Article Header Image
Chosen of Bahamut
Wandering Monsters
By James Wyatt

F ive dragons down, seven to go.



Dragons

Huge to Colossal (by age) Dragon

Alignment:

Brass—chaotic good (neutral)
Bronze—lawful good
Copper—chaotic good
Gold—lawful good
Shadow—chaotic evil
Silver—lawful good
Dragon Turtle—unaligned

Level: By age/size (medium to high); gold > silver > bronze/turtle > copper > brass/shadow

Environment:

Brass—Desert
Bronze—Coastal
Copper—Hills
Gold—Any wilderness
Shadow—Ruins, wastelands, any underground, or Plane of Shadow
Silver—Mountains
Dragon Turtle—Lakes and ocean

Brass Dragon. Brass dragons are notoriously talkative metallic dragons, often possessing useful information but sharing it only after long rambling. They are chaotic good, but they lean toward neutral because they are very selfish. They love intense, dry heat, and they lair in high caves on rocky outcroppings in desert lands. Unlike blue dragons, their coloration makes them hard to spot against desert sand and rock, and though they can burrow through the sand like their chromatic cousins, they prefer basking on top of the sand.

Brass dragons have two breath weapons: a cloud of blistering desert heat that deals fire damage (this was a line in 3E and a rectangular cloud like a green dragon's breath in 2E), and a cone of shimmering gas that puts creatures in the area to sleep. Heat rises from a brass dragon's body in visible waves, and their lairs, though sheltered from the direct sun, are hotter than the outside air and remain warm through the night. Some brass dragons also gain powers related to controlling the weather of their desert habitat, including wind and rain, and sometimes they can summon air elementals to their aid.

Brass dragons are the weakest of the metallic dragons, which places them roughly on par with black dragons. Their preferred habitat frequently puts them in conflict with blue dragons, but a brass dragon is no match for a blue dragon of similar age. A weaker brass dragon usually tries to elude a blue dragon's clutches until it can rally aid from other creatures, while a stronger brass tries to eliminate a young blue before it grows into a serious threat.

Bronze Dragon. Bronze dragons are inquisitive and friendly metallic dragons that enjoy the company of humanoids, engaging in riddles, harmless contests, and sometimes warfare, which fascinates them. They are lawful good. They lair on coastlines and islands, diving into the deep waters of lakes and seas to hunt fish (sharks are a favorite prey), feast on seaweed, and look for pearls and sunken treasure. They are excellent swimmers and can breathe water, and they often lair in caves that are accessible only through underwater entrances, though the lairs themselves are always dry.

Bronze dragons have two breath weapons: a bolt of lightning identical to that of a blue dragon, and a cloud/cone of misty gas that compels creatures caught in it to move away from the dragon. Though the electrical energy that thrums in a bronze dragon’s body rarely manifests as visible sparks, it grows more noticeable when the dragon is swimming. (Small fish can be disoriented or stunned by a passing bronze dragon.) Many bronze dragons learn to adopt a humanoid form or the shape of a small animal that allows them to observe humanoid behavior up close. Some also learn powers of weather control, such as creating fog or stirring up wind and waves.

Bronze dragons are in the middle of the metallic dragon power scale, stronger than brass and copper dragons but weaker than silver and gold. They are roughly on par in size and strength with blue dragons of comparable age. They do not compete for territory with any chromatic dragons, but they hate pirates and coastal raiders, including sahuagin.

Copper Dragon. Copper dragons are metallic dragons with a well-deserved reputation as incorrigible pranksters, joke tellers, and swindlers. Most are good-natured (and chaotic good in alignment), but they have a strong covetous, mischievous streak. They lair in narrow caves within dry and rocky uplands, badlands, canyons, and craggy hilltops. Some have powers that let them shape the earth so that they can create cave entrances that suit their wishes. They are strong jumpers and climbers.

Copper dragons have two breath weapons: a line of acid identical to that of a black dragon, and a cloud/cone of murky gas that causes lethargy and slows creatures caught in it. Many copper dragons also learn powers related to shaping, moving, or transmuting rock and earth. An odor of dry stone tinged with acridity lingers around a copper dragon and is strongest in its lair.

Copper dragons are near the bottom of the scale of metallic dragons. They are more powerful than brass dragons but less so than bronze dragons, making them comparable to green dragons. They favor terrain where red dragons also sometimes lair, and they take pains to avoid confrontations with the much more powerful creatures.

Gold Dragon. Gold dragons are wise, judicious, and benevolent metallic dragons that hate injustice and foul play. They are lawful good and vigilant against the encroachment of evil into their territories, but they are too few in number to truly stem the tide of evil in the world. They lair in secluded areas such as remote mountaintops or even solid clouds, favoring caves or castles, and they sometimes employ cloud or storm giants as guards and companions.

Gold dragons have two breath weapons: a cone of fire identical to that of a red dragon, and a cloud/cone of poison gas that deals less damage but also weakens creatures caught in it. Nearly all gold dragons have the ability to assume humanoid or animal form, and the seven gold dragons that attend Bahamut are said to take the form of bright songbirds fluttering around him when the Platinum Dragon travels in human form. Some gold dragons have unusual abilities—they are said to be able to grant good luck or to lay a quest to benefit the cause of good, or even to grant wishes to those who seek them out in their remote and hidden lairs. A pleasant aroma of saffron and incense lingers around a gold dragon, and the inside of its lair feels like a sacred temple that opens onto another world.

Gold dragons are the most powerful metallic dragons and thus the most powerful dragons known. They avoid territory where other dragons might lair, and they quickly drive away any other dragon that dares encroach on land they have already claimed.

Shadow Dragon. Shadow dragons are sly and devious dragons with ties to the Plane of Shadow. They are neither metallic nor chromatic. Though their chaotic evil alignment puts them more akin to the chromatic dragons, they do not revere or answer to Tiamat. They hate both bright light and total darkness, preferring to lair in ancient ruins with underground dungeons, or in dense thickets or castles in the Plane of Shadow.

Shadow dragons breathe cones of billowing, smoky shadows with a temporary enervating or energy drain effect. They are adept at stealth, easily disappearing into shadows where their coloration blends naturally. Some also gain special abilities related to shadows, illusions, or stealth. They are also partially insubstantial, such that nonmagic weapons cannot harm them.

Shadow dragons are comparable in power to black or brass dragons.

Silver Dragon. Silver dragons are kind and regal metallic dragons that cheerfully assist good creatures in dire need. They are lawful good, and they are known to form close friendships with good-aligned humanoids, often moving among them in human form. They lair on high mountain peaks or amid the clouds.

Silver dragons have two breath weapons: a cone of cold identical to that of a white dragon and a cloud/cone of frosty gas that paralyzes creatures caught within it. Most silver dragons can also assume humanoid or animal form, and some also learn magical abilities related to weather, particularly fog and cold. Tracings of frost often form delicate patterns on the scales of a silver dragon, and a smell of wintry air surrounds these creatures.

Silver dragons are second in power only to gold dragons, and comparable to reds, with whom they sometimes compete for territory. Duels between red and silver dragons of similar age are fierce, but a silver dragon’s superior intelligence usually brings it the victory.

Dragon Turtle. Dragon turtles are among the most beautiful, awesome, and feared creatures of the water, every bit as awe-inspiring, majestic, and mysterious as their land-dwelling kin. Their overall form is similar to that of other dragons, except that they lack wings, and their bodies are encased in enormous oval shells. They are neither chromatic nor metallic, giving allegiance to neither Bahamut nor Tiamat and remaining unaligned in the conflict between good and evil. They lair in deep water, either salt or fresh, which includes oceans, seas, and only the deepest of lakes.

Like other dragons, dragon turtles remember the ancient times when dragons were more numerous and prominent in the world. And much like giants, they are more interested in brooding on that ancient past than on doing much in the present. They have little interest in humans or their affairs, except when pesky humanoids disturb their watery homes. They can be as savage as a tropical storm, as still as an alpine lake, and as unpredictable as the waves. An offering of sufficient treasure, however, can convince a dragon turtle to share some of its wisdom or to guarantee safe passage across its waters.

Dragon turtles breathe clouds of steam that deal fire damage. They can also capsize ships and boats by surfacing beneath them. Some gain magical abilities to summon and control aquatic life and water elementals, or to call up storms on the surface or maelstroms in the sea.

Dragon turtles are comparable in power to blue or bronze dragons.

What Do You Think?

I don’t think there’s much in here that’s surprising. What do you think?

 Now, how do these dragons fit with your sense of the iconic D&D creatures?  
1—I scoff at these dragons.
2—I'm not afraid enough.
3—Yeah, I can respect those dragons.
4—Definitely dragons—I'm getting nervous.
5—I'm running in terror from these awesome dragons.

 Different editions of the game have treated metallic dragons’ breath weapons differently. What do you think we should do?  
1—Old school: Go with what’s in the first Monster Manual. Some have two damaging breath weapons, others have one damaging and one control effect.
2—Systematized: Every metallic dragon should have one damaging breath weapon and one control effect, like in 3rd Edition.
3—Damage damage damage: Like in 4th Edition, every metallic dragon should have a breath weapon that deals damage and inflicts a control effect.
4—Flexible: As described above, every metallic dragon has two breath weapons—one just damage, but the other one might be a simple control effect or a combined damage/control effect like the gold dragon’s weakening/poison gas.

 What should the breath of a shadow dragon do?  
1—Energy drain just like a wraith’s touch, brutal as it may be.
2—Some other kind of weakening or enervating effect, perhaps combined with damage.
3—Plain old damage.
4—Something else entirely—see my answer in the comments.

 Do you think it’s appropriate to treat dragon turtles just like other dragons?  
1—Heck, yeah! I can’t wait to see a big, bad ancient dragon turtle.
2—I just don’t care.
3—No, they should be simpler and less powerful.

Previous Poll Results

How does my description of dragons in general fit with your sense of the iconic D&D creatures?
4—Definitely dragons—I’m getting nervous. 677 39.9%
5—I’m running in terror from these awesome dragons. 412 24.3%
3—Yeah, I can respect those dragons. 411 24.2%
2—I’m not afraid enough. 149 8.8%
1—I scoff at these dragons. 49 2.9%
Total 1589 100.0%

Anything to say about the specific dragon entries? Please comment below!

James Wyatt
James Wyatt is the Creative Manager for Dungeons & Dragons R&D at Wizards of the Coast. He was one of the lead designers for 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons and the primary author of the 4th Edition Dungeon Master’s Guide. He also contributed to the Eberron Campaign Setting, and is the author of several Dungeons & Dragons novels set in the world of Eberron.
Comments
Sort Items By: Newest First Oldest First Top Rated
 >
There are no comments yet for this article (or rating). Be the first!
 >

Create Comment
Follow Us
RSS
Find a place to get together with friends or gear up for adventure at a store near you
Please enter a city or zip code