Iron dragons were a larger variety of dragon, with wyrmlings being at least 9 feet (2.7 meters) long and great wyrms being as much as 289 feet (88.1 meters) long (body length 163 ft (49.7 m), tail length 126 ft (38.4 m)). They had broad, almost shovel-shaped heads with multiple thick, backwards-pointing horns, and large plates that resembled shark fins ran down their spine. Their scales were a glossy, metallic black that, after adulthood, began to take on silver highlights; great wyrm scales looked like moonlight on a dark, rippling pool.
Iron dragons, like all of the ferrous dragons, were lawful in nature, adhering to a strict hierarchy. Like the other ferrous dragons, they were determined to reclaim their group's prestige, which was lost after a long and bloody war amongst their kind.
Iron dragons possessed many different abilities common to the true dragons, such as darkvision and blindsense. They could assume an alternate form, that of an average-sized animal or humanoid, three times each day. Great wyrm iron dragons could, once each day, turn creatures to iron in a manner similar to the flesh to stone spell.
Iron dragons also had innate spell-like abilities. By the time they were at least young they could replicate heat metal three times each day, juveniles gained stone shape twice each day, by adulthood they could replicate detect thoughts twice each day, ancients could replicate transmute rock to mud twice each day, and old ones could replicate wall of iron twice each day.
Additionally, iron dragons were known to have two different breathe weapons: a cloud of sleep gas, and a 90 feet (27 meters) cone of electrical sparks. The cloud of sleep gas was typically measured at 50 feet (15 meters) long, 40 feet (12 meters) wide, and 30 feet (9.1 meters) high, while the sparks formed a cone about 5 feet (1.5 meters) wide at the dragon's mouth and 30 feet (9.1 meters) in diameter at the far end.
Like all ferrous dragons, iron dragons also possessed metalsense, a peculiar ability that allowed them to sense both the location and amount of any non-precious metal within at least 30 feet (9.1 meters) of them (as wyrmlings; great wyrms could sense it up to 360 ft (110 m) away). This proved a great hinderance for anyone trying to sneak up on them while carrying any weapons or armor made of steel or other non-precious metals.
Iron dragons were far more interested in acquiring information than in fighting, and preferred to use diplomacy or intimidation to avoid combat if possible. If they were drawn or forced into battle, they preferred to subdue or incapacitate opponents, either with spells, spell-like abilities, or their sleep-inducing breathe weapon, before questioning them for information. However, they usually ate enemies after learning everything they could; although iron dragons were not completely merciless, they always expected some form of payment in return for such kindness.
Iron dragons, like the other ferrous dragons, were arranged into family groups, two or three of which made up a clan; clans were ruled by the oldest and/or most powerful member of the clan. There were several clans of iron dragons, each with a specific place in the hierarchy of the iron dragons. The iron dragons as a whole were ruled by a sovereign great wyrm to whom the clan leaders reported to directly; this sovereign in turn answered to the Supreme Dragon of the ferrous dragons, Gruaghlothor. Some accounts claimed that the sovereign had a telepathic link with each clan leader, and that Gruaghlothor had a telepathic link with the sovereign. In the overall hierarchy of the ferrous dragons, the iron dragons were the highest ranking, although they did not officially have any authority over the other four types.
Iron dragons loathed red dragons, who they saw as a stain upon the reputation of all dragonkind; the red dragons in turn hated the iron dragons just as much and viewed them as pathetic intruders. Iron dragons were also known to come into conflict with dwarves and other peoples that mined iron ore.
Iron dragons typically lived in hills or mountains, preferentially near deposits of iron ore, in temperate, subtropical, and even tropical climates; there were also a few reports of iron dragons living in dense forests. They laired in caves deep underground and hoarded iron ore more than any other material, as they needed it for part of their reproductive cycle. Iron dragons also fed primarily on iron ore, although they could sustain themselves on almost any anything.
On Toril, iron dragons had been recorded in several locations, such as in the peaks south of Taak Lake, in the Glittering Spires, and in the Giant's Belt Mountains. An entire family was reportedly lairing in the Sunrise Mountains, and there was reports of a particularly angry one living in the mountains north of the northeastern end of Icelace Lake.
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- Richard Baker, et al. (November 2009). Draconomicon: Metallic Dragons. Edited by Logan Bonner, et al. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 33–34, 179. ISBN 978-0-7869-5248-9.
- Rob Heinsoo, Stephen Schubert (May 19, 2009). Monster Manual 2 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 83–85. ISBN 0786995101.
- Kevin Baase, Eric Jansing (June 2007). “Ferrous Dragons: The return of heavy metal―dragons”. In Erik Mona ed. Dragon #356 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), pp. 29–31.
- Jason M. Walker (June 1991). “The Dragon's Bestiary: Give your campaign some heavy metal—dragons that is”. In Roger E. Moore ed. Dragon #170 (TSR, Inc.), pp. 30–32.
- Jason M. Walker (June 1991). “The Dragon's Bestiary: Give your campaign some heavy metal—dragons that is”. In Roger E. Moore ed. Dragon #170 (TSR, Inc.), p. 27.
- Kevin Baase, Eric Jansing (June 2007). “Ferrous Dragons: The return of heavy metal―dragons”. In Erik Mona ed. Dragon #356 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), pp. 22–23.
Chromatic dragons: Red • Black • Blue • Green • White • Brown • Gray • Purple • Pink • Yellow
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Dragonets: Crow's-nest dragon • Draken • Faerie dragon • Pseudodragon
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Drow-dragon (shadow) • Drow-dragon (deep) • Half-dragon • Kobold (Dragonwrought • Urd) • Weredragon • Zar'ithra • Zekyl
Undead dragons: Dracolich • Dragonwight • Hoarder • Rathrea • Vampiric • Zombie