On the Ecology Of the Pseudo-Dragon

"Just don't upset it. It's not big enough to eat you, Slive. It is big enough to put you to sleep and tear out your throat" - Orphic, Human Engineer

Nomenclature:  Pseudo-dragon, Wizard drake, 

Things that are known:
  • They appear to be small dragons
  • They are known to have a poison sting

Rumors and other whispers in the dark:
  • Pseudo-dragons ally with wizards to create their starting hoard. The pact between the pseudodragon and the wizard grants 50% of all earnings to the dragon
  • Pseudodragons are simply manifestations of a casters superego. A caster realizes when his mind begins to slip and tries to save itself by physically manifesting. It rarely does any good, meaning the presence of a pseudo-dragon is a good sign that the wizard is about to go off the deep end.
  • If you welch on an agreement with a pseudodragon they will make your life miserable, allying with your greatest enemy and sharing all the darkest secrets
  • The common lore about 'pseudo-dragons' is completely incorrect, they are actually firedrakes. The 'sleep poison' is actually magma injected into the body, which is so painful that few can remain conscious throughout the process of injection.
  • They are psionic creatures, with powerful telepathy
  • Though popular, they are quite annoying as pets. They have a rabid Napoleon complex, they attack and posture any opponent, claim to have kidnapped anyone who fits the definition of damsel, they sit on piles of coins and refuse to budge until coaxed away. These annoyances insure only the most anti-social wizards keep pseudodragon as pets
  • Pseudodragons are actually fae creatures that are bright enough to realize that if they chimerically represent themselves as dragons, demi-humans and humans will be too stupid to realize how intelligent pseudodragons really are
Tony DiTerlizzi
  • They are actually cats, and just project the image of being like a dragon into the minds of those nearby
  • They molt, just like other reptiles. An intact skin is a powerful alchemical reagent (granting essence equal to their hit dice)
  • They are actually attracted to spellcasters who are filled with youthful exuberance. Their death not only physically injures their owners, but increases the worlds content of poisonous cynicism
  • In fact the link with the pseudodragon between the wizard and his familiar is much stronger then other familiar types. When one body dies, the other becomes a shared vessel, if one soul is destroyed, both are
  • Pseudodragons are cats affected by drakkengheist weed. It looks like catnip, but turns cats into pseudodragons. Lions that eat the weed turn into dragonnes
  • They have a short lifespan (15 years) but that is because upon death they reincarnate into full dragons
  • Pseudodragons are considered to be plaugebearers, being that their favorite urban food is cats. With no cats to control the rat populations, clerics quickly become overwhelmed with the levels of disease
  • Pseudodragons are not the only pseudo-species
    • Pseudomedusa are tiny worm-haired dark fey, they paralyze with a touch
    • Pseudobeholders (ahrimana) are tiny demons. They have one eye and no mouth and long slashing talons and wee wings
    • Pseudoghosts are little people who cover themselves in sheets and try to scare away the living
  • Far away in the dark west in the realm where only the moon lights the land, there was a great mystic called Kadem Beastshaper. On a bet, he cut a dragon's egg from a dragon's womb and tied it in a mithril mesh. The resulting spawn was a pseudodragon. To the surprise of all, the first reproduced by parthogenesis and are susceptible to the thaumic energy that sweeps across those western lands. Soon, many were released to the wild
  •  Pseudodragons are just as fecund as their larger cousins, leading to the creation of the Tressym and other winged beasts
  • There is some discrepancy about the powers a pseudo-dragon confers onto it's master. That is because it is their choice which powers are transferred.
  • Pseudodragons are necessary for some wizards who explore dark and forbidden avenues of research. After having seen dark outer horrors, they become unable to sleep. The venom of a pseudodragon is the only sopoforic strong enough to allow the wizards to get the rest they need
  • You must be a virgin in order to have a pseudodragon familiar. If you are not a virgin, you are restricted to dragon familiars (and the requisite cost in horseflesh)
  • Speaking of, pack animals and pseudodragons do not get along. 
  • Sometimes they capture fairy princesses for ransom. As above, so below
  • They are shards of a dragon's ego, the tiny part of the greed that longed for a hoard of relationships and interconnectedness in community with others. It is proportionately tiny, to the greed for power and wealth, but just as jealous and greedy
  • Pseudodragon wings can be enchanted and mounted on a helm. If they are, they provide protection from mental detection, attacks, and deafening sound
  • Pseudodragons are magical constructs, homonculus or imps of the greatest dragon casters in their war on mortals. They can cast a powerful enchantment on men, that makes humans minions of dragons, inserted into the target while they sleep from the poison of the pseudo-dragon. This is still something the pseudodragons can do, but they are no longer used in this way. Perhaps the secrets of how to craft this ancient psychic syringe are lost to evel the eldest wyrms
  • The Queen of the Fay long ago gifted a tribe of sprites with pseudodragon mounts. The tribe was killed by their giant dragonfly riding rivals, and the pseudodragons survived beyond their original purpose. They long for companionship and do not know their own history. They have a great enmity against dragonflies
  • The fey creators created the pseudodragon as a small-scale practice sculpt before beginning work on the mighty dragon. The creature pleased the gods, and they build the dragons as commanded. Too proud to hide their process, they released the model to live on its own, with the power to mirror copy itself only granted the most ancient of creatures, lost to nearly every species
  • Because they are not true dragons, they are cold-blooded creatures, requiring many hours in the sun and sticking firmly to tropical locales. If they are in a cold area, they hibernate in hives in great numbers
  • Pseudodragon teeth are actually frozen tears
  • Pseudodragons are very reclusive because their scales, teeth and claws are very, very, sweet, tasting like candy if removed or eaten
  • A wicked wizard of a foul disposition served at court for decades, annoyed with the intrigue of romance and politics. For decades, he transformed the unfaithful into small decorative pets to be given to their heartbroken ex-lovers as a way to dull his irritation. They could not be caged always and they continued their cheating ways. Soon the court was overrun by wild pseudodragons and finally he created a massive winged panther to keep the population down. The kingdom is now long fallen, but there are still flirting, simpering pseudodragons flitting through the long ruined halls
  • They have the ability to alter the color of their scales to blend with their environment  This is also used in mating and is under control of the dragon
  • The greatest entertainment produced by the wizards of the shadow kingdom was the pseudodragon. Originally crafted for performing in shadowbox theaters and puppet houses, the little villains were such a hit, that they were sold as household pets. They were often the divas in these ancient tales and their vanity and taste for drama remains to this day
  • The might fae demigod, the Lord of the Vasial Woods, gifted the pixies with pseudodragons to be herd dogs for their sprite flocks
  • When the mighty dragon Bastaal was burning through civilized lands, adventurers managed to capture her three offspring. The wizards worked a mighty ritual to miniaturize them, and the little dragons were ransom; if Bastaal ever attacked civilization again, her spawn would be slain. That backed her off. In the meantime, the little dragons raged, but eventually grew docile over the centuries. They mated, and their spawn were affected by the neutralizing magics; a dozen generations later, they were reduced to pseudodragons. They are pests, but the memory of Bastaal staved off actively hunting them for a millenia. Now no one remembers where they are from, and they are actively hunted as vermin. Is Bastaal still alive somehow, out beyond the darkness? Could she return if her children's cries reach her?
  • Pseudodragons aren't dragons, they are called pseudo because they are actually just winged lizards of no special intelligence or skill
  • A mighty and wicked wizard cast a massive custom spell to summon a brutal dragon. Her experienced and powerful foe cast a counter to the spell. Both went sideways in the magic-sotted arena of their duel, and the summoning spell snatched this little twerp from somewhere. The winner kept the little dragon as a keepsake, and was surprised to find it was pregnant. The legend of the one who slew the wicked wizard only identified him as the man with the tiny dragon pet, so eggs of pseudodragons are in high demand among wizards thirsting for reputation
  • They are not telepathic at all, just good at reading non-verbal communication and assessing situations so that it appears as though they are. They may understand as much vocabulary as a 10-year old child
  • The pseudodragon is the shape of the animate dreams of the patron god of the fey
  • Pseudodragons love the inauthentic. They are drawn to queens and wizards of glam and glamour
  • They only look like dragons, being the result of convergent flying hexapod evolution, being more closely related to other creatures like the arumvorax than dragons
Special pseudodragon attacks

  • Distraction buffet: By flying right at a targets face and flapping and scratching a pseudo-dragon can cause the target to experience one round of confusion. This has the following effects: The attack is at +4 to hit if the target is not wearing a helm. It is at +2 if the target is wearing a cap of some sort, it has no bonus versus targets wearing a helm, and it does not work against any target wearing a full helm. If successful, the target's next action is randomly determined via Confusion as the wizard spell. The target takes 1-2 damage. Any attacks against the pseudo-dragon during the round have a 50% of hitting the target of the dragons distraction. While performing this maneuver, any attacks that _do_ hit the pseudodragon do double damage and knock it prone to the ground.
  • Tripping Targets: Pseudodragons are quite apt at tripping targets, and if not flying and in the targets space, they gain a +2 bonus to trip a target (offsetting the penalty for their tiny size).
  • Infernal Sprite: Pseudodragons are preternaturally agile. When flying, they can take the Total Defense option against one target and apply a +6 dodge bonus to their AC versus that target, by flitting and dodging around their body, applying only a +2 dodge bonus against other targets
  • Vicious bite: On a successful bite, the pseudodragon can latch on. The next round this bite does 1-4 -2 damage. This is extremely painful for the target, who must succeed at a save versus Paralyzation (Fortitude save (DC 10 + Damage Dealt)) or be shaken. This allows the dragon to strike with the tail at +2, but the dragon is considered flatfooted while latched. (The armor class is worsened by 3)

The ecology series is a crowdsourced series of articles, and contributors can be found on google+ under the hashtag #crowdecology. They are limited posts, but following me on G+ will allow you to see them. All artwork is credited where the artist could be found. Classic ecology articles from Dragon magazine are used both for reference and inspiration; the whole impetus of the idea was to create 'classic' ecology articles that are actually useful. Let's Read the Monster Manual by Noisms is also a source of inspiration.  


  1. No "O" monster?

    Not that I'm complaining, Pseudodragons are adorable.

    1. They aren't completely alphabetical
      Otyugh was two weeks ago, and Orc is next.

  2. G+ Source Article:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...