Monday, February 17, 2014

Void Dragon

The Bestiary 4 does not mess around. So far we’ve had a mythic myrmidon, a psychopomp, an empyreal lord, and now a dragon.  From SPACE.

Void dragons are outer dragons, and—wait, let’s talk about that first.  Outer dragons are a branch of true dragons…but they go beyond that simple definition.  Like the primal dragons, outer dragons tread that line between dragon and aspect of a higher concept: the sun, moons, vortices, the depths of space, even time itself.  A lot of dragons act like they are celestial beings, but outer dragons can actually make that claim.  In many role-playing game settings, dragons even have a hand in their respective worlds’ creation myths—at least according to themselves, and often according to others.  Outer dragons make those stories more complicated (for where are they in the myths?) and more plausible (by virtue of simply existing).

The otherness of outer dragons is accentuated by their abilities.  Their presence is more than frightful; it’s downright alien.  Their breath weapons take on heavenly attributes as they age.  They don’t need to breathe, and they can fly between the planets and even the stars in mere hours or days.

Of course, straddling the line between being a mortal creature and something else also leaves outer dragons exposed to that else.  (We had a similar conversation about the umbral dragon; void dragons are even more far-gone.)  In the void dragons’ case, they have spent too long in the empty spaces between the stars, exposed to the baleful presences of the entities that inhabit that blackness.  If you ever wondered what a dragon servant of the Old Gods looks like, the void dragon is it.  If you ever wanted to replicate the servants of the Shadows from Babylon 5, void dragons are it.  Fighting a void dragon means fighting enfeeblement, exhaustion, confusion, nightmares, insanity, a bite that can reduce one to dust, and a breath weapon that delivers the cold and suffocation of space.  It means trying to hit a thing so far gone from reality it can blur or dimension door out of the way.  They are just wrong somehow, and in a way that seems to sicken others.  (Again, comparisons to Bab 5’s Shadows seem in order.)  Representing the darkness of the void would be bad enough, but they are tainted by what happens when the void becomes polluted.

One final note: Another reason to love outer dragons, especially void dragons, is their ability to terrify normal dragons.  Adult red dragons actually slightly outweigh adult void dragons in the stat block…but imagine in real life: an adult red dragon facing a dragon that can outmaneuver it, with breath that carries the cold of the blackness of space, who can haunt the red even in its dreams and then retreat into the suffocating void.  The red would flee in terror at the first encounter.  That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t plan its revenge—it might even try to threaten or blackmail some old adventuring foes to aid it—but the encounter would forever shake its confidence that it was the supreme ruler of the skies.

The space station Molinar is a metal ring in the sky, forbidding and cold and humming with alien power.  The void dragon Molinar is its sole ruler (having forgotten his own name eons ago, he has adopted the station’s moniker as his own).  The station leaks radiation from an alien reactor core long ago altered to serve the inscrutable needs of the Entities of the Black.  Molinar himself is uninterested in the device, content to devour star monarchs and bask in the evil energies, but the station itself will rise to the core’s defense by activating all manner of constructs.

The blue dragon Califor has been a thorn in the side of a company of adventurers since almost their first quest, when they cleaned out a nest of kobolds recently expelled from her service.  The adventurers have battled her proxies and the Califor herself ever since, and the dragon has returned their antipathy with interest—she even artificially aged herself in the fey realms to stay more powerful than the troublesome humanoids.  So the company can be forgiven for being shocked when she and a green dragon astrologer arrive unannounced during a wedding feast to recruit them to their cause.  The Time of the Void is at hand, and she urges them to join her—even at the cost of some of her hoard—to travel to another planet with her so they can pair with dragonkin and head off the invasion.

Not all void dragons listen to the susurrus of voices beyond the stars.  Abbatorus hates the pollution of his race, from the greenish taint on his scales to the madness he holds at bay through sheer will.  He cultivates adventurers to his cause of fighting the servants of the Old Ones.  Early on, they will not know who their patron is, but after they find themselves fighting elder things and being gifted shantak steeds, they will likely suspect something is amiss.  Nor are his motives altruistic—Abbatorus craves the silence of the void, and that makes most other life forms an inconvenience—and even in the short term he will not hesitate to kill his servants if they fall short in his estimations.  The last mortals who failed him are still digesting in their shantaks’ bellies.

Pathfinder Bestiary 4 72–73

No radio show this week—worked through the whole three-day weekend.  Have Wye Oak’s new one instead. 

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