Of Kings and Men
“Bow thy heads, o mortals mere!;
And bend thy knees to Him in fear;
For Death is wing’d and loathsome Red;"
- Excerpt from an unfinished poem, found in the ruins of the city of Morn.
Dragons. The very word conjures images of the mighty beasts – as tall or taller than castle donjons and as majestic as creation itself. However, within the hearts of many people, it still brings forth feelings of great fear and terror, a remembrance of an age past when some of these great creatures swooped from the skies to tear apart the Realm and feast upon the flesh of man and beast, to take gold and jewels and goods that catch their eyes, and to terrorise and terrify the inhabitants of the realm.
However, in truth, though they are terrifying, they are also incredible beings, worthy of being considered a race, rather than a simple animal. As to what makes them so incredible, I will explain to you shortly. First, allow me to regale you with the tale of their creation.
In the distant past, when the lands of Men and even the Aboleths were but a distant dream, Ectherdhin himself oversaw the creation of the Planes. With furrowed brow he studied as his Sons and Daughters created the many planes that now populate the universe. Knowing that the planes would be too vast for even Gods to keep track of, Ectherdhin gathered them together and set upon creating a creature bound to the universe itself to serve as the Guardian of the Gods’ creation.
In Ectherdhin’s mighty forge, they combined Soul Dust with the pieces from every plane in Creation and a drop blood from every God and then bound it together with the living winds of magic, forging the Cosmic Egg.
Placed upon a plane of it’s own, created by Ectherdhin himself, who wished to see how would his new creation fare, the Egg layed in rest for aeons of our time, as the life within it grew stronger with each moment.
Eventually, it began to hatch. It’s great shells broke open and fell to the ground, and from them grew the Dragonheart Mountains on Drakonis. From within the egg, wriggled forth two winged creatures with glistening scales – one of midnight black and one of shining mythril – one a mother, one a father for the new race of creatures.
Thus, Ectherdhin named them Dragons, and gave them free roam over the plane he called Drakonis. Mighty did these creatures grow in time and from them spawned all Dragons that dwell in the Planes. They spread from plane to plane, until every plane had it’s Draconic Keepers.
However, not all planes gained them equally. On Imoeth came to reside only the Chromatic, Gem and Ferrous Dragons, who dwelt in the most ancient areas of the World, from deepest mountains to the deepest seas, and fought amongst each other and the newly-spawned races of the world, the Ferrous Dragons wishing for relative peace, while the Chromatic Dragons yearning for blood and conquest.
In time, of course, the Metallic Dragons came to be, brought into our world by a mage known as Ventor the Brilliant. The fight became fiercer, as the Ferrous and Metallic Dragons fought hard against the Chromatic Dragons, until few dragons were left. Kingdoms and religions rose to prominence that hailed Dragons as beings of the divine or their rulers.
And thusly, within a few centuries, the Dragons became no more, destroyed by the many other races that struck them down to prevent the world from ever being overtaken by Dragons again.
Now, knowing their history, we can venture foward to learning of the Dragons more. Let us begin with the many types of True and Lesser Dragons to be found within the Planes:
- Chromatic Dragons – Dragons of a particular colour, they are typically aligned towards maliciousness and cruelty, prone to deeds of evil over those of goods.
- Metallic Dragons – Dragons of a metallic colour, they are typically aligned towards gentleness and curiosity, prone to deeds of good over those of evil.
- Gem Dragons – Dragons composed of Gem-like material, they are aligned towards balance and peace, prone to deeds of good and evil in equal measure.
- Ferrous Dragons – Dragons of a very strongly metallic colour, they are aligned towards order, prone to strictness of hierarchy and ordered behaviour.
- Planar Dragons – Dragons of many colours and some without any, they are not strictly aligned and are prone to deeds of good and evil in varying measures.
- Independent Dragons – Similar to Planar Dragons, but typically located within the Material plane and only on a select few Planes.
- Arcane Dragons – A unique supgroup of dragons with unearthly colours, aligned towards magic and studies, and are prone to deeds of Good and Evil in varying measures.
- Wyverns – Lesser Dragons, they are evil and unintelligent beings yearning for flesh and loot, and feel no pity for humankind. They bear long stinger tails and lack the versatile front claws of Dragons.
- Drakes – Lesser Dragons, Drakes are more crude animals than real Dragons. Many have small wings that they use for very limited flight, though some have no wings. They are tameable and can be kept as pets. They are rather popular amongst the Talisian nobility.
- Elemental Drakes – Lesser Dragons, Elemental Drakes are planar drakes that are aligned to a particular plane or element.
- Felldrakes – Lesser Dragons, Felldrakes are similar to Drakes, but possess thicker hides, greater strength and a much more fiercer and independent character.
- Landwyrms – Lesser Dragons, Landwyrms are land-bound draconic animals that typically serve as vicious predators in a particular environment.
- Dragonkin – Humanoids related to Dragons, they fall into many subgroups, such as Half-Dragons.
- Dragonborn – Humanoids reborn in Draconic form.
However, despite there being so many varieties of Dragons, we shall discuss only True Dragons, for they are the subject of this particular work.
True Dragons are omnivorous, though all True Dragons have strong preference for their diet – with the exception of Chaos Dragons, who’s preferred food tends to vary from day to day.
Physically, Dragons are inherently magical creatures similar in look to reptilian creatures, but intensely different in behaviour. In fact, the only true links between reptilians and dragons is the fact that they are scaled, that some dragons (such as ferrous) are cold-blooded and lay eggs.
Almost all Dragons have some manner of wings, allowing them to fly. Typically, Dragons also posses two hind legs and two front legs, each of them tipped with at least 3 sharp claws, capable of tearing armour in seconds. Dragons range in size and power based on their type and age, from about a maximum of 60 feet tall (while sitting) for old gem dragons and 100 feet tall (while sitting) for adult Planar Dragons. The longer a Dragon lives, the greater he grows, some of the oldest wyrms reaching heights of 170 feet while sitting or more.
Draconic senses are adapted to be near-perfect in all conditions. Dragons are capable of sight in all lighting, even when there is no light at all, and always see in colour. Their scenting abilities are extremely adept, easily being able to notice and discern between creatures.
Their hearing is very sensitive, capable of hearing and interpreting sounds human hearing doesn’t normally notice. When it comes to taste, they are extremely discriminating, easily noticing even the most minute change in the food, leading to the sometimes used idiom “poisoning a dragon”, meaning a futile effort.
In fact, Dragon senses are so capable and functional that they are easily capable of seeing invisible creatures or those completely obscured, due to the fact that they can pick up the most minute of movements – even vibrations or air currents. A dragon is capable of sensing it’s surroundings even under the effects of magical spells.
Dragons also have the Aboleth-like ability to comprehend and observe the events happening on the entirety of a given plane, though this is typically only exercised for targets they are interested in at the time, rather than the entire plane. Ferrous Dragons are the only known form of Dragon to constantly keep watch over the entire plane.
Some Dragons have a limited ability to perceive various times at the same time, such as being able to observe the future and the past and the present at the same moment, with no conflicts between either. A few are known to be fully capable of perceiving a multitude of possible times.
The only sense that a Dragon lacks in is touch. Unfortunately, their thick hides and clawed feet make it difficult for them to feel much in the way of touch, however, they are capable of noticing touches in other senses.
Most dragon males typically have long horns and bony growths sprouting from their bodies, some in lesser and others in greater amounts. The localization can be entirely random as well, ranging from bone-like horns sprouting from the back of the dragon’s head to spinal spikes and other possible localizations.
Female dragons tend to have smaller, delicate horns. Some dragons have a tendency for horns of the female to twist or curl, rather than remain straight.
All Dragons are capable of breathing some form of magical energy, though there are several exceptions. This magical energy is typically tied to a Dragon’s colour and their environment, such as Black Dragons, typical swamp and wetland dwellers, breathing forth volatile acids.
Of special note are also Dragon eyes, which are almost universally reptilian in look. All dragons, however, share eyes that seem to be animated fire that visibly and constantly alters. Ferrous Dragons typically have eyes that seem like molten metal, while chromatic dragons typically have eye that seem like simple flames, for example.
Dragon Life Cycle
The Dragon Life Cycle begins with the egg. Eggs are rather large, and tend to be easily identifiable as to the Dragon’s type based on the colouring of the shell.
The Egg must be incubated for a minimum of a year before they hatch, resulting in Wyrmlings. Eggs can be lain in any season and are typically lain in the Dragon’s preferred environment, where the Dragon could protect it’s young.
Once the egg is hatched, a Dragon grows from a Wyrmling to a small dragon within several months, depending on the Dragon’s type. Wyrmlings are relatively harmless and the only form of Dragon that can be tamed, but doing so results in Dragons who are intellectually inferior to their true-born kin and who grow to be smaller than most dragons.
After this, the growth rate slows, a Dragon reaching juvenile stage by 16 years of age, then reaching young adulthood by 50 years and adulthood by 100 years. Mature Adulthood, and the Dragon’s most volatile stage, is reached at 250 years. Beyond this, Dragons can be thousands of years old and the mightiest amongst them, at least one and a half thousand years old, are known as Great Wyrms. It is almost impossible to stop a Great Wyrm without incredible amounts of powerful magic and a great amount of soldiers, particularly heroes.
Very long-lived, Dragons can last for many thousands of years, however, they are mortal and in the end, they either voluntarily fall into the sleep of the dead when the burden of life becomes too much, or they enter a stage known as the Twilight, where the Dragon slowly dies from it’s cumbersome age over the period of a few years.
Dragon Behaviour Characteristics and Psychology
Most Dragons are intensely intelligent beings, matching or even surpassing the Aboleths and the Illithids in terms of pure intellectual capacity. Dragon nature is curious, and often even those dragons prone to evil can subdue their natural tendencies towards violence or trickery to interact with or genuinely investigate something.
However, curiosity is fleeting, and Dragons tend to take little interest in something after their observations and studies are complete. As such, Dragons who aid heroes tend to be involved for brief amounts of time.
A key feature of Dragons is their unique perception of time. As Dragons are long-lived and capable of various perceptions, they have no interest in the now and think very much in the long-term. They have so much time, in fact, that they are never concerned by it, similar to ents.
Most dragons, even chromatic ones, enjoy thinking. Puzzles and games are often welcome to Dragons, and the more evil ones tend towards creating convoluted and difficult, but ultimately functional, plots. Dragons also love lore and books. In fact, many Dragons cultivate massive libraries in addition to their hoard.
Dragons are known for their patience, easily capable of waiting centuries for their full plans to unfold. They rarely rush anything and often work everything out to the most minute deal.
Many dragons, particularly the evil ones, tend to be considered arrogant and vain, as they view themselves (justifiably so) as superior creatures to all others.
Most other Draconic psychology matters are related specifically to a type of dragon, as Dragons vary a great deal between each other.
Dragons are not unsophisticated creatures, and many species have societies. We shall look over them in brief. However, provided more information is needed, there are plenty of locations to learn of precise interaction between Dragons of each type and subtype.
- Chromatic Dragons – Being territorial creatures, the society of Chromatic dragons is based around dominance and ownership. There is no hierarchy per se, only a simple ideal – the strongest rule. The stronger the dragon, the more followers and servants he has, and the bigger his territory and hoard. The strongest chromatic Dragons are little more than absolute rulers of their own massive kingdoms, with many dragon subjects, all fighting for constant control over land and treasure. Many times, Chromatic Dragons push inhabitants out of their areas. In the rare cases when they don’t, they rule over their subjects with an iron fist, enforcing harsh laws, scorching villages for their own amusement and forcing inhabitants to give a toll in gold, books and people for protection.
- Metallic Dragons – Friendlier than Chromatic Dragons and more peaceful, Metallic Dragons cultivate a society similar to Talisians. They typically all have a say in important events and normally claim small, functional fiefdoms for themselves. They often work together with local inhabitants to build a prosperous land, in return for treasure and literature fueling their hoard. They often come into contact with Chromatic Dragons, which tends to end in battles.
- Gem Dragons – Gem Dragons have no formal society. Their interactions are infrequent and informal. Gem Dragons typically are very covetous and have a strong tendency towards meticulous hoarding. Their lairs are typically in areas with high jewel concentrations, as Gem dragons prefer them to gold and other objects. Gem Dragons can be very paranoid about their hoard.
- Ferrous Dragons – Ferrous Dragons maintain an extremely strong central authority, this being the oldest Ferrous Dragon. They are distributed their own fiefdoms, which they rule with an even hand, dealing with their subjects in a fair and balanced manner, but punishing the guilty very harshly. Societies run by Ferrous Dragons tend to have strong hierarchies and large amounts of laws.
- Planar, Independent, Arcane Dragons – Too much variance to speak of, or creatures tend to be reclusive and refuse to form a society.