Night Below has plenty of dungeon in it, with many creepy-crawlies and monsters you might expect to find in a typical dungeon, but it also contains a fair bit of dragon, too. Not only does the half-dragon Lady Vol make an appearance, but there is also a draconic entry from each Monster Manual from III, IV, and V, and no fewer than three Large dragons are included in the set. You've already seen the White. This week, I'll give you a closer look at the other two -- Gold and Shadow.
Large Gold Dragon
The Large Gold completes the initial quintet of metallic dragons from the Monster Manual. The good-aligned dragons are always an interesting conundrum. Dragons, even the Good ones, are very popular with collectors and game players, but the Good-aligned ones also represent an encounter that many RPG players are unlikely to have. By their nature, they are less likely to cross swords (claws?) with a group of good-aligned PCs. That doesn't mean the mini can't be used, of course. Some people use minis to represent social situations, so I guess Goldie could still appear as the party's benefactor or employer. An encounter might involve sneaking something out of the Gold's hoard (and getting caught). I guess other groups might use the dragon as a cohort, mount, or even PC. How will you use your Large Gold Dragon? Talk about it on the D&D Minis message boards, I'm interested in reading your comments.
Early in the life cycle of the D&D Miniatures Game, the Large Silver Dragon was the cornerstone of Lawful Good's tournament presence. It was game-changing, really. LSD warbands were one factor that necessitated the move to our current Assault format, which forces "turtling" warbands to come out and fight instead of hiding in their holes. The Large Silver's AC of 24 was extremely high in an environment with few creatures that could hit accurately. When they did hit, they still had to chew through 150 hit points of dragon. Even with a minor commander, the Silver's save of +16 meant it would rarely rout. It didn't hit extremely hard, but if it landed its breath weapon on an enemy or two, all it needed to do from that point on was survive the battle.
Fast forward to last autumn. We're in the throes of developing the Night Below set, and the Large Gold Dragon is on the list. With our dragon hierarchy, we know that it needs to be at least as powerful as the Silver and probably a step better. During one of our development meetings, we realized that the Large Gold was not going to be just another good titan to build a warband around, it would be the titan and the first mini priced at 140 points. The biggest challenge was making it competitive while at the same time ensuring that attacking the dragon directly wasn't hopeless in a 200-point game. A comparison between the two metallics reveals that:
- the Gold is about as durable (slightly more hp, 1 less AC) and has a lower level (a concession in the game where we don't want saves to be irrelevant), but
- its fire breath does a bit more damage with a higher DC, and its weakness breath is better against undead and constructs (a bane of the Silver's paralysis breath).
With lower level, speed, and AC, you might wonder how it justifies those extra 18 points. The answer is damage output. Like many of our Large dragons in recent sets, the Gold has gotten a damage upgrade, with claw attacks at only 2 less than the +20 bite (instead of 5 less as with other creatures' iterative attacks), and all its attacks deal 15 magic damage until Wrath kicks in.
What's a dragon without a hoard, though? And why wouldn't the dragon use its hoard to defend itself? In this case, the Gold outfits all 60 points of its allies with magic weapons and armor.
Large Shadow Dragon
For this mini, we slightly 'reconcepted' the Shadow Dragon as presented in the Draconomicon. This one is a little less emaciated, with a head shape that is closer to the Blue's snub nose than the narrow spike of the original art (which had a significant resemblance to the Deep Dragon we released in Underdark). One thing that is retained is the general translucence of the creature, achieved through the use of clear plastic.
The Shadow Dragon's skirmish card can easily be compared to the Large Black Dragon from the Unhallowed expansion. After all, they're both dragons in the same mid-to-high 40s point range, with the Shadow Dragon coming in a little higher on the scale. The Shadow Dragon is slightly more accurate with its melee attacks, but many of its base numbers look a little lower -- on the surface. In fact, all the numbers on the left side of the stat card are lower by one or two points, as is its breath weapon DC and base damage.
So why does it cost more? I'm pretty sure that Shadow Jump is worth it. This special ability gives an aggressive player an opportunity to move a significant distance and drop the dragon's cone on an unsuspecting foe, then trust that its Conceal 6 will keep it alive long enough to get away. The cone not only causes damage, but it also inflicts a save penalty on affected creatures for the duration of the fight. That little feature may make this dragon a great addition to a CE warband with other save-inducing effects.
Large dragons. Not sure what else I can say about them. Next week, the dragon theme continues. Until then!
About the Author
Stephen Schubert is a Developer for RPG R&D and has been involved in many facets of the D&D product line. He's recently been Lead Developer for the upcoming Monster Manual V, Lead Designer on the Eberron adventure Eyes of the Lich Queen, and he's the Lead Developer for the D&D Miniatures Game.
Now we bring the return of the mystery silhouette. Shown below are all the figures that we'll feature in these previews. Can you guess their identities? Feel free to try!