AC 21 (natural armor)
HP 296 (16d20 + 128; bloodied 148)
Speed 40 ft., climb 40 ft., fly 80 ft., swim 40 ft.
Proficiency +7; Maneuver DC 23
Saving Throws Dex +10, Con +15, Int +10, Wis +10
Skills Deception +15, Insight +10, Nature +10, Perception +10, Stealth +10 (+1d6)
Damage Resistances acid, cold, fire, lightning, thunder; damage from nonmagical weapons
Damage Immunities necrotic, poison
Condition Immunities , , , , , ,
Senses darkvision 240 ft., passive Perception 20
Languages Common, Draconic, one more
Evil. The dragon radiates an Evil aura.
Incorporeal Movement. The dragon can move through other creatures and objects. It takes 17 (3d10) force damage if it ends its turn inside an object.
Legendary Resistance (3/Day). When the dragon fails a , it can choose to succeed instead. When it does, it becomes more solid, losing its Incorporeal trait and its damage resistances, until the end of its next turn.
Essence Link. The essence dragon is spiritually linked to a specific area or landmark. The dragon gains no benefit from a 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 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 23). It can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components.
3/day each:, , ,
Multiattack. The dragon uses Grasp of Shadows, then attacks once with its bite and twice with its claws.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +15 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit: 30 (4d10 + 8) piercing damage plus 9 (2d8) necrotic damage.
Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +15 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 21 (3d8 + 8) slashing damage plus 9 (2d8) necrotic damage.
Grasp of Shadows. The dragon targets a creature within 60 feet, forcing it to make a DC 18 Dexterity . On a failure, it is by tendrils of shadow (escape DC 23) and while grappled this way. The effect ends if the dragon is or uses this ability again.
Anguished Breath (Recharge 5–6). The dragon exhales a shadowy maelstrom of anguish in a 90-foot cone. Each creature in that area makes a DC 23 Wisdom , taking 81 (18d8) necrotic damage and gaining a level of on a failed save or half damage on a success.
Lash Out (While ). When a creature the dragon can see hits it with a melee weapon attack, the dragon makes a claw 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.
Corrupting Presence. Each creature of the dragon's choice within 120 feet and aware of it must succeed on a DC 18 Wisdom or gain a level of . Once a creature has passed or failed this saving throw, it is immune to the dragon's Corrupting Presence for the next 24 hours.
Lurk. If the dragon is in or darkness, it magically becomes until it attacks, causes a creature to make a , or enters an area of bright light. It can’t use this ability if it has taken radiant damage since the end of its last turn.
Slip Through Shadows. If the dragon is in or darkness, it magically teleports up to 60 feet to an unoccupied space that is also in dim light or darkness. The dragon can’t use this ability if it has taken radiant damage since the end of its last turn.
Horrid Whispers (Costs 2 Actions). A creature that can hear the dragon makes a DC 23 Wisdom . On a failure, the creature takes 18 (4d8) psychic damage, and the dragon regains the same number of hit points.
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.
Shadow Dragon Lair Features
Choose or roll one or more of the following lair features:
1 The dragon’s lair is in a rotten quagmire. Roughly 90 percent of the lair is swampy .
2 The dragon’s lair is infested with shambling undead. At the beginning of each round of combat, roll a d6. On a 3–6, 2d4 arrive to defend the dragon, acting on the dragon’s initiative. They fight until killed or until the dragon verbally instructs them to stop.
3 The dragon’s lair is cloaked in perpetual twilight. While the shadow dragon is present, the dragon’s lair can’t be illuminated brighter than , even through magical means.
4 The lair contains pools of black water. As a legendary action, the dragon can drink from a pool, regaining a number of hit points equal to its Constitution score.
Blightshadow, Guagamela, Peshawar, Quadisiya, Tar’Ethias, Umbra.
Legends and Lore
With an Arcana or History check, characters can learn the following:
DC 10 When their lands fall prey to blight, essence dragons grow sick and may transform into shadow dragons.
DC 15 As their name implies, shadow dragons are insubstantial, moving through solid objects with ease.
DC 20 Shadow dragons become more connected to shadow as they age. A truly ancient dragon can command darkness itself to fight on its behalf.
Shadow dragons inhabit places connected to shadowy realms, nations beset by constant war, and lands befouled by pollution and decay. They are neither conquerors nor despoilers. Rather, they are symptoms, signs that the soul of their land has succumbed to blight.
Life of Death. Shadow dragons begin as other essence dragons, but when their land is stricken with evil, they become insubstantial versions of their former selves. The shadow dragons of war-torn lands often bear countless open wounds; pollution and plague marks a dragon with gangrenous flesh and weeping sores; and dragons whose lands have become cursed appear gaunt and often fall into madness. Over time, a shadow dragon loses all traces of its former nature. It embraces its land’s plight as its true essence, comes to resent its old life, and does whatever it can to maintain its land’s suffering.
Props and Propaganda. Many believe a shadow dragon’s presence is an irrefutable sign of the land’s failing health, using it as a justification for revolution. “The Dragon is Shadowed” is a common rallying cry for change: a proclamation that the only answer to the status quo is a sudden—and often bloody—change of leadership.
1 Guarding its treasure, expecting visitors
2 Soaring overhead as it hunts
3 Receiving tribute from sickly-looking villagers
4 Watching invisibly from the shadows
5 Prowling near a magical light it longs to extinguish
6 Magically communicating with its master
1 The sky is overcast; mist cloaks the ground
2 Plants and trees are withered and twisted
3 Water and foraged food is poisonous
4 Firelight dims and shadows darken
5 Paranoid humanoids; afraid of (or members of) the dragon’s secret police
6 Travelers’ shadows menace their owners, or writhe as if in pain
Shadow dragons haunt accursed lands.
Treasure 300 ancient gold coins bearing a sinister symbol, garnet bracelet (250 gp), cursed black stone of uncertain powers
CR 5–10 ; with 1d6 (see warrior), , or
Treasure 800 gp, 1,500 sp, 5 black metal weapons that trail black shadow (act as magic weapons; 200 gp each), ,
CR 11–16 with , (see knight), or
Treasure 2,000 cursed gold coins (anyone carrying at least one has their Speed halved), 3 jet gemstones (100 gp each), gold demon idol (2,500 gp), 2 , of ,
Treasure 1,000 pp, 5,000 gp, 2 doses of (1,250 gp each), sinister black iron full plate armor (2,500 gp), ,
CR 23–30 ; with , , , or
Treasure 30,000 gp, 10 emeralds and sapphires (1,000 gp each), large emerald carved to look like a dragon’s eye (5,000 gp), , , ,
CR 31+ with or ; with 2 or 3 , , or
Treasure 100,000 gp, 100,000 tarnished silver coins, 5 rubies (5,000 gp each), 10 emeralds (1,000 gp each), twisted adamantium and diamond crown (25,000), ring bearing the seal of an order of paladins (250 gp), saddle sized for a dragon (10,000 gp), 2 , , ,
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 .