& Dragons

With the summer break coming, my Pathfinder game is going on hiatus, so I thought I’d try to wrap up with one of the iconic encounters of the game. My party is seventh level, and they are travelling cross country in the dead of winter, so how better to end the season than a White Dragon fight. I also gave them an oncoming winter storm to up the tension a bit. Now I personally dislike the tendency in recent editions of D&D to treat dragons like just another bag of hp and treasure. I think a dragon fight, even against a relatively weak (adult white dragon is a large creature with 13 hd) should always be a fairly difficult encounteer. If you are setting your party against a large number of “true” dragons as a fair fight, you might want to find some other sort of monster to take the role. I’ve written about this before when I posted my Devastator Black Dragon for 4th Edition. Now pathfinder characters aren’t nearly as durable as 4th edition characters, so while I modified the white dragon to make it a bit more interesting, I didn’t go nearly as far as I did with the Black Dragon. I really only added two things, a 30 foot leap attack that allowed it to use one natural attack against every opponent within reach for half damage and send them flying into the nearest snow bank, and I modified the fog spell like ability to be a free action that raises up a 20′ radius obscuring storm of ice and snow.
A party that was less interested in just killing the dragon outright could have either intimidated it or bluffed their way out of the fight, but there really was no way that a “mere” large dragon was going to get away without a fight in the party’s first dragon encounter, so conversation broke down, the party scattered, and the fight was on. I had decided to run the dragon as fairly primal, prone to give in to temporary amusement, not too bright, and more interested in savaging each opponent in turn than in the more tactically sound “eat them one at a time” maneuver. So it would flit from opponent to opponent, using fly and burrow liberally, do something nasty to each target and then move on. With focused attacks, the party being spread out like they were would have spelled doom, but as it stood, the dragon got to attack targets that attracted its attention without worrying about coordinated attacks. By the way, that 12d4 breath weapon? That’s a lot of d4s. He was also thee party’s first encounter with effective levels of spell resistance. Turns out that a sorcerer can just spam fireball until it eventually gets through (also? 7d6 is quite a lot of d6s too.) So the drsagon was a tough, memorable fight that could easily have taken a turn for the tpk but didn’t. The party survived, to have to run for cover in the face of a massive winter hail storm. We’ll see what they find in the ice cave they found at the end of the summer.

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