Last week we covered the Chromatic Dragons of D&D, as well as a bit of lore behind the creation of Dragons. Chromatic Dragons are the evil antagonists of the Dragon world and Metallic Dragons are their good-aligned counterweight. Where a Red Dragon terrorizes, a Brass Dragon protects. As such, it can be tough to fit them into your campaign as antagonistic foes outside of evil campaigns. Tough, but not impossible. In each Dragon’s section, my tips will involve how to utilize their unique traits as powerful allies, informers, and forces in your world. However, even a well intentioned party can end up on the wrong side of a Metallic Dragon’s breath. Typically it’s due to sinister and clever machinations of the forces of evil, so I will also be including tips on how to use them as antagonistic forces as well at the end. Keep in mind however that a Metallic Dragon would rarely be an enemy of a good aligned party for more than a single encounter, as enemies would typically need to use deception to foster said conflict that would inevitably be brought to light by the sincerity of the party and the intuition of the Dragons.
Bronze Dragons have a strong sense of justice, refusing to tolerate evil and cruelty in any of its forms. They are also naturally curious and inquisitive creatures, often taking the form of various animals and humanoids to understand the world better and mask their presence. Many people encounter Bronze Dragons without realizing it. An ape that saves a child from a dangerous carnivore, a mercenary seeking to uproot a gang of bandits, a cartographer exploring ancient tombs in search of knowledge and treasure, all of these have the potential to be a Bronze Dragon in disguise. Capable of communicating with all manner of creature, manipulating the weather, creating food and water, and sensing the thoughts and emotions of others, they often use these powers to help others in secret and to counteract evil. Unlike their kin, they prefer melee combat over hit and run tactics and will often use their guises to get close to their prey before lashing out suddenly and violently. Though they actively seek to stop evildoers, they are averse to killing unless they see no other way. Capable of spewing lightning as well as a quite literally repulsive breath, they have many options to deal with foes and are even known to pick up and relocate particularly dangerous enemies to areas where they will be incapable of harming others. They are an easy dragon to incorporate in your campaign, especially if you also have a Chromatic Dragon at the heart of your story. Their proclivity to seek out evil discreetly can lead to them helping investigate troubles afflicting an area alongside the party, be it in the guise of a traveler or a peculiar animal that continually comes to the party’s aid. That said, be careful not to overuse them or reveal their nature too soon, as it can make the party feel like their efforts were entirely irrelevant since a powerful Dragon was trying to solve the same problem. I would also highly encourage making the Bronze Dragon a younger category than the evil one, so as to ensure it needs the party’s help.
Gold Dragons are the strongest of all Dragons, Metallic or otherwise. Possessing powerful spellcasting and two different breath weapons, one composed of flames and another of a weakening gas, they are a force to be reckoned with in combat. Capable of transforming to beast and man alike, they tend to choose an extremely unalarming form when they travel to put others at ease, rarely spending long periods of time as Dragons; even in their lairs. In many cases, Gold Dragons use this disguise to provide aid and guidance to those suffering. Often bestowing quests to others that would lead them down the path of defeating evil and promoting good, they are often able to see beyond the surface of a conflict and discover the true evil at play. One of their favorite ways to deal with evildoers is to take on a particularly vulnerable and feeble form and set a trap, using itself as bait. Believing in order and the greater good, they view anything less than the total subjugation of evil to be unacceptable. This sometimes leads others to view them as dismissive and even arrogant, doing little to dispel this viewpoint. They refuse to debate ethical or philosophical points with beings they deem inferior, always arguing in favor of law and good. They also struggle to relate to the everyday problems of humanoids and their communities, in rare cases their devotion to law and their perceived good can lead them to becoming tyrants. More on that later. A Gold Dragon will most likely take on the role of an informant, mentor, and especially a quest giver. They try to guide others down the same righteous path they share and would much rather see the party overcome evil without its direct intervention, as that will ultimately lead to much stronger good being present in the world.
Silver Dragons are quite the oddity amongst their kind, preferring to spend most of their time in the form of a humanoid and living amongst societies and kingdoms, rather than isolating themselves in lairs. They do this in hopes of learning more about life, fulfillment and enjoyment, and believe that the shorter-lived races will provide valuable insight. Typically taking on the appearance of either elderly mentors or young and attractive humanoids. Due to their greatly extended life and vast intellect, they tend to think things through for extremely long periods of time, sometimes even years to discover the absolute perfect solution to a problem or puzzle they are faced with. They are fully aware and even respectful of the large amounts humans accomplish in their comparatively shorter lifespans, understanding it comes from their great ambition. When times are desperate, they seek to combine their razor sharp and vast intellect with the creativity and ambitious attitudes of humans, usually to great success. Their favored foes are Red Dragons, as they tended to prefer similar locales to them. Red Dragons practically were a invariable destructive typhoon to the settlements Silver Dragons love to live amongst. They dislike resorting to violence, but when push comes to shove they are expert combatants. Capable of freezing opponents solid with an icy breath or exhaling a paralyzing gas, they can easily stop even the hardiest of foes in their tracks. Rather than seeking out opportunities to bring justice like its Bronze and Gold brethren, they gain great joy in helping others and especially those that seek them out. While they will always right the wrongs they see, they are not proactively searching and are content with maintaining a status quo. They love to partake in humanoid activities, one of their favorite being human dining and in particular they adore celebrations and feasts. Of all the Dragons, Silver Dragons are the most likely to end up romantically involved with a non-Dragon and pairings can be quite common. While some choose to keep their identity hidden, they often inform the members of their community of their true form to act as a leader, caretaker, and guardian. Most communities welcome Silver Dragons with open arms and benefit greatly from their care.
Silver Dragons are quite a fun ally to include in a campaign. Their love for human customs and partaking in joyous activities can lead to them being a rather jovial NPC that bonds deeply with the party. Typically viewed in a community with high regard, if befriended they will share many of the community’s resources and connections with the party. While they will actively avoid fighting, they aren’t shy of giving others the help, knowledge, and tools they need to kick some ass in its stead.
Brass Dragons are like joyful puppies with the awesome power of Dragons. Known as the most benign of all, they love to talk to any and everyone they come across. Both friend and foe can be subject to hours upon hours of conversation with a Brass Dragon. It’s quite common for Brass Dragons to be fluent in hundreds of languages, even ones long forgotten to time, in order to properly communicate with anyone they come across. At home in desert regions, Brass Dragons often dig and burrow their own lairs in the side of desert peaks and spires. Their entrances always face the east so that they could feel the warmth of the sun as it illuminates their home. The prize of their lairs is their ‘Grand Conversation Hall’. An opulent area for entertaining friends and guests, filled with art from across history and cultures and including a massive foyer, it is where they prefer to spend most of their time. The entrance to their lair is a labyrinth full of dead ends and obstacles that would discourage antagonistic visitors from proceeding further whilst helping friendly visitors find their way to the Dragons hall. Like all Metallic Dragons it has two different breath weapons, one of fire and one of gas that puts its targets to sleep. A pacifist at heart, if forced to fight it prefers to use its breath weapon to knock its foes out or in the case of being outmatched, it will immediately fly away and hide itself in the sand with its scales granting it a natural camouflage. A bit of an oxymoron in that it is a social creature that loves to talk yet is also spends most of its time in its lair waiting for friends and visitors, players are likely to run into it a Brass Dragon by complete accident. If they can tolerate the never ending discussions the Brass Dragon tries to push on the players they’ll find a lot of useful information available to them that the Dragon will happily trade in exchange for some good company. Perhaps it will teach them ancient language so that they can activate an artifact or maybe some of his art depicts a mythical creature the party is trying to gather information on. So long as you can handle roleplaying such a high octane character, Brass Dragons make a fun and endearing addition to any campaign with an appropriate locale to add them into.
While having allies is great and all, combat is one of many people’s favorite aspects of the game. In evil campaigns, that is campaigns centered around an evil aligned party, it’s quite easy to write a Metallic Dragon in as an enemy. It’s in their job description to hunt down the wicked. But those campaigns are rare and in my experience never last long. So how do we get a group of good PCs to come to conflict with them? A great way to make them at odds with a good party is by using the ‘lesser of two evils’ plot point. Have the party work with an evil group to stop an even more dangerous one. The nature of Metallic Dragons and their desire to defeat evil in all its forms will lead them to become at odds with both ‘evil’ groups, inevitably the party could culminate in a massive battle between the leaders of the organization and the Dragon. Like mentioned before with Gold Dragons, they can sometimes put themselves into a tyrannical state of maintaining order where a community or even civilization is living ‘peacefully’, but in constant fear of the Dragon perceiving their actions as evil and attacking. The party may end up secretly being the lead players in a movement aiming to destroy the Golden Dragon and liberate the people, with success not necessarily meaning the end of your campaign! What happens when bandits and brigands begin to run amok again once the threat of the Dragon is gone? Was the Dragon’s presence warding off a demonic invasion and now it’s carnage everywhere? Maybe the party even ends up needing to take on a quest to revive the tyrannical Dragon and come to an agreement with it in order to defeat the evil. Another method could be to have the party framed for heinous actions by clever villains and the Dragon seeks to punish them for it. In this circumstance it is important to remember that Metallic Dragons usually don’t kill unless they believe they have no other option, so it capturing the party and talking to them can lead to an intense roleplay scene where they prove their innocence to it and end up earning a powerful ally afterwards.
And… that’s a wrap! Metallic Dragons are truly magnificent creatures and whether they’re allies or foes, they are truly inspiring forces in the world. While there are less types of Metallic Dragons, they are no less interesting and I hope you’ve gotten some great ideas to start using both types in your games! Join me next week where I’ll be discussing Demons, a truly terrible foe with a broad range of capabilities and truly terrifying motivations. Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed it, and until next time, stay healthy!