Epic Insights01/09/2004

Dragons of the Glacier and the Grave

The Draconomicon introduced a large number of new dragons to the game. Some of these are true dragons (such as the Chaos dragon and the Styx dragon), but many are lesser dragons, which are dragons that do not grow more powerful as they grow older. Sample lesser dragons from the Draconomicon include the spiked felldrake and the dragonnel. A few of these, particularly the larger varieties of landwyrm, can challenge epic-level characters, but once you get higher than 25th level or so all that remains to challenge you are a small handful of true dragons (such as the force dragon). This article presents two new lesser dragons that can pose a threat to higher level epic characters.

Colossal Dragon
Hit Dice: 44d12+572 (858 hp)
Initiative: +3
Speed: 40 ft. (8 squares), burrow 40 ft. (8 squares), climb 40 ft. (8 squares)
Armor Class: 34 (-8 size, -1 Dex, +33 natural), touch 1, flat-footed 34
Base Attack/Grapple: +44/+78
Attack: Bite +56 melee (2d8+18)
Full Attack: Bite +56 melee (2d8+18/19-20/plus 1d6) and 2 claws +52 (4d6+9)
Space/Reach: 30 ft./20 ft. (30 ft. with bite)
Special Attacks: Freezing gaze, frightful presence, stunning strike
Special Qualities: Damage reduction 20/--, darkvision 60 ft., ice glide, immunities (cold, mind-affecting effects, sleep, paralysis), low-light vision, spell resistance 36
Saves: Fort +37, Ref +23, Will +27
Abilities: Str 47, Dex 8, Con 36, Int 4, Wis 16, Cha 20
Skills: Climb +26, Hide +30, Listen +50, Spot +50
Feats: Awesome Blow, Blind-Fight, Cleave, Great Cleave, Greater Weapon Focus (bite), Improved Bull Rush, Improved Critical (bite), Improved Initiative, Improved Overrun, Improved Sunder, Multiattack, Overwhelming Critical (bite), Power Attack, Track, Weapon Focus (bite)
Environment: Cold mountains
Organization: Solitary
Challenge Rating: 28
Treasure: Standard
Alignment: Usually neutral evil
Advancement: 45-132 HD (Colossal)
Level Adjustment: --

This monstrous reptilian behemoth has scales that seem to be made of ice. Ridges of ice run down its back, and jagged horns on its head glitter coldly. The creature's massive jaws are filled with teeth the size of trees.

The unbelievably huge glacierdrak is thought to be a variation of the tundra landwyrm; in truth, the glacierdrak bears several superficial resemblance to the other landwyrms. The glacierdrak cannot fly, and, like the landwyrm, its mere presence inspires terror. But the glacierdrak is, if anything, even more primeval than the other landwyrms, and it barely acts as anything more than a monstrous force of destruction. Certainly, other landwyrms are quick to deride the glacierdrak's notorious lack of intellect, but the fact remains that the glacierdrak is a monstrously powerful and dangerous foe.

Glacierdraks understand a few words of Draconic, but they generally have little interest in conversation.


A glacierdrak, despite its size, has a shockingly effective ability to hide. Onlookers can easily mistake a motionless glacierdrak for a glacier or mountain of ice. When the creature attacks, it moves to crush large concentrations of smaller enemies and lashes out at single targets all around with its physical attacks. Generally too stupid to retreat from combat, a glacierdrak is not often put in a position where retreat is a wise tactical move.

Freezing Gaze (Su): A glacierdrak's gaze has the terrible power to freeze opponents solid. This gaze weapon has a range of 120 feet, and any creature that succumbs to it immediately takes 6d6 points of temporary Dexterity damage as its limbs and muscles freeze. A successful Fortitude save (DC 37) negates the Dexterity damage for that round. The save DC is Charisma-based.

When a creature with 0 Dexterity (or no Dexterity) is subjected to the gaze again, it takes temporary Constitution damage instead of Dexterity damage. Creatures killed in this manner are permanently frozen solid; even application of fire cannot thaw them. A frozen creature cannot be brought back to life by raise dead. Creatures that are immune to cold are immune to this attack, but those with resistance to cold are affected fully. Creatures with cold vulnerability take a -4 penalty on the saving throw.

Frightful Presence (Ex): Whenever a glacierdrak attacks, charges, or flies overhead, each creature in a 500-foot radius that has fewer HD than it does must make a DC 37 Will save. Failure indicates that the creature is panicked for 4d6 rounds (if it has 4 or fewer HD) or shaken for 4d6 rounds (if it has 5 or more HD).

Stunning Strike (Ex): Any creature that is critically hit by a glacierdrak's bite or claw attack must make a DC 50 Fortitude saving throw or be stunned for 2d6 rounds. The save DC is Strength-based.

Ice Glide (Su): A glacierdrak can move through frozen liquid as easily as a fish swims through water. Its burrowing leaves behind no tunnel or hole, and it does not create any ripple or other signs of its presence. A glacierdrak cannot burrow through other solid materials.

Huge Dragon
Hit Dice: 60d12+1020 (1,410 hp)
Initiative: +28
Speed: 90 ft. (18 squares), fly 150 (30 squares) (perfect)
Armor Class: 58 (-2 size, +20 Dex, +20 natural, +10 insight), touch 38, flat-footed 38
Base Attack/Grapple: +60/+84
Attack: Bite +74 melee (2d8+16)
Full Attack: Bite +74 melee (2d8+16) and 4 claws +72 melee (2d6+8) and 2 wings +72 melee (1d8+8) and 3 tails +72 melee (2d6+8)
Space/Reach: 15 ft./15 ft.
Special Attacks: Breath weapon, command undead, death knell aura, energy drain, spell-like abilities
Special Qualities: Blindsight 120 ft., damage reduction 25/epic and good and silver, darkvision 60 ft., immunities (death effects, paralysis, sleep), low-light vision, negative energy affinity, resistance to acid 30, cold 30, electricity 30, spell resistance 56
Saves: Fort +49, Ref +52, Will +46
Abilities: Str 42, Dex 50, Con 44, Int 33, Wis 38, Cha 56
Skills: Balance +26, Bluff +86, Concentration +80, Decipher Script +74, Diplomacy +98, Gather Information +29, Hide +12, Intimidate +92, Jump +22, Knowledge (arcana) +74, Knowledge (architecture and engineering) +74, Knowledge (history) +74, Knowledge (local) +74, Knowledge (religion) +74, Knowledge (the planes) +74, Listen +77, Sense Motive +77, Spellcraft +80, Spot +77, Tumble +83, Use Magic Device +86
Feats: Cleave, Combat Expertise, Combat Reflexes, Dire Charge, Dodge, Great Cleave, Improved Combat Reflexes, Improved Initiative, Improved Sunder, Improved Whirlwind Attack, Mobility, Multiattack, Power Attack, Quicken Spell-Like Ability (inflict critical wounds), Quicken Spell-Like Ability (heal), Spellcasting Harrier, Spring Attack, Superior Initiative, Undead Mastery, Whirlwind Attack, Zone of Animation
Environment: Any battlefield or graveyard
Organization: Solitary
Challenge Rating: 45
Treasure: Double standard
Alignment: Always neutral evil
Advancement: 61-80 HD (Huge), 81-130 HD (Gargantuan), 131-180 HD (Colossal)
Level Adjustment: --

This pallid creature looks like a long, skeletally thin dragon. Its head has large, lidless, solid white orbs for eyes, and numerous bones that look almost like ribs protrude along its head and shoulders. The creature's mouth is more like a cruelly hooked beak, and it contains three long rows of bony ridges instead of teeth. A massive pair of wings with hundreds of tiny bone barbs along the edges fan from its back, and it balances on its legless body. Its body eventually splits into three separate tails, each of which is covered with numerous bony barbs like those on the wings. The cloying stink of open graves exudes from the creature, and lumps of soggy earth seem constantly to dribble from its body.

The gravewyrm is a truly fearsome foe that lurks in massive graveyards and battlefields found on the Outer Planes, particularly those found on the Lower Planes where the Blood War has raged for countless eons. This dragon feeds on the negative energy that animates undead creatures, and while one may suppose that its ravenous appetite for the undead might make it an ally of good, nothing could be further from the truth. The gravewyrm prefers freshly created undead, and it takes great delight in transforming living victims into undead so it can feast on their dead twitching bodies.

Yet gravewyrms are not driven solely by hunger. They are quite intelligent and have forceful, imposing personalities. Many gravewyrms establish massive empires on the sites of huge battlefields or planar necropolises, where they are served by their own armies of undead deemed too old for proper consumption. Many gravewyrms seek portals to the Material Plane and send their undead armies through to harvest the living; countless civilizations through the ages have been depopulated in a manner of weeks by these unholy attentions.

Gravewyrms prefer to speak Draconic, but they usually know a large number of additional languages as well.


Although gravewyrms are empire builders, they relish the act of combat since it is the best way to get to fresh undead created by its breath weapon. As a result, they are quick to enter a battle alongside their undead minions rather than direct the battle from afar. In combat, a gravewyrm opens with its breath weapon and then follows up with its physical attacks. A gravewyrm often deliberately surrounds itself with its foes so it can make full use of feats like Improved Whirlwind Attack. Its spell-like abilities are used against those few foes it has trouble dealing with in physical combat, and the abilities also help it prepare itself for battle.

Breath Weapon (Su): 90-ft. cone of negative energy, damage 3d6 negative levels; Reflex DC 57 half. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Command Undead (Su): A gravewyrm commands undead as a 60th-level cleric. It can use this ability at will.

Death Knell Aura(Su): Any living creature reduced to negative hit points within a 30-foot-radius of a gravewyrm must make a Fortitude save (DC 57) or immediately suffer the effects of a death knell as if cast by the gravewyrm at caster level 60. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Energy Drain (Su): Living creatures hit by a gravewyrm's melee attacks gain four negative levels. The DC is 63 for the Fortitude save to remove a negative level. The save DC is Charisma-based. For each such negative level bestowed, the gravewyrm gains 5 temporary hit points.

Spell-Like Abilities: At will -- detect undead, displacement, greater teleport, haste, inflict critical wounds (DC 27). 3/day -- destruction (DC 30), heal, harm (DC 29), wail of the banshee (DC 32). 1/day -- demise unseen (DC 33). Caster level 60th. The save DCs are Charisma-based.

Negative Energy Affinity (Ex): Negative energy damage heals a gravewyrm as if it were an undead creature.

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