Doors flew open, and gates lifted as the draconic humanoid approached the castle. All locks failed, and a glowing portal opened between the roots of the courtyard chestnut tree. It opened its mouth to speak the words of the dragon gods.
Large dragon, lawful neutral
Armor Class 18 (natural armor)
Hit Points 171 (18d10 + 72)
Speed 30 ft.
|18 (+4)||10 (+0)||18 (+4)||18 (+4)||12 (+1)||16 (+3)|
Saving Throws Strength +9, Dexterity +5, Constitution +9, Wisdom +6
Skills Arcana +9, History +9, Perception +6, Religion +9
Damage Vulnerabilities necrotic
Damage Resistances lightning; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks
Damage Immunities cold, poison
Condition Immunities charmed, paralyzed, exhaustion, poisoned, stunned, unconscious
Senses truesight 120 ft., passive Perception 16
Languages Abyssal, Common, Celestial, Draconic, Dwarven, Elvish, Giant, Infernal
Challenge 15 (13,000 XP)
- Aura of Immobility. The herald of the great wyrm emits an area of antimagic within 60 feet of itself. This trait works like the antimagic field spell, except it only affects magical travel. At the start of each of its turns, the herald chooses whether this aura is active. The aura prevents the herald’s own magical traveling.
- Hidden Herald. The herald of the great wyrm can use its action to polymorph into a Medium dragonborn, Medium human, Small kobold, or back into its true draconic humanoid form. In each form, its eyes glow with a magical light that shifts in color and it wears a silver key, revealing its identity as a herald. Its statistics, other than its size, are the same in each form. Any equipment it is wearing or carrying, other than the silver key, transforms with it. It reverts to its true form if it dies.
- Legendary Resistance (2/day): If the herald of the great wyrm fails a saving throw, it can choose to succeed instead.
- Portal Mastery. As a bonus action, the herald of the great wyrm can open any object that contains a mundane or magical means that prevents access. This trait works like the knock spell, except it dispels rather than suppresses arcane lock and it doesn’t create an audible knock when used. Alternatively, the herald can use a bonus action to open or close any magical portal, road, gateway, or path.
- Multiattack. The herald of the great wyrm makes two claw of fate attacks or two spectral barrier attacks. If both claw of fate attacks hit the same target, the target is restrained. While restrained, the target takes 13 (2d12) radiant damage at the start of each of its turns. A creature, including the target, can take an action to make a DC 17 Strength check, ending the restrained condition on a success. The herald can restrain only two creatures at a time in this way.
- Claw of Fate. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 15 (2d10 + 4) slashing damage plus 9 (2d8) radiant damage.
- Spectral Barrier. Ranged Magical Attack: +9 to hit, range 60 ft., one target. Hit: 18 (4d8) radiant damage. The target must succeed on a DC 18 Wisdom saving throw or be restrained by magical bands of force for 1 minute. A creature, including the target, can take its action to burst the bands of force by succeeding on a DC 17 Strength check.
The herald of the great wyrm can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action option can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. The herald regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.
- Claw of Fate. The herald makes one claw of fate attack.
- Detect. The herald makes a Wisdom (Perception) check.
- Black Well of Unmaking (Cost 2 Actions). The herald of the great wyrm creates a 5-foot-sphere of void matter on a point it can see within 120 feet of it. At the start of each of the herald’s turns, each creature other than the herald within 30 feet of the well of unmaking must succeed on a DC 16 Strength saving throw or be pulled up to 15 feet toward the well. Each creature that starts its turn within 5 feet of the well must make a DC 16 Constitution saving throw. On a failure, a creature takes 27 (6d8) necrotic damage and is stunned. On a success, a creature takes half the damage and isn’t stunned. The well of unmaking lasts until the herald uses this legendary action again or until the herald dies.
Opener of the Ways. Rare indeed is the arrival of a herald of the Great Wyrm, the Keeper of Portals, the Opener of the Ways and Lord of Dragons. All locks, stoppers, chests, wards, and doors are said to spring open when it treads near, and gates and shadow portals pop into existence at its bidding. The herald of the great wyrm is a sign that the eye of dragonkind is upon a particular place or person—perhaps the thief of a great treasure, perhaps a great treasure to be taken.
Keeper of Knowledge. The herald of the Great Wyrm knows of all scrolls, books, maps, and even carvings and graffiti within 10 miles of its location. No source of lore or writing can be hidden from it.
The heralds of fire are better known as the heralds of Baal-Hotep in the Dragon Empire and sometimes in Nuria-Natal, Parthia, Beldestan, and Khandiria, where they have long served both as relatively reliable judges and as tax collectors of an extremely impatient kind. When the cortege of the herald of Baal-Hotep is sighted by a town, its smoke and fiery sparks make its imminent arrival obvious.
The herald’s most frequent companions are fire sorcerers, agnibarra, salamanders, and (occasionally) dragonborn light cavalry. Fire giants or masses of kobolds follow in a wagon train laden with treasure.
Those who have been remiss in proffering various monies owed to the Dread Sultan, the morza, or other rulers may be dragged from their homes and given a last chance to settle their accounts. Those who value gold more than life or those who refuse to share the burdens and costs of the empire are taken to the square and burnt alive by a fire elemental summoned for that purpose. Their homes are then plundered thoroughly before being burnt to ashes. Such extreme cases are very rare, and they are most often ascribed to followers of Mammon or other dark gods.
Once all accounts are settled, the herald of Baal-Hotep hears all cases brought before it. Any hairy servant, any slave, and any of the scaled folk can accuse anyone else of a crime and expect to hear a judgment; however, the temperament of the herald can be impulsive and prone to both melancholy and extreme vengeance, depending on the state of the settlement and its people—the richer the village or town, the more time the herald spends on sharp questioning and deduction.
Accusations of corruption by the mighty are also treated with extreme seriousness, though a human peasant who accuses a dragon lord of some form of tax-skimming, cruelty, or neglect of the city’s guards and people had best have an ironclad case; failure to convince a herald may result in judgment against the accuser. At the same time, the word of a herald of Baal-Hotep can and has destroyed even drakes and true dragons when their crimes, nepotism, and treachery are made plain.
Creature Codex. © 2018 Open Design LLC; Authors Wolfgang Baur, Dan Dillon, Richard Green, James Haeck, Chris Harris, Jeremy Hochhalter, James Introcaso, Chris Lockey, Shawn Merwin, and Jon Sawatsky.