Jan 192012
 

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.

Protector Druid

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.

Cavalier

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.

Arcane Familiar

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.

More awesomeness...

Brian Liberge

Brian Liberge is a father of one, living in Boston, MA. Introduced to AD&D at an early age, he’s continued to update with the editions, and new games. He loves home-brewed ideas, is honest to a fault, and thinks that ideas and mechanics should absolutely be shared between systems. With a B.S. Degree in Theatre Arts, a job in Information Technology, and a love of strategy gaming, he tries to bring the best of each into his new creations for StufferShack. Check out his latest book the Midgard Bestiary for 4e, available now. Profile Page / Article Portfolio

  4 Responses to “How to Tame your Dragon Mount”

  1. […] on StufferShack I have a post on how you can get a dragon mount, without creating new rules or stats, for your D&D 4e game. I […]

  2. I’ve never been a fan of the intelligent dragon. There, I said it.

    Give me dragons from Dragonslayer and Reign of Fire and I’ll give you my best campaign.

  3. Don’t forget the ever-popular Eragon series. Hmmm… large pseudodragon for a day. Sounds interesting.

  4. I am a big fan of the very intelligent dragons. They should be at or near the pennicle. Hence the game name dungeons and DRAGONS. They can be very long lived, typically have some of the best treasure in they game, are very high on the food chain and can be some of the greatest spell masters. Which could make one wonder why, or how they are made into nothing more than pets or mounts? A short answer could be magic. Due to a rival dragon’s spells, for example. Or perhaps a polymorph spell. Image having your favorite dog or horse polymorphed into a dragon shape. (I like the horse idea because it is already use to you riding it.) Of course you could stay on this train of thought, and perhaps polymorph a pegasus. Since it already knows how to fly. But, if it didn’t let the pc ride it when it was in its normal state, why would it in a dragon shape?

    A the followup question would be then; is this common, or rare. If it is rare, how will the other npc’s react? With you flying into their village on a dragon. If this is common, how would the other dragons react? On one hand, it could allow real dragons to move about freely among the humaniods. On the other hand, dragons would be challenge far mor often. Not knowing if they faux or not. And the attackers judgement could be clouded by greed.

    Although, I do like the idea of having a debilitated dragon. Which the pc’s would need to do series of quests to get the dragon back to it’s former glory. And all the little greedy npc’s that would love to have your dragon pet. Because if you can control your dragon pet, why not them? You very well may have something that gives you this control that you know about, but they may not. Or worse, they do know. [A thief slips in and steals the control and then disappears leaving the party now confronted by the former puppet dragon. oops…]

    Of course the dragons could just negotiate an arrangement. Most of us believe that dragons have their treasure from dragon/treasure hunters that have donated everything they had, including their lives… to the dragons. But, since they are so long lived, it could also be inheritance from former parties and party members.

    I know that there are those that would like to jump on the train. And even those that would like to ride this ride. But if we rode this to the last stop. We would realize the more dragons battle the more ways to defeat them and control will be learned and trained. Other dragons would know this too. If your race was being turned into puppets and slave what would you do? What would others of your race do?

    I always imagined that the down fall of of the dragon riders of pern and other dragon puppeteers. Would be a dragon rabellion. Of course, how some of the dragons free their retarded cousins may just depend on how good they are. You might think that some evil dragons might just try and fly around a kill as many of these dragon puppets as they can. But this is a catch 22. Since some of the dragon control components are dragon parts. And of course, if there can be magic to control dragons why not magic to block this control. Or worse, something to control them all. [“And one ring to binde them all.” To create a swam of dragons. “Things that make you say hm.”] Also, there may be some that are not controled at all, they are just biding their time for an opportunity. Now you and I know that there are those who say they have taken every precaution to insure that there dragons stay puppets or slaves. But there may be some, that in their pursuit for power and wealth may not follow all the rules. For example breeding laws that may be in place. We cross breed pig, cows, horses, etc to get better offspring. Why not dragons? [Some hidden sect in a lands far aways crossbreeding control resistance Dragon-Hunter-Dragons.] Oh the possibilities…

    🙂 Happy Gaming

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