Dragons manage to stay on top of the heap in D&D. Every time someone comes up with a monster that threatens to topple dragons as king of the hill, someone else will create a new dragon that dominates that monster. I've even seen some discussion about whether it's gone too far...dragons are so powerful according to most game rules these days that there's no way to feasibly include them in a game until the PCs reach phenomenal levels.
I've always recognized dragons as being awe-inspiring creatures, worthy of the greatest of heroes, at least at the high end. But even as a young kid, I would see paintings of Saint George running down his dragon and be less impressed. That dragon was the size of a dog. Not even a really big dog either, but like a border collie. I'm sure it had a lot of fight in it...it scared the hell out of the locals, for sure...but I don't think Saint George necessarily had to be name level to take it down.
And I wanted to use dragons. BX dragons as written were still pretty tough for low level parties, and didn't display nearly as much variety as I was able to find in even those less nerd-friendly days, so early in my gaming career, I made a series of tables for randomly generating dragons, from the cute little guys who could hang out on your shoulder to the castle-stomping nightmares that are the standard now. The original is written on manila paper in pencil and isn't too easy to read anymore, but here it is now, transcribed without any editing.
d20 size base AC Hit Dice: (length/5)
1 1-10' 9
2-3 11-20' 7
4-8 21-40' 6
9-14 41-60' 5
15-17 61-80' 3
18-19 81-90' 1
20 91-100' 0
d20 type AC adjustment
1-3 leathery -0
4-6 hardened leather -1
7-10 scales -3
11-19 heavy scales (dragon skin) -5
20 shell -7
3a) Legs 3b) Arms* 3c) Wings 3d) Fins** 3e) Heads
d20 number d20 number d20 number d20 number d20 number
1-3 0 1-17 0 1-15 0 1-19 0 1-15 1
4-9 2 18-20 2 16-20 2 20 on each leg 16-19 2
10-12 4 20 2-8
*Arms are clawed limbs used for attacking or climbing, but not walking
**Fins include webbed feet and fins on the legs, back, and tail. If the dragon has no legs, it swims like a water snake.
4) Special Attacks/Defenses
Attacks include breath weapons, poison bites, or surprise capability. Defenses include half damage from certain attacks or better AC on certain parts of the body.
Vulnerabilities include double damage from certain attacks or worse AC on certain body areas (like the underbelly).
Size Base Speed
wings: double base speed when airborne
aquatic: 150% base speed in water, 50% base speed on land
Not part of this original dragon generator, but pretty apropos: a dragon classification scheme.
Legs Y N
0 Amphiptere Wyrm
2 Wyvern Linnorm
4 or more Dragon Drake