The Benthic Dragon

March 16th, 2015

Joshua Zaback

Exotic Encounters Archive

                We begin Dragon Week with a brand-new dragon sitting near the very top of the CR scale, offering your toughest players their doom. These terrible beasts dwell in deep oceans and rule the skies far from shore. While these creatures dwell in remote regions, they often manipulate events both in the vast undersea territories and in far-reaching oceanic kingdoms in their relentless draconic quests for power and wealth, making them fine end-game challenges for seafaring campaigns. We call these fearsome monsters benthic dragons.


Benthic Dragon

                Emerging from the sea’s depths in a cloud of sparkling ocean spray is a 30-foot-long serpent, with gleaming silver and gold scales encrusted with polished gems and coral. Its head is wide like a serpent’s, though curling, scaly spines stretching from its face, as well as a mouth full of razor teeth, mark it clearly as something different. Its tail ends in a broad vertical fin, which, together with two monumental wings, guides it deftly through air and water.

BENTHIC DRAGON                       CR 20
XP 307,200
CE Colossal dragon (aquatic)
Init +9; Senses darkvision (120 ft.), low-light vision, scent, true seeing; Perception +34


AC 36, touch 7, flat-footed 31 (+5 Dex, +29 natural, –8 size)
hp 379 (23d12+230)
Fort +25, Ref +20, Will +19
Defensive Abilities water shroud; DR 15/magic; Immune paralysis, poison, sleep; Resist fire 20; SR 31


Speed 20 ft., fly 250 ft. (perfect), swim 200 ft.
Melee bite +32 (3d6+25), 2 wings +27 (2d6+17), tail slap +27 (2d8+17)
Space 30 ft.; Reach 30 ft.
Special Attacks blast bubble, breath weapon (90-ft. cone, 20d8 fire damage, Reflex DC 31 for half, usable every 1d4 rounds, see text), tsunami
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 20th)
    Constant—true seeing
     3/daydispel magic, mirage arcana (DC 24), solid fog, veil (DC 25)
     1/dayshades (DC 28), storm bolts (empowered) (DC 27)


Str 44, Dex 20, Con 30, Int 16, Wis 18, Cha 28
Base Atk +23; CMB +48; CMD 63
Feats Ability Focus (tsunami), Alertness, Combat Reflexes, Empower Spell-Like Ability (storm bolts), Flyby Attack, Great Fortitude, Improved Initiative, Improved Iron Will, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Power Attack, Snatch
Skills Appraise +29, Bluff +35, Fly +23, Intimidate +35, Knowledge (arcana) +29, Perception +34, Sense Motive +34, Spellcraft +29, Swim +43
Languages Auran, Common, Giant
SQ amphibious


Environment any water
Organization solitary
Treasure triple standard  


                Blast Bubble (Ex): A benthic dragon can store super-heated gasses in bubbles made from ocean water, which it can unleash as a deadly blast at nearby targets. The benthic dragon can fire a bubble as a standard action at a range of up to 100 feet, and the bubble explodes in a rush of burning, concussive gas, dealing 20d6 points of fire damage to all creatures within a 5-foot radius of the detonation point (a DC 31 Reflex save halves this damage). A benthic dragon can use this ability any number of times each day, but it does not work underwater, and after discharging the bubble, the benthic dragon cannot use the ability again until it submerges in water for at least 1 full round.

                Breath Weapon (Ex): A benthic dragon’s breath weapon takes the form of raw heat energy which can boil water and causes the air to become superheated. All creatures within a 90-foot cone suffer 20d8 points of fire damage. If a creature is hit by this breath weapon while underwater, the damage increases to 20d10 points of fire damage. A successful Reflex save (DC 31) halves this damage. Additionally, all creatures within the area begin to cook, becoming fatigued unless they succeed on a Fortitude save (DC 31). This ability can be used once every 1d4 rounds.

                Tsunami (Ex): Whenever a benthic dragon completely submerges itself in a body of water, or rises from a body of water in which it was completely submerged, it can create a massive wave, which is 30 feet high and travels for 1d8 x 100 feet in all directions. All ships in the path of the wave must make a Reflex save (DC 33) or be capsized. A ship with a captain may use the captain’s Profession (sailor) check instead of its Reflex save. All creatures and objects within the wave’s path suffer 10d6 points of bludgeoning damage and are pushed to the edge of the wave’s area (including ships that succeed on the save against capsizing). A successful Reflex save (DC 33) halves this damage and negates the pushing effect.



                Benthic dragons, sometimes called leviathan wyrms or sea barons, are among the ocean’s deadliest and most cunning creatures. Like most dragons, these behemoths are obsessed with wealth and power, often maintaining immense treasure hoards in the deepest of trenches, where few dare to tread. Despite their might, benthic dragons rarely choose to do anything for themselves, instead relaying on agents to aid them in their acquisition of treasure. Because of their immense power, benthic dragons can often command truly impressive servants, and more than a few krakens, storm giants, and even entire kingdoms of ocean dwellers count themselves in the employ of a benthic dragon, fearful of its wrath. When benthic dragons are deprived of their servants, or sufficiently threatened or angered, they can be stirred to respond in person and with extreme prejudice. When committing violence, a benthic dragon tailors its tactics to the threats it faces. Undersea creatures can look forward to a fairly direct fight, facing down its breath weapon and natural attacks while having to deal with its increased defenses. Surface dwellers have it even rougher, as it uses its tsunami ability to capsize ships and separate allies from one another while it snatches up its foes one at a time, and finishing them off far from their friends’ aid.