Red dragon

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A company of Taldan knights engages a red dragon.

Red dragon
A red dragon.

The red dragon is known as the king of the chromatic dragons, and few creatures can match its avarice and cruelty.1


Detail of a red dragon's head.

Red dragons are very nearly the largest species of dragon, rivaling and occasionally exceeding the gargantuan size of the gold dragon.2 Some half-dozen reds, all members of a single pure-blood clan, have grown beyond even the mightiest of gold dragons in size and strength.3 Even a hatchling dragon uncoils from an egg the size of a horse.2

The red's long body is covered in thick scales the color of molten rock, with large, cruel horns topping its head.1 A smaller horn sprouts just behind the tips of its blunt muzzle. Certain of its scales grow in sharp ridges sweeping back along its face, growing ever larger down its back, and even along the crests of its powerful wings, giving the red its unmistakable spiky appearance.2


A red dragon on ground.

All red dragons can breathe fire, and as they age, they gain increasing control over flames. The heat radiating from an adult red's body can harm anyone foolish enough to stand too close.1 The red's intense internal fires allow it to digest almost any non-poisonous matter.2 A red of advanced age can melt stone or instantly turn creatures to ash with its fiery breath.1 A red's powerful tail can crush a stone wall, and its jaws are strong enough to snap iron bars.2

When roused to physical combat, the red will use virtually its entire body as a weapon: biting, clawing, lashing with its powerful tail, buffeting enemies with its monstrous wings while flying, or even flying or jumping a short distance to crush its foes beneath its immense mass.4 As the red ages, its scales grow increasingly resistant to physical injury of any kind, even as its entire physiognomy becomes less susceptible to all but the most powerful magical effects.5

Reds begin learning the intricacies of arcane spellcasting at an early age. A red of sufficiently advanced age can potentially become as proficient with magic as all but the greatest human wizards.1 Additionally, reds possess innate abilities that mimic wizardry: very young dragons can sense the presence and characteristics of magical dweomers, while adults can influence the actions of other creatures with simple speech.1 Such is the red's affinity with fire that an old red is even able to take control of an enemy spellcaster's fire and use it against her.1


Red dragons make their homes within warm mountainous regions.1 Whenever possible, a red will lair within an active volcano. Red dragons are omnivorous, as their internal fires allow them to digest almost any type of animal, plant, or mineral that they consume. Younger reds tend to have the greatest impact on their environments, as reds are at their most active in their youths and spend a greater amount of time hunting, killing, and patrolling their territory. As reds age, they spend more time hibernating in their lairs and tend to journey increasingly further from their lairs in search of human settlements to terrorize, minimizing the damage dealt to their immediate surroundings.6

Society and culture

Red dragons are usually solitary creatures, and only gather together under unusual circumstances.

Red dragons see themselves as the pinnacle of dragonkind, and perceive almost all other creatures as their inferiors. They do not tolerate other creatures' attempts to slay dragons, especially other reds, and tend to respond to successful dragon slaying with violent reprisals against the dragonslayers or their hometowns. This is not typically due to a desire to avenge the fallen dragon, as reds generally scorn their kin who were weak enough to fall to humanoids, but out of a sense of wounded draconic pride and to ensure that dragonslayers who were lucky once will not be so again.6

Red dragons' contempt for weaker beings extends to other dragons, and they especially despise metallic dragons. However, their belief in draconic superiority extends to all of dragonkind; although, red dragons themselves bully and kill other dragons, they take offense at humanoids slaying any dragon. While they do not see themselves as the avengers of their kind and will not typically seek to avenge any given dragon slaying the learn of, they will often attack known dragonslayers passing through their territory.6

More so than with any other dragon type, red dragons have a very complicated relationship with gold dragons, borne from these being the only dragons habitually more powerful than reds. Red dragons both hate and admire their gold cousins, and will attempt to treat respectfully even with golds younger or weaker than themselves. This love-hate relationship is one that few other creatures, including other dragons, usually understand the full significance of.6

Red dragons often keep humanoid slaves, most often human and elven maidens, which they treat as beautiful and delicate but replaceable additions to their hoards. When these slaves become old or injured, they are typically eaten. Other slaves are instead kept to expand and maintain the red's lair. Red dragons never enslave dwarves in this manner, as they despise them and attack them on sight. Reds do not interact with humanoids other than elves, humans, and dwarves, which they treat as beneath notice. They sometimes form alliances with ifrits,7 although these rarely endure for more than a few years.6

Red dragon names often incorporate the words "dara" and "thys", which mean "terrible" and "great", and are often very long and difficult to pronounce. Red dragons often add syllables to their names as they age, causing their names to become extremely long, but very old individuals sometimes shorten their names again to make them easily remembered among those they terrorize.8


Red dragons came into being thousands of millennia in the past, when the first metallic dragons were hunted and slain by Dahak. When Apsu retaliated against his son and Dahak called on Tiamat for aid, the latter promised to heal the metallics injured by her son if they would rise up against Apsu and aid Dahak. Most of the dying dragons refused, but some accepted Tiamat's offer and became the first chromatic dragons. The first to accept was a dying gold, who upon being healed became the first red dragon and named himself Nerothroc.6

Over history, Nerothroc's bloodline has occasionally produced red dragons of such size and power that they eclipse even the greatest gold dragons. Only six such reds are known to have lived in recorded history.6

In 2351 AR, the city of Parnthford was completely razed by one or more red dragons in what is believed to be a revenge attack for the slaying of another red dragon.2

On Golarion

Red dragons are powerful and evil enough to raze entire towns.

The Kortos Mounts are home to several young red and blue dragons, which settled there following the death of Maejerex Steeleye and vie with one another for control of the area. Although the leaders of Absalom have considered sending dragon hunters to deal with them, as of 4709 AR they were content with letting the dragons kill one another off.89

In the desert kingdom of Qadira, a significant number of red dragons make their homes amongst the northern reaches of the Zho Mountains.10

Known examples

See also: Category:Red dragon/Inhabitants

Notable reds include:


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Paizo Inc., et al. “Monsters A to Z” in Bestiary, 98–99. Paizo Inc., 2009
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Mike McArtor. Red Dragons” in Dragons Revisited, 47. Paizo Inc.,
  3. 3.0 3.1 Mike McArtor. Red Dragons” in Dragons Revisited, 49. Paizo Inc.,
  4. Paizo Inc., et al. “Monsters A to Z” in Bestiary, 90. Paizo Inc., 2009
  5. Paizo Inc., et al. “Monsters A to Z” in Bestiary, 91. Paizo Inc., 2009
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 Mike McArtor. Red Dragons” in Dragons Revisited, 46–49. Paizo Inc.,
  7. Paizo referred to ifrits as efreet and naaris as ifrits until the publication of Highhelm. See also Rage of Elements pg. 3 and Pathfinder Core Preview pgs. 2, 13, 18.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Mike McArtor. Red Dragons” in Dragons Revisited, 50. Paizo Inc.,
  9. Owen K.C. Stephens. “Places” in Guide to Absalom, 12. Paizo Inc., 2008
  10. Jessica Price. “Adventuring in Qadira” in Qadira, Jewel of the East, 39. Paizo Inc.,
  11. Jason Nelson & Amber Stewart. Osirion” in Osirion, Land of Pharaohs, 3. Paizo Inc., 2008
  12. James Jacobs. “Lords of the Abyss” in Lords of Chaos, Book of the Damned Volume 2, 15. Paizo Inc.,
  13. Mike McArtor. Guide to Korvosa, inside rear cover. Paizo Inc.,
  14. Keith Baker. Blood of Dragonscar, 3. Paizo Inc.,
  15. Tyler Beck, et al. Belkzen Gazetteer” in Belkzen, Hold of the Orc Hordes, 5. Paizo Inc.,
  16. David Eitelbach, et al. “Social: Beards, Ale, and Crafting” in Dwarves of Golarion, 31. Paizo Inc.,