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Dragon, Sovereign

Source Bestiary 3 pg. 81
The most well-known of imperial dragons due to their deep involvement with mortals, the sovereign dragons' name comes from their mandate of selecting rulers—but at some point, the dragons themselves joined the list of worthy candidates. Other imperial dragons suspect the sovereign dragons offered their connection to the elemental cycle to attain forbidden magic, evidenced by their lack of any vulnerability to wood or ability to feed on fire, despite being creatures of the earth.

Most hesitate to question the sovereigns' authority. While some appreciate their impartial nature, others fault this adherence to neutrality. Regardless, the sovereign dragons' charm and centuries of experience in subtle manipulation have made them exceptional negotiators.

Almost all sovereign dragons appear gold in color. Their hair ranges from common colors found among humans to bright reds, greens, or blues. They're the only dragons with five digits per claw, a mark of special importance. Other imperial dragons dismiss this claim to status and instead tease the sovereign dragons over their need to wear armor, even while in their draconic forms.


Adult Sovereign Dragon (Creature 15), Ancient Sovereign Dragon (Creature 20), Young Sovereign Dragon (Creature 11)

Sidebar - Related Creatures Pham Duc Quan

A succession of sovereign dragons has ruled the Tian nation of Xa Hoi for nearly 7,000 years. The current Dragon King is Pham Duc Quan, who guided Xa Hoi through the chaos after the ancient empire of Lung Wa fell at the start of the Age of Lost Omens. Under the dragon's stable leadership, Xa Hoi emerged as one of the strongest nations in Tian Xia.

Sidebar - Advice and Rules Sovereign Dragon Spellcasters

Sovereign dragon spellcasters tend to cast the following spells.

Young Sovereign Dragon

Occult Prepared Spells DC 29, attack +23; 4th calm emotions, detect scrying, silence; 3rd enthrall, heroism, hypnotic pattern; 2nd comprehend language, remove fear, status; 1st command, illusory disguise, true strike; Cantrips (4th) daze, detect magic, prestidigitation, read aura, shield

Adult Sovereign Dragon

Occult Prepared Spells DC 36, attack +30; As young sovereign dragon, plus 6th dominate, feeblemind, zealous conviction; 5th dreaming potential, subconscious suggestion, tongues; Cantrips (6th) daze, detect magic, prestidigitation, read aura, shield

Ancient Sovereign Dragon

Occult Prepared Spells DC 43, attack +38; As adult sovereign dragon, plus 9th foresight, overwhelming presence, telepathic demand; 8th disappearance, dream council, maze; 7th dimensional lock, magnificent mansion, true target; Cantrips (9th) daze, detect magic, prestidigitation, read aura, shield

Dragon, Imperial

Related Groups Dragon, Forest, Dragon, Sea, Dragon, Sky, Dragon, Underworld
Imperial dragons, namesake of the Dragon Empires and guardians of Tian Xia before humanity arrived, embody five strengthening and counteracting forces. Unlike other true dragons, imperial dragons dive deep into human affairs. Some remain secretive, posing as reclusive hermits, while others keep a high profile, openly ruling factions. Tian cultures in turn venerate the dragons, depicting gods in the form of dragons or claiming ancestry from them. Not all are adored, for plenty of these creatures act wickedly.

Draconic Cycles

Five elements underpin the magical powers of imperial dragons, influencing their relationships to all things and, especially, to others of their kind. These elements interlink in two cycles. In the first cycle, each element feeds one other: wood feeds fire, fire feeds earth, earth feeds metal, metal feeds water, and water feeds wood. In the second cycle, each element counters another: wood counters earth, earth counters water, water counters fire, fire counters metal, and metal counters wood.

Each imperial dragon represents one element and has four abilities related to the cycle. For example, the forest dragon—linked to wood—feeds fire, is fed by water, counters earth, and is countered by metal.

Shape-Changing Dragons

Imperial dragons are the most likely (and willing) of Golarion's dragons to take humanoid forms. The vast majority of them have the following ability, with the tradition trait matching the dragon's innate spells:

Change Shape (concentrate, polymorph, transmutation) The dragon takes on the appearance of any Small or Medium humanoid. This doesn't change their Speed or attack and damage modifiers with their Strikes, but it might change the damage type their Strikes deal (typically to bludgeoning).

Imperial Dragon Spellcasters

Each imperial dragon has a sidebar on spellcasting dragons of that kind. To make an imperial dragon spellcaster, remove the dragon's Coiling Frenzy and Draconic Momentum abilities and give them the spells outlined in their sidebar. You can swap any number of these spells with others from the same tradition, provided you keep the same number of spells for each level. You might also want to increase the dragon's Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma modifier by 1 or 2 to reflect their mastery of magic.

Imperial Dragons On Golarion

Imperial dragons are rarely spotted beyond Tian Xia, where some establish territories to amass power, while others follow their natural affinity to seek a place of comfort.

Sidebar - Additional Lore One Dragon, Many Names

Classifying a dragon is as difficult as asking for their name. A variety of names and classifications have been used throughout history based on traits such as location, behavior, color, or other qualities. It isn't uncommon, therefore, for one dragon to be described as many different types of dragon over their lifetime. For example, scholars speculate that the coiling dragon, leaping dragon, and flying dragon of ancient Tian records are all attempts at identifying sky dragons.

Sidebar - Additional Lore Rules of Depiction

In some parts of the old empire of Lung Wa, it was illegal— blasphemous even—to depict a dragon with five talons on objects not used by the emperor or royalty. Officials might receive permission to wear a robe with a “four-talon serpent,” while common folk were only ever allowed to depict dragons with three talons, even for their temples. These rules might explain why old portraits of young sovereign dragons sold amongst the wealthy often have clutter in the foreground, obscuring their claws.

Sidebar - Additional Lore Rumored Rivalries

Some Tian philosophers, particularly worshipers of Qi Zhong—the Tian god of magic, medicine, and knowledge— speculate that each type of imperial dragon is mortal enemies with another type. Asking the dragons if this hypothesis is true often gets one laughed out of their lairs or a breath weapon to the face. In truth, imperial dragons have complicated relationships with one another that aren't as simple as being enemies or friends.