The dracolich is an undead creature resulting from the transformation of an evil dragon. The process usually involves a cooperative effort between an evil dragon and powerful cleric, sorcerer, wizard, but especially powerful spellcasters have been known to coerce an evil dragon undergo the transformation against its will.
The dragon must first consume a lethal concoction known as a dracolich brew. This act instantly slays the dragon, whereupon its spirit is transfered to its dracolich phylactery regardless of the distance between the phylactery and the dragon's body.
A spirit contained in a phylactery can sense any reptilian or dragon corpse of Medium or larger size within 90 feet and attempt to possess it. Under no circumstances can the spirit possess a living body. The spirit's original body is an ideal vessel, and any attempt to possess it is automatically successful. To possess a suitable corpse other than its own, a dracolich must make a successful Charisma check (DC 10 for a true dragon, DC 15 for any other creature of the dragon type, or DC 20 for any other kind of reptilian creature, such as a giant snake or lizardfolk). If the check fails, the dracolich can never possess that particular corpse.
If the corpse accepts the spirit, the corpse becomes animated. If the animated corpse is the spirit's former body, it immediately becomes a dracolich. Otherwise, it becomes a proto-dracolich (see below). A dracolich appears as a skeletal or semi-skeletal version of its former self, with glowing points of light in its shadowy eye sockets.
Creating a Dracolich
"Dracolich" is an acquired template that can be added to any evil dragon (hereafter referred to as the base creature), though dragons of old age or older, with spellcasting abilities, are preferred.
A dracolich uses all the base creature's statistics and special abilities except as noted here.
Size and Type: The creature's type changes to undead. Do not recalculate the creature's base attack bonus, saves, or skill points. Size is unchanged.
Speed: A dracolich's ability to fly becomes supernatural in nature.
Armor Class: A dracolich gains an additional +2 natural armor bonus (the hide toughens when the dragon becomes a dracolich).
Attacks: A dracolich cannot make crush attacks even if it was capable of doing so when the base creature was alive.
Damage: A dracolich deals an extra 1d6 points of cold damage on any successful hit. A successful attack may also paralyze the victim (see below).
Special Attacks: A dracolich retains all the special attack forms of the base creature, including breath weapon, spell use, and spell-like abilities. Some of these attack forms are enhanced, and it also gains some new abilities.
- Breath Weapon (Su): Since a dracolich doesn't have a Constitution score, it uses its Charisma modifier to determine the save DC for its breath weapon instead.
- Control Undead (Sp): Once every three days, a dragon can use control undead as the spell (caster level 15th). The dracolich cannot cast other spells while this ability is in effect.
- Frightful Presence (Ex): Since the creature's Charisma score increases by 2, the save DC for the dracolich's frightful presence ability increases by 1.
- Paralyzing Gaze (Su): The gaze of a dracolich's glowing eyes can paralyze victims within 40 feet who fail a Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/2 dracolich's HD + dracolich's Cha modifier. If the saving throw is successful, the character is forever immune to the gaze of that particular dracolich. If it fails, the victim is paralyzed for 2d6 rounds.
- Paralyzing Touch(Su): A creature struck by any of a dracolich's a physical arracks may make a Fortitude save (DC same as for the dracolich's paralyzing gaze) or be paralyzed for 2d6 rounds. A successful saving throw against the effect does not confer any immunity against subsequent attacks.
Special Qualities: A dracolich retains all the special qualities of the base creature. Again, some are enhanced, and a dracolich gains some new special qualities as well.
- Damage Reduction: Like a skeleton, a dracolich has damage reduction 5/bludgeoning.
- Immunities: In addition to the standard undead immunities (see below), a dracolich is immune to polymorph, cold and electricity effects.
- Invulnerability: If a dracolich is slain, its spirit immediately returns to its phylactery. If no dragon-type corpse lies within 90 feet for the spirit to possess, the dracolich is trapped in the phylactery until such a time - if ever - that a corpse becomes available. A dracolich is difficult to destroy. If its spirit is currently contained in its phylactery, destroying that item when a suitable corpse is not within range effectively destroys the dracolich. Likewise, an active dracolich is unable to attempt further possessions if its phylactery is destroyed. The fate of a disembodied dracolich spirit - that is, a spirit with no body or phylactery - is unknown, but presumably it is drawn a the Lower Planes.
- Spell Resistance (Ex): Becoming a dracolich increases the dragon's spell resistance by +3. A dracolich has a minimum spell resistance of 16.
- Undead Traits: A dracolich is immune to mind-affecting effects, poison, magic sleep effects, paralysis, stunning, disease, death effects, and any effect that requires a Fortitude save unless it also works on objects or is harmless. It is not subject to critical hits, nonlethal damage, ability damage to its physical ability scores, ability drain, energy drain, fatigue, exhaustion, or death from massive damage. It cannot be raised, and resurrection works only if it is willing. It has darkvision out to 60 feet (unless the base creature had a greater range).
Saves: As undead, dracoliches are immune to anything that requires a Fortitude save unless it affects objects.
Abilities: Being undead, the dracolich has no Constitution score (use its Charisma modifier to determine save DC against its breath weapon, tail sweep, and similar special attacks). Its Charisma score is increased by 2, which increases the DC of the save against its frightful presence and other special abilities. Otherwise, the dracolich's ability scores remain the same as the base creature's scores.
Challenge Rating: Same as base creature +3.
Alignment: Always evil.
Advancement: Up to +2 HD.
Level Adjustment: Same as base creature +4.
Sample dracolich: Ancient Blue Dracolich.
A proto-dracolich comes into being when a dracolich's spirit possesses any body other than the corpse that was created when the dragon consumed its dose of dracolich brew. A proto-dracolich has the mind and memories of its original form but the hit points and immunities of a dracolich. A proto-dracolich can neither speak nor cast spells. Further, it cannot deal extra cold damage, use a breath weapon, or use frightful presence as a dracolich. Its Strength, speed, and Armor Class are those of the possessed body.
A proto-dracolich transforms into a full-fledged dracolich in 2d4 days. When the transformation is complete, the dracolich's form resembles that of its original body. It can now speak, cast spells, and employ the breath weapon it originally had, in addition to gaining all the abilities of a dracolich. A dracolich typically keeps a few "spare" bodies of a suitable size near the hiding place of its phylactery, so that if its current form is destroyed, it can possess and transform a new body within a few days.