How exactly do you calculate changing a Line into a Cone?

I am asking for the purposes of the Shape Breath Metabreath feat. As the feat says:

If you have a line-shaped breath weapon, you can opt to shape it into a cone. Likewise, if you have a cone-shaped breath weapon, you can shape it into a line. When you use this feat, add +1 to the number of rounds you must wait before using your breath weapon again.

Comparing this to the breath weapon of a Dragonborn of Bahamut, which is a Line with a range of 5ft per hit die, how would you calculate converting the breath weapon into a cone? Would a 6th-level Dragonborn of Bahamut breath out a 30ft cone? Or would the length of the cone be reduced?

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    – V2Blast
    Commented Mar 19, 2021 at 0:11

1 Answer 1


There is no default or global rule for converting from cone to line or vice versa. The only rules we have are from Shape Breath itself, which you have already quoted.

Since it says nothing about changing the length of the breath weapon, I guess we must assume it stays the same, so yes, you get a 30’ cone. This despite the fact that line-shaped true dragon breath weapons are twice as long as cone-shaped true dragon breath weapons, and it would have been easy for Shape Breath to specify that switching to a cone halves your distance and switching to a line doubles it.

As a DM, I might consider houseruling it to do that—but only if someone was considering it when starting with a cone-shaped breath weapon. Since cones are clearly just better at a given distance (barring friendly-fire situations), the feat is basically worthless to such characters. But personally I wouldn’t “nerf” the feat from the perspective of someone who was starting with a line—spending a feat is cost enough, I see no reason to reduce the range.

Keep in mind that combats in 3.5e typically last ~3 rounds. A breath cooldown of 2 or more can very well mean “next fight.” And considering how incredibly precious feats are, a once-per-fight effect better be really good. Spreading the dragonborn’s breath weapon around to a few more targets probably isn’t.

As long as you’re looking at breath weapons and feats that go with them, Entangling Exhalation from Races of the Dragon is the best of them. Also, the dragonfire adept from Dragon Magic has a breath weapon you can use every round—that’s a lot nicer than the dragonborn’s (though of course dedicating class levels to it is also much more investment).

Which brings me to the last point: just so you know, the dragonborn wings option is by far the best of the three. And the breath weapon is the worst—whatever your class features are giving you, they’ll almost-certainly be better uses of your action than the breath weapon is. Meanwhile, permanent flight at 5th level is incredibly good (you need to get flight somewhere, sooner or later—and 5th level is rather sooner and that’s great). (The Mind option is OK—paralysis and sleep are dangerous and worth being immune to, though darkvision and low-light vision are mediocre and blindsense is only somewhat better. Ultimately, it’s usually easier to get paralysis immunity than it is to get high-quality permanent flight, and flight definitely does more for you.)

  • \$\begingroup\$ In the party I'm playing with currently, there are two dragonborns, one with line, one with cone. By your rules they would endup with different capabilities. Not sure if really equivalent. On the other hand, I can't recall them really using breath weapons, at all. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Commented Mar 19, 2021 at 23:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mołot 3.5e dragonborn with the heart aspect always have a line-shaped breath weapon. I believe you are referring to 5e, where all dragonborn have a breath weapon that can be a line or cone (and truly don’t use it very much; it’s the big problem with them). \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Mar 20, 2021 at 0:42

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