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


BLUE DRAGON WYRMLING: Ideal Terrain to Make the Dragon Deadly

minions/allies

Combat rating 4

 

1 Blue dragon wyrmling (CR 3)

2 Animated armors (CR 1)

 

Combat rating 4

 

1 Blue dragon wyrmling (CR 3)

3 Dust mephits (CR 1/2)

2 Thri-kreen (CR 1)

 

Combat rating 6

 

1 Blue dragon wyrmling (CR 3)

2 Gargoyles (CR 2)

4 Piercers (CR 1/2)

2 Rust monsters (CR 1/2)

 

Combat rating 7

 

1 Blue dragon wyrmling (CR 3)

1 Spectator (CR 3)

1 Giant scorpion (CR 3)

1 Priest (CR 2)

1 Scout (CR 1/2)

3 Thugs (CR 1/2)

How to Use

I’ve already written that I feel that using wyrmlings is a mistake, that they are too weak and rob dragons of the majesty they should have. See black dragon wyrmling for further details.

I will mention that the blue dragon wyrmling is probably intelligent enough to realize when a fight is hopeless for it, especially given blue dragons’ tactical mindset. This doesn’t mean that it will run, draconic pride will prevent that, but it will try to bluff and intimidate the PCs out of attacking. Have it make threats about how its parent will be returning soon, and will hunt them down, or have it threaten to activate a trap and to topple a ledge or statue onto their heads.

These threats can be real, or can be bluffs, depending on how you want to run it. The wyrmling would threaten either way.

The fight being hopeless can be something it realizes immediately, or in can adopt this strategy one it sees that the fight is going hopelessly against it. The wyrmling doesn’t have the wisdom to know the PCs’ strength, so a wyrmling without allies will bluff against 3-4 PCs of any level, and will try to fight if there are less than that, again of any level. If it has minions, you’ll have to adjust based on its minions.

Combat Encounter 1: Tunnels. (difficulty 5)

If the dragon is going to fight, one terrain that would favor it is a network of tunnels.

Have the fight take place in a cavern with at least one tunnel, but preferably a number of them. The tunnel entrances can be adjacent to the floor, but you’ll get better milage out of putting the them up high, where the players will have to find a way to climb up to them. For added difficulty, make the ground under the base of the tunnels be unsuitable for standing on. This can mean a chasm, spikes, or a steep angle. Booby trapped also works.

In addition to the issue of accessing the tunnel, having the tunnel high up will also prevent ranged fighters and spellcasters from being able to shoot down into it. If you want to make it completely immune to ranges attacks and spells, add a curve into the tunnel.

The dragon will stay in the tunnel and threaten and bluster the PCs. If the PCs ignore it, it will come out whenever its lightning breath recharges, and go back in the same turn. Its blindsight should alert it to the PCs as it approaches the tunnel entrance, so that if they decide to wait on either side to grab it when it comes out, they’ll be disappointed.

If the players decide to attack it, they’ll probably have to choose one PC to fight, as the tunnel won’t be big enough for multiple PCs.

If they seem to be winning, and especially if they have multiple PCs in the tunnel, a very nasty trick that the wyrmling might use would be to use its burrowing movement to escape, dig over and past the PC(s), and then trigger a boulder set into the ceiling above the tunnel entrance to fall out of the ceiling and start rolling down the tunnel.

When the tunnel is built, it isn’t particularly difficult to set a few jutting out stones where they won’t stop the boulder going past one way but will be very hard to roll the boulder past going the other way. If you use that, the PCs in the tunnel will be stuck there. They’ll get out eventually, but it might take them a few rounds, and in the meantime the wyrmling gets to attack the PCs that weren’t judged capable of getting into melee with it.

A note of caution: The tunnel strategy only works when you start with the dragon being inside the tunnels. If you don’t, having the dragon go down one will look like fleeing, and will make the dragon seem weak. Don’t do that.

The tunnel strategy isn’t meant for when the dragon has minions, as it won’t be able to support them while down a tunnel. With minions, consider the bridge strategy.

Combat encounter 2: Bridge. (difficulty 4)

A good variant to tunnels is a bridge, especially if the dragon has minions. This will take the form of a raised area that starts near the PCs and moves down into the distance.

You probably have to climb up to in order to access it, and the far side is hard to reach except by being on the “Bridge”. This can be because the ground under it drops away into a chasm, or the ground under it can be a gushing river, sharp spikes among which it’s difficult to move, loose earth, sinkholes (discussed in the adult blue dragon article), or just barred off by strong fences. You can also do more interesting variants, if you prefer, such as the ground being on fire.

The wyrmling will rest on a platform on the far end, flying down periodically to strafe PCs with its lightning breath. If you set up the encounter so that the PCs start right near the bridge, it can also occasionally make attacks against vulnerable spellcasters. (see next paragraph.)

(Regardless of how you do it, the PCs have to start near the bridge and the bridge has to be short, as the dragon’s movement is limited, which means it has to save movement to retreat. The two choices are having the PCs on one side of the bridge, and any minions on the other side, or having the bridge at the PCs back, with the PCs between the bridge and the minions. I called the second choice near the bridge, in terms of the wyrmling attacking spellcasters, as it is the choice that doesn’t let the spellcasters hang back out of range.)

The reason I specified width to the platform, aside from making the wyrmling look good, is that it will help block ranged attackers and spellcasters from having line-of-sight without climbing up to the bridge.

Once they start along the bridge, especially if several of them are on the bridge, you might want to have the dragon (or even better, the minions) knock out the supports holding the middle part up. If that happens, the wyrmling’s platform will be safe, as it’s supported independently, and perhaps the first part of the bridge will be up, but the middle will fall with all PCs that are on it. The other reason you put stuff on the floor under the bridge is for this. (The first part was to stop them climbing up anywhere but the far side.)

Even without knocking out the middle of the bridge, if you make the bridge wobbly and/or slanted, they’ll need to make a DEX save to avoid falling off when taking damage or moving too fast. The truth is, even just making it narrow should be enough to force saves, but you’ll end up arguing with your players if you try that.

The bridge also exists to let minions bring the dragon anything it wants, and serve it in other ways. You can show this by letting them see the hooks meant to attach a ladder to. The ladder itself being removed when the PCs were seen coming. The top of the bridge should also look nice. (It suits the dragon that the bridge should be slanted or wobbly. Respect for the dragon means the minions should be afraid when they approach it.)

And the most obvious reason for the bridge is that it forces the PCs into a line, letting the wyrmling’s breath weapon hit more of them.

Combat Encounter 3: Piles of Metal (difficulty 4)

Dragons are famous for collecting massive piles of treasure, which covers the floor of their lair in huge, heaping mounds. (I would suggest a scenario where stepping in the wrong place causes the treasure to shift and trap them, except that then you’re giving them a fortune in money. The only levels where that might be okay are the levels where it’s not going to happen.)

I’ve heard it suggested that wyrmlings, who aren’t going to have so much actual treasure, will also collect metal armor and similar metal items of value. If you don’t want your players to get hold of them (full plate is worth 2,000 GP in the Player’s Handbook), you can say that it’s partially broken and/or rusted. Metal requires upkeep, unlike gold.

If it doesn’t make sense to you that a wyrmling might collect something like this, say that it’s a trophy room, or that the wyrmling keeps the room this way for defensive purposes.

The challenges of fighting in a room like this are many. To start with, the entire room is difficult terrain. Stepping in the wrong place might cause stuff to start to topple over, requiring a perception check to avoid (a high one, given that they’re attention is elsewhere), and a DEX save to avoid falling over because of it. In some areas there might be blades left unsheathed on the floor, or metal plate that broke and left sharp edges. Falling prone in such an area might do damage. Even stepping in such an area might do damage.

The dragon can use this metal to hide, letting him avoid ranged and spell attacks made by PCs that can’t see him. It can deliberately land in the wrong area, to cause a pile of plate to topple over onto the PCs, knocking them down and/or burying them.

Finally, the dragon’s breath weapon is no longer constrained into just moving in a line. Metal conducts electricity, which means that there is no reason that PC not in the lightnings direct line should escape all damage. It’s up to you whether you want to do the same amount of damage to PCs out of the direct radius, or whether to rule that they take a smaller amount of damage.



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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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