Dragon Encounters

Making dnd combat fun, finding monsters that fit together, monster tactics and strategies, and other ways of using the monsters of dungeons and dragons

ADULT GREEN DRAGON: Threats, Trickery, Minions, and Magic,


Combat rating 18


1 Adult green dragon (CR 15)

3 Chuuls (CR 4)

2 Water elementals (CR 5)


Combat rating 20


1 Adult green dragon (CR 15)

2 Wereboars (CR 4)

1 Weretiger (CR 4)

1 Giant ape (CR 7)

3 Giant crocodiles (CR 5)


Combat rating 23


1 Adult green dragon (CR 15)

2 Tyrannosaurus rexes (CR 8)

1 Clay golem (CR 9)

2 Wyverns (CR 6)

2 Yuan-ti abominations (CR 7)


Combat rating 25


1 Adult green dragon (CR 15)

1 Lich (CR 21)

3 Shambling mounds (CR 5)

Green Dragons and Heroes Feast

Before I discuss the adult greens dragon’s tactics, I want to discuss the spell Hero’s Feast, and how to deal with it.

The spell Hero’s Feast is one of the more problematic spells in the Player’s Handbook, as far as the DM is concerned. Its main uses are to give the PCs immunity to poison damage, immunity to the poisoned condition, and immunity to fear. (It also gives a minor amount of temporary HP.) Poison damage and fear or some of the green dragon’s best weapons, and it losing them puts the dragon at a horrible disadvantage. My brother called the spell “Just built to kill green dragons.”

Sly Florish has an article about how to deal with this spell (here), in which he suggests making certain the players can’t cast it too often, and if really necessary changing the damage type of some monsters. He also acknowledges that this won’t work against the green dragon, as everyone already knows that the green dragon inflicts poison damage.

There is a solution, in my opinion. What just about everyone forgets is that the green dragon also knows about Hero’s Feast, and will surely act to counter it. (For the green dragon to not act to counter the spell would be like if the American military let their enemies set up heavy artillery right outside the White House, for goodness’s sake!)

Hero’s Feast doesn’t take so long to cast, but it takes an hour to eat the feast that it summons. That should be plenty of time for the dragon to arrive and interfere.

(As far as knowing about it, the dragon can see out of the eyes of animals if the PCs are within a mile of its lair. Even if they’re further out, the green dragon will have spies watching out for threats to itself. Finally, it would make a lot of sense to me that the dragon would have means to detect magic in general, and Hero’s Feast in particular. While such an ability isn’t in its stat block, there’s no reason it couldn’t have set up some type of permanent spell or acquired a magical item that would enable this.)

While the PCs are just settling down to eat, have the dragon arrive. Among the strategies it could use are:

  • Attacking them immediately, before they have time to acquire the immunities.
  • Making hit-and-run attacks, in the form of attacking every time its breath weapon recharges.
  • Coming in to talk to the PCs, and then gobbling down the entire meal before they can stop it. (This one’s my favorite.)
  • Setting off some effect that will destroy the food. This can be a fire, a flood, a mass of small rodents, or anything else you and the dragon can think of. Ideally, you would lure them elsewhere beforehand, but that isn’t absolutely necessary.

In several of these ideas, they might be able to salvage some of the food. If that’s the case, you might want to tell them that there isn’t enough food left to give all of the immunity, and let them choose one PC to boost. (2 PCs if they were really successful.) A single PC with immunities shouldn’t ruin the battle too badly, and it seems a fair reward for pulling off a save.

Non-Combat Tactics

As mentioned in the young green dragon article, green dragons love to parley. It gives them a chance to study their enemies, it buys them time to set up traps, and who knows, they might even manage to trick them into leaving the dragon alone.

I already mentioned, in the previous article, the idea of challenging their morals and/or offering another quest. The adult dragon has some additional non-combat methods it might use:

  1. Quest Relevant Information: A green dragon won’t have overlooked the fact that information is also a form of currency, and as such it will have collected no small amount of useful information. If the PCs are on a specific quest, it might have valuable information, perhaps regarding the villain, that it can share with them. For a price.
  2. Relationship With Nearby Cities: The dragon is not unlikely to have cultivated a friendly relationship with nearby cities, as that is also useful in terms of repelling invaders. One likely way is that it takes care of threats to their safety. Eventually, this will lead to them paying tribute. (Equally likely, it lures in these threats to their safety from time to time. It’s important that they remember what they owe it.)

This will mean that the cities will not be friendly to the PCs, should they learn or suspect that they’re after the dragon. They may even cause trouble for the players. That said, there will be some in the city who are suspicious of the dragon, and might provide some amount of help.

  • Deadman’s Switch: Finally, it would be in style for the dragon to have set up some calamity to befall the nearby cities should anything happen to the dragon. (One way to arrange this is to have the restraints preventing the calamity need renewing on a regular basis. Once the dragon is no longer around to do it, the restraints will soon fail.) The calamity to be poison that will fall into the rivers, a curse or a bound monster awaiting release, or something more creative.

The dragon can use any of these in conversation, to keep the PCs talking while it studies them, and to dissuade violence against it. It won’t reveal the details, but it might provide hints to keep them guessing.

To craft hints that your players won’t easily guess, either combine two or more different items together without telling them, or set up something that goes against traditional D&D lore. For example, if circumstances caused a white [artic] dragon to live in the Sahara, the green dragon could mention “Cold surrounded by heat.” “The least of my kind, waiting below the sands.” And the players will have a horrible time trying to figure it out.

I will also remind you that the players don’t have to figure out all of the riddles. If you want to give the players something, place one or two pieced of information that they can figure out in the middle of all the information that they can’t.

(I crafted this piece, to a certain extent, around the conversation Bilbo has with Smaug in The Hobbit. Specifically, Bilbo’s replies when Smaug asks for his identity. Over there, the adventurer [Bilbo] is the one providing the riddles, and the dragon is the one trying to solve them, but the rest is similar to what I did above. Bilbo’s riddles refer to numerous, unrelated adventures, and Smaug gains useful information from the single one he partially figures out “Barrel rider”.)

For its part, the dragon will also ask questions of the players, and complete refusal to answer might cause the dragon to withhold information itself. (Unless it’s delaying them while a trap is sprung around them. See the combat encounter below.) Anything it learns it can and will use against them, and/or pass on to the players’ other enemies. (If they choose to straight out lie, require deception checks. Lying is a skill, and not an easy one.)

Combat Encounter: (difficulty 17). Between a Dragon and a Hard Place

For a nasty trick that the dragon might use, have it start talking to them (possibly using any of the ideas presented above). Meanwhile, it’s already set up a lethal danger, which is rapidly approaching behind them. (Different ideas include breaching a dam to create a flood, setting a forest fire, or herding and sending a vast amount of something carnivorous toward them.)

The dragon will do what it can to distract them, so that by the time they notice the danger, they’ll be stuck with the danger on one side and the dragon on the other. Then, the dragon will activate its fear ability.

Even if some of the PCs make their save, they’ll be faced with the prospect of taking on the dragon by themselves. Also, taking that option means abandoning their companions.

Each of the dangers might well lead to them becoming scattered, at least somewhat, which will make it easy for the dragon to come after them as they struggle to survive the calamity.

The flood waters will wash them along equally, but they won’t necessarily be all together, and in any case being washed along doesn’t give you a good chance to fight back.

The fire can cause them to be scattered due to the smoke, and/or for patches of fire to come between them.

The carnivores are likely to lead to them climbing trees. Even if they’re in the same tree, all the dragon really has to do is smash at the tree with its tail until the tree falls. (If they take refuge in a cave, the dragon can batter at the cave entrance, forcing them to either flee of be buried under a ton of rock.)

The Dragon’s Lair

This section isn’t actually going to be ideas, the way I normally do. I just want to map out the dragon’s lair actions, and show their potential. (The green dragon has extremely deadly lair actions. They’re above and beyond what the other dragons in the Monster Manual have.)

One of the actions, the wall of thorns, is well designed to split up the party. You can do some damage by hitting them with it, but you’re very likely to do more by placing it between them. This will force some of them to spend a turn tearing it down or circling it, while the dragon tears into the others. And it can be replaced every other turn.

They might avoid be split up if they’re all standing close together (although then they’ll take a lot of damage from it), but if they clump up, they expose themselves to grasping roots. Anybody who fails their STR check is restrained, which means that they get taken out of the fight for 1-2 rounds while the dragon either fights the rest, or tears into one of them while standing out of range of the others.

(The dragon might use a wall of thorns on a subsequent turn to block the ranged and the spellcasters from staying where they are and targeting the dragon from there.)

The third option is to target a single PC with charm for a single round. Given its small area and short duration, this is the weakest, but is usable for times when the other lair actions are either recharging or not worth using. (Probably because using them again will end the previous use.) This lair action, while less strong, is still good. It can take a single PC out of battle for a round, and that’s something.

The Monster Manual tells us that the green dragon builds its lair in a cave, but at least two of the lair actions seem more appropriate for outdoors [thematically]. As such, I would suggest that the green dragon’s lair be a cave overlooking a meadow, and that the meadow be considered part of the lair. The fight can then take place there.

The Dragon’s Minions

The green dragon is a dragon that prides itself on slyness as much as on physical prowess. As such, it has a wide range of options as to how to use its minions. Sending them to scout out the PCs is an obvious move, but so is using them to distract the PCs so that the dragon can attack them from behind.

An even better idea might be for the dragon, possibly with a few minions to protect the dragon by soaking up some of the damage, to take the front, as have other minions sneak attack them when they’re not ready for it.

When creating tactics for a trickster, it’s worth thinking about what will really mess up your players, should it happen to them. Then, how can the green dragon cause that to happen, possibly with the help of minions or traps. If you can, then think of another few ways that it could be made to happen, and perhaps one or two more things that can happen.

The reasons for this repetition are twofold. 1) The first thing you thought of is likely to be too obvious. If it occurred to you right away, there is a good chance that some of your players will also think of it. 2) It will give you valuable backup. We all know that players virtually never act the way we predict. Sometimes the original plan can be salvaged, with a few slight changes, but many other times it can’t. This will give you what to do when it can’t.



The dragon will have eyes
on the area, and will be ready to act if and when it senses that something will
be a threat to itself if given time. The spell Hero’s feast is a prime
example. If they cast it near the dragon, have the dragon destroy the feast
before they can eat it.

The dragon might have other
information that the players need, such as information about their primary foe.
It won’t give this information out, but it might hint to it if the players
engage it in conversation, in the hopes of learning useful information for

The dragon is likely to
have acquired a certain loyalty from the nearby villages and cities, by saving
them from minor threats. (Ones caused by the dragon in the first place.) For
this reason, as well as fear of retaliation, the cities might be hostile to the

The dragon is also likely
to set up a deadman’s switch. (I.E. a method through which devastation will hit
the nearby towns if the dragon is killed.) If they don’t defuse it before
killing the dragon, the consequences will be dire.

A clever trick: Set up a
fire or flood to hit the PCs from behind, then engage them in conversation so
they don’t realize until it’s too late. Then activate fear, so they can’t rush
forward either.

The dragon’s wall of thorns
lair action has the potential to split the party, while grasping roots can
restrain half the party. The dragon will aim to fight the party in pieces, not
all at once.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About Me

I have been a DM for several years, and I was designing home RPG games since my young childhood. I have been a fan of many different types of games (computer, board, RPG, and more) and have designed several for my own entertainment. This is my first attempt to produce game content for a wider audience.