Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dragon Scale Armor

I've had a notion and I want to see where it goes, but first I need to see what paths others have trod before embarking. Does anyone know offhand where the topic of dragon scale armor has been covered in the "official" sources? I'm assuming there must have been at least one article about the stuff in Dragon over the years, but my search of the Dragon Magazine Archive isn't turning up much. The topic might have been covered in one of the game books as well, but I can't for the life of me remember where.

Post a comment here if you know where I should be looking for this kind of information. The earlier the source, the better on this one. I'll offer my premature thanks to anyone who could help out here.


Jimmy Simpson said...

Dragon #62, p10 - Evil Dragon Armors.

Found it in the Dragondex (http://www.aeolia.net/dragondex/magic-items.html)

JB said...

Dragonscale armor has been dealt with extensively in the Dragon Lance supplements (from 1st edition AD&D probably up through 3.5). I've also worked up B/X versions of dragonscale armor for my B/X Companion, but as it ain't published yet, I'm afraid it's unavailable.
; )

rmckee78 said...

From the Tales of the Lance 2nd Edition Box Set:

Used by: Warriors and priests; Dragon Highlords
Description: This armor consists of a padded tunic and leggings
topped by breast and shoulder plates made of dragon
scale and plate mail. The thighs and shins are protected by
additional plates, these attached separately. The full-sized
helm is a two-pieced arrangement, which grants protection
to the back of the neck as well as the face.
Dragonarmor is custom-fitted to its wearer, who suffers no
encumbrance penalty when wearing it. Others may find a
particular suit either too loose or too tight, suffering a -1
penalty on all attacks and all proficiency checks that depend
on Dexterity. Dragonarmor was the invention of Sargonnas
for his Dark Lady during the War of the Lance.
Powers: Dragonarmor is considered scale armor +2. Those
who wear the tunic and leggings subtract 1d6 points from any
cold-or fire-based attacks against them.
Defense: None XP Value: 3,000

rmckee78 said...

Sorry, that pasted really sloppy. There is a mechanically identical but less descriptive entry in the Dragonlance Adventures hardcover

Michael Curtis said...

Dragon #62, p10 - Evil Dragon Armors.

That was the one I was primarily thinking about. Thanks, Jimmy.

Badmike said...

I used the Dragon #62 article info for years in my own campaign. Worked great!

Hamlet said...

Forget Dragonlance. Check AD&D 2e Monstrous Compendium section on Dragons. Armor can be made out of a dragon's hide that is protective equivalent to AC of original dragon minus 5 (I think it's 5 anyway). Simple and easy.

1d30 said...

The Monstrous Compendium says the armor made is 4 points lower than the dragon itself.

But the biggest red dragon has AC -12 (yeah, I know) and so the armor would be worth AC -8.

That's equivalent to Full Plate +9

The Dragon Magazine article gave the armor sucky AC value but minor resistance to the energy type of the breath weapon. Not as good as a Ring of Fire Resistance, for example.

The article also explained that you could get only one suit out of a dragon regardless of size because you had to use the best pieces, and older (larger) dragons tended to have more damaged hides which reduced their usefulness. And of course if you damaged the dragon too much with slashing and piercing weapons, fire, or acid (DM discretion) the hide would be worthless.

Of course, when you're talking about Full Plate +9 it's worthwhile to toss a first-level Mending spell at the thing so you can get the armor.

Note too that the armor is not yet enchanted. There's nothing stopping you from enchanting the dragonskin armor to +5 for example.

Obviously some medium ground between the two would be best. A little energy resistance, light weight and flexibility, but tougher than normal leather armor.

In 2E terms, it seems balanced to give AC 5 (chainmail), weight and flexibility as leather armor, +2 to save against the energy type. You get one suit from a small dragon, two from a medium, three from a large.
Then improve the base AC of the armor and the save bonus by +1 per three full age categories. This way, at age category 12 (maximum) you get three free suits of leather-light Full Plate with +6 to save against the dragon's breath type.

But maybe that seems like too much. After all a dragon of that age generally has a hoard with under a dozen magic items. This dragonskin is (as it is in the Monstrous Compendium) completely awesome for Rangers, Barbarians, Druid, Thieves, Bards, and Assassins. That could easily be half the party.

Also, what stops them from casting Regeneration on the dead dragon to regrow its skin while constantly digging out its brain to keep it unconscious and immobile? That's a 14th level trick.

BigFella said...

"Also, what stops them from casting Regeneration on the dead dragon to regrow its skin while constantly digging out its brain to keep it unconscious and immobile?"

A: Tiamat's wrath.

B: Mad Dragon Disease from handling that much dragon brain. Really bad when it hits spellcasters.

C: Secondary brains down the dragon's spine, rather like some theories attribute to brontosaurus' and other excessively large saurians. More primitive than the main brain, but more brutal and savage. I'd probably give it some kind of dragon equivalent of berserking, if I was DMing such a situation.

D: The dragon's repertoire of spells spontaneously going off each time you drive the shovel into it's cortex. (After all, they don't memorize spells, they just know 'em.) Jumble the brains up enough and you'll probably get some pretty funky wild magic effects with every stroke of the spade.

E: Union wages + overtime + hazard pay for dragon brain miners. Not to mention teamsters to haul it away if you're not planning to dump it somewhere in the dungeon, which would lead to:

F: Gourmet Illithid infestation.

G: Spontaneous draconic brain golems. (Magically regenerating pieces of an already magical creature. Asking for trouble.)

H: The dragon's pissed off ghost.

I: The dragon's pissed off relatives.


1d30 said...

A: Then why isn't Tiamat angry you killed it in the first place?

B: Did the dragon have Mad Dragon Disease before the clever plan? During the fight it sure didn't seem like a downer dragon. Either way, a Cure Disease spell on the dragon while it's regenerating should fix the problem.

C: The dragon could previously be incapacitated by reducing it below 0 HP without destroying this mysterious superbrain. No reason why it should spring up now.

D: If spearing dragon brains cause wild magic, that's just another lovely renewable resource. But on the safe side it's probably best to just cut off its head.

E: The PCs are doing the digging. No sharing the dragon body loot with henchmen! And no need to haul it away, just pile it up and use Transmute Rock to Mud / Mud to Rock to hermetically seal it underground.

F: Illithids can sniff through 10' of stone now?

G: Again, regeneration never does this any other time. If creating golems were that easy why would anyone waste thousands of pounds of gold making a flesh golem?

H: No reason why it would get a ghost when every orc and troll goes away quietly.

I: The relatives obviously come by to visit this dragon frequently. In fact, there's probably six dozen dragons in his family living in this 30-mile hex who converge on the site instantly.

J: A dragon is an animal as much as a human is. PETA has no claim.

Anyway, most of these smack of "rocks fall, everyone dies". Only a couple are legitimately plausible outcomes. I understand a DM makes decisions about his own game, but I'd rather a DM just come out and say "no" than stupid Mad Dragon berzerk wild magic brain golem union PETA ghost relatives. I'm surprised you didn't mention that the DM would tell the Paladin's player that he wouldn't do that.

I think this comes down to the DM not liking that a high level spellcaster has a lot of personal power. What does a DM do when the Magic-User can cast Forcecage, or Teleport Without Error? Sure it's all laughs and jokes then the Magic-User is a hapless newbie but once he becomes a problem the DM's smile fades and he shuts down.

And I agree that regenerating a dragon to get multiple skins is a game balance issue. It has the potential to shut down the game. Not that the players will just make enough money to retire. That would be fine. But that they would make a ton of money and then continue adventuring. The campaign, without a monetary reward mechanic, becomes unexciting for both players and DM.

1d30 said...

By the way, just so I'm not contibuting only problems and questions instead of solutions and answers:

If the players have too much loot, the probelm really is that it's too much loot for their level.

I've found that it creates hard feelings with the players if you figure out ways to take away their excessive loot.

So I do the opposite: give them free levels. And I make sure they realize that they're free levels, totally disconnected with anything they've done to get XP. This brings their level equal to how much loot they have since they're now probably going to try for level-appropriate adventures it just means they skipped a few levels of entertainment. Or they can breeze along through the next few things they were planning at the old lower level.

This way you're not taking anything away. Of course smart players will realize you're taking away lower-level gameplay and the advantages of being too well-equipped for their level. But mechanically you're giving.

An alternative is to provide money outlets that don't offer combat benefits or a method of making more money. For example, the king hears they killed the dragon so he gives the party the castle on the moor below the dragon's lair. They can rebuild it and gather villagers and followers and such. But the castle needs a lot of work ...

I've found however that my players tend to be intensely aware of ways they can be tied down to an area or group and can spot a money pit six hexes away. They still encounter opportunities like this but they never bite.

Hamlet said...

The Monstrous Compendium says the armor made is 4 points lower than the dragon itself.

But the biggest red dragon has AC -12 (yeah, I know) and so the armor would be worth AC -8.

That's equivalent to Full Plate +9

Yes, but you have to kill the dragon the hide belongs to first, which is no mean task.

zipdrive said...

err..since when does regeneration work on dead creatures?