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The Waterdeep: Dragon Heist adventure (in a sidebar on p. 6) gives details of

AHGHAIRON'S DRAGONWARD

In it it states:

Waterdeep is blanketed by an undispellable magical effect called Ahghairon’s dragonward. The effect originates from somewhere under Ahghairon’s Tower in the Castle Ward and is permanent. Dragons and all other creatures of the dragon type are physically unable to enter the city (or its sewers) as long as the dragonward persists. The effect doesn’t extend to the harbor or into Undermountain.

Of specific interest are the way(s) a dragon can get permission:

A creature of the dragon type that is touched by the dragonstaff of Ahghairon (see appendix A) can ignore Ahghairon’s dragonward and move through the city freely. The effect lasts until the creature is touched again by the staff, or until the passage of a period of time specified by one who is attuned to the staff.

This makes it pretty clear that a dragon who has been so permitted may move through the city freely. It leaves silent what happens to a dragon who has this permission rescinded while they are still in the city.

Is there any lore from previous editions or elsewhere that describes what happens in such an event?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Probably not worth a second question to ask, but how do they get close enough to the staff (in the possession of Aurinax) to get touched by it? I'm guessing the answer is they don't, and it was only before Aurinax had it that it was used that way (by the previous owner walking outside the city with it). But that makes it a pretty useless loophole in the ward. It might as well not exist, story-wise. \$\endgroup\$ – T.E.D. Aug 14 at 17:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @T.E.D. In the City of Splendors book, before Aurinax had it the staff was held by the dragonmage (an archmage) who uses it to extract portions of the hoards of any dragon he allowed into the city. Walking would not have been a problem for him. Nor would communicating with creatures such as dragons before they could enter the city. It's not a loophole persay, it was designed that way by Aghairion who constructed the dragonward so Aghairion could control what dragons were in the city. \$\endgroup\$ – illustro Aug 14 at 18:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ But if no dragons can get to him in the dragon tower due to the ward, there's no way he can touch them with it to let them past the ward. So he really has no control. No dragon gets in. (Which makes me wonder how that one young visiting dragon in the harbor got in). \$\endgroup\$ – T.E.D. Aug 14 at 18:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @T.E.D. Just because they can't get in doesn't mean that they can't contact the holder by some other means and get them to come to the aspiring dragon. Clearly the dragon in the harbour either got touched by Aurinax, Neverember or Maaril (or someone in between the two) \$\endgroup\$ – illustro Aug 14 at 18:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ I suspect the real answer is "the designers didn't think about it" \$\endgroup\$ – illustro Aug 14 at 19:23
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Yes, the 3.5e book City of Splendors: Waterdeep has extensive detail on this effect on page 20. In general this resource is an excellent companion item to the adventure Waterdeep: Dragon Heist for a whole host of other detail in the book.

In particular if a dragons permission is revoked they are subject to the effect which is:

an antipathy effect created by a mythal centered under Aghairon's Tower. The saving throw required under 3.5e was a Will Save of 41. Translating that into 5e is something I don't have enough experience of, but I would suspect that the minimum DC would be 30 for this under 5e.

The

Antipathy/Sympathy

spell from 5e, states that an affected creature feels

an intense urge to leave the area and avoid the target, and that the creature must succeed on a Wisdom Saving Throw or become frightened. [...] While frightened by the target, the creature must use its movement to move to the nearest safe spot from which it can't see the target [or is 60ft from it]

If the creature is successful in their save:

they become immune to the effect for 1 minute, after which time it can be affected again. (see Ending the Effect in the 5e spell)

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think the "target", in this case, should be the entire area covered by the ward, similar to the "200-foot cube" option of the actual Antipathy spell. This means a dragon that fails its save would be forced to actually leave the city, not merely stay away from Ahghairon’s Tower, a point that was unclear to me before looking up the spell's wording about what it can target. \$\endgroup\$ – Douglas Feb 12 at 20:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ The 5e version shouldn't allow a save, since all the relevant dragons have 'Legendary Resistance' and 41 was a pretty good total even for 3.5; a Great Wyrm Red Dragon would have a 50% chance of failing that save (assuming it had no defences up). The ease with which creatures can become immune to fear effects in 5e is a sufficient replacement for the 3.5 saving throw. \$\endgroup\$ – the dark wanderer Feb 12 at 20:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Douglas yes, for this specific spell the area covered is the entire city, not just Aghairon's Tower. This is mentioned in the question (first large block of spoiler text) \$\endgroup\$ – illustro Feb 12 at 21:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @thedarkwanderer The 5e version would allow a save, however that save would need to be repeated by a dragon every minute until it was affected (as per the last point in the answer). That need for repeated saves against a super high DC will burn through those legendary resistances pretty quickly. \$\endgroup\$ – illustro Feb 12 at 21:55

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