How to Finish Up This Monster to Make it More Threatening?

I've been working on a smoke dragon for the Major Monster Covenant Hook, who lives in the covenant itself (and since he's not asking a vis tribute of the covenant, he needs to be able to survive in the covenant's level 8 Aura sans Acclimation, otherwise I'd have given him a bit more Might) and he's coming out pretty well in my opinion, but he's got twelve points of Qualities left and the way he is now I'm just not seeing him as something that could be really threatening if he needed to be. I mean, he's imposing, what with the Size 9 and smoke-related abilities, but he's not actually a terribly large threat in mundane or magical combat when I give him a good long look. I'd like to hear what you guys have to say regarding fixing him up with those last twelve Quality points (as well as possibly moving around the Quality points he does have for more efficiency? I feel like maybe I could improve on the Powers he already has, too) so that he can be terrifying when he needs to be, but said things shouldn't conflict too much with his being a smoke dragon.

Anyway, here's his unfinished sheet up to now:

Varox, Smoke Dragon of the Covenant
Magic Might: 40 (base 65)
Characteristics: Int +8, Per +4, Str +23, Sta +6, Prs +5, Com +6, Dex +4, Qik +2
Size: +9
Season: Winter
Warping Score: N/A
Confidence Score: 3 (7)
Virtues and Flaws: Greater Immunity (heat and flames), Magical Master, (Arcane Lore, Educated, Improved Characteristics x14, Great Communication x2, Great Dexterity, Great Intelligence x2, Great Perception, Great Presence x2, Great Stamina x2, Great Strength x2, Unaffected by the Gift) (Minor Virtue Quality), Affinity with Magic Theory; Essential Flaw (Meddler), Meddler (major), Obsessed (magical knowledge)
Qualities and Inferiorities: Magical Animal, Gifted, Greater Power, Minor Virtue x29, Improved Abilities x10, Improved Attack x3, Improved Communication, Improved Confidence, Improved Defense x3, Improved Initiative, Improved Intelligence x3, Improved Quickness x8, Improved Soak x3, Improved Stamina, Gift of Speech, Personal Power x2, ; Major Flaw (Blatant Gift), Reduced Might x16
Personality Traits: Meddler* +6, Inquisitive +3, Egocentric +3, Protective +3
Reputation: Knowledgeable 3, Meddler in Others’ Business 4
Large Claws Init +5, Atk +24, Def +21, Dam +27
Large Teeth Init +2, Atk +18, Def +13, Dam +26
Soak: +12
Fatigue Levels: OK, 0, -1, -3, -5, Unconscious
Wound Penalties: -1 (1-14), -3 (15-28), -5 (29-32), Inc. (33-46), Dead (47+)
Abilities: Athletics 6 (flying), Awareness 6 (noticing details), Brawl 8 (claws), Charm 4 (endearing others), Concentration 4 (Powers), Folk Ken 4 (magi), Hunt 6 (tracking), Latin 7 (Hermetic usage), Hebrew 4 (academic usage), Arabic 4 (academic usage), Swim 5 (rapids), Teaching 8 (Magic Theory), Artes Liberales 4 (logic), Dominion Lore 4 (creatures), Faerie Lore 4 (creatures), Infernal Lore 4 (creatures), Magic Lore 4 (creatures), Penetration 6 (smoke breath), Magic Theory 12 (Auram), Animal Ken 3 (lizards), Finesse 2 (precision)
Equipment: Aegis Token
Encumbrance: 0
Smoke Breath, 0 points, Init +2, Auram
R: Touch, D: Dia, T: Ind
Varox can breath out a billowing, noxious smoke from his nostrils that is so thick and heavy that any creature within five paces of Varox must make a Stamina roll against an Ease Factor of 6 every round or else lose a Fatigue level, and out from there, with the Ease Factor decreasing by 2 every five more paces out you go. Once a character is unconscious, any further failures result in taking a Light Wound. The spreading smoke also obscures vision.
CrAu 10 (base 3, +1 Touch, +1 Diameter, +1 increased Ease Factor): Greater Power (40 levels left over), 2 points Improved Power (-1 Might cost, +1 Initiative)
Rageful Roar, 0 points, Init 0, Mentem
R: Voice, D: Dia, T: Group
Varox can let out a terrible roar, causing anybody who fails a Brave roll against an Ease Factor of 6 to become terrified of Varox.
CrMe 30 (base 4, +2 Voice, +1 Diameter, +2 Group, +1 size): Greater Power (10 levels left over), 2 Mastery Points (-2 Might cost), 2 points Improved Powers (-1 Might cost, +1 Initiative)
Smoke Form, 0 points, Init -2, Animal
R: Personal, D: Con, T: Ind
Varox can turn into insubstantial smoke. He becomes unable to meaningfully affect substantial beings, but also can not be affected by them. He can move as he pleases and slip through tiny crevices. He is resistant to mundane weather conditions, but Auram spells can disperse or destroy his gaseous form if they Penetrate. He can end this power at will.
MuAn(Au) 35 (base 30, +1 Concentration): Personal Power x2 (15 levels left over), 3 Mastery Points (-3 Might cost), 1 point Improved Powers (-1 Might cost
Diamond-Hard Scales, 0 points, Init N/A, Animal
R: Personal, D: Sun, T: Ind
Varox has incredibly hard scales, resistant to both physical blows and magical attacks.
MuAn 30 (base 15, +2 Sun, +1 constant effect): Personal Power x2 (20 levels left over), 3 Mastery Points (-3 Might cost)
Vision of the Night, 1 point, Init N/A, Animal
R: Personal, D: Sun, T: Ind
Varox’s eyes can see through heavy, though not total, darkness as easily as he can see in good lighting.
MuAn 5 (base 2, +2 Sun, +1 constant effect): Personal Powers


So... What can I do to increase how threatening he is? I feel like there's a good start here: even though he's not an exceptional combatant for a dragon, if he opens with a smoke breath and can rely on his Soak and Size to stay alive for a while, he could exhaust most enemies that rely on the ability to breath. Maybe I could switch some levels around to keep that at 0 Might cost but increase the Ease Factor again? I'm not sure. And where do I go with making him threatening? Especially in a more general sense... Maybe I could give him venomous claws or something? Then he'll at least be threatening to other creatures with Might who don't care about his smoke breath... Any ideas and tips, y'all?

You don't need to balance an npc, especially not a dragon.

You can give him a second natural form, a large cloud of noxious smoke. MR doesn't help, because it's natural. You can give him some PeVi or ReVi effects that can be used for defense or to screw with magics. He also might have some secret powers that give him sway over the covenant. (Maybe one of his Vim-related powers lets him add or subtract his Might from any magic performed in the covenant.) The spirit power of Presence is very suitable imo for a dragon and his lair... which happens to be the covenant. So he is touching everything in the covenant, unknown to the magi. Including ACs to everything and everyone. This also provides him some vis, to help with acclimation.

Finally, there's a general issue that MR of any kind is easily overcome by magi unless they are taken by surprise. Not much to be done here; if the magi want to kill the dragon, they can. Of course, if the covenant would then lose its Magic Aura, they might have a real problem.

I would up the base might to 50, at least.
Give him The Gift and the power to cast draconic spells.
Double Virtues versus Flaws.
Just go all out and ramp it up whatever way you best see fit.

Greater Immunity (Acclimation)

Some suggestions:

Give him True Sight of the Air as a constant personal power so that he can see through the smoke he's generating.

There are ways round the Acclimation problem beyond having him live in a magical aura, if you want an excuse to boost his might - vis consumption is going to be expensive, but given an appropriate power he could possibly be constantly affecting a magically aligned creature/person without might.

I'd boost his soak some more - +12 isn't really all that much for a dragon. It's possible you've got this partially covered by his Diamond-Hard scales, but it's not clear from the write-up what exactly the effect of these are, in stat terms.

Possibly give him some extra fatigue levels, and have him exert himself more in the first rounds of combat. Move some points from Magic Theory (12 seems excessive for a dragon) to Brawl.

Give him a way of detecting invisible creatures - probably Second Sight.

Might Strippers are typically a problem when facing magi, but unfortunately not one I've found a good answer to (there's Vim resistance, but at this level of might it won't make much difference, and will be expensive in xp).

Have him able to retreat to the Magic Realm at will if someone starts attacking him at arcane connection range, to interrupt the connection. Then he can return when his attackers aren't expecting him. Unhappy.

Make his smoke more poisonous than it currently is.

I would personally suggest some MuAu to make any of the smoke he creates toxic, or noxious, or even solid, essentially asphyxiating anyone breathing it in. As noted above, MT 12 is a tad excessive, I'd suggest pulling it down to 10 and putting the 105 XP into Brawl. Apart from that you could give him Master of Aurum, with Improved Powers so he can generate up to Level 50 effects (at a high cost, but it does add versatility). After that, an extra set of Fatigue Levels (4x Improved Fatigue) and Fatigue Mastery would allow it to cast even when Might Stripped. You could also give him an offensive power (maybe IoL) with stupid Penetration (I suggest +70 or higher, as well as the Variable Power Virtue tied to Might, so that Transformation will make him even stronger). Vis Mastery would give the covenant a reason to keep him around (as he could slowly generate Aurum vis), assuming you go with the theory that NPCs recover Confidence per season (This is a house rule we use, but YSMV), and even if not, would allow him to amass quite a substantial amount of vis, which he could expend for instant Confidence (speaking of, Improved Confidence is probably a good idea too). When your big bad can give himself an instant +15 on any roll, repeatedly, you start to be very afraid. (Serf's Parma, I can't remember if Vis Mastery actually lets you spend the Confidence as normal, or if its only for activating Powers that need it; the wording is quite amiguous).

P.S. I think there's a mistake in your Wound Penalties:

Shouldn't that be 1-14, 15-28, 29-42, 43-56, 57+ ? Or have you scaled it down intentionally?

He could summon small smoke salamanders out of his breath, to swarm ennemies, and have a large troupes of small creature able to breath fire/tar on short distance (the equivalent of voice)- or become a group of 4000 (assuming every +1 size double the mass) salamanders and he can only be killed if every single one is killed.

I found out that a large group of small creatures is quite effective at overwhelming unprepared magus who have only single-target offensive spell (

  • totally agree).

If you want to go big on the dragon: Body of Smoke and Brimstone, à la Balrog from Lord of the Ring.

Instead of a high soak, you could go with "Partial physical body": he is effectively made partially of smoke and every physical attack, unless they affect large area, have a 50% chance of going straight through him without damaging him. (Adjust the % according to your taste). Don't forget to decide if a PoF can fly through him as well - then only Vi and Me spell will affect him 100% of the time (baring his MR).

"Touch of Smoke": the dragon can turn into smoke any item he touches up to +2 size, for a duration of Sun. At will, he can cancel this effect.
I don't have a rulebook with me, so I cannot put level on these powers.

Not sure why a dragon would have (Hermetic) Magic Theory. It's not an ability he should know unless he has a huge horde of books that he's acquired and read over the years...
If the idea is that he can be subdued, or there can be a diplomatic solution and he becomes an ally of the covenant (suggested by a Teaching ability with Magic Theory specialty) then you have someone who can teach Com 6 + Teaching 8 + Spec 1 + Std 3+ student bonus, teach magic theory with a SQ of 17 in large groups, 20 in groups of two and 23 in single student situations.
Do you want a lot of the magi to have a MT score of 12?

He appears to live in a covenant. If he's done so for some time, then yes, he has gathered a huge horde of books about him.

Oh, and the vis.