Hi Everyone! It’s your friendly Dungeon Master, Slick Dungeon here. Today I want to talk more about how to role play with kids. In my last posts I talked about whether you should play D&D with kids, why playing D&D was healthy for kids, I showed you who does what at the table, gave you a tour of the dice and told you to read through the simple rules, went through the Introduction of the simple rules with you, walked you through the first section of the simple rules and talked about choosing a race and role playing a dwarf, role playing an elf, role playing a halfling and role playing a human. Today we are going to talk about the “uncommon races” and playing a Dragonborn character.
The next few playable races we will talk about in these upcoming posts will be considered, “uncommon”. What do the game designers mean by that? Well, a few things. First, there are some Dungeon Masters who don’t include certain playable races in their campaign at all. If you are desperate to play a dragonborn character and the DM won’t let you, you’re going to want to find someone else to play with. Since this series of posts is assuming you are playing this game with your kids, I leave it to your discretion if you want any or all of these playable races to be in the game. My opinion is that, if it’s in the rule book, it should be allowed, but that’s just me. Another thing set out in the rules as currently written is that some of these uncommon races are less prevalent in the game world than others. While sometimes this can set up for interesting challenges and game play, it can also be an excuse for some DM’s to create extremely xenophobic non-player characters. As adults, depending on how it’s done, I think we can handle this okay. But for kids, my advice is that even if they play an uncommon race, only the villains should really act negatively toward the characters. It’s disheartening for kids who have their really awesome dragonborn character ready to go into a store and gear up for an epic adventure, only to have the store clerk run away from them. My advice for this sort of situation when dealing with kids would be to have the store clerk instead comment on how brave they think the kids’ character is and maybe ask if all dragonborn are like them. Stay positive with kids as much as possible, unless we are talking about the villain and their minions. Of course, this is just my advice and you can choose to play how you want, but that’s how I run it at my table.
The uncommon races in the simple rules are Dragonborn, Gnome, Half-Elf, Half-Orc and Tiefling. We’ll go through playing each one in this post and upcoming posts. We’ll start with dragonborn.
If you are not familiar with the game you might be wondering what a dragonborn is. Is that like something born from a dragon? Yep. They as a group were born or created by dragons long ago. But what it basically amounts to is a walking, talking, humanoid dragon who combines the best of humans and dragons. In other words, they are a whole lot of awesome put together.
These dragons don’t have wings or tails but they are scaly like dragons and come in any shade a dragon does. Like dwarves, these creatures are all about their clan. Everything they do is for their clan. Most of these creatures have a nearly obsessive drive to better themselves in everything they do. And they respect it when they see that in others. This makes dragonborn nearly ideal for adventuring because as impressive as they might be with casting a spell, they will themselves be impressed by a warrior who is able to wield a longsword with incredible skill. While dragonborn want to be good at everything they do, they usually pick one thing (typically their class) that they want to excel at above all others. This also provides players with a great narrative for why they go on adventures. It’s not to kill or seek out treasure, but to learn something. Most kids understand this pretty well. They are learning constantly so it’s pretty close territory for them to role play. The other reason they might adventure is to prove their worth to their clan. Kids can relate to this too. You want to do your best for your family and have them be proud of you. Dragonborn are great for role playing this type of situation for kids.
Dragonborn are capable of a lot but also know that they have limits. They actually are not afraid to ask for help. This is great for an adventuring party because the absolute best adventuring parties do one thing well above all else – they help each other. This makes role playing a dragonborn a natural for kids because the only excuse they need to join with others is that they need help or want to help.
There are a bunch of dragonborn names listed in the rules. My only suggestion for these names is that you and your kids agree on the correct pronunciation, especially when it comes to clan names.
There are a few things you get for playing a dragonborn
Ability Score Increase
Dragonborn are naturally strong and charismatic. They do come from dragons after all, so it’s no surprise. They get to increase their strength ability score by 2 and their charisma ability score by 1.
While dragonborn grow fast, reaching adulthood by age 15, they only tend to live to be about 80. They are not like dragons who can linger for centuries.
If you are using alignment in your game, Dragonborn can basically be good or evil. While some can tend to less extremes, it’s just usually not the case due to their dragon heritage. Dragons also tend to be either all in on the good or all in on the evil. My advice here for playing with kids, is if they play a dragonborn, go with lawful good. Their natural tendency to want to help and prove themselves to their clan leans that way anyway and dragonborn can make awesome heroes.
Dragonborn are usually over six feet tall and weigh around 250 pounds. Somehow they are still considered medium creatures but I guess if a Shaq sized human is considered medium in the game rules, the dragonborn can be too.
The dragonborn walking speed is 30 feet.
Here’s the most awesome part about being part dragon, there are some draconic elements you get for playing dragonborn. In the rules there is a table that tells you what color dragonborn gets which damage type and breath weapon. For example a gold dragonborn gets to deal fire damage with its breath weapon.
Dragons breath fire, acid, ice, lighting etc. And your dragonborn can do that as well. There are a few mechanics to this that I am not going to get into in this post but the breath weapon acts more or less like a spell doing that type of damage would. The only drawback is that you only get to use your breath weapon once before you take a rest. Well, that and the fact that if your allies are in the way when you release your breath weapon they will also take damage.
It makes sense to me that if you are a dragon that deals cold damage, you are pretty resistant to cold damage. The same goes for dragonborn. Whatever type of breath weapon they have, they resist that damage.
Dragonborn get to speak Draconic and common. Draconic can come in pretty handy because it’s one of the oldest languages and is common in spell casting. This makes dragonborn wizards a pretty natural fit for the game.
Slick Dungeon’s Tips on Playing Dragonborn
Here is what the simple rules say about dragonborn in their sidebar on uncommon races:
It’s easy to assume that a dragonborn is a monster, especially if his or her scales betray a chromatic heritage. Unless the dragonborn starts breathing fire and causing destruction, though, people are likely to respond with caution rather than outright fear.
While I can see why the game designers would say that these creatures can be mistaken for monsters, when it comes to playing with kids, I wouldn’t lean into that too much with one exception. Don’t have the non-player characters think they are monsters unless the NPC is a villain. But one great way to introduce a dragonborn character breaks my rule here. You can have the adventuring party go to investigate some disturbance where the villagers in the area think a monster is causing destruction. But then when the characters get there, they see a dragonborn who is stopping a monster from doing something terrible. The players might assume for a moment that the dragonborn is bad but they quickly prove themselves by not only defeating the monster but then asking the rest of the adventuring party if they need any help. Kids can relate to trying to do something good when an adult assumes they are up to no good. A dragonborn may have learned this lesson far too often as well, and knows that the quickest way to make friends is to do a favor for someone. That makes for a great start to an adventuring party.
Of course, you don’t have to stick to my suggestions, you can play the game any way you want, I have just found that method of introducing dragonborn to be really fun in the past.
Next time we will get into playing a Gnome (one of my favorites for kids to play).
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