The rings do help a bit, but they don’t negate the ‘naked’ penalty so their assistance is lower than you can expect. With the dragon the most effective protection is a well timed dodge and a strong shield. The Dragonoid is intended to be a Porsche not a sherman. I have found an exceptional workable build by focusing on Pyromancy, seeing as the int and fth states boost the slam in addition to fire spells. i use a millwood shield and the demon scar.
It’s all i need unless the enemy I’m fighting has really high fire defense. And every now and then I’ll equip a staff or a talisman dependent on my spell setup but that’s situational adjustments. it makes the build incredibly light and has very low physical stat necessities. So dex and str can be minimal to help you dump into hp, stamina, 18 or so attunement, and an even split in faith and intelligence. I’m up to soul level 111 and might do a little solid damage with my pyro and likewise the torso stone slam. One of my favourite procedures is to nail an enemy with a riposte or backstab, then time the twinkling torso slam to hit them just as their hitbox reactivates.
it’s a nice little wakeup demand some more quick damage. All in all, the torso and twinkling torso are the stones to use. Since DS1 the top stones have been all but useless. Range is too short, hits are too slow and weak. I always felt the customary intent was that the hearth breath was for breaking guards by pummeling turtles into recoiling, with a bit of chip damage as an advantage.
For that the long-established high stamina cost and high stamina inflict against shields with range and rapid hits was ideal. It was well balanced because users were always best served in laying short bursts to hold their own stamina.