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Green dragon build challenge

S. Ben Melhuish • Tuesday, February 23, 2010, updated Friday, May 7, 2010 • filed under games

Springing from a conversation my brother and I had this weekend, we’re going to do a D&D 3.5e dragon build challenge. Having DMed the Savage Tide campaign (with my brother as a player), I arbitrarily picked the one true dragon mentioned in passing. From our emails:

Xiureksior, one of the Infamous Seven of the Isle of Dread and the island’s only true dragon, is a very old green dragon. Let’s go for two builds: a “straight” CR 19 build, and a CR 23 build (the best-case scenario for battling Demogorgon at the end of the campaign), using only the rules available at d20SRD.org. The builds do not need to be related. She will have “average” treasure (for a green dragon, that’s “triple standard“:

CR 19

  • 25,515 gp
  • 1733 pp
  • 30 gems (avg. 275 gp value)
  • 32 pieces of art (avg. 1100 gp value)
  • 4 medium magic items (avg. 10,000 gp value)
  • 1 major magic item (avg. 40,000 gp value)

CR 23

  • 34,020 gp
  • 2310 pp
  • 24 gems
  • 46 pieces of art
  • 3 medium magic items
  • 6 major magic items

(That’s if I’m doing the math right. Average each row, multiply by 3, multiply by the percentile fraction. Thus CR 19 gold is 3d8×1000; 4.5 ×3 ×1000, ×3, ×0.63 = 25,515.) She won’t have converted any cash or art into magic items (and thus it isn’t actually relevant to these builds), but she will use any magic item she can.

If I were still DMing the Savage Tide, I’d set aside a session or two for non-American-football-style “friendly” dragon battles, that won’t count in the overall campaign. In the first battle, Xiureksior will get the drop on the party (of four characters), while the party is slogging through jungle or marsh or a clearing, heading for some place or other on the Isle. She might have been scouting (if she can get away with it without being detected), and will attack on her terms. In the second one, the amazingly resurrected party goes actively hunting for this dragon, fully prepped and loaded for bear; she may or may not be aware of the party’s approach (if they can do it without being detected), and isn’t expecting them, and will be played as if she had never encountered them before.

It’ll probably take me a couple of weeks to do through this, at the rate I go.

Update (May 7)

Oh, I suppose I should probably update this.

My approach, in brief, was to choose spells that would enhance her own combat abilities, rather than directly deal damage. For the added CR, I made her a half-fiend, which turned out to be exceptionally cheesy: being able to cast blasphemy with 30 hit dice is pretty over-the-top.

Greg’s approach had spell choices were more directly offensive; his added CR was from lawful evil paladin levels. More flavorful than mine, but without the extra kick of the blasphemy.