Dragonborn

Sons and daughters of some of the most powerful creatures in Ulskandar, a Dragonborn should never be underestimated as being less powerful that the true Dragons that they serve. There is enough, magically imbued draconic blood in their veins to make each and every one of them a force to be reckoned with in their own right. Not only that, but they can be some of the greatest repositories of knowledge on our Material Plane, though be warmed, in the time it takes them to decide whether or not to impart their secrets to you, you may have passed away.
Extract from Ingrid Aevardottir's Corpus Animalium.   Descended directly from the Dragons that magically created them, Dragonborn are a highly intelligent, greatly magically sensitive group of humanoids, who pride and value defence of their Dragon creators over anything else.

Basic Information

Anatomy

In terms of their anatomy, Dragonborn look remarkably, often alarmingly similar to true Dragons, though rendered in a miniature form. Unlike their larger brethren, Dragonborn are bi-pedal, and usually stand at around 6ft/1.8m in height, do not have wings, have much smaller horns on their heads, though these do grow as the Dragonborn ages, and their tails are proportionately much smaller in relation to their bodies than those of true Dragons. Indeed, a Dragonborn’s tail is rarely more than 2.5ft in length, but given that they are really vestigial appendages, rather than necessary to aid in balance, as with true Dragons, this does not impact their lives particularly. Whilst Dragonborn to also have scaly skin, it is nowhere near as tough as the scales of Dragons, and though they do harden incrementally with age, because of their much shorter lifespan, they do not enjoy as much of the benefits of this as their larger kin. Dragonborn do retain the sharp teeth and talons of true Dragons, but they are, like their tails proportionally smaller, though this is rarely seen to be a draw back as it enables them to carry out fine motor tasks much more easily. Dragonborn will always carry the chromatic or metallic colour and traits of the Dragon that they are descended from.

Genetics and Reproduction

The first Dragonborn were created when an ageing Dragon matron, aware that she was about to lay an egg, and unsure how she could effectively raise a hatchling in her advanced years, decided to magically manipulate her egg, in an attempt to put it into a state of permanent dormancy. However, the egg did not become dormant but was instead changed so that when it hatched a clutch of Dragonborn emerged, that the Dragon was able to rear and teach in a much shorter time, and who them protected and provided for their Mother until she eventually passed away. All female Dragons retain the ability to create their own populations of Dragonborn, though few of them actually do so. Not only does it require an immense amount of physical and magical energy, which can leave them physically drained for centuries afterwards, it also makes them far more obvious in their local surroundings, and, especially when other sapient species live in the Dragon’s range, the appearance of Dragonborn can often lead them to think that the Dragon in their locality is attempting to subjugate them. Clutches of Dragonborn directly created by Dragons normally number 20-30 individuals.   Once a population of Dragonborn has been created, it reproduces in much the same way as most other bi-pedal sapient species, though there is a major divergence from their Dragon kin that they give birth to live young, rather than to eggs which then need to be incubated. It is also possible for Dragonborns and other species to interbreed, though any offspring from these relationships will almost universally have the Draconic genes as the dominant set, which manifest themselves the strongest physically. Offspring of such relationships are classed as Half-Dragons, and in all recorded cases they have been born infertile, and unable to reproduce further.

Growth Rate & Stages

Dragonborn grow at a far faster rate than Dragons, and once born (or hatched if the individual is part of a new population) a hatchling will be considered an adult after 10 years. In these initial 10 years they will have grown to their full adult size, and as Dragonborn are incredibly intelligent creatures, they will be cognitively functioning on the same level as a Human 20 year-old. Dragonborn will continue to grow their intelligence throughout their lifetime, which makes elder Dragonborn immensely intelligent creatures. Although their scaly-skin does not age or wrinkle in the same way that say, a Human’s skin does, a Dragonborn’s age can roughly be estimated by the size of their horns, which continuously grow throughout their lifetime, and the fact that their skin will slowly lose the vibrancy of its hue over time, with many elder Dragonborn turning a grey colour in their old age. Dragonborn have inherited Dragons’ longevity, and they can rival Elves in the length of their lives.

Additional Information

Social Structure

There are two distinct types of social structures in which Dragonborns live:   The first is a structure where the Dragon that created the community is still alive, and the Dragon sits at the top of the hierarchy. Below the Dragon is a group made up of Dragonborn Elders who act as an advisory board, central commission to enact the wishes of their master or mistress, and who act as ruling oligarchy when their Dragon leader is either going through a period of hibernation, or is absent, as is  the case in Zhisbon. The Dragonborn beneath the council of elders are arranged within their own quite linear hierarchy, to enable the smooth transaction of proceedings in the community.   The second structure is very similar to the first, except that it focuses on communities who have lost their Dragon leader for whatever reason, for instance the death from old age of their Dragon mother. In these communities, the council of elders is the ultimate decision making authority, with the rest of the bureaucratic hierarchy below them remaining unchanged.   It is possible for Dragonborn societies that have lost their ruling Dragon to be overtaken by another Dragon that is able to convince the council of elders that it is in their best interests to submit to the new Dragon’s rule, in a relationship that is always outwardly based on mutual benefit. If the council of elders accept the Dragon’s offer, then they will move to serve the Dragon in exactly the same way that they had served their original Dragon Mother. Generally it is male Dragons who move to take over Dragonborn populations without a Dragon leader, primarily because male Dragons cannot start their own communities of Dragonborn, and so must acquire one through different means.

Geographic Origin and Distribution

As a species, Dragonborn are not widespread. Given the fabric of their society, they will tend to be concentrated in and around the areas that the Dragon Mother that created them lives, or lived if they have subsequently passed away. If a community of Dragonborn migrates or moves for any reason, it will primarily be either because their Dragon Mother has decided to move to a different location (a rare occurrence in itself), where they had been living is now no longer habitable, or because they have come into the service of another Dragon, who wishes for the community to move to its geographical base.   On the whole, Dragonborn communities, tend to be rather isolationist and reclusive, like the Dragons that they serve, though some Dragonborn communities do make a big impression on their surrounding area, and fewer still make an impact on the international stage. The best example by far is Zhisbon, who have emerged on Turoza, as one of the major political players on the continent, partly based on the monopoly they hold on the production of magical artefacts. It has been theorised, thanks to anecdotal evidence of sightings of Dragonborn who are clearly not from Zhisbon, that there are other communities of Dragonborn living on Turoza, though they are thought to be incredibly secretive, and perhaps even folk tales that have grown up in local communities. Dragonborn from Zhisbon can be found in the wider world, though many of those who are sighted are on official business for Zhisbon, with the remainder being individuals who have been exiled, and are no longer welcome back in their homeland.

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

Because of their Draconic ancestry, Dragonborns are highly sensitive to magic, and many of the most potent wielders of magic on Ulskandar’s Material Plane come from this species. It is not just their sensitivity to magic that makes them potent spell-casters, though this does allow them to draw on much greater levels of power than most others, but it is also their innate superior ability to control the magic that they summon, allowing them to cast more powerful, complex spells that would be far too dangerous for most other magically sensitive humanoids to cast. In addition, Dragonborn have retained the ability to unleash a breath weapon, in limited bursts, just like their true Dragon relations, though naturally this is much more restricted in its potency.

Civilization and Culture

Naming Traditions

Dragonborns will have two names, the first of which is always the name of their Mother Dragon, which immediately denotes their loyalty to other Dragonborn. Their second name is drawn from the same stock of Draconic names that Dragons use, with common male names including: Akia, Alluwamna, Hattusilis, Huzziya, Istanu, Lupakki, Mammali, Shaushga, Tarkasnawa, Zita and common female names include: Annella, Danuhepa, Estan, Gilukhipa, Harapsili, Istustaya, Kali, Muwatti, Pudukhepa, Tawashshi.

Major Organizations

Zhisbon, Tuninthalj Tribe

Average Technological Level

In terms of their base level of technological awareness and aptitude, Dragonborns fall into the same category as most other sapient species in Ulskandar. They are very accepting of new forms of technology, as long as it is obviously of use to them, and a good reason is given as to why it will serve them better than what they already have. What sets Dragonborn apart, technologically, from Ulskandar’s other races, is that they are incredibly skilled in the creation of magically imbued and augmented items, be they weapons and armour, potions or spell scrolls. In many ways, this means that in Dragonborn dominant societies, such as Zhisbon, the default position is to attempt to do  things, or improve processes through the implementation of magic, rather than mundane technological improvements.

Common Customs, Traditions and Rituals

There are a number of customs and ways of thinking that are common to Dragonborn including:   Splendid isolation: Unless they have been instructed to take an interest, the majority of Dragonborn are not concerned with the events taking place in the world outside of their communities. When they do take and interest, it is usually because it is seen to be of great advantage, or because it is absolutely necessary. This does not mean that Dragonborn do not care about what is going on in the greater world, it is just that they only choose to get themselves involved if they believe that there is a real threat to their Dragon Mother, or community.   Loyalty to the Mother Above all Else: When their Dragon Mothers are alive, Dragonborn will be fiercely loyal to them, and will happily give their lives for her protection. The same is true of Dragons that have taken over populations of Dragonborn, who can expect to enjoy an enormous amount of respect and loyalty from their new-found subjects, though they would be wise to remember that they can never have their total loyalty, as this is always reserved for the community’s Dragon Mother.   Blunt & Literal: As a rule, Dragonborn tend to be rather literal creatures, and have little time for flowery, metaphorical or symbolic language. In addition, they tend to be rather blunt in their conversation, and do not have any concept of flattery, and only Dragonborn who have spent a significant amount of time amongst other sapient species will avoid openly speaking their mind about any given subject. Even then, the fact that such individuals have avoided being so blunt is generally painfully noticeable.   Everything carefully thought out: Dragonborn take their time in coming to decisions. As they live lives measured in centuries they do not see the point in making hasty decisions that could have repercussions further down the line for their communities. As a result it can take years for important decisions to be made, which can be very aggravating if the decision relates to something that is happening beyond the borders of their community. There is a longstanding joke amongst the diplomats from other nations based in the town of Harbotha in Zhisbon, that one should always write any agreements and treaties so that there is a space to insert the name of the ruler who began diplomatic proceedings, and the ruler whose reign it then was when the treaty was actually agreed.   Exile is the ultimate shame: For a Dragonborn, to be exiled from their community is a fate worse than death, and is incredibly shameful. Out of all of the Dragonborn that this happens to, at least 60% will take their own lives, rather than be forced to live outside of their community, whilst the vast majority of the rest will spend the rest of their lives trying to find a way to get themselves accepted back into the community, by undertaking great intellectual or physical feats to impress the Dragon Mother or council of elders, and prove their use to the community.

Interspecies Relations and Assumptions

Obviously, Dragonborns have a very good relationship with the Dragon that created their community. With regards to other Dragons, Dragonborn will tend to treat them with caution, especially if their Dragon Mother remains alive, though this is more to do with the fact that they are pledged to protect the interests of their Dragon Mother, rather than outright suspicion. In addition, their Draconic heritage means that they get on with other reptilian peoples, such as Lizardmen, who they can understand at a more intrinsic level.   When it comes to other species, Dragonborn tend to be much more aloof and isolationist. As their communities tend to be rather self-sufficient, they deliberately do not engage heavily with the outside word, and they take a great deal of time and care to come to a meaningful decision, Dragonborns are often regarded as being out of touch with the rest of the world, especially on the continent of Turoza. It tends to be Elves that get on the best with Dragonborn out of Ulskandar’s other, non-Draconic or reptilian sapient species, as the long live that both species enjoy means that they both operate on the same long timescales, and can appreciate the them it takes to come to a final decision.

Genetic Ancestor(s)
Lifespan
600 years+
Average Height
c.6ft/1.8m


Cover image: by Chris Pyrah

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