Even as long-lived as they are, all dragons must eventually die. This thought doesn’t sit well with many dragons, some of which allow themselves to be transformed by necromantic energy and ancient rituals into powerful undead dracoliches. Only the most narcissistic dragons choose this path, knowing that by doing so, they sever all ties to their kin and the dragon gods.
A dracolich retains its shape and size upon transforming, its skin and scales drawing tight to its bones or sloughing away to leave a skeletal form behind. Its eyes appear as glowing points of light floating in shadowy sockets, hinting at the malevolence of its undead mind.
Though many dragons pursue vain goals of destruction and dominance, dracoliches are more nefarious than the most evil dragons, driven to rule over all. A dracolich is a fiendishly intelligent tyrant that crafts complex webs of foul schemes, attracting servants motivated by greed and a lust for power. Acting from the shadows and actively plotting to keep its existence a secret, a dracolich is a cunning and challenging foe.
Creating a dracolich requires the cooperation of the dragon and a group of mages or cultists that can perform the proper ritual. During the ritual, the dragon consumes a toxic brew that slays it instantly. The attendant spellcasters then ensnare its spirit and transfer it to a special gemstone that functions like a lich’s phylactery. As the dragon’s flesh rots away, the spirit inside the gem returns to animate the dragon’s bones.
If a dracolich’s physical form is ever destroyed, its spirit returns to the gem as long as the two are on the same plane. If the gem comes into contact with another dragon’s corpse, the dracolich’s spirit can take possession of that corpse to become a new dracolich. If the dracolich’s spirit gem is taken to another plane, the dracolich’s spirit has nowhere to go when its undead body is destroyed and simply passes into the afterlife.
Only an ancient or adult true dragon can be transformed into a dracolich. Younger dragons that attempt to undergo the transformation die, as do other creatures that aren’t true dragons but possess the dragon type, such as pseudodragons and wyverns. A shadow dragon can’t be transformed into a dracolich, for it has already lost too much of its physical form.
When a dragon becomes a dracolich, it retains its statistics except as described below. The dragon loses any trait, such as Amphibious, that assumes a living physiology. The dracolich might retain or lose any or all of its lair actions or inherit new ones, as the DM sees fit.
The dracolich’s type changes from dragon to undead, and it no longer requires air, food, drink, or sleep.
The dracolich has resistance to necrotic damage.
The dracolich has immunity to poison. It also retains any immunities it had prior to becoming a dracolich.
The dracolich has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
On initiative count 20 (losing initiative ties), the dragon takes a lair action to cause one of the following effects; the dragon can’t use the same effect two rounds in a row:
- Part of the ceiling collapses above one creature that the dragon can see within 120 feet of it. The creature must succeed on a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw or take 10 (3d6) bludgeoning damage and be knocked prone and buried. The buried target is restrained and unable to breathe or stand up. A creature can take an action to make a DC 10 Strength check, ending the buried state on a success.
- A cloud of sand swirls about in a 20-foot-radius sphere centered on a point the dragon can see within 120 feet of it. The cloud spreads around corners. Each creature in the cloud must succeed on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or be blinded for 1 minute. A creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.
- Lightning arcs, forming a 5-foot-wide line between two of the lair’s solid surfaces that the dragon can see. They must be within 120 feet of the dragon and 120 feet of each other. Each creature in that line must succeed on a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw or take 10 (3d6) lightning damage.
Additional Lair Actions
- Misleading Mirage. Until initiative count 20 on the next round, at each intersection or branching passage in the lair, a creature other than the dragon has a 50 percent chance of going in a different direction from the direction it intends.
- Sudden Sinkhole. The dragon chooses a point on the ground that it can see within 120 feet of it. A 5-foot-radius, 20-foot-deep pit forms centered on that point. A creature on the ground above where the pit formed must make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw. On a failed save, a creature falls to the bottom of the pit, taking 7 (2d6) bludgeoning damage and landing prone. On a successful save, a creature moves to the nearest unoccupied space instead of falling in the pit.
The region containing a legendary blue dragon’s lair is warped by the dragon’s magic, which creates one or more of the following effects:
- Thunderstorms rage within 6 miles of the lair.
- Dust devils scour the land within 6 miles of the lair. A dust devil has the statistics of an air elemental, but it can’t fly, has a speed of 50 feet, and has an Intelligence and Charisma of 1 (-5).
- Hidden sinkholes form in and around the dragon’s lair. A sinkhole can be spotted from a safe distance with a successful DC 20 Wisdom (Perception) check. Otherwise, the first creature to step on the thin crust covering the sinkhole must succeed on a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw or fall 1d6 × 10 feet into the sinkhole.
If the dragon dies, the dust devils disappear immediately, and the thunderstorms abate within 1d10 days. Any sinkholes remain where they are.
Additional Regional Effects
Any of these effects might appear in the area around a blue dragon’s lair, in addition to or instead of the effects described in the Monster Manual:
- Blue Luster. Creatures that spend a year within 1 mile of the dragon’s lair find blue objects fascinating and feel compelled to acquire them at every opportunity.
- Mirage Terrain. The area immediately surrounding the lair appears to be a lush oasis. A creature carefully examining the illusion can attempt a DC 15 Intelligence (Investigation) check to disbelieve it. A creature who disbelieves the illusion sees it as a vague image superimposed on the underlying terrain.
- Sandstorm. A sandstorm blows constantly within 1 mile of the dragon’s lair.