by Edward Bonny, Dragon #321
Fierce, primordial beings composed of the multiverse's elements, dragons are among the most powerful creatures tied to any specific elemental form. There are those, however, who also become inexorably linked with the driving forces of the multiverse: alignments.
A deity sometimes bestows archdragon status upon a dragon as a reward for exceptional service. Other times, dragons traveling to other planes might find themselves overwhelmed or corrupted by the unbound planar energies existing there and unwillingly transform into an archdragon. Archdragons appear similar to other dragons of their color, with some alterations to form based on the alignment with which they link.
An archdragon speaks any languages it knew before becoming an archdragon.
Creating an Archdragon
"Archdragon" is an acquired template that can be added to any true dragon (referred to hereafter as the base creature). It is an enhancement of the dragon's form centered on an alignment focus. There are four types of archdragons, one for each nonneutral alignment: chaotic, evil, good, and lawful.
An archdragon gains the extraplanar subtype and the alignment subtype appropriate to its archdragon type. Upon becoming an archdragon, the base creature loses any other alignment subtypes. If the base creature changes the aspect of its alignment associated with its archdragon type, it loses the archdragon template.
Regardless of its type, every archdragon has the following qualities.
Speed: An archdragon's flying maneuverability improves by one step. For example, a base creature with poor maneuverability becomes an archdragon with average maneuverability.
Special Attacks: An archdragon retains all the special attacks of the base creature and gains those described below.
Aligned Aura (Su): Once per day, an archdragon can surround itself with an aligned aura. Each aura's effect is dependent on the archdragon's alignment type. The aura extends in a radius equal to 20 feet per age category and lasts for 1d4 rounds plus the dragon's age category.
Breath Weapon (Su): An archdragon's breath weapons gain an additional quality dependent on its alignment.
Spells (Sp): If it can already cast spells from cleric domains, the archdragon gains access to additional domains based on its alignment type. The archdragon loses access to spells with an alignment subschool opposite its archdragon alignment, If the base creature is not an innate spellcaster, it is unaffected by this.
Special Qualities: An archdragon retains all the special qualities of the base creature and gains those described below.
Immunities (Ex): Archdragons are immune to disease, fear, and polymorph effects.
Telepathy (Su): An archdragon can communicate telepathically with any intelligent creature that has a language within 100 feet.
True Seeing (Su): All archdragons can continually see through illusions and invisibility. This acts as a continuous true seeing spell, which the archdragon can suppress or renew as a free action at will.
A chaotic archdragon is unrestrained turmoil given form. Its horns and scales frequently and randomly grow and shrink. The timbre of its voice constantly changes in tone and pitch from high-pitched squeaks to a rumbling bass. The coloration of its hide, scales, and eyes flickers between different hues with each passing second.
Special Attacks: A chaotic archdragon retains all the special attacks of the base creature. It gains the special attacks of all archdragons, and it also gains those described below.
Blinding Breath (Su): A chaotic archdragon's breath is infused with sparkling dust identical in effect to the glitterdust spell. A separate Will save negates the blinding effects of the glitterdust-infused breath. All effects of the glitterdust remain until the dragon can use its breath weapon again.
Chaos Aura (Su): A chaos aura appears as a swirling mist of scintillating sparks. Anyone inside the aura hears a steady hiss of harmless static. Creatures without the chaotic subtype take 1d6 points of damage each round, as jolts of magical energy and small physical objects whirl around and randomly strike those within it. Creatures with the chaotic subtype are immune to this damage.
In addition, all attacks made within the chaos aura (except those made by the chaotic archdragon itself) suffer a miss chance. Melee attacks have a 20% miss chance. Ranged attacks have a 50% miss chance.
Spells: Chaotic archdragons have access to the Chaos, Luck, and Trickery domains in addition to any other domains they normally have access to. As with other cleric and domain spells, the chaotic archdragon casts these as arcane spells.
Special Qualities: A chaotic archdragon retains all the special qualities of the base creature and gains the special qualities of archdragons. It also gains acid, fire, and sonic resistance 10.
Evil archdragons are foul versions of their former selves. Their bodies seem to exude shadow, giving them an otherworldly malevolence. Whatever features the base creature had are greatly exaggerated in a ghastly way to make the archdragon appear more frightful. These dreadful archdragons dine on intelligent, living beings to the exclusion of all other fare.
Special Attacks: An evil archdragon retains all the special attacks of the base creature. It gains the special attacks of all archdragons, and it also gains those described below.
Corrupting Aura (Su): A corrupting aura appears as thick shadows interspersed with ghostly, translucent images swirling about within. Any non-evil living creature within the aura must make a Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/2 dragon's Hit Dice + dragon's Charisma modifier) each round, or take 1 point of Constitution and Wisdom damage.
In addition, due to the shadowy light within the aura, all creatures (except the evil archdragon) suffer a -4 penalty on Search and Spot checks while in the aura.
Infectious Breath (Su): An evil archdragon's breath weapon spreads the demon fever disease. A creature damaged by the breath weapon is automatically infected by the disease, which then manifests itself as normal.
Spells: Evil archdragons have access to the Death, Evil, and War domains in addition to any other domains they normally have access to, As with other cleric and domain spells the evil archdragon casts, these are arcane spells.
Special Qualities: An evil archdragon retains all the special qualities of the base creature and gains the special qualities of archdragons. It also gains acid, cold, and fire resistance 10.
The base creature acquires a more noble and regal appearance upon becoming a good archdragon. If the base creature is chromatic, its color takes on softer tones, lessening its sinister appearance. Good archdragons radiate a soft white glow, lending them an angelic look. Good archdragons limit themselves to only eating nonorganic matter, although occasionally they will dine on the corpses of fiends and other incorrigible creatures.
Special Attacks: A good archdragon retains all the special attacks of the base creature. It gains the special attacks of all archdragons, and it also gains those described below.
Aura of Wholesomeness (Su): An aura of wholesomeness appears as a soft white light with glittering gold motes floating about within. Good creatures gain fast healing as long as they remain within the aura. Evil creatures must succeed at a Will save each round (DC 10 + 1/2 dragon's Hit Dice + dragon's Charisma modifier) or take 1d6 point of damage. Evil outsiders and undead take 2d6 points of damage each round instead.
In addition, due to the relaxing nature of the aura, all creatures (except the good archdragon) suffer a -1 on attack and damage rolls (minimum 1 point of damage) while in the aura.
Holy Breath (Su): A good archdragon's breath weapon gains a disrupting quality dangerous to undead. Undead damaged by the breath weapon must succeed at a Fortitude save or be disintegrated and utterly destroyed.
Spells: Good archdragons have access to the Good, Healing, and Protection domains in addition to any other domains they normally have access to. As with other cleric and domain spells the good archdragon casts, these are arcane spells.
Special Qualities: A good archdragon retains all the special qualities of the base creature and gains the special qualities of archdragons. It also gains cold, electricity, and sonic resistance 10.
Regardless of the base creature's appearance, the hide and scales of all lawful archdragons are steely in color and texture, and they are cool to the touch. Lawful dragons eat only metal and gems, and they enjoy spending hours cataloging their treasure.
Special Attacks: A lawful archdragon retains all the special attacks of the base creature. It gains the special attacks of all archdragons, and it also gains those described below.
Antimagic Breath (Su): A lawful archdragon's breath weapon gains an antimagic quality. Creatures damaged by the dragon's breath are affected as if in an antimagic field that covers themselves and their equipment. The antimagic effect of the breath lasts 1d4 rounds.
Aura of Imposing Order (Su): An aura of imposing order appears to contain perfectly vertical "raindrops" of energy that fall at a uniform rate and speed. Nonlawful creatures are affected as by a doom spell as long as they remain within the aura.
In addition, attacks based on an energy type, such as fireball or lightning bolt (except those originating from the lawful archdragon itself), deal minimum damage within the aura. Energy effects are affected regardless of whether or not they originate within the aura.
Spells: Lawful archdragons have access to the Knowledge, Law, and Strength domains in addition to any other domains they normally have access to. As with other cleric and domain spells the lawful archdragon casts, these are arcane spells.
Special Qualities: A lawful archdragon retains all the special qualities of the base creature and gains the special qualities of archdragons. It gains cold, electricity, and fire resistance 10.
Environment: Upon becoming an archdragon, the dragon becomes a native of the plane where it gained the archdragon template.
Challenge Rating: Same as base creature +1
Alignment: A chaotic archdragon's alignment changes to chaotic neutral, an evil archdragon's alignment changes to neutral evil, a good archdragon's alignment changes to neutral good, and a lawful archdragon's alignment changes to lawful neutral.
Level Adjustment: +4
Sample Archdragon: Archdragon
Planar Dragon Cohorts
Plane-hopping characters might be able to acquire planar dragons as mounts, friends, or cohorts. A planar dragon might also be included by linking one to a character's history or current situation, particularly if the character frequently or even occasionally travels to new or different planes.
Using the Leadership feat (or Dragon Cohort feat from the Draconomicon), you might be able acquire a planar dragon as a cohort. The following table shows what age and kind of planar dragon can be attracted based on the level of cohort you can attract. For more information, see the Draconomicon, page 139.
|Archdragon (any)||Neutral (any)||+4**|
|Beast (wyrmling)||Good (any)||9|
|Concordant (very young)||N||12|
|Beast (very young)||Good (any)||13|
|Arboreal (very young)||CG||14|
|Axial (very young)||LN||14|
|Beast (young)||Good (any)||16|
|Adamantine (very young)||NG||17|
|*Subtract 3 if using the Dragon Cohort feat.|
**You can apply this template to any true dragon, causing its ECL to increase by +4
Most of the planar dragons presented in this article create half-dragon offspring, just as other true dragons do. Archdragons that have offspring do not pass along any traits from the archdragon template. Axial dragons do not produce half-dragon offspring, considering such creatures as impure and repugnant. To create half-planar dragons, use the half- dragon template, giving half-planar dragons the following abilities.
|Dragon Variety||Breath Weapon||Immunity or Resistance|
|Adamantine||Cone of fire||Immunity to fire|
|Arboreal||Cone of thorns||Resistance to acid 20 and sonic 20|
|Beast||Cone of cold and electricity||Resistance to cold 20 and electricity 20|
|Concordant||Cone of antithetical energy||Immunity to poison|
Alternatively, if you want to do something different for your character with planar dragon ancestry, you might choose a different template to apply to the character rather than the half-dragon template. For instance, a half-adamantine dragon might be closer in abilities to a half-celestial, or a half-beast dragon might work better as a feral creature.