True Dragons

Supernatural beings of immense power and longevity, dragons are known to nearly every intelligent civilization across the cosmos. Their origins are lost to time and space as they wander the universe in search of worlds to call their own.

Basic Information

Anatomy

Across the eons, dragons have evolved into a number of very distinct species as they spread across the cosmos. (for example, Earth's corner of the universe is populated by Flame Wind Dragons) One thing they all have in common, and that sets them apart from other creatures that might be referred to as dragons, is that they all have six limbs. Most, but not all, are in the form of two wings and four legs; with the rare exceptions having six legs.

Growth Rate & Stages

A dragon emerges from its egg already capable of fending for itself. It knows the language of its mother and any languages it might have picked up through its egg from its environment. It spends the next few hundred years living off the planet upon which it was laid.
  When dragons finally reach breeding age, they become capable of travelling through space. They begin their wandering, looking for others of their own kind. As they continue to grow in power, they gain more accurate teleportation and the ability to cross vast distances in a blink. When they mate, it is almost always a one-time affair. The female then goes her own way to find a planet on which to deposit her egg. She guards it until it is almost ready to hatch and then departs, leaving it alone.   This process is repeated, usually with different mates, and a single female dragon may lay close to a dozen eggs in her lifetime.   Dragons are universally belligerent towards each other, even if the same species, and even while mating. Newly hatched dragons are not excluded from this aggression. Some suggest this is why the females depart the males prior to laying their eggs and why they abandon their eggs before they hatch.
  Once dragons become ancient, they rarely breed and will often settle down onto a planet and claim a dominion.

Dietary Needs and Habits

Dragons are supernatural beings of magic. When they eat, they do not do so for the physical digestion, but rather for the life energy their prey offers. For this reason, they prefer to consume live sapient creatures, because such creatures contain the most life energy (which of course is doubled at the moment of death)   Other than killing prey, dragons can subsist on the ambient magical energy of the planet. In most worlds, magic energy is not enough by itself, so they either hunt prey to make up the difference or they construct pyramids, or both. (note: pyramids can be used to collect and focus the ambient life energy of a planet's biosphere)   Rifts Earth is an exception. The planet is unique in the seething abundance of arcane energies available on its surface. The life energy infusing the planet's Ley Lines and Nexus Points enables dragons to thrive without the need to kill any prey or even build pyramids, and the number of other supernatural creatures present also permits them to refrain from killing sapient creatures to get their magical fill... should they so desire.

Civilization and Culture

Naming Traditions

Dragons are born without names. They won't even feel the need to have a name until they meet some other sapient creature and attempt to communicate. At some point during that communication, the lack of a name will become obvious. Then it will be up to the dragon's judgment how it will take a name and what name to take.   Since dragons are given tales of their history and lineage by their mothers while still in the egg, they are familiar with the greatest dragons and the names they have taken. Names such as:  
  • OuroniGRIDe
  • GrougaloRASalar
  • GresgaOULian
  • CroulakraKOSS
  • DarDONDakal
  • AgUABrial
  • IgNEMikhal
  • TerraKOURial
  • AERafal
  • PrysMARadoth
  • ShiNONome
  • BOLgrot
  • BrolaBORith
  • ADmagolg
  • URTHaforth
  • STYphathal
  • OrthiSTYdro
  • ROMgagrol
  • FisKRAKroloss
  • LorgoDOmagol
  • IALrapom
  • SusmonoLOgrial
  • MiMIMniakrass
  • SkahkaMOKElakash
  • WictitikiTASHitash
  • (Note stressed syllables are written in all caps to aid in pronunciation only for this article)   Typically, the names within a race of dragons share similar traits. For example, Thunder Lizards are known for ending their names with -tash, -kash or -fash, and Royal Frilled Dragons use a preponderence of G and OU sounds. This is not a hard and fast rule, but without other guidance a dragon hatchling will resort to what it knows; and it knows the names of those dragons who have come before.   Some dragons encounter sapient races from which they take their names, and some dragons will change their names based upon their current companions, allies, or a running masquerade. One of the most famous Dragons in North America is an ancient Great Horned Dragon* who came to visit Earth with the coming of the Rifts and stayed to help establish the City of Lazlo. He has taken the name Plato. No one is alive today who can say whether that was his name when he arrived here or if it is one he adopted after arriving to Earth.   * - note no Great Horned Dragon eggs have been laid on the planet

    Major Organizations

    Dragcona, the City of Dragons on the lost island of Atlantis. The modern Cult of Dragonwright. (links TBD)

    Courtship Ideals

    A female dragon will only mate with a male dragon who can dominate her. The courtship is often violent, and the female will usually kill any male who proves to be not up to the task. For this reason, female dragons will often seek out the most powerful dragons they can find, all the time defending themselves against inadequate suitors.   Ancient females usually give up on mating since they just overpower any potential suitors that may come calling, while ancient males will typically have their domains visited by younger females hoping to seal a deal.

    Relationship Ideals

    Since the females leave the males when they have a fertilized egg, in order to protect the newly hatched dragonling from the father, it is rare for mated pairs to stay together. Occasionally, some mates return to each other time and again, especially if there is a lack of other viable mating candidates around, but they tend to prefer more genetic diversity among their offspring.

    History

    The history of dragons on Rifts Earth is unique in the cosmos. As one of just a few planets with magic levels this high, and the only known planet currently serving as a dimensional nexus through all the rifts that form, it has attracted egg-laying female dragons of a number of different species from across time and space. Earth is no longer the sole domain of Flame Wind dragons.   Dragons known to have laid eggs on Rift's Earth include:
    • Flame Wind Dragons - can breathe and spit fire
    • Cat's Eye Dragons - aloof charmer with fire breath
    • Forest Runners - smaller than most, a chameleon poison-spitter
    • Royal Frilled Dragons - powerful and scary psychic
    • Snow Lizards - frost breath, can turn into a blizzard
    • Whip-Tailed Dragons - snakelike appearance with a slashing tail and fire breath
    • Night Stalkers - fire breath, nocturnal does not like the sun
    • Thunder Lizards - breaths paralytic poison
    • Cloud Serpent (a.k.a. Kumo-Mi in Japan) - snakelike and wingless flier, can turn invisible, healer
    • Sand Dragons - totally chill builders of sand sculpture, can spit globs of molten glass
    • Basilisks* - inherently jealous, petrifying gaze
    • Serpents of the Wind* - snakelike and wingless, can turn invisible, too greedy
    • Shikome Kido-Mi* (Japanese for hideous sorcerer serpent) - snakelike and wingless, can turn invisible, like deals
    • Volcano Dragon* (a.k.a. Asama-Tatsu in Japan) - larger and temperamental, powers like a burster
    • Leviathan* - massive kings of the ocean
    • Hydros Dragons* - hippies of the dragon world, can breathe a freezing mist
    • (*- not available for player characters)

    Interspecies Relations and Assumptions

    Newly hatched dragons may have knowledge imparted on them by their mothers, but their personalities are their own, and are utterly unformed. Drangonlings will form their personalities, morals and ethics during their first year out of the shell. Any social interactions, friendships, rivalries and experiences they have during this time are crucial to forming the dragon's personality. For this reason, many intelligent species consider dragon eggs and newly hatched dragons to be immensely valuable, because the young dragons will imprint upon those they meet, forming lasting bonds and common values. One can not exaggerate the value of having something as powerful as a dragon call you an ally.
    Note Players may choose to play as a dragon hatchling. In this case, they are hours to days old at most. They are about 15 to 20 feet long from snout to tail and weigh about 150 to 250 kg (330 to 600 lb), depending on race. They are intelligent, educated in whatever their mothers told them while they were in egg, and have some skill with magic. But they have no street smarts, have no real personality to speak of, other than instincts to act upon. Most importantly, they will be very impressionable and will assume a personality based upon how the rest of the characters in the party behave. This is an excellent opportunity for fun roleplay. See the player's guide for information on how to implement this in your game and when.  
    As an aside, Sam does a tremendous job representing an impressionable dragon hatchling named Tiffany in the Happy Jacks podcast on Youtube here:
      Also note, it is possible that the party finds the character while still in the egg. In this case, he or she may be hatched with some knowledge and language skills particular to the party which they picked up while in the shell. I don't recommend this happen for too long since the egg doesn't have any active role during gametime besides sitting there and looking round.
    Lifespan
    6,000 to 12,000 earth years


    Cover image: Field Notes by Christopher Stoll

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