My party of adventurers have fought two black dragon wyrmlings now, for two different reasons, because of two different modules, maybe the authors from WoTC really dig the Dragon half of the game's name.

Both of them could flee, and fled, so I was trying to plot a "revenge" arc form both dragons to cause havoc in the world when they are powerful enough. However, according to the SRD, it would take around 96 years for them to be adults, and my fighters would be retired by then, if not dead way before.

So, what I ask is: Is there any "official" way to pull this off without waiting all that time? Any solution from any source that can make monsters grow older would be good. Or would I have to make something up?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there a reason that "DM fiat" isn't good enough here? You can easily make up your own artifact that does it and be done with it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Erik
    Commented May 2, 2016 at 8:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ I wanted NOT to fiat this, if possible, just because I don't want my players to feel like I'm just trying to screw them, pulling stuff from nowhere just to make the dragons powerful enough to kill them. And as I'm still new in DMing, so some guidelines would help me even if that kinda of fiat is needed. \$\endgroup\$
    – Punkgeon
    Commented May 2, 2016 at 8:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Erik Also see this Meta question. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 2, 2016 at 15:40

5 Answers 5


Time travel to the past instantaneously then time travel to the future conventionally

A magic portal can be created that transports its users to the past (and only to the past). Such a portal is created by a caster using the 9th-level Sor/Wiz spell teleport through time [conj] (Perilous Gateways Web column "Portals in Time: The Portal through Time (Part 2)") and the epic feat Create Time Portal (Perilous Gateways Web column "Portals in Time: The Portal through Time (Part 3)). The black dragon could travel through a portal that's created to send users 100 years into the past then just wait.

Conceivably, the portal is unnecessary: the black dragon could simply pay a sorcerer or wizard to cast the spell teleport through time on the dragon's behalf and have them both sent 100 years into the past, but such a spellcasting service is beyond what can normally be purchased, costing, as it does, at least 6,530 gp, over twice what a generally available spell can cost. Further, demographics limit the availability of such a caster as does self-preservation: such a caster must be as willing as the black dragon to travel to the past, after all. (Some oddball casters might not care, though. Also, the spell doesn't allow travel to the future, either.)

Thus the high cost of the spell teleport through time and the difficulty of gathering its wacky material component make the time portal a more reasonable choice than, for example, an adventurous, accommodating lich. Note that such a portal needn't be created for this purpose: it could've been created to transport users to that time a year ago by a contemporary historian or 90 years ago by a madman desperate to relive the last few years with his departed pet or whatever. (A madman because this is dangerous considering the consequences of meeting oneself as the articles describe.)

Create a flowing time trait demiplane

It's the DM's call whether the 9th-level Sor/Wiz spell genesis [conj] (Epic Level Handbook 117) allows the creation of demiplanes with the caster's choice of the trait flowing time. But if the DM allows the spell to create such a demiplane, a creature as low as level 13 can create such a demiplane. A wyrmling black dragon will likely have to wait until it's at least juvenile to have treasure sufficient to do this, but maybe it can get a loan, ask its parents for aid, sell its soul, or somehow rustle up power asymmetrically another way.

Are you okay with Dragonlance?

The Dragonlance campaign setting includes the feat Create Skull Totem (Age of Mortals 209). Although not published by Wizards of the Coast like the Dragonlance Campaign Setting, Age of Mortals nonetheless is officially licensed by Wizards of the Coast, bearing a seal saying so and everything. Anyway. The feat Create Skull Totem has as prerequisites the feat Draconic Vampirism (Dragons of Krynn 168-9) (also licensed) and being a spellcaster. When it has the feat, the dragon goes around serial killing other dragons for their fresh skulls and, when it has enough of the right kinds of dragon skulls, it can switch on the totem and start gaining virtual age categories, the text saying each virtual age category is "as if [the dragon] had gained an actual age category beyond its current one" (209). So, a level of wizard, a couple of obscure feats, a bunch of dead dragons, and—poof!—instant threat to the campaign's status quo.

Although it's way cooler to have a vampiric dragon build a magic pyramid out of dragon skulls, also in Dragonlance there's the 8th-level Sor/Wiz spell hasten the end [necro] (Holy Orders of the Stars 70) (still licensed). The spell allows the caster to concentrate for as long as the caster wants to age a creature by 10 years each round, but each round the creature also gains a negative level, and negative levels equal to Hit Dice are fatal. So having a necromancer cast hasten the end on the dragon requires the dragon to trust that necromancer a lot, but, if all goes well, a couple of hasten the end and greater restoration spells later, and the wyrmling should be big enough to be the threat he wasn't before.

  • \$\begingroup\$ You know, the last bit sounds absolutely perfect. There was an Yuan Ti taking care of one of the wyrmlings but was brutally killed by Cher (our female fighter), so it wouldn't be too far reaching for the same creature to get help from another source. \$\endgroup\$
    – Punkgeon
    Commented May 2, 2016 at 12:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Additional options mentioned in this 2020 Giant in the Playground thread \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 14, 2021 at 14:06

You've been given an opportunity to enrich the story/campaign.

Dragons hatch from eggs. Dragons have parents/relatives. An adult dragon arrives in the general area of adventuring (think Momma Bear protecting her cubs, or an uncle with a bad attitude). This dragon has an objective: to deal with whomever was messing with her babies/his nephews, etc. This response is consistent with

  • dragons being intelligent creatures,

  • the two wyrmlings fleeing, going somewhere, and explaining their plight to an older dragon. ("Uncle Fang, we nearly got killed by these ...")

As a variation on that theme, the two wyrmlings get some cousins to come and help them so that your party is faced with multiple dragons (yearling, young, pick an age category). History, culture, and fiction are filled with the problem of "now you've ticked off his whole family" as a theme.

The adult dragon (or whichever age group is the level of challenge you need your players to face) isn't cheese: it's a natural progression of your story.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Just to be clear, I would choose both this and the answer I chose if I could. Those two ideas (plus the Ghost Dragon one, my campaing being set in Faerun), were what I needed to get my question answered and the plot starting to form on my head, thanks. \$\endgroup\$
    – Punkgeon
    Commented May 2, 2016 at 20:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ Glad somewhat helpful. You will rarely (if ever) go wrong with a handcrafted @HeyICanChan answer. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 2, 2016 at 21:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ I actually prefer this answer over the time travel answers because it doesn't involve any major paradoxes. I mean, if you can travel to the past, why not travel back just far enough to when the PCs are infants, then kill them there? \$\endgroup\$
    – Nzall
    Commented May 3, 2016 at 10:53

Travel to the future conventionally, then travel to the past instantaneously

In a similar vein to Hey I Can Can's answer, the dragon could simply go away and wait, growing strong and powerful; perhaps powerful enough to construct a portal of its own, or learning to teleport through time; or, failing that, ally themselves with a fledgling caster who will in time learn to do these things.

A dragon ally is an immensely powerful gift, and while an aging wizard winding down in their years might be reticent to uproot and travel into the past, especially for a juvenile black dragon, a fledgling caster offered a dragon ally would undoubtedly promise and do just about anything to secure that deal.

Edit: This means also, of course, that if the challenge level needs to be upped further, the dragon returning for revenge can bring with it a high-level caster driven mad and evil by a century in the presence of and bound to such a powerful mind.

The "going away" part of the plan is important, dragons are no more suited for running into their past self than anyone else, after all.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I would be worried about PCs tracking down the present-time dragon as soon as they encounter the future one. Hopefully the wyrmling and his caster have a good place to hide. \$\endgroup\$
    – Andrew
    Commented May 2, 2016 at 17:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AndrewPiliser: Well, that's covered by the "go far away" bit, I think? \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 2, 2016 at 19:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AndrewPiliser Why are you worried about that? Since the dragon was able to execute its plan to return to the past, causality dictates that the younger dragon survives, or is resurrected, or whatever. Attempting to mess with this calls a Quarut - the Inevitables responsible for keeping time intact. \$\endgroup\$
    – SPavel
    Commented May 2, 2016 at 22:03

Monsters of Faerun for Dungeons and Dragons, Third Edition describes the variant ghost dragon (89). Its secondary breath weapon ages creatures caught in the cone-shaped cloud by d% years. There's no saving throw.

The wyrmling might convince the ghost dragon to age it by claiming (or knowing) the PCs have some of the ghost dragon's hoard: a ghost dragon is "[c]reated when an ancient dragon is slain and its hoard looted [and] can only be laid to rest by returning its lost treasure."

  • \$\begingroup\$ This has the "dragons helping dragons" theme that can deepen the story line and flesh out who is in the world, and why. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 3, 2016 at 11:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you get wiser when you age like this, though? \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 4, 2016 at 10:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AndrewSavinykh "With age, a character’s physical ability scores decrease and his or her mental ability scores increase." So, technically, yes, unless otherwise indicated (and this isn't such a case), a creature's Wisdom increases as it ages no matter how it ages. And, likewise, as a creature ages, its vision and hearing improve, just like real life. :-) \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 4, 2016 at 15:49

How my DM would do it: a mage that thinks too high of himself successfully captured the dragons to do experiments on them to make them larger/older. The experiments were a great success. In fact, they were such a great success the dragons broke free, killed the wizard and started causing havoc and seeking revenge on those that wronged them.

This is also a good way to have both dragons fight together against a common foe.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Ok, I see a downvote here, probably for an answer not backed-up by rule and so on, but this can prove quite interesting: mage captured them as they were weakened by their fight with the protagonist, and it has reinforced their grudge against the heroes (humiliation, anger,...). And you can use the mage for the story anyway you like. Can be a good way to enrich the campaign :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Nyakouai
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 23:26

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