The World of Ark

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Making the Most of It: DRAGONS! (or Part 1)

So I love to play Dungeons and Dragons...especially Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (or AD&D). I've had lots of life hours used as gaming hours to say the least! Because I've played so long at these games (since about 1979) I've had to improvise all sorts of things at the most random moments in gaming. Essentially, I've had to make the most of what I had at hand or create whole-clothe from my imagination things in the game...everything from Elminster's distinguished voice to the screech of a Goblin as it attacks...and it is all fun!

One thing I love to do is find things in stores that I can use while playing games. A few months ago I had the luck to find in my local Fred Meyer store's toy section a couple of really awesome dragons!

Land Wyrm deep in the dungeon!
The picture above is of a "Land Wyrm" for my new Glittering Isles of Greyhawk game. I really like how he looks, and his price was well worth it too. I've decided that Land Wyrms are more feral (less intelligent) than other dragons; but very powerful physically and fully capable of using their breath weapon: a fiery belch induced spitting that explodes on impact where it lands in a 30 foot radius. Essentially, the Land Wyrm creates a sac that bursts on impact with anything it hits. While they can't fly, their physical strength and projectile bile are a gruesome combination (they never use spells). Stats are as follows:

Land Wyrm (Draco Sputem Horriblis)
NO. APPEARING: 1 (1-4)
MOVE: 12"/18" (swim)
HIT DICE: 10-12
% IN LAIR: 65%
NO. OF ATTACKS: 4 (claw, claw,  bite , tail)
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1-8/1-8/3-30/1-10
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Breath weapon
SPECIAL DEFENSES: Blunt and slashing weapons do half damage
MAGIC RESISTANCE: Standard (as dragon)
INTELLIGENCE: Low to Average
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Neutral
SIZE: L (36' long)
          Speaking: 20%
          Magic Use: Nil
          Sleeping: 40%

The race of Land Wyrms prefer to have an underground lair of some sort; though individuals will gladly use caves of sufficient depth or even open air areas of heavy vegetation that limits visibility such as brambles, briers and heavy tree growth. Those that can find and hold them are fond of using air filled caves beneath the waterline on the shores of lakes; but rarely do the like to live on the ocean. They are exceedingly territorial, even willing to face a Red Dragon to ensure they keep their lair.

A Land Wyrm can attack by a claw/claw/bite/tail routine or by belching forth a globe of explosive bile with a range of 90 feet that explodes in a 30 foot radius conflagration. The dragon may only employ its tail against targets to its rear or to either side up to its neck. A Land Wyrm's breath weapon is never of less than full strength despite damage to the beast due to the fact it stores its "breath" in a sac which holds the bile that ruptures only upon striking a surface.

Land Wyrms long ago lost the ability to use magical spells; but, like all dragons, they are still able to employ any magical item they have access to that they are able to manipulate with either claw or fang.

NOTE: I play Land Wyrms as engines of rage. When their lair is infringed upon (especially if a mate or eggs/young are present) they attack without quarter given. Subdual does indeed work against them; but it is going to be a hard fought victory; and the Land Wyrm is not especially loyal if its new "owner" shows signs of weakness they may be eaten at a later date. These dragons are inspired by the Harnic "Drake: Forest Dragon" found in the "Dragons" supplement from Columbia Games Inc.

The other dragon I found in the toy section was a flying dragon. I decided that in the Glittering Isles, these dragons are essentially like Red Dragons, but they are smaller (having fewer hit dice), but just as intelligent and capable of using magic. I call these beasts by the simple name of "Fire Dragons" which is the only kind of dragon other than Land Wyrms and "Ice Dragons" which live upon the Glittering Isles (I haven't found a good Ice Dragon yet though).

Fire Dragon (Draco Conflagratio Mysticum)
MOVE: 12'/30' (Flying)
HIT DICE: 8-10
% IN LAIR: 60%
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1-4/1-4/3-24/1-10
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Breath Weapon + possible magic use
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Evil
SIZE: L (36' long)
           Speaking: 75%
           Magic Use: 75%
           Sleeping: 20%

Fire Dragons prefer to dwell in great hills or mountainous regions like their cousins the Red Dragons. As with most others of this species, they too prefer to dwell in deep caves and similar subterranean places. Fire Dragons are even more greedy and avaricious than Red Dragons; perfectly willing to kill a mate that attempts to steal from their hoard of treasure; though, unlike Red Dragons, they are far more likely to flee combat if it goes against them.

A Fire Dragon is able to attack by means of a claw/claw/bite/tail routine or by breathing a cone of fire, 10" long, by 2" base diameter. Speaking Fire Dragons are 75% likely to use spells in a greater ability than a Red Dragon. When in flight, a Fire Dragon will save its breath weapon for massed enemies, and use a tail attack against lone individuals.

For each age bracket the dragon has attained it is able to use an additional spell. At the first two ages the fire dragon gains a 1st level spell, at the next two a 2nd level spell is gained, at the fifth and sixth ages a 3rd level spell is gained, at the seventh age a 4th level spell is gained and at the last age a 5th level spell is gained. Thus, an ancient fire dragon would be able to employ two spells of levels 1 through 3 and one each of 4th and 5th levels. Fire Dragons with access to spell books (25% of them) are able to select whichever spells they wish from such tomes; though those without will have a set selection of spells which never changes.

NOTE: I play Fire Dragons as portrayed by the monstrous terror in the old movie called "Dragonslayer" pictured here. If you have never seen that movie, then you MUST see it as soon as you can. While it may be "behind the times" in special effects now, it still is better than many modern dragon portrayals I have seen. Fire Dragons are horrors that are furious enough to burn a village, but not brave enough to risk their own life...even for their young which they will abandon if they must; but will gain vengeance for at a later time if possible.

I play Dragons in my game differently than most DMs I've played with. Not that I do it better; but I try to leave dragons as a mythical creature instead of making them either commonplace to the point of being a simple beast commonly encountered, or else simply the "Boss" at the end of the dungeon level. Each dragon in my campaign is tailor designed and never randomly placed. A dragon's back story is just as important to me as the magical items I place in my games (with each having a history).

For my Glittering Isles campaign I haven't set out any particular dragons yet; though there is a Black Dragon in the module "To Find a King" that I am going to replace with a Land Wyrm for sure. While I like the AD&D dragons (and monsters in general), I like to create new monsters that players don't know the statistics for. I've noticed that this creates a sense of trepidation in going against new monsters and a great sense of satisfaction when those monsters are defeated by players; which is the primary reason I created these two dragons from the toys I found at the store.

I'll have many more monsters that I'll put into this new series; so stay tuned for more of "Making the Most of it" and hopefully you will find that you can use several of them in your own games.


  1. Great article, sir. (Incidentally, is there any manufacturer/maker information? These are great looking critters!)

    1. Hey Boric! Sorry it took so long; but the name of the manufacturer is Schleich. You can find their page here:

      That is the U.S. site anyway.

      They even have a store locator!

  2. The manufacturer is not something I currently remember, but I will go to the store and find out for you!

  3. I have a random question, the sword Babette maelstrom, what allows the damage it does in game terms? 200d100.

    1. If I had to guess an actual reason beyond they just wanted to create a totally crazy weapon:

      It simultaneously taps into the positive and negative material planes and the resulting explosion is a result of what essentially amounts to matter and anti-matter colliding to create a big BOOM.

  4. I have a random question, the sword Babette maelstrom, what allows the damage it does in game terms? 200d100.