Tuesday, June 25, 2013


I thought I would take a moment to talk about dragons today.  They are a foundation element to fantasy role-playing games and fiction.  Mythology is rife with variations of them.  And now, with technology at the level it is, they are permeating film and television as well (really looking forward to seeing the rest of The Hobbit).

As a gamer, I kind of have a love-hate relationship with them.  In games like Skyrim (which I have been known to go on binges of playing), they are integral to the plot, and a random, almost-daily menace.  But, slaying them has become almost too easy, to the point where my character killed one with his fists, wearing nothing but a loincloth.  But, it’s a video game, with only a modicum of personal investment beyond time and achievements.

But in a tabletop RPG, things are different.  In my opinion, D&D dragons should be something to be feared and respected.  Maybe hunted, if the party is powerful enough.  But they should never be common.  In most of the worlds I have created, dragons are near-mythical.  Much like Tolkien.  They are huge and fierce, and spread destruction on a level that even kings and emperors fear.

As a DM/GM, I use dragons sparingly.  They are the End Boss, if they are met at all.  Generally, if the PCs see one, it is from a distance, and even from miles away, the PCs will feel fear.  And, unless I am using a published adventure (which I almost never do), I tend to stay away from the “chromatic and metallic” dragons in D&D.  All of my dragons, regardless of color, breathe fire.  They are also just as likely to be “good” as they are to be “evil.”  In my view, dragons are selfish and self-centered, and that’s about it.  Whether this leads them to do evil or not depends on the world, and the situations they are in.

My one exception is Dragonlance.  I’ve read Chronicles four times, and Legends three, as well as several other individual books and trilogies.  And even though the stories and writing vary in quality, the world itself is amazingly detailed and consistent, and does a very good job utilizing the D&D dragon elements in a cohesive manner.

All of that being said, I am a big fan of using variations of dragons in other roles.  Dragon races (the Dragonborn are about the only thing I liked about 4E), pseudo-dragons, dragonettes, wyverns; they all have found places in my games. 

But, in short, if you are playing in one of my games, and you see a real dragon, you should probably run.  You might even get away!

No comments:

Post a Comment