Gray Dragons are chromatic dragons.
In some ways, gray dragons are the most enigmatic of all chromatics. Lacking in distinctive hue, they are hunters on stony borderlands, forever soaring in the sky’s embrace. Also called fang dragons (for their ferocity), stone dragons (for their ability to petrify victims), and spike dragons (for their detachable spikes), these beasts share the worst qualities of other chromatic dragons.
Grays delight in the hunt at least as much as its fruits. Their desperate, animal love of stalking prey might be their defining characteristic.
Few gray dragons can muster sufficient self-discipline to reach the heights of power and reputation other chromatics enjoy. Grays spend their time far from their lairs, glorying in the savage thrill of the hunt and basking in their quarry’s fear.
Gray dragons are corruptible beasts, willing to compromise any stated principle when better alternatives come along. Grays particularly delight in turning social encounters into excuses to begin elaborate chases. Even when receiving gifts of gold or other valuables in exchange for assistance, a fang dragon might break off negotiations to present the terms of a game, something like this: “You have until sunrise to flee as far as you can. At that time, I begin my hunt for you. If I find you, you lose.”
On the other hand, gray dragons’ unpredictability ensures that they do not always act this way. Perhaps they know that creatures that fall into routine make easier prey themselves. A shrewd diplomat can take advantage of this side of a gray dragon’s nature by promising the dragon a better, future opportunity for a hunt, thus hedging a negotiation away from failure.
The occasional gray dragon finds itself the focus of savage humanoid tribal worship. Particularly primitive tribes might kowtow to gray dragons in hopes that the dragons’ aptitude for stalking prey will transfer to them. More sophisticated tribes select sacrificial victims either from among their own number or, more often, from among members of enemy tribes or visitors from distant lands. Upon obtaining a victim, members of such a tribe contact the gray dragon, possibly with smoke signals. Then they release the poor soul with little or no equipment— perhaps a warning and a flint knife—to flee across barren scrubland or badlands.
Gray dragons might act as field scouts, spies, and hounds for sophisticated locals who have powerful interests. Payment for such a service is the service itself, which the dragon sees not as a service at all, but as an enjoyable pastime. Since a gray invariably eats what it catches, employers never entrust it with the delivery of live bounty—though the dragon might deliver a skull or another gnawed bone fragment from its quarry.
When hungry enough, a gray might stoop to feeding on domestic cattle, sheep, or other herd beasts, but it does so rarely; dim herd animals offer little thrill or challenge for the chase. Grays subsist almost entirely on a diet of humanoids that are intelligent or dangerous enough to provide at least the semblance of a contest.
A gray dragon prefers to stay aloft during a fight. From the air, it uses its breath weapon and attacks with reach, riveting foes with rocky spikes from tail and claws. If one or more opponents take to the air to close with the dragon, the gray either focuses all its attacks on one or two brave flyers or, if three or more attackers have taken wing, beats a hasty retreat for the horizon to seek easier prey. Although gray dragons enjoy the hunt, they are less keen on fair fights against truly dangerous foes.
Lairs and TerrainEdit
Gray dragons prefer badlands, scrubland, dry prairies, and other clear terrain over terrain that contains visual obstructions. They like to see potential quarry for miles around as they ride high thermals like gigantic birds of prey. A gray can see the tiniest movement across a plain and might dance from thermal to thermal for hours to bridge the gap to a distant thing it wants to investigate.
A gray dragon might establish a temporary lair while on an extended hunt in a region far from its permanent lair. Such a simple outpost gives the gray a place to sleep, a place to eat its catch, and a place to store any treasure destined for its main hoard. Grays locate these outposts on mountain ledges or in similar locations accessible only by air. The dragons leave such lairs unguarded, returning each night to feast on the fruits of their hunts.
A gray dragon’s home lair might stand abandoned for weeks or months at a time, so before it leaves on a hunt the dragon seals the lair’s central chamber with an avalanche of boulders and petrified victims.
Gray dragons do not prefer any type of treasure over any other type. Their hoards typically consist of items taken from the victims of past hunts: mementos and trophies of glorious successes. Even though gray dragons do not value treasure for its own sake to the extent that other dragons do, grays nevertheless take strong measures to protect their keepsakes.
- Also see: Dragon Life Cycle
for a total incubation time of twenty months. A clutch numbers one to two eggs, all of which prove viable under optimal conditions.
A gray dragon is a wyrmling until about the age of ten and is young until nearly age 200. It becomes an elder at around 900 years and an ancient around 1,400. The oldest confirmed age any gray dragon has reached is approximately 2,100 years.
When a gray dragon dies, it petrifies, becoming a spiky outcropping with an uncannily draconic shape. When a deceased gray dragon experiences environmental diffusion, the result is an area of abnormal aridity. Streams running through the area dry up, as do wells. Any creature that spends more than an hour in the area becomes parched, and water stored in containers somehow disappears.
Stony spikes stud gray dragons’ scales and limbs. A gray’s spikes can detach, allowing it to pin potential prey to the earth with the appropriate attack.
A gray’s scales range from limestone white to granite gray, serving as excellent camouflage in the dragon’s preferred terrain. As the dragon flies, its lighter-shaded underbelly blends in with clouds and sky from the vantage point of viewers on the ground.
A gray dragon’s oversized mouth is a sea of fangs. Several of its fangs are long enough to prevent the dragon from completely closing its mouth. A collection of fanglike horns protrude from the lower jaw. These horns allow the dragon to crack open the exterior of a petrified victim and access the soft interior.
Gray dragons smell strongly of sun-warmed stone and faintly of long-dead carrion.
In the final days of the wars between Arkhosia and Bael Turath, a traitorous dragon rang the death knell. This vile beast is known as the Gray Worm. Through his treachery, the dragons and dragonborn of Arkhosia perished alongside the infernal empire of the tieflings, bringing ruin to both mighty nations and closing the chapter on their glorious and villainous histories.
The Gray Worm is an ancient gray dragon of immense size, but he is a shadow of his former might. For his part in the fall of Arkhosia, he was beaten, torn, and brought to the brink of death by his kin. He carries the scars still, suffering terribly from their vicious blows. The thorns and spikes bristling his body are broken and splintered. The gray plates protecting his hide are pale, almost translucent, and some are missing where the flesh of old injuries knitted imperfectly. An eye is missing, and half his teeth have rotted away.
Zebukiel appears to be a dragon near the end of his days. But he is cursed, unable to die until he is brutally slain, as were his people at the hands of heartless tieflings and their infernal allies.
Shunned and despised by all dragonkind, Zebukiel has spent his wretched life on the wing, avoiding those who might remember his name and fleeing the justice he so richly deserves. Cursed never to die from accident or age, he knows that the only death that awaits him is through combat. Ever the craven, he does not want to face such an end. Before his fall, Zebukiel was a prominent leader in the aristocracy of Io’vanthor, the lost city of the dragonborn. He was charismatic and influential, cherishing his high position in Arkhosia. He believed he could do no wrong in the eyes of his people. Everything changed when the darkness of Bael Turath became too great to ignore. Arkhosia had been hostile toward the tiefling empire for years, with many nobles pushing to wipe out Bael Turath. As word of tiefling atrocities and hideous obeisance to Asmodeus reached them, the dragonborn clamored to finally purge the world of their stain. Both dragonborn and dragons feared that if they waited, they would fight a war against the tieflings on their own lands. After a few skirmishes, total war broke out. The lands shook from the marching feet of dragonborn, and the wings of soaring dragons blotted out the sun. The numbers of dead were appalling, and every effort at achieving peace only laid the foundation for the next battle. Both lands seemed doomed to perish. Fearing the end of his empire, Zebukiel did the unthinkable—he betrayed his kind. The fang dragon treated with the tiefling leaders, who claimed to want peace as badly as he did. The tieflings swore they would lay down their weapons and draw up a lasting peace if the Arkhosian “aggressors” were stopped.
Zebukiel knew he could not reason with his peers, whom for decades he had tried to turn from their self-destructive path. So, under cover of darkness, he systematically murdered the Arkhosian leaders, dragon and dragonborn alike. Although he justified each death as being necessary for peace, he slid deeper into madness as the casualties mounted and the war continued to rage. Concealing his awful deeds grew ever more difficult—too much blood stained his claws.
When Zebukiel failed to kill a powerful adamantine dragon that was injured fighting a pit fiend, his victim escaped and revealed his betrayal. Before the Arkhosians could deal with the traitor, the bulk of their armies perished in the earthquake that swallowed Bael Turath and brought an end to both nations. The death of his land gave Zebukiel the chance he needed to escape, but not before an exarch of Bahamut nearly killed him and laid the curse upon him as he flew away.
Zebukiel travels to the world’s farthest corners, always staying one-step ahead of his enemies, real or imagined. Though he’s always moving, always flying from haven to haven, he does keep a few strongholds and settles into these old lairs from time to time, but never in the same order. Having regular haunts is dangerous, but Zebukiel uses them to store his treasures, baubles recovered from Arkhosian ruins and from creature’s he has slain, since he cannot carry them with him. So he tucks them away in dark tunnels, sunken chambers, or vaults beneath ancient structures long reclaimed by the wilderness. Even though he selects out-of-the-way locations for these “safe houses,” Zebukiel is wise enough to keep them under guard. Constructs form the bulk of his servants, since their loyalty can’t be compromised, but he has also arranged protection with a few other groups. Beneath an old mountain, a grimlock tribe worships the dragon as a god after he helped fight back grells bent on enslaving the Underdark dwellers. A group of savage kobolds protects an old temple deep in a jungle, using poisoned darts, traps, and fearsome creatures to secure the dragon’s lair. The gray dragon has even gained the service of a tiefling necromancer. In exchange for allowing the dark mage to use the relics for his own research, Zebukiel can rely on an army of undead to keep him safe while he rests between journeys. Each alliance is dangerous since any can betray him, just as he did his own kind. So, the dragon rarely maintains these relationships for long, letting them persist for a couple of years until he turns against his servants, wiping them out root and branch before forging some new alliance somewhere else.
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