Perilous Gateways

The Dragons' Claw Portals

By Robert Wiese

Valraxaxath (Black Dragon)

Valraxaxath: Male mature adult black dragon Wiz18; CR 31; Huge dragon (Water); HD 22d12+110 plus 18d4+90, hp 388; Init +4; Spd 60 ft., swim 60 ft., fly 150 ft. (poor); AC 29, touch 8, flat-footed 29; Atk +37 melee (2d8+8, bite) and +35 melee (2d6+4, 2 claws) and +35 melee (1d8+4, 2 wings) and +35 melee (2d6+12, tail slap); Face/Reach 10 ft. by 20 ft./10 ft.; SA Breath weapon (100-ft. line of acid), crush 2d8+12, frightful presence, spell-like abilities, spells; SQ Blindsight 210 ft., corrupt water, DR 10/+1, immunities , keen senses, permanent tongues spell (caster level 17th), SR 21, water breathing; AL CE; SV Fort +27, Ref +22, Will +24; Str 27, Dex 10, Con 21, Int 25, Wis 15, Cha 14.

Skills and Feats: Alchemy +19, Bluff +15, Concentration +37, Diplomacy +28, Hide -8, Intimidate +4, Knowledge (arcana) +33, Knowledge (geography) +21, Knowledge (history) +19, Knowledge (nature) +19, Knowledge (planes) +36, Listen +26, Scry +34, Search +29, Sense Motive +13, Spellcraft +44, Spot +26, Swim +16; Alertness, Craft Wondrous Item, Create Portal, Energy Substitution (acid), Extend Spell, Flyby Attack , Improved Initiative, Maximize Spell, Multiattack, Persistent Spell, Quicken Spell, Scribe Scroll , Signature Spell (teleport), Spell Focus (Transmutation), Spell Mastery (fireball, polymorph self, teleport, vanish, haste, dispel magic, hold monster), Spellcasting Prodigy (wizard).

Breath Weapon (Su): Valraxaxath can breathe a 100-foot line of acid. This attack allows a Reflex save (DC 26) for half damage. Once he has used his breath weapon, he cannot do so again for 1d4 rounds. He is immune to his own breath weapon.

Crush: When flying or jumping, Valraxaxath can land on opponents three or more size categories smaller than himself as a standard action, using his whole body to crush them. A crush attack affects as many creatures as can fit under his body. Each creature within the affected area must succeed at a Reflex save (DC 26) or be pinned, automatically taking bludgeoning damage during the next round unless Valraxaxath moves off. If he chooses to maintain the pin, treat it as a normal grapple attack. The opponent takes 2d8+12 points of crush damage each round it remains pinned.

Frightful Presence (Su): This ability takes effect automatically when Valraxaxath attacks, charges, or flies overhead. It affects only opponents with 21 or fewer Hit Dice or levels within a 210-foot radius. The affected creature must make a successful Will save (DC 23) or become shaken. Success indicates that the target is immune to Valraxaxath's frightful presence for one day. On a failure, a creature with 4 or fewer HD becomes panicked for 4d6 rounds, and a creature with 5 or more HD becomes shaken for 4d6 rounds. Valraxaxath is immune to the frightful presence of other dragons.

Spell-like Abilities: 3/day -- darkness (210-ft. radius).

Spells: Valraxaxath knows and casts spells as a 5th-level sorcerer in addition to his wizard spells.

Blindsight (Ex): Valraxaxath can ascertain creatures by non-visual means (mostly hearing and scent, but also by noticing vibration and other environmental clues) to a range of 210 feet. Invisibility and darkness are irrelevant, though he still can't discern ethereal beings. Valraxaxath usually does not need to make Spot or Listen checks to notice creatures within range of his blindsight ability.

Corrupt Water (Sp): Once per day, Valraxaxath can stagnate 10 cubic feet of water, making it become still, foul, and unable to support animal life. This ability spoils liquids containing water. A magic item (such as a potion) or an item in another creature's possession must succeed at a Will save (DC 23) or become fouled.

Immunities: Valraxaxath is immune to acid, sleep, and paralysis effects

Keen Senses (Ex): Valraxaxath has darkvision (700-foot radius) and low-light vision (sees four times as well as a human in low-light conditions). He also sees twice as well as a human in normal light.

Water Breathing (Ex): Valraxaxath can breathe underwater indefinitely and can freely use his breath weapon, spells, and other abilities while submerged.

Sorcerer Spells Known (6/7/5; base DC = 12 + spell level): 0 -- dancing lights, detect magic, ghost sound, mage hand, mending, ray of frost; 1st -- expeditious retreat, shield, true strike, unseen servant; 2nd -- invisibility, protection from arrows.

Wizard Spells per Day: (4/6/6/6/6/5/5/4/4/2; base DC = 18 + spell level or 20 + spell level for transmutation spells).

Spellbook: 0 -- arcane mark, dancing lights, daze, detect magic, detect poison, disrupt undead, flare, ghost sound, light, mage hand, mending, open/close, prestidigitation, ray of frost, read magic, resistance; 1st -- charm person, comprehend languages, detect secret doors, identify, mage armor, magic missile, message, Tenser's floating disk, unseen servant, ventriloquism; 2nd -- alter self, bull's strength, cat's grace, continual flame, detect thoughts, eagle's splendor, endurance, knock, levitate, locate object, Melf's acid arrow, see invisibility; 3rd -- analyze portal, blacklight, dispel magic, displacement, fireball, haste, hold person, slow, tongues; 4th -- bestow curse, detect scrying, dimension door, locate creature, polymorph other, polymorph self, scrying, thunderlance; 5th -- dismissal, hold monster, Leomund's secret chest, passwall, permanency, stone shape, teleport; 6th -- circle of death, contingency, control water, gate seal, true seeing; 7th -- Drawmij's instant summons, forcecage, plane shift, reverse gravity, spell turning, teleport without error, vanish; 8th -- clone, demand, discern location, horrid wilting, Otiluke's telekinetic sphere, polymorph any object, symbol; 9th -- dominate monster, foresight, teleportation circle, time stop, weird.

Possessions: headband of intellect +6, ring of protection +6, crystal ball, cloak of charisma +6 (worn in humanoid forms only, bonuses not included above). Dungeon Masters may also wish to come up with more treasure for his hoard. You can either use the Dungeon Master's Guide or the Epic-Level Handbook as a source for treasure!

The Energy Substitution feat comes from Tome and Blood and allows the spellcaster to exchange one energy type for another in spells. All other aspects of the spell are the same. Valraxaxath uses it to prepare acid fireball spells (to which he is immune).

Spell Tactics: He always carries a quickened teleport spell in a 9th-level spell slot and at least one maximized acid fireball (60 points of damage) in a 6th-level spell slot. When going into cities, he usually casts a persistent detect thoughts spell (6th-level spell slot) first. Persistent polymorph self (8th-level spell slot) is another of his favorite selections.

Valraxaxath traveled the world as he grew, planning to create a hoard later in life. He was young and adventurous. During his early years, he developed a simple understanding of the world and the place of dragons within it. Dragons should not aspire to rule the world; they should instead hoard all the wealth in the world. Wealth is power, and dragons that controlled (read: hoarded) the wealth of an area could exert control later. He saw, however, that dragons would never succeed at this goal because they did not work together. This he set about changing while studying arcane arts such as wizardry.

He achieved the most success with the "you scratch my scales, I'll scratch yours" philosophy. By getting different chromatic dragons to work together on short-term projects, each acquires more wealth to hoard. Since he "partners" with dragons from far away, there is little danger of in-fighting for the treasure. The partnerships have also helped with lair defense. To facilitate these partnerships, he created a series of portals that link remote and dragon-infested parts of Toril. He never takes any of the rewards of these ventures and instead builds his own hoard through his own efforts or by partnering with a dragon new to the concept.

Valraxaxath prefers not to fight, though he certainly can. He always carries a quickened teleport spell to make a hasty exit, and his Signature Spell feat allows him to convert any prepared spell of 5th level or higher to a teleport. He is an excellent negotiator, and he does very well in business. He tends to travel in disguise, usually using a persistent polymorph self spell to appear as a human (or whatever is most favored at his destination) merchant or wealthy noble.

The Dragons' Claw Portals