Imperial dragon

From PathfinderWiki
Imperial dragon
A forest dragon, a type of imperial dragon.

Imperial dragons, sometimes termed dragons of the celestial host, are a type of dragon and serpentine agents of cosmic balance native to Tian Xia. Like other true dragons, they grow in power as they age.1


Although they are true dragons, imperial dragons differ in appearance from other true dragons, possessing a long serpentine body. They lack wings but can fly gracefully through supernatural means. All imperial dragons have large horns with which they can gore prey and foes.1


Like all dragons, imperial dragons can breathe potent torrents of elemental force, cast spells, and perform other supernatural feats. Additionally, all can magically transform themselves into a humanoid shape.1 Indeed, imperial dragons are generally considered to be the most likely of the true dragons to use this shape changing ability. Imperial dragons abilities are defined by the cycles of elements that underpin their magic. Two cycles exist. In the first, each element feeds the successive element (wood, fire, earth, metal, water, wood), and in the second, each element counters its successive element (wood, earth, water, fire, metal, wood). For example, the abilities of the underworld dragon, closely associated with fire, correspond to feeding earth, being fed by wood, countering metal, and being countered by water.2

Habitat and society

Imperial dragons are defenders of ancient lands and protectors of cosmic balance. They take a much more active role in humanoid societies than their metallic or chromatic kin, to such a degree that the kingdoms of Tian Xia are often known as the Dragon Empires. Imperial dragons are seen by humanoids as either benevolent guardians or vile threats depending on their type.3


More than any other dragons, imperial dragons are closely tied to the religious beliefs of their native lands. Several deities of the Dragon Empires are often depicted in the form of a dragon, including General Susumu, Lady Nanbyo, and Shizuru.4

On Golarion

Imperial dragons inhabited Tian Xia in the Age of Dragons, long before other races arose there, and were charged by the gods to safeguard the land in anticipation of humanity's arrival.5 Imperial dragons are deeply tied to the human cultures of Tian Xia, and many of the eastern gods may in fact be incredibly powerful dragons. The five imperial families of Minkai were blessed by the goddess Shizuru in her guise as a dragon, the nation of Quain relies on the powerful Celestial Dragon for guidance, and the empire of Xa Hoi is directly ruled by a dynasty of sovereign dragons.6 Imperial dragons are active in times of social upheaval; though they have been slow to react to the fall of Imperial Lung Wa, they are beginning to exert sweeping influence on the chaotic Dragon Empires.7

The Tian people believe that imperial dragons are guardians of the zodiac, and each of the five species of imperial dragon is represented as a constellation.8

Species of imperial dragons

  • Forest dragon, called dilungs, known for being chaotic evil. They breathe a cone of piercing rocks.
  • Sea dragon, called jiaolungs, known for being chaotic good. Capable of breathing a cone of super-heated steam.
  • Sky dragon, called tienlungs, known for being lawful good. They breathe a cone of primal electricity.
  • Sovereign dragon, called lungwangs, known for being neutral. They are the most powerful of the imperial dragons, breathing a sonic blast cone.
  • Underworld dragon, called futsanglungs, known for being lawful evil. This dragon species breathes a cone of fire that can turn granite to slag.


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 3, 92ff. Paizo Inc., 2011
  2. Paizo Inc., et al. “Monsters A-Z” in Bestiary 3, 74. Paizo Inc., 2021
  3. Jason Nelson, et al. The Hungry Storm, inside front cover. Paizo Inc., 2011
  4. James Jacobs, et al. “Life in the Dragon Empires” in Dragon Empires Gazetteer, 58ff. Paizo Inc., 2011
  5. James Jacobs, et al. “Regions of the Dragon Empires” in Dragon Empires Gazetteer, 15. Paizo Inc., 2011
  6. James Jacobs, et al. “Introduction” in Dragon Empires Gazetteer, 2–3. Paizo Inc., 2011
  7. James Jacobs, et al. “Life in the Dragon Empires” in Dragon Empires Gazetteer, 54. Paizo Inc., 2011
  8. James Jacobs, et al. “Life in the Dragon Empires” in Dragon Empires Gazetteer, 51. Paizo Inc., 2011