Dragons and Legendary Proportions (or other actual size changes)


Rules Questions


I am curious what the consensus is on the effects of magical size changes on dragons. Presumably virtual size changes (such as strong jaw) would only affect their natural weapons' damage, not any other aspect of a dragon's capabilities related to size.
However, things like the breath weapon, ability to perform a tail sweep or crush, and fly speed all key off of a dragon's size as well. Note that none of these key off of the dragon's age class; that effect is only indirect, in that the age class will increase size.
So, the question is: do real size changes (that are not from age category) affect these things that are keyed off of size? Looking for RAW here, primarily, though any RAI that is actually as the designers intended would also be welcome; table variation is just that and is going to vary too widely to be of interest beyond the table in question.
Any additional insight around this is also welcome? Is my assumption that virtual size increases would never affect any of these correct? Is there something I'm just totally missing about this?

Edited to remove aura, which is based off of age category.


Does the spell say they gain it, if so, yes. If not, then no.


merpius wrote:
However, things like the breath weapon, ability to perform a tail sweep or crush, and fly speed all key off of a dragon's size as well. Note that none of these key off of the dragon's age class; that effect is only indirect, in that the age class will increase size.

I'm looking for RAW here. Where did you get that idea? Unless there's an entry somewhere that says that, I'm pretty sure all new things a dragon gets is based on its age category.


Quote:

Fly Speed: A dragon’s fly speed increases as indicated, according to its size.

...

Crush (Ex): A flying or jumping Huge or larger dragon can land on foes as a standard action, using its whole body to crush them. Crush attacks are effective only against opponents three or more size categories smaller than the dragon. A crush attack affects as many creatures as fit in the dragon’s space. Creatures in the affected area must succeed on a Reflex save (DC equal to that of the dragon’s breath weapon) or be pinned, automatically taking bludgeoning damage during the next round unless the dragon moves off them. If the dragon chooses to maintain the pin, it must succeed at a combat maneuver check as normal. Pinned foes take damage from the crush each round if they don’t escape. A crush attack deals the indicated damage plus 1-1/2 times the dragon’s Strength bonus.

Tail Sweep (Ex): This allows a Gargantuan or larger dragon to sweep with its tail as a standard action. The sweep affects a half-circle with a radius of 30 feet (or 40 feet for a Colossal dragon), extending from an intersection on the edge of the dragon’s space in any direction. Creatures within the swept area are affected if they are four or more size categories smaller than the dragon. A tail sweep automatically deals the indicated damage plus 1-1/2 times the dragon’s Strength bonus (round down). Affected creatures can attempt Reflex saves to take half damage (DC equal to that of the dragon’s breath weapon).

Breath Weapon (Su): Using a breath weapon is a standard action. A dragon can use its breath weapon once every 1d4 rounds, even if it possesses more than one breath weapon. A breath weapon always starts at an intersection adjacent to the dragon and extends in a direction of the dragon’s choice. Breath weapons come in two shapes, lines and cones, whose areas vary with the dragon’s size. If a breath weapon deals damage, those caught in the area can attempt Reflex saves to take half damage. The save DC against a breath weapon is 10 + 1/2 dragon’s HD + dragon’s Con modifier. Saves against various breath weapons use the same DC; the type of saving throw is noted in the variety descriptions. A dragon can use its breath weapon when it is grappling or being grappled.

I will elaborate further, if needed, once I am back to a computer.


Quote:

Age Categories

Many of a true dragon’s abilities, attacks, and other statistics improve as a dragon grows older. These increases are divided into 12 age categories—as a dragon ages, its base statistics change as noted on Table: Dragon Age Categories.

Quote:

Size: This shows how many size categories by which to increase the dragon’s base size, depending on its age (from Tiny to Small, Small to Medium, and so on). A true dragon does not gain the standard increases to ability scores when it achieves a larger size—instead, true dragons gain ability score increases according to their age category, as indicated on the Dragon Ability Scores table.

Hit Dice: This shows how many additional Hit Dice a dragon gains over its base Hit Dice as it grows. Increases to Hit Dice grant extra hit points, feats, and skill ranks as well as increase the dragon’s base attack bonus and base save bonuses. Dragons have skill ranks equal to 6 + their Intelligence modifier per Hit Die. A dragon’s increases to ability scores for gaining Hit Dice are included in the total ability score increases (see the Dragon Ability Scores table).

Natural Armor: This shows by what amount the dragon’s base natural armor bonus increases with each age category.

Breath Weapon: Each dragon has a breath weapon (see Combat) that deals a base amount of damage. This multiplier increases the number of dice of damage dealt by the dragon’s breath weapon. For example, a mature adult dragon with a base breath weapon that deals 2d6 acid damage would deal 14d6 acid damage (due to the ×7 multiplier).

Emphases are mine. Size, HD (and therefore breath), and even natural armor are all determined by their age category. And since the abilities you mentioned are requisite on size and size is dictated by age category the previously mentioned abilities are dependent on the age of the dragon. Cause: Age category, Effect: everything else

Furthermore, nowhere in pathfinder does increasing or decreasing in size has bestowed additional abilities that you did not already have. Spells like beast form, FotD, Monstrous Physique, etc explicitly say when additional abilities are gained. Enlarge/Reduce Person has no such mentions. Unless the actual or "effective" size change also bestows additional abilities, the dragon gains nothing by changing size via magic.


Size is affected by age category, but not dictated by it; otherwise an Ancient Gold dragon and an Ancient Crystal dragon would be the same size (and have the same fly speed, ability to crush and tail sweep, and the same breath weapon dimensions). This is what I meant when I said "not directly" related to age category. Without external factors the combination of specific dragon type and its age category determines its size, which determines those things.

That does not mean that you are incorrect about whether the capabilities change, however.

Another example with a similar situation is the Hover feat. Do you also think that a medium winged creature with the Hover feat who magically becomes large still cannot create the debris cloud effect, since their natural size is not at least large?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

The Hover feat is not a similar situation. The creature isn't getting any new abilities based on getting a size change. They have hover just like they had hover before.

Hover has different effects based on the size of the creature using it, and if they are large when they use it those effects happen.

Size (and the other dragon features) is dictated by age category for each specific type of dragon. When a dragon gains a new age category they gain the abilities of that age category. Those are different for each type of dragon, of course, but is is age that determines it. Yes, different types of dragons are different, but each gains abilities as determined by their age categories.


Dave Justus wrote:

The Hover feat is not a similar situation. The creature isn't getting any new abilities based on getting a size change. They have hover just like they had hover before.

Hover has different effects based on the size of the creature using it, and if they are large when they use it those effects happen.

Size (and the other dragon features) is dictated by age category for each specific type of dragon. When a dragon gains a new age category they gain the abilities of that age category. Those are different for each type of dragon, of course, but is is age that determines it. Yes, different types of dragons are different, but each gains abilities as determined by their age categories.

It would be clear if what you describe about dragons were the only case (ie they each had their own separate monster manual entry with what happens at each age category). However, that is not the case. There exists a section about how to determine the capabilities of a true dragon based upon their base type and age class. One of the aspects that is determined by that combination is their natural size. From their size, several other aspects are determined, including damage from natural weapons (I'm assuming, of course, that no one would argue that their natural weapon damage would not scale based on magically increased size), as well as the things listed: flying speed/class, breath weapon size (but not damage), as well as whether they are capable of performing certain physical capabilities of size (tail sweep and crush). It is these latter two that are most similar to Hover, in fact; they both allow a physical action based (partially) on the size of the creature, rather than some other factor (HD, age category, space, BAB, etc).

I cannot take seriously anyone who argues, without some RAW quote, that the accessibility of the dust up thing from Hover differs WRT magical size change, from the Crush and Tail Sweep of a true dragon. I would argue that anyone making such an assertion is attempting RAI or table ruling (probably based upon some perceived balance issue), rather than a serious RAW analysis.

So; if they are different, please provide the RAW that indicates that one works one way and the other works another? If they work the same (ie either both instances gain the capability or both do not) then that is a reasonable assertion without further RAW support; then we can delve into the WHY.

On the question of why:
I was asked for the RAW as to why they WOULD be based on size (ie because it says so in the True Dragons section). I have provided that. The only RAW other than that that has been provided indicates that other things (size, breath weapon damage, etc, etc) are determined by age category, but does not mention the things that specifically indicate they are determined by size. If that is the only RAW to hand then I would argue that the specific mention of things as being determined by the size trumps the general statement that a dragon's capabilities are determined by age category.
Alternately; if you can assert (and support) that a dragon is ineligible, somehow, for magical actual size increases, that would also satisfy my query; please provide RAW or some actual Paizo intent to support your assertion.


merpius wrote:
If that is the only RAW to hand then I would argue that the specific mention of things as being determined by the size trumps the general statement that a dragon's capabilities are determined by age category.

This. Recalculate anything that's explicitly defined as a function of size. Whether size is usually a function of something else (like age) is immaterial; you are the size you are.

Oh, and you are also correct that a virtual change like strong jaw won't change anything but damage. That spell in particular makes a point of saying

Strong Jaw wrote:
This spell does not actually change the creature’s size; all of its statistics except the amount of damage dealt by its natural attacks remain unchanged.


What Fuzzy-Wuzzy said. Some dragon abilities are a function of the dragon's age, but as shown above some are a function of the dragon's size. If a dragon's size changes, such abilities may function differently or not at all as the text dictates.

For example, a Gargantuan dragon reduced to Huge size may have tail sweep according to its writeup, but going by both the text and the table the ability does nothing, as only a Gargantuan dragon may actually use it. Similarly, a Huge dragon reduced to Large size loses its tail slap. Presumably at smaller sizes the limbs are simply not large or strong enough to make effective weapons.

Breath weapon is interesting; its area is a function of size, but the rest of its functionality is a function of age.

This is all pretty weird, and maybe it could have been redesigned to function according to age category, potentially with an offset change to account for differently-sized species of dragon. Thinking that through, though, I'm not sure that's really any less weird.


I think both fly speed/class and breath weapon size should have been designed to function like size or breath weapon damage; ie should have had some basis level dependent upon the particular species with that basic value being upgraded via age class. It would have been easy enough to do that and result in the same values they have with the table, but then there would be far less question about the weirdness of dragons changing sizes in other ways besides age. Like, why would a bigger dragon automatically fly faster and, despite not having a more powerful breath weapon, they have a bigger one? Nonetheless; it is as it is. I think the special attacks make perfect sense to be based off of size, though; even though they operate differently from ordinary natural attacks they (like rend and rake, for example) effectively are just attacks (in the sense of attempting to damage an enemy, not int he sense of an attack roll) with part of the body.

Having Fuzzy-Wuzzy and blahpers both agree with a particular interpretation certainly makes for a great appeal to authority, especially when it agrees with the only relevant RAW presented. :D

Still, if anyone can find anything else indicating otherwise, I'm still open to seeing it... but given the evidence thus far, it really should be actual RAW or RAI from designers/writers, as opposed to just "I don't think it should be that way."

Minor correction, though: Large dragon has a tail slap, medium does not, so that is the transition that would have to occur (rather than Huge to Large).


Meh, close enough. Might not want to use me for an appeal to authority, though. As evidenced above, I'm wrong a lot. : )

At my table, I'm likely to simply use the creature's default size for its age and not adjust anything other than damage dice. Too much hassle figuring out what happens when a dragon temporarily gets bigger or smaller.


Generally speaking this kind of detail would only matter to the DM, which means it can almost always simply be hand waved (if (s)he wanted a Gargantuan dragon, (s)he probably would just use one that already is). Honestly the Hover feat thing is far, far more likely to come up as a player thing, where some modicum of RAW/RAI as opposed to pure DM fiat might actually be helpful (depending on the table; some have a high tolerance for the DM just saying it works this way, while others would like some sort of logic behind the decision). For the dragons tuff, though, they were kind enough to provide a simple table where you can just go "oh, this dragon is Garg now, I guess it flies this speed, does this much damage with each of these attack, it can do a tail sweep for 2D6 and its breath weapon is this long now. Not too terrible... not nearly as bad as figuring out how much damage a Giant's greatclub does when it changes size... where you have to go to the "two steps forward one step back, do the hokey-pokey" table for damage dice size changes. Fortunately people have made summary tables of that as well, so usually you can skip the hokey-pokey.

As for the appeal to authority, I was largely joking with that; appeal to authority, after all, is a logical fallacy. ;)

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