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Is it possible to create a playable character who's a dragon in D&D 5e? Not a dragonborn, but an actual dragon.

I'm new to D&D and planning on playing D&D 5e because it's the newest.

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Full Dragon: Not until very high level/with high level friends; probably a poor plan

If your character has access to someone who can cast True Polymorph, the caster can transform your character into a dragon with a CR equal to or less than your level.

If you're casting it yourself as a 17th level Wizard or Bard, that means you have all the Adult Dragons avaliable. If someone else is casting it on you and you're a lower level, Wyrmlings are CR 3-4; Young are 6-9, Adult are 13-17.

Note that this will remove your class and racial features. If you're high leve enough to be able to become an Adult dragon this is normally a poor plan given you can throw around Wish/Miracle/etc and dragons don't (normally) have spellcasting.

Dragon-like: From starting

If you're happy being simply dragon-like not an actual dragon, there are several options:

Dragonborn

Dragonborn (phb p 32) "look very much like dragons standing in humanoid form, though they lack wings or a tail", have a breath weapon attack that they can use, and resistance to an element depending on what type of Dragonborn they are.

If you have Xanathars Guide to Everything, there are some Dragonborn-only Feats that make them more draconic, e.g. become tougher or improve their breath weapon (XgTE p74)

In the Feats for Races Unearthed Arcana (playtest material) there is also a feat that gives a dragonborn wings and a fly speed, but it is playtest material that did not make it into XGtE, so definitely ask your DM before you get set on having it.

Pros:

  • Works with any class
  • Gets the look right at the start
  • Can get more dragon-like if you get feats

Cons:

  • Doesn't improve over time unless you get feats

Draconic Bloodline Sorcerer

The Draconic Bloodline Sorcerer makes you better at talking to dragons, better at doing elemental things of your bloodline, gives you a thin layer of scales, and eventually gives you the ability to manifest wings.

Pros:

  • Gives you most of the advantages of the Dragonborn feats just by levelling up

Cons:

  • Is a class, so locks you in to being a spellcaster
  • Only gets the wings quite late(14th level)
  • Doesn't get most of the look
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  • \$\begingroup\$ It should be noted that the feats from UA that didn't make it into XGtE were cut for a reason. Doesn't mean that you shouldn't use it based on that alone, but it should be taken into consideration. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 24 '18 at 17:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ Good point; I'll make that more explicit. \$\endgroup\$
    – Teron
    Feb 24 '18 at 18:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Nothing stops you from doing both. Dragonborn Draconic Sorcerer is a thing. Could even combine colors for cool patterns. Black scales with gold ones scattered about. Red scales with black, you could even probably make a 'purple' dragonborn by blending your red racial scales with your bloodline blue ones, if your GM allows it. \$\endgroup\$
    – user47897
    Jan 18 '19 at 15:39

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