Dragons of the Red Star – dragons in The Red Star

Dragons of June 2/x:

Dragons and The Red Star are not exactly a good fit.

They might work reasonably well as creatures of the Spirit Realm, but as denizens of the physical world of The Red Star, the “common” dragon of the variety we could grab from any number of D&D books does not work.

What does work however, are dragons of a slightly different type to be found in Russian folklore and Slavic mythology, exemplified in the figure of Tugarin Zmejevich: A dragon in human shape.

Although the Monster Manual is not of much use for such dragons, D&D still offers a way to quickly and effortlessly introduce these menaces to The Red Star. The key to this are, of course, the large number of dragon themed character classes introduced over the course of D&D 3.0 and 3.5. Generally speaking, all that is needed to make such a class usable in The Red Star is to add progressions for Defense and Reputation and rework the list of class skills slightly.

Below, two classes from the D&D 3.5 sourcebook Dragon Magic experience this treatment as a quick demonstration:

The Dragonfire Adept (Dragon Magic, pages 24ff.) is a core class and as such also needs a Starting Wealth Bonus (+0). Under The Red Star her class skills are Bluff, Climb, Concentration, Decipher Script, Diplomacy, Gather Information, Intimidate, Jump, Knowledge (Arcane Lore, Current Events, History, Popular Culture, Theology and Philosophy), Listen, Profession, Read/Write Languages, Research, Ritual, Search, Sense Motive, Speak Language and Spot. Her Defense and Reputation Bonus are both the same as the Red Fleet Officer’s. She starts with a Simple Weapons Proficiency.

The Dragon Lord (Dragon Magic, pages 38ff.) has the following class skills in The Red Star: Climb, Drive, Handle Animal, Intimidate, Jump, Knowledge (Current Events, Popular Culture, Tactics), Pilot, Profession, Ride, Sense Motive and Swim. His Defense Bonus is equal to the Red Trooper’s, his Reputation Bonus to that of the Red Fleet Officer. He receives Archaic Weapons Proficiency.

Dragon Magic and other books with and without a focus on dragons (e.g., Races of the Dragon and the Draconomicon or Player’s Handbook II and the common Dungeon Master’s Guide) contain many more such classes for portraying “human dragons”, but the two examples given above I find especially attractive. This is due to a couple of reasons. Both share a very basic design features with d20 Modern and The Red Star classes that is not always present in D&D classes – they get class abilities at every level. Both of them come equipped with their own specific set of special powers (breath effects and draconic invocations for the Dragonfire Adept, draconic auras for the Dragon Lord) which lend them a lot of individual flavour, especially within the context of The Red Star, and which at the same time are quite compact and as such easy to import wholesale as additional systems into The Red Star. Lastly, and related to the second point, both of them make no use of standard D&D spellcasting – a type of magic that I never felt meshed especially well with the way The Red Star is portrayed.

The Red Star and all related characters are ™ and © Christian Gossett. Used with kind permission.
The Red Star Campaign Setting is © Green Ronin Publishing, LLC.
The Red Star und alle verwandten Charaktere sind ™ und © Christian Gossett. Verwendet mit freundlicher Genehmigung.
The Red Star Campaign Setting ist © Green Ronin Publishing, LLC.

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