• Justin Handlin

Dragon Lore!

Updated: Feb 25, 2020

Listen to Eps 158: 2/26/20

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More ink has been spilled on describing dragons than on nearly any other creature. These ancient, noble, yet savage beasts are a favorite subject of guidebooks, bards’ tales, and ancient tomes and scrolls. Today we share some of our discoveries after months of investigation into the history surrounding these magnificent beasts in the world of Dungeons and Dragons.

Today’s Highlights:

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Segment: Crit Nation Feedback: Let’s talk about Blank! (Answer questions!)

Justin, Austin, Ian,

Help! I’m DMing for first time in a long time and my groups first foray into 5e (we were a bit stubborn on moving off of 3.5).

Here’s my question. The Warlock spell table in the Players Handbook only shows spell slots/levels earned through fifth or six level spells. However, the warlock spell list goes through level 9. How does a warlock get to these levels of spells and slots?

Thanks for any help you can provide. I hope this was the right email to send this to...

Steve H. (A recent but dedicated fan)

Answer: The reason that their levels of spells known goes beyond the spell slots they possess is due to the Mystic Arcanum feature. (PHB 108). This essentially allows you to cast spells up to 9th once a day, without expending a spell slot. Essentially it gives you "more" spell slots, but doesn't let them reset on a short rest like the rest of them.

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More ink has been spilled on describing dragons than on nearly any other creature. These ancient, noble, yet savage beasts are a favorite subject of guidebooks, bards’ tales, and ancient tomes and scrolls.

True dragons are winged reptiles of ancient lineage and fearsome power. With life spans stretching into mellennia, they are a repository for vast knowledge and ancient secrets. They are most known and feared for their predatory cunning and greed, with the oldest dragons accounted as some of the most powerful creatures in the world.

Origins: The First Dragons

The different dragon families (chromatic, metallic, etc) share a common origin. Most accounts begin with mention of the deity Io.

Io, as legend has it, created dragons in his own shape but without a divine spark, so that dragons might frolic and exult in the new world formed by the primordials. Though they lived in the world, the power of the Elemental Chaos flowed in their veins and spewed from their mouths in gouts of flame or waves of paralyzing cold. They also developed keen minds and lofty spirits that linked them to the Astral Sea.

During the wars between gods and primordials following the world’s creation, Io was slain by the primordial known as the King of Terror. While some claim Tiamat and Bahamut were said to have risen from the two halves of Io’s corpse, others suggest that they were instead Io’s eldest creations and received part of their father’s divine spark upon his death.

The loss of their father forced the dragons to adapt to the changing world around them, which wasn’t easy for their philosophies and lifestyles varied greatly between them, led them to choose to follow either Tiamat or Bahamut.

Those dragons who held onto and embraced their link to the Elemental Chaos, allowed that power to manifest in their actions. Becoming destroyers and wreaking havoc even to this day. Many of these choose to follow Tiamat, whose hatred of the world that killed her father colored her every deed and attracted dragons who celebrated their antagonistic relationships, the chromatics.

A number of dragons choose to follow bahamut, the Platinum Dragon. These became known as the metallic dragons. Over the ages, Bahamut upheld justice and opposed evil and liberated the oppressed. In doing so he became a beacon of justice, protection and honor. Many dragons revere Bahamut as their originator, but not all worship him.

In both cases, gradually these deities began to draw other races to their cause. Each building their own following throughout history.

Life Cycle:

Dragons lay eggs in small clutches, the exact number varying according to the kind of dragon. Females can lay eggs as often as once per year but rarely do so that frequently. The nest consists of a mound or pit where the parent gathers the eggs and buries them in sand, dirt, snow, leaves, or whatever medium is best suited to the dragon and to the environment. The average dragon egg is about the size of a small rain barrel. Eggs normally have the same color as the dragon variety, though somewhat duller in hue.

Wyrmling. The newly hatched dragon has a full array of abilities. Although inferior to those of a young dragon, these abilities are sufficient for the wyrmling to take care of itself, at least against relatively weak threats and predators. Due to the interweaving of a dragon’s centers of memory and instinct—it is born with a substantial amount of its parents’ knowledge imprinted in its mind.

Young. By the time a wyrmling becomes a young dragon, it has grown to roughly the size of a horse, and its hoarding, lairing, and territorial instincts are stoked into a raging fire. A young dragon must leave the nest (if it has not already done so) before territoriality and greed transform the parent–child relationship into a bitter rivalry. For the most part, dragon parents and children retain a loving relationship; though they do not share territories, they harbor affection for each other and render assistance if the other is in danger.

Adult. Adult dragons revel in the fact that they are among the mightiest predators in existence. At this age, dragons begin to contemplate long-term schemes. Although they devote less time to scheming than elder dragons do, they might establish contacts within nearby communities or merchant organizations, the better to learn when and where great treasures will become available. Their negotiating strategies boil down to bribery or threats, rather than the elaborate manipulations and deceptions employed by more powerful wyrms.

Ancient. By the time it becomes an ancient, a dragon has likely found or created its permanent lair. It has gathered a sizable hoard—one that might already have attracted a number of adventurers—and it has well and truly established its territory. Although a few elder dragons continue to expand their domains, most are content with their holdings. Ancient dragons have gathered minions sometimes veritable armies of them and know well the sizes and capabilities of all the humanoid communities within, and bordering on, their territories. Sometimes even influencing their development either openly or in secret. Some ancients spend years hibernating or counting and recounting their hoards, for lack of anything better to do. Others ignite conflict, invading other dragons’ territories or inspiring mortal allies to go to war, in hopes of finding a challenge to pass the time.

Dragon’s Twilight. Even dragons eventually succumb to the ravages of age. As death approaches, the wyrm enters a state known to sages as “the twilight.” Although the average age of a twilight dragon is within a couple of decades of maximum age, some dragons enter the twilight more than a century earlier. Others enter twilight only in the last few years of life. Twilight is the only time during a dragon’s life span when the creature grows weaker rather than stronger. The mighty dragons, despite all their power, are still mortal. With the exception of those who extend their existence by unnatural means, such as the vile draco liches, death eventually comes to them all.

Superiority and Attitude

Dragons are superior beings: more powerful, more intelligent, more worthy of wealth and territory, and more important than any other mortal creature. To them, this conviction is more than a dogmatic belief; it’s a fundamental fact, something they are born knowing, and a cornerstone of their personality and worldview. This aspect makes dragons seem arrogant

when they interact with humanoids, but it goes beyond any human conception of conceit. To try to humble a dragon is like trying to talk the wind out of blowing or attempting to persuade a starving person not to die of deprivation.

Dragons can, however, recognize the capabilities of powerful individuals or of people in great numbers. Arrogant though they are, dragons will negotiate with humanoids if they feel such folk pose a danger or have something to offer that the dragon cannot easily acquire on its own. Even then, though, the dragon measures and values the people in question based solely on their threat or usefulness and not on any intrinsic worth. The dragon assumes the position of authority in any such interaction, not as a conscious or deliberate choice, but because—as far as the dragon is concerned—that is the way the world works.

If dragons are known for any attitude beyond all others—above even arrogance—it’s greed. Even the friendliest of good dragons is as avaricious as the stingiest human miser. Dragon hoards are legendary: enormous piles of gold, gleaming gems, magic items wealth enough to buy and sell entire humanoid communities. Yet dragons rarely do anything with all that wealth. They collect not to spend, but to have. It’s unclear if it's a psychological or biological drive. Some believe the earliest dragons impressed potential mates with their hoards, so that

the dragons with the largest hoards passed their attitudes and instincts to their offspring. Dragons wonder no more about the origins of their avariciousness than they wonder why they have a breath weapon or wings; they accept it as the natural way of things.


A vampire lord might dwell in his dark and gothic castle, the hag in her ramshackle hut in the swamp, or the kobold tribe in their underground warren. But although each of these locations lends itself to tales of high adventure, none is so central to its master’s fundamental nature as the dragon’s lair.

The lair is nearly as vital a recurring theme in myth and fantasy as the dragon’s hoard or even dragons themselves. Whether it is a simple cave atop the peak of a misty mountain or a monster-filled, death trap-strewn complex that the characters must conquer to rescue a kidnapped princess, a dragon’s lair is the epitome of adventure sites. A true dragon’s lair, then, isn’t just a place at all. It’s an element of the challenge posed by the dragon, a first and sometimes second, third, and fourth line of defense against intruders.

Most dragon lairs are hidden in dangerous and remote locations to prevent all but the most audacious mortals from reaching them. A black dragon might lair in the heart of a vast swamp, while a red dragon might claim the caldera of an active volcano. In addition to the natural defenses of their lairs, powerful chromatic dragons use magical guardians, traps, and

subservient creatures to protect their treasures.

One of a dragon’s greatest advantages over intruders is its ability to fly. A wise dragon places its lair somewhere that is difficult to access by land or equips it with hazards that are difficult to bypass without taking to the air.

That’s why most lairs are so isolated, though it's worth noting, that even when isolated the presence of a lair greatly warps the area around it for miles. The distance is a minimal impediment to the dragon, but it severely lowers the odds of others discovering the lair let alone having the strength and fortitude to reach it. The flip side of this particular coin, and the dragon’s greatest liability when it comes to security, is size. Any ingress large enough for the dragon is large enough to admit potential intruders, and tiny openings that the dragon cannot use (and might overlook) are ideal for a thief or a dragonslayer.

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Character Concept:

A Dragon’s Wish

Your character was orphaned when they were very young. Your family were traveling through a remote location such as a volcanic mountain, lush forest, or vile swamp ( can be based on your draconic heritage). During their travels, they were attacked by some wild beasts and devoured. During the attack you were hidden in the hollow of a tree, safe from the attack. Your crying drew the attention of a young dragon who’s lair is in the region. Upon finding you, she took you back to her lair and placed you in her rookery...that was empty. Barbarians had slaughtered and stole her young while she was out hunting, so she took you as her own.

As you grew she discovered your weakness, but her love grew with you. So, during your young years, she decided to do whatever she could in order to ensure you could protect yourself. Using the power of a magical ring, she summoned a powerful genie and wished to share her power with her only child, you. Your body took on small aspects of your mother, some scales, maybe horns or a tail. But the most notable feature, was the ability to draw upon a new magical force within yourself and shape them into spells. You are, a draconic sorcerer.

Monster Variant:

Hoard Scarab

Origin: Grick

Hoard scarabs feed off scraps from the dragon’s meals and clean the wyrm’s teeth and scales. They instinctively recognize the dragon as their provider and never attack it, but they are quick to feast upon the flesh of any other living being.

A hoard scarab has a dull gold carapace, and when its wings are closed and its legs tucked in, it resembles an oversized, malformed gold coin. The larvae are nearly impossible to tell apart from true coins until they attack as a metallic, chiming wave.

Lost/Changed Features:

Stone Camouflage becomes, hoard camouflage.


Remove beak

New Features:

Burrow 30 ft. Fly 20 ft.,

False Appearance (Object Form Only). While the hoard scarab remains motionless, it is indistinguishable from a treasure hoard of coins.

Claw. Melee Weapon attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (2d6 +2) slashing damage plus 3 (1d6) poison damage. If the target is medium or smaller, it is grappled (escape DC 13). Until this grapple ends, the scarab can bite only the grappled creature and has advantage on attack rolls to do so.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (2d6 +2)


Draconic Crossfire

In an area strewn with several towns and perhaps a city or two, mysterious deaths and disappearances are on the upswing. Livestock have been decimated. People have failed to arrive at their destinations along previously safe roads. The situation is the sort that cries out for an adventuring party.

A local noble or government official is looking for anyone who can identify the cause of the region's troubles. During their investigation they learn that a pair of adult dragons has turned the area into their battleground. A green dragon has attempted to expand its territory, that just so happens to include a mountainous area claimed by a slightly more powerful red dragon. The green is well aware that in direct confrontation it would lose against the red, so it has turned to attacking the area’s inhabitants, thereby depleting the red’s food sources of livestock and travelers. The green has captured/enslaved/bribed local villagers into service to learn the best ways to weaken the red.

The characters must find a way to quell the battle, or help one side win over the other.

Magic Item:

Spear of Urrok the Brave

Spear, Very Rare

Urrok the Brave was the greatest champion of the Empty Eye orc tribe. He fought in hand-to-hand combat with four separate dragons. When Urrok finally fell against the fifth dragon, the shamans of his tribe recovered his spear, adorning it with mystic runes and potent fetishes.

The Spear of Urrok the Brave has spilled the blood of dozens of dragons by now, not only in the hands of orcs, but also many adventurers.

You gain a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with this magic weapon. When you hit a dragon with this weapon, the dragon takes an extra 4d6 piercing damage. For the purpose of this weapon, "dragon" refers to any creature with the dragon type, including dragon turtles and wyverns.

When you hit with a ranged attack using this weapon, it deals an extra 1d6 piercing damage. Immediately after the attack, the weapon flies back to your hand.

Sentience. The Spear of Urrok the Brave is a sentient chaotic neutral weapon with an intelligence of 12, a Wisdom of 10 and a Charisma of 12. It has hearing and darkvision out to 90 feet.

Personality. The spear of Urrok the Brave is very impatient and forthright. It has no tolerance for long-term planning or negotiation. That said, it is not stupid, and it appreciates the value of tactical combat.

It urges its bearer to engage any dragon in combat, and grows enraged if refused. It encourages the wielder to enter combat to solve any other conflict as well, but it is less infuriated if refused. “The Spear thinks I am pathetic and cowardly because I am not an orc. It demands I prove myself now or be known forever as a weakling.” When the wielder first acquires the Spear, it desperately wants the wielder to prove himself or herself to it. It demands that the wielder enter combat soon and encourages the wielder to seek out dragons and other deadly foes.

Dungeon Master Tip:(4e DMG2)

Cooperative Story Arcs

A sense of shared authorship between you and the players can begin before you start playing at the table. Meet with your group and ask them to help you create a campaign story from bottom to top. Have each player bring a pitch, a basic idea for the campaign. to this meeting, The pitch is a simple sentence that describes how the player characters fit into their world. Here are a few examples.

The resurrected heroes of a long dead empire fight to prevent the disaster that claimed their civilization from destroying another.

Outcasts and scavengers vow to gather a barbarian army and conquer the world.

Bickering half siblings set out to gather unique hems for their father's magic item shop.

Player Tip: Don’t be a Dick! You can avoid dickitude by…

  • Giving your Familiars Quirks

  • Familiars are known for their exotic appearance and eccentric behavior. Come up with a few visual and personality quirks for your familiar, using these examples for inspiration


  • Can move eyes and beak to different parts of its head

  • Hoots when it thinks it's found a mate for its master


  • Leaves small rodent corpses in your sleeping bag


  • Leaves a cloud of black ash and trail of soot as it moves

  • Chews on your spell book (or arcane focus) and magic items


  • Glows a poisonous green

  • Constructs complex webs to mark where it has been

Pact of the chain Imp

  • Looks like a miniature version of a proper demon

  • Quotes ancient texts, usually to undercut your ideas

Closing: Please join us on our next episode. We will be discussing the DMsguild Adamantine Best Seller Puzzles, Predicaments, and Perplexities.

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Keep your blades sharp and spells prepared heroes!

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