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Alignment Always Evil (any)
Image Wizards.com image
Publication history
Source books 3E Draconomicon, 3E Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, Forgotten Realms (MC3), 2E Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, Monstrous Manual, Dragon #344 (ecology of)

In the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game, a dracolich is an undead dragon that possesses certain abilities of a lich.

Publication history[edit]

The dracolich was introduced in the first edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. It was also one of the first new creatures introduced for the Forgotten Realms campaign setting.[1]

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition (1977-1988)[edit]

The dracolich (night dragon) first appears in the article "The Cult of the Dragon," by Ed Greenwood, in Dragon #110 (June 1986),[2] and then in the Forgotten Realms accessory Waterdeep and the North (1987).

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition (1989-1999)[edit]

A dracolich named Rauglothgar appeared in the Forgotten Realms product Hall of Heroes (1989).[3] The dracolich as a creature was reintroduced in the first Monstrous Compendium Forgotten Realms Appendix (1989),[4] and then appeared in the revised Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (1993).[5]

The dracolich also appeared in the Monstrous Manual (1993).[6]

The dracolich later appeared again in the Forgotten Realms product, Cult of the Dragon (1998).[7]

Dungeons & Dragons 3.0 edition (2000-2002)[edit]

The dracolich template and the proto-dracolich appear in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (2001) for this edition.[8]

Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition (2003-2007)[edit]

The dracolich template appears in Draconomicon: The Book of Dragons (2003),[9] including the ancient blue dracolich as a sample creature.

The dracolich was detailed in Dragon #344 (June 2006), in the "Ecology of the Dracolich".[10]

Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition (2008-2013)[edit]

The dracolich appears in the Monster Manual for this edition (2008), including the blackfire dracolich and the runescribed dracolich.[11] The dracolich also appears in Draconomicon: Chromatic Dragons (2008), including the bone mongrel dracolich, stoneborn dracolich, icewrought dracolich, and the dreambreath dracolich.

Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition (2014-)[edit]

The dracolich appears as a template in the Monster Manual for this edition (2014).


A dracolich resembles a normal, living dragon at first, but as time goes by it ages and partially decomposes, eventually coming to resemble a corpse.

Despite its wretched appearance, a dracolich is a very powerful opponent with a correspondingly high challenge rating, due in part to the minions and weapons they tend to possess. Evil chromatic dragons like black, blue and red dragons usually become dracoliches, because of the evil magic involved in their creation; however, rumors spread about other kinds of dragons submitting to the process as well.

Dracoliches are created from evil dragons through powerful necromantic magics. Essentially, it involves the dragon dying and then taking over its own corpse. It also gains a vessel called a phylactery, or soul jar, in which its spirit is stored. The soul continues to exist even after the destruction of the body, and can only be killed by the destruction of the phylactery itself.

Dracoliches in literature[edit]

Although the dracolich is a well-known fantasy monster, there are no references to them in classical mythology. The first use of a dracolich appears in an adventure for Dungeons and Dragons (see "Dracoliches in Greyhawk" below). Since then, this monster has been elaborated upon by numerous authors of fantasy novels, role playing games and video games. Nearly every high fantasy style roleplaying game has its own version of a dracolich or bone dragon.

Dracoliches in the Forgotten Realms[edit]

In the Forgotten Realms campaign setting for Dungeons and Dragons, an organization known as the Cult of the Dragon is responsible for inventing the method of the dracolich creation. The organization has also created several other undead dragon varieties, as well as other dragon-like monsters including the dracimera (a dragon-chimera) and the mantidrake (a dragon-manticore).

Ed Greenwood's novel Spellfire features several dracoliches, and depicts one on the cover.

In the "Sellswords" series of books, Jarlaxle Baenre and Artemis Entreri encounter, fight, and come to control a dracolich, which in life had been a black dragon named Urshula.

In the "Transitions" book series, Cadderly, Drizzt, Ivan, Pikel, Jarlaxle, and Bruenor fight the red dragon-turned-dracolich, Hephaestus, from the Sellswords books series. They fight the dracolich because it seeks revenge on Jarlaxle and Cadderly for ridding it of its sight and taking its prize (see Sellswords series, Servant of the Shard), and because they believe the dragon to be the source of Cattie-Brie's "trance" and seizures of memories occurring. Also, anyone who came in contact with her mind would suffer the same thing.

Dracoliches in Greyhawk[edit]

The oldest mention of a dracolich (although it simply described as an "undead dragon") belongs to the World of Greyhawk setting, found in the adventure White Plume Mountain. There is a note on the adventure map concerning an undead dragon called Dragotha,[12] formerly consort to Tiamat, who was given his undead powers by the deity Kyuss. It is unknown whether other dracoliches exist in Greyhawk.


External links[edit]