In Dungeons & Dragons, you can play elves, dwarfs, halflings, and other humanoid creatures. You may have wondered what else you can play.
Can you play as a dragon in D&D?
Players can play as a dragon in D&D. There are no official rules or guidelines on playing a Dragon. However, Dungeon Masters can create their own rules for gameplay, including how to advance, balance combat, and design challenging campaigns for dragon characters.
In this article, I’ll answer the most common questions I get about playing a dragon in Dungeons and Dragons.
Can You Play as a Dragon in D&D? (According to Official Rules)
Wizards of the Coast, the company behind D&D, does not provide stats or recommendations for dragons as player characters. Dungeon Masters who want to follow the official books will not allow players to choose dragons as characters.
The reason Wizards of the Coast does not push dragons is not because they don’t want you to give your players the opportunity.
The most likely reason is that dragons are boss monsters.
All dragons, even baby dragons, start out extremely powerful. Trying to keep campaigns interesting and challenging for dragon characters can prove difficult.
4 Reasons You Can Play as a Dragon in D&D?
There are three good reasons you play a Dragon in Dungeons and Dragons. Even though you won’t be following canon, there is no reason you can’t enjoy the power and majesty of dragons.
You Can Homebrew a Dragon Character
The main reason you can play a dragon in D&D is that you can homebrew anything before, during, and after gameplay. Homebrew means creating original “non-canon” content you want to use.
You can homebrew a character sheet for your dragon as well as spells, special abilities, and other stats you’ll need during gameplay.
This is the easiest route if you don’t want to mess with advanced statistics and would rather build your dragon from scratch before play begins.
D&D Is Designed for Flexible Play
The entire existence of D&D rests on the foundation of bending, breaking, and rewriting rules to fit your personal gameplay, style, and player preferences.
D&D is designed to be flexible.
You can, for example, roll a standard die in the latest edition and add your character’s dexterity modifier. Or you could roll two d20s and take the higher result.
It’s up to the DM to decide.
There are dozens of other examples:
- Can you kill a god?
- Can you cure vampirism?
- Can you play a vampire?
- Can you play as a tiefling?
When I first played D&D, I played an elf character who was secretly a vampire.
As long as the DM allows it, you can absolutely play as a dragon, even if it’s not official.
Characters Can Already Turn Into Dragons
Another reason you can play as a dragon is that allows certain players to transform into dragons at certain levels. For example, druids gain the ability to shapeshift into a dragon temporarily starting at level 9.
A wizard can also use the Shapechange spell to change into a dragon.
Characters with access to True Polymorph and Wish spells can also turn into dragons with some restrictions. No doubt, D&D gods possess the ability to change any character into a dragon.
Players can play sorcerers with a draconic bloodline.
This allows your character to don a layer of scales and eventually grow wings.
Also, D&D gives you nearly everything you need to build a character. You can access the history, stats, and powers of many different kinds of dragons.
You Can Play a Dragonborn in D&D
Finally, you can already play as Dragonborn—a race that comes directly from full dragons. Sure, Dragonborn characters are not real dragons, but they are pretty close.
Dragonborns look like dragons in their human form.
If you can already play dragon ancestors and already cast spells to turn into dragons, there is no reason (in my opinion) why you can’t play a true dragon.
How To Play a Dragon In D&D? (HomeBrew Rules)
There are no rules, only homebrew guidelines.
If you want to play a dragon in D&D, here’s what I suggest that you do:
- Figure out your level of draconic power (and other stats). You can find some downloadable resources. You could also use this free dragon race information.
- You could also adjust a Dragonborn race to fit your scale.
- Create your character sheets, spell lists, and other homebrew items for your dragon. You might also want to create some additional spells or feats for your dragon’s experience or something close to it.
- Figure out your character’s backstory.
- Decide on your dragon’s age (with the DM’s approval). Dragons live a long time, so age is an underappreciated factor in power.
Also, the age and size of the dragon will help you determine whether other monsters attack it (and what weapons can take it down).
Figure out how high and far your character can fly. You might want to put together a table for this too.
You should also figure out your character’s breath weapon and common spells (if any).
Here’s a good video about how to play a dragon in D&D:
Can You Play as a Dragon in D&D? (FAQs)
If you’re going to play a dragon in D&D, you’ll need to know some highly specific things about dragons.
Here are answers to questions that came up in my campaigns.
How Old Do Dragons Get in D&D?
Dragon age basically follows these phases:
- Wyrmling (5 years or less)
- Young (6-100 years)
- Adult (101-800 years)
- Ancient (801-1000 years)
- Wyrm (1001-1200 years)
- Great Wyrm (1201-4400 years)
How Fast Do Dragons Grow?
As you can see from the numbers listed in the last answer, dragons go from egg to wyrmling to a young dragon pretty quickly.
Once they transition into a young dragon, they age much slower.
This is why it’s so important to choose age wisely as a DM and player character. Too young and you will never reach your full power during a campaign (or ten).
If you start as an adult dragon, your character will likely be much more powerful than other players for a long time.
What’s the perfect dragon age?
I’d either start your player character as a Young dragon with 10 to 20 years left before they become an adult dragon.
You could also use time spells or magic to fast-forward aging to match the levels of the other player characters.
What Do Dragons Eat?
As apex predators, dragons eat whatever they want. They are giant monsters that feed on meat.
So, cows, other beasts, and humanoids make up the bulk of their diet.
They can also eat metal, gems, and magic items to recharge their powers.
How Often Do Dragons Eat?
As giant beasts, dragons need to consume a large number of calories every day.
I don’t think any official numbers exist, but my best rough estimate is around 1 to 2 humanoids per day. That’s somewhere in the realm of 40,000 to 160,000 calories per day, depending on the size and dietary preferences.
Can Dragons Be Charmed?
Dragons can be charmed with a Charm Monster spell.
Some players ask about Charm Person, but that spell only works on humanoid creatures. A dragon is essentially a giant reptile.
While a dragon can shapeshift into a human,
Can Dragons Cast Spells?
Dragons are magical creatures with spell-casting abilities.
As dragons age, they develop the ability to learn new spells. You can run them on any spellcasting progression.
Can You Have 2 Dragons in a D&D Group?
You can have as many dragons in a D&D group as you want.
There are actually some benefits to making an entire player group of dragons. It helps balance the power in the group.
Also, all of the players have a similar game experience.
What Happens When Dragons Die in Human Form?
When a dragon dies in human form, it reverts to its dragon form.
This gets interesting when you think of confined spaces, such as inside a house or in underwater caves. Imagine a dragon character dying and then the other players must escape before the reverting dead player crushes them in dragon form.
How To DM a Dragon (Helpful Advice)
As a DM, your job is to manage the D&D game, including the balance of player characters and the challenge level of the adventure.
After DMing a few dragon characters, here are my best tips.
Have the Dragon Character Play in Humanoid Form
For the first few levels, the dragon player should play in a humanoid form most of the time. This will allow the player to fit into the rest of the group, enter regular buildings, dungeons, and castles.
It’s also much easier for other players to roleplay with someone who looks like them or shares their race.
Avoid Starting the Dragon Player Character Too Powerful
I recommend balancing the power of the dragon character between all the other player characters.
As long as the dragon evolves along with other PCs, you can avoid the character stealing all the focus of the campaign. In my first campaign, I gave too much power to the dragon character.
Almost right away, the player overshadowed the rest of the group.
It caused more stress and trouble than I would wish on any other DM. I wasted a few campaigns figuring out how to restore balance.
Avoid Overpowered Spells or Feats
Just like you should avoid giving your dragon character too much power too soon, you should also avoid giving them overpowered spells or feats.
When characters get too powerful, the game gets boring.
If a group of adventurers can easily defeat a high-level boss with one spell, why bother with the dungeon at all?
Even as the dragon grows in power, try to limit the dragon’s ability to operationalize its powers. In narrow tunnels, dragons can’t shapeshift into full form. Inside buildings, dragons can’t just fly around out of reach while their powers recharge.
Creativity is a must when DMing a dragon.
Final Thoughts: Can You Play as a Dragon in D&D?
The bottom line is that players can choose dragon characters. It’s fun to play dragons and DM dragon characters.
Personally, I think every player should try it at least once.