Fighting Green Dragons
It's the Year of Dragons! As a part of this celebration, we're going to be taking a closer look at these iconic beasts, their abilities, and some of the best ways to fight them . . . and come back alive. Over the course of this series, we'll focus on the true dragons described in the Monster Manual, and although we'll touch on the tactics and abilities that all dragons possess, the purpose of these articles is to explore their unique powers and their temperament, plus show how they use their lairs to their advantage.
Next up is the fearsome and belligerent green dragon, horror of the forest. Green dragons are among the most conniving of the dragons, and they tend to have the most love for politics and intrigue. Given the chance, they would rule their woodland home in the manner of some "benevolent" dictator.
The Dragon's Side
To enhance the green dragon's natural fighting prowess, stealthy nature, and command of both people and plants, Races of the Wild has several feats, spells, and tactics that work just as well for dragons as other humanoids. The feats that appeal to dragons most focus on their flying: Aerial Reflexes, Aerial Superiority, Born Flyer, Diving Charge, and Improved Flight. The Winged Warrior tactical feat lets them perform daring maneuvers in the air.
Because of their intimate knowledge of their forest homes, green dragons that pick up levels in cleric commonly choose the Plant domain to make the trees, shrubs, and vines into allies. Or, as befitting their subtype, they might also pick the Sky domain to make their flying forays over their territory more dangerous. Also, the book describes ways that the other denizens of a green dragon's forest -- elves, halflings, and the like, may use specific tactics against these majestic beasts. Green dragons would be all too aware of these methods . . .
Green dragons live in deep, thick, and preferably ancient forests, where the trees grow massive. Their coloration allows them to blend into the thick canopy and underbrush, and their long necks can be mistaken for a huge trunk from a distance. Green dragons have Bluff, Hide, and Move Silently as class skills, so despite their bulk, they can stalk the forest as stealthily as a cat. Remember that they are just as likely to attack from the thick underbrush as they dive from the branches above. Like the black dragon, green dragons are relatively poor flyers, making flying movement within the forest tricky.
Because they can breathe underwater, green dragons sometimes stalk prey while hiding underneath forest ponds and rivers deep enough to hide their bulk. They sometimes use this ability to drag opponents underneath with a successful grapple attack (see the Fighting Black Dragons for more information on this tactic).
Green dragons prefer making their lairs in caves situated in high, sheer cliffs, where they have a commanding view of the area, with the entrance located at the base, away from sight -- preferably beneath a waterfall or covered in dense vegetation. Realize that the interior of this cliff is probably riddled with tunnels and dead ends. They can't burrow, so blocking off escape routes with move earth or similar spells can hinder their movement -- but then you're stuck fighting the green dragon in its own lair... with it angry.
The special abilities of green dragons show a combination of their dominance over the plants of the forest they live in and the beings that they might encounter within -- suggestion, plant growth, dominate person, and command plants. Green dragons are bossy and domineering, and they prefer humiliating an opponent before going in for the kill. As they grow older, most green dragons pick up additional spells meant to control others, such as charm monster and charm person, or they choose ones that make them stealthier or harder to find, such as hallucinatory terrain, invisibility, misdirection, and seeming.
Adult and older green dragons make extensive use of their suggestion ability to bend humanoids to their will. If you encounter one that doesn't outright attack, be aware that it probably intends to sway your opinion with special abilities or spells. If someone in your group starts acting strange, be prepared to react accordingly and know that they are not acting of their own free will.
Green dragons use plant growth to cover up the entrance to their lair, to hide pit traps that surround it, and to make life miserable for their opponents during combat.
Ancient and older green dragons employ dominate person with impunity, even out of sheer boredom or amusement. Be wary of them attempting this while hiding, and using dominate person to distract the others, or lead them into a trap (such as into one of the covered pits, as described above).
Dealing with a Green Dragon's Breath Weapon
The green dragon's breath weapon is a cone of corrosive gas (acid), so make sure that if you attack one, you try to surround it from all sides to minimize the number of people in your group affected by this attack. The same armor, scrolls, and spells that help against black dragons apply to green dragons as well.
Wyrms use command plants to turn their forest homes into a flailing nightmare of vines and branches. If stalking prey (or, in the unlikely case of fleeing), they use this ability to make it appear that they are heading in another direction, due to the trees and underbrush moving about as if a large animal were running through them.
Green dragons possess the Air subtype, and thus they can be rebuked by a cleric with the Earth domain -- attempt this only against younger dragons. Green dragons fight just as well on the ground, in the water, and in the air, so the best place to fight one is beneath the earth. Use move earth, earth to mud, and other spells or abilities to bog the green dragon down so that it must spend most of its time trying to get out.
Game Resources: To use the material in this article to its fullest, check out the following resources: Dungeon Master's Guide, Monster Manual, Player's Handbook.
About the Author
Eric Cagle cut his teeth at Wizards of the Coast, but now lives the extravagant freelancer lifestyle. Look for his name on D&D, d20 Modern, and Star Wars books. Recent credits include d20 Apocalypse, Races of Destiny, and Monster Manual III. He is also a contributor to the Game Mechanics, Green Ronin Publishing, Dragon Magazine, and this lovely website. Eric lives in Seattle where the coffee is dark and bitter like his goddesses.