dragon's breath D&D

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Hello! Each week in the Nerdarchy Newsletter, we send updates and announcements along with some ideas that didn’t make it into a video. Signing up for the newsletter gives you access to the Nerdarchy ringtone, instructions on how to get a chance to game with us, and makes you a 1st-level Nerdarchist. So that’s cool. For those who aren’t interested in the newsletter, but still curious about some of these off camera ideas, enjoy.

dragon's breath D&D
Cover art for the fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons Hoard of the Dragon Queen adventure. Dragons are scary, y’all. [Image courtesy Wizards of the Coast]

From Nerdarchist Dave

Drugs & Dragons

Dragons are beings infused with the stuff of magic. When an ancient dragon passes, that magic can seep into the area of its final resting place. The land can hold this magic for decades — even centuries — depending how powerful the dragon was.

Dragon’s breath is an herb that grows only in the places that have been infused with the essence of a passing dragon. The stem of the plant is lightly covered in tiny pieces of bark that resembles scales. These pieces of bark are the same color of the horns, talons, or spines of the dragon’s essence they’ve sprung from. The leaves are the color of the dragon who’s essence infused the soil.

A single use can be harvested from a plant.

DC 20 Herbalism kit check to harvest without harming the plant

DC 15 To harvest without harming the herb, but the plant is destroyed

DC 10 the plant is unharmed, but the herb is ruined.

DC 5 the plant and herb are ruined.

When using the herb as part of the material components to cast spells with corresponding dragonbreath type and spell effect the spell is cast at one spell slot higher than the spell slot being expended. The herb is consumed in the process.

  • Brass dragon- Fire Damage and the sleep spell
  • Bronze dragon- Lightning and Force Damage and polymorph spells
  • Copper dragon- Acid Damage and the slow spell
  • Gold dragon- Fire Damage, polymorph spells, and the Ray of Enfeeblement spell
  • Silver dragon- Cold Damage, hold person and hold monster spells, and polymorph spells
  • Black dragon- Acid Damage
  • Blue dragon- Lightning Damage
  • Green dragon- Poison Damage
  • Red dragon- Fire Damage
  • White dragon- Cold Damage

From Nerdarchist Ted

If you can’t Breath  Like a Dragon Drink like One

High in the mountains are a pair of dwarves who are not members of any clan and love alcohol more than anything else.  Knowledge of just anything else is a waste to them. They found an herb or grain or something that has had crazy effects on the alcohol that they have chosen to make with it.  They like to call the stuff Dragons breath as it has a heat going down and back up, if you get my meaning. Others who have drank it have called it by a variety of different names and if it were not for the potentially harmful effects that have happened to those drinking it or those even near those drinking it, the alcohol would be most popular.

Each establishment who dares sell it can charge what they like depending on how popular it is and how many the drinker has already consumed.  For one hour after drinking Dragons breath the imbiber is actually imbued with a random cantrip from the list below. If a second drought is consumed roll a second time and replace the results.  Any non-dwarf drinking has disadvantage on the saving throw to see if they are intoxicated, if you are using such rules. The Con DC for this drink is 13 +2 for each subsequent Dragons Breath consumed.


  1. mage hand
  2. minor illusion
  3. prestidigitation
  4. thaumaturgy
  5. dancing lights
  6. druid craft
  7. guidance
  8. roll on the damage cantrip list below

Damage Cantrip

  1. toll the dead
  2. sacred flame
  3. ray of frost
  4. fire bolt
  5. acid splash
  6. chill touch
  7. poison spray
  8. gust

At the GMs discretion these can be swapped out for other cantrips should you so desire.  Rumor has it that these dwarves are working on a fresh batch that has higher level effects as well

From Nerditor Doug

Using Dragons and their Breath Weapons

Dragons are the most iconic monster in D&D (it’s right there in the name) and possibly the world. Cultures across the globe have their own myths and legends about these fearsome creatures. And to me, dragon’s breath is the quintessential monster ability. The mere idea of a great wyrm unleashing a swath of raw destructive energy puts adventurers and the players behind them on full alert.

But the awesome power of dragon’s breath sometimes gets lost amid the rolling of dice and chess-like thinking ahead to how the following turns will suss themselves out. Particularly for seasoned adventurers and D&D players, the majesty and terror of a dragon fight can sometimes be lost — you’ve fought one dragon, you’ve fought a million of them right? (Okay, not necessarily true but for the purpose of my anecdote it’s 100 percent factual.)

What I like to do as a Dungeon Master is focus first on the vivid scenario, keeping the mechanics of the game secondary. My role is to help the players tell the story of their characters, and when it comes to deadly dragon’s breath, the story is they’re in a lot of trouble. I find that even experienced players who know their Monster Manuals get drawn in and more easily put themselves in their character’s boots when the situation comes alive in their imagination.

Even a wily rogue, with their fancy Evasion and Uncanny Dodge, starts to feel the desperate nature of the encounter when the searing blast of lightning crackles right over their head, making their hair stand on end with static and leaving a lingering prickly feeling on their skin after the sandstone wall behind them explodes into shards of stone. A raging barbarian might be tough as hell, but a full-on wave of excruciating flame that melts the mountain stone beneath their feet might give them proper perspective. Watching as all organic matter in the area shrivels and dies within the cloud of noxious vapor that stings and burns eyes and skin sounds daunting, as would seeing a comrade instantly flash frozen into a crystalline block of glacial ice before your eyes. And don’t even get me started on perhaps the worst kind of horror — the caustic stream that turns a person into that dude from Robocop. Yuck.

My point is, dragon’s breath should be much more than a handful of dice and a hope for a recharge (from the DM’s point of view anyway). It should be absolutely terrifying! And you can foreshadow the danger well before adventurers come face to maw with one, too. The aftermath of a dragon attack should illustrate just what kind of destructive power you’re dealing with. Huge tracts of land can be completely devastated in seconds by dragon’s breath. To up the ante, the adventurers can discover the remains of mighty warriors they knew, felled by dragon’s breath as if they never had a chance.

And you can carry this method onto any monster, too. To this day, the mere suggestion of a beholder or mind flayer encounter still fills me with dread. Not simply because they’re powerful creatures, but through DM’s who’ve painted the scene so vividly in my own past gaming. The slimy tentacles wriggling over your head, or the beam that strips the flesh from your bones, coming across the remains of an illithid attack…horrifying.

Whatever monster you’re challenging the players with, find that thing’s “dragon’s breath” and really bring it home for the players so they can carry the memory of the awesome encounter with them for years to come, how they braved the lair and survived the deadly dragon’s breath (or didn’t — that’s pretty memorable too!).


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