The Last Council of Wyrms
For two ages, since the first meddlesome humans unlocked the mysteries of magic, Dragons have faced extinction. Hunted ruthlessly by feeble creatures who were once mere vermin, their numbers have dwindled. Some have survived by exploiting their natural shapeshifting prowess, hiding in human and animal form. Others have fended off the human hordes through raw omnipotence and a few have simply been lucky enough not to catch the attention of the dreaded slayers. Still, even these hardy few realize that if something is not done soon, their kind will vanish from Earth and she will not see their like again.
At the twilight of Dragonkind, the last come together in a desperate attempt to save their species. Will the story be a bloody last stand against humanity, an optimistic tale of resolution as the Last forge a peace with their persecutors or an adventure epic where those few who remain set out to find a new home beyond the reach of human sorcery? It is up to the PCs and that is what will make this game different. It will begin with the council of wyrms where the remaining dragons, played by the PCs, will debate what can be done to save their kind. The remainder of the RP and its eventual resolution will be strongly dependent on what the PCs decide in this first chapter. Indeed it will set the tone for everything to come.
The supercontinent of Dauros is bordered on the south by ice and in all other directions by vast uncharted oceans. In it's center where the cool moist winds of the sea are but a memory, a scorching desert called the Scar dominates the land. Humans evolved here amidst the ruins of an ancient Dragon-War and like the rest of the waste denizens they are devoid of magic. North of the Scar the Azurines, a steep mountain chain, extends to the ocean splitting the continent down the middle and to the South stretch seemingly endless grasslands, freezing to tundra and finally ice as they approach the frigid pole. The harsh lands of central Dauros essentially divide the great continent creating two very distinct human cultures to the East and West.
To the West lies temperate forests and hills, an arable land of plentiful food where humans have developed a feudal civilization based on Lordly landholders and landless peasant farmers. Much like mideval Europe, these feudal realms were once united in the face of the Draconic threat. Now that Dragons are dying out, however, the High King has lost much of his power and scheming nobles and rebellious peasants have become his chief concern. Apart from their royal family, the Easterners are linked by a shared religion. Stemming from the teachings of the prophet Korvacia it warns of an underworld inhabited by Demons who will consume the wicked and preaches of a single God, Jhol who rewards his believers with eternal life. The priestly hierarchy of this religion boasts of a temple in every city and wields nearly as much power over the populace as the High King himself.
To the East the land itself seems to splinter apart, narrowing around rivers and finally breaking up into vast chains of islands which eventually give way to the endless eastward ocean. This land is both warmer and wetter on average than the west and it's people have adapted accordingly. Instead of wheat and vegetables for crops they raise rice and water cresses which thrive in damp soils. Instead of heavy rust prone armor they favor tanned water proof leather and durable yet flexible bamboo. Also unlike the West they never heard the words of the prophet and still cling to their ancient pagan beliefs. Ancestor worship is common as is that of nature spirits. Village shrines replace the centralized temples and local wisemen and women fill the role of scholarly priests. The one similarity between these two cultures is their fear of Dragons and the unity this fear has engendered in their society. Even more united than the Westerners, the Easterners have no loose patchwork of counties but a firm Empire ruled not by local lords but appointed imperial officials. Although the Dragons, called Lung in the East, have all but vanished in recent decades, the Empire remains firm because there is no other political or religious authority present to challenge it.
Human populations are less organized in the high plains, deserts, and mountains of the central continent. Primitive technologically and dependent on the movements of herds of cattle, elk, and buffalo, these people are referred to in both East and West as 'barbarians'. Despite their lack of sophistication, however, it was the barbarians who first learned to impregnate their iron with magic and forge the first enchanted weapons. The Dragon Hunt began in the central plains and the greatest slayers still often find their roots among the hardy nomadic peoples.
Dragons are ancient. Human treasurehunters have unearthed dragon bones petrified by their time under the earth and wizards have dated them through divination to be on the order of millions of years old (a figure the church hotly disputes). Dragons themselves tell a similar story. According to their mythic history 6,500 ages (65 million years) ago they were not unlike humans, frail, mortal and devoid of magic. In fact the whole world was devoid of magic, until something fell from the sky. Dragons call it the Dreaming Star and say that when it struck the earth it lit a fire so bright that it blotted out the sun and along with it, every star in the night's sky. The collision destroyed most of the life on the planet, but the remaining creatures found themselves in a world thick with magic. Suddenly their forms became fluid and they could dream themselves new ones.
Dragons call the Era after this collision, the Time of Legends and it is in this time that most of Dauros's magical species, from the mighty Leviathon to the graceful unicorn, find their origin. Two lineages, however, remained dominant for their ancestors had been present when the flare of the Dreaming Star lit the world. Magic had been burned deep into their bones atomizing them and infusing the void between with arcane power much the same way modern humans fuse it into their swords and armor. One group, the Dragons, descended from giant reptiles who ruled the earth in the Primal Era before the collision. The lineage of the other group, the Demons, can only be guessed at since all records of them have been lost and modern Dragons who dream of them recall only nightmares.
Although Dragon history reaches deep into their past it is always vague because Dragons divine their past not from written records but from dreams which are often the echoes of very real and very ancient events. These dreams tell Dragons that one of the most important events in their history occurred a mere 20,000 years (2 ages) ago. During this time, the conflict between Dragons and Demons came to a crescendo. The decisive battle was fought in the central continent and rent the fabric of magic itself leaving the battlefield a permanent desert. One of the deep ironies of Dragon history can be found in the fact that the defeat of their ancient enemy lead to the creation of the enemy which would ultimately destroy them, man.
Although warmblooded reptiles, Dragons have life cycles similar to some insects. They hatch from their eggs in a 'larval' form called a drake. These hatchlings take the appearance of winged serpents with stunted arms and legs. For approximately twelve years, drakes grow from ten to around twenty feet, but their task is the building of magic not flesh which they store in ever increasing amounts in their bodies until it erupts in an elemental cocoon called a thistra. Woven of the same element which will one day compose their breath weapon, the thistra protects the drake as it undergoes a metamorphosis. Dragons call this period the Dream Time for to them it feels as if they truly 'dream' their body into being. At the end of this process the young dragon emerges a fully developed, fully proportioned, yet still miniature version of its adult form. Like many reptiles Dragons experience indeterminate growth. They continue to grow all their life and it is a long life, the eldest wyrms reaching 1200 years. Some of the oldest of these have boasted wingspans of hundreds of yards, but with their great diversity of form, there is no way to tell how large a dragon can really get.
Adult dragons have bodies which reflect their reptilian ancestry but vary in many other respects. Some incorporate avian features, beaks, feathers and raptorial claws. Others are more mammalian with ears, manes and retractile claws. Still more are serpentine, even amphibian in shape. In the West reptilian and mammalian forms are more common, while in the east serpent and avian forms dominate. This difference is reflected in the art of humans in the east and west who both depict dragons differently. In addition to these living features, some dragons incorporate their element into their very tissues. Metal aligned dragons with skeletons of iron, fire dragons with boiling blood and wind dragons who are as transparent as air have all been reported. The major elemental innovation of every dragon however is their breath weapon.
Dragon's call their breath weapon, soul breath, for they understand it as a force which comes not from their lungs, but from their spirit who's center is located at the center of their body mass (normally just below the lungs). When expelled this personal magic immediately cystallizes into the form of the dragons attuned element, whatever that may be. Some dragons are rather inartful in their use of this weapon while others learn to shape it. Tales of dragon slayers tell of Ice Dragons who could breathe shards of ice to impale their foes and acid dragons who could spit a linear spray of corrosive so precise that it could cut a person in half like a diamond whip. Since the fire dragons were among the last to be slain in mass, humans often think of dragons as fire-breathing, but in reality the breath of dragons is as diverse as the beasts themselves.
All dragons are intelligent though their intelligence manifests in different ways, often in accordance with their element. A wind dragon might be creative and artistic yet irrational and impulsive. A metal dragon's thinking might be highly logical yet he may lack emotional awareness. An earth dragon may be gifted with wisdom and 'common' sense, yet fail at complex abstract thought. Despite these intellectual differences dragons share a love of deep discussion, philosophical debate and riddles. An exchange of one or all of these often accompanies a meeting between dragons.
Dreams figure prominently within the culture and inner life of dragons who impart great meaning to these nightly visions. Often they are reverberations of past events and it is through dream memory that dragons piece together the history of the Earth and their own. Occasionally a dragon is born, however, whose dreams are echoes not of the past but of the future. Such Dragons are highly revered among their kind as prophets and their words are among the few that dragons deem worthy of transcribing for posterity.
In human tales of dragons, the monsters are often portrayed as arrogant, and it is a portrayal not entirely undeserved. Dragons held the post of top predators in the world for millions of years, and even before the Dream Star their reptilian ancestors ruled the Earth. As such, they can not help acting a tad haughty, particularly when dealing with a species who only a mere handful of centuries ago was the prey of pests like wyverns and chimera. Dragons are less arrogant toward one another, though wyrms, specifically matriarchs, do tend to look down on younger dragons and with good reason as they often tower over them.
In the past dragons mated for life and lived as pairs, breeding, raising drakes and staking out a hunting ground together. At the top of the food chain in enchanted wilds, they fed on magical creatures and digested not only their flesh but their magic. Humans of course have changed all this. Not only have they decimated the unicorn and pegasi herds which once supplied the dragons with food, they hunted them to the brink of extinction. Most of the dragons who survived this onslaught were those skilled at shapeshifting, who retained a limited ability to redream their bodies after their metamorphosis. Although these new forms were never as powerful as their true one, they served to hide them from the relentless slayers. Also since these lesser forms do not burn through magic the way their true form does, assuming them reduced their food requirements drastically.
Most modern dragons are descended from these shapeshifters, spending much of their time veiled behind human and animal forms. However, a few dragons have followed 'different' strategies. Some have learned how to absorb magical sustenance, not from food, but objects. These so-called hoarders, give other dragons a bad name, attacking human cities and caravans and flying off with every bit of shiny enchantment they can get their claws on. Hoarders then make 'nests' of this loot upon which they curl up, soaking in its warm magical glow. Then there are the matriarchs. Following the general reptile body plan, female dragons tend to outgrow males, and some of the eldest and largest wyrms, mostly matriarchs, still live the old way, counting on their sheer power to scare off any prospective slayer. Most of these rogues live in the rugged mountains where no armies or siege weapons can be brought to bear against them owing to the harsh weather and narrow passes.
In the past, meetings of Dragons who were not mates was a rare affair, but often a celebrated one. Now, however, such meetings are rarely so happy for they generally involve the passing of bad news, another wyrm slain, another enchanted forest leveled by axes. One formal meeting, held every seven years when the stars (actually planets) Xirrus and Kear come into allignment, is the Council of Wyrms. Held at a place still secret from humans, even in these dark days, it's attendance is considered a duty of any Wyrm (800 years or older). The rarity of dragon kind, however, has changed the nature of the council from a meeting of just the eldest to any and all who can attend and sadly those that do, still don't manage to fill up the aviary which was built by ancient earth dragons to house only the very eldest of their kind.
Although most Dragons only see the past in their dreams, occasionally one is born who sees the future instead. By their testimony the dragons knew at the very dawn of the Dragon Hunt that their doom lay on the horizon. In their words some Dragons even see warnings that the old enemy, Demons, survive and will rise once more, but prophecy is a vague art and the meaning of visions and stanzas are not always clear.
Prophecy is a tricky business for telling a seer's dream from a reflection of the past or pure fancy is no science. Rather, only the conviction of the prophet herself stands as evidence. When such figures succeed in actually predicting events they are taken more seriously by their kindred and their prophecies are often transcribed into stone in places beyond the reach of lesser species who might misuse their foresight.
Prophecies themselves rarely take the form of definite predictions, rather the prophet experiences possibilities and by combining these visions, a 'tree' of branching futures is created. Prophets call the nodes in this tree where one future becomes destined and another an impossible dream, fractures. Fractures are almost always times of great tumult and chaos where prophecy itself fails to resolve the path ahead. The present, according to many prophets, is one such juncture, a branch between two possible futures, one with dragons and one without.
During their metamorphosis nearly all dragons incorporate their element into their living bodies to some degree, an air dragon might have gaseous bladders which help him stay afloat, an acid dragon might have corrosive blood, but some rare dragons go farther than a mere mixing of element and flesh. Occasionally, a dragon supplants his flesh entirely with his element during the dreamtime, resulting in a form that is literally 'made' of fire or stone or even air. Such rare births are called Elemental Archons or Elementals. Humans who encounter these beings often fail to even recognize them as dragons and instead see them as spirits or Gods. Dragons know better, and react to their elemental kindred with a mixture of fear and respect.
Though powerful and notoriously hard to destroy, elementals labor under two detrimental weaknesses. For one, their true forms are intensely magical which means they need to devour vast amounts of magic to sustain it. In modern times where magical sustenance is scarce this means such dragons can usually only assume their true form for minutes before expiring. Also, though immune to most physical injuries elemental are very vulnerable to their opposing element. Faced with a clever human mage, they would thus be in more peril than a dragon born of flesh.
To Dragons, humans appear as clever but ultimately foolish monkeys messing around with powers they do not truly comprehend. Unlike a dragon who bends personal magic to her will when shifting forms or breathing fire, human magic is more like science, an external, not an internal, power. Sometimes called alchemy, human magic hinges upon combining specific enchanted substances to produce designated effects. Many of these substances come from magical creatures, hence the overhunting of many species such as unicorns and phoenixes. Other materials are mined from the earth like the glowing magical crystal, dross, or the bluish magical oil, mana.
Human wizards are one part chemist, one part mystic. In their spellbooks they transcribe complicated formulas for potions and 'on the fly creations' called spells. These spells require an instrument called a wizard's staff; little more than a stout limb of hardened wood from a garu tree, an antimagical variety found in the arid regions near the Scar. This 'staff' is, in fact, more like a rifle, hollowed in the middle with one opening positioned at the end like a barrel and another along the side for loading ingredients. When these ingredients react they propel their magical effect out the hollow staff and, if all goes right, towards the wizard's target. Of course, not all wizards follow the same techniques. Some prefer shorter staves called wands or rods while in the east, wizards prefer to deliver their spells by arrow and train their whole lives to perfect not just magic but archery as well.
Despite the impressive flair of wizardry, however, the real powerhouse of human magic is to be found in enchantment. By impregnating their smelted metals with magical ingredients they imbue weapons and armor with various magical properties. Unlike the complicated mixtures of wizards, such weapons can be used by anyone, making even a child with the right dagger a threat to a full grown manticore. Thankfully for Dragons enchantment is impermanent and so expensive. Only the elite among the High King's knights and the Emperor's samurai can afford such weapons in addition to the monster and dragon slayers, those hated so-called adventurers who make coffers of gold killing dragons and robbing graves.
Players can play as dragons or humans or possibly something else if the idea is good. For a character sheet give me a write up of the character's history, personality, and physical description. For dragons make sure to include a both their true forms and any other alternate forms, human or animal, they have at their disposal. Below is a CS for dragons. Human players would need to include spells if they intend to play a wizard.
When submitting characters please PM them to me and keep your sheet as reference. CS's are huge spoilers for other players. I mean think about it. Do you want the guy playing a dragon slayer to know that your 30,124th scale is your weak point and a single arrow at that point could kill you? I will of course create a cast list in the IC with general nonspoiler descriptions of the PCs so people can remember who is playing who.
True Name (Name in Draconic; only used with other Dragons)
-Don't God Mode. I mean come on man you're already a dragon!
-Try to post at least twice a week for main characters, once a week for side characters (all dragons are main characters by default)
-Don't be a douche.
Answers to inevitable questions
Can I play a human?
-I'll allow any number of humans as antagonists, but only one or two as protagonists (allied with the Dragons)
Can I play as <insert crazy magical creature here>?
-I'll allow one or two based on the number of people playing Dragons, but it needs to be grounded in mythology. No jabberwockies.
Do dragons have magic?
-Dragons are magic. So yes, but they do not cast spells. Their forms themselves are physically impossible. They breath fire, ice, and acid, they fly when all the laws of aerodynamics say they should fall like a stone, and they reflect even canonfire from their scaly armor. That is their magic.
What about Demons?
-Some think they are extinct, some believe they are merely biding their time underground. Whichever is true, no one has seen a Demon in many hundreds of Ages, beyond even Dragon memory so no one knows what they look like. All that is known is that they were powerful enough to bring Dragonkind to its knees when Draconic civilization was at its peak.
What can my elemental affinity be?
-Anything. Seriously, anything so long as it's not something stupid like.... balloons.
Are there any limitations of a Dragon's true form?
-No. Though most tend to play on the same reptilian theme, there are many variations. Some dragons have feathered wings, some have no wings at all, some even boast mammalian features like elongate ears, manes or retractile claws. Also the more fantastic your form, the faster you will burn through magic and the more you will need to eat to maintain your form.
What do Dragons eat anyway?
-Other magical creatures whose magic they basically absorb during digestion. They can eat humans, but humans are essentially empty calories since they are not innately magical. Without an enchanted food source, a Dragon is unable to assume their true form and essentially stuck in one of their lesser ones.
Do Dragons horde treasure like in all that Anti-Dragon literature?
-A few Dragons have developed the ability to glean magic from enchanted human artifacts in order to supplement their magical prey which are growing rarer for the same reasons dragons are, but this talent is by no means common and many of the Dragons whove grown dependent on it have... changed and not for the better.
Can I play an Eastern-Style Dragon aka Lung?
-Yes, but note that flying about without wings is much more magically intensive, I mean think about it, how in the heck does that even work?? You would essentially tire quickly when flying though you would be far more maneuverable.
1) Skygga, Shadow Dragon, played by Bainshie
2) Adrian, Acid Dragon, played by Konan375
3) Thrak, Lightning Dragon, played by Duality
4) Vastos, Fire Dragon, played by Syvas
5) Krachem, Copper (clockwork) Dragon, played by jeray2000