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I'm just having trouble figuring out if that's possible. Would she have to lose her godhood even if she was willing? Or is it just not possible at all? What's scarier than the 5 headed dragon queen? The 5 headed undead dragon queen with more spells to sling. It may be a simple question, I just can't find the awnser. Looking for some vets to help, thank you.

Primarily worried about the lore of this.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Just to check, it sounds like you're asking for lore possibility, not mechanical possibility? \$\endgroup\$
    – Draconis
    Jul 4 at 5:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the stack! Take the tour if you haven't, and don't hesitate to swing by the help center if you have any questions. Regarding your question, are you looking for an answer in terms of mechanics (stat blocks, abilities and such) or in terms of lore (does it fit the character's background, is it possible in the standard settings of DnD)? \$\endgroup\$
    – Matthieu
    Jul 4 at 6:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes, mostly lore. i know mechanically it could work with a lot of loop holes. I just want to make sure its not gonna destroy any lore thats important. \$\endgroup\$
    – Floppy
    Jul 4 at 7:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ IIRC, the "Tiamat actually gets summoned" isn't really supposed to happen in the first place. It's the loss condition of the campaign. If she makes it, your heroes have already lost. Why make it even worse for them? \$\endgroup\$
    – Jorn
    Jul 5 at 12:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ im running some changes to the story form the book. There will be factors that may weaken her that would push her to drastic measures. my players are wicked smart and i have to stay ahead of them. i dont wanna make it impossible. i just know they can handle anything i throw at them and i just wanna challenge them a bit more. \$\endgroup\$
    – Floppy
    Jul 6 at 1:00

4 Answers 4

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She probably couldn’t, and certainly wouldn’t

In addition to questionable appeal to a being that is proudly draconic and already immortal, godhood is going to cause some problems with becoming a dracolich.

On the first, dragons don’t have a lot of respect for dracoliches; they are seen as not true dragons. For dragons, that’s about as damning a criticism as you can get. Moreover, this attitude probably comes from Tiamat herself—she probably feels this way more strongly than any other dragon. And since being a god is a far better way to be immortal than being a lich, it doesn’t seem very tempting.

There are also technical issues here. As a god, Tiamat is a creature of belief more than she is flesh and blood—on some level, she already isn’t a true dragon, though of course she is something that certainly counts in the eyes of all dragons (even those that hate her would count her, because Bahamut’s in the same boat). She probably can’t become a dracolich per se—at best, she would do something visually similar while continuing to be a god. But this is a problem, because it makes us ask why she would do so—dracoliches get some things out of it. Does she?

But the really, really big problem here is that D&D gods are, and must be, what they are believed to be. So if everyone—particularly her worshippers—believe her to be a dragon—not a dracolich—that is what she is. Gods cannot change that easily or safely; most cannot even fathom trying. Of those who have tried, most have been destroyed. Those that survived, lost enormous amounts of power in the process. The most infamous case probably being Jergal,¹ from the Forgotten Realms. He was the Lord of the End of Everything, quite possibly the most powerful god of death in the multiverse (and Death is a big portfolio). He schemed to pass that mantle on—a scheme being necessary because a god can’t “just” retire—and even though he handled it expertly, it cost him nearly all of his divine power. He had been so powerful that his mantle alone turned three mortals into two greater deities and an intermediate. Afterwards, he was a demigod—that is an almost incalculable loss.

And Tiamat would be aware of that. Becoming something other than what she is believed to be—and being a dracolich, or anything like one, is very much not what she is believed to be—would be a monumental loss of power. And unlike Jergal, who was tired of his position, Tiamat loves being Tiamat. She would never do it.

What to do, then?

We already established that Tiamat isn’t going to be using the same ritual as a regular dracolich here, because as a god it wouldn’t work on her.

So what you want to do here is lean into that—and make whatever she does be something worth this side effect.

What would that be? Absorbing more divine power. Gods can take each other’s divine power; some gods specialize in it. That divine power comes with portfolios and beliefs attached, though—if Tiamat absorbs another god’s power, she is no longer just Tiamat: she is also, to an extent, the former god she’s absorbed, and what that god was believed to be.

Which solves all our problems in one fell swoop. Tiamat gains power, and also becomes something different from what she was, adds new things to what she was believed to be. This is a way around all the problems with godhood. And it’s very, very obvious why she would want to do it.

Gods I thought of:

So have Tiamat absorb the divinity of one of the undead gods. A few options spring to mind for me:

  • Vecna is popular these days, though after the Sigil fiasco he might not have enough power to interest Tiamat. On the other hand, that might be a good thing: taking too much power is much more dangerous, even assuming you can get it, just because it’s going to have a larger influence on who you are and are believed to be. It also might work well for the fight, since presumably you don’t want Tiamat to go from a challenging fight to a complete curb-stomp.

  • Orcus/Tenebrous would have been perfect, but that divinity was destroyed with great prejudice long, long ago. Actually, on second thought, while Tiamat would have loved to have it, there was no way she was going to get it.

  • Myrkul seems like a sweet spot though: he was one of those who inherited Jergal’s power, but he was destroyed by, and lost it to, Cyric (who lost it to Kelemvor). Now he’s reborn, but less as god of death and more as god of the fear of dying—still a big deal, but not nearly so much as the real thing. His apparent destruction and re-birth works to Tiamat’s advantage, because it means relatively few believe in Myrkul anymore. Gods depend on their worshippers for sustenance, so that makes Myrkul vulnerable. That’s a reasonable target for Tiamat.

Better options from a friend

I spoke with @afroakuma, who is a far greater expert on the subject of D&D lore than I, and he pointed out a very, very important reason why Tiamat wouldn’t become anything like a dracolich:

There is already a god of dracoliches.

Or, maybe several? Or maybe they’re actually aspects of the same god? Or maybe one died and passed the mantle on to one of those others who turned out to actually be an aspect of yet another?

Once upon a time, at least, there were two evil draconic deities much closer to dracoliches than Tiamat: Faluzure and Kalzareinad. But, at least if you’re in the Forgotten Realms (and The Rise of Tiamat is), Kalzareinad might have died, Faluzure might have actually been Null, Null might have picked up the dracolich portfolio when/if Kalzareinad died. Or maybe it was Kereska that got that portfolio. (For more on why there is so much confusion here, see ².)

Point is, someone is the god of dracoliches. And it ain’t Tiamat.

For the purposes of this plot, I vote (and afroakuma votes) for Kalzareinad. Unlike Faluzure/Null, who are big, big gods (or is one big, big god), Kalzareinad is small. Tiny. Barely holding on. An even easier target than Vecna, actually by a considerable margin.

And in possession of precisely the portfolio we want here. Kalzareinad is, or at least was, the dracolich god of evil draconic magic. It had been said that he alone knew the secret for creating dracoliches. But dracoliches are few and far between, and neither dragons nor the undead are great worshippers. And outside those few, Kalzareinad is deeply obscure. Almost unknown. Almost without believers.

That makes him an easy snack for Tiamat. Something she maybe could just flip a switch on for a quick power boost. Low risk. But it might have some visual effects, as Tiamat suddenly becomes the goddess of dracoliches and evil draconic magic, in addition to being the goddess of evil dragons.

Actually acquiring the chosen divinity

Tiamat can’t just randomly yoink another god’s divinity.

Once you pick one—of these, or another undead god, there’s quite a few—you have to figure out how Tiamat got her claws on their divinity. Tiamat would have to scheme a lot to be able to have this in her back-pocket during a fight—even the greatest of gods need to be careful going after even the weakest of other gods. Also, best case scenario is still not a clear win for Tiamat—even though she increases in power, she becomes something different from what she is, which isn’t often something gods see as a positive thing. So I think a plausible plot here is that Tiamat has been scheming to undo another god, and maybe leverage their divinity for something. Maybe use it personally, if she can work out how to do so safely; maybe barter it; maybe use it for some spell or ritual. Lots of options, many probably better than just slapping it onto her own spark and seeing what happens.

But then she’s losing a fight. An important one. One that has a bunch of other schemes riding on it. Maybe it’s time to just throw caution to the wind and flip the switch. Gods don’t often do that—and what you fight in The Rise of Tiamat is almost-certainly an avatar and not Tiamat herself, personally, for real, so it’s not as though the stakes are necessarily life-or-death here. (And as the case of Myrkul shows, death doesn’t always stick for gods in the first place, particularly not one with as established a following as Tiamat.) But maybe Tiamat is at a point where she’s pretty sure she can handle it, and maybe her schemes really need to not go off the rails at this particular point. So maybe she does. And it becomes an epic fight for your players.


  1. Details on Jergal and his “retirement” scheme, and granting his power to “The Dead Three,” as Bane, Bhaal, and Myrkul were known, can be found in Faiths & Avatars.

  2. The canon gets very muddled here, because in 1990, TSR published Draconomicon (note, the 1990, 2e book by that title, not one of the other times D&D has used it). That book decided to ret-con a whole slew of draconic gods, mash them together and split them apart and other silly things—in the Forgotten Realms only. So we have a strange divergence of canon, where everything else kept the draconic gods that had been around for a while, but FR had the same gods with different names and maybe some of them were actually two names for the same god, and so on. And then TSR died and Wizards of the Coast bought D&D and has never bothered to go into such detail again. But Null still shows up occasionally. I mean, so does Faluzure, so hard to say what to make of that. Kalzareinad doesn’t, but then he was always deeply obscure.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan for what it's worth, the new (ish) 5e sourcebook, Fizban's Treasury of Dragons, notes: "Bahamut and Tiamat, the primordial dragons and the purported creators of the First World, are the closest things to gods among dragonkind. Since they share the same fundamental connection to the Material Plane as their dragon offspring. Bahamut and Tiamat are ontologically distinct from the gods that hail from the Outer Planes. But for practical purposes they are divine" (see my answer on this question: rpg.stackexchange.com/a/192495/36850).... \$\endgroup\$
    – illustro
    Jul 4 at 19:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ So Tiamat may actually be able to become a draco-Tiamat should they wish as they aren't restricted to their "brief" in the same way we would understand a god to be. \$\endgroup\$
    – illustro
    Jul 4 at 19:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @illustro So I read that as saying more than Bahamut and Tiamat are the closest thing to gods for dragons as a matter of worship: dragons don’t really do the whole “worship” thing very much. I don’t think it was a ret-con of everything Bahamut and Tiamat are. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Jul 4 at 22:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ thank you for all the insight,it helps alot. deeply appreciated \$\endgroup\$
    – Floppy
    Jul 5 at 5:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ If you have any lore questions to discuss, I'm always available to poke. I have a problematic amount of knowledge in this area :P \$\endgroup\$
    – afroakuma
    Jul 6 at 16:43
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In lore the main reason for dragons to willingly become a dracolich is the immortality. But it comes at a heavy cost, a dracolich is classified as an undead and no longer a true dragon. The Monster Manual states:

Even as long-lived as they are, all dragons must eventually die. This thought doesn’t sit well with many dragons, some of which allow themselves to be transformed by necromantic energy and ancient rituals into powerful undead dracoliches. Only the most narcissistic dragons choose this path, knowing that by doing so, they sever all ties to their kin and the dragon gods.

For a god like Tiamat this doesn't sound all that great. Gods are already basically immortal and it sounds very out of character for her to abandon her status as a dragon. Tiamat is however always looking to gain power and looking at the Dracolich Template provided by the Monster Manual is it clear that the transformation is mostly an increase in power.

Whether or not she retains her divinity is not answered by any lore, but considering regular dracoliches lose their ties to the dragon gods it is likely that even if Tiamat retains her divinity she is no longer a god of dragons and her place in the pantheon will have to shift.

If you want your world to have an undead Tiamat go for it. You can always implement an undo transformation later if you need Tiamat to be her proper self again.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ all very true, sometimes i confine myself to lore and lock my self down on it. Your right though thank you. \$\endgroup\$
    – Floppy
    Jul 5 at 5:51
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As the DM, what is possible in your world is up to you.

You are only answerable to what your players think of the game. This is quantified (for me, at least) in interest, believability (also called verisimilitude), and a weird mixture of the two that is like 'long term buy-in'.

There's various ways to tell if your audience (the players) is buying into what you're selling. But that's kinda complicated.

Basically, you're asking about what would generally be considered reasonable for Tiamat to do. 'Lore' is an extremely fluid concept - the most anal lore purist players are very willing to completely accept things that are the opposite of existing lore if it is framed right. Often 'official' sources contradict each other, or are vague. Sometimes even in the same adventure or sourcebook.

Likewise, circumstance can change existing lore. The lady of pain 'never' does XYZ, except hey, there's a real threat to sigil coming in. Thus she changes her mind - and this is where believability comes in. Events (which you control as the DM) can change the status quo (the 'lore'). On top of that, the lore might be a clever set of lies to trick the unwary. The lore might be true, but too simplistic - there's more conditions and things than are commonly known. Without even getting particularly creative, there are a lot of ways to work around extant facts and still have what you want happen - that's even if you have the kind of players who won't accept that this is 'your version' of the forgotten realms (or w/e).

Fighting Tiamat's 5e statblock is frankly uninspiring. She's dangerous, but not exciting or interesting and doesn't have a lot to interact with. Doesn't particularly surprise me that you'd want to increase the interest of this (climactic) encounter.

Lorewise, Tiamat is an incredibly old and incredibly powerful being. Fighting a creature like that should involve tricks they've developed, gathered, and honed over millenia being brought to bear. The easiest way to both explain you spicing up the encounter and making Tiamat more interesting is that Tiamat isn't dumb (she's actually hyperintelligent). She's not going to fight fair - and thus she's doing things to fight unfairly. This isn't some natural draconic trait, this is an ancient and powerful fiend's trove of bullshit tactics.

Now the best way to present this is to lay groundwork. Show signs that Tiamat Is Smart by other actions she's taken - with minions or plots or whatnot - beforehand. Lay some clues in your opening description of the fight scene. And have the changes to her statblock come as reactions to the party's actions. Perhaps the party successfully kills her - then the huge obsidian sarcophagus in the centre of the room shatters, a lich inside screaming as he's disintegrated and his phylactery floats over to Tiamat's body and reanimates her and she starts ranting about how they've forced her to this mockery and how she's gonna consume their souls (etc).

In a fight against a god, I'd personally use several of these kinds of things. Changes of location, tactics, usage of old tricks or artifacts. Standing there beating someone with 600hp to death is not very exciting, but doing some God of War style stuff to powerful entities pulling out all the stops is way more interesting for the party.

But basically, how to justify something in the lore, is almost the wrong question to ask. You more want to ask - how do I sell this in such a believable way that my players literally won't care about 'the lore'?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Absolutely, some times i forget that i make the world as seen fit and i have to portray that and make the party believe it. i dont now why i made the wall i hit. Thank you \$\endgroup\$
    – Floppy
    Jul 5 at 5:53
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Frame Challenge

As KRyan more than adequately explained, this is highly unlikely for multiple reasons. That said, you can find other ways to present this.

The first is that Tiamat, as part of a scheme, pretends to become a dracolich. Perhaps she is trying to get close to a death god for some reason. Maybe it is a plot again Bahamut, or at least the metallic dragons. Without knowing more about your campaign, it is hard to suggest what her ultimate goal would be, or why she thinks this is the best route. But the PCs are likely just pawns. They saw her transformation, drove off her weakened (and seemingly vulnerable to anti-undead abilities) dracolich form. It could also be a multifaceted plan, she wants the PCs to be captured and tortured by Orcus, to verify she really has turned. This will get the PCs, a thorn in her talon, out of the way, while also convincing Orcus to try to control her, for whatever her main plot is.

Alternately, the five-headed dracolich isn't really Tiamat. They were originally a 'normal' dracolich, who killed other dracoliches and assimilated their heads. Maybe for power, maybe to try to prove their devotion to Tiamat despite becoming undead. Possibly both. Or something completely different. The false Tiamat might have become to believe that they are the real deal, after centuries of undeath and the four other heads' lingering resentments whispering to them. Or they know better, but just don't correct anyone.

The ultimate point being, even if canon lore says no, and you as DM don't want to override it, you can potentially find something close enough, or the next best thing. And you might even be able to spin it into a different story arc; where did the fake Tiamat dracolich get the idea of stealing heads and why has the real Tiamat not destroyed them? Is another god guiding and protecting them, and if so, for what purpose? (Maybe Orcus wants to use the fake Tiamat to make the chromatic dragons doubt their mother, so he can control them and weaken her)

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