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Dragon (Esoteric, Nightmare)

Source Bestiary 5 pg. 94
This ebony dragon with red frills appears terribly contorted and trails shadows.

One of the many families of true dragons, the following group of five includes distantly related creatures that either live in the far-flung corners of the Esoteric Planes or deal with obscure matters on the Material Plane.

Age Categories

Many of a true dragon’s abilities, attacks, and other statistics improve as the dragon grows older. These increases are divided into 12 age categories—as a dragon ages, its base statistics change as noted on the Dragon Age Categories table on page 87.

Age Category: This is the age category’s name.
Age in Years: This is the dragon’s actual age.
CR: This column modifies the dragon’s base CR.
Size: This column shows the number of size categories by which to increase the dragon’s base size, depending on its age (from Tiny to Small, Small to Medium, and so on). A true dragon does not gain the standard increases to ability scores when it achieves a larger size—instead, it gains ability score increases according to its age category, as indicated on the Dragon Ability Scores table.
Hit Dice: This shows how many additional Hit Dice a dragon gains beyond its base HD as it grows. Increases to HD grant extra hit points, feats, and skill ranks as well as increase the dragon’s base attack bonus and base save bonuses. A dragon has skill ranks equal to 6 + its Intelligence modifier per HD. A dragon’s increases to ability scores for gaining HD are included in the total ability score increases (see the Dragon Ability Scores table on page 87).
Natural Armor: This shows the amount the dragon’s base natural armor bonus increases by age category.
Breath Weapon: Each dragon has a breath weapon (see Combat below) that deals a base amount of damage. This multiplier increases the number of dice of damage dealt by the dragon’s breath weapon. For example, a mature adult dragon with a base breath weapon that deals 2d6 points of acid damage would deal 14d6 points of acid damage (because of the ×7 multiplier).


The Dragon Attacks and Speeds table on page 87 lists the attacks a dragon can make and the damage each deals (a dash indicates a dragon of that size lacks that attack). Dragons gain other abilities when they reach specific age categories.

Fly Speed: A dragon’s fly speed increases as indicated, according to its size.

Bite: This is a primary attack that deals the indicated damage plus 1-1/2 times the dragon’s Strength bonus (even though it has more than one attack). A dragon’s bite attack has reach as if the creature were one size category larger (+10 feet for Colossal dragons).

Claws: These primary attacks deal the indicated damage plus the dragon’s Strength bonus.

Wings: The dragon can slam foes with its wings, even when flying. Wing attacks are secondary attacks that deal the indicated damage plus 1/2 the dragon’s Strength bonus.

Tail Slap: The dragon can slap one foe each round with its tail. A tail slap is a secondary attack that deals the indicated damage plus 1-1/2 times the dragon’s Strength bonus (this is an exception to the normal secondary attack rules).

Crush (Ex): A flying or jumping Huge or larger dragon can land on foes as a standard action, using its whole body to crush them. Crush attacks are effective only against opponents three or more size categories smaller than the dragon. A crush attack affects as many creatures as fit in the dragon’s space. Creatures in the affected area must succeed at a Reflex save (DC = the DC of the dragon’s breath weapon) or be pinned, automatically taking bludgeoning damage during the next round unless the dragon moves off them. If the dragon chooses to maintain the pin, it must succeed at a combat maneuver check as normal. Pinned foes take damage from the crush attack each round if they don’t escape. A crush attack deals the indicated damage + 1-1/2 times the dragon’s Strength bonus.

Tail Sweep (Ex): This allows a Gargantuan or larger dragon to sweep with its tail as a standard action. The sweep affects a half-circle with a radius of 30 feet (or 40 feet for a Colossal dragon), extending from an intersection on the edge of the dragon’s space in any direction. Creatures within the swept area are affected if they were four or more size categories smaller than the dragon. A tail sweep automatically deals the indicated damage plus 1-1/2 times the dragon’s Strength bonus. Affected creatures can attempt Reflex saves to take half damage (DC = the DC of the dragon’s breath weapon).

Breath Weapon (Su): Using a breath weapon is a standard action. A dragon can use its breath weapon once every 1d4 rounds, even if it has more than one breath weapon. A breath weapon always starts at an intersection adjacent to the dragon and extends in a direction of the dragon’s choice. Breath weapons come in two shapes, lines and cones, the areas of which vary with the dragon’s size. If a breath weapon deals damage, those caught in the area can attempt saves— typically Reflex saves but sometimes Fortitude saves—to take half damage (DC = 10 + 1/2 the dragon’s HD + the dragon’s Constitution modifier). Saves against various breath weapons use the same DC; the type of saving throw is noted in the specific breath weapons’ descriptions. A dragon can use its breath weapon when it is grappling or being grappled.

Additional Dragon Rules

All esoteric dragons have the following abilities.

Dragon Senses (Ex): Dragons have darkvision 120 feet and blindsense 60 feet. They see four times as well as a human in dim light and twice as well in normal light.

Frightful Presence (Ex): A dragon’s frightful presence has a range equal to 30 feet × the dragon’s age category, but otherwise functions as detailed on page 293.

Psychic Magic: Esoteric dragons gain greater psychic skill as they age. An esoteric dragon’s caster level for its psychic magic spell-like abilities is equal to its total HD. It has an amount of psychic energy equal to 1/2 its HD when it first gains psychic magic + 2 PE for each age category thereafter. Spells: An esoteric dragon knows and casts psychic spells as a psychic (Pathfinder RPG Occult Adventures 60) of the level indicated in its specific description. Its caster level depends on its age, as shown for each type.

Damage Reduction: Dragons gain damage reduction as they age, as indicated in each dragon’s specific entry. Their natural weapons are treated as magic weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.

Immunities (Ex): Every dragon is immune to sleep effects and paralysis effects. In addition, a dragon is immune to one or more additional forms of attack or energy damage no matter what its age is, as given in its specific description.

Spell Resistance (Ex): As dragons grow older, they become more resistant to spells and spell-like abilities, as indicated in the specific dragon descriptions. A dragon’s spell resistance is equal to 11 + its Challenge Rating.

Dragon Age Categories

Age CategoryAge in YearsCRSizeHit DiceNatural ArmorBreath Weapon
1 Wyrmling0–5BaseBaseBaseBaseBase
2 Very young6–15Base + 2Base + 1Base + 2Base + 3Base × 2
3 Young16–25Base + 4Base + 2Base + 4Base + 6Base × 3
4 Juvenile26–50Base + 5Base + 2Base + 6Base + 9Base × 4
5 Young adult51–100Base + 7Base + 3Base + 8Base + 12Base × 5
6 Adult101–200Base + 8Base + 3Base + 10Base + 15Base × 6
7 Mature adult201–400Base + 9Base + 3Base + 12Base + 18Base × 7
8 Old401–600Base + 11Base + 4Base + 14Base + 21Base × 8
9 Very old601–800Base + 12Base + 4Base + 16Base + 24Base × 9
10 Ancient801–1,000Base + 13Base + 4Base + 18Base + 27Base × 10
11 Wyrm1,001–1,200Base + 14Base + 4Base + 20Base + 30Base × 11
12 Great wyrm1,201+Base + 16Base + 5Base + 22Base + 33Base × 12

Dragon Ability Scores

Age CategoryStrDexConIntWisCha
1 WyrmlingBaseBaseBaseBaseBaseBase
2 Very youngBase + 4Base – 2Base + 2Base + 2Base + 2Base + 2
3 YoungBase + 8Base – 2Base + 4Base + 2Base + 2Base + 2
4 JuvenileBase + 10Base – 2Base + 6Base + 4Base + 4Base + 4
5 Young adultBase + 12Base – 4Base + 6Base + 4Base + 4Base + 4
6 AdultBase + 14Base – 4Base + 8Base + 6Base + 6Base + 6
7 Mature adultBase + 16Base – 4Base + 8Base + 6Base + 6Base + 6
8 OldBase + 18Base – 6Base + 10Base + 8Base + 8Base + 8
9 Very oldBase + 20Base – 6Base + 10Base + 8Base + 8Base + 8
10 AncientBase + 22Base – 6Base + 12Base + 10Base + 10Base + 10
11 WyrmBase + 24Base – 8Base + 12Base + 10Base + 10Base + 10
12 Great wyrmBase + 26Base – 8Base + 14Base + 12Base + 12Base + 12

Dragon Attacks and Speed

Breath Weapon
SizeFly Speed (maneuverability)1 Bite2 Claws2 Wings1 Tail Slap1 Crush1 Tail SweepLineCone
Tiny100 ft. (average)1d41d330 ft.15 ft.
Small150 ft. (average)1d61d440 ft.20 ft.
Medium150 ft. (average)1d81d61d460 ft.30 ft.
Large200 ft. (poor)2d61d81d61d880 ft.40 ft.
Huge200 ft. (poor)2d82d61d82d62d8100 ft.50 ft.
Gargantuan250 ft. (clumsy)4d62d82d62d84d62d6120 ft.60 ft.
Colossal250 ft. (clumsy)4d84d62d84d64d82d8140 ft.70 ft.

Esoteric Dragon (Nightmare) Statistics

NE dragon (extraplanar)

Base Statistics

CR 2; Size Tiny; HD 3d12
Speed 60 ft.
Natural Armor +2; Breath Weapon cone, 2d6 acid
Str 15, Dex 15, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 13


Environment any (Dimension of Dreams)
Organization solitary
Treasure triple

Special Abilities

Change Shape (Su) A young adult or older nightmare dragon can assume any humanoid form of its size or smaller three times per day as if using polymorph.

Dreamsight (Su) A very young or older nightmare dragon can see the dreams of sleeping creatures.

Dream Terror (Su) A great wyrm nightmare dragon can utterly control any dreamscape (Pathfinder RPG Occult Adventures 241) it enters, shaping it to its will. When a creature’s lucid body dies in a dreamscape under the great wyrm’s control, that creature’s material body also dies.

Nightmare Talons (Su) The claw attacks of adult or older nightmare dragons are considered keen weapons.

Psychic Magic (Sp) A nightmare dragon gains the following psychic spells upon reaching the listed age category: Juvenile—ghost sound (0 PE), true strike (1 PE); old— dimension door (4 PE), nightmare (5 PE).

Rising Nightmare (Su) Three times per day, when an old or older nightmare dragon kills a living creature, it can cast phantasmal killer as a free action.

Terrifying Presence (Su) A creature that fails its Will save against the frightful presence of an ancient or older nightmare dragon is panicked if it has fewer Hit Dice than the dragon.

Age CategorySpecial AbilitiesCaster Level
WyrmlingSee in darkness
Very youngDreamsight
YoungImmune to mind-affecting effects
JuvenileFrightful presence, psychic magic1st
Young adultChange shape, DR 5/magic3rd
AdultNightmare talons5th
Mature adultDR 10/magic7th
OldPsychic magic, rising nightmare9th
Very oldDR 15/magic11th
AncientTerrifying presence13th
WyrmDR 20/magic15th
Great WyrmDream terror17th

Creatures in "Dragon (Esoteric, Nightmare)" Category

Adult Nightmare Dragon10
Ancient Nightmare Dragon15
Young Nightmare Dragon6

Dragon (Esoteric, Nightmare), Young Nightmare Dragon

Young Nightmare Dragon CR 6

Source Bestiary 5 pg. 94
XP 2,400
NE Medium dragon (extraplanar)
Init +5; Senses dragon senses, dreamsight, see in darkness; Perception +12


AC 19, touch 11, flat-footed 18 (+1 Dex, +8 natural)
hp 80 (7d12+35)
Fort +10, Ref +6, Will +7
Immune mind-affecting effects, paralysis, sleep; SR 17


Speed 60 ft., fly 150 ft. (average)
Melee bite +13 (1d8+9), 2 claws +13 (1d6+6), 2 wings +11 (1d4+3)
Space 5 ft., Reach 5 ft. (10 ft. with bite)
Special Attacks breath weapon (30-ft. cone, DC 18, 6d6 acid)


Str 23, Dex 13, Con 20, Int 12, Wis 14, Cha 15
Base Atk +7; CMB +13; CMD 24 (28 vs. trip)
Feats Flyby Attack, Improved Initiative, Multiattack, Power Attack
Skills Bluff +12, Fly +11, Intimidate +12, Knowledge (planes) +11, Perception +12, Sense Motive +12, Stealth +11
Languages Common, Draconic


These hunters of the Dimension of Dreams seek to wreak nightmares on sleepers and make existing bad dreams even more terrifying. Nightmare dragons often work with night hags in their grim collection of sleeping souls.