Posts Tagged ‘Dragons’

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Names and Nemesis (A to Z)

17 April, 2020

Names have power and true names have the most power over a being, power to shape and control the very nature of that being.  It is said the the Empress collected the true names of all the gods before she went to war with them.  So, naturally, dragons have become very protective of their true names but none more so then the Empress herself, even before she embarked on her planning to overthrow the gods, she was hiding evidence of who she was and would be.  Indeed once the dust had settled after the Sundering, she invoked a great ritual that erased any knowledge of her true name from anywhere in the Sea of Stars; Aa lesser version of that ritual hunted and obscured all references to the true names of her closest agents, the Seven Stars, who run the Imperial Government.  In is thought that the only one who knows them now is the Empress.

Just RetributionThis has not stopped people from hunting for those true names, after all, they are among the most valuable pieces of information in the Sea of Stars.  Lines of scholars have pursued esoteric lines of research across generations, to no avail, or if they have had any success . . . they have not revealed it.  Which would be sensible all things considered.

The Empress is careful about the security of her name, herself, the Imperial House, her treasures, all of it for she understands the concept of Nemesis, the due justice that falls to those that succumb to hubris.  The Empress considers herself the nemesis of the gods and has no intention of being the next turn of the wheel.  She watches for plots and conspiracies, gathers information, develops new techniques for defense and obsessively watches for the return of divine powers to the world.  Of course, she understands that someday she will fall, it is that knowledge that drives her to make it as difficult as she can for any who try to drag her down.  As she says, “I spent a millennium planning to overthrow the gods, if you intend to overthrow me, you should plan on putting in at least half that much effort before you make your move.”

Notes: The Empress is full of tricks and plans, she did not claw her way to the top of the world just to be pushed out by the first challenger that came along.

Photo (da) Nemesis. Nicolai Abildgaard. Statens Museum for Kunstnull. license CC0http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/

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Gems and Gender (A to Z)

8 April, 2020

So shinyWhile gems and gender do not seem to have much in common, they are examples of one thing that dragons care much about, gems, and one they care very little about, gender.

Dragons enjoy anything valuable,be it knowledge, art or precious metals and gems, but the precious metals and gems, the elements of a classic hoard are very important.  The spiritual energy of the draconic “soul” resonates with and is reflected by gems and precious metals, producing soothing harmonies and pleasant dreams.  The “songs” are sweeter and the dreams more pleasant if the gems are cut and the metals are worked.

Gender, as a construct, matters not at all to dragons.  While biological sex matters, somewhat, in matters of reproduction, dragons perceive things purely as a matter of dominance, the sex or gender of the dominant partner is irrelevant, all that matters is who is dominant.  Dragons treat others in the same way, the important fact is that the dragon’s dominance is acknowledged and others are submissive to them.  They expect people to do what the dragons want them to do and have little patience with societal rules that say people with these bits cannot do that or people with those bits must do this if it gets in the way of what the dragon wants done.  Though as very few dragon care to manage the societies they rule that closely, most continue to follow whatever model they had before the Sundering, only slowly changing.

Even in humanish form, the dragons tend to follow the same model, dominance is the key and people should do what they are good at to bring greater wealth and glory to their draconic overlord.  Some dragons indulge in pleasures of the flesh while in humanish form, and while some dragon prefer sexual partners of one biological sex or another, most those that enjoy such things are sexual omnivores.

Notes: Just a pair of thing I wanted to discuss that fitted under today;s letter.  The Sea of Stars is a very different world from ours in places.

Photo IMG_1223.JPG, Creator pwarne, used with License CC by-nc 2.0.

 

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New Monster – Dragon Descendant (Template) for D&D 5E

5 April, 2020

Dragon dogs!Dragons often seek to “improve” other being by sharing their blood and power with what most of them consider “lesser” creatures.  Once the drconic nature is established, it tends to stick within a bloodline showing up in greater or smaller manifestations:

Dragon Descendant

The blood of dragons is strong and even distant descendants of the mighty dragons sometime inherit part of their strength.  Some dragons gather such distant relations to serve them.  Other with draconic blood make their own way with their enhanced strength and abilities.

Dragon descended creatures are highly prized as guardians and fighting beasts.

“Dragon Descendant” is an inherited or acquired template that can be added to any living corporeal creature (such as a beast, humanoid, giant). It keeps its statistics, except as follows.

Challenge: While the CR for this template is a +0, a DM should considered tossing in a few extra experience points for defeating creatures with this template as they are tougher than the base creature just not +1 CR worth.

Senses: The dragon-descendant gains darkvision.

Damage Resistances: The dragon-descendant gains resistance to a type of  elemental damage: acid, cold, fire, lightning or thunder.

Willful: The dragon-descendant has advantage to saving throws against Fear and Sleep effects.
Imbalanced: The Dragon Descendant or reasons not fully understood, the blood of dragon causes an imbalance that makes those that possess it vulnerable to certain magics.  Choose one elemental damage type and one school of magic, the Dragon Descendant must roll a d4 and subtract the number rolled from a saving throw against either.

Notes: To go with yesterday’s Dogs and Dragons and allow the creation of dragon dogs.  Compare and contrast with the Pathfinder version.

The added defenses of the energy resistance and willful is balanced out by the weaknesses embedded in imbalanced, this is to encourage the research of one’s enemies.

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Dogs and Dragons (A to Z)

4 April, 2020

Dragon/DogThe dragons rule the Sea of Stars with an iron grip, from the Empress on down through the Draconic Houses and down to their clients and servants.  It is a truism among the peoples of the Sea of Stars that the dragon are best though of as extremely powerful cats, selfish, lazy, enjoy toying with their prey and exceedingly deadly if provoked.  But many have an affinity towards dogs as well, finding their unhesitating loyalty charming and relaxing.

Many dragons have taken to breeding dogs, as a hobby, being able watch the evolution of a line is very interesting for some dragons.  Shaping life in a direct way, often mingling dragon blood with that to make them stronger and tougher.  Dragon dogs, as these breeds have become known, have become widely dispersed throughout the Sea of Stars.

Mechanically these are dogs or wolves with the Dragon Descendant (Pathfinder) or Dragon Descendant (D&D 5E) template some obviously have dragon blood with visible scales and talons other seems just to be normal dogs with sharper eyes.  But thieves and assassins have learned to be exceptional careful around dogs.

Notes: I will try and update this with a Dragon Descendant template for D&D 5E soon.  Dragon Dogs have been around since one of the very earlier adventures in the Sea of Stars.  Barbarians should use it as an exclamation.

Photo December Creator rickcameron License CC by-nc-nd 2.0

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Dragonborn in the Sea of Stars

24 October, 2019

More like thisThe Dragonborn . . . did not have a place in the Sea of Stars.  When I started work on the setting, the Dragonborn were not even a published species and when first introduced in 3.x were entirely optional, so I just ignored them.  Fast forward to D&D 5E and I am running an open game at Tyche’s Games (drop by and join us sometime) and people wanted to play Dragonborn.  As they are in the Player’s Handbook, I did not feel right telling them no, so, suddenly there are Dragonborn in the Sea of Stars.  But where do they come from?  How do they fit into the Draconic Empire?  Well, I have been working on that and this is what I have so far:

The Dragonborn were created well before the Godswar and the Sundering by a god who occasionally appeared as a dragon in an attempt to lead the dragons onto a better, more honorable path.  He raised and nurtured them in his philosophy of might for right, honorable conduct and selfless behavior (this being a callback to the original D&D origin story of the Dragonborn as uplifted agents of Bahamut).  Their numbers were never great, especially given their tendency to go on quixotic quests from which they did not return, but they slowly grew.

Then the Godwar happened.  The Dragonborn patron was one of the first to fall under the talons of the Empress, she made it a point to display his failure of might to his creations, and even those not too shocked and demoralized by this were unable to mobilize quickly enough to have any serious effect on the course of the war.  After the war, the Dragonborn lands were divided among no fewer than three Draconic Houses, a few distant villages ending up under yet other houses than the main three, and their faith and worship as they knew it was proscribed.  A handful of brave, or foolish, Dragonborn tried to fight off their new draconic rulers . . . it did not end well.  Most just accepted the yoke and turned to the philosophy of Dominae to fill the void in their spiritual life.  Others sought new paths, such as the Way and some just sunk into apathy.

But a few, the one who were clever as well as faithful, took their old faith underground, now as a philosophy of honorable aid, personal duty and self discipline.  They act as a secret society within the Dragonborn, carefully vetting those they recruit and occasionally even bringing in those of other species, but relying on dire oaths to keep secrecy.

As far as game mechanics go, they are as presented in the SRD except for:

Age. Newly hatched dragonborn grow rapidly with an appetite to match.  They walk hours after hatching, attain the size and development of a ten-year-old human child by the age of three, and physically reach adulthood by around fourteen years but are not considered adult until they pass through some sort of coming of age ritual. They can live to be as old as one hundred and fifty years but violence often cuts this sort.

Size. Dragonborn are often taller and heavier than human a human of equivalent height.  Their draconic ancestry is quite obvious.  (Size Medium.)

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Tuesday Magic Item – Dragon Mask

17 September, 2019

What hides behind a friendly face?Voddick leaned in to whisper to Gollaon as they marched through the streets. “Being surrounded by masked people makes me a touch nervous.  Especially when they are hiding behind dragon masks.”

“I think they are more showing off than hiding, given the elaborate decoration,” replied Gollaon, equally quietly.  “But I understand your concern.”

“Still . . .”

“Yes, we had best be careful.  People who seek to idolize dragons are . . . unpredictable.”

Dragon Mask

These masks can be symbolic or faithful depictions of actual dragons, made of a variety of materials but always masterworks and often decorated in precious materials and gems.  They always cover the wearer face entirely.

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Quarrels, Grudges and Blood Feuds in the Sea of Stars (A to Z, Q)

19 April, 2019

Dragons are not a very forgiving breed, they tend to catalog and remember any slight or insult inflicted upon them to be suitably repaid at some later time.  So, try to avoid crossing them if you can.  Other dragons, however, often do so.  It is a huge game to many dragons to try and get the upper hand on their rivals, this often expands into becoming a conflict between Draconic Houses which, in turn, drag in the lands the houses rule into the conflict.

War, it solves some problems, right?As a general rule, these quarrels are low key, political maneuvering, propaganda, mercantile trickery, attacks on reputations of the rival houses and economic disruptions are acceptable.  At this stage, it really is just a big game from the draconic point of view, though for the people whose fortunes, reputation and livelihoods are directly effected it is much more damaging.  The Empress encourages the houses to keep conflicts at this level, not too damaging and easy to recover from, but it is easy to cross the line.

Once an attack become personal for one of the dragons involved, for whatever reason, the violence and damage tend to escalate quickly: theft, raids, the hiring of pirates and bandits to actively harass the rival faction, leading them to retaliate in kind.  The Empress disapproves of such messiness as it tends to have a knock on effect that damages all local economies and depress Imperial tax revenue but unless it actively spills over into other draconic (or Imperial) lands, she is loath to intervene unless requested.  She will encourage the two sides to negotiate but by this stage, it is difficult for either side to back down and usually the best that can be achieved is a cold war type pause in active hostilities.

If a dragon is actually attacked, or worse yet killed, by a rival house, things will move into a full blood feud, which is in practicality a war between the houses involved.  The dragons do not do such things by halves, militaries will be mobilized, assassins sent, magical weapons prepared, privateers given letters of marque, and blood will be spilled.  Usually at least several dragons on each side will have to be killed before their will be any chance of establishing a peace between the warring houses and the Empress will (and has) stepped in to stop wars that have become too destructive to the general well being of the Empire but she prefers to be asked to mediate rather than to impose her will.

Naturally, there are opportunities for venturers and freelance intelligencers to make profits in such conflicts, but the risks can be high, especially if the situation unexpectedly escalates.

Notes: Image War between Athens and Crete from BL Royal 16 G VII, f. 67v. The British Library. Public Domain Mark.

 

 

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