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In my campaign, a black dragon egg was lost by its mother and found by kobolds.

Now the wyrmling is about three years old, holed up in a mine, and being worshipped by the ever-subservient kobolds. Since this dragon is just a baby, I'm not sure if this mine constitutes a lair, or if it's powerful enough to exude lair effects.

My question is "Do dragons of all sizes get lair actions and regional effects?" but a thorough answer will hit all the following points:

  • At what age is a dragon old enough to take lair actions while in its lair?
  • At what age does a dragon's magic expand to the scale of Regional Effects?
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Lair actions and regional effects are only permitted to legendary creatures.

From page 11 of the MM:

A Legendary Creature's lair

A legendary creature might have a section describing its lair and the special effects it can create while there, either by act of will or simply by being present. [...] This section only applies to legendary creatures that spend a great deal of time in their lairs and are most likely to be encountered there.

Lair Actions

If a legendary creature has lair actions, it can use them to harness the ambient magic in its lair.

Regional Effects

The mere presence of a legendary creature can have strange and wondrous effects on its environment, as noted in this section.

Since dragon's don't appear to gain their legendary status until they are adults (101+ years old) by reasoning that that's when they also gain legendary actions and resistance, only adult and ancient dragon's gain regional effects and can use lair actions.

This is further backed up, for regional effects at least, by the line:

Regional Effects

The region containing a legendary [insert colour] dragon's lair is warped by the dragon's magic, which creates one or more of the following effects...

under each dragon's description.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The rules state that legendary creatures (creatures with legendary actions) can have lair actions, but not that ONLY legendary creatures can have lair actions. This is only implied by where they are defined in the rulebook. However, the text for dragons specifies that only legendary dragons have lair effects, although this is contradicted by a dragon in Candlekeep Mysteries. \$\endgroup\$ May 14 at 15:43
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To start with, in case you're unaware: At 3 years old, your dragon is a wyrmling. Dragon age categories are provided in a table on page 86 of the Monster Manual.

Next, there's the question of which dragons have lair actions and regional effects. The sections describing each dragon type's lair actions and regional effects aren't attached to particular dragon sizes of each type, so it's possible that all dragons can have them. However, I believe the answer is actually adult or ancient dragons only, or 101+ year-old dragons.

Why do I think that? Well, on page 11 of the Monster Manual, it describes Legendary Creatures. It talks about their Legendary Actions, their Lair Actions, and their Regional Effects. The whole section is relevant here, so I won't bother quoting it, but the important bit is that:

Legendary creatures can take special actions outside of their turns

and

A legendary creature can take a certain number of special actions - called legendary actions - outside its turn.

I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this - only adult and ancient dragons have legendary actions, which leads me to believe that only adult and ancient dragons are legendary creatures, and therefore they're the ones with Lair Actions and Regional Effects. This is backed up by the fact that only adult and ancient dragons have Legendary Resistance. Also, the sections describing the Regional Effects of dragons all seem to use the following wording:

The region containing a legendary [colour] dragon is warped by the dragon's magic [...]

So, all in all, I'm inclined to believe that dragons are able to use their lair actions and regional effects once they're 101 years old.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The rules state that legendary creatures (creatures with legendary actions) can have lair actions, but not that ONLY legendary creatures can have lair actions. This is only implied by where they are defined in the rulebook. However, the text for dragons specifies that only legendary dragons have lair effects, although this is contradicted by a dragon in Candlekeep Mysteries. \$\endgroup\$ May 14 at 15:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ In the Monster Manual, hags are described as creating regional effects (although not using that exact term) near their lairs, although they are given only as suggestions and left up to the customization of the DM, not listed with specific game statistics. In Volo's Guide to Monsters, powerful hags can have lair actions, with specific ones listed for each of the five hag types. Yet hags are not legendary creatures and do not have legendary actions or lair actions. \$\endgroup\$ May 14 at 17:01
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Yes, dragons of any age that have an established lair can have lair actions, as described in each dragon's entry. However, most young dragons (and wyrmlings) don't have their own established lair. The Monster Manual says that legendary dragons create regional effects, but it just says dragons have lair actions; legendary isn't stated.

In an adventure in the 2021 Wizards of the Coast official release "Candlekeep Mysteries", a young bronze dragon has lair actions. This is presented in the form of a note or reminder, not as an exception or unusual situation. However, no regional effects are mentioned.

Christopher Perkins developed & edited this specific adventure, and Jeremy Crawford is listed in the book's credits.

Also, outside of dragons, the Merennoloth in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes is a CR 3 creature with no legendary actions but it has lair actions.

Powerful hags can have lair actions and regional effects, according to Volo's Guide to Monsters, but are not given legendary actions.

Likewise Morkoths, despite no legendary actions, have both lair actions and regional effects.

All of these just to demonstrate that the introductory presentation of lair actions and regional effects in the Monster Manual is not exclusive to legendary creatures, although that is the typical association.

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    \$\begingroup\$ So to answer the question directly, you would say something like "No, unless otherwise specified, as in these examples"? \$\endgroup\$ May 14 at 17:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ No, I would say that ANY creature can be specified to have lair actions or regional effects. Not all legendary creatures have both or either, while several non-legendary creatures have either or both. Typically lair actions or regional effects go with legendary creatures, but there is no actual general rule. But in the case of dragons, I would say that the RAW as written in the MM give all dragons lair actions (if they have an established lair), but only give legendary dragons regional effects. \$\endgroup\$ May 16 at 0:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov but your point is taken, my answer was not in the form of a direct answer, so I have revised it. Thank you for catching that. \$\endgroup\$ May 16 at 0:25

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