The material below is Open Game Content
The parts and organs of a dragon can be harvested and used to craft both mundane and magical items. Encyclopaedia Arcane: Dragon Magic has details on how the magical resonances of different dragon species can be awoken; this section will therefore concentrate on non-magical uses and properties that are common to all dragons.
The market prices for individual items depend on the size and type of the dragon. The formula is
Market Price=Dragon’s Challenge Rating x Part Size x Component Price.
Challenge Rating takes into account the dragon’s age and power.
Part Size: The size of a part is relative to the size of the dragon it was taken from. The size is a number of size categories lower than the dragon’s size, with values ranging from 1 (Fine) to 9 (Colossal) and the size for each part is given in its description. Parts can be no larger than Fine, although some parts can be collected in larger-sized bundles, like a Diminutive sack of Fine teeth. The size of a part affects not only its final price, but also the kind of items that can be manufactured from it.
Component Price: Listed below – it is the measure of how valuable a certain component is. Component parts are more valuable than the whole parts containing them, as it takes skill and a strong stomach to correctly dissect a dragon’s carcass. If players want to try their hand at this, instead of merely hauling the chopped-off whole parts to an expert, the character should make a Wilderness Lore check at a DC of 10+the dragon’s Challenge Rating. If the check fails, reduce the market price of the dragon by 10% times the margin of failure. Some dragon parts (those marked with a 1 in the table above) lose 10% of their value each week unless cured. Curing a part requires a Craft (alchemy), Craft (leatherworking) or Profession (tanner) check at a DC of 10+the dragon’s Challenge Rating.
Only specific components can be preserved in this way, so a character must dissect a whole part before its components can be preserved. Other items, those marked with a 2, lose their value at a rate of 10% er
hour as their potency leaks away. These items can be preserved using Craft (alchemy), but the DC to
preserve the item is 20+the dragon’s Challenge Rating. If the check is successful, the items lose their value at a rate of 10% per week instead of per hour.
Dragon Crafted Items
Any item created using dragon material is considered a masterwork item, but no extra cost is added on while crafting – i.e., if a character is crafting a dagger from a dragon’s claw, calculate the cost of the item as if it were a normal dagger, but the final item is of masterwork quality. An item can be both dragoncraft and masterwork; the item’s benefit is doubled.
Dragon Parts and Magic Items
One of the most common uses of dragon parts is in making magical items; the dragon’s fading life force and used in place of the caster’s. For every 5gp of the market cost of a dragon part, it can provide 1XP for the purposes of magical item creation. Different parts are usable for different items – some sample uses are described below, others are in Encylocpaedia Arcane: Dragon Magic.
|Part||Relative Size||Component Price|
|Hind Legs||-2||650 gp|
|Fore Legs||-3||650 gp|
|Tail||Same size||300 gp|
|Wings||Same size||100 gp|
|Blood||20 hp=1 pint||20 x Age Category|
|Bones||Same size||1,000 gp|
|Fire glands2||-4||500 gp|
|Aether gland2||-4||750 gp|
|Hide1||Same size||800 gp|
|Wing Membrane1||-1||120 gp|
|Egg, broken||Wyrmling size –2||50 gp|
|Egg, unbroken||Wyrmling size||10,000 gp|
|Overlapping scale (single)1||-8||5 gp|
|Plate scale (single)||-3||50 gp|
The following list of items and properties is hardly exhaustive – almost every part of a dragon could be used for something. These are merely the most common and generally useful items or uses that can be crafted from the body of a dragon.
Aether gland: This small bluish organ is located at the base of the dragon’s throat cavity, but is also linked by a thick vein to the dragon’s heart. It produces the magical substance of aether, which can carry a solution of elemental essences in the same way water can carry a solution of chemicals. A preserved aether gland contains a considerable quantity of concentrated aether, which can be extracted and used in alchemy and magical experiments. Aether can be used to pay for any item with elemental powers.
Aether can also carry magical spells. If a spell is cast into a stream of aether, it will travel along the stream as far as it can go before manifesting. Aether an therefore be used as a poor man’s project image.
A single aether gland contains enough aether to create a stream half an inch wide and 60 feet long.
Example use: Huge silver loops arch over and around the flying city of Kirralis. These loops are filled with aether, which carries elemental air from the clouds above the city to down below the flying platform. This shields the city from gravity (a product of earth) and permits it to keep sailing through the skies. The folk of Kirralis hunt dragons for their aether, and must maintain fleets of harpoonequipped skyships and alchemical rendering plants to keep their city aloft.
Blood: Steaming and acidic, heavy with the seething elemental energies of the wyrm, dragon’s blood is one of the most potent substances in the dragon’s body. A dragon killed in combat is considered to have lost a percentage of its blood equal to 1d6+1 x 10%. 20 hit points worth of blood fills a pint flask.
Dragon’s blood can be used in any sort of vitality or perception-enhancing potion. Potions made using dragon’s blood are thick and foul-tasting, and seem to sink through the floor of the drinker’s stomach and pool in his bones.
Using Alchemy (DC20+the age category of the dragon), dragon blood can be separated into three substances; the mundane blood that sinks to the bottom, the middle layer of clear, sparkling aether, and the elemental essences of the blood, which rise to the top. In some cases, (such as the elemental fire held in the blood of a red dragon) this causes an explosion (5 foot burst, damage equal to the breath damage of a wyrmling) unless the alchemist has some method for drawing off the essences safely; the acid or frost in the blood of other breeds can be skimmed off the surface with relative ease. The mundane blood has no magical properties, but the elemental essences and aether can be put to use.
Bathing in raw dragon’s blood can imbue the bather with a fraction of the dragon’s might, or merely melt skin from bone. 160 hit points are required to provide enough blood for a Medium character to bathe in (120 hp for a Small character, 240 hp for a Large). Only one character can benefit from a particular pool of blood, as the magic is absorbed by the first creature to bathe there.
Dragon’s blood is dangerous, even if the dragon did not have the Acidic Blood feat. If the character bathes in the blood when it is hot and fresh, it inflicts damage equal to the dragon’s normal breath weapon attack (the character may make a Fortitude save to halve the damage, at a DC equal to the usual DC for saves against the dragon’s breath). After 1d10 minutes, the blood cools (or warms, in the case of white dragon blood), inflicting only as much damage as a breath weapon attack of a wyrmlingage dragon (of the type whose blood lies smoking in a trough in the ground).
The effects of bathing depend on the age of the dragon – roll 1d20 and add the dragon’s age category. If the character waited for the blood to cool, divide the result in two. Then, consult the following table.
Example use: The green dragon Amuerte offended the King Crowned With Briars, a powerful fae lord. The king impaled the dragon on a gargantuan magical thorn bush. The iron-hard thorns push between Amuerte’s scales, spilling her blood in a million viridian rivulets that run down the bush’s leaves and pool around its roots. Passing ants and beetles have bathed in the dragon’s blood, becoming much stronger and tougher. Through possession and suggestion, Ameurte has manipulated a vast swarm of dragon-hardened beetles to make war upon the King Crowned With Briars.
Bathing in Dragon’s Blood
|6-10||Double the damage inflicted by the blood.|
|11-12||Character gains a permanent +1 natural armour bonus.|
|13-14||Character gains 5 points of resistance against the type of energy used by the dragon.|
|15-16||+1 inherent bonus to Charisma.|
|17-18||Character gains a permanent +1 natural armour bonus and a +1 resistance bonus to saves against dragon breath or dragon spells.|
|19-20||Character gains 10 points of resistance against the type of energy used by the dragon and a +1 resistance bonus to saves against dragon breath or dragon spells.|
|21-22||+2 inherent bonus to Charisma.|
|23-24||Character gains DR5/magic and a +1 resistance bonus to saves against dragon breath or dragon spells.|
|25-26||Character gains a permanent +2 natural armour bonus and a +2 resistance bonus to saves against dragon breath or dragon spells.|
|27-28||Character gains 20 points of resistance against the type of energy used by the dragon and a +2 resistance bonus to saves against dragon breath or dragon spells.|
|29-30||+2 inherent bonus to Constitution and Charisma.|
|31||Character gains DR10/magic and a +2 resistance bonus to saves against dragon breath or dragon spells.|
|32-33||The character is possessed by the spirit of the dragon, as per a ghost’s malevolence ability.|
|34+||This table ends abruptly|
Money and Maiming
If a party do bother to drag a dragon’s body back to town and sell it for parts, they can make a huge amount of money. Remember to keep the gold piece limit of a community (see Core Rulebook II) in mind – unless the party go to a very rich town and work very hard to find buyers, they will only be able to realise a fraction of the ‘true’ value of their kill. For example, while an adult red dragon carcass may be theoretically worth in excess of 50,000 gold pieces, unless the characters can find a handy metropolis in need of a lot of dragon parts, they may only be able to sell it for a paltry few thousand.
Even a single dragon corpse can keep the alchemists and wizards stocked for years, so the Games Master can reduce prices to reflect the lack of demand if the party are getting too rich off dragon parts. Also, damage in battle can ruin sections of the dragon – if the wyrm is brought down with a disintegrate to the chest, the heart, lungs and other organs of the torso may be ruined.
Bones: Dragonbone is almost as light as hardwood, but stronger than steel. Unlike normal bone, dragonbone can be worked by a smith – it can be heated, then hammered into shape. It takes a master craftsman to use dragonbone in such a fashion, as something of the wyrm lingers in its bones. The bones of blue dragons spark and crackle when struck by a hammer, and the heat from burning red bones can melt an anvil.
The finest bones in a dragon are used for making weapons. Even a crudely carved dragonbone dagger cuts like one honed by a master craftsman; a masterwork dragonbone blade seems to hunger for the blood of enemies, ripping through armour and flesh with equal rapacity. Up to 5 lb multiplied by the dragon’s Age Category weight of weapons can be produced from a single dragon’s bones. A young adult dragon, then, could provide the bones for a dragonbone greatsword (15 lb) and heavy lance (10 lb).
Armour – specifically, a breastplate, splint mail, half-plate or full-plate - can also be made from the bones of dragons, as can a shield. Other, lesser bones are still valuable. Many magical staves and wands are made from a dragon’s thigh or finger-bones, although making such items out of bone has little benefit unless the dragon’s magical resonances are awoken. The light weight and high strength of dragon bone makes it ideal for vessels such as ships or skyships, siege engines, palanquins or complex inventions.
Example use: Eight human kings have sat on a throne of dragonbone. Six have died childless, their vitality seeped into the dry bones that are strangely warm to the touch. One died insane, torn from his high seat by courtiers sick of bloody purges and cruel jests. The last is a great general, feared by his enemies and loved by his people. He sits back, his face hidden in the shadow of the huge skull that hangs above the bony throne, and he listens to the creaking words of the long-dead dragon.
Brain: A dragon’s brain is a crenulated lump of grey matter, streaked (like so much of the wyrm) with the colours and tinctures of its hide. Dragons are older and wiser than other creatures, and their thoughts walk strange reptile labyrinths. The brain can be used to brew potions that allow access to the dreams of dragons (see page 202, Dragon Magic). The brain of a dragon is unusually tough and retains enough vitality to be animated on its own using necromancy, allowing an unscrupulous mage to keep a dead dragon around as an advisor.
Example use: The lake at the Dreamspire is fed by hot underground springs. The tower in the centre of the lake is eternally shrouded in steam. The acolytes in the surrounding villages breed dragons, who are slaughtered and their skulls dumped in the lake. The hot waters boil the dragons’ brains, infusing the mists with visions. The monks of the Dreamspire breath in these mists and then prophesy.
Claws: Dragonclaw daggers are wickedly curved and difficult to wield (-1 to hit), but are lethally sharp (+1 to damage). The claws of Colossal wyrms are large enough to be turned into scimitars with the same bonus to damage, but with no penalty to attacks.
Claws are often strung on a necklace and used as a talisman, to provide a reminder that despite their power, dragons can be slain. A character wearing a dragon claw talisman may retake a failed save against a dragon’s Frightful Presence in the following round.
Example use: Dragonclaw daggers are popular among some sects of assassins. They enchant the daggers to draw forth the engrained memory of the dragon before killing their target. Divination spells are mislead into reporting that the dragon was responsible for the murder.
Egg, broken: Dragon eggs are remarkably unlovely and dull when first examined, but when polished and varnished, the subtle mineral veins and alien colours can be clearly seen. Ground dragon eggs can also be used in healing potions, as the egg is obviously full of life and vitality.
A dragon retains a mystical connection to its egg, even when the egg is broken into centuries-old shards. A dragon suffers a –2 insight penalty to all saving throws against spells cast by someone holding a piece of its birth-egg.
Example use: The location of the emperor’s treasure hoard is recorded in only one place – on a dragon’s egg. The whole egg is decorated with a painted map of the whole empire. Each piece contains a fragment of the map, and the location cannot be found without assembling most of the egg.
Egg, unbroken: If an unbroken egg can be hatched (see page 224), the wyrmling can be trained and tamed. Spellcasters can also drain off the potential of the unborn dragon, killing the infant and using its energies to create magical items or invoke powerful spells.
Example use: The Defender’s Egg is a curious item to be found in the Fane of Time. It was created by a deranged cleric using a miracle spell. The miracle he invoked is that if the egg is ever broken, the dragon within will appear and defend the Fane. However, to fuel this miracle, he drained the life from the egg. The spirit of the dragon was sacrificed to summon itself at some future date.
No-one has yet broken the egg. Some theologians fear it will cause an unresolvable paradox.
Eye: If a dragon is killed while sleeping or resting, its eye will be dull and dark. If it is slain at the height of its fury, the eye will be filled with molten fire and the full grandeur of the dragon’s spirit will be reflected in its depths. While an eye is valuable for use in scrying and divination spells no matter what its appearance, the eyes of dragon slain in combat are much more beautiful and sought after than those of a sleeping wyrm. Dragons’ eyes are symbols of wisdom and majesty. They also retain a little of the spirit of the dragon, catching attention and arresting the gaze.
Example use: In the Temple of the Forge in the dwarf-lands, one of the chief relics is the Eye of the Colossus, which the smith-priests insist is the last remnant of the mighty colossal construct that once guarded the gates of the mountain. In truth, the eye comes from the fire dragon who destroyed, and was destroyed by, the Colossus. At the height of the ceremonies in the temple, the eye is brought close to the eternal flames of the force, and the heat from the fires makes the eye gleam brightly. ‘It is a good omen’, say the dwarves, but more and more the eye’s gaze seems drawn more to the gold and jewels that decorate the high altar.
Fire glands: ‘Fire’ is often a misnomer – these glands concentrate and hold different elemental essences depending on the breed of dragon. Their use depends largely on the amount of essence stored within; if the dragon was about to loose its breath weapon, the swollen glands pulse with magic. If the dragon breathed just before being slain, the glands are flaccid and empty. (Reduce the market price of the glands by 15% per round of delay before the dragon would have been able to breath again; for example, if the dragon was going to breath in two rounds time, reduce the cost of the glands by 30%).
Fire glands are useful in alchemy, as their elemental essences can be extracted and used as fuel. A gland has as many points of essence as the maximum possible damage inflicted by the dragon’s breath weapon, reduced by 15% per round of delay as above. These essences can be bled off slowly. Alternatively, if the glands are crushed, they explode and inflict damage equal to the dragon’s breath weapon on everything with a 30 foot burst (normal Reflex save against the dragon’s breath weapon DC for half damage).
A dying dragon’s fire glands may be ruptured, causing the beast to explode. The percentage chance for this is equal to the dragon’s hit point total when it is negative (for example, a dragon reduced to –23 hit points has a 23% chance of exploding). The Games Master should only roll to check for gland rupture once, in the round when the dragon is killed.
Example use: A white dragon’s corpse is at the heart of the Icefall Glacier. In its death throes, its frost glands spewed elemental cold into a spring, freezing it. Over the intervening centuries, that first frost has never melted, thus forming the glacier. Unless the icy remnants of the glands are removed from the caverns deep within the glacier, Icefall will continue its slow, grinding march towards the fertile fields of the lowlands.
Heart: The seat of the dragon’s strength, the heart is among the most valuable portions of the carcass. The heart can be used in any magical device that augments strength or will, or provide life and motive power for a golem. The heart can also be pulped and used as 30 hit points multiplied by the dragon’s Age Category worth of blood (see dragon’s blood, above).
Eating the roasted heart of a dragon grants supernatural powers, just like bathing in its blood. Doing so invites madness and death for all but the strongest characters. If a character eats the heart, he must make a Will save (DC20 + the dragon’s Age Category) and a Fortitude save (same DC). If either save is failed, consult the following tables.
|Will Save Failed By…||Effect|
|0-5||Character hallucinates wildly for 1d6 weeks.|
|6-10||As above, plus the character comes to believe he is the dragon.|
|11-15||As above, plus character is feebleminded and becomes aggressive.|
|16+||Character’s mind is destroyed.|
Heal, limited wish, miracle or wish will cure one of these afflictions (so a character who fails the Will save by 11 requires three curative spells to be restored to full sanity.
|Fortitude Save Failed By…||Effect|
|0-5||Character enters bloodlust for 1d10 minutes, attacking random targets within sight until they are destroyed.|
|6-10||As above, plus the character rages (as a barbarian of equal level) for 3d6 hours.|
|11-15||As above, plus the character suffers 3d6 points of temporary Constitution damage when the rage ends.|
If neither save is failed, the character manages to absorb some of the dragon’s strength through the heart. Roll 1d20 and add the dragon’s age category.
Benefits of a Hearty Meal
|6-10||Character gains a +1 inherent bonus to Strength.|
|11-12||Character gains a +1 inherent bonus to Constitution.|
|13-14||Character gains a permanent speak with animals ability.|
|15-16||Character gains a permanent speak with dead ability.|
|17-18||Character gains a permanent truesight ability.|
|19-20||Character gains access to the fragmented memories of the dragon.|
|21-22||Character gains a dragon breath ability, equal to that of a wyrmling-age dragon, usable three times per day.|
|23-24||Character gains a +2 inherent bonus to Strength.|
|25-26||Character gains a +2 inherent bonus to Constitution.|
|27-28||Character gains spell resistance equal to half that of the dragon.|
|29-30||Character gains a dragon breath ability, equal to that of a dragon whose age category is equal to 1/3rd the character’s level, usable three times per day.|
|31||Reroll twice and take both abilities.|
|32||Reroll three times and take all three abilities.|
Example use: Mountains shattered and the skies bled fire and ash when the gold dragon Naixos fought with the red wyrm Dhauust. A cruel blow from the red dragon tore Naixos’ wing asunder, and he fell. Dhauust descended on her fallen foe and devoured him whole, including Naixos’ heart. The spirit of the slain gold dragon, bright and generous and true, overwhelmed her. Memories of heroism, of guidance, of aiding the long fight against evil suddenly filled Dhauust’s mind. Buffeted and confused by the mind-shadows of Naixos, Dhauust decided to mend her ways and ally with the forces of good, but she cannot change her hide as easily as she can change her mind.
Hide: Dragonhide can be used to make masterworklevel armour. Masterwork hide armour can be made for a creature one size category than the dragon; masterwork banded mail for a creature two sizes smaller; half-plate for a creature three sizes smaller, and a masterwork breast plate or full plate for a
creature four sizes smaller. Hide can also be used to produce dragonleather. One suit of Medium leather armour can be made from the hide of a Large dragon; every extra size category of the dragon adds another suit of leather.
The hide is also halves the damage from the appropriate energy type for the purposes of protecting an item from energy damage. A hull lined with white dragon hide takes only one-eighth damage from the cold (cold damage to objects is one-quarter normal, and the dragon hide halves the damage again).
Example use: The Glass Desert is famous for the crackling lightning bolts that burst from the clear blue sky, searing the sand and melting it into exotic shapes of obsidian and glass. The desert nomads use blue dragonhide canopies to protect them when gathering obsidian (known as dragon-glass), which they fashion into tools and weapons.
Horns: The traditional use for dragon horns is making musical instruments – when hollowed out and carved into shape, the horns produce a deep, resonant, full-throated note that echoes from the sky. The long horns of the white dragon are especially valued, although the curving minor horns of green dragons have a surprisingly musical tone.
Example use: The gnomish city of Faledoragan is famed for its vast wealth. Ambitious and avaricious dragons are a constant nuisance, so the gnomish guards are well experienced in fighting off aerial assaults. The central watchtower has a rack of nine horns, made from the head-horns of slain dragons. Each horn has a distinctly different note, which tells the guards below what type of dragon to expect. If the red dragon horn is blown, the guards drink potions of fire resistance and ensure the water barrels are ready. If the blue horn sounds, they remember the lesson learned in the Very Big Mess of fifty years ago, and hastily remove the copper crests of their helmets.
Muscles/Sinews: Dragonbone bones are strung with the strong sinews of the wyrm; dragon sinews are also used to bind armour together. Sinews can also be used to fuel any sort of binding or containment magic.
The flesh of dragons is considered a rare delicacy in some cultures, but it can be poisonous unless prepared properly. A craft (cookery) check (DC20 + the dragon’s Age Category) is required to remove the poisons and elemental essences that permeate the meat. If this check is failed, the diners must all make Fortitude checks (DC equal to the dragon’s breath weapon) or take damage equal to a breath attack from a wyrmling dragon. Properly prepared dragonmeat has the same effect as a heroes’ feast.
Example use: The lizardfolk shamans of the swamp can catch foul gases using charm-webs made of black dragon sinew. Sections of the swamp that would otherwise be tainted wastelands are made safe using this charms.
Overlapping scale (single): A single dragonscale can be used as an amulet or as decoration. Preserved, the scale will retain its lustre for centuries.
Example use: The alchemist Fluctibus recorded his insights in a dragon-scale code. Scales from a metallic dragon denoted which metal to use, while the colours of the chromatic scales each corresponded to a particular alchemical procedure, such as melting the metal or infusing it with magical energy. The secrets of the master alchemist are hidden in plain sight, in the glimmering colours of his dragon-scale robe.
Plate scale (single): The huge plate scales can be used to make armour or shields. When making dragonhide armour, the scales are trimmed and cut into shape, but entire scales can instead be strapped together to make half plate armour or a breastplate. Plate scale armour is masterwork armour, but the armour penalties are doubled because it is ill-fitting. However, the armour has a non-magical form of energy resistance, absorbing the first 5 points of energy damage that matches the scale type (cold for white dragon scales, fire for gold dragon scales etc) in any round.
Example use: The Tower Between often entertains guests from the elemental planes. A path lined with red dragon scales leads from the gate of fire to the banquet hall. Inside, fiery guests are served fine woods on platters of blackened bone and cups of fragrant, flammable oils in cups of horn. Truly, at the Tower Between the welcome is a warm one.
Ridges: The protective eye, neck and wing ridges that guard a dragon’s vulnerable areas can be affixed to armour to create masterwork spikes. Eye ridges from a small or Medium dragon can be attached to a helmet, giving a +1 circumstance bonus to saving throws against Gaze attacks. Ground ridges can also fuel any sort of shielding or abjuration spell or effect.
Example use: The neck spines of black dragons are used as crowns by kobold chieftains, who believe that the spines will awaken the latent dragon blood in them.
Skull: The skull of a dragon can be mounted on a banner. This sight gives troops a +2 morale bonus to saves against fear. Dragon skulls can also be mounted on a golem and reinforced with dragonsinew, giving the golem a bite attack equal to that of the dragon.
Example use: The skull of the great wyrm Waste is used as the drawbridge of Dunwater Keep. Visitors must walk into the dragon’s mouth to enter the castle.
Stomach: A preserved dragon’s stomach is a great boon to an alchemist, and provides a +5 circumstance bonus to Alchemy checks. The stomach is a natural reaction chamber, and the four subsidiary elemental stomachs can also be used in experiments. The stomach can be used to fuel any item using transmutation magic.
Example use: After centuries of being preyed upon by dragons, the wild halflings of the plains developed a theology that sees the dragon’s digestion system as the gateway to the afterlife. A shaman’s tomb contains an ancient relic of the halfling folk, but it can only be navigated using the intestines of a dragon as a map.
Teeth: In addition to being used to make weapons, or ground up to make potions or to power offensive magic items, dragon teeth can be sown on the ground. The teeth of a dragon spring up as animated human skeletons (as per the animate dead spell) if the sower spends 5 XP per tooth. Each tooth can only be used once. A dragon has a number of teeth equal to 36 plus five times its age category, although 1d6+1x10% of the teeth will be shattered and destroyed in a battle.
Example use: The Smiling Cat is a master thief whose mouth was smashed by a brutal guard many years ago. Now, the Cat has a fine smile made of transplanted dragon’s teeth. Some say that his love for gold comes from his sharp new dentures, but he has twice chosen to filch replacement teeth instead of coins from a sleeping dragon.
Tongue: Dragons’ tongues are surprisingly supple and soft beneath their protective outer layer. Their magic can be used in any item that enhances speech or charisma. The tongue is also edible, and extremely tasty.
Example use: Due to the extreme sensitivity of dragons’ tongues, the caliph of one tribe insists that all his food be placed on a necromatically animated tongue before he tastes it. If the tongue recoils in horror from the food, it has detected either a poisoned dish, or one unfit for the royal palate.
Wing Membrane: The leather material of dragon wings is often made into a cloak or canopy. It is very stretchy and elastic – if the technology level of the campaign includes non-magical flight, wing membrane allows the creation of masterwork zeppelins or hot air balloons.
Wing membrane also aids in the creation of flying items.
Example use: The raiding vessel Invidious lost its sails in a storm. A black dragon saw the becalmed ship and attacked, but was brought down by a lucky shot. The dragon’s body was recovered, and new sails made from its wings. However, when the wing caught the sails, the whole boat was lifted up into the skies. Since then, Invidious has sailed the skies, raiding villages and towns that never before fell victim to piracy by virtue of being a hundred miles inland.
The stench of death hangs around items created from the bodies of dragons. The scent is much too faint to be perceived by mortals, but the keen senses of dragons can taste it on the wind. Dragons react negatively to those who carry such items, just as a human would blanche at the sight of an enemy wielding a human thigh-bone as a weapon (admittedly, dragons practise cannibalism and often make use
of dragoncrafted items themselves, so this reaction stems more from the suspicion and fear that those who carry items made from the flesh of dragons might be seeking fresh parts). Users of dragon-crafted items suffer a –5 inherent penalty to all Charisma checks when dealing with dragons, and the dragon’s initial attitude is shifted one step worse on the Non-Player Character Initial Attitude table.
If the dragon notices (Spot check, DC17) that the items were taken from the corpse of an alreadydead dragon, or from a dragon of an opposing alignment, or that the items are several hundred years old, it may assume that the bearers are not automatically dangerous, removing the penalty to Charisma checks and moving the initial attitude back towards normal. Dragons are always unsettled by mortals bearing dragon-crafted items, though, so those trying to make a good impression on a dragon should leave such items at home.
The Twist of the Tail
Dragon-crafted items are potent not merely because they are made from the ancient and indomitable stuff of dragons, but because they remember, however faintly, the nature of the wyrm. A dragonbone sword recalls, deep within its blade, what it felt like to cleave flesh with claws and teeth of surpassing sharpness, and it adjusts its cut in sympathy with these cellular memories. This memory can be a hindrance when a dragon-crafted item is used against a living dragon.
If the dragon-crafted item was made from the body of a dragon of the same alignment as the living dragon, it twists in the wielder’s hand, inflicting a –1 circumstance penalty to attack rolls or skill checks.
On the other hand, dragon-crafted items made from a dragon of opposing alignment seem to hunger for contact with the enemy, and give a +1 circumstance bonus to rolls targeting the enemy dragon.
More than a few dragons have had their revenge on rivals from beyond the grave.
Hit Locations and Critical Hits
D20 rules trade detail for the speed of abstraction in combat. Instead of determining exactly how and where the hero’s sword chops through an unfortunate goblin, the system just applies damage to the goblin’s meagre hit points and lets the Games Master or player determine what form the blow took. No-one wants to waste time working out if the sword chopped off the goblin’s head or merely hacked two-thirds of the way through its spine. The game just moves onto the next goblin, leaving the first one to die in an unmourned and indeterminate fashion.
This level of speed and abstraction is perfect for most fights, but dragons demand a more vivid, detailed system. A fight with a dragon should be as memorable and well-described as possible; it is usually the climactic battle or at least a major encounter. The following collection of optional rules offer more detail for combats involving dragons. Using these rules will slow the game down somewhat (the inevitable price of detail), but the added detail may be worth it for some groups.
This system requires the Games Master to keep track of the dragon’s current facing. Facing has no effect on the dragon’s attacks, as it can twist around to snap at creatures behind it, claw with its hind legs, or turn with terrifying swiftness while on the ground. The dragon’s facing determines which hit location chart is used when it is attacked.
Characters in front of the dragon use the ‘front’ chart (using a 90 degree arc in front of the dragon). Characters on either side of the dragon use the ‘flank’ chart, while characters behind the dragon use the ‘rear’ chart. Characters above the dragon (flying or falling) use the ‘top’ chart. A character crushed or pinned by the dragon, or who has run beneath the dragon’s belly (provoking attacks of opportunity) uses the ‘beneath’ chart. Roll 1d20 and consult the Hit Location table to see where the blow falls on the dragon’s body.
For the front and rear tables, characters with reach are able to reach higher on the dragon’s body. Smaller characters are able only to stab at the upper parts of the dragon when the dragon snaps down at them. Apply the modifiers from the following table to the hit location roll:
|Reach||Hit Location Modifier|
Locations and Weaponry
Some weapons are much more effective than others when it comes to wounding parts of the dragon. A piercing weapon only makes tiny holes in the wide expanse of the dragon’s wings, and bounces off the overlapping scales of the dragon’s flanks – but punches deeply into the soft underbelly of the beast. A slashing weapon gets stuck on the fatty tissue and unexpected coins of the underbelly, but can tear huge gashes in the wings and flanks. A bludgeoning weapon cannot make much of an impact on small scales, but can shatter claws and bony plates.
Different locations give bonuses and penalties (+2 or –2) to different weapons (b stands for bludgeoning, p for piercing and s for slashing). The notation ‘+b, -p’ means that bludgeoning weapons get a +2 bonus to the attack roll while piercing weapons get a –2 penalty. These modifiers can result in an attack missing where it would normally have struck, or vice versa.
If attacking from the left flank, any results that hit a leg strike the left leg. Right side attacks hit the right legs. For other attacks, roll a 1d6 (1-3=left leg, 4-6 equals right leg).
|0 or less||Foreleg (limb) –s||Foreleg (limb) –s||Tail –b, +s|
|1||Foreleg (claw) +b, -p||Head (face)||Tail –b, +s|
|2||Foreleg (limb) –s||Foreleg (limb) –s||Hindleg (limb) –s|
|3||Foreleg (limb) –s||Foreleg (claw) +b||Hindleg (limb) –s|
|4||Body (flank) +s, -p||Foreleg (limb) –s||Hindleg (limb) –s|
|5||Body (belly) +p, -s||Foreleg (limb) –s||Hindleg (claw) +b|
|6||Body (belly) +p, -s||Foreleg (limb) –s||Hindleg (limb) –s|
|7||Body (belly) +p, -s||Body (front shoulder) –s||Body (abdomen) +b,+p|
|8||Body (flank) +s, -p||Wing +s, -p, -b||Body (abdomen) +b, +p|
|9||Body (flank) +s, -p||Wing +s, -p, -b||Body (abdomen)|
|10||Body (shoulder) –s||Body (flank) +s, -p||Body (abdomen)|
|11||Body (shoulder) –s||Body (flank) +s, -p||Wing +s, -p, -b|
|12||Wing +s, -p, -b||Body (flank) +s, -p||Wing +s, -p, -b|
|13||Wing +s, -p, -b||Body (flank) +s, -p||Tail –b, +s|
|14||Neck +s||Body (abdomen) +b,+p||Tail –b, +s|
|15||Neck +s||Body (abdomen) +b, +p||Tail –b, +s|
|16||Neck +s||Hindleg (limb) –s||Tail –b, +s|
|17||Head (neckguard) –s||Hindleg (limb) –s||Tail –b, +s|
|18||Head (horns) –s, +b||Hindleg (limb) –s||Tail –b, +s|
|19||Head (maw) –s, +p||Hindleg (claw) +b||Body (abdomen)|
|20||Head (face)||Hindleg (limb) –s||Wing +s, -p, -b|
|21||Head (face)||Tail –b, +s||Wing +s, -p, -b|
|22||Head (horns) –s, +b||Tail –b, +s||Tail –b, +s|
|23||Neck +s||Roll again||Tail –b, +s|
|24||Neck +s||Roll again||Wing +s, -p, -b|
|25+||Wing +s, -p, -b||Roll again||Wing +s, -p, -b|
Hit Locations, Continued
|1||Head (face)||Head (face)|
|2||Head (horns) –s, +b||Head (maw) –s, +p|
|3||Head (neck guard) -s||Head (maw) –s, +p|
|4||Neck +s||Neck +s|
|5||Neck +s||Neck +s|
|6||Foreleg (limb) –s||Foreleg (limb) –s|
|7||Body (shoulder) –s||Foreleg (claw) +b, -p|
|8||Body (flank) +s, -p||Body (belly) +p, -s|
|9||Body (flank) +s, -p||Body (belly) +p, -s|
|10||Wing +s, -p, -b||Body (belly) +p, -s|
|11||Wing +s, -p, -b||Body (belly) +p, -s|
|12||Wing +s, -p, -b||Body (belly) +p, -s|
|13||Wing +s, -p, -b||Body (belly) +p, -s|
|14||Body (flank) +s, -p||Body (belly) +p, -s|
|15||Body (flank) +s, -p||Body (abdomen) +b, +p|
|16||Body (abdomen) +b, +p||Body (abdomen) +b, +p|
|17||Hindleg (limb) –s||Hindleg (limb) –s|
|18||Tail –b, +s||Hindleg (claw) +b, -p|
|19||Tail –b, +s||Tail –b, +s|
|20||Tail –b, +s||Tail –b, +s|
A character may accept a penalty to his attack roll to aim at a particular part of the dragon’s body. For every –1 penalty applied to the attack, the player may shift the Hit Location result up or down by up to 2. For example, if the character accepts a –2 to his attack roll, he may turn a Hit Location roll of 10 into anything from a 6 to a 14.
Locations and Hit Points
Optionally, the Games Master can keep track of the individual hit points for the various portions of the dragon’s body. Each section holds a fraction of the dragon’s hit points, and once these hit points are gone, the section is destroyed. The dragon’s total hit points are still tracked, and damage is subtracted from both the hit points of the damaged section and the total hit points. (For example, if the dragon takes 10 points of damage to its head, 10 points should be subtracted from the hit point total of the head and the dragon as a whole. The dragon can be killed by an accumulation of wounds on different parts of its body.)
Area effect spells apply their damage to the dragon’s total hit points, not to the hit points of the body section struck. (This rule is to prevent wizards lopping the head off a dragon with an eerily wellplaced lightning bolt. Optionally, the location hit can be rolled randomly, but this can lead to very quick deaths.)
Using this optional rule will make dragons more fragile. The Games Master should consider lowering their Challenge Rating by 1, or else giving them bonus hit points equal to their Challenge Rating multiplied by 15.
When a section looses all its hit points, it is destroyed. The percentage of hit points in each section are as follows:
Location Hit Points
|Section %||Hit Points|
The hit point totals for the various body parts do indeed add up to much more than 100%. The overall hit points for the dragon measure the amount of damage needed to kill the dragon, which is not the same as completely destroying its body from nose to tail. However, the hit points for individual sections measure the amount of damage needed to destroy that section beyond recognition.
Effects of Destruction
Head: Death, surprisingly.
Foreleg: The dragon cannot make claw attacks with that leg. The dragon loses 2d10 hit points per round due to blood loss. Dragon’s movement is reduced by 50% if both forelegs are destroyed.
Wing: The dragon cannot fly if either wing is destroyed. If one wing is destroyed, the dragon can make wing buffets with the other wing.
Hindleg: As foreleg, but a dragon’s ground movement is reduced by 50% and it cannot run if a hindleg is destroyed.
Tail: The dragon cannot make tail slaps or sweeps, and its manoeuvrability drops to Clumsy. It loses 2d10 hit points per round.
Critical hits usually just increase the damage from an attack, but they can also be exceptionally effective blows that reduce the dragon’s abilities. If the Hit Location system is not being used, then the Games Master should pick the coolest and most fitting critical hit. These special effects are in addition to the normal damage inflicted by the critical hit.
Foreleg Critical Hits
Limb/Slashing: The character’s blade slices deeply into the dragon’s elbow, sending a gush of black, smoking blood running down the monster’s arm. Multiply the damage from the attack by 5 – if the total is greater than the dragon’s current hit points (or the hit points of the limb), the limb is severed.
Limb/Bludgeoning: The impact snaps the dragon’s arm back, driving the elbow spike deep into the dragon’s own stomach. The dragon drops anything it was holding in its claw, and inflicts 1d6 damage plus its Strength bonus on itself.
Limb/Piercing: The character leaps atop the dragon’s forearm for a moment and drives his weapon straight through the paw. If the dragon is not flying, the weapon impales the paw, pinning the dragon to the ground. The dragon cannot move unless the character removes the weapon, or the dragon pulls its paw free, which inflicts the weapon’s normal damage plus the dragon’s Strength bonus.
Claw/Slashing: The character inflicts a seemingly shallow cut on the dragon’s paw, but the tendons of the claw are crippled. The dragon may no longer make Snatch attacks with that claw.
Claw/Bludgeoning: Snap! The impact shatters the dragon’s claw. The dragon may still make slam attacks with that paw, but the damage is reduced to that of a wing buffet.
Claw/Piercing: The weapon deflects the dragon’s claw. The dragon automatically misses its claw in the next round of combat.
Head Critical Hits
Face/Slashing: The dragon is scarred for life, as the weapon leaves a livid scar across the dragon’s muzzle. Blood flows like a waterfall from its eye ridges, inflicting a –1 penalty to its attacks next round.
Face/Bludgeoning: The character’s blow shatters the body ridge that guides the dragon’s breath weapon. The dragon’s breath weapon becomes a burst with a radius half that of a cone weapon for that age, centred on the dragon’s head.
Face/Piercing: The dragon’s eye is impaled. The dragon must make a Fortitude save equal to 10+the damage inflicted or die.
Horns/Slashing: The dragon’s horn is shattered in a sudden spray of fragments. The dragon may no longer make gore attacks, if it previously could.
Horns/Bludgeoning: There is a sickening crack as a large part of the dragon’s bony crown falls away from the beast’s head, like a glacier of horn and flesh calving. Reduce the dragon’s Armour Class by 2.
Horns/Piercing: Straight and true, the blow lands dead centre on the dragon’s forehead. The dragon’s Spell Resistance is halved next turn, due to the disruption to the dragon’s concentration and mental processes.
Neckguard/Slashing: The decorative barbels and frills on the side of the dragon’s head are neatly chopped off. The loss of these sensitive organs disrupts the dragon’s blindsight ability for 2d10 rounds.
Neckguard/Bludgeoning: The dragon’s head is smashed off to one side by the force of the blow. The dragon automatically misses any bite attacks made in the next round.
Neckguard/Piercing: The blow creeps in underneath the dragon’s neck frills and comes dangerously close to its jugular vein. The dragon must make a Fortitude save against a DC equal to 10+the damage inflicted or die.
Maw/Slashing: The dragon’s tongue is severed. It can no longer cast spells unless it has the Still Spell feat.
Maw/Bludgeoning: A rather odd expression crosses the dragon’s face when the blow hits, and when it next opens its mouth, it reveals a mass of bloodied gums instead of row upon row of teeth. Half the dragon’s teeth are knocked out, reducing damage from its Bite by half the dragon’s Strength bonus.
Maw/Piercing: Daringly, the character thrusts his weapon deep into the dragon’s mouth, impaling the soft upper palate beneath the brain. The dragon must make a Fortitude save against a DC equal to 10+the damage inflicted or die.
Neck Critical Hits
Neck/Slashing: The blow threatens to decapitate the dragon. Multiply the damage from the attack by 5 – if the total is greater than the dragon’s current hit points (or the hit points of the neck), the neck is severed.
Neck/Bludgeoning: The dragon is winded, and counts as being staggered for the next 1d4 rounds.
Neck/Piercing: At first, it seems as though the attack had no great effect – but when the dragon next breathes, its eyes bulge as the breath weapon detonates against the small obstruction in its windpipe caused by the attack. The dragon’s next breath weapon attack has no effect other than stunning the dragon for one round.
Body Critical Hits
Abdomen/Slashing: The blow encourages the dragon’s intestines to pursue independent courses. The dragon suffers 1 point of damage for every five feet moved unless it applies healing magic to the wound.
Abdomen/Bludgeoning: The dolorous blow. The dragon is stunned for 1d6 rounds.
Abdomen/Piercing: The attack pierces the muscle controlling the dragon’s tail. It slaps wildly, making an involuntary tail sweep attack. The dragon must make a DC20 Balance check or fall prone.
Belly/Slashing: The attack cuts across the dragon’s soft underbelly, cutting a flap of skin open. Reduce the dragon’s armour class by 2.
Belly/Bludgeoning: The dragon is nauseated for one round. If the dragon can make a breath weapon attack, it does.
Belly/Piercing: The piercing weapon – a black arrow, perhaps, or a black sword – drives deep into the dragon’s breast, stabbing at its heart. The dragon must make a Fortitude save against a DC equal to 20+the damage inflicted or die in 1d4 rounds.
Flank/Slashing: The cut leaves a line of fire along the dragon’s side and inflicts 2 points of permanent Strength damage.
Flank/Bludgeoning: 1d4 of the dragon’s ribs are shattered, each inflicting 1 point of temporary Constitution damage.
Flank/Piercing: The attack hits one of the dragon’s internal organs. It suffers 1d8 points of bleeding damage every round until healed.
Shoulder/Slashing: The blow cleaves the dragon’s shoulder almost in two. Multiply the damage from the attack by 5 – if the total is greater than the dragon’s current hit points (or the hit points of the body), the limb is severed.
Shoulder/Bludgeoning: The dragon’s shoulder is broken. Any attacks with the limb now suffer an additional –5 penalty.
Shoulder/Piercing: The injury cuts into the base of the dragon’s neck, restricting its movement. The dragon can no longer make bite and claw attacks on the same target in the same round.
Wing Critical Hits
Wing/Slashing: A huge section of the dragon’s wing membrane is cut loose. The dragon may no longer fly.
Wing/Bludgeoning: The dragon’s wing is shattered. The dragon may no longer fly.
Wing/Piercing: The dragon’s wing is pinned back by an accurate blow to the wingmount. The dragon may not make wing buffets.
Hindleg Critical Hits
Limb/Slashing: The character’s blade slices deeply into the dragon’s knee, sending a gush of black, smoking blood running down the monster’s arm. Multiply the damage from the attack by 5 – if the total is greater than the dragon’s current hit points (or the hit points of the limb), the limb is severed. Limb/Bludgeoning: The dragon is toppled and falls prone.
Limb/Piercing: The character leaps atop the dragon’s hindquarters for a moment and drives his weapon straight through the paw. If the dragon is not flying, the weapon impales the paw, pinning the dragon to the ground. The dragon cannot move unless the character removes the weapon, or the dragon pulls its paw free, which inflicts the weapon’s normal damage plus the dragon’s Strength bonus.
Claw/Slashing: The character inflicts a seemingly shallow cut on the dragon’s paw, but the tendons of the claw are crippled. The dragon may no longer make Snatch attacks with that claw.
Claw/Bludgeoning: Snap! The impact shatters the dragon’s claw. The dragon may still make slam attacks with that paw, but the damage is reduced to that of a wing buffet.
Claw/Piercing: The dragon steps on the weapon. Add the dragon’s Strength bonus to the attack’s damage.
Tail Critical Hits
Tail/Slashing: The blow cuts deeply into the tail. Multiply the damage from the attack by 5 – if the total is greater than the dragon’s current hit points (or the hit points of the tail), the tail is severed.
Tail/Bludgeoning: Regardless of the damage inflicted, the attack catches the dragon’s attention. The dragon focuses on attacking the character who smashed its tail to the exclusion of other goals for the next 1d4 rounds.
Tail/Piercing: The character leaps atop the dragon’s tail for a moment and drives his weapon straight through the tail. If the dragon is not flying, the weapon impales the tail, pinning the dragon to the ground. The dragon cannot move unless the character removes the weapon, or the dragon pulls its tail free, which inflicts the weapon’s normal damage plus the dragon’s Strength bonus.