Gold dragons are dedicated foes of evil and foul play. They often embark on self-appointed quests to promote good. Woe to the evildoer who earns a gold dragon’s wrath. The dragon will not rest until the malefactor has been defeated and either slain or brought to justice. Gold dragons do not settle for anything less than complete victory over evil. A gold dragon usually assumes human or animal guise, even within its own lair. Gold dragons can live anywhere, but they prefer secluded lairs. Favorite locales include the bottoms of lakes, high plateaus, islands, and deep gorges. A gold dragon’s lair isalways made of stone, with numerous chambers, all beautifully decorated. The lair usually has loyal guards: animals appropriate to the terrain, storm giants, or good-aligned cloud giants. Dungeon-dwelling gold dragons choose locations that provide them with suitable chambers.
Gold Dragon IdentifiersA gold dragon in its true form is easily recognized by its large, twin horns that are smooth and metallic, twin neck frills, and the whiskers around its mouth that look like the barbels of a catfish. Gold wyrmlings lack whiskers, but they quickly develop them as they mature. Younger dragons have eight whiskers, four on the upper jaw and four below. Older dragons have more. A gold dragon has a short face with spines above the nostrils. The eyes are slanted and very narrow. Along with the whiskers, the eyes give the dragon a sagacious look. As the dragon ages, its pupils fade until the eyes resemble pools of molten gold. The dragon has a long, pointed tongue, backswept tendrils on the lower jaws that develop into frills with age, and cheek horns that jut out sideways. On hatching, a gold dragon’s scales are dark yellow with golden metallic flecks. The flecks get larger as the dragon matures until, at the adult stage, the scales grow completely golden. A gold dragon smells of saffron and incense. A gold dragon has an extremely long tail and broad, mantalike wings that run all the way to the tip of the tail. When at rest, the dragon closes its wings over its back like a massive, golden moth. It folds its wings back when walking or running. A gold dragon flies with a distinctive rippling motion, almost as if it were swimming through the air. Many scholars argue that gold dragons are the most elegant flyers of all the true dragons (and the gold dragons agree). When viewed from below, a flying gold dragon can be distinguished by its long tail and rippling wings. Its whiskers and horns also show.
HabitsA gold dragon spends most of its time in an assumed form, usually that of a nondescript human or a harmless animal common to the area in which the dragon resides. For animal forms, gold dragons often choose domestic animals, such as dogs, cats, or horses, or swift moving but fairly nonthreatening forms such as eagles. As with the bronze dragon, the assumed form allows the gold dragon to travel and observe the world without attracting undue attention to itself. When traveling in particularly dangerous areas, a gold dragon uses an especially nonthreatening form. This approach helps set at ease fellow travelers the dragon might meet, and also allows the dragon to use itself as bait for any evil creatures lurking about. Many killers and robbers who haunt the world’s lonely places have met swift ends when their seemingly helpless victims turned out to be gold dragons in disguise. Gold dragons always seek news of the wider world and local gossip about recent events. Any gold dragon is a goodlistener, and even the most long-winded talker does not try its patience (though even a gold dragon will draw the line if a brass dragon bends its ear for too long). The dragon usually avoids philosophical or ethical arguments with lesser beings, though it often cannot resist trumping an argument that advocates chaos with an aphorism or fable promoting law. When it encounters a being that advocates evil, a gold dragon tends to be silent, but marks the speaker for future attention. Gold dragons have a worldwide hierarchy with a single leader at the top. This leader is elected by the whole species from the ranks of great gold wyrms and serves for life or until he or she decides to resign. Many serve until the onset of their twilight; others serve until they believe a successor can do a better job. The leader is always addressed by the honorific “Your Resplendence.” When a vacancy occurs, every gold dragon in the world participates in the selection of the replacement, who is almost always selected by acclamation. Occasionally, two candidates of equal merit are available when the previous ruler dies or retires. In such cases, the two work out some method of sharing of office. During the past, there have been co-rulers, alternating rulers, and rulers who simply have retired early to make way for another. The ruler’s duties usually prove light because the position’s authority rarely needs to exercised. Most gold dragons know how they are expected to behave, and they act accordingly. The ruler mostly serves to advise individual gold dragons on the nature and goals of their quests against evil. The ruler often can point out hidden consequences for a quest, such as the effects on the politics of lesser creatures or the impact on the local environment or the balance of power. The ruler also serves as the gold dragons’ chief representative in dealing with other species (in the rare event when some matter of interest to all gold dragons arises), and as chief enforcer and judge (in the exceptionally rare case of gold dragon misconduct). Gold dragon courtship is both deliberate and dignified. Often two prospective mates spend years debating philosophy and ethics, and go on several quests together, so as to get the full measure of one another. Once a pair agree to mate, they seek the ruler’s approval as a matter of protocol. Permission to mate is rarely withheld. Despite their lawful nature, gold dragons allow themselves remarkable freedom. Some mate for life, other only for a short time. Some are monogamous, and others have multiple mates at the same time. Gold dragons always tend and instruct their young carefully, though it is common for parents to send their offspring into the care of foster parents (always lawful good, but not always dragons) when they perceive the need. Young gold dragons may be fostered to protect them when danger threatens, to free up the parents for a quest, or simply to broaden their horizons. Gold dragons prefer treasures that show an artisan’s touch. They are particularly fond of paintings, calligraphy, sculpture, and fine porcelain. They enjoy pearls and small gems, which also are their favorite foods. Approaching a gold dragon with gifts of pearls and gems is a good way to gain favor, provided the gifts are not offered as bribes. Gold dragons usually parley before fighting. When conversing with intelligent creatures, they use discern lies to help them determine if combat really will be necessary. They prefer to delay combat until they can cast preparatory spells.
- Dungeons & Dragons Draconomicon (3.5 Edition, 2009).
- Monster Manual, Gold Dragon