Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pellatarrum: My Dragons are Different (part 8)

Written as a cooperative effort by Erin Palette and Mike Kochis
What do dragons worship? Why, themselves of course. 
-- Pellatarran proverb

IX. Religion

While the above aphorism is pithy, it is nevertheless to a great extent quite true. Dragons are supreme egotists, and with good reason: when you are as old and as strong and as smart as they, then a little braggadocio is to be expected. However, this is not to say that dragons do not engage in some form of spirituality; what is fair to say is that their views on religion are complex and often contradictory.

On the one hand, dragons (like most sensible species) see the benefit in a system which encourages both healing and fertility. This last is especially of use to dragons, who mate rarely and whose gestation times within the egg may be measured in decades or even centuries. On the other hand, the Church of the Light promotes such  concepts such as "community," "openness" and "lack of secrets" which dragons find simply abhorrent.

So are the dragons cultists of the Dark? Again, not precisely. While dragons hold in high esteem the concepts of privacy, solitude and hidden agendas, only those with a fondness for carnage or necromancy truly love the night in all its glory. Undeath, devastation, and entropy are not a universal preference among dragonkind.

If anything, dragons hew closest to the Old Religion: the worship of the elements and universal balance, as taught by the druids and of the Gray Cabal. If anyone can be said to be held in high regard by dragonkind, it is a druid (and to some lesser extents, rangers with access to spells), as these typically offer an appealing compromise between the twin extremes of Light and Dark, granting healing and fertility without demanding compliance or anarchy.

In an ideal world, Dragons would simply be druids, but while dragons are inherently magical creatures, their preference is toward arcane magic, specifically sorcery. It is rare (as in, "dragon taking a character class level" rare) for a dragon to dabble in divine magic. If such were to happen, it is likely that such a dragon would possess some degree of fascination (if not outright obsession) for divine magic and would make that its life's work.

Such thinking can lead to only one very disturbing conclusion: at the heart of every religious organization across Pellatarrum -- the Church of the Light, the Cult of the Dark and the Cabal of the Gray -- lies at least one dragon, obsessed with its beliefs and using its clergy as pawns and underlings. The Church, of course, denies such accusations with vehemence, declaring that dragons use treachery and guile and that these things are anathema*. Surely the Church's inquisitors would have rooted out such heresy long ago!

However, the fact remains that dragons can take human form, and that sometimes the best person to manipulate an organization is not the Arch-Paterfamilias, but rather a mid-level clerk firmly entrenched in the bureaucracy but unnoticed due to blandness. After all, how many paladins ask commoner functionaries "Are you a dragon?"

Hiding in plain sight is very much of the Light, thank you.

* The Cult of the Dark would have no problem with a dragon at the heart of it all, as such things fit perfectly within their doctrine. The Gray Cabal wouldn't care one way or the other.

To be continued.

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