Dragonborn 5e

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Table of Contents:

The Dragonborn in Dungeons and Dragons 5e: More Than Just a Breath Weapon

If you’re going to play dungeons and dragons 5e, why not play a dragon? Dragonborn are the humanoid dragon people of the D&D world and they’ve been spitting fire since 4th edition as one of the most interesting playable races. If the thought of a dragon as a playable race has you interested, then brush your scales and sharpen your talons as we go through everything you need to know.

What’s a Dragonborn?

Dragonborn DnD5e

Dragonborn are humanoid bipedal dragon people in dnd 5e. They resemble dragons walking on their hind legs, though they lack wings or a tail (though there’s some settings that give them tails anyway). They’re about as varied as dragons are but tend to be on the tall side usually over 6-foot but under 7 feet with a blunt snout and cosmetic features that reflect their draconic heritage. They come in as many colors as dragons do, with any number of different scale patterns, frills, little chin barbs, horns, or any number of other dragon-like features you can think of. 

Dragonborn History

Dragonborn history is shrouded in myth (which is another way of saying the writers have gone back and forth on it and couldn’t decide). We’ve got a lot of conflicting myths including being intentionally created by dragon gods, accidental creation from the blood of dead dragon gods, and a sadly much more likely history of powerful dragons cooking them up to be servants. Dragonborn were slaves to draconic tyrants for most of their recorded history, and it’s only relatively recent that they’ve broken away and even formed their own independent nations.

Now (in most settings anyway) dragonborn of all varieties can be found in smatterings throughout most cities, and while they’re a somewhat uncommon sight in many places they’re still considered one of the regular types of folk you’d meet on the street.

Dragonborn Culture

Dragonborn are defined by honor, practicality, loyalty to clan and family, and typically also a deep hatred of dragons. Dragonborn are relatively new as players on the world stage, and there’s also an element of proving oneself and one’s people. Dragonborn are known for honesty, keeping up their end of bargains, and living up to their responsibilities. Dragonborn put a lot of importance on their clan and their family bloodline and breaking an oath hurts not only their reputation but the reputation of their entire clan. 

Their history of enslavement has left a lot of scars and most dragonborn will reject lords and gods as a return to bondage. They particularly revile (most anyway) the dragon gods as an ultimate form of draconic tyranny. The dragonborn have already suffered enough under authoritarian rule and they won’t be fooled again. This means that warlocks and divine casters are particularly rare among dragonborn, and most magically inclined dragonborn are arcane casters like wizards or sorcerers. It's usually only villainous dragonborn who stoop to a patron's bidding as a warlock.

Strangely with how highly they regard clan loyalty, marriage and child rearing is usually a rather loveless affair for dragonborn. Dragonborn marriages are arranged by clan elders and are usually dissolved once their child reaches 3 years old leaving one parent to mentor the child into maturity. Though that’s further along in the child’s life than it sounds, as young dragonborn mature very quickly, and a 3-year-old dragonborn is about as developed as a 10-year-old human, reaching full maturity at the age of 12. And yes, they’re born from eggs, though they're dragonborn eggs and not true dragon eggs.

With arranged marriages, complex rules of honor, and high pressure to keep to the clan’s expectations, many of the dragonborn race choose to run into exile rather than stay under the clawed thumbs of their clan elders. This is partially why you find individual dragonborn out so far and wide, in exile, out hunting dragons, or adventuring down at the bottom of a dungeon. Mercenary work and dragon hunting are common among dragonborn, and those that manage to bring down a draconic tyrant hold a special place of honor in dragonborn history.

Have Fun with Dragonborn Names

Although maybe not as over the top with names as gnomes, dragonborn names have some really interesting dynamics to them. The clan name actually comes before the first name. Dragonborn names tend to be regal and more formal, with a great list of examples given in the Player's Handbook. Clan names tend to be extremely long - which is why many players choose to go with shorter or abbreviated personal names as versions of the examples given that still follow the same theme.

Back where they grew up, many dragonborn will have nicknames those close to them know them by. These are usually based on childhood traits: Climber, Hider, Pious, Earbender, Wailer, etc. These are names that may remain even into adulthood as another way of easy identification, but these are often not shared outside with others.

Dragonborn Characters in Major Pop Culture

One of the best examples of a dragonborn character in more mainstream "nerd culture" is Donaar Blitzen of "Acquisitions Inc. The C Team," a very popular online D&D show. It is also worth noting although he wasn't part of Critical Role for very long, Orion Acaba's character was a dragonborn sorcerer named Tiberius Stormwind who appeared in the first 27 episodes.

Dragonborn offer plenty of fascinating role-playing options but generally are still one of the least chosen races based on surveys in many d&d games.

Dragonborn Features

Dragonborn as a 5e race have a small number of powerful racial abilities that you’ll gain if you select dragonborn as your character’s race:

Ability Score Increase

Your Strength score increases by 2, and your Charisma score increases by 1.

Age

Young dragonborn grow quickly. They walk hours after hatching, attain the size and development of a 10-year-old human child by the age of 3, and reach adulthood by 15. They live to be around 80.

Alignment

Dragonborn tend to extremes, making a conscious choice for one side or the other in the cosmic war between good and evil (represented by Bahamut and Tiamat, respectively). Most dragonborn are good, but those who side with Tiamat can be terrible villains.

Size

Dragonborn are taller and heavier than humans, standing well over 6 feet tall and averaging almost 250 pounds. Your size is Medium.

Speed

Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

Draconic Ancestry

You have draconic ancestry. Choose one type of dragon from the Draconic Ancestry table. Your breath weapon and damage resistance are determined by the dragon type, as shown in the table.

Draconic Ancestry

Dragon

Damage Type

Breath Weapon

Black

Acid

5 by 30 ft. line (Dex. save)

Blue

Lightning

5 by 30 ft. line (Dex. save)

Brass

Fire

5 by 30 ft. line (Dex. save)

Bronze

Lightning

5 by 30 ft. line (Dex. save)

Copper

Acid

5 by 30 ft. line (Dex. save)

Gold

Fire

15 ft. cone (Dex. save)

Green

Poison

15 ft. cone (Con. save)

Red

Fire

15 ft. cone (Dex. save)

Silver

Cold

15 ft. cone (Con. save)

White

Cold

15 ft. cone (Con. save)

 

Breath Weapon

You can use your action to exhale destructive energy. Your draconic ancestry determines the size, shape, and damage type of the exhalation. When you use your breath weapon, each creature in the area of the exhalation must make a saving throw, the type of which is determined by your draconic ancestry. The DC for this saving throw equals 8 + your Constitution modifier + your proficiency bonus. A creature takes 2d6 damage on a failed save, and half as much damage on a successful one. The damage increases to 3d6 at 6th level, 4d6 at 11th level, and 5d6 at 16th level. After you use your breath weapon, you can’t use it again until you complete a short or long rest.

Damage Resistance

You have resistance to the damage type associated with your draconic ancestry.

Languages

You can speak, read, and write Common and Draconic. Draconic is thought to be one of the oldest languages and is often used in the study of magic. The language sounds harsh to most other creatures and includes numerous hard consonants and sibilants.

Let’s go through these features one at a time and analyze what they mean for your new character:

Ability Score Increase. Dragonborn gain bonuses to both Strength and Charisma, which makes them more optimal for classes that want high Strength or Charisma scores like Barbarians, Bards, Fighters, Paladins, Sorcerers, and Warlocks. The +2 bonus to Strength is primarily useful for melee fighting strategies, and the +1 Charisma bonus is useful mainly for classes that use Charisma as a spellcasting ability. The most optimal classes that want both, such as a Paladin or Warlock. However, 5e is a very flexible system that doesn’t punish most builds, so you shouldn’t feel obligated to make the “ideal” choices and combinations when building your character.  

Age. Dragonborn mature quickly and die off within a century. This cuts off the “ancient” options for your character but you can have fun with being a teenage dragon!

Alignment. Dragonborn get a clean slate when it comes to their “normal” alignments, and you’re basically encouraged to do anything except neutrality.

Size. Dragonborn are big lads but are still considered the average medium sized.

Speed. Bog standard 30-foot movement speed. Boring but better than a penalty.

Draconic Ancestry. This is a big choice both mechanically and flavorfully, as you’re picking the type of dragon you’re related to. Chromatic dragons (each chromatic dragon is named after a color) are typically considered the evil and chaotic ones, and the metallic dragons (each metallic dragon is named after a metal) are typically considered the good and lawful ones, though there are exceptions to both rules. Your dragon type may have impacts on your personality and how you play your character (or you could just pick your favorite color).

Mechanically this choice decides both of your big racial abilities, what breath weapon you get and what damage you gain resistance to.

Breath Weapon. Depending on your choice of draconic ancestry (see the table), you get a different kind of natural weapon in the form of a breath weapon. Since it recharges on a short rest, you’ll be able to fire it off in most combats. It also scales up (a bit) though the damage will be much more relevant in the early game than it will be later.

There’s no right answer for which breath weapon is best, though you could argue that green’s is the worst due to how often creatures resist poison damage. The line breath weapons have further reach, but the cone breath weapons will be much easier to hit multiple targets with. The breath weapons that allow for a dexterity saving throw will often be resisted by faster targets and those that allow a constitution saving throw will often be resisted by more resilient targets.

Damage Resistance. You gain resistance to your chosen dragon’s type. Technically fire resistance is the better option as fire damage is a more common damage type, with cold as a close 2nd, though it’s all so subjective and dependent on your adventure that you should be fine no matter what you picked. Just remember your resistance when you get smacked with the matching damage type.

Languages. Very simply you get Common and Draconic. Draconic pops up with surprising frequency in some campaigns so remember you’ve got the old dragon tongue if it comes up.

 

 

dragonborn 5e race for dnd

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