Tactics and Tips
Know Your Enemy (Part 10)
By Eric Cagle

Lore for Copper, Gold, and Green Dragons

Monster Manual IV introduced a sidebar that has since become the norm when new monsters are provided: the Knowledge check. This handy item takes the guesswork out of what a character (as opposed to the player) knows about a given creature and rewards those characters with ranks in the appropriate Knowledge skill. Over the course of the next few installments, we'll provide Knowledge check results for a variety of monsters, starting with some of the most iconic that lack this sidebar.

Since these lore-based articles are popular, we're turning our eye toward the absolute classic of monster: the dragon. Next up, we look at the copper, gold, and green dragons.

A Peek Behind the Rules Curtain

So how do designers determine the Difficulty Class for Knowledge checks about creatures? The following is excerpted from Monster Manual IV:

The description of the Knowledge skill indicates that in general, the baseline DC of checks to identify monsters and remember one bit of useful information about their special powers or vulnerabilities is equal to 10 + the monster's HD. Every 5 points by which the check result exceeds the DC yields another useful piece of information (PH 78).

As a general rule of thumb, a DC 15 check or higher will reveal all of the base creature's type and subtype traits as defined in the glossary. This often includes information about energy resistance or various immunities. For instance, a DC 15 Knowledge (arcana) check reveals that dragons have high hit points (12-sided HD), all good saves, and have darkvision out to 60 feet and low-light vision. They eat, sleep, and breathe.

Information specific to the creature, such as its type of damage resistance, spell-like abilities, or immunities come with the high DC check results.

If you're interested in taking on these dragons once you've learned something about them, be sure to consult our earlier Tactics & Tips series: Bigger, Tougher, and Meaner Than You:

Copper Dragons

Copper dragons are infamous for their trickery and love of playing pranks on unsuspecting creatures. Although good, copper dragons are shifty and never reveal their true motivations unless tricked in turn. When dealing with copper dragons, just remember that the best defense is an excellent sense of humor (or a remarkably thick skin).

Copper Dragon Lore

Characters with ranks in Knowledge (arcana) can learn more about copper dragons. When a character makes a successful skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs.

Knowledge (Arcana)

DC Result

15 Copper dragons are notorious pranksters, joke tellers, and riddlers, tempered with a covetous streak. They reside in dry, rocky uplands and hilltops. This also reveals the earth subtype.

20 Copper dragons can produce two types of breath weapons: a line of acid and a cone of slow gas.

25 Copper dragons are immune to acid and can spider climb at will. At various stages of its life, a copper dragon gains damage reduction: young adult -- DR 5/magic, mature adult -- DR 10/magic, very old -- DR 15/magic, and wyrm -- DR 20/magic.

30 At various stages of its life, a copper dragon gains the following special abilities: adult -- stone shape, old -- transmute mud/mud to rock, ancient -- wall of stone, great wyrm -- move earth.

Gold Dragons

Regal, wise, and benevolent, gold dragons can often be an adventurer's best friend -- just don't forget they are still dragons and can become riled with the best of them. Like bronze dragons, gold dragons spend the majority of their time in an alternate form, keeping their true nature hidden for as long as possible. Gold dragons are easily the most powerful of the metallic dragons, but typically show remarkable restraint and forethought.

Gold Dragon Lore

Characters with ranks in Knowledge (arcana) can learn more about gold dragons. When a character makes a successful skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs.

Knowledge (Arcana)

DC Result

15 Gold dragons are good, noble dragons with a profound sense of justice and hatred for evil. They dwell on high mountaintops. This also reveals the fire subtype.

20 Gold dragons can produce two types of breath weapons: a cone of fire and a cone of weakening gas.

25 Gold dragons are immune to fire, but vulnerable to cold. They can assume alternate forms and breath water from birth. At various stages of its life, a gold dragon gains damage reduction: young adult -- DR 5/magic, mature adult -- DR 10/magic, very old -- DR 15/magic, and wyrm -- DR 20/magic.

30 At various stages of its life, a gold dragon gains the following special abilities: juvenile -- bless, adult -- luck bonus, old -- geas/quest and detect gems, ancient -- sunburst, great wyrm -- foresight.

Green Dragons

Mean and prone to attack just about anything for the sheer thrill, green dragons are terrible foes that prowl the ancient forests. Green dragons love to intimidate creatures and bully weaker creatures before dispatching them. They have been known to interrogate adventurers for information.

Green Dragon Lore

Characters with ranks in Knowledge (arcana) can learn more about green dragons. When a character makes a successful skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs.

Knowledge (Arcana)

DC Result

15 Green dragons are belligerent, aggressive dragons that dwell in ancient forests. This also reveals the air subtype.

20 The breath weapon of a green dragon produces a cone of corrosive (acid) gas.

25 Green dragons are immune to acid and can breath underwater. At various stages of its life, a green dragon gains damage reduction: young adult -- DR 5/magic, mature adult -- DR 10/magic, very old -- DR 15/magic, and wyrm -- DR 20/magic.

30 At various stages of its life, a green dragon gains the following special abilities: adult -- suggestion, old -- plant growth, ancient -- dominate person, great wyrm -- command plants.

Game Resources: To use the material in this article to its fullest, check out the following resources: Dungeon Master's Guide, Monster Manual, and 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, Monster Manual IV, and the Tome of Corruption from Green Ronin Publishing. He is also a contributor to the Game Mechanics, Dragon Magazine, and this lovely website. Eric lives in Seattle where the coffee is dark and bitter like his goddesses.


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