Multiple 30th level Dragons?

I raise the old question to solicit the official voices of this august forum: Are there multiple fully metamorphosed dragons on Athas?

As I consider expanding campaigns well beyond the Tyr region, this is an important question. For your consideration, I present the words of Nok:

Nok shook his head. “You couldn’t even reach me without being
captured,” he said. “How can you hope to stop a dragon?”
“Dragon?” Sadira uttered. Her companions echoed her astonishment.
“We’re talking about Kalak, not the—” Sadira stopped herself, the
implication of Nok’s question striking her with the force of a half-giant’s
club. “Kalak is the Dragon?” she gasped.
“No. There are many dragons throughout the world,” the halfling said.
“Kalak is not yet one of them.”
“But he’s about to become one,” Sadira said, her mind racing as she
began to understand the wicked nature of Kalak’s plan. “That’s what the
ziggurat is for.” The Verdant Passage

And then further down the same page:

“If you were willing to help Ktandeo against the sorcerer-king of Tyr,”
Agis said, “it must have been because you feared for your forest.”
The halfling nodded. “One dragon—the one you foolishly call the
Dragon, as if it were the only one—already claims Tyr, as it does
everything from Urik to Balic. When another appears, one of them will
be forced across the Ringing Mountains.”
“And what does that mean to the forest?” Agis pressed.
“The same thing it means to Tyr: annihilation,” Nok answered. “The
dragon that passes over these mountains will devour every living thing it
finds: plants, animals, and people. It will allow nothing to escape.”

Also, from Dragon Kings:

What say you, gentlemen? Are there others? Or did Borys truly stand alone?


In my mind it certainly confirms there are partially-metamorphosed dragons at the very least. It could also apply in a metaphoric sense of other extremely powerful individuals like ascended elemental lords, avangions, or land spirits. Borys is 100% the most powerful dragon on Athas, and likely the only one to also be a Champion of Rajaat and have those added benefits. I wouldn’t expect there to be more than one true dragon per area the size of the Tablelands, and each continent or group of continents is likely to have a powerful figure that holds that region in sway. Even SM are sometimes able to discourage Borys from taking tribute by making the struggle not worthwhile, so one of the key limiters on these figures is how much of their own power they’re using, how much more damage Athas can take, and the fact that they are very mortal. Halfling preservers like Nok have the ability to create arms that can slay a dragon, and dragons seem to lack some of the resistances and survivability of the Champions. Kalak’s very existence and the plotline of Freedom! combined with revelations from the novels heavily implies that among any wizards that can climb to 20th level, this transformation knowledge is common. (Zik-chil emperor, anyone? Thri-kreen avangion kingdom in the hinterlands also comes to mind.) He may not even be the first dragon, though that is highly likely.

TL:DR - There are other dragons, or other transformed figures, that rule or have ruled other areas. Borys is however the most powerful dragon on the planet by far, likely well above 30th level.

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I run 3e/pathfinder and we’ve had multiple groups at epic levels for awhile now so take this with a grain of salt.

Borys is not the only dragon by far in my world, but he is the second/third most powerful being on Athas (after Rajaat and depending on time Dregoth).

Borys’s personal power comes from being a full dragon, a Champion of Rajaat, and 60 class levels, putting him on par with most world’s divine beings. With the resources of Ur Draxa he’s basically unassailable at home and can call upon an army comparable to the rest of the cities of tablelands combined armed with metal weapons, 25 powerful kaisharga dead lords, masters of psionics unseen since the green age, defiler wizards that were never forced to hide, templars as dedicated as any other and thousands of years worth of planning and contingencies not to mention the ability to call upon the sorcerer kings for support if needed. While he was insane during the time Dregoth was killed, he learned from that experience so that surprise attacks against him would not succeed. The only way he even saw a temporary death was due to a sword with the specifically ability to kill champions by channeling the essence of Rajaat himself.

Dregoth has far more personal power, having been a Student of Rajaat as well as a near full or full dragon (depending on timeline) and 59-60 class levels. It took 7 Champions of Rajaat, all of which were lesser dragons and many of whom where also Rajaat’s Students to take him out in a surprise attack. He could defeat Borys 1 on 1, but he has far fewer resources at his disposal.

The other SMs have for the most part halted advancement, afraid of losing control of themselves but are still lesser dragons, Champions of Rajaat, in many cases Students of Rajaat, ~40-50 class levels with cities behind them.

Below them are Champions who have taken up the path of dragonhood, full dragons (and non-dragon Champions), and lesser dragons.

In the tablelands, even becoming attempting to become a dragon puts a target on your back that few survive but it is also the most likely place for dragons to come from, the knowledge originated there and is typically learned there, which is why outside it’s known as the Dragon Lands. Fledgling dragons have a better chance of survival leaving the tablelands to continue their advancement but in this day and age amassing gold, life force, and labor to power future stages of dragonhood is comparatively easy to finding the experiences necessary to further class development. More powerful beings powerful also typically have destroyed a couple rungs of power below them to maintain their rulership and prevent challengers, especially those near the Dragon Lands who keep a watchful eye on the borders for any who leave. For those who can escape notice and make their way to less guarded lands, the power of even a lesser dragon can quickly allow them to take over places that do not have a comparable ruler.

Within/near the tablelands is likely a half dozen or so dragons, typically lesser ones such as Farcluun who haven’t passed the 2nd or 3rd stage or Monarch Chosen’s. None that make it to the 5th stage can be tolerated within the tablelands, the SMs have seen an insane dragon before and won’t allow it again. Graytch is one who has passed the initial stage of insanity and in my world has returned to the tablelands but is unsure what to do now. Sadira seems powerful, and the Heroes of Tyr killed The Dragon, so he’s taking it slow.


I like to believe there are others.
However, I do not think they are very far along. I think they all hit that stumbling block towards their first rampage. I think that is also when the Dragon actually starts paying attention. Anything powerful enough to start a rampage would get his attention I think. Anyone trying to make it beyond that would have to leave the Tablelands just to survive, or find some way to shunt off the frenzy. Even if the Dragon didn’t get them first, the Monarchs wouldn’t appreciate someone taking away their precious farmland and would likely tap that down quickly.

Any would be dragons attempting to get that high would have to be in the wilderness and just before the stages that would give them frenzy.


The problem with this line of thinking is that it pokes holes into the PP novels and Revised DS history. I dont think the author had his entire process for the world lined up.

If there were other dragons as said in PP, then the premise of Borys needing to become the dragon to hold Rajaats prison is flawed.

If there are other dragons why arent they colluding with Borys to keep a greater evil away?
If there are other dragons, the SK’s are not as important and become basically lieutenants of a region run by a dragon.

The levy and its city-state requirement also come into question, What about the areas north were the other two cities? are those technically the dragons territory?

Why would the dragon simply allow some 21-23rd level lieutenant stop giving their required levy?

Why would the other 10 SKs be okay with that? Certainly Hamanu would not.

If we make a distinction of dragon versus ‘great dragon’ as described in DK does it make any difference?

These and many other questions pop up.


These are all excellent points Xelu. Above, Plortius suggests that Nok may have meant those on the road of dragon metamorphosis, or otherwise advanced beings. I do not think this was the case. Nok rather clearly was referencing fully metamorphosed 30th level dragons. Nok spoke of one dragon pushing out the other from its territory. This makes sense only in context of one 30th level dragon pushing out the other.

Jadenfayle brings up the issue of the dragon frenzy. Surely this is an important issue. However, Athas is a large world, and if their devastations remained isolated to the remote corners of the planet, the Champions of Rajaat may have not felt the need to intervene (or perhaps they were overly busy at the time).

Another clumsy point is the obvious question as to why the Champions of Rajaat would have remained 21st level dragons (most of them anyway), and not progressed onward. We may say that they feared one another, and that he who advanced too far was liable to be overwhelmed by the united. Borys himself however seems to have had a different view, and very interestingly we gain some insight into his thoughts on this subject. At the end of The Amber Enchantress, Tithian dares a fascinating discussion with Borys:

“I promise you, my city will meet its levy next year,” Tithian
answered, forcing himself not to look at the torture being inflicted on his
former advisors.
“Your city!” the Dragon scoffed. “Tyr belonged to Kalak, and Kalak to
me. His power was my power, and you have robbed me of that.”
Tithian shook his head defiantly. “No, we did you a favor. Kalak was
trying to become a dragon so he could take your place.”
“I’ll be the judge of what favors me and what does not,” the great
beast snarled. “All sorcerer-kings are dragons of one kind or another,
though they assume different shapes to suit their tastes. If Kalak wished
to fashion himself after my form, that was his business—but he would
not have dreamed of taking my place. Saying such things only shows
how little you know about what you’ve taken upon yourself.”

By this, we take it that in and of itself, Borys seems not to have been overly concerned about Kalak transforming fully into a dragon, and would have still considered him a subordinate. We even are to take it that Kalak himself would have recognized this. I think this is no bluff or fanciful thinking from Borys. He is telling the truth. The Lord of Ur Draxa was the Keeper of the Black Sphere, and none of their number would have ever jeopardized their very lives by interfering with Borys office. In Cerulean Storm, on several occasions his peers called Borys “Great One,” and it is a title of respect and fear.

The assassination of Dregoth and the magical self-inflicted destruction of the metamorphosing Khalid-ma may have given much pause for the other Champions continuing with the transformation. Also, they may have been reluctant to continue for more personal reasons. The loss of what remained of their humanity may have potentially weighed heavily upon them. They also may have become extremely possessive and even caring over their cities, and may have seen the metamorphosis as leading to the abandonment of their domains and peoples. Danger of course followed the metamorphosis steps. Khalid-ma seemingly killed himself in one of the rituals, after all. And the animalistic stage may have brought them great pause. In the case of Kalak, unlike in the time of Dregoth, Borys was there to kill Kalak should he also succumb to animalistic frenzy, which perhaps Kalak in his madness was prepared to risk. I imagine Kalak, even if successful, would have still been responsible for his levy, even if all of Tyr were destroyed in his elevation to a full 30th level dragon.

As to other full dragons out there, as to my own campaign I will keep my thoughts on this private, but I will say that were they to exist, the explanation of them needs to be sound. Jealousy and suspicion would attract the attention of the Champions, and they likely would have been killed, especially non-Champions, so therefore any that actually exist need to have sound explanations for how they avoided this fate, and how they rose in power. Upon reflection, especially given Borys’ words above, I do not think it is impossible for Borys to have tolerated other dragons. But surely, if they ruled anything meaningful as far as empires, they would have paid the levy, or would have faced the Champions. This is why I think any that are out there are not great kings, but closer to lone beasts, great monster of the farthest wilds of Athas, who have likely consumed in mass devastation all that is around them for many hundreds of miles or more over the centuries. Should they exist though, I speculate that many of our favorite fan-maps may present far more forest and other verdant strips than actually exist, and that indeed, with “many” dragons, Athas is a very forlorn world indeed.

But even with multiple dragons, I think none would dare interfere with Borys. As leader of the Revolt and the surviving Champions of Rajaat, he would not face any serious challenger alone. His power base in Ur Draxa was certainly the greatest super-fortress on Athas, so indomitable so as to make even the assault of another full-fledged dragon seem to be a foolish thing. His final mastery was likely uncontested, though I imagine, as Nok said, he would have stayed largely in vast domain/continent, while they remained in theirs, there as yet being no need for any undue conflict.

This is a fascinating subject to me, and opens the wonders of the farthest reaches of Athas, which so few of us have meaningfully explored. I am hoping to explore further now the Anattan Continent, which asks this and many such other questions.


I should note I meant that more in a sense of “in addition to” rather than excluding other 30+ level dragons (and would explain why SO MUCH of Athas is so burnt, even Borys’ rage seems unlikely to have boiled so much of the oceans away though this arguably could be tied to elemental forces more than anything else.) In many ways Borys and the SM represent a sort of real pantheon for the Tablelands in a setting otherwise lacking deities, and Athas may be supposed to have similar forces or pantheons in other places on the globe. I more or less consider events in the Pentad fully canon, however events referred to outside of the books are of course questionable. RaFoaDK for instance is my favorite single novel from the original 13, but I don’t necessarily consider Hamanu a fully reliable narrator of his own past. It’s undeniable however that he was temporarily transformed into a full dragon but did not rage across the world and was able to direct his fury. I’d argue not every SM can do such, Hamanu’s lawful nature and deep rooting in his self from his memoir writing gave him an intense focus and grounding that enabled it (as well as seeming aid from a network of powerful forces from across Athas)

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Man, I do love a spirited debate. Just for some clarity, one of our issues is to choose when we extrapolate greater meaning or develop more from the words left unsaid in whats been published in a product or when we decide that those words are the hard fact. I see folks do this all the time to fit their narrative/theories. We conveniently handwave some holes in the thinking to fit our views. I know I’ve done it, and that what I see others do as well. Great One is a title used for the monarchs, and was used on the other SKs as well.

As for Dragon Frenzy and Dregoth, one of the biggest holes in this is the fact that as a 29th level Dragon with no frenzy, Dregoth already went through his animalistic stages at levels 25-29 levels (Changed to 28 in D&P) and was calm and cognizant (which also meant he was at the end of 29th which is when this stage happens as per Dragon Kings book). In other words he didnt need to be assassinated if we keep with the rules as written in DK, since he already regained his sanity and was one kill away from getting 30th level. What were the other 4 SKs doing since only the same 7 joined in to kill him? It only took 2 SKs and the Dragon to kill Kalid-Ma’s dragon form as a 26th level dragon. The problem is we just want to apply the story/narrative/novel versions of this, not the game mechanics.

As for the Dragon being all powerful and everything else, he was taken down by 3 -15th level somethings and a 10yr old kid. The novel dragon was nothing like the one described in VoDaF.


I suspect it is due to Dregoth’s undead status, though it could be he has gone through his mirror to rage on other worlds… Borys got taken down by a weapon made by Rajaat for essentially that very purpose, though he’s arguably simply trapped in the black like Andropinis rather than being fully defeated by Rikus, Sadira, and Tithian. There are also any number of mcguffins we could speculate about for things that happen off-screen. Mechanics are ultimately there to serve the narrative rather than create it, and as someone who prefers a crunchy number game to a full narrative ttrpg it’s about crafting a satisfying and engaging set of mechanics to tell the story together. Which can be tough sometimes when we have players that are rather munchkinly and get much of their D&Dopamine from doing whacky things with numbers which is perfectly valid too but doesn’t always mesh readily


except that he was 29th before he was turned into an undead.

I’ve not gotten to reading City by the Silt Sea fully yet :sweat_smile: that indicates rampaging on other planes much more strongly to me then

Unfortunately not, I’m afraid, Dregoth discovers the Planar Mirror 500yrs after he’s been undead.

He’s just built different :dragon_face:
Giustenal was a particularly prosperous city before his destruction, he must have made very careful study of the process or perhaps found a way to draw out the metamorphosis and lessen the severity or to dull the pain and rage. The city is also very close to the Pristine Tower, perhaps he utilized it or the aid of the Shadow Giants

Lol, he is indeed built different, at least as far as his story goes…

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I prefer not to get to hung up on game mechanics, at least when it comes to story. CbtSS wanted Dregoth to be as close to a full 30th level dragon as possible, and that is why the story has him assassinated when he was, at 29th. Sure, it breaks the rules, and though we might excuse this for various reasons, ultimately it was obviously for the sake of story

As to the “Great One” thing Xelu, it is impressive when other monarchs like the sorcerer-kings respectfully address Borys in this way. It seems an expectation as well. Even among the surviving Champions hee is no longer a peer, and issues commands to the SMs, not requests.

As to Borys being defeated by the Heroes of Tyr, I rank the heroes highly. At the time of the battle, I conjecture:

  • Sadira, default 20th level sun wizardess, and 14th level preserver during the night
  • Rikus, 17th level gladiator, wielding high artifact Scourge of Rkard (vorpal +6)
  • Caelum, 20th level sun cleric
  • Neeva, 15th level gladiator, wielding super imbued axe
  • Tithian, 17th level templar, dual-classed 20th level psionicist, dual-classed 13th level defiler, wielding the Dark Lens, the most powerful artifact of the campaign world

Fairly formidable. That said, we may speculate on Borys’ strategy, and his lack of utilizing all the resources and followers available at Ur Draxa. A good discussion of this would be interesting. But to keep it simple, we admit that Troy Denning has page limits, and overly complex battles and spell/psionic duels consumes these pages and the patience of the reader. That said, I will simply add that these forums tend to ascribe far too much power and near invulnerability to high level beings, especially like the SMs and Borys. Yes, they are extremely powerful, personally. But they are not gods. Lynn Abbey effectively made Hamanu into a deity, and I did not prefer her interpretation.

Mistakes can be the end of even advanced beings. From Dragon Kings, I always liked how Throkrat of Balic was seemingly a 22nd level dragon who was stoned to death by the mob. Hundreds of stones start to get thrown at you, and you can’t get a spell cast or psionic power initiated. And so he died. It’s fairly realistic. As Plortius notes above, Abalach-Re and Borys were only destroyed with the intervention of Rajaat’s artifact weapons, and even then only because Rajaat’s essence poured out to cover his hated former disciples. This was a huge reason both fights were successful, for without this effect from Rajaat, on both counts it is likely the sorcerer-queen and the Dragon would have prevailed.

AD&D 2nd Edition is not comic books or video games where 21st+ level characters are ascendant and all but untouchable by lower level assailants. In AD&D kobolds can take down full adventuring parties of 12th-14th level, like in Dragon Mountain, and a foolish high level warrior can be taken down by a full and trained column of 0th level soldiers. Even the SMs can be taken down by bold assailants who are in other ways much junior to them. This is why the SMs are routinely surrounded by a great many powerful guards. I certainly favor that even the very mighty of Dark Sun remain ultimately vulnerable to those who dare. That is why I like Dark Sun, for even the desperate and oppressed, at the edge of their ability, are able to slay an arrogant sorcerer-king, and thereby save themselves, their city, and change the world.

Kalak Assassinated

Kalak never saw it coming.


In this case why have this discussion? You asked questions, but you prefer story over mechanics as the overriding feature that defines your view of the world, those are guardrails and narrow the scope of the argument. So it doesnt matter what holes are poked, you are going to default to ‘story’ anyway to fill them. You will find inevitably find people who agree with your views. In the 30 years since this stuff has come out, we are not the first to bring this stuff up, its been argued before.

But its like I mentioned in an earlier post - viewpoints to fit your narrative. BTW This is fine, many do it, and if it works for you (and others as well) go for it. But it does make these post pointless if you already have a set view, I mean are you looking for validation or like-mindedness?

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I’ve always liked this pictures half-giant. Like he’s shouting after the fact " Look out that Mul is throwing his spear at us!!"

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It is one of my favorite Baxa compositions, Kalak of Tyr. Kalak’s violated hubris makes me chuckle, and the terror of the woman and dramatic sense of failure and anger of the half-giants invites a cruel smirk on my face.

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I can resolve this. While terms like “Great One” and other honorifics are used for the Sorcerer Monarch, in The Cerulean Storm the SMs use familiar language towards each other, such as using their names, and reserve the honorifics for Borys. It’s unlikely that Borys micromanages the SMs, acting as a Roman style princeps, the first among equals.

I would argue that the team you present may be able to bring down a single Sorcerer Monarch. But the Sorcerer Monarch’s in coordination? Not likely.

I am reminded of Kalak psionically disintegrating an incompetent templar on the steps of the ziggurat. The manifestation was so powerful that it had the side effect of Tithian feeling it in his mind. So while the SMs may not be gods, they aren’t pushovers either.

The real issue of this scenario is that Abalach-Re was there at all. And what happened certainly doesn’t match what we know of Abalach-Re being a wily mountebank. I speculated previously that she is not dead.

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