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How would Baldur's Gate (the D&D 5e Forgotten Realms city as described in Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide) protect itself / push back against an Ancient Red Dragon? (With the dragon coming out of the blue, kind of like Smaug did in the Hobbit, and there being no random, high-level adventuring party available to miraculously turn up & heroically save the day.)

Rules-wise (which would definitely matter regarding the tactical/strategic effectiveness of mobilized resources) I'm only interested in 5e "solutions". Fluff-wise (though that's secondary here), information coming from any official edition not invalidated / retconned by 5e can be used (please specify source. Thanks.)

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Oblivious Sage, Christopher, nitsua60, Thomas Jacobs, Miniman Nov 6 '16 at 1:10

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    \$\begingroup\$ If history is any indication, a small and improbable team of extremely powerful people will randomly appear, kill or drive off the dragon, totally disrupt the magic item economy, and randomly disappear without helping with any reconstruction efforts. \$\endgroup\$ – Joel Harmon Nov 5 '16 at 16:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JoelHarmon You're absolutely right. :D Was this an answer, I'd be obliged to upvote, and possibly even accept it -- so let me adjust my question quickly... :) Thank you! \$\endgroup\$ – OpaCitiZen Nov 5 '16 at 16:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think this kind of question is potentially openable (it's in a similar vein to the question that spawned Brian Ballsun-Stanton's Cystarchy) but I suggest a solid case for re-opening would first involve investigation into how Baldur's Gate would do it on your part. Until then it's also in the same vein as our "yo give me some ideas here" questions, I suspect. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Nov 6 '16 at 11:54
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This is maybe not the kind of answer you want, but maybe it can be helpful if you want to determine a strict rule-wise answer:

In my interpretation, there exist a kind of power balance in a setting keeping the status quo.

Take the idea in the 'Points of light' setting for 4E for instance, small pockets of civilization exist surrounded by pseudo-uncharted monster-infested wilderness. If the points of light were unable to defend themselves against their immediate surroundings they would be swallowed up - thus it can be assumed that any village, town or city contains the means for defeating the dangers that commonly besiege them. This could be the village cleric or witch protecting against the ghost's in the swamp or the city guard and walls protecting against the orc raiders.

Now, the Sword Coast is a different setting, but the same must hold true. Baldur's Gate contains the defenses to defeat common threats easily, and more rare threats like a plundering army or a sneaky vampire sect if they get time to muster their forces and call on allies.

It does not however have the power to defend itself if the local power balance shifts suddenly without any warning. An ancient red dragon is a nation-state level power in the world - it appearing out of nowhere would probably devastate the city.

I don't know what sources say on the exact number and level of the populace but my point is - if you compare the power structure in the area - rivaling cities and common and rare threats then it should be possible to judge the power of the city as an entity.

Does Baldur's Gate commonly deal with powers on the scale of an Ancient Red Dragon? - No. Are there rare known threats on that level? - Maybe, it would then be rivaling cities and known powerful entities that at times have interacted with the city - My guess would be that it would be outmatched but only barely.


Maybe the collective power of the city's wizards and soldiers would annoy it enough to back off after half the city is in burning ruins - and it will return soon three times as angry.

At that time either the city has recruited help, an opposing power or artifact have also appeared/been discovered, or it is doomed.

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