Welcome back adventurers and DMs (Dungeon Masters) Wizard Charlie here! Last time on “How to Run:” we covered a general layout of Chromatic Dragons and how you can make them feel more alive and memorable. Today we are going to be focusing specifically on Green Dragons. This will be more of a helpful guide, hopefully, to DMs but all are always welcome.
Last time we focused on how to make your chromatic dragons stand out more by giving them personality in the form of 4 methods; voice, speech patterns/cadence, actions/mannerisms, and tactics. Let’s put our money where our mouth is and use this to design our very own green dragon! But first let’s brush up a little on green dragons and their behaviors.
Green dragons are the most cunning of the dragons. They use deceit and trickery above all other things in order to move forward in life, they love to corrupt and corrode good hearted people and communities from the inside. They very much like to wait, assess, scheme, and then spring into action when you least expect it. They are forest dwellers first but it isn’t uncommon for them to insert themselves in civilizations in order to poison and corrupt them. These creatures are one of the most intelligent of the chromatic dragons and they will use that to beat you at a game of dragon chess that you didn’t even realize you were playing.
Now that’s a villain!! I will admit that green dragons are probably one of my favorite enemy types in D&D. Making an enemy with a green dragon means you will spend the rest of your life looking over your shoulder or better yet, you never see it coming until the blade is at your ribs. I can very easily see an ancient green dragon running a syndicate organization. These creatures are cunning and it can be fun to design multiple plans that they have happening at once; the team may have foiled its plot to overthrow the government by killing the king but they didn’t stop its plan to poison all the water sources in the city and therefore hold the city ransom. Your green dragon can have schemes within schemes and will almost always avoid a fair fight, in fact the only time your green dragon should be fighting your players one on one (group) should be if it is cornered or already weakened.
Enough talk! Lets make our tricky green dragon. We shall break it down as before. But first let’s choose an age and region in which it resides. The idea of an ancient green dragon that runs a city is fun but let’s go even simpler than that. Let us start with a young green dragon who is cocky and still young enough to make mistakes, your party deserves a chance against them. Next let us choose a character weakness. My particular favorite for young and adult green dragons is the curse of the silver tongue, even more so with a young dragon who is young enough to make such a foolish mistake. And let’s place him in an abandoned tower surrounded by a lush forest.
You can imagine that most dragons have a naturally deeper voice because of their bigger frames and draconic traits but a young green dragon could get away with a more lithe and thinner voice, like a snake. Oooo why don’t we focus on snake like features for this young green dragon. Instead of overly pronounced S’s why don’t we give it a random little growl at the end of sentences. Anything else extra that you would like to do is completely up to you, but for now we will keep it simple.
- Speech Patterns/Cadence
An ancient dragon might cover up any signs that would give it away as an evil creature, but a young one might not have developed such skills yet. So maybe we can give this one a bit of menace that it just can’t cover up as it threads its web of lies. Why don’t we give it a constant grin, like the cheshire cat, as if he is always knows something that the party doesn’t (most likely that they are lunch). To give this feel you can speak, chuckle, and growl through gritted teeth on occasion; it also helps if you smile while playing it. And as a final touch make it so he never raises his voice so as not to scare off the party before he is ready, once/if the battle commences let loose.
For a young green dragon such as this I would give them the old chin rub when thinking, classic villainy. Also, why don’t we use one of my examples from the previous “How to Run: Chromatic Dragons” since we are giving him snake like traits. We can describe him as he moves with a “low hanging head, close to the ground with a toothy grin” giving him that sneaky and conniving feeling. Green dragons have a longer neck so this works perfectly with that trait.
Let us envision the party walking in on the dragon, he hides in a corner and slowly creeps up while carrying on a conversation, they are a decent range away from him. So now the tactic for this young boy is to get as close as he can so that if trickery doesn’t work, he can be close enough to deliver a poison breath. Now, don’t be unfair to your party and say the attack just happens, they will die that way. Just describe as it inhales air, roll for initiative, and when it’s turn comes up then let it go even if everyone else has had a turn and moved away in time! This gives your party the chance to feel like they reacted fast enough to avoid it if they moved far away. In the battle, keep your dragon moving, if it gets surrounded it will go down quick and he knows that. So keep it constantly moving, flying, clawing, and biting until it gets its breath back. Make your dragon feel like it is fast and dangerous. Role play it’s reactions to attacks and the attacks it deals, mock them (in character). Then when your dragon is too hurt, maybe like at half health, it might do one of two things; 1. It begins to fly and escape very very quickly or 2. If a team member is weakened or unconscious have it hold its action on that character. Suddenly, the action shifts to tension again. Your dragon might now try to make a deal, let him go and their party member can live. He can offer up his hoard as an extra prize. Your dragon wants to live and a green dragon does not mind retreating to fight another day. Then if a deal is made it goes to leave, keeping up its end of the bargain (only because it’s “hoard” isn’t very big and it doesn’t want to take the chance of being killed). It’s up to your party to decide if they want to let him go, and it can make for some good rp if one of them goes back on the deal.
Now all we need is a name, hmmm how about, Venomclaw. Now that we have it down lets make our dragon.
Venomclaw is a young green dragon looking for a new place to make his liar. He is subjugating all the creatures in the forest he lives in. Venomclaw can spin tales like webs, like you wouldn’t believe. He relies less on fighting and more on poisoning things slowly and overtime. He has taken a tower in a nearby abandoned town. He is king of his little throne, but lately adventures have been coming to try and slay him and take his hoard. An old pesky druid keeps tabs on him and tells adventures to come slay him. So when a group of unsuspecting adventures comes by he waits in a dark corner and slowly walks into the opening to speak with them, no sudden movements because that might alarm them. He smiles calmly and begins a dialogue. He refers to them as “friends” or “allies” as he grins and growls, all the while explaining that he is not an evil green dragon but instead a very very rare emerald dragon. He explains that the old druid that sent them up there is in fact his brother in disguise and he is the actual evil dragon trapped in human form. He pleads with them to help him rid of this evil being once and for all so that he can live a normal life of peace, attempting to appeal to their sense of justice and empathy. All the while he gets closer and closer as they talk. The lie is just that, a lie. If they believe it then stupendous. But if they do not then he is close enough to exhale a spray of poison that would leave them all gasping for air. Either way, he has them right where he wants them. In his speech he spins more tales as they ask questions and continue the dialogue. The players roll insight checks but they just can’t seem to read this dragon’s intentions as lying is second nature to him. But he finishes with “Do we have a deal my friends? You can trust in my word as a Green dragon”. One of the players/characters might catch this and call him out on it “I thought you said you were an emerald dragon”. Venomclaw smiles a big toothy grin and inhales a cloud of air…roll for initiative!
And there we have it adventures and DMs alike, we have created our very own young green dragon. Keep in mind that as it gets older your dragon will become smarter and make less of these kinds of mistakes. Maybe for an ancient dragon it can have a flaw where it just cant help but give these big villainy speeches, or maybe it just has to stop what it’s doing in order to watch someone suffer in its poison breath. It is completely up to you! Now go out there and have fun adventures! Slay your evil dragons and rage loot their hoards of treasure. And as always remember DMs it isn’t just your world, and it isn’t just the player’s world, it’s all of yours.