A race of people on Terrix. One of the two rarest races (tieflings are about the same or more in number). A proud race, though those publicly condemning Tiamat are slowly disappearing over hundreds of years. Many metallic dragonborn races have gone into hiding as a result.
Dragonborn have been a people of Terrix since the dragons came eons ago. It is said among dragonborn that there was a great battle of gods and demigods, with Io at the center of it. She was ripped in half by an enemy; these two halves of her body and psyche became the dragon embodiments of Good and Evil. They are known as Tiamat and Bahamut. When her blood fell in huge rivers upon Terrix, everywhere they landed became the dragons and dragonborn, and so we have variants that love fire, or the sea, or the desert, depending on where her blood fell upon the earth.
Despite a passing resemblance to reptilian creatures, dragonborn are warm-blooded beings rather than cold-blooded reptiles. Their bodies are hot enough to seem feverish to human sensibilities. This keeps a dragonborn more comfortable in cold temperatures. A lack of body hair coupled with a large mouth that can be opened to release body heat means that a dragonborn is no more vulnerable to hot temperatures than a human.
The scales that cover a dragonborn are tougher than human skin. Although these scales make a dragonborn less susceptible to small, incidental wounds, they don’t protect against damage dealt by weapons and similar purposeful attack.
Dragonborn give live birth to one child at a time (extremely rarely, twins, but never more). Dragonborn blood also dominates that of any other bloodline (aside from tieflings', whose Infernal bloodline overcomes all others); therefore, a non-dragonborn pairing with a dragonborn will always produce dragonborn offspring. Fledglings are quickly capable of standing and walking, but their teeth take a few months to come in. During this time, the mother feeds her offspring by chewing up soft organ meats, eventually moving to normal foods (which for dragonborn is usually more meat than other edibles).
A dragonborn matures quickly, becoming a fully grown adult at around age 15 (sometimes later for females). Dragonborn also carry an almost supernatural bodily potential to tap into and develop draconic traits. Most develop a breath weapon, which is dangerous by the time a dragonborn reaches adulthood. Still, an individual dragonborn might manifest more draconic traits than another. One might do so at birth. Such a change could instead come as the dragonborn’s soul quickens in the crucible of a spiritual path or as the body adapts in the wake of mighty deeds.
Strongly emotional, dragonborn approach life with a natural enthusiasm. Passion comes easily, and dragonborn readily invest themselves in the tasks set before them. At its simplest and perhaps basest level, this fervor expresses itself in extremes of feeling—dragonborn don’t hide anger or joy. Such emotion also surfaces as ferocity in battle, especially when dragonborn feel their resolve faltering. When failure comes into view as a possibility, dragonborn become more tenacious.
Guided by personal morals, dragonborn look out for themselves, along with those creatures and items they value. They have no trouble asking for what they need or taking time to improve their abilities. And they expect others to do the same. How else can associates and friends rely on one another? In what other way can society be expected to function?
The paradox in the dragonborn belief in a strong group dynamic is that, like dragons, all dragonborn are fiercely independent. They learn to be so in their upbringing, focused as it is on individuality. So this conviction is an outgrowth of personal pride. Dragonborn see the strengths of a group they are part of as an expression of their own strengths. The group’s failures and successes become those of the dragonborn members within it, reflecting on them and their choice to be a part of the group.
Coupled with such pride, dragonborn carry a high personal standard. When a challenge comes, dragonborn rise to it. They set their sights on success and keep going until no options remain to prevent failure. This trait isn’t as simple as a disdain for flaws and lack of success. Dragonborn want to contribute and to be seen as valuable by those they value. They consistently want to show that their confidence in themselves and the reliance others have on them isn’t misplaced. Consideration of how they can become better at whatever they do, whether by further fortifying assets or shoring up weaknesses, is part of dragonborn thinking.
Responsibility is also a piece of the dragonborn mindset. This can be an expression of their attachment to others involved in a situation. It’s also attributable to the cultural value placed on respect, for self and others, and good judgment. No dragonborn gives his or her word lightly. In fact, dragonborn often value honoring their promises and fulfilling their obligations more than their lives.
As an expression of all these personality aspects, any dragonborn aware of his or her abilities might realize he or she can’t hope to succeed in certain circumstances.
Dragonborn show wisdom by not giving their oaths to accomplish what they know they can’t. They show virtue by admitting their sense of the state of affairs and offering to help as best they can. They show courage by trying to accomplish the impossible anyway, when the cost of inaction would otherwise be too great.
Such positive expressions of dragonborn nature are common especially among heroic dragonborn. But, as with all fallible creatures, negative expressions also abound. Passion can lead dragonborn to brutality, hasty decisions, and unrighteous vengeance.
Greed and worse forms of selfishness can grow from a misguided ego. Blind ambition can follow a commitment to excellence, as can a willingness to evaluate others severely or to undertake foolhardy deeds.
Although such twisting of virtue can be a seed of wickedness, most of the time it never goes so far. An individual dragonborn might not see some of his or her failings, but such negative behavior never truly descends into evil. And a lot of dragonborn villains display a subset of dragonborn scruples, especially courtesy and respect to enemies.
Dragonborn families formed clans, extended groups unified by geographic proximity and similar temperaments. A large number of clans dedicated themselves to serving dragons. Many of these dragons belonged to bloodlines on one side or the other of the war between Bahamut and Tiamat. Others were autonomous wyrms who guided and nurtured their dragonborn followers. And still other dragonborn families, sometimes after the loss of a dragon patron, formed clan ties independent of dragons. These unified clans had military discipline in common, which was a trait needed in ongoing war or for mere defense in the elder world.
From within this clan structure, the dragonborn and their dragon lords formed centralized, cooperative states. They developed codified laws, as well as civic and religious institutions. War and diplomacy further unified realms. Dragonborn nations waxed and waned. All along, the conflict between the dragon gods did the same.
Historians, dragonborn and otherwise, differ on the subject of the outcome of the draconic conflict.
A few claim that Bahamut’s forces won in that early age. More say that moderate dragonborn came to the fore, forcing divine agendas into a secondary position related to worldly matters. The likeliest scenario is that the unaligned among the dragonborn showed a preference for heroic and kindly values, as common folk often do. This esteem placed Bahamut’s followers in an advantageous position, allowing them to persevere over their adversaries. At the same time, the needs of mortal creatures took precedence over the machinations of immortals.
Regardless of the truth of the matter, after numerous dragonborn kingdoms had passed into forgotten history, a unified array of dragonborn city-states formed the storied empire of Arkhosia. Dragon nobles integrated under a dragon emperor, mythically dubbed the Golden One. A dragonborn bureaucracy supported the nobles, protected by a military headed at first by the general Surina Moonscale. The Golden One and mighty Moonscale held Bahamut in highest regard among the gods, and this faith helped establish central principles for the empire.
Imperial priests also held strongly to the tenets of Erathis, Ioun, and Neudyn. The empire expanded its territory with a goal of bringing civilization, knowledge, and safety to untamed places and ignorant peoples. It gained land as much through word, trade, and decency as it did through battle. Within mere centuries, Arkhosia ruled large portions of the known realms.
Arkhosia seemed to be an unstoppable taming force that would eventually span the world, bringing progress and a measure of uprightness with it. Even Tiamat’s worship was outlawed and forced into secrecy. But evil other than Tiamat’s had risen to power in lands distant from Arkhosia’s central regions. Eventually, the expanding borders of the fiendish kingdom of Bael Turath, ruled by tieflings and devils, collided with those of Arkhosia.
Ideology, culture, and ambition smashed together as well. No common ground could be found between the two empires. For one to succeed, the other had to fall. War was inescapable. It came swiftly and brutally, and it spanned hundreds of years.
Both sides suffered internal strife, mirroring the surface conflict. Tiamat’s cult wormed away inside Arkhosia, weakening it. The desire of common folk to be free of infernal shackles poisoned Bael Turath’s well of power. Bane’s cult worked both sides, stoking the war hotter, while extremists loyal to Melora aimed to bring both empires down. Bitterness strengthened the utter incompatibility of ethos between the two nations.
Ever worse exchanges led the warring empires toward ruin. Bael Turath’s forces heaped atrocities upon Arkhosia, corrupting some lands to the point that neither side could hope to reclaim them.
Many of Arkhosia’s stalwarts of Bahamut began to thirst for retribution more than justice, to look to vengeance more than protecting the defenseless. Bloody Arkhosian campaigns against Bael Turath led some idealistic Arkhosians to doubt, and the empire’s foundational beliefs faltered, causing political turmoil. Overextension of resources made it difficult for ironhanded Bael Turath to keep order in its core provinces.
Neither relented, eventually costing both everything.
The Golden One and many dragon lords perished, some fleeing with their lives but without honor after the death of the dragon emperor. Lesser lords of the Nine Hells strode across battlefields, only to fall to draconic claws or the assaults of Arkhosia’s legions. That which didn’t disintegrate in direct combat crumbled under the stress inflicted by the seemingly endless and vicious war. But end that war did, when neither empire had the resources or the will left to fight. When the dust settled and the smoke cleared, Bael Turath and Arkhosia were no more.
Fiends of Bael Turath that weren’t hurled back into the Hells hid among the ruins, and Arkhosia’s few remaining dragon lords abandoned the wreckage or squabbled over the remains. Tieflings and dragonborn alike were left with no choice but to largely abandon their lands in search of refuge elsewhere in the world.
Most present-day dragonborn are integrated into mixed societies and are living in lands they cannot claim as their own. A few clans, as well as many individuals, roam in search of worthy causes, or simple wealth and personal glory. All continue to venerate the dragonborn model set forth in centuries gone Arkhosia, making their way according to a high personal standard.
The difference between the clan and family is subtle. Family is defined by one’s actual blood relatives as far back as records go. Clan is a federation of families, unified in the annals of time, often for forgotten ends.
All dragonborn revere their honored ancestors, family, and clan. They perform their work with an eye toward what their deeds say about their lineage. Such ties can define peace and enmity, as well as cooperation or antagonism, among individual dragonborn.
Families and clans have reputations, good or ill, that can have little to do with the living scions of the bloodline.
The desire to live up to a laudable legacy or overcome a besmirched birthright can define a dragonborn’s life. Some dragonborn instead embrace infamy or flee from the responsibility imposed by the past. Others make their way according to personal values, perhaps aiming at becoming the most capable and admired dragonborn among the elders of a clan, thereby becoming the clanmaster.
When doing so is possible, all dragonborn of a particular clan look to their clanmaster for guidance.
Clan names are ancient titles that are frequently taken from the names of dragon lords of Arkhosia. Those that aren’t dragon names are names of trade associations or martial cadres, much like modern guilds, arcane societies, or knightly orders. A dragonborn goes by his clan name, so his deeds are known to reflect on that clan. Members of a clan fiercely defend their clan name against misuse, and some dragonborn outlaws are stripped of the privilege of using the clan name.
Family names are Draconic words, much like given names, carried by a specific bloodline. They often come from the deeds of an ancient scion of the family line or an amalgamation of the names of notable ancient ancestors. A dragonborn seldom identifies itself by family name, unless specificity is required.
Dragonborn keep their family names private except among close friends, and instead go by clan name.
The dragonborn family unit is very small. The typical one contains only two dragonborn: a mated pair, or a parent and child.
Dragonborn wed to procreate. Although notable exceptions exist to this generality, wedlock ends as soon as the offspring from a union is 3 years old. If the parents have no reason to maintain proximity, one of them, usually of the same gender as the child, raises and trains that youngster in the ways of people, family, and clan.
A childhood name or nickname is common. Such a name is usually descriptive, and it serves as a term of endearment or encouragement for a young dragonborn. The name might recall an event or center on a habit. It could derive from an ancestor that acted similarly to a child, or a favored toy or item might be the inspiration. Such names are seldom appropriate for adults. For anyone to use such a name without proper authority, such as that of a parent or elder, or without permission is a sign of disrespect. A dragonborn’s elders use a childhood name after that dragonborn becomes an adult only to indicate disapproval.
Honor demands that a parent teach a child well, and that adults care for the young. Through storytelling, tutoring, and demonstration, the parent instills virtues and skills in the child. Although this process serves to educate, it also gives the youngster’s fiery spirit a focus. Without such direction, the fierce nature of a dragonborn comes to the fore, resulting in feral savagery.
When rightly trained in dragonborn ways, however, a juvenile learns that honor requires respect for elders and other worthies, focused and sincere effort, reliability and fulfillment of oaths, and integrity.
At an early age, he or she understands that chosen actions can bring credit or disgrace to self, family and clan, and even all dragonborn. Even dragonborn crafters and laborers grow up with discipline, play inspired by lessons and tales of derring-do, and an admiration for brave and principled deeds. All learn a thing or two about fighting and soldierly ways. They learn to be bold so that they can challenge themselves and those who misuse authority.
Faith is a personal matter for each dragonborn, and it is an issue in which the dragon deities take prominence. Bahamut is most important among the dragonborn people, but Tiamat’s cult thrives well in the hearts of avaricious dragonborn. Erathis, Ioun, and Neudyn also remain important as symbols of advancement and a progressive, fighting spirit.
Bereft of their own temples, most dragonborn practice religion in churches within mixed communities. They participate in few rites, unless duty, such as that placed on a cleric or paladin, or respect, such as that for a devout friend, compels them to do so. Clan elders preside over dragonborn marriages and funeral rites, for instance; absent these, family and close friends participate. Although gods might be invoked at such ceremonies, to call such rites religious would be a mistake.
Dragonborn are practical and meticulous about their crafts. Like dwarves, they create few items for purely artistic reasons, preferring the coupling of functionality and beauty. Strong individuality among dragonborn causes them to focus more on personal items, such as weapons, rather than those that can’t be carried, such as architecture or statuary. One exception to this generality of usability and beauty exists in the case of jewelry.
The love of bold colors and precious metals extends to jewelry, gems, armaments, and even coins. Many dragonborn crafters are jewelers, gemcutters, smiths, or minters. Clearly an expression of the draconic tendency to hoard valuables, dragonborn adorn themselves with baubles of all sorts, and dragonborn warriors and adventurers seek out the finest gear. Most dragonborn show reserve and taste in this aspect of personal adornment, rather than garish overindulgence.
Improving abilities and competition take precedence in dragonborn leisure activities. When dragonborn aren’t honing their skills, they’re playing a game or engaging in an activity to prove their grit—mental, physical, or spiritual. Dragonborn don’t restrict their activities to familiar skills. Part of developing oneself is expanding one’s horizons.
Dragonborn do prefer competitive games. Although team events are fine, contests that have one clear winner are favored. Therefore, a dragonborn hones skill at strategic board games, philosophic riddle contests, improvised storytelling events, and one-on-one sports.
Dragonborn have few overarching racial enemies or allies. Their history might have provided them with a natural enmity for tieflings, but that doesn’t pan out in reality. The same can’t be said for devils (not tieflings, actual devils).
Despite the centuries-gone war between Arkhosia and Bael Turath, few modern dragonborn hate tieflings. Most see the disintegration of the two nations as a mutually shameful episode in history, brought on as much by the eroding of Arkhosia’s creed as the depravity of Bael Turath’s rulers. Many dragonborn also recognize that those tieflings now alive aren’t responsible for the wrongdoing of their forebears. So dragonborn weigh tieflings like they do other people—on individual merit, respecting even the worthy adversary.
Dragonborn do rely on allies and friends. In fact, dragonborn are frequently without nearby family or clan members, and comrades are essential in the darkening world. Dragonborn give their all to support those who trust them. When such associates show a similar sense of duty, dragonborn come to see them like relatives. They eventually form clanlike bonds with them, sharing the stories of their lives and people. An ultimate sign of trust and bonding would be to share their family name (not just their clan name). Non-dragonborn do well to realize the honor they’re being given when such bonding occurs.