Tutorials Archive | 4/21/2011
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Monster Makeover
Shademaw the Ancient Black Dragon
By Michael E. Shea

Somewhere in the Feywild, deep within the jungles of the Isle of Dread, stands an ancient yuan-ti temple. Within, the black dragon Shademaw calls itself the God of Shadows and rules over its yuan-ti and troglodyte slaves. Adventurers who learn of this beast and its vast treasure sometimes search for its temple, seeking fame and glory. None have ever returned.

This article is the first in our series of Monster Makeovers, where we review the game’s creatures and bring them in line with the current standards. We also present backstory and story hooks to make these creatures more useful to your game. Along the way, we hope to show how to modify and update creatures based on your group’s needs.

Let’s start with one of the most powerful creatures of all: the ancient black dragon. Today, we present Shademaw, the self-styled God of Shadow.

The History of Shademaw

Thousands of years ago, the dragon runt of its litter was cast onto the Isle of Dread to starve and die. For years, the dragon runt survived only on ruthless instinct, eating the crocodiles, snakes, and poisonous fish of the isle’s putrid swamps.

In the center of the isle, an ancient temple had been built along a planar rift to the Shadowfell. The temple’s priest ruled a yuan-ti clan and their brutally enslaved troglodytes, and he brought in the starving black dragon. He named it Shademaw and taught it the yuan-ti’s brutal ways...
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This article references the black dragon, from Monster Vault. Also look for the black dragon Shadowmire, appearing in Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale: Cruel and aggressive, Shadowmire is a master of evil within the Witchlight Fens. The black dragon haunts the swamp in his quest to accumulate more wealth, control his underlings, and protect his territory. His ability to appear unexpectedly out of the swamp is legendary and, much to the horror of his opponents, all too common.

About the Author

Mike Shea is the webmaster of SlyFlourish.com, a site focused on building the better 4th Edition Dungeon Master, and the author of Sly Flourish’s Dungeon Master Tips and Sly Flourish’s Running Epic Tier D&D Games. Mike lives with his wife, Michelle, and his dire-warg Jebu.

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