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Red Dragon 5e- Ultimate Guide for Dungeons and Dragons 5e

Red Dragon 5e- Ultimate Guide for Dungeons and Dragons 5e

Table of Contents:

Red Dragon 5e- Ultimate Guide for Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition

Do you want your players to be terrified of the evil dragon that comes from the skies, fire raining down and destruction on coming at any minute?

Then you need to read this guide on how to run a red dragon in Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition! In this guide, we will discuss everything you need to know about playing a red dragon, including its history, personality, and tactics. We will provide tips for running red dragons as NPCs or bosses in your campaigns. So if you're ready to unleash the power of the red dragon, keep reading!

Red Dragon 5e- Ultimate Guide for Dungeons and Dragons 5e


The entry for red dragons in the monster manual doesn't really do justice to how terrifying it can be to encounter, much less deafeat, and ancient red dragon. They are not merely a bag of hit points, and there's a reason that the red, the apex predators of the dragon kind are in the symbol for dungeons and dragons 5th edition. Their frightful presence, flight, legendary resistences, and fire breath make fighting one a truly epic encounter. Toss in a legendary action, lair actions, and intelligence and cunning gained from hundred of years of life, and they can dish out, and take tons of damage.


The red dragon is one of the most iconic creatures in Dungeons and Dragons. They are feared by many and revered by few. Red dragons are the largest and most powerful of all the dragon types. They are often considered to be the pinnacle of dragonkind. There are also many famous red dragons in dnd, including some that will do things like polymorph and impersonate rulers and lords in their lands.

Red dragons first appeared in the original Dungeons and Dragons game, back in 1974. They have been a part of the game ever since. In fact, red dragons are so iconic that they have even been featured on the cover of one of the most popular Dungeons and Dragons books of all time: The Monster Manual.

Red Dragons are mortal enemies of metallic dragons, and hate copper dragons as well as gold. Frequently advenrurers will find themselves sent to dispatch red dragons by gold or copper dragons in disguide.



Red dragons are intelligent and cunning creatures, so they often use their breath weapon to target groups of enemies. Other types of chromatic dragons may be more feral (like the white or black dragons), but red dragons are the biggest chromatic dragon. They aren't as cunning as green dragons through, so you should still run them as less of a manipulator than their green dragon kin. They will also try to isolate individual targets so that they can be picked off one by one. In close quarters, red dragons can use their claws and teeth to good effect. If they are feeling particularly threatened, red dragons will not hesitate to use their tail to sweep away their opponents, or to simply fly away. It's better to live another day.

Frightful presence

Dragons of a certain size get frightful presence, which causes fear. This makes it harder for players to actually get into range for a melee weapon attack. Because of this it's also hard to rally other allies to fight them off. Many parties will try to use "Heroes Feast" to mititage this.


As noted above, flight makes a red dragon, even if it's a young red dragon, very terrifying. Make them do strafing runs on adventurers in the open., setting towns and villages aflame and dishing out damage that's difficult to avoid. Be careful to not be a chaotic evil dDMthough, too much of this and players may get super frustrated.

Breath weapon

All red dragons have a powerful breath weapon, which they can use to devastating effect. When using its breath weapon it can breathe in a cone-shaped area. The cone-shaped breath weapon is particularly dangerous, as it can affect multiple creatures at once. Most importantly, it sets things on fire. When played well, this can cause incremental ticks of damage and force the players to make tough choices about their burning, fallen comrades. The good news is that the dragon needs to roll a die every round to see if their breath weapon recharged. Also, even though it does damage, it doesn't have debilitating effects (other than the melty part), like a silver dragon, gold dragon, or black dragon. Some of those secondary effects can be devestating to the party.

Legendary Action

Red dragons are so powerful that they have access to legendary actions. These are extra actions that the red dragon can take in combat, outside of its normal turn. These actions can be used to breath fire, fly up to half their speed, or make a tail attack. These recharge every round.

Legendary Resistance

These recharge for every day. If the red dragon fails a saving throw, they can choose to pass instead. This can be frustrating, and means that players should throw everything they've got at the dragon to punch through these.

Lair Actions & Lairs

Red dragons often make their lairs in caves or ruins. They will also choose a location that gives them a good vantage point, so they can survey their territory.

Their lair actions reflect this, as they can use them to block off passages, cause cave-ins, or create an eruption of lava. These actions are taken in reaction to something happening in the red dragon's lair, such as an intruder. These help the dragon deal with intruders.

Additionally, red dragons have blindsight out to 60 feet.

Frequently Asked Questions;

How big is a red dragon?

Red dragons start small, but can get VERY HUGE. Each of these sizes can be found better described in DMG pg 251.

Wyrmling - About the size of a human, medium sized, 1 square

Young - Large, 4 squares (2x2)

Adult - Huge, 9 squares 3x3

Ancient - Gargantuan, 16 squares, or more (4x4). Frankly, for ancients, we make them longer, more like a flying school bus of death than a square. This lends for more epic encounters.

How Much Does a red dragon Weigh?

The 5th edition Dungeon Master's Guide, and the 5th edition Player's Handbooks don't really go into much detail on these. Here's an easy way to estimate. Take their hitpoints and multiply by

Wyrm: 200 lbs.

Young Dragon: Take their Hit Point Maximum and multiply it by 10

Adult Dragon: Take their HPM and multiply it by 100

Ancient Dragon: Take their HPM and multiply it by 1000


How to defeat a dragon dragon in 5e?

The answer is very carefully. If the DM runs them well they can escape easily, and since red dragons are immune to fire, many of the heavy damage dealing mage spells will be useless against them. Teamwork and luck will come into play.


What are a DND Red Dragon's stats?

Red Dragon Stat Blocks:

Full stat blocks of all ages of dragons are available in these posts:

Red Dragon Wyrmling

Young Red Dragon

Adult Red Dragon

Ancient Red Dragon

Get a red dragon mini to terrify your players here.

So there you have it, everything you need to know about running a red dragon in Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition! If you follow the advice in this guide, you'll be well on your terrifying your players. Just remember to fly and breath fire!

 Where do Red Dragons Live in D&D?

It's important to note that red dragons (and all dragons) slowly transform the area around them. If it's not rocky, mountainous, and inhospitable when they first settle there, they eventually will change the landscape around them. They love fire, so volcanos and rifts are places they love to be. Lava and smoke are comforts to them.


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Last updated: January 27, 2019

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