Dragon
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Dragons are a large, long-lived, sapient species of winged reptiles. The range of their scales varies tremendously, from midnight black to vivid greens, blues, and reds, but it is unknown whether scale color is a hereditary trait or an environmental adaption. The largely blue hues dominating among the famous ruling dragon family of the Desert of Thunder points towards the former, but even so environmental factors cannot be ruled out, especially since scale color tends to change slightly as the dragon gets older. For obvious reasons, independent experiments are difficult to conduct.

Dragons seem to have an innate ability to manipulate magic, which is most spectacularly displayed in their famous "dragon breath", which (depending on the individual) may manifest as a gout of fire, a spray of acid, a lightning bolt, or other, stranger phenomena. Most dragons develop further innate magical powers throughout their lives, though many also display a knowledge of traditional arcane magic.

It is widely assumed that dragons are among the oldest sapient species on Rothea, as the rare dragon fossils predate any humanoid bones found. However, as dragons are fiercely territorial and rarely meet, they seem to never have formed a unified culture until fairly recently. There is no evidence that dragons invented a writing system until encounters with human civilizations inspired them to do so, and thus all accounts of older periods were transmitted orally from mother to children. Since many of these accounts seemed to have been told in a way that flatters the teller and her immediate ancestors, dragon mythology forms little in the way of a unified lore and remains highly self-contradictory, with more contradictions appearing the further back one goes in time. One major common element in most of these stories is a large war that seems to have been fought between "western" and "eastern" dragons (presumably between those of the Known Lands and those in the regions now encompassing the Tsan Empire and surrounding areas) which seemed to have resulted in the deaths of the majority of dragons and ultimately a stalemate. It is possible that was this war that made the rise of the younger races, such as humans, elves, and dwarves, possible in the first place.

And this appearance of shorter-lived, weaker, but numerous and sapient creatures seemed to have a significant cultural impact on dragons. Apart from the above-mentioned development of a draconic written language, dragons started to gather members of the lesser races as servants and slaves, sometimes even creating entirely new servitor species (it is likely that kobolds were an early attempt at this, while the dragonkin were a more recent development created within recorded history). In some cases, dragons even ruled whole societies, most notably in the Desert of Thunder, and the more subtle behind-the-scenes manipulation of the dragon magistrates of the Tsan Empire.

However, the lesser races also presented a new threat to dragons, as while individually they were weak, powerful individuals working in groups (especially if these groups also included users of magic) were capable of defeating and killing dragons, and the rapid development of their magical arsenals promised worse in the future. While the less intelligent or more savage dragons retreated to remote wilderness areas, others began to… arrange themselves with human societies, often becoming actual citizens within human city-states in exchange for promising to defend the city in times of war or other considerations. Such dragons are no less territorial than their wilder cousins and will rarely tolerate another dragon within the same city, but as they don't really see humans as their equals the teeming masses of them living close by do not bother them. They are often deeply embedded in the local power structure, owning various business interests or controlling crime rings. Expanding their business empires keeps their predatory instincts occupied, while the vast incomes they derive from them allow them to simply buy enough meat to sate their considerable appetites.

List of Articles about Dragons

Adventure Ideas

Designer's Notes & Resources

The differently colored dragons with different types of dragon breath have become a staple of fantasy gaming, but I drew the line of actually making them different subspecies. This approach should give the same versatility while being less limiting.

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