Brown Dragon, Adult (D&D 5th Edition Monster)

Michael O. Varhola
Following is a writeup and stats for an Adult Brown Dragon, one of the creatures that appears in the sourcebook on "Men & Monsters of Ethiopia" I wrote for Skirmisher Publishing! Stats for this monster at three different age categories, Wyrmling, Young, and Ancient, appear both in this book and the spinoff mini-publication "Brown Dragon." I was especially pleased with what I accomplished with this monster and, in the wake talking "All About Dragons" on a recent episode of "d-Infinity Live!", wanted to share it with anyone not yet familiar with it.   
 
ADULT BROWN DRAGON
Huge dragon, lawful evil
 
Armor Class 18 (natural armor)
Hit Points 225 (18d12 + 108)
Speed Swim 40 ft., climb 40 ft., fly 80 ft.
 
STR            DEX            CON            INT            WIS            CHA
25 (+7)      10 (+0)       23 (+6)        18 (+4)     16 (+3)       19 (+4)
 
Saving Throws Str +13, Dex +6, Con +12, Int +10, Wis +9, Cha +10
Skills History +10, Perception +15, Stealth +6
Damage Immunities fire
Senses Blindsight 60 ft., Darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 23
Languages Draconic and two others (often Common and Ge’ez or Greek)
Challenge 17 (18,000 XP)
 
ACTIONS
Multiattack. A Brown Dragon can use its Frightful Presence. It can then make three attacks, one with its bite and two with its claws. 
 
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +13 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 18 (2d10 +7) piercing damage plus 10 (3d6) fire damage. 
 
Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +13 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 14 (2d6 + 7) piercing damage plus 3 (1d6) fire damage. 
 
Tail. Melee Weapon Attack: +13 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit: 16 (2d8 + 7) bludgeoning damage. 
 
Frightful Presence. Each creature of the Brown Dragon’s choice that is within 120 feet of and aware of it must succeed on a DC 18 Wisdom saving throw or become frightened for 1 minute. A creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success. If a creature’s saving throw is successful or the effect ends for it, the creature is immune to the Brown Dragon’s Frightful Presence for the next 24 hours. 
 
Fiery Breath (Recharge 5-6). A Brown Dragon can exhale a 60-foot cone of fire and superheated slag. Each creature in that area must make a DC 20 Dexterity saving throw, taking 59 (17d6) fire damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. 
 
LEGENDARY ACTIONS
A Brown Dragon can take three legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action option can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. The dragon regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn. 
 
Detect. The Brown Dragon makes a Wisdom (Perception) check. 
Tail Attack. The Brown Dragon makes a tail attack. 
Wing Attack (Costs 2 Actions). The Brown Dragon beats its wings. Each creature within 10 feet of the dragon must succeed on a DC 21 Dexterity saving throw or take 15 (2d6 + 7) bludgeoning damage and be knocked prone. The dragon can then fly up to half its flying speed. 
BROWN DRAGON
These powerful earth dragons are exceedingly rare and powerful and descended from legendary primordial creatures that were ultimately slain by various deities or great heroes. They include Python, defeated by the god Apollo at Delphi, and Arwe, a despotic monster that ruled the land of Ethiopia in the era before the reign of Makeda, the Queen of Sheba and was killed by her father, Angabo, who thereafter became the first Human king of the land. In Greek-speaking countries such monsters are therefore often referred to Pythonic Dragons, and in Ethiopia or other places where the Ge’ez language is spoken they are generally known as Arwean Dragons. 

Brown Dragons may indeed, as their name suggests, represent a distinct species of Chromatic Dragon. While they are indisputably true Dragons, some scholars postulate for a number of reasons that they may not be a discrete type and might instead be a subspecies of Red Dragon (a suggestion Brown Dragons consider to be deeply insulting and tantamount to slander). Others contend that Brown Dragons are somehow related to Bronze Dragons, which they outwardly resemble to some extent. Support for this theory comes from an element in the personal mythologies of some Brown Dragons, that they are the original Bronze Dragons, the creatures usually known by that name being a bastard and somewhat aberrant offshoot. Many Brown Dragons will thus employ magical or mundane means of polishing their scales to give them as much of a metallic sheen as they can. 

Brown Dragons have large segments of thick armored plating on their backs, breasts, and other broad sections of their bodies and smaller articulated scales on limbs and other places where flexibility is key. Their armored heads are relatively plain and unadorned with the exception of a half dozen straight, backward-sweeping horns that project up from them. 

A Brown Dragon wyrmling has a relatively uniform muddy brown hide that, as it ages, cures into a surprising number of different shades, from dark chocolates to light tans. Their eyes have the appearance of spheres of metal that have been heated almost to melting in a fire. 

Brown Dragons can eat almost anything, and they are very interested in learning what delicacies appeal to other monarchs and sampling them. The core of their diet, however, consists of large quantities of metal-rich ores, primarily those containing copper and tin but also those with silver, gold, platinum, and others. While such a Dragon derives nutrition from precious metals in the ore it consumes, base metals like iron are deposited in a crop-like organ in its throat, and it expels this dross in molten form when using its breath weapon. 

A Brown Dragon otherwise conforms to the general characteristics of Dragons in general and Chromatic Dragons in particular as presented in the official 5th Edition rules. 

Ancient Emperors. All Brown Dragons are able to show their descent from Python, Arwe, or another Brown Dragon that has previously reigned over some place, possibly even millennia before, and are obsessed with demonstrating the legitimacy of their claims to rule over a particular area. A Brown Dragon will, in any event, assume there is a basis for it to be ruling over whatever area it dwells in and that lesser beings exist merely to serve it, bring it offerings, and possibly even worship it. A particularly subtle and sophisticated monster of this sort might set up a humanoid puppet as a proxy ruler but, because such monsters see themselves as being synonymous with the areas they rule over, most will simply choose to reign directly. 

Brown Dragons will assume all the prerogatives of government in areas over which they rule, to include minting coinage, raising armies, dispatching and receiving ambassadors from foreign courts, and undertaking public works projects. 

Magnanimous Masters. Brown Dragons yearn for subjects and will rule over as many peasants, soldiers, courtiers, and other people that they can. They consider themselves to be loving toward their subjects, generously do not take more in tribute than half of what their people produce, and would be indignant or even embarrassed to learn they were regarded as unjust or indifferent to the needs of those they rule. They brutally suppress and cover up any dissent that does occur. 

For those closest to them, Brown Dragons demand followers that are competent, organized, and fiercely loyal. Races they often impress into service include Hobgoblins, Duergar, and various sorts of Earth or Magma elementals. Dwarves are among those that they yearn to have working for them but who they often have trouble recruiting or satisfactorily bending to their ends. Vocations they especially value include architects, bards, craftsmen, genealogists, and historians. 

Brown Dragons also like to take as wards the children or other relatives of those they make treaties with or otherwise wish to have influence over, for purposes both of indoctrinating these individuals and using them as bargaining chips. 

A Royal Treasury. Like other creatures of their sort, Brown Dragons systematically collect valuables of all sorts and amass great hoards of treasure. Unlike other dragons, however, they freely spend their money to support their domains through improvements, hiring of experts, and the like, perceiving these things to be forms of wealth. 

Brown Dragons consider the best gems and jewelry in their hoards to be part of their crown jewels and will wear whatever appropriate items they can. Wyrmling and young dragons of this sort will often wear rings on the tips of their horns and, as these increase in size with age, will ultimately endeavor to display upon them the crowns of former monarchs. 

Brown Dragons believe it is appropriate for those seeking audiences with them to bring valuable or elaborate gifts and, in the absence of such offerings, will likely be offended. 
 
A Brown Dragon’s Lair
While many evil dragons are drawn to places that are desolate or foreboding, A Brown Dragon often prefers areas that are economically valuable, such as those with sources of water, capable of supporting high crop yields, or rich in minerals. Within such areas Brown Dragons will dwell within the most secure or impressive redoubts available. Those of all ages seek out the highest quality structures they can find, take, or have built, and features they especially value are places with extensive subterranean areas and spaces for libraries, treasuries, arsenals, and barracks. 

A Brown Dragon will sometimes use its breath weapon over an extended period in its lair to spray superheated slag on walls to give them metallic qualities, to reinforce weakened areas, or to seal up small openings. 

A Brown Dragon that has a secure domain and which has advanced to Ancient status will often select a hilltop from which it can survey as much of the area it controls as possible. From this aerie the hulking monster will become increasingly dormant, require less and less interaction with its servants and the bureaucrats that manage its realm for it, and may eventually fall into a deep slumber. After many years, the Brown Dragon may even become covered with earth and vegetation to the extent that it might be mistaken for a hillock or part of a larger terrain feature. It could even become a legend in a land that is ultimately ruled on its behalf by a dynasty of regents. Suffice it to say that a Brown Dragon somehow awoken from such a sleep will be extremely irritable and commensurately destructive ...
 
Lair Actions
On initiative count 20 (losing initiative ties), the Brown Dragon takes a lair action to cause one of the following effects (but cannot use the same effect two rounds in a row): 

• A vaguely humanoid size Large monster rises up from a mass of metallic slag and either defends the Dragon or follows its telepathic commands to it. This creature has all the characteristics of an Earth Elemental except for its Earth Glide special trait and will remain for 1 minute or until it or the Dragon is killed, at which point it will collapse into a pile of dross. 

• A 30-by-30-foot section of metallic slag wall within 120 feet of the dragon that it can see becomes highly magnetized, drawing iron-based metals toward it, until initiative count 20 on the next round. Characters in metal armor within 10 feet of the wall must make a DC 15 Strength saving throw and, failing it, are slammed into it, suffering 1d6 damage and remaining pinned to it while it remains magnetized; those that succeed have their movement rates halved that round. Loose objects within 30 feet of the magnetized area will fly toward it and each character within this range holding metal weapons, shields, or other objects must make a DC 15 Strength check or have the item wrenched from its hand and propelled to the wall. 

• A 20-foot-radius area of slag metal floor within 60 feet of the Brown Dragon becomes affected as if by the spell Heat Metal, inflicting 2d8 fire damage on anyone within the area if the Dragon is a wyrmling, 3d8 if it is young, 4d8 if it is an adult, and 5d8 if it is ancient.