What would Dungeons and Dragons be without dragons? Just dungeons, that’s what!
While most dragons in DnD can be divided into chromatic and metallic dragons (which are evil and good, respectively), there are exceptions to the rule. Gem, steel, and shadow dragons are all examples of such, as well as the mysterious Song Dragon.
What is a Song Dragon?
A song dragon, often mistakenly referred to as a weredragon, is a rare and unusual member of the draconic family. They typically have two forms: one, a large reptilian body with silver-blue iridescent scales (wings, oddly enough, are optional), and another, a beautiful young humanoid woman (no matter the sex or gender of the dragon in bestial form). Their humanoid form is always singular and unique to themselves – an alternate body, rather than a normal shapeshifting spell, and not a result of lycanthropy. A song dragon’s bite will not create a new song dragon, and it is not an affliction that can be cured.
Song dragons generally prefer to spend their lives in human form, living among and learning about humanoid peoples, and often fighting against evil mages and organizations. Often, they’ll seduce evil men, kill them, and add their wealth to their collection of treasures – not quite a traditional hoard, since they are fonder of the gaining than the actual having, and are happy to share their wealth for a good cause. And they are generally able to kill those powerful, evil men – aside from their breath weapon (a cone of electric gas which causes silence and snuffs out light), they have a variety of innate spells and razor-sharp claws.
Song dragons have a great love of music, and a great hatred of authority, at least over themselves. Despite this, they are rumored to have originated as normal humans blessed with draconic form, and will sometimes act as agents of Selune, Corellon Larethian, and other chaotic-good gods (none of which, oddly enough, are among the draconic pantheon).
A Brief History of the Song Dragon in D&D
Song Dragons first appeared in Dragon Magazine #134 in the article ‘The Dragon’s Bestiary’, and was developed by Ed Greenwood (the originator of the Forgotten Realms) himself. This article refers to them only as ‘weredragons’, but notes that the name is a misnomer.
They have then appeared in 2e and 3e, and been referenced in a number of official novels and adventures in the Forgotten Realms. Particularly notably, the great wizard Elminster unknowingly had a child with one, and therefore his daughter is one as well.
Changes to Song Dragons
The first two versions of song dragons are much the same, referred to only as weredragons and without their association with music or gods of any kind. It was 3e which gave the name ‘song dragons’, and associated them with music. Their secondary forms, breath weapon, and general preference for humanoid civilization over other dragons have all remained the same from the very start.
They were absent in 4e and 5e, until the 5th edition release Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons claimed that all rumors of them are “…almost certainly copper, silver, or other metallic dragons…”. This seems to state that they do not, and never have, existed in current lore.
Using Song Dragons in Your Campaign
Despite the fact that they have been seemingly removed from lore, Song Dragons aren’t that difficult to include in campaigns, even sticking to official sources.
For one thing, the addendum in Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons doesn’t make a lot of sense. Song Dragons aren’t actually terribly likely to be mistaken for either a copper or silver dragon in their bestial form - their body type and coloring are respectively similar to each type, rather than matching to a single one, and their breath weapon matches neither. Plus, there are enough self-pronounced song dragon characters in the Forgotten Realms to make their actual nonexistence fairly unlikely.
So why would 5e characters think otherwise? How can you align current canon with past lore, if you aren’t willing to simply ignore parts? It’s simple: Fizban is lying. Fizban’s Treasury, like many recent sourcebooks, is written from the perspective of the character Fizban – a mortal form of the draconic god Bahamut. And it certainly doesn’t look good for the patron god of dragons to have a bunch of dragons – those with a great affinity and affection for humans – running around refusing to serve him, but serving other humanoid gods. And since very few humans actually know about song dragons, why not simply tell them that they’re copper or silver, who do serve him?
Song Dragon Encounters
Here are a few quest and encounter ideas using song dragons:
- A Beautiful Benefactor: A group of Harpers asks the party for a favor – they need the use of a particular magical item, which is in the collection of a wealthy lady in Waterdeep. She’s lent them similar items in the past, but has been known to ask for strange things in return. She might ask the party for a song, a famous instrument, or maybe a worthy performance in exchange.
- Love Advice: A young man hires the party for “love advice”. His employer, by the name of Lord Olo, has fallen in love with a beautiful maiden in the city, and wants help planning a romantic gesture. Whatever the party decides on, they’re certainly in for trouble when it comes out that “Lord Olo” is actually the blue dragon Olothantor, trying to court one of Faerun’s Song Dragons.
- Trouble at Treble Manor: A local kingdom asks the party to solve a murder! The local lord was recently wed to a mysterious and beautiful lady who appeared almost out of nowhere to seduce and marry him. Within a year, the lord was dead under mysterious circumstances, with reports of strange magic in the night. Will they discover that the lord was secretly an evil mage, slain intentionally by his song dragon bride? And if they do, what will they do about it?
How did you feel about Fizan's Treasury of Dragons trying to remove Song Dragons from DnD? Have you ever used a song dragon in your campaign? How did it go? Let us know in the comments below!