Posted by : David Guyll October 01, 2013

Felldrakes were originally featured in 3rd Edition's Monster Manual II, where they were created by Bahamut to protect some elves after they helped beat back a demonic invasion. Hey, some gods give you a pat on the head, a glowing commendation (maybe even literally), or a magic sword, while others create an entire species.

From what I could find in Monster Vault, 4th Edition did not associate them with any race or even Bahamut, depicting them as beasts that fulfilled similar roles as other animals like wolves and dogs. Just, you know, "dragon-y".


Is that awesome? Boring? Somewhere in between? What about the name? Inquiring minds would like to know.

Ultimately I like felldrakes. I think they are neat and used properly can better evoke the feeling of a fantasy world. I am not saying that they should replace more mundane fauna like dogs and wolves, but that including them as another option can enhance the setting, much like owlbears, displacer beasts, iron defenders, Medium-sized conveniently evil races, Small conveniently evil races, two-bladed weapons, and so on and so forth.
Plus they look awesome.
3rd Edition's elven association seems kind of lazy and extreme; I just cannot fathom Bahamut whipping up an entire monster category just for them. If you wanted to associate them with dragonswhich is not necessary given a lack of draconic traits aside from kind of their appearancethen I would just have them spring from the blood of Bahamut and/or Tiamat during a spat countless eons ago, or maybe the creations of a lesser draconic deity.

Oh, and I would just change the name to drake. Appending fell would make more sense if they were evil, which I would not expect them to be unless for some reason Tiamat was the only one in the business of populating the world with her terrible spawn. You know, like her...

Dragonspawn are both very strange and very forgetful. I vaguely recall the spider one, and the only reason I can think of the halfling-sized white ones, one of the green ones (razor-something), and the big blue ones with swords is because I have loads of minis (not by conscious effort).

The first thing I would change is the Tiamat-only aspect. I see no reason why she has the monopoly on unleashing dragon-ish monstrosities upon the world. Actually thinking back to 3rd Edition's felldrakes, why would she create a variety of dragonspawn (some that are Huge and packing appropriately-sized swords) and Bahamut stick with felldrakes?

Because good is dumb?
The second thing is how they are made. I would have them be the byproduct of "legendary creature" effects; after all dragons can effect the terrain, so why not living things, too? If nothing else this provides yet another angle for doling out draconic traits to critters other than mad experiments and breeding, at least for things that you would not expect a dragon to breed with.

In this scenario you could, say, have a giant spider dwelling in the same swamp as an ancient black dragon slowly mutate over time into a...gloomspawn gloom gloomer or whatever. This could be easily handled by making a dragonspawn entry with lists of color-specific traits that you could attach to a creature, as well as some examples on how to alter its physical appearance.

{ 3 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. I enjoyed the drakes in 4E: it was because of them that I actually started using Kobolds more. Keep on the Shadowfell used kobolds as the primary enemy, which was cool, but I hadn't used them at all to that point. I instantly got plot ides for attacks from a Tiamat-worshipping band of kobolds attacking Bahamut-worshipping humans and then realized that you could totally have kobolds ride drakes into combat as mounts. They are both draconic in origin, so why not?

    Plus, a guard drake is far superior to a guard dog, at least when medieval fantasy is concerned. Good times.

    Also, "gloomspawn gloom gloomer" should be an immediate addition to the Monster Manual.

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  2. I also love using kobolds, and almost always associate them with a dragon of some kind: everytime I have run Keep on the Shadowfell I have had them working for either a white or green dragon. I also had them use drakes or giant ferrets, but I had not considering having them ride them.

    Damn...a drake-riding kobold would be a pretty cool paladin (or blackguard?). Or a beastmaster ranger. Or you could re-skin a rage drake so that it could fly, and make a kobold monk for a draconic Avatar: The Last Airbender.

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  3. Another possible origin is the fact that dragons will mate with anything. The first generation has the hafl-dragon template, but if there's enough of them out there, their descendants could become another race.

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