Kicking off our Monster Vault
previews, we wanted to start big. Really big. And what better monster epitomizes the game that dragons? Tougher than ever, the red dragon is now even harder to keep stunned or dominated. No one dominates a red dragon.
If any creature can claim to be an enlightened sage, a powerful tyrant, and a terrible monster, it is a dragon. Majestic and deadly, these creatures strike fear into the hearts of any who fall under the shadows of their enormous winged forms.
The size and majesty of dragons have shrouded them in myth. As ancient as the world, dragons are a living embodiment of legend. The oldest among them possess knowledge exceeding what most mortals can ever hope to attain. They hold the deepest secrets of the cosmos within their grasp. Dragons are no mere beasts ready to fall victim to a knight-errant or a treasure hunter. They are sages, oracles, and prophets; they are forces of nature capable of destruction and mayhem.
The Colors of Evil: The most famous and most feared dragons are part of the chromatic bloodline, including black, blue, green, red, and white dragons. Chromatic dragons have a penchant for evil and cruelty. They live to exert their dominance over other creatures through terror and violence.
Even among chromatic dragons, few share the cruelty of blacks. A black dragon does not hunt out of a need to survive or to protect its territory. Instead, a black dragon chases and tortures prey for the pleasure it gains from inspiring fear and causing pain. Black dragons are also among the most cowardly and cautious chromatic dragons. A black dragon waits in ambush or attacks from concealment. When a black dragon retreats, victims of its attack sometimes mistake its departure for a genuine withdrawal, not realizing until too late that the black is merely preparing for another assault.
Blue dragons are the most vain, proud, and arrogant of the chromatic dragons. A blue dragon delights in asserting its power over lesser creatures. A blue dragon will battle foes or preside over humanoids simply to exhibit its strength. When creatures venerate a blue dragon and respect its territorial claims, it can be the most reasonable of the chromatic dragons. Most blue dragons lair in areas where storms are fierce and frequent. As a result, many blues live along the coast, where they extort food and wealth from those who lack the strength to stand against them.
Few dragons are as reviled by humanoids as the sly, forest-dwelling green dragons. Although green dragons are weaker and less destructive than their chromatic kin, they are more cunning and deceptive. A green dragon tells lies as easily as other creatures breathe. A green relishes intrigue, preferring to achieve its goals through guile and betrayal rather than combat.
The savage white dragons lair in the coldest climes of the world, where they think of little more than their next meal and the contents of their treasure hoards. The oldest and most intelligent among them might seek to dominate other creatures, if only to feel assured of their power and superiority.
When a legend or a fable tells of a dragon that laid kingdoms to waste, devoured virtuous maidens, or incinerated valiant heroes, then odds are the subject of the tale is a red dragon. The most voracious of the chromatic dragons, a red dragon consumes far more than it requires. All dragons are avaricious, but a red dragon possesses greed that far surpasses that of its kin. It is also a vindictive creature, dwelling on the smallest slights and delivering revenge tenfold for territorial intrusions, thefts, and insults. Reds are not mindless brutes, however. They are accomplished strategists that spend their idle time developing tactics and contingency plans for virtually any scenario.
Driven by Greed and Ego: The secret to understanding chromatic dragons is comprehending their worldview. One trait unites and informs their psychology: the belief that they are superior beings. Dragons consider themselves more powerful, intelligent, important, and worthy of being dominators than any other mortal creature. Chromatic dragons are born with this sense of superiority, and it is a cornerstone of their personalities and worldviews. Trying to humble any dragon is like trying to convince the wind to stop blowing. To chromatic dragons, humanoids are animals, fit to serve as prey or beasts of burden, unworthy of respect or acknowledgment.
If one characteristic other than arrogance defines chromatic dragons, it’s greed. Dragon hoards are the stuff of legend—enormous piles of gold, gleaming gems, and magic items, enough wealth to buy a kingdom. And yet dragons have no interest in commerce, despite the value of their hoards. They amass wealth for no other reason than to have it. A chromatic dragon’s desire to create a hoard is a psychological need, or, arguably, a biological imperative. The source of this desire is a mystery, but it probably lies somewhere in a dragon’s enjoyment of possessing what others lack.
Dangerous Lairs: One thing dragons and humanoids share is the desire to find permanent shelter. Humanoids want a place that offers comfort and a little security. A dragon, with its innate toughness, poor tactile senses, and tolerance for severe conditions, instead chooses a home that is defensible, has multiple ways to enter and leave, and that provides the utmost security for its hoard. Chromatic dragons rarely construct lairs and instead find naturally occurring locations that can accommodate them. A blue dragon might lair within a sea cave that is occupied by subservient pirates. A red dragon could claim the caldera of an active volcano. After provoking a war, a green dragon might inhabit a city brought to ruin through the dragon’s machinations.
Elder Red Dragon
Level 22 Solo Soldier
Huge natural magical beast (dragon)
HP 832; Bloodied 416 Initiative +18
AC 38, Fortitude 36, Reflex 33, Will 32 Perception +19
Speed 8, fly 10 Darkvision
Resist 20 fire
Saving Throws +5; Action Points 2
Whenever the dragon ends its turn, any dazing, stunning, or dominating effect on it ends.
On an initiative of 10 + its initiative check, the dragon can use a free action to use bite or claw. If the dragon cannot use a free action to make this attack due to a dominating or stunning effect, then that effect ends instead of the dragon making the attack.
Attack: Melee 3 (one creature); +27 vs. AC.
Hit: 2d10 + 6 damage. The target is grabbed and takes ongoing 15 fire damage, or ongoing 25 fire damage if the dragon is bloodied, until the grab ends (escape DC 30).
Attack: Melee 3 (one or two creatures); +27 vs. AC. If the dragon targets only one creature, it can make this attack twice against that creature.
Hit: 3d10 + 14 damage, and the dragon grabs the target (escape DC 27) if it has fewer than two creatures grabbed.
Attack: Ranged 20 (one creature); +25 vs. Reflex
Hit: 4d10 + 7 fire damage, and ongoing 20 fire damage (save ends).
Miss: Half damage, and ongoing 10 fire damage (save ends).
Attack: Close blast 5 (creatures in the blast); +25 vs. Reflex
Hit: 4d12 + 17 fire damage.
Miss: Half damage.
Trigger: An enemy leaves a square within 3 squares of the dragon.
Attack (Immediate Reaction): Melee 4 (triggering enemy); +25 vs. Reflex Hit: 2d8 + 4 damage, and the target falls prone.
Trigger: The dragon is first bloodied.
Effect (Free Action): Breath weapon recharges, and the dragon uses it.
Skills Bluff +17, Insight +18
Str 26 (+19)
Dex 21 (+16)
Wis 17 (+14)
Con 24 (+18)
Int 14 (+13)
Cha 15 (+13)
Languages Common, Draconic