Alternate Class - Dragonfire Adept

"I'll have no need of spells, skill at arms, or faith to defeat you. At my beck and call are the most powerful forces the world has seen - the flame and fury of dragons!" - Tariana, a dragonfire adept

Whether they are bold champions defending the weak and downtrodden, or merciless raiders seeking might and riches, dragonfire adepts are imposing figures who command the magic of dragonkind. Able to call upon a dragon's fiery breath and augment themselves with spell-like abilities, dragonfire adepts have access to powers normally beyond the teach of humanoids.

Dragonfire adepts have no arcane or divine magic, nor are they masters of martial prowess. Instead, they draw upon a direct link with the nature of draconic existence, infusing their soul with the raw magic of dragons. The most obvious incarnation of this link is their breath weapon, but as they gain experience, dragonfire adepts learn powerful invocations that allow them to access different draconic abilities. Cunning, hearty, and learned, dragonfire adepts can be warleaders or sages with equal ease.

A dragonfire adept is a student devoted to understanding the ways of dragons and emulating them. Evil dragonfire adepts are cruel tyrants who impose their will on others, seeking to control land, build strongholds, and amass vast treasures. Good dragonfire adepts are champions of justice and freedom, using their powers to aid others. Like a sorcerer, a dragonfire adept gains new powers automatically as she rises in level, tapping ever deeper into the draconic magic in her soul. Unlike a sorcerer, however, a dragonfire adept manifests this magic not in the form of spells, but as invocations that emulate draconic powers.

Making A Dragonfire Adept

A dragonfire adept is a flexible character, able to provide support in combat and aid her allies directly or indirectly. While she lacks the capacity of a fighter or wizard for dealing damage, she is more resistant to magical effects and can use her abilities to make her comrades more effective.

Abilities: Constitution is critical to a dragonfire adept; it makes her more resilient and affects how well targets can resist her breath weapon attacks. Charisma, her second most important ability, impacts the effectiveness of her invocations.

Of course, Dexterity is useful for any character in combat, but this is especially true for a dragonfire adept. She lacks skill with heavy armor, and her magic focuses on offense over defense. Worse, a dragonfire adept has limited range with her breath weapon attacks, forcing her to move closer to combat than a typical arcane spellcaster. A high Dexterity helps mitigate these various defensive drawbacks.

Races: Most dragonfire adepts are humans, elves, or half-elves, since the study of dragonkind is not unlike the study of arcane magic. A surprising number of half-orcs also become dragonfire adepts, seeking either to find a place for themselves or to create one through force. Dwarves are rarely dragonfire adepts because of their ancient enmity with dragonkind. Most halflings and gnomes lack the burning drive needed to take this class.

Alignment: A dragonfire adept can be of any alignment, though her choice has a strong impact on which dragons she can associate with. Dragonfire adepts often act similarly to dragons of the same alignment; for example, chaotic evil adepts are rapacious hunters of treasure and power, and lawful good adepts are noble defenders of a selected group or territory. Alignment can also influence a dragonfire adept's choice of affinity when taking the Draconic Heritage feat, though no game rule restricts this choice. For example, a lawful good dragonfire adept can select red dragons when taking this feat.

Neutral dragonfire adepts are rare, but evil, good, lawful, and chaotic representatives are equally common. The urge to delve into the mysteries of draconic energies comes more easily to those who have strong beliefs and wish to actively pursue them.

Starting Gold: 2d4X10 (50 gp).

Starting Age: As paladin.

Class Skills

The dragonfire adept's class skills are Appraise, Bluff, Climb, Concentration, Craft, Decipher Script, Diplomacy, Intimidate, Jump, Knowledge (all skills taken individually), Listen, Search, Sense Motive, Speak Language, Spellcraft, Spot, and Use Magic Device.

Skill Points at 1st Level: (4 + Int modifier) x 4.

Skill Points at each additional level: 4 + Int modifier.

Class Features

All of the following are class features of the dragonfire adept.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Dragonfire adepts are proficient with simple weapons, but not with armor or shields. Like arcane spellcasters, a dragonfire adept wearing armor or using a shield incurs a chance of arcane spell failure (all invocations have somatic components).

Invocations: A dragonfire adept has a repertoire of attacks, defenses, and other abilities known as draconic invocations, which allow her to focus the draconic energy that suffuses her soul. A dragonfire adept can use any invocation she knows at will.

A dragonfire adept's invocations are spell-like abilities; using an invocation is therefore a standard action that provokes attacks of opportunity. To avoid provoking such attacks, a dragonfire adept can use an invocation defensively by making a successful Concentration check. An invocation can be disrupted, just as a spell can be ruined during casting. If a dragonfire adept is hit by an attack while invoking, she is entitled to a Concentration check to successfully use the invocation, just as a spellcaster would be. Her invocations are subject to spell resistance unless an invocation's description specifically states otherwise. A dragonfire adept's caster level with her invocations is equal to her class level. She can dismiss any invocation as a standard action, just as a wizard can dismiss a spell.

If an invocation allows a saving throw, its DC is 10 + the equivalent spell level + the dragonfire adept's Cha modifier. Since spell-like abilities are not spells, a dragonfire adept cannot benefit from the Spell Focus feat or from draconic feats that let her convert or spend an arcane spell slot to produce some other effect. She can, however, benefit from the Ability Focus feat (MM 303), as well as from feats that emulate metamagic effects for spell-like abilities.

The four grades of draconic invocations, in order of their relative power, are least, lesser, greater, and dark. A 1st-level dragonfire adept begins with knowledge of one least invocation, gaining access to more invocations and higher grades as she attains levels. At any level when a dragonfire adept learns a new invocation, she can also replace an invocation she already knows with another invocation of the same or lower grade. See Draconic Invocations, below, for a list of available invocations.

Unlike other spell-like abilities, draconic invocations are subject to arcane spell failure chance as described under Weapon and Armor Proficiency, above.

Finally, just like warlocks, dragonfire adepts can qualify for some prestige classes usually intended for spellcasters.

Breath Weapon (Su): At 1st level, you gain a breath weapon that you can use at will as a standard action. Each time you use your breath weapon, you can choose whether it takes the form of a 15-foot cone or a 30-foot line. This breath weapon deals 1d6 points of fire damage; a successful Reflex save (DC 10 + 1/2 your class level + your Con modifier) halves the damage. As you gain levels, your breath weapon's damage increases.

You are immune to the effect of your own breath weapon (but not to other breath weapons that produce similar effects, even those of other dragonfire adepts).

At 10th level, your cone-shaped breath weapon's range doubles to 30 feet, and your line-shaped breath weapon's range doubles to 60 feet.

Dragontouched: At 1st level, you gain Dragontouched as a bonus feat.

Breath Effect: At 2nd, 5th, 10th, 12th, 15th, and 20th level, you can select one of the breath effects in Dragonfire Adept Breath Effects for which you meet the minimum level prerequisite. These breath effects can alter your breath weapon's damage type or area, or apply a condition to targets in place of damage. Each time you use your breath weapon, you can choose to apply any one breath effect that you know. The chosen effect either replaces the normal fire damage dealt by your breath weapon or replaces the standard area of your breath weapon. Some effects can be applied only to a cone-shaped breath weapon, and others only to a line-shaped breath weapon. You can't apply more than one breath effect to your breath weapon unless the effect specifically states otherwise. Also, you can't apply the same breath effect to your breath weapon in two consecutive rounds (though you still can use your normal fire breath weapon every round).

See Dragon Magic, page 177 for full descriptions of the breath effects.

Scales (Ex): At 2nd level, your skin becomes thick and scaly, granting you a +2 bonus to your natural armor. The scales can be of any color or metallic hue; they are often (but not always) of a draconic hue that matches your outlook and alignment. This bonus improves to +3 at 8th level, to +4 at 13th level, and to +5 at 18th level.

If you already have a natural armor bonus, use the higher of the two values.

Dragonkin (Ex): At 4th level, you gain a +4 competence bonus on Diplomacy checks made: to influence the attitude of dragons or creatures of the dragonblood subtype. You are treated as a dragon for the purpose of determining whether frightful presence can affect you.

Damage Reduction (Ex): At 6th level, you gain damage reduction 2/magic. At 16th level, this improves to damage reduction 5/magic.

Immunities (Ex): At 19th level, you gain immunity to paralysis and sleep.

Dragonfire AdeptHit Die: d8
CLBABFort SaveRef SaveWill SaveSpecialInvocations Known
1st+0+2+0+2Breath weapon 1d6, Dragontouched, least invocations1
2nd+1+3+0+3Breath effect, scales +21
3rd+1+3+1+3Breath weapon 2d62
5th+2+4+1+4Breath weapon 3d6, breath effect2
6th+3+5+2+5Damage reduction 2/magic, lesser invocations3
7th+3+5+2+5Breath weapon 4d63
8th+4+6+2+6Scales +34
9th+4+6+3+6Breath weapon 5d64
10th+5+7+3+7Breath weapon range doubles, breath effect4
11th+5+7+3+7Breath weapon 6d6, greater invocations5
12th+6/+1+8+4+8Breath effect5
13th+6/+1+8+4+8Scales +46
14th+7/+2+9+4+9Breath weapon 7d66
15th+7/+2+9+5+9Breath effect-
16th+8/+3+10+5+10Damage reduction 5/magic, dark invocations7
17th+8/+3+10+5+10Breath weapon 8d67
18th+9/+4+11+6+11Scales +58
20th+10/+5+12+6+12Breath weapon 9d6, breath effect8
Dragonfire Adept Breath Effects
Minimum LevelBreath EffectBenefit
2ndFrost BreathCone-shaped breath weapon deals cold damage
2ndLightning BreathLine-shaped breath weapon deals electricity damage
2ndSickening BreathCone-shaped breath weapon sickens creatures
5thAcid BreathBreath weapon deals acid damage
5thShaped BreathCreate safe zones in your breath weapon's area
5thSlow BreathCone-shaped breath weapon slows creatures
5thWeakening BreathCone-shaped breath weapon imposes -6 penalty to Strength
10thCloud BreathBreath weapon can take form of 20-foot radius cloud
10thEnduring BreathBreath weapon deals damage over 2 rounds
10thSleep BreathCone-shaped breath weapon puts weak creatures to sleep
10thThunder BreathCone-shaped breath weapon deals sonic damage
15thDiscorporating Breath of BahamutLine-shaped breath weapon deals double damage, disintegrates creatures
15thForce BreathLine-shaped breath weapon deals force damage
15thParalyzing BreathCone-shaped breath weapon paralyzes creatures for 1 round
15thFivefold Breath of TiamatBreathe five different breath weapons simultaneously

Draconic Invocations

Each draconic invocation falls into one of four grades: least, lesser, greater, or dark. These invocations are briefly described below.

Playing A Dragonfire Adept

You are a student of what is arguably the oldest and most powerful force any mortal can manipulate-the fiery breath of dragons. Remember the nobility and grace of the forces you seek to understand, and act in all ways as you would expect a dragon to act. You are fierce as a friend, terrible as a foe, and confident in all actions. You see the value of treasure, but refuse to be defined or slowed down by what you own. The only improvement worth your time is self-improvement, and you take any opportunity to test yourself against the challenges of the world. You are steadfast in your goals, never allowing your quest for dragonlike powers to eclipse what you want to do with those powers. Your goals are both simple and grand, requiring years or even a lifetime of work-eliminating one entire race of foes, ruling your own kingdom, founding your own school or community, righting an ancient wrong, being acknowledged by true dragons as one of their kind, and so on. Nothing less is worthy of your time.


Most likely, you don't pay much attention to religion, focusing more on dragons than deities. If you do have religious tendencies, you're drawn to the same gods as sorcerers: Wee Jas, Vecna, and Boccob. Dragon deities, including Bahamut and Tiamat, are also popular choices, and you're willing to worship them even in lands where few others do so.

Other Classes

You value study, discipline, and raw power. You get along well with spellcasters of all kinds, especially bards and druids, whom you see as delving into the essence of music or nature much as you delve into the essence of breath weapons. You're similarly impressed with the skill shown by monks and fighters, who have devoted themselves to mastering styles of combat and self-improvement. In fact, you're tolerant of all classes, as long as members of those classes show you respect and have compatible alignments.


You are best served by hitting your foes first and keeping your distance from them. More resilient than a sorcerer, you still lack the defensive power of spellcasters or the armor of fighters, making you vulnerable (especially in melee). However, you need not move close to a foe to deal damage, and you can often catch multiple targets in a breath weapon attack. You are a heavy hitter in your party, but you depend on allies to keep foes from closing with you or focusing on you with ranged attacks.

As you advance, you are well served to invest in breath effects and invocations that have an effect other than dealing damage. If you can't drop a foe in one or two attacks, you can use Sickening Breath, Slow Breath, the frightful presence invocation, or the like to make your opponent less dangerous in a prolonged fight.


You have spent your life trying to learn the secrets of a race older and more powerful than your own. This interest in dragons is more than academic - it has been the motivating force for years of difficult study, practice, and experimentation. Perhaps a dragon's breath weapon once destroyed your home or killed a loved one, and you vowed to gain control of the power that ruined your life. Or perhaps a good dragon used its breath weapon to eliminate an entire horde that otherwise would have raided your homeland. Whatever the case, since the day you first set foot on this path, you've worked to master a magic that is more primal than spells and more likely to provide defense than training with shields and armor.

The invocations you choose strongly shape your abilities. You are heavily invested in combat prowess as a result of the confrontational nature of breath weapons, but you have some flexibility in how you develop your power. If you choose only offensive invocations, you will have few defenses and limited versatility beyond combat, but you'll be devastating even in situations when your breath weapon is not a strong tactical choice. If you focus on other invocations, you will have more options outside a fight, but you might have only area attacks that could accidentally hurt a friend, or you might lack the elemental damage type needed to harm a particular foe.

Playing a Dragonfire Adept

Dragonfire adepts allow players to take the roles of dragons without eclipsing other characters. A dragonfire adept can serve as a wise sage, a heavy-hitting source of mystic damage, or a crafty ally who confuses and weakens foes with invocations and breath effects. Though its primary abilities are based on familiar game mechanics, this class gives players new options without making other classes obsolete. It also brings dragons to the fore in a campaign, which gives players and Dungeon Masters alike new opportunities.

Dragonfire adepts divide their time between practicing the power of their breath weapon, undertaking study of their arcane invocations, and working to build a strong base of allies and friends. Good-aligned dragonfire adepts defend the weak and frightened, bringing the power of dragons to the aid of those in need. Evil dragonfire adepts chase after more treasure and more power, not caring who they harm in the process. Dragonfire adepts of all alignments remain alert for new sources of draconic lore and investigate likely leads or promising instructors.

NPC Reactions

The reactions dragonfire adepts receive from communities are directly tied to how those cultures regard dragons and those who wish to emulate them. Residents who have suffered under the ravages of evil dragons are often fearful of - or hostile to - anyone who walks into town and lights a fireplace with a breath weapon, no matter her alignment. In places where dragons are seen as defenders, or at least neutral sages, dragonfire adepts are more likely to be received as great manipulators of magic similar to sorcerers. Kingdoms in which dragonfire adepts are common are often more savvy in their dealings with the class.

Races: Dwarves are extremely suspicious of dragonfire adepts, viewing them as two-legged versions of the greedy, treasure-loving monsters that often raid their settlements. They are especially doubtful of dwarf dragonfire adepts, who are seen as traitors to their own race.

Other Classes: Sorcerers are drawn strongly to dragonfire adepts because the two classes share a primal link to dragonkind. Monks, however, are often puzzled, branding dragonfire adepts as fools who seek to become something that is at best freakish and at worst monstrous.

Dragonfire Adept Lore

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

Dragonfire Adepts in the Game

As bottomless sources of arcane damage, dragonfire adepts serve roles similar to those of sorcerers and fighters, though they duplicate the abilities of neither. They also contribute to overall party support, as do bards and clerics, though this is not their primary role. The class should suit players who dislike the bookkeeping that comes with spellcasters but still want to experiment with arcane options and work with other characters to bring down particularly formidable foes. Though the dragonfire adept class is not more powerful than other standard classes, it allows characters to forge a close connection to one of the most popular elements of the game - dragons. Even if a dragonfire adept never faces other draconic foes, the player gets to call on dragonlike abilities often enough to feel important and special. The DM should make sure that NPCs occasionally react to a character who commands the breath weapon of a dragon with the respect and awe the player is likely to expect.

Generally, dragonfire adepts act similarly to dragons of the same alignment, but they often display the concerns and biases of their own race as well. An elf dragonfire adept can be found defending the forest home of his ancestors, or a half-orc dragonfire adept leading a raiding party into human territories. Rather than devote their lives purely to the draconic, they add their desire to prove their dragonlike nature on top of more typical concerns.


With some work, it's possible to link dragonfire adepts to other powerful mythic creatures instead. Any beast with a breath weapon and a tie to arcane magic can replace the dragon, allowing for winter wolf adepts or similar variants. The class can also be adapted to elemental powers, making them closely related to genies or elemental outsiders.

Source: Dragon Magic

Alternate Character Classes
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