It's the Year of Dragons! As a part of this celebration, we're taking a close look at these iconic beasts, their abilities, and the best ways to fight them ... and come back alive.
We've reached the end of our series and conclude with the noble, regal, silver dragon. Even the youngest and smallest of these dragons are smart and pack a wallop when push comes to shove.
Silver dragons prefer lofty mountain ranges in which to lair -- the grand peaks fit their aesthetics and loftiness -- but can be found almost anywhere. Indeed, because silver dragons enjoy assuming a humanoid form more than their own (see below), you're just as likely to encounter a silver dragon in the middle of a city as you are in some dungeon or mountaintop.
The one place to look for silver dragons is both the easiest to spot and the most elusive -- the skies. Silver dragons possess the cloudwalking ability, meaning they can stand on even the wispiest of clouds as if it were solid ground. Those with sufficient knowledge and power build castles on these cloud tops, making it difficult to get to a silver dragon's home. Needless to say, from this vantage point, the silver dragon is probably well aware of your approach. To reduce this awareness, it's best if you can teleport, ethereal jaunt, or use some similar means to get to its lair instantly.
The Dragon's Side: Silver
Like white dragons, silvers can increase their threat level using Frostburn, which offers information on spells, minions, and environmental hazards a silver dragon can use to protect its lair. Alternatively, you might modify environmental hazards found in Sandstorm, tailoring them from desert to arctic encounters. For example, transform slipsand, slumber sand, and softsand into slipsnow, slumber snow, and the like. Wailing wastes can be part of either environ, and flaywinds could fly just as easily with bits of ice as bits of sand.
Apart from arctic terrain, silver dragons are also adept at disguising themselves for city encounters. Power of Faerun introduces high-level campaign aspects, including kingdom building, battlefield commissions, and religious hierarchies. Any of these might be compelling hooks for a silver dragon making its disguised presence felt within the humanoid world.
Silver dragons belong to the cold subtype and are thus immune to cold damage but vulnerable to fire. Fire-based attacks are among the most efficient ways to harm a silver dragon, but most bolster their defenses with magic items and spells to avoid the worst from these types of attacks. Hitting a silver dragon with dispel magic or Mordenkainen's disjunction is a good way to eliminate most of these defenses.
Silver dragons spend the bulk of their time in an alternate form, often taking the appearance of a kindly old man or fair damsel. To throw off possible trackers, they mix and match this alternate form often, including gender. Like the gold dragon before it, if you suspect that you're dealing with a silver dragon, use tree seeing to view it in its natural form. If you locate a disguised silver dragon, don't let on that you're aware of its trick until you have the advantage!
Silver dragons use feather fall both to keep themselves from plummeting to the ground in the rare case that their wings fail and to perform breathtaking maneuvers. A silver dragon may intentionally stop mid-flight, then use feather fall to break its descent, sometimes insanely close to the ground. They may also activate feather fall first in order to cast spells as they drop.
Adult and older silver dragons make frequent use of their fog cloud ability to enshroud themselves in protective mist. In a pinch, they are capable of standing on top of these clouds, thanks to their cloudwalking ability, thus assuring they always have the high ground. Opponents that find themselves in the cloud homes of silver dragons have to deal with even more mist and fog than usual. Make sure someone in your group is capable of casting gust of wind to eliminate this threat.
If you thought that fighting a silver dragon in the clouds and wind was bad enough, remember that Old and older silver dragons can use control winds to whip up dangerous, hurricane force gales, or merely create a stiff breeze to keep flying creatures (such as the PCs) at bay. They might raze the ground with these winds before dive-bombing from the safety of a cloud.
In a similar vein, silver dragons use control weather to shape the area around them to their liking. It's common for a silver dragon to make the weather around its lair considerably colder than the norm or to create a sphere of warmer weather for the comfort of its guests. Ancient and older silver dragons often wrap their lairs in perpetual storms, complete with freezing rain or snow.
If you have the misfortune of fighting a great wyrm silver dragon, be prepared for it to use reverse gravity to launch you high into the air where it rules supreme. Because they are competent spellcasters at this point, they often combine this tactic with a battery of dispel magic on the victim, then letting him plummet to the ground without magic items to stop the fall.
Silver dragons can also cast cleric spells and those from the Air, Good, Law, and Sun domains as arcane spells.
Dealing with a Silver Dragon's Breath Weapon
In order to avoid or reduce the effects of the silver dragon's cone of cold, see the white dragon. Make sure that everyone in your group carries potions, scrolls, or wands of remove paralysis to negate the silver dragon's secondary breath weapon.
We've reached the end of this series! Although each type of dragon is interesting and worthy of several articles of its own, sometimes you need to draw the line. Dozens other dragons can be found in various D&D books. Remember to read the rules for each dragon intently, as they all have their own unique special abilities and tactics. Each dragon's specific strengths, abilities, and favorite terrain make encounters with them more interesting than just "claw, claw, bite."
Game Resources: To use the material in this article to its fullest, check out the following resources: Dungeon Master's Guide, Monster Manual, and Draconomicon.
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.