Aug 072014

My Favorite Monsters is a showcase of some of the beautiful artwork Turbine has provided so that we have interesting things to kill.

I am strangely attracted to DDO’s pseudodragon. Something about it calls to me, or at least to the nub of a creative person that is buried somewhere deep inside me, surrounded by so much lack-of-talent.

I’ve tried to animate pseudodragons not just once, but twice. But I have never gotten it “right”, that tiny part of me that has an artistic aesthetic has never been satisfied.

And yet I am drawn back to it again. Although this time I am colorizing rather than animating. Because … tiny dragon. How can I resist?

A pseudodragon (sometimes referenced as “pseudo-dragon”) is just like a regular dragon except smaller. Much, much smaller. And apparently more likely to be Good-aligned; a pseudodragon is something people want to find. At least in regular D&D they are friendly. Not so much in DDO, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

I tried to do a bit of scholarly research on the little guys so I could share their history, but there isn’t any. As near as I can tell the pseudodragon was invented by Gary Gygax and his cohorts at TSR specifically so that they could be included in D&D.

First Edition Monster Manual Pseudo-DragonNot that there’s anything wrong with that. And conveniently, it means that the first edition AD&D Monster Manual is the definitive source regarding the creature. Checking there, we find that they are very rare, have a chameleon power that makes them 80% undetectable, are magic resistant, and have a poison sting that makes the victim catatonic and may even (25% chance) kill them outright.

But they are also described as neutral good, and able to become a companion of other creatures, with whom they communicate telepathically! Awesome! Who wouldn’t want a cute mini-dragon that blends in anywhere and talks in your head? Check out the pseudodragon image on the right, taken from the original first edition AD&D Monster Manual.

The concept is/was/became quite popular. People love the pseudodragon, even if they call it other things (Fairy Dragon seems particularly popular). And with popularity comes art. Lots and lots of pseudodragon art.

I found this cute one on a gamer website.

A miniature Liquor-Dragon

I think if I was to choose a familiar, I’d want a Liquor-Dragon too.
But one that prefers bourbon over cognac.

Here is a cuter one I found on a site in a foreign language, (sorry I have no idea what kind of site it is).

Pseudodragon on a finger

The cutest one of all. So cute!

Pseudodragons were very popular in-game too. Seemingly every wizard had one as a familiar, even though the Find Familiar spell allowed only a one-in-twenty chance of getting a pseudo-dragon. The vast majority of people should have had a black cat or a toad or weasel or some such. But no, somehow nearly everyone got the lucky roll and the much cooler familiar. Not that anyone ever remembered they even had a familiar until they wanted to use it to do something.

But I digress. This is not about cute art, nor players who cheat their die rolls, nor even about familiars in general. This is about pseudodragons and specifically, pseudodragons in DDO.

DDO PseudodragonNow that you mention it, he doesn’t look very friendly, does he?

There’s one now, one that I took the liberty of coloring up a little for enhanced dramatic effect. Pretty fierce looking, eh?

In DDO pseudo dragons are not tiny. They are bigger than halflings, and while this is not a hard bar to clear, I think it means they would technically count as medium. Which is the same general size as humans. You definitely wouldn’t want one perched on your shoulder.

They are not familiars either. You can get them as companions, but this is purely cosmetic, they only add to your character’s cuteness. No telepathic conversations, no transmitted resistance to magic, none of that, just a big flappy thing that follows you wherever you go and hitches weirdly when you are in water or falling from a height.

Still cool though. Coin has one, and she likes it. Or at least, I imagine she would, it helps to make her look rich and connected and powerful. Coin’s is tan-striped, but since I don’t play Coin very often I don’t play the pseudodragon familiar either and I haven’t even come up with a good name for it yet.

I have a black-striped pseudodragon too, not sure how I acquired that one, but since I have the tan one already I haven’t yet assigned the newer one to a character. I probably will though, they really are cool even if a bit larger than I would like, and of course they are also useless.

The other format in which you may find a pseudodragon is as a monster. When you encounter them in-game they are invariably hostile, do not bother to camouflage or sting, instead breathing fireballs at you as fast as they can. There are random ones in the Storm Horns, and red-named ones in the quests The Trackers Trap, What Goes Up?, and in the Ruins of Thunderholme.

No special tactics are needed to defeat them other than fire resistance, they are really a pretty easy out, even when red-named.

Now that I’ve written that all out, I find that I liked them better in tabletop D&D than in DDO.

Because I like the thought of a tiny dragon, perched on my caster’s shoulder, nibbling at some cheese or a fieldmouse or some such, ready to fly off on secretive tasks or maybe spark up a conversation, an ally, the coolest-looking and most awesome familiar ever.

“Tiny dragon”. Of course they are amazing. What else do you need to even say?

🙂 😀 🙂

  7 Responses to “My Favorite Monsters: Pseudodragon”

Comments (7)
  1. For another cute little winged dude that can communicate, there’s also Tressyms.. and i have this great mental image of a thick Tressym having never heard of dragons, meeing a pseudogradon for the first time & just assuming it was a fellow tressym that had been in some terrible scalding accident then just trying to politely & rather awkwardly dance around the subject.

  2. Pseudodragons are pretty cool…having one as a true familiar would be fun 🙂

  3. Star Wars has their own version in the Socorran Tailring:

What do you think?

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