Welcome to another instalment of the creature feature. For this piece I will be looking at a critter from the Tome of Beasts available at Amazon and many other retailers. The creature in question is the Drakon. This beast is a winged serpent that bears a striking resemblance to a Wyvern. With a CR of 5 it makes for a good low level sort of dragon hunt.
As always I will be looking at how this creature can be used from a story point of view as well as how it would work tactically.
This creature is a coastal dweller that lives above and below the waves. Because of this my idea for the plotline revolves around the Drakon menacing a small coastal village. Maybe it is attacking fishing boats or feeding on the flocks grazing on the cliffs above the sea. The embattled locals are unable to drive the monster off as they lack the required martial prowess. Enter the players. Their journey has taken them to the lonely fishing town of Cods Wallop. Here they will be enlisted to aid the poor fisher folk in slaying what they consider a mighty dragon.
Furthermore the creature is being aided by a particularly loathsome family of locals, the Ermintrouts. These fishy near-do-wells are kidnapping unwary locals and offering them up to the Drakon as tribute. They have formed a quasi-cult around it and will defend it to the death. The Ermintrouts are a numerous family of around two dozen. Most of them are little more than simple thugs. But the family patriarch Vilforth Ermintrout is a trained warrior having spent his youth as a mercenary.
The players begin as they enter Cods Wallop, the village is run down and its folk have a noticeably down trodden look about them. Upon entering the local Inn (The Mermaid) to find lodgings they find two thugs extorting coin from the innkeeper. After a brief fight the players should overcome the thugs. The innkeeper thanks them and explains the situation. The Ermintrouts are extorting the locals, they can pay or go on the list of those to be offered to the great serpent. At this point the village headman will arrive. Having heard they saw off the thugs he will offer them what little they have in exchange for slaying the monster.
The Sea Druid.
The locals know very little about the creature. But they do suggest that if the players want further information, they should visit the Sea Druid. This character is located outside of town in a cave by the sea. The Sea Druid is a 2nd level Druid who lives in the area by the name of Moritz. They find him to be a dishevelled little man in tattered robes. He has not spoken to another person in some time and is more than happy to share what he knows.
Moritz has seen the monster and identifies it as a Drakon. This lesser-known serpent is not a Wyvern or True Dragon. But it is still a foe to be wary of. It is a wily beast but not in any real sense intelligent. Furthermore it ferments acid in it gullet that drips from its fangs and can be exhaled in a corrosive cloud when in battle. On top of its acid attacks the creature has a gaze that can paralyze those who look into its eyes. Once enthralled the victim will begin to dissolve as though they are dipped in acid. He will also draw them a rough map to the monster’s lair.
Into the Fray.
Our hero’s should take the Druids advice to heart if they wish to survive the coming battle. Armed with information and a map they should set off in search of the Drakon. Along the way they will encounter small groups of armed thugs from the loathsome Ermintrout clan. These attacks will start out as direct confrontations. But they soon realize the players have superior combat abilities and will change to ambushes and traps. While these attacks should not pose a great threat to the players they will bleed off some of their abilities. This will make them more vulnerable to the Drakon when they meet it.
STR: 14(+2) DEX: 10(+0) CON:15(+2) INT:8(-1) WIS:8(-1) CHA:8(-1)
Hit Points: 15 AC: 13 (studded leather)
Club +3, damage 1D6+2
Crossbow +2, damage 1D8
Human fighter level 4, NE
STR: 17(+3) DEX: 14(+2) CON:15(+2) INT:12(+1) WIS:10(+0) CHA:15(+2)
Hit Points: 40 AC: 17 (studded leather, Shield and Dex)
Longsword +6, damage 1D8+3
Heavy Crossbow +4, damage 1D10+2
The Frying Pan.
After a long day of being jumped by the fishy thugs the group reach the cliff where the Drakon makes its lair. If they try to make camp and rest up the Ermintrouts should pepper them with arrows while Vilforth rouses the beast to attack. The name of the game is to keep them on the defensive and not allow them to be at full strength when the Drakon attacks. But you should save Vilforth for the main fight.
Into the Fire.
As the players repel the watery goons the Drakon swoops down into the fray. The Drakon should try to control the fight by swooping in and out of the combat. This means it can avoid the players melee attacks for a time and force them to use spells or ranged weapons. I would advise that you open with a claw and bite attack and keep that up until the beast has taken 25 plus damage. Once it has taken this much damage the monster will become enraged that they have hurt it and unleash its breath weapon. A hefty 8D6 acid damage will badly weaken the players and force them to step up the attack before it is able to muster a second on. This means that they have 5-6 turns take it down.
Large beast, unaligned
STR: 14(+2) DEX: 19(+4) CON:15(+2) INT:2(-4) WIS:12(+1) CHA:10(+0)
Hit Points: 105 AC: 16 (natural armor)
Speed: 30 ft., fly 60 ft., swim 40 ft.
Skills Perception +4, Stealth +7
Damage Resistances acid
Condition Immunities paralyzed
Senses Darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 14
Multiattack. The drakon makes one bite attack and one tail attack.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6 + 4) piercing damage plus 10 (4d4) acid damage.
Tail. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d8 + 4) bludgeoning damage.
Acid Breath (Recharge 5–6). The drakon exhales acidic vapors in a 15-foot cone. Each creature in that area takes 28 (8d6) acid damage, or half damage with a successful DC 13 Constitution saving throw.
When a creature that can see the drakon’s eyes starts its turn within 30 feet of the drakon, the drakon can force it to make a DC 13 Constitution saving throw if the drakon isn’t incapacitated and can see the creature. On a failed saving throw, the creature takes 3 (1d6) acid damage, its hit point maximum is reduced by an amount equal to the acid damage it takes (which ends after a long rest), and it’s paralyzed until the start of its next turn. Unless surprised, a creature can avert its eyes at the start of its turn to avoid the saving throw. If the creature does so, it can’t see the drakon until the start of its next turn, when it chooses again whether to avert its eyes. If the creature looks at the drakon before then, it must immediately make the saving throw.
Drakon, and on and on.
As the monster takes more damage it should act accordingly. This means that it will cease fighting clever and start going for brute force. It should stop trying to swoop in and out and fight on the ground. Maybe the DM can describe the damage as having torn one of its wings thus stopping it from flying? The creature could try to flee at 10 or less hit points, but I would not steal the players victory (if they survive). One way to go would be to have the Drakon try to limp away and the Vilforth and his last two thugs try to defend it.
The Eyes have it!
Throughout the combat the players should be under constant threat of the Dissolving Gaze. If they forget to avoid eye contact hit one of them with this very nasty ability. Another thing to consider is how well they can fight while trying not to look at its eyes? Some of the players could try to circle around to the back of the monster. But for those face to face with it you should think about how to simulate them looking away constantly. One option is to impose penalties like disadvantage or a reduction in attack bonuses. I would maybe create a simple table that has random consequences if they fail to score a hit.
In the end the players should be able to slay the Drakon and its fishy subjects. This will earn them a small reward from the village, and they could supplement it by butchering the monster for its hide and other body parts. This is somewhat grisly but could gain them some cool new armour etc. If you wanted to use this creature/adventure for a higher-level group then simply use a mating pair of Drakons and beef up the local thugs a bit. As always I hope you enjoyed this article and feel free to use, change or ignore it as you will.