Catastrophic Dragons – Earthquake
UPDATE: The statistics for these catastrophic dragons have been moved, but fear not! You can now grab them in a totally awesome Pay What You Want PDF on the DMs Guild.
On Tuesday, I gave you all a glimpse at my first attempt at creating one of fifth edition D&D versions of the fourth edition catastrophic dragons. If you want to go back and checkout that post you can read all about the blizzard dragon. I’m welcoming any and all feedback before I add these baddies to the Free Game Resources section of this site, so if you’re interested, please go check it out and let me know what you think!
A Quick Recap
Now some of you may have missed fourth edition, catastrophic dragons, and/or the post before this. If you’re wondering what they are and what my vision is for them, I’ve pulled an excerpt from Tuesday’s post below. If you’re already caught up, feel free to skip to the next section of this post.
Catastrophic dragons were once chromatic dragons who desired more than a hoard and a lair. For while others stole and hid from the humanoids over whom they claimed superiority, these dragons knew that all other life in the multiverse should be bowing to their will. Power is a far greater reward than any material possession and as the smartest and strongest in the land, dragons deserved to be in charge. Any thought other than this was impractical and stupid.
These dragons tried to convince their brethren to leave their caves and make the humanoids submit to their will. The other chromatic dragons did not like this sudden interest in the affairs of lesser beings and so with greater numbers they did come together. They banished their radical kin to the elemental planes. For hundreds of years these rebellious chromatic dragons were locked in seas of fire, ice, wind, and stone. Those who did not die were shaped by elemental forces and remade into catastrophic dragons.
Each trapped catastrophic dragon has its imprisonment tied to the soul of a chromatic dragon on the material plane. If one of these gatekeeper chromatic dragon should die before it can pass the responsibility onto another, the catastrophic dragon can leave the plane of its imprisonment and wreak havoc on the world.
Catastrophic dragons once wanted to dominate all life in the multiverse. After years of suffering the harsh terrain of the elemental planes, their minds are warped and they desire only to kill all those inferior to them, especially chromatic dragons whom they hate above all others.Their memories are long and catastrophic dragons do not forget their betrayal at the hands of their kin. If they escape their bonds, they may keep a hoard, but usually only for the purpose of attracting other dragons and killing them.
Mighty earthquake dragons appear to be hewn from great craggy mountains. Their skin looks like tightly packed boulders and their muscle is stone, with piercing, bright eyes which promise hate and death. Those who dare to get close enough to an earthquake dragon can see its entire being quivering with rage and elemental energy.
Blunt and Brawn. Short on patience for even their own kin earthquake dragons are always one wrong look or comment away from a murderous outburst. They have no time for lies or manipulation. Those who are in the dragon’s way will be destroyed. The dragons rely on fear of their power to get the job done when they do work with minions, which is not often. Any who work with earthquake dragons know eventually their rage and hatred for all non-elemental life wins out. Partnerships with these beasts are short-lived and end in murder.
Everything Must Die. It is said that earthquake dragons carry such rage in their hearts and they barely care for their own lives. Even in battle their attitude is grim, and they fight to the bitter end, destroying all that they can with their very last breaths. The anger they feel is compounded with the pain at being stuck in the Elemental Plane of Earth, constantly crushed and claustrophobic. Once free, most can only think about how they must inflict the same crushing anguish upon all living things.
An Earthquake Dragon’s Lair
Earthquake dragons make their lairs underground in mazes of tight, twisting tunnels in which they can trap intruders with a well-placed collapse. Amidst these tunnels are usually huge caverns where a dragon and its elemental minions might confront threats head on. Earthquake dragons tend to leave their kills wherever they happen to fall, letting them serve as warnings and signs of the dragon’s might to any who dare enter.
The entrance of an earthquake dragon’s lair is usually deep within a canyon or fissure filled with all manner of elemental guardians. The entrance of the lair is often blocked by a collapse which the earthquake dragon can easily clear, but serves as a more difficult obstacle for smaller creatures. Sometimes earthquake dragons will block several tunnels, most of which are decoys meant to throw off any would-be heroes. These decoy tunnels end in dead ends.
Earthquake dragons lack finesse and prefer to face any threat directly, using all their brawn. They normally face threats in large rooms with plenty of loose rock structures they can topple over to hinder foes. Earthquake dragons rarely form an escape plan. Their rage forces them to fight until the bitter end.
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November 20, 2014 @ 9:15 am
In my 4e games, I used Catastrophic Dragons a little differently. They were/are creatures probably from a deep part of the Feywild, where it crosses over with the Shadowfell & the creatures there represent suffering and misery in the mortal (prime material) world. I borrowed a bit from 2nd ed White Wolf’s “Umbra” for this. So Catastrophic dragons were literally catastrophe incarnate. Every one represented some awful disaster that had taken out a civilization and killed/maimed/terrified millions. While regular dragons at least had the chance of being reasoned with, I liked the idea of catastrophic dragons being impossible forces of destructive nature. So there was a specific Volcanic dragon for the recent Mt. Hotenow eruption, for example. They gained in strength based on the number of people the original disaster had affected.
I like your 5E take on the stats for these critters. I wondered if maybe there could be a chance that flying creatures are either immune or at the very least get advantage on the save vs the Earthquake Dragon’s Catastrophic Aura, though. I also feel like the Earthquake dragon should have Condition Immunity to being knocked prone, and maybe (being a stone-ish creature) immunity to being Poisoned as well. Just a thought.
November 22, 2014 @ 9:29 am
I struggled with the flying creature thing too. I’ll have to play around with it some more….
November 20, 2014 @ 11:35 am
I agree with Joe, although it seems like an obvious DM call. Anything that affects a creature by via the ground underneath the creature should only have an affect if the creature is actually in contact with the ground. On the one hand that seems so obvious that it doesn’t seem necessary to include, on the other hand the Earthquake spell does specifically mention creatures in contact with the ground.
November 20, 2014 @ 12:19 pm
Yeah, I guess the “wind” part there is to account for high level heroes being able to fly but I don’t think it makes much sense thematically to me. Even if you made the aura affect flying creatures by pulling them down (but not prone).
November 22, 2014 @ 9:31 am
Down but not prone is an interesting idea….
November 22, 2014 @ 9:30 am
Hmmm true. Though the Earthquake spell does lot of other crap. I’ll definitely need to re-examine!