Does a dragon need material components, specifically body bits, for a Simulacrum spell?

Please consider an ancient Green dragon with the variant ability to cast spells. She would like to cast Simulacrum.

Monster Manual Page 86 / Variant:

VARIANT: DRAGONS AS INNATE SPELLCASTERS: Dragons are innately magical creatures that can master a few spells as they age, using this variant.

A young or older dragon can innately cast a number of spells equal to its Charisma modifier. Each spell can be cast once per day, requiring no material components, and the spell’s level can be no higher than one-third the dragon’s challenge rating (rounded down) . The dragon’s bonus to hit with spell attacks is equal to its proficiency bonus+ its Charisma bonus. The dragon’s spell save DC equals 8 +its proficiency bonus + its Charisma modifier.

As noted she is CR: 22 with 19 charisma – giving her four spells to cast once per day / 7th level spell maximum. No problems thus far. She is concerned about the material components for this Simulacrum spell…

Components: V, S, M – Snow or ice in quantities sufficient to made a life-size copy of the duplicated creature; some hair, fingernail clippings, or other piece of that creature’s body placed inside the snow or ice; and powdered ruby worth 1,500 gp, sprinkled over the duplicate and consumed by the spell.

… but she realizes (thanks to ‘variant’, above) that she casts all her spells ‘requiring no material components’. This is her lucky eon! She will have to choose fun spells like Awaken and Reincarnate so as to build up an immortal army of her favourite treasure-people-beasts! But she digresses.

This zero materials required means she need not worry over the expensive powdered ruby – nor even the snow for that matter. But what of the hair, clippings (or ‘other body parts’)? If ANY components are allowed, can she cast any humanoid or beast that has ever lived in history? She could theoretically magic-pretend that she procured these left over parts before that person or beast died. Can she even create duplicates of imaginary people with this casting? Is there a way that anyone could defend themselves from being copied? Some may have Mind Blank or Protection vs. Nasty &/or Goodness or reside on another plane of existence. How does one defend themselves from this 3D printer of doppelgängers?

The reason this is relevant: If she has access to any body parts without impunity, she could conjure up any high cleric or archmage in existence at no cost. The next day she could conjure up another, for free. This is bizarrely powerful. To be honest, even the ability to conjure up the same archmage from a specific ball of hair, gaining Wish on a daily basis (without limits) is a bit extreme.

Long story short: A dragon casts spells without need of ANY components. What kinds of Simulacrum persons &/or creatures can they make?

EditionCan I use weapons and old abilties when true polymorphed into dragon and then shapechanging back to humanoid?

If I am permanently turned into a brass dragon with true polymorph and then use the shapeshange ability to become a humanoid again, can I can buy new weapons and use them? Can I use my class abilities and my spells like before?

Edition: D&D 5e.

Books: Player’s handbook (true polymorph), Monster manual (ancient brass dragon).

What happens if a dragon gets older but doesn’t gain experience?

Chapter 3 of the Draconomicon details how, every couple years, a true dragon must take its next level in its dragon “class”. But what if the dragon just sits around, not gaining any XP, and therefore never actually gains a “next level”?

It’s said that many dragons let their natural abilities grow rather than adventuring to get experience. Do they somehow get dragon “class” levels for free via aging (like, they instantly get enough XP to advance a level but are required to put it towards being more dragony?), or will they eventually be an ancient dragon with all the statistics of a wyrmling?

Can i dimension door ONTO the back of, say, an ancient green dragon?

I am familiar with the DMG rules for climbing on to the back of a larger creature, and I think that dimension door or perhaps misty step would allow me to bypass the Opposed dex vs str/dex check, to place myself onto its back. From there, it can use its action to shake me, or whatever the dm can come up with, mostly im curious about rulings for teleporting ONTO a creature. Certainly the place it is is occupied, but im not trying to land there. What say ye, oh wise masters?

Dragon Rider PRC question (DragonLance Campaign Setting)

Dragon Rider PRC (DragonLance)

Does the the bonus hit dice your dragon gains also apply to his age and/or size going up as well? IE: say a 17HD copper dragon (Large, Young Adult) get to apply his 8 bonus hit dice, does he then become a 25HD equivalent (Huge, Mature Adult, increased SR and caster level, etc)?

I wonder because some of the bonus feats in the PRC require you to be Huge size (Snatch) or a 10th level caster (Quicken Spell-Like Ability).

The section in the PRC does discuss the Bonus Hit Dice, but does not state if the age/size goes up or not. Also anyone know of any errata for the DragonLance Campaign Setting?

Is this homebrew Dragon Rider ranger archetype balanced? [Version 2]


Introduction

This is a follow up question to: Is this homebrew Dragon Rider ranger archetype balanced?

If you are not familiar with that question, I’d recommend reading it before this one, since this question won’t make much sense otherwise (and I don’t want to repeat loads of it here, since this post is long enough already).

From Weaveworker89’s answer to my previous question, I can see that the damage output of my previous version was too high, largely owing to the fact that the dragon companion can make its attacks using your bonus action, and that the dragon can start making two attacks/Multiattack after you reach level 11 (which also means that a Dragon Rider ranger would never use their bonus action for anything else ever again, which reflects bad design on my part).

Changes

The changes I plan on making are to adjust Draconic Bond from this:

You can use your bonus action to verbally command it to take the Attack, Dash, Disengage, Dodge or Help action.

to this:

You can use your action to verbally command it to take the Attack, Dash, Disengage, Dodge or Help action. Once you have the Extra Attack feature, you can make one weapon attack yourself when you command your dragon to take the Attack action.

Basically, the same as the RAW Beastmaster (PHB, p. 94). For the context of this question, assume that the Dragon Rider archetype from my previous question includes the above change (almost like “errata”, I guess).

Problem

However, I imagine the damage output will still be too high, even with this change, but I’m reluctant to drop the Draconic Fury feature (which is the same as the Beastmaster’s “Bestial Fury” feature). Instead, I’d rather take a look at weakening the dragon itself so that before and after reaching level 11 and getting Draconic Fury, it’s damage output is still within reason.

I’m happy enough with the damage output of the pseudodragon that you get between levels 3 and 6, it’s the wyrmling that you get between levels 7-14 and the young dragon you get at levels 15+ that I’m concerned with. I’m also generally happy enough with the rest of my archetype, which is why I’m focusing on the dragon’s CR as the thing to bring the damage output down, and therefore the whole archtype into balance.

Question

What CR wyrmling/young dragon stats should I pick such that the damage output (bearing in mind that it is not triggered from a bonus action anymore, but rather sacrifices one of your attacks) is on par with, say, a Gloom Stalker ranger? I’d like answers to consider the damage output of my archetype at levels 7-10 (Wyrmling, one attack), levels 11-14 (Wyrmling, two attacks) and 15+ (Young Dragon with Multiattack).

Note that, in my previous version, I outlined that each variation of wyrmling/young dragon are essentially all homoginised into the same CR creature, based on the stats of one specific dragon (i.e. a Blue Dragon Wyrmling and a Young Red Dragon), but with minor tweaks such as different elemental damage resistance, different breath weapon damage, and different speeds and other minor features such as Amphibious or Ice Walk, as befits the chosen dragon’s colour.

So what I’m really looking for is a specific statblock of a specific Wyrmling/Young Dragon (ideally chromatic, so that we don’t have to worry about extra breath weapons, but I can work with metallic dragon statblocks and just explicitly exclude any extra breath weapons), which I can then swap some elemental damage and speeds around to match the flavour of the chosen dragon colour, such that its damage output is balanced for this archetype.

Dragon Heist – Spring : Vault Entrace

I’m preparing to run my table through the “Dragon Season” phase of Dragon Heist on Spring setting, but there’s one thing that looks like its going to be a big problem: the entrance to the vault.

First off, it seems almost impossible to find. All they know is that its somewhere

But this is a super big map, with something like 15 rooms, only one square of one of which actually contains the door. Additionally its a hidden door with an DC 20 Perception check to notice. Not passive perception, but perception. They have to be actively looking for it. This from a table that hasn’t looked for (or found) a secret door in this campaign yet.

It seems exceedingly unlikely they’d manage to make a check in the right spot, and even if they do, most likely they won’t find it because the DC is so crazy high.

But it gets worse. Say I rule that the stone tells them exactly what square to search (pretty sure I’m actually going to have to do this). Well opening it requires a knock spell (which they don’t have), or a DC 30 strength check. Even the barbarian can’t make that without a nat 20.

How are they supposed to get in? Has anyone else run Spring, and if so, how did your table get past this?

Is this homebrew Dragon Rider ranger archetype balanced?

Firstly, this was inspired by these recent questions:

  • Is this homebrew Dragon Rider class balanced compared to the other official classes?
  • Is this Revised Dragon Rider homebrew class balanced compared to the official classes?

I really like the flavour of these classes, and you should definitely check them out.

However, I personally thought that there was a lot of crossover with existing half-caster classes, specifically it reminded me of the Beastmaster ranger, and furthermore I prefer the idea of just using the existing spell slot rules rather than the introduction of mana points, so I’ve decided to have a go at coming up with my own Dragon Rider, but as a ranger archetype instead of a whole new class.

I’ve used the feedback from guildsbounty’s answer on the first question linked above, as well as considering the Beastmaster ranger (which is know is considered underpowered). Below I will list each of my proposed class features for my Dragon Rider archetype, but with sections of italicised text within nested quote formatting–which is my commentary on why I made certain decisions–that is not part of the class feature description.

Dragon Rider

Dragon Rider Magic. Starting at 3rd level, you learn an additional spell when you reach certain levels in this class, as shown in the Dragon Rider Spells table. The spell counts as a ranger spell for you, but it doesn’t count against the number of ranger spells you know.

Dragon Rider Spells $ $ \begin{array}{c|l} \textbf{Ranger Level}& \textbf{Spell} \ \hline \text{3rd} & \textit{absorb elements} \ \text{5th} & \textit{dragon’s breath} \ \text{9th} & \textit{fear} \ \text{13th} & \textit{elemental bane} \ \text{17th} & \textit{control winds} \end{array} $ $

This follows after the XGtE ranger archetypes, where you get an extra spell per spell level. I’ve tried to pick spells that suit the theme of dragons (such as fear, to resemble a dragon’s Fearsome Presence) and elements, but not specific elements (e.g. fireball), since it wouldn’t fit with, say, if you’d picked a blue dragon, which has lightning breath, not fire breath. I’m also aware that absorb elements is on the ranger spell list already, but I couldn’t think of anything else that was thematic.

Draconic Affinity. At 3rd level, you can speak, read, and write Draconic. Additionally, whenever you make a Charisma check when interacting with dragons, your proficiency bonus is doubled if it applies to the check.

This is essentially just the Dragon Ancestor of the Draconic Bloodline sorcerer; arguably the second part is slightly weaker because Charisma isn’t often an important ability for rangers, whereas it’s the most important for sorcerers. I added it largely just to fit the theme.

Draconic Bond. At 3rd level, you gain a pseudodragon companion that accompanies you on your adventures and is trained to fight alongside you. Choose a colour for your psuedodragon, the statistics of which are as follows:

(As a shorthand, rather than describing this here, I’ll just refer you to my recent question; despite the accepted answer there stating that it is more powerful than a RAW pseudodragon, I feel that adding extra HP and AC and such, as per the below, just like a Beastmaster ranger’s companion, means that it’s probably fine as presented in that question for the purposes of this.)

Add your proficiency bonus to the pseudodragon’s AC, attack rolls, and damage rolls, as well as to any skills it is proficient in. Its hit point maximum equals four times your ranger level.

The pseudodragon obeys you commands as best as it can. It takes its turn on your initiative, though it doesn’t take an action unless you command it to. On your turn, you can verbally command the pseudodragon where to move (no action required by you). You can use your bonus action to verbally command it to take the Attack, Dash, Disengage, Dodge or Help action.

Like any creature, the pseudodragon can spend Hit Dice during a short rest. If you are incapacitated or absent, the pseudodragon acts on its own, focusing on protecting you and itself. It never requires your commend to use its reaction, such as when making an opportunity attack.

When travelling through your favored terrain with only the pseudodragon, you can move stealthily at a normal pace.

If the pseudodragon dies, you can obtain another one by spending 8 hours magically bonding with another pseudodragon that isn’t hostile to you, either the same colour pseudodragon as before or a different one.

This is the “main” feature of the archetype, which is where you get your pet dragon. It’s basically the Ranger’s Companion feature of the Beastmaster archetype. By using the pseudodragons from my recent question (yes, this is what that was for), it has a breath weapon and damage resistance, which foreshadows the creature “growing up” via later class features.

My decision to have it attack as a bonus action was based on this Q&A, and my experience (see accepted answer), with house-ruling this for Beastmaster rangers, so I thought I’d just make that explicit here. However, if this makes this archetype too strong, given that dragons are stronger than typical Beastmaster beasts, this can be changed to using your action, same as the RAW Beastmaster.

Draconic Growth. By 7th level, your bond with your pseudodragon accelerates its growth. It transforms into a wyrmling of the same colour, although it’s statistics are as follows:

(Again, somewhat of a shorthand; basically it’s the stats of a CR 3 Blue Dragon Wyrmling, but with the correct elemental for the damage resistance and breath weapon, although the damage is the same as the Blue Dragon Wyrmling, no “additional” breath weapon for metallic wyrmlings, and the correct speeds, and also the Amphibious feature (i.e. for black, green, gold, bronze wyrmlings) being absent or present depending on the colour you picked.)

The wyrmling behaves exactly as your pseudodragon did, including that you must still use your bonus action to issue commands, but you no longer add your proficiency bonus to its AC, attack rolls, damage rolls, or skill checks. Its maximum hit points are no longer based on your ranger level, but rather on the statistics given.

You have also trained this wyrmling to act as your mount, training that your bond with it has accelerated. This wyrmling counts as one size larger than you for the purposes of serving as your mount.

This is where the pseudodragon becomes a wyrmling, but with its CR fixed, and you no longer add your proficiency bonus like you did with your pseudodragon (i.e. like Beastmaster ranger’s companions do). This is based on statements from guildsbounty’s answer such as “At a rough ballpark based on experience, a CR 3 monster is roughly the equivalent of a 4th to 5th level character in combat.” and “So, the wyrmlings usefulness has gradually been tapering off and keeping it alive has gotten hard.” I’m hoping that by having this happen at level 7 instead of level 5, it should be balanced, especially by fixing the stats of the wyrmling to a set CR so that min-maxers don’t all pick the CR 4 Red Dragon Wyrmling.

As for overriding the mount creature size requirements, I felt like since the archetype is called “Dragon Rider“, you should be able to ride it, and I didn’t want this archetype to favour Small PCs such as halflings and gnomes, so I just thought I’d let anyone ride it. By anyone, I mean the ranger PC, but of any race; not other party members or NPCs (I’m hoping that by saying “your mount”, that is clear, although I can add something to make that even more explicit). If this is a bit much, would reducing the wyrmling’s stats down to a CR 2 companion, or even CR 1, help to make this balanced? I’m not at all attached to the Blue Dragon Wyrmling’s stats and would be happy with a CR 1 or CR 2 wyrmling’s stats instead.

Draconic Fury. At 11th level, your wyrmling companion can make two Bite attacks when you command it to use the Attack action. When it later gains the Multiattack action, it can use that action when you command it to use the Attack action.

This is the same as what Beastmaster rangers get at 11th level. I did also consider lifting the restriction on breath weapons, so that a Copper Dragon Wyrmling can use Slowing Breath again, for example, but then considered that this clearly favours using metallic dragons over chromatic dragons, so I decided against it.

Draconic Synergy. Also at 11th level, your bond with your dragon becomes deeper, allowing you to benefit from its affinity to its elemental. You gain resistance to the damage type that your dragon is resistance to.

This is just so that you, the ranger, get something as well, since otherwise it’s just your pet that keeps getting stronger. However, if this is too strong for 11th level, this feature can be dropped entirely (this is the main reason I separated it out into its own feature).

Draconic Mastery. When you reach 15th level, your bond with your wyrmling accelerates its growth even further. It transforms into a young dragon of the same colour, although it’s statistics are as follows:

(As with the wyrmling, somewhat of a shorthand; basically it’s the stats of a CR 10 Young Red Dragon, but with the correct elemental for the damage resistance and breath weapon, although the damage is the same as the Young Red Dragon, no “additional” breath weapon for metallic wyrmlings, and the correct speeds, and also the Amphibious feature (i.e. for black, green, gold, bronze wyrmlings) being absent or present depending on the colour you picked; also Ice Walk if it’s a Young White Dragon.)

This is where it becomes a young dragon. Again, the feedback from guildsbounty’s answer saying that “based on experience, I ballpark that a CR 10 monster is at least on-par with a level 14 PC”, I figured that this would be balanced at level 15, and it still consumes your bonus action for it to do anything. Also, I’m still fixing its CR so that Red and Gold aren’t the optimal choices, so this CR can be lowered still if this is unbalanced but reducing the CR would balance it; I’m not at all attached to the Young Red Dragon’s stats and would be happy with even a Young White Dragon’s stats if that would help to balance it.

Is this ranger archetype balanced when compared to the other ranger archetypes (probably the Gloom Stalker, since I think that’s considered the strongest ranger archetype; this is obviously more powerful than the Beastmaster archetype, but that’s intentional)? If not, would any of the proposed changes I mention in some of the italicised text above help to balance it (i.e. it uses your action instead of your bonus action, reduce the CR of the wyrmling/young dragon, etc)?

PS: Also yes, I know that I’ve been overusing the word “Draconic”…