The World of Andoria
Dragonborn Lands and Culture
Dragon Born Clans of Southern Andoria
Dragonborn (also known as Cinis Notata, “Ash-Marked Ones”, in Learan Draconic) are a race of draconic humanoids that currently reside in southern Andoria. The Dragonborn have begun creating a small kingdom in the Bleak Wastes of the Kingdom of Andoria. This has not made Andoria happy and has led to a number of skirmishes over the last few decades. For some reason the Kingdom of Andoria has not made a huge effort to wipe out the Dragonborn in their country despite the dragonborn’s kingdom building efforts.
Dragonborn resemble in many ways what their name suggests: humanoid dragons. Dragonborn exhibit many draconic features, including a scaly hide, a large muscular body, and the capacity to use a breath weapon. Standing on average around 6’2" – 6’8" (1.88–2.03 meters), dragonborn are impressively tall with a heavy weight to match, commonly possessing a mass of 220–320 lbs (100–145 kg). Dragonborn feet end with three strong talon-like claws with a fourth claw in the back, while their hands are similar, with three claws and a thumb replacing the rear claw. A dragonborn’s head features 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 forms what resembles a mess of ropy hair. Dragonborn eyes are usually red or gold in hue.
The scales of dragonborn tend to be scarlet, gold, rust, ocher, bronze, or brown in hue, though they in fact bore little correlation to a dragonborn’s breathe weapon and the scale colors of true dragons. The scales are typically in their greatest concentration around forearms, lower legs, feet, shoulders, and thighs, with a very fine leathery skin covering over the rest of the body.
Like dragons, dragonborn are often mistaken for reptiles, but are in fact warm-blooded draconic creatures. In fact, the internal body temperature of the dragonborn is 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 allows the dragonborn to displace body heat at an effective rate, meaning dragonborn are comfortable in cold climates while remaining no more vulnerable to heat than humans.
The origin of the dragonborn race is uncertain and shrouded in myth. Some legends tell that Bahamut and his twin sister Tiamat, two of the rare dragon gods, created the dragonborn as servants for the first dragons. These stories relate 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. It is believed that Behamut and Tiamat worked with the elemental Lords Ufel and Awyr to create the Dragonborn.
During the Age of Chaos, it is believed, that Behamut and Timat has a great falling out. A war broke out among the Dragonborn as each clan took a side. The war raged for decades until Ufel and the other Elemental Lord stepped in to stop it. Tiamat was banished to Dis, The second of the Nine Hells. Behamut was banished to the Elemental Chaos. With their gods/rulers gone, the Dragonborn were left to find their own way. While the feud between Behamut and Tiamat grew over the centuries, the Dragonborn began to look to the Elemental Lords for guidance and began to worship them.
For most of history the Dragonborn have been slaves to one race or another. First enslaved by the Dragons under the command of the evil Tiamat, then after the first God War, the Dragonborn became enslaved by the Aboleth and their servant races. During the Age of Titans, the Dragonborn were enslaved and forced to fight in the Titan’s armies. The Dragoborn were finally freed after the Fall of the Titans when the Kingdom of Andoria took control of the continent. The Dragonborn enjoyed freedom for the first time as the Andoria mostly ignored the race. The Dragonborn settled in southern Andoria and created the strong and honor-bound nomadic culture we see today.
Dragonborn society, is a clannish nomadic society. The Dragonborn Clans, while barbaric to many in the Great Kingdom are extremely rigid in its organization, with hierarchical castes and strict laws. The nation is divided into large clans, each organized more like a military organization than a government. However, while the laws of the Dragonborn might be unforgiving, the nation was also highly meritocratic and Dragonborn leaders are those that had proved their ability for command.
Clan and family bloodlines are both preserved among dragonborn and are highly important to dragonborn culture as a whole. Both are different, though the distinction is subtle to non-dragonborn. Family refers specifically to actual blood relatives, as far as could be traced, whereas clan, in the dragonborn context, refers to a confederation of families united by mutual purpose in ages past, organized along military lines. Of the two, clan is usually considered more important and it is to the clan that dragonborn owes their most loyalty.
Clans are led by clan-masters, known as a Khar, chosen for their ability to lead. The Khar are 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 is viewed by others. All clans have reputations, for good and ill, that often last for generations. A dragonborn’s actions are expected to bring favor and good will to his or her clan, improving this reputation. For this reason, dragonborn typically go 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 flee from the imposing responsibilities their clan put on them, choosing infamy over such a burden. Others accept the responsibility or even turn it into an additional drive for their ambition, hoping to one day become the Khar of their clan.
Overall, compared with clan ties, family is secondary and private to dragonborn, as reflected by the fact that most dragonborn family names are kept secret, shared with only the closest friends and other family members. The usual family unit is quite small, often composed of only two individuals: a mated pair or a parent and its child. Dragonborn marriages are arranged by the clan leaders along old pact lines. Dragonborn lack the association of love with marriage that many races have, 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 are incredibly important. Parents, along with other adults from the community, are 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 are 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 is necessary not only for the child’s education but also for their morality. It is 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 are allowed to act as surrogate parents and teachers, giving a young child multiple examples to learn from.
Hatred of Dragons
The dragonborn culture has a strong and abiding hatred of dragons, perpetuated by terrifying tales of draconic cruelty and retelling of the dragonborn struggle for freedom against their first masters. 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 Dragonborn.
However, though this hatred of dragons is strong, even carrying over to a condemnation of the worship of Bahamut, many dragonborn hoped that life 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 dragonborn work 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.
The dragonborn have a strong drive for honor that is seen throughout the culture of the race. Among dragonborn, the most horrible crime is oath-breaking; honesty is expected whenever a deal is struck. Commitment to a word is 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 break their word.
It is said that the Dragonborn “do not believe in money”, instead taking what they want through raiding (which includes enslaving defeated peoples). What material wealth or precious objects they do possess have been acquired through raiding surrounding towns or from raiding other Dragonborn clans to take their plunder secondhand. The dragonborn do not so much function on the barter system, as they use the honor system: they frown upon “trade” but honor the exchange of gifts, such as tribute.
Long ago the towns and villages in the Kingdom of Andoria decided that it was often less destructive to just give the Dragonborn massive tributes in gold, finished products, and slaves, than to try to fight them off (though a Dragonborn clan might still attack if they find the gift insufficient). The Dragonborn will not reciprocate these “gifts” on an immediate quid pro quo trade system. However, they will as a rule keep their word to eventually give a gift which they have promised, though they will do it in their own time.
In practice, however, if a Dragonborn clan has a particular need for a resource that it cannot obtain through direct raiding, i.e. new armor and weapons, they will resort to actual “barter” by “gifting” slaves they have captured in return for finished products.
Art and Leisure
Like dwarves, dragonborn are 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 are 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 are also violent, particularly by the standards of many other races, and wrestling was extremely popular with the race, as are, to a more limited extent, blood sports such as gladiator games or pit fighting.
Not all dragonborn sports are so physical, however, and the race is also fond of strategic board games, riddle contests, or improvised storytelling events. In all cases, the dragonborn emphasis for recreation is on the triumph of the individual and the improvement of practical skills.
Because of their position as slaves for so long, dragonborn didod not have a tradition of magic, though they have a significant affinity for certain forms of it. The race’s natural abilities are well suited for the path of a warlock, though few dragonborn are willing to actually take up the career since it forced them to deal with powers beyond their control. Some dragonborn warlocks do exist, usually social outcasts or those who have justified it as a form of individuality. Dragonborn arcane spellcasters are, however, far more often wizards or sorcerers, attracted by the often secretive and eccentric ways that both paths involved.
Famous Khar’s in History
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