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In the Rise of Tiamat campaign, there's an event with some details I'm not sure how to resolve:

After the Council of the Metallic Dragons, the players are given the task of assigning their dragon assets to protect factions or areas. This has a fairly substantial impact on their standing with almost all factions. But how many dragons do they have to divvy up?

I've combed Episodes 1 and 6 trying to work this out, and I really have no idea.

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References

From Episode 1 p22, this is the allocation I assume you are referring to:

As an effect of the way in which the adventurers have impressed the dragon council, it now falls to them to allocate the dragons that have pledged their service to the factions.

From Episode 6 p59:

Five ancient dragons make up the council charged with deciding their metallic kin’s response to the cult. Though they are not necessarily the wisest or most powerful specimens of dragonkind, all are well respected. Any decision made by these dragon councilors will be accepted by the metallic dragons as a whole.

and

To secure the cooperation of the metallic dragons as a whole, the party must conclude this episode with at least three dragon councilors having a friendly attitude and with none unfriendly

and p61:

When the characters have reached a satisfactory agreement with the dragons,

Not directly related but useful as guidance, from Episode 9 p86

Chromatic Dragons. The exact number of chromatic dragons present at the Well of Dragons is up to you, and could range from a few dozen to a hundred or more.

and p87

Metallic Dragons. The metallic dragons will be outnumbered by their chromatic cousins. However, they cooperate with allies better than the evil dragons do, giving them a greater impact on the battlefield.

Discussion

Like a lot of things in this module, DM discretion is involved.

The criteria for getting the support of all metallic dragons is clear. It seems to be implied that you can get partial support as well. So having got support, full or partial, how many dragons is that?

The information in Episode 9 gives you guidance for the total number of metallic dragons available for the final battle. Even if you operate at the lower end of the range, the number of dragons available at that point is ... adequate.

Remember, the dragons are preparing for the final battle themselves and they have things to do, people to eat, sorry meet, etc. and the PCs have to negotiate an agreement with the metallic dragons. Surely the number of dragons provided for immediate deployment would be a key part of that agreement?

The Council Scorecard also needs to be considered. If the PCs get no dragons then they are at a disadvantage in the final battle but the suffer neither advantage nor disadvantage with any of the factions. If they make concessions to get the aid of the dragons (and they will probably have to) then they hurt their rep with most factions. Giving a faction support can repair this (partially in some cases) and not giving a dragon can hurt them further. The dragons are therefore a bit of a poisoned chalice; gaining their support may cost the PCs the support of one or more of the other factions.

So, do what any good DM does in those circumstances ... cheat. Give the PCs enough dragons so that their choices matter.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ When you say 'enough so that their choices matter', I'm guessing you mean less than enough to give one to everyone, but more than none? \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Jan 7 '15 at 7:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Maybe, look at where they are with the factions and give them enough to shore up support but not so much that it becomes a cakewalk. \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M Jan 7 '15 at 8:30
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The only specifics given in the text that are appropriate to consider in my second read-through are the following:

  • There are hundreds of chromatic dragons.
  • The chromatic dragons outnumber the metallic dragons.
  • There are 5 metallic dragons to appeal to.
  • The metallic dragons are more effective than the chromatic dragons because they are more willing to work as a team with humanoids.
  • Each faction will be upset if their cities are not protected by dragons (focusing on capital cities).
  • There are 10 factions to worry about.

Based on this, the best we can do is guess. It looks like there are likely hundreds of the metallic dragons as well as the chromatic ones, however they are still highly outnumbered. Perhaps setting the number at roughly 100 metallic dragons (about 20 of each type) would be appropriate, double that would be a good high end to shoot for.

It seems that the presence of the dragons aren't as much about exact counts and more generic. Stating that half of the silver dragons go to the Harpers and half go to Lady Laeral is relatively appropriate and fits with the numbers we know (5 dragons on the council and 10 humanoid factions). You may choose to make the players decisions harder by making the decision all or nothing, but that doesn't seem to be the approach you prefer based on the way the question is worded.

Why should the numbers be so generic?

To keep the numbers this generic actually fits a few different aspects of the campaign.

  • The metallic dragons are unlikely to count their kin and report exact numbers to humanoids when all it takes is one corrupt humanoid to give that information to the forces of Tiamat.
  • The DM has a bit more control over the final battle and the intervening material that way. (This is pushed in the preface area before episode one.)
  • The players are unlikely to see many metallic dragons outside the Dragon council until they are in place, and with the time frame being 'tight' and the push for quick action, they may never see more than one group of dragons until the final battle.
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