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Spectral Dragon

by James Mishler

This is the Spectral Dragon that I have developed for my campaign. Needless to say, they are very, very rare and are almost never to be used lightly; they are each and every one of them a Force for Chaos in Mystara, and even a Juvenile would be a powerful opponent for any party of characters. The Spectral Dragons are, of course, based on the Chromatic Dragon of 1st edition AD&D (the Mystaran Tiamat of my campaign being another identity of Hel, Immortal Patroness of Primal Chaos and the Chromatic Dragons). Spectral Dragons are also simply known as Chromatic Dragons. The name "Spectral Dragon", as applied to the "Tiamat" draconic form (multichromatic, multi-headed) was, as far as I am aware, first (and only) used in the Mayfair Games RoleAids supplement _Dragons_, written by Corey Glaberson and based on the _Dragonlords: Dragons of the Month_ series of miniatures by Grenadier Models. If you can still find them, I believe there were two fine examples of the Spectral Dragon brought out by Grenadier; there was also the limited edition "Tiamat" brought out by Ral Partha.

As per usual I will make my warning concerning the Canonical nature of this series of posts: the material presented in these posts is NOT Canon Mystara, and in fact, goes against what may well be considered Canon Mystara. Specifically, it rejects the DragonLord series of novels in toto. In my Mystara the history of the Dragons is greatly at variance with the materials as presented in that series of novels (or, at least, the first, beyond which I could, or rather would not read).

Also, in my Mystara there are at least two major Draconic Pantheons; the pantheon led by the Great One (with Diamond, Opal and Pearl), which is the original Draconic Pantheon of the Native Draconic Races (the Elder Dragons and their descendants, as well as a large number of converted Chromatics and Metallics follow this path; this is the "Official" Draconic Pantheon). Then there is the Law and Chaos pantheon, with Bahamut (an aspect of Odin) leading the side of Law and Tiamat (an aspect of Hel) leading the side of Chaos. The centre for the Chromatics is in the Wyrmsteeth Range, while the centre for the Metallics is the land of Izonda on the continent of Davania. There are other groups of Immortals revered by Dragons and the DragonKin; the Linnorms of the Northern Reaches are wholly subsumed in the Norse Pantheon; the Elemental Dragons of Alphatia have their own pantheons; the Ochalean Dragons their own Celestial Bureaucracy; and the Gem Dragons their own mysterious cults (those paying close attention to my posts will note that I previously mentioned that I had discluded the Gem Dragons from my Mystara; I have added the Gem Dragons retroactively (and recently) after looking over the versions included in the Mystaran MC. I feel that they fit in well to my concept of a multicultural and more mystical Alphatian Empire).

Spectral Dragon, Mystaran

Climate/Terrain: Any
Frequency : Very Rare
Organisation : Solitary or clan
Activity Cycle : Any
Diet : Special
Intelligence : Genius (17-18)
Treasure : Special
Alignment : Chaotic (5% Good/65% Neutral/30% Evil)
No. Appearing : 1 (2-5)
Armour Class : -1 (base)
Movement : 9, Fl 24 (C), Sw 9
Hit Dice : 20 (base)
THAC0 : 5
No. of Attacks : 2 to 5 Bites + 1 Tail Sting
Damage/Attack : Variable
Spec. Attacks : Special
Spec. Defences : Variable
Magic Resist. : Variable
Size : G (60' base)
Morale : Fanatic (18)
XP Value : Variable

The Spectral Dragons of Mystara are the result of experiments carried out by the Immortal Hel on her followers, the Chromatic Dragons (Black, Blue, Green, Red and White). Thousands of years ago, when the Chromatic Dragons first arrived on Mystara, they discovered that there was a race of Dragons native to their new home (the Elder Dragons; magical, intelligent and multi-headed saurial creatures related to the Dinosaurs). Intrigued by the possibilities presented by this species, Hel (known to her Draconian worshippers as Tiamat), bred a race of multi-headed Chromatic Dragons by crossing her Chromatic followers with Elder Dragons. Her experiment was successful far beyond even Her expectations; the Spectral Dragon species is far more vicious and intelligent than any of the other Chromatic species. Fortunately, they are far less prolific than their cousins; many Spectral Dragons are born infertile, and even those who are capable of breeding new generations are near as likely to lay eggs that hatch throwbacks (monochrome Dragons) than true Spectral Dragons (see below).

A Spectral Dragon has between two and five heads (DM's decision or roll 1d4+1). The colours of the heads will vary; the DM can decide which colours are present or roll randomly on a D6: 1= Black; 2= Blue; 3= Green; 4= Red; 5= White; 6= Roll on Subtable (D6: 1-3= Elder; 4= Yellow; 5= Purple; 6= Orange). If the same colour is rolled twice, roll again; if the same colour is rerolled yet again, then that colour is present twice (or thrice, etc). It IS possible (though extremely unlikely) to roll up a Spectral Dragon with five Red Dragon heads! Example: a three headed Spectral Dragon is rolled up; the first roll is a 3, for one Green head; the second roll is a five, for one White head; the third roll is another three; since the Dragon already has a Green head, the die is rerolled; it comes up 3 yet again, and thus the Spectral Dragon will have two Green heads and a White head. A post will eventually follow that will list statistics for Mystaran Elder, Yellow, Purple and Orange Dragons.

At hatching, each of the Spectral Dragon's heads will resemble that of the respective Dragon subspecies; the colour of the scales runs the length of the head and neck, into the forepart of the body as solid stripes and into the hindquarters as mingled stripes of the respective colours, finally blending into dark brown along the tail, which itself ends in a wicked looking stinger. The colour stripes are found as traces along the wings, which eventually mingle into a muddy brown, as with the tail. The underbelly and legs are a greenish white which fade into the upper body colours above, though the older specimens will have bellies so heavily covered in gemstones and coins that the coloration will not be at all discernible.

Spectral Dragons speak their own tongue as well as the tongue of all Chromatic Dragons. 30% of hatchelling Spectral Dragons have the ability to communicate with any intelligent creature; the chance to possess this ability increases 10% per age category of the Spectral Dragon (thus, all Spectral Dragons of Old Age or better have this ability). Combat: For all their great prowess and power, Spectral Dragons prefer not to fight their opponents directly; rather they arrange it so that their numerous followers and minions do their fighting for them. When they are called on to do battle, however, Spectral Dragons are among the most fearsome creatures known to man or Dragon. They will use every advantage at hand, and will use their Breath Weapons, Abilities, Spells and Magic Items to their maximum extent.

A Spectral Dragon naturally has no compunction about using its Breath Weapons on any opponent it deems too dangerous to "play" with, and the Breath Weapons will always be used intelligently. Because of the ponderousness of its body (even the two headed Spectral Dragon is somewhat ungainly), it never uses a claw attack; it will either bite 2 through 5 times doing damage according to the respective heads; no more than two heads may target the same man sized opponent in any one round.

A Spectral Dragon may also make a Sting Attack once per round; the sting causes 2-8 damage plus the target must save vs. poison or die instantly; those that save are paralysed for 2d4 turns.

All Spectral Dragons innately have the ability to cast spells, though they may learn additional spells just as any Human or Elven wizard; most have numerous spellbooks, scrolls and tomes about their lairs. No one school of magic is favoured over any other, though many will use enchantments and charms to control their servitors. All Spectral Dragons can also cast Priest spells, though "Pureblood" Spectrals are more adept than others. These spells are granted most commonly by Tiamat, though there are a few rogue Spectrals who revere other Immortals, such as Thanatos, Loki or Alphaks. In any case, no spell cast by any Spectral Dragon requires any material component, and verbal and somatic components are adapted to the Draconian physiology.

Each head of the Spectral Dragon may bite, breath or cast a spell separately (thus, a total of 2 through 5 bites, breaths or spells in the same round). Each head has 12 hit points plus the Spectral Dragons Hit Die Modifier in hit points (thus, a hatchelling will have 6 HP per head, while a Great Wyrm will have 20 HP per head). Heads must be targeted specifically (this is a "called shot") for damage to accrue to them (the HPs of the heads are *separate* from the general HP pool of the Spectral Dragon). A head reduced to 0 or fewer HP is out of commission (requiring a Morale Check on the part of the Spectral Dragon; it will always flee if in real danger). A "natural 20" attack with a large enough slashing weapon will sever a head if it is reduced to 0 or more points by that attack. A severed head will grow back over a period of months equal to the age level of the Spectral Dragon. If all the Spectral Dragons heads are severed, the Spectral Dragon will, of course, die, just like any other creature... Breath Weapon/Special Abilities: Spectral Dragons are able to use the Breath Weapon of each of their respective heads; ONLY the head of that specific colour that has the specific Breath Weapon attack may use that Breath Weapon; if it is out of commission, then that Breath Weapon attack may not be used by another head (example: a Red and White headed Spectral Dragon has its Red head put out of commission by a valiant sword thrust, thus it has only the breath of the White head remaining at its disposal). Type of breath, shape of breath and damage caused by the Breath Weapon attack of a Spectral Dragon is exactly the same as the type, shape and damage caused by that of the Dragon of the respective colour and age category; thus, the Red head of an Adult Spectral Dragon will breath fire in a 90' long cone, causing 12d10+6 points of damage to all within the area of effect.

"Pureblood" Spectral Dragons (those that have five heads, one of each of the five primary Chromatic colours) have a special Breath Weapon attack. When ALL FIVE heads breathe in concert the breath forms a *Cone of Disintegration* 90' long, 15' wide at the mouth and 45' wide at the base. All those within the Cone of Disintegration must save vs. Death Magic or be Disintegrated, as the spell of the same name (normal and magical items must also save). Those that save take damage equal to the Spectral Dragons maximum hit points (they may attempt another save, this time vs. Dragon Breath for 1/2 damage). Of course, this special Breath Weapon attack may be used only if the Spectral Dragon has not used ANY of its Breath Weapon attacks within the last three rounds; also, the Cone of Disintegration may be used only three times per day, maximum.

A Spectral Dragon casts its spells and uses its magical abilities at 14th level, plus its Combat Modifier. Unlike most other Chromatic Dragons, Spectral Dragons see magic as the primary means of their power, and pursue magical training and equipment with a near fanatical mindset. They have been known to start wars over the possession of a mere scroll...

A Spectral Dragon will possess various abilities based on the colours represented by its different heads; thus, a Spectral Dragon with Red, Green and Blue heads may choose from the columns representing those specific colours. Note that Immunities are considered Abilities, and are *not* automatically gained at birth; they must be chosen through this process (Immunities are considered to be Hatchelling level Abilities). Choose 1 ability at Hatchelling stage and 1 ability at each age category thereafter; three headed Spectral Dragons choose a bonus ability at Juvenile; four headed a bonus ability at Mature Adult and five headed a bonus ability at Great Wyrm (thus, a five headed Great Wyrm Spectral Dragon will have a maximum potential of 15 abilities and immunities)! An ability may be chosen as long as the minimum Age Category has been reached; ability slots may be "saved" for later Age Categories. No Spectral Dragon may select any one ability more times than the number of heads it has of that colour; thus, an Adult Spectral Dragon with two Red heads may choose Pyrotechnics *twice*, allowing it to use this ability a total of six times per day. All Abilities and Immunities may be found under the entries for their respective Dragon types in the Monstrous Manual . A summary is included here:

Min. Age Cat. Black Blue Green Red White (Immunity) Acid Elect. Gases Fire Cold Hatchelling W. Breath Young C/D Water A.N.Fire Juvenile Darkness S. Imit. W. Breath Pyro. Ice W. Adult C. Water D. Devil Suggest. H. Metal Mature Adult W. Wood Gust o W. Old P. Growth Vent. P. Growth Suggest. Very Old Entangle Hypnot. W. o Fog Venerable Sum. Ins. C. Winds D. Gems Wyrm P. w/o T. Free. Fog Great Wyrm C. Rept. H. Terr.

Habitat/Society: Spectral Dragons are found literally anywhere where any of their constituent Chromatic cousins might be found, though Spectral Dragons of all colours prefer the most distant and desolate wilderness possible (if it is distant but not *desolate*, it is certain to be so within weeks of the Spectral Dragons arrival). Spectral Dragons are extremely rare in the Known World (fewer than ten known to lair in the region in the last 1000 years); they are rather more common in Norwold, where they rule entire sections of the Wyrmsteeth Range. They are also known to lair in Hyborea, the Midlands and on the Arm of the Immortals; there have been no reported sightings on the Savage Coast.

Spectral Dragons combine all the worst aspects of their cousins: greed, malevolence, greed, voraciousness, greed, cruelty, greed, viciousness, and of course, greed. They covet magic in all its forms, especially scrolls and other items which impart magical knowledge. They use this magical knowledge and the power it gives them to expand their control over the region about their lair and all the creatures therein. The goal of each and every Spectral Dragon is to prove its worth to their Patron Immortal, Tiamat (Hel) and thus become Her Chosen, Viceroy of all Mystara and Over King (or Over Queen) of all Chromatic Dragons(Metallic Dragons and others are considered an abomination by the Spectral Dragons, suitable only as prey). Fortunately for the rest of the world, each Spectral Dragon views itself as the "Chosen of Tiamat", and thus they are much more likely to war among themselves than with the other races (notably Humans, Elves and Dwarves).

Spectral Dragons lair most often in huge castles or caverns built specially to order by their myriad servitors. Their servants often include a fair number of Chromatic Dragons, either the thralls of the Spectral Dragon or its willing servitors. As a large number of Spectral Dragons are infertile (around 50%), mated pairs are rare. Any young resulting from a union are raised by the female in her lair; "throwbacks" (single headed chromatics), which result from about 1/3 of all live hatchlings, are generally cast from the lair at birth to fend for themselves (though they conform to normal Chromatic Dragons in coloration and number of heads, they are otherwise treated as Spectral Dragons as regards Abilities, Spells, Magic Resistance, Breath Weapon, etc). Spectral Dragons born of the union are treated moderately well, then sent from the lair at Juvenile age, the mother Dragon hoping (vainly) for some sort of loyalty on the part of the whelp. Note that *all* Spectral Dragons regard any Spectral Dragon under Juvenile age as *sacrosanct*; the species is rare enough as it is, and though they might well be competitors in the future, one of the few rules that Tiamat has laid down as absolutely inviolate is "Thou Shalt Not Slay the Young of Thine Own Tribe"; to disobey in this one thing is to invite Her Personal Wrath. No Spectral Dragon is so foolish...

Ecology: Spectral Dragons can eat anything, though they are most fond of the flesh of intelligent, Law aligned magic-using creatures (especially Metallic Dragons in particular). Needless to say, Spectral Dragons keep rather unusual larders...

Age Length# AC Spells Wizard/Priest* MR Treasure Type**
1 1-12 2 1 5% Nil
2 13-30 1 2/1 10% Nil
3 31-48 0 2 1/2 15% Nil
4 49-66 -1 2 2/2 1 20% E, T, Qx2
5 67-84 -2 2 2 1/2 2 25% H, T, Qx3
6 85-100 -3 2 2 2/2 2 1 30% H, Tx2, Qx4
7 101-120 -4 2 2 2 1/2 2 2 35% H, Tx2, Qx5
8 121-140 -5 2 2 2 2/2 2 2 1 40% Hx2, Tx3, Qx6
9 141-160 -6 2 2 2 2 1/2 2 2 2 50% Hx2, Tx3, Qx7
10 161-180 -7 2 2 2 2 2/2 2 2 2 1 60% Hx2, Tx4, Qx8
11 181-200 -8 2 2 2 2 2 1/2 2 2 2 2 70% Hx3, Tx4, Qx9
12 201-220 -9 2 2 2 2 2 2/2 2 2 2 2 1 80% Hx3, Tx5, Qx10

# Body length and tail length are usually equal.

* This is the base for two headed Spectral Dragons. Three, four and five headed Spectral Dragons get an additional 1st level Wizard spell at Young Adult; four and five headed Spectral Dragons get additional 1st and 2nd level Wizard spells at Mature Adult; and five headed Spectral Dragons get additional 1st, 2nd and 3rd level Wizard spells at Very Old. "Pureblood" Spectral Dragons receive additional 1st level Priest spells at Adult, Old and Venerable; additional 2nd level Priest spells at Mature Adult, Very Old and Wyrm; and they receive additional 3rd level Priest spells at Venerable and Great Wyrm.

** Spectral Dragons will also possess one *additional* random magic item per Age Category above 3rd (thus, a Very Old Spectral Dragon will possess 6 random magic items in addition to any that its normal treasure allots).

N.B.: Since each individual Spectral Dragon may have any number of different spells and Abilities, I have not tallied any Experience Points for them; each creature will be individual in powers and in value.