Dragons

Origins
Not even the dragons themselves know what world they originally came from, but it certainly wasn't Gaeleth. Their ancient ancestors were probably some form of six-legged animal that later developed gliding, and then perhaps flight. It is impossible to determine just what world they came from, but it is reasonable to assume it was a higher gravity world than Gaeleth with fierce competition, and global periods of growth and death.

Like any species that is fiercely competitive with itself, the dragons developed great size and intelligence. Their spectacular metabolisms (discussed in greater detail below) allowed them to live for considerably long periods of time, further increasing their intelligence and experiences. At what point the species became able to channel the energy that resides between branes and dimensions is not clear, but the ability was quickly utilized not only in dragon-on-dragon competition, but also in survival. The dragons hones this ability over the eons, until it reached their current state of draconic power.

Dragons first came to Gaeleth some fifteen or twenty thousand years ago. At that time, it is suspected that only humans resided on Gaeleth, but the histories are lost to us. There are rumors in the histories that the dragons were exiles, and that there may have existed a great dragon city -- but these rumors are only spoken of by the current, living dragons as ancient tales.

Metabolism
The species' metabolism is obviously alien, in its ability to disassociate molecules deep within its gut. Hydrogen and complex multiple bonds with a great deal of energy are obviously the easiest bonds to break, from which the dragons derive a great deal of energy relative to the mass of the material consumed. Flesh is a wonderous source of easily broken hydrogen bonds, but the dragon's enzyme complexes are capable of cleaving even difficult noble bonds. Dragons can, in essence, eat anything. They are still subject to food poisoning, but very few compounds can interfere with the digestive enzymes in the dragons' high temperature gut. The process of disassociation on such a scale as the dragons' puts their gut temperatures at nearly 90 degrees centigrade.

Because of this extraordinarily high internal temperature, gases such as steam often escape a dragon's gut. Sometimes this gas is stored in a separate chamber of the gut for later use, depending on the race of the dragon. Thermal disappation in dragons is an important aspect of their physiology. The large membranes of their wings allow for most of this excess thermal energy, but most races of dragon can also raise their scales to let out a bit more heat.

Disassociation takes a fair amount of time, and longer for larger meals. Dragons will usually enter a torpid state after consuming a large amount of food, and depending on the food quality, the torpid state could last for years. Lean for flight, a dragon can gorge itself -- sometimes denuding whole areas and turning them into deserts. After such a gorging, the torpid state becomes a dormant state, as the incredible heat of the dragon's gut begins the slow process of digesting its meal. Larger, older dragons can become dormant for nearly a century, rousing only to defecate or roll over into a more comfortable spot.

It should be noted that dragon scat can vary in size, but is usually a homogenous cylinder of highly acidic material. Dragon scat can kill any plant life around it, though once its acidity drops (such as after a rain or when dropped into a lake), it is an excellent fertilizer. Most dragons prefer to drop their scat into a water source, as they obtain most of their water from their food. Bone rarely survives this process, and any metals the dragon consumes that are not added to its scales or horns or claws, are released in a highly corroded, fragile state.

When at their peak, after a meal has been fully digested and its remains eliminated, a dragon's energy levels can be considerable. Quick and agile physically, their large brains can also be considerably peaked. It is during these times that dragons most often think about mating, hunting, and amassing resources.

Breath Weapons
At the back of each dragon's throat is a gap-spark organ that disappates a great deal of electrical energy. In the blue dragons, this organ has become their breath weapon, letting out a lightning bolt's worth of stored bioelectric energy. For the fire-breathing dragons, this gap-spark organ is used to ignite the various combustible gases stored up during digestion. Some dragons, such as the reds, chew rocks with a high amount of phosgene and the like, storing these gases in the Theocene Sac of their digestive track. Pressurized to liquid form by the Theocene Sac, the titanium dragons can release a jet of flame that is nearly plasma in its intensity.

The green dragons have adapted the Theocene Sac to hold highly corrosive gases such as chlorine and bromine. The release of these gases forces the dragon to close its nares and inner eyelids, but inhalation is really not a worrisome consideration for them because of their specific evolutions.

The white dragons have perhaps the most advanced of the Theocene Sacs, as well as the most advanced of the thermal disappation capabilities. They store cryogenic gases within their guts, and though their range is not as great as the flame or electric weapons of the other dragons, can be quite lethal at close ranges.

Other dragons' Theocene Sacs have become rudimentary, and they rely on their massive lungs and larynxes to cause sonic damage within a focused area.

Races
Whatever the original dragon form, it has fractured into several subraces. The red dragons, for instance, have evolved to live in high-heat environments. Rather than rely on thermal disappation from their gut energy, they rely on thermal intake to aid their digestion. Red dragons are therefore less likely to consume more massive meals, and tend to take in smaller meals scattered over a longer range of time. They can also shut down their thermal conduits by folding their wings close against their body, and sealing their scales tightly along their hides. This forces the dragon to dissapate most of its heat through its horns, and its breath weapon. When faced with molten earth (or magma), the dragon can fully open its thermal releases through its wings and its scales not in contact with the magma, and its horns begin to glow nearly orange-white with disappating heat. The cores of these red dragon horns can sometimes become diamond, especially in the older dragons. This internal reorganization of the red dragon mineralization has made them among the toughest of the dragons.

The black, green, and blue dragons have adapted to more moderate temperatures, though during flight or other physical activities, their wings and scales can disappate a great deal of their body heat. They tend to become dormant for the longest periods of any dragons, and so have great life spans.

The white dragons have adapted to the colder climates of mountains and arctic areas. Thermal disappation is not such a considerable problem with them, and their scales have shrunk to smallest size of all the dragons. Their smaller size is probably a result of poor diet, but could also be attributed to their loss of energy disappating adaptations.

The 'metallic' dragons' evolution drove them to develop their magical properties above all else. The metallization of their scales is a byproduct of the energies they pull from between dimensions and the branes. Most of the metallic dragons are actually off-shoots of the other dragons; for instance, the golds and the silvers derived from the reds, and the bronzes probably derived from the blues. This leads one to believe that the red dragons may be the closest to the original form in terms of dragon evolution.

Among the various dragon races, most are still biologically compatible, and mixed breed dragons are possible. Each race prefers its own environments, but competition for mates can be fiercesome enough to force different races together. The metallic dragons in particular, with the ability to use magic to polymorph themselves into other forms, are notorious for leaving half-breeds with other species, such as humans or elves.

Treasure
One reason the dragons collected vast hoards of treasure is magical. The inherant energies of a dragon can imbue many things with magical properties, and surrounding themselves with a hoard of high-quality items, such as minted gold and magical items, allowed them to create a pool of extra magical energy that they could tap into. As well, the gems and items would imbed themselves in their scales over the centuries, adding to their already substantial armor. Additionally, there remained an evolutionary quirk to collect bright, shiny items -- perhaps a remnant of their original world.

The heart of most treasures would slowly turn to slagged gold and silver, because of the dragons' immense internal heat. As well, their great weight could crush most soft gold, and it is in fact exceedingly rare to find an entire hoard of good gold -- usually only with very young dragons. Also, as a dragon would molt, and shed its scales now and again, these would add to the treasure hoard. Its horns, the heart of which was sometimes that wonderful thermal conductor known as diamond, would also add substantially to the hoard.

Genocide
Before the Storm Wars, the dragons were plentiful on Gaeleth, with each race keeping more or less to itself. The different dragons were on different wake-rest cycles, so even if one dragon was active in an area, its nearby brethren were probably dormant. Dragons are typically more territorial than need be, perhaps to prevent them all from wiping out a planet's biosphere regardless of their wake-rest cycles. Young dragons might impinge on the territories of older dragons, but then the old dragon-dragon competitions would beget a battle for supremacy in that territory. This kept the numbers of dragons relatively low, yet they still numbered in the thousands for each race (or color) of dragon.

The Storm Wars roused all of the dragons, everywhere. Those within Nathelian controlled lands were forced to do the bidding of the Dark God, and were employed with deadly precision against the druid-led Karatikan Alliance. Those dragons not under Nathel's control either fled, or more often, sided with the Karatikan Alliance. At the end of the decade-long war, the remaining dragons skulked away to rest and recuperate -- their magic and energy were greatly diminished as a consequence of continual activity for ten solid years with almost no rest cycle.

Nearly a century later, the older dragons all roused more or less at the same time from their torpors, and began to feed. This large-scale dragon attack caused the newly risen Inquisition to rise up against the dragons, and declare all dragons anathema, and subject to destruction. As the dragons were more or less uncaring in matters of the churches, they had no voice in the Inquisition. The First Crusades (then known as the Dragon Wars) began in earnest. Dragon slayers abounded, and all but the most intelligent and most cunning of dragons were wiped out.

The dragons remaining on Gaeleth number less than fifty. They are the epitomy of dragon kind, and there is no room left for old territorial disputes. The dragons remaining know that they must work together, and take on many characteristics of their enemies -- or face extinction. For the most part, they have bonded together into a Dragon Nation to protect themselves, and the young ones they hope to raise.

Their hoards are still maintained individually, but rarely in a 'hard to reach' cave that would preclude a hasty escape. The modern dragons are well-prepared for any sort of theft or attack, knowing that the Inquisition could use treasure from their hoards to track them, or find weaknesses. In addition, the dragons have learned how to make 'treasure golems' -- golems that would assemble from their treasure to defend itself from attack. Not only were the golems able to defend themselves and the dragon, but destroying one is problematic for most treasure-hunters. Destroying a treasure golem can destroy the treasure itself. Each indication of 'standard treasure' for a dragon indicates the number of treasure golems he or she has (i.e. 'double standard' treasure indicates two treasure golems).

Treasure Golem: large construct; CR 13; HD 14d10 (77hp); Init -1 (Dex); Spd 20 ft. (can't run); AC 26 (-1 size, -1 Dex, +18 natural); Atk 2 slams +18 melee (slam, 2d10+9); F/R 5x5/10; SA Item use; SQ Construct, magic immunity, damage reduction 30/+2; SV Fort +4, Ref +3, Will +4; Str 29, Dex 9, Con -, Int -, Wis 11, Cha 1; AL N. Item Use (Ex): Treasure golems can use any item within the dragon's hoard as a supernatural ability -- and any power of any item. Wands can be discharged, swords can be wielded, scrolls read, et cetera.

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