Monday, August 10, 2015

Solar Dragon

It’s not often I wish I could see Pathfinder monsters in anime form, but a dragon that can turn into a beam of light, channel radiation, and control plants?  That would be the coolest thing since the river dragon vs. paper shikigami fight in Spirited Away.

Solar dragons believe themselves to be as mighty and life-giving as the sun itself—hard to dispute, given that they can channel both life energy and radiation, and their fiery breath sears even other fire creatures.  In fact, some solar dragons probably think that they are their sun, or at least its avatar (…and in a fantasy world that might be true!).  So it’s safe to say that even the most good-hearted solar dragon is probably not a humble beast.  When you grow up learning that even plants will one day bow to you, it tends to do a number on one’s ego.

(Of course, any careful study of the solar dragon stat block reveals that they aren’t really that much more powerful than lunar or void dragons, and they are actually less powerful than time and vortex dragons.  If you’re thinking that this probably drives them nuts, you are already wise in the ways of dragons…)

At low to mid-levels, solar dragons are a heck of a way to introduce PCs to the wide potential of space.  (And going back to the ego thing, imagine a paladin PC’s gold dragon cohort/steed/confidant…and now imagine that gold dragon meeting a spacefaring solar dragon for the first time.  That ought to ruffle some wing flaps.)  During higher-level adventures, solar dragons might be tending whole planetoids like gardeners and demigods, and may not appreciate PCs who don’t follow the Prime Directive (said Directive being: Don’t piss off an outer dragon).  At the highest level, adventures involving solar dragons might literally have the fate of a solar system at stake.  Solar dragon vs. couatl vs. lich death sphere vs. malebranche dogfights, anyone?

Solar dragons may fly the spaceways, but their hordes have to be a bit more down-to-earth.  (The sun is a lousy place to store gold.)  Solar dragons who hide their hordes on terrestrial worlds tend to prefer equatorial climes with plenty of sunlight and riotous plant-life.  Volcanic islands are seen as especially ideal, even if that means periodically having to drive away red and bronze competitors.  On the other hand, stargazing green dragons covet the company of solar dragons, and provided the two can hammer out an ironclad agreement regarding treasure, a solar and a green can find sharing an island to be mutually beneficial.  Adventurers who end the life of what they see as an evil green dragon menace may find themselves facing an enraged solar dragon demanding to know why his research partner is dead and his half of the horde is missing.

Practically invisible to astronomers (who usually mistake them for sunspots), the Greenhope Ring is a chain of floating islands that circles the sun known as Pol.  Each is a miniature ecosystem created by crossover from the fey realms and supported by a steady stream of life-giving positive energy.  Fey, trolls, jyoti, and plant monsters are especially common here, as are the solar dragons who nest here to bask in Pol’s rays.  The solar dragons assume any ships coming this close to the Ring are pirates and react accordingly.  But at least one of these solar dragons, a venerable great wyrm, has decided he is Pol, and is making plans to drive away these other pretenders (many of them actually his grandchildren).  Clearly he needs to be stopped…unless of course, he’s right, in which case his death could sentence the entire system to a supernova or a dark, icy demise.

Where the solar dragon Baryoth’s domain even is is a matter of some astronomical and phenomenological debate—is he in some dark, devil-claimed nebula, an outcropping of one of the layers of Hell, or even in the void far above the pit that contains the Hell itself?  Reports from those who have stumbled upon him disagree, arguing about this location that is too infernal to be space and too much of the void to be one of the archdevils’ ordered torture chambers.  What all agree upon is that Baryoth is a solar dragon whose view of himself as a lawful ruler curdled into the evil of summary judgments and executions.  However Hell claimed him, he now guards a trio of sullen red starlets and a fistful of planetoids that hang in a sky out of view from any other stars.  He claims to despise the devils that come to treat with him and the mortals that stumble upon his court.  But it is clear that the stunted solar winds of this not-space are not enough to allow him to truly soar, and he craves a return to realspace soon.

Pathfinder Bestiary 4 68–69

3.5 fans: Double-check your mind flayer lore.  Now imagine how much solar dragons must hate those guys.  Now think of who else hates mind flayers and tends to pal around with crimson dragons.  (Rhymes with “myth Yankee.”)  You’re welcome.

I absolutely love this blog! It's given me a lot of great ideas for adapting different creatures to the campaign setting I use with my group, not to mention introducing me to a ton of 3.5 stuff that I never got a chance to look at. And as some who's credibly exited about Occult Adventures, I was wandering if you were planning on doing entries for the Occult Bestiary that Paizo putting out later this year. Thanks for helping to bring these monsters to ever vibrant life!

Hey!  Thanks so much!  

It’s great to hear you like/use the blog, and it’s nice to know my 3.5 content is good for more than just my own personal nostalgia.  I love Pathfinder and Golarion, but I also love 3.5 and the thrill of finding a good old book on the shelf, new or used.  So if I can deliver any of that thrill to you, awesome.

I’ve been sitting on your incredibly nice message for at least a week or two now because your question hits really close to home at the moment and I don’t have a good answer. We finish Bestiary 4 after the letter T, which means that the end of this blog is potentially very near—only a month or two away, actually.  If I take up the Occult Bestiary, that will almost certainly bridge us till Bestiary 5 comes out, and then we’re locked in for another year/year and a half.

So I’m torn.  On the one hand, I love this blog, love interacting with you all, and love the idea of being the guy who did it, who cataloged all the Pathfinder RPG Bestiary monsters.  On the other hand, I’m feeling the lure of having a project I’m happy with finished, and moving on to other projects.  1–2 hours a day/5 days a week is a lot to give to any one hobby, especially on top of a career and a radio show.  This blog was the thing that got me writing again, but now it’s in danger of being the thing that keeps me from writing (short fiction, long fiction, RPG reviews (I’d love to dig through old Dragon issues the way the Nostalgia Critic does cartoons), or maybe even trying my hand at some freelancing or Kickstarter/Patreon projects—for instance, a series of mini-campaign settings like the combined Dungeon/Polyhedron used to do in the early ’00s).

So the answer is…I dunno! I’ve got my Occult Adventures, Occult Bestiary, and Bestiary 5 on order, so I’ll have an answer for you once I see what surprises they have in store for me.  Of course, if you all have any thoughts on the matter, be sure to let me know.  :-)

Speaking of short fiction and other projects, after this weekend’s Q&A [included above for my Blogger readers] I wandered over to the Paizo boards and discovered that apparently this happened.

…Given that this news is over a week old, I should really check the messageboards more often, methinks.

Big thanks to all the hardworking Wayfinder reviewers, editors, and other volunteers!

1 comment:

  1. What is the Solar's attitude towards treasure/hoard? Do they prefer certain items?

    Mating wise, do they prefer their own kind?