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Hysharr, the Wyrm of the Lake

Hysharr is a young green dragon on the verge of attaining adulthood. He dwells at the bottom of a large lake, where for the past several years his exhalations have been slowly poisoning the water. Dead fish have begun to wash up on the shores, and animals that drink from the lake become ill, and sometimes die. The general location of his lair can be detected by the sickly greenish tinge on the surface directly over it. Even so, he is at the very bottom of the lake, just over 150 feet deep, and reaching him -- and his store of treasure -- is no easy task.

Hysharr: Green dragon young adult; CR 10; Large dragon (air); HD 17d12+68; hp 166; Init +0 (+0 Dex); Spd 40 ft., fly 150 ft. (poor), swim 40 ft.; AC 25 (1 size, +16 natural); Atk +22 (2d6+6, bite) or +17 melee (1d8+6, 2 claws) or +17 (1d6+6, 2 wings) or +17 (1d8+6, tail slap); Face/Reach 5 ft. x 10 ft./10ft.; SA Breath weapon; SQ Acid immunity, 150-ft. blindsight, 500-ft. darkvision, water breathing, DR 5/+1; SR 19; AL LE; SV Fort +14, Ref +10, Will +12; Str 23, Dex 10, Con 19, Int 14, Wis 15, Cha 14.

Skills and Feats: Bluff +17, Concentration +19, Diplomacy +17, Escape Artist +15, Knowledge (arcane) +11, Knowledge (local) +17, Listen +19, Search +19, Speak Common, Spellcraft +19, Spot +19. Alertness, Cleave, Great Cleave, Power Attack, Snatch.

Special Attacks: Breath Weapon. Hysharr can breathe a 40-foot cone of corrosive (acid) gas every 1d4 rounds; damage 10d6, Ref save halves (DC 22).

Special Qualities: Frightful Presence: Hysharr unsettles foes with his mere presence whenever he attacks, charges, or flies overhead. Creatures with 17 or fewer Hit Dice (excluding other dragons) within 150 feet must succeed at a Will save (DC 20) to avoid this fear effect. On a failure, creatures with 4 or fewer HD become panicked for 4d6 rounds. Those with 5 or more HD become shaken for 4d6 rounds. On a success, the creature is immune to Hysharr's fear effect for one day.

Water Breathing: Hysharr can breathe underwater indefinitely and can freely use his breath weapon, spells, and other abilities while submerged.

Possessions: 1350 gp, 230 pp, eye agate (10 gp), golden yellow topaz (500 gp), jade (100 gp), fire opal pendant on gold chain (1400 gp), solid gold idol (700 gp), silver chalice with lapis lazuli gems (105 gp), chain shirt (100 gp), masterwork halberd, two thunderstones, treasure map, +2 large steel shield, ring of swimming.

Spells Known (6/5): 0 -- daze, mage hand, open/close, detect magic, read magic; 1st -- alarm, obscuring mist, identify.

A Treasure-Hungry Dragon

In another three years, Hysharr will be a century old, and it eats at him that he has not amassed as much treasure as he feels a dragon should have. This concern has made Hysharr more sensitive to the fact that adventurers often carry items of great value -- or at least know where to find some. When Hysharr encounters anyone, his first priority is to relieve them of their equipment, treasure, and magic items. Victims with nothing -- and no prospects -- are still good for a quick meal.

Hysharr is so obsessed with collecting treasure that he bargains with adventurers he encounters: their treasure, or their lives. Hysharr's hope is that adventurers who surrender their treasure might come back later for revenge -- carrying more treasure.

But Hysharr also realizes that he is not powerful enough to defeat every party of adventurers that passes by. For such emergencies, Hysharr is also prepared to bargain for his own life. He offers his treasure map (which can lead to any location the Dungeon Master desires), knowing that if the adventurers pursue the treasure, he can follow behind them when he has recovered, and take from them whatever loot they are carrying away -- probably after they have expended most of their energy capturing it.

Hysharr's Magic

As a young adult, Hysharr has become adept at manipulating magical energies, although he realizes that he still has a great deal to learn. For the time being, Hysharr uses spells to make his life easier. He uses mage hand and open/close to manipulate small objects that would ordinarily be beyond his ability to handle without breaking -- such as the smaller items in his treasure trove, or scroll tubes and wands he takes from foes.

Hysharr protects his lair by casting alarm on a half-submerged tree stump just off the shore of the lake, near a particularly prominent beach. In his experience, most adventurers who come to the lake use the area as a campsite or as a staging ground for expeditions under the water. (Groups come periodically to investigate dead fish and sickened cattle and wildlife in the area, victims of the lake's caustic tenant.) Anyone wading more than 10 feet out into the lake activates the mental alarm, alerting Hysharr to the possibility of intruders. The dragon then uses his keen senses to determine if someone is approaching his lair, or merely poking about on the surface.

If Hysharr ever has to leave the lake, he casts obscuring mist and rises slowly out of the water, trusting his blindsight to apprise him of danger. Similarly, just before reentering the lake, Hysharr casts obscuring mist, then crawls into the water and sinks slowly into the depths.

The Dragon in Battle

Hysharr is not a particularly powerful dragon, and he knows it.

To compensate, he uses magic and his breath weapon, as well as the lake and the air, to overcome foes.

Having recently begun to explore magic, Hysharr is keenly aware that magic can make its wielders far more powerful than they appear, and he has learned to recognize spellcasters by their lack of armor and tendency to seek cover in the center of groups of fighters and similar "heavyweights." Against such opponents, Hysharr first tries his breath weapon, hopefully incapacitating any sorcerers or wizards in the group. If he becomes aware of a rogue trying to sneak up on him, Hysharr uses his daze spell to keep that particular foe off-balance until Hysharr can deal with him more directly.

When Hysharr is forced into close combat, however, he employs his breath weapon as often as possible, hoping to scatter his foes apart and leave them vulnerable (or allow him to get away). In melee, Hysharr uses his Snatch feat to attack first armored spellcasters, then more physical combatants (fighters, paladins, rogues, and the like).

Once Hysharr has a firm grip on his target he retreats at top speed, heading either for the lake or into the sky. He prefers to carry his victims under the water, where he can watch them slowly drown. (Note that most player character races are too big for a Large dragon to continue inflicting damage upon them through use of the Snatch feat.)

He's also learned from past experience that friends of his victims often leap into the water in an attempt to rescue their companions, usually arriving just after the poor wretch has drowned, been torn to pieces, or succumbed to Hysharr's corrosive breath -- and just in time to suffer the same attack.

If a foe under the water is still giving Hysharr trouble, Hysharr often simply releases the figure. Those who aren't dragged down by the weight of their equipment find themselves targets of the dragon's next grapple attempt before they can draw another breath.

When foes have exhibited an ability to breathe underwater, Hysharr carries them high into the sky, beyond the reach of their comrades' ranged weapons, then drops them. He tries to ensure that they land a good distance away from the rest of their party, so that even if they survive the fall, his victims cannot immediately rejoin the fight. If a foe Hysharr has carried into the air is being difficult, the dragon uses his breath weapon to take some of the fight out of the character.

Finally, although Hysharr has learned to make the most of these tactics, he occasionally forgets them entirely faced with an elf or pixie, whose races are among his favorite foods. Whenever Hysharr encounters either one, he focuses his attacks on that creature, if possible. If he ever succeeds with a Snatch, he breaks off the combat to carry his victim back to his watery lair, where he devours the unlucky morsel at his leisure.

About the Author

JD joined Wizards' roleplaying games division from the Customer Service team. Since 1998 he has worked on Alternity's Star*Drive and Dark-Matter settings, Diablo II for Dungeons & Dragons, and two Star WarsRPG products. He is invisible to those people with high intellects.

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