Steel dragons love to have human and demihuman companions, and they prefer to live amid the hustle and bustle of great cities. They often pose as sages, scholars, mages, or other intellectuals.
At birth, a steel dragon's scales are deep blue-gray with steely highlights. As the dragon approaches adulthood, its color slowly lightens to that of lustrous burnished steel. When these dragons take on human form, they always have one steel-gray feature-hair, eyes, nails, or sometimes a ring or other ornament.
Steel dragons speak their own tongue and a tongue common to all neutral dragons. Also, 19% of hatchling steel dragons can speak with any intelligent creature. This chance increases by 5% per age category.
Steel dragons favor repartee over combat. If pressed, they usually begin with a spell assault and avoid melee. If seriously harmed or threatened, they resume dragon form and use their breath weapons. They breathe on any foe they plan to engage in melee, and they seek to keep their foes within the cloud until the gas loses its potency.
A steel dragon's breath weapon is a cube of toxic gas. The dragon can monitor the amount of gas released so closely that it can make the cube as small as it wishes or as large as shown in the table below (the a side of the cube). Creatures caught in the gas must roll successful saving throws vs. poison with a -2 penalty or die instantly. The gas is quickly absorbed through the skin and is just as lethal if inhaled. Coating all exposed skin with lard or grease offers some protection (saving throw penalty negated). Victims who succeed with the save suffer the indicated amount of damage. In still air, the gas stays active for two melee rounds. Steel dragons are immune to all poisons.
A steel dragon can polymorph self five times a day. Each change in form lasts until the dragon chooses a different form. Reverting to the dragon's normal form does not count as a change.
Steel dragons are immune to wizard spells of 1st to 4th levels and cast spells and use their special abilities at 8th level, plus their combat modifier. As they age, they gain the following additional powers:
Young: cantrip twice a day
Juvenile: friends once a day
Adult: charm person three times a day
Mature adult: suggestion once a day
Old: enthrall once a day
Steel dragons prefer human lodgings that are well equipped with strong rooms or vaults to protect their treasures.
Steel dragons prefer human form to their own, and they always have mortal companions. They are endlessly curious about human and demihuman art, culture, history, and politics. They always keep their true nature secret, but they are able to recognize each other.
Steel dragons prefer human food. Unlike other form shifting dragons, they cannot live on such fare indefinitely, as they must eat enough to maintain their true bulk. Once or twice a month, they leave their adopted cities and go into the wilderness to hunt for food. They explain their absences in a way consistent with their human identities.
Steel dragons hate chaotic creatures who seek to disrupt life in cities or despoil their hunting grounds. In the city the dragons never hesitate to report troublemakers or to use their special abilities to hunt down criminals. In the wilderness, they prefer swifter forms of justice.