There are many concepts and values I find important to playing Dungeons & Dragons. This may shock you, but two things high on that list are dungeons and dragons. I like taking the dragons listed in the Monster Manual (and even beyond) and creating their D&D dragon lairs, sprawling dungeons with varying levels of complexity. This segment we’ll head back to the Monster Manual proper and take a look at the green dragon. What makes this dragon so unique and it’s lair deadly in it’s own right? Let’s explore introducing a dragon and green dragon lairs, together.
Green dragon lairs — treacherous tyrants
Green dragons are listed as scheming, brutal, and even lazy at times. These creatures are so paranoid, they use their magical nature to spy on their territory through the senses of small vermin. These traits and abilities make green dragons likely the most informed of their kind. Knowing not only what’s going on in their own territory, but adjacent areas controlled by rivals.
Plots and schemes are the most dangerous weapons these dragons have at their disposal. This combined with their silver tongue, used to bring powerful allies into the fold makes green dragons terrible foes without ever having to see them in the flesh. In fact, the dragon has little drive or incentive to do anything on their own, instead preferring to rely on skilled (or simply easily manipulated) lieutenants to enact their bidding.
The party coming face to face with a green dragon will likely have their blood boiling, as the tricks and traps they would have been subjected to would build their ire sky-high. This uneven mental footing works to the dragon’s benefit, having already learned their strengths and weaknesses through spying every step of the way through its brutal and confusing lair.
Green dragons have the natural ability to create ten-foot tall, thick, thorny vine walls and ours will be using these to slow and confuse the progress of any would-be interlopers. These thorn hedges are able to be dealt with or moved through, but require considerable effort if done so repeatedly. This is not the case for our lair’s lord, the vines giving way without a second thought to their master’s quiet step.
A brutal, chlorophyll maze that takes hours to conquer could be a few simple steps for our dragon. Our lair is set in the center of a dense, ancient forest, the cavern hidden behind the roar of a powerful waterfall, above a crystalline lake. Behind the cascade of water a wide cave mouth sits away from prying eyes, even in this seldom-trod area of the woods.The dragon, being no slouch, also keeps a second entrance at the bottom of the lake. This main method in and out of the lair is guarded by school of large-mouthed and electric catfish happy to shock and gulp down anything wandering around the bottom of this lake. Anything that slips passed the electrified fish are in for another surprise as once they swim through the long, dark tunnel, they must surface in a subterranean lake that has all manner of carefully tended plant life floating on the surface, chief among them are the colonies of deadly strangleweed. These harmless looking fronds look like thick seaweed floating on the surface, but in a flash will wrap around and drown anything that disturbs the waters surface.
Readers of my previous lairs might note my love of the third-party supplement, Fifth Edition Foes. For anyone looking for the giant electric catfish, strangleweed, and more, you can use the entries from that source book.
[NERDITOR’S NOTE: Nerdarchy’s exclusive coupon code STAY-NERDY-30, available twice per user, gets you a 30 percent discount on orders from the Frog God Games store, like Jake’s beloved Fifth Edition Foes.]
Whether the party enters from behind the waterfall or finds the primary entrance at the bottom of the lake, they will find the cavern system winding and confusing. Dipping into drowned passages and curving through hard stone, the path is difficult to traverse. Multiple passages would likely be blocked by more of the thick hedges, slowing the trespassers or even funneling them into tunnels used less by the occupants, but instead lined with dangerous traps. Our dragon might temporarily enslave a trap maker or worse, a skilled wizard to conjure magical wards and traps the dragon couldn’t be bothered to craft. Once the creatures outlived their purpose they could be used to feed the dragon’s menagerie of pets or, especially if a member of the elven city a few dozen miles away, a delicious treat.
Minions to the monster
There are many minions or servants you could use to line these halls, but I like to think the paranoid nature of green dragons means they pick their followers very carefully, only having a handful of subordinates at any given time. Chief among them I have an elven politician that before a bargain with our dragon held little sway within the city bordering the ancient woodland, but now holds power within the government. This power was gained through legal and even darker methods, all thanks to the magical strength bestowed by this dragon patron. Our green dragon uses this noble as a spy within the city, covering up any rumors that crop up about a dragon in the forest and gathering intelligence about other draconic rivals in the region.
The favorite minions of our scheming draconic foe would be ones that upheld two values: reinforce the idea that the dragon is the most ingenious, and have no chance of betrayal. Awakened plants, carnivorous fungi, and colonies of vicious insects would be easy to control as they pose little threat to the dragon, but simply defend by nature of their feeding and territory methods. All they need is routine feedings to keep them just content enough to keep comfortable in their new homes.
The favorite flora and fauna would be kept well maintained in its personal chambers or as a deadly trap for those skilled enough to cut through the rest. One deadly trap, set specifically to eliminate those pesky, greedy adventurers is the treasure hoard set after a few dangerous encounters and traps. However, this hoard, while plentiful and glittering, is simply a few coins scattered among a well-kept mimic colony. The chests, weapons, art, and even the ornate tables — all mimics kept just hungry enough to pounce on any rogue greedy enough to slink into the chamber. These beautiful lovelies keep the worst of the riff-raff away from the true treasures and where this fails, the dragon would begrudgingly lift its claws and get the job done.
The final encounter
After struggling, fighting, and surviving, the tenacious party will face the worst trial yet: the green dragon itself. A little perturbed it must be bothered to deal with these insignificant wretches directly, the dragon will not be caught without more tricks and schemes to keep the battle in its favor.
This showdown will not be a fair fight with the party.The dragon has grown and nurtured a grove of green brains in its lair. These green bushels of brain-looking cauliflower have the unique ability to let off psychic screams. Either flying out of range of the mind-numbing wails or simply weathering them with its natural capabilities, the dragon inflicts all manner of condition effects on the party, giving our lair lord the few seconds it needs to remove or even kill a few characters before they can right themselves.
If that fails, the colony of assassin bugs it tends could be unleashed, grappling and biting into the party as they try to keep the fight focused. In the event that our jade serpent is knocked against the ropes, it has one last dirty trick. In a nest on the ceiling of the lair is a colony of astral moths our dragon has been tending to for decades. These are only used in desperate times but when riled up, the moths will scatter, grabbing up any creatures they can to fling them into random planes of existence. This could separate the party or they could all be sent to the same area. This terrible ploy is quite brutal, so if you do deploy it, ensure you have the kind of players who will roll with the punches. Being sent to other planes can be a great new story hook, especially if only one or two characters get grabbed and the rest of the party must go on a multi-part quest to rescue them.
What do you think? Are green dragons exactly the level of cunning you’re looking for or are they too evil, stacking the deck so high against the adventurers? Let me know and also let me know what you would do differently. What dragon do you want to see next? Thanks for reading and stay nerdy!
In the classic video from the Nerdarchy YouTube channel below, Nerdarchists Dave, Ted and Ryan answer a GM 911 question from a Dungeon Master looking to remind the players in their campaign why dragons are so dangerous. In the video comments are lots more ideas from other DMs on creating memorable dragon encounters too.
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Child of the Midwest, spending his adolescence dreaming of creating joy for gaming between sessions of cattle tending. He holds a fondness for the macabre, humorous and even a dash of grim dark. Aspiring designer spending most of his time writing and speculating on this beautiful hobby when he isn’t separating planes.