Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Dragon, A New Character Class

I'm in the process of pondering my own ideas of classes, races, and race-as-classes, and I came upon Grognardling's old posts about unconventional classes. One of those mentioned was, "Dragon."

Firstly, I have no attachment to (or even much knowledge about) extant D&D dragon rules and lore, so I'm ignoring basically all of it. The class, I believe, works better in settings without tons and tons of dragons running around, as D&D and Pathfinder imply by having, like, four different types of dragons with seven colors for each, all running around.

The central idea for this class is that you get extreme power at the cost of extreme specialization and little flexibility. They age with level, which is pretty quick for any animal - but it helps explain why there aren't tons of "dragon litters" running around all over the place and allows the dragon to advance within the same ballpark as the rest of the party. Obviously, this hasn't been playtested yet.

As far as the "Alien Mind" problem goes, I'm not really interested in adjudicating player behavior, beyond mechanics and NPC reactions. Even if I did put in non-mechanical behavior guidelines, that would still be a human guessing at alien psychology, and I don't think I'm any more capable of it than my players are.

THE DRAGON

Saving throws as Halfling. Experience Point progression as the S&W Monk.

Dragon level advancement is accompanied by growth in size, toughness, and abilities. When a dragon reaches the end of a size category, it cannot level up further until it builds a nest out of precious gems and metals worth its current experience point total in silver pieces. The dragon must sleep within for one week to become a whelp, one month to grow to juvenile size, and one year to become an adult.
Dragons are also, generally, supremely wise and strong creatures, and add 1d6 to each of their ability scores, though 18 remains the maximum.

Dragon Sizes

  • Nestling: Levels 1-5. Hit Dice: 1d6. Two claw attacks, each dealing 1d4 damage. AC: as leather. 
    • The nestling dragon is green, brown, or white, depending on its birth environment, and about the size of a large cat. It cannot yet fly, nor can it speak any language other than draconic. 
  • Whelp: Levels 6-10. Hit Dice: 1d12. Two claw attacks, each dealing 1d8 damage. AC: as chain.
    • The dragon whelp gains language abilities, and can hover or glide, but remains incapable of true flight. Whelps are about the size of a man.
  • Juvenile: Levels 11-15. Hit Dice: 1d20. Two claw attacks, dealing 1d10 damage, and one bite attack dealing 2d6 damage. AC: as plate.
    • Juvenile dragons are ten feet long and about six feet tall. They gain full combat flight capability, but treat every hour of extended flying as a forced march Juveniles, no longer small enough to hide effectively, generally develop bright colors, like red, blue, or bright bronze.
  • Mature: Levels 16+. Hit Dice: 1d20. Two claws dealing 1d12 damage and one bite dealing 3d6 damage, plus an extra 1d6 per five levels. AC: as plate, plus 2 per five levels. Adult dragons may fly freely. Older dragons begin to fade in color, with the oldest becoming dark indigo or jet-black.
Dragon Spellcasting
Dragons are innately magical creatures, though it takes time for their abilities to truly develop. They still require spellbooks to record and learn spells (though draconic runes usually suffice) but need not spend time memorizing spells. 
Nestlings can prepare 1 first-level spell per day, though they can never use Read Magic.
Whelps can cast Read Magic at will, an unlimited number of times each day. From 6th level on, they use the Elf's spell slot progression.

Dragon Breath
Dragons aren't born with the ability to breathe fire or lightning, instead developing more powerful breath weapons as they mature. A dragon's choice of breath weapon is final and cannot be changed. Most breath attacks are assumed to automatically hit since they affect huge areas, though they are technically projectile weapons and can be treated as such if necessary - such as during an epic dragon vs. dragon sky duel.

Nestlings and whelps have the choice of either acid spit, or paralyzation gas. 
Acid spit has a range of 10 feet per level, and deals 1d4 damage for a number of turns equal to the dragon's level, unless cleaned off. Acid spit hits only one thing, and must roll to hit like any other ranged weapon.
Paralyzation gas can be projected 2 feet per level, and forms a spherical cloud with a radius of 1 foot per level. 

A juvenile dragon develops a true, extraordinarily powerful breath weapon. The dragon has the choice of spitting lightning, breathing fire, or breathing frost.
Lightning affects a straight line with a range of 200 feet, plus 20 feet per level, inflicting 2d6 damage to everything hit. The lightning gains 1d6 damage every fifth level.
Flame and frost breath hit a 30 degree cone to a distance of 30 feet, plus 10 feet per level. They inflict 2d6 damage to everything they hit, gain 1d6 every fifth level, and will do flamey and frosty things to whatever they hit, contingent on your system's rules for flamey and frosty things.

After each breath weapon use, the dragon must make a CON check. If failed, the dragon's breath glands are exhausted - it must make a new CON check each week, and cannot use the breath weapon again until the check is successful.

Dragon Abilities
Dragons can climb and swim freely, with no penalties. Dragon combat movement is effectively twice that of a human, though they are less capable of disposing of waste heat, and march at similar rates. Mature dragons are capable of extended, high-altitude flight and have an overland movement rate triple that of an unencumbered human.

Dragons lack opposable thumbs, and thus cannot effectively hold or use weapons, items, locks, etc. Dragons also cannot effectively use any sort of armor or clothing, due to their musculature. Suits of fitted dragon armor are possible, but they will be either extraordinarily restrictive, or wear out quickly. Smaller items may work, if they are custom-made. Since dragons are universally viewed as the capricious and terrifying destroyers of cities and eaters of maidens, there are very few smiths willing to work on equipment for them, or even a town guard that won't attack on sight. 

Dragons require 1 ration of food per level, per day, and 1 ration of water per two levels, per day.