Dragons

AU Content! This article describes non-canonical content of the setting which may or may not be added to official lore later on.
A race of warlike otherfolk who originated from the cold Far Lands but over time have spread out to the North by aggressively invading and ransacking territories. Currently, a large clan of them lives in the North alongside a similar species of otherfolk that are quadrupedal and exist in a sort of social symbiosis.

Basic Information

Anatomy

Their bodies appear humanoid in stature. They have human-like ears, which are however a bit more pointy and longer than those of humans and can be moved to a small degree. While their facial features are very similar to humans, they are a lot "sharper", with straight jaws and often very prominent cheek bones. Their eye shape is rather slanted, with thin, short brows. Their eyes have dark sclera and slit pupils. Iris colors have a wide range, but yellow/amber is the most common with colors like blue and green, red, or even white appearing less frequently. No cases of brown eyes are known, but some rare ones with very dark grey irises leading to the eye appearing completely black. In dark environments, the iris reflects light.   Common hair colors include black and dark or light grey and dark, reddish shades of brown, as well as all shades of red. Blonde or white hair is extremely rare. Their hair is usually straight or only slightly wavy, if at all. Dragons generally lack facial hair, but have full eyelashes.  

Unusual Features

Their hands are capable of growing sharp claws, and they have sharp teeth as well. Dragon tongues are longer than human tongues and rather pointy with a slightly split tip. Skin color tends to be either very pale or grey-ish to black. In rare cases, hybrids can have different skin color like almost golden or completely white.   There's a pair of forward-facing, segmented horns on their head that grows continually throughout their entire life. After many decades, the shape of the horns starts curving upwards and eventually looping back downwards. They tend to file down their claws and horns to prevent accidental injury - horns that were cut/filed/broken off will eventually grow back (but result in uneven horn size if the other side was unaffected).   Along their spine, their skin is covered in dorsal scales of which some are shaped like spikes of varying size; towards the tailbone, the spikes tend to be the longest, running along a scale-covered tail as well. These scales are shed periodically, and most frequently when their body grows quickly or when they fall ill, but grow back even when damaged. Their wings have the same color as their scales, with the membranes matching the color of their skin.  

Adaptions to their Habitat

Due to their origins being in the Far Lands, the cold-blooded dragons are kept warm by a biological adaption to their metabolism. Their body produces an acidic hormone that is present in their bloodstream and saliva. When in contact with air, this hormone causes a chemical reaction that causes the respective body fluid to heat up drastically.  
clothes accommodating to wings
by Kuuranen
In order to get rid of excess heat created by this adapted metabolism, they also possess wings which have thin membranes that are rich with blood vessels. By just spreading their wings, the dragons can control how much of the membrane surface is exposed. This means that if their surroundings are of a colder temperature than their body, they can effectively cool their entire bloodstream down this way. If the temperature of their surroundings isn't sufficiently cool, flapping the wings or pointing a fan at them can still achieve a similar effect. If nothing else helps, a cold shower or bath can provide relief.   A side effect of their body fluids reacting to oxygen this way is that anytime they are exposed to air at all, a sort of miasma is produced. In cold outside temperatures, this can be seen as their breath appearing like they are exhaling smoke. It's also the reason why they are surrounded by a rather pungent, sulfury smell at all times. Even if the fluids don't ignite themselves, a spark or open flame nearby can easily cause this chemical gas to catch fire or even explode. The dragons use this to their advantage in combat or for display. For example, they may carry a box of matches or some flint with them. It also means that their corpses or injured need to be handled with special care to avoid disastrous accidents.   Their tail is well-suited for swimming, and allows them to move/turn quickly underwater. Despite not being a primarily aquatic species, dragons enjoy water a lot and can be seen spending several days at a time swimming and diving to their heart's content - especially when the weather is unpleasantly hot on land. They can hold their breath for a long time as well, since their metabolism slows down considerably the cooler their body temperature gets.

Genetics and Reproduction

There's no strong sexual dimorphism present between males and females of the species. The females tend to grow slightly taller, though. Their main secondary sex characteristic is dragon men's scales and wing membranes developing "eye spot" like patterns once they reach sexual maturity. Dragon genitals function and appear similar to those of humans. Breasts as they appear in humans aren't present on dragons, but both sexes develop strong pectoral muscles to aid them with moving their wings for flight. Only later on, during puberty when their wings become useless for flight, the chest muscles also decrease unless the dragon keeps themself physically fit.   Whether a developing fetus ends up being female or male depends on the temperature during the early weeks of gestation. No specific details are known, but dragon children conceived during summer tend to be overwhelmingly female. Contrary to popular belief, dragons do not lay eggs but instead are viviparous. Typically, a clutch of dragons consists of 1 to 12 pups, with an average of 6 to 8. Young and/or first-time mothers tend to have smaller clutches. The gestation period typically lasts at least 24 months, but if the mother falls ill or experiences extreme stress during this time, it can take longer. Especially young mothers who end up with a big clutch might seek to spend a lot more time in ponds or pools late in their pregnancy to alleviate the strain of the additional weight somewhat.

Growth Rate & Stages

Dragons live for an unknown span of years, but it seems that unless killed or ill, they don't naturally die of old age. As a dragon ages, their body continues growing larger and never stops. When they're born, they first grow very slowly and barely reach a height of one and a half meters, but at around the age of 30 years or slightly after, when their puberty sets in, they get a rapid growth spurt for a couple years where their height starts exceeding two and a half meters and up to three. Afterwards, a more evenly paced growth pattern settles in.   Due to this extremely rapid growth and the intense growing pains this causes, teenage dragons are known to become even more destructive and moody than regular dragons. It is why their family often sends them off to go rampage somewhere else until the worst has passed.   When they are born, dragons already have their wings, which grow to a size that allows them to glide in the first five years of their life and later on fly. Once a dragon can fly on their own, they are considered adults socially and mentally. As they reach the age of sexual maturity, they start growing too large for their wings to still allow flight. At that point, the wings only fulfill their primary purpose of body temperature regulation.

Dietary Needs and Habits

Dragons are carnivores, however they will occasionally supplement their diet with grain (usually in the shape of bread) and eggs. Being great swimmers, they can easily catch fish even without additional tools, which they like making use of when travelling. In their settlements, they tend to rely heavily on fishing and fish farming, making it the main part of their diet. They also love other kinds of meat, and keep domesticated turkeys for their meat and eggs.   Pork and beef are not a prominent part of their normal diet, but when prowling through foreign territories, dragons have no qualms about killing and eating any livestock they find. Sometimes, if nothing else is available, they will hunt deer or even unlucky humans and similar. While not a frequent meal, dragons enjoy the taste of humans and otherfolk. Every now and then, dragons will even eat each other, usually when they had to settle some sort of argument with violence.

Additional Information

Social Structure

The dragons are seen as savages by other cultures, which won't change anytime soon due to their fierce, survival-of-the-meanest and violent nature that is normal to them but off-putting to other cultures. Humans in particular think that dragons are obscene and fiendish, even demons. Otherfolk have similar opinions. It doesn't help their reputation that they like to attack, kill, sexually assault, and even eat other races, most of the time entirely unprovoked. Relations to other clans are therefore tense at best, but almost exclusively hostile.   Within dragon culture, it's seen as weakness if one can't stand their ground and get their way. Accepting help or even needing it in the first place is considered pathetic. It's no surprise that dragons see nothing wrong with bullying other species - according to their societal norms, anyone who lets themselves be subdued deserves to be. At the same time, this means that what a dragon considers a polite disagreement between friends would look like a ferocious physical fight to an outsider. Drawing blood and even broken bones are considered a trivial side effect of clashing opinions, and getting upset about such would be considered extremely embarassing.

Uses, Products & Exploitation

Even though dragons are feared and widely despised by other cultures, some have taken an interest in the special properties of the dragons' bodily fluids. The acidic fluids, when ingested or inhaled by other species, tend to cause strong intoxication-like effects or even symptoms similar to poisoning. In small doses and diluted, their saliva and blood is collected and sold as miracle cures for all sorts of illnesses as well as recreational drugs. The biggest problem with collecting the ingredients tends to be handling the dragon they come from. Dead dragons tend to be even more dangerous to handle than alive ones, in this regard due to how volatile their body chemicals are in the wrong conditions.   Beside this, some hunt the dragons for their horns and scales, which go for high prices when ground and sold as aphrodisiac. This trend developed when contact between humans and dragons became more frequent - as the interest that the dragons took in them was anything but benevolent and often took a distinctly sexual turn, the impression they left on the humans was one of extraordinary libido, something the aphrodisiac tries to capture.   Some people try to sell dragon eggs, but those are always fake, since dragons don't actually lay eggs.

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

Their eye sight, compared to humans, is rather poor. But in dark environments, for example at night or underwater, dragons still retain their sight when other species would struggle to. This makes them extremely dangerous foes in such situations.
dragon eye color chart
Genetic Ancestor(s)
Origin/Ancestry
Pseudo Human / Beast Human
Lifespan
Unknown
Average Height
Adolescent: up to 1.5 meters
Adult: 2.5 meters and above
An adult dragon grows by about a meter every 25 years.
Body Tint, Colouring and Marking
Scales and horns are most commonly black or very dark grey, sometimes with iridescent shimmer or patterns of different colors. Especially after injuries to the flesh underneath the scales, the scales that grow back can be differently pigmented.
When their skin is light, dark pigmentation around the areas where they grow scales and near the horns, as well as around the eyes, mouth, and towards the end of their limbs is often present to varying degrees. Some of this pigmentation can look like patterns that take the shapes of stripes or dappling/mottling. When they suffer scars, those patches of skin remain lightly colored after healing, which is used as a traditional tattoo technique by dark-skinned dragons and around normally darkly pigmented body parts.
Geographic Distribution
Dragon Hybrids
Since dragons are sexually active even outside their own species, every now and then one can come across hybrid offspring. It seems like otherfolk races are most likely to become pregnant with dragon hybrids that don't result in stillbirth or severely ill children. Generally, those races however view such children as freaks and they become outcasts (if they aren't killed).  
hybrids inherit traits from both parents
by Fayren
  Pets and Companions
Dragons tend to not bother with keeping pets, and many "normal" pets are in fact too small to live with them or would feel scared by the smell. However, some dragons like to keep large snakes and reptiles around. Those are drawn to the warmth of the dragons' bodies and can often be seen climbing on and clinging to their owners.   A very popular pet are crocodiles, which tend to inhabit ponds and pools in the dragons' homes. Normally, dragons are very fond of the pets they keep, but some more pragmatically-minded individuals also like to make a meal out of them.

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