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.
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.
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.
The classic power that somewhat defines dragons. We’ll increase the range so it hits all targets and give it a miss effect.
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.
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 [[l:www.slyflourish.com|Sly Flourish]], give your monsters the ability to make a saving throw against being knocked prone.
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.