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

YOUNG BLUE DRAGON: Master of Tactical Fighting


Combat rating 11


1 Young blue dragon (CR 9)

3-4 Quaggoths (CR 2)

1 Quaggoth thonot (CR 3)


Combat rating 13


1 Young blue dragon (CR 9)

1 Bulette (CR 5)

2 Umber hulks (CR 5)


Combat rating 16


1 Young blue dragon (CR 9)

1 Hill giant (CR 5)

2 Gorgons (CR 5)

4 Ogres (CR 2)

1 Oni (CR 6)


Combat rating 18


1 Young blue dragon (CR 9)

3 Air elementals (CR 5)

1 Galeb duhr (CR 9\6)

1 Dao (CR 11)

How to Use – Combat Encounter (difficulty 10)

The blue dragon is a strategist. It will take note of any weaknesses in its opponents, and fight accordingly. This means that against a group of melee PCs, if will strafe them with its breath, and forgo attacking on the rounds that it can’t if that will protect itself. Against spellcasters, it will enter melee, putting itself into their midst so as to reduce the potential for area-of-effect spells.

Against your standard party of mixed adventurers, it will probably rely on distance attacks. The other thing it can do is try to split them up. I’ll give ideas for both below.

(I would note that the blue dragon, run properly, is the most difficult of the chromatic dragons to fight against. While the red dragon has a higher CR, reflecting higher HP, AC, and amounts of damage it inflicts, it also has an outlook of prizing brute strength and looking down on tactics being below it. While it is hardly an easy encounter, I consider a blue dragon worse.)

How to Strafe

The blue dragon’s basic move will be to dive down, use its lightning breath to hit as many PCs as possible without exposing itself, and them fly back up that same turn. On turns when its lightning breath is recharging, ideally it will hide in cloud or around a cliff. If this isn’t possible, if it isn’t being targeted by multiple spellcasters, it will use the dodge action, and move toward a hiding place.

If there are multiple spellcasters, or if they find some other way to counter the blue dragon’s tactics, or if you’re just getting bored and want to shake stuff up a little, you might try some of these ideas:

Positioning: The dragon positions itself so that the sun is at its back. Assuming a bright afternoon sun, and given the dragons blue color, seeing it is going to be awfully hard. Also, the dragon keeps moving. Sure, they know approximately where it is, but throwing a Fireball (example) requires you to know where to throw it to, how far to throw it, and such. Other spells might require sight.

(I would handle this by having the mage make a perception roll, with the spell missing if he rolls too low, and the spell slot wasted. Make certain the player knows the possibility of missing before doing this.)

Hostages: Have the dragon fly down and grapple a PC, any PC. Given that the dragon will then fly in curves, making itself hard to hit, they won’t be able to carefully aim the spells to miss the PC and only hit the dragon.

Regarding attack rolls, the dragon isn’t so much bigger than the hostage. If it holds the hostage in front of it, I might give it the benefit of half-cover. (There’s also a possibility/probability that the ranged attacks will hit the hostage instead of the dragon. I think friendly fire could be an interesting idea, but it’s up to you to decide whether to implement it, and how.)

(Even if they have careful spell, or the evocation wizard’s ability, I don’t know that I’d let them automatically hit the dragon and not the hostage. I would give them a decent chance on a dice roll. Again, make certain they know before they roll.)

When its lightning breath recharges, it can drop the hostage onto a different PC, thereby inflicting bludgeoning damage on both (if the PC underneath doesn’t manage to dodge) and lining them up nicely for its breath weapon. Next turn, it will take a hostage again.

As a bonus, having a hostage means that it can use its multiattack instead of dodging. This doesn’t preclude it from ducking and weaving. That’s movement, not an action. (Dodging means that reacts to attacks against it, not just that it moves. From a gameplay perspective, attacks against the dragon won’t have disadvantage, but the dragon can benefit from cover. I’m not suggesting that spells shouldn’t be able to hit the dragon, I’m suggesting that they shouldn’t be able to aim to miss the hostage.)

Stealth: When all else fails, switch to stealth. After unleashing its lightning breath, the blue dragon runs away, using the dash action if it couldn’t get far enough the turn it breathed lighting. Even if the landscape is featureless dessert, that won’t matter. The blue dragon can hide inside the earth itself, or throw up a barrier to hide its movements.

Once it’s far enough away that they don’t know where it is, it will land, and begin to approach them from the ground. Most likely, it will first circle around them, so that they don’t even know where it’s coming from.

After that, there are two choices. One is to lie in ambush. It almost certainly knows which direction they’re moving. If there are bushes, boulders, or any other type of promising terrain ahead of them it can get there first and then lie in wait.

It won’t necessarily shoot at them the first time it gets a target; it will wait to see if they clump up and it can target more of them. It doesn’t have to get near them, either. It has quite a range on its breath weapon. If it senses that they aren’t coming in the direction it thought, it will switch to the other option and go after them.

The other option is stalking. It will go after them, probably from a direction they aren’t expecting. It will walk on the ground, so they can’t spot it, and as it draws closer it will slow its pace and take advantage of bushes, boulders, and the like to stay hidden. Once it’s in range, it will target them. It can also combine the options, moving near and then hiding for the last bit of movement.

If you use these options, be ready to have to describe the land all around. What you can do is prepare a map for yourself, outlining all the big bushes and boulder clumps (you can straight out ignore the small bushes as totally irrelevant. Otherwise, mapping an outdoor location would be straight out impossible) and fill out the details on a separate piece of paper for them as they discover it. Or you can take the easy way out and decide that they somehow know it all, and let them see your map.

The most likely way to defeat this dragon is by figuring out where it will go, and/or by setting a trap for it. I would probably let the trap succeed, both because the dragon’s intelligence isn’t so high and (more importantly) to help the game move along. The same trap should not work twice.

All this is without terrain advantages. If you want to play with terrain advantages, have it occupy a large bluff from which it will dive down and attack. It can probably dive down and retreat within the same turn, which means they’ll need to climb and take the cliff to stop it. Attacking them while climbing is something it might do, or dumping down loose rubble on them to knock them loose. That said, the players will probably end up retreating if you don’t give them a reason they have to stay. (Perhaps an item they have to acquire, or a doorway they have to somehow pry open. Either that, or put the doorway at the top of the bluff.)

To make their lives really miserable, place multiple bluffs in the area.

How to Separate the PCs

As mentioned above, the blue dragon’s other optimal strategy is to separate the PCs from each other. A few ways to do that include:

Rockfall: If the dragon drops rocks, or better yet causes part of a cliff to fall on them, one or more PCs might get trapped under the rubble. It will take a round or two to dig them out, and in the meantime the dragon can tear into the PCs that aren’t trapped. Also, attacking them might make it hard for them to rescue the trapped PCs.

If they’re in a narrow canyon, or have something at their backs, they might not be able to retreat. If so, just the fact they are separated is lethal.

Dust clouds: If the dragon can drop enough sand and/or loose dirt on them from up high, it can reduce the visibility in the area. This will be helped if a wind is blowing the right way. Done properly, the PCs will end up in the middle of a cloud of dust.

Coordinating with each other inside the cloud will be impossible, which means that the blue dragon can move around inside the cloud and attack PCs one at a time. (It can’t see in the cloud too well either, which means it can’t choose who it ends up fighting, or even if it’s still fighting the same one two turns in a row. Still, the reality of a one-on-one fight will favor the dragon.

Grapple: The third option is to grapple a single PC and drag them to somewhere inaccessible. An obvious possibility is up a cliff, but dragging them into a tunnel and collapsing the tunnel would work just as well. The problem is that it can’t collapse the tunnel on the turn it takes the PC prisoner, as that will take an action. As such, the entrance to the tunnel has to be not easily accessible, or the other PCs will enter the tunnel before the dragon can collapse it.  

(Collapsing the tunnel will take an action. It doesn’t have to use up a full round of actions, though. It can use one of its attacks to take down a weak wall or pillar, or better yet cut through a rope or break a support beam. The lets it hit the PC with the other two attacks.)

The third place to drag the grappled PC is underground. Have it come at them from below, grapple a PC and then burrow back down. To avoid collapsing the cave it found or hollowed out, have it enter from the side. This will also make the cave a little harder for the other players to find.

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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.