Dungeons & Delvers & Dragons

In Dungeons & Delvers: Black Book I only included stats for a level 7 red dragon. This was because the core game initially only went up to 5th-level, and I figured a level 7 critter would be badass enough, without people creating/converting stuff using the very simple creation/conversion rules in the monster section.

We've long since added a bunch of free PDFs that increase the soft level cap to 20, as well as a more badass dragon (Large and 16th-level), and Dungeons & Delvers: Appendix D included dragons of various shapes: the wurm (looks like a giant snake), lindwurm (giant snake with arms), wyvern (two-legged, winged dragon), and the dragon you're probably thinking of when you think of dragon.

I was initially going to leave it at that, and let GMs build on them and cook up their own dragons, because modding, creating, and converting monsters is very, very quick and easy to do. Especially dragons: it's not hard to take an "official" dragon, change its breath weapons, resistances/immunities, other special abilities, and/or level to get something different.

But we've already been taking a bunch of classic monsters and putting our own spin on them, so I decided to see what I could do with Dungeons & Dragons' dragons.

In D&Dragons, dragons are a lot like normal creatures: they eat, sleep, drink, need to breathe, breed, and lay eggs. The only really kind-of unusual features (it is a fantasy game, after all) are their breath weapons, ability to fly when they possibly wouldn't be able to (I seem to recall 3rd Edition tagging their flight as a supernatural ability, but can't find any reference to it, now), and an incredibly long lifespan.

They can also get really, really big, most if not all can talk, and depending on the edition and dragon they can use magic at some point in their lives.

In various mythologies some dragons are deliberately placed by gods as guardians or challenges, or are just there without any explicable origin. I also recall something about some of them being representations of Satan or other evil, or manifestations of primal destruction. Other times they are people transformed into dragons (either by someone or it just happens), sometimes as part of a curse, though in a Greek myth I guess someone literally asked for it.

I figure this makes dragons pretty rare: by default you aren't going to find a forest filled with green dragons (and a bunch of other monsters), a bunch of black dragons lurking in a swamp, or red dragons soaring about a volcano. In fact, you might only ever run into one during the course of an entire campaign, and I really like that. Big change of pace from killing a bunch of dragons of ever-increasing size as you go.

I was torn between whether dragons need to eat and drink, because they can get really big, and if they needed to they'd quickly deplete and ever-widening area of, well, everything. But I think it should depend on the nature of the dragon. So some might need to, and sleep in order to hibernate during times where food and water is scarce.

Others don't need to, and either don't or occasionally indulge themselves purely for pleasure, while others don't but as part of their curse could be possessed with an insatiable hunger and thirst (kind of like vampires and how ghouls can be depicted): they sleep in order to temporarily stave off the pain.

Game-wise that doesn't really impact much: GMs can already make dragons as rare as they want, and where the dragon comes from, and whether it needs to eat or sleep doesn't affect stats or XP. Though, I suppose it helps better rationalize how a dragon might be hanging out in a forest without devouring everything in sight, or buried deep underground without starving to death.

For the look of dragons, some European dragons are depicted as reptilian, but have the forelegs of a lion and the hindlegs of a bird. I kind of like that chimeric look, which I think could vary depending on the dragon's climate and terrain. Just for the hell of it, lets try changing up the look of the blue dragon.

In Dungeons & Dragons they typically dwell in deserts and coastlines, but I've only ever seen them used in deserts, so I'm going to mine Egyptian mythology for some ideas: dragon-wise it's mostly big-ass snakes, sometimes something like a crocodile.

Running with that, I end up mashing a snake (from a front perspective, the side of the head would have something similar to a cobra's hood), crocodile, and bird (probably an ibis) together to get a blue dragon with a more snake-like head, crocodilian body, and feathered wings.

Here's some concept art:

Thinking of adding more feathers to upper part of the the hind legs, along the back, and part of the tail. Just to give it more bird-like traits. Mind you I'm not saying every dragon needs to be a mashup, or even every blue dragon. It's just an example to get creative juices flowing, in case GMs want to deviate from the standard model.

Initially I wasn't going to include the horn, but to me it symbolizes a staff or scepter that pharaohs carried. They don't breath lightning. Rather, the horn discharges bolts of lightning. It's also necessary for them to stir up the sky, causing storms and directing lightning strikes: if you can damage or destroy it (such as by using our rules for climbing on big things and stabbing them in the face), that makes things considerably easier.

Also, a blue dragon horn would be great for a wizard looking to make a staff of lightning, or a fighter who wants a sword or spear with a lightning theme.

As for the color, I read that to at least ancient Egyptians blue symbolized the heavens and water, while gold symbolized immortality. That works for me, so I'm also keeping the color scheme.

For the basilisk, we had it so that a basilisk merely being in an area wreaks havoc on the environment: plants wither and die, rivers become toxic and dry up, and mountains crumble to dust. A blue dragon's presence causes similar destruction: they don't "prefer" to live in deserts, they are responsible for them. Not every desert. Maybe a few, definitely the one they are found in. Their lairs are either deep caves or cities buried beneath the sand. If they were kings and dwell in a buried city, it's the one they once ruled.

Finally, they are possessed by an intense thirst that can never be quenched: water and blood turns to dust before it reaches their tongues. They hide underground in order to at least attempt to stay cool. They can often be found at night, searching for signs of life that they can extinguish. During the day they might conjure a thunderstorm in order to provide some relief, or simply to disorient or harm anyone that might be traveling nearby.

And with all that flavor out of the way, here's some stats for a Huge version:

Level 18 Huge Dragon
XP 1,512
Speed 40 feet; burrowing 30 feet; flying (hover) 80 feet

STR +8 DEX +0 WIS +3
CON +5 INT +3 CHA +3

Athletics +10, Insight +8, Intimidate +8, Perception +8, Search +8

AC 16 DR 6 (thick scales)
Fort +9 Ref +4 Will +7
Immune lightning
Resist poison 20
WP 162 VP 36 Total 198

Multiattack The blue dragon makes a bite attack and two claw attacks.
Venomous Bite +13 to hit; 2d10+8 piercing damage. If this attack inflicts WP damage, the target must succeed on a DC 19 Fortitude save or suffer an additional 1d10+5 poison damage (ignores armor).
Claw +13 to hit; 1d10+8 slashing damage
Tail Swipe Swift Action if the blue dragon moves, Reaction after being attacked; every creature and object within a 15-foot cone behind the dragon suffers 2d10+8 bludgeoning damage and is knocked prone. A successful DC 21 Reflex save halves the damage and negates the prone condition.
Spell-Like Abilities (Recharge 5+): When the blue dragon uses one of these abilities, it cannot use any until the recharge roll has succeeded.
  • Desiccation: The blue dragon chooses a point within 120 feet of it: every creature in a 30-foot radius of that point suffers 10d6+3 damage (ignores armor, DC 17 Fortitude save for half). Mundane liquids in the area turn to dust. For magical potions (but not alchemical ones) roll a d20 for each: on a 17 or higher they remain intact.
  • Lightning Bolt The blue dragon unleashes a bolt of lightning from its horn, 180 feet long and 5-feet wide. Every creature in its path suffers 13d6+3 lightning damage (ignores armor) and is stunned for 1d4 rounds: a successful DC 17 Reflex save halves the damage and negates the stunned condition.
  • Sand Cloud The blue dragon breathes forth a scouring cloud of sand: every creature and object in a 60-foot cone suffers 10d6+3 bludgeoning damage, is blinded for 1 minute, and knocked prone. A successful DC 17 Fortitude save halves the damage, and negates both the blinded and prone conditions. A blinded creature can attempt a Fortitude save at the end of each of its turn: on a success it is no longer blinded.

Dust Cloud When the blue dragon lands or takes off, every creature that is Large or smaller within 10 feet of it must succeed on a DC 17 Fortitude save or suffer 1d10+8 bludgeoning damage and be knocked prone.
Electrical Surge If the blue dragon is struck by an attack or effect that inflicts lightning damage, it immediately makes a recharge roll, and gains a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls until the end of its next turn.
Lightning Storm The blue dragon can spend 10 minutes conjuring a lightning storm, affecting a radius of 18 miles around it. It lasts for an hour. While it is present, the blue dragon can use a Swift Action to direct a bolt against any object or creature within the storm: they suffer 9d6+3 lightning damage (ignores armor, half damage on a successful DC 17 Reflex save).
Storm Aura While the blue dragon's lightning bolt is recharged, creatures that move next to it or start their turn there suffer an automatic 1d10+3 lightning damage (ignores metal armor).
Trample The blue dragon can move through the spaces of Large and smaller creatures without needing to make an ability or skill check: every creature's space it moves through must succeed on a DC 21 Reflex save or suffer 1d10+8 bludgeoning damage. Creatures can only suffer damage this way once during the blue dragon's movement. The blue dragon can also use its Standard Action in an attempt to crush creatures underfoot: they instead suffer 2d10+8 bludgeoning damage, or half on a successful Reflex save.

blue dragon horn (3d6 x 500 sp); blue dragon blood (3d4 x 1,000 sp), blue dragon hide (5d6 x 1,000 sp), 3d4 x 10 dragon teeth (50 sp each)

Lair: 10d6 x 1,000 sp, 5d6 x 500 gp, 3d6 x 50 pp, 3d6 gems, 50% for an additional 2d4 gems, 3d6 art objects, 50% for an additional 2d4 art objects

You can now get a physical copy of Dungeons & Delvers: Black Book in whatever format you want! We've also released the first big supplement for it, Appendix D, so pick that up if you want more of everything.

If you want more adventures, we just released Escape From the Flesh Catacombs: a bunch of 0-level characters need to escape from the catacomb-lair of a gorgon that was slain, causing everything she's petrified to revert to flesh and rise as undead.

Our latest Dungeon World class, The Apothecary, is now available.

Dwarven Vault is our sixth 10+ Treasures volume. If you're interested in thirty dwarven magic items (including an eye that lets you shoot lasers) and nearly a dozen new bits of dungeon gear, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).


  1. Given that Dungeons and Dragons has had an enormous number of dragon types and variants across its editions, and has occasionally swapped out which ones are considered "core", what's your plan for setting up your dragon roster, so to speak?. Go with the common array of chromatics and metalics, cherrypick from the broader spectrum, mix-and-match some weirder stuff, or what?

  2. @Anon:

    Probably do a poll on the G+ community at some point, see what the majority wants, but the core lineup is definitely going to include as baseline archetypes:

    Wurms (big snake-like dragons)
    Wyverns (two legs and wings)
    Dragon (stock European-style dragon with wings)
    Dunno what to call a four-legged, wingless dragon: drake? That could be another so we cover most of the bases.

    There's going to be information on changing breath weapons and other traits, such as a venomous bite or stinger, and adding multiple heads (there's a Russian dragon I think that has three heads). Similar to how giants in Appendix D have optional powers that add to their XP value.

    What do you think? Good enough? Would you want us to put in the chromatics, even reimagined? Going to save Chinese dragons for another book.

    1. The Russian dragon you're thinking of is the zmey. There's also Tugarin, who is an evil botagyr who is also a zmey part of the time, though I don't think he has the multiple heads. Sometimes his wings are paper-like and can't support him in the rain, and sometimes he's wreathed in fiery serpents-- that one might transfer over to his knight shape, I'm not entirely clear how it's supposed to work.

      As for the chromatics, I think the reimagining of the blue that you've done here is plenty interesting enough to include. It's just that reworking dnd dragons is a deep rabbit hole to fall down, given just how damn many of them there are, which is what made me curious about your plans. I'd certainly be interested to see any more such reimaginings you came up with, but I don't think I would wish doing *every* dragon on anyone.

  3. @Anon:

    Yeah, zmey was what I was thinking of! Do you know the name of the bogatyr/zmey? That sounds kind of interesting.

    Maybe over time we'll get around to doing all the dragons, but to keep things simple and avoid having like 100 pages of dragons we'll likely just stick with the core five chromatics (since I've now got ideas for each of them). I have ideas for gem dragons, but that'll be saved for a psychic book.

    1. Tugarin is the name I'm familiar with, though wikipedia seems to suggest there are variants on it, like Tugarin Zmeyevitch or Tugaretin. It's definitely the name of an individual, rather than a type, but I suppose you could append Zmeyevitch to anyone's name to make them additional sons of dragons, whether literally or figuratively.


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