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Riding on Dragons
A character riding a dragon usually sits between the wings, just behind the neck and before the wingmount. Even without a saddle, this is a comfortable and secure position, as the character is held in place by the massive shoulder muscles. The dragon arches its back slightly in flight, so the rider’s view is not as obscured by the flapping wings as it might be. The major disadvantage of this position is that the rider’s reach is limited. While the dragon’s claws and teeth can strike at opponents below, the rider’s swordarm cannot reach that far. The character is considered to be sitting at the centre of the dragon’s square for the purposes of combat. Most riders therefore use bows or other missile weapons.
Communication is also limited. The noise of the rushing wind drowns out speech, and can even temporarily blind a rider unless precautions are taken. A character must shout commands to his dragon during flight, and casual conversation is impossible in most conditions. Spells like telepathic bond can help with this. The usual solution is to use reins attached to the dragon’s barbels and horns. Most dragons have quite definite opinions about where they are going and about the place of the rider in determining their flight path, but the reins can also be used to pass simple messages to the dragon without the need to shout.
Other riders sit at the end of their mount’s neck, just behind the head. This allows the rider to stab at enemies as the dragon bites them (allowing the rider to use the dragon’s reach when fighting – the character is considered to have the same fighting space and reach as the dragon). This position also allows the character to shout into the dragon’s ear, making communication somewhat easier. However, hanging onto a dragon’s slippery neck as it lashes and tears at enemies requires a Ride check (DC20) every round.
A Large dragon can bear a single rider. A Huge dragon can carry three passengers comfortably, a Gargantuan dragon can carry six, and a Colossal dragon twelve. Only one passenger can be the dragon’s rider for the purposes of mounted combat. A dragon can carry twice as many passengers if necessary, but cannot engage in combat effectively (-10 circumstance penalty to all attacks) or fly at faster than half speed while doing so.
Rider’s Helm: This is a light metal helmet that includes a full-face leather mask. Glass or crystal goggles protect the wearer’s eyes. The inside of the helm is padded against both impact and the cold. Without such a helm, a dragon-rider suffers a –2 penalty to all attacks and skill checks if the dragon climbs above 1,000 feet or flies at full speed. A suitable face mask can be added to an existing helmet, allowing a rider to use a magic helm instead of the mundane one supplied.
Dragon Saddle: A dragon saddle is little more than a network of straps and stirrups designed to keep the rider in place on the dragon’s back. The rider’s legs are tied to the dragon, so it takes one minute to get into the saddle or thirty seconds to remove the saddle. (A Use Rope check, DC15, can halve the time required.) Improved dragon saddles have a special strap that, when pulled, unravels the saddle, allowing the rider to dismount instantly. Pulling this cord is a free action. A dragon saddle has exactly the same benefits as a military saddle.
Dragon Throne: Only a Gargantuan or larger dragon can be fitted with a dragon throne. As the name suggests, this is an ornate throne that is strapped to the dragon’s back. It carries a single rider (or two with a suggestion of impropriety) in style and comfort. The throne has a protective canopy to protect the passenger’s eyes, as well as a small storage area beneath the throne for valuables or a packed luncheon. The price given is for the most basic dragon throne – most are richly decorated, gilded with gold and azure, or ensorcelled with protective spells. For a noble lord, there is no better way to travel.
War Howdah: A war howdah is essentially a dragon saddle that runs the length of the beast’s flanks. A dragon equipped with a war howdah can carry twice its normal number of passengers while flying at up to three-quarters of its full speed. The dragon only suffers a –5 instead of a –10 penalty to all attacks. The passengers are strapped into the war howdah, and cannot move. They can, however, fire missile weapons. Each position in the howdah has a coiled rope attached to it, allowing the passenger to climb down while the dragon is hovering.
The cost of a howdah varies depending on the number of passengers it contains. A howdah for a huge Dragon hold six people, a Gargantuan one holds twelve, and a Colossal one twenty-four.
Rider’s Lance: A rider’s lance is a very long weapon, only a few feet shorter than the dragon’s neck. It is much too ungainly to be used when unmounted. The lance is attached to a halter on the nape of the dragon’s neck or else onto the front of the saddle. Using the lance is rather simple – the dragon charges towards an opponent, or waits for an opponent to come to it. At the last moment, the dragon whips its head away so the point of the lance is the first thing to strike the enemy. The size and cost of a lance depends on the size of the dragon.
Dragon Rider Prestige Class
The whole world is beneath you. The rivers coil in the moonlight like silver threads in the rich brocade of creation. Wisps of cloud fly past you on either side. The only sound is the steady, sweeping thunder of wings and the sound of your heart – or perhaps it is that of your mount. The two of you are one here, suspended between earth and sky. Your lance is heavy in your hands.
There – a gout of dragonfire, far below. Your dragon dives, the wind tearing at your clothes. If it were not for your sturdy helm and protective goggles, you would be blind. You are prepared for this – you have always been preparing for this – and your eyes are clear, focussed on the target. A red dragon, bigger than your loyal bronze, hovers over the once peaceful town below. You twitch one of the reins,
and your dragon nods. Then there is no more time for thought.
Like a bronze thunderbolt, you swoop out of the night sky. The red turns too slowly, and your lance catches it in the flank. It roars in pain. You roar in triumph and beat your mighty wings, climbing back towards the clouds and leading the injured red away from the town. You shall battle it in the high reaches, where everything is cold and still save the dragons moving against the stars. Your home. Your domain.
You steady the lance and ready your breath weapon, and see no paradox in this. The dragon is the rider and the rider is the dragon.
Hit Dice: d10
To become a dragon rider, a character must fulfil all the following criteria:
Skills: Balance 4 ranks, Handle Animal 8 ranks, Ride 12 ranks, Spot 8 ranks. The rider must know the Draconic language.
Feats: Animal Affinity, Mounted Combat.
Special: It takes a special connection to dragons to become a true dragon rider. The character must either:
- Be a paladin, and take the dragon as his bonded mount
- Be a druid or ranger, and take the dragon has his animal companion
- Have the Leadership feat, and take the dragon as his cohort
- Win the lifelong respect of a dragon
The dragon rider class skills (and the key ability for each) are Balance (Dex), Concentration (Con), Handle Animal (Wis), Heal (Wis), Jump (Str), Ride (Dex), Spot (Wis), Survival (Wis).
Skill Points at Each Level: 2 + Int modifier.
|1||+1||+0||+2||+0||Bonus Feat, Dragon bond|
|3||+3||+1||+3||+1||Bonus Feat, Improved Dragon Bond|
|4||+4||+1||+4||+1||Blood of the Dragon|
|5||+5||+1||+4||+1||Bonus Feat, Master of the Sky|
All of the following are class features of the dragon rider prestige class.
Weapon and Armour Proficiency: Dragon riders are proficient in the use of lances. They gain no other additional weapon or armour proficiencies.
Bonus Feat: At 1st, 3rd and 5th levels, the rider gains a bonus feat, chosen from the following list: Acrobatic, Alertness, Blind-fight, Combat Casting, Combat Reflexes, Mounted Archery, Ride-by Attack, Spirited Charge, Trample, Point Blank Shot, Far Shot, Precise Shot, Rapid Shot, Manyshot, Shot on the Run, Improved Precise Shot, Weapon Focus. Each feat may only be taken once. Instead of taking a feat, the rider may choose to have his dragon gain an extra feat from any source.
Dragon Bond (Su): The rider and the dragon develop an empathic bond, allowing mental communication of images, emotions and simple ideas. A rider can only bond with one dragon at a time. If the dragon has the Rider Empathy feat, the two can use the Improved Bond abilities at 1st level. Immunity (Su): The rider magically becomes immune to the breath weapon attacks of his bonded dragon or dragons of the same type. He gains a +4 insight bonus to all saving throws against the breath weapon attacks of other dragons.
Improved Bond (Su): The rider and the dragon can now communicate telepathically at will over any distance. Once per day, as a free action, the rider can gain Spell Resistance equal to that of the dragon for 1d4+1 rounds. The rider may now communicate empathically while riding a dragon other than his bonded dragon.
Blood of the Dragon (Su): The rider can now cast spells through his dragon as if it was a familiar, and vice versa.
Master of the Sky (Ex): The rider’s training and dedication makes him and his dragon a lethal fighting unit. He gains a +2 insight bonus to all attack rolls, Ride checks and Spot checks made while in the air.
Dragons would unquestionably dominate the world if every wyrmling grew into a wyrm. Fortunately for everything nondraconic, only a small fraction of dragons ever reach their full growth. Most dragons fall victim to hungry monsters when they are very young, or else are brought to an unpleasant end by their overconfidence. A young dragon may think itself capable of sacking a town, but ballista bolts and arrows can pierce a hide that has not yet hardened. Over the centuries, those troubled by dragons have created various devices and dweomers for use against dragons.
Counterbreath Barrels: Any community in a dragon’s domain has at least a few of these barrels. A counterbreath barrel contains a substance that is anathema to a dragon’s breath. In lands troubled by blue dragons, the barrels contain insulating liquid resins. The acid of green or black dragons can be neutralised with alkali alchemical preparations, while the ice produced by a white dragon is countered by placing firepots around the frozen areas. Finally, the fearsome fiery breath of a red dragon may be defeated by humble barrels of water. The contents of the counterbreath barrels are poured onto buildings and defensive structures before the dragon attacks, and reduces the damage caused by the dragon’s breath weapon by 25%. Only buildings can benefit from this protection. It takes ten minutes to prepare the average building for a dragon attack.
Church Spires: Dragons have a special fear of having their tender wings torn by a spike. Putting sharp spires on the tallest buildings in a town, such as churches, watchtowers, guildhalls and palaces may dissuade the dragon from attacking. Given a choice between attacking two towns, one of which bristles like a stone hedgehog, and the other is as soft and inviting as a tasty rabbit-warren, most dragons pick the latter. A dragon striking a church spire must make a Reflex save (DC25) or be dealt 6d10 points of damage.
Catapult Net: This strong nets is weighted with lead weights, which causes it to open in mid-flight. The net is large enough to catch most dragons, and heavy enough to force the trapped dragon to make a Strength check (DC20) every round while flying or descend as much as possible. Multiple nets each add 10 to the DC of the Strength check. The dragon is allowed an Escape Artist check (DC15+5 per net) to escape all the nets enwrapping it.
To catch a dragon in a net, the operator of the catapult must make a successful ranged touch attack against the dragon at a –4 penalty due to the net’s lack of accuracy.
Level: Sor/Wiz 2
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Medium (100 feet + 10 feet/level)
Duration: 1 round/level
Saving Throw: Reflex halves
Spell Resistance: Yes
Air mine causes a small bubble of compressed air to pop out of the ground anywhere within range of the spell. It then begins to rise up at a rate chosen by the caster (anything from 0 feet per round to 50 feet per round). The bubble starts at one foot in radius, but grows by one foot for every ten feet of altitude (thus, a bubble floating 100 feet about the ground is 11 feet in radius). The caster can choose to stop the bubble rising at any time, but once stopped the bubble is stationary until it expires or explodes.
If anything touches the bubble, it explodes, dealing 1d6 points of damage per level of the caster to a maximum of 6d6. Anyone damaged by the spell must then make a Balance check (DC equal to the damage dealt) or be knocked prone (or forced to stall, if flying). To hit a target with this spell, the caster must make a ranged touch attack with a bonus of +1 per foot of radius of the bubble.
Turn the Worm
Enchantment (Compulsion) [Mind-effecting]
Level: Clr 1, Pal 2
Components: V, S, DF
Casting Time: 1 action
Duration: 1 round/level
Saving Throw: No
Spell Resistance: None
For the duration of this spell, the caster may turn dragons, serpents, reptiles and other such creatures such as lizard-men as if they were undead. The paladin version of this spell also allows the caster to compel the target to emerge from its lair or to land if the turning attempt is successful.
Fold of the Faithful
Level: Clr 7
Components: V, S, M, DF
Casting Time: 10 minutes
Area: A hemisphere with radius 50 feet/level
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: Yes
Fold of the faithful requires the presence of at least ten other followers of the caster’s religion. For the duration of the spell, all these faithful must pray in concert with the caster. The spell creates a shimmering dome of divine energy that protects those inside. Nothing can pass through the dome while it endures. The dome has a hardness equal to the level of the caster, and 20 hit points per faithful follower. Thus, a dome protecting a city of 5,000 faithful has 10,000 hit points.
However, the dome endures only as long as the faith of those inside. If the enemies outside the dome cause those inside the dome to stop praying, the dome begins to loose strength at a rate of 2d20 points per round per person not praying. For example, a dragon flying over the dome could stop people praying using its Frightful Presence.
Material Component: A religious icon or symbol worth at least 10,000 gp.
Fists of Cloud
Level: Drd 8
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: ½ mile/level
Target: A cloud
Duration: 1 round/level (D)
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: Yes
The cloud targeted by this spell sprouts a pair of massive fists made of mist. These fists are under the control of the druid, and have a Strength score equal to his Wisdom score + his level. The fists can strike for 4d8 + their Strength bonus damage, using the druid’s Base Attack Bonus. The fists can also grapple with targets (they are Gargantuan creatures) or pick objects up and carry them at a speed of 500 feet per round. Controlling the fists is a standard action.
Dragon Binder Prestige Class
Dragon binders are a rare and secretive order of spellcasters. They hide themselves not because their researches are forbidden, but because dragons hate and fear them above all other mortals. All the fortresses and towers openly claimed by dragon binders have been consumed by dragon-breath, so now the binders hide their true nature until the moment of the binding.
Their binding ritual is quite unlike the careful thaumaturgy used to contain extraplanar creatures. The dragon binder wrestles with the will of the dragon. For most mortals, this would be rank foolishness, as the minds of dragons are ancient, wily and powerful. The dragon binder channels arcane or divine energy through his own soul to reinforce his will. If successful, he can chain the dragon and make it his servant. If he fails, then he is left a broken ruin of his former self at the mercy of an angered dragon.
Hit Dice: d4
To become a dragon binder, a character must fulfil all the following criteria:
Skills: Concentration 6 ranks, Diplomacy 4 ranks, Disguise 4 ranks, Gather Information 4 ranks, Intimidate 4 ranks, Knowledge (arcana) 6 ranks, Spellcraft 6 ranks.
Feats: Animal Affinity, Iron Will
Special: Able to cast charm monster, dominate monster or geas/quest.
The dragon binder class skills (and the key ability for each) are Bluff (Cha), Concentration (Con),
Gather Information (Cha), Handle Animal (Cha), Heal (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (Int), Ride (Dex), Search (Int), Spellcraft (Int)
Skill Points at Each Level: 4 + Int modifier.
All of the following are class features of the dragon binder prestige class.
Weapon and Armour Proficiency: Dragon binders gain no additional weapon or armour proficiencies.
Binding Limits: At each level after 1st level, the dragon binder must choose between getting an extra level of spellcasting based on his previous class, or else being allowed to bind one extra dragon.
Binding (Su): By touching a dragon, the dragon binder can initiate a binding attempt as a standard action. This consists of three opposed Will saves over three rounds. The dragon binder must remain in contact with the dragon for the duration of the binding attempt. Both the dragon binder and the dragon roll 1d20 and add their Will saves. The dragon also adds its Hit Dice or its Charisma score, whichever is higher. In the second and third rounds, the dragon binder may expend uncast spells, gaining a +1 bonus for every two levels of the spell used, rounding down.
If the dragon wins the majority of the three Will saves, the dragon binder suffers backlash, in the form of 1 point of damage for every spell level expended in the binding.
If the binder wins, the dragon is bound to him. This effect is identical to that of dominate monster, but the duration of the binding is unlimited. A dragon may attempt to escape its binding whenever any of the following events occur:
- The dragon grows to a higher age category
- The dragon awakens after a long sleep (longer than a year)
- The dragon is commanded to do something utterly against its nature
- The dragon somehow gains a bonus to its Will save of +3 or higher
- Break enchantment, dispel magic or freedom is cast on the dragon
- The binder is reduced below 0 hit points
- The binder is struck by the breath weapon of any dragon
- The binder has no spells left at all
- The binder shows abject, pathetic weakness in front of the dragon
Escaping a binding attempt uses the same rules as a normal binding attempt. A dragon who escapes a binding attempt will immediately attempt to destroy the binder.
Dismiss Dragon (Su): The binder may dismiss any dragon bound to him. This dismissal acts as an unavoidable geas on the dragon that lasts a year and a day. Most binders use this geas to send the dragon far, far away so it does not retaliate for its binding.
Enhanced Binding (Ex): The binder gets a +2 bonus to his Will saves for the purposes of binding dragons.
Ranged Binding (Su): The binder may now make a ranged touch attack with a range of ‘sight’ to bind a dragon.
Enhance Dragon (Su): Once per day, the binder may channel spell energy into one of his bound dragons, causing it to grow bigger. This ability requires the binder to spend spell levels totalling the dragon’s new age category each round – for example, to make a dragon grow to the age of Young Adult (age category 5) would require the binder spend one fifth level spell, or a third level spell and a second level spell or any such combination every round. The binder may choose to have the dragon grow multiple age categories, but he must pay for each ‘extra category’. For example, if the dragon grows from Juvenile (age category 4) to Adult (age category 6), the binder must pay every round for the extra age categories 5 and 6, and must spend 11 levels of spell each round.
Note that the dragon may attempt to escape its binding when it grows an age category.
Divine Challenge (Su): By ancient tradition, a dragon binder of the fifth rank may attempt to bind any one of the draconic gods. The binder gains the Spell-Like ability to plane shift to the home plane of any one of the draconic deities once per day. He may attempt to bind one of these gods, but no binder has yet succeeded in this feat.
Dragon Binder Prestige Class
|1||+0||+0||+0||+2||Dragon binding||First Dragon|
|2||+1||+0||+0||+3||Dismiss Dragon, Enhanced Binding||+1 dragons or +1 level of spellcasting|
|3||+1||+1||+1||+4||Ranged Binding||+1 dragons or +1 level of spellcasting|
|4||+2||+1||+1||+4||Enhance Dragon||+1 dragons or +1 level of spellcasting|
|5||+2||+1||+1||+4||Divine Challenge||+1 dragons or +1 level of spellcasting|