Riding dragons is one of those ultimate staples of fantasy, but tabletop gamers with a little experience may view it as unrealistic. Dragons are intelligent, proud and very powerful. It would be very difficult to convince one to serve as your mount for a short time, and likely require a very dire situation. To gain one as a companion seems practically impossible, not to mention game-breaking (balance wise). These creatures are some of the toughest foes in the game – how could they join your party?
Despite all this, doesn’t it just sound really cool? That’s enough for me, especially if this is what’s going to hook a new player. Media has shown us that riding dragons is possible and totally awesome – movies like ‘How to Train your Dragon’, the ‘Dragon Rider’s of Pern’ novel series, and even comic books. Luckily, the fine folks at Wizards of the Coast have given us several options for making this a reality, though it may be hard to spot under the mountain of available content.
Druids who follow the Primal Guardian path got a new set of options in Heroes of the Feywild. The Protector Druid continues the trend to take the earlier classes and update them in the essentials style. One of its feature’s is Summon Natural Ally as a Daily power. For one encounter a day, Roc, Tiger, Giant Cobra and so on. Though they’re not intended as mounts, many of them are large enough to ride into battle.
At level 29, you can summon a Blue Dragon Wyrmling. Don’t let the name fool you, this beast is large-sized and hits hard. Since it’s a summoned creature it can move as a minor action once a round. It comes equipped with a breath weapon, a fly speed and an at-will attack that marks, so it should have a pretty iconic dragon feel. The most obvious downside is that you have to wait until 29 to get it, though there are cool other creatures to play with in the meantime. The other downside is that it’s attached to the Daily, and you can only use it for one encounter a day. No flying across the country side on this mount.
The Cavalier is the Essentials version of the Paladin. It’s a pretty cool class and Dragon 393 introduced the Summon Celestial Steed power as a replacement to Pace of the Virtuous Charger, bringing back the Paladin’s mount as a key piece of what makes this character unique. This power allows you to summon a Celestial Warhorse, but instead of lasting for an encounter, the summoned creature will stay with you until the end of your next extended rest. Feats allow you to summon celestial mounts including a tiger, behemoth and pegasus.
At level 21 you can take the Improved Steed (Silver Dragon) feat to swap that horse out for a Silver Dragon Steed. This mount doesn’t hit as hard as the Blue Dragon Wyrmling. but you can access it nearly a tier earlier. It also comes with an Immediate Reaction that lets you knock enemies prone when they come into melee.
This one is cheating a bit, but I think it’s my favorite option. The Arcane Familiar feat can be taken at level 1 by any arcane character, you even get it for free if you play a witch. Arcane Power also introduced the Dragonling familiar, which is basically a small-sized dragon, with no attacks. It has a fly speed and hover, but is basically too small to ride. . . unless you’re a fairy! You may be reading this with raised eyebrows. Fairies can already fly, they don’t need a cool dragon mount to get around, that may be the case, but at level 1 this is still a pretty cool image. Plus, if you can fly as well as your mount, you can jump off, split directions, and come back together in mid air!
For those who don’t love the fairy route there’s another option. The Familiar Mount Ritual from Dragon 382 is available at level 4. It allows you to increase the size of your familiar to large for twelve hours with a component cost of 25 gp. That’s a pretty good deal, and now everyone can ride a dragon! Sure it doesn’t breathe fire or use its claws but its still awesome! There are a number of feats that can make your familiar even more resilient or give it nifty little abilities.
I’m a little surprised I couldn’t find a ranger option for the dragon riders, but remember anyone can multi-class into an arcane class and pick up the familiar options. Maybe there’s a ranger-specific option right around the corner.
You can even pick up a Golden Dragon Mount mini in the Stuffer Shack store!
See, I told you there’d be dragons.