Arcane Dragons are a family of dragons in the world of Dungeons & Dragons. Created in May 2006 for Dragon Magazine #343's Creature Catalog V, Arcane Dragons are a 3e invention made to recognize something; that despite the long association of dragons with arcane power, only the Gold and Silver Dragons come anywhere near the inherent potency of humanoid wizard, with most species learning a small handful of inate spell-like abilities over their long life. Arcane Dragons, then, truly embody the concept of the magical, spell-casting dragon, trading physical potency for expanded magical affinities; all Arcane Dragons are powerful spellcasters, even beyond their innate spell-like and supernatural abilities, and whilst their physical attacks are puny by comparison to a normal dragon's, they are deft flyers and adroit shapeshifters.
Arcane Dragons should not be confused with the Occult Dragon of the Esoteric Dragon family.
Possibly distant relatives of the Black Dragon, Hex Dragons are a cruel and manipulative breed, infamous for their love of corruption, betrayal and decay. Making their lairs in caverns, dark forests and fetid swamps, they are the witches of the dragon world, embodying the sinister and corruptive aspects of magic. These dragons have long, segmented bodies, with mouths filled with a multitude of small but needle-sharp teeth. Their eyes are emerald green, and smoulder within sunken pit-like eyesockets beneath a pair of corkscrewing horns that rise from their crowns. Wyrmling hex dragons are surprisingly flabby, with corpse-pale scales that give them an almost maggot-like appearance. As they age, though, they darken in color to a deep eldritch purple, with fat melting away to be replaced by wiry muscles; an adult hex dragon is lean and strong. Hex dragons are marked by myriad arcane runes, which form on their scales shortly after hatching and become increasingly luminiscent as the dragon ages, until they burn with eldritch fire. A hex dragon's voice is described as being high-pitched, melodious, and sweet as poisoned honey.
Hex dragons frequently work with the undead, and also make use of their inherent skill as Enchanters to enslave living subjects. Younger hex dragons unable to access caverns to dwell in have their minions craft them large huts, lavishly furnished and decorated with macabre imagery; unless the hex dragon eventually discovers a sufficiently inviting cave, these huts will grow with the dragon's powerbase, eventually forming small cities in the middle of nowhere. Cavern lairs are decorated with the same grisly imagery in the form of frescoes and pilasters. Regardless of whether the hex dragon lives above or below ground, its lair is a hellish place filled with strange odors, smoking vats & braziers, pickled specimen jars, and mummified corpses.
Whilst able to eat practically anything, hex dragons are notoriously fussy eaters, often turning the act of dining into a ritual - such as only consuming specific organs from specific creatures during specific phases of the moon.
All hex dragons automatically know all Enchanter and Necromancer spells available to Sorcerers, as well as all spells associated with the Knowledge Cleric Domain. Their caster level increases with their age category. In addition to these spells, hex dragons possess a Breath Weapon in the form of a line of putrid venom, the Vile Resistance extraordinary ability (immune to disease & poison, +4 on saves vs death effects, enchantment spells, and negative energy damage), and the Retributive Curse supernatural ability, which enables them to deliver all manner of painful maladies against their attackers, with their options only growing nastier as the dragon ages - Wyrmlings can inflict temporary sickness, Young Dragons can inflict short-lived but crippling agony, Adults can deliver permanent blindness, Very Old Dragons can cause permanent insanity, and Great Wyrms can obliterate a victim in retaliation every turn! If that's not bad enough, when slain, a hex dragon delivers a dying curse, afflicting everyone within 10 feet per age category with its curse! In terms of spell-like abilities, all hex dragons can cast Deathwatch from the moment they hatch. Once they reach the Very Young stage, they can cast Suggestion 3/day, whilst Young Adults can cast Geas/Quest 1/day. Old Hex Dragons can cast a Mass Hold Person 1/day, whilst Great Wyrms can release a Wail of the Banshee 1/day.
Needless to say, hex dragons never fight fair, employing the dirtiest tactics to ensure their success - and with their great intelligence, they are capable of wicked tactics indeed. Pincer attacks with waves of undead slaves and/or dominated minions whilst the dragon launches venom and spells from above, using its shapeshifting and enchantment spells to set their foes upon each other, and launching deadly ambushes are all prominent fixtures of their repertoire.
These dragons have the Earth subtype and their expected alignment is Neutral Evil.
With unclear origins, Tome Dragons are the sages of the dragon world, embodying the studious and esoteric aspects of magic. One of the smartest dragon species in existence, if not the smartest, these dragons spend their lives engaged in arcane and esoteric research, on topics including planar conjunctions, the ecology of outsiders, fate, destiny, and the flow of time itself. Highly social, by dragon standards, they often form cabals that pool their knowledge and their hoards in isolated, well-defended communal lairs, which often receive a not-unjustified reputation as library-monasteries dedicated to the most exotic and obscure of lore. Even lone tome dragons can develop powers of spellcraft and foresight said to rival those of deities, and as they age, spend increasing amounts of time exploring the world around them and the planes beyond through astral projection.
Needless to say, when even a wyrmling tome dragon's intellect rivals that of the greatest human sage, this species has a justified tendency towards the heights of arrogance and hubris. Most find it inconceivable that they might be lacking in knowledge or judgment.
In appearance, tome dragons are unmistakable. If their disproportionately long tails - capped with pointed fins at the tip - and iridescent-sheened silver scales don't make their nature obvious enough, then their faces will; tome dragons are all but unique amongst dragondom for possessing great manes of silky, silver-colored hair. Their slender digits are highly dexterous, well-suited for manipulating tomes and scrolls that might be far smaller than their draconic reader, and their expressive faces are framed by cheek-frills of thin, backwards-pointing spines. Their eyes reflect the colors of the sky; pale blue at birth, turning to azure by early adulthood, then deep purple, and finally a dark midnight blue flecked with silver starlight. The voices of tome dragons vary from wyrm to wyrm, but are always highly characterful; thick accents, raspy coughs, smokey whispers and booming laughs are all common traits.
Tome dragons have little interest in conventional wealth and beauty; their lairs are invariably given minimalist adornments. By extension, they have little general interest in food; they eat the basic minimums they need to fuel themselves, and that only when their biology demands sustenance. That said, as a species, they do have one consumptive vice; fine tea, the more exotic its ingredients the better, is irresistible to tome dragons.
All tome dragons automatically know all Conjurer and Diviner spells available to Sorcerers, as well as all spells associated with the Knowledge Cleric Domain, with their potency as a caster growing as they age. They invariably develop an extensive library of Metamagic options, as their unique power of Free Metamagic allows them to apply metamagic effects with inhuman swiftness and with greater freedom than any humanoid sorcerer. Their breath weapon is unique; a bead of elemental matter that explodes at a designated point in an eruption of flames, howling wind, jagged stone or high-pressure water. They also possess multiple spell-like abilities; able to cast Arcane Sight at will from the age of wyrmling, juvenile tome dragons can cast clairaudience/clairvoyance 3/day, whilst adults can Plane Shift 1/day, ancient tome dragons can cast True Seeing 1/day, and great wyrms can cast Astral Projection 1/day.
Additionally, tome dragons are said to have the unique ability of "Precognition". In an infamous editing stuff up, the actual mechanics for this trait aren't printed in the issue!
It goes without saying that fighting tome dragons is a dangerous effort. With their mastery of divination spells, ambushing one is all but impossible, and they readily use their conjuration skills to create instant armies to defend them against assailants, supporting their minions with judicious spellcasting from above. With their advanced intelligence and extensive studies, tome dragons are natural tacticians, even without their potent divinations to back them up.
These dragons have the Air subtype and their expected alignment is Lawful Neutral.