Dragons in Echelon, Part 6: Expert Red Dragons

I have been accused, pretty fairly, of not providing enough concrete examples. I tend to stop when I find I have a good idea how something will look.

I’m trying to get better about that. In this case, I’m going to expand on the previous post about red dragons and show what they might look like in practice.

I will present several below, at different tiers. Each will show the baseline red dragon without all the talents assigned, then one that has been somewhat more fleshed out. At each point I will show them with their capstone talent, so they will be at the top of the tier.

For the purpose of this example, I will use the Eldritch Thread of Blight as this dragon’s required Spell Knowledge talent. The various spell lists used in this Red Dragon series are presented in Dragons in Echelon, Part 6a: Red Dragon Spell List Appendix.

Expert Red Dragon Caster

The Expert Red Dragon is an eighth-level creature in Echelon. In Pathfinder terms it should be a reasonable challenge for a fourth-level party.

Baseline Red Dragon Caster

The Baseline Expert Red Dragon is required to have the following talents:

  • Expert Cornerstone: Dragon Caster
  • Expert Fire Resistance (15 points)
  • Expert Breath Weapon (fire, 2d6, 30′ cone)
  • Expert Intimidate
  • Expert Spell Knowledge (any)
  • Expert Capstone: Red Dragon

This is an eighth-level creature, so has a Level Bonus of +4. This red dragon has:

  • Level 8, Level Bonus +4, Tier 2
  • Martial Training Bonus +0
  • Caster Training Bonus +4
  • Attack Bonus +4
  • Fortitude +4
  • Reflex +4
  • Will +4
  • Caster Level 8
  • Natural Armor: +0
  • Armor Class: 14 (10 + Attack Bonus +4)
  • Spell Resistance: +2
  • Hit Points: (Level 8 + MTB 0) * 2 = 16
  • Magic Points: (Level 8 + CTB 4) * 2 = 24
  • Expert Thread Power: Sickening Touch (see below)
  • Fire Resistance 15
  • Smoke Vision

With a Caster Training Bonus of +4 this dragon can cast (D&D-) second-level spells as an eighth-level caster — just as a human wizard might. This dragon knows and can cast the following spells:

  1. arcane markcauterizedetect magicflare
  2. burning handscause fearcolor spraycomprehend languagesdispel magic (lesser)flare burstidentifyray of enfeeblement
  3. blindness/deafnessboiling bloodburning gazedaze monsterflaming spherelocate objectpyrotechnicssee invisibilitytouch of idiocy

To compare, the Pathfinder Red Dragon… well, there isn’t a CR 4 red dragon.

This seems a little weak yet, but this dragon still has two Expert common talents, two Basic common talents, and a Basic cornerstone and Basic capstone unassigned.

Expanded Red Dragon Caster

This dragon builds on the baseline to flesh things out a little. I will assign some more talents and make it a little more robust.

  • Expert Cornerstone: Dragon Caster
  • Expert Fire Resistance (15 points)
  • Expert Breath Weapon (fire, 2d6, 30′ cone)
  • Expert Intimidate
  • Expert Spell Knowledge (any)
  • Expert Iron Will
  • Expert Combat Style
  • Expert Capstone: Red Dragon
  • Basic Cornerstone: Dragon Warrior
  • Basic Great Fortitude
  • Basic Lightning Reflexes
  • Basic Capstone unassigned

This leads to the following

  • Level 8, Level Bonus +4, Tier 2
  • Martial Training Bonus +3
  • Caster Training Bonus +4
  • Attack Bonus +7
  • Fortitude +8
  • Reflex +6
  • Will +6
  • Caster Level 8
  • Natural Armor: +1
  • Armor Class 18 (10 + Attack Bonus +7 + Natural Armor +1)
  • Spell Resistance: +2
  • Hit Points: (Level 8 + MTB 3 + Great Fortitude 2) * 2 = 26
  • Magic Points: (Level 8 + CTB 4 + Iron Will 4) * 2 = 32
  • Expert Thread Power: Sickening Touch (see below)
  • Fire Resistance 15
  • Smoke Vision
  • Endurance
  • Combat Reflexes (may apply interrupts while flatfooted)
  • Improved Initiative

Same spell casting ability as above, but more of it because of the bump from Iron Will.

Expert Red Dragon Warrior

To turn it around, not all red dragons focus quite as much on their casting abilities, though they still are required to have a fair amount. This red dragon has minimized the casting abilities.

Baseline Red Dragon Warrior

The Baseline Expert Red Dragon is required to have the following talents:

  • Expert Cornerstone: Dragon Warrior
  • Expert Fire Resistance (15 points)
  • Expert Breath Weapon (fire, 2d6, 30′ cone)
  • Expert Intimidate
  • Expert Spell Knowledge (any)
  • Expert Capstone: Red Dragon

This is an eighth-level creature, so has a Level Bonus of +4. This red dragon has:

  • Level 8, Level Bonus +4, Tier 2
  • Martial Training Bonus +2
  • Caster Training Bonus +2
  • Attack Bonus +6
  • Fortitude +4
  • Reflex +4
  • Will +4
  • Caster Level 6
  • Natural Armor: +2
  • Armor Class: 18 (10 + Attack Bonus +6 + Natural Armor +2)
  • Spell Resistance: +0
  • Hit Points: (Level 8 + MTB 2) * 2 = 20
  • Magic Points: (Level 8 + CTB 2) * 2 = 20
  • Expert Thread Power: Sickening Touch (see below)
  • Fire Resistance 15
  • Smoke Vision

With a Caster Training Bonus of +2 this dragon can cast (D&D-) zero-level spells as an sixth-level caster — low-level spells, but cast fairly hard. This dragon knows the following spells, and can cast the zero-level spells below.

  1. cauterizeflare
  2. burning handscause fearcolor sprayflare burstray of enfeeblement
  3. blindness/deafnessboiling bloodburning gazedaze monsterflaming spherepyrotechnicstouch of idiocy

This seems a little weak yet, but this dragon still has two Expert common talents, two Basic common talents, and a Basic cornerstone and Basic capstone unassigned.

Expanded Red Dragon Warrior

This dragon builds on the baseline to flesh things out a little. I will assign some more talents and make it a little more robust.

  • Expert Cornerstone: Dragon Warrior
  • Expert Fire Resistance (15 points)
  • Expert Breath Weapon (fire, 2d6, 30′ cone)
  • Expert Intimidate
  • Expert Spell Knowledge (any)
  • Expert Natural Armor
  • Expert Combat Style
  • Expert Capstone: Red Dragon
  • Basic Cornerstone: Dragon Caster
  • Basic Great Fortitude
  • Basic Lightning Reflexes
  • Basic Capstone unassigned

This leads to the following

  • Level 8, Level Bonus +4, Tier 2
  • Martial Training Bonus +4
  • Caster Training Bonus +3
  • Attack Bonus +8
  • Fortitude +6
  • Reflex +6
  • Will +4
  • Caster Level 7
  • Natural Armor: +4
  • Armor Class 22 (10 + Attack Bonus +8 + Natural Armor +4)
  • Spell Resistance: +1
  • Hit Points: (Level 8 + MTB 4 + Great Fortitude 2) * 2 = 28
  • Magic Points: (Level 8 + CTB 3 + Iron Will 0) * 2 = 22
  • Expert Thread Power: Sickening Touch (see below)
  • Fire Resistance 15
  • Smoke Vision
  • Endurance
  • Combat Reflexes (may apply interrupts while flatfooted)
  • Improved Initiative

With a Caster Training Bonus of +3 this dragon can cast (D&D-) first-level spells as an seventh-level caster — low-level spells, but cast fairly hard. This dragon knows the following spells, but cannot cast the second-level spells.

  1. arcane markcauterizedetect magicflare
  2. burning handscause fearcolor sprayflare burstray of enfeeblement
  3. blindness/deafnessboiling bloodburning gazedaze monsterflaming spherepyrotechnicstouch of idiocy

A bit better than before, but still not quite up to the standard of the Dragon Caster above.

Comparison

This table shows some of the differences between the dragons above.

Value Baseline Caster Expanded Caster Baseline Warrior Expanded Warrior
Level 8 8 8 8
Martial Training +0 +3 +2 +4
Caster Training +2 +4 +2 +3
Attack Bonus +4 +7 +6 +8
Caster Level 6 8 6 7
Fortitude 4 8 4 6
Reflex 4 6 4 6
Will 4 6 4 4
Natural Armor 0 1 2 4
Armor Class 14 18 18 22
Hit Points 16 26 20 28
Magic Points 24 32 20 22
Spell Resistance +2 +2 +1 +1
Highest Spell Level 2 2 1 1

It looks as if the differences between the Expanded Caster and Expanded Warrior are not very large. At low tiers that is quite appropriate, there isn’t much room to diverge, and I tried to keep these builds as balanced as possible for comparison purposes. I could have separated them further (neither takes the other Basic dragon cornerstone) but I felt that was a less-likely way to design these. I may explore that another time.

Closing Comments

I had planned to present the dragons at higher tiers as well, but this is getting long enough.

Hmm. I suppose I should throw in somewhere that they have natural attacks. I think I’ll fold that into the Dragon cornerstones, I’ll update them later.

Overall… I think these are probably more or less in line with other creatures of their level. It is a little tricky to compare them to the red dragons from the base rule set (Pathfinder) because Pathfinder red dragons don’t exist at this level. I will expand on this in another post, much of my time writing this one was actually spent preparing and formatting the spell lists.

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  1. Pingback: Dragons in Echelon, Part 7: Heroic Red Dragons | Echelon d20 - An RPG framework based on the d20 system.

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