And now we come to our third re-post from the old site. This time, It’s about the dragons and the planar arrangement of my previous homebrew world. The idea of dragon gods has always appealed to me, yet Bahamut and Tiamat never have. This version of the dragon gods pays homage to the original two, but they are essentially the absentee parents of the current dragon gods.
Hopefully, you enjoy and get a bit of inspiration for your own games.
The first arc of my first 5th Edition campaign has come to a close. My players faced off against their first ever dragon, and came out victorious, in the end. Sure, two of them rotted into piles of stinking flesh (Poison breath, man…), while another survived with only 4 remaining hit points, but they beat the beast. And they saved a town in the process.
And, as is tradition, as they begin the next leg of their potentially-endless quest, those who perished will make new characters. One of these characters wanted to play a Dragonborn. I have never taken issue with dragonborn, as a race. I think they’re a nice compromise on characters playing Half-Dragons without actually playing Half-Dragons. And they have a nice, lore-friendly place in my homebrew world.
However, he didn’t want to play just ANY dragonborn. He wanted to play the spawn of one of Tiamat’s children. Specifically, Mordukhavar the Reaver.
Now, my homebrew world is what I like to call an “evolving” world. I purposefully don’t flesh everything out, so that when players want to add something to the game, I can oblige. One of the things I hadn’t really thought of was the place of the great Dragon Gods: Bahamut and Tiamat. I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to use them. They are a little…over-saturated, in my opinion. Did I want them or something closer to Golarion’s Dahak and Apsu? Or maybe some ideas of my own. Where do dragons even come from? They’re fairly non-traditional in my world, taking the form of magical monstrosities that can have many different forms, rather than great winged lizards. But this put my lore-mind into gear, and made me start thinking about what I wanted them to be. Where did they come from? Do they have gods? If so, how do those gods co-exist within the rest of the world?
I haven’t ever really said much of anything, actually, about my homebrew world, other than the Archfey post. I will, eventually, but let me get some relevant basics out of the way before I discuss what ideas I came up with for the Dragon Gods and their spawn:
- Dragons can only give birth to other dragons after performing a powerful magical ritual that requires them to consume a massive hoard of gold, jewels, and magical items. This is why they collect hoards: to reproduce. Dragons are quite scarce since the Age of Dragons ended and the Age of Heroes began, and the replenishment of their race is of tantamount importance.
- Dragons who spawn without this ritual instead produce eggs that hatch into Drakes (such as Ambush or Guard drakes) or Dragonborn. These are usually viewed as slave-races by their dragon parents. Half-Dragons are born when a dragon mates with a non-dragon being (which is more a magical affair than a sexual one).
- The gods exist. Their realms exist on the outer edge of the world at large. The world itself is flat, and extends from Ascalon (the name of the “Material Plane”) into the Summer and Winter Courts, then the Elemental Realms, then further to the Outlands, then the Outer Realms beyond that (Hell, Elysium, Etc.). One can literally walk from their hometown to Mount Olympus to meet Zeus, if they have the talent to survive.
- The Underworld is the undead-infested underground of the world, and extends throughout all realms. It exists even beneath the great underground dwarven kingdoms. The River Styx, where souls travel to their desired plane of worship (or the Outlands, for atheists) flows through here, and is the source of all undeath in the world.
- The only other “Plane” that exists is the Astral Plane, the realm of
thoughts and dreams. It is a strange, faded reflection of our own world, but can be manipulated with the power of the mind. It can also overwhelm those who travel through it, as it is the home to powerful psychic beings (Elans, Gith), and thoughts and nightmares oft become reality without warning.
The Gods of Dragon-Kind
Before I begin in earnest, I want to give MASSIVE thanks to Keith Francis Strohm, who wrote the article “Spawn of Tiamat, Children of Bahamut” in issue 260 of Dragon Magazine. I HEAVILY rip it off, here.
Bahamut, the Platinum Lord, as he is often known, is no more. His palace within the Realm of Air still exists, and is inhabited by good dragons and his worshipers. He died in a great battle, fighting all twelve of the Spawn of Tiamat. Though he slew many of his foes (leaving only three alive), he was slain himself. His own children chased off the remaining three, but could not save their father. His message of righteousness lives on through them, however, as well as his worshipers.
Xathanon is the first and most loyal of Bahamut’s children. He was consumed by grief upon the death of his father, and now resides within the Platinum Lord’s palace in his stead. He is a recluse, choosing not to interact with his siblings or other deities. He upholds the codes of Honor and Nobility in the face of the overwhelming dark, however, and is known as a true friend by those who reside with him. Paladins and knights often choose to worship Xathanon, or pay him tribute if they worship his father.
Vanathor the Harpist is the second of Bahamut’s children. Though Xathanon was the most outwardly affected by the death of the Platinum Lord, many believe that it was Vanathor that truly took the tragedy to heart. Following the great dragon god’s demise, Vanathor left his ancestral home in the Realm of Air and chose to travel from realm to realm throughout the world. It is said that he visits all but the lower realms of Hell and the Abyss, and cavorts with most every god. He is an acquaintance to all, but a true friend to none, and is known as the Roaming Song. It is said that if you hear music on the wind, you can sometimes look up to see Vanathor cutting across the sky, on his way to another realm, with another story to tell and another song to sing.
Medrinia, Queen of the Seas is the final child of Bahamut, born shortly before the great dragon’s death. Some say that it is she who truly took after her father’s example, in his absence. For it is she who founded the aquan kingdom of Lumeria in the Sea of Stars (within the Realm of Water), and has made herself patron goddess to many creatures of the sea. Her wisdom is sought throughout Ascalon, as well as in the Elemental and Outer Realms, and many make the long journey just to request an audience and ask a question of her. She feels great compassion for all creatures of the world, but is also bound by duties, and some say the dichotomy of being unable to help everyone weighs quite heavily upon her shoulders.
Tiamat is known often as the Sleeping Queen or the Queen of Shadows. She was the opposite of Bahamut in all ways. To hear stories of her was to hear stories of a shifting, shadowy nightmare that threatened the very existence of all realms, and the sanity of the beings within them. It was said that she drove the very elements around her mad with her mere presence. As nine of her twelve children were slain, one after the other, however, she herself succumbed to madness. Such grief drove her into seclusion at the bottom of the Endless Abyss (itself a maddening idea), where it is said she sleeps an eternal slumber. Tales say that if she ever wakes, she will bring the End of Days with her. Many believe that she is to blame for the existence of shadow dragons—that her nightmares escape the abyss and infect the minds of living dragons, driving them insane and changing them into necrotic monstrosities.
An-Ur, The Wandering Death is one of three remaining children of Tiamat. Also known as the Marked One, she carries a red, star-shaped scar on her chest, where it is said Bahamut struck her before he fell. This, it is said, drove her into the Astral Plane, where she must remain; for she would surely die otherwise. She roams these faded lands, now, and is one of the most feared, nightmarish beings one can encounter in this land. Mirages are often attributed to An-Ur, as many claim it is her form bleeding into the realm of the material for just a moment, before once again receding. Her followers are, in fact, often great clerics and healers, as they search constantly for a way to repair the scar left by Bahamut, and welcome their queen into the realm of the whole.
Dhrakoth, the Corrupter is the Mad God of the Underworld. Witnessing the death of his brethren broke his mind, and drove him down into the deep places of the world, where he secludes himself in order to perform terrible experiments. Even the Ghoul Kings and the White Hand himself pay homage to Dhrakoth. It is said that the first dracoliches of the world are products of his mad experimentation in trying to bring his siblings back from the dead.
Mordukhavar the Reaver is the first son of Tiamat, and seeks nothing more than to find and wake his sleeping mother. He is King of the Nine Hells, and many believe that he started the constant war between devils and demons, as he sends legion after legion of fiends into the Abyss to find the sleeping Queen of Shadows. His greatest advisor, Asmodeus, is also his greatest threat. And it is said that if the Deceiver should ever overthrow his draconic master and end the war on the Abyss, it is the world at large that would suffer.
Concept At Large
The basic idea behind these gods is the same directive I follow with most deities in my world. They are essentially absentee gods. Bahamut and Tiamat are literally dead or out of commission, and the Dragon Gods that do exist are so distracted by their own bullshit that they don’t really have time to focus on the doings of mortals. That said, I wanted to place them in actual, attainable locations. Like I said, the Realms of water and air are just to the North and West (respectively) of Ascalon, so you could seek out Medrinia or Xathanon, if you wanted, if you sought their wisdom. But expecting any sort of real interference from them—actively participating in a war or taking out a bad guy—is completely unrealistic. Similarly, one can travel to the Underworld or the Astral Plane to seek out Dhrakoth or An-Ur, but doing so is likely a fruitless effort.
They’re deities as lore and background decoration, really. They have enough definition to be a part of the world without participating in its every-day events.