In 2011, Wizards of the Coast released Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale, which was an expansion to the Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition Monster Vault boxed set. The Nentir Vale expansion proved to be one of the more unique monster books ever published for D&D. Threats to the Nentir Vale had factions, rival adventurers, and unique monsters to face.
One such monster was a three-headed dragon named Calastryx. Name sound familiar? It should. According to Mike Mearls, the name was inspired by none other than the dragon overlord Malystryx!
Threats to the Nentir Vale gives stats for her and the Emberdark Kobolds who serve her, plus some background for her usage in the Nentir Vale.
One would think that Calastryx’s tale would end there. Little did anyone realize that she would see the light of day again.
Calastryx Returns For 5th Edition
Ten years later, Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition proved to be an unstoppable juggernaut, thanks in no small part to the DMs Guild website. DMs Guild not only has classic D&D products, it’s also a haven for creators.
One of the most successful and prolific creators is Mannix “Dragonix” Manansala, whose Monster Manual Expanded series of books have proven to be wildly popular. Yet it was Monster Manual Expanded III that gave us a new threat that would fit perfectly in Dragonlance – multi-headed dragons!
The cover is graced with one such dragon, who may appear familiar.
Dragonix had the following to say in the “On the Cover” section in the credits.
Monster Manual Expanded III features several dragons, so it should only make sense to have a dragon on its cover. I wanted to go with a type that has never been seen in one and decided to go with a multiheaded one that was inspired by the dragon Calastryx from the 4E Monster Vault Threat to Nentir Vale. However, I didn’t just want to have a typical portrait-type cover. It had to be one that featured an epic battle with the adventuring party (featured several times in this book) in a Tyranny of Dragons campaign I ran for four years. The resulting jaw-dropping artwork was created by the amazing Ruben de Vela. I have to thank him greatly for his patience and genius for capturing and nailing my specific character action, pose, lighting, and scene requests. The outcome still exceeded my expectations – a true testament to Ruben’s talents. This cover was the first art piece I had commissioned for Monster Manual Expanded III, and it made me decide to invest in more commissions. A cover like this deserves to have an equally impressive interior artwork.– Monster Manual III, by Mannix “Dragonix” Manansala
The image is used within the interior of the book at the beginning of the multi-headed dragon section. It reads as follows…
Calastryx, a three-headed red dragon, defends her lair.– Monster Manual III, by Mannix “Dragonix” Manansala
There’s one more image of a three-headed red dragon as well.
There’s plenty of other cool art for multi-headed dragons as well, plus several other dragon-themed monsters. You may also want to check out the 3D-printable version of Calastryx as well on Dragonix’s Patreon.
Using Calastryx in Your Game
Multiheaded dragons often have multiple personalities. In the case of Calastryx, her heads have three personalities, but one plan. They work well in tandem, often finishing each others’ sentences.
Calastryx would likely be found in the Age of Mortals, and would be a relation of Malystryx. Malystryx is mentioned in the three-headed red dragon category, though her name is spelled as Malystrix. Perhaps Malystryx (now a three-headed dragon) and Calystryx are rival siblings (twins?), each trying to destroy the other. Or perhaps Calastryx is Malys’ daughter, seeking revenge.
Calastryx can also exist in other eras. She may be a unique dragon, favored by Takhisis, set to fight in the War of the Lance or the Chaos War.
It’s good to know that the dragon overlord Malystryx from the 1990s Fifth Age products has inspired a three-headed red dragon in the Threats to the Nentir Vale book. This, in turn, has influenced Dragonix with the Monster Manual Expanded III, giving us not only an update for Calastryx, but several other multi-headed dragons.