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Old 05-02-2018, 12:55 AM   #11
evileeyore
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Default Re: Making dragons slightly tougher

Is there a reason the Dragon isn't casting Gloom (Starlight) or Darkness (followed by Darkvision) and then just owning the adventurers?

Or slapping Blur and Armor on itself if it wants to go Claw/Claw/Tail/Breath Weapon all up in melee? (Or honestly leading with Darkness, then Dark Vision, then Armor, then Blur just in case)


For non-casting Dragons...

Why, when it went first (and it did go first right?), didn't it slam the Knight to the ground and do some sweet Overrunning? Along with the Knight's puny friends (especially the squishy Wizard). Remember a Knight on the ground is a Knight you can chomp at leisure (1 - It's Close Combat so the Knight is screwed out of his strongest weapons, 2 - The Knight is Prone, so -4 to making attacks)



My real issue is it's low attack skills. If it's honestly supposed to be a challenge to a party, it should have skills in the low twenties, at least a 20 so it can easily smack heads or Deceptive Attack at -2 to the PC's defenses.
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Old 05-02-2018, 01:57 AM   #12
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Default Re: Making dragons slightly tougher

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Originally Posted by evileeyore View Post
Is there a reason the Dragon isn't casting Gloom (Starlight) or Darkness (followed by Darkvision) and then just owning the adventurers?
Because Darkness on an area big enough to conceal a dragon and Dark Vision on a SM +4 Monster is a serious spell casting commitment in terms of time, skill and FP that could easily lead to spell failures even with a decent skill?
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Old 05-02-2018, 02:43 AM   #13
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Default Re: Making dragons slightly tougher

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Because Darkness on an area big enough to conceal a dragon and Dark Vision on a SM +4 Monster is a serious spell casting commitment in terms of time, skill and FP that could easily lead to spell failures even with a decent skill?
What are you even talking about? There is no increase of time or skill penalty for casting over a large area or on a large target.

As for FP, that's what it's Energy Reserve of 35 is for. Even at a mere skill 16 (IQ 14 + Magery 4) it's only 19 FP to cover a 10 radius area. That's well over it's SM 4.

As for Dark Vision (19 FP/ER), as the GM you should either just be waving the cost multiplier (because it's cool for Dragons to buff themselves) or have it cast Infravision on itself for 11 ER.


I forgot there is no Gloom in DFRPG. I use it in my games, but then I use a lot of spells that were removed.
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Old 05-02-2018, 03:41 AM   #14
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Default Re: Making dragons slightly tougher

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What are you even talking about? There is no increase of time or skill penalty for casting over a large area or on a large target.

As for FP, that's what it's Energy Reserve of 35 is for. Even at a mere skill 16 (IQ 14 + Magery 4) it's only 19 FP to cover a 10 radius area. That's well over it's SM 4.

As for Dark Vision (19 FP/ER), as the GM you should either just be waving the cost multiplier (because it's cool for Dragons to buff themselves) or have it cast Infravision on itself for 11 ER.


I forgot there is no Gloom in DFRPG. I use it in my games, but then I use a lot of spells that were removed.

Darkness is 2 seconds to cast ( though that can be reduced with high skill hence my skill comment) so otherwise that's a 2 turn investment


Dark Vision is another second.

That's two spells to maintain and an admittedly modest penalty to effective skill, but with any other spells it adds up.


Infravision does not work on the spell Darkness
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Old 05-02-2018, 07:53 AM   #15
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Default Re: Making dragons slightly tougher

Dragons as written are flying caster monsters that don't fit in small places, not ground bound brute monsters. Most flying wizardy-type things do poorly when you whack them over the head. When fighting physically, dragons should be doing skirmishing tactics: move and attacks where they swoop in, rake, and swoop out.

Oh, you put them in a dungeon with a low ceiling and narrow walls? The adventurers encountered it at a range of 10 yards when they turned a corner or kicked open a door and the dragon rushed them for some insane reason?

Yeah. Dead dragon.

If you want the dragon to be "tough" in claw-to-sword combat on the ground with no spellcasting and no use of the environment, make the following changes:
1) follow the note in DFRPG Monsters and call its claws and bite "weapons" as well as its horns - no trying to bite the knight and getting a parry in the face turning into a sword slash in the face.
2) Give it about five times the hit points. Major Wounds will be nigh on impossible to land, so it won't face knockdown/stunning. It can just wade through the PCs, Overrunning them or even Trampling them for free damage while dishing out multiple attacks per turn and soaking up hits left right and center.


But that means that if it actually also uses spells and takes wing to make run-and-hit attacks on the PCs, it's going to murderate them.
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Old 05-02-2018, 08:08 AM   #16
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Default Re: Making dragons slightly tougher

Dragons are perceptive - the stock medium dragon has Per 16, and a dragon with higher IQ also has higher Per. PCs should rarely get the drop on a dragon.

Dragons are smart; they have a high enough Tactics skill that the GM can readily justify any number of dirty tricks, and there is very little reason they should not use whatever traits (including spells) they have available to their best advantage. A dragon that puts up a Windstorm, Greases the floor, and casts Panic the moment the PCs burst into the room is terrifying (literally).

Dragons fly; if your PCs encounter a dragon in an area where it doesn't have enough room to fly, then your PCs should not be encountering that dragon there, because the dragon probably heard them coming (dragons are perceptive) and made sure it wasn't hanging around in a tiny box (dragons are smart).

Dragons are strong; it's reasonable to have a dragon hurling 240-lb chunks of rock at delvers for 4d damage at 35 yards (and sadly, probably more effective than their breath weapon). There's little reason not to give one Throwing skill and fill the battlefield with convenient rubble.

Encountered in a small dungeon room, taken by surprise, and stuck on the ground, fighting in melee? A dragon is not particularly dangerous. But that probably shouldn't happen.
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Old 05-02-2018, 09:07 AM   #17
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Default Re: Making dragons slightly tougher

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Originally Posted by lachimba View Post
Darkness is 2 seconds to cast...
No it isn't. That's one of the things I distinctly double checked last night... (hint, check DFRPG Spells, not vanilla Magic)

But even so, 3 seconds isn't a serious commitment in time. You aren't just spawning it in when the PCs get to it are you?

Quote:
Dark Vision is another second.
Right, 2 seconds. Not a big deal when the Dragon should have had plenty of time (high Per stat) unless it was caught napping.

Quote:
Infravision does not work on the spell Darkness
Ah, so. Missed that one.

This is probably why my Dragons prefer to use Gloom (which I noted doesn't exist in DFRPG).




But all that aside, seriously, Close Combat sucks for DFPRG adventurers that aren't geared for it. It doesn't suck for the Dragon. So use it. Also Slam, Overrun, Trample. Heavily armored foes that have fallen and can't get up (takes a Change Posture maneuver and they just get auto slammed once they're up) that are stuck in Close Combat? That sucks to be them.



The last party that faced a Dragon in my games had that happen to them. The Dragon dropped down on them from above (Overrun), knocked down everyone but the Swashbuckler (who Acrobaticly Dodged to safety), had the Scout and Wizard unconscious in the first round, and the Knight and Cleric stuck in 'slam-lock' for the rest of the pitifully short combat.

The Swashbuckler ended up running away and was the only survivor. Granted they were a relatively 'fresh' adventuring party and were modestly geared for CC (they knew the dangers), but the Knight could barely penetrate the Dragon's DR with his knife (they weren't specifically prepared for Dragon fighting).
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Old 05-02-2018, 09:15 AM   #18
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Default Re: Making dragons slightly tougher

Dragons are a case where reading all the words and taking into account what they say is more important than usual. Some of the more important words:
Dragons are also intelligent – the older, the smarter. They use canny tactics
The GM decides exactly what this means, but with IQ and Tactics both at 12-16 out of the box, these tactics shouldn't be amateurish. Knights and holy warriors intended to lead small armies of NPCs have Tactics at 11-12, so dragons will usually outmaneuver them. See the description of the Tactics skill on p. 91 of Adventurers – and note that with Per 14-18, Night Vision 9, and Peripheral Vision, a dragon will normally have "time to prepare" and thus enjoy a starting advantage in battle. The most likely starting advantages are Air Superiority (Monsters, p. 27) and/or Like a Boss (Monsters, p. 7) . . . but a dragon in its lair may also exploit Home-Ground Advantage (Monsters, pp. 6-7) and/or Castle Doctrine (Monsters, p. 7).
The wisest can cast spells.
This is likewise up to the GM, but there's no reason why a dragon bent on exploiting a tactical advantage wouldn't use magic to those ends. When the door gets kicked in, the delvers might find themselves crossing a Glue area and mostly being unable to move, or to dodge or fight well, while the dragon flies safely out of reach and torches them. A medium dragon – with FP 15, ER 35, and probably its most valuable treasure as a huge power item – could fill a cave big enough for it to fly around in (say, 21 hexes across, same as its air Move, meaning an 11-hex-radius area of effect) for 33 energy minus one for high skill, which even leaves energy for other things.
these creatures vary widely, and the GM should customize each one. In addition to the fixed and suggested traits below, a particular dragon could have any advantage – most famously Alternate Form (Human), Danger Sense, Discriminatory Smell, Extra Heads (with Extra Attacks and different breath weapons), and See Invisible
Note the words "each one" rather than "tougher specimens" or "those intended as bosses." The stats blocks are bare bones to which capabilities are supposed to be added. A dragon with Danger Sense, Discriminatory Smell, and/or See Invisible will just about always have time for tactical preparations, both mundane and magical. The GM might consult Out of Your Element (Monsters, p. 16) and Heavy Metal (Monsters, p. 33) for further ideas. And "any advantage" includes stuff like Song of Terror (Adventurers, p. 18) for roaring dragons, Dragon Skin and Uninterrupted Flurry (Adventurers, p. 31) for your Chinese-themed ones who control their qi, and Improved Magic Resistance (Adventurers, p. 41) for casters.
A dragon is often less dangerous in a dungeon, where it cannot fly high and murder the delvers with impunity.
This is crucial. Really, no dragon should fight on the ground! Dragons are flying creatures, and like all flying creatures – bats, bees, birds, etc. – they lair in places they can reach and easily leave by flying. They're too intelligent to be shut up in a room with low ceilings and no exits big enough for a dragon. If knights are waltzing up and whacking them on the head, then presumably those knights have spells or potions of flight . . . in which case the delvers were prepared and deserve to reap the rewards of their foresight.

And for the medium dragon under discussion:
Dragon may have Magery 1-4, up to Energy Reserve 35 (Magical), and wizardly spells!
With IQ 14, this translates into even one point in a spell giving level 13-16. But there's no reason to limit casters to one point . . . they typically have four points in Diplomacy and Tactics, after all. Sensible minima for favorite spells are 15-18, with those likely to be deployed in combat easily reaching 20+ and scoring a casting-time reduction. And as noted above, such a dragon will use its priciest treasure as a power item; if the heroes stand to go home with a $10,000 crown, they'll have to deal with a dragon who has an extra 25 FP to burn.



I strongly counsel thinking about all this before simply ratcheting up ST, HP, DR, and combat skills. Which said, if a spellcasting dragon is allowed to spend a virtual 150 points on Magery 4 and Energy Reserve 35, there's no reason not to give another dragon the equivalent of +25 HP, +10 DR, and Striking ST 10 if you really want, so your medium dragon hits with ST 45 and has DR 16, HP 60. This is in the spirit of "any advantage." Likewise, if the caster has points in spells, this "tank" dragon might spend the same number of points on Brawling and Innate Attack at insane levels . . . possibly saving a few for Enhanced Dodge, which is still part of "any advantage."
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Old 05-02-2018, 10:47 AM   #19
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Default Re: Making dragons slightly tougher

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Originally Posted by lachimba View Post
The dragons in DFRPG (particularly non spell casting ones) seem a little too likely to go down to 10D missile spells, 4D skull hits and the like.

Any particular upgrades out there people recommend?
The time our 5 person DF party fought a small dragon on the ground when it was unprepared in a small corridor, the scout managed to get a critical hit to the eye. It still managed to get up, light the scout and the martial artist on fire, and put up a fight against the Great Hasted knight before she carved it into unconsciousness.

A single Missile Shield stops the 10d Missile spells, and meteoric iron bodkins aren't reliable as long as a dragon can Dodge. Most knights have Move 4 or so, so even a wounded dragon can usually disengage instead of waiting to get stunlocked via headblows.

My experience is that dragons don't need a lot more durability, but if you're really worried, giving them some Luck or Destiny Points is an easy upgrade. If the knight charges up for a massively deceptive skull strike and the dragon uses a Destiny Point to succeed on the Dodge, then the fight isn't instantly over.
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Old 05-02-2018, 09:24 PM   #20
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Default Re: Making dragons slightly tougher

Here's an example of a dragon that has been fleshed out for an encounter:
Ssymm the Just
Medium Dragon
Ssymm is known as "the Just" not because she's particularly fair or interested in justice (though like any dragon, she may make deals), but because her two heads represent balance: One breathes fire; the other, cold. She is exceptionally sinuous and flexible even as dragons go, able to twist around to keep an eye on everything happening in battle and to reach foes on all sides with her numerous natural weapons – and to avoid attacks!

As well, Ssymm is remarkably magically talented, her fire-breathing head possessing Magery (and specializing in Fire spells), her cold-breathing one boasting Power Investiture (Druidic). She has 35-point Energy Reserves for both kinds of magic. Moreover, her most prized possessions are an unmatched pair of collars fastened around her necks, and these are potent power items. Her cold-breathing head wears a 5-lb. silver band decorated with tiny sapphires, worth $8,500 and holding 25 FP for druidic magic. Her fire-breathing head wears a 5-lb. loop of billon adorned with small rubies, worth $6,000 and containing 19 FP for wizardly spells. Her ability to bond to two power items confounds druidic and wizardly scholars alike.

Ssymm's lair is a domed cavern 100' (33 yards) in diameter, with 50' (17 yards) of overhead clearance. If attacked there, she likes to fill it with druidic Hail and wizardly Smoke to damage, blind, and suffocate foes. A 17-yard-radius casting will do the trick, taking one second and costing 17 energy points in either case. If warned far in advance, she'll be sure to fill her lair with Mystic Mist as well.

Under no circumstances will Ssymm fight on the ground unless forced to do so – say, by having her wings crippled. She'll always stay at least four yards up to avoid her Area spells. Given that the average human is two yards tall, she can fly at an altitude of six yards and still use her reach 4 tail and wings, and perhaps try Frostbite (with -2 for two spells on and another -2 for distance, she has effective skill 16). When using breath weapons, she'll stay 10 yards up, even though that doesn't let her use her maximum number of attacks. She loves to "bomb" the area with Explosive Fireball, and when doing so flies far above while preparing the spell, dumping it on foes when she comes close to try other attacks.
ST: 35
DX: 14
IQ: 14
HT: 15

HP: 35
Will: 14
Per: 16
FP: 15

Speed: 7.25
Move: 6 (Air Move 14/21)

SM: +4

Dodge: 12
Parry: 11

DR: 6
Bite (16): 4d+2 impaling. Reach C, 1.
Cold Breath (16): Costs 2 FP per use. 1-yard-wide × 10-yard-long cone. 4d-1 burning – won't set fires.
Fire Breath (16): Costs 2 FP per use. 1-yard-wide × 10-yard-long cone. 4d-1 burning.
Front Claw (16): 4d+2 cutting or impaling. Reach C-3.
Hind Claw (14): 4d+3 cutting or impaling. Reach C-3.
Horns (16): 4d+2 cutting. Treat as weapon, not as body part, both to attack and parry! Reach C, 1.
Tail (12): 4d+3 crushing or double that for knockback only (no damage). Reach C-4.
Wing (14): 4d+2 crushing or double that for knockback only (no damage). Reach C-4.

Traits: 360° Vision; Bad Grip 2; DR 6 vs. cold/ice and heat/fire; Energy Reserve 35 (Druidic); Energy Reserve 35 (Magical); Enhanced Dodge 2; Enhanced Move (Air); Extra Attack 3; Extra-Flexible; Extra Head 1; Flight (Winged); High Pain Threshold; Horizontal; Immunity to Disease; Loner (12); Magery 4; Nictitating Membrane 6; Night Vision 9; Penetrating Voice; Power Investiture 4 (Druidic); Temperature Tolerance 4 (Cold); Temperature Tolerance 4 (Heat); Unfazeable.

Skills: Brawling-16; Diplomacy-14; Fast-Talk-14; Innate Attack (Breath)-16; Tactics-14.

Spells (Druidic): Dispel Magic-16; Fog-16; Frostbite-20; Hail-18; Mystic Mist-18; Recover Energy-16.

Spells (Wizardly): Create Fire-16; Deflect Energy-18; Explosive Fireball-20; Extinguish Fire-16; Fireball-16; Ignite Fire-16; Shape Fire-16; Smoke-18.

Class: Mundane.

Notes: Thanks to the extra head, Ssymm can attack more often than most medium dragons: four times. She can still use each natural weapon just once – but the extra head means that "bite," "breath," and "horns" represent two weapons apiece, and she can use one attack to lob an Explosive Fireball, if she has one ready. Ssymm's total DR is 12 vs. cold/ice and heat/fire attacks. Ssymm can cast two sorts of spells, but remember that the Energy Reserves and power items for each are separate. And despite all this duplication, Ssymm does not have Compartmentalized Mind; she must cast spells like anybody else, taking a single Concentrate maneuver instead of another maneuver. If she survives to become a large dragon, that may change . . .
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