As the guy whose posted a ton about dragons, I get asked about the other draconic types quite a bit. Everyone has a pet favorite they want to get stats, or a revised take on, and I’m with them. My favorite are Pathfinder’s outer dragons, and maybe one day I’ll get to a point where I can do a little series on them. Ultimately, the draw for all the obscure Arboreal, Brown, Nickle, or Lung dragons is a lot less than it is for the classic chromatics. The one I get asked about most though, is Metallic dragons.
Metallic dragons present a unique challenge in Dungeons and Dragons, or other generic fantasy games. Without fail, the fluff surrounding them is simultaneously really cool, and really silly. I love the idea of a good dragon who battles the evil ones. The actual fluff they wrote strains the definition of good pretty heavily. According to the 3e MM, they are “every bit as aggressive as their evil cousins” and “Covetous and proud”. We can work with that, but then half of them do stuff like kidnap anyone who comes by for no reason. The idea of a good aligned dragon being nearby, as written, should probably launch just as many campaigns to drive them out as a Red or Green.
To start, we have to re-examine their base fluff. What is a metallic dragon, in general terms. Outside of the idea of good dragons, and rivals to the Chromatics, we need to toss everything else. I’ve broken their core down to three essential points.
Metallic dragons are Good. Metallic dragons do good things, and are generally good for society. Nothing says they have to be nice though. Dragons can and do live over a thousand years. The 3e great wyrm age category starts at 1,201 years and goes up with no particular max. For context to a US reader, the United State is 245 years old, and sure its a young country, but the United Kingdom is 486 years old. Heck, the Kingdom of England wasn’t even a thing 1,200 years ago, and an old dragon may be even older still. Dragons don’t care about you, your king, or potentially even your country. A dragon cares about the health and welfare of the sentient beings in its domain. Sometimes, that means driving out an a demonic invasion sure, but other times, it may include destroying a city that has grown too big, and is doing so in an unsustainable way. A red dragon attacks the city to cause damage and suffering. They have demands that the population submit, leave or die. The gold dragon attack is at focused points around the city to cause the greatest damage with the least loss of life. They have demands that the population leave, or die. To the average person its not much different. Furthermore, if a metallic discovers adventurers just wandering around orc territory with the mighty one ring to rule them all, well he can’t have that. The orcs might get it, and use it to cause harm. The dragon will take it, for safe keeping. You wouldn’t let a baby play with scissors, would you?
Metallic dragons are Dragons. Metallic dragons are still dragons at the end of the day. They are greedy, and they covet wealth. They are mighty, they are powerful, and they are vain. Metallic dragons will take what they want, and back to their age and power, see nothing wrong with hording powerful artifacts, to keep them out of evils hands. Sometimes, these artifacts are powerful world enders. The Hand of Vecna is probably actually in some silver dragon’s horde in all reality. Not all metallics are world changers though. The CR 3 wyrmling? Its probably hording gold that it steals from bandits in the region, or maybe some +1 swords. If she’s sitting on them, bandits can’t get them. If a random passerby asks for gold, a dragon isn’t just going to hand it out. They know one time injections aren’t always the best answer, (although it may be). Instead, the dragon will donate the money, and ask for a favor later, or make a purchase of their goods. Its still a dragon after all, and can’t just hand its horde out.
Metallic dragons are the Enemies of evil dragons. Metallic dragons and chromatic dragons are bitter rivals. They live in similar or the same territory, and if they detect one another, it becomes an all consuming battle to drive the other away.
Our New Origin. When two chromatic dragons love each other very much, or its one of their birthdays… and then one of the dragon’s lays a clutch of eggs. Chromatic dragons are not known for being particularly parental, and usually abandon the eggs fairly quick. They certainly don’t wait until hatching, and probably leave within an hour or so. Of the clutch, there is a 10% chance of any one egg having a metallic sheen. If the parental dragon detects this, they eat it then and there, putting an end to it. If not, and it manages to survive the hatching process (most of the time, the first dragon to hatch smashes the remainder of the eggs), that egg will grow into a metallic dragon. Because metallic dragons are so rare, it’s very unlikely they find one another and breed, although they could. As they grow, there is inevitably a conflict with a chromatic dragon, and dragons are super intelligent. They can quickly discover the history of the two types of dragons, and understand their place in the conflict. There is no racial inborn need for the dislike, but it’s very clear that they will be facing an uphill battle if they try to be the one to change things. Especially with the chromatic worship of Tiamat.
Brass dragons live in the desert and are hatched from blue dragons. While the blues whip about at lightning speed, the brass dragons burrow deep and hide underground. They are lazy and lethargic, preferring to wait and see, or debate a topic just a little longer. Older brass dragons have Djinni servants, and can survive indefinitely underground wanting for nothing. Brass dragons detest rash decisions, and value logic.
Bronze dragons live in uplands, near swamps or marshes and are hatched from black dragons. They are relative noncombatants, and make heavy use of their humanoid form and bribes to avoid conflict. Oddly enough, most bronze dragons attempt to live as what we would call a form of humaneitarian, only eating sustainable raised, humanely slaughtered meat, and preferring non-meat food whenever possible. Once they reach adulthood, they can magically create food and water, and this becomes much easier for them. Bronze dragons detest cruelty, and are the most likely to assist in charity efforts.
Copper dragons live in warm forested hills, and are hatched from green dragons. A life spent in or around the fey of the forest, usually give copper dragons an appreciation for wit and jokes. Many will even trade portions of their horde for jokes or riddles they haven’t heard previously. If forced to combat, a copper dragon will hurl taunts and insults to throw their opponent off balance, and makes heavy use of spells like transmute rock to mud, to bog down and trip up their opponents. Copper dragons detest ignorance, and are more than happy to share knowledge with an inquisitive mind.
Gold dragons live in warm plains, kept dry from nearby mountains blocking the rain and cold fronts. They are born of red dragons, and might be the most powerful of all the dragons. Gold dragons use intimidation and don’t hesitate to throw their weight around, knowing it can be enough to cow most of their foes. Gold dragons detest a bully, and while generally peaceful, are also the most likely to go to war for a righteous cause.
Silver dragons live in the temperate mountains that ring the world in the pre-artic or antarctic regions of the world. Silver dragons live among the clouds, and take great pleasure in sculpting them for their artistic worth. Silver dragons love beauty, and value art for arts sake.