A silver dragon (Draco Nobilis Argentum), also called a shield dragon, is a species of metallic true dragon.

Appearance[edit | edit source]

A silver dragon is a winged reptilian four-legged creature, well muscled, with a long tail that can make up to one third of their total length.[1] When they first hatch from a large egg, silver dragons are known to be upwards of 8 feet long, and grow quickly.[2]

Like all true dragons, silver dragons grow larger with age. The largest are known to be 148 feet long, not including their tail, which might be as much as 67 feet long.[1] They stand up to around 22 feet tall from head to foot, with a great wingspan of around 150 feet.[2]

A tall spined frill traces from the top of the dragon's head to its tail, aiding its ability to maintain attitude control in flight. Its face resembles shield-like plate, and its head bears a pair of straight, smooth horns. The dragon has frills around its ears and chin, somewhat resembling a human's goatee beard. Its spines and horns are darkest at the tip, and it has a pointed tongue.[2] At least one ancient silver dragon is known to possess unusual rust-colored frills.[3]

Its wings are especially wide and sleek, as if intended to protect smaller creatures beneath then.[4] They are broadest along the trailing edge, and the wing membrane attaches at the tail behind the dragon's rear legs. From the ground, this gives them a similar silhouette to the red dragon, and only an expert can reliably tell the difference.[2]

At birth, a silver dragon hatchling has bluish-grey scales with silver highlights that turn gradually brighter as the dragon approaches adulthood. The shiny scales of adult silver dragons are so small that from a distance, they almost appear to be made of solid metal.[1] The pupils of a silver dragon's eyes fade with age, until the most ancient dragons' eyes resemble orbs of quicksilver.

Silver dragons smell faintly of rain.[4]

Personality[edit | edit source]

Silver dragons are lawful good in alignment. They enjoy association with humans more than most other species of dragon, and often use magic to assume human form. They are kind and helpful to others, and happy to assist those who need their help,[1] although out of respect for human cultures' the right of self-determination they rarely intervene until asked. They despise cruelty and injustice, and work to protect and care for the innocent.[2] They dislike arrogance in others.[3]

They enjoy to fly, feeling at home among the wind and clouds.[2] Silver dragons often travel great distances, hoping to place themselves where they will can protect the most people.[3] They are exceptionally honest and true to their word, even if keeping their word risks their life or puts them in conflict with other good-aligned creatures.[5].

Like most dragons, they are exceptionally fearless and able combatants. However, they dislike harming creatures, and will go to great lengths to avoid fighting unless necessary. They like to use magic to hinder opponents. If forced to fight, they take to the air and cast reverse gravity to cause land-based opponents to fall upward toward them, where they can be plucked out of the sky; against aerial opponents, silver dragons hide among clouds and lie in ambush.[1]

When direct fighting is necessary, they tear into battle bravely and straightforwardly, prefering to fight in melee than risk injuring comrades with their cold breath weapon. The most ancient of silver dragons are terrifying and utterly unstoppable.[3]

Abilities and traits[edit | edit source]

A silver dragon has two breath weapons: frost-breath, and a non-lethal cone of paralyzing gas. They are themselves immune to cold, and can live comfortably upon high snowy peaks.[1]

Silver dragons are well versed in magic. Some are known to possess spellbooks.[6] Silver dragons are known to use magic to create gusts of wind, a wall of fog that produces snow or hail, and a freezing fog that obscures vision.

Those silver dragons sufficiently practiced in magic use it to assume human form. Often, they choose the form of a wise old man or beautiful woman.[7] Silver dragons possess the ability to walk upon clouds as if they were solid ground, and at a young age learn to walk upon ice as if it was dry ground.[1]

A silver dragon's hide, even the youngest, is as tough as a heavily-armored human. The more ancient of dragons strike fear into their enemies when they enter the battlefield.

Like other species of true dragon, silver dragons live for centuries, and grow larger and more powerful as they age. They are known to live for over 1,200 years, with some reaching a little over 4,200 years.[8] True dragons of that age are terrifying to behold.

Environment[edit | edit source]

Silver dragons typically inhabit exceptionally high places, typically snowy mountain peaks, upon clouds, or behind winds.[7] They can make their lair among the highest clouds, using magic to make solid patches to store eggs and treasure.

A few make their homes in more exotic locales, such as the Elemental Plane of Air, or other extraplanar realms where they can enjoy unlimited flight. Nymbrixion, the Shield of Law, is one such dragon. Silver dragons are among the inhabitants of Edill, a bright aquamarine gas giant planet in Oerth's solar system.[9]

They are omnivorous, and enjoy human food. They need to eat relatively little, and even in dragon form most silver dragons only hunt three or four times per month.[5].

Treasure[edit | edit source]

Hoard[edit | edit source]

Like most true dragons, silver dragons have an exceptional desire to amass treasure.

Silver dragons who spend much of their time in humanoid form prefer to carry their treasure in portable form, such as gemstones and art objects.[2] They are fond of priceless antiques and crafted things of great beauty.

They have a particular fondness for relics of human history. A silver dragon who collects ancient coins values them as much for their historical provenance as their precious metal. Some collect the crown jewels or thrones of fallen empires, or entire sunken ships.[10]

Carving[edit | edit source]

Among those cruel adventurers who slay dragons for profit, the silver dragon's horn is worth nine hundred gold pieces, and used to craft wands of hold person. The egg shell of a silver hatchling can be alloyed with steel to craft armor which makes the wearer resistant to cold.[11]

History[edit | edit source]

Silver dragons have subtly influenced other cultures throughout history. They do not particularly value fame themselves, but have served as advisors to princes and temples.

Many human cultures have used dragons as part of their heraldry. Silver dragons are used to represent the virtues of honor, duty and sacrifice.[12].

Society and culture[edit | edit source]

Relationships and family[edit | edit source]

Like all dragons, adult silver dragons usually meet others of their kind only to mate, fight, or settle important disputes. They particularly conflict with the powerful red dragons, though often the silver is victorious by virtue of working together with other dragons or human allies.[4]

Many silver dragons enjoy assuming human form, and often spend large amounts of time living among humans, a trait shared with the rare Greyhawk dragon. They enjoy human food, and human company.[1] Some even marry human women and have children, speculated to be the origin of some sorcerers' magical ability. Most live at least one full humanoid lifespan within that society, and silver dragons consider this a rite of passage for young dragons.[13]

Among their own kind, silver dragons form loose clans with other silver dragons from the same region or continent. These meet on rare occasion to settle disputes or co-ordinate activity, and are led by a single "senior" or nominal chief.

Silver dragons typically mate for life, whether with humans or silver dragons, though never from among their own clan.[2] Not all silver dragons are monogamous, however; for example, Falx Templamut has two wives, Big Alice (a rare example of a silver dragon adopting a human name) and Sillitellimut[14][15]

Where they have friendships with humans, it is usually also for life, and may carry on to that person's offspring for generations. They dislike dishonesty, and aways reveal their true identity to the most trusted of friends.[2]

Silver dragons are more likely than other dragon species to entrust their hatchlings to the care of humans. They may give an egg to a church or an order of knights, or some other righteous organization who owes it a favour for service tendered in the past.[13] Silver dragon eggs take almost two years to hatch.

Religion[edit | edit source]

Silver dragons have reverence for Bahamut the Platinum Dragon, god of metallic dragons. A few dedicate themselves to another of the obscure draconic deities.

As many as 10% of silver dragons are dedicated clerics to Bahamut, and receive some divine spells. Younger silver dragon clerics wear a silver claw as their holy symbol, while those older dragons wear a symbol made of platinum instead.[16]

The contemplative silver dragons of Edill, the gas giant in the solar system of Oerth, revere the goddess Rais.[17]

Silver dragons conduct formal marriages among their own kind, but this is largely ceremonial.

Language[edit | edit source]

Silver dragons speak draconic, the language of all dragons, although their dialect is particular to their species. They learn this ancient language innately,

They are highly intelligent, and their time spent interacting with humans gives them opportunity to learn many languages. Given enough books, silver hatchlings will quickly decipher that written language. They quickly learn to read, and are eager to absorb knowledge. Given access to a library, they will be well-educated by the age of two years.[13]

Notable silver dragons[edit | edit source]

Publication history[edit | edit source]

Original D&D[edit | edit source]

The silver dragon first appeared in Greyhawk (Supplement 1) (1975).

Basic D&D[edit | edit source]

Silver dragons appear in the Monster & Treasure Assortment (1977). The metallic dragons rarely appear in the D&D basic line.

AD&D 1st edition[edit | edit source]

The silver dragon appears in the AD&D Monster Manual (1e) (1977), p.34.

AD&D 2nd edition[edit | edit source]

The silver dragon appears in the AD&D 2nd edition Monstrous Compendium Volume One (1989).

D&D 3rd edition[edit | edit source]

The silver dragon appears in the D&D third edition Monster Manual (3e){{UnknownBook}} and Monster Manual (3.5) (2003), p.86-88.They are further detailed in the Draconomicon (3e) (2003), p.53-55.

D&D 4th edition[edit | edit source]

The silver dragon and its metallic kin did not appear in the original Monster Manual for D&D 4th edition, but later appeared in Monster Manual 2 (2009). Statistics for individual dragons appeared later that year in Eberron Campaign Guide (2009) and Draconomicon: Metallic Dragons (2009), and Dragon Magazine #172 and #173.

D&D 5th edition[edit | edit source]

The silver dragon appears in the Monster Manual (5e) (2014), p.116-118.

Creative origins[edit | edit source]

The silver dragon was an invention of D&D creator Gary Gygax.

Gygax initially created the five chromatic dragons—red, green, white, black and blue—ultimately as variants on the fire-breathing dragon featured in stories such as The Hobbit (1937), itself inspired by Norse mythology. Next, he added the gold dragon, inspired instead by the dragons of oriental mythology, and having two breath weapons to reflect his belief that the oriental dragons were more powerful.[18][19]

In turn, this suggested the creation of a set of five metallic counterparts to the five chromatic dragons, matched to valuable metals: gold, silver, bronze, copper, and brass, with platinum ultimately becoming their deity Bahamut, the Platinum Dragon, as an equivalent to Tiamat.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Monstrous Compendium Volume One (1989).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 Draconomicon (3e) (2003), p.53-55.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Monster Manual 2 (4e) (2009), p.85-87.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Monster Manual (3.5) (2003), p.86-88.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Draconomicon: Metallic Dragons (2009), p.38.
  6. Monster Manual (1e) (1977), p.34.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Greyhawk (Supplement 1) (1975), p.36.
  8. Draconomicon (3e) (2003), p.14.
  9. SJR6 Greyspace (2e) (1992), p.33-38.
  10. Monster Manual (5e) (2014), p.116-118.
  11. Cutting up the Dragon:: Useful Bits from Formidable Foes, Dragon #332 (Jun 2005), p.47-57.
  12. Draconomicon: Metallic Dragons (2009), p.9.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Dragons: The Perilous Burden, Dragon #320 (Jun 2004), p.47-51.
  14. R-1 To the Aid of Falx (1982), p.2.
  15. Sillitellimut is potentially a corruption of Sjirirthirimut, meaning "scroll-knowledge, of the clan of Bahamut". See Races of the Dragon (2006), p.148.
  16. "Dragons and their deities", Dragon #86 (Jun 1984), p.36-37.
  17. SJR6 Greyspace (2e) (1992), p.92.
  18. "If you read the intro to the SLAYER’S GUIDE TO DRAGONS fromMongoose, you’ll see therein how I came up with the chromatic dragons. Some colors other than red were needed, hues that would be harmonious with their breath wespons. When I’d done the four new additions to the CHAINMAIL red dragon, it seemed a good plan to have a LG dragon, one of gold color that was based on the Oriental model. From that I worked on the rest of the metallic species." — Gary Gygax, Q&A With Gary Gygax part 1 (2002), ENWorld.
  19. "As it was bpth or different origination and alignment I desiced to empower the gold dragon so as to more closely resemble the potent Oriental sort. So it got more of everything, including two breath weapons." — Gary Gygax, Q&A With Gary Gygax part 5 (2004), ENWorld.
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