Prestige Classes


"The earth trembles where dragons tread. Let the land shudder at my very steps, and let all who dare my gaze fall under my shadow."

-Master Ghorkel, half-orc dragon lord

A dragon lord is the general at the head of an army, the emperor at the helm of an empire, or the warleader who dominates a battlefield. He learns much from dragons, modeling his philosophy and strategies after the powerful creatures with great success. Dragon lords strike fear into the hearts of all who cross their path and use brilliant combat tactics that mirror those of the true dragons. In many legends, a dragon lord is the spirit of a dead dragon reborn into a different body, slowly awakening over time and coming to realize the power of its former self.


For the most part, only characters with a dominating presence on the battlefield become dragon lords. Fighters and marshals are the most common characters who take this prestige class, though clerics and paladins dedicated to deities of war or dragon gods sometimes become dragon lords due to exceptional circumstances. Similarly, some especially ferocious or savage barbarians become dragon lords, modeling their combat tactics after the instinctive brutality of true dragons. On rare occasions, hexblades and samurai take this prestige class, too, but their philosophies often conflict with those of the typical dragon lord.


Like the dragons that roam the land, you are the master of all you survey. There is no fortress you cannot capture, no hold you cannot defend, no army you cannot overrun, and no enemy you cannot face down. You know that strategy is the larger part of victory in battle, and as a result you turn your mind toward the tactical side of command. Yet your mentors and heroes are not generals and commanders of old, but rather the dragons that live in the world here and now. The greatest strategy of all is to rout your enemy not with your sword but with your presence. Just as a dragon flies overhead, causing panicked masses to flee, so too do you ride into battle with confidence and savagery, driving your enemies to flee before you.

This philosophy also applies to life beyond the battlefield. When faced with a challenge, you know it is best to proceed with confidence and a solid strategy. Having the right tool for the job is a significant part of success, and you're willing to take what you need to accomplish your task. If those you take from are willing, so be it; if not, it is of no concern. Though you demand discipline from those who serve you, the notion that local laws and other trivial matters apply to you is laughable. A dragon does not ask before it takes treasure for its hoard, and you are a dragon among mortals.

Some would call you lawless, even criminal at times, but such unenlightened lesser beings fail to realize that you make the laws. By your decree are actions taken, just as a dragon bends to its command all those who live in its domain. This is the natural way of things; the strongest set the rules for the weaker to follow. The dragon is not meek before the shepherd, and you are not meek before those who lack the will and knowledge to challenge you. The few beings whom you consider your equal - namely, fellow adventurers and other warlords - are afforded the respect and admiration that one dragon might give to another. Loyalty is a virtue that you expect from those who serve you, but your loyalty is earned only by those who prove themselves your equal in bravery, cunning, or power.


If you can win a battle without firing a single arrow or leading a single charge, so much the better. If you can intimidate a foe into fleeing or accept the surrender of an inferior force, the victory is sweeter. When combat is unavoidable and the foolish challenge you, your favorite strategy is to show them the folly of their mistake by delivering upon them a merciless defeat. Every strike could be a killing blow, and you rarely hold back, even if there might be value in keeping a foe alive. You take prisoners if doing so is of no extra difficulty, but you have little time for games - if taking an enemy alive is even a small hindrance, you dispatch him instead.

You make frequent use of your intimidating demeanor, shouting epithets and curses at your foes as you cleave through them. Your goal is not only to defeat an enemy but also to demoralize his allies, giving you a greater chance of success. However, if intimidation is not possible and your actions only further enrage your opponents, you focus on simply defeating them. After all, when your foes cannot be routed, why hand them an advantage by stoking their fury?


The first time you saw a dragon on the wing, with dozens of commoners fleeing before it like a tidal wave through the streets, you knew there was a smarter path to victory than simple battlefield tactics. From that point on, you studied the way that dragons fight, both against lesser beings and against one another, in the hope of one day harnessing their awesome presence.

Now you have accomplished your goal and become more than a mere military commander - you are a self-styled warlord, your mere will a command to others. You have set yourself up as a dragon among mortals, a dominant force that bends others to your wishes. Moreover, your continued study of dragonkind has brought you great success on the battlefield, putting your name on the lips of all those who have seen your skill in war.

As a dragon lord, you should always purchase the maximum number of ranks in your Intimidate skill to take full advantage of your special abilities. Feats that enhance the Intimidate skill are also valuable, as are magic items or spells that improve your Charisma score. Additionally, standard combat feats that let you dispense with foes more quickly allow you to demoralize even more opponents.


The world is yours for the taking. Your followers provide aid and assistance, as well as brute force, whenever you call upon them. In essence, you are the leader of your own organization. If you have proven yourself on the field of battle, you might find entire cities or nations willing to serve your needs out of respect, fear, or both. Few will dare to stand in your path, allowing you to reach out and take whatever you wish.


"There is no more fearsome sight on the battlefield than a dragon bringing its might to bear on your forces. That some should seek to harness such an effect is natural, and using this knowledge against their enemies means victory and glory."

-Bors, dwarf war priest

A Dungeon Master might find it challenging to fit a dragon lord into a campaign, especially one with good-aligned player characters. Though the dragon lord could easily be a bully or a thug, he might also be a famous military commander who is revered and feared even by his own people. Similarly, dragon lords seeking to do good might be crusaders who consider it their right (or even their duty) to use their strength as a means of eradicating evil. Though a dragon lord is forceful and intimidating, the character's player ultimately decides whether he uses his power for good or ill.


Like the dragons they model themselves after, dragon lords are figuratively at the top of the food chain. They are the commanders and leaders, the warlords and warmongers, who call the shots and determine courses of action. Each dragon lord is the master of his own domain, and if two of them come into contact with one another, sparks fly more often than not. When their circles of influence overlap, they clash frequently, with pain and death the usual result.

As leaders, dragon lords are strict, demanding loyalty and obedience from their followers. Since most dragon lords are military commanders - whether on a grand scale, such as the leader of an army, or on a small scale, such as the head of an adventuring party - they require great discipline in their followers and allies, making rare exceptions only for fellow adventurers who have proven themselves trustworthy.

NPC Reactions

Dragon lords are feared and revered nearly everywhere they go. They demand respect even when in hostile territory, meaning that lawful enemies are more inclined to be simply unfriendly toward them. However, the other side of this coin is that in supposedly friendly towns and cities, a dragon lord frequently is unwelcome, and people who would normally be friendly toward a group of PCs might be indifferent, or in extreme cases unfriendly, toward a party that contains a dragon lord.

Dragon lords just have a way of gaining reputations as bullies and thugs. Among militaries or mercenary bands, however, a dragon lord's demand for respect usually outweighs his ability to command fear, and as such any dragon lord traveling among a band of soldiers can expect a more friendly welcome. Even when meeting with opposing commanders or visiting an enemy encampment under a flag of truce, a dragon lord's reputation can turn hostility to indifference - a sign that enemy soldiers respect his accomplishments.


Characters with ranks in Knowledge (local) can research dragon lords to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including the information from lower DCs.

DC 10: Dragon lords are warlords who model their tactics after those used by dragons.

DC 15: Dragon lords adhere to a philosophy that defeating enemies without combat is just as desirable as overcoming them on the field of battle.

DC 20: Dragon lords have such a presence in combat that they can drive off veteran soldiers simply by intimidating them, and a favorite tactic is to utterly crush a foe before demoralizing its allies.

DC 30: Characters who achieve this level of success can learn important details about a specific notable dragon lord, the areas where he operates, and the kinds of activities he undertakes.

Dragon lords are not hard to locate, especially since their names and deeds are on the tongue of almost everyone who meets them. Finding a dragon lord is usually as simple as inquiring at military encampments or with mercenary bands, especially those with a reputation for overrunning an opposing force and sending enemies fleeing.


A dragon lord can be a challenging inclusion in a good-aligned campaign, but such a character should fit naturally in games that feature a more ambiguous view of the nature of good and evil. Players who wish to be party leaders or command their own forces will likely find this prestige class appealing, especially since dragon lords are usually wrecking balls who can smash foes and send other enemies packing. Most dragon lords have little difficulty accepting other adventurers as equals (except for those who shy from challenges or flee in fear), so they integrate well into diverse parties, though sometimes they clash with paladins for the same reason they clash with other dragon lords.


Dragon lords need very little adaptation to fit into other campaign models. If the world does not have dragons in abundance, just change the philosophy of this prestige class so that it's based on defeating enemies without necessarily resorting to violence. Replace the draconic aura bonus feats with simple fighter bonus feats to give the characters prowess in combat without relying on dragons or draconic abilities.

Sample Encounter

A dragon lord makes a great foe but a difficult ally, especially when a conflict of interest arises between one and the rest of the adventuring party.

EL 9: The half-orc dragon lord Master Ghorkel (NE male half-orc fighter 6/dragon lord 3) leads a band of mercenaries known as the White Talon. His troupe remains camped outside a major settlement while quartermasters purchase supplies, but the idle time makes Ghorkel and his compatriots restless. At night, they engage in raids on outlying buildings, staging hit-and-run attacks against hapless citizens in a cruel game designed to cow their targets into submission. One night, Ghorkel undertakes a raid by himself, seeking to capture a young human woman he encountered on a previous outing. Brutish and driven by desire, Ghorkel stages his raid just as the adventuring party approaches, giving them ample time to intervene and send the bully back to his camp without his prize.

Hit Die: d10.


To qualify to become a dragon lord, a character must fulfill all of the following criteria.

Base Attack Bonus: +6.

Skills: Intimidate 9 ranks.

Class Skills

The dragon lord's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Handle Animal (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), and Swim (Str).

Skill Points at Each Level: 2 + Int modifier.

Table: The Dragon Lord

Level Base
Special Draconic
1st +1 +2 +0 +0 Draconic aura +1 1
2nd +2 +3 +0 +0 Reckless devotion 1/day 1
3rd +3 +3 +1 +1 Divide and conquer 1
4th +4 +4 +1 +1 Dragon leadership 2
5th +5 +4 +1 +1 Draconic aura +2 2
6th +6 +5 +2 +2 Reckless devotion 2/day 2
7th +7 +5 +2 +2 3
8th +8 +6 +2 +2 Crushing defeat 3
9th +9 +6 +3 +3 Draconic aura +3 3
10th +10 +7 +3 +3 Reckless devotion 3/day 4
Class Features

Dragon lords are masters of battlefield warfare who have studied the tactics and abilities of dragons and emulate their philosophies. Like other warlords, dragon lords use fear and intimidation to demoralize their enemies, while at the same time inspiring zealous devotion in their followers.

All of the following are class features of the dragon lord prestige class.

Draconic Aura: You know that the image and presence of a dragon can boost or destroy the morale of troops, an effect you study and build into your strategies. At 1st level, you gain the ability to project a single draconic aura.

At 4th, 7th, and 10th level, you can add another draconic aura to the list of those you can project.

When you reach 5th level, the bonus granted by both of your auras increases to +2. At 9th level, the bonus granted by all three of your auras increases to +3. The aura gained at 10th level grants a +3 bonus, just as the other three auras you gained earlier.

Reckless Devotion (Su): When soldiers learn that a dragon fights on their side, they have greater incentive to struggle valiantly against the enemy - when victory seems assured, all want a share of the glory. Starting at 2nd level, you learn to inspire this kind of zeal in your followers, granting them a temporary boost in their combat abilities driven by fanatical devotion. Once per day, you can select a number of allies equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum 1) to gain the benefit of this ability. The chosen allies gain 5 temporary hit points, a +1 morale bonus on melee attack rolls and melee damage rolls, and a +1 morale bonus on saves. Any character who is your cohort or follower (as per the Leadership feat) gains twice the normal benefit (10 temporary hit points and a +2 bonus). All benefits last for a number of rounds equal to your class level. At 6th level, you can use this ability twice per day, and at 10th level, you can use it three times per day.

Divide and Conquer (Ex): Beginning at 3rd level, you gain the ability to fight even when assaulted from different sides, turning a disadvantage into a cunning strategy. Just as dragons can fight off foes when swarmed by lashing out in all directions, you learn to use your foes' distance to your advantage. Whenever you are flanked by two or more creatures, you gain a bonus on melee damage rolls against each flanker equal to 1/2 your dragon lord class level (rounded up). If you can't be flanked (such as if you have the improved uncanny dodge class feature), you still gain the benefit of this ability when opponents occupy flanking positions around you.

Dragon Leadership (Ex): Starting at 4th level, you add 2 to your Leadership score for the purpose of attracting a cohort with the dragonblood subtype. Most dragon lords prefer the Dragon Cohort feat to the Leadership feat, but this benefit applies equally well to any feat or other benefit that grants you a cohort.

Crushing Defeat (Ex): Starting at 8th level, you gain the ability to demoralize your enemies by dealing with them harshly, ensuring that they know your power just as lesser beings know the power of true dragons. Whenever you slay or incapacitate an opponent (by reducing him to -1 or fewer hit points), you can make an Intimidate check as a free action to demoralize a number of foes equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum 1) within 60 feet (see the Intimidate skill). This ability is a mind-affecting fear effect.