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In D&D 5e, Half-Dragon is a template (MM, 180) that can be applied to any beast, humanoid, or giant. When I applied the Red Dragon Wyrmling's dragon breath - which deals 7d6 fire damage in a cone - to a Raven (CR 0) it came out as CR 1/4 (according to the creating a monster section of the DMG).

Druids can Wild-shape into any creature CR 1/4 or lower, starting at 2nd level (or Circle of the Moon Druids can Wild-shape into CR 1 creatures).

This would mean a level 2 Druid can wild shape into a creature that can deal 7d6 fire damage in a cone, with a 1/3 chance of being able to reuse it every turn. This is more damage than any other class can deal at this level, even with max stats (eg. a fighter action surging [once per day] deals only a max of 4d6+10, approximately the same as this, which the druid can do infinite times in a day). So, can druids Wild Shape into beasts with the half-dragon template?

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Players can't apply templates to creatures, nor can they assess CR. That's up to the DM.

You'd have to discuss this with your DM, and they'd likely (at the very least) tell you that you'd need to have seen a Half-Dragon Raven before you can do this. They might also disagree with your assessment of the CR, especially when it's a creature in the hands of a player. You've got no argument against it, since there's no printed statblock for a Half-Dragon Raven and the CR guidelines are explicitly meant to as guidelines and give the DM final control over the CR.

And, also relevant, this won't even work. Your Druid can't turn into flying creatures at level 2. You could probably turn into a Half-Dragon Rat if the DM lets you.

And the final thing; you say "7d6 almost infinitely" but you probably forgot that these CR 0 critters have only 1 hit point, so realistically you can do this once and then your wild shape ends and you take a full attack's worth of damage minus one point.

So really, it's something that required DM approval, they'd probably not let you do it, and even if they did you'd quickly find out that it's of fairly limited use.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Dec 4 '20 at 10:31
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Half-dragons don't have a defined CR.

The one example in the MM, the half-dragon Veteran, is CR 5 and is explicitly based on a CR 3 Veteran.

The CR of a half-dragon-half-raven is not specified, though we can infer it would be higher than the CR of a raven.

The template does say that the CR can sometimes be left unchanged, if the creature is already an appropriately high CR for its size / breath weapon potency. Otherwise, "you" determine the CR by applying the guidelines in the Dungeon Master's Guide (which, note, is the Dungeon Master's Guide, so it's intended for use by the DM). So suppose you make a good-faith attempt to do that.

What should the CR be for a flying creature with 1 hit point and a 7d6 breath weapon? There's no precedent for that. The mismatch between its dinky AC 12 1hp frame and its great honking flamethrower throws the guidelines all out of whack. (Even calculating the "average" damage output of the attack is hard: a 24 damage AOE will end a lot of fights in round 1, so the recharge doesn't matter; if the bird has enough space to fly out of range while recharging, then the recharge really doesn't matter; etc.) The guidelines are just not written for this.

And this breaks the assumption that keeps Wild Shape under some kind of control: you can only turn into a beast, and beasts have a fairly narrow range of capabilities. They don't get spells or AOE attacks or teleportation or other craziness. They almost never get ranged attacks. They do sometimes get swimming or flight--and Wild Shape locks those creatures out until higher levels. Wild Shape is still very powerful for what you get, but the individual forms are supposed to be kind of boring.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It should be CR 1/4, according to the customizing a monster section of the DMG \$\endgroup\$ Dec 2 '20 at 19:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TheDragonOfFlame No. You have read that section incorrectly. That section doesn't give hard rules for what CR is. It gives vague guidelines, and tells the DM to adjudicate for themselves. There's a lot of DM adjudication baked into 5e, and situations like this are exactly why. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben Barden
    Dec 2 '20 at 19:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TheDragonOfFlame "An appropriately equipped and well-rested party of four adventurers should be able to defeat a monster that has a challenge rating equal to its level without suffering any deaths." A party of 1st-level adventurers fighting four of these birds is going to die. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark Wells
    Dec 2 '20 at 19:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TheDragonOfFlame a half-dragon raven has an offensive CR of 11 (if I am reading the table right) and a defensive CR of 0, sugesting that its final CR is around 5. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 2 '20 at 22:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Heck a party of level 2 PCs vs 8 of these guys (approx CR 2), or a party of level 3 PCs vs 12 of these guys (approx CR 3), are ALSO going to get royally creamed. \$\endgroup\$
    – Pat
    Dec 3 '20 at 1:42

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