Black dragons acid pool...WOW!


Rules Questions


Acid Pool (Su)

An ancient or older black dragon can use its breath weapon to create an acid pool as a standard action. This acid pool has a radius of 5 feet per age category of the dragon. When an acid pool is created, anyone inside its area takes an amount of damage equal to the dragon's breath weapon (Reflex half). Any creature that starts its turn touching this pool takes damage, but can make a Reflex save for half. Each round, the total damage dice of the pool is halved until the result would be less than 1d6. The acid pool floats on water, and deals damage to anything on the surface.

So I am a bit confused with this ability.
Ancient dragon creates an acid pool, people inside roll reflex (DC 28) for half of 20d6 damage.
In the same turn players start inside, roll reflex (DC 28) for a) 20d6 damage or b) for 10d6 damage.
(And in the second turn a) for 10d6 b) for 5d6)

By strict reading its a) but man it does seem quite punishing. If the party hasn't prepared with resist elements acid they could suffer an unfair TPK.

Am I missing sth?


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I'd say you understand how it works perfectly.

Dragons aren't really known for fairness.

Grand Lodge

this is one reason that dragons should be feared


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Most gamemasters are not going to put an ancient black out there on a random table. It is a pretty rare if not unique encounter and if the group goes into it unprepared I would not call it an unfair TPK.


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John John wrote:


If the party hasn't prepared with resist elements acid they could suffer an unfair TPK.

An ancient black dragon is CR 16.

Any CR 16 encounter should be quite badass; any party that can expect to casually encounter a CR 16 foe should be able to handle quite a bit.

Frankly, I'd be more concerned about the possibility of encountering a horned devil, which is not only CR 16, but also has the greater teleport ability so it can essentially appear right in front of you and go to town with a +1 unholy spiked chain +26/+21/+16 (2d6+11 plus stun). At least black dragons tend to give you some warning.


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You don't get to ancient age by playing mr.nice guy..let them melt.


I guess my reading of the rule is correct then.

Thanks for the responses, I have to admit though, I didn't expect so many respones saying, that it is a totally ok power.

Lets not confuse the mechanics of a creature with its behaviour. Yes dragons don't need to fight "fairly" but that doesn't mean they should have a ridicoulous breath weapon attack. Its nice to defeat the players through guile or interesting challenges but not through an ability that will kill them through pure damage.

Also note only Black Dragons have such a powerful ability. Scouring the Bestiary's dragon powers I haven't found anything close to acid pools raw power.
There are of course cool and effective powers like mirage(project image), sandstorm and snowstorm, which can make parties cry but force the players to find tactical solutions and don't depend on a rocket tag way of playing. "We need to do 500 points of damage before the dragon destroys the entire party" or "We need to predict and be perfectly buffed for every encounter" aren't ways of playing I enjoy.

I recognize though that this discussion isn't about rules, so I might create a new thread about it.

Grand Lodge

There are a multitude of ways to bypass that ability, both through things like resist energy, and through not being on the ground. At that level, must of the party is going to have ways to fly, and/or get rather large movement speeds.

Hard for the acid pool to affect the Barbarian/Fighter/Ranger who is flying up to attack the flying dragon.

Difficult for the acid pool to affect much of a party that is already practiced at staying out of "fireball formation", especially if they are already trying to stay out of "breath weapon formation".

We won't even mention that d**n rogue standing in the middle of the pool, totally unaffected by it.


Yes, I was going to say that the rogue pretty much has "walk on acid" as a free ability. The barbarian probably has some +umteen static bonus to all his saves as well. As well there is the ring of evasion. While the acid breath is powerful, it is limited to a single plane, and to a (relitivly) small area. If anyone just stands in it, yes they will die, but players are not known to just stand in circles of death like some mooks are... overland flight pretty much defeats this ability on its own.


Get it too cast anti magic shell around itself first!!

Scarab Sages

This is not overpowered.

I used the red dragon's similar ability last session, against a level 17 party, and the results were underwhelming. In that case, the PCs had a round of warning, so were able to put up Mass Resist Fire, but even if they hadn't, 20d6 is not remarkable.

Average damage is 66. The lowest hp in the party are the wizard, who has well over 100hp. It would take two applications of average, unsaved, unresisted damage to KO (not even kill) the most fragile party member.

Between the initial breath, and inflicting the next damage, the PCs have options to mass-heal, cast energy resistances, and/or grab any low-hp allies and teleport them to safety.

At level 17, no-one has any excuse for going into a fight carrying wounds from the last encounter, so these abilities are only TPK-likely, if the dragon pops up as reinforcements during a fight with another creature, or after the PCs have exhausted all their resources.


Snorter wrote:
20d6 is not remarkable. Average damage is 66.

Huh? How do you come to that conclusion?

Unless my math-fu fails me, average damage of 20d6 should be 70 (3.5 per die)...

Snorter wrote:
Between the initial breath, and inflicting the next damage, the PCs have options to mass-heal, cast energy resistances, and/or grab any low-hp allies and teleport them to safety.

Do they? To me, it appears that...

- Draggy creates its pool. 20d6 for everyone affected.
- Next party member's turn starts. 20d6 for said member.

which will result in 40d6 of unhealed damage for at least one character. Now, if Draggy just happens to go directly before the wizard...

Plus, bear in mind that a CR16 black dragon might be used as an encounter for a level 13 party.

I don't say this ability is OMG-borken, but it might be just a tad nastier than you are assessing it.


Snorter wrote:

This is not overpowered.

I used the red dragon's similar ability last session, against a level 17 party, and the results were underwhelming. In that case, the PCs had a round of warning, so were able to put up Mass Resist Fire, but even if they hadn't, 20d6 is not remarkable.

Average damage is 66. The lowest hp in the party are the wizard, who has well over 100hp. It would take two applications of average, unsaved, unresisted damage to KO (not even kill) the most fragile party member.

Between the initial breath, and inflicting the next damage, the PCs have options to mass-heal, cast energy resistances, and/or grab any low-hp allies and teleport them to safety.

At level 17, no-one has any excuse for going into a fight carrying wounds from the last encounter, so these abilities are only TPK-likely, if the dragon pops up as reinforcements during a fight with another creature, or after the PCs have exhausted all their resources.

Hrm. I'm wondering if you missed the part where the acid pool can affect a PC twice before they act. So... it is 20d6 save half + 20d6 save half... then act. Average damage of 140 if not saved or prepared for/resists etc.

140 can tpk an unprepared, unlucky, or unorganized party, or come remarkably close to doing so.


Orfamay Quest wrote:
John John wrote:


If the party hasn't prepared with resist elements acid they could suffer an unfair TPK.

An ancient black dragon is CR 16.

Any CR 16 encounter should be quite badass; any party that can expect to casually encounter a CR 16 foe should be able to handle quite a bit.

Frankly, I'd be more concerned about the possibility of encountering a horned devil, which is not only CR 16, but also has the greater teleport ability so it can essentially appear right in front of you and go to town with a +1 unholy spiked chain +26/+21/+16 (2d6+11 plus stun). At least black dragons tend to give you some warning.

Sorry for the tangent here, but am I missing something on this? Greater teleport is a standard action. At best the devil teleports and gets one attack in the same round.


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Ashtathlon wrote:
You don't get to ancient age by playing mr.nice guy..let them melt.

Strong Avatar to Post Content ratio. Nicely played.


Gray wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
John John wrote:


If the party hasn't prepared with resist elements acid they could suffer an unfair TPK.

An ancient black dragon is CR 16.

Any CR 16 encounter should be quite badass; any party that can expect to casually encounter a CR 16 foe should be able to handle quite a bit.

Frankly, I'd be more concerned about the possibility of encountering a horned devil, which is not only CR 16, but also has the greater teleport ability so it can essentially appear right in front of you and go to town with a +1 unholy spiked chain +26/+21/+16 (2d6+11 plus stun). At least black dragons tend to give you some warning.

Sorry for the tangent here, but am I missing something on this? Greater teleport is a standard action. At best the devil teleports and gets one attack in the same round.

Surprise round - Greater Teleport.

Assuming good init on horned devil, full attack in first real round against flat-footed foes.


BillyGoat wrote:
Gray wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
John John wrote:


If the party hasn't prepared with resist elements acid they could suffer an unfair TPK.

An ancient black dragon is CR 16.

Any CR 16 encounter should be quite badass; any party that can expect to casually encounter a CR 16 foe should be able to handle quite a bit.

Frankly, I'd be more concerned about the possibility of encountering a horned devil, which is not only CR 16, but also has the greater teleport ability so it can essentially appear right in front of you and go to town with a +1 unholy spiked chain +26/+21/+16 (2d6+11 plus stun). At least black dragons tend to give you some warning.

Sorry for the tangent here, but am I missing something on this? Greater teleport is a standard action. At best the devil teleports and gets one attack in the same round.

Surprise round - Greater Teleport.

Assuming good init on horned devil, full attack in first real round against flat-footed foes.

Got it. Thanks. I was wondering if I missed a "quickened" or something that would make the teleport faster.


Continued in this thread .


Remy Balster wrote:

Hrm. I'm wondering if you missed the part where the acid pool can affect a PC twice before they act. So... it is 20d6 save half + 20d6 save half... then act. Average damage of 140 if not saved or prepared for/resists etc.

140 can tpk an unprepared, unlucky, or unorganized party, or come remarkably close to doing so.

Snorter was talking about the Red Dragon effect, which is slightly different. No save, for starters, which messed with my Evasion. But it had it's limitations in that the main function (I think) is to get through stone walls etc and open up the encounter space, not damage people. The description does not include "when it is created" but "Any creature in contact with the lava takes 20d6 points of fire damage on the first round". The Acid Pool effect is much more combat-oriented.

Compare with the Green Dragon ability, which specifically calls out the "When it is created" damage, as well as "on the start of a character's turn" damage, like the Black Dragon one. Differences are the reduced damage, reduced radius, but it surrounds and moves with the dragon.

My own thoughts - if you know you are facing a dragon, having no character already flying is a sign you may well face a TPK if the dice aren't in your favour. If you don't know a dragon is coming, you're up against a TPK regardless. They are hard!


Bestiary 1 dragons have a crippling weakness with their terrible low Reflex saves. Ancient dragons have the following:

White +14
Brass +13
Bronze +13
Copper +13
Gold +14
Silver +15
Red +13
Green +12
Blue +13
Black +13

In a world where dazing evocations or NO SR dazing conjurations exist any Bestiary 1 dragon is lucky to get an action against a moderately competent spellcaster.

Later Bestiaries go some way to correcting this but the early versions are pretty bad.


I do find it slightly OP that the dragon can sneak in 40d6 before anyone has even acted. That said, an ancient dragon that manages to sneak up on a party should be nasty.


I have to say that sounds like a bigger problem with Dazing Spell than with dragons.

FWIW, I actually don't see the 40d6. It's not super clear, I'll agree.

The ability states this:

  • Pool created = damage equal to breath weapon
  • Creatures starting their turn touching the pool take damage.
  • The amount of damage halves each round.
The 2nd line isn't directly connected to the first or third lines - it's just stating when creatures take more damage. The third line could easily be read as applying immediately. For comparison, it wouldn't make any sense at all to say "it deals damage equal to the breath weapon when created, then halves each round. Creatures touching it take damage."

Edit: That said, I don't think it's beyond all reason the other way. The first person to go (assuming they survive) might be able to teleport several others out. On the other hand - for Black Dragons you stay out of lines - fireball formation is generally just fine. Since this ability is almost the size of a flip-mat (50' radius, same as bless), you're pretty likely to cover at least the ground where a group is standing.

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