Posts Tagged ‘Dragons’

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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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Draconic Bloodlines and Bastards (A to Z, D)

4 April, 2019

Colorful dragon glassIn the Sea of Stars, all dragons have the ability to change shape most use this ability to take human form which often to indulging in the pleasures and passions that humanity is prone to.  In the first century after the Dragon Rule began there were so very many half-dragons spawned but after that, bearing a half-dragon child became very hard and dangerous on the mother, if not a dragon, the reason for this change is unknown.  (The religious say that it was a punishment from the gods, other wonder if that is so, why did it take a century to manifest.)

Still, there are no small number of people with some amount of dragon blood flowing in their veins, the dragons categorize the people in such a fashion:

  • Dracona, those in the first generation, or half-dragons as some would call them.  Embody quite a few draconic powers (toughness, magical attack -usually being able to breath fire or some such- and great physical strength).  New Dracona are rare (as noted above) but they have a significant lifespan so there are quite a few around.
  • Dracovi, children of the Dracona and other mortals, still marked by greater strength and durability compared to most humanish species but not to the same extent as the Dracona nor is their life as long.  Elves with dragon blood are often called Shadowelves due to their closeness to the Draconic House Shel’liochassa (“Shadowed Heart”).
  • Dani, those with just enough dragonblood for it to manifest in some fashion, providing abilities that are by echos of the power of their distant ancestors.

Certain complex and powerful magics, held almost exclusively by the dragons, can allow people to ascend up the draconic chain of being.  But only the Empress holds the key to the magics that will advance one of the dracona to the status of a true dragon and such power has been exercised . . . once in the history of the Sea of Stars.

The Draconic Houses, in general, care more about loyalty and the power that the dragon-blooded bring than  concern about who their distant ancestor was.  Prove yourself useful and loyal, and you can go far.  Bastards, distant relations, foundlings with dragon-blood, it makes no difference ultimately as long as they devote themself to the house they find service with . . . it is those with greater ambitions that take greater risk but sometime, achieve greater ends.

Notes:This was going to be the A to Z for B (with bastards taking the lead) but I changed it around and you can see how it links to the Bloodline Chain.

Photo by Loozrboy and used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.

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The Empress is Watching.

16 March, 2019

 

The Empress

Here is the official piece for the Draconic Empress of the Sea of Stars, in her human form because it is much easier to get administrative work done when you are not at risk of destroying all of the paperwork the empire requires to function on with a twitch of a tail.

This lovely piece is by the ever-talented Ron Randall, comic book artist and creator of the Trekker series (which I also recommend).  Who I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with at many Portland Comic Cons back in the 1990s.  The photo does not fully do it justice and I will need to get a big flatbed scanner to get it converted to an image for use in the Sea of Stars campaign book.

Enjoy!

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A to Z – Dragon’s Blood

4 April, 2018

It only takes a dropThe very essence of dragons is magic, no where is this more apparent then in their blood which is a potent magical enhancer . . . and addictive to any magic user who partakes of it.

This is the real thing, the blood of a dragon, alchemically refined to keep its potency. (Though fresh dragon’s blood has the same effects, it must be drunk quite soon after it is spilled or the magic is lost.) The appearance of the dragon’s blood depends on the type of dragon it came from.  It also carries a ‘taste’ of sense impressions which give a sensorial clue to the personality, elemental alignment and soul of the dragon it was drawn from.

Consuming dragon’s blood fills one with power and confidence, heightening natural magic use and washing away cares.  However, the users is filled with a overwhelming sense of power and desire and the consumer may indulge in actions and activity they would normally consider unthinkable as it also washes away inhibitions.  Unfortunately, it also burns through the body’s energy reserves, leaving the user tired and weak when it wears off (though a good meal will help recovery).

Using actual dragon’s blood as a base, alchemists have developed a substance that is close to dragon’s blood, though not as potent. To those who have not tasted the real thing, the synthetic is sweet and potent, but to those who have tasted the true blood, it seems bitter and incomplete.

Those unfortunates who have tasted and become addicted to dragon’s blood often turn to the use of the synthetic to satisfy their cravings for power.  The synthetic requires a trace of dragon blood or a larger amount of blood from one of the dragonkine or false dragons as a base.

A small number of debased dragonkine sell their blood to alchemists for such uses.  Some true dragon consider the manufacture of synthetic dragon’s blood (or even the refining of true dragn’s blood) an insult and will destroy the laboratory and maker of such.

Notes: Dragon’s blood is an interesting lot device which I have only rarely used in my campaign.  Dangerous to use but some will pay any price for power.

Image “Blood Hibiscus” by Kryziz Bonny is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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Tuesday Magic Item – Dragon’s Tongue Disc

16 November, 2016

Tail or tongue?“I know dragons have their own language, and that is all well and good,” said Voddick quietly over his ale, “but people speaking it always makes me uncomfortable.”

“Agreed,” said Gollaon, “it is not meant for human tongue and throat.  It has a certain majesty when spoken by the dragons themselves.  Though the one in livery speaks it extremely well.”

“She does not pause much and speaks well, from what I can tell,” noted Voddick after listening for a moment.

“You have a good ear,” nodded Gollaon.  “She must have been raised in Draconic house.”

Dragon’s Tongue Disc

These small discs are made from precious metals and usually marked with the crest of one of the draconic houses.  Designed to quickly provide newly inducted members of the House with the ability to speak “a proper language”.  Placed on one’s tongue, it bonds to the flesh in a particularly painful fashion.

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