AC 18 (natural armor)
HP 252 (24d12 + 96; 126)
Speed 60 ft., fly 80 ft., swim 90 ft.
Proficiency +6; Maneuver DC 19
Saving Throws Dex +9, Con +8, Int +6, Wis +9, Cha +7
Skills Acrobatics +8, Deception +7, Insight +9, Nature +6, Perception +9, Stealth +9
Damage Resistances damage from nonmagical weapons
Senses darkvision 120 ft., tremorsense 200 ft. (only detects vibrations in water), passive Perception 19
Languages Aquan, Common, Draconic
Amphibious. The dragon can breathe air and water.
Flowing Grace. The dragon doesn’t provoke when it flies or swims out of an enemy’s reach.
Legendary Resistance (3/Day). When the dragon fails a , 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 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 awhen 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 and a level of . 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 15). It can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components.
3/day each: , , ,
Multiattack. The dragon attacks once with its bite and twice with its claws.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +11 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 21 (3d10 + 5) piercing damage.
Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +11 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 18 (3d8 + 5) slashing damage.
Torrential Breath (Recharge 5–6). The dragon exhales water in a 60-foot-long, 5-foot-wide line. Each creature in the area makes a DC 18 Dexterity , taking 56 (16d6) bludgeoning damage on a failed save or half damage on a success. A creature that fails the save is also knocked and is pushed up to 30 feet away. A creature that impacts a solid object takes an extra 10 (3d6) 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 18 Strength . On a failure, a creature takes 17 (5d6) bludgeoning damage and is knocked and pushed up to 15 feet. On a failure, a creature takes half damage.
Snap Back (While ). 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 90 feet. The wave travels up to 45 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 and creatures that impact a solid object take 21 (6d6) bludgeoning damage.
Sudden Maelstrom (While , 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 18 Strength . On a failed save, the creature is knocked 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, 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 or 1d4 swarms of 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 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 with 2 , , or
Treasure 300 gp, 1,000 sp, mithral mirror (75 gp), , (tan)
Treasure 750 gp, 300 ep, 6 pearls (100 gp each), gold ceremonial dagger with mermaid handle (250 gp), 3 ,
CR 11–16 with 2 , , or ; with or
Treasure 100 pp, 2,000 gp, 3 aquamarine gemstones (500 gp each), bottle containing a message, , (with a blade resembling shimmering water; named Salmon of Wisdom)
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 , of , ,
CR 23–30 with , , or (see ); ; with (see ) or chimera|sea chimera (see )
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 , ,
CR 31+ with 2 , (see ), or
Treasure 5,000 pp, 40,000 gp, 6 diamonds (5,000 gp each), emerald idol (25,000 gp), fish that grants wishes (as ), 3 , ,
Dragons include red and gold dragons, which are huge reptilian fire-breathers that number among the world’s most dangerous monsters. This type includes, which breathe killing frost, as well as smaller reptilian creatures related to true dragons, such as .