Monday, April 7, 2014

White Dragon


We’ve reached the last of the 10 classic true dragons!  And you have to pity the poor white dragon.  As fantasy role-playing has progressed, every other species has grown more majestic or singular with every iteration—becoming sorcerers and sages, astrologers and suzerains, paladins and pranksters.  As if to counterbalance that fact, white dragons, already the runts of the litter, are now portrayed as little more than beasts—and on Golarion, inbred ones at that.  In fact, it's so rare for white dragons to actually have a brain or civilized aspirations that they get their own name (“lazakh”) in Dragons Revisited.

The good news is, they’re still consummate masters of their environments, and will do everything they can to ambush, snow-blind, freeze, drown, and otherwise make adventures miserable in the frozen surrounding their homes.  If you're a GM who wants to throw a dragon at your party without a lot of spellcasting or prep work, they’re ideal.  And if you’re a GM that really likes to play up the battlemat and environmental/terrain hazards, they’re perfect.

As far as making your white dragons singular…well, if your world has poles, do the dragons of the North interact with the South?  Do they migrate?  Or are they practically different species?  If your world has a long winter, they become vastly more common and influential than their kin.  And where else is cold enough for them besides the arctic wastes—high peaks, the taiga, isolated deserts at night, below the earth, in space, etc.?  White dragons might not deserve our respect, but they're classic, so we’ll give it to them anyway.

Worm is a sorely abused white dragon kept shackled in the frigid duergar city of Deepreach.  Meant to be defense against invaders, in peacetime the muzzled and chained beast spends most of his time penned in isolation or doing manual labor.  Poor in health, he longs to see the sky of which he has only the vaguest of memories.  He will ally with any adventurers that offer him his freedom, but he will turn on them if one of them is a dwarf (no better than duergar, as far as he is concerned) or if they flash wealth that could serve as the seed of his first hoard.

One of a bloodline isolated even for whites, Meritrius worships the demonic lady of taboo coupling, incest, and abominable births.  The last of her family now that her father and mother-sister have passed away, she has gathered around her a cadre of likeminded lamia-kin, ogrekin, qallupilluks, and half-breeds of all kinds (many of whose get have begun to exhibit draconic or ogrish traits as well).  The cult now seeks to capture a metallic dragon slave to spice up their revelries and revitalize their gene pool.

On the world of Temlin, white dragons migrate from back and forth from the male North Pole to the female South Pole for mating.  In some cases, this means the risk of white dragon predation even in the steamiest jungles.  In other cases, it makes for strange bedfellows.  Winterclaw is a brute of surpassing evil, yet he aids a cetaceal every year with the whale birthing, as if honoring some ancient pact.  Old Myxim has given up the frozen South entirely for the chilly mists of a cloud forest.  Note also that the male white dragons, in order to impress their mates, are the artists of the species.  The female whites have little time for that nonsense outside the mating season, but they do rely on complex contracts with minotaur henchmen to guard their young.

Pathfinder Bestiary 100–101

More on white dragons in Mike McArtor’s Dragons Revisited.  If you really want to get into the weirdness of Golarion’s dragons, check out Pathfinder #4: Fortress of the Stone Giants.  (You’ll note some contradictions—for instance, DR says whites often rampage; P#4 says they rarely do.  Also, confidential to the Paizo folk who occasionally pop by this blog: We’re waiting on those abomination and humour septs, among others…)  Mythic Adventures has a mythic white dragon to test your PCs against.  And while it’s by no means essential reading, the true dragon fan will have a lot of fun with the 3.5 Draconomicon, and might even want to dig up the 2e Draconomicon or (this is really going back) Dragon Magazine #146, just for kicks.

As we continue our countdown, syringesin wrote in a panic (he did not actually write in a panic; he wrote in a tone of idle curiosity; I am deliberately miscasting his words for my own egotistical needs) to ask what happens when we reach the end of the alphabet.  It’s risky to promise anything 100% on the Internet, but at present the plan is keep going—we still haven’t covered the Bestiary 3 letters A–D, the Inner Sea Bestiary A–M, or the Bestiary 4 A–U.  Beyond that, who knows?  I’ve gotten a taste for writing this stuff, so we’ll see where my interests lie if and when the alphabet is exhausted.

I also neglected two big things.  The first was the recent passing away of Dave Trampier, whose comic Wormy was a classic of old-school Dragon Magazine.  His last comic appeared in issue #132, which coincidentally was the earliest issue I ever got my hands on as a kid (my first being #140).  Apparently his life was troubled, but his art is iconic.

Second, I was so tired on Friday that I neglected to mention DriveThruRPG.com’s big offering of free stuff in honor of International Tabletop Day.  I wouldn't normally be bringing DTR to your attention because pdfs, ewww…but a) free things are good, and b) one of those things is the Termana gazetteer from Scarred Lands!!!  You. Want. This.  I don’t know if the free offer is still going on, but give it a try.  I think Scarred Lands was a really special setting and very worth exploring—especially if it doesn’t cost you a cent.

So at 9:45 on Saturday night, I was settling into my bed to read a Pathfinder adventure.  Then I made the mistake of checking Facebook.

So at 10:00 I was watching the Dismemberment Plan take the stage.

video

In retrospect, that’s basically my life in a nutshell.

Speaking of music, not my best show technically (…yeah…that sucked…) but musically, thumbs up.  (Saturday was also the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death, but I only touched on it lightly.)

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