"Tell me this: What is more dangerous than an enraged dragon? Give up? An enraged dragon you can't see." -
When one considers a dragon, one thinks of the great beast. Its claws. Its wings. Its fangs. Its flames. But this image does a great disservice to the grandest of mortal creatures. While many may choose to make a great show of burning a city to the ground or tearing a great hero to shreds, others are content to simply wait and smile, their designs far too far-reaching for such a show of force to contribute meaningfully. Far too many too quickly forget that the dragon is more than a brute beast of only muscle and flame and thus fall victim to their more subtle schemes.
Those lesser mortals who would make themselves dragons are some of the more common offenders, all too content to spew fire and magic and call themselves 'dragon.' Those with a more careful eye follow after the true paragons of dragonkind that we never see, yet the whole of the world rests in their claws. These are the Ghost Wyrms, turning their knack for draconic mimicry down a more insidious path.
BECOMING A GHOST WYRM
Ghost Wyrms typically begin as Dragonfire Adepts, their reliance on breath weapons and invocations alike making most any other entry, at the very least, very difficult.
Ghost Wyrms are never chosen. They are made. There are no lost secrets of the legendary first Ghost Wyrms or grand organizations of scheming dragons seeking more members to add to their power. There is simply discovering the path by one's self. A Ghost Wyrm is, after all, still a dragon.
And dragons don't share.
Breath Weapon 3d6
Invocations: Walk Unseen
Bluff 9 ranks, Sense Motive 9 ranks, Diplomacy 9 Ranks
The Ghost Wyrm's class skills are Appraise, Bluff, Climb, Concentration, Craft, Decipher Script, Diplomacy, Hide, Intimidate, Jump, Knowledge (all skills, taken individually), Listen, Move Silently, Search, Sense Motive, Speak Language, Spellcraft, Spot, Use Magic Device.
Skills Points at Each Level:
6 + Int
Weapon and Armor Proficiencies
|Level||Base Attack Bonus||Fort Save||Ref Save||Will Save||Special||Draconic Invocations Known|
|Gaseous Breath||1 |
|Hidden Dominion, Breath Weapon +1d6||0|
|Serpent's Guile, Breath Effect, Breath Weapon +1d6||0|
|Improved Gaseous Breath, Breath Weapon +1d6||0|
|Clinging Exhalation,Breath Effect, Breath Weapon +1d6||0|
|Ghastly Mastery, Breath Weapon +1d6||0|
: A Ghost Wyrm gains no new proficiencies.
At first level, and every other level thereafter, the Ghost Wyrm learns a new invocation he qualifies for. Ghost Wyrm levels stack with Dragonfire Adept levels for the purposes of determining what invocations you qualify for as well as your caster level.
The first thing a Ghost Wyrm learns is that sometimes, a standard breath weapon is just a little too blatant. Often, a more subtle approach is called for. A breath weapon can still be useful for this. It just requires a slight alteration. When using this breath effect, your breath weapon takes the form of a billowing cloud of harmful gas. You can choose to apply any one other breath effect that you know to the same breath weapon, as long as it can be applied to a cone-shaped breath weapon.
The breath weapon takes the form of a circular cloud, with a center 25ft away from the Ghost Wyrm. The cloud spreads from its center quickly, totally obscuring vision across a 50-foot spread in 1 round. If the gas is left unrestrained, it billows out another 10 feet per round until it has covered a 100-foot radius. This gas dissipates normally in 10 rounds, a moderate wind disperses the gas in 4 rounds; a strong wind disperses the gas in 1 round.
Creatures within the cloud at the beginning of their turn suffer the effect of the Ghost Wyrm's normal breath weapon but they automatically succeed on any relevant saving throws.
Hidden Dominion (Ex):
The second thing a Ghost Wyrm learns is that when a dragon hides, it is not because it fears anything or seeks to avoid confrontation. It is because when a dragon hides, all that do not see him are already wholly his - from the very first breath. A Ghost Wyrm gainst a +2 bonus to his breath weapon's DC against any foe who would be denied a Dexterity bonus to AC (whether the target actually has a Dexterity bonus or not.)
At second level and every other level thereafter, the Ghost Wyrm's breath weapon damage increases by 1d6.
Dragons are masters of arcane magic, and their followers have a certain aptitude for it as well. As a Ghost Wyrm evolves its own abilities, its magic changes with it. A Ghost Wyrm's Walk Unseen
invocation now mimics Greater Invisibility
instead of Invisibility
Serpent's Guile (Su):
When a dragon shows itself, one can be sure that their doom is approaching. A Ghost Wyrm follows a similar principle. When they choose to show themselves, it is often to foes already burning. Any time a Ghost Wyrm uses a breath weapon while invisible, he can choose to pass the magic into his breath, becoming visible, but making his breath weapon, and any effects thereof, invisible for its duration. (i.e., if a Ghost Wyrm were to make a fire breath invisible, the breath itself would be unseen, as well as any resultant environmental flames.)
At fourth and eigth level, the Ghost Wyrm gains an additional breath effect to apply to his breath weapon from the Dragonfire Adept breath effect list. Ghost Wyrm levels stack with Dragonfire Adept levels for the purposes of determining breath effects the Ghost Wyrm qualifies for.
Draconic Shade (Su):
When a dragon wants something, there is very little that will keep him from it. A Ghost Wyrm especially is unhindered by mundane obstacles, demonstrating prowess not unlike their namesake. A Ghost Wyrm gains the ability to glide through mundane obstacles, such as doors and walls, effectively making the structure itself the Ghost Wyrm's hiding place. Its passing leaves behind no tunnel or hole, nor does it create any ripple or any other sign of his presence. The Ghost Wyrm cannot move up or down or take any action other than moving while within an object. If he is adjacent to an open square, he can make a spot or listen check DC 20 to see or hear through the wall into the room. At the same time, when the Ghost Wyrm is so close, those within the room may be able to see and/or hear him with a Spot or Listen check opposed by the Ghost Wyrm's Hide or Move Silently check, respectively (assuming, of course, the Ghost Wyrm is trying to hide his presence within the wall). If spotted, foes can attempt to attack the Ghost Wyrm, but being within an object gives him 50% concealment. Any magical effect that moves the wall from around the Ghost Wyrm leaves him stunned for one round unless he succeeds on a Fort save (DC 15 + the spell's level)
Improved Gaseous Breath:
A Ghost Wyrm learns to disperse his breath into a finer, thicker mist, making it that much more potent an option. Creatures within the cloud of a Ghost Wyrm's Improved Gaseous Breath breath effect no longer automatically succeed on related saves. The thicker nature of this effect, however, slows the gas's spread to only 5 feet a round, to a maximum of 75 feet.
When your breath weapon is invisible, its Difficulty Class increases by +2.
Targets of a Ghost Wyrm's breath weapon (that has a duration) that are caught flat-footed or otherwise denied a Dexterity bonus to AC suffer the breath weapon's effect for twice its duration.
Draconic Wraith (Su):
The Ghost Wyrm's Draconic Shade ability improves, giving him total domination in enclosed spaces. He can now move freely up and down while within a wall and, once per day, use a breath weapon while adjacent to an open square.
The Ghost Wyrm has reached the peak of his abilities, and he is truly a creature one does not want to make an enemy of. If you see a Ghost Wyrm of this level of power, begin repenting for your sins, because death is truly nigh. During a single cast of his Walk Unseen
invocation, the Ghost Wyrm may make two breath weapons invisible before his own invisibility is lost.
PLAYING A GHOST WYRM
While you have taken your abilities down a more different path than some of your brethren, never forget you are still a dragon. One fight or another may not be a part of your grander plans, but they certainly can be if you make them. When making decisions, consider how one choice or another might further your
purposes. This does not mean you are wholly selfish. Your purpose might be to aid the weak all you can, or perhaps to steal a kingdom right from under its ruler. Know your designs, and manipulate every situation you can toward achieving them.
Own your enemies' movements. Use your abilities to decide when they can engage you. Use your underlings (or friends, as you might prefer to call them) to secure the victory. Maybe you'll flood a hallway with a burning gas, driving your foes into the waiting swords of your party members, or fill a room with a vapor that makes your enemies sluggish and easy to pick off.
Your focus on trickery and magics has left you with precious few breath effects to gain. Choose them carefully. Consider how you might combine them with your newfound Gaseous Breath and Serpent's Guile abilities. Also consider how they might interact with your widened array of Invocations. Will you use them as additional sources of torment to your enemies, or simply to bolster your own abilities?
A Ghost Wraith has no resources or friends to call on save those he makes. Nurture your relationships, for a friend is always preferable to an enemy. Don't forget your social skills and invocations to aid in social matters. You may find yourself needing them someday.
GHOST WYRMS IN THE WORLD
"He's not one you want to make an enemy of. Most people will just come at you and slit your throat. With him... one day you wake up, get out of bed and find it very difficult to move. Then you'll feel your flesh burning, but see no flames. Then you see him. And it's all over." - Jonas Botwan, Captain of the Guard
Most people don't even realize Ghost Wyrms exist, but when they are discovered, they are often met with an initial degree of fear and mistrust by strangers. Most will be careful, however, not to offend them, as one would be with any dragon.
A Ghost Wyrm will spend his day nurturing friendships and connections, unless there is something more pressing to be done. He thrives in an environment where he can influence as much as possible while remaining largely invisible.
Jervis Tetch is now widely known for being the sole controller of Eidon's trade routes for a period of time theorized to stretch over decades. Some of that time, government officials knew about his hand in some of the dirtier dealings that occurred, but refused to do anything about him, both because his management had bolstered the economies of numerous major cities, and removing him would cause mass chaos.
Ghost Wyrms do not typically form organizations for their own, but they are very much at home in thieves' guilds and the like.
People understand that dragons are fearsome creatures, and even the lower mortals who imitate them are not to be trifled with. Some amount of trepidation will exist when first meeting or realizing a person as a Ghost Wyrm, but unless they have given him reason to think otherwise, they may find themselves warming up to him very quickly.
GHOST WYRMS IN THE GAME
Ghost Wyrms will largely allow the rest of the party to get the greatest glory in any given encounter, but they will work from the background as powerful support. Don't underestimate the power and versatility of their Draconic Shade ability. They become powerful scouts, and a DM might find his encounters being ambushed more often than ambushing.
Any campaign world where dragons exist will be a comfortable home for the Ghost Wyrm. Even if dragons in your world are merely brutish beasts, their powers can still be channeled in the direction the Ghost Wyrm does, so there is no need for adaptation there. In a world lacking dragons, the Dragonfire Adept base class becomes more difficult to realize in a way that preserves verisimilitude. They may simply not fit in any such world, but consider other creatures that might be revered like dragons, and adapt abilities to fit.
Most encounters with Ghost Wyrms will be social, and should a party find themselves in combat with a Ghost Wyrm, it will become a tug of war back and forth, trying to maintain control of the situation, and the momentum needed to keep pressing forward.
Lucius Mannun is well known to be the scummy type. He got a little bit of power a long time ago and turned it into something else entirely. He knows people the PCs can't get access to, however, so they are forced to interact with him. The encounter quickly turns against them, though, when he turns out to be less than cooperative.
As soon as combat starts, Lucius calls in backup, while filling the tiny room with what appears to be a thick, flaming gas. His cronies are unaffected, being pre-buffed with his Endure Exposure invocation, as well as possessing some amount of blindsight.
Chaotic Neutral/Male/Human/Dragonfire Adept 6/Ghost Wyrm 4
: Blindsight 60ft Listen +13, Spot +13,
: Draconic, Common, Undercommon
23, 13 touch , flat-footed (20)
90 ( 10 HD)
30 ft. ( squares)
: Breath Weapon 5d6, Melee attack
: Invocations - Walk Unseen, Endure Exposure, Beguiling Influence, Chilling Fog
8 Str , 16 Dex , 20 Con , 14 Int , 10 Wis , 14 Cha
: Breath Weapon
: Entangling Exhalation, Improved Initiative, Toughness
: Dragon Spirit Cinture[/quote]