Dragon Magazine: Judge Advice Collection (Part 2 of 8)

These are may reading notes of various Dragon Magazine articles. Learn more about the collection here.

Run For Your Lives: How to DM a dragon

Author: Adam Kay Issue: Dragon Magazine #284 Rating: ★★★★☆

In this solid two-page article, Adam offers five guidelines for running dragons:

  1. Less is more. Use dragons sparsely, and not as cannon fodder.
  2. Foreshadowing. Provide clues and escalate tension before the encounter. Be careful not to overdo it though, for players might not care by the time they finally meet the dragon in question.
  3. Describing the dragon. Flip the first guideline and go all in when describing the beast; avoid outright stating “it's a red dragon” but provide as vibrant and vivid description as you can.
  4. Attack style. Save the breath attack for dramatic moments; use dragon's claws, horns, bite, tail, and spells. Create unique spells for the dragon, even if minor modifications of existing spells.
  5. Thinking like a dragon. “Unless you're running a comedy campaign, dragons should never do anything stupid.” Also, dragons are too smart to fight to death. The exceptions might be: end of the world, love, defending their young, no escape, so bored it doesn't care.

There is a good table about what dragon always/never does, and there is one table with attempted humor.

Dragon damage revised: Claw and bite attacks graded by size and age

Author: Leonard Carpenter Issue: Dragon Magazine #98 Rating: ★★★★★

Wonderful, magnificent one-pager with tables for claw/claw/bite damage depending on the dragon's type, age (very young to sub-adult, young adult to old, and very old to ancient), and size (small, average, huge).

Types included are: black dragon, blue dragon, brass dragon, bronze dragon, copper dragon, gold dragon, green dragon, red dragon, silver dragon, white dragon, chromatic dragon, and platinum dragon.

This one will most definitely be included in the final Judge Advice collection.

Dragon damage revisited: Finishing the figures for physical attacks

Author: Leonard Carpenter Issue: Dragon Magazine #110 Rating: ★★★★★

Leonard brings us more joy, addressing dragons published in the Fiend Folio and Monster Manual II: cloud dragon, mist dragon, shadow dragon, li lung (earth dragon), lung wang (sea dragon), pan lung (coiled dragon), shen lung (spirit dragon), t'ien lung (celestial dragon), yu lung (carp dragon), chiang lung (river dragon), tun mi lung (typhoon dragon), crystal dragon, topaz dragon, emerald dragon, sapphire dragon, amethyst dragon, ruby dragon

The Cult of The Dragon: Describing the dreaded dracolich and the sorcerers who create them

Author: Ed Greenwood Issue: Dragon Magazine #110 Rating: ★★★★

Greenwood is verbose. Very creative and inspiring when at his best; terminally tedious when at his worst. The text, albeit dense, is firmly in the camp of “inspiring.”

Ed introduces “Cult of the Dragon” from his campaign, and describes rituals and procedures they must go through in order to create the titular dracolich, an undead dragon.

There is enough gameable information there to run a similar cult, and adjust it to ones own world. What I especially appreciate is the explanation of dragon conversion process with matching tables.

This allows me to actually run a cult as a living faction without too much preparation. I have a list of items they need, tables to roll to gauge success, spells they prefer, and their ambitions and goals.

Dracolich is so damn cool that it is worth suffering through five pages of thick three-column text. Five stars.

The Draconomicon: The lesser evils of the draconian undead

Author: Thomas Kane Issue: Dragon Magazine #234 Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Ten years after the Greenwood's article and dracolich, Kane brings us more undead dragons. In essence, he creates “templates” that can be used with any dragon to determine their undead variant.

Lesser undead dragon types include zombie, skeleton, ghoul, ghast, and wight dragons. Greater undead dragon types include wraith, mummy, spectre, ghost, and vampire dragons.

Although I like all the dragon variants in the article, I cannot shake the feeling that the whole text is extremely padded. Five pages to explain two simple tables (lesser and greater undead variants).

In fact, let me try to summarise the undead variants:

You can find more fluff in the article.

Tailor-made treasure: Develop different hoards for different dragons

Author: Roger E. Moore Issue: Dragon Magazine #98 Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Moore opens this four page article (three when you remove ads) with explaining the dragons' lust of treasure: power and influence. Then he advises to consider the following when determining the dragon's treasure hoard: age, allies and enemies, environment, intelligence, power enhancement, pre-existing hoards, and weakness compensation. He also offers a few words on protecting the hoard (read “Self defense for dragons”) and role-playing dragons (talk to invaders).

The article isn't bad, but I also don't find it particularly useful. Further, it suffers from being too generic and abstract. If you've read fantasy books or watched movies including dragons everything shared should be old news.

#Resource #DragonMagazine

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