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Resizing Your Wyrms: Improved Dragons in 1st Edition Dungeons & Dragons

Updated: Apr 16

This article details an alternate system for determining dragon size and attack damage for 1st edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.


By R. Nelson Bailey

red dragon burning a building

Illustration by Matthew Ray.


All species of dragons in 1st edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons go through eight growth stages, from “very young” to “ancient”. However, only the number of hit points it possesses changes as it ages. Armor class, size, and physical attack damage is treated the same for a 1-year-old dragon as it is for a 400-year-old dragon. These incongruities are often confusing to Dungeon Masters and players alike. The module, I6 Ravenloft, provides an example of this. One encounter involves four small “young” stage (6 to 15 years old) red dragons that have 18 hit points each. However, their claw and bite attacks inflict the same damage as an adult dragon with far more hit points. This is quite a surprise to players when these “young” deliver powerful bites and claw rakes, yet their feared breath weapon is pitifully impotent in comparison.

 

This article attempts to rectify this issue by assigning dragons of different growth stages graduated claw and bit damage, plus varying sizes and Hit Dice. In short, younger dragons inflict lesser amounts of damage in accordance to their smaller size. Conversely, physical attacks for dragons older than the “adult” stage inflict greater damage than that listed in the manuals. Furthermore, most dragons are given wing buffet and tail lash attacks to enhance their fighting prowess.

 

Wing Buffet: A winged dragon can strike with each wing once per melee round at opponents on its flanks. A successful wing buffet inflicts damage equal to a claw attack. Dragons cannot use this attack while flying.

 

Tail Lash: Dragons that have tails can lash out at an opponent on their rear. The attack inflicts approximately one-third of a dragon’s bite damage. The dragon cannot use tail lashes while airborne.

 

Hit Dice: The Hit Dice for each type of dragon can go lower or higher than the standard amount. Instead of assigning a set number of points to each growth stage, as typically done in AD&D and OD&D, the DM simply rolls 1d8 for each Hit Dice the dragon possesses, as is done in B/X D&D game. Optionally, you could assign dragons in the "very young" stage 1d6 hit points per Hit Dice, and "ancient" dragons a d10. This gives the DM greater flexibility, controlling the toughness of any dragon the party encounters.


 

Download copy of this article on PDF here.

Resizing_Your_Dragons_DGGames
.pdf
Download PDF • 205KB

 

Listed below are tables for each type of dragon listed in the 1st edition Monster Manual, Monster Manual II, and Fiend Folio, except for the faerie dragon.


BLACK DRAGON
improved black dragon statistics

BLUE DRAGON
improved blue dragon statistics

BRASS DRAGON
improved brass dragon statistics

BRONZE DRAGON
improved bronze dragon statistics

CLOUD DRAGON
improved cloud dragon statistics

COPPER DRAGON
improved copper dragon statistics

DRAGON TURTLE
improved dragon turtle statistics

GOLD DRAGON
improved gold dragon statistics

GREEN DRAGON
improved green dragon statistics

LI LUNG
improved li lung dragon statistics

LUNG WANG
improved lung wang dragon statistics

MIST DRAGON
improved mist dragon statistics

PAN LUNG
improved pan lung dragon statistics

RED DRAGON
improved red dragon statistics

SHADOW DRAGON
improved shadow dragon statistics

SHEN LUNG
improved shen lung dragon statistics

SILVER DRAGON
improved silver dragon statistics

T'IEN LUNG
improved t'ien lung dragon statistics

WHITE DRAGON
improved white dragon statistics

 



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