(Illustration by Christina Yen comes from the artist’s DeviantArt page and is © Paizo Publishing.)
Astral, dream, etheric, nightmare…occult?
At first glance, the occult dragon seems like a bad entry from a late-’80s anniversary issue of Dragon Magazine, following the usual recipe of “Add adjective and stir until dragon.”
But upon closer examination, it actually fits. Just as the other esoteric dragons have a transitive plane or dream dimension to call their own, occult dragons hail from the Akashic Record, a demiplane tucked away in the Astral that includes “a visual library of perfect psychic records of every moment in the history of the multiverse” (per Occult Adventures).
As such, it’s no surprise that these are essentially draconic librarians, researchers, and diviners—when your home demiplane is a library, that’s all to be expected. They also make excellent appraisers and psychometrists, able to read the value and the history of an object (and use it, if it’s a magic item) with consummate skill. For this reason, they are collectors and hoarders to a degree even other dragons find shocking (which is saying something), particularly when it comes to psychically charged objects. Finally, they are also perhaps more urban (and urbane) than any other true dragons besides golds, happily moving in disguise through humanoid cities.
Interestingly, occult dragons aren't particularly strong. Perhaps this is because they only hail from a demiplane…or perhaps it says something about the relative power of truth versus dreams…
Finally, even if esoteric dragons and the Akashic Record aren’t your thing, an occult dragon makes a good one-off encounter. There are plenty of magical libraries or universities that might have a guardian that is, for all intents and purposes, an occult dragon, no matter how you re-skin it for your players.
Bruised and bleeding from more than a dozen sets of claw marks, a young occult dragon crashes its way into an adventuring party’s sanctum. It gasps out that it has “the answer” for them, then passes out from its wounds. What “the answer” is will remain a mystery unless the adventurers can heal the dragon…and defeat the pack of hounds of Tindalos that arrive hot on the dragon’s heels.
One of the more notable spy networks on Avilar is comprised primarily of occult dragons. They spend much of their time in human or half-elf form, often selling their services as detectives and object readers (a convenient cover for their abilities that helps them forge connections to those in power). They seem to be interested in knowledge for its own sake, but surely no one builds such a powerful network without an agenda of some kind…
Adventurers make their way to a library that appears to be perched on the edge of Infinity. The library caretakers are a collection of clockwork beings, gnomes, and oddly civilized gnolls. If they make trouble or wander into the Restricted Wing, they are met by the library’s real masters: a nest of occult dragons. The dragons at this library specialize in knowledge relating to something called the Aeon War, which occurred long ago but, paradoxically, is about to occur for the first time (again?)…
—Pathfinder Bestiary 5 96–97
Merry Christmas and happy holidays, everyone!
There are only about 60 minutes of Christmas left, but that’s still plenty of time to stream/download last Tuesday’s Christmas radio show! Two hours of holiday tunes, from old favorites to ska covers and everything in between. Enjoy y’all, and since I think I’m taking tomorrow off, I’ll have more tunes for you in the New Year!