Depending on the draconic ancestry of a dragonborn, their breath weapon either deals damage in a 5 by 30 ft. line or a 15 ft. cone.

Would there be any unbalancing if the character were allowed to switch between those two types of AOE? Looking at the Brass and Red ancestries, fire is able to do either, so if it is balanced, why should it not be allowed?

Note: I am asking about changing the AOE only, not the entire ancestry. Also, to clarify, being able to either decide to use it in a line or in a cone at will, or being able to change the area of effect type after a rest.

  • \$\begingroup\$ It's also not clear whether you simply want to switch from one existing draconic ancestry option to another, or whether you're suggesting the possibility of allowing (for example) an acid-damage cone breath weapon or a cold-damage line breath weapon - i.e. combinations that don't currently exist. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Jul 27, 2018 at 6:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ To be able to decide which one to use at anytime, or declare after a rest that it will be a line u til the next rest or a cone until the next rest. Basically to allow it to be versatile. So like if you are in a dungeon with hallways, you could burn straight down the hallway or if you are in a room, you could toast the room. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 27, 2018 at 6:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NathanS oh no I like it, thank you! I'm always worried I'm making mine too short or too long cause they get edited pretty much every time, but the edit is always much better :) \$\endgroup\$ Jul 27, 2018 at 13:17

2 Answers 2


I think this is balanced

Using the example in your comment:

So like if you are in a dungeon with hallways, you could burn straight down the hallway or if you are in a room, you could toast the room.

Since you can only use it once per short rest anyway, you can't do both without resting in between. Each case taken in isolation, then, this is no different from happening to have a Brass Dragonborn in the former case and happening to have a Red Dragonborn in the latter case.

I think this is a nice way to make a Dragonborn more versatile and tactical. It will make them a bit more powerful, certainly compared to other types of Dragonborn (if, say, you decide only to do this with fire breath, since RAW none of them have cones of lightning, for example, but those fine details are up to you), but I don't think it will unbalance anything hugely.

I'd say let them choose at the time they want to use it, kind of like how Clerics and Paladins can choose which Channel Divinity to use, but can still only do it once per short rest.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah it wouldn't just be limited to brass and red dragons; that was just an example of a fire based breath attack being listed both ways as evidence that it'd been done, but not for all damage types. Thanks for the analysis! \$\endgroup\$ Jul 27, 2018 at 13:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Lightning could have a circular AoE, see chain lightning spell \$\endgroup\$
    – ravery
    Jul 27, 2018 at 15:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ravery I can see flavoring it to be like that, but chain lightning hits a max of 4 (original then branches to 3 others) so there are situations you could hit less than that, unless you just mean select a point and hit everything around it. Going off that, shooting a smaller blast radius fireball or a ball of acid that splashes when it lands would be cool. Say 10 ft diameter instead of 20 ft. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 27, 2018 at 19:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ You could have thunder damage instead of lighting for the cone. \$\endgroup\$
    – user24827
    Jul 27, 2018 at 20:06

It is honestly fine.

I've played and am currently planning a campaign where Dragonborns can breathe how they want, and honestly, the world hasn't crumbled in itself, It is better for helping dragonborns be more versatile to a skill that you honestly don't have the ability to spam for starters.

Overall it won't really unbalance anything much, at least in my personal experience.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for including actual playtest with this - it turns the theoretical "should" into a practical "it's fine". Very helpful! \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Jul 27, 2018 at 14:03

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