Studying the temporal drake has proven difficult. Not only are the creatures dangerous in the extreme, but the source of their many potent abilities is not readily apparent, even to the trained observer. Sages believe their erratic movement and elusive nature stems from some innate ability to manipulate time -- hence, their name. Speculation aside, a few things are known: They move far faster than mere muscle and bone would allow, their uncanny ability to avoid weapon blows and spells cannot be countered by magic that pierces illusion, and they can temporarily force creatures into a sort of suspended state where time does not pass.
In summation, although they are an interesting oddity to be sure, temporal drakes are both too dangerous to be studied without great expense and too few to threaten any established community. They remain a problem only for those foolish individuals who insist upon traipsing through the forgotten corners of the world and the outmost reaches of the wilderness.
-- Stannis Alensin, Loremaster and Royal Archivist
||10d12+40 (113 hp)
||60 ft. (12 squares), fly 60 ft. (good)
| Armor Class:
||24 (-1 size, +5 Dex, +10 natural), touch 14, flat-footed 19
||Bite +15 melee (2d6+6)
||Bite +15 melee (2d6+6) and 2 claws +13 melee (1d8+3) and 2 wings +13 melee (1d6+3) and 1 tail slap +13 melee (1d8+3)
||10 ft./5 ft. (10 ft. with bite)
||Darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, progressive initiative, recurrence, temporal displacement, temporal slide, time slip
|| Fort +11, Ref +12, Will +9
||Str 22, Dex 21, Con 18, Int 8, Wis 14, Cha 16
||Hide +14, Listen +17, Move Silently +18, Search +12, Spot +17
||Alertness, Cleave, Multiattack, Power Attack
||Any land and underground
||Solitary or pair
||11-20 HD (Large); 21-30 HD (Huge)
Long and low to the ground, the draconic creature has the bulk and strength of a true dragon but a feline grace all its own. It seems to wink erratically in and out of sight, and its gray scales cast back light in incongruous patterns, reflecting glints of light at odd times and angles.
Like the wyvern, the temporal drake is a distant cousin of the true dragons. Smaller than all but the youngest true dragons, the temporal drake has neither the intellect nor the innate magical ability of its powerful kindred. The temporal drake's strengths, and the source of its name, lie in its ability to manipulate the passage of time. Although not capable of significant time travel, the drake moves through and manipulates time in ways that other creatures have difficulty understanding. By stepping outside of time for a split second, the drake can appear to move across the battlefield instantaneously, cause apparently accurate blows to miss, and even seemingly return from the dead.
Temporal drakes are dangerous hunters that stalk and kill animals and other creatures for food. Confident in their own might, temporal drakes do not hesitate to attack even numerous or well-armed groups, but they are not so foolish as to remain in a fight when overmatched. If caught and trained at a young age, temporal drakes can serve ably as mounts.
A typical temporal drake stands about 5 feet tall at the shoulder and has a wingspan of up to 18 feet. Temporal drakes weigh about 1,250 pounds.
Temporal drakes speak Draconic.
A dangerous hunter and melee combatant, the temporal drake trusts to its physical prowess and supernatural abilities and wades fearlessly into combat. Although less intelligent than the average human, the drake can invent sophisticated ambushes. The drake usually begins fights by using its temporal slide ability to appear in the midst of its foes, then makes a full attack, preferably against anyone that looks like a spellcaster. The drake is also smart enough to keep one use of its temporal slide ability in reserve in case it has to flee.
Temporal Slide (Su): The temporal drake can manipulate time as it moves, allowing it to seemingly disappear and reappear elsewhere instantaneously. As a free action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity, the temporal drake moves its current speed (following the normal rules for movement). The temporal drake can use this ability a number of times per day equal to its Constitution bonus (4 for an average temporal drake). It can use this ability only once per round.
Temporal Inversion (Su): Once per day, as a standard action, a temporal drake can shunt one creature out of the time stream for a short period. The temporal drake can affect any creature within 60 feet. The creature is then shunted out of time unless it succeeds on a DC 18 Will saving throw. Time passes for creatures other than the affected creature, and it can take no actions other than trying to escape. The creature seems to vanish, while out of the time stream no other creature, spell, magical effect, or force can affect it in any way. (It is as though the creature has ceased to exist.) Each round on its turn, the affected creature may attempt a DC 20 Intelligence check to rejoin the time stream as a full-round action. If the subject doesn't escape, the effect ends after 10 minutes. The save DC is Charisma-based.
Progressive Initiative (Ex): The temporal drake moves through time differently than other creatures, so its initiative value changes as combat progresses. Each round after the first round of combat, the temporal drake's initiative score becomes 4 higher. This will often cause the temporal drake to act at a different time in the initiative order in many rounds. This ability is automatic, and requires no action by the temporal drake.
When the temporal drake uses the delay or ready actions, its initiative value changes as normal; however, its initiative score becomes 4 higher each round.
Time Slip (Su): The temporal drake can step back in time a fraction of a second, potentially changing the outcome of one action. The temporal drake can immediately reroll a d20 roll that it just made, but before the outcome of the die roll is determined. The temporal drake takes the better of the two rolls. Using this ability is a free action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity. The temporal drake can use this ability a number of times per day equal to its Constitution bonus (4 for an average temporal drake). The temporal drake may use this ability only once in any given round.
Recurrence (Ex): As a temporal drake dies, it calls a different version of itself out of the time stream. This means that one round after the temporal drake's death, it reappears fresh and ready for combat. This new drake possesses full hit points, fully restored daily uses of its abilities, and no effects of the recent fight. The drake takes one full round's worth of actions and then disappears, returning to its original place in the time stream. (It does reappear thereafter.) If this drake is killed before it disappears, it simply dies, and another drake does not appear.
Temporal Displacement (Su): The temporal drake blinks in and out of the time stream quickly and at random. This causes attacks against the temporal drake to have a 20% miss chance, and neither the Blind-Fight feat or spells such as true seeing or see invisibility help against this miss chance. Like other supernatural abilities, this ability is suppressed in an anti-magic field.
Training a Temporal Drake
Long sought by both spellcasters and warriors as mounts, temporal drakes support their riders with powerful supernatural abilities, excellent movement capabilities, and formidable melee attacks. Although intelligent, a temporal drake requires training before it can bear a rider in combat. To be trained, a temporal drake must have a friendly attitude toward the trainer (this can be achieved through a successful Diplomacy check). Training a friendly temporal drake takes six weeks of work and a DC 35 Handle Animal check. Riding a temporal drake requires an exotic saddle. A temporal drake can fight while carrying a rider, but the rider cannot attack unless he or she succeeds on a Ride check.
Temporal drake eggs are worth 15,000 gp apiece on the open market, while hatchlings are worth 35,000 gp and up. The few professional trainers skilled enough to train a temporal drake charge 5,000 gp and up to complete the task.
Note: Creatures of the dragon type are not normally trainable with the Handle Animal skill, but because of their intelligence and temperament, temporal drakes can be trained using the same rules for training magical beasts.
About the Author
Jesse Decker has been fudging ability scores since 1981, when he began playing D&D with a few friends. Their equipment was the rulebook from the famed "red box" version of the basic set and a book called Deities & Demigods full of foes to conquer. Since then, no one has been able to convince Jesse that Thor is a match for his 3rd-level elf.