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As presented in SRD, dragons have a unique system for advancing in size and Hit Dice. A dragon does not merely become bigger and stronger as it grows; it gains all sorts of new supernatural powers, its ability scores increase, its hide becomes tougher and its breath weapon more deadly. Usually, a dragon improves in all aspects equally as it ages. However, a dragon can emphasise one of its talents over the rest, gaining, for example, more powerful sorcery at the expense of brute strength.
This is not the same as the dragon gaining levels in the sorcerer class. One is a natural, instinctive growth of the dragon’s innate abilities; the other requires the dragon to consciously develop its sorcerous powers. The dragon does not meditate or focus its soul, it instinctively draws on the power of the blood. It is a natural part of the dragon’s growth process, and so developing these powers also heightens the dragon’s strength and other physical attributes.
When a dragon increases in age, it can apply any of several types of age advancement.
- Normal age advancement is the form used in SRD. The dragon’s abilities all increase at the same rate.
- Combat age advancement emphasises raw brute strength and attack damage over wit and magic.
- Learned age advancement increases the dragon’s skills and intelligence at the cost of muscle and sheer power.
- Charismatic age advancement improves the dragon’s famous powers of debate and wit.
- Arcane age advancement improves the dragon’s spellcasting abilities.
- Swift age advancement improves the dragon’s speed and agility.
- Mystical age advancement strengthens the dragon’s ties to the spiritual plane, giving it more special abilities.
- Tough age advancement gives the dragon better armour and spell resistance.
- Devastatingage advancement improves the dragon’s breath weapon.
The chief advantage of this system is that it allows a Games Master to tailor a dragon for its role in the game without resorting to adding class levels. Dragons come as something of an ‘all-in-one’ package – they have excellent attacks, defences, saving throws, hit points, magic and special abilities. If the Games
Master needs a dragon who is nothing but a fearsome combat machine, one that scorns magic in favour of biting, clawing, rending and crushing, then he can either put fighter or barbarian class levels on a small dragon (which makes the dragon considerably weaker than its Challenge Rating indicates) or use a larger dragon (which has all sorts of arcane abilities that will never be used in the encounter).
Instead, using the age advancement system, the dragon can be aged using the Combat and Devastating age types, giving it much more strength and combat ability while keeping it at the correct size and Challenge Rating.
The largest natural form of the common dragons is an age category termed Draco Invictus. These ancient wyrms have an array of abilities that go far beyond the powers of their younger kin. The Draco Invictus age category is described in The Slayer’s Guide to Dragons.
Aging and Ability Scores
Each advancement type is basically a modification of standard advancement, increasing the rate of improvement of one aspect of the dragon. However, different breeds of dragon have different rates of improvement for their statistics. Silver dragons are naturally stronger than bronzes, so if both a silver dragon and a bronze dragon take the Combat age advancement, the silver’s strength will increase more.
For ability scores other than Dexterity, there are seven rates of advancement.
Strength uses a different set of Progressions. Finally, most dragons never increase their Dexterity – it stays at 10 throughout their lifetime. This is referred to as the Null progression, and is one step below Very Poor progression.
Ability Score Progressions
True Dragon Normal Progressions
The values in the Ability Score Progressions table are slightly tweaked from the values derived from SRD. For example, a blue dragon gets a +2 to Intelligence when growing from Very Young to Young. According to the Ability Score Progressions table, a blue dragon uses Standard progression and would get this boost instead when moving from Juvenile to Young Adult. This is done to avoid a situation where moving to a higher Progression rate would actually decrease the ability score increase. It will not significantly affect a game, but explains why a dragon advanced using the Progressions here might be slightly different at some age categories to the same dragon in SRD. The common or ‘true’ dragons use the following progressions:
Aging and Toughness
When a dragon ages from one age category into another, it gains 3 Hit Dice and a +3 bonus to its natural armour class (or +4 HD and +3 natural armour when reaching the age of Draco Invictus). When a dragon reaches adulthood, it gains Spell Resistance, which increases at a different rate for different dragon species (see individual dragon entries for details).
Aging and Magic
Dragons are naturally magical creatures (see Dragon Magic) and their spell-casting abilities increase as they age. The values in the table are the increase in the dragon’s Caster Level as a sorcerer. The common dragons have the following magical progressions. Dragons with a Good progression can cast cleric spells and those from 2 to 4 domains as well as arcane spells.
Common Dragon Magic Progressions
|Blue, Green, Red||Standard|
|Brass, Bronze, Copper, Gold, Silver||Good|
Dragons also gain a number of innate spell-like or supernatural abilities as they age. These special abilities are the manifestation of the dragon’s growing spiritual connection to the world and to the underlying magic of creation. Each dragon type has a list of 10 special abilities unique to that species. As the dragon ages, it gains more and more of these special abilities. The dragon also develops a resistance to mundane injury, becoming much tougher and harder to kill.
The special abilities denoted by Roman numerals are described below.
Special Ability Progressions Chart
|Wyrmling||I||I, II||I, II||I, II, III||I, II, III||I, II, III||I, II, III|
|Young Adult||DR 5/magic||DR 5/magic||DR 5/magic||DR 5/magic||DR 5/magic||VI||DR 10/magic|
|Mature Adult||DR 10/magic||DR 10/magic||DR 10/magic||DR 10/magic||DR 10/magic||VII||DR 15/magic|
|Very Old||DR 15/magic||DR 15/magic||DR 15/magic||DR 15/magic||DR 15/magic||VIII||DR 20/magic|
|Wyrm||DR 20/magic||DR 20/magic||DR 20/magic||DR 20/magic||DR 20/magic||IX||DR 25/magic|
|Great Wyrm||VI||VI||VII||VIII||VIII||DR 25/magic||X|
|Draco Invictus||X, DR 25/magic||X, DR 25/magic||X, DR 25/magic||X, DR 25/magic||X, DR 25/magic||X||DR 30/magic|
If a dragon’s age advancements happen to skip an ability (i.e., the dragon follows an advancement path that gives it abilities I, II and IV), it does not automatically get the missed ability later (the dragon can have ‘gaps’ in its ability roster). The common dragons progress in special abilities as follows:
Common Dragon Special Ability Progressions
|Black, Blue, White, Brass||Standard|
Most of the special abilities for each common type are described in SRD (and in the Slayer’s Guide to Dragons for the Draco Invictus abilities). New abilities (i.e., those obtained by taking the Mystical Age Advancement) are noted with a *.
Remember that a dragon uses its age category or its sorcerer caster level, whichever is higher, as the caster level for its spell-like abilities. The save DC, if needed, is 10 + the dragon’s Charisma modifier + the spell level. Unless otherwise noted, the new abilities are identical to the spell of the same name, and usable once per day.
Chromatic Dragon Special Ability Lists
|I||Acid immunity||Electricity immunity||Acid immunity||Fire subtype||Cold subtype|
|II||Water breathing||Create/destroy water||Water breathing||Locate object||Icewalking|
|III||Darkness||Sound imitation||Suggestion||Suggestion||Fog cloud|
|IV||Corrupt water||Ventriloquism||Plant growth||Find the Path||Gust of wind|
|V||Plant growth||Hallucinatory terrain||Dominate person||Discern location||Freezing fog|
|VI||Insect plague||Veil||Command plants||Scry*||Wall of ice|
|VII||Charm reptiles||Mirage arcana||Dream*||Mass suggestion*||Control weather|
|VIII||Unhallow*||Summon djinni*||Charm monster*||Charm monster*||Ice storm*|
|IX||Creeping doom*||Truesight*||Shamber*||Meteor swarm*||Storm of vengeance*|
|X||Storm of wrath, swallow whole, death throes|
Metallic Dragon Special Ability Lists
|I||Fire subtype||Electricity immunity||Acid immunity||Fire subtype||Cold & acid immunity|
|II||Speak with animals||Water breathing||Spider climb||Water breathing||Cloudwalking|
|III||Endure elements||Polymorph self||Stone shape||Polymorph self||Polymorph self|
|IV||Suggestion||Create food and water||Transmute rock to mud/mud to rock||Bless||Feather fall|
|V||Control winds||Fog cloud||Wall of stone||Luck bonus||Fog cloud|
|VI||Control weather||Detect thoughts||Move Earth||Geas/quest, detect gems||Control winds|
|VII||Summon djinni||Control water||Flesh to stone/stone to flesh*||Sunburst||Control weather|
|VIII||Miragearcane*||Control weather||Statue*||Foresight||Reverse gravity|
|IX||Mind blank*||Storm of vengeance*||Reverse gravity*||Refuge*||Shapechange*|
|X||Storm of wrath, swallow whole, death throes|
Dominate monster: As the spell, usable three times per day.
Mass charm: As the spell, usable three times per day.
Meteor storm: As the spell, usable once per day.
Summon djinni: As summon monster VII, but usable only to summon a djinni.
Truesight: As the spell, usable three times per day.
Aging and Breath
Dragons have a relatively simple breath progression. Each dragon type uses a different type of dice to determine damage, and the number of dice rolled for damage starts at 2 dice (for wyrmlings) increases by 2 dice in each age category. (Some dragons have poor breath progression, starting at 1 die and increasing by 1 die in each age category).
Using Age Advancements
Each of the age advancements includes a set of shifts to the dragon’s ability progressions, increasing or decreasing the rate at which the dragon’s abilities increase. If an age advancement includes the shift ‘Strength +3’, this does not mean that the dragon’s Strength ability score is increased by 3; it means to move three columns to the right on the Strength Progressions table, beginning from the dragon’s usual progression rate. For example, Red dragons start with Good progression, while White dragons have Standard advancement. Applying a +3 shift to both dragons means that the Red dragon is using Maximum progression, while the white is using Superior progession. Similarly, applying a –1 shift to both dragons brings the Red to Standard progression and the White dragon down to Poor progression.
Progressions do not go below Very Poor or above Maximum.
Each progression also includes modifiers to the dragon’s hit dice and armour class. A dragon usually gains 3 Hit Dice and +3 natural armour when it increases in age, but some progressions increase or decrease the Hit Dice and armour gained through aging.
The simplest way to use age advancements in a game is to take a dragon one or two age categories below the desired age category, and then use the new age advancements to bring the dragon up to the ‘correct age’. If a party of adventures is hunting an adult white dragon, then the Games Master could start with a juvenile white and add two Arcane age advancements. Most white dragons are poor spellcasters, but this particular beast is unusually adept for its race.
Example: Starting with a juvenile white dragon, we apply the shifts for the Arcane age advancement to the white dragon’s Young Adult and Adult age categories. The shift for Strength is a –2. White dragons have Standard Strength progression – a –2 shift to this gives our arcanist white dragon Very Poor strength advancement. Looking at the table, we see that the dragon gains +4 instead of +6 to its Strength.
It has a –2 shift to Constitution, bringing it from Good to Poor progression. A white dragon normally gains +4 Constitution when aging from Juvenile to Adult, but this dragon does not.
It has a +2 shift to Intelligence, bringing it from Standard to Excellent progression, which gives it an added +4 instead of +2 to Intelligence.
White dragons have Very Poor Magical progression – the +2 shift beings it to Standard progression, which gives it a Caster Level of 5th level instead of 1st level at adulthood. It also gets a bonus Metamagic feat for having taken two Arcane age advancements.
Finally, the Arcane age advancement imposes a –2 shift to Special abilities. White dragons normally have a Standard Special Ability progression – a –2 brings this to Very Poor. Looking at the table, we see that this means that the dragon misses out on ability IV, which for white dragons is Gust of Wind.
So, the overall changes - +4 to Strength, +0 Constitution, +4 Intelligence, 5th level caster, a bonus Metamagic feat, and no Gust of Wind. Everything else is the same as a normal adult White. Our Adult
White Dragon looks like this:
Adult White Dragon
Large Dragon (cold)
Hit Dice: 18d12+36 (153 hp)
Speed: 60 ft., fly 200 ft. (poor), swim 60 ft., burrow 30 ft.
AC: 26 (-1 size, +15 natural), touch 9, flat-footed 26
Base Attack Bonus/Grapple: +18/+27
Attack: Bite +22 melee (2d6+6)
Full Attack: Bite +22 melee (2d6+6), claws +17 melee (1d8+3)
Space/Reach: 5 ft. x 10 ft / 10 ft.
Special Attacks: Breath weapon, spells
Special Qualities: Icewalking, fog cloud, damage resistance 5/+1, spell resistance 18, frightful presence
Saves: Fort +13, Ref +11, Will +11
Abilities: Str 21, Dex 10, Con 15, Int 12, Wis 11, Cha 10
Skills: Bluff +9, Concentration +19, Listen +18, Knowledge (arcane) +10, Search +19, Sense Motive +9, Spellcraft +19, Spot +18
Feats: Alertness, Combat Casting, Cleave, Extend Spell, Hover, Power Attack
Challenge Rating: 9
Alignment: Chaotic evil
Combat Age Advancement
Dragons in especially dangerous regions or those bred for war are stronger and more ferocious than average. Their bodies are massively muscled, not sinuous and swift like other dragons. The great intellect of dragon-kind glimmers in their reptilian eyes, but it is almost overwhelmed by animal fury and sheer hate. These dragons quickly give in to rages and frenzied attacks when in combat, disdaining magic or even ranged attacks in favour of biting and clawing and tearing and devouring the succulent flesh of enemies.
Combat Progression Changes
Hit Dice: +3
Natural Armour Bonus: +3
Special: A dragon with two or more Combat age advancements counts as being one Size higher for the purposes of determining damage from its physical attacks. A Huge dragon usually inflicts 2d8 damage with a bite; a Huge combat dragon inflicts 4d6 damage with a bite.
Combat Dragon Concepts
† A feral dragon that was orphaned after its parents were slain by hunters. Its mother placed a contingency-triggered teleport on the infant, transporting it into the remote jungles, where it has grown up without the influence of draconic civilisation or culture.
† The armies of a great empire capture and train dragons to use as mounts and assault troops. These war-beasts are bred for strength and destructive power, nothing else. They rely on their rider for guidance, and are easily confused when forced to make their own decisions.
† An elemental terror, awoken by an earthquake or magical experiment gone wrong. The creature is relatively unintelligent, but has great strength and especially devastating breath weapon. Unless the monster is stopped soon, it will crush the great city by the bay…
Learned Age Advancement
With their long lives and high intelligence, dragons make excellent sages. The wealth of many dragons is not counted in gold and gems, but in scrolls and secrets. These dragons spend most of their waking hours studying or researching, and often adopt mortal guide for years at a time (few libraries are large enough to allow a dragon to browse comfortably). Physically, they tend to be spindly and a little nervous, with keen, intelligent eyes.
Learned dragons live in notably safe regions, or in disguise. Often, they are protected by their kin
– the runt of clutch of eggs often becomes a learned dragon, relying on its parents for protection.
Learned Progression Changes
Hit Dice: +3
Natural Armour Bonus: +3
Special: Dragons usually get 6 skill points per Hit Die, and always spend one point per Hit Die on Listen, Spot and Search. Learned Dragons get 8 points per Hit Dice gained during a Learned age advancement, and always spend at least one point per Hit Dice on Listen, Spot, Search and two Knowledge or Craft skills. Spellcasting dragons with an Intelligence of 12 or higher have the Spellcraft skill for free at one rank per Hit Die for free, but can also buy more ranks with skill points.
Learned Dragon Concepts:
An ancient and wise sage, the Seer of the Mountains has resided in a deep, mist-cloaked cave for centuries. It is said that that Seer knows almost all that there is to know, and can illuminate the most troublesome conundrums. However, the Seer will only speak to those cunning enough to answer its riddles.
† The songs of the dwarves tell, time and time again, of dragons stealing their wealth and their halls. When the dwarves built the mountain-city of Marzind, they had their revenge. Under the mountain is a maze of passageways and chambers that wind endlessly through the rock, filled with traps and puzzles. The dragons descended on Marzind, as they always do, and the dwarves of Marzind are ash on the wind of centuries. However, the dragons have not yet penetrated the central treasury of Marzind. Generations
of dragons have been hatched in the narrow tunnels, growing thinner and more cunning with each egg-clutch. The wyrms that coil through Marzind are sickly beasts, but they understand traps and locks better than any rogue.
† The dragon Gelund is as greedy and rapacious as any of his kin, but he lusts after books, not gold. He raids libraries for tomes of lore and stalks wizards for their spellbooks. Of late, he has taken to murdering sages, stealing their book collections, and then manipulating the sage’s customers into bringing him yet more books.
Charismatic Age Advancement
The loquacious speech of the wyrm is a danger on a par with its fearsome jaws or destructive magic. Claws and bites can tear the body and spells can scar the mind, but a dragon’s words cut deep into an enemy’s soul. Warriors who were physically capable of slaying their foe have been defeated because the dragon was able to insidiously break down their confidence, playing on their doubts and weaknesses and fears until they could take no more, and were lost.
Charismatic Progression Changes
Hit Dice: +3
Natural Armour Bonus: +3
Special: A dragon gains a +2 insight bonus to all Bluff, Diplomacy, Innuendo and Sense Motive checks for every Charismatic age advancement it has.
Charismatic Dragon Concepts
1. Once, the dragon Ylithis cut a swathe of fire and death across the kingdom. Heroes managed to defeat her, but instead of killing her, she was brought back to the capital city in chains. For fifty years, she has been kept in the king’s gardens – first as a prisoner, then as a curiosity, then as a pet, and now
– secretly – as an advisor. Ylithis’ chains keep her from flying and powerful geases and wards keep her from spellcasting, but her influence has grown year by year, and now the king listens to her above all others.
2. The dragons of the Green Mountains live in uneasy alliance with the goblin tribes. The goblins are terrified of the wyrms, but the dragons know that if the goblins ever united, they would be overwhelmed by sheer numbers. The most successful dragons, then, are those who can win the trust and loyalty of
the goblin tribes and turn them against rival dragons.
3. The copper dragon Verdigriel is a notorious trickster and con artiste, who pits his wit against the most insightful and fearsome marks of all – other dragons. Using a combination of alter self spells and his own innate wit and charm, he pretends to be a chromatic dragon, usually a deceitful green, and worms his way into the confidence of the evil wyrms. Once he has learned all he can of their dark plans, he sows seeds of chaos and sabotage and flees.
Arcane Age Advancement
Magic as it is practised today began with the dragons. The language of spells is based on the High Draconic tongue, and even untutored dragons quickly surpass the wizards of other races. Sorcery is born from the hot blood of dragons; it is their heritage and their birthright. In some dragons, the power of sorcery is especially strong. Their blood does not merely crackle with magic, it burns with it. They hatch with a spell on their lips and trace runes in the sky with the course of their passage.
Arcane Progression Changes
Hit Dice: +3
Natural Armour Bonus: +3
Special: Arcane dragons gain a bonus metamagic feat for every two Arcane age advancements. This feat is in addition to the extra feat that the dragon gains every four Hit Dice.
Arcane Dragon Concepts
† The wizard’s academy of the Speaking Tower chooses its archmage through a series of magical duels. Anyone can enter, regardless of race or the precise nature of their powers. The ambitious young dragon
Amerlac is a natural master of sorcery, and intends to become the archmage of the tower and claim it as his lair.
† The tribes of the scrublands on the border of the desert call her the Rainmother, while the serpent people curse her as the Death That Laughs. The golden dragon Rebomis speaks the very language of the clouds, and she knows many spells to command and alter the weather. In her wake, the desert blooms with green life.
† The red dragon Falkis Rych was grievously wounded by her rival, the bronze dragon Atamond. Her wings were torn from her shoulders and her claws broken at the base. Atamond left Falkis Rych live not out of mercy, but because he wished to see her suffer for her crimes. Trapped in her empty lair for decades, left with nothing but her will and her desire for revenge, Falkis Rych’s power over magic has grown strong. Now she flies on wings of magic, and she dreams of speaking the words of power that will
blast Atamond from the sky.
Swift Age Advancement
Some dragons are especially quick and agile. They tear across the sky like thunderbolts, and the wind of their passing is like a hurricane. These dragons often serve as scouts and messengers for their kin, but their agility also makes them deadly fighters and harriers. Few prey are fast enough to escape a swift dragon, and few archers accurate enough to bring one down.
Swift Progression Changes
Hit Dice: +3
Natural Armour Bonus: +3
Special: The dragon’s manoeuvrability is improved by one step, to a maximum of good manoeuvrability, for every two Swift age advancements it has. (The order of manoeuvrability is clumsy, poor, average, good, perfect). Furthermore, the dragon’s flight speed is increased by 25 feet.
Swift Dragon Concepts
† The Peregrin Wyrm Cavael has no home or lair. He rides the winds of the upper reaches of the sky, eternally travelling. He chases the star of the dawn; each morning, he sights his quarry on the horizon, but can never quite reach her before she slips away. Some say the star is his mate; others claim it is a jewel stolen from his hoard.
† A riding dragon, the swiftest in the stables of the emperor. This dragon is used by the king’s heralds to deliver messages that cannot be trusted even to teleportation. Message spells may go astray and teleports diverted by magic, but the dragon always get through on time.
† The white dragon known only as Gale possesses a unique gift – he can eat winds and air elementals, adding their power to his own. To catch the wind, Gale has learned to fly faster than any other dragon.
Mystical Age Advancement
Dragons have a deep natural connection to magic and to the land. They are incarnations of power and wonder. They are living connections between the mundane, physical realm of blood and stone and earth and life, and the spiritual realm of magic and elemental energies. This connection manifests in the power of sorcery, in the changes the presence of a dragon brings to the land – and in the natural spelllike and supernatural abilities of the dragon race.
Mystical Progression Changes
Hit Dice: +3
Natural Armour Bonus: +3
Special: A Mystical dragon gains access to one Clerical domain of its choice.
Mystical Dragon Concepts
† Attacarnis is known as the dreaming dragon. This brass dragon is sleeping, but the power of his spirit is so great, it warps the land around him to reflect his dreams. When Attacarnis has good dreams, the landscape is pleasant and fertile; when nightmares trouble him, monsters crawl out of the ground to ravage and destroy. The locals send their best bards into Attacarnis’ lair to sing lullabies to him in the hopes of giving him pleasant dreams.
† The black dragon Guthclus was once as evil and chaotic as the rest of his kin. After a long period of ravaging, eating people and melting things with acid, Guthclus sank into the swamp to rest. While he slept, a monastery was built above him. The chanting and mantras of the monks woke the dragon, but instead attacking him, he chose to listen. For a decade now, Guthclus has eavesdropped on the monks as they train, and has learned much. He has heard everything, from the first lessons taught to new initiates to the ultimate secrets of the order, which are whispered only by a master on his deathbed
to his best student. The dragon is now deeply aware of his own nature and that of the universe. He is humble, contemplative, and even lawful. Of course, Guthclus is still evil, and once his mystic power has grown enough, he will claim the monastery as a lair and turn the monks into his minions.
† Lady Anabel D’estan is a minor noble, who has risen quickly in the ranks of the military. Despite being a lady of gentle birth, she has won several jousts, and seems likely be the youngest member of the Kingsguard in history. In truth, D’estan is a very young bronze dragon, only thirteen years old. She has run away from her parents’ lair to indulge her love of combat, and has learned to polymorph her self years before bronzes normally master that trick.
Tough Age Advancement
Some dragons cling to life with all the strength and determination of their kind. Survival is their only goal, and they will pay any cost to continue their existences. Their scales grow thicker and stronger with age, their hides tougher, their wills more focussed on survival above all else. Many of these dragons dwell in locations too foul or dangerous for other, weaker dragons to claim, such as elemental vortices, tainted lands, or entrances to the underrealms.
Tough Progression Shifts
Hit Dice: +3
Natural Armour Bonus: +4
Special: For every Tough age advancement, the dragon gets a +1 bonus to Spell Resistance.
Tough Dragon Concepts
† Endrach is a white dragon who lairs in a region heavily populated with other dragons. He was never the wisest or fiercest of his kind, and his lair and hoard have been usurped three times in as many centuries. Now, Endrach dwells in a cavern of razorsharp rocks and hot-water geysers, an unpleasant place even for a dragon, and he is determined that no-one will ever drive him from his home again.
† The Stoneworm was once a green dragon who dared to lair in the ruins of a cult temple. The cultists worshipped a bizarre elemental spirit that was offended by the dragon’s insolence. Now the dragon’s scales are dark stone, faintly mottled with green marble veins. As more and more of the Stoneworm petrifies, the elemental spirit is able to control more and more of the dragon’s actions. One day, the dragon will succumb to the relentless grinding march of stone and become a statue, and the spirit will have a new host body. The dragon’s vitality and will are very strong, and that day will be long in coming – but stone is patient.
† A gold dragon keeps watch over a portal to the lower planes, sealed long ago by the heroism of a party of adventurers. The seal on the portal is cracked and weathered by age, and unless the binding spells are renewed within moments of failing, it will fail. The dragon cannot allow itself a moment’s distraction, not even to sleep. It stands sentinel, unmoving, an eternal guardian until relieved by death or the sacrifice of another.
Devastating Age Advancement
The bards sing songs of dragonfire, but it is common knowledge that different types of dragon have different breath weapons. The common element to all dragons is not fire, it is destruction. Even in the heart of the most gentle and caring silver dragon, the insatiable desire to rise up and wreak havoc is always there, always calling, always sounding the trumpets of war and chaos. Most dragons resist it, or give into it only rarely. Dragons who take this age advancement are consumed by the desire for destruction, and it comes spilling out over their jaws and consumes the world.
Devastating Progression Changes
Hit Dice: +3
Natural Armour Bonus: +3
Special: For every Devastating age advancement, the dragon gets one bonus Breath feat or adds 2 dice to its breath weapon damage (1 die for dragons with Poor breath, such as White and Brass dragons).
Devastating Dragon Concepts
† Just as the dragon-armies breed Combat dragons for war, and Swift dragons to scout and carry messengers, they breed Devastating dragons as living artillery for use in sieges. A single breath from one of these smoking monsters can blast through a wall or incinerate a regiment.
† The brass dragon Isinth once snacked upon a fire demon. The creature’s essence became lodged in the dragon’s throat, and now Isinth must exhale the building flames every few minutes or explode. Isinth’s snoring is quite literally infernal.
† Chendrish, known as the mad dragon, was cursed by a fae wizard. The dragon believes he is constantly surrounded by the most frightful enemies. Chendrish is wreathed in green gas, as he blasts the empty spaces around him with his breath weapon to drive off these phantasmal foes.
Dragons of Needless Complexity
The age advancement system does require the Games Master to go through several tables to work out what modifiers are applied to a dragon’s ability scores. The Games Master has to take the shifts for each age advancement, then apply those to the normal progression for the dragon, and then look the resulting progression up on one of several other tables. A valid question is, why not just note the modifiers to the ability scores in the age advancement description (like a monster template does) and cut out all the other tables?
Firstly, dragons age and develop at different rates. A +2 shift usually equates to a +2 modifier to the ability score, but not always. The tables are derived from SRD, and are not quite so linear. Secondly, describing age advancements as templates would not easily handle changes to the dragon’s special abilities.
That said – to save time when applying age advancements, you can just use the shifts directly, as modifiers to the dragon’s ability scores. Ignore negative shifts, as ability scores never decrease when a dragon ages. Magic and special ability progression should be determined as normal. This system will generate slightly higher ability scores, so be careful when pitting dragons aged using this method against the player characters. It does work perfectly well for quickly adding some variation to a wandering dragon.
The following dragons are examples of how variant age advancements can be used to create memorable and appropriate dragons without adding class levels. Each dragon includes a few notes on background, to show how a dragon’s history can be reflected in the age advancements used.
Old Red Dragon
Advancements: He uses the Combat age advancement from wyrmling on.
Gargantuan Dragon (fire)
Hit Dice: 28d12+280 (462 hp)
Speed: 40 ft., fly 200 ft. (clumsy)
AC: 33 (-4 size, +27 natural), touch 6, flat-footed 33
Base Attack Bonus/Grapple: +28/+57
Attack: Bite +43 melee (4d8+17)
Full Attack: Bite +43 melee (4d8+17), 2 claws +41 melee (4d6+8)
Space/Reach: 20 ft. x 40 ft / 15 ft.
Special Attacks: Breath weapon (16d10), spells (Caster level 7th)
Special Qualities: Damage resistance 10/+1, locate object, suggestion, spell resistance 24, frightful presence
Saves: Fort +26, Ref +16, Will +19
Abilities: Str 45, Dex 10, Con 31, Int 16, Wis 17, Cha 16
Skills: Bluff +17, Listen+30, Intimidate +30, Jump +47, Spot +30, Search +30, Sense Motive +17,
Feats: Hover, Snatch, Multiattack, Quintilateral Rend, Flyby Attack, Power Attack.
Challenge Rating: 19
Alignment: Chaotic evil
Adult Green Dragon
Advancements: She uses normal advancement until she is Very Young, then takes two Charismatic and two Arcane advancements.
Hit Dice: 20d12+60 (190 hp)
Speed: 40 ft., fly 150 ft. (poor), swim 40 ft.
Armour Class: 27 (-2 size, +19 natural), touch 8, flat-footed 27
Base Attack Bonus/Grapple: +20/+32
Attack: Bite +31 melee (2d8+6)
Full Attack: Bite +31 melee (2d8+6), claws +26 melee (2d6+3)
Space/Reach: 10 ft. x 20 ft / 10 ft.
Special Attacks: Breath weapon (12d6), spells (Caster level 5th)
Special Qualities: Damage resistance 5/ +1, acid immunity, water breathing, spell resistance 21, frightful presence
Saves: Fort +15, Ref +12, Will +15
Abilities: Str 23, Dex 10, Con 17, Int 16, Wis 17, Cha 18
Skills: Bluff +30, Diplomacy +30, Listen +23, Sense Motive +27, Hide +17, Spellcraft +23, Spot +23, Search +23
Feats: Beguiling Voice, Army, Silent Spell, Negotiator, Snatch
Challenge Rating: 12
Alignment: Chaotic evil
Juvenile Black Dragon
Advancements: He has three Devastating advancements.
Hit Dice: 13d12+60 (190 hp)
Speed: 60 ft., fly 150 ft. (poor), swim 40 ft
AC: 22 (+12 natural), touch 10, flat-footed 22
Base Attack Bonus/Grapple: +13/+16
Attack: Bite +19 melee (1d8+3)
Full Attack: Bite +19 melee (1d8+3), claws +14 melee (1d6+1)
Space/Reach: 5 ft. x 5 ft / 5 ft.
Special Attacks: Breath weapon (14d4)
Special Qualities: Damage resistance 5/+1, acid immunity, water breathing
Saves: Fort +11, Ref +8, Will +8
Abilities: Str 17, Dex 10, Con 17, Int 8, Wis 11, Cha 10
Skills: Listen +16, Move Silently +15, Spot +16, Search +15, Survival +15
Feats: Quick Breath, Lingering Breath, Maximised Breath
Challenge Rating: 6
Alignment: Chaotic evil
Mature Adult Gold Dragon
Advancements: He takes two Swift advancements, two Learned, and two Charismatic advancements.
Huge Dragon (fire)
Hit Dice: 29d12+60 (190 hp)
Initiative: +2 (dex)
Speed: 60 ft., fly 250 ft. (average), swim 60 ft.
Armour Class: 25 (-2 size, +25 natural, +2 Dex), touch 10, flat-footed 23
Base Attack Bonus/Grapple: +29/+47
Attack: Bite +34 melee (2d8+10)
Full Attack: Bite +34 melee (2d8+10), claws +29 melee (2d6+5)
Space/Reach: 10 ft. x 20 ft /10 ft.
Special Attacks: Breath weapon (14d10), spells (Caster level 8)
Special Qualities: Damage resistance 10/+1, water breathing, bless, luck bonus
Saves: Fort +23, Ref +17, Will +21
Abilities: Str 31, Dex 14, Con 27, Int 22, Wis 23, Cha 20
Skills: Concentration +37, Listen +35, Diplomacy +34, Escape Artist +31, Gather Information +34, Jump +39, Knowledge (History), Knowledge (politics) +35, Scry +35, Sense Motive +35, Spellcraft +35, Spot +35, Search +35, Survival +35
Feats: Counterbreath, Hover, Wingover, Beguiling Voice, Quick Breath, Network
Challenge Rating: 18
Alignment: Lawful good