Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pellatarrum: My Dragons are Different (part 2)

Written as a cooperative effort by Erin Palette and Mike Kochis
This section was also written with the help of Demonic Bunny

"It's a funny feeling being taken under the wing of a dragon. It's warmer than you'd think."
-- Gangs of New York

III. Psychology

Whereas in most fantasy games dragons are defined by greed, Pellatarran dragons are defined by their obsessions. What is considered to be autistic and obsessive-compulsive behavior in other races is deemed wholly normal and natural to dragons, such that Insistence, the air disorder, is better known as “The Dragon's Way.” 

As they age, dragons become increasingly set in their ways and cultivate behaviors which make sense only to themselves: counting their hoards, ritualistically turning widdershins thrice before lying down, speaking in sentences of precisely eighteen syllables, repeating a menial yet complex task (such as treasure-polishing) until it is done "properly", etc. They are also prone to excessively consumptive behavior such as eating until vomiting (and then eating again), hoarding, kleptomania, and other forms of greed and gluttony. It is important to note that these behaviors are not motivated by evil intent ("I will steal from others because I want to deprive them") or even by conscious desire ("It is valuable and therefore I must own it"); instead it is a far more visceral and urgent compulsion of "I must do this, therefore I will do this!"

Where other species see insanity and greed, dragons see perfectly normal behavior After all, when one can potentially live for ever, quirks are to be expected. Hobbies keep dragons interested and engaged with life, and so when bored they focus their intense attention upon them with an enthusiasm which would make even the most dedicated savant appear to be a pale amateur.

Dragons can obsess about anything, not just material acquisition; there could be a dragon who obsesses about perfect love and who sends out kobolds to act as village matchmakers (which is perfectly feasible with low-level kobold clerics and a dragon trained in divination/scrying). This particular dragon would hoard perfect love stories; every couple successfully matched gets an entry in the records kept by kobold scribes, to be lovingly memorized by the dragon the same way comic-book fans memorize entire issues of their favorite books.

These stories would not have to be real in order to be added to the hoard, so this dragon could very well have the the largest library of cheesy romance fiction in all of Pellatarrum. But this dragon would at least dabble in the real thing, possibly kidnapping maidens and only allowing them to be rescued by very sexy and romantic princes (and killing the ugly, unromantic boors). "Oh no! Thou hath slain me, fair prince," it would cry, while theatrically clutching at a very non-life-threatening wound. (This can even be turned around by having the dragon kidnap a sexy handsome prince so that a beautiful sword-maiden will come to his rescue!)

Another possible adventure could occur when said matchmaker dragon rains terror on a village because what seemed like a 100% compatible couple broke up. "IT WAS A PERFECT MATCH!" it would shout, while demolishing the village in a fit of rage born of heartbreak.

However, in these two examples given, it is worth remembering that having an obsession for romance does not necessarily mean the dragon will think of the individuals involved as people. Instead, it will most likely regard them as pets, or actors whose lives play out for its amusement. (If an example is needed, consider comic book fans and their sense of “ownership” of various characters.)

Dragons are near-godlike beings with obsessions about very specific things. This can be a source for both real terror (sinister plots stretching over centuries and continents) and absolute whimsy (said dragon obsessed with romantic love). While it would be incorrect to attribute a specific obsession to a particular color of dragon, it is safe to make the following assumptions (with the caveat that these are guidelines and not rules):

Black dragons are typically interested in information, whether it is is musty tomes or locked inside the heads of sages. If the latter, the informant may be held as a captive, or the dragon may act as a patron and “keep” the sage in an expensive manner within a city. Their hoards are often used to fund research and expeditions, and so they believe in long-term investment over immediate profit.

Blue dragons care most about splendor, opulence, and luxury. This is not to say they crave material goods (although some do); it is more correct to say that they prefer beauty, whether it is found in a flawless diamond, a masterpiece painting, or a perfectly performed concerto. Frequently patrons of the arts, the hoards of blue dragons are typically comprised of art and decoration which, while priceless, is not exactly fungible.

Green dragons, being rooted primarily in the forest, focus their attention on living things. This may be as mundane as obscure botany or as complex as the social dynamics of a small village which lies within its borders. They frequently see themselves as cultivators and husbands of the highest order, and so they view their networks as both a part of their hoard and an extension of themselves. These dragons are often highly manipulative, sometimes viewing those living under their influence as part of a grand social experiment.

Red dragons' obsessions are all about passion, be it love or hatred. It is the projection of force which fascinates them, as well as the emotion which motivates it. Especially cruel reds have been known to inflict atrocity on communities just to study the resulting grief and outrage. Their hoards are used to stir emotion (typically greed, jealousy or anger) but are sometimes used to fund conflicts.They are the most likely of all dragons to maintain large amounts of cash (as a war chest) and to collect magical armors and weapons.

White dragons are, for lack of a better term, survivalists. They are fascinated by thoughts of disasters and loss – specifically the concept of going without. It is this study of the absence of things which gives them their reputation for being less-intelligent (than other dragons, mind you.) As such, white dragons typically collect things which have the potential for value later: favors, supplies, extra lairs, etc. They do not keep their hoards in any one place, for what would happen if one of their lairs was lost? They instead maintain caches of their valuables across their territory, and in other places as well.

To be continued.

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