Both ya’ll cray. Those gods are selfish and weak.” These dragons went to the side of the primordials, seeking protection from the chromatic and metallic dragons who were all, “Say what? Now you gots to die for talking smack about our gods.” The primordials hid away these naysayer dragons in the furthest reaches of the Elemental Chaos, where they were reforged in elemental forces and became the catastrophic dragons. They hate pretty much everything that isn’t an elemental and want to watch the world be torn apart by these forces.

It’s a good story, but not all campaign settings fit that mold so I want something that can work a little more generally. This includes the world of Exploration Age, which has no Dawn War in its history. My idea for a story is below, which borrows from the original tale above.

It was around this time monsters got really great in fourth edition.

The History of Catastrophic Dragons

Catastrophic dragons were once chromatic dragons who desired more than a hoard and a lair. For while others stole and hid from the humanoids over whom they claimed superiority, these dragons knew that all other life in the multiverse should be bowing to their will. Power is a far greater reward than any material possession and as the smartest and strongest in the land, dragons deserved to be in charge. Any thought other than this was impractical and stupid.

These dragons tried to convince their brethren to leave their caves and make the humanoids submit to their will. The other chromatic dragons did not like this sudden interest in the affairs of lesser beings and so with greater numbers they did come together. They banished their radical kin to the elemental planes. For hundreds of years these rebellious chromatic dragons were locked in seas of fire, ice, wind, and stone. Those who did not die were shaped by elemental forces and remade into catastrophic dragons.

Each trapped catastrophic dragon has its imprisonment tied to the soul of a chromatic dragon on the material plane. If one of these gatekeeper chromatic dragon should die before it can pass the responsibility onto another, the catastrophic dragon can leave the plane of its imprisonment and wreak havoc on the world.

Behavior of Catastrophic Dragons

Catastrophic dragons once wanted to dominate all life in the multiverse. After years of suffering the harsh terrain of the elemental planes, their minds are warped and they desire only to kill all those inferior to them, especially chromatic dragons whom they hate above all others.Their memories are long and catastrophic dragons do not forget their betrayal at the hands of their kin. If they escape their bonds they may keep a hoard, but usually only for the purpose of attracting other dragons and killing them.

Blizzard Dragons

Blizzard dragons appear almost wraith-like. These creatures have thin hides of ice-covered snow which crackles and mists with elemental energy. Their eyes glow white and their frozen bones are visible through the tightly packed snow around their joints.

Cold and storm follow a blizzard dragon wherever it goes. As one approaches the weather turns bitter and windy as snow heralds the blizzard dragon’s arrival.

Planners and Schemers. Blizzard dragons are the most level-headed of the rage-filled catastrophic dragons. This is not to say they are without anger, but they are more likely to work with other elemental creatures and formulate a plan before battle, rather than simply relying on their might to kill everything in sight.

Friend of the Undead. Blizzard dragons have been known to work alongside undead. They recognize in undead the same hatred for life and the desire to destroy and use that to mutual benefit for as long as a partnership will allow.

A Blizzard Dragon’s Lair

Where other dragons carve lairs out of the earth, blizzard dragons often build theirs out of ice and packed snow, creating elaborate, twisting mazes with slick floors and walls. From the outside this mass of tunnels looks almost like an enormous forgotten ball of clear yarn.

These passages are riddled with holes, so the sleet can still pelt the dragon’s enemies as they move through its home. The wind can carry the scent of intruders to the dragon deep within. The tunnels often take sudden turns or dips, creating slick, icy slides which take the dragon’s enemy into some perilous trap.

Legendary blizzard dragons often build their personal chambers with deep pits and ice spiked floors into which they move their enemies using their Catastrophic Aura. Blizzard dragons are crafty. As their aura grows they might cling to the walls or ceiling to use it to its fullest effect. They always have a secret escape tunnel in case events go awry, hidden by a thin sheet of ice and snow.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends, share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!