In 1995, TSR published edition #218 of Dragon Magazine. In it were a variety of fantastic articles on Dungeons and Dragons, as well as various other tabletop games that you might have liked to play at the time. You might like to play them today, too, if you can find a copy somewhere.
This particular edition of Dragon Magazine had a great variety of articles for readers to peruse. Alongside the original fiction, reviews of new games and releases, and advice columns were features on making truly evil villains, adding variety to your campaigns, and rumors about the gaming industry at the time. But the real focus of issue #218 was dragons – it featured 3 major articles about them. The last, but by no means least, was Dragon Dweomers by Robert S. Mullin. You can read the entirety of the article here: Dragon Magazine Issue #218
The Ideas and Content of Dragon Dweomers
The content of this article is pretty obvious, provided that you’re familiar with the term ‘dweomer’. It’s not so commonly used anymore, but in short, it means the magical aura or effect that an enchantment produces. Dragons, being particularly adept spellcasters in the lore of D&D, have access to a great deal of arcane power. In recent editions, they mostly cast from the same spell lists as players. But since they have different ecologies, different survival strategy, and altogether different needs than humanoid characters will generally have, it makes sense that they would have developed a number of different spells than the rest of the population.
This article presents 10 unique spells that can be given to dragon characters within a D&D campaign. Some might work for a humanoid spellcaster, while others are singularly draconic, designed to give flavor and power to any encounter that you might have with one.
Is the Article Still Relevant?
Since dragons have yet to fall out of favor in D&D lore, this article of course remains relevant.
Dragons are a staple of the game, and while they’re always intimidating, they can sometimes be a bit cliché. Players generally know what to expect from them – large, arrogant beasts who hoard wealth and power, and chiefly act in those interests. Even D&D specific lore is fairly common knowledge among the fanbase, meaning that, while impactful, draconic encounters are rarely surprising.
These spells are unique, fun ways to add some variety to the dragons that you put in your campaigns. No two dragons need to know exactly the same set of spells, which makes no two fights with dragons play out the same way.
How to Use this Content in A Current Campaign
The most obvious way to use this content in a current campaign is to update the spells for use in whichever edition you favor, and give them to dragons within your world. And, as stated above, this is a great idea! But you can also use them for storytelling purposes. Quests, worldbuilding, and flavor can all hinge around these spells.
For instance, young dragons may make a tradition out of learning certain spells for their coming-of-age, requiring great practice, much to the confusion, and perhaps fear, of the local populace. A casting of one of these spells might have gone wrong, trapping a dragon in the shadow-matter form of Shadow Dragon, or have accidentally destroyed part of its hoard with Blast Jewel. Or maybe a member of your party is interested in dragon magic, and is seeking out the most guarded arcane secrets of the dragons. In any of these scenarios, adventure and intrigue are sure to come to those who involve themselves.
The Spells of Dragon Dweomers
Here’s a brief overview of the spells found in this article:
This spell reduces air friction, allowing one flying creature that can be touched (including the caster) to fly much faster.
Aura of Terror
This spell creates on a creature the appearance of battle-worn rage: scars, snarling features, longer spikes, and a cruel glint to the eyes. Any fear-inducing abilities they have increase in both range and DC. Younger dragons are more likely to use this spell, increasing their intimidation power.
This spell is carved into the surface of a valuable jewel, allowing the caster to explode it at will, destroying it and injuring anyone nearby. These ‘last laughs’ are meant to deter robbers for dragon hoards, since the casting is invisible, and any thief may find their ill-gotten goods causing them a great deal of harm.
This spell is the inverse of the Aura of Fear spell – reducing the range of a fear-inducing ability, but exchanging that range for increased potency. Older dragons, with great auras of fear, are likely to use this version, focusing their wrath on those foolish enough to get close.
This spell binds the outside of a pile of objects, usually gold and jewels, into a single mass. It temporarily changes the caster’s breath weapon into pure magic, which makes everything it touches part of a single mass. The appearance remains the same, but in order to pick up that pretty necklace, a robber would have to pick up an entire mountain’s worth of gold. It might also be a cruel trick to play in a fight.
This spell is a draconic variant of other monster summoning spells. Instead of a chosen beast, however, the caster summons a number of pseudodragons to their defense, which look like smaller versions of themselves.
This spell sharpens and hardens the caster’s teeth into deadly points. This boosts the damage of their bite attacks, causing them to deal the damage of a much older foe.
This spell, much like Sharptooth, sharpens and hardens the caster’s teeth. In addition to the increased damage, this spell also increases the likelihood of a bite attack to dismember their target, pulling off a limb or two.
This spell allows the caster to see through the shadows within their lair. The caster essentially uses a shadow as the target of a scrying spell, which can then be moved to other shadows throughout their closes quarters, giving them superior knowledge of their inner domain.
This spell allows the caster to transform into a dark, shadowy form. They are difficult to spot, even harder to hit, and retain the use of almost all of their attacks and abilities. A powerful source of light can damage the form – if you can overpower it’s combined casting with Create Shadows, a favorite of Shadow Dragons.
Do you give dragons unique spells in Dungeons and Dragons? Do you plan to use any of the spells listed above? Let us know in the comments below, and tell us how it goes!