Age Of Dragons: Biology

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Anatomy of a Dragon[edit]

An adult dragon is quadripedal, with long neck and tail, and a reptillian head. A dragon has two leathery wings, together equal in span to the full nose-tail length. These wings emerge near the shoulders from the dragon's back. On the ground, an adult dragon stands at around four and a half metres tall at the shoulder, with three metres of neck length, four of tail, and three of torso.

Dragon skin is scaled, with larger overlapping armour plates over the chest, the back of the body, dorsal limb surfaces and upper head, and leathery skin with fine scales over the abdomen, ventral limb surfaces, face and wing edges. The wing membranes themselves are not scaled, but are smooth and lightly translucent. Dragons do not have hair, though some sport manes of fine leathery spines that might be mistaken from a distance as such.

Dragon forelimbs end in clawed hands, which have thumb-claws opposed to three jointed fore-claws, and one unjointed vestigial foreclaw. Fore-claws are typically around nine to twelve inches in length, slightly curved, and are sharp in point and to their inner curvature's edge. A dragon has a surprising amount of dexterity for their foreclaws - greater than that of a human hand when taken in size proportion, less limited in fine control by their size than one might expect. A dragon is capable of gentle and controlled touch, able (should he wish) to pick an ant off a leaf without harming it.

Dragon rearlimbs are more muscular, and though less dextrous have a great deal more power. So long as they have their rear limbs on solid ground, dragons can easily launch themselves into full flight from a standing jump. Rear-talons are significantly longer than fore-claws, but have no opposed thumb so cannot manipulate so well. A dragon will typically bring in its rear talons to fight only when airborne, though of course it will readily use tooth and foreclaw whether airborne or grounded.

A dragon's teeth are clearly suited to a carnivorous diet, and for most breeds are found in a single serrated row each in the upper and lower jaw, with slightly larger canine fangs on both lower and upper jaw. A dragon's mucuous membranes (and indeed its viscera) are purple-red, as is its blood, regardless of scale colour. As the popular dragon-saying goes "scales may differ, but blood and breath are always the same".

Male dragons boast a pair of horns on their head. The appearance of these horns varies according to breed, but they are only found on males, and never on females. There are numerous other "tells" as to the gender of a dragon - males tend to have more elongated facial features and their central chest plates are single-file, whereas females have dual-file chest plates, more angled dorsal spines, and a generally less-shoulder heavy build, but stronger rear limb muscles. Both genders are similarly coloured and sized, with notable exceptions for only a couple of breeds.

For dragons, of course, the difference in gender is intuitive and obvious, and there are many other physical features that might be considered feminine or masculine, though these vary with breed and culture. For both genders, depth and homogeneity of colour, and having strong features distinctive to one's own particular breeds is considered to be very attractive.

Physiology of a Dragon[edit]

Internal Physiology[edit]

Dragons appear reptilian, but have only some reptilian traits. Though they have scales and are hairless, they are warm blooded capable of maintaining their body temperatures in a wide range of environments. Dragons require food to survive (a strictly carnivorous diet), need to drink water to stave off thirst, and must sleep regularly to fight tiredness. They are able to contract diseases and suffer other infirmities, but due to their stronger constitutions tend to be vulnerable only to the most potent of infections.

The most curious property of a dragon's physiology is complete immunity to fire and heat. A dragon can be exposed to the flames of a raging blast furnace, and neither feel pain nor come to harm. In fact, extreme heat is a somewhat pleasant sensation for dragons, and courting rituals will often begin with mutual dousing in fire-breath.

Pneuma, Life and Aging[edit]

Dragons believe that the key element to animation and life is their breath. A dragon feels quite physically nauseous if forced to hold his breath for any length of time, and is most comfortable when taking slow and deep breaths. Dragons perceive breath (or pneuma) as being synonymous with life and with magic and regard that which does not breathe as being without soul. Dragons note that as they are able to breathe deeper than lesser creatures, they have greater command of the magic of the world. Without the animating pneuma their bodies are little more than dead stone and clay.

This belief is not entirely unfounded - as a dragon ages, his internal magic stagnates somewhat, and his body begins to calcify. In the last century of his lifespan (which tends to be just over a thousand years in all) his scales will slowly transmute to stone, and his breathing will grow shallower and more quiet. Eventually, when he takes his last breath, his flesh will into grey unmoving stone, and he will cease to move altogether. Dragons call this the "Sleep of Stone", regarding it as terrifying as true death.

In the Sleep of Stone a dragon will not rot: instead its physical form will become still and hard as a stone statue. Their petrified flesh will not weather easily, and only the most determined assault will have any chance of shattering them. Their mass seems to gain density and weight also - as much as if they had been transformed into solid marble. Dragons who die before old age of other causes (such as violence, starvation or disease) do not attain the sleep of stone, but instead rot away like other mortal creatures, though the older they are at time of death, the longer they take to decompose. However, regardless of decomposition and manner of death, a dragon's bones will almost always remain, being made of the same hard substance as a stone-sleeping elder.


Dragons reproduce through male-femate mating pairings, with intercourse typically taking place belly-to-belly in mid-flight, but sometimes (less romantically) in mounting position on the ground. Dragons are blessed with great fertility. When two dragons engage in sexual intercourse, conception almost always occurs, and likely a small number of eggs will result from that encounter. Furthermore, for most breeds every egg laid will result in a healthy hatchling.

Pregnancies last around thirty six months, and at the end of this period the mother will lay a hatchery of one or more eggs. The eggs then become dormant, and will not hatch until exposed to a high degree of heat. This is usually in the form of draconic fire-breath, though a simple bonfire will also suffice.

Hatchlings at birth are around half as tall as a human being, and in the first dozen years of life will grow extremely rapidly, achieving two thirds of their adult size during that time. They will continue to grow gradually until the age of fifty years or so, after which they will not get any larger. They reach their adult intellectual capacity at the age of fifty years as well, though by 12 years of age they are already able to outreason and out-think most adult humans.

Though most dragon couplings happen between two dragons of the same breed, occasionally two dragons of different breeds will mate. This is a rare occurence, thanks to societal prohibitions and a tendency to find one's own breed more desirable, but it does happen. In this case, a mating pairing will only ever produce one single egg, and the resultant hatchling will be a Harlequin - a hybrid creature with features of both its parent breeds. Harlequins are always sterile, and often androgenous, and many more puritanical and conservative dragons will seek to destroy them on sight, as an abomination against the Mother Goddess.


Mortal races often associate dragons with firebreath, and assume it to be a natural ability of dragons. In fact, firebreath is the product of pneuma-driven spellcasting, rather than a result of draconic biology. Though most dragons will spend some time learning how to breathe fire (it is one of the simplest of spells to master) the knowledge of how to do so is certainly not universal.

The Twelve Dragon Breeds[edit]

The twelve Dragon Breeds were all created by the Mother Goddess as different facets of a single race, but are distinctive enough in appearance and behaviour that each recognises itself as a separate subspecies.

Pure Dragons have flawless white scales, as well as white eyes and ivory-white claws. Male Pure Dragons also sport white horns, which tend to run long and straight parallel to the length of the head, and which are circular in cross-section. The Pure Breed demonstrate closer uniformity of appearance amongst themselves than most other Breeds, and it is not uncommon for one Pure Dragon to be briefly mistaken for another at first glance. Pure Dragons describe their form as being especially noble and regal, with clean curve of upper jaw and a slight beak-shape to their noses. Others regard these features as undeniably aristocratic, but perhaps a little haughty in expression.

Argent Dragons are called "silver scaled" by other dragons, but in actuality a single dragon with have scales varying from the gleaming silver-white colour of mythril, to the dark and shiny black-greys of graphite. Dorsal surfaces (especially the heavy back armour plates) tend to be brighter coloured, while wing membranes and undersurfaces tend to darker silvers. Blue-grey shades tend to be the norm for Argent Dragon eyes, with a distinct black central pupil. Like Pure Dragons, Argent males have longitudinally aligned horns, though their horns are teardrop shaped in cross section, with the "edge" downwards. Their facial features and body structures are best described as "military", with a certain heaviness and solidity of torso even in females, and often accessory rows of spines along the back.

Solar Dragons have gold-scales, but (like their Argent cousins) their colouration runs through a range of metallic hues on a single dragon, from bright metallic yellow-white through to burnished bronze. Brighter colours tend to be found dorsally, with females more likely to have dappled patches on the border between the bands of light and dark shades, and males more likely to have smooth transitions of hue. Solar Dragons tend to have green or blue eyes, which are solid orbs of colour (without pupil or iris), but significantly brighter centrally than at the edges. Their body shape is slimmer and (in their opinion) more elegant than that of their Pure and Argent cousins, and their faces generally regarded as more open and friendly, though perhaps without the regal bearing of those two breeds.

Hunter Dragons are called "bronze-scaled", but the majority of their scales are earthy-brown and non metallic, with only the armoured back-plates having any metallic shine. There is great variation in hue with Hunter Dragons, with males tending towards darker scales, and females towards lighter scales. On close examination their scales are decorated with spirals and whorls, like those found on petrified wood or the shells of beetles. The most distinctive feature of Hunters, however, is their "ferality". To other breeds, the Hunters are primitive and bestial looking, with longer horns, teeth and talons than other dragons, deep set black eyes, predator facies and quill-like spines running in rows across limbs and back. Even their voices are snarling and animalistic. Other dragons respond to Hunters in the same way that a human might respond to a neolithic caveman - they find their appearance primitive, and a little frightening.

Forest Dragons are predominantly green-scaled, though their shade and patterning varies greatly. The majority of Forest Dragons (who dwell in the vast Heartswood) have leaf-green scales with dappled brown patches, and are slight and aerobatic in frame. In contrast the less numerous Jungle Dragons are a subspecies that have far darker green colouration, are much more heavily built, and oftem have thin red and yellow bands running along their torso. Finally, the rare Jade Dragons of the cold north have almost translucent pale-green skin that is entirely unpatterned, and have red eyes in contrast to the yellow eyes of the southern Forest Dragons. Horns vary also within the Breed, with long horns, spiral horns and other variations found across all the various subspecies.

Storm Dragons are blue scaled, and are divided in appearance according to the ocean depth they dwell at. Those that spend most time by shore or in sky tend to have light blue scales, whereas those who spend most of their time in the deep have dark blue scales, with "horizon breakers" somewhere inbetween. Unlike Forest Dragons, however, this appearance is not fixed by heredity, but rather shifts over toime according to where the Storm Dragon spends most time. A dark-hued "seeker in darkness" who spends a century on dry land will lighten in hue till he is indistinguishable from a "horizon breaker", and a century later in the same environment will appear as light as a true "cloud swimmer". In contrast, Storm Dragon eyes that vary in diametric opposition with their skin hue - a dark scaled dragon will have light blue eyes, and vice versa. Storm Dragons also vary anatomically from the other breeds in many other ways: all have gills on the side of their neck, allowing them their amphibious lives, and many also have fish-like fins and long dolphin-like faces. Male Storm Dragons do not have horns as such, but rather just a series of keratinous ridges in a crown around their temple.

Ashen Dragons are dark grey in colour, with blackish mottling, but always in non-metallic shades. Their horns are the colour of dried bone, and are like a bull's in shape and position. Most breeds grudgingly admit that Ashen Dragons have a cleaner line to their facial features and physical build than most breeds - they seem nobler, more evolved and more blessed in aesthetic beauty than most, just as a classical sculpture or posed portrait might seem. Ashen Dragons vary in minor ways from family to family - pronounced lower canines might be found in one bloodline, while solid white eyes might be found in another. Ashen Dragons themselves place great stock in these small bloodline differences, basing their society and castes around seemingly minor differences in physical traits.

Chimerical Dragons are rainbow-scaled, with each scale shifting in colour according to how the light falls on it, giving them a shifting irridescent appearance when viewed as a whole. Their entire appearance tends towards the ethereal, with fey thin limbs, enigmatic multi-coloured eyes and gossamer-like wing membranes. Other breeds often joke and comment that the appearance of the Chimericals is such that one expects them to blow away at the next strong breeze, or fade away when the sun next rises. They are oft-named as the Dragons of Dream, as they seem so ephemeral.

Velvet Dragons are hued a deep and luxurious purple colour, that is so dark as to be almost black, but offset by their deep golden eyes. Dragons of this breed are uncannily beautiful, though in an unsettling way. Dragons of other breeds know that they should not find Velvet Dragons sexually attractive, but they cannot help doing so, and they hate themselves for doing so. The Velvets are graceful in movement, sensual in appearance and always seem to smile faintly. Their horns, claws and teeth are the colour of polished ivory, but have a fascinating curve to them that hypnotically draws the eye to them. Theirs is not a noble or elegant beauty, but rather one that triggers unhealthy lust and a sense of discomfort twinned with fascination.

Ghost Dragons are pale grey in colour, with jaundiced-looking yellow eyes, and an overall build that seems sickly and unhealthy to other breeds. Their horns are spiralled and a dirty off-white colour. Their skin seems to be drawn a little too tightly across their ribs and limbs. Others cannot help but note that there is a certain intensity to them - they stare too long, breathe a little too quietly and are generally unsettling to be around.

Blood Dragons are red-scaled, with dark crimson on their back plates and bright scarlet on chest and ventral surfaces. They are physically heavy built, have curved horns with underside serrations, and often have chitinous blades protruding in lines from their back armour plates. The entire appearance of the Blood Dragon lends to a sense that they were built for war and slaughter, from their squat bulldog-faces, to their powerfully muscled upper limbs. Blood Dragons regard other breeds as weakling cousins, and their blustering and brutish behaviour mirrors their physical appearance. Blood Dragon eyes are solid black, save for a pin prick of yellow in the centre.

Sable Dragons seem like the negative image of the Pure Dragons, with their scales coloured as the deep black of night, as well as having jet-black eyes and gleaming black long straight horns. Like the Pure Dragons they have considerable uniformity of appearance, though part of this lies in that it is difficult to distinguish facial features with the depth of their skin hue. Sables have an undeniably regal appearance - they move and act as if it is their natural right to rule. Other breeds find them somewhat intimidating, and a little cold and distant, but cannot help but acknowledge their sheer force of presence.