Get to Know the Green Dragons of Dungeons & Dragons' New Era (2024)

No matter which version of D&D you’re playing, you can’t have Dungeons & Dragons without either the dungeons or the dragons. So it’s a good job that D&D’s next set of core rulebooks are bringing players Dragons here, there, and everywhere—they’re on the cover, they’re in the stat blocks, and, should you so desire, all over your eyeballs if you’re already preparing to pick up the new books.

All three of the new D&D core rulebooks—the Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and the Monster Manual—are currently available to pre-order through D&D Beyond ahead of their release later this year (and into early 2025 in the case of the Monster Manual), and doing so nets you a bunch of bonus goodies, including a new dice skin for use in D&D Beyond, a digital miniature of a Gold Dragon for use in the upcoming Beyond Virtual Tabletop when it enters beta. But it also comes with The Dragons of D&D, a digital art book dedicated to the titular creatures in all their forms—and to celebrate, io9 has your first look at some of the art from its section dedicated to the Green Dragons of the D&D multiverse.

Largely solitary creatures, the Green Dragons of D&D are known as master conspirators, tricksters who revel in manipulating and deceiving their prey—and stalking whatever poor adventurers wander into their woodland domains with meticulous cunning until they could strike at the prime opportunity, rending with fang and claw and spewing streams of poisonous gas from their mouths. And while that’s not changing in Dungeons & Dragons’ newest iteration, they are getting a bit of a design update to better match their duplicitous nature.

“For the green dragon we made some large changes to its design, hoping to better show off the personality of the dragon,” Josh Herman, the head of the D&D art team at Wizards of the Coast, told io9. “We also wanted to give the green dragon a new movement style unique among the cast of the chromatic dragons. Their movement shows the cunning and duplicitous nature of the green dragon while also tying into a more serpentine look.”

Get to Know the Green Dragons of Dungeons & Dragons' New Era (1)

Herman and the art team looked to the original stat block for Green Dragons in Fifth Edition’s Monster Manual as a starting point for how they wanted to approach redesigning the beast for this new age. In [the Monster Manual] it says that green dragons are ‘The most cunning and treacherous of true dragons, green dragons use misdirection and trickery to get the upper hand against their enemies,’” Herman explained. “That is such a rich piece of info! It also states that an ancient green dragon has an Intelligence of 20—which means that it has the highest intelligence of all the chromatic dragons.”

“Those two things alone told us a lot and spoke to what we’d like to see in the updated design, as well as a lot about how this creature might function, or act, in the world,” Herman continued. “Being more intelligent than the other chromatics and being the most manipulative brought to mind animals in the real world that we associate with those traits, like a snake.”

Read a few more of Herman’s insight into evolving the Green Dragons’ art design below, and click through to see a few more exclusive pieces of art of the creatures by Alexander Ostrowski, making their debut here on io9!

I like to imagine that a green dragon would constantly scheme and plan to seize power, but being that it doesn’t have the raw power of a red dragon, it would need to go about those plans differently. So, rather than kicking down the door and burning the town, it would lure people into the forests where it could manipulate and deceive them, telling lies about why they were brought there and spinning tales about how they needed to help the dragon. A green dragon would use its intelligence and other regional effects to make it appear as invisible as possible, because it knows that being forward about its goals wouldn’t help it accomplish them.

Green dragons love to collect sentient creatures, and relishes in corrupting and bending them to their will. That felt like a great connection to a more serpentine design that you could imagine the dragon slowly encircling, and coiling around someone until they were too deep to escape.

For the project overall, the green dragon was also the first dragon design that fell into place on the dragon project. Early on in the process, we worked with several artists, but the person who got this one to “click” was the artist Simon Lee. Simon is a traditional sculptor, who sculpts in clay, and did lots of small clay sculptures exploring how dragons could move, and how they could express their personality.

He created a sculpt of the green dragon that had this long neck with a compact body, and a long tail. We were drawn to it right away – it’s a visual that we’re familiar with for dragons but we hadn’t seen in the D&D dragons. This also opened up, and cemented, the idea that each dragon could have a different body shape, or something special about it from a physical biological perspective.

Big thanks to Simon for the work on this project, along with all of the other artists and illustrators!

The new Dungeons & Dragons core rulebooks are available to pre-order digitally and physically now through D&D Beyond—getting you access to the Dragons of D&D digital artbook, and the aforementioned exclusive digital dice and Gold Dragon VTT miniature as bonuses—ahead of their releases later this year, beginning with the Player’s Handbook on September 17, the Dungeon Master’s Guide on November 12, and the Monster Manual early next year on February 18, 2025.

Get to Know the Green Dragons of Dungeons & Dragons' New Era (2024)
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