Dragonborn (also known as Vayemniri or "The Ash-Marked Ones" in Draconic) were a race of draconic creatures native to Abeir, Toril's long-sundered twin. During the Spellplague the dragonborn nation of Tymanchebar was placed where Unther had once been, creating the nation of Tymanther, where most dragonborn of Faerûn dwelled in the 15th century DR. Dragonborn had a strong hatred of dragons, who had enslaved them on Abeir.
Standing on average around 6'2" – 6'8" (1.88–2.03 meters), dragonborn were impressively tall with a heavy weight to match, commonly possessing a mass of 220–320 lbs (100–145 kg). Dragonborn feet ended with three strong talon-like claws with a fourth claw in the back, while their hands were similar with three claws with a thumb replacing the rear claw. A dragonborn's head featured a blunt snout, a strong brow, and reptilian frills on the cheeks and ears. On the back of the head, a crest of hornlike scales formed what resembled a mess of ropy hair. Dragonborn eyes were usually red or gold in hue.
Dragonborn resembled in many ways what their name suggests: humanoid dragons. Dragonborn exhibited many draconic features, including a scaly hide, a large muscular body, and the capacity to use a breath weapon. The scales a dragonborn wore were scarlet, gold, rust, ocher, bronze, or brown in hue, though they in fact bore little correlation to a dragonborn's breath weapon and the scale colors of true dragons. The scales were typically in their greatest concentration around forearms, lower legs, feet, shoulders, and thighs, with a very fine leathery covering over the rest of the body. With the proper training, dragonborn could learn to unlock more of their draconic potential, even to the point of sprouting wings with which to fly, like a dragon.
Like dragons, dragonborn were often mistaken for reptiles, but were in fact warm-blooded draconic creatures. In fact, the internal body temperature of the dragonborn was warmer than that of most similar races, being so hot as to seem feverish to the human touch. While this might seem disadvantageous, the lack of hair and large mouth allowed the dragonborn to displace body heat at an effective rate, meaning dragonborn were comfortable in cold climates while remaining no more vulnerable to heat than humans.
Young dragonborn, who hatched from eggs like their draconic relatives, grew at an impressively rapid rate, much faster than most other races, reaching the equivalent maturity of a human child of 10 by age 3. However, this rate of maturation slowed dramatically within a few short years and they were not considered physically mature for another twelve years. Once they did reach adulthood, dragonborn could expect a lifespan identical to that of humans. Not all dragonborn developed a breath weapon but those that did usually obtained it during these years of growth.
Dragonborn nursed their hatchlings for several months before teeth began to come in. A dragonborn would then slowly introduce soft food and then move towards normal dragonborn eating habits, which contained more meat than was typical of most other races.
Dragonborn had a number of abilities that set them apart. Dragonborn were both stronger and more charismatic than the typical humanoid, traits inherited from their draconic relatives. Dragonborn were also quite durable and when injured had an inner strength that could push them to accomplish even more than when they were at their best. Dragonborn also healed more easily than other humanoids. Most potent of all was a dragonborn's breath weapon, which, like that of a dragon, varied in nature, being acidic, cold, electrical, fiery, or poisonous. However, unlike with dragons, the skin color of a dragonborn did not vary depending on its breath weapon.
Some dragonborn had additional abilities. For instance, while most dragonborn had vision comparable with humans, a number had enhanced vision more similar to that of an elf or eladrin. Other dragonborn could modify their dragon breath, acquiring two or more other damage types. Others learned to even mix one or more elements together to create a composite breath weapon. Some dragonborn learned to use the power dragonborn zeal, which gave gravely injured dragonborn the resolve to get back on their feet and keep fighting for a little longer.
Dragonborn had a well-known dedication to honor, but how deeply rooted this trait was remains debatable. However, all dragonborn tended to view all living things, even hated dragons, as deserving of courtesy and respect. To dragonborn, honor was more than a word and was often considered more important than life itself. Cowardice was not simply undesirable among dragonborn, it was considered outright repulsive.
Part of the roots of this honorable attitude lay in the dragonborn's drive for self-improvement. The draconic nature of dragonborn gave them a strong self-consciousness and a tendency for strong emotions. Both of these combined to make dragonborn particularly wanting for the approval of others. Dragonborn placed great value on the skill of an individual, including themselves. Failing at a task was anathema to dragonborn and as a result they could sometimes push themselves to unhealthy extremes of effort. This aspect of the dragonborn mind meant few of the race took a laid-back approach to any skill or ability, striving always to become the masters of a particular skill, and dragonborn respected those among other races who approached life in the same manner. As a result, most dragonborn adventurers came to their way of life through a desire to prove themselves and win respect from their brethren.
Other races saw dragonborn as proud or even arrogant because of this dedication to excellence and high standards. It was true that dragonborn were typically proud of their race's accomplishments. However, dragonborn were also more than willing to recognize with respect the accomplishments of other races in turn, whether or not the race in question was an ally or enemy.
Moreso than other races, dragonborn often wore their hearts on their sleeves, typically hiding neither anger nor joy. Dragonborn were enthusiastic about life, particularly success, and brooded about failure for only a short time before their disappointment was shaped into a strong drive for improvement. Only a handful of dragonborn actually demonstrated traits that might be considered timid or reserved, and the vast majority of the race had no qualms asking for what they needed or taking time to improve themselves. Trust was a major factor in the lives of all dragonborn and each expected others to be just as open and forthcoming with them as they were.
Perhaps paradoxically, given the often rigid conditions of their society, dragonborn had a strong sense of independence and self-worth. Most dragonborn, however, did not view this as a need to break away from society as other individuals might, but rather to shape it for the better through their own unique strengths and weaknesses. Likewise, dragonborn saw themselves as responsible for those around them, with the group ultimately reflecting on the individual. In this way, the successes and failures of each dragonborn were the successes and failures of the group they associated with, giving dragonborn a very collective sense of self while retaining their individuality. Ultimately, dragonborn held themselves accountable for their choice of allies and poor judgment was considered no excuse for failing to uphold the standards all dragonborn held themselves to.
Good dragonborn were fairly common, but dragonborn were as fallible to evil as any other race. The passionate nature of dragonborn could make the race brutal or vengeful and given to hasty choices that were morally compromising. The dragonborn sense of worth could likewise lead to greed and egotistic selfishness. But while dragonborn could turn to evil, most dragonborn villains retained the scruples and values that defined the race, including respect and courtesy to enemies.
The dragonborn drive for honor carried on into the culture of the race. Among dragonborn, the most horrible crime was oath-breaking; honesty was expected whenever a deal was struck. Commitment to a word was expected to be carried out to the letter and all parties in a transaction were held accountable and responsible for failings. Ultimately, those who fail to meet their word are expected to accept the consequences and, in fact, most dragonborn do. So widespread was this value of honor and honesty that it was commonly believed that dragonborn never broke their word.
Dragonborn society in the nation of Tymanther, partially because of its martial origins, was extremely rigid in its organization, with hierarchical castes and strict laws. The nation was divided into large clans, each organized more like a military organization than a government. However, while the laws of Tymanther night be unforgiving, the nation was also highly meritocratic and Tymantheran leaders were those that had proved their ability for command.
The dragonborn culture of Tymanther had a strong and abiding hatred of dragons, perpetuated by terrifying tales of draconic cruelty and retelling of the dragonborn struggle for freedom on Abeir. Though the dragons of Toril had nothing to do with this horrid past that haunted the race, the dragonborn were not particularly forgiving in this regard, and individuals who took up dragon-hunting for whatever reasons were honored as heroes among the Tymantherans. Many dragonborn also took up the life of a mercenary.
However, though this hatred of dragons was strong, even carrying over to a condemnation of the worship of Bahamut, many dragonborn hoped that life on Toril would help them escape the tragedies of their history. In part because of their distrust of dragons, but also because of a general desire to forge a bright future for their people devoid of war, the Tymantheran dragonborn worked hard to earn the friendship of races around the world and few prejudices other than the hatred of dragons plagued the dragonborn race. Dragonborn efforts were partially successful but the sudden appearance of the dragonborn and the alien nature of their culture made many wary of their motives.
Art and LeisureEdit
Like dwarves, dragonborn were usually practical about the arts. Few items were created for purely artistic reasons, instead having a functional purpose behind them. Despite this, like the dwarves, dragonborn arts were not at all ugly or mundane in appearance and dragonborn craftsmen took time and care in creating new works. As pieces representative of the skill of a craftsman, dragonborn art pieces often possessed a distinctive flair that was draconic or elemental in nature and they were often embroidered with jewels or precious metals.
Not all dragonborn art was purely pragmatic in nature, however, and the dragonborn had a love for jewelry as well. Jewelers, gemcutters, smiths, and minters had a respected place in dragonborn society. Ironically, dragonborn often adorned themselves with baubles of all sorts in subconscious imitation of the very same dragons they resented. Like dragons, dragonborn had a craving for precious metals and jewels that could seem like hoarding, though most dragonborn possessed a culturally instilled restraint rather than engaging in the gross overindulgence that many wyrms did.
Like the dragonborn approach to art, the race's attitude towards leisure activities was very practical, and when dragonborn weren't at work, they were often engaged in sports with a training component to them. Often competitive, these sports often lacked teams, with the most popular games ending in victory for one, clear winner. Many of these sports were also violent, particularly by the standards of many other races, and wrestling was extremely popular with the race, as were, to a more limited extent, blood sports such as gladiator games or pit fighting.
Not all dragonborn sports were so physical, however, and the race was also fond of strategic board games, riddle contests, or improvised storytelling events. In all cases, the dragonborn emphasis for recreation was on the triumph of the individual and the improvement of practical skills.
Clan and familyEdit
Clan and family bloodlines were both preserved among dragonborn and were highly important to dragonborn culture as a whole. Both were different, though the distinction was subtle to non-dragonborn. Family referred specifically to actual blood relatives, as far as could be traced, whereas clan, in the dragonborn context, referred to a confederation of families united by mutual purpose in ages past, organized along military lines. Of the two, clan was usually considered more important and it was to the clan that dragonborn owed their most loyalty, particularly in Tymanther.
Clans were led by wizened, aged clan-masters chosen for their ability to lead who were looked to for guidance by their lieges. Dragonborn did not forget the past, and ties to clan and family determined much about how one dragonborn was viewed by others. All clans had reputations, for good and ill, that often lasted for generations. A dragonborn's actions were expected to bring favor and good will to his or her clan, improving this reputation. For this reason, dragonborn typically went by their clan names rather than their family names, hoping to bring honor and glory to their clan.
This pressure to either right the wrongs of the past or continue a clan's glory could define a dragonborn's life. Some dragonborn fled from the imposing responsibilities their clan put on them, choosing infamy over such a burden. Others accepted the responsibility or even turned it into an additional drive for their ambition, hoping to one day become the clan-master.
Overall, compared with clan ties, family was secondary and private to dragonborn, as reflected by the fact that most dragonborn family names were kept secrets shared with only the closest friends and other family members. The usual family unit was quite small, often composed of only two individuals: a mated pair or a parent and its child. Dragonborn marriages were arranged by the clan leaders along old pact lines. Dragonborn lacked the association of love with marriage that many races had, instead wedding purely for reproductive reasons. Once a dragonborn child reached 3 years old the wedding was typically dissolved, with the parent who was the same sex as the child rearing it for the remainder of its childhood.
The parent–child relationship during the formative years between the marriage's dissolution and the child's adulthood were incredibly important. Parents, along with other adults from the community, were expected to not simply act as loving caretakers but teachers as well, using storytelling and direct action to instill the virtues of society within a child. In addition to scholarly studies and moral lessons, parents were also expected to focus the drive of a child and teach them basic martial skills for the purpose of defense. Dragonborn believed this in-depth mentorship was necessary not only for the child's education but also for their morality. It was thought that without this imposed discipline, a dragonborn's fierce passions might give way to a feral savagery. Within a large dragonborn community, the parent maintained the position of authority, but other adults were allowed to act as surrogate parents and teachers, giving a young child multiple examples to learn from.
Magic and religionEdit
Because of their position as slaves of the dragon lords for so long, dragonborn did not have a tradition of magic, though they had a significant affinity for certain forms of it. The race's natural abilities were well suited for the path of a warlock, though few dragonborn were willing to actually take up the career since it forced them to deal with powers beyond their control. Some dragonborn warlocks did exist, usually social outcasts or those who had justified it as a form of individuality. Dragonborn arcane spellcasters were, however, far more often wizards or sorcerers, attracted by the often secretive and eccentric ways that both paths involved.
Having come from Abeir, dragonborn had a very different approach to religion than the other races. On Abeir, divine influence was rare and mysterious, contrary to Toril where it had been relatively common in past ages. Since Abeir was dominated by the primordials who were, according to myth, driven into hiding by the mighty dragon lords that reigned over most of the planet, the dragonborn felt less beholden to gods than the members of other races. For this reason, many dragonborn were entirely agnostic, with no strong feelings one way or another about the gods.
Dragonborn who did embrace religion, however, were well-suited to the path of a paladin. Making the creed and commandments of a god a code by which they could live was in many ways attractive to dragonborn, so long as they were able to get past their natural aversion to faith. If they did join the faithful, dragonborn could become quite devoted in their chosen church, craving the direction and purpose it gave them. Likewise, paladins, unlike clerics, represented an almost martial career path and one that blended well with the militaristic culture of the race.
The origin of the dragonborn race was uncertain and shrouded in myth. While the origin of the Tel'Quessir as Corellon's children was well known and dwarves firmly believed in their stony origin, dragonborn were unsure from whence they came. Some legends of Abeir told that Io, the first and greatest of the dragon gods, created the dragonborn as servants for the first dragons. These stories related that the dragonborn, like dragons, were formed from the essence of both the Astral Sea and the Elemental Chaos, though their nature overall favored the elemental over the astral, just like dragons. A slight variation on this was common among the dragonborn of Tymanther, who believed they were bred by the dragon lords of Abeir for a cruel fate as slaves.
The Platinum Cadre posited an alternative theory in their efforts to spread the worship of Bahamut, that the dragonborn were the ancient creations of the Platinum Dragon. However, most of the order was ridiculed or even openly persecuted for their beliefs since, to the dragonborn of Tymanther, the idea of a good dragon, let alone a good dragon god, was completely alien. Yet another, less popular tale told that Io was killed in the war between the gods and the primordials and that the dragonborn sprang from his spilled blood. However, dragonborn were in fact related to the dragonborn of Bahamut, but only a handful of old dragons knew about that.
Regardless of the origin of the race, dragonborn had been the slaves of dragons for millennia. Occasionally clans would rise in rebellion but only a few, such as the nation of Tymanchebar, were ever successful.
However, during the Spellplague (beginning 1385 DR), Tymanchebar was believed destroyed, wiped out following the transplantation of its center from Abeir to Toril. Despite this tragedy, the Abeiran expatriates of the new nation of Tymanther remained strong, and by 1479 DR formed a strong and steady homeland for the dragonborn of Toril that began to see acceptance among its neighbors. Some dragonborn migrated from Tymanther to other lands on Toril, though most that were not a part of the nation remain enslaved by dragons, either on Abeir or within the new continent of Returned Abeir.
Dragonborn were most commonly found on Abeir, where the vast majority of the race dwelt. There, as well as in Returned Abeir, dragonborn were enslaved by draconic overlords who ruled over much of Toril's lost twin. However, some dragonborn nations did exist that had wrested themselves away from draconic rule. The largest of these was Tymanchebar on Abeir, whose center of power was wrested away from Abeir by the Spellplague and transplanted to the ruins of Unther. Most dragonborn believed that Tymanchebar had been destroyed and reconquered by the dragon lords of Abeir, no longer having the protection of its mighty citadels and armies.
Other than their well-known hatred of dragons, dragonborn had few definitive relationships with other races. The dragonborn of Tymanther had a known tolerance for races of all kinds, extending their courtesy even to races who were generally disliked, such as tieflings. This tolerance did not, however, equate to equality before the law and only dragonborn were allowed to participate in Tymanther's authoritarian government. The strongest friendships the dragonborn forged were with the humans of Chessenta and High Imaskar, even though both nations were traditional enemies. The Tymantherans were, however, distrusting of two of their neighbors, the genasi of Akanûl, with whom they had a long-standing grudge, and the dragon lords of Murghôm, whom they viewed as no more deserving of friendship than the tyrants whom they had fought to free themselves from on Abeir.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 196. ISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
- ↑ Erin M. Evans (December 2015). Ashes of the Tyrant. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 22. ISBN 978-0786965731.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Rob Heinsoo, Logan Bonner, Robert J. Schwalb (September 2008). Forgotten Realms Player's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 13. ISBN 978-0-7869-4929-8.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 Mike Mearls, Stephen Schubert, James Wyatt (June 2008). Monster Manual 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 86–87. ISBN 978-0-7869-4852-9.
- ↑ 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 5.15 5.16 5.17 5.18 5.19 5.20 5.21 5.22 Chris Sims (July 2008). “Ecology of the Dragonborn”. In Chris Youngs ed. Dragon #365 (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 25–33.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 34–35. ISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
- ↑ Jeremy Crawford, Mike Mearls, James Wyatt (March 2009). Player's Handbook 2. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 25. ISBN 0-7869-5016-4.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Rich Baker (December 2007). “Countdown to the Realms: Year of the Ageless One”. Dragon #362 (Wizards of the Coast).
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 186–187. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood. Ed's Twitter. Retrieved on 2016-04-18.
- ↑ Rob Heinsoo, Logan Bonner, Robert J. Schwalb (September 2008). Forgotten Realms Player's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 19. ISBN 978-0-7869-4929-8.
- ↑ Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 90. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.