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Ancient River Dragon


AC 20 (natural armor) 

HP 372 (24d20 + 120; bloodied 186)

Speed 60 ft., fly 80 ft., swim 100 ft.

Proficiency +7; Maneuver DC 22

Saving Throws Dex +14, Con +12, Int +10, Wis +14, Cha +12

Skills Acrobatics +14, Deception +12, Insight +14, Nature +10, Perception +14, Stealth +14

Damage Resistances damage from nonmagical weapons

Condition Immunities fatigue

Senses darkvision 120 ft., tremorsense 300 ft. (only detects vibrations in water), passive Perception 24

Languages Aquan, Common, Draconic

Amphibious. The dragon can breathe air and water.

Flowing Grace. The dragon doesn’t provoke opportunity attacks when it flies or swims out of an enemy’s reach.

Legendary Resistance (3/Day). When the dragon fails a saving throw , it can choose to succeed instead. When it does, it loses coordination as white-crested waves run up and down its body. It loses its Flowing Grace and Shimmering Scales traits until the beginning of its next turn.

Shimmering Scales. While in water, the dragon gains three-quarters cover from attacks made by creatures more than 30 feet away.

Essence Link. The essence dragon is spiritually linked to a specific area or landmark. The dragon gains no benefit from a long rest when more than 1 mile away from its linked area. If the dragon dies, the area it is linked to loses its vital essence until it forms a new essence dragon, which can take centuries. When a creature first enters an area that has lost its vital essence in this way, they gain a level of fatigue and a level of strife . This fatigue and strife can be removed only by completing a long rest outside the area. 

Innate Spellcasting. The dragon’s spellcasting ability is Charisma (save DC 20). It can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components. 

   3/day each: create or destroy water , fog cloud , control water , freedom of movement

   1/day each: control weather , wall of ice


Multiattack. The dragon attacks once with its bite and twice with its claws.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +14 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit: 29 (4d10 + 7) piercing damage.

Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +14 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 20 (3d8 + 7) slashing damage. 

Torrential Breath (Recharge 5–6). The dragon exhales water in a 90-foot-long, 10-foot-wide line. Each creature in the area makes a DC 20 Dexterity saving throw , taking 66 (19d6) bludgeoning damage on a failed save or half damage on a success. A creature that fails the save is also knocked prone and is pushed up to 60 feet away. A creature that impacts a solid object takes an extra 21 (6d6) bludgeoning damage. 


Whirlpool. A cylindrical, 15-foot-tall, 10-foot-radius whirlpool or waterspout magically appears in the water or air, centered on a point within 60 feet. Creatures in the area make a DC 20 Strength saving throw . On a failure, a creature takes 35 (10d6) bludgeoning damage and is knocked prone and pushed up to 15 feet. On a failure, a creature takes half damage.


Snap Back (While Bloodied ). When a creature the dragon can see hits it with a melee weapon attack, the dragon makes a bite attack against the attacker.


The dragon can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature's turn. It regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.

Dart Away. The dragon swims up to half its speed.

Lurk. The dragon takes the Hide action.

River Surge (Costs 2 Actions). The dragon generates a 20-foot-tall, 100-foot-wide wave on the surface of water within 120 feet. The wave travels up to 60 feet in any direction the dragon chooses and crashes down, carrying Huge or smaller creatures and vehicles with it. Vehicles moved in this way have a 25 percent chance of capsizing. Creatures that impact a solid object take 35 (10d6) bludgeoning damage.

Sudden Maelstrom (While Bloodied , 1/Day). The dragon magically surrounds itself with a 60-foot-radius maelstrom of surging wind and rain for 1 minute. A creature other than the dragon that starts its turn in the maelstrom or enters it for the first time on a turn makes a DC 20 Strength saving throw . On a failed save, the creature takes 28 (8d6) bludgeoning damage and is knocked prone and pushed 15 feet away from the dragon. 


While individual dragons have their own personalities and tactics, most rely heavily on their breath weapons. They use them whenever they can, preferably from maximum distance and while flying above their enemies. 

When fighting in the open, dragons often circle above their enemies as they wait for their breath weapons to recharge. They only close to melee if their enemies deal significant damage with ranged attacks, or if they can savage an enemy cut off from its allies. Once bloodied , dragons become more aggressive, attacking with bite and claws when their breath weapons aren’t available.

If a dragon is protecting its lair, it utilizes lair features, traps, allies, and architecture such as escape tunnels to keep up a hit-and-run fight, reappearing only when it has a fully-recharged breath weapon. If the dragon is forced into melee combat, it uses its bite and claws against a single foe. If it has legendary actions like Roar and Wing Attack, it uses them to disperse its other enemies.

If reduced to less than one-fourth its hit points while fighting in the open, a dragon flies away. However, it fights to the death to defend its lair, unless it can regain the upper hand through tricks or bargains.

River Dragon Lair Features

Choose or roll one or more of the following lair features:

1 The dragon’s domain is populated with dangerous aquatic creatures. As a bonus action, it may summon its choice of 1d6 crocodiles or 1d4 swarms of quippers as allies. The creatures fight until killed or dismissed by the dragon as a bonus action or until the dragon uses this ability again. 

2 The dragon’s domain supports one or more riverside villages whose livelihoods depend on the dragon’s survival. At the beginning of each round of combat, roll a d6. On a 5–6, 1d4 locals with the statistics of thugs arrive to defend the dragon, acting on the dragon’s initiative. The locals fight until killed or until the dragon instructs them to stop. 

3 The rocks that line the riverbanks are particularly sharp. Whenever one of the dragon’s attacks or abilities causes a creature to impact a solid object, increase the damage that creature takes by 9 (2d8). 

4 The dragon’s river is murky. Visibility beneath the water is reduced to 20 feet.  


Bol'shaya, Bystraya, Glitterstream, Penzhina, Springtide, Zathernak

Legends and Lore

With an Arcana or Nature check, characters can learn the following:

DC 10 Like the waterways they inhabit, river dragons can be slow and lumbering, or fierce and nimble.

DC 15 River dragons exhale jets of water and create magical whirlpools to bash and scatter their foes.

DC 20 When angered, the oldest river dragons surround themselves with magical maelstroms that few mortals can withstand.


Linked to great, coursing rivers, these essence dragons embody the reckless, ever-changing power of water itself. Like a streak of quicksilver or a pennant fluttering in the wind, a river dragon is always moving, running an endless circuit from the river’s source to the ocean and back again. Like the rivers they exemplify, these dragons are fickle things. A ship or passerby that catches the attention of a river dragon might find fortune or ruin, depending on the fleeting whims of the river.

The Serpent Eats Its Tail. While the oldest river dragons have grown complacent in their wide, meandering rivers, most river dragons are on constant watch for competition. River dragon wyrmlings rule over tributaries and must pay proper respect to their source rivers, at least until they grow strong enough to challenge them.

Gods of the Waterway. Those who fish along the river’s edge sometimes spot disporting river dragons, giving rise to legends of river gods. River dragons treated as gods are usually flattered by such honors, and may take efforts to ensure bountiful catches. Those regarded as monsters are often equally amused, and work to keep their fearsome legend alive by devouring the occasional lone angler.


1 Floating serenely on the river, content to ignore peaceful travelers

2 Flying overhead, alert for trespassers

3 Eagerly approaching a boat, looking for fun

4 Attacks on sight


1 Sparkling mist floating over the river

2 A loud, distant splash

3 A whirlpool appears in the river

4 The banks of the river are lush with plants, and schools of bright fish leap from the water


River dragons leave their chosen river only in extreme circumstances.

CR 3–4 river dragon wyrmling with 2 boggards , crocodiles , or steam mephits

Treasure 300 gp, 1,000 sp, mithral mirror (75 gp), potion of healing , bag of tricks (tan)

CR 5–10 young river dragon

Treasure 750 gp, 300 ep, 6 pearls (100 gp each), gold ceremonial dagger with mermaid handle (250 gp), 3 potions of healing , staff of swarming insects

CR 11–16 young river dragon with 2 constrictor snakes , hunter sharks , or plesiosauruses ; young river dragon with sea hag or water elemental

Treasure 100 pp, 2,000 gp, 3 aquamarine gemstones (500 gp each), bottle containing a message, ring of water walking , 2 scimitar (with a blade resembling shimmering water; named Salmon of Wisdom)

CR 17–22 adult river dragon

Treasure 8,000 gp, 10,000 sp, 3 pearl necklaces (2,500 gp each), 4 sapphires (1,000 gp each), metal diving suit (1,000 gp), 2 potions of clairvoyance , spell scroll of control weather , 1 half plate , sun blade

CR 23–30 adult river dragon with giant shark , marid , or merclops (see cyclops); ancient river dragon ; ancient river dragon with giant lanternfish (see lamia) or sea chimera (see chimera)

Treasure 10,000 gp, black pearl necklace (7,500 gp), 20 1-pound mithral bars (750 gp each), 2 doses of purple worm poison (2,000 gp each), 3 arrows of elemental slaying , ring of free action , periapt of wound closure

CR 31+ ancient river dragon with 2 giant crocodiles , merrow mages (see merrow), or water elementals

Treasure 5,000 pp, 40,000 gp, 6 diamonds (5,000 gp each), emerald idol (25,000 gp), fish that grants wishes (as ring of three wishes ), 3 potions of supreme healing , Ioun stone of absorption , luck blade

Monster Type Description

Dragons include red and gold dragons, which are huge reptilian fire-breathers that number among the world’s most dangerous monsters. This type includes white dragons , which breathe killing frost, as well as smaller reptilian creatures related to true dragons, such as pseudodragons