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 GREEN DRAGON: How to Run Parley and Combat


Combat rating 10


1 young green dragon (CR 8)

2 Displacer beasts (CR 3)

1 Werewolf (CR 3)


Combat rating 11


1 young green dragon (CR 8)

5 Ettercaps (CR 2)

1-2 Water weirds (CR 3)


Combat rating 14


1 young green dragon (CR 8)

2 Yuan-ti malisons (CR 3)

4 Yuan-ti purebloods (CR 1)

2 Saber-toothed tigers (CR 2)

2 Mages (CR 6)


Combat rating 16


1 young green dragon (CR 8)

2 Bugbear chieftains (CR 3)

2 Red-half dragon veterans (CR 5)

1 Gorgon (CR 5)

1 Hobgoblin warlord (CR 6)

2 Owlbears (CR 3)

How to Use

With the green dragon, we have a fairly unique type of monster, and completely unique type of dragon, in that this monster will try to avoid fighting when it can [against foes it can’t instantly demolish. Hopefully, that includes your players.]

The green dragon has two ways to go about doing this, through parley and through misdirection. We’ll discuss them each separately.


The dragon approaches them and asks to talk. It attempts to convince them that it isn’t their enemy, and that there is no reason to attack it. It will give the impression that it happened to bump into them, and that it’s actually very interested to meet them. (This is a dragon. It will never admit to being at a disadvantage.)

If they came to avenge wrongs that the dragon did, give thought as to what the dragon could use to deny his guilt. Can he deny the wrongdoings completely, or blame them on another monster?

If that isn’t plausible, find a way to blame it on the victims. If, for example, the dragon destroyed a village, tell a story about how the villagers killed the dragon’s younger siblings without provocation.

Whatever you do, once you choose a story, stick to it. Nothing exposes a lie worse than changing your story in the middle.

Have the dragon claim that he’s helping the land. Provide examples, whether true or false, of much worse monsters that the dragon chased away. Have a potential horror story of what might happen to the innocents in the region after the dragon is dead, and ask them if they’re prepared to face that happening.

Accuse them of only being there in the hopes of getting its treasure. Accuse them of turning their back on more important/urgent quests because they hoped to get so much treasure out of this one. Ask them sarcastically what they plan to spend the treasure on after it [the dragon] is dead.

Challenge them to prove the purity of their motivation by agreeing not to take the treasure even if they win. If they protest that that’s wasteful, challenge them to give it to orphans instead. (Saying orphans, or anything more specific than charity, helps make the need sound stronger, more real.)

Provide a different quest for them to take on, instead. Perhaps a dangerous monster, perhaps a dungeon with a different treasure. Make the claim seem stronger by having the dragon insist on getting a share of the treasure. When/if they accept, use this to lure them into a trap.

Alternatively, if there is a real monster or dungeon, it can let them fight it and then attack them when they’re at their weakest. With the dungeon, this will be after they complete it, as the dragon won’t want to go indoors/underground, but with the monster, this can be while they’re still fighting it.

Misdirection (Combat Encounter: Difficulty 10)

The young green dragon’s basic strategy will be to treat combat as a game of hide-and-seek/tag. What I mean is that it will choose to run, only to lead the PCs into trap after trap. Any time it has an advantageous position it will take advantage of it, only to run again as soon as it looks like the situation might be turning against it.

Let us start giving examples:

It will meet the PCs in a situation where it can parley, or it will attack them from hiding in an ambush. Parly was already discussed above. Your initial ambush can probably be run with no special tricks, although if there is something else to distract the players from the ambush site, all the better. See below.

When the dragon meets them in parlay, it will imply that it just happened to see them here. In reality, the site was carefully chosen to allow it the advantage if the PCs attack.

Some possibilities:

  • The ground is riddled with holes. This can be proper pit traps, scattered around generously, or just simple mole mounds, causing people to trip and fall, and rendering the entire area difficulty terrain. Possibly, the dragon scattered fallen leaves around generously, to disguise the ground.
  • The area where the dragon is standing is at the side of a hill. The ground is slippery with leaves. Perhaps add a tripwire or two. An attempt to rush the dragon will cause the PCs to start tumbling downhill into the river below. (The dragon has its claws dug into the ground, giving it purchase.)
  • While the trees look healthy, several of them are have been uprooted, and are barely standing up. Any attempt to throw an area-of-effect spell will cause everything to start falling down. Tripwires can also topple trees. Ideally, add a few wasp nests for extra effect.
  • My favorite: Have the ground between the dragon and the PCs be infested with some type of monster. Ideas include ankhegs, blights, ettercaps (technically, that one is in the trees), giant spiders, and insect swarms. When the fight begins, the dragon thumps its legs against the ground to wake them up, and/or let them know that they can attack. (The dragon might have them trained.)

None of these are meant to take down the PCs. They’ll just hold them up for a few rounds, giving the dragon an easy turn or two to attack, after which it will leave.

When the dragon retreats, it should not be portrayed as running in fear. Rather, the PCs aren’t worthy of any more of its time, and/or it enjoys playing with them, like a cat plays with a mouse.

 The dragon will generally move along the ground, not through the air. (Forest branches make flying difficult anyway.) It will leave trails for them to follow, keeping them just subtle enough that the players might not realize that they’re deliberate. In addition to possibly fooling the players, this lets the dragon loop around, so that it can ambush them when they walk into a prepared trap.

Like above, the dragon isn’t using any one of them to take down the party. They’re meant to frustrate and split up the party, giving the dragon the chance to take on any one PC in single combat. (Preferably a weak spellcaster, who isn’t suited to going against the dragon one on one.) Once the party rallies, the dragon will leave, to strike and strike again.

In addition to the ideas mentioned above (which you can use during the pursuit. Only one of them will be used during the initial meeting) here are some others’ ideas worth using.

  • The dragon leads them past a cave with monster in it, or another place where a monster dwells. Once they’re engaged in fighting that monster, the dragon can ambush them from behind. Once they start to win against that monster, the dragon will leave, to strike and strike again. (This one has the greatest potential to be used multiple times, especially if you alternate between uses of this and other traps.)
  • The dragon leads them into a thick thicket of thorns. The dragon can lure them in by pulling on the thorns via a vine, making them shake and letting them think that the dragon is in there, or by trapping and wounding an animal and placing it where it will shake the thorns, as bait. Once they’re inside, they’ll have a hard time maneuvering fast when the dragon bashes one of them. For extra difficulty, smear poison onto many of the thorns. (The dragon itself is immune. Green dragon, remember.)
  • A hill with a good deal of boulders. The boulders are loosely balanced (the dragon arranged it so) and moving quickly will cause boulders to shift, causing PCs who are on them to fall prone if they don’t make a DEX save, and perhaps trapping low-STR PCs for a turn, if the boulders roll over onto them and crush them.
  • The dragon leads them across the river via slippery stepping stones. By the time the PCs reach the river, the dragon has circled around and is hiding within the reeds. By targeting one of them, the dragon can knock them into the river, where the PC will have a disadvantage on fighting back, where the dragon is beneath the surface and safe from range attacks, and where they’ll have a hard time reaching the PC. For extra difficulty, have a current carry them downriver.

At some point, probably by the third-fourth time, the players are going to rightfully suspect an ambush. At that point, it’s time to double bluff them, putting the dragon in the more obvious place and providing a secondary place where they suspect is the dragon’s real location. Make sure to mention the secondary location in the same offhand way you used when it was the real location. If at those times, you described the false location and only mentioned that real location as an offhand “There are bushes around, mostly in [decoy location], do the same here.

It is possible that the players will give up on chasing the dragon, that they’ll try to ignore it and continue their quest without dealing with it. Unfortunately for them, the dragon won’t forget the PCs. Ignoring it just means that it will choose locations ahead of them from which it can pop out, use its poison breath, and then retreat. (The retreat afterwards is key. Have it hit them from the top of cliffs, or the far side of thick thornbushes.)

The green dragon is also from the few monsters that I would suggest letting them threaten an unconscious PC.

Normally, threating to finish off an unconscious PC is a move that I shy away from. It’s extremely nasty, it greatly increases the chances of character death, and it’s unlikely to be popular. It’s also not hard to find justification to prevent, as it is reasonable that any monster would rather focus on the enemies that are still fighting it rather than on an enemy that is already defeated.

All these reasons aren’t really reasons to never use this strategy, however. They are, rather, reasons to use it extremely infrequently. The green dragon is, I think, the place where it should be used.

Even a young green dragon has the attacks to finish off an unconscious PC in a single turn. Furthermore, the dragon’s saves are good enough that the players can’t be sure of taking it down with a spell, if they sneak attack. Finally, the green dragon has the smooth talking to be able to play such a scene.

If you use this idea, make sure to have in your head both exactly what the dragon will demand, and exactly what the dragon will settle for. Try to have in your head the dragon’s thought process, not just a list of what he’ll settle for, as you might have to adapt in a hurry if and when your players propose a bargain that you didn’t think of.

Avoid a back and forth where the dragon shoots down any of your players’ suggestions, and insists instead on the bargain being struck completely its way. Doing so inevitably bogs down the game, and often results in someone attacking out of frustration. Try to plan a few possible cease fire terms, or a few different possibilities of things that you can have the dragon demand. This will give the players’ choice, and will help reduce the threat of stalemate. Also have the dragon be somewhat willing to listen to their suggestions.



The dragon flees. They track it right into, or past, the lair of another monster. Once they’re busy fighting, the dragon attacks from behind.

The dragon leads them to a hill packed with boulders, where any wrong step can cause them to fall, and/or boulders to fall on them. Then it flies down and attakcs.

Tracking the dragon leads them across a lake. While they’re all strung out, trying to cross, the dragon surfaces, grabs one of them, and lets the current carry it and its prisoner

The dragon leads them into a thick thicket of thorns, where they’ll have trouble moving, and it can fight them one by one. Also, they can’t use fire magic, unless they want to burn.
Also, the thorns are smeared with poison.

Have the dragon negotiate.
It will deny guilt, question if they have a better motivation than greed, and offer them a side quest where they can get other treasure. When they’re exhausted from clearing that dungeon, then it can attack.

Once it knocks a PC unconscious, have it grab the PC, and bargain with them. If they don’t reach a bargain, the dragon can kill the PC.

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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.