It wouldn’t be a DnD campaignwithout a party facing down a conniving, sinister dragon sitting upon a mountain of gold in the humid cave of their lair. I mean, it’s even right there in the game’s name.
There are dozens of types of dragons to choose from when planning a campaign, with Wizards of the Coast even releasing an entire supplemental book about them, Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons. However, one of the most conniving and manipulative of all the dragons is the Green Dragon. Here’s what we’re going to explore in our Green Dragon 5e Guide.
Key Info Up Front
Green Dragons are sinister dragons that find delight in getting their way by manipulating lesser creatures. If a Green Dragon can help it, they won’t have to do anything for themselves.
They’ll have creatures to hunt for them, worshippers to collect their hoard, and a network of agents to put their nefarious schemes into action. They also can cover a range of Challenge Ratings depending on their age — allowing Dungeon Masters to use them no matter how far along their party is in levels.
History of Green Dragons in DnD
At the start, Green Dragons were a core part of the main stable of iconic dragons in Dungeons and Dragons. Even in First Edition, they were detailed as manipulative creatures that delighted in controlling others. However, their different stages of life were not detailed until the release of Third Edition, which was even more detailed than the creature’s stat blocks in 5e.
Like all Chromatic Dragons in DnD, Green Dragons serve Tiamat, the Queen of Evil Dragons. They work tirelessly to appease her by amassing hordes and spreading their influence across the realms.
While the exact nature of Tiamat’s abilities and creation are widely debated, Green Dragons worship her as a goddess. They are always more than willing to take part in any of her schemes or machinations.
Green Dragons in 5e
While Dragons have played a consistent role in DnD since its inception, they have continuously been small tweaks with each edition. So, if you’re going to use a Green Dragon in 5e, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the species in this edition mainly.
Green Dragon Aging
Like all Chromatic Dragons, Green Dragons lay eggs, and the youngest versions are known as Wyrmlings. According to Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons, dragons are considered Wyrmlings for around the first five years of life, and they are usually most concerned with local happenings.
I tend to think of this as them wanting to gain independence from the older dragons they know, starting a fledgling hoard, or even having them looking for an excellent place to set up their very own lair.
After growing from a Wyrmling, they become Young Dragons for around a century. This period is what largely defines a dragon as they begin to grow magical ties to the material plane and define their region of control and hunting grounds. For dragons in this stage, I recommend having them try to build up their hoard, grow in magical power, or even have them start to build a following of other creatures.
Once dragons have established themselves throughout their first century, they are considered Adult Dragons. Adult Dragons consistently have multiple lairs that they travel between to extend their influence, often staying in a single lair for around a month. At this age, a Green Dragon is already a considerable threat, so I usually use them for end-game bosses or enemies with parties that are at least level 15.
Finally, Dragons progress to the Ancient stage once they have lived for 800 years. This is my favorite age of Green Dragons and is where they get fun. At this point, a Green Dragon has an extended network of control, a massive hoard of artifacts and minions, and powerful magical abilities.
These creatures are perfect for end-game bosses or as the main antagonist for an entire campaign. However, since they are already so powerful, finding motivation for them can be a bit difficult.
In the case of a Green Dragon, I recommend having them find a way to extend their life through magical means, have them manipulate the happenings of mortal races toward some goal or entertainment, or even try to create their land or dimension for a massive lair.
Green Dragon Personality
Green Dragons are all about control and influence. This has often led to them being one of the most reviled dragon species simply because they are the most likely to get involved in the happenings and lives of the mortal races. They are willing to do whatever it takes to get their way, whether that be lying or tricking others, and they never feel guilty.
From their forest lairs, Green Dragons also learn as much about their adversaries or targets as they can before acting. They know that knowledge is the key to power, and to gather that knowledge, they weaponize a network of minions to spy, or they’ll even stalk targets themselves. This can be done either through shapeshifting magic or, especially if it is an older dragon, magical abilities allow them to observe targets without them knowing through scrying.
It is also important to note that Green Dragons are such capable manipulators that they can do so despite their infamy for doing so. They can speak smoothly and turn one’s deepest desires against them without their target recognizing what is happening with subtlety.
However, Green Dragons are often rude and crass when dealing with other dragons because they tend to think that they are better than their peers. Green Dragons have even been known to wait decades for the opportune time to strike another dragon that they have a conflict or grievance with.
Green Dragon Stats
As a Green Dragon ages, its stats improve, but they are consistently forces to be reckoned with at any Challenge Rating. No matter their age, Green Dragons are also Amphibious, allowing them to breathe comfortably in both air and water while also boasting flight speeds that are double their walk and swim speeds.
As a Wyrmling, they can walk and swim 30 feet but can fly 60 feet. At any other stage of life, Green Dragons can walk and swim 40 feet while being able to fly 80 feet in a single turn.
Their stats also favor Strength, Constitution, Intelligence, and Charisma at every stage. However, their Dexterity and Wisdom are never too shy either, with even a Wyrmlings lowest Attribute being their 11 Wisdom.
Because of their poisonous heritage, Green Dragons are also entirely immune to all forms of Poison damage and the Poisoned status, and they don’t have any weaknesses to particular types of damage or statuses.
Thanks to their scales, green Dragons also boast high Armor Classes and Hit Point pools for their respective challenge ratings. The table below gives all the details:
Green Dragon Abilities
As their Stats grow, so too does a Green Dragon’s abilities. Notably, all Green Dragon’s life stages come with at least a Bite and Poison Breath action. Their Bite goes from a +4 to hit with 1d10 + 2 Piercing damage and 1d6 poison damage as a Wyrmling to a +15 to hit and 2d10 + 8 piercing damage with 3d6 poison damage when they reach the Ancient stage.
Their Poison Breath is dealt in a 15-foot cone that requires targets to succeed an 11 DC Constitution saving throw at the cost of 6d6 poison damage if they fail.
However, once a Green Dragon is considered Young, they also gain the Claw action and a Multiattack. Their Claw attack comes with a +7 to hit and deals 2d6 + 4 slashing damage if it beats a target’s Armor Class. The Multiattack also allows them to make three full attacks every turn, one with its bite and two with its claws.
Adult Green Dragons bring even more fun with boosted damage to their Claw, Poison Breath, and Bite actions, a Tail Action, and Frightful Presence. Their Tail Action is pretty intimidating with a +11 to hit and 2d8 + 6 bludgeoning damage. Their Frightful Presence forces targets to pass a Wisdom saving throw with a DC of 16, or they become frightened for up to a full minute.
Ancient Green Dragons feature a stable of actions identical to those of the Adult Green Dragon but with bigger and scarier numbers. I’ve run into multiple Adult and Ancient Dragons that can down squishier characters with a single hit, so they are opponents to be taken seriously. Both Adult and Ancient Green Dragons also have three Legendary Actions that they can use at the end of any other creature’s turn.
However, they each only have three points to use on Legendary Actions per day, so Dungeon Masters need to use them sparingly. The first Legendary Action is Detect, which allows them to make a Perception check. The second is the self-explanatory Tail Attack.
Their final Legendary Action uses up two points and is their Wing Attack. This action has the dragon beat its wings to damage and knock prone any targets in front of it that don’t pass a pretty big saving throw.
Playing a Green Dragon
When you run a Green Dragon in your campaign, it is paramount to make it feel like as big of a deal as a Green Dragon warrants. If you fail to make the Green Dragon as impactful and fun as it has the potential to be, your party may very well end up feeling disappointed by the entire encounter, which can be very disappointing.
So, if you want to pull it off well, you need to consider the following.
Green Dragon Lairs
One of the most pivotal parts of an encounter with a dragon is the description of their lairs. This is partially because it helps communicate the dragon’s abilities and personality to the party and adds tension to the session leading up to the climactic battle.
If you run the dragon’s lair well, the party will be quaking in their boots with fear or excitement when they meet the dragon, making it memorable before a single attack is even rolled.
Green Dragons make their lairs in forests, and their territory can dominate an area with a 50 mile radius, so your party will have quite a ways to go before they reach the dragon itself. Their lairs are most often defined by tight forests with dense canopies that let barely any light through.
This makes it hard to see and easy for heroes to get lost if they aren’t careful. I’ve also found incorporating smells an often underutilized part of the environmental description, so make sure you describe the thick fog that permeates the entire forest and how it stings the characters’ nostrils from its acidity.
The Green Dragon’s forest should also be completely overgrown with plants, and many of them can be hostile and even lash out at members of the party as they walk past. This can also include natural traps like vines grabbing them or covering a steep drop only to disappear when the group is standing above them suddenly.
Like all legendary creatures, Green Dragons also get Lair Actions that they can use to disturb the party as they approach. This can help make a battle with the Green Dragon more intense or instill more fear in the party beforehand.
- Their first Lair Action allows them to create an outcropping of vines that count as difficult terrain and can even trap a player.
- Their second is creating a wall of thorns and brambles that push players back and damage them.
This action is also useful for leading parties to specific areas of interest or manipulating their path through the forest. Finally, Green Dragons can also create a magical fog that can charm characters for an entire round.
As the party travels through the forest lair, you should also incorporate the dragon’s magical abilities. For instance, the Green Dragon can travel through the forest within one mile of its cave without leaving any trace, so if your party is tracking it make sure they lose the trail
. They also can see through the senses of any birds and rodents around their cave, which you should use to give them an omnipotent presence in the forest.
Green Dragons Outside of Combat
Once your party meets a Green Dragon, and if they live long enough to talk to it, you must give the creature the gravitas and personality it demands to have as big an impact as possible. Green Dragons are incredibly intelligent, charismatic, and manipulative.
I like finding pop culture characters to draw from when thinking of how to roleplay intelligent creatures, and for Green Dragons, some perfect comparisons are Scar from The Lion King, Hannibal Lecter from The Silence of the Lambs, or any other villain that you can’t help but like despite their vile intentions.
With this in mind, remember that a Green Dragon is also adept at exploiting someone’s darkest fears. They know how to weaponize these fears against them and will even go to great lengths to make those fears a reality and drive that person to falling under their control.
Having a Green Dragon offer to save a PC’s loved one or promise to create a greater evil from succeeding can be very interesting. This can add some complexity to the Green Dragon’s character and lead to interesting interactions with the party.
It is also important to highlight a Green Dragon’s intelligence during conversations and actions. So, use their army of lesser creatures to its advantage, and know plenty of lore and information about your setting that the Green Dragon from draw on to demonstrate its intelligence to the party.
I particularly like having a Green Dragon know some secret that the party has or something about another NPC that the party respects to surprise them, but only if it makes sense.
Green Dragons in Combat
Once your party starts fighting the Green Dragon, you should use the opportunity to incorporate the dragon’s intelligence and make sure that they are as lethal and dangerous as possible. I’ve always found the best way to do this is to use all of the Green Dragon’s abilities to their fullest extent.
You should attack party members that allow themselves to become vulnerable and, if possible, use their Lair Actions to keep the party as clumped up as possible. Then, hit them with a big Poison Breath and watch your party become terrified in the first few rounds.
During combat, Green Dragons should also continue to taunt and even manipulate their opponents, especially if one party members seems to be more susceptible to their machinations than their peers. It would help if you incorporated their obedient characters and armies into the fight.
Any Green Dragon that has such a force at their disposal would use it, and you could even have the Green Dragon try to avoid participating in combat until the heroes have wiped out a few waves of minions.
It would help if you also tried to be smart with the Green Dragon’s Legendary Actions to their best ability. A well-timed Tail attack can help down a vulnerable PC, or a Wing Attack can help disable the entire party for long enough for the Green Dragon to flee completely or run away for a second phase.
Green Dragon Hoards
While Green Dragons also love amassing fortunes of gold and priceless artifacts, they also love to take living creatures as their treasures. This can include former heroes that fell to its influence or even bards that they keep to entertain them while they lounge the days away. To remember their fantastic conquests, green Dragons also prefer to amass more created treasures like wood carvings, priceless artworks, instruments, and even sculptures.
Pulling off a memorable hoard is another key part of a classic dragon encounter, so you’ll want to make sure to take plenty of time to build them with care. There are a few different ways to go about this when it comes to Green Dragons.
One of the easier ways is to throw in a few magical items that the party has either heard legends of or that can be incorporated earlier into the Green Dragon’s story, either showing how they accomplished certain tasks or magical items that they stole from under the party’s noses.
Another option is to have a Green Dragon spread its wealth throughout its multiple layers to make it harder for anyone who defeats it to get the full wealth of their conquest. You can do this by having different hoards include pieces of a magical item to be assembled or even hints from the Green Dragon to tease or taunt the party.
One favorite of mine is to include a Hoard Mimic from page 204 in Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons. This can be a very difficult capstone to the encounter while showing just how devious a Green Dragon can be, even after they are dead.
Players and Green Dragons
Players with a particular soft spot for Green Dragons have a few options to integrate them into their characters. There are also some great opportunities for Dungeon Masters to give players unique rewards for slaying a Green Dragon to make the conquest stick with them throughout their campaign.
The first option players have for making a character with a close tie to Green Dragons is making a Dragonborn character. Not only will this allow them to take visual aspects of green Dragons, but it will also give them unique abilities related to them as well.
If a player has Green Dragon ancestry in the lineage of their characters, their breath weapon becomes poisonous to deal damage to in a cone in front of them.
Players can also use dragons for inspiration in their characters’ classes. There are numerous options that Green Dragons work well for, such as a sorcerer that derives power from a Green Dragon that played some role in their past.
Because of the manipulative nature of Green Dragons, I also have a soft spot for using Green Dragons as patrons for warlocks. They are not the most lore-friendly option, but their nature makes them excellent options and can be a very interesting way to bring a new perspective to the class.
Gifts of Dragons
After the party interacts with a dragon, whether by defeating them or working for them, Dungeon Masters can use the opportunity to reward the party with unique rewards. There are some great options for these, especially in Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons. The first are Draconic Feats on page 17.
These feats come with unique abilities related to the Green Dragon’s abilities, such as imbuing a weapon with Poison damage. This is a particularly great reward for working for a Green Dragon that gives the PC some power as a reward and a method of control over them.
If your party has a Wizard in it, you should also consider giving them some of the draconic magic on page 19 to give them some fun and unique toys to play with moving forward. There are also some great magic items starting on page 22 that incorporate aspects of dragons excellently to find in the hordes of a defeated Green Dragon.
This can be anything from a magical pen to special potions or even a Dragon Familiar that resembles and has some of the personality of the Green Dragon that the party just defeated.
Question: What are Green Dragons weak to in Dungeons and Dragons?
Answer: While Green Dragons don’t have any elemental weaknesses, their personality leaves them open to getting manipulated by smart players who know how to stroke their ego.
Question: Are Green Dragons evil?
Answer: Yes, Green Dragons are inherently evil and tend to fall into the Lawful Evil alignment.
Question: What breath attack do Green Dragons have?
Answer: Green Dragons use the poison element for their breath attacks.
Dragons are an incredibly important part of the history and culture surrounding DnD. So, putting a dragon in your campaign is a great tool but can also feel a bit intimidating as a Dungeon Master.
However, if you take your time to learn about them and plan out how to incorporate them well, they will be one of the most impactful moments in your entire campaign.