There is a plethora of dragon lore in D&D. I mean, dragon is in the name of the game, so you have to expect there would be plenty written about them over the years. Rather than try to add to that lore, I’m going to talk about how I’m currently using dragons in my campaigns.
Inspired by the 2nd edition Council of Wyrms box set, there is a continent in my home campaign which has been ruled by dragons for thousands of years. Because they’ve had a stable empire for millennia, the dragons are incredibly advanced in both magic and magic-based technology. Currently the dragon empire seems to be very isolationist, for reasons my players have not yet discovered (and may never discover). There is trade between the dragons and other nations, all funnelled through the single coastal city the dragons have opened to foreign contact. There are also embassies scattered across the world, but even those have limited contact with the countries in which they reside. There are reasons for this, which my players may discover in the course of their campaigns. For now, there are two aspects of dragons in my campaign which are common knowledge to the players.
First, a dragon’s alignment is not necessarily tied to their colour. While dragons of a particular colour will begin their lives the alignment listed in the Monster Manual, as they get older it is entirely possible for their alignments to shift. Dragons live incredibly long lives in relation to the other races, and in that time it is possible for their perspectives, desires, and attitudes to change. The younger a dragon is in my campaign, the more closely they are likely to fall within their “starting” alignment. But it is certainly possible to encounter metallic dragons who have slanted toward evil, and chromatic dragons who now tend toward neutrality and even good. For me, this makes dragons in my campaign more like inteligent, powerful NPCs, and less like monstrous sacks of XP who happen to get their name in the game’s title.
Second, the dragonborn in my campaign are a result of magical genetic manipulation developed by the dragon empire. While dragons are formidable in combat, it is still possible for them to be overwhelmed by sheer numbers. And really, constantly patrolling and defending their empire’s borders is just so boring! Thus the dragonborn were created as the empire’s shock troops, general standing army, and even as a source of income for the empire, hired out as mercenary companies. Not everything went as smoothly with their creations, of course. Unexpectedly, the dragonborn began to breed true; slowly at first, but especially after the Cataclysm the dragonborn found themselves able to procreate without draconic intervention. This has led to two strains of dragonborn, the naturally born and the created. The two strains are virtually identical in all aspects except one: natural born dragonborn have tails, while the created are hatched without. This difference means little to many of the other races, but is becoming an increasing point of contention between the two types of dragonborn.
That’s a little peek at dragons in my campaign. Do you do anything special with your dragons? Let me know in the comments.