# How big is a dragon?

I know from the Monster Manual "Dragon Age Categories" table on page 86 that a young dragon is "large". Which means that if you play on a battle map, he takes up 2x2 squares, which 10 x 10 feet.

What I don't know is how "large" is measured. Is the dragon just 10 feet wingspan, or 10 feet from head to tail? Or is 10 feet about the length from shoulders to rump, with wings, head, and tail not being counted? I am trying to 3D print a dragon miniature, and for that and a better description I really would like more about how big a "large" young dragon actually is. Anyone got a source for that?

• What kind of dragon do you mean? – Thomas Jacobs Aug 20 '17 at 10:59
• In my particular case it is a red dragon, but if I read the MM right the color doesn't make a difference to size. – Tobold Aug 20 '17 at 11:41
• Have you looked at existing "Large" young dragon miniatures? I'd say your best bet would be to model one off of that. – John Grabanski Aug 22 '17 at 18:10

I do not know of any published material from 5e yet, but there have been a book or two named Draconomicon throughout the editions. The 3.5e and 4e have rather comparable statistics, so one can reasonably assume that the 5e dragons will not be much different.

As an example, here are the average statistics for a "large" red dragon according to the 4e "Draconomicon - Chromatic Dragons":

Overall Length: 33 ft.
Neck Length: 12 ft.
Tail Length: 9 ft.
Body length: 12 ft.
Standing width: 7 ft.
Max. Height: 9 ft.
Max. Wingspan: 45 ft.
Min. wingspan: 18 ft.
Weight: 2,700 lb.

Various dragons are somewhat different, but not much. According to 3.5e Draconomicon, max. wingspan is the actual tip-to-tip span of the wings when they are fully spread out. The min. wingspan is the minimum space in which a dragon can still utilize its wings to maintain flight. Note that the dragons are able to fold their wings when not in flight, so the dragon's width could fit within your 10ft. when the wings are folded.

On the other hand, if you are interested in the statistics for a dragon whose min. wingspan is about 10ft, that would be a "medium" red dragon according to 4e. Here are the relevant stats (again quoting from the same book):

Overall Length: 18 ft.
Neck Length: 7 ft.
Tail Length: 5 ft.
Body length: 6 ft.
Standing width: 4 ft.
Max. Height: 5 ft.
Max. Wingspan: 30 ft.
Min. wingspan: 12 ft.
Weight: 350 lb.

Finally, if you would like to see how a "medium", "large" or larger red dragon looks like, you can have a look at the following webpage, which was published when the 3.5e Draconomicon came out in 2003. Particularly the high-resolution desktop wallpapers are quite excellent to visualise the above statistics.

• 4e had significant differences to 5e in regards to combat. The 3.5e draconomicon may be a better reference. The 4e large dragon you mention is over twice the length of the diagonal of the 10x10 square it needs to fit into for 5e. – Ian Miller Aug 20 '17 at 12:46
• @IanMiller: You are correct; the 3.5e statistics for dragons are about 10-15% smaller, though their wingspan are the same as the 4e dragons. Either way, they are big, that is why I have also listed the stats for medium dragons of the earlier editions. As a side note, it might also be worth mentioning that +-25% variance around the averages are considered normal according to 3.5 draconomicon, so individual dragons could be smaller or bigger as seen appropriate by the DM. – ZwiQ Aug 20 '17 at 13:07
• Ian: also, dragons aren't usually laying on the ground while in combat, so the overall length is not that relevant (you want the projection to the XY plane). Plus the tail's status is also dubious, since it could just be counted as one of the weapons. – lynxlynxlynx Aug 20 '17 at 14:12

Based on the Reaper miniatures and various table top miniatures from many different companies.

The base will occupy the required squares to designate its foot print for table top purposes.

Though each company may alter the scale of the model on the base.

So for example Reaper might have the base occupy the appropriate number of spaces and fit the miniature dragon on top so it's tail and wings are wrapped around it, so that it does not have any parts that stick out beyond the base, but then they come out with the same figurine designated on the packaging, but it is larger and protruding off the base, yet it still acts as the stand in, so long as the base can and does occupy the the necessary standard squares 1"x1" in even increments 1"x1", 1"x2", 2"x2", 2"x3", 2"x4", 2"x5", 2"x6" 3"x3" etc (which is table top standard across the industry) the scaling of the figurine on top of the base is very vague and not standardized by any preset standards of scale at all.

So just make the base occupy the squares you need and stick as large or small a dragon as you want on top of it to symbolize what the base represents.

I think there's something that most of these answers are missing, but, unless I'm wrong (in which case please correct me), aren't the 5x5, 10x10, 15x15, etc. not the size of the creature, but how much space it controls?

I mean, no human is 5ft wide, and I'm pretty sure this has been explained as them controlling that 5x5 square. I.E. Nothing can stay within those 5 feet unless you let them.

Now you may think that I'm suggesting that a 'Large' or such creature must be smaller then the grid it controls, and in some cases I feel that's true, but let's look at dragons for a second: A fair chunk of their body, at least in terms of length, is a long neck, tail, and wings. If we're fighting a 'Gargantuan' red dragon, how much of the area around it can it actually stop me, a lowly human, from standing in? Not near as much as it can reach.

Unless being directly attacked by a tail or bite, it's probably fairly easy for me to stand under its arching neck, or duck a tail. Similarly, I'd have to get up to its core body to really be able to hit at it, bar maybe a meaningless poke at a wing high above me.

For me, the base of this 30x30 dragon is just the space near its core that I can't maneuver around in. I expect the dragon could be twice, or even thrice, as large as that base, at least in length or wingspan.

Might vary quite a bit too, depending on age (since 'Ancient' or 'Adult' covers hundreds of years), gender, and/or subspecies.

In short: The space occupied on the grid isn't how large a creature is, but how much area it thoroughly controls. A creature's actual size may vary considerably from that.

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• The section you are thinking of can be found on page 191 of the Player's Handbook (Space, part of Chapter 9: Combat > Movement and Position > Creature Size). You should give it a once over, cite and quote it and then you can be confident in your answer :) – Someone_Evil May 31 '20 at 10:53

I'm an old school AD&D player who has just got back into D&Dd 5e because of my nephews wanting to play the game. I still have my AD&D monster manual from 1979 and it seems that every monster has gotten smaller in 5e. We rarely used miniatures in our games back then and I think the changes in size have been made to accommodate the use of figures and grids in the modern game.

• A red dragon was 48 feet long in AD&D. That would be nearly 10 inches in the 5 foot to 1 inch scale used today.
• A wyvern was 35 foot long in AD&D but is now only 'Large' size which is 10 foot by 10 foot.

I have created a home brew campaign for my nephews that revolves around ancient legendary dragons trapped in stasis dimensions trying to break their bonds to get back to ruling the land that elves and humans have took over since the dragons departure. I have bought a selection of cheap, plastic 'legendary dragons' from Wilko's here in the UK for £3 each and they are about 8 or 9 inches long, which fits my old AD&D ideas about size.

I have also bought some Jurassic park dinosaurs that I have converted into wyverns, as I want some wyvern riding dragon cultists, which are again larger than the rules state they should be.

It is clear to me that the heart of the questioner's problem stems from the need to represent these monsters with figures on a game board. If you where playing by pure imagination as we did back in 1979, it would not be a concern. Therefore, just as ironhide77777 suggests, just use whatever base or area you need to fit the particular models you are using.

Expensive metal figures are typically smaller than cheap plastic ones so I will be putting my legendary dragons on 20' by 20' bases (4 inch by 4 inch)and one will need a 5x5 inch base. The wyverns will need 2x2 inch base or a 3x2 inch base. I just couldn't be satisfied with puny 5e dragons after being brought up with dragons like bahamut who was 72 foot long in AD&D.

• I broke up that wall of text with some formatting during the edit. Please review to make sure the answer still holds together. Welcome to RPG.SE. Please take the tour and visit the help center to see how an SE site is different from a discussion forum. Have fun with your nephews! (I am also an old timer who 5e lured back) – KorvinStarmast May 30 '19 at 21:20

So according to the MM a Young Dragon is a "Large" dragon.

According to the size chart in the DMG (Pg 248) an average large creature is 10ft tall. It also shows us that the average Huge creature is 20ft tall and the average Gargantuan creature is 30 ft tall.

On Page 249 of the DMG that the creature fits within a 2x2 grid, which is 10ft x 10ft. So a large creature should normally fit into a 10ft x 10ft x 10ft cube.

Using the MM stats for an Adult Dragon we can estimate the wingspan for a Huge creature. The Wing Attack states:

Wing Attack (Costs 2 Actions). The dragon beats its wings. Each creature within 10 feet of the dragon...

So we can surmise that for a Huge Dragon each wing is no longer than 10ft long.

Using the stats for an Ancient Dragon we can see what happens to the dragon's wingspan when we go from Huge to Gargantuan:

Wing Attack (Costs 2 Actions). The dragon beats its wings. Each creature within 15 feet of the dragon...

So moving up one size level, from Huge to Gargantuan, increases the maximum length for each wing by 5ft.

Using this information, combined with the DMG size chart we can infer that for each 10ft increase in height the wingspan of a dragon increases by 5ft long.

So bringing this all together, for the Young Dragon the wings should be 5ft long each. This gives us a total wingspan of 10ft + body width for a Young Dragon.

• That can't be right. An albatross already has a 10ft wingspan. I know dragons aren't supposed to be aerodynamically correct, but a dragon with a wingspan equal to body length would look extremely short-winged. If we assume that the very tip of a wing doesn't deal much damage, maybe the effective wing attack distance is shorter than the length of the wing? – Tobold Aug 21 '17 at 15:59
• A Young Dragon doesn't have a wing attack, so it can't do damage with its wings. – illustro Aug 21 '17 at 16:13