Dragons, fierce friend or foe of every player in about any Fantasy Role Playing World. Dragons are part of the role playing games “Dungeons and Dragons” even has dragons in the name. One of the most famous dragons in Dungeons and Dragons history is Tiamat, the 5 headed dragon goddess in the Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, and Eberron settings. Dragons are not just in fantasy settings alone. Thanks to The Sci-Fi/Fantasy game Shadowrun had a very influential Dragon named Dunkelzahn. With multiple novels, story lines and adventures, if you have dipped your toe into the Shadowrun waters, you have touched something of Dunkelzahns. You can find dragons in a lot of settings if the setting allows for them. Many settings have age or type as a character instead of a name so an Ancient Red Dragon is the powerful enemy instead of the Dragon having a name.
Using dragons in games can be fun. Good or evil, dragons can be influential, a thorn in the side, or down right havoc causing. Dragons come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, ages, and colors. Adventure hooks can be anything from finding a mysteriously large egg in a cave that turns out to be a dragon, to protecting a hatchings, or doing odd jobs for an ancient and many things in between.
Dragons as friends. Benevolent Dragons can be the key to a good adventure. Being powerful, a friendship to a dragon can be its own reward. But in many games they also have treasure hoards, magic items, forbidden or lost knowledge, and even connections to powerful people. Adventure hooks can be things like removing a curse from a dragon that prevents him from his full potential. Recovering stolen eggs, treasure, and things like that. Protecting the dragons Lands/building/turf can also be a mission for players.
Dragons as enemies. Malevolent Dragons can be the key to a good adventure as well. Forced to deal with a dragon, trust one or fight one can lead to peril and even death. Sure evil dragons have Treasure hoards, magic items, forbidden or lost lore and more, but at what cost. Not all dragons are Animals with that mentality. Dragons are creatures of magic and wicked intelligence. Some dragons see players and non player characters, as food or pawns in a game that they get to play with. Sending them out to do their bidding the players may have no other choice.
And it is up to you to remember what Shadowrun says….”Shoot Straight, Conserve Ammunition and Never deal with a dragon”