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I’m looking for the best way to play as a Dragon with all of its special/supernatural abilities. I don’t care whether this is through a spell, animal companion, cohort, being a dragon or any other method. Balanced House rules will be ok.

I know I can play as a dragon by taking it as my race, taking Dragon HD and applying a LA, but this does not really give me what I want – an ECL 20 Gold Dragon is spellcaster level 1, size large, no spell resistance, no frightful presence and a pitiful for ECL 20 6d10 breath weapon. It's powerful because you have better stats than a normal dragon and magic items, but it won't play any differently than a fighter with magic wings

The target would be something that lets me play as an old gold dragon with no equipment at level 20 instead of a young gold dragon with +5 mithril full plate, +6 dex/str/con, +5 saves and all the other cool stuff from items.

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Do you care what you are for levels 1-19? And how important is actually being a dragon, versus getting all the draconic toys? –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Jun 19 at 4:02
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We'll be starting at a high level, decided by whoever actually cares speaking up and suggesting a level. No, technicalities don't matter. I'll just claim to be a dragon even if I'm not. But I do want all the fun draconic toys as opposed to just being purely a flying melee character. Spell resist, breath weapon, some spellcasting etc –  Scott Jun 19 at 4:05

2 Answers 2

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The class you're looking for is the Dragonfire Adept (Dragon Magic) which provides a very respectable breath weapon (especially at high levels) "spellcasting" and some alternate forms.

You'll want to read the dragonfire adept handbook, but possible invocations involve frightful presence, interesting shapechanging, dispelling at will (which is sometimes better than SR) and all sorts of fun with dragonbreath. To save time, read through the builds here until you find one that fits your intentions.

If you want to be huge and tough:

  • Dragonborn Rapotoran Cleric 4/DFA 1/Eldritch Disciple 10/Cleric 5

this provides significant cleric casting which nets you divine power (HD = BAB and a strength boost) and Righteous Might, which is a much better way of going up a size category. If you really want to tell puny mortals to cower, be a half-minotaur (LA +1 Dragon 313) or half-ogre (LA +2 dragon 313), will provide. Or start out as an anthropomorphic huge viper snake and paint your scales gold.

Instead, I'll recommend an alternate route. Since you're playing a high-level game, take cleric for your last levels, and make sure you have resources for divine metamagic and persist spell. Every day, cast divine power with persist spell and use miracle to persist giant size (wu-jen 7, castable without XP cost via miracle), Spell Resistance (It'll not be all that significant, but you'll have it), Spell Turning, Girallon's Blessing (For the claw, claw, claw, claw, rake series), and the other suite of spells. You'll be colossal and dragon-magical without needing to invest levels in a race.

Make sure your cleric has access to the hunger domain, which gives you a bite attack, and the domain spell "bite of the king" which gives you swallow whole. Unfortunately, there are no spells worth the cost that give you a tailslap or wing attacks, but your Claw Claw Claw Claw Rake Bite Swallow Whole attack sequence will simply have to make up for them.

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Thanks, that's pretty good. It ticks off pretty much all the dragon special abilities/spells. The Dark invocations in that class seem pretty broken, so I might limit myself to 15 levels in that class. I'll use the other levels on a template that increases size (half dragon??), pay to get permanency enlarge person to get to huge and then a couple of fighter levels to get some better HP and BaB. Should be good. –  Scott Jun 19 at 4:42
    
What are you trying to advance with mystic theurge? –  KRyan Jun 19 at 19:33

Being an Actual Dragon

The LA and Racial Hit Dice rules made by WotC are really really bad. No-one should ever use them. They are literally insane. You have to be like level 50 or something to play the sort of dragon that shows up as an enemy at level 15.

A much saner approach is the CR system. A level 15 PC is supposed to be CR 15. With a few exceptions, a CR 15 monster is the same as a level 15 PC. You should always run this past your GM/local optimizer, but usually it's utterly fine. Find a dragon with an appropriate CR (same as group's level, or lower) and then play it. Change out the feats or whatnot. Then advance via normal levels (gain a level when party does), or advance via CR ('bank' levels until you can advance an Age Category of your dragon type, when the party's level is enough to be that CR). Totally not broken. Will not break the game. Is fine. Much less powerful than a Wizard of the same level.

There is no way to be a level appropriate dragon otherwise. Not by RAW.

'Sorta' a Dragon

Shapechange is a spell, Sorc/Wiz/Druid 9, that lets you turn into a creature with HD = your level and you gain supernatural abilities (like Breath Weapon). It has a duration of 10 minutes/level, and can be extended (through a Rod), so at level 17 when you get the spell, it can last for 340 minutes, or, 5 hours and 40 minutes. With enough spell slots, it can be up all day. Similarly, Polymorph and Draconic Polymorph can get you lesser dragon forms.

A more efficacious method, however, is the Psionic Sandwich Trick. Except instead of a sandwich, find and subdue an appropriate Dragon, render it unconscious, and do Sandwich things to it. With the Astral Seed approach, you ARE that Dragon now - it's not dispellable, or disjoinable, or an enchantment of any kind - you are forever, and permanently, that dragon. And also a Psion.

Very Dark Sun-ey.

Druids get Dragon Wildshape through shenanigans, you can be a dragonborn, you can get a (crappy) dragon mount, but your only real options are pretty much the above, for being a genuine, 'giant freakin' dragon' dragon.

'Dragon'

Dragonfire Adept until you get Tiamat Breath. Dip Incarnate or take the Open Lesser Chakra feat, grab Spellward Shirt Soulmeld. With Expanded Essentia feat, bonus Essentia feat and Incarnate's level 3 class ability, and being at least level 15, you can put 5 essentia in there, which is SR 29. With Daazzix's vest, that's SR 34, or decent SR. Be a Half-Ogre or Half-Minotaur for size. Get the Feathered Wings Graft, and some more Grafts that give natural armour bonuses. Dip Totemist or burn another feat and grab Wormtail Belt Soulmeld. Should give in the realm of +10ish Natural Armour with the grafts and soulmeld. Be either Feral to get more Natural Armour and claws, or have gone Totemist and bind something that gives claws (Landshark Boots is a good choice) to your Totem chakra. So, you have Size, Natural Armour, Spell Resistance, Claws, Breath Weapon, Flight, and Invocations from dragonfire adept that hopefully are 'spells' enough for you.

Ta-da! I call it a 'make your own dragon' dragon.

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