Burst of Insight—Ripwing a Draconic Villain

This week I’m introducing Ripwing, a young adult black dragon who is terrorizing a small fishing village. Ripwing demands tribute, kills villagers who wander too close to his lair, and wreaks wanton destruction on the surrounding country-side. It’s cliché, I know. As I write today’s blog I’m still fighting the flu and fever. So it might be that I’m a little loopy but when Ripwing came striding through a particularly vivid nightmare last night I decided he was worth including as a sample villain.

The town of Lakeside has suffered under the scourge of an angry black dragon for fifty years but the story of Ripwing’s reign of terror began almost fifty years before that when a band of young adventurers traveled from Lakeside on an ill-fated expedition to the swamp lair of a black dragon. After a bloody battle the dragon emerged victorious but he suffered a grievous wound that would never fully heal. One of the adventurers wielding an intelligent bane greatsword scored a crippling slash to one of the dragon’s wing membranes.

Already injured and unable to fly effectively the dragon was beset by the runtiest of his broodmates and driven away from his hoard. Pride crushed, the once feared ruler of the swamp nursed his anger and skulked away to heal his physical wounds. As the dragon convalesced he nursed his rage and decided to wreak vengeance on the town where the adventurers came from.

  • Ripwing is the name the humans of Lakeside gave the dragon. The dragon keeps its true name secret.
  • Ripwing loathes the name the humans have given him but deeply loves the fear he hears in their voices when they say it and has chosen to take it as a result. When he hears someone use it without fear it stokes his anger and may provoke a violent response.
  • Ripwing is very conscious of his wounded wing and rarely flies preferring to walk or swim when he is close to Lakeside.
  • He managed to retain two things from his old hoard one was a medallion of thoughts the other was the very intelligent blade that scarred him.
  • Ripwing has been torturing the intelligent sword with acid and taunts that it would never again be wielded. Currently Ripwing has buried it deep in the lakebed.
  • Ripwing lairs in acid formed clearing in the forest near town but spends nearly as much time in the lake.
  • He tries to pollute the lake with his acidic breath but the river current through the lake keeps the acid from building up to truly hazardous levels.


Ripwing                         CR13
Male black, young adult dragon slayer 3
CE Large dragon (water)
Init +4; Senses dragon senses; Perception +24


AC 24, touch 9, flat-footed 24 (+15 natural, –1 size)
hp 156 (15 HD; 3d10+12d12+63)
Fort +15, Ref +11, Will +13
DR 5/magic; Immune acid, paralysis, sleep; SR 24


Speed 60 ft., fly 180 ft. (clumsy), swim 60 ft.
Melee bite +24 (4d6+13), 2 claws +23 (2d8+9), tail slap +18 (2d8+13), 2 wings +18 (2d6+4)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft. (10 ft. with bite)
Special Attacks breath weapon (80-ft line, DC 20, 10d6 acid), sneak attack +1d6, studied target +1 (1st, move action)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 12th; concentration +14)
Constant—speak with animals (reptiles only)
At will—darkness (50 ft. radius)
Sorcerer Spells Known (CL 1st; concentration +3)
1st (4/day)—bungle (DC 13), cause fear (DC 13)
0 (at will)—acid splash, bleed (DC 12), detect magic, penumbra


Str 28, Dex 10, Con 19, Int 16, Wis 18, Cha 14
Base Atk +15; CMB +25; CMD 35 (39 vs. trip)
Feats Alertness, Aquatic Combatant, Beartrap Bite, Improved Initiative, Power Attack, Skill Focus (Stealth), Vital Strike, Weapon Focus (bite)
Skills Acrobatics +0 (+12 to jump), Bluff +20, Diplomacy +20, Fly +5, Handle Animal +14, Intimidate +20, Knowledge (arcana) +14, Linguistics +8, Perception +24, Sense Motive +13, Spellcraft +12, Stealth +18, Survival +8 (+9 to track), Swim +37, Use Magic Device +9
Languages Boggard, Common, Draconic, Goblin, Grippli, Orc
SQ slayer talent (blood reader), speak with reptiles, swamp stride, track +1, water breathing
Other Gear medallion of thoughts, 1,500 gp.

Special Abilities

Blood Reader (Ex) While able to see a studied target, a slayer with this talent knows exactly how many hit points his opponent has remaining. This only works against living targets.

Speak with Reptiles (Sp) A young or older black dragon gains the constant spell-like ability to speak with reptiles. This functions as speak with animals, but only with reptilian animals.

Studied Target +1 (move action, 1 at a time) (Ex) A slayer can study an opponent he can see as a move action. The slayer then gains a +1 bonus on Bluff, Knowledge, Perception, Sense Motive, and Survival checks attempted against that opponent, and a +1 bonus on weapon attack and damage rolls against it. The DCs of slayer class abilities against that opponent increase by 1. A slayer can only maintain these bonuses against one opponent at a time; these bonuses remain in effect until either the opponent is dead or the slayer studies a new target.

If a slayer deals sneak attack damage to a target, he can study that target as an immediate action, allowing him to apply his studied target bonuses against that target (including to the normal weapon damage roll).

At 5th, 10th, 15th, and 20th levels, the bonuses on weapon attack and damage rolls, as well as the bonus to slayer ability DCs against a studied target increase by 1. In addition, at each such interval, the slayer is able to maintain these bonuses against an additional studied target at the same time. The slayer may discard this connection to a studied target as a free action, allowing him to study another target in its place.

At 7th level, a slayer can study an opponent as a move or swift action.

Swamp Stride (Ex) A very young or older black dragon can move through bogs and quicksand without penalty at its normal speed.

Track +1 A slayer adds 1/2 his level (minimum 1) to Survival skill checks made to follow tracks.

Water Breathing (Ex) A black dragon can breathe underwater indefinitely and can freely use its Breath weapon, spells, and other abilities while submerged.



Andrew Marlowe

placed in the Top 16 of RPG Superstar in 2012 and 2014, one of the few contestants to get that far in the competition twice. Since then, he has contributed to many Paizo and third party Pathfinder products, including one of the network’s favourite releases in the Pathfinder Player Companion line, the Dirty Tactics Toolbox. Every other Tuesday, he will be sharing his Burst of Insight, with design tips for would-be game designers from a decorated freelancer.