Black dragons are abusive, quick to anger, and resent intrusions of any kind. They like dismal surroundings, heavy vegetation, and prefer darkness to daylight. Although not as intelligent as other dragons, black dragons are instinctively cunning and malevolent.
At birth, a black dragon's scales are thin, small, and glossy. But as the dragon ages, its scales become larger, thicker, and duller, which helps it camouflage itself in swamps and marshes. Black dragons speak their own tongue, a tongue common to all evil dragons, and 10% of hatchling black dragons have an ability to communicate with any intelligent creature. The chance to possess this ability increases 5% per age category of the dragon.
Black dragons prefer to ambush their targets, using their surroundings as cover. Their favorite targets are men, who they will sometimes stalk for several minutes in an attempt to gauge their strength and wealth before attacking. Against a band of men or a formidable creature, of the marsh can weaken the targets before the dragon joins the fight. Black dragons will also use their breath weapon before closing in melee. When fighting in heavily vegetated swamps and marshes, black dragons attempt to stay in the water or along the ground; the numerous trees and leafy canopies limit their flying maneuverability. When faced with an opponent which poses too much of a threat, a black dragon will attempt to fly out of sight, so it will not leave tracks, and hide in a deep pond or bog.
Breath weapon/special abilities: A black dragon's breath weapon is a 5' wide stream of acid that extends 60' in a straight line from the dragon's head. All creatures caught in this stream must save vs. breath weapon for half damage. A black dragon casts spells and uses its magical abilities at 5th level, plus its combat modifier.
Black dragons are born with an innate water breathing ability and an immunity to acid. As they age, they gain the following additional powers:
Juvenile: darkness three times a day in a 10' radius per age category of the dragon.
Adult: corrupt water once a day. For every age category a dragon attains, it can stagnate 10 cubic feet of water, making it become still, foul, inert, and unable to support animal life. When this ability is used against potions and elixirs, they become useless if they roll a 15 or better on 1d20.
Old: plant growth once a day. Venerable: summon insects once a day.
Great wyrm: charm reptiles three times a day. This operates as a charm mammals spell, but is applicable only to reptiles.
Black dragons are found in swamps, marshes, rain forests, and jungles. They revel in a steamy environment where canopies of trees filter out most of the sunlight, swarms of insects fill the air, and stagnant moss-covered ponds lie in abundance. Black dragons are excellent swimmers and enjoy lurking in the gloomy depths of swamps and bogs. They also are graceful in flight; however, they prefer to fly at night when their great forms are hidden by the darkness of the sky. Black dragons are extremely selfish, and the majority of those encountered will be alone. When a family of black dragons is encountered, the adults will protect their young. However, if it appears the adults' lives are in jeopardy they will abandon their young to save themselves.
They lair in large, damp caves and multi-chambered subterranean caverns. Older dragons are able to hide the entrance to their lairs with their plant growth ability. Black dragons are especially fond of coins. Older black dragons sometimes capture and question humans, before killing them, to find out where stockpiles of gold, silver, and platinum coins are kept.
Black dragons can eat almost anything, although they prefer to dine primarily on fish, mollusks, and other aquatic creatures. They are fond of eels, especially the giant varieties. They also hunt for red meat, but they like to "pickle" it by letting it lie in ponds within their lair for days before eating it.