Home / Delve into the Depths in the Kobold Blog / Good Riddance! Part 4: Dragons are totally metal

Good Riddance! Part 4: Dragons are totally metal

Good Riddance! Part 4: Dragons are totally metal

The classic alignment grid consisting of three rows (Good, Neutral, and Evil) and three columns (Lawful, Neutral, and Chaotic) is a contentious topic in TTRPGs. A lot of games (including the Tales of the Valiant RPG) don’t use it, but it endures. Criticisms include that the system is too rigid and is not descriptive enough. And it essentially predestines certain creatures to be either good or evil.

Shortfalls aside, the alignment system leaves an open question: “Why are there good-aligned creatures in monster books?” Kobold Press’s own Tome of Beasts 1 includes several good-aligned creatures. These creatures make fantastic NPCs or allies for the party, but does that mean a party can never fight a buraq or a firebird?

A GM can ignore alignment and have the party fight an “evil” angel. But maybe a better choice is to find interesting narrative ways to make typically “good” creatures antagonists while maintaining their lore.

Catch up on all the goodness you missed—blink dogs, couatls, and more!

Metallic Dragons

There may be no creature more associated with the fantasy genre than dragons. Dragons come in many shapes and colors, but historically, chromatic dragons (black, blue, green, red, and white) are evil and metallic dragons (brass, bronze, copper, gold, and silver) are good.

Which means you don’t use metallic dragons so much. But these cool monsters deserve some spotlight!

The Big Picture

When most parties start adventuring, the threats they deal with are local and imminent. As a party advances, they generally become concerned with more regional events, such as stopping escalating war.

Dragons, on the other hand, care little for the yearly ebb and flow of civilizations and are concerned with more world-altering threats over long timescales. Because of this, heroes and dragons might not see eye to eye on how to combat threats, and this can lead to conflict. Perhaps the dragon possesses an artifact that the party needs to save a city from a band of warmongers, but the dragon knows this item must be saved to combat the next demonic incursion and refuses to give it up. In this scenario, you can use the dragon in the following ways:

  • The dragon may first try to convince the party to back down, aiming to knock them out rather than kill them. However, as the battle intensifies, the dragon resigns that it must kill the party to protect the artifact so that it remains available for more world-ending dangers.

  • The party will encounter regional effects on the dangerous mountain trek up to the dragon’s lair. The dragon is in its lair and can make full use of its lair actions to fight.

Bad Eggs

Some sages debate the concept of nature vs nurture—are people predisposed to act a certain way, or does their environment shape who they are? Most agree that it’s a combination of these things.

Now consider applying this concept to a metallic dragon hatched and raised by evil people. A metallic dragon in this situation would certainly support evil causes modeled for it by its caretakers, but it might have a predisposition toward empathy below the surface. In this scenario, you can use the dragon in these ways:

  • The party might fight the dragon and its evil group in an initial confrontation where they are outmatched. However, when the dragon has an opportunity to finish the party off, it hesitates and helps its companions finish a task or escape rather than dealing the killing blow. The party should note this strange behavior for their next encounter with the group.

  • The party may have an opportunity to learn more about the dragon and try to convince it to leave its evil ways and experience the good in the world, eventually allying with it against its former masters. This scenario is especially interesting for groups that enjoy heavy roleplay.

Rage Against the World

Some metallic dragons take an interest in humanoids, and that interest can lead to a deep fondness. However, all dragons learn that humanoid civilizations come and go, and the pain of losing loved ones is intense.

Dragons often keep memorabilia or artifacts of past civilizations that they’ve cared for. Perhaps a group of adventurers (the party or NPCs) takes an artifact from the dragon’s lair, and in a heartbroken rage, the dragon lashes out against the nearby populace. In this scenario, you can use the dragon in the following ways:

  • The party must fight the dragon at one location before it encounters too much resistance and then flies off to another. The party must track and chase the dragon across the region to stop its destruction, all while learning about a cult that is using a newly discovered artifact for wicked purposes.

  • As the party learns more, they discover that the cult had taken the artifact from the dragon and realize that the only way to stop the dragon is to first defeat the cult. This creates a race against the clock to defeat the cult and stop the dragon before it reaches the capital city.

The Tales of the Valiant Player’s Guide and Monster Vault are on sale now!

about Daniel Kahn

Dan Khan stylized author illo

Daniel Kahn is a D&D 5e freelance writer and lead author of several platinum best-selling titles on the DMsGuild. For more monster weaknesses, check out Monster Weaknesses and Monster Weaknessess of the Multiverse on the DMsGuild, which includes weaknesses for every creature in the Monster Manual and Monsters of the Multiverse. Follow Daniel on Twitter: @FrictionlessDan and visit his website.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join the Kobold Courier and Earn Loot!

Stay informed with the newest Kobold Press news and updates delivered to your inbox weekly. Join now and receive a PDF copy of Caverns of the Spore Lord

Join The Kobold Courier


Be like Swolbold. Stay up to date with the newest Kobold Press news and updates delivered to your inbox twice a month.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
Scroll to Top