I just heard that according to D&D 3rd edition's Draconomicon (for the Greyhawk setting), p. 7:

Although a dragon’s front feet are not truly prehensile, a dragon can grasp objects with its front feet, provided they are not too small. This grip is not precise enough for tool use, writing, or wielding a weapon, but a dragon can hold and carry objects.

How, then, do we have a Draconic script? I think I heard somewhere that the letters can all be scratched in dirt, which makes sense, but can dragons not create books, tomes, or scrolls in the official settings, and anything you see in Draconic was created later by a wizard or other scholar?

Semi-official or official sources only, please - obviously GMs can do whatever.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The first Draconomicon of 4e (Chromatic Dragons) gave us a look as to what the Draconic script looks like. As you can see, its letters are formed in sucha way a dragon can carve them in stone or metal with some relatively simple movements of its claws. Also, check p. 28 of the 3.5e Draconomicon where it describes the Draconic language and its script (the latter in short). But this is 4e, and as such not a fitting answer for your 3.5e-focussed question. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 22:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why would a dragon bother with a book, anyway? I would expect them to use something better. Something more majestic and fitting with their nature. \$\endgroup\$
    – Erik
    Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 13:47

4 Answers 4


While most dragons are capable of changing shape via one means or another (as Dale M already mentioned), even altruistic dragons are typically very materialistic, and with their incredible lifespans, most of the ones smart enough to write books have realized that knowledge is even more valuable than gold and enchanted items. I fully expect most books with dragon authors were originally carved into the walls of the dragon's lair, rather than using ink and paper. Additionally, many dragons scar themselves as decoration, and I'm sure more than a few chose to write things they felt were important (though I hold out hope some adolescent dragons just put runes in random languages they thought "looked cool"). Perhaps a good dragon permitted a human(oid) scholar to transcribe their magnum opus, or maybe an adventuring party recognized the value of translating the runes lining an evil dragon's lair, but most of those paper books probably started there.

Shape-changing (via natural ability or spell), spells to create words or runes, dictation to a "lesser" race, possession, and I'm sure other effects can also get a dragon's words onto paper, but I think carving them into stone fits a dragon's outlook the best.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for non-magical ways dragons can write. I feel it bears mentioning that humans can learn to write with their mouth or feet so an opposable thumb is not a requirement to write. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 12:59

Many dragons are shape changers; most of those that aren't can cast spells including polymorph spells. They can write books by turning into things with opposable thumbs.


Via various forms of magic, or by compelling other, weaker creatures to do it for them (possibly by magic).

Any dragon of appreciable age has access to magic that will allow them to write. A single class level of Wizard is enough to cast arcane mark, unseen servant, mage hand, summon monster or other spells that could allow the dragon to write. Most varieties of dragon acquire suggestion or similar mind-control affects as spell-like abilities; those that don't could still fairly easily compel weaker races (e.g, kobolds, who are often associated with draconic service) to write as they dictate.

If nothing else, a hand of the mage is only 900 gp, well within the means of even a wyrmling dragon.

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    \$\begingroup\$ They don't even need a class level of wizard; Most dragons can natively cast spells as sorcerers. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 3:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ Man, that would be a weird use for a wish. \$\endgroup\$
    – The Nate
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 4:24

As described in the Kobold Entry of Races of the Dragon, the Draconic script was actually invented by Kobolds who wanted/needed to write down what their Dragon masters taught them, because their lifespans and thus their memories are so insignificant compared to true Dragons. This is, for as far as I know, the only official information regarding the usage of the Draconic script (at least in non-setting 3.5 sources).

Aside from that, the other answers given here are very likely. Dragons that can shape-shift can indeed turn into a creature that can operate a quill and start writing, or they set someone else to write for them. Keep in mind that all Dragons, even good-natured ones, are very vain and arrogant. I can well imagine one of the less driven ones seek some sort of immortality by writing an auto-biography. And I can also imagine a quest where PC’s have to save slaves from an evil Red Dragon, only to find out that the Dragon has captured a whole village worth of authors and is dictating his own life-story to them so they can write it down FOR him, allowing him to choose the best entry to publish (and possibly eat the rest). However, at the same time, I imagine that most Dragons don’t actually write all that much. Depending on the setting you’re in, Kobolds came to be aeons after Dragons (although the aforementioned RoD seems to imply otherwise). If Dragons were able to hold out without a script for this long, surely they can do the same even now that the script is here. Some may see it as a useful tool, and use it as such. Others may see it as an insult that those lowly Kobolds tried to capture their perfect tongue in crude and childish drawings.


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