Alaran Bestiary: Dragons

Dragons. Though massive, absolutely massive, and obviously reptilian in biology, they posses a similarity of movement to cats, and an intelligence far beyond that of the most ancient elf wizard. Though obviously intelligent, they are still relegated to the position of “beast” in the thinking of most prominent Alaran biologists, as thinking of them as more than creatures would both creep many the hell out and put in a rather nasty perspective the many, many dragon-purges that have occurred in the past – genocide is such an ugly word. Thus, their inclusion in the newly-formed Bestiary section, not in the Races section of years past.

Dragons have existed on Alara for gods know how long. Which is accurate – the gods probably do know, but they aren’t telling anybody. Their origins are contested: prominent religious fanatics believe they were created during the war between the Elder Gods and the Young Pantheon, though which side created them depends on the particular bias of the theorizer. Some mighty wizard-scholars argue that they were a side-effect of the genesis of the world, magic energies gone crazy and creating some equally crazy shit. The dragons themselves believe themselves to be created by their god, a divine being whom they do not name, as they consider it profanity for any to speak or even think the name.

What is known is that whatever their birth, dragons exist, and have had a profound effect on history in their time. The history of the human race is melded with that of the dragons, as they were ruled by them for several millennia. Even now, almost a thousand years after dragons were usurped as the rulers of the land, dragons commonly influence the goings-on of politics, war, and generally everything. Dragons are powerful, intelligent, and ambitious – generally, as dangerous as a creature can get.

Dragons come in two main varieties: the Greater or Noble dragons, and the Lesser, Common, or Degenerate dragons (though only called degenerate by people who don’t particularly like them, i.e., greater dragons). Lesser Dragons are not going to be covered in depth in this article. It’s generally thought that Lesser Dragons are all creations of bizarre experiments or epic spells, and that the Greater Dragons are the pure form that was originally created. It’s probably the Greater Dragons that created most of the Lesser – attempts to create more easily controlled underlings, for example. Due to this genesis, the Lesser Dragons are incredibly varied in form (anything from humanoid dragons to cat-sized dragons to dragons with two heads), though all draconic, while the Greater Dragons are more consistent.

Greater Dragons all share various physical features. They are four-legged, bear the aforementioned resemblance to cats, and winged. Most of them have some kind of horns, and they can all breath fire, though the variety and heat of said flame differs depending on species. All have some proficiency in magic, though some choose not to pursue this path. Greater Dragons all live upward of 3,000 years, though only Sand Dragons have been known to reach 4,000.

And, strangest of all, all Greater Dragons, after reaching a certain age (it’s thought puberty is the boundary) can shift into a humanoid form to go without notice among their enemies/minions/dubious allies/whoever they feel like going without notice among. This mortal form varies; some dragons shift into elves, others into humans. Very rarely some shift into dwarves or underfoot, but almost never any other race. Though the Greater Dragons can shift into humanoids, they cannot change the physical features of their humanoid form, and always appear in the same clothes. It is generally thought, by dragon-scholars, that a dragon’s humanoid form is determined by some element of its personality, and cannot actually be changed at will by the dragon. Dragons have been known to change their human forms, but it is almost always after some traumatic event or epiphany that significantly changed the dragon’s personality.

There are many species of Greater Dragon, and though they all share the physical aspects mentioned earlier, they are incredibly varied in other ways. A distinguishing feature of dragons is that their species can often be identified entirely by their name, as each type has its own naming conventions.

Mountain Dragon

The Mountain Dragons are the most prolific of the Greater Dragons. They live (duh) in the mountains, most often in caves and other lairs, but often in massive citadels or towers if they are particularly military-minded. Mountain Dragons have scales of a stormy and cynical blue, occasionally turning gray with age, and backwards-sweeping horns. They’re what most people think of when they hear the term “dragon”, as they’re average in most ways. Not too large, wings are average size, flame is normal, etcetera.

In terms of personality, Mountain Dragons are to other dragons what humans are to other humanoids. They’re equally likely to be malevolent bastards or relatively nice. Of course, they’re dragons, so they don’t go around handing out love and kisses, but they’re the species of dragon most likely to enter into alliances with humans, or, in rare cases, act as a mount, though this usually involves either a threat to the entire world or copious amounts of gold going into the Mountain Dragon’s coffers. Mountain Dragons, when shifted into humanoid form, can take any of many forms, but often appear rough and rugged, dressed as a typical adventurer.

Mountain Dragon names are usually long, and involve double letters. Examples of this would be Alagaaz and Aagnar, both Dragonkings of old.

Flame Dragon

Flame Dragons are not “usually” found anywhere, they are essentially wanderers, though they can often be found near human settlements, dwelling in deep caverns. Their scales are a bright, flamelike red, though before puberty they often tend more toward orange. Flame Dragons posses only a single horn, sprouting upwards from their nose. It would be called rhino-like, if anyone in the Civilized Lands had ever heard of rhinos. Flame Dragons are of average dragon size. A Flame Dragon has the longest and most powerful of all dragon flames: it is incredibly hot and it more like a concentrated blast of energy than a stream of flame. Merely the force of a Flame Dragon flame can topple a tower or destroy a building. And then it catches fire.

Flame Dragons are, in general, complete psychopaths. There are some exceptions, but for the majority, their goals tend toward wealth acquisition at any cost, or just rampaging based on the age-old philosophy of “screw you”. Flame Dragons are most often loners, as their insanity is not often tolerated by others, even of their own species. If one finds a Flame Dragon, even a newborn, it is probably prudent to simply slay it on sight, if possible. Though the wyrmlings are cute… it’s said that they can be raised to be innocent, but it’s challenging. Flame Dragon’s humanoid forms often have spiky red hair and glowing eyes, and often wear leather, though flame dragons are in general reluctant to shift to human form.

Flame Dragon names are short, harsh, and to the point. They also often include apostrophes, which both serve the triple purposes of heavily emphasizing the preceding syllable, performing a glottal stop, and looking really cool. Example Flame Dragon names include A’ka and Ka’ath, both Dragonkings. The reason I use Dragonking names as examples is because I am a lazy bastard, and I already had most of them written down. Fear my indolence.

Sea Dragon

On Alara, a Sea Dragon is a bit of a misnomer. They should more accurately be called water dragons, or lake dragons. Some have recently recognized this and begun calling them Storm Dragons, which is also a bit of a misnomer, as they really don’t have much to do with storms either. Sea Dragons live in large bodies of water, such as Crown Lake. They have shining blue scales, occasionally stained green in places. They have no horns, and are slightly smaller than average for dragons. Their wings are developed more to be used as flippers, and thus are smaller in size than the wings of other dragons, making them clumsy and ungainly in the air. A Sea Dragon’s flame is more like a high-pressure jet of boiling water. Sea Dragons have not been observed to flame above water, and have a maximum lifespan of about 2,500 years, shorter than those of other dragons.

Sea Dragons are the most bestial of the Greater Dragons, and there is a movement among certain high-minded Mountain Dragons to have them reclassified as Lesser Dragons. They do, however, share all physical aspects with Greater Dragons, even if they do seem to prefer hunting and survival to more common dragonly pursuits, such as wealth, maidens, or kingdoms. Sea Dragon’s humanoid forms often have long hair and wear ethereal, loose clothing, with sea-green eyes.

Sea Dragon names seem to include many u’s and the occasional th or dh. Examples include Uruth and Dhuir. There were never any Sea Dragon Dragonkings, as a Sea Dragon has never been that ambitious.

Swamp Dragon

Swamp Dragons live in swamps. They have pitch-black scales. They are smaller than average for dragons, as swamps are usually hard for great bloated lizards to navigate. The occasional exception is found in a Swamp Dragon so large that the swamp can actually grow on its back, but there doesn’t seem to be any in-between. Swamp Dragons have forward-sweeping horns. Their bodies are craggy, rough, and well-suited to life in a swamp. A Swamp Dragon’s flame is less powerful than that of other dragons, it is colder and oozes more than jetting. However, it also produces toxic smoke, which is more than likely to kill the target and everybody around him before they die from the heat.

Swamp Dragons are undoubtedly the nastiest of the dragons. They posses an insanity much akin to that of the Flame Dragons, but much more focused. Swamp Dragons gather minions, form alliances, build fortresses, amass wealth. All for the purposes of destruction. Swamp Dragons revel in destruction and decay, to make everything like their native swamps. A Swamp Dragon will decimate an entire city just to watch its ruins slowly fall apart and fill with plant like over the years. Swamp Dragon’s humanoid forms are always deadly attractive, and they always dress in black cloth.

Swamp Dragon names are cynical and short, often with harsh consonants. Examples include Kharr and Akun, the former a Dragonking.

Forest Dragon

Forest Dragons live in forests, and their scales are shiny-green. They are the smallest of the dragons, as they are often surrounded by trees that need to be navigated. They have horns bloody everywhere. Their shoulders have spikes, their heads are lined with spikes, and they have tail-spikes. They look like something akin to dragon-porcupines. Forest Dragons are the only Greater Dragons that do not posses a flame, a development designed to prevent them destroying their own homes.

Forest Dragons are pretty much bipolar by definition. They’re content to spend hours simply walking among the trees of their territory, enjoying life to the fullest, listening to the sound of brooks, smelling the flowers, watching birds. And then, suddenly, they’re aching for a fight. If nothing presents itself – a large bear will do, even – they rip up a few trees to cool off. If something does present itself, it’s screwed. Unless it’s another Forest Dragon, in which case they feed off each other’s energy and the fight escalates until they’re both left exhausted and bloodied. Forest Dragons are extremely pleasant to talk to in the first mood, and extremely unpleasant to be within a mile radius of in the second. Forest Dragon’s humanoid forms are often elven, wearing leather and an unsettlingly pleasant smile.

Forest Dragon names often include nasal sounds, such as n, m, and ng. Examples include Ungelnar and Kungeg, both Dragonkings.

Sand Dragon

Sand Dragons are larger than normal for dragons. They are not found commonly within the Civilized Lands (no deserts) but mostly in the great desert to the north. Sand Dragons have shiny, copper scales, and spend most of their time prone in the sand, contemplating. Sand Dragons have a pair of backwards-sweeping horns, much like mountain dragons. Sand Dragon flames are excessively dry and hot, though less powerful than that of the Flame Dragon.

Sand Dragons are highly contemplative philosophers. The desert lends itself to this kind of thought, so Sand Dragons will spend years appearing to be asleep – but thinking. Some of the greatest problems in the world have already been solved by Sand Dragons. Sand Dragons are a great resource, if you can find one and convince it to share its knowledge. A Sand Dragon often has a great store of riches, and will gift it to anyone who can give it a puzzle it can’t solve. Of course, giving it a puzzle it can solve often means being eaten for the interruption to whatever metaphysical thing it was currently thinking of. And it can solve most puzzles. Sand Dragon’s humanoid forms are often ancient, white-haired men or elves.

Sand Dragon names often include many s’s, and are superfluously long. Examples include Salsalarith and Rashagnasa. There have never been any Sand Dragon Dragonkings, they really don’t truck with politics.

Cloud Dragons

The denizens of the Cloudsea, Cloud Dragons are absolutely massive. They are nearly twice the size of an average Mountain Dragon – the more room to spread out in, the bigger one grows, I guess. They have no horns, and their wings are around 1.5 times the size, proportionally, in comparison to other dragons. These extra-large wings allow it to float for hours on end. A Cloud Dragon can actually sleep on the wing, if it finds a good thermal. Cloud Dragons roost on small islands in the Cloudsea, but spend most of their time in flight. Their scales are pure white, and their eyes are blue, a remarkable thing among the dragons, who mostly have green eyes. Cloud Dragon’s flames are average.

Cloud Dragons are undoubtedly the most whimsical of the dragons. They simply spend all their time flying about, enjoying life and the breeze. This does not mean a sailor has nothing to fear from a Cloud Dragon, as the dragon may decide that the ship looks like a wonderful new toy and begin to flip it about. But it’s all done with innocent intent. If one converses with a Cloud Dragon, one will find it aloof, constantly thinking about something else. Cloud Dragons are very willing to help anyone who asks, though they may forget the task halfway through. Cloud Dragon’s humanoid forms are often children or Underfoot, with a glint of massive wisdom in their eyes.

Cloud Dragon names often include a large assortment of vowels, with very few harsh consonants. Examples include Kaeala and Aegealai. A Cloud Dragon has never been a Dragonking.

Royal Dragons

Royal Dragons are now extinct, but at one point were the greatest of all dragons. Evidence suggests that they were larger than even the Cloud Dragons, with hotter flames than those of the Flame Dragons. Their horns were different for each one, but always formed what appeared to be a crown, or perhaps a halo, and were always perfectly symmetrical. It is unknown what color the Royal Dragons were, as the statues have long since lost their paint. Suggestions include shining gold, pure white, or even a bizarre mixture of colors, a tapestry of sorts.

Royal Dragons were notoriously high-minded, given to empire-building, philosophy, and generally just being obnoxiously good at whatever they tried. Interestingly enough, there are suggestions in certain ancient scrolls that Royal Dragons did not posses the dragon ability to transform into a human form, though no one knows why this would be.

Royal Dragon names are long, and include umlauts that both emphasize the vowel in question and change its pronunciation. Examples include Ulëndras (oo-LEEN-drahs) and Dräsilith (DRAY-sil-ith). Both of the above were rulers of the ancient empire of Drak’an.

(Note: Due to an ancient scripture discovered by Thulin Thunderboot, the entirety of human history has been thrown into question, and the existance of the Royal Dragon is no longer exactly a sure thing.  In fact, a lot of prominent scholars think it’s bullshit.  Terribly sorry.)

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3 Comments

  1. pieboy said,

    May 3, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    If you work out a whole monster manual on this blog, you will be wonderful.

    Sand Dragons seem pretty cool.

  2. Tusked On His Mom's Laptop said,

    May 4, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    I AM wonderful, good sir. Yes they are.

  3. Mister Crowley said,

    September 30, 2008 at 4:24 am

    We apparently have parallel ideas about elder dragons (and shifting into human form).

    That’s..

    Awesome.


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