War on Three Fronts
Dragons are the chosen of the Sun Goddess; while her sisters created a range of creatures of all shapes, sizes and varieties, Zaess poured all her power and her wisdom into the dragons. They are so long-lived as to be almost immortal, and over this time grow to become the wisest and most powerful of races. Theirs was the original magic of the elements, which they taught to the elves, who in turn taught the other races.
Dragons’ greatest weakness is their extremely low birth rate. Unfortunately, after several thousand years of would-be dragon-slayers, there are few dragons left in the current era – the elves fielded three in the dying days of the last war, but most mortals would now expect never to see one in their lifetime. Dragon hunting is particularly driven by the desirability of their body parts in the creation of magical artefacts, potions, arms, and armour. A number of dragon-tooth swords, for instance, have been handed down among the nobility of Götzachen as proof of their status, and the Imperial Regalia includes a crown, staff, and orb all carved from dragonbone, and inlaid with scales.
Types of Dragon
In the beginning, all dragons contained the undivided power of magic and the sun; they radiated power in every colour and hue, like mother of pearl, or a perfect iridescent diamond. Dragons served as advisers to all civilised nations, acting as advocates for peace, prosperity, coexistence, and development. But as the nations of the world divided and went their separate ways, the dragons advising them began to reflect their culture, acquiring flaws such as cruelty, avarice, and pride in turn. The pure dragons began to reflect a single colour, or to reflect a single metal; others kept their radiance at the cost of their perfection of form, losing their wings, or gaining feathers.
The two major factions that emerged in the South were Chromatic and Metallic dragons. Although the Metallic dragons were no less greedy and selfish, they preferred to slowly grow their power and riches through partnership with the lesser races, and were broadly considered ‘good’, ‘protectors’, and ‘noble’ dragons. Conversely, the Chromatic dragons preferred to seize loot as soon as they laid eyes upon it; interfering less overall, but drastically when they did. However, it should be emphasised that all dragons’ intelligence ranges from genius-level to superhuman, and this, combined with their long life spans, tends to make their dispositions and motivations inscrutable. As such, they do not obey fixed good/evil alignments.
Reds are the most greedy, vicious, and powerful of the Chromatic dragons. As such, they are the ones most commonly sung of in bardic tales, to the extent that many commoners assume all dragons share Red traits such as fiery breath, and favouring mixed hoards of coins, gems, and jewellery.
Red dragons favour large, dry caverns; far enough from civilisation to keep their loot safe from chance intruders, but close enough that they can hunt, intimidate and extort if needed. Due to their metabolism, Fire Dragons favour warm and temperate climates over cold.
Black dragon’s distinctive facial horns and ridges give them the nickname of Skull Dragons. This, combined with their acid breath attack, and their favoured terrain of swamps and marshes, lead many to label these as the most evil of dragons, but in truth, they tend to be the easiest of the chromatics to negotiate with.
Black dragons tend to be collectors, with many favouring art, sculpture, and coin collections. Offering a new piece for their collection tends to guarantee safe passage, with a particularly rare or valuable donation earning genuine respect.
Whites, known as Frost Dragons, almost always make their homes above the snow line in frosty mountains, although some few choose isolated caves near the sea or large lakes. Unlike other dragons, they make most of their own hoard, creating elegant ice sculptures with their breath and claws. However, they are always on the lookout for a sturdy armature on which to base a new opus, a role in which more than one hapless adventurer has ended up trapped…
The scales of Blue Dragons crackle with barely-suppressed static electricity, and in flight, faint coronal discharges can be seen from their tail and wingtips. Up close, there is a distinct smell of ozone underlying the normal draconic odours, and a low but persistent electrical buzz. Due to their physiology, Blues tend to shun overly damp climates, with many making their lairs beneath the sands of the desert. Where a Blue Dragon has burrowed through the sand, a glassy residue on the surface normally remains, either guiding or warning off passers by, depending on point of view.
Blue Dragons tend to collect creatures which they feel match them; many Blue Dragon caves contain rare and exotic snakes, cacti, or other desert creatures. However, what may seem a nurturing demeanour rapidly reverts to furious rage if a single newt or vine is disturbed.
Green Dragons make their home in forests. Although they have no special preference for one type of tree over another, their acidic breath tends to render the ground unsuitable for much other than pine trees over time, and eventually, for the oldest Greens, leads to a barren, sterile clearing in the heart of the woods, where the lingering fumes of chlorine make any approach hazardous.
Green Dragons are extreme omnivores, eating animals and plants equally. Although some develop a fixation on a particular meal – Green Dragons are a potential threat to less-developed elven settlements – most tend to eat as widely as they can. When a Green hunts, it prefers to capture two of any specimen: one to eat, and one to strip back to a skeleton or bare branches with its acidic breath, to preserve in a grisly scrapbook of meals gone by.
Gold Dragons are proud and martial. Many like to present themselves as great defenders of the weak, or warriors reluctant to unleash their great strength and skill, but in fact most Golds enjoy a good fight for its own sake, and an enemy which can match them in either physical or mental prowess is much valued. While some see this as cruelly playing with their prey, Gold Dragons see the process of fighting to near-death, healing their foe, and fighting again to be extending what is truly most worthy in life. Some Gold Dragons even go as far as to handicap themselves, polymorphing into human forms to give their foes a fighting chance.
Gold Dragons’ hoards tend to provide the richest pickings for adventurers – assuming they survive the initial encounter. The weapons and armour of would-be dragonslayers make for a fine haul, and the bones, hides and fangs of great slain beasts can either be used as magical or alchemical reagents, or simply sold, to say nothing of the fact that Golds have a fondness for taking great castles as their homes. Often, the corpses of particularly noteworthy foes are arranged in a battle tableau around their lairs, making for eerie scenes. (To describe Gold Dragons as playing with action figures is considered a grave insult.)
Silver Dragons prize knowledge above all. They tend to lair in ancient – often abandoned or ruined – buildings, the more historically significant the better. They stockpile scrolls and tomes, sleeping on these just as comfortably as a Red would on a mound of coins. Visitors who can provide a good story or recent news are welcomed, as are those who provide interesting or insightful debate over dinner; those who are overly argumentative or who do not prove interesting find themselves simply teleported outside, and barred from re-entry.
Silver Dragons can breath either an icy blast or a disabling knockout gas; both incapacitate intruders without risk of damage to their books.
Bronze Dragons vary in colour the most with age: they start out a metallic yellowy-brown when young, but their scales and wings gain a burnished green tinge with age. Some scholars have theorised that this may be a side effect of their fondness for making their lairs in or near water, but so far no dragon has been persuaded by a mortal scholar to re-site their home for a mere experiment, and the lifespan of captive dragons has not proven long enough to provide conclusive evidence.
Fittingly for their preferred habitat, Bronze Dragons have webbed feet, fin-like ridges on their head and tail, and smooth, back-swept wings, making them powerful swimmers. They tend to be playful and capricious – some say they share a lot in temperament with dolphins, although rarely to a dragon’s face. Accordingly, their hoards rarely have a true focus, with many holding sea treasures such as pearls and corals, the skeletons of worthy foes, and interesting gossip all in equal esteem.
Copper Dragons are tricksters and pranksters. They are fond of using their magic to form the approach to their lair into a trap-filled maze, although these tend to be merely debilitating rather than fatal; it would be a shame if the victim were not eventually able to make it inside to laugh together with the host. Of course, anyone who can’t take a joke, or who receives their pranks with less than good humour, will quickly find themselves on the receiving end of the Dragon’s mercurial temper.
Brass Dragons have narrow wings and broad, digging claws, which enable them to make their lairs deep underground, beneath miles of rock. As such, they are often either natural friends or foes to the deep races of the world.
They are natural tinkerers and inventors, and consequently get on well with Dwarves and Gnomes; conversely they view races such as Drow and Goblins as wantonly destructive. Their interest in mechanisms often leads them to craft vast, baroque arrangements of cogs, timers and relays throughout the depths of a mountain to provide whatever they need – be it light, water, or mechanical music – to any room, at the press of a button or pull of a handle.
Other Dragon Types
Placeholder – gem dragons, quetzalcoatl
The three known to have fought alongside (1) the elves are, in order of age:
- Maruxagoth, an Ancient Blue Dragon (CR21)
- Turandusk, a Very Old White Dragon (CR17)
- Aryxothrax, an Old Silver Dragon (CR20)
Anton‘s dream also referred to a Red Dragon by the name of Thaxll’ssillyia. Her age is not known.
Note 1: The issue of dragon-mortal relations is a diplomatically fraught one. The dragons maintain that it is a partnership of choice, and although they accept the term “rider”, baulk at any suggestion of “masters”. Those who ride into battle on dragon-back, however, tend to see things differently.