Age of Dragons: Forest Dragons
A Mother's Blessing
It is said that when the world was young, the first Forest Dragon turned to the Mother Goddess and asked Her to explain the secrets of life to him. He said that he was frustrated by the fact that dragons seemed not to be truly alive, living above and around the natural world rather than as a part of it. He had the insight to recognise he lacked the intuitive connection to the harmonious patterns of Lifeforce that even the smallest animal in the forests below seemed to have.
The Mother Goddess told him he was wise, and that She would grant him insight if he wished, though he might not thank her for it. The Forest Dragon promised that he would be grateful and have his oath that he would never be bitter for any gift of wisdom.
She smiled, and breathed over him, and in doing so blessed him with the gift of mortality. No longer would the Forest Dragon or his breed exist as other dragons do, fearing the borthing sickness or calcifying into stone with the passing years. Instead, from that day on, Forest Dragons would breed, age and die as all mortal animals must.
The Forest Dragons have remained thankful for the blessing that the Mother Goddess gave them, and over the millennia have kept their promise to be grateful. Each year a Forest Dragon will offer a prayer of devotion and gratitude for the gift of mortality, and as a Forest Dragon dies he will whisper his thanks to his Mother.
Hand in hand with mortality (and a shortened lifespan) the Forest Dragons have won freedom from the curse of Birthing Sickness, and gained insight into the cycles of life in a way that no other draconic breed can. They pity the other breeds who are unable to enjoy the blessings of a short life, lived fully. They forever stand apart from the other breeds, living in their own way, in their own realm.
Character Creation: Game Rules
The above rules and background details apply to the dominant breed of "Forest Dragons".
- Soma 4
- Sophia 5
- Pneuma 6
Forest Dragons have their greatest strength in their harmony with nature, their natural affinity for Life magic and their complex society. As they eschew book-learning other dragons are often surprised to find how intellectual and intelligent they are - for them history and learning is passed on through the oral tradition. They are not as strong as some breeds, but they compensate for this with sheer numbers...
Freedom of Fertility - Forest Dragons do not suffer the birthing sickness as other dragons do.
The Mother's Blessing - Forest Dragons do not live long, entering senescence at the age of 500 years. At 500 years age they lose -1 from Pneuma, Soma and Sophis, and lose a further -1 to each Sphere for each ten years that passes thereafter. When their Soma score hits zero, they die of old age. In senescence, a Forest Dragon ceases to be fertile.
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. Horns vary also within the Breed, with long horns, spiral horns and other variations found across all the various subspecies.
Society and Culture
The Heart Forest runs the entire north-south length of the realm, covering its western border. It varies from frozen pine forests in the northwest, to steaming jungles in the southwest, with temperate forest and other forms of woodland inbetween.
The Forest Dragons proper are found throughout the central portion of the Heart Forest, and are form part of a great meta-civilisation that they call "The Blessed of the Mother". (This term excludes Jungle Dragons and Jade Dragons)
The Blessed tend to live in small family units of around six to twelve dragons called Kindreds. Each Kindred is centred on a single "Nest", at the centre of their domain. Because the Heart Forest is vast, many Kindred's domains are quite isolated, with barely any contact with the rest of their breed. When territories do touch, most Kindreds coexist peacefully, but occasionally violent feuds can break out.
Despite their disparate and scattered existences, the Kindreds do have a shared culture and history, mostly thanks to the efforts of the Seers of the Green: a society of animist adepts who function as priests, arbitrators, leaders and messengers across the Forest. The Seers have a tradition of oral storytelling that stretches back to the dawn of history, and lead the Forest Dragons in prayer and ritual.
It is because of the Seers that the Forest Dragons all keep a sacred grove in each Nest, and plant a birth-tree for each newborn. It is through the Seers that the centennial Gathers are organised, when Forest Dragons tend to find new mates, catch up on news and join in celebration. Only the Seers can officiate over family-bindings (the closest thing Forest Dragons have to marriage), can give a wandering Forest Dragon leave to move beyond the Heart Forest, or insist that a stranger be given free passage through another's territory. The Seers themselves have no single leadership or agenda save for the continuation of their traditions.
Possibly, the numbers of Forest Dragons equal those of the other breeds combined, but as few Forest Dragons wander far from their Nests they are rarely seen beyond the Heart Forest. Those that do travel are usually either malcontents or outcasts, or working directly on the instructions of the Seers to achieve a particular goal before returning home.
The Forest Dragons as a breed have shown no interest in joining the Alliance, and have no spokespersons to allow the breed as a whole to join anyway. Some displaced individuals have found a place there, but they are the exception rather than the rule. They have even less interest in joining the Ascendancy, as the Ascendancy's religion and ethics run counter to the breed's traditions and devotion to the Mother Goddess.
Lifepaths and the Forest Dragons
With their short lives, it is uncommon for Forest Dragons to pursue more than one or two Paths over their entire lives. Forest Dragons don't tend to seek to master every field of endeavour, but rather pick one role that suits them. Generally a single family unit will have a particular preference of Lifepath, which most family members will follow, simply because they have easy access to mentors from that path and are exposed to it from an early age.
Three major philosophies exist within the Kindreds, though there are also many smaller ones:
The Call of Harmony kindreds follow the Lifepath of Physical Adepts and see their calling as gaining unity with nature, both by understanding their physical forms and by wearing the skins of other animal races. These families will often maintain nests that share territory with animals and mortals, and seek to coexist rather than to dominate or rule.
In contrast, Call of Clouds kindreds favour the Lifepath of the Sky Dancer and are fairly uninterested in the world below the canopy, instead preferring the skies above where they can be closer to the Pneuma of the Goddess. They represent the exuberance and joyfulness that is the best aspect of the youthful culture of the Forest Dragons.
Finally, kindreds which follow the Call of Thorns tend to follow the path of the Beast Unbound. They seek to dominate their environments, and tend to be amongst the most vicious and feral of their breed. They believe that a short life should find joy in spilt blood and ferocious struggle.
Outside the Kindred-based structure of society are the Seers of the Green, who almost universally follow the lifepath of the Animist Adepts. Traditionally, in a brood of four or more hatchlings, the youngest will seek out the Seers to join their number. Often, the Seers will pick out these youngest siblings at Gathers, and guide them into choosing to join their number. A small force of Warmasters called the Emerald Branch also dedicate themselves to the Seers' service, travelling with them as bodyguards or soldiers. It is almost unheard of for a Forest Dragon to become a Warmaster without first trying another Lifepath, and the Emerald Branch themselves do not accept any Dragon who has not at the very least spent two hundred years in normal life within a Kindred.
Wisdom-Within-Intuition, is a respected Seer, and shares the thoughts of his people:
- Pure Dragons - "Children of desert, as we are children of forest. The Mother gave us different gifts, but I think ours was the better."
- Argent Dragons - "The humans of Arrantis have learnt to stop at the border of the Forest, knowing that they have no authority beyond where the trees begin. The wise Argent should know the same."
- Solar Dragons - "For all their claims of sibling empathy, they can never truly understand us. We are not part of their grand society - the Forest breed stand apart."
- Hunter Dragons - "They almost understand us, but they have seized onto one aspect of the mysteries of life, and lost track of all others."
- Storm Dragons - "They are to be respected, and feared. The duty out Mother gave them is a difficult one, and they serve it well."
- Ashen Dragons - "They think themselves so superior in intellect, but for all their knowledge they have little true wisdom."
- Velvet Dragons - "Their beauty is like that of a marble statue - ancient, unchanging and artificial. Our beauty is that of living youth - one that they can never match."
- Chimerical Dragons - "They have insights, these ones, that even we Seers cannot match. But I fear where their insights come from - the dream realm was not meant to be explored, nor conquered."
- Ghost Dragons - "Death-cultists of the worse sort, whose very presence makes nature recoil. They will find no refuge in our forests."
- Blood Dragons - "Time and time again they have sought to burn us out of our woods - time and time again, we have driven them off. They all deserve death."
- Sable Dragons - "The force they worship is evil, but it is just a powerful spirit rather than a true deity. Endless Night could never threaten the Heart Forest."