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Black dragon

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Black dragon
Black dragon.

Black dragons are vicious swamp-dwelling and marsh-dwelling dragons that generally rule as undisputed masters of their watery domains.1


Black dragons are intimidating creatures that have distinctive large, curving horns which they sometimes break to give a more jagged and fearsome appearance. Their faces are very individual, with unique configurations of small horns and bones. Black dragons' impressive heads connect to a relatively short neck and a thick, muscular reptilian body. They have huge wings that flow into the frills that run from neck to tail and down the dragons' arms and legs. Unique amongst chromatic dragons, they have webbed feet that allow them to swim with greater agility through their swampy homes.2


Black dragons are regarded as lords of their chosen homes, the darkest swamps and marshlands that Golarion has to offer. They tend to make their lairs in the most remote, unreachable corners of their swamp.1 Black dragons prefer to inhabit brackish marshes over freshwater wetlands.3

While black dragons, like all dragons, favour natural caves for lairs, their swamp homes rarely have such shelter.1 Further, while comfortable in the water, black dragons prefer dry places in which to sleep. Consequently, they have to resort to sheltering beneath crumbling cliffs or in drowned ravines, and some even live in locations sheltered only by the thick canopy of swamp trees, amidst mangrove roots, or on the top of large trees. Black dragon lairs normally use the terrain to their advantage, and are often surrounded by confusing labyrinths of trees, their canopies strung with thick vines to protect against flyers. Those black dragons with access to slaves get them to modify their lair, adding traps concealed beneath the swampy waters. Due to the heavy nature of their treasure, black dragons often do not sleep with their hoard, as their combined weight would sink it beneath the swamp. Instead, they search for concealed locations that can support the sheer bulk of their treasure securely.3


Adventurers confront a black dragon.

Black dragons are well suited to their environment, although their surroundings rarely survive intact. Their compulsive urge to maim and slaughter leaves the area around a black dragon's lair utterly ravaged. However, a black dragon's highly acidic stomach can make a meal out of whatever little is left. While they can eat swamp plants, small animals, fish, and crustaceans, black dragons have a fondness for the flesh of sentient life, particular those who beg and grovel for their lives. When they eat, black dragons drip acidic saliva everywhere. Black dragons inevitably kill more than they can eat, their hatred driving them to wreck and destroy.

Black dragons' mating rituals are as violent as everything else in their lives. To outsiders, they appear as brutal territorial fights with the two dragons sometimes spending days tearing and breathing gouts of acid at each other. This conflict ends with one dragon skulking away in defeat while the other bellows its victory for all to hear. The victor is normally the male, while the female skulks off to make a nest. Around a year and a half later the mother lays a clutch of eggs. There is no paternal contact with the hatchlings, in fact, if the father and mother do meet again, they regard each other as rivals, tearing at each other with a savagery reserved for battle with their own kind.3


Black dragons are very anti-social, hating all intelligent life including other black dragons. They do sometimes become overlords of primitive tribes of lizardfolk and boggards who worship them as near divine beings.3 Among boggards, however, black dragons have tough competition for the role of divine lord from hezrou demons and the rare mobogos.4 However, black dragons' swamp homes do not provide many opportunities for interaction with other intelligent creatures. Black dragons occasionally encounter other kinds of dragons, most commonly coastal-dwelling bronze dragons and forest-dwelling green dragons. When their territories overlap, violence is all but inevitable. Sometimes black dragons will try to negotiate with green dragons but their sociopathic tendencies make this very difficult.3

On Golarion

The black dragon, Ilthuliak.
For a full list of specific black dragons in Golarion, see Category:Black dragon/Inhabitants.


For additional as-yet unincorporated sources about this subject, see the Meta page.

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Paizo Inc., et al. “Monsters A to Z” in Bestiary, 92–93. Paizo Inc., 2009
  2. Mike McArtor. Black Dragons” in Dragons Revisited, 5. Paizo Inc., 2009
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Mike McArtor. Black Dragons” in Dragons Revisited, 6–7. Paizo Inc., 2009
  4. Amber Stewart. “Ecology of the Boggard” in Blood for Blood, 63. Paizo Inc., 2010
  5. 5.0 5.1 Savannah Broadway, et al. Dragons Unleashed, 3. Paizo Inc., 2013
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Mike McArtor. Black Dragons” in Dragons Revisited, 8. Paizo Inc., 2009
  7. Richard Pett. “Sound of a Thousand Screams” in Sound of a Thousand Screams, 33–35. Paizo Inc., 2010
  8. Savannah Broadway, et al. Aashaq (Great Wyrm Red Dragon)” in Dragons Unleashed, 6. Paizo Inc., 2013