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My wizard is fond of summoning or conjuring elementals and binding them using planar binding, keeping them around for a while. Even keeping them a day is awesome, because concentration is not required, although longer is better, at a 1000 a pop.

Whether the combination of summoning/conjuring and binding works isn't the question; the GM has ruled that it does. Likewise, the issue of concentration isn't the question; the GM has ruled in that regard also. (Hours of work on my part, they flip through a few items, and say "sure".)

The issue is . . . elementals are not enough. I need power, more power. Elementals are great, but they tend to have low saving throws, and it sucks having your elemental incapacitated or turned against you.

I want . . . a dragon.

Maybe an actual dragon might be a bit overkill, hopefully not literally. A draconic spirit would be great.

Specifically, I want to summon a draconic spirit and bind it, in a similar manner as planar binding, but planar binding won't work because it doesn't work on dragons. I've searched through the 5e compendium and not run across anything that really fits, but it's a big game and I'm hoping someone has an angle I haven't thought of.

I intend to research in-game, but our GM prefers if we bring solutions and information rather than coming at it empty-handed. The wizard is 14th level, with 15th looming over the horizon. If there's something that will work that is out of the wizard's reach, that's okay. I could conceivably beg, borrow, barter, or buy whatever it is. If there's any way at all, that opens the door. Okay, not any way at all, a way short of wish. That's a price too high.

For what it's worth, my wizard has already tried it -- the draconic spirit was happy enough to hang around for an hour, but planar binding did nothing (GM: does that work on dragons? Wizard: maybe? GM, looking at spell, "nope".)

In fact, I really am less interested in binding it than getting it to hang around more-or-less voluntarily, so if actual coercion weren't necessary that would be a bonus.

So, my question is this: how can I extend the stay of a summoned draconic spirit in a way similar to planar binding, recognizing that planar binding won't work on dragons?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm somewhat confused, what does binding it accomplish when it already treats you as an ally and obeys your verbal commands? Are you just trying to make the spell's duration longer than 1 hour? Also, what level is your Wizard? This will impact what options are available. Or perhaps answers should just assume anything is an option and leave working it out to you and your table? Any details specific to the table would help answerers to better gauge what's available and what exactly you're aiming to do \$\endgroup\$ Feb 17 at 21:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ This will largely depend on if your DM treats Summoning and Conjuring as different things... But conjuring something then using binding on it is within one of the ideas for the spell as evidenced in the description of Planar Binding by summoning it into a circle first. @Exempt-Medic \$\endgroup\$
    – Slagmoth
    Feb 17 at 22:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Exempt-Medic The issue is that planar binding binds "a celestial, an elemental, a fey, or a fiend". A draconic spirit is a dragon. And yes, this is specifically so that the ally stays around for longer than an hour, and doesn't require concentration. A draconic spirit that hangs around an hour and takes concentration - awesome; one that hangs around longer, no concentration, priceless! (At least certainly worth a 1000!) \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Feb 17 at 22:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ What level is your wizard, i.e. which spells does he have access to? \$\endgroup\$ Feb 18 at 11:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ Groody, 14th. Unless I'm missing something the wizard does not have something that specifically can bind a dragon the way planar binding can bind a celestial, fey, elemental, or fiend. I said in the question, "If there's something that will work that is out of the wizard's reach, that's okay. I could conceivably beg, borrow, barter, or buy whatever it is." If I've somehow missed something simple, that would be great to know, but I think the answer, if there is one, is going to be something obscure, and it will give me a clue to a solution I can suggest to the GM, not something I can just do. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Feb 18 at 12:57

3 Answers 3

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Subdue, don't Summon

My other answer was a technical treatise on how what you ask could be achieved using the 5e rules mechanics. I do however think that this is approaching this from the wrong perspective. You say:

I want . . . a dragon.

If that's really what you are after, let's be honest: a Draconic Spirit is a sorry excuse for an actual dragon. Even if you can get it to stick around.

This is an area where the original game was arguably cooler than 5e. In OD&D, there were actual rules on how to subdue a dragon, and make it follow you around. (Granted, they were broken in that it was apparently a lot easier to do that than to kill the dragon, when it should have been a lot more difficult as appropriate for the bonus of getting your very own dragon). In the original Greyhawk campaign, Rob Kuntz player character Robilar ended up with a pair of Green Dragons, a fact that impressed him enough to name his blog after the fact. Gary Gygax main player character Mordenkainen had a pair of Red Dragons named Porky and Gorky.

Now, 5e does not have actual rules for subduing dragons, and in fact makes it unlikely to subdue chromatic dragons with general comments such as:

They believe in their innate right to rule, and this belief is the cornerstone of every chromatic dragon's personality and worldview. Trying to humble a chromatic dragon is like trying to convince the wind to stop blowing. (MM, p. 86)

Also Fizban's entirely omits the subject. However, there is hope. The White Dragon specifically says:

Powerful creatures can sometimes gain a white dragon's obedience through a demonstration of physical or magical might. (MM p. 102)

So, it might be possible to travel to the icy north, and subdue a Young White Dragon with appropriate demonstrations of magical prowess that your character as a level 14 Wizard should be able to produce. You'll get a real dragon, with a proper breath weapon that deals 10d8 instead of a measly 2d6. And you'll get a constant source of worry, of course, that the chaotic evil and rather stupid dragon will behave, and your DM will have a constant source of entertainment for all involved.

This clearly is something that you need to work out by collaborating on it with your DM. And you will have to undertake actual adventures to achieve it. It may or may not fit your group or DM's style, but if it does, I think this is the better solution.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, the white dragon is not happening. I need a dragon that will behave. But you bring up a good point. Maybe I can just befriend one. One benefit of a draconic spirit is that the GM has ruled that the "you call forth a ____ spirit" spells are not actually wrenching a creature from its existing life, but rather using magic to animate a spirit. Binding a creature into servitude is clearly yet another blemish on my already somewhat tarnished soul. It turns out that in the quest for ultimate arcane power the lure of the dark side is powerful, who knew. I wonder how Gandolf did it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Feb 20 at 12:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Gandalf had an unfair advantage, being a Maja and all... We ended up befriending the Gold Dragon from Dragon Heist, and offering him to stay in our place in Trollskull Alley. About the best insurance you can think of. We regularily gift him with jewels to eat, so he keeps happy and sticks around. But of course, he's not tagging along on adventures \$\endgroup\$ Feb 20 at 12:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh, and tell me about the temptations of the dark side. I play a tree-hugging half-elf wizard, who spent their recent past animating the dead left and right and wearing a cursed but powerful Belt of Dwarvenkind in some sinister dungeon. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 20 at 13:00
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Try True Polymorph and Glyph shenanigans

The light is not worth the candle here, but this is a way that might get you there (and if not I hope smart people will point out why not). You will need an archmage to help. The timing may be a bit iffy, but I think it works. Follow this four step procedure:

  1. Prepare an upcast Glyph of Warding with your Summon Draconic Spirit Spell. The glyph has been errataed to not only cause hostile effects so you can summon a friendly spirit. There is no need to rely on a Magic Circle (which would not work on a dragon). Glyph states If the spell requires concentration, it lasts until the end of its full duration, so your spirit should stick around for the full hour without needing your concentration enabling you to cast the Binding. Set the Glyph to trigger when you open your mouth to start casting the Planar Binding or such.

  2. Have the friendly archmage cast True Polymorph on the dragon, temporarily turning it into a Celestial, Elemental, Fiend, or Fey. It now is a valid target for Planar Binding. When they do so is dependent on how you rule when the target for a spell is checked. It seems that is unclear RAW, but likely at the end of the casting. So they have plenty of time, and can do that while you are halfway into casting the Binding. If it were checked at the beginning of casting, it might work if they Polymorph as a reaction to the dragon being summoned.

  3. Cast your Planar Binding as you usually would on a summoned creature. It says If the creature was summoned or created by another spell, that spell's duration is extended to match the duration of this spell, so this should extend the summons if needed, too. At the end of the hour, you are binding the Fey formerly known as a Dragon. It is now bound for however long your Binding spell level indicates. (At least I see nothing in Planar Binding that says it would drop off if the creature is polymorphed into another creature type).

  4. The archmage drops the Polymorph concentration. Your bound creature reverts back to being a Dragon. You pay the archmage their outrageous fee for their services and happily trundle off with your new Dragon pal in tow.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is pretty sweet. Getting access to True Poly for free only requires waiting. One more example where I feel I have not even begun to exploit Glyph. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Feb 20 at 12:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, if you wanted to do it without any help at all (and had attained level 17), you could upcast a second glyph that then releases the TP in step 2. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 20 at 12:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yep. This is almost sure-fire, I just need to wait til 17th. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Feb 20 at 12:46
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True Polymorph for getting a real dragon

After some due consideration, here is yet another approach that combines the benefits of the other two: a technical method and getting an actual dragon.

  1. Prepare an upcast Glyph of Warding with a Conjure Elemental spell (cast at level 6, 7 or 8, using the next higher slot for the glyph), as in this answer. I know of Invisible Stalker as an option for CR 6, of Elemental Myrmidons for CR 7, and Big Xorn (from DotMM) for CR 8 -- maybe not all of them will be available, but the Invisible Stalker should be.

  2. Prepare another upcast Glyph of Warding using your level 9 slot and store a level 8 Planar Binding in it, triggering on the appearance of the elemental, and binding it to servitude for 180 days.

  3. Once the elemental is bound, cast True Polymorph on it, and hold the concentration until the effect is permanent. Depending on the challenge rating of the elemental you summoned, you will be able to turn it into either a Young White Dragon (CR 6), a Young Black Dragon (CR 7), or a Young Green Dragon (CR 8).

What about this dragon?

  • The traits of vanishing and being forced to be friendly to you imposed by the Conjure Elemental spell are not part of the creature's statistics that are replaced by True Polymorph, so they will endure for the duration of Planar Binding and serve you during this time

  • The polymorphed creature "retains its alignment and personality", so it will hate you just as much as the original elemental, but like it not be able to do anything about it while under the effect of Planar Binding

This all will cost you at least two days, 2 level 9 slots, 1 level 8 slot, 1 level 7 slot and 1 level 6 slot, plus the material components. Not a cheap undertaking by any means.

You now have a dragon, which will serve you for 180 days, and then vanish.


P.S. I expect from your comments that your DM might opt to shut this down, and there is enough ambiguity about the rules involved here to make this ruling territory even without invoking rule 0. The due diligence to obtain precendence on what is likely RAW is here, and I think this is as close to RAW as you can get.

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