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Monster Mayhem
by Ryan Dancey

The Monster Manual offers hundreds of new and classic monsters for the new edition of D&D. However, Brand Manager Ryan Dancey says that the one he thinks players will find most exciting isn’t even a monster at all. Technically.

"It's a ‘template,’" he explains. "Templates are one of the coolest aspects of 3rd Edition D&D, by far. The idea is that certain types of creatures that have been designated as ‘monsters’ in previous editions of the game really aren't monsters at all. Instead, they're effects, abilities, and other alterations ‘laid on top’ of another creature. There are a lot of templates in the new Monster Manual, and the one I think people are going to get the most excitement out of is the half-dragon.

"There's been this little secret in the heart of the D&D game for many years. A group of the most powerful creatures in the game (the dragons) have the ability to polymorph -- either into human form, or essentially at will into any form. This allows the dragons to walk among the people of the land undetected. And some dragons, like the old Greek gods, are a randy lot indeed!

"The result is a very small percentage of the population who have a direct ancestor of the genus ‘draco,’ and along with that odd heritage, a variety of special abilities and unique roleplaying opportunities. The half-dragon template is designed to be overlaid on one of the common adventuring races, though it could be added to just about any creature. As the half-dragon ages (and gains experience), he or she can develop certain draconic abilities. In a sense, half-dragons are multiclassed characters, being partly ‘half-dragon’ and partly whatever other classes the character has acquired."


Dragons’ magical nature allows them to crossbreed with virtually any creature. This usually occurs while the dragon has changed its shape; it then abandons the crossbreed young.

Half-dragon creatures are always more formidable than their fellows, and their appearance betrays their nature -- scales, elongated features, reptilian eyes, and exaggerated teeth and claws. Sometimes they have wings.

Creating a Half-Dragon

"Half-dragon" is a template that can be added to any corporeal creature (referred to hereafter as the "base creature"). The creature’s type becomes "dragon." It uses all the base creature’s statistics and special abilities except as noted here.

Hit Dice: Increase by one die type, to a maximum of d12.

Speed: Half-dragons of Large or larger size have wings and can fly at their normal speed (average maneuverability). Smaller specimens have wings only if the base creature does.

AC: Natural armor improves by +4.

Damage: Half-dragons have bite and claw attacks. If the base creature does not have these attack forms, use the damage values in the table below. Otherwise, use the values below or the base creature’s damage, whichever is greater.

Size Bite Damage Claw Damage 
Fine 1 — 
Diminutive  1d2 1 
Tiny  1d3  1d2 
Small  1d4  1d3 
Medium-size  1d6 1d4 
Huge 2d6 2d8 
Large  1d8  1d6 
Gargantuan  2d8  2d6 
Colossal  4d6  2d8 

Special Attacks: A half-dragon retains all the special attacks of the base creature and also gains a breath weapon based on the dragon variety, usable only once per day. Use all rules for dragon breath (see the "Dragon" entry) except as specified in the table below.

Dragon Variety  Breath Weapon  Damage  (DC) 
Black  Line* of acid  6d4 (17) 
Blue  Line of lightning  6d8 (18) 
Green  Cone** of gas  6d6  (17) 
Red  Cone of fire 6d10  (19) 
White  Cone of cold  3d6  (16) 
Brass  Line of fire  3d6  (17) 
Bronze  Line of lightning  6d6  (18) 
Copper  Line of acid 6d4  (17) 
Gold  Cone of fire  6d10  (20) 
Silver  Cone of cold  6d8 (18) 

*A line is always 5 ft. high, 5 ft. wide, and 60 ft. long.
**A cone is always 30 ft. long.

Special Qualities: A half-dragon has all the special qualities of the base creature, plus low-light vision and darkvision with a range of 60 feet. Half-dragons are immune to sleep and paralysis effects, and have additional immunities based on their dragon variety.

Dragon Variety Immunity - Dragon Variety Immunity 
Black Acid   Brass Fire 
Blue Electricity   Bronze Electricity 
Green Acid   Copper Acid 
Red Fire   Gold  Fire 
White Cold   Silver Cold 

Saves: Same as the base creature.
Abilities: Increase from the base creature as follows: Str +8, Dex +0, Con +2, Int +2, Wis +0, Cha +2.
Skills: A half-dragon has 6 skill points, plus its Intelligence modifier, per Hit Die. Treat skills from the base creature’s list as class skills and other skills as cross-class. If the creature has a class, it gains skills for class levels normally.
Feats: Half-dragons have one feat for every four levels or the base creature’s total of feats, whichever is greater. Half-dragons have access to, and usually favor, the dragon feats.
Climate/Terrain: Same as either the base creature or the dragon variety
Organization: Same as the base creature
Challenge Rating: Same as the base creature + 2
Treasure: Same as the base creature
Alignment: Same as the dragon variety
Advancement: Same as the base creature

Half-Dragon Characters

Half-dragons with a Charisma of 12 or higher are often sorcerers.

Sample Half-Dragon

Here is an example of a red half-dragon using an ogre as the base creature.

Half-Dragon (Red)/Half-Ogre
Large Dragon
Hit Dice: 4d10+12 (34 hp)
Initiative: –1 (Dex)
Speed: 30 ft., fly 30 ft. (average)
AC: 20 (–1 size, –1 Dex, +9 natural, +3 hide)
Attacks: Huge greatclub +12 melee (or bite +12 melee, 2 claws +7 melee); or Huge longspear +2 ranged
Damage: Huge greatclub 2d6+13; Huge longspear 2d6+13; bite 1d8+9, claw 1d6+4
Face/Reach: 5 ft. by 5 ft./10 ft.
Special Attacks: Breath weapon
Special Qualities: Immunities, darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision
Saves: Fort +10, Ref +0, Will +1
Abilities: Str 29, Dex 8, Con 17, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 9
Skills: Climb +12, Listen +8, Spot +8
Feats: Power Attack
Climate/Terrain: Any land, aquatic, and underground
Organization: Solitary, pair, gang (2–4), or band (5–8)
Challenge Rating: 4
Treasure: Standard
Alignment: Always chaotic evil
Advancement: By character class
Half-dragon/half-ogres speak Giant, Dragon, and Common.

Half-dragon/half-ogres use Huge two-handed (often exotic) weapons. Aggressive and temperamental, they’re usually itching for a battle. They often lead other ogres but fight as individuals.

Breath Weapon (Su): Cone of fire, 30 feet, once per day; damage 6d10, Reflex half DC 19.
Immunities: Red half-dragons are immune to fire, sleep, and paralysis effects.