How Dragons Are Born

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Inspired by an Indonesian folktale, here is a different take on the reproduction of dragons.

As Arda cooled from the fires of creation, the First Ones, Gwerjen and Janma surveyed the emerging landscape. Wanting to leave something of themselves on this alien world, they devised the creatures that would be blessed with a piece of the divine spark. Gwerjen favored strength and aggression. He created the giants first and then the orcs. Janma looked to beauty as a defining characteristic for any sentient creation. She created the elves first. Gwerjen complained that they were essentially orcs with the face of Janma. This remark survives to this day.

Various feya were created as well as the races of men. Each one was created as a variation on the one before. But after the last race of man was created, Janma spoke tenderly to her beloved Gwerjen. She asked him to consider only one more set of beings with the divine spark. She proposed that this final race would be a product of their eternal love.

In love they labored together on their ultimate creation: the dragon.

Dragons are believed to live for thousands of years. Dragons love to talk about their memories of long ago. Those dragons friendly to the races of men tell of human kings from generations long dead. The magic they employ is older than anything recorded by the elves. Some believe that dragons are immortal, a notion that dragons allow others to believe.

Dragons lay a few eggs in their lifetime. They lay viable eggs regardless of the presence of a mate. When they die, their body (unless completely disintegrated or otherwise prevented by magic) will transform into a small number of eggs. Each egg is slightly larger than an ostrich egg. Any creature that consumes the egg will turn into a dragon immediately.

When born, a dragon will eat the other eggs as it immediately. The newborn innately knows where the rest of eggs are located. If two or more eggs are consumed simultaneously, the resultant dragons will all consider each other family. If two creatures consume a single egg, the resultant dragons will consider themselves mates. (Thus encountering female dragons is extremely rare.)

Dragons only live for about 150 years, but a dragon is born with the memories of its progenitor. Dragons do not remember their births, so when encountered, dragons believe that they have lived for thousands of years. If multiple dragons are produced from one litter of eggs, the new family of dragons will share some of the memories of the progenitor, but only one will possess the identity of the parent. The one that takes the identity of the parent will name the others.

Occasionally, an egg will produce a variant form of dragon. The scales may have a different shape or color, some of the memories may not carry over or some other effect. These dragons will go on a quest shortly after their birth to discover their name. Many of these dragons will encounter an ally or enemy of the parent and then will take on the identity of the parent. A few others will forge a new identity for themselves.

In game terms, the effect of this ecology is:

  • About 90% of  dragons encountered will behave as expected in the various Monster Manuals. For example, red dragons will be evil and breathe fire.
  • Encountering a female dragon is extremely rare as there are very few female dragons in existence. Stat-wise, females are no different than males.
  • Gem dragons are born through a genetic wrinkle and so are uncommon, but not as rare as female dragons. Their offspring have a 50-50 chance that they will revert back to the chromatic/metallic grandparent or remain a gem dragon.
  • About 10% of dragons encountered will look like a one type of chromatic/metallic dragon but act like a different one. This could be as simple as a white dragon that acts like a silver dragon or as complex as a green dragon that breathes fire yet acts like a sapphire dragon.

Feel free to use the following Unique Dragon Generator (not made by me, just a reformatted version from a post on Dragonsfoot) to compute unique results. Otherwise here are some tables for dragon offspring:

Number of Eggs: Roll 2d6 and divide by 2 rounding down.

 

Nature of eggs: Roll d20 + d10
1 Metallic Dragon, random type, random breath weapon
2-3 Metallic Dragon, random type, standard breath wepaon
4-5 Metallic Dragon, same breath weapon as parent
6 Gem Dragon, random breath weapon
7-10 Looks like Metallic Dragon, but same characteristic as parent
11-20 Everything same as parent
21-24 Looks like Chromatic Dragon, but same characteristic as parent
25 Gem Dragon,standard breath weapon
26-27 Chromatic Dragon, same breath weapon as parent
28-29 Chromatic Dragon, random type, standard breath wepaon
30 Chromatic Dragon, random type, random breath weapon
Nature of eggs: Roll d20 + d10
1 Metallic Dragon, random type, random breath weapon
2-3 Metallic Dragon, random type, standard breath wepaon
4-5 Metallic Dragon, same breath weapon as parent
6 Gem Dragon, random breath weapon
7-10 Looks like Metallic Dragon, but same characteristic as parent
11-20 Everything same as parent
21-24 Looks like Chromatic Dragon, but same characteristic as parent
25 Gem Dragon,standard breath weapon
26-27 Chromatic Dragon, same breath weapon as parent
28-29 Chromatic Dragon, random type, standard breath wepaon
30 Chromatic Dragon, random type, random breath weapon
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