Like any monster PC, you have hit dice and level adjustment, and progress by taking character class levels. The difference is that when a dragon PC hits the age listed, he is required to take his next level in his Dragon progression (Table 3-21) instead of a normal character class.
Creating a dragon PC
As per the standard monster PC rules, you begin with the following:
- Dragon hit dice, each granting 1d12 HP, +1 base attack, 6 + Int modifier skill points, and saving throws equivalent to a monk of your HD. Remember that you get maximum hit points for the first HD and 4x skill points for your first level, as normal.
- Size, space/reach, speed (including flight., etc), natural weapons, natural armour and special abilities as a wyrmling of your dragon type, as described in the dragon section of the Monster Manual. Read the entry carefully, as you get quite a lot to begin with. Take note of how the saving throw DCs for abilities like breath weapon are calculated: they will increase as you gain dragon HD.
- Ability score modifiers. Subtract 1 from odd-numbered ability scores from the wyrmling line in the monster description, then subtract ten from each ability score. For example, the black dragon wyrmling (Str 11, Dex 10, Con 13, Int 8, Wis 11, Cha 8) would have modifiers of Con +2, Int -2 and Cha -2.
- Level adjustment, which increases your effective level for the purposes of how much XP you need to level up.
Progressing your character
You can gain character levels as normal. You don't get max HP or 4x skill points for your first character level, as you already got these from your first dragon HD.
If your dragon has increased by one of the age increments on Table 3-21: Aging for Dragon PCs, he must take his next level advancing his dragon progression, instead of a character class:
- If he gains a dragon HD, he gains +1 natural armor, plus the normal benefits of a dragon HD (1d12 HP, 6 + Int skill points, +1 base attack, and saving throw progression equivalent to a monk of his level).
- If he increases his level adjustment, he doesn't get a dragon HD. It's just a blank level to offset the power of playing such a creature.
- If he increases an age category, he gains the new abilities of that dragon age category in its Monster Manual entry. This includes size, space/reach, speed, natural weapons, special abilities, and increased breath weapon damage and area. He also gains the ability score modifiers of his new size class.