Saturday, September 12, 2009

Dragonborn in humancentric campaigns

While I love dragonlike humanoids like the Draconians, I never liked the Dragonborn that much. They are just not snakelike enough for me. I like me dragonmen to feel wriggling and Dragonborn are just too brawny for that (and missing the tail...).
That went so far that I reskinned a potential Warlord character I wanted to play from Dragonborn to apeman - basically the same stats, but he would be a big gorilla creature that probably would have used volley of attacks or a magical helmet instead of a breath weapon.

Another thing with dragonborn is that is hard to retrofit them in campaing settings, that try to feature everyday low fantasy life. But I finally found a way to integrate them in a setting like this and provide some campaign hooks at the same time.

Dragonborn are used by humans as warbeasts and in arena fighting. Who would even come up with the idea that such a creature could be intelligent? There are loved (and treated) like dogs and well respected.
"How come they never talk?", you ask? Every kid knows that you have to cut out a Dragonborns tongue right after birth, otherwise it would hurt itself with its breath weapon - or there could even a demon get inside its head and make it speak in tongues. Only heartless people would let that happen to those noble animals. So better cut out the tongue right away! You also have to keep Dragonborns seperated from each other when they are young, otherwise they will get stubborn and are no use.
For a Dragonborn to develop well take it away from its mother right after birth! (Or you could say that they crawl out of eggs, but that would make their mothers' breast kind of silly ;))
Obviously when someone is raised as an animal, that person also does not turn out very bright. So the intelligence of Dragonborn is a selfullfilling prophecy. And even the very bright are hard to be seen as humanlike, because they don't talk.

In such a setting a dragonborn player character could be someone who was raised by someone who would not cut off its tongue and adopt it as a real person - raising it with affection. That person would probably not be a dragonborn though. Maybe a highway man who hides in the wild or a nobel lady in a far off barony who does not like the presence of 'real' people.
For players who like a roleplaying challenge, a character who got his tongue cut out would be an option as well. You don't talk, but have to show in a different way that you understand. Maybe a tongueless dragonborn could be really played like a very bright dog. Definitely worth a try!