Sickness update: still sick. A couple of the other writers have offered to pick up Daily Monster until I am well again, but I’m too stubborn for this and refuse to have an Eladrin write my column. Round three of writing on meds.
Regardless of their color, all Guard Drakes have the same base stats. Their lowest stats are INT (-3) and CHA (-2) followed by their WIS and DEX(+0). These creatures’ strength lies on their CON and well, uh, STR.
All of these creatures share the same AC 14 and 7d8+21 hit points but can have slightly different movement speeds depending on their color. Black Guard Drakes, for example, are amphibious in nature while blue Guard Drakes have a burrow speed instead. The one other difference based on this is the type of resistance that they get.
In terms of attacks, these dragon creatures have access to a Bite-Tail Multiattack aaand that’s about all you get.
I have to say that so far these creatures are rather underwhelming. Even for CR 2 monsters. Considering their origins (which we will discuss shortly) I would definitely like to see them have a bit more of an oomph.
As suggested by the creature type in their stat block, Guard Drakes bear a lot of similarities with the creatures from which they spawn. They are described as stout, muscular looking creatures with many of the same aesthetic features as those displayed by their same color of dragon. They have incredibly strong tails that they use to knock down their enemies and sharp teeth and claws to tear into their flesh. Unlike dragons, however, Guard Drakes lack wings and therefore are unable to fly. On top of inheriting some resistances, these creatures also have access to slightly different types of movement depending on their color.
Although the ‘recipe’ for creating these beings was lost for quite some time, they reappeared along with the various dragon cults and worshipers of Tiamat. The most important ingredient for this ritual actually involves a hefty amount of dragon scales. But before you rush off to kill the nearest dragon in your campaign, do know that the 10lbs of scales necessary for this ritual must be FREELY gives. Sorry folks.
If you do have a friendly dragon in your campaign who might be willing to part with this ingredient though, the rest of the process should be a breeze. Just raid the local butcher for a cauldron full of meats, spend roughly 10 hours for incantations and whatnot and BAM…you have yourself a Halfling sized egg that will spawn within mere hours. Just make sure to be there when the cub hatches because baby Guard Drakes imprint on the first person to feed them.
Once that’s all out of the way you will have yourself a friend for life! Guard Drakes are extremely loyal and can even be trained to follow simple dog like commands. In fact, these creatures are very often used as guards for that very reason. They are vigilant and will follow their master’s command tirelessly. Because of this, they are often given as rewards to a dragon’s most faithful servants or allies.
It shouldn’t be a surprise for anyone to know that these creatures first saw the light of day in 5th edition with the appearance of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen and Rise of Tiamat modules. As such, do expect to be running a few of these if you plan on playing through this adventure. It should be similarly difficult to have them appear as part of the newest Dungeons and Dragons Starter set adventure.
If, on the other hand, you’re looking to incorporate them into less dragon centric campaigns, there are still ways. As discussed before, the process of making these creatures involves the usage of a dragon’s scales. Now, the lore does especially mention that these should be freely given, but hear me out. What if someone had found a way to bypass this? Perhaps by charming a metallic dragon into sharing their scales. Maybe whoever did this is now harvesting large quantities of scales and selling the product eggs to the highest bidders in the market or even keeping them as part of a growing army of drakes. Now it’s the party’s job to find and collect all the eggs before they hatch. Will they do so on time or will they end up fighting their way through a hoard of drakes in an attempt to halt their creation.
Not sold on the whole charming a dragon bit? Well, how about we try something different instead. I just had a great cough medicine induced idea for an NPC. Imagine a collector that travels the lands defeating or outsmarting dragons in exchange for their scales. We could even give them a Guard Drake of each color each chained to his belt by a different loop.
Alternatively you could simply just have them do the whole guard shtick. Just keep in mind that whoever put them there would probably need to be on good terms with a dragon…. or maybe they just beat the local dragon to a game of Three-Dragon Ante.
All in all I would say that these creatures definitely have a lot more going on for them in terms of lore than in numbers. If you decide to run a few of them I would definitely suggest that you consider giving them a couple more traits to match their dragon origin.
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