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Xyvren, The Black Elder Dragon

by Carteeg Struve & Joe Mashuga


Xyvren (Zy'-vrehn) is the Black Elder Dragon of the Tashramadic faith. Unlike most other Elder Dragons of Adlatum, Xyvren has always and still does hold the highest respect for one of the true gods. The god in particular is Nuitari, and Xyvren has a history of studying the black arts of the unseen moon. The passion of Xyvren for magic is said to match his own passion for life in general even if the black is not seen often enough for it to be apparent.

Early Life

The black dragon is long and sinuous in shape, even for his own kind. His scales cover his entire body top and bottom, and are the pitchest of black. It is said that the only light reflected off of them is starlight. Even torchlight won't reflect, rending the body one of complete darkness. Whether through a magical accident, the effects of the Graygem, or some other odd purpose, Xyvren's long tail splits into two shortly behind the tailbone. The toes on his front and back paws have been noted to be overly long and dexterous, allowing him to make somatic components to spells almost as if human. He also has an extra toe on both his front paws, making his clawed 'hands' seem even more humanlike.

Beginning some time prior to the chaos infecting the Adlatum dragons, Xyvren took an appreciation for bipedal mortals. Particularly he appreciated humankind and their ability to study and make new discoveries in the short time allocated to their lives. In time he began to see how the benefits of magic given to them from the moons. Seeing the potential, Xyvren forsook using his own natural magical abilities and took the guise of a human. He found himself a mentor in a distant land and began to learn the art. Although most of those around him did not learn what he was, Nuitari took great interest in the wyrm's dedication. Soon Xyvren swore himself to the art of magic and to the black moon.

Awakened

After returning to Adlatum, the influence of the chaos stone permeated the dragons. As time continued, Xyvren began to feel the chaotic taint obstructing his magic. The black wyrm did everything possible to force the changes out of his body. Several spells he tried required him to use rare components held by humans and the other bipedal races. In order to get them he launched several attacks into the human controlled lands. In the end he was able to gain the components, but the spells he used them for failed. Eventually the ability to cast the lunar magic was out of his reach, and he was bound to his lair, Morogan Pendan. Xyvren slept.

Millennia later Xyvren was awoken along with the other chromatic dragons. Initially Xyvren showed loyalty to the Dark Queen, as he was still loyal to the black moon even if his ability to cast was taken from him. Taking over the continent was not his primary goal however. After his sleep Xyvren began to postulate on new methods of using magic to break himself free of his lair and more importantly regain the ability to cast. Praying for Nuitari's forgiveness, he tapped the chaotic magic both within and around him. By bestowing the gift of his own magic to his faithful, Xyvren was able to increase his influence on the nearby lands. He also secretly recruited men and women who were likewise loyal to the god of dark magic. Figuring the key to allowing himself to pure the chaotic influence on himself would involve using both ambient and focused arcane magic in unison, he set up labs within his lair to research new methods of spellcasting. All priorities of conquering the land for the needs of the Dark Queen fell away are were forgotten.

Although this angered Takhisis, Nuitari became intrigued in the possibility of Xyvren discovering a way to pure the chaotic influence from the dragons. The Unseen Moon appeared to Xyvren and warned him, "The use of the ambient arcane magic is unstable and dangerous at best. Do not use it but for anything directly working for the purpose of removing its taint." Xyvren was humbled by the moon's appearance to him and swore to obey.

During this period Xyvren came to be worshipped as a god by a number of his closest followers. The Black Elder Dragon found the concept funny but did not try to prevent them from seeing him as such. Bound to his lair, he needed the faithful to be his hands on the world, and he allowed the Tashramadic church become a vehicle to allow him to do so. The wizards and sorcerers under his care may have had their own skills and uses, but nothing beat unquestioning loyalty.

National Relations

Still, in order to gain further influence in the surrounding territories, he decided to play 'good-neighbor' and had his servants assist the Trejoran government when the Corinesti Trade Wars broke out in 300 AD. Using his own caravans and ships, he supported the transportation of goods to and from towns and cities. Hidden within many of these caravans were magic components and other items he himself wished smuggled either to his own labs or to his operatives elsewhere, but since the populous of Trejor survived the trade wars economically intact, many local officials and officers looked the other way. Relations between Trejor and Tashramada flourished, and in later years King Lewrin Durandae became the first monarch of the country to be an open member of the church. Xyvren's ability to research and experiment with magic was at its greatest ease during this period.

In 352 AD, King Lewrin was assassinated by a group of adventurers who were attempting to bring many of Xyvren's less savory experiments to an end. The band was killed, but Lewrin's son Jogahl proved to have opinions highly different from his father. He had no trust of the Tashramadic church or the newly returned gods. Xyvren discovered that most people in Trejor were loyal to their king above all else. Public opinion and support for his branch of the church fell. Xyvren retreated further into his lair and was rarely seen from that point on by even members of the Tashramadic Council. For most of the time, he focused on his work.

Days of Darkness

Xyvren and his minions were casting a series of arcane spells (both chaotic and focused in nature) as the time the Adlar dwarves released the creatures of Chaos upon Adlatum. The chaotic spells expanded beyond their intended size and took on life of their own. The casters attempted to defend themselves, but for each spell the sorcerers cast, a new enemy was formed. The living spells slaughtered many and began to change others into horrid beasts bent on unmaking the world. Xyvren and a few others were forced to flee. The black dragon was shocked to discover he was no longer bound to his lair, but the joy was wiped out as soon as Morogan Pendan detonated behind him. His own spells obliterated all of his research.

Xyvren found himself worse than useless during these days. The only magic he knew more often than not tried to kill him upon casting. He was not unskilled in physical combat, but his expertise was in magic. Xyvren watched as the land around himself was torn apart, and he defended his own existence as much as he could.

When the assault ended, Xyvren slept on a small island a quarter mile off the coast of Trejor's mainland. After waking he was horrified to discover he was rebounded, this time to what he thought was only a momentary resting place. Worse than that, the moons and the power of focused magic were gone. Finding that casting chaos-tainted magic to be relatively safe again, and without any other choice, he began to rebuild a new lair on the small isle, Barja Pendan.

Determination

Xyvren's faithful soon returned to him as the world tried to rebuild. Others would felt abandoned by the so-called true gods turned to Xyvren's people for support. He accepted them, but only to make sure to use them to his own aims. With the wizards gone the black did what he could to continue the research, although with only the ambient available.

Annoyances crept up during this time, another with hope. Xyvren came to the conclusion that if Nuitari and the other moons would filter the chaotic influence from magic before bestowing it upon the mortals, then there should be no reason why he could not do the same. All he would have to do is find a stable method. Xyvren came to believe the key would be not the combination of ambient and focus magic, but arcane with divine. Starting anew, the experiments began again.

Unfortunately, the annoyance appeared in the form of the unifying sovereignties of the Midlands. Lord Montegron begins to bring the Midland nations under his iron grip and takes a stance against the church. Trejor itself is brought under Montegron's control, but luckily King Tojra of Trejor does what he can to keep both Montegron and the church happy. Officially the Trejor government stands against the black branch, but quietly it refuses to do anything to anger him.

Partial Success

For many years and decades, Xyvren continued to remain unseen and was believed to be in his lair. In truth, Xyvren stumbled upon a breakthrough. Using an unstable magical process, he is able to project his soul for at most a few days at a time. The soul itself becomes solid during this duration, and it could be made to take the shape of any person at most human sized or less. However it leaves his body vulnerable, and worse his soul exposed to physical attack. The method is far from perfect, and Xyvren sees it only as a stopgap until the method of filtering chaos from magic is complete. Still, for the first time since the Days of Darkness he has a degree of freedom.

He has not shared this method with any of his followers, sorcerers, or the other Elder Dragons. He has instead chosen to remove the annoyance of King Tojra sometimes having to make Montegron happy and interfering in his desires. During one night, Xyvren had Tojra killed and the body disposed of. Since then, Xyvren has projected himself out in the form of the old king and quietly taken over Trejor. So long as Xyvren can get away for hours at a time to teleport back to his lair, rejoin with his body, tend to his needs, and then have the separation spell recast with the needed components, no one would be the wiser.

For many years and decades, Xyvren continued to remain unseen and was believed to be in his lair. In truth, Xyvren stumbled upon a breakthrough. Using an unstable magical process, he can project his soul out of its body for short periods of time. Xyvren's soul actually becomes solid during this time, and he has learned to assume the shape of most humanoid-sized figures. However, this dangerous ritual leaves his body vulnerable and his soul exposed. The method is far from perfect, and Xyvren sees it only as a stopgap until the method of filtering chaos from magic is complete. Still, for the first time since the Days of Darkness he has a degree of freedom.

He has not shared this method with any of his followers, sorcerers, or the other Elder Dragons. He has instead chosen to remove the annoyance of King Tojra sometimes having to make Montegron happy and interfering in his desires. During one night, Xyvren had Tojra killed and the body disposed of. Since then, Xyvren has projected himself out in the form of the old king and quietly taken over Trejor. So long as Xyvren could get away for a few hours to return to his lair (and his body), tend to his physical needs, and recast the spell, no one would be the wiser.

For several years, Xyvren/Tojra continued to implement policy as Tojra had in the past. But since then the dragon king has begun to shift policy and people's opinion away from Montegron and towards the church. He has also used his form to gain access to the royal library, hoping to find some information to allow him to duplicate the moon's filtering method of magic. What other plans he has, Xyvren has kept to himself.

Rumors and Hooks

With the recent return of the moons, it is believed that Xyvren will still be loyal to Nuitari. But how will Nuitari feel about a mortal trying to filter the chaotic-taint out of magic for general casting? Would he see it as a boon for magic and thus a good thing, or would he see it as a way to make the gods of magic obsolete?

Some believe that Xyvren mentored Aynal Teralshall, the head of the White Elder Dragon's branch of the Tashrama, in the guise of a human named Kaplin Longharn. It is said Xyvren came across a divination in his research that pointed to Aynal as being important in the coming war between the Midlands and the church, and so he made sure to put her on the path to helping the dragons. It is also rumored that Xyvren is in love with Aynal.

One story says Xyvren's dedication to the Black Moon resulted in him being changed so that only mages dedicated to the dark magic could see him, just as they are the only ones who can see the moon. This is usually dismissed as myth.


Gaming Stats

3.5 Edition


Xyvern, the Elder Black

CR 26

Male Elder great wyrm black dragon archmage 2/ambient tempest 4 (Bestiary of Krynn Revised)
LE Gargantuan dragon (water)
Init +4; Senses ambient sensitivity, arcane sight, blindsense 60 ft., darkvision 120 ft., fogsight*, keen senses, see invisibility; Listen +51, Spot +51.
*New spell described in the Adlatum Sourcebook.
Aura frightful presence (360-ft. radius, HD 36 or less, DC 34 Will resists)


Defense

AC 42, touch 6, flat-footed 42 (+36 natural, –4 size)
hp 599 (37d12+6d4+344)
Fort +30, Ref +22, Will +33
DR 20/lawful or magic; Immune acid, paralysis, sleep; SR 28
Weakness vulnerability to law


Offense

Spd 60 ft., fly 200 ft. (clumsy), swim 60 ft.
Melee bite +49 (4d6+13) and
2 claws +44 (2d8+6) and
2 wings +44 (2d6+6) and
tail slap +44 (2d8+19)
Space 20 ft.; Reach 15 ft. (bite 20 ft.)
Special Attacks breath weapon (usable every 1d4 rounds, 120-ft. line, 24d4 acid, DC 36 Reflex half), crush (4d6+19, DC 36 Reflex avoids), impede ambient magic, spellshaping, tail sweep (30-ft. half-circle, 2d6+19, DC 36 Reflex half)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 20th)
1/day – corrupt water (DC 33 Will resists), plant growth
3/day – charm reptiles (DC 17), darkness (120-ft. radius), insect plague
Spells Known (CL 20th, +49 touch, +36 ranged touch)
9th (6/day)—mass hold monster (DC 26), wail of the banshee (DC 26), Xyvren's spirit projection**
8th (6/day)—horrid wilting (DC 25), mind blank, greater shadow evocation (DC 24)
7th (6/day)—delayed blast fireball (DC 23), limited wish, spell turning
6th (7/day)—circle of death (DC 23), greater dispel magic, geas/quest
5th (7/day)—break enchantment, magic jar (DC 22), mind fog (DC 22), waves of fatigue
4th (7/day)—Dalamar's lightning lance* (DC 20), dimension door, enervation, stoneskin
3rd (7/day)—blink, fireball (DC 19), suggestion (DC 20), vampiric touch
2nd (8/day)—detect thoughts (DC 18), ghoul touch (DC 19), resist energy, spectral hand, touch of idiocy
1st (8/day)—chill touch (DC 18), mage armor, magic missile, ray of enfeeblement, shield
0 (6/day)—daze (DC 17), dancing lights, detect magic, disrupt undead, ghost sound, mage hand, prestidigitation, read magic, touch of fatigue (DC 17)
*From the Dragonlance Campaign Setting.
**New spell described in the Adlatum Sourcebook.


Statistics

Str 37, Dex 10, Con 27, Int 20, Wis 20, Cha 22
Base Atk +40; Grp +65
Feats Enlarge Spell, Eschew Components, Extend Spell, Flyby Attack, Flyby Breath*, Hover, Improved Initiative, Power Attack, Quicken Spell, Skill Focus (Spellcraft), Snatch, Spell Focus (enchantment), Spell Focus (necromancy), Strafing Breath*, Widen Spell.
*From the Dragonlance Campaign Setting.
Skills Concentration +54, Diplomacy +27, Escape Artist +20, Hide +21, Intimidate +25, Knowledge (arcana) +51, Knowledge (geography) +25, Knowledge (history) +25, Knowledge (religion) +45, Listen +45, Move Silently +20, Search +25, Sense Motive +25, Spellcraft +41 (+43 decipher spells on scrolls), Spot +45, Swim +33, Use Magic Device +25 (+27 use scrolls)
Languages Common, Draconic, Elven, Hudieran, Magius, Trejori; tongues
SQ ambient secrets, high arcana, metabolize ambient magic, permanent spells, shifting knowledge, water breathing


Special

Ambient Secrets Xyvren has learned the following ambient secrets:
—Improved Metamagic Xyvren may use metamagic feats without increasing the spell's casting time to a full-round action. This also enables him to use the Quicken Spell feat without increasing the casting time.
—Improved Shifting Xyvren's Shifting Knowledge ability may be used to swap out a spell of any level he can cast (as noted below).

Ambient Sensitivity (Su) Xyvren senses the presence of all ambient spellcasters within 12 miles of his physical body. He automatically knows the direction (but not distance) to each spellcaster within range, but does not otherwise know anything about the spellcaster unless further magic is used. Xyvren's ambient sensitivity is considered a form of scrying for purposes of determining if a spell or magic item protects an ambient spellcaster from detection.

High Arcana Xyvren has learned the following archmage high arcana:
—Arcane Reach (Su) Xyvren may cast touch spells as ranged touch spells, with a 30-ft. range.
—Mastery of Elements Xyvren may change any spell's energy type (acid, cold, electricity, fire, or sonic) to another energy type.

Impede Ambient Magic (Su) Xyvren may impede all ambient magic within 1200 ft. To cast an ambient spell in an impeded area, the ambient spellcaster must make a Spellcraft check (DC 20 + spell level) or lose the spell he was trying to cast. Xyvren may raise or lower this ability as a standard action.

Instead of impeding ambient magic, Xyvren may prevent up to six ambient spellcasters (all of whom must be within 1200 ft. of him) from accessing their source of ambient magic. Each ambient spellcaster must make a DC 34 Will save or be unable to cast spells for as long as he remains within the area of effect. An ambient spellcaster who remains within the area of effect must make a Will save every round.

Metabolize Ambient Magic (Ex) Whenever an ambient spell fails to penetrate Xyvren's spell resistance, he heals a number of hit points equal to twice the spell level. If he is already at maximum hit points, this ability has no effect.

Permanent Spells Over the centuries, Xyvren has made the following spells permanent with regard to himself (all at the 20th caster level): arcane sight, fogsight (see Chapter 3 of the Adlatum Sourcebook), resistance, see invisibility, tongues.

Shifting Knowledge (Ex) Once per week, Xyvren may meditate for an hour and swap out a spell that he knows for a new spell of the same level from the sorcerer/wizard spell list.

Spellshaping (Ex) Xyvren may cast any spell he knows at one-half (50%) the normal duration, range, or area by using a spell slot one level lower (minimum 0-level) than the level of the spell. Xyvren may only apply one of these three effects to a single spell, though he may increase other aspects as normal. This ability counts as a normal use of metamagic.

Vulnerability to Law Xyvren takes half again as much (+50%) damage from any spell with the lawful subtype, and from the bonus damage dealt by any weapon with the axiomatic property.