Basically title. Metallic dragons are covered in various types of metallic scales. Can a wizard target the scales to deal ongoing damage to the dragon?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I added a related question that may get more interesting answers since it gets past the 'manufactured' issue. rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/176414/… \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 13, 2020 at 20:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Worth to note - Some types of Metallic Dragons are fire-typed, and as such wouldn't even be bothered by Heat Metal, if such spell could be applied to their scales in the first place. \$\endgroup\$
    – T. Sar
    Commented Oct 14, 2020 at 14:33

2 Answers 2


Heat metal targets a manufactured metal object.

Heat metal (PHB, pg. 250) says (emphasis mine):

Choose a manufactured metal object, such as a metal weapon or a suit of heavy or medium metal armor, that you can see within range.

A dragon's scales are not manufactured, rather are entirely natural, so are not eligible to be targeted by heat metal.

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    \$\begingroup\$ On a side note, a dragon's scale wouldn't even be an object while being part of that dragon "skin". It's a body part. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 13, 2020 at 19:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KogarashiKaito Maybe, but that falls more into DM-ruling territory than is necessary to sufficiently answer this question. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 13, 2020 at 19:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ OK, but what if it's a dragon-shaped construct that's made out of steel or some such? Then it becomes manufactured! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 13, 2020 at 19:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RevenantBacon I thought about this, and my mind wandered to the Chardalyn dragon from Rime, but it is made of crystal, not metal. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 13, 2020 at 19:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ Right, but this question is clearly about metallic scaled dragons, not dragon shaped golems. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 13, 2020 at 19:42

Metallic dragons have scales that appear to be metal but are not actually metal. The scales are organic and as such the spell cannot target the dragon. Unless this dragon is actually a construct in which case it can but some DM's might limit the effects of the spell since the construct does not process pain from heat the same way a creature would.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Do you have a citation for the first sentence? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 13, 2020 at 19:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ Metallic dragons were a type of dragon distinguished typically by the color and composition of their scales, that was like that of various metals, hence the name."link not entirely clear but it suggests that they are not in fact metallic \$\endgroup\$
    – Dopey
    Commented Oct 13, 2020 at 19:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ The closest thing I've found, which isn't really definitive, is from the Monster Manual for gold/copper dragons. "A gold dragon wyrmling has scales of dark yellow with metallic flecks. Those flecks grow larger as the dragon matures" (pg 114) and "At birth, a copper dragon's scales are a ruddy brown with a metallic tint.". For something to have metallic flecks, it can't be composed entirely of that metal, but it does say they grow... And the Copper dragon description supports what I always believed (but can't confirm) - they are just metallic looking rather than actually metal. \$\endgroup\$
    – Steve
    Commented Oct 13, 2020 at 19:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ In defense of this argument, I will say the emphasis of metallic dragons as being metallic as opposed to metal, seems to imply they are only like metals in luster, rather than composed of metal. However, I wouldn't count this as strong enough evidence to answer the question. \$\endgroup\$
    – tox123
    Commented Oct 14, 2020 at 3:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ Heat Metal cannot be used to target Constructs. Spells do what they say they do, and Heat Metal targets Objects, not Creatures, even metallic ones. \$\endgroup\$
    – nick012000
    Commented Oct 14, 2020 at 7:19

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