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Book of Beasts: Yeongno

Book of Beasts, Chapter 22: Yeongno

A large, serpentine, small-horned dragon with a horse-like mane devours a delicious pig, or duck, wearing the clothing and hat of a high court official.

The yeongno, a serpentine Korean dragon slithers through the air with a terrified pig in its mouth.

A yeongno is a fallen celestial dragon desperate to get back into the good graces of the celestial bureaucracy. The typical task is for a yeongno to eat one hundred corrupt court officials before it will be admitted back to heaven.

Ascended Wyrm

A yeongno begins its existence as imugi, a lesser serpentine dragon which inhabits rivers and lakes.  After a thousand years, imugis can ascend to heaven, watching the skies until they acquire a yeouiju, a star fallen from heaven which can grant wishes.  An imugi always wishes to ascend to become a yong, a celestial dragon.

Fallen Dragon

The ways of the celestial bureaucracy are myriad and strange, and while all new yongs are welcomed, it is possible to make enough missteps as to be cast out of heaven, banished from the celestial realm and demoted to a yeongno—still greater than an imugi, but far less than a yong.

Sea, Sky, and Land

Starting as a water wyrm then ascending to a sky dragon before falling to earth, a yeongno is equally at home in any terrain.  The only reason it does not fly back to the celestial realms with the other yong dragons is because it is exiled, not because it can’t.  Returning to the waterways of the imugi is also possible but something it considers beneath its station, fallen though it is.

Changeable Scales

A yeongno can change the color of its scales to match its surrounding, from the green of the river to the blue of the sky to the brown of the earth.  When angry, such as when interrogating a wicked yangban, it likes to adopt the golden shades of a tiger.

100 Wicked Yangbans

In the lands the yeongno is from, a yangban is a minor noble and court official who has been appointed to office, and possibly elevated to the nobility if they weren’t already from it, on the basis of scholarly examinations.  Judges, petty bureaucrats, and high court officials may all be yanbans.  A yeongno is tasked with eating one hundred wicked yangbans, for after this community service, it may be readmitted to the celestial realm.

Head of the Bibi

A yeongno, when sent back to earth, is issued a magic flute.  Playing this flute allows it to take humanoid form, to better move about society and make inquiries about corrupt judges, dangerously incompetent public officials, malicious courtiers, and worst of all chuibbali, embezzlers of public funds.  Playing only half the flute tune will leave the yeongno in the form of a bibi, a dragon-headed humanoid.

Squeal for Mercy

While a yeongno is judge, jury, and executioner for wicked yangbans, if they throw themselves on its mercy, they may plead for their lives.  Those with large families, particularly yangban who are great-grandparents, have an easier time.  It is also possible to lie, for while a yeongno is at least a thousand years old, and correspondingly wise, wicked yangbans tend to be very skilled liars.

Long Pork, Short Pork, Duck

In most lands with good laws, it is illegal to consume the flesh of humans and other sentient beings.  This poses a problem for yeongno tasked with consuming wicked yangbans.  The workaround is for the yeongno to play another tune on its flute and turn the yangban into a delicious—and legal—pig.  In lands where pork is also illegal, yeongnos turns yangbans into ducks instead.

Designer Note

The yeongno is adapted from Korean folklore and the Talchum masked drama.

5e D&D Stat Block:

Yeongno, Korean dragon

Large celestial, lawful good

Armor Class 17 (natural armor)

Hit Points 94 (10d10 + 39)

Speed 94 (10d10 + 39)

STR      DEX     CON     INT     WIS     CHA

18(+4)  16(+3)  17(+3)   14(+2)   19(+4)   17(+3)

Saving Throws CON + 5, Wis +6, Cha +5

Skills Deception +5, Insight +6, Investigation +4, Stealth +5

Damage Resistances Cold, Lightning, Radiant; Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing from Nonmagical Attacks

Senses Darkvision 120 ft., Passive Perception 14

Languages Common, Celestial, Telepathy 60 ft.

Challenge 4 (1,100 XP)                            Proficiency Bonus +2

Amphibious. The yeongno can breathe air and water.

Color-Changing Scales. In its true form, the yeongno can alter the color of its scales, granting it  advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks. 

Innate Spellcasting. The yeongno’s innate spellcasting ability is Wisdom (spell save DC 14, +6 to hit with spell attacks). It can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components:

At-will: detect evil and good, gust of wind, zone of truth

3/day each: lightning bolt, sleet storm

1/day each: control water, polymorph


Multiattack. The yeongno makes two attacks: one with a claw and one with its bite.

Bite (Dragon or Bibi Form Only). Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 13 (2d8 + 4) piercing damage.

Claw (Dragon Form Only). Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6 + 4) slashing damage.

Change Shape. The yeongno magically polymorphs into a human, a bibi, or back into its true form. In its bibi form, the yeongno has a draconic head on an otherwise human body. It reverts to its true form if it dies. Any equipment it is wearing or carrying is absorbed or borne by the new form (the yeongno’s choice). In human or bibi form, the yeongno retains its game statistics, but its size is Medium.


Creative Director: Kevin Andrew Murphy

Lore: Kevin Andrew Murphy


Statblock: Eugene Marshall


Ink: Bien Flores


Sensitivity Editor: Mari Murdock


Art Director: Aaron Acevedo


This creature is from the upcoming Book of Beasts. Keep an eye out every Thursday for a new monster as part of our Monster of the Week series!

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Kevin Andrew Murphy writes short stories, plays, poems, novels, and roleplaying games. A long-standing contributor to Wild Cards (www.wildcardsworld.com), George R.R. Martin’s super-hero series, Kevin’s story for Mississippi Roll, “Find the Lady,” won the 2019 Darrell Award for Best Novella. On the gaming end, Kevin’s currently editor in chief for Savage Sign, the Savage Worlds roleplaying game magazine. Kevin’s next short story is “Anastasia’s Egg” coming out in October in Weird World War III edited by Sean Patrick Hazlett for Baen. A lifelong resident of California’s Bay Area, Kevin has recently relocated to Reno, Nevada.

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