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Dragon Growth Stages

by Joseph Setorius

After looking over Simone Neri's "Mini-Gazetteer" on dragons about two years ago, I have done a lot of "research" concerning their size, among other aspects, and was wondering what different people's opinion on the matter was.

Though I have yet to read "Dance of Dragons" ...nor have I seen Season 4 onward, but I guess Balerion, largest of Danerys dragons is 249' feet when "full grown". I assume this includes the length of tail?

Looking at dinosaurs and whales, it seems 120 feet seems to be the high end for most species. Extinct or extant.

Dragons are of course magical in nature, as their flimsy wings would not really be capable of granting flight to a creature even as large as the largest dinosaur. I have always thought that there needed to be a fourth size beyond Huge, making it easier to match a well equipped and skill party of the four different phases of campaign play.

Of course many sources seem to have about four sizes, often calling the fourth natural growth stage--I don't consider the stages after sublimation natural--"gargantuan". Yet this doesn't really work in Mystara's mythos as it has been established that "Gargantuan" creatures were originally the creation of the Wizard Gargantua.

Therefore I would call these phases: Small (Sub-Adult), Large (Adult), Huge (Mature), & Enormous ("Enhanced").

Perhaps even a "Medium" stage could even be included. The "Enhanced"/Enormous stage would be dragons that had acquired enough power to attempt the first stage of Sublimation.

But how large a creature for each growth stage sounds reasonable? I think that dragons greater than 250/260 feet sound ridiculous. Either in scale/drawings, or the logistics of such a creature. I was thinking Enormous dragons would have a length (including body and tail) of about 120'. Through the various stages of sublimation, a dragon could eventually reach a size of about 240-260'.

Afterall Marudi should be able to squash the living daylights out of Balerion. Dumb, two-legged, non-spell casting dragon...

Blame Larry Elmore, Keith Parkinson, and Jeff Easley...among other TSR artists...but two legged dragons just look disproportionate and off-balance to me.

Here are some initial ideas I had on age, growth stages, and HD without reference to size.

Species   Hatchling (HD)   One Year   Five Years   Ten Years   Twenty Years   Forty Years   Eighty Years   Sub-Adult (S)   Adult (Large)   Mature (Huge)   Enhanced (E)   Enlightened (G)
White     1   2   3   5   6   6   6   9   12   15   32
Black     1   2   3   5   7   7   7   10+3   14   18   32
Green     1   2   3   5   8   8   8   12   16   20   32
Blue     1   2   3   5   9   9   9   13+3   18   24   32
Red     1   2   3   5   9   10   10   15   20   25   32
Gold     1   2   3   5   9   11   11   16+3   22   27   32

Enhanced as stated before is the HD level and stage just before a dragon attempts its first Ceremony of Sublimation. Enlightened is the last stage AFTER it has completed its last Ceremony of Sublimation, and is attempting to enter the Immortal realms of rulers were right about it being #170 Robin, I just can't find it right now...whatever their "lieutenants" are called. Generally gaining one HD per ceremony. Of course this means dragons with less HD to begin with have to complete the ceremony more times than larger species. As a result, there are less White Dragons that reach Enlightenment as opposed to Blues, Reds, & Golds.

I choose 32 HD as a max HD based on other powerful creatures HD...among them Elemental Rulers I believe...and as an Immortal's physical manifestation form on the Prime Plane has 40 HD, I use this as the barrier/envelope between mortal and Immortal phases of existence.

Robin your size calculations definitely help. I am not sure what formula/calculation you used to determine size based off of Amberville's calculations, but I was thinking that whatever the conversion, a Gold dragon would have enough hit die at Enhanced stage to be around 240' from nose to tail. As all enlightened forms have 32 HD, this would then meaning taking the difference between their Enormous size, and 260', and dividing that by the number of times they would have to complete the sublimation cycle. The number would represent the number of feet they would grow with each success of Sublimation.

Example: Using your HD to size table, an Enormous Black Dragon would have a length of 178'3". Subtracted from 260' this would make 81'9". As the Ceremony of Sublimation gains a dragon one hit die per success, a Black dragon would have to complete the ceremony 14 times (32HD-18HD) to reach enlightened stage. The length it would gain with each ceremony would be the 81'9" divided by 14. The difference of the 260' of Enlightened length versus Enormous. In inches this is 981" (81x12=972+9+981). Rounding to full inches to make the conversion not so tedious, a Black Dragon would gain 70" (5'10") with each Sublimation! Essential the height of a man! The remainder of 1 (14x70=980) would be added on completion of the final Ceremony of Sublimation before reaching the Enlightened Stage. This would be true for all species regardless of remainder. Though of course other methods could be used to distribute this remainder...I was just trying to be make an already somewhat difficult" calculation easier!

The final Ceremony of Sublimation of each species...the one where they actually achieve Immortality...should have some species specific name IMO. Such as The Ceremony of Electric Enlightenment for Blues. [That is a really lame name...but I really didn't think about it too much! I am sure a better one could be found.] I guess if you were a Metallica fan the ceremony would be called "Ride the Lightning"!!