Let's talk about dragons


I'm looking for opinions on how to portray dragons.

First off, some disclaimers:
1.If you're in my group stop reading
2. this is for a homegame and differs somewhat from RAW.

right then, let's get to it:

My characters are lvl 11 at this point, they are:
A hobgoblin rogue (knifemaster, can do some insane damage at times)
a human bard with Leadership (archivist, pure 'buff & face' build)
an elf alchemist/shadowdancer (might retrain into ... god knows, he does buffs, healing and ranged damage for the moment)
and a human magus with Leadership (eldritch scion, high str&cha)

the current storyline is about the groups efforts to strengthen their hold on a region of the midlands, rebuild the magus' ancestral mansion, forging alliances with the nearby villages and becoming lords of the region.
And of course there are problems brewing around them: a troll pack they dispatched was carrying an important amulet stolen from a frost giant jarl and the giants are coming down from the mountains. the players have yet to pick up on this as the first group of scouts have barely been detected.

Also there is the issue of the dragons that just woke up.
some sessions ago a large block of ice came down from the mountains and inside it was 3 hibernating dragons (1 elder & 2 younglings)

the first youngling was killed singlehandedly by the rogue right after it had woken (he rolled amazing and used some inventful and brillint tactics to avoid facing it directly)

The second one they baited with a ox and shot full of arrows and bolts (leadership feats and buffer bard! OMG!)
As they transported the dragon corpse towards town the Elder made it's attack, it used illusions, it's breath weapon and flyby tactics to avoid full attacks and to engage only who it wanted to at any time, when it hit half health it escaped using invisibility and it's speed, swearing revenge at the group.
At this point there was 1 character dead (will be ressurected by the local druid soon) the bard was stabilized, and all the followers he had brought were dead (10 lvl 1 rangers)

Now it's the holidays coming up and next time we play they will probably prepare for and then face the dragon the second time. It is highly likely that it will attack the village they live in now.

for the battle I used a adult green dragon, with spells changed around a bit - the description was more like a forst dragon, with antlers and green swirly patterns and whatnot.

If this was standard pathfinder I would assume this dragon would go back to it's lair, heal up, stock up on gear and consumables (it now knows that the magus likes fire and lightning for example) and then return to kill everyone as revenge for the killings of it's sons/brothers (I haven't decided on the direct relation yet and frankly don't care, dragon-relations are probably very different than human, the most important thing is that their deth pissed him off)

But this dragon does not have a lair, or a treasure pile ...
So should I let him aquire a scroll or three before their next showdown? -I know the players will do their best to even the odds.
I had originaly planned for dragons to use the agile mythic template or whatever it's called - it's the one that lets them have 2 turns in the round on different initiatives. would this be too strong for these guys to handle?
Would this flying apex predator maybe just go hunting for smaller prey for a while before returning? they are after all almost immortal and coming back for vengance later after a couple of months or years of preparation and leisure might make sense ?
I'm also considering wheter or not the giants will get involved soon, or if they will be involved later ...

tl;dr: all the characters are either dpr or buff focused glass cannons, they've pissed of a homeless Dragon, what would be the most logical actions of said dragon? what would be smart tactics to use? should I tone it down to give my players a chance or not? (I'm personally thinking no, dragons are supposed to be awesome, but tpk's are no fun)
What other things than attacking them in their village and killing loads of civilians would be good stages for their eventual showdown?

Greens are lawful...

So I would have him take his time, start accumulating power and learn about the PCs.

The fact that they were carting a corpse implied a nearby town, have the dragon discover it.

He can use illusion spells/spies/divination spells to learn more about the town.

Recruit followers, nearby goblins or something... have him build up a small group, have him start a horde.

Dragons think long term, a CE red might rush in for revenge, a LE Green will plot and be careful.

Focus on using his spells OUTSIDE of combat, think of how they could help him learn about the party, build a force of his own.

Don't tone it down, but take your time. If the party levels, you can age the dragon and if they find out/question it, just say his aging was suspended when in the ice, but now that he is thawed, it is aging rapidly :D That way you can bump it up a category if/when you like.

Greens are among the nastiest kind of dragon to want you dead. Amusingly enough for a chromatic dragon, they specialize in people. Charms and Dominates, that sort of thing.

A Green that goes tearing off on revenge isn't really making use of his talents or his brain-- or, frankly, that trademark chromatic Evil. They killed two of his? Fine. He's going to Dominate their closest friends and turn them into an assassins. He's going to Charm their villagers until he can stage an uprising. He's going to kill them and become lord of their domain, and perhaps find a way to raise them after just so they can see how mighty he is. He's going to want to watch the PCs suffer, and a straight-up kill 'em all doesn't do that.

Grand Lodge

I say wait and build him up a bit more as a villian.

Like suggested try dominating the rogue from invisibility before the start of the next fight.

I like the mythic template.

As far as spells he can easily have blur, resist energy lightning and fire up. That is just 3 level 2 spells.

I would bring him in after the next level up and let them deal with him knowing his enemies and wanting to claim thier horde.

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

A dragon with no lair or hoard? Could be a story in there. Usually having a hoard and lair is essentially for every dragons, green especially collect arcane knowledge, magical items and artifacts. Maybe some adventurers recently stole his hoard? Maybe the Green dragon is looking for the adventurers who stole his loot?

The adventurers might be a bunch of unscrupulous or villainous heroes, a group who is willing to do anything for loot and more money. It could flip your players expectations to end up fighting a group of adventurers, all with good gear due to the dragon hoard. Right after or even during their battle with the green dragon. It could even make the scene quite dynamic with a dragon using his breath weapon, while the heroes have to decide if they want to deal with the big dragon or take down the other adventurers.

The dragon pulled a Captain America, that's why it has no lair or stuff.

Probably did at one point though, so if you do want to give it some gear, just have it visit its old lair and find some goodies.

Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Eltacolibre wrote:

A dragon with no lair or hoard? Could be a story in there. Usually having a hoard and lair is essentially for every dragons, green especially collect arcane knowledge, magical items and artifacts. Maybe some adventurers recently stole his hoard? Maybe the Green dragon is looking for the adventurers who stole his loot?

the dragon was encased in ice for a long while, he elaborated on this.

but yeah if this dragon behaves like a green dragon, he's the slow thorn in your side that will eventually give you cancer and then kill you. it will probably run off to do it's own thing and then just wear you down it might actually just try to wait out your lives and then destroy everything you made.

Grand Lodge

Does the Green know about the giants?

If yes, I would have the green ally with the giants or make it's attack coincide with the giant's assault.

One of the big things is TIME. Dragon life spans dwarf most other races. This Green more then likely has the time to side line for a while and study the party.

Small threats designed to test the party more then threaten them.

Options include the dragon become the leader of other small local bands of creatures. Frost Giants, Hobgoblins, Wild Elves. Other options include gnolls, drakes (Ice, Forest and River all sound like they might be native) and of course the classic Kobold legion that would jump at the chance to serve a god directly.

Some of those would even agree to relocate to help the dragon (kobolds especially). Thus, if they are not in the native area, that is not an issue.

Wow, loads of good ideas here!

I'm going to take the advice of playing the long game and making him a recurring villan.
First he will kidnap the loyal cohort that was last seen running away and get all the information he needs from him, returning him in some display of power, possibly with some horrible disfiguration. ( Is it mean of me to blind a cohort when he's a ranged focused damage dealer? I mean that's what a dragon would do, right?)
Second he will either ally himself with the giants or manipulate them, regardless the giants will soon besiege the pc's village - they will be watching the western skies and the attack will come from the eastern woods.

After that I'm not sure, he can stay in the mountains to the west (there are 3 mountain ranges scattered around the farmlands there and he can stay hidden and recover for a while) but unless he wants to hasten his confrontation with the PC's he will have to get some range between himself and them.
To the northwest there is another village, maybe he will raid it on his way further north?
Past there and to the northeast there are some scattered hobgoblin (or worse) tribes that the PC's have defeated prior, this would be a good place to gather minions and build a lair.
On the flipside: to the south there is a large desert with nomadic dinosaur riding orcs, but my current thoughts for them is that they are to proud and alien in their culture to bother alyying with a dragon and spending weeks riding up to the north to start a fight - maybe when the group starts on the plots in the south they will be involved.

(yes, my world map has a large mountain range smack in the middle of the land, the habitable country is kinda shaped like an 'C' around this massive area, with a wall of stone and ice to the north(the dwarves) and a desert heading into 'fantasy africa/arabia' with 'byzantine evil mageocracy that have barely been mentioned' to the south. the east is 'japanese tengus behind mountains and swamps' and the west is sea and "I don't know what's beyond the horizon yet".)

Other thoughts include flying over the village in broad daylight once or twice just to mess with their minds (none of them can keep up with his fly speed so unless they are sitting around watching the skies with their harpoons and fireballs he will be to fast for them to do anything other that watch and get frightened/annoyed.

I'm already thinking he will kidnap the Magus love interest in a later story (because come on; that's what they're there for!)

Any other thought would be greatly appreciated!

I don't have a name for him yet! (his brood referred to him as "The Allfather" and "Eldest" - but that was just me buying time)
I'm thinking something that is possible to pronounce for the players, so they can curse his name often and loudly, and either something evocative or descriptive (maybe he has many names, being old)
f.ex: Icefyre, Swiftwing, Kralesk, Drokarr or some such, ideas would be welcome.

And thanks for all the ideas given so far! (I feel sorry for the players)

(Sidenote: we don't actually use the alignement system and so far there are no goblins or kobolds in my lore, magic is also rare and hidden - no magicmart and so far there have been 2 'Archmages' walking past in the whole story)

well my first thought is why doesn't the dragon just take a lair. why not make it take on a goblin stronghold. then the displaced goblins can start raiding villages for your party to have to save and investigate and discover that the dragon that got away is building its defences.

or, why doesn't the dragon form an alliance with another powerful villain. maybe an evil sorcerer or someone from the PC's past. perhaps the dragon goes back to find more dragons and form deadly dragon alliance.

just a few ideas.

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He's alone, and two young dragons of his brood or his line have been killed by the party.

Revenge has to be a goal for him, but he also needs to do things safely and efficiently - no lair, no mate, no army. Monitor the party, to find where it is they feel safe, where their friends and family are, and who their enemies are.

Any enemy of 'recurring villain' caliber that the party interferes with shares a common enemy with the dragon. Contact the villain to get the lay of the land and work out a plan to kill the party together. Green dragons are notorious for cultivating powerful allies and dominating weaker patsies, and an 'enemy of my enemy' is the perfect start for the powerful allies.

Destroy places and people that shelter or aid the party - this local druid who's going to do a resurrection for the party is a prime target. The dragon is homeless and friendless, and it seems reasonable he would feel the need to get out of that situation and bring the party down into it. A power boost such as the agile template you mentioned or a couple of sorcerer levels is good for when the party meets him again.

If he's cultivated a worthwhile ally, he should be able to soften up the party with a couple of encounters worth of cannon fodder - let people use up a bit of their nova power. If he's looted some worthwhile places in the meantime, some well-chosen scrolls or consumables can help him out.

The long-term goal of a dragon without a lair, a hoard, a mate, and an army of slaves or servants should veer towards 'getting all these things' after a while.

Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
LuxuriantOak wrote:

Wow, loads of good ideas here!

I'm going to take the advice of playing the long game and making him a recurring villan.
First he will kidnap the loyal cohort that was last seen running away and get all the information he needs from him, returning him in some display of power, possibly with some horrible disfiguration. ( Is it mean of me to blind a cohort when he's a ranged focused damage dealer? I mean that's what a dragon would do, right?)

back in the day they would cut off the middle finger to pinky finger on their dominant hand so they could no longer use a bowstring. you did not want to be captured as a bowman.

Have him do some night time attack on the village to keep the PCs on guard. If he wants to be save he could do it by dropping heavy stuff from high above. Perhaps some old rotting trees inhabited by swarms.

Grand Lodge

Was the middle finger.

That was where they got the middle finger as an insult.

Cut both his middle fingers off AND blind him. Make him have to retire from adventuring.

Give him arrows to the knee while you're at it!

We all knew it was coming.

Green Dragons also come preloaded with alter self, lasting 15 minutes at a time. You could easily squeeze in an extended or just have him recast it.

Then have him interact with the party incognito. The cute bar wench, the friendly blacksmith. That one guy that always shows up in time to save them.

Then hit them [secret rolls] with charm persons, suggestions, etc... walk them into dangerous situations. If you're really evil, have that cute bar wench invite one of them back to her place, tell them fade to black, pull the victim aside and explain that he woke up dead [I'd consider running a combat, but if you can avoid giving away it's a dragon the better. Even altered self it has 172 hp and 29 strength.]

Let that sneaky dragon be sneaky.

Grand Lodge

Lol skyrim joke

I'd go with the Savage mythic template...it has good resistances and you can give it feral savagery to increase it's speed in melee.

I once had a party being led around by the nose by an Ancient dragon that used Alter Self to appear as an older aristocrat in a city. He had an item of my design called the Ring of Misdirection; it caused a wide variety of detection type spells to show the opposite of the truth. Magic stuff detected as non-magic; lawful evil as chaotic good, etc.

The dragon served as the party's quest giver for much of the campaign until the party figured out what was going on. The party didn't realize they were being cleverly used to advance the dragon's evil aims to seize puppet control of the nation.

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