Shadow Dragon Optimization

Dragon’s are very weak.  I’m sorry if I am offending one but 4e dragons are one of the weakest boss-type mobs that I have ever run.  Besides their breath weapon and perhaps one extra ability a dragon is easy to lock down and eliminate and yet still I use them and I’ve been using them reasonably often.  Today I am going to take an ordinary level 8 young shadow dragon and turn it into a real threat. 

Standard Actions

Right now the claw and bite attack aren’t too bad, but they use the old damage calculations.  While I feel these calculations are fine for normal monsters I like to use MM3 for bosses.  The weakening on the bite attack makes up for for the lack of damage, but lets make that claw a bit more threatening.  We’ll also allow Draconic Frenzy to give the dragon their own choice of attack.

Recharge Powers

Breath Weapon

The breath weapon is the most powerful effect.  It has decent damage, drains a healing surge, negates resistances and weakens the target.  Very good ability.  To make it a bit more interesting we’ll allow the dragon to spawn a few minions to assist it in combat, but we’ll remove the miss damage to balance this out.

Frightful Presence

The classic power that somewhat defines dragons.  We’ll increase the range so it hits all targets and give it a miss effect.

Triggered Actions

Tail Slash: Not bad how it is, but it isn’t really threatening.  We’ll allow it to knock the target prone and increase the damage, as usual.  We’ll also change it to target reflex and adjust the attack bonus accordingly.

Bloodied Breath: Another classic that I like to modify slightly.  Rather than using it immediately and potentially only hitting one target due to positioning I allow the dragon to use it as a free action the next time it wishes.

Move Actions

If you look at other shadow dragons you’ll see they can teleport between their globes of darkness.  I liked that so I improved it a bit by allowing the dragon to do this while actually moving through the shadows.

Most front-line monsters suffer from the same flaw in combat:  They end up sitting in one spot waiting to die.  They cannot freely move without taking a lot of opportunity attacks.  To fix this I’ll give this dragon an extra move action which allows it to defend itself when stagnant in combat.


Vulnerability: We’ll change the radiant vulnerability to just deal extra damage.  As it is right now the players need only focus on the dragon and the globes of darkness are no concern at all.  Changing it to damage only means the players will have to chose to remove the globe or focus on the dragon.  It is worth noting that since the globes share the dragon’s vulnerabilities a single hit from radiant damage should destroy them while it should take two hits from a non-radiant source.

Combat Advantage: Solos don’t often have the opportunity to benefit from flanking, the most common method of obtaining combat advantage.  We’ll allow the dragon to deal extra damage against weakened targets as well.

Cloak of Shadows: I see shadow dragons as constantly shedding darkness, thus the molting shadows power.  To add to this concept I added cloak of shadows which represents the mist of darkness that emanates from the dragon

Monstrous Stability: There is nothing threatening about a monster that gets knocked on its butt every round.  As suggested by [[|Sly Flourish]], give your monsters the ability to make a saving throw against being knocked prone.

Other Powers

Globe of Darkness: Here is the dragons main power.  First I’d like you to note that this power only lasts until the end of the dragon’s next turn which means it cannot have more than 2 up at a time.  The power is suppose to provide mobility but I it fails to do so.  To fix this we are going to make the globes physical entities, much in the way that the breath weapon has become.  The power will instead create a huge conjuration which fills 3×3 squares.  The conjuration can be attacked to be removed, but otherwise functions exactly the same.  We’ll give it recharge 4 so doesn’t just spam the power.

And we’re done!  Lets see what it looks like all together.

I ran this enemy against my group the other day.  They were level 9 so I threw in a few extra mobs to make the fight a bit more complicated.  It went very well.  I hope you’ll be able to use it.

Young Shadow 7Dragon    Level 8 Solo Lurker
Large shadow magical beast (dragon)    XP 1,750
HP 344; Bloodied 172
AC 23; Fortitude 20; Reflex 21; Will 18
Speed 8, fly 8 (hover), overland flight 10, swim 8
Resist 15 necrotic
Saving Throws +5; Action Points 2
Initiative +14
Perception +12
Combat Advantage
The shadow dragon deals an extra 2d6 damage against a target it has combat advantage against.
O Cloak of Shadows • Aura 1
Squares within the area are lightly obscured.
Monstrous Stability
Whenever this creature would be knocked prone it can make a saving throw to avoid the effect.
Standard Actions
m Bite (necrotic) • At-Will
Attack: Reach 2; +13 vs. AC
Hit: 1d8 + 8 damage, and the target is weakened (save ends).
m Claw • At-Will
Attack: Reach 2; +13 vs. AC
Hit: 2d6 + 5 damage.
M Draconic Frenzy • At-Will
Effect: The dragon makes a bite attack and a claw attack.
C Breath Weapon (necrotic) • Recharge
Attack: Close blast 5; +11 vs. Fortitude
Hit: 2d6 + 5 necrotic damage, and the target loses one healing surge and is weakened (save ends).
Aftereffect: The target’s necrotic resistance is negated until the end of the encounter.
Miss: Half damage, and the target does not lose a healing surge.
C Frightful Presence (fear) • Encounter
Attack: Close burst 5 (targets enemies); +11 vs. Will
Hit: The target is dazed until the end of the dragon’s next turn.
Aftereffect: The target takes a -2 penalty to attack rolls (save ends).
Move Actions
Shadow Walk (teleportation) • At-Will
Effect: A shadow dragon that moves into at least one square of a globe of darkness can teleport to any other globe of darkness within line of sight. It must end this move in at least one square of that globe of darkness.
C Molting Shadow • At-Will
Effect: Close burst 2; squares within the burst become heavily obscured until the end of the shadow dragon’s next turn.
Minor Actions
A Globe of Darkness (conjuration) • At-Will 1/round
Effect: Area burst 1 within 10; The dragon creates a Huge globe of darkness within the targetted area.  The globe is insubstantial, has 10 hit points, shares the dragons defenses and resistances, and has vulnerable 10 radiant.. The globe blocks line of sight for all creatures except the dragon. Any creature entirely within the area (except the dragon) is blinded.
Free Actions
M Bloodied Breath (necrotic) • Encounter
Effect: The dragon’s breath weapon recharges, and the dragon uses it immediately.
Triggered Actions
M Tail Slash • At-Will
Trigger: When an enemy misses the dragon with a melee attack.
Attack (Immediate Reaction): (targets the enemy that missed it); +11 vs. Reflex
Hit: 2d6 + 5 damage and the target is knocked prone.
Skills Intimidate +9, Stealth +15
Str 20 (+9)    Dex 23 (+10)    Wis 16 (+7)
Con 14 (+6)    Int 12 (+5)    Cha 11 (+4)
Alignment evil     Languages Common, Draconic 

© 2010 Wizards of the Coast LLC, a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc. All rights reserved. This formatted statistics block has been generated using the D&D Adventure Tools.

Michael McElrath

Leave a Reply Text

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: