The black dragon is a variety of chromatic dragon from the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game. They are also known as skull dragons and sometimes swamp dragons due to their tendency to build their lairs in swamps. Blacks are perhaps the most malicious and evil of all dragons. Green dragons might be more cunning and deceptive and Reds more brutish, but black dragons are notoriously cruel. They hunt not so much for survival but because they enjoy making other creatures suffer, particularly sentient creatures that can "appreciate" pain in ways non-sentients cannot. Like alligators, black dragons might let their prey rot in the mud at the bottoms of swamps because they prefer the texture and flavour of putrefied flesh.
Lairs and Terrain Edit
Black dragons favour swamps and bogs: anywhere with deep, murky water, thick trees, and fetid vegetation. The water gives them an advantage in combat, because the scents of growth and rot common to swamps help to cover the acidic tang of the dragons’ presence. Only a deep swamp in which a dragon can submerge serves the dragon’s purposes, so shallow marshes rarely harbour black dragon lairs.
When a black dragon cannot find a deep swamp, it settles for any area where freshwater and earth come together in great quantities. Jungles and rain forests might host black dragons, as might lakes in all but the coldest climes. Purported lake monsters might in fact be black dragons that have gone unrecognized outside their usual swamps.
Black dragons loathe salt water. Although salt water does not harm them, it irritates their flesh like a bad rash. Thus, although black dragons might dive into salt water to escape foes, they never make their homes in salt marshes.
For their lairs, black dragons favour systems of caves or hollows with multiple chambers, some partly submerged. A black dragon locates the main entrance underwater and hides the entrance either under thick layers of plant life or under a wall of mud through which the dragon can swim.
Favoured Treasure Edit
Black dragons favour coins over other sorts of treasure, because coins can survive long-term immersion better than fragile paintings or sculpture. Although coins tarnish, they do not rust as other metals do. Gems might survive even better, but gems show up in black dragons’ hoards less frequently than coins. One possible reason for this disparity is that, since coins are obviously manufactured rather than naturally occurring, black dragons view them as intrinsically more valuable to their (former) possessors than gems.
Life Cycle Edit
The incubation period for a black dragon’s eggs is about sixteen months, twelve of those months outside the female’s body. A typical clutch consists of five to ten eggs. Roughly half of the eggs hatch successfully under optimal conditions.
A black dragon remains a wyrmling for about four years. It reaches adulthood at approximately 125 years and becomes an elder around the age of 900. It becomes ancient at around 1,600 years and passes away by the age of 2,200.
When a deceased black dragon experiences environmental diffusion, the result is an area of abnormal humidity and foul soil. Few plants grow there, and those that do are poisonous. Any water that collects in the area becomes acidic and burns to the touch—not enough to cause real damage, but enough to hurt. It is not potable.
Physical Characteristics Edit
Black dragons appear abnormally slender in comparison to other chromatic dragons—wiry, but not gaunt. Although their forward-jutting horns look fearsome, the horns serve no offensive use. They simply protect the dragon’s head. The sunken eyes contribute to the head’s infamous skull-like appearance.
When a black dragon submerges, a number of muscular and nervous changes take place. The eyes bulge dramatically, pressed outward by the dragon’s facial muscles as the dragon’s vision adapts to the water and murkiness. After this happens, the dragon can discern fewer minute details but gains sensitivity to large shapes and movements.
A thin layer of webbing stretches between a black dragon’s toes, thicker on the rear feet than the fore. This webbing grants the dragon its impressive swimming speed. A swimming black dragon uses its tail both for propulsion and as a rudder.
The hide of a black dragon functions like the skin of amphibians: It extracts oxygen from the water and feeds the oxygen directly into the bloodstream, without the need for gills. This process is less efficient than breathing with lungs, so although black dragons are technically amphibious and can remain underwater for hours or days, they must surface and spend a few hours breathing air at least once or twice a week.
Black dragons have a strong, acrid scent.
- Charm Reptiles - Black dragons can communicate with lesser reptiles and can influence them to do their bidding.
- Breath Weapon - Black dragons are capable of breathing an acidic mist that quickly dissolves any creatures caught in its path.
- Water Breathing - Black dragons can breathe underwater just as easily as in air.
- Corrupt Water - Once per day an adult or older black dragon can stagnate 10 cubic feet of water, making it become still, foul, and unable to support animal life.