Dragons are amongst the most mysterious and isolationist races of Istaria. Ancient and powerful, Dragons were once worshipped as gods by many of the Living Races before their ascension from darkness. At present Dragon society has fallen upon harder times, leaving them divided, scattered and effectively leaderless.
Toppled from their once indomitable position by magical and political strife, in a move to save itself from civil war the Draconic race has divided itself into two dynamically opposed factions: the Lunus and the Helian. With the rise of the Withered Aegis and loss of their ability to mature naturally, both factions have been drawn into the conflict in an attempt to keep their once prosperous race from slipping into oblivion.
Dragons in their natural form are by far the largest and most physically imposing of the Living Races. Adults stand upwards of 14 feet tall, 40 feet long and can weigh as much as a full ton. They are also physically the strongest of the allied races- their muscles display power-weight ratios extremely in excess of nearly all humanoid races; even young dragons are able to routinely match or overpower a Half-Giant.
Though Dragons did not originate from the Prime their physical makeup has adapted to become acclimatised to their home. The same organs, genetics and biological mechanisims as seen in other races are present. There are however a few notable exceptions; Dragons have within them an organ containing their personal elemental flame (a lingering influence of their elemental origins) which is fed by nourishing their body and keeping themselves healthy, and are also possessed of sizable wings formed from modified shoulder blades and ribs. Though dragons can glide naturally on these wings, the actual flight they are capable of is suspected to occour through magical means.
Reptillian in nature, Dragons require consistant temperatures in order to function most effectively. They are primarily carnivorous, quadrapedal and possessed of a thick, scaled hide. Females lay and incubate eggs, and defend their nests fiercly with an array of natural weapons. Perhaps a Dragon’s most startling aspect is their ability to spit elemental fire from their mouths. When dealing with other races Dragons perfer to alter their shape; this Khutit form was originally intended as a means of interacting with smaller races on more equal footing, but over time has found itself modified to fit into recreational and combat roles. In this form a Dragon’s original anatomy is still present, but altered to fit into a bipedal form that superficially resembles a lither, smoother-scaled Sslik in appearance.
To an outsider, Draconic culture is an incomprehensible system of byzantine hierachies, subservience and deals. To say that dragons are naturally callous or evil is a complete misconception; however, they are naturally aggressive, highly predatory and dominating creatures. This carries across into their dealings with other races; many find their animalistic qualities unnerving, when not finding them to be insufferably arrogant.
Dragons can be highly territorial; what they own is of paramount importance to them, and this is perhaps best understood through their hoarding behaviour. Though anything that they take a liking to can become part of their hoard, wealth and valuable objects are by far the favoured makeup. Dragons with larger hoards are notable more powerful and higher standing in their hierachies; dragons claim that the wealth makes them stronger, but observers note that the effect is more likely a mental than physical one.
Since the Schism, both main factions of dragonkind had pursued radically different agendas:
The Lunus faction are primarily the warriors of Dragonkind. They lead a spartan existence in a meritocratic culture, trained from a very young age in the arts of discipline and survival. Lunus generally believe that the Bipedal races, or (Naka Duskael as they call them) represent a threat to the Dragon race that they must prepare for, and that the best way to deal with this threat is by pre-emptive strike. Though by no means a universal belief, it is the prevailing mindset of their leadership. Their militaristic culture produces strong and experienced warriors at the cost of a high mortality rate, but is reletively liberal within its scope and has few major taboos. Martial honour is regarded highly; the greatest crime that a Lunus can commit is dereliction of duty, and the duty of a Lunus warrior is to preserve Dragonkind.
The Helian faction on the other hand are primarily made up of the scholars and magic users of Dragonkind. Socially egalitarian, Helians seek to pursue an agenda of peaceful co-existance with the Naka Duskael, albeit with them as the string-pullers and kingmakers. Whilst the Helians also see a threat posed to their kind by the Bipeds, they believe it can be adapted to by taking a leadership role amongst the Living Races and setting up Draconic society as something to aspire to rather than fear. Taking a more relaxed approach to life, Helians often indulge themselves in scientific and magical studies, with many of the more cerebrally inclined becoming ascetics. Their culture produces a great many powerful mages but tends towards being somewhat stricter; Helians know their Draconic impulses unnerve Bipeds and try to contain and suppress them.
Draconic governent is a faction-based affair. Lunus and Helians are represented seperately on the Imperial Council. Amongst both factions, leadership usually consists of the wealthiest and most reknowned dragons; however the qualities valued in a leader are different. Lunus seek dedicated and successful soldiers as their leadership, and so their military leadership and faction leadership are essnetially interchangable given their meritocracy. Helians on the other hand usually elect leaders from their most successful diplomats and philosophers, placing greater value on wisdom outside of military fields.
In both factions, deciding leadership would be regarded as an extremely corrupt affair to Bipeds, with bribery, blackmail and vote-buying accepted practices. To dragons however this is simply another way of increasing their hoard quota.
Outside of the Imperial jurisdiction, both factions are represented on the Council of Elders who are jointly responsible for preventing any further split in dragonkind. Conspiring together to stop their race’s slow but inexorable fragmentation, the Council of Elders has final word over matters ragarding inter-factional politics.
As Draconic production is tailored towards providing goods that Dragons would find useful, they have little in the way of trade-worthy goods. Both factions have an open exchange with each other, and less so with the Empire. Since the Pact, enterprising Lunus smiths have begun producing weapons to equip both Bipeds and Dragons in their Khutit form. Helians on the other hand mostly charge for access to their libraries and archives, which contain the only remaining accounts of early history. Many have also found that their own bodies contain materials that are valuable to alchemists and casters and add to their hoards selling shed scales, body fluids and teeth.
Primary exports for both factions include: Crystalline weapons and armour, Azulyte, worked stone, Dragon products.
Draconic military forces vary between the two factions; the only constant is the use of aerial based forces. Thanks to their ability to fly, Dragons have little need for supply convoys and can manoeuvre with impunity against slow and unwieldy ground based formations. Dragons can also take the the ground, using their massive bodies as screens for infantry, or tearing apart fortifications with incredible strength. The Imperial Army is currently in the process of devising a formation that can incorperate ground-based dragons; at present, dragons serving as ground troops in a formation are mostly limited to their Khutit forms.
Lunus forces focus primarily on close quaters combat and skirmishing, at which they excel. Highly disciplined and trained from hatching in the arts of survival, Lunus dragons undergo an agoge-like training regime. Those who survive will mature into nearly fearless and all but unstoppable soldiers.
As the Lunus society is a meritocractic, only those displaying adeptitude are allowed to raise through the ranks in their military. As such, only the most skilled tacticians or experienced soldiers are allowed a command role. Mission planning is an open affair, with all soldiers allowed to comment and interject on the planning freely. Non-military specialists are also heeded, and extensive use of spies, scouts and commandoes will also occour prior to the deployment of ground forces. The Lunus have no need for a professional military force; every citizen is a soldier.
Helian military affairs are somewhat less refined. As a society of scholars they are not normally expected to undertake combat operations, though being dragons they are capable of doing so when pressed. Helians do have many spellcasters who specialise in the arts of destruction and battlefield control; they are also more open in their cooperation with the Biped forces of the world, and as such find more utility amongst their ranks. Common Helian tactics is to circle the enemy from the air, pounding them with spells whilst staying out of range of retaliation.
Both factions cooperate with the Imperial Military to a limited extent, and contribute towards the war effort under the terms of the Pact. In this role, they often serve as interceptors against Aegis aerial forces, and bombers or strikers against valuable ground targets. Because of their ability to cover distance rapidly and then transform into a less conspicuous form, Dragons are also valued highly as scouts. Both Lunus and Helian dragons have mastered the art of air-dropping Biped soldiers onto key positions; often loitering in the area and supporting them afterwards with their fiery breath. On the battlefield, Helians are often found serving as advisors, scouts and front-line battlemages. Lunus usually serve as line-breakers, shock troops and commandos.
Notes to Players
Dragons are naturally arrogant. This in not deliberate, but just their default personality.
Mostly carnivorous; have little qualms about eating their food raw.
Instinctive creatures; Lunus tend to flaunt their draconic qualities around bipeds, however Helians usually try to conceal them (interacting with bipeds nicely is hard to do when you regard them as prey).
Dragons typically have little regard or understanding of biped laws and morals, unless bound in their service.
What dragons are not:
*Lunus are not mindless thugs. They abide by a rigid culture and honour system, but regard bipeds as a threat that should be met militarily.
*Helian are not pro-biped sycophants. They regard bipeds as a threat in much the same way as Lunus, but seek to dominate them through diplomatic means.