The Dragons of Splatter-Elf

I shared some dragon statistics in the original series of Splatter-Elf posts a couple of months ago, but I have since refined a few things as well as expanded the details on the most iconic of fantasy creatures. I will freely admit that I shamelessly borrowed many elements of the dragon from a certain series by Fred Saberhagen, but it has been over 20 years since I read those books so I can't say exactly how much I stole, er, borrowed.

Eagle-eyed readers may notice that the stat block and some of the terminology has changed. The rules for Splatter-Elf have changed fairly significantly since they were originally produced (it's still very much a work in progress) and hopefully I will be able to share an updated rule set soon.

So without further ado...


(Also known as communis draconis or Iron-Scaled Swamp Dragon)

Dragons are a highly-evolved reptile predators native to many parts of the world. They are vicious, powerful and exceedingly dangerous, becoming larger and more dangerous as they age. Since dragons can live for centuries unless they meet a violent end, ancient dragons are unfathomably terrifying, unstoppable engines of mindless destruction.

Contrary to myth, dragons cannot speak and possess only animal levels of intelligence. Unfortunately for every other living thing in the world, they have an advanced, predatory instinct and insatiable urge to kill and destroy. At least as smart as any other natural predator such as tigers, wolves, hawks and dolphins, dragons differ from most animals in that they are fearless to the point of stupidity. Virtually nothing can stop or slow an angry or wounded dragon.

A dragon has a long and unusual life cycle during which it undergoes several metamorphoses, and it can appear as completely different creatures depending on the age of the specimen.


Dragons are amphibious reptiles able to survive both on land and underwater. They breed in swamps and usually prefer to remain there until they are significantly older, though they will range great distances for food and particularly old specimens can be found in unusual locales.

Very solitary and territorial, a few times during their adult life dragons will experience an undeniable urge to mate and reproduce. No one alive has actually witnessed dragon intercourse and lived to tell about it, so their mating rituals remain a mystery. Shortly after the event the bull dragon abandons the bitch, who lays the fertilized eggs in a secluded swamp. She then abandons the eggs as well and the hatchlings are left to fend for themselves.


Dragons are omnivores, though they prefer meat to other foods. While they will scavenge if necessary and eat rotting carcasses and carrion, they prefer to chase down living, fleeing prey that puts up a bit of a fight.

They are a mystery to sages because by all study and observation they should be cold-blooded like most reptiles, however their ability to breathe fire generates an internal heat that can be used to warm themselves.

The blood of dragons is poisonous, flammable and acidic, and becomes more potent as they age. Weapons used to wound a dragon will corrode quickly if not cleaned immediately, and the place where a dragon dies becomes poisoned and barren as their blood seeps into the soil. Nothing will grow in such places for many years.

Dragons have thick scales that grow harder as they age. At birth they are bright green, but they darken to a blackish-mossy green in maturity, and to a near-onyx in most older varieties. Their scales are highly resistance to damage and attack, and very good at regulating at regulating body heat thanks to their resistance to heat and cold. It is for this reason that dragon hide is very prized by armorers.


A mature dragon bitch will lay a clutch of a hundred or more fertilized eggs in a secluded, swampy area of standing water. A dragon bitch will lay no more than two or three clutches during her lifetime each no less than five years apart, and will abandon the eggs almost immediately.  Many of the eggs will be eaten by fish, birds and other predators, though approximately half will survive to hatch about two weeks later.

A freshly-hatched dragon appears as a tiny, bright-green frog-like creature. Its teeth, claws and tail will grow in within a few days, at which point the fresh hatchlings will immediately turn on each other, fighting for food and spurned on by simple mindless aggression. Within a few days, no more than 6 to 12 of the strongest hatchlings will remain, each about the size of a house cat. These creatures will then go off on their own to hunt and grow, finding their own prey and territory a good distance away from each other. Dragons of any size and age (with a few exceptions, see below) are psychotically territorial and will attack others of its kind on sight.

Not applicable.


A young dragon grows quickly, reaching about four feet long within its first year. It will feed on fish, birds and anything else it can get its claws and teeth on, even small alligators. It continues to live in swamps, bogs and other wetlands. Though it is dangerous at this stage, an immature dragon does not pose a major threat to the well-armed humans who actively and aggressively hunt dragons of this age for sport. Killing a dragon - even a young, small one - is a mark of honour and a huge bragging right for men of most cultures.

Between two and three years of age, the dragon reaches six feet long, plus another three-to-four feet of tail. Its legs grow quite powerful, allowing it to move frighteningly fast both in the water and on the land. When hunting and fighting it will often stand on its hind legs, leaving its front claws and teeth free to slash and tear. On two legs it can easily run down an average human or elf.

Occasionally, small groups of young dragons remain together from birth and learn to hunt in packs. Sages are uncertain why only some dragons learn to do this, though they are thankful for it. A pack of feral dragonspawn have the cunning and tactical strategy of wolves, though are exponentially more dangerous due to their size, ferocity and ability to survive all but the most vicious opponents.

Eventually the pack will break up as the dragons age or are killed off. There have been no known instances of dragon pack mentality beyond this life cycle stage.

Wounds: Minor 3, Major 6, Severe 9, Dead 12
Movement: 40' (8 squares)
Hacking +6, Guard +6, Guts +6, Aegis +5
Attacks: 3 hits (one big bite or 2 claws + 1 quick bite)
Abilities: Acuity, Bushwhacker, Acid Blood (Weapons and armour that are not cleaned immediately after battle with a dragonspawn will dissolve and become useless within 10+1d12 minutes. Against flesh, the blood burns far more rapidly.  Anyone who injures a dragonspawn with a melee weapon and is not wearing armour suffers a +4 attack vs Guts for 1 damage)

Art by Ben Wootten

If a dragon reaches a full decade in age (which is very rare due to their violent lifestyle), it will achieve physical and sexual maturity. Adult dragons average twenty feet long with another 10-15 feet of tail, though they continue to grow slowly throughout their lives so significantly larger specimens are not unheard of. Females tend to be slightly larger than males.

Two major physiological changes occur during this stage of their life cycle. First, they sprout massive, leathery wings. These wings are incredibly strong in order to support the dragon's huge size (though dragons have a surprisingly low weight-to-length ratio during this stage). While not particularly graceful flyers, they have nearly boundless endurance and can soar for extreme distances between resting periods. At first, flying dragons can only carry off sheep or goats, but older, larger specimens have been known to carry off a rider and horse in full armour.

Secondly, they develop the ability to breathe fire. Their bodily fluids are flammable even from birth, but at this stage they find a way to project gouts of explosive gases from their digestive track, which they somehow ignite through a sparking organ in their throat. Dragons themselves are immune to this flame (as well as the flames of other dragons) but the heat from their breath is able to melt metal and disintegrate flesh.

Wounds: Minor 5, Major 10, Severe 15, Dead 20
Movement: 30' (6 squares); or 40' (8 squares) flying
Hacking +9, Targeting +7, Guard +8, Guts +8, Aegis +8
Attacks: 5 hits (one big bite or a combination of bite, claws & tail sweep)
Abilities: Acuity, Fire Breath (Targeting attack versus all creatures in a 30x50 foot area, 5 fire damage on hit or 1 damage on a miss, can be used every 10 minutes), Acid Blood (Weapons and armour that are not cleaned immediately after battle with a mature dragon will dissolve and become useless within 5+1d12 minutes. Against flesh, the blood burns far more rapidly.  Anyone who injures a mature dragon with a melee weapon and is not wearing armour suffers a +6 attack vs Guts for 2 damage)

Art by KEKSE0719

At around a century of age, dragons become so large (at least 75 feet long) and heavy that they lose the ability to fly. They also lose the ability (or at least the interest) in mating. Their wings eventually shrivel and fall of, and their legs become shorter and thicker as the trunks of their bodies become larger and larger.

At this stage dragons require so much food that they often resort to long slumbers to conserve their energy. They sleep for months or even years, hidden deep underground or in the craters of volcanoes. The area around their resting places can be spotted fairly easily by those who know what they’re looking for, as the land is usually tainted by their presence, with wilted vegetation and few animals as creatures instinctively try to avoid their presence.

When a dragon grows hungry enough and wakes, woe to the surrounding countryside. A hungry dragon will raze the land for leagues around, consuming anything and everything it can.  For one to two weeks, the dragon will wreak havoc by burning down villages and farms, eating anything that moves, and destroying forests and fields for the sheer thrill of it. Once it has satiated itself, the dragon will return to its lair (or another, if it finds a better locale during its rampage) and slumber again until it grows hungry enough to wake.

It is possible, though very difficult, to wake a dragon before its due time.  If awakened earlier, the dragon is even angrier and violent than usual, and will go on a psychotic rampage for 2-3 days in an all-out binge of destruction.

Wounds: Minor 10, Major 20, Severe 30, Dead 40
Movement: 30' (6 squares)
Hacking +12, Targeting +10, Guard +10, Guts +10, Aegis +11
Attacks: 8 hits (one big bite or a combination of bite, claws & tail sweep)
Abilities: Acuity, Fire Breath (Targeting attack versus all creatures in a 50x75 foot area, 6 fire damage on hit or 1 damage on a miss, can be used every 10 minutes), Acid Blood (Weapons and armour that are not cleaned immediately after battle with an old dragon will dissolve and become useless within 1d12 minutes. Against flesh, the blood burns far more rapidly.  Anyone who injures an old dragon with a melee weapon and is not wearing armour suffers a +8 attack vs Guts for 3 damage)


There are legends of truly ancient dragons that are hundreds, if not thousands of years old. Their slumbers are so long that lifetimes may pass between periods of activity. They sleep in the deepest, darkest pits of the world, waiting quietly to unleash untold wrath and destruction.

Ancient dragons (also called Great Worms) are said to be three-hundred to five-hundred feet long. They resemble massive snakes, their limbs long ago having fallen away, unable to support their ungodly size. Their mouths are so large they can swallow houses in a single gulp, and their rampage (which usually lasts several weeks) can lay waste to entire kingdoms. Oddly, they turn snow white in colour, probably due to having no exposure to sunlight for decades at a time.

It is unknown if Great Worms can still breathe fire. There is only one example of this from a legend, a rather fantastical tale that claimed the creature obliterated an entire castle with a single gout of flame.


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