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For a Dragonborn, what is the difference between a tail and a stump? I’m in a new campaign and my DM asked me if I had a tail, then proceeded to ask if I knew the difference with a smile on her face. What is the difference?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.se. When you have time, please take our tour. I have added the dnd-5e and removed the system indications from the text and title, as they are not needed (the tag is enough to specify it). \$\endgroup\$
    – HellSaint
    Jun 12, 2018 at 2:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: Do Dragonborn get tails/wings? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben
    Jun 12, 2018 at 4:25

4 Answers 4

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Sounds like she's taking a page from Matt Mercer's Tal'Dorei campaign setting, where dragonborn with stumps for tails are second-class citizens treated as just a hair better than slaves and looked down on by the dragonborn with tails.

According to the Basic Rules/PHB, dragonborn in general don't have tails at all:

Dragonborn look very much like dragons standing erect in humanoid form, though they lack wings or a tail.

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    \$\begingroup\$ worldanvil.com/w/taldorei-Jhackney1337/a/dragonborn-article and "a guess because Mercer's campaign is real popular on the interwebs and who else talks about tails vs stumps?" I would assume. I like supported answers too but I'm not sure this one needs the third degree. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Jun 12, 2018 at 3:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ To those who watch the show, this is a pretty straightforward reference. It might be nice to have a link, such as mxyzplk's, or criticalrole.wikia.com/wiki/Ravenites But it might also be nice to remind the OP that their DM did not tell them the difference, so maybe they might think twice before hunting for spoilers... \$\endgroup\$ Jun 12, 2018 at 5:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hmm, that world anvil link is a derivative work, a "what if" of the author's own devising. Though there is less info on the critical role wikia, it might be a better source, since it describes the campaign as delivered by Mercer & Co. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 12, 2018 at 5:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk My justification was more on the lines of Dragonborns not having tails in the PHB to begin with, so it's (even) more likely that it is making a reference to that, as there is no distinction in the official books. If it was a "everyone knows that" case, we wouldn't have the question. I, myself, while familiar with the Mercer's name, don't have time to follow his work, so that's new for me :P \$\endgroup\$
    – HellSaint
    Jun 12, 2018 at 5:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ This kind of thing really grinds my gears. It's great that CR is making D&D more popular, but the amount of people who just assume that all the world-building is "standard" is frustrating. It's one thing if everyone agreed to a Wildemount campaign setting, but it's another to expect everyone to have watched over 900 hours of other people playing D&D. And especially egregious is any sort of "gotcha" based on someone not being as up to date as you. \$\endgroup\$
    – aslum
    Aug 20, 2020 at 16:39
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According to the PHB, there are no dragonborn with tails (pg. 32):

Dragonborn look very much like dragons standing erect in humanoid form, though they lack wings or a tail.

On the other hand, Abishai, which kinda look like dragonborn, do have tails (MToF 160). Maybe your DM was trying to test your knowledge somehow?

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Your DM may be indirectly referring to Half-Dragons.

I have not seen any official source for a playable race option, there is a template for a DM to create a half-dragon from other creatures in the 5th Edition SRD.
Half-Dragons DO have a tail, Dragonborn do not.
Dragonborn have dragon lineage, Half-Dragons are the direct offspring of a dragon and another race.

The distinction is pretty vast and is 100% part of the published materials.

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The Explorer's Guide to Wildemount includes two new variants of dragonborn that differ from the dragonborn in the Player's Handbook. One of these variants is the Draconblood, whose description states (p. 168):

Draconbloods possess long tails and a knack for social manipulation. They remember the days when they were once mighty conquerors.

Though this book was not yet published when you asked the question, this variant of dragonborn had previously appeared in Critical Role; the series is set in the world of Exandria, a different setting from the one primarily described in the Player's Handbook (the Forgotten Realms).

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    \$\begingroup\$ You should link to the specific page you're quoting, and give the rest of the reasoning (why this answers the question) because it isn't quite obvious to me. Of specific interest is what book the material is originally from, which DDB doesn't always make very clear (but your answer should). \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Aug 20, 2020 at 16:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ Oh, and Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already and see the help center or ask us here in the comments (use @ to ping someone) if you need more guidance. Good Luck and Happy Gaming! \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Aug 20, 2020 at 16:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've edited this answer to give a little more context to your quote (and add a link to the source), in order to "teach by doing". \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Dec 1, 2020 at 20:28

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