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I would like to know if the half-dragon template can use other dragons from the various monster manuals like the Ssvaklor (MM3) or Dragon Turtle(MM1) or any other nonstandard dragon (i.e. the ones that aren't chromatic or metallic such as shadow dragons) as the dragon for the template without any additional change to the CR other than that which the half dragon template already applies?

I am curious to know because I'm tired of generic red or blue half dragon enemies and would like to add a little more variety.

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Though, to moderate the other answers, you have to consider how the half-dragon would be "made". For a normal true dragon, they have ways of taking humanoid form (or whatever form, for what it's worth... cf the oh-so-fun half-dragon T-Rex), so sure. But others, like the Dragon Turtle, can't cast spell, or change form. So you might want to limit it to magic-using dragons, or at least think about how it happened. –  Scrollmaster Oct 9 '12 at 19:12
    
"What do you get if a Dragon Turtle mate with a halfling? A dead halfling." –  Scrollmaster Oct 9 '12 at 20:11
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Dragon and halfling DNA just don't splice. –  mxyzplk Oct 9 '12 at 21:00
    
It may not but there are always Dr.(or professor i forget which.) Hojo's out there whom wish to mate two normally incompatible species to get the best of both. Final Fantasy teaches much to us. That And while the Dragon Turtle cannot change form. someone else can change it. of course whomever does is an F'ed up person. –  Novian Nov 5 '12 at 6:23
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4 Answers

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You, as the DM, can practically create any template you wish. Your imagination should not be limited by the published rules. Of course, you should pay attention to game balance and such stuff (unless you're feeling quite nasty and your players tolerate your being so. :))

In fact, you can easily improvise creatures on the fly as well. (At least I often do that when running DnD - and my players don't seem to mind. They're in for the story. :)) However, if you feel safer designing your monsters and monster templates in advance, there are resources that may help, such as this official 3.5 article at wizards.com.

As for a more specific answer: I'd say sure, use other dragons for the half dragon template, but pay attention to game balance and world building issues (see the article linked above) when modifying/redesigning the template to suit both your needs and your preferred other dragon (or dragon-like creature.) Know that in fact you won't be using the official half-dragon template but a customized, "house-rules" version of it - not as if there was anything wrong with that. :)

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Im not changing the template just using different dragons that were not chromatic or metallic.(although i could be wrong) if the template says chromatic or metallic that would be the only thing Im changing. –  Novian Sep 29 '12 at 16:38
    
@Novian, the point is that it doesn't matter whether you're changing the RAW or not, you need to consider the same ideas. –  starwed Sep 29 '12 at 17:58
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I don't see why not. It sure sounds like a nice way of adding flavor to you encounters.

You'd need to figure the breath weapon type and immunity, but that should be easy.

As far as the CR, I think it should be calculated the same. The way I see it, you're taking the base class and adding a few dragon features:

  • Claw + bite
  • Breath weapon
  • Immunities
  • Adjust Str, Con, Cha, Int.

And someone figured that those additions should account for a +2 in CR.

As always, you're free to modify this the way it suits you best. If your party needs a tougher challenge, you can add a special quality. Or you can use a tougher base class.

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According to the Draconomicon, page 166, you can indeed have half-dragons of any variety of true dragon, including the shadow dragon as you mention.

All true dragons released until the Draconomicon appear on the list, including the gem dragons from Monster Manual 2, the planar dragons from Draconomicon, and the lung dragons from Oriental Adventures.

The template's Challenge Rating is unchanged. The only difference is the breath weapon and immunities and resistances, except for the lung dragons which have special abilities in place of a breath weapon.

This suggests that a half-dragon can be created from any true dragon. Some other dragon-type creatures might produce half-dragon offspring whose abilities match the half-dragon template, such as the dragon turtle which has a breath weapon and elemental immunity, but maybe not a pseudodragon, wyvern or another half-dragon.

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Note that Draconomicon has been explicitly superseded by Races of the Dragon on this subject. Races of the Dragon now claims that every True Dragon has a half-dragon version. In fact, it appears that the final "definition" of True Dragon is "has a half-dragon version" and the two statements ("is a True Dragon" and "has a half-dragon version") are equivalent (one implies the other). –  KRyan Oct 9 '12 at 19:12
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Strictly speaking, Races of the Dragon is the “primary” source on most things dragon, including True Dragon and Half-Dragon. Page 69 of Races of the Dragon begins a list of "all True Dragons" in their "half-dragon version." Races of the Dragon explicitly supersedes any information in Draconomicon and the Monster Manual.

To wit: not only is there, according to Races of the Dragon, a half-dragon version of every true dragon, it is explicitly a “version” of the full-blood true dragon. That is, a red half-dragon is a red dragon, just in its half-blood “version.”

Moreover, again according to Races of the Dragon, every half-dragon is a version of a true dragon, and every true dragon has a half-dragon version.

Thus, if your campaign has dragons that you wish to consider True Dragons, Races of the Dragon not only states that they could have a half-dragon version, it states they must, in order to be True Dragons. Of course, any time you introduce homebrew or third-party material, you could easily also introduce a houserule that allows there to be a half-dragon version of lesser dragons, or a type of True Dragon that does not have a half-dragon version.

To address your precise examples, both Ssvaklor and Dragon Turtle are Lesser Dragons, according to Monster Manual, Draconomicon, and Races of the Dragon. According to Races of the Dragon, they therefore cannot have a half-dragon version. Or, put another way, if you gave them a half-dragon version, Races of the Dragon would claim that they are now True Dragons. The Shadow Dragon, on the other hand, is a True Dragon according to both Draconomicon and Races of the Dragon, and both books include rules for a shadow half-dragon.

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@Novian: Races of the Dragon has a list of all true dragons (published at the time) in their half-dragon version, starting on page 69. The Shadow Half-dragon is probably a page or two later, seeing as it's in alphabetical order. I am away from books, so I am not sure what page the Shadow Half-dragon appears in Draconomicon. –  KRyan Oct 9 '12 at 19:08
    
well I meant in general so thanks I will go to page 69 Immediately. –  Novian Oct 9 '12 at 19:15
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