Fireborn: Dark Phoenix
Race Play Stats:
Aspects: See the Selectively Bred trait.
Trait: Small But Quick – Dragonborn are Size -1 and have a Land gait of Speedy.
Trait: Skittish – Dragonborn gain two rerolls when using the Withdraw action to flee from combat.
Trait: Weak and Dextrous – Dragonborn are physically weak compared to other races, even allowing for their size; but their long fingers and excellent coordinaton make them unusually agile. Dragonborn suffer an additional -1 Subhuman penalty on physical tests where strength is the limiting factor; but gain a +1 Superhuman bonus on physical tests involving hand-eye coordination.
Trait: Selectively Bred – Most Dragonborn belong to one of several subspecies that has been altered by selective breeding to have specific traits for use by the Uruk as slaves. Choose one of the following subspecies:
Talrasi/’True’: 1 Subhuman Earth and Air, and Water, but one Superhuman Fire.
Imperial: 1 Subhuman Earth and 1 Subhuman Water
Cyraean: 1 Subhuman Fire and 1 Subhuman Earth.
Pelargossian (Wild): 1 Subhuman Fire and 1 Subhuman Water.
Northling (Wild): 1 Subhuman Fire, Water and Earth, and 1 Superhuman Air.
The majority of the world’s estimated 300 million Dragonborn live in Uruk lands, as either slaves or as freedmen. The Talrasi church maintains that their founding deity, Talras Guilder, created the ‘kobolds’ to be slaves, with the guidance of the Overdeity, Urakan; and that all ‘wildling’ kobolds are escapees who’ve gone feral. Others (including the Ocean Goddess Kitantha) dispute this, suggesting that Talras simply found wild Dragonborn on his
trade voyages and chose to take their eggs to raise (and breed) in servitude.
Whatever the truth, an estimated 500,000 Dragonborn reside in the great jungles and temperate forests of northern Pelargossia. These creatures are tribal natives who gather in small tribes of up to 50 members, often led by a Chieftain chosen by a Shaman; the Shamanic tradition of the Dragonborn allegedly arose from Behumot, the Dragon King, a powerful forest-spirit who took the form of a Dragon – an uruk-sized reptilian carnivore that inhabits riverbanks and ponds in the Pelargossia region, and which shares its range of scale colours with the Dragonborn. According to their legends, such as they are, the Dragon King grew lonely and gave a clutch of Dragon eggs the blessing of mind and soul, transforming them into the Dragonborn – hence the name.
The Shamans are often adept spellcasters, though they are also elusive and devoted; they fight to the death, so few have ever been captured, and it is known that they all train at a holy site hidden deep in the jungle, a great ziggurat where the Great Dragon lives, the avatar of Behumot – but though explorers have tried searching for this place, the Elven bans on travel through the unclaimed regions of Pelargossia mean that few expeditions make credible progress.
The link between this religious faith and the name ‘Dragonborn’ means that almost all nations specifically prohibit the use of the term, deeming it an anti-government or anti-religion provocation.Uruk prefer the diminutive term “lizardlings”, “Geckos”, or the more standard “Kobolds”, to distinguish their property from the ‘wildlings’ who roam free beyond Uruk borders.
Further ‘wildlings’ exist in the island called Birren’s Land, after the skygazer who mapped it in ancient times; long thought uninhabited, it was discovered to contain subterranean Dragonborn Clans in 1842, when the icebound regions were being mapped in earnest for the first time by patrolling ship. These Clans, though they call themselves Dragonborn, seem to lack a shamanic tradition, and have a good deal of basic mechanical knowledge; but they are also deeply xenophobic and suspicious of outsiders, and there have only been a handful of attempted raids for slaves; these proved deadly in the close subterranean confines, and entirely uneconomical. Little is known of these Clans, beyond that there are four such groups known, and allegedly others further inland under the ice-sheets. The leading suspicion as to these small Clans’ origins are that they began as slaves on an exploration ship wrecked in a storm some centuries past; such things are known to have happened from time to time, though any resulting ‘wild’ populations on remote islands were largely recaptured or exterminated within a few years.
Dragonborn are easy to manipulate into an ideal slave mindset; they are highly social creatures who are actively and clearly harmed by loneliness, to a far greater degree than Elves or Uruk; reports of slaves and prisoners punished with solitary confinement are horrifying tales of descent into madness when Dragonborn are concerned. Wild Dragonborn form close-knit groups and it is relatively rare for individuals to stray far; slaveborn Dragonborn often form closer bonds with Uruk after being imprinted on slavehandlers as hatchlings, but large households, factories and farms often have their own Dragonborn ‘clans’ forming spontaneously as the slaves band together; many Uruk see this as a threat to authority, however, and try to regularly rotate slaves with similar-minded slave-owners in the area to prevent too many attachments forming.
Dragonborn eggs are a relatively common complication for slave-owners who do not ‘appropriately’ segregate their property; but slavebrokers are equally common, buying up eggs for relatively cheap prices and seling them on to interested parties – usually the Church of Talras – who ‘train’ hatchlings in the appropriate discharge of their lifebound duties. The training given in childhood is often considered harsh; but it’s a pale reflection of the training that raided slaves are put through to ensure their ‘compliance’ with the rightful order of things.
The Uruk view of Dragonborn is of a feral animal species that are pliable enough to train into a semblance of civility – enough to do work and be unobtrsively useful, without really contributing too much. This is not universally held, however; at the opposite extreme are the freedom and rights movements which agitate for an end to slavery; and charities such as the Society for the Improvement and Integration of Kobolds, which pushes for free Dragonborn to be given the same rights as Uruk citizens have. While these are minority causes, they are also growing ones, and a significant political thorn in the side of most nations’ rulers.
Elves view Dragonborn most often with a degree of disinterested pity; it is a truism that Uruk control the lives of almost 100% of Dragonborn in existence, and Elves are officially treaty-bound to respect that – but the Elven creed refuses even to exploit animals for gain or to keep pets, so the concept of slavery of a thinking being attracts their revulsion. But Elves also believe themselves the highest form of life; and ultimately, what lesser creatures do to one another, though abhorrent, is of little concern to most Elves.
Stereotypes aside, Dragonborn are not, by and large, intellectually inferior to other races; but their short lifespans mean they are often naïve and relatively ignorant compared to races with longer lifespans (and who are not separated from parents as eggs, and trained solely in slavecraft from hatching).
The average Dragonborn survives to between 30-35 years of age; most show signs of age-related disease between ages 25-30; few survive beyond 35, and the eldest on record just barely reached her 40th year (and the claim is controversial). In the wild, there is a tendancy for lifespans to be longer – not because the maximum is increased, but because in a familial tribe, one is not thrown out the moment one cannot work adequately, the way a slave in Uruk society usually is. Dragonborn who reach their 33rd year are, by Imperial tradition, given their freedom – though cynics note this often saves slave-owners from needing to pay for the upkeep of a worker who is unlikely to do much work any more. Indeed, most elderly Dragonborn are beggars on the streets or “sewer-rats”, living in the filth and grime in the shadows of the world’s great cities; many charities have come into existence to cater for them, partially out of recognition that the treatment of the elderly helped spread unrest amongst the more liberal elements of Dragonborn society.
Dragonborn, being reptiles, have almost no sexual dimorphism, and range from 2’ to 3’ tall depending on their origin (and how well fed they were as hatchlings). They are known for being physically weak; some subspecies are bred to be intellectually dull-witted and inclined towards reliance on their masters. Dragonborn are effective slaves, however, since they require relatively little sustenance compared to the burlier Uruk (or even the magically powerful Elves); and they are rampant omnivores, able to digest cellulose, meat, and some anatomists even suggest they can digest wood – though this isn’t proven.
Pelargossian dragonborn are between 2.5-3’ in height and have scales ranging from dark muddy browns to pale greens. Northling Dragonborn are clustered much more heavily around 2.5’ in height, and have very dark colourations, to the point of blackness. Most ‘true bred’ Imperial slaves of the Talrasi pedigree lineage are also dark in colour, but closer to 3’ in height.