In some ways, gray dragons are the most enigmatic of all chromatics. Lacking in distinctive hue, they are hunters on stony borderlands, forever soaring in the sky’s embrace. Also called fang dragons (for their ferocity), stone dragons (for their ability to petrify victims), and spike dragons (for their detachable spikes), these beasts share the worst qualities of other chromatic dragons.
Grays delight in the hunt at least as much as its fruits. Their desperate, animal love of stalking prey might be their defining characteristic.
Few gray dragons can muster sufficient self-discipline to reach the heights of power and reputation other chromatics enjoy. Grays spend their time far from their lairs, glorying in the savage thrill of the hunt and basking in their quarry’s fear.
Gray dragons are corruptible beasts, willing to compromise any stated principle when better alternatives come along. Grays particularly delight in turning social encounters into excuses to begin elaborate chases. Even when receiving gifts of gold or other valuables in exchange for assistance, a fang dragon might break off negotiations to present the terms of a game, something like this: “You have until sunrise to flee as far as you can. At that time, I begin my hunt for you. If I find you, you lose.”
On the other hand, gray dragons’ unpredictability ensures that they do not always act this way. Perhaps they know that creatures that fall into routine make easier prey themselves. A shrewd diplomat can take advantage of this side of a gray dragon’s nature by promising the dragon a better, future opportunity for a hunt, thus hedging a negotiation away from failure.
The occasional gray dragon finds itself the focus of savage humanoid tribal worship. Particularly primitive tribes might kowtow to gray dragons in hopes that the dragons’ aptitude for stalking prey will transfer to them. More sophisticated tribes select sacrificial victims either from among their own number or, more often, from among members of enemy tribes or visitors from distant lands. Upon obtaining a victim, members of such a tribe contact the gray dragon, possibly with smoke signals. Then they release the poor soul with little or no equipment— perhaps a warning and a flint knife—to flee across barren scrubland or badlands.
Gray dragons might act as field scouts, spies, and hounds for sophisticated locals who have powerful interests. Payment for such a service is the service itself, which the dragon sees not as a service at all, but as an enjoyable pastime. Since a gray invariably eats what it catches, employers never entrust it with the delivery of live bounty—though the dragon might deliver a skull or another gnawed bone fragment from its quarry.
When hungry enough, a gray might stoop to feeding on domestic cattle, sheep, or other herd beasts, but it does so rarely; dim herd animals offer little thrill or challenge for the chase. Grays subsist almost entirely on a diet of humanoids that are intelligent or dangerous enough to provide at least the semblance of a contest.
A gray dragon prefers to stay aloft during a fight. From the air, it uses its breath weapon and attacks with reach, riveting foes with rocky spikes from tail and claws. If one or more opponents take to the air to close with the dragon, the gray either focuses all its attacks on one or two brave flyers or, if three or more attackers have taken wing, beats a hasty retreat for the horizon to seek easier prey. Although gray dragons enjoy the hunt, they are less keen on fair fights against truly dangerous foes.
Lairs and TerrainEdit
Gray dragons prefer badlands, scrubland, dry prairies, and other clear terrain over terrain that contains visual obstructions. They like to see potential quarry for miles around as they ride high thermals like gigantic birds of prey. A gray can see the tiniest movement across a plain and might dance from thermal to thermal for hours to bridge the gap to a distant thing it wants to investigate.
A gray dragon might establish a temporary lair while on an extended hunt in a region far from its permanent lair. Such a simple outpost gives the gray a place to sleep, a place to eat its catch, and a place to store any treasure destined for its main hoard. Grays locate these outposts on mountain ledges or in similar locations accessible only by air. The dragons leave such lairs unguarded, returning each night to feast on the fruits of their hunts.
A gray dragon’s home lair might stand abandoned for weeks or months at a time, so before it leaves on a hunt the dragon seals the lair’s central chamber with an avalanche of boulders and petrified victims.
Gray dragons do not prefer any type of treasure over any other type. Their hoards typically consist of items taken from the victims of past hunts: mementos and trophies of glorious successes. Even though gray dragons do not value treasure for its own sake to the extent that other dragons do, grays nevertheless take strong measures to protect their keepsakes.
A gray dragon lays its eggs after about four months, for a total incubation time of twenty months. A clutch numbers one to two eggs, all of which prove viable under optimal condition.
A gray dragon is a wyrmling until about the age of ten and is young until nearly age 200. It becomes an elder at around 900 years and an ancient around 1,400. The oldest confirmed age any gray dragon has reached is approximately 2,100 years.
When a gray dragon dies, it petrifies, becoming a spiky outcropping with an uncannily draconic shape. When a deceased gray dragon experiences environmental diffusion, the result is an area of abnormal aridity. Streams running through the area dry up, as do wells. Any creature that spends more than an hour in the area becomes parched, and water stored in containers somehow disappears.
Stony spikes stud gray dragons’ scales and limbs. A gray’s spikes can detach, allowing it to pin potential prey to the earth with the appropriate attack.
A gray’s scales range from limestone white to granite gray, serving as excellent camouflage in the dragon’s preferred terrain. As the dragon flies, its lighter-shaded underbelly blends in with clouds and sky from the vantage point of viewers on the ground.
A gray dragon’s oversized mouth is a sea of fangs. Several of its fangs are long enough to prevent the dragon from completely closing its mouth. A collection of fanglike horns protrude from the lower jaw. These horns allow the dragon to crack open the exterior of a petrified victim and access the soft interior.
Gray dragons smell strongly of sun-warmed stone and faintly of long-dead carrion.