Can you play as a dragon in D&D?

Dragon rider

In Dungeons & Dragons, dragons are majestic and formidable beings. Because of this, many aspiring adventurers wonder “can I play as a dragon?”.

While the official rules of D&D don’t offer a direct pathway for players to play as dragons, the realm of homebrew content opens the door to extraordinary possibilities. In this guide, we’ll explore the realm of imagination and suggest various homebrew options that can make your dreams of playing as a dragon a thrilling reality.

Can you be a dragon in Dungeons & Dragons?

No, the official rules do not provide a pathway for players to play as a dragon. There is no playable race for dragons or half-dragons. Nor is there an official way to become a dragon. There are official ways to have a dragon pet in D&D, but not to play as one yourself.

Fear not, for the realm of D&D embraces boundless creativity, and there are homebrew options for dragon enthusiasts to explore:

Children of the Dragon: dragons have always been a centrepiece of Dungeons & Dragons, and this homebrew was created for those wanting more dragon-related content in their campaigns. Children of the Dragon includes revisions for existing races and subclasses, and a new half-dragon race that is more humanoid in appearance, while retaining the classic qualities of a dragon that make them so formidable.

Council of Wyrms: this was originally a boxed set published in 1994 for AD&D, which provided all the rules and material needed for staging adventures with dragon player characters. It allowed players to play dragons, half-dragons, and dragon servant characters. This has been translated by fans for D&D 5e and is lovingly named Council of Wyrms 5E.

Adapt previous editions: adapting D&D 3.5e rules can provide unique opportunities. In that edition, players could assume the role of certain monsters from the Monster Manual, including dragons.

While these options provide exciting opportunities, it is crucial to remember that dragons are designed to be creatures that the players encounter. Playing as a dragon can fundamentally alter the balance of the game. Particularly if you are hoping to play as a chromatic dragon or a metallic dragon; they are powerful creatures intended to be fought by a party of adventurers, not to be played.

If this is something you’d like to do, ensure you get the approval of your Dungeon Master so you can find an approach that fits within the campaign and preserves the enjoyment of your fellow adventurers.

Alternative options for playing as a dragon

Play a dragonborn character

The dragonborn race are people born of dragons. Shaped by draconic gods or the dragons themselves, they originally hatched from dragon eggs as a combination of dragons and humanoids. They look very much like dragons, and they often boast scales closely matching those of their dragon ancestor. There are also gem dragonborn, added in Fizban's Treasury of Dragons, who closely resemble gem dragons.

Play a custom adventure

In The White Dragons’ Hunt, the players are young white dragons tasked with retrieving a clutch of stolen dragon eggs. This thrilling adventure, published on D&D Beyond, can be completed in 2-3 hours by 3 or 4 players.

Play a draconic touched character

Perhaps your character was a dragon in their previous life, or is convinced they were? Maybe they are a Cleric or are otherwise devoted to Tiamat or Bahamut? Perhaps their pursuit of knowledge leads them to attaining dragon-like traits such as scales, breath weapons, or wings?

There are plenty of interesting ways you can weave draconic lineage into your backstory. Speak with your DM and understand the significance of dragons in their setting, and they might be able to help you create a draconic touched character.

Craft a draconic character arc

Character development is a powerful tool in D&D, enabling players to shape their characters’ personas and make unique characters. If you dream of playing a character that undergoes a remarkable transformation into a dragon, ask your Dungeon Master and see if you can incorporate this into the campaign.

Picture this: your character encounters an enigmatic, ethereal entity that embodies the essence of a long-lost dragon spirit. Through a series of trials and challenges, you earn the approval of this spirit, and the entity merges with your character, granting them the ability to summon and communicate with the spirit of the dragon.

As your character delves deeper into this newfound connection, they gradually unlock and manifest dragon-like traits, experiencing a metamorphosis that reflects both their inner journey and their bond with this dragon spirit.

This is just one idea to help spark your imagination. As always, you should speak to your Dungeon Master and collaborate with them to find something fitting for your game. Becoming a dragon in D&D is not common, and if your DM is nice enough to allow it, expect a significant challenge.

Can you transform into a dragon in D&D 5e?

You cannot Polymorph into a dragon. This is because the Polymorph spell specifies that the target’s new form is a beast. Dragons are not classified as beasts in Dungeons & Dragons, thus, you can’t use Polymorph to transform yourself into a dragon.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to transform into a dragon!

There are instances where the use of True Polymorph or Shapechange could enable you to transform into a dragon. In this case, yes, you can true polymorph into an ancient brass dragon, for example. Just be careful, because someone using Dispel Magic could reverse your transformation and turn you back into your true form.

The Wish spell could also be used to transform you into a dragon, but Wish is the mightiest spell a mortal can ever cast. Having a use of this spell is extremely rare and up to the DM’s discretion, so don’t bank on this as a means of becoming a dragon in D&D.

Can I Wild Shape into a dragon?

No, Wild Shape only applies to beasts. A dragon is not classified as a beast, and even if it did, there is a maximum CR (challenge rating) restriction for what you can Wild Shape into.

How do I permanently become a dragon in D&D?

There is no official way to become a dragon in D&D, but that doesn’t stop crafty adventurers from trying! This video explaining how to become an adult gold dragon might inspire those looking to permanently become a dragon.

If you’re still not convinced, consider what Gary Gygax wrote in OD&D:

“There is no reason that players cannot be allowed to play as virtually anything, provided they begin relatively weak and work up to the top, i.e., a player wishing to be a Dragon would have to begin as let us say, a "young" one and progress upwards in the usual manner, steps being predetermined by the campaign referee.”

In the vast world of Dungeons & Dragons, there might not be an official way to become a dragon, but the realm of creativity holds limitless potential. With some imagination, and collaboration with your Dungeon Master, you too could embark on thrilling quests and character arcs that explore the essence of dragons; whether through draconic heritage, connections to dragon deities, or mysterious entities.

As you embark on these extraordinary quests, don’t forget to equip yourself with the perfect set of dragon-themed D&D dice! Pair your dice with our beautifully crafted dragon dice trays, and you’ll have the perfect sanctuary for your dice to land in.

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