D&D 5e: Let’s Build A Dragonborn!

August 13, 2021 9 min read

Author:Rhenn Anthony Taguiam

 

Meta Description:Dragonborn in Dungeons & Dragons 5e are commonly associated with order and knighthood. In this guide, we’ll see how these D&D 5e humanoids aren't just all about their draconic heritage.

 

Dragonbornin Dungeons & Dragons 5e resemble their draconic ancestors, often possessing the same scales and toned-down abilities of the dragons that have come before them. Campaign settings may have Dragonborn coexisting with their predecessors or become living remnants of an ancient society. Either way, Dragonborn always let the world know of their pride and strength in their dragon blood, and they're not to be trifled with. While similar in appearance with Lizardfolk and other reptilian ancestries, Dragonborn have the blood of ancient dragons in their veins. Players who want to make a proud and headstrong character can rely on a Dragonborn to deliver.

 

In this quick guide, we'll explore Dragonborn society and what makes their culture one of the most unique in terms of D&D 5elore. Moreover, we'll give some of the best tips into making a Dragonborn character that can add a unique spin to the adventuring party, thanks to their pride and draconic heritage.

Basics: The Traits

Dragonborn in most adventures have draconic ancestry, which gives them not just the appearance of dragons, but also much of their physical qualities. Sans the centuries-old bodies and the breadth of magical knowledge, Dragonborn share the same kind of scale as their ancestors along with their associated breath weapon.

 

Given their bulky appearance, it’s easy to see the Dragonborn as an imposing individual. As such, a lot of players tend to focus on building upon the Dragonborn’s immense strength or perhaps creating a meeker Dragonborn to add a unique spin to the convention. Here are the traits of the Dragonborn:

  • Ability Score Increase:STR + 2, CHA + 1
  • Age: Dragonborn age quickly, as they have the mind of a 10-year-old Human by 3 years, mature by 15, and die at around 80.
  • Size and Speed:Medium (6ft tall, 250 pounds average) 30ft walking speed.
  • Alignment:Dragonborn often take after their dragon ancestry in choosing the extremes of alignments.
  • Racial Features:Dragonborn have these innate qualities:
    • Draconic Ancestry, wherein a Dragonborn adopts the scale color of the kind of dragon they’ve descended from. They receive a breath weapon and damage resistance based on that kind of dragon as well.
    • Breath Weapon, of which a Dragonborn receives a breath weapon akin to the kind of dragon they’ve descended from. They can use this breath weapon once every short or long rest, with creatures in the area having to take a Saving Throw depending on the ancestry.
      • DC for the Breath Weapon Saving Throw is 8 + CON + Proficiency Bonus.
      • Creatures take 2d6 damage on a failed save and half as much damage if they succeed. This damage increases to 3d6 (Level 6), 4d6 (Level 11), and 5d6 (Level 16).
    • Damage Resistance, which grants the Dragonborn resistance to the damage type as determined by their ancestry.
    • Languages, of which the Dragonborn known Draconic and Common. Most scholars consider Draconic as one of the oldest languages in the known world and is often used when studying arcane. Those who hear the language consider it harsh, as it consists of hard consonants.

 

Dragonborn are unique in D&D 5e thanks to their Draconic Ancestry, which lets them tap into the powers of the dragons they’ve descended from. Each Dragonborn comes from different dragons, with their type determining various gifts the Dragonborn receives. You can refer to the table below for the damage type and breath weapon per dragon type:

 

Dragon Type

Damage Type

Breath Weapon

Black

Acid

5 x 30ft line (DEX Save)

Blue

Lightning

5 x 30ft line (DEX Save)

Green

Poison

15ft cone (CON Save)

Red

Fire

15ft cone (DEX Save)

White

Cold

15ft cone (CON Save)

Brass

Fire

5 x 30ft line (DEX Save)

Bronze

Lightning

5 x 30ft line (DEX Save)

Copper

Acid

5 x 30ft line (DEX Save)

Gold

Fire

15ft cone (DEX Save)

Silver

Cold

15ft cone (CON Save)

 

Dragonborn: The Best Classes To Build

Given the Dragonborn’s Strength and Charisma bonuses, it’s easy to associate them with classes that denote power and order - such as the Warlock or the Paladin. It’s easy to imagine Dragonborn serving as knights of different orders or perhaps even tapping into unknown power. However, players who want to take on a new spin to their Dragonborn can try other class options as well.

 

Players who want to tap into the immense Strength of the Dragonborn or their innate flavor may want to try any of these classes: 

 

  • Barbarian:The Dragonborn’s immense physical potential makes them adequate to become a Barbarian. With the right flavor, a Dragonborn Barbarian can be tasked to protect their clan or travel to find their real identities within nature. Thanks to their remarkable physique, the Dragonborn Barbarian seem quite fit to travelling or adventuring alone. And with their Lawful personalities, they make an ideal fit for clan leaders and persons of authority.
    • Thanks to the innate STR Ability Score Bonus of the Dragonborn, they can make extremely capable Barbarians. Like Fighters and Paladins, Barbarians are very straightforward melee classes, which make them perfect for newbies or those who want to focus on roleplay.
    • The versatility of Barbarians in terms of their weapons proficiency can make for a very flexible melee fighter. Moreover, thanks to Range, Unarmored Defense, Reckless Attack, and Danger Sense, a Barbarian can easily dominate the battlefield and soak in aggro as others finish off opponents.
    • Moreover, a Dragonborn Barbarian’s Primal Path can have a huge impact on their backstory and character arc, as they come from multiple backgrounds and places. Ancestral Guardian, Beast, Storm Herald, and Totem Warrior all seem to point toward the Barbarian being a spiritual avatar. Meanwhile, the Wild Soul, Berserker, and Battlerager all seem to emphasize their sheer presence in the battlefield.
  • Bard:The Charismatic nature of the Dragonborn often brings them in various positions of power and authority - they become diplomats, leaders, and even rulers of their clans. However, some Dragonborn may want to use their Charisma to entertain and enamor audiences with their stories of valor and bravery, something perfect for a Bard. Given a Dragonborn Bard is one of the least things a party would expect from a Dragonborn, this might very well be the ideal choice for a party member.
    • It’s not every day that parties can see a hulking Dragonborn serve as the primary entertainer of the group, and this immediately expands the roleplaying options of the player. Moreover, thanks to Jack of All Trades, Expertise, and Magical Secrets, Dragonborn Bard can diversify their roster of skills and take on active support roles inside and outside of combat.
    • Thanks to the innate STR Ability Score bonus of the Dragonborn, creating a Dragonborn Bard enables the player to take on foes from a melee standpoint. Moreover, thanks to Bard Features (e.g., Bardic Inspiration, Song of Rest), Dragonborn Bard in a pinch can easily retreat and have more support roles to the other players.
    • Ideal Bard Colleges for the Paladin include Creation, Swords, and Valor. More roleplaying-oriented Bards may opt for Eloquence, Glamour, Lore, and Satire.
  • Cleric:Dragonborn often give the image of pious and devout servants of deities, proudly giving their lives in service of their gods. However, service isn’t always proven with a smite and a good pummeling. Sometimes, the most devout of Dragonborn Cleric show their faith and belief by helping from the sidelines. A Dragonborn Cleric might focus their energies on healing and supporting the party but still giving a good punch when cornered by their foes.
    • Flavor-wise, a Dragonborn Cleric fits in the nature of their Law-oriented lore. Moreover, an appropriate Domain and Deity can expand the Dragonborn Cleric with a lot of story hooks and interesting combat options.
    • Outside spells, Channel Divinity features also allow the Dragonborn Cleric to perform divine feats without having to expend Spell Slots. This immediately makes them a versatile choice for the party.
    • Like the Wizard, Clerics offer a ton of player flexibility thanks to the abundance of Divine Domains they can choose from. As such, your Dragonborn Cleric can take advantage of your innate STR and CHA bonuses with a more combat-oriented build or even create a support Cleric that uses brawn and muscle as a last resort.
  • Monk:A Dragonborn will likely have the patience and the spirit of their dragon ancestors running in their veins, which makes them perfect candidates for being monks. As a Dragonborn Monk, they’ll have the spiritual training necessary to use their bodies as an extension of their spirit, giving them the capability of using their body as weapons and their weapons as extensions of themselves. A Dragonborn Monk may have left their monastery in search of power, fame, or to uncover a mystery that has plagued their fellow brothers and sisters.
    • The innate STR of the Dragonborn means a Monk will likely have a more balanced STR-DEX-WIS assignment upon character creation. These factors make for a more balanced Monk. As such, this means the Monk can easily take on more offensive options without relying on the tank too much.
    • Likewise, the innate breath weapon of the Dragonborn can work well with the more versatile Monastic Traditions of Monks such as Sun Soul and Four Elements. Moreover, taking on Dragonborn-related feats such as Dragon Fear, Dragon Hide, and Dragon Wings further add to the versatility of the Dragonborn Monk.
  • Paladin:A Dragonborn Paladin perhaps fills the most common stereotype associated with Dragonborn - humanoids clad in heavy armor, ready to smite creatures of evil with the power of light. However, just because a Dragonborn Paladin is an extremely good choice for a Dragonborn doesn’t mean it has to meet a “basic” flavor. In fact, a Dragonborn Paladin may have interesting backgrounds - perhaps a dishonored soldier, a nobleman trying to reclaim their throne, or perhaps even a knight on a quest.
    • Lore-wise, the Lawful nature of Dragonborn make them ideal for Paladin and other order-inclined classes. Moreover, their STR and CHA bonuses make them great Paladin. Their breath weapon, skill bonuses, plus the added Class Features (e.g., Divine Sense, Lay on Hands, the various Auras) will definitely expand the role of the Dragonborn Paladin without overcomplicating the player.
    • Moreover, the CHA-based nature of the Dragonborn opens them up for wonderful Multiclass options into the Sorcerer or Warlock, depending on their preferred flavor, as both rely on CHA as well. This option expands the Paladin’s arsenal of spells albeit forfeiting some endgame class features.
    • Ideal Oaths for the Dragonborn Paladin include Vengeance, Redemption, and Conquest for the more action-oriented players. Meanwhile, Ancients, Devotion, Heroism, and Watchers may appeal to the more story-inclined players.

Beyond the Scales: Interesting Character Backgrounds

Players who imagine Dragonborn might think about their usual stereotypes: honorable knights, pious clerics, or even raging barbarians. As such, it’s easy to imagine Dragonborn living in cities or kingdoms of their own. However, players who want to take on a spin to the Dragonborn concept may want to try making a character outside these popular backgrounds.

 

In fact, players may want to consider using any of these backgrounds for a more interesting Dragonborn experience:

 

  • Criminal (Player’s Handbook):Dragonborn often have the reputation of being lawful and orderly, usually appearing as noble knights or honor-bound warriors. As such, it might be surprising to see a Dragonborn branded as a Criminal. This Dragonborn may have been a thief or perhaps even a murderer. To add a bit of flair and flavor, a Criminal Dragonborn may have been a mercenary, a rebel, or an usurper.
    • Tools:Gaming Set x1, Thieves’ Tools
    • Languages:None
    • Proficiencies:CHA (Deception), DEX (Stealth)
  • Entertainer (Player’s Handbook):Dragonborn have naturally-high Charisma, making them great diplomats and negotiators, as well as entertainers. A Dragonborn might be the last thing a party expects for an Entertainer, which might make this idea exactly perfect for a Dragonborn. For instance, a Dragonborn Bard might be a writer or perhaps even a singer, popular both in their local town, and have been a household name across the country.
    • Tools:Disguise Kit, Musical Instrument x1
    • Languages:None
    • Proficiencies:DEX (Acrobatics), CHA (Performance)
  • Gladiator (Player’s Handbook):A Dragonborn fighter isn’t always someone who fights valiantly as knights and soldiers. Sometimes, they end up being forced to fight in order to survive - such as being a Gladiator for a vast empire. They may have been forced to fight for their lives after being captured by soldiers, serving as entertainment for the nobles. These Gladiator Dragonborn may have been freed out of their own sheer skill or they may have perhaps rebelled against the same nobles that use them for their own entertainment.
    • Tools:Disguise Kit, Unusual Weapon x1
    • Languages:None
    • Proficiencies:DEX (Acrobatics), CHA (Performance)
  • Sailor (Player’s Handbook):A Sailor might be one of the last things people would be expected Dragonborn to be. After all, given their huge appearance and likeness to dragons, they may very well be knights or even noblemen. However, it might be of interest to the party to see a Dragonborn Sailor, exploring the seas in search of their own adventure. Or perhaps Dragonborn in their particular adventures are known to rule the seven seas, making this Sailor one of the more common sights to see when people end up near Dragonborn nations.
    • Tools:Navigator’s Tools, Vehicles (Water)
    • Languages:None
    • Proficiencies:STR (Athletics), WIS (Perception)
  • Spy (Player’s Handbook):A Dragonborn may not necessarily be always a noble knight or fighter. Sometimes, some Dragonborn may choose a quieter lifestyle. Some of the more dexterous and nimble Dragonborn might end up becoming spies. They may work for their own government, perhaps their own spy network, or perhaps alone - all of which may be under different agendas and personal goals.
    • Tools:Gaming Set x1, Thieves’ Tools
    • Languages:None
    • Proficiencies:CHA (Deception), DEX (Stealth)


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