Monstrous Physique — Gaping Dragon

First impressions are very important, especially with monsters. There are plenty of monsters that make their mark with a look of innocence that falls away to horror. Some monsters, however, are a terrifying sight right out of the gate, leaving a lasting impression even years later. The gaping dragon is one such creature. Pulled straight from the amazing collection of monsters in Dark Souls, the gaping dragon is one my all time favorite monster designs. It’s only right that it earns a spot here.


Gaping dragon, Dark Souls (2012), Developer: FromSoftware, Publisher: Namco Bandai Games

This dragon bears an enormous, terrifying maw on its underside. The tremendous mouth is lined with countless menacing fangs.
XP 819,200
NE colossal dragon
Init +0; Senses dragon senses; Perception +36
Aura frightful presence (360 ft., DC 34)
AC 37, touch 2, flat-footed 37 (+35 natural, –8 size)
hp 465 (30d12+270)
Fort +26, Ref +19, Will +22
DR 10/epic; Immune acid, paralysis, sleep; SR 33
Weaknesses vulnerability to electricity
Speed 80 ft., climb 60 ft., fly 60 ft. (clumsy)
Melee slam +41 (6d10+18), 2 claws +41 (4d8+18 plus grab), tail slap +38 (4d8+9)
Space 30 ft.; Reach 30 ft.
Special Attacks corroding pool, crushing maw (6d10+36, DC 34), swallow whole (10d6 acid, AC 27, 46 hp), trample (6d10+27, DC 34), trembling attack (6d10+36, DC 34)
Str 46, Dex 11, Con 28, Int 5, Wis 16, Cha 17
Base Atk +30; CMB +56; CMD 66 (70 vs. trip)
Feats Awesome Blow, Bleeding Critical, Cleave, Critical Focus, Great Cleave, Greater Vital Strike, Hover, Improved Vital Strike, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Multiattack, Power Attack, Vital Strike, Weapon Focus (claws, slam)
Skills Climb +59, Fly +25, Perception +36
Languages Common (cannot speak)
SQ sever tail
Environment Any ruins or underground
Organization solitary
Treasure none
Corroding Pool (Ex) The gaping dragon vomits forth a massive pool of digestive acid. As a full-round action, the gaping dragon fills an area equal to its space and ten feet beyond with acid. Creatures within the acid takes 24d6 acid damage and any armor worn by the creature takes half this damage. A successful DC 34 Reflex save halves this damage. The corroding pool remains for 1d4 rounds. The gaping dragon can use its corroding pool again 1d4 rounds after an existing pool has dissipated. The save DC is Constitution-based.
Crushing Maw (Ex) The gaping dragon can engulf a creature in its maw with violent force. As a standard action, the gaping dragon rears back and smashes against a single target within reach. The creature takes 6d10+36 bludgeoning damage and is swallowed whole. A successful DC 34 Reflex avoids becoming swallowed whole, but does not prevent the damage. The save DC is Constitution-based.
Trembling Attack (Ex) The gaping dragon convulses violently, striking everyone nearby. As a full-round action, the gaping dragon deals 6d10+36 bludgeoning and slashing damage to all creatures within its reach. Creatures struck by this attack are knocked back 10 feet and knocked prone. A successful DC 34 Reflex save halves this damage and prevents the knock back. The gaping dragon can use its trembling attack once every 1d4 rounds. The save DC is Constitution-based.
Sever Tail (Ex) The gaping dragon’s tail is especially vulnerable to attack. A creature can sever a gaping dragon’s tail by making a sunder attempt. Sunder attempts with a bludgeoning or slashing weapon gain a +10 bonus to this attempt. The tail is considered a weapon with hardness 0 and hit points equal to twice the gaping dragon’s HD. o sever a head, an opponent must inflict enough damage to reduce the head’s hit points to 0 or less. Severing the tail deals damage to the gaping dragon’s body equal to twice its HD. A gaping dragon can’t attack with a severed tail. It loses its tail slap attack and reduces the damage of its trembling attack to 6d10+9.

Legends say that the gaping dragon is an ancient dragon from a faraway land. It is said that it gained it enormous mouth due to its insatiable hunger and ferocity. As the centuries went on, it slipped further into its primal instincts, creating the almost mindless beast that it is today. It scours the lands, searching for the last remnants of ancient civilizations that it had not finished consuming in decades past.

In Your Game

Into the Maw
Reports of a sister civilization falling to the gaping dragon reaches the PCs home. The PCs are tasked with searching for the gaping dragon deep in the recesses of a lost ruin deep beneath the earth, a city where other ancient horrors still live.

Seas of Acid
The death of the gaping dragon brings about a curious situation. The acids within its body begin to flow forth, but never stop. The PCs must find a way to keep the surrounding areas safe, either by finding a proper burial site for the dragon or learning what is causing this eternal corrosion.

The Dragon’s Plea
A gaping dragon is cornered by the PCs, only to plead for mercy. The gaping dragon still bears enough intelligence to realize the horror of its existence. It begs the PCs for a means to revert to its original form.

Monstrous Origins

There is no denying where this creature came from. Dark Souls is one of the greatest modern RPGs and maybe even greatest modern video games of all times. In a world where all of the terrible creatures and horrifying bosses are unique and memorable, it takes something special to really stand out. I think the gaping dragon does this beautifully. Just check out its introduction! I did my best to recreate not only its abilities and attacks for Pathfinder, but also the kind of pacing that Dark Souls is known for in its combat. Creatures in Dark Souls have a variety of attacks and I feel that this rendition of the gaping dragon has enough to keep things interesting and surprising, just like its digital predecessor. I even made sure to keep the ability to remove its tail intact. As a GM, feel free to reward players that manage to sever the gaping dragon’s tail with a new weapon or magical crafting component.

That’s it for this week! Please let me know what you think. I’m interested to hear if people would like me to directly draw from other media for these monsters. Next week will feature something a little more special, so look forward to it. If you end up calling forth the gaping dragon in your own game or you have any request for a future Monstrous Physique, please drop me a line at

Luis Loza

Luis Loza is a developer at Paizo, working on the Pathfinder Lost Omens line and formerly on Campaign Setting and Player Companion lines. He's done freelance for Paizo Inc, Legendary Games, Rogue Genius Games, and more third-party publishers. His hobbies include gaming both tabletop and video, making jokes, obsessing over time travel, taking naps with Nova his cat, and walks with his wife. He is eternally plagued with a hunger for tacos. Consider checking his material on his Patreon at