dragons

Dragons were the dominant race of Scarterra during the First Age.   They survive in the Third Age in small numbers. Despite their low number, each dragon is individually very powerful enough that if the dragons united they could conceivably take over the world.   Dragons are a fractious lot so such cooperation is not possible.

Basic Information

Anatomy

Dragons come in a staggering array of colors and shapes. Some are stocky and compact like large lions, some are long and lanky like large snakes.   Some dragons have two large horns, some dragons have many smaller horns, some dragons lack horns altogether. Some dragons have large ear flaps and some have near invisible ear holes. Some dragons have crests, some dragons have pseudo beards or whiskers.   Dragons have a wide variety of breath weapons. Ice, fire, lightning, poison gas, sonic blasts.

Genetics and Reproduction

Any two dragons of opposite sex can theoretically mate and produce viable offspring, but dragons generally prefer to mate with dragons who are similar to themselves as possible.   Some dragons are monogamous, and some dragons are not. Some dragons keep their young in their lair a long time and protect and educate them directly while other dragons lay their eggs and then leave them to their own devices.   Dragons preferences are not set in stone. Some dragons change their mating and child rearing preferences as they age.

Growth Rate & Stages

Wyrmling Dragons (hatching to 5 years old) Most wyrmlings hatch from their eggs at roughly the same time. If a parent is present they might help the wyrmling escape their egg prison by gently tapping the shell. A wyrmling emerges from his or her shell a soggy bundle of scales. Within an approximately an hour they are dry and capable of crawling and simple flying (which is more like jumping very far instead of true flight). Within a few days, a wyrmling is capable of full flight. Wyrmling dragons seem to have oversized head and feet compared to adult dragons.   The first thing a wyrmling wants to do is usually find food. If left in an untended nest, a wyrmling’s first meal is probably her own shell. Waste not, want not. This is a good source of vitamins and minerals and this also helps ensure that a young wyrmling doesn’t immediately try to eat her nest mates. If one or both parents are there, the mother and/or father will often provide live prey. Thus, the wyrmling’s first meal is also his first hunting lesson.   Once the immediate hunger is satisfied, a young wyrmling will seek out a lair. If they are in their parent’s or parents’ lair, each wyrmling will usually find a corner or alcove to claim as his or hers.   Even without tutelage from a parent, a wyrmling is born with a lot of inherent knowledge, including the Draconic spoken language, the basics of hunting, how to fly among other things. Even so, wyrmling dragons left to fend for themselves live precarious existences. A majority of young wyrmlings left to fend for themselves do not make it to the juvenile stage. Wyrmlings are instinctively aware of this and their youthful energy is often tempered by instinctive caution. Some wyrmling seek out an older non-parent dragon as a mentor, a relationship which often lasts a few decades (short for dragons).   Juvenile Dragons (6 to 50 years old) The juvenile stage is marked by a large growth spurt though the young dragon still seems to have over sized feet and an over sized head. They also have a mental growth spurt. A few early bloomers manifest their first sorcery at this age.   Juvenile dragons often choose to leave their parents’ nest at this stage in their lives. Others are pushed out. Juvenile dragons that grew up without their parents often find they have literally or figuratively outgrown their first lair and seek a larger more productive territory.     Adolescent Dragons (50 to 200 years old) Adolescence is marked by a new growth spurt, which will gradually let a dragon assume its adult form (his head and feet are proportionately comparable to older dragons). Most adolescent dragons manifest their innate sorcerous talent at this time. Most dragons leave their parents’ nest at this time. If they haven’t begun seeking treasure already, they usually start seeking treasure now.   Many dragons go through a phase where they become fascinated with the weaker races, either helping them, bullying them, or just watching them. This often but not always manifest in adolescence. If a dragon is going to develop the ability to polymorph into smaller species, this power usually manifests during adolescence.     Young Adult (200 to 400 years old) A dragon’s rapid growth spurts give way to slow steady growth. A dragon’s mental abilities continue to grow as well. Dragons who are late bloomers finally develop their talent for sorcery during this stage. Even the most patient and tolerant dragon parents push their offspring out of the lair at this point. Some dragons with mentors part ways at this point. Most dragons begin searching for a new long-term lair and territory at this point…ideally one near the territory of a dragon of the opposite sex. Most young adults seek out a mate at this stage in their life if they haven’t started courtship in adolescence.     Adult (400 to 700 years old) At this point a dragon is truly a force to be reckoned with, roughly half of all dragons don't make it this long. His physical growth begins to slow but does not stop. Dragons often settle into routines at this point. Whatever their attitude towards dealing with the humanoid races usually solidifies at this stage in lie. If they haven’t done so already, a dragon probably settles into the territory he plans to die in. If a dragon seeks a permanent mate, this is usually when they pair up.   If the dragon was the sort to befriend or manipulate humanoids, at this point in her life she probably begins to withdraw from non-dragon societies. Whether dragons view humanoids as friends or pawns, after watching three or four generations grow old and die, many dragons don’t find seeking close relationships worthwhile anymore.     Wyrm (700 to 1000 years old) Dragons reach their physical peak at this life stage. It is a rare feat for a dragon to reach this great age. Even rivals will give grudging respect to dragons of this age. Few young dragons could potentially rival a wyrm of this power, so it’s common that dragons become mentors and leaders of their own kind at this age.   A female dragon is nearing the end of her fertile years. Most females try to raise one last clutch at this point. If she doesn’t have a mate, it’s not hard to find one. Age is power and status and a female wyrm can dictate terms to most males.     Great Wyrm (1000 to 1500 years old) A Great Wyrm dragon is at her physical peak and her mental abilities are beyond compare. Great Wyrm dragons are living legends known for hundreds of leagues around, at least by dragonkind. Physical growth stops, but a dragon’s mental acuity continues to expand.   This marks the end of a male dragon’s fertile years. They will have hordes of suitors as many females who want their offspring to have such a powerful mentor and protector. Unless they’ve taken great pains to maintain their secrecy, dragons of this age often have world-wide fame.   Wise Wyrms (1500 to 2000 years old) Less respectively called twilight dragons. At this point a dragon’s physical prowess finally begins to decline though they mentally remain as potent as ever. Wise wyrms are the most magically gifted of any dragons.   While respected for their wisdom, twilight dragons recognize that they are vulnerable. They have physically declined to the stage of an adult dragon. They now have more treasure than ever before and less ability to defend their treasure. This attracts rival dragons and mortal dragon hunters in large numbers. Dragons have a special ritual where they can pass peacefully on their own terms. Most wise wyrms opt to do this (after making final arrangements to preserve their legacy) rather than cling tenaciously to life.

Ecology and Habitats

Dragons can live almost anywhere.   Dragons develop a wide variety of adaptive powers. Some of their powers are inherited from their parents and others develop in response to their environment.   All dragons can swim, but not all dragons can swim well. Dragons that evolve to be aquatic usually are longer and thinner than dragons that are not aquatic. All dragons can dig with their claws, but few dragons can burrow fast through snow, sand, or soft soil. Burrowing dragons tend to have comparatively short necks and stocky builds. It is very rare for a dragon to be fully aquatic and a natural burrower. It is extremely rare for a dragon to become aquatic or evolve into a natural burrower if they aren’t born with these aptitudes.

Dietary Needs and Habits

Dragons have digestive systems almost like furnaces and can process almost anything they can swallow.   Dragons are true omnivores capable of eating almost anything. They can subsist on meat, vegetable manners, minerals, or even simple water.   Normally eating gems is a special treat. Most dragons develop unique personal preferences for their favorite food.

Biological Cycle

According to records from the First Age, one dragon queen supposedly managed to have fifteen clutches of eggs over her lifetime.   Most females produce seven or eight clutches of eggs over her lifetime. Most females only choose to fertilize three or four clutches. The average clutch of eggs is three to five eggs.

Additional Information

Geographic Origin and Distribution

Everywhere on Scarterra and Scaraqua could hold a dragon. Dragons generally prefer to lair in remote isolated areas, some some dragons hide in plain sight near settled ares.

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

Dragons have amazing sensory capabilities, arguably outstripping all other life on Scarterra. Dragons essentially have the same senses as wyrmlings that they have as great wyrms. The difference is that young dragons are often overwhelmed by all the sensory data they are receiving and older dragons are perfectly capable of sifting the useful information out from the "noise".   Their eyesight is comparable to eagles letting them see far in great detail. They can stare at the sun unblinking and they can distinguishing colors and fine details in very faint light.   Their sense of smell is better than blood hounds. Smell and taste are linked. A dragon can achieve slightly better olfactory input by tasting the air.   Their sense of hearing is very attuned to small and/or distant sounds yet their ears are shielded from damage from most sudden loud noises.   The only sense that dragons have that is fairly weak is their sense of touch. Given how thick their hides are, they aren't able to distinguish fine details. This is one case where younger dragons have more acute senses than older dragons.

Civilization and Culture

Major Language Groups and Dialects

All dragons speak Draconic. This is entirely innate to dragons, even an egg that is abandoned and a dragon that grows up without even seeing another of it's kind is fully fluent in spoken Draconic.   The written word is different. Dragons can only read and write the Draconic language if they are taught.   Dragons are highly intelligent and can pick up new languages easily. Unless a dragon has zero interest in dealing with lesser creatures, most dragons learn several languages over their lifetimes.

History

The first dragons were the mortal souls who fought alongside the Nine during the the Divine Rebellion and survived. They are souls that regained a tiny portion of Turoch's immense power before the Nine helped shape physical bodies for them.   In the First Age the dragons formed their built impressive cities, fortifications, and sprawling farms. They formed nations and tribes based on their physical features, ideology, and/or religious practices. The competing nations fought ideology, living space, and natural resources.
Average Height
Dragons do not very greatly by their height. Height below is a relaxed standing position on all four feet.   Average length is nose to tail. In most cases a dragon's tail is about half their total length. Dragons that are especially stocky or lanky can vary up to 33% from the average.   Juveniles and wyrmlings are about half as tall as they are long. Adolescents are about a third as tall as they are long. Young adults and older are about a quarter as tall as they are long.
Average Weight
The primary determinate of a dragon's weight is his/her age. The secondary determinate is their raw strength. Dragons that are stronger than average for their age tend to be beefier.   Wyrmling 40-100 pounds (Large dog) Juvenile 100-800 pounds (small horse)   Adolescent 800-2000 pounds, (typical horse)   Young Adult 2000-5000 pounds, (female orca)   Adult 5000-8,000 pounds, (male orca)   Wyrm 8000-12000 pounds (typical elephant)   Great Wyrm 12,000-14000 pounds, (large elephant)   Wise Wyrm 9000-10,000 pounds
Average Length
Average length is nose to tail. In most cases a dragon's tail is about half their total length. Dragons that are especially stocky or lanky can vary up to 33% from the average.   Burrowing dragons tend to have shorter necks and tails while aquatic dragons tend to have longer necks and tails.   Wyrmling 6 feet   Juvenile 10 feet   Adolescent 20 feet   Young Adult 30 feet   Adult 35 feet Wyrm 40 feet   Great Wyrm 40 feet   Wise Wyrm 38 feet
Body Tint, Colouring and Marking
Phrenology may be a discredited science in the real world, but it's very real for Scarterran dragons. Dragons can guess another dragon's aptitudes and to a lesser extant their personalities by looking at their body type, facial features and scale patterns.   Dragons that favor subtlety usually develop a coloration that matches their favored environments. Dragons that are especially vain or blunt in their methods tend to develop colors that stand out. Dragons that are especially magically talented are often shinier.

Articles under dragons



Cover image: Symbol of the Nine by Pendrake