Deep We Go
One could be forgiven for thinking the dragonborn a pathetic race; a people without a heritage or a homeland in a time where place and origin are all-important. Though many have settled throughout the known world, historically they have been feared and misunderstood, shunned for their fearsome appearance and dubious heritage; such fear manifested itself in mob violence and social pariahhood, in the birth of phrases such as “scalebrow”, “ridgeback” and “vialspawn”, and in fervent worship, amongst those that believe dragons to be gods amongst mortals.
Indeed it was the dragons who fathered this line of Higher Spirits, or so the stories go; only words and songs survive from the time in question. Many dragonborn bear the names of legendary dragons as the family name; it is impossible to tell if such beasts were really the primogenitors of these proud heritages.
The feelings of dragonborn for their supposed past is mixed. The bestowal of children by the dragons on a few of the civilised races is variably seen as an act of violation or a gift of immortality. Whatever the opinion, it is irrelevant, now; the natural way prevails, and the dragons are long gone. Dragonborn reproduce by producing hatches of eggs, many thousands at a time. Many of these will perish or be stolen by those that prize their delicacy and succulence, but the number of new dragonborn produced means that many separate dragonborn communities lack traditional family structures, preferring to live in a communal manner, with parents burdened with robust offspring not crippled by the expense. The egg is an all-important symbol in dragonborn society, and there is a deeply-embedded culture of “journeying”, in which the foetus within the egg is considered to travel in a separate plane from that of the Hearthlands. Where it goes, nobody can agree, but most attempt to remember with the aid of smoke and meg.
These ghettoized groups are a rarity nowadays. Most choose to live in the way that their distant mortal ancestors did, and half- mannish dragonborn, with a little money perhaps saved from adventuring or soldiering, will often act the part of minor nobles, with a tight family unit that maintains the traditional honour codes of the New Kingdoms. Many, however, still practice the teeth-cutting that pre-dates their civilised affiliations, lending many dragonborn a whistling to their speech, to go alongside their lisp.
Standing eight feet high at their greatest, dragonborn possess long blunt heads, a forked tongue, and thick interlocking scales that cover their whole bodies apart from at the joints, as well as short, stubbed tail designed for balance. Amongst themselves they speak in Saor, a bastard derivative of Dragonsay, the ancient and forgotten language of their legendary sires. There are rumours that dragonborn still know this ancient language and jealously guard it, but no evidence has been presented of this. Most learn Common to assimilate into civilised company all the quicker, but their tongues are not designed to be used in articulation, and create a rasping lisp that is often imitated in the race comedies of less salubrious groups.
Dragonborn also possess vestigial oil glands in their throats that can produce short bursts of flame, ice, or any other substance; popular wisdom links the type of breath issued to the originator of their dynasty; many proud dragonborn claim direct descendance from Yogtr because of their dense-green, poisonous exhales. They are a race unsuited for intellectual pursuits, the combination of mortal and immortal blood in their veins creating a practicality that extends itself into craft, war and little else. Nonetheless, there are many rich and famous dragonborn throughout the peninsula, and they are as civilized as any other race in the Hearthlands.
As well as their breath, they are distinguished by an extremely high body temperature, which increases exponentially in times of stress or pain. When they die, dragonborn are reported to become icy cold, painful to touch, though vivisection has shown nothing conclusive.
In every dragonborn hatchery or enclave are whispered tales of the future, a dared dreaming; dragonborn with wings, paragons and heroes of their race that exist only in campfire tales as great warriors and statesmen, kings that will return and lead the scaled dispossessed to a home of their own, sired by the dragons for times of great ill; heroes like Grimmault, scion of Aberinth, binder of Tiamat. But, for now, there are only stories, and this staunch people remain a minor power amongst the Higher Spirits, using their prodigious strength and saurian cunning to earn coin, conquer land, and make space for their growing families.
Points Of Interest