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.
Know what’s pretty terrifying and gripping? A volcanic eruption. When you see volcanoes erupt in nature films part of your brain says, “That’s the scariest thing I’ve ever seen.” The other half of your brain is like, “This is sweet! Nature is crazy!”
Last week I explored bringing fourth edition’s catastrophic dragons into fifth edition D&D. The blizzard and earthquake dragons were first on my list. Today I’d like to share the volcanic dragon with you. This dragon is the baddest of the bunch and has an attitude to match.
A Recap Of Catastrophic Dragons in General
Here are a few quick words about my take for catastrophic dragons. This is from my first post last week. You can just skip ahead of you’ve already been reading these posts.
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.
Volcanic dragons have skin made of barely cooled molten rock. Cracks in their skin large and small show off the dragon’s glowing lava insides, which grow brighter as the dragon becomes more agitated. Heat and embers radiate from the dragon’s form and getting too close can result in a toxic death before the dragon ever lays claws onto a victim. A dry heat wave heralds the volcanic dragon’s approach.
Righteous Rage. Like all catastrophic dragons, rage constantly simmers in the heart of the volcanic dragon. The rage of the volcanic is one of a wronged creature out for justice. Volcanic dragons see the destruction of life as their righteous mission. As the mutliverse’s superior beings they must destroy any non-elemental they come across as just punishment for their imprisonment. Most carry this twisted belief in their heart until the end of their days.
Chromatic Hunters. With a warped idea of justice in their minds, volcanic dragons are the dragons most likely to hunt and kill chromatic dragons. Since they share a love of volcano lairs, volcanic dragons will often challenge an established red dragon and try to take its home. These battles are brutal, as both creatures are unaffected by the heat and must use claws and jaws to battle.
A Volcanic Dragon’s Lair
Volcanic dragons tend to create lairs in their namesake. Since many volcano lairs are occupied by red dragons, volcanic dragons do not build their own, but rather siege the lair of a red dragon, kill the host, and claim the volcano as their own.
Volcanic dragons do make modifications to their stolen homes. They open cracks in the walls of the tunnels, allowing even more lava and noxious fumes inside to make the place habitable only by creatures who fear neither fire nor poison. Pieces of the defeated red dragon’s corpse are mounted here and there as a show of the volcanic dragon’s dominance.
The cunning volcanic dragons rig their lairs with all manner of unexpected traps as well. Knowing their opponents may have prepared with spells and items to help them resist flames, volcanic dragons often create magic traps which deal acid, cold, and lightning, to show any who might think themselves clever that they cannot hope to outsmart a cunning dragon in its home.
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