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Is it possible, using official material only (i.e. not homebrew, although if Unearthed Arcana has something, I'd be interested in that, but ideally official material) for one to gain a recharging breath weapon (i.e. not something that's a one-time use like a potion of fire breath) besides the following:

  • Being a Dragonborn
  • Learning the dragon's breath spell from Xanathar's Guide to Everything (not strictly a recharging breath weapon, since it's actually a spell, but I thought I'd include it anyway)

Are there any other ways to gain a breath weapon? I don't mind what kind of damage it does (if there are ways that force you to have a breath weapon of a specific type without letting you choose).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ How permanent does the breath weapon have to be? As in can it come from an item with recharging charges? Can it come from a spell that lets you have a breath weapon for x amount of time per day? \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Aug 16 '18 at 7:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose Yes, anything that let's you use it more than once (so not a potion of fire breath), but recharging via rests or "next dawn" type stuff is fine. \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Aug 16 '18 at 8:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ Out of curiosity, is there a special reason or purpose you are specifically trying to obtain a breath weapon with these characteristics? Also would you accept answers with other races besides dragonborn or are all race-related options off the table? \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Aug 16 '18 at 8:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose Idea for a dragon wannabe character, a Kobold Draconic Bloodline Sorcerer, wants to become as dragon-like as possible, and I wondered if he could get a breath weapon. Unfortunately, true polymorph appears not to be on the Sorcerer list, but he could always try to find a high level character who could cast it on him... Hence this is not a criticism for your answer, since I never mentioned anything about a Sorcerer in my qeestion, and the spell can still be an answer if he knows a wizard PC who learns that spell... \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Aug 16 '18 at 8:11
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Use spells to turn into a dragon

Using true polymorph you can turn yourself into any creature whose CR is equal to or less than yours. Even at level 1 this would enable you to turn into a dragon with a breath weapon.

With true polymorph, the caster concentrating on the spell for an hour would allow you to remain as a dragon until the spell is dispelled.

Of course, this is not ideal for a few reasons. For example, you are now a dragon without access to your class features and true polymorph is a 9th level spell and thus won't be accessible until very high level (if at all).

Shapechange works almost the exact same way except it lets you also keep class features. But it also doesn't become permanent at the end of the duration.

Wish is also an option

As always, wish is an option. You couldn't duplicate the effects of shapechane or true polymorph because they are too high of a level, but you could wish for a breath weapon or wish to be a dragon. Of course, as this is a non-standard use of wish, the 33% of never being able to cast it again apply as well as giving your DM the opportunity to twist the wish however they like. But it is an option.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for removing that. Wishing no offense to DavidCoffron, I preferred your answer without that bit (especially since, as a Sorcerer, hunting down a high level caster to cast one of those spells on him, true polymorph in particular but also potentially wish, would make sense as a long term goal for this character). \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Aug 16 '18 at 9:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NathanS no problem, I wasn't sure if changing into a dragonborn would be seen as being more dragon-like so I thought I would throw it in there. Fwiw, it's likely that David put it in there because he figured that your restriction was on starting as a dragonborn and not a restriction necessarily in changing into one. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Aug 16 '18 at 10:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NathanS that was my understanding. Removed answer thanks to clarification. \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Aug 16 '18 at 18:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think I'm going to accept this one, being the one my character would most likely aim for, since an expensive dip in Mystic isn't going to work, the potions thing is too much of a long shot, and if we get to Epic Boons, he'd probably rather just become a dragon anyway. The other answers were great, but if I'm to accept one, I must use some kind of arbitrary criteria, and "which one would my character most likely aim for" is that arbitrary criteria. \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Aug 17 '18 at 8:41
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Technically, Epic Boons are completely official (though optional), and can do all sorts of things.

This would be for particularly high level play only, and entirely at the discretion of the DM, but Epic Boons are basically "DM hands you some appropriate power that fits your character and develops your story." There is no Epic Boon specifically about dragon breath, but they're specifically called out as the sort of thing the DM can/should customize. As such, granting a dragonlike breath weapon to someone who had as part of their story seeking to be more dragonlike would be entirely in keeping with both the formal rules and the intent of the feature.

Epic Boons are in the DMG, pg. 231-232

Potion miscibility is a funny thing.

There are (optional but official) rules for mixing potions, which include what happens when you drink one potion while under the effects of another. There are all sorts of possible effects (including "explosion" and "deadly poison", both of which are kind of unfortunate if they happen in your gut) but one of the (rarer) possibilities is that the effect of one of the two potions is rendered permanent. What exactly that means for any given potion might require a bit of adjudication, but it seems reasonable that rendering a potion of dragon breath permanent might give you a rechargeable breath weapon (talk with your DM). Of course, there's a complication there, because that means that you're constantly under a potion effect from then on, which means that you roll that funny, funny table every time you drink any potion from then on. If you really crave that breath weapon, though, and you have friends who can bring you back from the dead as many times as it takes, and you can buy a whole mess of dragon breath potions to run the experiment on....

The rules on mixing potions are also in the DMG, in a sidebar on page 140.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Yup, DMG, pg. 231-232. There don't appear to be any for granting breath weapons, though, but it sets a precedent. The only trouble with this is that making a custom Epic Boon would be like making a custom Feat, which then wouldn't be official material, as my question asks for. Note that I'm only commenting on the Epic Boons part of this answer, not the potion bit (I'm still digesting that). \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Aug 16 '18 at 13:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ Upvoted simply because this gives me an idea for a character who constantly mixes potions just to see what happens. Perhaps the wild magic sorcerer had one too many magic surges and after coming to had the epiphany of trying potions... \$\endgroup\$ – Lux Claridge Aug 16 '18 at 15:57
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Reflavor damaging spells

From a mechanical point of view, a breath weapon is an effect that deals elemental damage in a cone or line area.

There are a number of spells that do area damage in cones or lines that can easily be reflavored to represent a breath weapon. Some examples include:

It should be noted that this does have some mechanical differences from a dragonborn/dragon's breath weapon. Namely, being a spell and a magical effect, and thus affected by things such as counterspell or antimagic field which a normal breath weapon would ignore.

Mystic

This is Unearthed Arcana which is not ideal as per the question requirements but the Mystic, as part of the Corrosive Metabolism Discipline (p.12) has access to two breath options:

Breath of the Black Dragon (5 psi). You exhale a wave of acid in a 60-foot line that is 5 feet wide. Each creature in the line must make a Constitution saving throw, taking 6d6 acid damage on a failed save, or half as much on a successful one. You can increase the damage by 1d6 per additional psi point spent on it.

Breath of the Green Dragon (7 psi). You exhale a cloud of poison in a 90-foot cone. Each creature in the line must make a Constitution saving throw, taking 10d6 poison damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

Given the psi limits this requires a Mystic level of 5 for the Black version and 9 for the Green one which is admittedly a pretty heavy cost if all you want is access to the breath.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Ironically enough, as a DM I've allowed this in the past for a Dragonborn Sorcerer PC who was obsessed with fire; allowing burning hands to be represented in game as additional uses of their fire cone breath weapon. \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Aug 16 '18 at 9:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NathanS so I understand, is this spell reflavoring something you find useful? I had considered this, but I assumed spells like this were a no-go because you said that dragon's breath was not an option. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Aug 16 '18 at 10:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose I mentioned my comment above as an ironic anecdote, because I have allowed that before. However, since the PC was already a Dragonborn, they already had a breath weapon, so the reflavouring was simpler. In my current case, though, burning hands is not actually a breath weapon, hence I'd still prefer an actual breath weapon to be my preferred answer. \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Aug 16 '18 at 10:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NathanS also, this is a power that consumes psi points, which means it's on a daily rest timer. In a number of ways, it's equivalent to learning the dragon's breath spell. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Aug 16 '18 at 13:27
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While that doesn't exactly fill the no homebrew requirement, if the game is not official (i.e. Adventurer's League) anything you can think of and DM allows is on the table. Your imagination (and DM willingness to go along) is your limit.

You can ask your DM to let you just do it for a backstory of being some kind of scientific experiment. Honestly, it's not that big a deal to be able to breathe fire like a dragonborn does, I as a DM wouldn't want a big payment for that - I'd probably just let it be a custom background feature like standard backgrounds have.

If you want to do some more work you can have something happen, through science or magic, during game. Again, the details are endless, but I already mentioned experiments. I can also think of some nice scenes involving a fight with a villain, where the Dragon Mask you mentioned breaks and through some twist of fate the character gets it's powers embedded in him.

While those aren't really "In-rules" ways, I don't really consider them homebrew, because those would be a one-time thing, and DnD is a lot about giving players what they want - twists of fate happen a lot in adventures, and there are some unique things that can happen as part of the game even in official adventures - Wand of Orcus immediately attuning itself in Out Of the Abyss comes to mind, but there probably are other examples.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "Ask your DM to homebrew something" is always an option, so an answer that's basically four paragraphs of "ask your DM" when the question says "using official material only" isn't really helpful. \$\endgroup\$ – T.J.L. Aug 16 '18 at 13:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Those paragraphs are called examples :) There's even one citing official adventure that goes out of scope of rules to do somethings for the story, like what I'm suggesting to do. Also, even if you do find an in-book solution you have to run it by your DM - even Wishing(spell) for a "Breath attack" out of the blue can just give your character an ability to barf at will \$\endgroup\$ – Misamoto Aug 16 '18 at 14:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ I haven't downvoted this, but I understand why it is. This would be a valid answer if OP did not specifically ask for no homebrew, but what you have provided is explicitly homebrew and thus not an answer to the question. If that were not specified it would be a decent answer though. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Aug 16 '18 at 22:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, can't have them all :) My point was "Not everything you use that's not in the books is homebrew" :) I restrict that term to things like classes, races, custom rules and other reusable things like that. I find that one-time story events that result in something not in the books can't really be considered homebrew and without them the games would be a lot more boring. I also hoped that me recognizing the probable violation on restriction would stop people from disliking the answer, but oh well, can't win them all :) \$\endgroup\$ – Misamoto Aug 17 '18 at 7:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh, and I also find that the upvoted answers are subject to the same. What is consider "not homebrew"? Anything AL legal? Then no boons, no potion mixes and no reflavoring. UA was specifically permitted, so mystic gets a pass, I guess. Anything that's described in the books? Well, DMG is basically a textbook on homebrewing - there is info on how to create races, classes, traps, custom monsters and everything else. \$\endgroup\$ – Misamoto Aug 17 '18 at 7:17

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