Oterisk’s guide to the Dragon Disciple

Oterisk’s Guide to the Dragon Disciple- 

A “How To” for the Living Myth

So, you want to follow the way of the dragon?  Well, it isn’t for the faint of heart, perhaps if you read this document you may change your mind.  Unlocking the dragon blood within is an irreversible process and you will never be mistaken for normal again.  The mortal races will fear you.  To ignite the old blood you must shun all pretenses of a average life and release the beast within.

Okay, no one has ever tried one of Treantmonk’s guides for a prestige class before, but since this one has pretty wide appeal as well as a great many different opinions, it seemed pretty insurmountable.  Well, doing the impossible is what heroes do, so here we go.

Overview–

The Dragon Disciple is a mix of beast and magic.  The only question when optimizing such a hybrid is how much of which you want.  Since this is an optimization guide, you have some choices to make and I wish to present them to you with an opinion of how well they might work for you.  But since this is a Optimization guide for the Dragon Disciple and not any particular class, I will mainly be discussing builds that use 7-10 levels of the prestige class.  

That being said, a level of sorcerer followed by 4 levels of Dragon disciple isn’t a terrible choice for many melee classes looking to diversify their possibilities in combat.  Although there are other more optimized things they could do with their base classes, so they won’t be discussed here.

So here is the color coding made famous by the Progenitor of Guides himself:  Treantmonk.  Please do not confuse these ratings with actual Chromatic Dragons, for it will get you eaten.

Blue– The best and most Dragonesque of choices.

Green– Also a good color for Dragons, though not as good as blue.

Orange– There are no Orange dragons, this is a clue that while useful, this isn’t something you should go out of your way for.

Red A great Dragon color, a bad Dragon choice.  (vulnerability to cold notwithstanding)

Roles:

Many a GM will tell you that the real fun with dragons is not their fighting capability but their thinking and spellcasting which have made them such iconic bad guys that the game was named after them.  But here are your options:

The Brute Beast- Green

The Dragon Disciple does this pretty well.  His boost to strength and d12 hit dice as well as synergy with the Barbarian can make one of the strongest characters possible.  The only problem is when you rage, you lose your spell casting ability.  Bloodrager is now the new go to for this option.  Since your GM can allow DD to bump your bloodrager bloodlines, it’s a really good option with very little lost as far as caster levels are concerned.  You don’t get the feats that a fighter gets for more tactical fighting as well, so you may find yourself in a pinch with nothing left to do but try to claw your way out.  Because this is a viable option I will discuss on how to do this, but remember, even taking the DD to 8th level will make you a 7th level caster.  

Here you are basically looking at 10-11  levels of any heavy damage class, 1-2 levels of your favorite Inevitable class, and 8 levels of DD for some stat boosts and versatility.  Doing this is actually a wonderful tactic in a low point buy game where stats are worth much more than gold, but often will slow down the character’s class abilities, iterative attacks, and is generally not an optimal choice for that class.  I will point out a couple strategies for those who want to do something like this later when I go through the various classes.  

Abilities:  Str>Con>Cha>Int=Wis=Dex

Strength is all you need for this build, and since your sorcerer levels will be at a minimum, you will want to probably go Eldritch Heritage for your other bloodline so it will go up with your level.  Charisma can be as low as 12-14 and you can gain all the spells you need with a headband.

Puff the Magic Dragon- Green

There is a reason why there are no martial requirements for this prestige class.  Eight levels of DD will still get you 9th level sorcerer spells at level twenty, so being a full caster is still an option.  the extra hit dice, strength and constitution bonuses are quite good, as well as the permanent natural armor.  You gain a few spell like abilities as well, and get to progress your bloodline feats, which even Eldritch Knight doesn’t even do.  Even though you lose a couple of caster levels there are some major spell casting benefits for taking this class.  You can contribute martially as well, with Transmutation spells and decent statistics.  The longspear is your friend, especially with enlarge person.

Abilities:  Cha>Str>Con>Int=Wis=Dex

The higher the Charisma the more bonus slots you get for blasting.  If you are focusing on primarily casting spells, then you won’t need as high of Strength or Constitution.  Not to say you should dump either of them, just that it shouldn’t be quite as high.

The Archer- Red

While your bonus to strength is fun for damage, you don’t get the feats or class abilities to really make this work.  There are many other ways to make this work.  And for goodness sake dude, just so you get it through your head.  DRAGONS DON”T USE BOWS.  That is all.

The Shadow Dragon- Orange

 A Half Orc Ninja or Thug would be a fun concept for a sneaky Dragon Disciple.  The Ninja could work with a high charisma casty and add some extra damage via sneak attack and the spell casting could help them sneak.  There are better ways to do this though, and going this route would only be an exercise in frustration for many.  The new Slayer class alleviates some of this as well as giving options for permanent claws, so that’s something that makes this option a little better.

Abilities: Str=Dex=Cha>Con>Int=Wis

You will need Dex, at least a little for extra bonuses to your Stealth score, and I suppose to shore up your reflex save.  Just don’t dump it.  Your concept is to blind the enemy and use your abilities to take them out in the dark.  Shadow Bloodline and Darkvision are pretty important here.  I’d recommend one of the Inevitables that allows armor (not sorcerer) for Shadow enhancements on your armor.  

The Beast Caster- Blue

Raise your hand if you didn’t see this coming.  You are like a dragon.  You are patterned after the most famous bad guys in the game.  It is time to start thinking like one.  If someone comes after you with physical might, you fly and use your spells and breath weapon to destroy them.  If they come after you with spells, you charge in and tear them apart.  Switch hitting is the game.  You buff and nail them with spells and then when they either close on you or you pounce, you can finish them off with your prowess in combat.  

Abilities:  Str=Cha>Con>Int=Wis=Dex

I would start off with a reasonably high Charisma, like a 16-18, and near the same for the Strength, and then pump all your level bonuses into Strength.  It is good to pay attention to both statistics though, so you can do either if the situation requires it.  

Class Features:

Spells per Day- Orange

One of the worst things about this prestige class is this in particular: the fact that you get ? spell progression while you take it.  Of course the rest of the features are supposed to make up for this, and I think they do.  At least enough to take 8-10 levels of them

Blood of Dragons- Green

This is one of the reasons to take Dragon Disciple.  While your spells are slowed down, your bloodline powers keep on truckin’.  If you take the Crossblooded Archetype, this progresses all of your bloodline powers, not just the Draconic ones.  It also evens out your bonus spells to when you arrive at the new spell level, so you are never without a known spell at your highest level with that particular archetype.  But since most builds won’t take 20 levels of Sorcerer/DD, it isn’t quite as good.  Most can get the extra Breath weapon at level 9, as well as the natural armor bonuses.  

Natural Armor Bonus- Blue

This is a Permanent, stackable NA bonus.  Since the Draconic Bloodline also gives you NA by your 15th sorcerer level you have a +7 to your NA.  I don’t think anyone would refuse having this.  Here’s the trigger.  The bonuses from the DD prestige class specifically say they stack, so unlike normal NA bonuses they should work with polymorph spells.

Ability Boost- Blue

This is probably one of the main draws to being a Dragon Disciple.  Everyone seems to like the Strength boost, but the Con and Intelligence boost are nice as well.  Once again, these are permanent stackable bonuses.  You can’t go too wrong with this.

Bloodline Feat- Orange

Extra feats are cool, but there aren’t that many to choose from, and not all of them are terribly useful.  I don’t think anyone looks at this prestige class and says “I can get the draconic bonus feats!”  But feats are feats, and you get them.  Blind-Fight, Great Fortitude, Improved Initiative, Power Attack, Quicken Spell, Skill Focus (Fly), Skill Focus (Knowledge [arcana]),Toughness.

Dragon Bite- Orange/Green/Blue

This is probably the best bite you can pick up without being a Synthesist.  You do only get it a few times per day though.  Eldritch Heritage Abyssal Sorcerers get it twice as much, which would make it green at best.  I am of the opinion that whenever you use your bloodline powers to grow your dragon form that you also gain this type of bite with your transformation.  This really makes it a useful class quality all the way through.

Breath Weapon:  Green

The usefulness of the Breath weapon depends on how many levels of sorcerer you take.  If you take quite a few, you will be using your Breath Weapon quite often.  If you don’t, your other spells will be better for you and you will be saving this one for minor swarms.

Blindsense:  Green 

Would be cool if it were Blindsight, all this does is make it easier to find stuff when you can’t see.  It doesn’t make you hit them any easier.  Good thing you got blind fighting as a bonus feat.  Turning the lights off in that sense would be good for you.

Dragon Form:  Green

This is a 6th level spell.  You can cast it once per day.  At 10th level, its a 7th level spell cast twice a day.  This is really good, especially if you focus on natural weapons.  Bards and Summoners don’t get 7th level spells normally, although they do get some early entry stuff.  This feature is even better for Beast builds, who will have a lower caster level.  Just remember that you can’t cast as a dragon with any material components without Eschew Materials.  You get it for free as a Sorcerer, but not with either of the other two.  

Wings:  Blue

These are permanent, unlike almost every other class ability that grants you the same thing.  This is one reason why people love this class.  No need for Overland Flight and you look awesome.

Races: 

Dwarf- Orange

No bonus to Strength, negatives to Charisma.  Bonus to saves are nice, but most of this stuff just doesn’t jive.  Might make a passable beast with extra rage rounds as a Barbarian, but the penalty to Charisma makes it near impossible to get good stats with a point buy.  Of course, if it is allowed, crossblooded sorcerer with Empyreal bloodlnes might possibly make it worth it, that is if your GM allows such a thing.  Otherwise, this is red.  

Elf- Red

No bonus to Strength or Charisma, negatives to constitution:  the only way I would take DD with an elf is if I was going to do that wacky wizard build below or crossblooded with the Sage bloodline.  Elves do make fine casters, and the free proficiency with the elven curve blade is nice, but you are always going to be a step behind other races with this build.  As long as you know what you are getting into here, do what you will.   (edit: Due to the FAQ change recently, an elf with the Envoy racial trait can take any number of any class and still qualify for Dragon Disciple.  A single classed Elf Wizard, Witch or even better, Magus can go straight into DD at level 6.  That’s if you don’t want to take a level of Crossblooded Sorcerer to amp up your elemental damage.)

Gnome- Orange

The bonus to Charisma is good for a casting focused Dragon Disciple, the Strength hurts though, so I cannot really recommend this for better than orange.  At higher level, when you do more polymorphing due to a decreased strength, you will have a 10% worse chance of hitting per attack and a fair bit less damage in melee.  The Pyromaniac Racial trait is nice for an extra small blast at level 1 to help you get through the beginning, but I really wouldn’t recommend this.  (edit: Due to the FAQ change recently, an gnome with the Pyromaniac racial trait can take any number of any class and still qualify for Dragon Disciple.  This is still suboptimal for the gnome, as the class choices for spellcasting don’t really work well for the gnome better than a sorcerer would, but you could probably jump into DD with a full melee class and pick up some strength boosts for a green beast.)

Half Elf- Blue

Since a majority of your builds using Summoner or Bard are going to want the Eldritch heritage feats, this is a great way to go if you are going to use those two of the inevitables.  They get the Skill focus at level one, and can pick up the second as early as level 3 if they like.  The Favored bonus for the Summoner is money.  Four HP or Skill points for an additional evolution point is great.  The rest of the abilities after that seem pretty good given your other options.  Having two favored classes is also good.  It only lacks a bit on the straight caster build, which isn’t exactly the most optimal build anyway.  

Half Orc- Green

Darkvision, Intimidating and Ferocity make this a solid choice, but the lack of the extra feat doesn’t really help.  Your sorcerer favored class bonus is nice, but it doesn’t work on your breath weapon or your other bloodline abilities and isn’t quite as good because you only will get a +2 bonus to fire damage versus 4-5 hit points by the time you hit the prestige class.  Still a solid choice, and a good flavor reason to go with the Orc Crossblooded or Eldritch Heritage feats.

Halfling- Orange

The bonus to saves and the Charisma bonus is nice, but Dex isn’t really needed and Strength really is.  The bonus to Dex means you can dump it for some extra build points or ignore it and get a slight bonus.  If you wanted to go Stealth Dragon or Magic Dragon, it might pass for okay.  Otherwise I would pass.

Human- Blue

The extra feat is really nice, and the extra skill points can help when assigning points to Intelligence or your lack thereof.  The bonus spells known help with Bard and Sorcerer builds, and Heart of the Fields isn’t bad if you wanted to get some Barbarian levels.  Like always, this is a great choice.

Monster races

Aasimar- Blue No negative stats and darkvision is good, but not terribly good, but the new Variant options, especially the Angel-blooded is downright awesome with bonuses in the right places and a free Alter Self once per day.  It’s like the developers were reading my list to Santa.  

Catfolk- Green, the bonus to Cha is nice, and so are the permanent claws.  The new Claw Pounce feat is cool, but since it only works for the claws, I don’t see it being better than a whole heap of other options.

Changeling- Green, the negative to Con is tough, but darkvision and claws are good.  The Feat Mother’s Gift makes up for the lack of a Strength bonus, so if you want to be a lady DD, this becomes a solid Green.

Dhampir- Grange, not too bad but I don’t like the negative energy thing.  (edit: Due to the FAQ change recently, a dhampir qualifies to be a Dragon Disciple with simply 5 ranks in Knowledge Arcana and being able to speak Draconic.  This opens up the possibility of way more options with this race, putting it solidly into the green.)

Drow- See below

Drow, Noble- With this many abilities, It has to be at least green (edit: Due to the FAQ change recently, a drow or drow noble qualifies to be a Dragon Disciple with simply 5 ranks in Knowledge Arcana and being able to speak Draconic.  This opens up the possibility of way more options with this race, putting it solidly into the green, encroaching blue for a strength Magus.)

Duergar- a Dwarfier Dwarf- a Reddier Red, The Emperyal Bloodline doesn’t make any sense with this like it does for the regular dwarf, so it is bad on all levels.  (edit: Due to the FAQ change recently, a duergar qualifies to be a Dragon Disciple with simply 5 ranks in Knowledge Arcana and being able to speak Draconic.  Now that you aren’t tied to a stat which you take a -4 in, this actually helps quite a bit.  Being able to turn invisible and enlarge makes you quite amazing as a Strength based Magus, or possibly a Wizard or Witch.)

Fetchling- It has some pretty nice things, making for a good DD Shadow Dragon.(edit: Due to the FAQ change recently, a Fetchling qualifies to be a Dragon Disciple with simply 5 ranks in Knowledge Arcana and being able to speak Draconic.  This could make for a great magus or even a ninja shadow dragon build, pushing it into the blue.)

Gillman- Green if you pick an aquatic dragon like Gold or Bronze and are in a aquatic campaign.

Goblin- Anyone descended from dragons would never ever have sex with a goblin.  = Red

Grippli- Red because of small size, and no beneficial ability scores

Hobgoblin- Orange for no negatives, the con bonus and darkvision are good.

Ifrit- Green- might take the crossblooded fire/Dragon line for a higher effective Charisma. (edit: Due to the FAQ change recently, an ifrit qualifies to be a Dragon Disciple with simply 5 ranks in Knowledge Arcana and being able to speak Draconic.  The Ifrit doesn’t have much going for it other than the extra Cha boost, so it really wouldn’t change the color of this race.)

Kitsune- Orange for a bite at level one for free, and the bonus to Cha.  The penalty to Str hurts.(edit: Due to the FAQ change recently, a Kitsune with the Magical Tail feat qualifies to be a Dragon Disciple with simply 5 ranks in Knowledge Arcana and being able to speak Draconic.  This is still hurt by the strength penalty, so I still don’t really recommend it, especially since Kitsune make good sorcerers anyway.)

Kobold- Orange- White or Red are thematically cool, they could make passable casters.  Now that the feat Scaled Disciple is available, being able to be an Oracle or even an Inquisitor for 5 levels and keep casting levels going through DD is pretty amazing and worth looking into. It would pump this race into the green, but it works even better for Humans with the Racial Heritage feat.  Other racial feats are good too, and will be discussed later.)

Merfolk- Blue? The speed penalty only hurts you for a few levels.  Take a level of barbarian and Strongtail to start, and you move better than a halfling.  Also, buy a mount.  After a few levels, you just fly when you need to move fast and eventually, all of the time.  For your pleasure you get good stat bonuses and even more natural armor.

Nagaji- Bonus to Str and Cha?  Natural armor?  This is very blue.  (edit: Due to the FAQ change recently, a Nagaji with the Hypnotic Gaze trait qualifies to be a Dragon Disciple with simply 5 ranks in Knowledge Arcana and being able to speak Draconic.  This gives a full BAB Nagaji an even higher strength without having to take a -2 penalty to BAB to do it.  It really opens up the options and makes for an even more potent character.)

Orc- Green, no one makes a better brute, a +4 to Str and darkvision help the Cha penalty

OreadGrange- this is passable with the crossblooded elemental or Empyreal archetypes.

Ratfolk- Red, Really are much better as thieves.

Samsaran- Red, These make decent casters, but not Cha based casters.  (edit: Due to the FAQ change recently, a Samsaran qualifies to be a Dragon Disciple with simply 5 ranks in Knowledge Arcana and being able to speak Draconic.  This opens up more options for the Samsaran, but really these should be dedicated casters, so I don’t really recommend this option.)

Strix- Flight is good, but you get it later anyway.  This is pretty Red.

Suli- Bonus to Str and Cha and elemental affinity?  This is good and blue.

Svirfneblin– Red, penalties to Str and Cha.  If your GM lets you play one, don’t waste it on DD.  (edit: Due to the FAQ change recently, a Svirfneblin qualifies to be a Dragon Disciple with simply 5 ranks in Knowledge Arcana and being able to speak Draconic.  It still is far more amazing to have this race do many other classes, but it could make DD workable with this race.)

Sylph- Orange, nothing good nothing bad.  (edit: Due to the FAQ change recently, a sylph qualifies to be a Dragon Disciple with simply 5 ranks in Knowledge Arcana and being able to speak Draconic.  They would make a good Magus or Wizard, and this choice makes them green.)

Tengu- They use swords, you don’t.  Red

Tiefling- Demon Spawn variant type is the best Stat bonuses you can get.  Also fits the fluff of the Abyssal Bloodline.  Very Blue

Undine- Red, even crossblooded.  Better off with a Gillman.(edit: Due to the FAQ change recently, an undine qualifies to be a Dragon Disciple with simply 5 ranks in Knowledge Arcana and being able to speak Draconic.  While the negative to strength is still really bad, it might work to put it into the orange.)

Vanara- Thematically and statistically better for other things.  Red.

Vishkanya- Orange.  The bonus to charisma is nice and the poison could be fun, but otherwise, thats about it for usefulness.  

Wayang- Red, small and not particularly suited for a DD.  (edit: Due to the FAQ change recently, a Wayang qualifies to be a Dragon Disciple with simply 5 ranks in Knowledge Arcana and being able to speak Draconic.  It makes 4-8 levels of DD work for an already freaky looking intelligence based caster, if you want to give up 2 levels of spell progression for a +2 to Int as well as the rest of the boons from DD.  I’d raise it to orange at that point.)

Style Considerations:

In this section, I am going to take a look at various fighting and casting styles and their pros and cons as they relate to the Dragon Disciple.  These ratings are meant to portray the ability of the DD to use the styles, not the effectiveness of the style themselves.  Those opinions vary wildly, and would only take up space in this already lengthy guide.

Fighting Styles:

Two Handed Weapon:  Green

The DD gains a huge amount of strength, having a two handed weapon will get you a fair bit more damage.  It also is an easy style to be good with, so it comes highly recommended.  Reach weapons are also a really good option for you, since dropping them and gaining claws for close combat are both free actions.  This doesn’t stack well with your FotD powers, since all your gear melds into your body for the duration, but if you were not planning on using that much, or before you get there, its a really good option.

Sword and Board:  Orange and Two Weapon Fighting:  Red

S&B is useful at low levels for extra AC, but loses its effectiveness as you level because you can’t keep up with the feats necessary to make it awesome.  If you were to use a shield, the buckler is a good choice, because you don’t have to take it off to attack with that limb.  

If you are feat starved, TWF is also a bad idea.  Also, these fighting styles are great for people who have static bonuses to each attack.  You don’t get that.  You get Strength.  And natural Armor bonuses.

Natural weapons:  Green/Blue

High Str and low BAB make for really good Natural weapon fighters.  The only detriment to this is that you have a limited and static number of rounds you can use Claws per day at early levels.  Some GM’s will house rule the claws can be used longer or even indefinitely, but you can’t count on that.  This fighting style works great for you if you can get more reliable uses of Claws.  Here are the ways that I have found to do that.  They are rated by their effectiveness, not by their classes or their availability.  That is taken care of farther down.

2 levels of Barbarian, Beast Totem:  this gets you claws while raging.  Not terrible if you consider that it comes with a +4 stack to strength.  

2 levels of Ranger, Aspect of the Beast:  This may not seem like more than permanent claws that are d4 instead of d6.  This is blue because it is permanent, but also because it starts off a feat chain that is really nice.  Slayer also gets access to ranger combat styles, so keep that in your back pocket.

2 levels of Alchemist, Feral Mutagen:  claws and Bite for 20 minutes isn’t bad, especially if it comes with a +4 stack to strength.  Take an hour off, and you can do it again.  This is blue because you gain both claws and bite and a stackable natural armor bonus and stackable strength bonus.  Mutation Fighter can get this as well, but not until level 7, so it’s practically worthless there.

2 levels of Druid, Dragon Shaman:  Thematically cool, and you truly only need an 11 wisdom to pull it off, but I would check one of the others because you get full BAB or extra bonuses with them.

Eldrich Heritage: Abyssal:  doubles rounds of Sorcerer claws and stacks with Dragon Bite unless your GM is a jerk.  Since this is a prerequisite for the +6 Str bonus you get with the next bloodline power from Abyssal, its a good choice.

Alter Self:  Troglodyte form can get you claws and a bite for 1 minute per level, and you can flavor it to look more like a human/dragon.  This is a 2nd level spell for all classes.

4 levels of Druid or Hunter, Wild Shape:  The detriment to this is that it takes 4 levels to get.  The good parts are that it lasts hours/level.  Shaping focus gives you 3 uses of 8 hours a day.  That’s all day you can be an animal.  Here’s the point at which you have fun with your reflavoring pen.  Cross out all the things that refer to animals and make them into references to dragons. 

Casting Styles:

Blaster- Blue

The flavor text of Dragon Disciple seems to imply this.  Crossblooded sorcerer Archetype can actually really do this well, especially if you take the Orc or Elemental bloodlines.  Also, Scorching Ray is a good plan to defeat the reflex save, and your breath weapon counts pretty well too.  

Some people might think that the elemental blasting is not that great, but it isn’t really that bad.  Even if you use metamagic to change the type of damage you use, like say a cold fireball, that spell still has the (fire) subtype, and still qualifies for the damage bonuses you would get from Draconic or any other bloodline you crossed in there.  By RAW, that’s the way they work, so be wary of that when you pick your color for your Draconic bloodline.  

The only major trouble you are going to run into is SR, so keep up your caster level if you’re going this route, and invest in a piercing rod or the spell penetration feats if you find any to spare.

Something that has been brought up to me recently (Thanks GrenMeera) is that touch spells are a really fine option.  Since you have multiple natural attacks, you actually have multiple chances to get off touch spells per round.  So Quickened Shocking Grasps or Calcific Touches are not a bad way to get some extra damage in a round, and work even better if you have Spell perfection.  The more you can do while staying away from stuff that requires saves, the better. 

Buffer- Blue

You can do this fairly well, and since you are likely to have a lower caster level and DC’s it should be one of the first places you go.

Summoner- Orange

Augment summoning is really useful to being a good summoner, and it isn’t really worth the investment to someone who is going to be 1-4 levels behind on the more powerful summons.  If you really want to do it, I suggest crossblooded Abyssal for a little DR.

Control- Green

The only thing that keeps you from doing this well is a lack of variety of spells.  The Human Sorcerer favored class bonus at higher levels can really help this out after you run out of levels of DD, but that is a long way.  Beating DC’s is going to be tough for you, so I recommend just a couple of spells here for emergencies.

Save or Suck- Red

Your DC’s are going to not be terribly good because you probably won’t max out your Charisma score.  So you won’t be terribly good at making others save. 

The Inevitables—

Bard- You what?  Bards can do this?  Actually they can.  And it somewhat fits the fluff.  Bards are interested in stories, lore, knowledge and ancient things.  Dragons love these things too, but hoard them.  Dragon Disciples are what happens when bards get selfish and quit caring about their appearance..  

But are they any good?  Well, they could be worse, that is for sure.  But as ? casters, you can still get 6th level spells by level 20 with a full compliment of DD levels and a warrior level to boot.  Inspire courage can be done as a move action at 7th, and that works great because it makes you one of the few casters that can do three buffs in a round with a wand of quicken.  Also, it makes you more desirable as a party member as well, because you kick out the buffs, you can heal a little, and no one has to hold your hand in battle.  The added skill points are also good and make it easier to qualify 

Well what’s wrong with them?  The bard spell selection is decent with buffs, but has a lot of Save or Suck opportunities which would hamper your versatility.  You also don’t get enlarge person, which can be really useful to you at low levels.  You do get Invigorate, which is good for Barbarian builds though.  You can do it, but there are better choices.  It is a fine class to take a 4 level dip into DD, but to go all the way seems to detract from the full capabilities of the class.

Archetypes:

Animal Speaker:  Meh, I wouldn’t bother playing with your food

Arcane Duelist:  A good option for extra feats.  Bloodthirst can work with your natural weapons, so there is nothing wrong with that, other than you won’t get it very early.

Arbiter:  All the benefits of Solo Tactics without the bonus teamwork feats.  

Archaeologist: a good option if you don’t want to mess with performance much.  Add Fate’s Favored and enjoy.

Archivist: Good fluff wise, but not crunchy.  You won’t have the skill points I don’t think.

Buccaneer:  If for some reason you want to be a non-lethal dragon, no, there is no reason.

Celebrity:  Why mess up fame with weird body alterations, you aren’t an aging Hollywood Diva.  This archetype better stay a bard.

Chelish Diva: Oh, you are a Diva?  Well, this is a great way to get Medium armor Proficiency and be able to cast in it.  You also keep Versatile Performance for more skill goodness.

Court Bard:  Other than Satire and Mockery not having saves, this is kinda cool, but not dragon cool.

Daredevil: Canny Foe is a good way to boost your ability to do a Combat Maneuver.  Might be a decent option

Dawnflower Dervish: Good for several reasons: early move action performance, double bonuses for yourself when performing, so at level 5 you get a +4.  Get two more levels, the Flagbearer feat and the Banner of the Ancient Kings, and you have a +6 circumstance and a +2 morale bonus.  The only drawback is that you are stuck with a lance or longspear (or similar polearm) and the two handed weapon style.  Still blue though.  

Demagogue:  See Celebrity

Detective:  A few extra spells, but not a whole lot of good ones.  Giving up Inspire Courage for that is not a terribly good idea.

Dervish Dancer:  not a bad Archetype, but might be better served sticking with what they have.

Dirge Bard: Undead and intimidation bonuses?  Why not

Flame Dancer:  This would be great and thematic for Fire Based Dragons.

Geisha:  Doesn’t really work for me, a dragon in face paint. Look elsewhere.

Lotus Geisha: Better, but only because Enrapturing performance gives a small bonus to your Inspire Courage when you focus on yourself.  That makes it better than Geisha, but no where near Dawnflower Dervish.  

Magician:  Great option.  Get Enlarge person.  Later when you get back into Bard you can pick up some nice spells from other lists too.  Take a look at the Summoner list for some early entries.

Negotiator:  Giving up Inspire courage for -1 to saving throws against enchantment and Illusion is not really a good plan for you.   

Sandman:  Only gets good the higher you go, there are better options.

Savage Skald:  Inspiring Blow and Incite Rage are good abilities, this is a good option.

Sea Singer:  This doesn’t seem like a good idea.  But at least you can Inspire Courage.

Sound Striker:  A decent option, I like thinking of it as a damaging Dragon Roar

Street Performer:  You don’t appear harmless.   You are Dragon, If they don’t fear you, it isn’t a good option.

Thundercaller:  This doesn’t really add anything either way.  You are better off otherwise.

Voice of the Wild:  This is really good.  Adding Druid or Ranger spells is also really good.  Then Animal Aspect?  Yeah, this is a keeper. 

Beast: Green, Caster: Orange:  Overall: Grange.

Bloodrager-  This is a new hybrid class that basically takes over the job of most of your Brute DD builds.  It’s now way less complicated to make a Brute style build and some of the instant buffing options this class has makes it terribly awesome.  I’m a big fan of taking this style of character and applying it to other bloodlines, but for the sake of space and actual cohesiveness, we’re going to stick with just the Dragon Bloodline here.  

I was waiting for Paizo to come clear on the question of whether or not Bloodrager bloodlines were advanced by the DD prestige class.  The official answer seems to be maybe.  So, with that disappointment in hand, ask your GM.  There isn’t much of a point in taking DD levels if you can’t advance your Bloodrager bloodline with them since you won’t get access to the bite, or the Dragon Form 2 until much after a regular DD or a straight Bloodrager, so it’s a bit of a disappointment if they don’t stack, but you can still use this class quite well even if they don’t.  Just follow my step by step instructions!  (okay it’s a little more complex than that…)

So, Full BAB, Moderate spell casting, FULL CASTER LEVEL, and being able to rage and cast at the same time, and later CASTING BUFFS AS A FREE ACTION, are all pretty awesome capabilities of the new Bloodrager class.  

Archetypes: 

Blood Conduit:  If you are building a Bloodrager with some levels of DD, you should be fairly decent at combat maneuvers.  Being able to cast as a swift action when you succeed is nice, as you’ll be able to do damage and rack up the status effects.  It’s a tactical fight though, so it might be fun to give it a try. 

Bloodrider:  Dragons don’t ride horses.  

Crossblooded Rager:  Okay, there’s some seriously potent Bloodrager bloodlines, having them and pumping up your Dragon raging action is all sorts of awesome.  The major drawback is the negative to will saves, but that can be mitigated with a few feats and traits if you have them to spare.  Since you’ll want to keep your Claws so you can have a bite and Dragon Form 2 at 16th, These are mostly judged on the 4th, 8th and 12th level powers.  For people with GMs who don’t advance Bloodrager Bloodlines, pay special attention to the 4th level powers, because that’s all you’re likely to get.

Aberrant:  Having extra reach is nice.  The bloodline spells are great too.

Abyssal: Going up in size is great for damage.  Also good if you go EH for Strength.

Arcane: The defensive buffs are amazing and don’t cost you spell slots.

Celestial: Not really worth it for a reroll ability, not even for flavor.

Destined: The Luck bonus to AC and saves is nice.  It even overcomes the will save penalty, so that’s better.  It could be nice, but maybe not as nice as other options.

Elemental: Overlap, and not in a good way.  I’d pass.

Fey: Dragon Style and Arcane do any of these way better.

Infernal: There are much better options

Undead: Building a Fear based Dragon would be fun here + Cornogun Smash.

Greenrager:  Not green, at least for our purposes.  Don’t know if it is for really any purposes.

Metamagic Rager:  Since you’re not getting extra rounds with DD, it’s probably not worth it.

Primalist: See Rage Powers

Rageshaper: Auto-extend your Dragon Form?  Yes please.  Improved Natural Attack on all your natural attacks?  Double Yes.

Spelleater:  It’s not bad.  Fast Healing is really good against Bleed effects for instance.  Healing yourself as a swift action isn’t bad either.

Steelblood:  This is a great archetype if you don’t plan on using Dragon Form… So 4 DD it.

Untouchable Bloodrager:  Only useful for full Bloodragers, not for you.

Beast:  BlueCaster: Orange, Overall:  Blange:

Skald- This is a combo of a Barbarian and a Bard, right?  Should be good.  First off, Medium armor without arcane spell failure.  That can help out early.  Scribe Scroll as a bonus feat?  Nice, nice.  Also, Rage song can benefit from Lingering performance, so that’s nice for people with less casting.  Rage powers?  Not bad, you can even give them to your friends if they want them.  Spell Kenning, I’m just going to say is fantastic.  Once per day, choose a spell on bard, cleric or Wizard/Sorc spell and cast it.  That’s really cool  This could be better than the Bard mechanically. You’ll want 5-7 levels, 7 for move action performance, 5 Minimum for spell Kenning and earlier entry to the Prestige class.   Let’s take a look at the Archetypes.

Archetypes:

I’m terribly disappointed in most of these.  You’ll only want to take a look at the Spell Warrior, Totemic Skald, or the War Drummer.  These are solid.  The stupid Dragon Skald (Picked a worse color than red for the Dragon Skald, I’m mad!) got me all excited and for what?  FOR WHAT?!

Beast:  Green  Caster: Green Overall: Green

Sorcerer- Since Dragons have a bloodline, this is also a great fit.  The DD is built with this class in mind and other than the loss of caster levels it would be a no-brainer for anyone who took the bloodline.  It offers early entry to some draconic traits and abilities and since the levels stack for bloodline purposes as well as bonus spells it does one thing that it may not been intended to do.  It makes the Crossblooded Archetype a better option.  There are some who don’t believe that they do stack, so be sure to consult your GM before choosing this option.

The only thing that might possibly be a detriment is that this class only gets ? BAB and 6hp per level.  This does hurt fighting contention, but with the crossblooded archetype it can make up for this fact by gaining even more bonuses to Strength.

Archetypes:  

Crossblooded:  There really isn’t much of a downside for taking this Archetype for your DD.  You gain your bonus spells later anyway, so you will begin with a spell known at each spell level.  Also, you get more spells to choose from, and more feats.  (including some skill focus that may qualify you for Eldrich Heritage in another bloodline.)  DD also progresses powers from both bloodlines.  A very good option.

Eldritch Scrapper:  This is Blue even though you give up your first level power.   You can pick it up at 3rd level instead, so this is great if you are going with a weapon build.  I originally thought it wasn’t as good as it is, but it will help you qualify for and use extra feats situationally, and since DD advances bloodline and gives you breath weapon and wings anyhow, you don’t really lose much here.  The more I think about it, the better it is.

Mongrel Mage:  YOUR BLOOD IS PURE!*  (*unless you went crossblooded or with Eldritch Heritage)  Seriously though, I don’t even think this even works with DD.

Razmiran Priest:  No, you better not.  If you want healing, be a bard

Seeker:  Replace my bloodline powers?  Forget it

Tattooed Sorcerer:  This isn’t the sorcerer you are looking for, besides, when you transform, they won’t be able to see your nice tattoos.

Wildblooded: Linnorm.  You want the claws, this is not a good option.  Unless you stick to casting, but if you stick to casting, why are you taking this Prestige Class?

Wishcrafter:  Wrong type of legendary creature, try something else.

Crossblooded bloodlines/Eldrich Heritage Bloodlines

A quick overview of any additional bloodlines you may want.

Abberant:  Ranged touch attacks are not worth two feats.  

Abyssal:  Great Choice, doubles claws with EH, Strength bonus is worth the feats.

Accursed:  You aren’t a Hag, you are a mighty Dragon.  

Aquatic:  This isn’t a terribly good option but there are worse.

Arcane:  This can offset your low number of spells and give you a familiar, not bad.  Of course it can also give you a bonded weapon, which ups the number of spell slots you have, and is more easily enchanted.  This is looking more blue the longer I look at it.  

Boreal:  Would be nicer for a silver or white DD if the Arcana worked for your Spell like abilities.

Celestial:  Hmm, it might be cool thematically, but it just doesn’t jive with the rest of your abilities.  

Daemon: This would only work for Puff Casters, as their aging abilities and caster level bonuses work for them, but not as well as perhaps some other bloodlines.  

Deep Earth: A dwarfy bloodline.  Bury it in the backyard.

Destined:  It doesn’t really synergize with what you want to do.

Div: This isn’t really worth it.

Djinni:  Get to change elements, not too bad.  But I think there are better options.

Draconic:  Having two different colors of Dragon in you might be a fun idea.  I don’t think it works RAW, but maybe you could talk your GM into it.

Dreamspun: Yawn!

Efreeti:  See Djinni

Elemental:  A good option for Blasty DD’s.  

Fey:  Laughing touch is incredibly potent, and the arcana might actually help you pass at some save or suck spells.  I dont like the flavor, but it could work if thats what you wanted.

Ghoul Sorcerer:  This is a bloodline?  Oh, but it’s pretty good.  You get claws that do less damage but have a chance of Paralyzing your foe.  I’d actually recommend this for Eldritch Heritage.  That way you can use whichever Claws might be useful to you at the time.  Oh and the Haste thing is great too.

Harrow:  Got lots of flavor, just doesn’t really work with the flavor we already have.

Impossible:  The disorienting touch is interesting.  I don’t know if it’s worth what you paid for it.

Infernal:  Some bonuses to Charm spells, but Abyssal is much better for you.

Maestro:  Bad plan.  You better have a good backstory to take this one.

Marid:  See Efreeti

Martyred: This is a cool bloodline, but not for Dragons.  Your sacrificial boosts don’t really help you here.

Nanite: Longer Transmutation in the Arcana is really good, The poison strike is also interesting.  

Oni: Not a terrible option, The altered form can give you early access to Alter Self, which can get you more natural attacks.  Free stabilization later is a good thing too.  

Orc:  Great Choice!  The blasting from the Arcana is nice, and the boost to strength is a great plan.  Not quite as good as a EH, You would want to go Abyssal on that one.

Pestilence:  Kinda cool, but not up your alley

Protean:  It’s nicer to not be able to be dispelled as easy, I don’t think it is worth the investments though.

Racial:

Imperious: Kind of a cool one, it can give you some extra bonuses, and the bonuses to intimidate would be sweet with a dip in the Thug archetype.  If for some reason, you wanted to make a Diplomacy based Dragon, this would also be the way.  

Kobold: You really should only be taking this for flavor reasons, because there are much better options.

Rakshasa:  This is okay for a Shadow Dragon build, but I like the Shadow Bloodline for that better.

Serpentine: Fangs are circumstantial but it doesn’t really stack with your Dragon Bite ability.  That is, unless your GM lets you have your poison and your dragon bite for improved size and elemental damage.  Extra NA is also good.

Shadow:  Hide in plain Sight and Shadow Jumping?  This is the way to go for your Stealthy options.

Shaitan:  See Marid

Starsoul: Free Dazzling spell Arcana for evocation spells, Auroroa Borealis is pretty cool as well.  

Stormborn:  Good for extra Electricity damage, Some Decent bonus spells as well.

Undead:  Cool onto itself, not really your bag.

Verdant:  Reflavor Tangling vine as your serpentine toungue, and you got some potential.  It actually could be pretty fun.  The bonus to Natural armor when casting is also nice, as is access to Barkskin.

Wildblooded bloodlines-  These can change up some options for your normal bloodlines just a bit.  There is now no controversy on whether or not they are allowed for a crossblooded sorcerer.  By RAW they are not so be sure to ask your GM.  Bring donuts and/or massage.  For the most part they aren’t much different than the non mutated versions, but if you choose them, there are some alternate posibilities that need to be commented on.

Anarchic- aside from flavor, this is only good for dispelling builds, which you won’t be good at.

Arial- having a higher caster level is good, but it is pretty circumstantial.  

Deep Earth- The 9th level power is pretty nice, but you have to get there first.  

Brutal- Trade Strength bonus for wings?  You already get wings.  Better wings.

Empyreal- Wisdom based casting has other benefits, like an improved will save.  Also gets rid of celestial wings for a small amount of healing.  Since you get wings anyway, its a good trade.

Envenomed- Poison as a swift action?  It’s not bad.  There are much better offers though.

Groveborn- Not a bad choice for people who want to summon, but you might be better off with other spell choices.  

Karmic- Slightly better than the Destined bloodline for an immediate action.  

Linnorm- Not sure this works for the Draconic bloodlines, but if your GM allows it, I only recommend it for Magic Dragon builds.  The blast will be really useful at lower levels.  One problem I encountered when looking at this more closely though is that because you get no claws, you have no way to activate your Dragon Bite.  That is a bit of a loss, and I don’t recommend you go this route.

Pit-Touched- Slightly better than Infernal, the Con bonus isn’t too bad.

Primal- An even better choice for blasting than the elemental build.  + 1 damage

Rime-Blooded- If you want a white or silver dragon build, this really is a great choice.

Sage- Intelligence based casting and a bonus to Intelligence from DD?  And extra spells?  You can probably guess why this is blue.  That’s right, all of the above.

Sanguine- Not much different than the Undead for you.

Seaborn- Better than Aquatic but not by enough to get it out of the orange.  The water blast is good, but not as good as it would be if you stayed straight sorcerer, so not the best of plans.

Sylvan- Animal companion and fey wings?  Um, the animal companion is kinda cool, if you get a dinosaur.  The fluff doesn’t really fit well, and you may find the companion to be a bit burdensome toward the end of your campaign.  Dragons are solitary creatures for the most part for a reason.

Umbral- as good or better than shadow bloodline

Visionary- Double Yawn!

Void-Touched- Better than Starsoul in the Arcana, Ice storm and deeper darkness at the same time can really help the Shadow dragon do better in the long run.

Warped- If you could choose your random polymorph effect, then it would be awesome.  But you can’t, so it isn’t.

Beast: Green Caster: Blue, Overall: Glue

Summoner- Fluff wise, this doesn’t really make sense.  Since a summoner has a connection with other planes, and dragons are not outsiders, there is a disconnect of why this class would really qualify as a prerequisite, unless you are an outsider like an Aasimar, Tiefling, or Ifrit.  And the dragon is an outsider to them as well.  But rules are rules and they are and any race works.

That being said, They actually do quite well as DD’s for two reasons.  Their Eidolons, while stunted, can be made relatively good wand monkeys which any caster will tell you is a beautiful thing to have and you don’t even have to waste any feats on them.  Four levels of Summoner is enough for your monkey, and also gives you a +2 to AC and saves while they are in reach.  One reach evolution and Enlarge person later, you get that whenever they are within 20 feet of you.  Their spell list is also really good, you get early entry to more spells than the bard does, or at least more useful ones, and you gain ? BAB as well.  

The only detriment to the Summoner being a DD (besides the fluff) is that you don’t get as much of a progression of your bloodlines and a more narrow spell list than the sorcerer.  This makes for a top class beast, but a more average caster.  Edit: With the advent of the AGC, take a look at the Spirit summoner for extra spell and even power options.  

Archetypes:

Blood Summoner:  Dragons don’t appease outsiders.  They make them tremble.

Broodmaster:  Take 7-8 levels of Summoner and make two wand monkeys.  This is even more effective than one monkey, by a factor of two.  Problem is a slow progression into DD.  

Evolutionist:  Not that great, simply because it doesn’t do much for you.

First Worlder:  A Fluff change, good for skill monkeys.  But not that great.

Master Summoner: No shield Ally, and you get better at summoning.  I guess it could be worse.

Naturalist:  Your Eidolon isn’t what you are looking to enhance.  Move along.

Spirit Summoner:  This is probably the best option.  That’s no lie.  You pass off your useless Summon Monster Ability to gain better spells as you level.  AND you get another benefit.  This requires another subsection.

Battle:  Magic Vestment and Righteous might are good spells to add.  Morale Bonuses from the Spirit ability are good too, especially with a courageous weapon.  I’d also recommend your Battle Master Hex for when you take your 6th level.  Solid choice.  

Bones: Cause Fear, False Life, Animate Dead and Slay Living are spells you might find useful.  Touch of the Grave is nice for extra damage and the Frightful Gaze Hex is thematic.  

Flame: The Summoner list isn’t good for blasting.  Now you can.  You don’t really get your Draconic Arcana bonuses though, but it makes the option at least viable.  And you can get Flame on your attacks, and The hexes are nice.  Another solid and thematic entry. 

Heavens: They all can’t be winners.  You’d be better off playing an Oracle.  

Life:   Lesser Restoration, Breath of Life and Heal?  Yep, you get them.  You won’t get Heal until level 18 or 19, but yeah you get it.  You also get Channel Energy.  That’s based on your summoner level, so it has limited application.  

Lore: The real kicker in this one is the Hex they get for adding Sorc/Wiz spells to their list.  The rest of the spells and the power aren’t really all that great.  

Nature: Oooh, access to barkskin!  Oh wait, you already have it.

Stone:  The major benefit here is the DR/adamantine, but you don’t get it until 17-19

Waves: It would be much more useful if you could combine your wave strike with Enforcer.  Otherwise, this is pretty lackluster.  Remember your Hex DCs are run off of wisdom.

Wind:This one gains electric melee damage, but the real winner is in the hexes.  That air armor and the Clairaudience/voyance is pretty nifty.  This might make a good Dimensional Dervish build.  But definitely take 6 levels and get the air armor.

Story Summoner:  Harrowed Eidolons aren’t where you are looking to excel.  

Synthesist: Oh, it got worse.  Replace your Stats with inferior stats?  No thank you.

Blood God Disciple:  Swap out your Summon Monster Ability which rapidly becomes nearly unusable at higher levels?  Sure.  It’s kind of a neat effect as well, if somewhat disgusting.  

Beast: Blue, Caster: Green, Overall: Bleen

Anything?-  

Kobolds and anything able to take Racial Heritage have full progression in Divine Spontaneous classes.  This opens up the spellcasting to Hunters, Inquisitors, and Oracles (and technically Shamans, but forget about that) for some interesting options.  

After the new FAQ, certain races (detailed in the race section) can take 5 levels of anything as long as they know Draconic and have 5 ranks in Knowledge Arcana.  The +4 to Str and natural armor bonuses alone can make it worth it for some Full BAB classes, and a full compliment of DD levels can be useful for the Intelligence based arcane casters who want the ability to have the extra stat boosts and the bloodline itself.  I won’t detail these in this guide, as the possibilities and combinations can really get out of hand, but I do want to make sure you are aware of the option.  Maybe someday I’ll get more detailed than this, but that’s not this day.

The races that can do this with racial traits in no particular order and for reference are: Elf, Gnome, Dhampir, Fetchling, Ifrit, Undine, Sylph, Duergar, Nagaji, Samsaran, Wayang, and Svirfneblin.  The Races that can do this with feats are Drow, Human, Half-elf, Half-Orc, Aasimar (with Scion of Humanity trait) and Kitsune.  These have to use Racial Heritage and then pick Kitsune, and take the racial feat Magical Tail with the exception of the Drow.  It’s a little convoluted, but it’s RAW, so it’s what we have.  Also the Rogue and Qinggong monk can get in with their class abilities and the new Eldrich Scion Magus works pretty good.

The Options

Guess what.  I get to go through every class that you can possibly look at to dip into when qualifying for Dragon Disciple as well as some options for after.  The Bard and Summoner can stand a one level dip and still gain their top spells at level 20 with 10 levels of DD, or a two level dip with 8 levels of DD.  So all of these classes could be options, and so we will discuss them all.  Sorcerers can take three levels of any other class and still get their crossblooded strength bonus at 17 or 5 levels and still get permanent wings.  

But before we go too crazy with 20 level builds, it takes 5 levels to qualify for DD, and at least one of those levels must be a Inevitable class from above, so the most I am going to look at these classes is through level 4.  After that, its probably better to check out other guides for the various classes.

Ready your actions, this could get rough.

Arcanist: Off the cuff, I’m going to say orange.  The reasons are such, they prepare their spells and their progression is stunted.  They also get less spells.  The exploits usually go up with level, and it’s really not meant for multiclassing.  At best 4 levels of DD on your way to or from Eldritch Knight is probably the only time you’re going to want to see this combo.

Barbarian:  Blue.  Recommended levels:  One or Multiples of 2

If you are going to dip, this is a good one level dip.  Bonus to movement, ability to rage and d12 HD make it a really attractive move.  Two levels gain you a single rage power, of which you can get more with feats if you wish.  The Bloodrager has more to it if you are planning on taking more than 2-3 levels, so you might wish to take a look there.  Some of the rage powers could work really well for a DD, but since I am not making a Barbarian guide, I will just list a few that I think might be decent to look at.  Here they are in no particular order:  (Update: now alphabetical!)

Beast Totem gives you claws while raging, which could definitely be useful. 

Fiend totem is nice for another natural attack, stacks Form of the Dragon and kind of fits.

Intimidating Glare is great for dragons who want to play on the fear angle.

Knockback is an opportunity to get more attacks than your foes.  

Moment of Clarity can give you the option to cast in the middle of a rage. 

Nightvision can be good if you take darkness as an early spell if you aren’t a half orc

No escape might be really fun

Reckless Abandon can help your damage a little

 

This is a class that could really be fun with an 8 level dip in DD as well, and even makes provisions for such in the Dragon Totem line.  Also, taking the beast totem and gaining claws, bite and pounce seem to work as well, especially after you gain Form of the Dragon and get 5-6 natural attacks.    

Archetypes:  

Armored Hulk could be useful if you want to go with Arcane Armor Mastery and mithril full plate.

Drunken Brute is good for getting more rounds of rage per day

Elemental Kin:  A more masochistic way of getting more rounds of rage.  Although seeing a guy hit himself with a wand of shocking grasp just to gain rage rounds is kinda cool.  

Invunerable Rager is nice if you take two levels or more of Barbarian

True Primitive could be a good fluff option for Dragons that love particular environments.

Scarred Rager- If you just gotta have more Intimidate

Urban Barbarian is certainly versatile, gains no negatives to AC, and gets a bonus when near multiple enemies.  Not a bad choice.

Wild Rager could be really dangerous considering you will likely have a higher Charisma, but you will also have a higher will save and low levels of barbarian, so it could work, but I wouldn’t really recommend it.  

Brawler– Recommended levels, 1,2,4

This class is useful for several reasons.  First, it counts as fighter and monk levels for prerequisites for feats.  This means that you can use it to gain Martial Versatility and get 4 skills a level instead.  Also because of Martial Flexibility, you can gain feats you don’t have when they are situationally useful.  Decide you need cleave or some other feat you qualify for but don’t have yet because of your level?  Take it.  Sure it gets better at higher levels, but 4-6 times a day should work just fine.  If you decide to trade martial flexibility for something else in an archetype, that’s not bad either, just make sure you get your money’s worth.

Oh and if you take Feral Combat Training along with Martial Versatility, you can do Brawler’s flurry and gain better damage for some of your natural weapons.  4 levels of Brawler increase all your FotD1 attacks to a 1d8, and all your FotD2 attacks to 2d6.  That’s not bad.  Oh and a static AC and CMD bonus.  That’s nice too.

Archetypes:

Exemplar: Bardic Performances?  Readying allies?  Go play a bard.  At least you’ll get better spell progression.  Remember starting performances is a standard action until level, what?  Nine.  That’s right.  Go play a bard.  

Mutagenic Mauler:  Remember all the nice things I said about Martial Flexibility?  Forget it.  Mutagen is better.  

Shield Champion:  Remember how you dumped your Dex? Yeah.

Snakebite Striker:  If you don’t like the too many options of Martial Flexibility and Mutagens aren’t your style, then this is the archetype for you.  Mutagen is still better though.

Steel-Breaker:  Based off of wisdom, not strength.  Not your strength.  No.

Strangler:  I wanna say it’s a decent option, but you aren’t going to be grappling a lot.

Wild Child: Animal Companions don’t scale when you take the DD prestige class.  

Winding Path Renegade:  I’d rather have the feat than most of this stuff.

Cleric- Red

The class abilities do not synergize with the DD and you are likely to have a low wisdom score with your build.  One level of Domain is also not worth it as well as a lack of BAB progression.  Scrap it.

Druid- Orange

One of the few classes to get you claws but since it doesn’t augment your strength, I don’t recommend it.  Wild shape is interesting though, and with the Shaping Focus feat, you’ll get access to huge animals like the T Rex.  It’s doable, and the Fire Domain can even get you Burning Hands, but if you gotta go this route, I’d actually suggest Feral Hunter instead.

Fighter- Blue  Recommended levels, one or five.  (three for weapon master)

Extra combat feats are the melee meister’s best friend.  One level gets you all armors and Tower Shields for a good tank build.  The bonus feat for just one level while full BAB is something you can’t get anywhere else.  That being said, if you want to go with natural weapons and are planning a larger than 1 level dip, the Ranger, Barbarian, and Alchemist are all better options for you, because they can get you more instances of natural weapons per day.  That is unless you go for the Unarmed Fighter, because 5 levels of that will get you Weapon Training that works for natural weapons besides getting free style feats.  Dragon Style is pretty awesome this way, and the new ARG has a feat for Human Fighters called Martial Versatility that can give you weapon focus or more properly Feral Combat Training for the entirety of the Natural weapon group, meaning you can apply dragon style to your 6-7 attacks per round.  

For a brute build, five levels of Fighter (or three levels of weapon master) is pretty good, because you can get some Gloves of Dueling for extra hit and damage fun.  I’m sure you can come up with a fun story of how they work with your claws.

Archetypes:  

Vanilla or Unarmed Fighter is pretty nice for 5 or more levels as is Lore Warden for Combat Expertise and bonuses to CMB and CMD and more skills, Weapon master is good for 3 but since they only get weapon training with one kind of weapon, it isn’t as good as the rest that can get the bonuses for every natural weapon they use.   The new Mutation Warrior is fantastic for really cranking your Strength.  The Viking gains Intimidate with a move, added buckler benefits and Rage if you are going 4 levels for Martial Versatility.  Forget Archer.  You just don’t get it do you?

Magus-  Bleen  Recommended levels 4, (more after 8 or 10 DD)

Since the DD prestige class allows for arcane spell progression, you can use it to boost your Magus levels instead of your sorcerer levels.  So you can then still get up to 6th level spells with 10 levels of DD and one level of sorcerer.  Is it worth it?  Probably not more than sticking with a 20th level magus by far.  Can you do it.  Yes, but I hope you don’t mind people shaking their heads at you when you level.  If you do this, make sure you take the Sage bloodline for 

synergy.

This becomes a much better option when you are a race that gives you a first level spell like ability and you are a strength based magus.  4-8 levels of DD can give a Magus some good bonuses and only loses one or two levels of spellcasting and a few other progressions.

Now with the new Eldritch Scion, you can use the magus chassis as an Inevitable.  You get the Bloodrager Bloodline but without the rage as well, which if your GM allows the synergy (which isn’t a terrible plan since your Arcane pool points will be much lower), you can have the flavor for it as well.  You get medium armor at 7 which is nice, but that’s going to take quite a long time for you to get so it’s not especially useful.  What is useful is the Flamboyant Arcana and Grit Arcana to gain precise strike, because who doesn’t want 5 more damage with every hit? 

Hunter– Recommended levels 4-8

Animal Companions are cumbersome to you later in the game, so get yours killed.  I’m serious.  They’ll give you extra fun and capabilities at low levels, but once they die, you get permanent enhancements.  That’s true at whatever level.  If you go archetype, there’s only one for you.  The Feral Hunter gives you Wild Shape.  Combine this with Shaping Focus and you are turning into dinosaurs until you turn into dragons, which isn’t bad at all.  At 8th level you can be a Tyrannosaurus Rex, at 14th you can be a T-Rex with wings all day.  Sure, Dire Tiger with pounce is probably better mechanically, but T Rex with wings!  Form of the Dragon II when you get it is a nice bonus.  You get the same Strength bonuses as a Huge animal, but you are large instead, so easier in tight spaces and a +1 to hit.

There are benefits for having low level divine spells and going with a 1 level dip in your favorite inevitable before going DD, but with Scaled Disciple (kobold or racial heritage) you can have top level spells that suit you quite well such as Greater Magic Fang, Barkskin, Strong Jaw, and Reincarnate for laughs.  Also, Wild Breastplate is cool.  

Investigator– No, I don’t think so.  You can’t progress alchemy, you can’t get a mutagen until level 3, studied strike is better than sneak attack, but you still don’t get it until later.  I’m just thinking this doesn’t work.

Monk- Green  Recommended levels 4-7, (1, 2, 7 for Master of Many Styles)

While a couple levels of monk added to a monster, particularly a dragon, the Monk levels for a Dragon Disciple are a bit lackluster.

The lack of BAB for a one level dip is not terribly good, but a 2-4 level dip in Master of Many Styles is always an interesting choice if you are allowed to go with Empyreal crossblooded sorcerer.  Qinggong to get Barkskin is kinda cool if you didn’t dump your wisdom bonus but it isn’t that great because your caster level for that is always going to be pretty low.  

The best thing you can do with a higher level Monk build is to get Feral Combat Training, a Monk’s Robe, Improved Natural attack, Weapon Focus: Claws (and bite and tail slap and wing buffet) and Form of the Dragon II (or just Enlarge Person).  With 7 levels of Monk, and all those things I mentioned, you do 4d6 damage with all the natural attacks with which you have Weapon Focus and Improved Natural attack.  Add this to the Dragon Style Feats and you do some serious, serious damage.  And since you took levels of Monk, your defenses aren’t bad either.

Paladin/Antipaladin- Blue  Recommended levels 2-4

Another class that needs strength and Charisma?  This one synergizes well.  The smite alone is worth it, but if your build can afford two levels, you get your Charisma added to your saves.  

 

The Divine Hunter Archetype is the only one worth looking at with a one or two level dip, as it gives up heavy armor for precise shot.  It really is a decent trade if you aren’t going to use Mithral Full Plate.  The precise shot makes Ranged Touch attacks working easier.  If you go 4 levels for some reason, you want the Oath of Vengance to make actual use of your lay on hands ability and get more smiting out of the deal.

Ranger- Blue  Recommended levels 2

BAB, Skill points and bonus feats in the first 2 levels?  Yes please.  The fact that you can get permanent claws is also nice.  I also recommend the Guide Archetype for a once per day swift buff.  The extra skill points can be put into some of your class skills that you may not use often, but having a point in them makes them usable.  Warden and Wild stalker are also decent choices, having bonuses in the first 2 levels, but are not quite as good as Guide in my opinion.  The Freebooter also has some nice benefits as well.  

Rogue- Orange  Recommended levels 4

Why isn’t this red?  Well, because of two reasons.  Sneak attack adds some damage to your strikes.  Later on, getting Improved Invisibility makes this much better.  Given that you can take vanish at your first caster level, for a while at least you have almost guaranteed extra damage potential on your one strike every other round and good defense for the in between rounds.  The skill points are nothing to sneeze at, and one level of Rogue can fill out your entire skill point prereqs for DD and more.  The Thug Archetype is perfect for a Fear dragon, because making your enemies flee without a save is really cool.  The Carnivalist has interesting flavor as well as a Familiar which can be useful, but only two levels of this would be necessary.  There are some Rogue talents that can be really good that might even be useful for a Extra Rogue Talent Feat.  

Rogue Talents:

Bleeding Attack could be good for hit and run

Fast Getaway is good in combination with this

Ninja Trick: Pressure Points is a fantastic RT, and since you will be getting 5-6 attacks a round later on, it could really stack up.

Strong Impression is fantastic for the Thug Archetype as well.

Surprise attack is okay if you want to get your sneak attack on during the surprise round.

Underhanded is good especially when sneaking up invisible and getting in your full attack.

Shaman– The best thing about this is the access to some crazy weird spells.  But they are based off of wisdom.  Most of the class features run off of class level (crazy, I know).  You can use the Scaled Disciple to use this to meet prerequisites, but you have at least 3 better options.

Slayer– Recommended levels: 2-3

You know, I’m liking this.  Full BAB, same skills and more versatility than the Ranger for bonus feats, access to a few Slayer talents, later access to sneak attack.  This is a good list of bonuses.  Taking the Ranger natural weapon style and grabbing Aspect of the Beast is a good way to get perma claws as well.  I’m thinking this is maybe even a little more blue than the ranger.

Archetypes:

The Cutthroat is nice if you don’t want to go Aspect of the Beast.  A free action Studied target during the surprise round is going to be useful.  Vanguard could be situationally useful.

Swashbuckler– Don’t get me wrong, I love swashbucklers.  Why else would I have written the now defunct Duelist guide.  Swashies are much better as their own thing.  Oh, and Dragons aren’t Dex based.  If you want Swashbuckler fun on your Dragon, Go with the Eldrich Scion Magus and pick up the Flamboyant Arcana and Arcane Deed: Precise Strike though Extra Arcana.  Go go now.  Off you get.

Warpriest–  To be honest I haven’t looked closely here.  They are prepared casters, so that’s not as good as the spontaneous ones, the blessings and channel energy work better with more levels, so it’s pretty much a done thing.

Wizard- Orange?  Recommended levels 11

The wording on the DD says +1 to existing arcane spell class so a 1 level dip in Sorcerer and 8 levels of DD can still get a Wizard to 9th level spells.  Would I do it?  Not at all.  Can it be done?  You bet.  Some would even go 4 levels DD and 10 levels of Eldrich Knight for a 15 BAB character that casts 9th level spells and take the +4 to strength and natural armor bonuses the DD has to offer.  It does make for a good blaster build with some extra options.  Now that Spell Like Abilities work for prerequisites, most Wizards who have them can qualify for DD, so it’s an option for a unique type of Wizard.  If you go with an Archetype, the Spirit Whisperer gives access to some nifty spells and abilities.  

Alchemist- Green  Recommended levels 4

The hit to BAB isn’t good, but for buff happy people, a level of Barbarian, a level of Alchemist, can make you circumstantially one of the strongest characters in the game for a couple rounds.  Not worth the investment for me.  Although the brew potion feat is nice, and Mutagen stacks, the Alchemist almost makes it into the blue because of extra Enlarge Person spells per day and access to some discoveries which can be nice.  Four levels of Alchemist can grant you one of the most powerful abilities in the game, Alchemical Allocation.  Extra Discoveries can grant you the Preserve Organs ability, which defends you against Criticals.  Tentacle isn’t a bad option too, and you can reflavor it as a Dragon tail, not too shabby.

If you go with the Vivisectionist Archetype, you gain sneak attack as well, so that might bump it near blue.  The Beastmorph Archetype can do 10 levels for pounce, but then you will never get Dragon Form II.  This could be doable, but I wouldn’t recommend it.  Although if your GM allowed you to gain extract progression instead of Sorcerer progression with the DD prestige class, you could get Twin Form, of which I have always been a fan.  Again Sage bloodline is the way to go for this class.

Cavalier- Blue  Recommended levels 1-4

Full BAB, Challenge isn’t terrible, Order of the Dragon is thematically appropriate, but order of the Cockatrice, and Tome are good as well.  The Mount is going to be useful to you until it dies, and then you need another level of cavalier before it even approaches goodness again.  Because you don’t take too many levels of cavalier, this isn’t terribly useful as an ability.  The only exception to this is if you take 4 levels of Cavalier and get the Horse Master Feat and get yourself a full fledged mount.  Then you can do all sorts of fun stuff with him.  

Put his ability score increase in Intelligence and give him a rank of Linguistics so he can understand you.  Then you don’t have to worry about that pesky Animal Handling skill anymore.  Then you can cast Form of the Dragon on him and give him your hand-me-down Belts and Headbands and AoMFs if you have any, and it’s like you have a little brother on the battlefield (just a bit dumber).  It’s actually a great way to boost your DPR, or to enter the town in style (if your style is to cause widespread panic).  Or if you don’t like that idea, still bump his intelligence and get him the Lookout Feat and take it for your bonus.  Then you get extra rolls to notice stuff and might get full round actions in surprise rounds, which might really be worth it.  

The Archetypes I like for this class are Gendarme and Emissary.

Gunslinger- Green  Recommended levels 1

Full BAB, Free gun (which works on Touch AC) and Grit make this an interesting choice to help with your Ranged options.  There’s even a firearm named after a dragon.  The problem is that you’d be missing out on everything else that a Full BAB class like Fighter or Ranger or Slayer might provide and you are getting a lackluster ranged option because you aren’t even based on Dex.  I’d really only consider this if you had crazy stats, like if you rolled really well, but even then it’s not terribly worth it.  If you must, go with Mysterious Stranger for better synergy.

Inquisitor- Rorange  Recommended feat Scaled Disciple

Inquisitor doesn’t have much synergy, except when you take a look at Scaled Disciple.  5 levels of judgements are useful, and you have some decent spells to play with.  I’m not sold that the bonuses you’d get are better than the higher level spell slots of the Oracle, so I’m going to stay orange if you have the Scaled Disciple, and Red if you don’t.  

Oracle- Orange  Recommended levels 1

Well yes, Revelations are awesome.  Sidestep secret is pretty cool, and combine it with the lame curse and barbarian levels and you end up able to rage cycle on top of everything else.  Lame curse also doesn’t hurt your fly speed, which you will be using quite a bit.  That and you wont have to worry about taking any UMD because with a level of Oracle and a level of sorcerer, most any spell is on your list.  More than one level of Oracle is hard to go with, but if you are looking to dip, this is how its done.  

Of course, if you use Scaled Disciple, you can use this for your prerequisites, and at that point I’d have to go Green.  You do get the Dragon Form spells at higher levels as well as fun spells like Divine Favor and Heal.  Oracles have ? BAB so you’d keep your to hit higher than a straight Sorcerer DD build.  It’s not a bad way to Dragon and it kind of reminds me of the old school Dragons that used to get both Arcane and Divine spells.  Ah, memories.  

Witch- Red

Witches are in the same boat as Wizards, although their hexes are more level dependent, which makes them worse.  So, red.  

Ninja- Green  Recommended levels 4

The Ninja is a bit better than the rogue because of the Ki pool that works off of one of your major stats, the Charisma!  Sneak attack is pretty cool, especially when it can be augmented with spells.  The Ninja Trick list is pretty good as well. 

Ninja Tricks:

Acrobatics master- spontaneously cast Jump?  its okay.

Feather Fall- Can really be useful

Forgotten Trick is great for versatility

Pressure Points: Would you take a hit to BAB to get this?  I would.

Shadow clone- Mirror Image.  Not bad

Samurai- Green Recommended levels 1-2

Like Cavalier, but a little better.  Resolve is nice.  A pretty good 1-2 level dip, but after that becomes too enamored with weapons to be any use to you.  Of course if you go with weapons, the Katana isn’t a bad choice and the Sword Saint Archetype removes the need for a mount with a possibility of extra damage at lower levels.  

Chassis:

In order to qualify for DD you have to take at least 5 levels of other classes.  Remember you want your magic numbers.   Magic numbers are when you gain new spell levels, special abilities and BAB.  

The magic numbers for the sorcerer are all even numbers after 2.  These are when you get your new spell levels.  For the most part, you want to end with an even caster level so you have access to the highest spell level possible while minimizing the effect to your BAB.  Summoners and Bards are funny, because you want to take the actual levels of them in fours for BAB, but your spell levels in threes plus one.  

 Here are your options:  I am going to rate them based on Beast and Caster emphases, to help you make your decisions.  

4 Melee class / 1 caster– Beast=Blue, Caster=Red

This is a good brute build, you get 4 levels to play with your other class, which usually means a few special abilities.  This is also a good start if you wish to dip in a ? BAB class such as monk, rogue, ninja, or alchemist.  4 levels of Paladin are also fun for Oath of Vengeance/ Extra Smiting power.  A reminder:  You will not have a lot of spells, hardly any to be honest.  

3 Melee class/ 2 caster– Beast=Green, Caster=Orange

I would only recommend this for Weapon master Fighter for Weapon Training or Paladin for immunity to fear and disease.  The ability to remove fatigue isn’t bad either.  Also, two levels of Sorcerer is pretty good because it advances your Bloodline and doesn’t hurt your BAB more than one level does.

2 Melee class/ 3 caster.  Beast=Orange, Caster=Green,

Two levels of Paladin are all you need for the bonus to saves.  This is good for getting claws in Barbarian, Ranger or Alchemist.  I do recommend 4 levels of alchemist though if you take any, so this is really best for Barbarian, Paladin, Slayer and Ranger.  Three levels of Summoner is good for getting a wand monkey.  If only you could make wands at this time.

1 Melee class/ 4 caster.  Beast=Orange, Caster=Blue

This build is good if you want 2nd level spells early (Alter self, I am looking at you).  I also recommend it for Bard and Summoner so you can get to 4BAB before going DD.  It is really good for the extra damage via Power Attack.  

5 Caster.  Beast=Red, Caster=Blue

This build is great for Casting focused DD’s.  It works well for Bard and Summoner too because Bards get +2 to inspire Courage and Summoners get Eidolon Progression and Summon monster III which is good for Lantern Archons.  

7 Caster? Beast=Orange, Caster= Blue

This build is for Bards who want Inspire Courage as a move action, Arcane Duelist has a nice level at 6 for extra bonuses.  Also a Master Summoner gets your bare bones wand monkey and get Augment Summoning for what it is worth.  Broodmaster can get two Wand monkeys out of the deal.  Summoners get Dimension Door at level 7 as well, so it can get them as early entry to the Dimensional Dervish feat line.  Sorcerers get an Extra Feat at 7th level too, so that is nice. 

Eldrich Knight?

This class would be decent for a weapon focused DD build, except I don’t recommend this.  If you went with a 4/1 chassis and then wanted to go EK after 4 levels of DD that isn’t a terrible build.  But the higher your Bloodline level the less you would want to do things to stop it.  

Sample builds:  

I will put together some sample builds based on my blue choices(and maybe some green too.)  Hopefully, they can help you navigate through the complicated mess of character planning.  For the sake of my sanity, I will make most of these builds at level 9 or so, just to get a good start.  Any higher and I am afraid it would take forever to build.  Also, 20 pt buy seems standard, so I will go with that.  Also these builds will be just feats and stats, I’m not going to give them equipment, you will have to figure out that by yourself.

Beast Caster Builds:

Holy Dragon- (the Silver Son)

Human Paladin (Divine Hunter) 2, Summoner 3, DD 4

Str17+2racial+2level+4class= 25

Dex 10

Con14

Int 7

Wis 7

Cha16

Build

Traits: Magical Knack, Rich Parents or something fitting to your story.

1 Paladin1, Feats: Power Attack, Precise Shot, Skill Focus: Knowledge Planes

2 Paladin2, Divine Grace

3 Summoner1, Feat: Eldrich Heritage: Abyssal: Claws 

4 Summoner2,

5 Summoner3, Feat: Arcane Strike

6 DD1

7 DD2 Feat: Sorcerous Bloodstrike, Bonus Feat: Toughness

9 DD4 Feat: 

With this start you can go Eldrich Heritage at 11 for a +2 to Strength and more at later levels.   It’s a fantastic Melee start and because of the fine Summoner Spells gets you some good spells soon.  This one gets Haste at the same time a Bard does.  

I originally did this build for a campaign, and my friends wouldn’t let me because they thought it would be too potent and they wouldn’t get to do anything.  The concept was a paladin of Abadar who “unlocked” his own bloodline.  His Eidolon is a Silver Celestial Kobold.  His Abyssal Heritage turns his silver scales black when he uses it and has to keep polishing himself to stay pure.  Full of flavor and lots of fun, the Silver Son is a good basic beast caster.  Special attacks: Smite.

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Here’s one I’m working on currently if it were 20 point buy

The Green Outcast

? Orc 4 Crossblooded Sorcerer (Orc/Green Draconic)/1 Barbarian/4DD

Str 16+2 racial+4

Dex 10

Con 14

Int 12

Wis 8

Cha 14

Traits: Get racial trait toothy.

1 Sorcerer1, Intimidating Prowess

2 Barbarian1

3 Sorcerer2, Skill Focus: Intimidate

4 Sorcerer3, Dragon Resistances

5 Sorcerer4, Still Spell

6 DD 1

7 DD 2, Power Attack, Noxious Bite

9 DD 4, Ability focus, Breath Weapon

The real key to this build is the bite and the intimidation.  He uses the intimidation to put the fear into them and the bite to make them nauseated.  He has quite a bit of capability with it, and because his element is Acid, it makes him more of a debuffer, which is cool.  He really isn’t too bad at it.  One level of Rogue/Thug or the enforcer feat with a merciful weapon later on can make him into a scaring machine if the campaign fits, along with dazzling display, but I will probably focus some more into melee and use the debuffing and blasting to soften them up and close in for the kill.  Either that or go dimensional Dervish starting at level 11.

This is a build you want to get your own specialized Robes of Arcane Heritage as soon as possible, because it gives you a +2 to the DC’s of your breath weapon for your Noxious bite, which you will be doing quite often.  Charisma boosts are almost more useful than Strength boosts for this build, but I will try to make it even.

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This build was posted on the message board by Wassum although I truncated it for the purposes of fitting in with the other builds I posted.  You can see the whole build here: http://s14.directupload.net/images/120229/hfziqqfr.png

Arcane Duelist Bard 7/ DD2

He went with half orc for proficiency with falchion, but it could just as easily be a Half Elf.  He followed my advice and went 7 levels of Bard before going into DD to take advantage of Inspire Courage +2 with a Move action.  It really comes into its own at level 11, when it gets the extra Strength boosts.  This build will use a Falchion all the way through, and never really rely on the Form of the Dragon, and it reaches level 6 bard spells at level 18, only two levels behind an actual bard, but with much more versatility and more bloodline feats.  

The Flavors- What kind of Dragon should you be?

When Choosing a Dragon Type, feel free to pick whatever you like.  When looking at them, I rated them for several reasons:  Cones are superior to lines when doing area effect because you can encompass more creatures.  Gaining a vulnerability when you take their shape is not really a good idea.  Special Movement rates are good.  

If you are going with the Sorcerer build, remember that you get your bonus to damage from the elemental subtype of the spell, not the type of damage the spell does.  So if you decided to go Brass Dragon, and you were casting fireball with an elemental metamagic rod and switched the damage to cold, you would still get your +1 per die of damage because the metamagic rod doesn’t change the fire subtype, it just changes the type of damage.  Weird?  Yes.  RAW?  Also yes.  For this reason, if you are taking Sorcerer, The Red Dragon becomes Orange, and the Brass becomes Green.  And the Gold is still the way to go because you don’t get a vulnerability to go along with it.

Black dragon: 60-foot line of acid, resist acid 20, swim 60 feet

Blue dragon: 60-foot line of electricity, resist electricity 20, burrow 20 feet

Green dragon: 30-foot cone of acid, resist acid 20, swim 40 feet

Red dragon: 30-foot cone of fire, resist fire 30, vulnerability to cold

White dragon: 30-foot cone of cold, resist cold 20, swim 60 feet, vulnerability to fire

Brass dragon: 60-foot line of fire, resist fire 20, burrow 30 feet, vulnerability to cold

Bronze dragon: 60-foot line of electricity, resist electricity 20, swim 60 feet

Copper dragon: 60-foot line of acid, resist acid 20, spider climb (always active)

Gold dragon: 30-foot cone of fire, resist fire 20, swim 60 feet

Silver dragon: 30-foot cone of cold, resist cold 30, vulnerability to fire

Equipment Choices:

Weapons:  You will probably need some of these at lower level.  I recommend two handed  reach weapons to take advantage of enlarge person. If you have any sort of rage, go with Furious and Courageous.  But that’s kind of a given.

Armor:  Light if you want to be a Bard or a Summoner, Skald gets medium.  Hunter or Druid get something heavy and the wild enchantment.  Otherwise don’t worry about it.  Bracers work well.

Potions:  Take as many of these as you can if you took 4 levels of Alchemist, otherwise use when found.  If you have a paladin in your group, get someone to make craft potion or take it yourself.  It is amazing for getting potions of Bestow Grace so you can add your charisma bonus to your saves.  Works as a scroll as well, but only if you pumped up your UMD ranks.

Rings:  The usual ones that are good are also good for you.

Ring of Protection:  AC is Good.  You’ll probably want one.  I’m sure you’ll find some.

Ring of Wizardry:  If you get it, use it, but don’t go looking for one. 

Ring of Spell Knowledge:  This is a good way to pick up a good first level spell that you aren’t given on your list.  Not a bad choice for the Bard or Summoner, or even a Sorcerer looking to increase their versatility.  Oh, and a Sorcerer or Bard can get Greater Magic Fang on their list as a 4th level spell too, as well as many other fun cross class spells that are arcane.  It’s not so good when your GM says you can’t teach it new spells.  

Ring of Counterspells:  If you use permanency a bunch, being immune to the first Greater Dispel Magic you get hit with is really good.  Blue good.  And it’s cheap.

Rods:  Metamagic rods are great for speed buffing (rod of quicken I am looking at you)

Scrolls:  Useful for rounding out spell list and being able to be more versatile. 

Wands:  Great for wand monkeys, great for utility!  Half-elves can use them at +1 caster level.  

Wondrous Items:

Amulet of Mighty Fists- This is a good buy, but I also recommend doing some Permanency of Greater Magic Fang on your claws, tail and bite and possibly wings.  Why?  Because a potion of  +5 GMF and Permancy costs you 10,000.  6 of these is 60,000.  A +5 AMF is 100,000.  “But Oterisk!  Permanency can be Dispelled!”  And Amulets can be sundered and destroyed.  If your GM wants to screw you, you are screwed.  Get your bonuses to hit from the GMF and Permanency and you can do some fun things with your AMF like add elemental damage or Brilliant Energy or something like that.  Also, see below after Mnemonic vestment where I talk about Permanency even more

Amulet of Natural Armor-  Stacks with your Natural Armor Bonus.  Also, if you wish, you can get this as a bonus to your AMF- it just costs 1.5 as much.  

Belts- I recommend Strength over any other physical stat, but Constitution is a good plan too.  Get as much as you can afford.

BooksGet your Strength as high as possible, just remember that inherent bonuses do not stack.  It still can help your other stats though. 

Bracers of Armor- This is green if your DM allows them to stack with your transformations.  If not, get a wand monkey to cast Mage armor on you when you go into battle.  Or just buy a Runestone of Power and cast it on yourself.  

Cloak of Resistance- Your Saves won’t be that great since your main stats are not Save enhancing.  Go all out here.

Headbands- Pump up the Cha if you need it, otherwise Int is good for skills and Wis is good for saves.  

Ioun stones– Get a bunch, they are fun!

3 Flawed Amber Spindles

Cracked Dark Blue Rhomboid

Dusty Rose (and a cracked one too)

Cracked Pale Green Prism

Crimson and Blue Sphere (for cheap skills)

Mask of Giants- Sure you don’t turn into a dragon, but it still can be useful.  The best part of Giant Form spells is that your equipment doesn’t meld into you but actually resizes with you as well.  This makes it great for Two Handed Weapon folks.

Mattock of the Titans- It is possible for you to actually use this with your Transformations, but I wouldn’t go out of your way to find and use it.

Maul of the Titans- See above.

Portable Hole- Keep it around for when you throw your handy haversack into it and escape to the Astral plane.  Or to hold your stuff if you are not brave enough to use it the other way.

Robe of the Archmagi- I wouldn’t say no to this if you found it, and it might actually be useful to have otherwise.

Robes of Arcane Heritage.  Um… Yes please.  This allows you to access your Strength bonuses earlier and increases the amount of damage you can do with your Breath weapon, and many other things.  I would recommend it as soon as it is convenient.  Of course you would have to get it custom made if you were crossblooded.  But it is also possible that you could get this for Eldrich Heritage as well, so it makes it pretty good.  

Runestones of Power- Yep, this is a good option for your most used spell levels.

Tattoo, Caster’s- This can definitely be useful.

Vestment, Mnemonic- This cheap item never loses it’s luster.  Being able to use spells as if they were on your list once per day, (or one from your wizard friend’s spellbook) is amazing.  Where it really gets awesome is for certain spells that you only want to cast on previous days.  Getting Contingency or Permanency or Fabricate or Illusory Wall for the price of a feat that you can cast on your off days is worth the 5,000 gold price tag.

Permanency:  I’m going to put this in here.  For Dragon Disciples, this is a good option for a few different permanent spells.  We’ll do a quick ranking of some of the various spells you can make permanent.

Arcane Sight- Good if you have high Spellcraft, not if you don’t

Comprehend languages- Tongues is better

Darkvision- Good if you don’t have it

See Invisibility- You got blindsense at higher levels, but this is nice.

Enlarge Person– This is actually a good idea for extra damage

Magic Fang, Greater- A good option for several reasons: the first is that with 5-7 natural weapons, you aren’t going to want to spend 5-7 third level spell slots per day to make sure you are fully powered.  Also, in order to cast such spells on you, you’ll have to manifest them by casting Form of the Dragon, or actually raging or however you do that.  So you will have to use up uses per day just to power up.  Using Permanency is just convenient then.  

Telepathic Bond– Only for Story purposes

Tongues- Fear in any language, straight to the heart.

While I’m mentioning Permanency, let me tell you of another spell that would be amazing for the Dragon Disciple, and the wonders they can do together for the DD.  Blood Money, the spell from the Anniversary Edition of the Rise of the Runelords campaign is wonderful for you.  Your naturally high strength can fuel the Permanency costs if you have a healer about to restore your strength with some lesser restoration spells (or one casting of heal by the time you get access to Permanency).  A DD with even a temporary strength of 41 can fuel enough to put through a permancy cost of 20,000 gold as long as he has status healing available.  A 45 can get you anything on the list of things that can have a permanent effect.  If you can get above 50, you can cast Wish without spell components.  No longer do you have to worry about these things being dispelled if you have the time to put them back and a friend to help it along.  A tremendous savings of money and a bunch of wonderful options?  Yeah, it’s all good.

No Blood Money?  Get a ring of Counterspells.  That way bad guys have to hit you twice with Greater Dispel Magic before you lose all your permanent spells.  

Lastly, if it is available, you want to get your hands on a scroll of Polymorph Any Object.

The reason why?  Because you can do Permanent FotD with it.  3000 gold (3200 for sorcerers with a little less hassle) and check the duration chart.  Same kingdom, same size, related, same or lower intelligence?  Yes to all.  Now you’re permanently affected with Form of the Dragon.  I suggest a caster level of at least 8 before you try this though.  You have a 50% shot to make it work, and if you didn’t dump wisdom, only a 20% chance of mishap (waste the scroll and don’t get to try again).  Of course, mishap could be really hilarious, so feel free to do it even if you did dump wisdom.

Here is a Staff I came up with on my own using the creation guidelines for Staves.  It’s a fine addition to extend the longevity of your character if you get into some of those long days when you have a bunch of encounters.  Mostly useful after level 15 or 16 when you can recharge it yourself.  That is, unless you have a full caster who owes you some favors to recharge it before then.  It seems there is another one of these in one of the books, but remember if you are crafting your own, you don’t have to stick to exactly what they have.

 Staff of the Dragon:  Fly: one charge, Dragon’s breath: one charge, Form of the Dragon I: two charges.  Price:  27,600 (to craft)

Recommended Skills:

You don’t have a lot of these usually.  Here’s my take on them.

Acrobatics- Necessary for Dragon Style.  Also good if you actually wanted to fight defensively.  Recommended 5 ranks

Appraise:  Dragons should know what things are worth.  If you found it reprehensible that Smaug didn’t know the Archenstone was really expensive, then invest in Appraise.  You don’t ever really need more than a +10 here though, because taking 10 is a good plan and there is no bigger use for Appraise unless you are doing bargaining rules from Ultimate Campaign.

Bluff/Diplomacy:  I prefer Intimidate for social situations for dragons.  But you’ll have a moderate Cha, so these are feasible.  

Climb:  You won’t start with flying, so this will be useful early on.  Most melee classes have it as a class skill.  If they do and you have an extra slot, this is a solid choice for 1 rank.

Fly- You should be doing this a lot, consider taking full ranks here when your Intelligence goes up at level 13 (DD level 8).  It also might be good to have it earlier than that, so headband or Ioun Stone for the win.  

Intimidation is also a class skill for you, with a good strength score, you can keep up with this one with the one feat- Intimidating prowess.

Knowledge Arcana- You need 5 here to get into DD.  It’s also kind of useful.

Linguistics if you don’t start with a higher Intelligence score than 11, you need one skill point here to pick up Draconic which is a prerequisite for DD

Perception is a class skill for you, take advantage

Spellcraft:  Useful if you want to know what you’re doing in the magic realm.

UMD isn’t bad either, but only if no one else has it in your group.  A good option for when your intelligence goes up, or for a Scarlet and Blue Ioun stone or something like that.  Also, you really only need a 17 at max here.  That allows you to use spell completion items (after the first time) without having to make a roll since you’d succeed on a 1.  

Recommended Traits:

There are quite a few traits out there, but a few are worth spending time considering.

Magical Knack:   The +2 to caster level is nice to keep your spells functioning decently when you lose casting levels to DD or multiclassing.  Unless you are planning a shocking touch build with magical lineage, this is the magic trait you will take.. Maybe even then.

Magical Lineage:  The poor man’s Spell perfection.  Or at least the less accomplished man’s.  Nine times out of ten, I would go with magical knack, but this could be useful for blasters or for casters who want to pull off a Quickened Form of the Dragon I, more easily accomplished in conjunction with Spell Perfection.  Although I wouldn’t do this one unless I started at a high level.    

Optimistic Gambler:  This trait makes the Orc “Touch of Rage” useful for yourself.  Really useful.  If your GM allows you to do other campaign’s traits, or if you are doing Second Darkness and you decide to take the Orc Bloodline through Eldrich Heritage, this is a really, really good choice.

Fate’s Favored:  There’s a few ways to get luck bonuses.  If you can do get some, this is good.

Traits that increase your saves:  Always a solid choice, especially since your saves may not be very high because you put all your stat boosts in attributes that don’t help your saves.

Recommended Feats:

There are way too many feats to comment on all of them and maintain my sanity.  Here are a few that might be useful though.  

Arcane Strike– Free spamable bonus to all attacks and they count as magic for DR purposes.  Definitely a good one.

Arcane Armor Training- Useful when you are not transformed, which at lower levels is quite a bit of the time.  A good plan if you want armor is to just be a Bard or Summoner who gets to cast in light armor for free.  

Arcane Armor Mastery- Mithral Plate still gets you arcane spell failure of 5%  Not worth two feats.  It can give you a 0% on some other armors of course, but you still lose your swift actions in rounds you want to cast, so I still can’t really recommend this for you.  

Aspect of the Beast- The way to gain permanent claws

Blind-Fight- Not a bad feat to have in a pinch, works pretty well with the blindsense you get.

Combat Casting- If you stick to buffs and 5 foot steps, this shouldn’t be a problem  The fact that Arcane Duelists get it for free at 2nd levels is just gravy.

Combat Reflexes- If you didn’t drop your Dex too low, this isn’t bad.

Critical Feats- Good if you focus on weapons, not so good for natural weapons.

Defending Eidolon- Aid another is better, and it doesnt require a feat

Dimensional Feats-  These are great if you have the time to get them all.  You can get dervish by level 11 if you do 7 levels of summoner first, but then no dragon form.  So it isn’t a great PFS option.

Dodge, Mobility and associated feats- Probably not a good idea.  You don’t use a Dex build.

Eldrich claws- Arcane strike does this just a little better

Elemental Focus- could be useful if you do a lot of blasting

Save Feats- Your Mileage May Vary

Improved Counterspell- With your casting not being at its top level, this is a bad idea.

Improved Unarmed Strike- You are using claws and weapons, remember?  Only get for free.

Intimidating Prowess- Good job, now you are quite possibly the most intimidating thing out there.

Minor Spell Expertise- More Magic Missles might be good, Other spells could do well too.

Nimble moves- Useful if using a reach weapon

Persuasive- only if you need to be social

Power Attack- pretty much a must for all melee types.  Although it isn’t as good for you because your BAB is low.  

Cleave feats- Work good with Dimensional feats

Furious Focus- as your BAB is low, it also means your penalties to attack are low.  Not that great.

Assault Feats- Not good for you because your BAB is low, which means saves are low.

Combat Maneuvers- You are okay at these, but since you have a low number of feats, I don’t recommend them.

Quick Draw- No good unless your GM lets you draw rods with this.

Racial Heritage: Welcome to crazy land.  For those who wish to go this route, many, many options are opened to you.  Of course, you have to be a Human, Half-Elf, Half-Orc, or an Aasimar with the Scion of Humanity trait, but those aren’t bad choices either.  Kobold is one of your best bets here, as it opens up a bunch of dragon flavor feats that are amazing such as Tail Terror for an early and extra natural attack that can be augmented with weaponry.  Ifrit or Sylph for sight through smoke and fog respectively could be good depending on your element.  The Kitsune can open up access to DD without any spellcasting levels for the cost of two feats, if you don’t mind being a two tailed dragon.    

Skill Focus and Eldritch Heritage- This is almost a must unless you go crossblooded Sorcerer.

Sorcerous Bloodstrike- Um, extended claws, more breath weapon, and depending on interpretation, could work for Dragon Form as well.

Spell Perfection- Since you are a sorcerer, and you get Quicken as a bonus feat, this is a good idea.  I like either Dragon Breath or Scorching Ray for some quickened spell damage each round, or at least the option.  The only trouble is the three metamagic feats you need to take in order to qualify.

Toughness- not bad, since you get it as a bonus

Vigilant Eidolon- better than skill focus Perception, stacks with it too.  Add Skilled as an evolution when you get to level 10 and you should have an easy time seeing things.

Vital Strike- works with Cleaving Finish and Greater Cleaving Finish, It might make them worthwhile, but only if your GM is in the habit of denying you full attacks.  Although it would be better to go with the Dimensional Dervish feats.

Weapon Focus- If you have a free spot early to go with claws, its not terrible.  Also a stepping stone for Dragon Style Feats.

Dazzling Display- Your intimidate should be pretty high, it’s not a bad option early and if you have a rogue friend, they will love you forever.

Crafting Feats- Wand isn’t a bad choice if you are a summoner for a wand monkey.  Wondrous items would be used by you quite a bit for Amulet of the Mighty Fists and Stat boosters.

Metamagic Feats- Feel Free to pick some of these up, with your limited spell selection, this can make some of your lower level spells better at higher levels.

Teamwork Feats- Lookout is really good if you have someone nearby, like an Eidolon.

Style Feats- If you decide to go this route, you need to get Feral Combat Training.  Dragon Style and Dragon Ferocity are really nice.  Once you get these three feats, anytime you get Weapon focus for a new natural weapon, you add 50% of your Str damage as a bonus to it.  The Crane Style feats are great for defensive purposes and Ripostes are good too.  The Snake feats are good too, but if you only take one or two levels of MoMS, I’d stick with the first two.

Monster Feats- If allowed

Ability Focus- Would be good for your Breath Weapon if you have high sorcerer levels.  

Awesome Blow- Not so Awesome.  Too many prerequisites for a standard action.

Draconic Defender- Draconic Discipline- I would take them if they were free, but otherwise they are not all that great. 

Empower Spell Like Ability- Not sure this would work with any of your SLA’s but if your Gm let you use this for your Breath Weapon, go for it.

Flyby attack- Not too bad an ability, but you don’t get a permanent fly speed until at least level 14.  

Hover- See above.

Improved Natural Armor- This is a decent feat if you need it.

Improved Natural Attack- Use this with your bite, with the extra dice and perhaps the cleaving finish feat, this might actually make vital strike worth it.  

Multiattack- Not too bad once you get dragon form, but not too good either.  Your main damage is coming from your bite and claws, not your wing buffets.  It is a better option if you have abilities that add damage to your attacks like Sneak Attack, Pressure Points, Smite Evil, Weapon Training, Dragon Ferocity or Quarry.  

Noxious Bite- If you picked green or black for your dragon type, this is the feat for you!  Even better if you can Ability focus your breath weapon.

Quicken Spell Like Ability- Become a dragon as a swift action?  Yes please!

Wingover- See Hover

Recommended Spells:

This is a quick grab bag of spells that you might find useful.  There are plenty of guides for spells out there, and you can use them as a better guide than this one, so I didn’t want to put a lot of time into this.  But here you go.  One thing that you can take advantage of is touch spells that other casters wouldn’t dream of doing.  Casting Calcific touch before you go into battle or a quickened intensified shocking grasp in the midst of battle is a great way to increase your effectiveness in battle or just flat out increase your damage.  

Bard 1

Cure Light Wounds

Feather Fall

Grease

Invigorate

Saving Finale

Solid Note

Vanish

Bard 2

Alter Self

Boiling Blood for half orcs

Darkness 

Glitterdust

Heroism

Invisibility

Mirror Image

Rage

Silence

Summon Swarm

Bard 3

Cure Serious Wounds

Good Hope

Haste

Bard 4

Dance of a Hundred Cuts

Dimension Door

Echolocation

Freedom of Movement

Heroic Finale

Shadow Conjuration

Bard 5

Mislead

Shadow Evocation

Shadow Bard

Bard 6

Dance of a Thousand Cuts

Greater Shout

 Sorcerer 1

Mage Armor

Obscuring Mist

True Strike

Burning Hands

Magic Missile

Vanish

Enlarge Person

Shocking Grasp

Feather Fall

Sorcerer 2

Glitterdust

Darkness

Elemental Touch

Flaming Sphere

Scorching Ray

Mirror Image

Alter Self

Sorcerer 3

Heroism

Rage

Draconic Reservoir

Fireball

Wind Wall

Haste

Sorcerer 4

Black Tentacles

Calcific Touch

Dimension Door

Dragon's Breath

Shout

Wall of Fire

Sorcerer 5

Cloudkill

Cone of Cold

Wall of Force

Overland Flight

Interposing Hand

Sorcerer 6

Antimagic Field

Wall of Iron

True Seeing

Heroism, Greater

Freezing Sphere

Mislead

Form of the Dragon I

Transformation

Sorcerer 7

Delayed Blast Fireball

Form of the Dragon II

Reverse Gravity

Sorcerer 8

Maze

Wall of Lava

Moment of Prescience

Power Word Stun

Polar Ray

Form of the Dragon III

Sorcerer 9

Meteor Swarm

Time Stop

Summoner 1

Enlarge Person

Expeditious Retreat

Feather Fall

Mage Armor

Summoner 2

Barkskin

Blur

Evolution Surge, Lesser

Glitterdust

Haste

Summoner 3

Black Tentacles

Dimension Door

Fly

Heroism

Wall of Fire

Summoner 4

Insect Plague

Overland Flight

Teleport

Wall of Stone

Summoner 5

Heroism, Greater

Teleport, Greater

True Seeing

Wall of Iron

Summoner 6

Incendiary Cloud

Maze

Summon Monster VIII

Disclaimer:

I did not make money on any of this, so if you are the author of any of the pictures that I used, I will take it down upon request or make sure you get a proper due for your excellent work.  Also, thanks to Treantmonk for the original guides.

Changes: 7-14-12  Bard Archetype updates, (Chelish Diva, Dawnflower Dervish and Lotus Geisha)Fighter, Monk and Cavalier changes, Mention of Fire Subtype issue, Addition of Staff of the Dragon option, Feral combat training + Dragon Style, color coded Skills, touch spell plug in spell section, added a little more snark.

Changes 10-21-13 ARG updates finished, FAQ concerning spell like abilities addressed.  Blood Money and Permanency section added as well as some magical items.

Changes 10-25-15  ACG Updates Finished, FAQ wildblooded addressed.  Permanency section expanded, skill section expanded, Magical Items section slightly expanded.

Changes in the works- redesign of Chassis section.

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