Dragons as a PC race


I already hear the trolls and flamers getting ready to let loose, but hear me out first.

First, I'm creating a 100% homebrew setting. This includes a unique approach to races, a different set of core races, and a complete rewrite of much of classical fantasy and mythology. This also means that all assumptions about dragons are false. That does not, however mean that dragons aren't epic. As I explain my ideas, I hope you'll see why.

In this setting, dragons are humanoids, and in many respects are almost indistinguishable from humans visually. Where they differ is in certain special abilities, which make them powerful, and also lend to the image of the great flying reptiles we are familiar with. So, as far as their basic abilities, they'll seem nerfed to most, however; I also have two abilities that will give them that mythic unyielding power feel that lives up to their reputation. That is why I'm posing here. I need help fleshing out the abilities in a way that makes them balanced enough to use as a PC race, while also maintaining that epic dragon feel that would draw players to want to use them.

The first ability is the Ancestral Dragon. This ability allows the young dragon to summon an ancestor's great dragon avatar as a one-off type of attack. The avatar's appearance is where our myths get the image of the enormous flying reptiles with breath weapons. As a full round action, the dragon can summon the Ancestral Dragon, which appears and attacks the dragon's enemies. The Ancestral Dragon can be summoned for a number of rounds equal to 1/2 the character's level rounded down with a minimum of 1. When the summoning ends, the avatar vanishes, and the dragon takes and amount of subdual damage equal to the total damage the avatar inflicted.
note: I have yet to flesh out the exact numbers here, however; because we're talking about a breath-weapon attack that's practically nuclear, the backlash needs to be just as immense. This ability is intended to be very powerful, but also with sufficient drawbacks that it would be rarely used (if ever). It would effectively incapacitate the user, so it would be treated as a final solution to a deadly situation. I have other limitations that I am considering, including the amount of time before the character can use it again, and the possibility of reducing the recovery speed, so it takes longer to heal after using it. Again, I have no solid numbers for this yet, so suggestions would be helpful.

The second ability is the Draconic Avatar. This allows the dragon to build a great dragon avatar of their own, which they can then summon much like the Ancestor Dragon, but it will last longer, and is doesn't have as many major drawbacks. It would be treated as a construct as far as the purposes of building it. Bear in mind that this setting is going to span hundreds of thousands of years, and include everything from medieval to trans-galactic technology, so the methods of constructing the avatar can be purely magical, or techno-magical. Regardless of the specifics of construction methods, the materials used, and the type of magic it is imbued with will determine the effects of the breath weapon, it's level of power, etc. Here is where the real work of balancing it comes in.
I have two basic types of Draconic Avatar in mind for a dragon to create. First is the mount-type, which as you may be able to guess, the dragon can ride on. They're smaller, faster, and more agile than the next type, and can be summoned for longer periods of time, however; they are less powerful, and can't do as much damage in combat. The second is the exo-skeletal type. These when summoned envelop the dragon, making it appear that the dragon transformed into the avatar. These are larger and more powerful than mount types, but can not be summoned as long. These are intended as powerful combat avatars.
When a Draconic Avatar is summoned they last a limited amount of time. An exo-skeletal avatar would last a number of rounds or minutes (I haven't decided which), and a mount-type avatar would last a number of hours. If the avatar takes damage, it reduces the amount of time that it remains summoned, and that damage can transfer to the dragon.
For the exo-skeletal type, I'm thinking about doing it as a damage reduction HP pool. If the avatar is reduced to 0HP, any additional damage transfers to the dragon as lethal damage. In addition to this, the dragon takes subdual damage equal to the HP of the draconic avatar.
For the mount-type avatar, all damage done to the avatar is immediately mirrored by the dragon as subdual damage. Damage to an avatar can't be healed, except by releasing the summoning, and re-summoning it. To prevent abuse of this, I want to limit how frequently it can be summoned. In both cases, I'm thinking that once a day would be appropriate.

There you have my meandering thoughts. I welcome all suggestions on numbers, and balance. When I have the race and abilities fully fleshed out and suitably balanced, I'll post it.

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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Have you taken a look at the Dragonkin race from Alien Archive? It might be helpful to you in this endeavor.

That's really not the direction I want to go.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

yeah the dragonkin work well

That is NOT the direction I want to take this. I laid out what I'm looking at, and want suggestions in regard to what I came up with. I am doing something NEW, not trying to find something someone already did.

Starfinder Superscriber

If you're looking to homebrew a Race, the Homebrew forum is probably the better place to do it.

I think you're going to have difficulty doing what you want with a race, though, at least if you want it balanced with anything remotely close to the other PC races. It might work better as a Theme and/or Archetype, or a Theme, Archetype, and Race.

Creating a new race is easy, pithica. The hard part is the nuance balance with other races. I say let him do what he wants to do. It might be interesting.

So you're basically thinking a "dragon" a la Capcom's "Breath of Fire" series, a mostly human-appearing shapeshifter who briefly evokes dragon form or abilities. For building out the dragon, you might want to look at Pathfinder's Summoner class and how they build their bound summon.

As for balance, it will absolutely not be balanced unless you also significantly buff all the other races. Even the "one-shot summon spell" version that does a bunch of a damage to itself is really not that much of a drawback when you can use it to finish off powerful enemies, not have to worry about negative HP because they don't exist in Starfinder, and just spend resolve points to stabilize if you go unconscious. So it will see a lot more use and be more broken than you think if that was your idea of how to balance it. The other races in your setting have to be just as powerful in other ways.

(Also, there isn't subdual damage in Starfinder, not really. Damage is damage. Subdual is just something you declare, and only matters if it's the final attack that drops someone to 0 HP. If you want D&D style subdual damage, you would need to houserule the system - either damage that can only be dealt to stamina, or some other variation of the original 3E rules.)

There's no way what you are suggesting is balanced with other races.
What you have in mind might be balanced with a full class, similar to summoner or druid. But there is no way you can put «having a pet dragon» and «having an extra feat» in two races and expect them to be balanced, unless the things you get from having a pet dragon is worth a feat (like, say, +1 to hit from weapon focus).

If you really like this idea for your world building, and want the PC to play dragons (not just NPCs), scratch the balance between races, and tell the players they all are going to be dragons, so everybody plays the same rules and is basically an even field eith all PC having two classss: dragon, plus other.

This is like playing a mythical Greek campaign and let players play with gods or demigods. There is nothing wrong with it, and probably will be fun. But you can not expect «god» and «halfling» are two balanced choices.

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One potential way of balancing it is if the campaign is a gestalt campaign, per 3.5 D&D's Unearthed Arcana. Each character gets to choose two classes and advances in them simultaneously, gaining the best of the two for shared basic features (HP, BAB etc) while also accumulating all other class abilities from both classes. In this case, the "dragon" would in fact be built out as a class, again probably best built on a framework of a Pathfinder Summoner or the like, and takes up one of that character's two classes - they get to choose one class compared to the two classes of other party members.

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Does anyone else find the irony that the OP said

Frost73ite wrote:
I already hear the trolls and flamers getting ready to let loose, but hear me out first.
But then kind of became hostile when people suggested Dragonkin.
Frost73ite wrote:
That is NOT the direction I want to take this. I laid out what I'm looking at, and want suggestions in regard to what I came up with. I am doing something NEW, not trying to find something someone already did.

The reason why people said Dragonkin is because what you wrote is not balanced. There are a lot of differing opinions on the threads but you won’t find a lot of people actively trying to break the game. Summoning Great Dragons for multiple rounds at level 4 is game breaking.

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