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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pellatarrum: My Dragons are Different (part 1)

Dragons of Pellatarrum

Wherein I attempt to exhaustively explain my version of Dragons, realizing that I will inevitably leave out something important and have to made additions or corrections regardless.

Written as a cooperative effort by Erin Palette and Mike Kochis



It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.”
-- J. R. R. Tolkien


I. Introduction

Dragon.

The very word is packed with meaning, a concept formed by over a thousand years of cultural assumptions, each building on the last. The dragon of Saint George is not the same as the dragon of the Bible, and neither of them are The Hobbit's Smaug. But regardless of their differences, each of these creatures is recognizable as a dragon, and are demonstrably neither wyverns nor dinosaurs.

Dragons are one of the four Elder Races of Pellatarum, and by far the most alien of them all. They are known as the Lords of the Air , but not solely because they fly or because they originated in that elemental plane; Air is the element of the mind, and Dragons are consummate masters of illusion, deception, trickery, lies, and manipulation.

Dragons are categorically not monsters to be encountered alone in their lairs without protection, surprised while asleep, and murdered for a large heap of golden coins and magic items. They are incredibly long-lived beings of great physical, mental, and magical power, to whom the other races are but swarms of pawns on an impossibly large and complex chessboard.

To use a Babylon 5 metaphor by comparison: Elves are like the Minbari -- old, mysterious, powerful, and alien, but still somewhat approachable (and therefore suitable to be used as player character race), whereas Dragons are the First Ones -- ancient, unfathomable, and terrible in both their kindness and their cruelty.



II. Biology

Pellatarran Dragons are distinct from typical Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder dragons in three key areas:
  1. There are no metallic dragons in Pellatarrum. None. They never existed. All dragons are chromatic, as Pellatarran dragons originated from the Elemental Plane of Air, and colors (rainbows) are air-based while metals are earth-based. *
  2. Alignment has been de-coupled from dragon color. Inasmuch as a Dragon can be said to have a form of ethics and morality that can be understood by races of lesser intellect and lifespan (would you debate philosophy with an insect?), it is an individual choice and not at all dependent upon their coloration and breath weapon. Speaking of breath weapons...
  3. All dragons have not one but two breath weapons: one lethal and one non-lethal.**  Even if the dragon is evil, it is sometimes useful to render foes unable to fight without killing them. For example, it is easier to ransom a living princess than her corpse, and it is easier to get blackmail on unconscious rulers than to create a scandal over whose charred bodies are lying near theirs.
  • Black dragons can either breathe a line of acid or a cone of fetid gas. Those in the cone must make a Fortitude save or be sickened for 1d6 rounds plus 1 round per age category of the dragon. Characters who are already sickened and who fail their Fortitude save become nauseated instead.
  • Blue dragons can either breathe a line of electricity or a cone of electrified air. Creatures within this cone must make a Fortitude save or be slowed, as per the spell, for 1d6 rounds plus 1 round per age category of the dragon. Being slowed includes the staggered condition. At the GM's option, multiple applications of the power may result in the stunned condition.
  • Green dragons can either breathe a cone of 2d6 sonic damage or a cone of intense vibrations. Those caught within the cone must make a Reflex save or be knocked prone. At the GM's option, multiple applications of this breath weapon may result in the character becoming deafened.
  • Red dragons can either breathe a cone of fire or a cone of intense heat. Creatures within this cone must make a Fortitude save or be fatigued for 1d6 rounds plus 1 round per age category of the dragon. Characters who are already fatigued instead become exhausted.
  • White dragons can either breathe a cone of damaging cold or a cone of numbing cold which creates ice. Creatures within this cone must make a Reflex save or be entangled in ice. At the GM's option, multiple applications of this breath weapon may result in paralysis and then petrification as the character is entombed in a block of ice.



To be continued in parts to avoid the dread TL;DR as this opus is currently at 4000 words and climbing.





* I've never seen a metallic dragon used properly in any D&D adventure, mostly because they're of good alignment. Also, colored dragons are far more iconic.


** See, the metallic dragons weren't using their nonlethal breath anymore, so....

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