HomeRules And VariantsBreakfast CrunchDragon Magic (Part I)

Dragon Magic

Well, it is now Saturday, so this has been another embarassing week for Breakfast Crunch being on-schedule. I’m hoping to do some quick catch-up and be back where I want to be by Monday, where the cycle of geting off-schedule can happen all over again.

One of the things I really liked about 3.5, and for that matter about almost older editions of AD&D, was that dragons weren’t just big scaly lightning-breathing lizards, they were big scaly spell casting lightning breathing lizards. This, in turn, opened the door to spells which only dragons could cast, or which they might teach to a few dedicated followers (such as kobolds, usually). Arduin (see how often that name comes up?) actually had some very cool spells of "Dragon Magick" in one of the later volumes.

This doesn’t work so well in 4e. As Solos, it’s hard to add a class template to a dragon. Just substituting one power for another and saying it’s a "dragon spell" lacks a kind of something to me — it just seems like it might as well just be some kind of alternate power, possibly as a result of the dragon getting too near to the gamma ray testing facility. The idea that monsters should be designed, mechanically, only for their five rounds "on stage" also undermines the idea of giving them powers mostly useful for explaining their various plots — even "NPC Focused" rituals are discouraged, with the argument being anything that happens offscreen doesn’t need rules.

Anyway, after pondering this a bit, I hit upon something interesting: Draonic Cantrips. A Draconic Cantrip is a fragment of draconic magic, a remnant of the mighty spells woven by the Dragons Of Olde TM. These minor bits of lore are traded among dragons, or sought out by them, as a means of enhancing their power. A dragon may know many cantrips, but may only have a few readied for use at any one time — the rituals to enact and bind them are time consuming and it takes a great deal of concentration to keep the power at hand. As a consequence, a dragon may have only one cantrip per tier in any given encounter, though if he survives the battle he may have some different ones prepared for the next time he faces his foes. The cantrips themselves are designed to scale (no pun intended), so you may see a [T] in the descriptions — this is a short hand for "multiply this number by the tier", ie, 2d6[T] means "do 2d6 at Heroic, 4d6 at Paragon, and 6d6 at Epic". [T5] means the cantrip increases at mid-tier (and should not given to a dragon below fifth level), so 2d6[T5] means "2d6 from 5-14th level, 4ed6 from 15-24th level, and 6d6 from 25th level onwards". I hope that’s clear.

OK, enough digressing. On to the cantrips, after the break!

Dragon Cantrips

Basic Rules:

  • Dragon Cantrips are usually minor actions, though a few are reactions or interrupts.
  • They are all encounter powers.
  • A dragon cannot change the cantrips it has readied without an extended rest.
  • Dragon cantrips use the Arcane power source, regardless of any other powers the dragon may possess.
  • Some powers possess the keyword "[Breath]". This should be read as "Whatever damage type or types the dragon’s breath weapon does", i.e, for a Red Dragon, [Breath] is read as "Fire".
  • Unless otherwise noted, any draconic cantrips which enhance a basic attack apply those enhancements to cantrips which allow the dragon to make a basic attack, i,e a dragon who first uses Claw of Draconic Might and then uses Phantom Claw will gain the benefit of the first on the attack caused by the second.

Cantrips Of Battle

These minor spells enhance the dragon in direct combat. Very often, they will be cast shortly before the dragon launches into a major flurry of attacks, to as to maximize their utility.

Claws Of Draconic Power (Draconic Cantrip)

The dragon speaks a word in a tongue older than time, and its claws begin to drip acid.

Encounter * Arcane, [Breath]

Minor Action

Target: Self

Effect: Until the end of the dragon’s next turn, all of its claw attacks deal +2T [Breath] damage. The dragon may end this as a free action if it so chooses.


Flickering Tongue (Draconic Cantrip)

The dragon’s tongue lashes out, ensnaring prey and drawing it in.

Encounter * Arcane

Minor Action

Range: 5

Attack: Level+3 vs. Reflex

Effect: If target is smaller than the dragon, it is pulled adjacent to the dragon, otherwise, it is pulled one square.


Charm Of Distant Breath (Draconic Cantrip)

The dragon makes a subtle gesture, and then breathes. The fire erupts across the room.

Encounter * Arcane

Minor Action

Range: 10

Effect: If the dragon breathes before the end of his current turn, the dragon may choose any square within 10 to which he has line of sight as the origin square.


Phantom Claw (Draconic Cantrip)

A glistening claw of energy appears and rends a distant foe.

Encounter * Arcane

Minor Action

Range: 10

Effect: The dragon may make a basic claw attack at any target within 10 squares to which he has line of sight.  


Spell Of Warding Fangs (Draconic Cantrip)

The dragons claws and snout extend dramatically.

Encounter * Arcane

Minor Action

Target: Self

Effect: The dragon gains threatening reach with its basic attacks until the end of its next turn. If it already has threatening reach, its reach extends by 1.


Tune in tomorrow (or later today, depending!) for Part II: Defensive and Utility cantrips!


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