With a death’s-head face and black wings like a tattered cloak, a black dragon somewhat resembles the humanoid personification of death. And indeed, of all chromatic dragons, the black dragon is the one most fascinated by death and ruin. Dwelling in rotting swamps among fallen and forgotten monuments, a black dragon revels in terror and decay.
Cruel Ambushers. Black dragons are equally at home high in the night sky or hiding beneath the murky waters of their swamp lairs. They can surround themselves with magical pools of inky shadow. With many ways to hide from prey, black dragons are deadly ambush hunters. Most black dragons relish the fear of their quarry and draw out their hunts as long as possible. Sometimes they reveal themselves long before they first strike simply to menace their foes. At other times, they grant wounded prey temporary respite, allowing the illusion of escape before plunging their quarry into darkness and terror.
Ancient Monuments. Black dragons are both attracted to—and the cause of—decay and ruin.
They often lair within the palaces of fallen kingdoms, especially those they helped topple. The corrupting
influence of a black dragon’s presence turns ground to turn to mud, causes grasping plants to crack stone,
and eventually drowns old relics under the stinking bog. But even long-buried peoples still seem alive to
the black dragon. It holds ancient rivals in a mixture of contempt and reverence, and often gloats over
the dead it has drowned. Collectors and students of ancient relics and treasure, black dragons are
eager to share their knowledge about ancient mysteries—though the questioner may not long
survive the answer.
Life Beyond Death. With their fixation on time and mortality, black dragons are the most common dragon liches. If personal undeath is beyond a black dragon’s arcane power, it may seek to bolster its physical defenses by creating armies of undead servants. Zombified would-be dragonslayers, as well as moldering skeletons from ages past, may patrol a black dragon’s lair alongside living minions.