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


BLACK DRAGON WYRMLING: With Darkness and Fog

minions/allies

Combat rating 3

 

1 Black dragon wyrmling (CR 2)

2-4 Needle blights (CR 1/4)

1 Vine blight (CR 1/2)

 

Combat rating 3

 

1 Black dragon wyrmling (CR 2)

1-2 Swarms of quippers (CR 1)

 

Combat rating 4

 

1 Black dragon wyrmling (CR 2)

2 Carrion crawlers (CR 2)

 

Combat rating 5

 

1 Black dragon wyrmling (CR 2)

3-4 Lizardfolk (CR 1/2)

1 Lizardfolk shaman (CR 2)

1 Specter [poltergeist] (CR 2)

My first piece of advice regarding wyrmlings would be not to use them. Dragons are the most epic, the most awesome, of all fantasy monsters, and a dragon encounter should be a hard one, with the players struggling to survive. (Especially the first time you use a dragon.) Wyrmlings shatter this concept.

I have seen people online advocating for not using young dragons either. Personally, I don’t think it’s necessary to go that far (although I would recommend having the dragon’s CR be at least 2 levels above the players’ levels), but using wyrmlings really doesn’t seem worthwhile.

With all that said, I am going to provide encounters for them. If the encounters appeal to you, I still recommend that you create a different monster that uses the wyrmling’s stats to run these encounters, thereby letting the majesty of dragons remain undiminished. (I’d suggest calling them wyverns, but D&D already has quite a nice wyvern statblock. Maybe different types of wyverns?) I will also note that you will never find wyrmlings used in my minions/allies tab, except of course in their own articles. My contribution to not using them.

Encounter 1: darkness. (difficulty 3)

The players are underground, in a cave complex with multiple tunnels leading off in multiple directions. The wyrmling is above their heads, too high for them to be able to pick out in the darkness (darkvision has limited range. If necessary, he can be hidden by a rock outcropping.)

The wyrmling will take advantage of the cave’s echoes amplifying its voice to present itself as a much greater threat than it actually is. It will order them away from whichever paths or actions it doesn’t want them to take, and hit them with its breath weapon or drop rocks down onto them if and when they don’t listen to it. Even once them find out that it’s only CR 2, these tactics will be annoying, and difficult to counter.

(To hit them with its acid breath, you might want to consider increasing its range when it’s shooting down. Logically, there is no reason that the acid breath should stop after 15 feet, if it’s shooting straight down. This will prevent it from hitting more than one target.)

(Once it’s revealed, you also have the option of having it make hit and run melee attacks against the spellcasters, who can’t really make attacks of opportunity. This is only worth it if it can get behind a rock outcropping or other place where they can’t shoot it by the end of its turn, or if the players are otherwise occupied and can’t focus on it.)

If you want this to have a chance of working, make certain that the paths or actions it’s warning them away from aren’t crucial to the quest, or something that they’ve already spent time and effort on trying to achieve, and that they have another way forward. (As in, that listening to the dragon doesn’t leave them with no idea of what to do.) Bluffs don’t work when the ones being bluffed have no choice but to call the bluff.

Encounter 2: fog (difficulty 4)

Swampland is prone to heavy fog, as in the kind of fog where you can barely see your hand in front of your face. Dragons, who can fly, don’t need to see where they’re going, and have 10 feet of blindsight, are going to be less bothered by this than your players will.

The dragon will always be out of view. It will make hit and run attacks, not hard when five feet away counts as out of sight. (The one it attacks will get to make opportunity attacks against it. That said, once they’ve successfully hurt it once, it will know to target a different PC instead.)

In the meantime, among the difficulties they’ll be having will be keeping track of direction (this is a great opportunity to have them wind up somewhere they never meant to go) and keeping track of where is and isn’t safe to walk. Green grass may conceal deep mud, and rocks may be firm or not. Also, in fog you can’t tell whether the patch of mud ahead of you is capable of being stepped over, jumped over, waded through, or completely impassible.

You can only run problems of this type 2-3 times, at most, before your players will get frustrated at you, but those 2-3 times are going to be tricky. One of the most common ways to solve it is by using a walking stick to see how deep the mud is, and how far the far side is, and having the wyrmling attack the player doing that will likely cause them to drop the stick. (Even if the wyrmling doesn’t think to do that the first time, once it happens it will repeat the move.)

In addition, this situation can lead to them slipping on rocks and falling into the mud, whereupon they’ll need help [and rope] to extract themselves. Again, this will be made far more complicated by the wyrmling attacking them and their rope as they attempt to rescue the party member.

Attempting to grapple the wyrmling as it flies past (using the readied action) can also cause them to be dragged off the rocks and into the swamp. Perhaps if they fail a grapple check, they should need to make a DEX save to see if they keep their balance.

Postscript: On Whether to Use Wyrmlings

The only reason I can think of for this stat block to exist is that people like using dragons. Even a DM who is running a game for the lowest level players will be tempted to use them, and his players might request/demand it. Therefore, they felt that they had to give a form of dragons that even the lowest levels can fight.

To resolve this issue without using wyrmlings, I am going to provide a set of 4-5 bonus articles, one for each chromatic dragon, that involve low level PCs and an adult, chromatic dragon. Combat isn’t the only way to use a dragon, after all. (I also hope to provide 1-2 articles for metallic dragons.)



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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.

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