We’re finally getting into Dragons! This and the next monster aren’t technically categorized as dragons, for some fucking reason, but that’s beside the point! After over a year of doing this, we’re finally talking about the monsters in the title of the game!
In my and most people’s experience, death tends to come after life. But the wonderful people at Wizards of the Cost decided “Nah, let’s put the Dracolich first! The others can wait!” So, first and foremost, we get to talk about a dragon zombie!
Luckily, I won’t have to talk about designs for the next… five months or so. We all know what a dragon looks like. And this one is just ‘skeleton dragon’. So, we get to focus entirely on the lore and stats.
Which is good. Because these fuckers have a lot of lore.
Lore: Embracing and Surpassing Death
Remember the Death Tyrant? Yeah, it’s that. But it’s a dragon.
A Dracolich is created when a dragon cooperates with a group of mages and cultists, who perform the necessary ritual for it. During the process, the beast consumes a highly toxic brew, which kills it instantaneously. The mages then ensnare the fleeing spirit and transfer it into a specialized gemstone, one much like a lich’s phylactery. Slowly, as the flesh melts away from the body, the spirit returns to the creature’s bones. This stone is the true Dracolich; so long as it exists, the beast can transfer forms, from dragon corpse to dragon corpse, should one be destroyed. Should both be destroyed, or separated by dimensional planes, the spirit will finally move on to the afterlife.
Any dragon who chooses a Dracolich’s form will have aspirations beyond hoarding and destroying, like many others do. They are devilishly intelligent tyrants that weave complex schemes and attract servants with promises of wealth and power. Oddly enough, they will act from the shadows well before ever utilizing their insane power. All to complete their ultimate goal of conquering everything and ruling the world.
You can do a whole shitton of stuff with a Dracolich! Maybe the party fights a powerful cult through the adventure, discovering clues pointing to the creation of such a beast! They can then try to stop it in an attempt to avoid fighting it, or fail and end up facing a deadly force for the rest of the campaign! Or maybe the Dracolich was already made by the beginning of the campaign, and the party needs to face its many forces in order to find it and kill it! There are so many fun and interesting stories you can tell with this monster! It’s amazing!
And with its stats, it makes for a perfect final boss!
Stats: An Adult Dragon, But Dead
Yeah, that just about sums it up.
These are bulky motherfuckers. Their AC is one shy of an even 20 and their HP starts at a frightening 225. Put that together with resistance to necrotic damage and an immunity to poison, as well as the dragon’s original element, and you have a monster that won’t go down so easily. Oh, and if you rely on conditions to do your damage, tough luck. These guys are immune to charm, exhaustion, frighten, paralysis, and, again, poison.
So, horny bards in the audience, don’t get your hopes up on wooing it.
It also has Magic Resistance, which gives it advantage on all saving throws against spells. But even more terrifying is the Legendary Resistance ability, which it has three of per day. With this, it can just flat out choose to succeed a saving throw should it fail one. Which, can I just say, is the biggest asshole move you can pull as a DM.
Damage wise, this thing is nothing to sneeze at. It can attack three times per turn, once with a bite and twice with its claws. The bite can do a frightening 18(2d10+7) damage, with an extra 5(1d10) elemental damage on top of that. The claws, meanwhile, can do 14(2d6+7) damage each. Or, if it wants to just smack you away, it can hit you with its tail for 16(2d8+7) damage. And did I mention that all of those have +12 to hit?
But none of that compares to the elemental breath attack. How this operates will depend on a bit of homebrew, as the stats given in the Monster Manual are for a Blue dragon (it doesn’t take much changing to make it a fire or acid dragon). No matter what you choose, though, it can dish out a massive 66(12d10) elemental damage to those who fail a DC 20 Dex Save.
Skeleton or not, this motherfucker is, indeed, a dragon. If you were expecting this boy to be a bitch, you’re an idiot.
We’re not done! It also has Frightful Presence! With this, it can force everyone within a 120 feet range to become frightened and run away from it. Not only that, but it has three Legendary Actions. It can make a perception check (okay, I guess that’s cool), swing its tail, or use two of them for a wing attack! This final attack does 14(2d6+7) damage on a failed Dex Save with a DC of 21 and allows the Dracolich to fly up to half of its flying speed.
Which is 80 feet, by the way. So… don’t get your hopes up on escaping.
This dude doesn’t make for the trickiest boss fight. In terms of an actual battle, it’s very straight-forward. But given the sheer power of its abilities, it can make for an extremely intense boss fight! Hell, just it being a Dragon is enough to make it stick with your players! Dragons are already so cool! Now just make it a fucking skeleton and you’re set!
It’s a skeleton dragon. Not only that, but it has super cool and interesting lore! With a great boss fight attached to it! How am I supposed to not put this thing high on the list! I could complain about the design, but what’s the point?! A dragon is a fucking dragon! IT’S RIGHT THERE IN THE TITLE OF THE GAME!!
With all that in mind, let’s put the Dracolich on the Best of the Bestiary!
- Death Tyrant
- Death Knight
- Bone Devil
- Dracolich <———–
- Shadow Demon
- Animated Armor
- Pit Fiend
- Chain Devil
- Bearded Devil
- Barbed Devil
- Spined Devil
- Ice Devil
- Horned Devil
- Displacer Beast
- Carrion Crawler
- Rug of Smothering
- Bugbear Chief
- Vine Blight
- Twig Blight
- Needle Blight
- Dinosaurs (All six of them)
- Flying Sword
- Crawling Claw
We’re finally in Dragonsville, boys and girls! And god damn, am I excited! Time for a multi-month long celebration of the coolest monsters in all of fantasy!
But will they be the coolest in Dungeons and Dragons? So far, so good! But can any of them overtake the legendary Beholder?