mithriltabby: Ancient Roman icosahedral die (Game)
[personal profile] mithriltabby

The standard D&D setting has all the chromatic dragons (black, white, red, blue green) being Evil™ and all the metallic ones (copper, brass, bronze, silver, gold) being Good™. One thing I do when running high fantasy is ditch the normal alignment system that allows people to run around with spells like “detect evil”, and along with it, I make dragons rather different as well. (They have excellent reasons to want to amass hoards: gold is of magical significance to dragons, and sleeping on a hoard of it creates a resonance called a “treasure aura” that other dragons can sense and respect.) Here’s a batch I came up with for a conclave:

Mrannagath is a Western-style dragon with deep violet scales (a violet Emperor Dragon), and a strong flier on his massive wings. Other dragons give guff to him and his long-term mate Yunwuzhe (love is rare among dragons) about being too cooperative; they just ask if the guff-giver is ready to defend himself against both of them at once. (To a certain extent, this is a bluff, as having to divide the hoard and heart of a challenging dragon between the two of them would be a serious strain on their relationship; they may love each other, but they haven’t merged their hoards!)

Yunwuzhe is an Eastern-style dragon— a five-toed Imperial dragon— white as clouds with a sky blue underbelly and a golden mane, who seems to swim through the air. She’s the one with a more civilizing influence, as she comes from a background where dragons have retinues of transformed animals and hold court over their dominion, while Mrannagath is from the “I am solitary and mighty’ culture.

Indoshaur is a big green dragon (green Old Warrior) who rules the city-state of Lucinth, which was a failing place several centuries ago before he took over. Indoshaur installed himself as Lord Mayor as well as the Lord High Executioner and the standing army, and proceeded to direct the inhabitants to build up the city’s aqueducts, reservoirs, sewer systems, roads, and markets, and runs the place very efficiently— but the pay that would go to maintain a standing army goes directly to his hoard instead. Lucinth is a great place for law-abiding citizens, but serious crimes all seem to bear a sentence of being eaten by the dragon. Indoshaur insists on mastering the hunting style of any shape he assumes when he polymorphs, and practices persistence hunting as a human, so he has superb stamina.

Ssaissara is a classic Western dragon with royal blue scales shading to emerald green on her belly and wings. All dragons use magic to some extent, but even among dragons, she is a sorceress. She has numerous wyvern servitors (which are to dragons very much what flying monkeys are to humans) and is equally ruthless in her pursuit of gold and magical lore.

Camanallahtoa is a feathered serpent: scaly golden belly, brilliant blue and green and deep crimson feathers (much like a quetzal bird), iridescent crest, no wings, no feet. He can swim through the air like an oriental dragon, has venomous fangs that dispense a variety of poisons (including some interesting mind-altering substances), and is a skilled telekinetic as well as being an archimage. He will whuffle the party members and exclaim over the amount of vis (concentrated magical energy useful to sorcerers) they contain as well as how they might taste. He has the wise-trickster thing down, and greatly enjoys taking human form to come up with excuses to get people with too much money to put it all in one place, then arrives in dragon form for a traditional raid.

Derogandrilkhar (Dwarvish for “drop the gold and run”) is a two-headed warrior dragon, with gleaming bronze scales. The left head is vigilant and cautious; the right head is a “mad thinker” strategist type. He is open to allying with party members in schemes that result in him winding up with large amounts of treasure and the party achieving non-monetary rewards.

Hroolooroo is a pure white dragon, Western and scaled with a glorious white mane, who lives on a flying cloud-island that is held together by an ecosystem of magical plants that provide cohesion and solidity. His servants are descended from humans, but have blue blood instead of red and feel uncomfortable even on mountaintops; the air of the lowlands is thick and syrupy and gives them heart palpitations. (This is a side effect of living on an ecosystem that has its base in those cloud-binding plants.) He is extremely formal and rather disapproving of humans who don’t show proper deference to dragons (addresses them as “briefliving”) and dragons who are too chummy with humans.

Heianleiting is a river dragon from the steppes in an oriental-fantasy area I run; she is shaded midnight blue and black, with silver eyes and four toes. She watches over a group of related tribes who don’t begrudge her the occasional horse in exchange for her blessings (which vary from friendly weather to making appearances that cause people to change course in advantageous ways to occasionally inviting someone to her court underwater).

Camapotoniliztli, “Liz” for short. Trickster. Dad was a feathered serpent, Mom was a western dragon; she has a brilliant crest of feathers sweeping back from her head, and multicolored feathers (like a quetzal bird) on her back and wings. Her underside is sparkling blue-green scales. She owns an enchanted cow’s horn sacred to Dathron, god of cattle raids. (Yes, it’s a Horn of Cowhalla.) Blowing it summons (from a cloud of dust that rises up nearby) a stampede of 6d6 bipedal, halberd-wielding cows that attack all present who are not worshipers of Dathron or allied to same. (These bovine warriors are the spirits of bulls that were sacrificed to Dathron.) However, she won’t explain this to the party; she’ll just tease them into it:
“It’s an entertaining repurposing of a magic item.”
“Dragon philosophers consider a sense of humor an important sign of sentience— after all, you can ensorcel a mountain goat into a talking, humanoid, tool-wielding form, but they’re pretty dumb. A sense of humor makes you challengeprey. Don't convince me you’re herdprey.”
*rolls eyes* “I swear to you upon my hoard that this item poses no risk to you as long as you’re not dumb enough to run straight into danger.”
When someone in the party shows the guts to blow the horn, the dragons will pounce on the cows with a battle cry of “Lunchtime!” (except for one who says, “Allez cuisine!”).
“If I keep this up, Dathron will send more heroes after me to recapture the horn. Heroes always carry gold. If I weren’t playing by Dathron’s rules, he’d just block the cowarriors from going through the gate.”
If the PCs play along, she’ll initiate trade with the humans— magic items that have no treasure aura value in exchange for gold. (e.g.: a toadstone that can be used for a variety of toad-related magical effects, including the Toad-Spitting Curse; a canvas tent with illusory feather bed and elemental bathtub inside; an enchanted killer attack stoat that can transform into a toupee.)

Krakatarkan, a red western dragon (wings, horns, big claws, the works) whose scales shade to gold on the belly. He’s a classic fire-and-lava kind of guy. His human form earns money as a mercenary— “the gallowglass Tarquinus”— as a good way to scout places for him to raid in dragon form later, and is a very handsome man, of Pakistani looks and Italian-Renaissance garb (doublet and hose in black and dark red, fire opals in gold settings in his earlobes, faceted ruby in a gold setting on his left index finger, rapier with a gold hilt set with aquamarines on his hip— it has some surprising cold powers— and scaley leather boots of lava walking). He has short hair, moustache and goatee. He and Derogandrilkhar have been known to go raiding together when they could come up with schemes where they both knocked off separate treasure hoards. (Attempting to capture and split the same hoard would be too likely to set them at each other’s throats.)

Zhifangdailong is the patron of a hilltop brewery and surrounding valleys in the mountains in the southeast of my oriental fantasy area. The local populace knows her as an unruly dragon who brings the weather in for the crops, but really cuts loose in the wintertime with hailstorms and sky dancing. She is shaded green and bronze with whiskers that often twitch with humor, gleaming black antlers, red eyes, and seven toes on each foot. Her build is almost that of a Western dragon, much more heavy-set than other oriental dragons, and she has that air of a creature whose layer of fat is masking a considerable amount of muscle. She has an alcohol-vapor breath weapon as well as fire, and can do a pretty damn good fuel-air explosive with it. She has a human form of a burly woman who is the expert brewer who shows up at odd times to dispense advice at her brewery.

Shakrilandakai, an elegant and slim Western dragon, bronze above shading down to bright copper, who arrives with a retinue of swarthy human retainers (with the occasional djinni) on flying carpets, who quickly erect a pavilion for her, with rugs and tarpaulins that stretch out astonishingly. She is in the habit of eating bandits who prey on trade caravans; if the caravans leave out gifts for her, she eats them before the bandits reach their targets, and if they neglect to do so, she pounces on them afterward. She is treated as an independent noble in her home territory (which is an Arabian Nights fantasy realm).

Fukukawa Rokuji is a very, very junior son of the eponymous lord of the Unconquerable Dragon King River, and is known (in his human form) in the gallant fraternity (I’ve been riffing heaviy on Outlaws of the Marsh) as the Turbulent River Dragon, and everyone in the gallant fraternity thinks it’s because he’s such a good swimmer. His draconic form is a classic Chinese dragon with blue scales shading down into silver on his belly, a white mane reminiscent of river rapids, gleaming horns, and expressive silver whiskers. His human form is a handsome young Chinese man, barely into his 20’s, with black hair with blue highlights descending in gentle waves to his shoulders.

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