Friday 24 November 2023

The General Theory of Dragons

 As Zak put it here: 

One thing I really don't like about D&D's dragons is the symmetry of the original dragon scheme: good metal dragons on the left--evil colored dragons on the right. 

 The symmetry is suboptimal. It works, more or less, if you're doing some sort of epos/wargame where armies of dragons are basically the same kind of dragon, only there's many of them. 

But it decreases the value of an individual dragon. Dragons in the epic of Silmarillion are just one of Morgoth's armies, but Glaurung is cunning, cold, and horrible. 

 Dragons in Witcher books are somewhat different. There are several colours, which seem to be similar to human races - there are white dragons who live in the cold climates, there are "red" and "black" and "green" who are actually various shades of brown and grey, and then there's the gold dragon who's unique, a legend, different from all the others. He also presents the closest thing to alignment that is encountered in Sapkowsky's books while drinking beer with a monster slayer and two half-naked warrior women, which is doubtlessly the best way to discuss such things. Anyhow - a unique golden dragon is interesting, a subtype of golden dragons who are all similar is less so. 

And in Dragonlance, dragons are kind of a big thing. There's many of them. Onyx and Pyros are supposed to be individuals and interesting, but having another dozen of black or red dragons right next to them kind of gets in the way. 

So while I'm recreating Tarsis for my players, I'm thinking about dragons. 

And I'm thinking that, while I despise D&D alignment system, dragons could work really well with my colour-coded system

Dragons know all about the Colours. They see how the Red grows in times of war, how Green prospers in the forests, and how Black and Blue struggle for influence. 

And as they grow, dragons attune themselves to the Colours that they prefer. Dragons, like mages, carry their Colours openly. 

Dragons are born yellow, and filled with the Colour of youth, joy, and curiosity. As they grow, some stay forever young and curious, and these become brass dragons. 

Others change as they age, and pick their paths in life. As their interests and desires grow, the dragons grow stronger with particular Colours, and it affects their appearance. Those who crave riches and power turn black, and gain the ability to summon and control darkness and shadows. Their breath corrupts the very air. Those are the black dragons. 

Those who value freedom and the joy of flight most of all turn blue, and become able to turn the sky itself against their enemies, raining lightning on them. 

The metallic dragons (besides the brass ones) are those who keep a specific aspect of White as well as other Colours - they are governed by honour. 

The white dragons are cold, and proud, and honourless - this separates them from the silver dragons. 

Green dragons are careful and good at hiding and avoiding conflicts. They are sensitive and wise in the ways of nature, and like nature itself, they are cruel and shameless. 

Red dragons are creatures of passion and rage, and fire heeds their call. 

***

This means, among other things, that colour is not strictly hereditary among dragons - sure, many of them grow up just like their parents, but some of them don't. 

And it feels like, with this in mind, Takhisis and her followers were even worse than depicted in the books and modules - I mean the whole thing with corrupting the unborn dragons.

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