In today's Draconomicon: Metallic Dragons
preview, we present origins of dragons, including mention of the first metallics and good vs. evil!
Dragons have soared through the skies of the world and roamed the far reaches of the cosmos since the earliest days of creation. They are the greatest of mortal creatures, although few in number compared to the myriad hosts of humankind or the numberless hordes of goblins or orcs. Although scores, perhaps hundreds, of dragons are remembered in the myths and the legendary histories of the mortal world, only a handful of sages know the tale of the world’s first dragons.
In the beginning of the world, the gods gave life to the naked substance of the world forged by the primordials. During the days of creation, the gods forged countless mortal vessels, giving rise to all the races, beasts, and plants that would populate the world. But the deity Io chose to bend his will toward creating mortal vessels that would not only live in the world of elements, but would give life and soul to the elements themselves. To contain the awesome power of elements given life, Io had to shape mortal vessels of tremendous strength and hardiness. And so he created the most powerful of all mortal creatures: the dragons.
Learned metallic dragons believe that each time Io created new dragons, he was in a different mood. The god’s demeanor laid the seeds that determined what those dragons would eventually become. When Io was filled with compassion and the desire to help others, he created dragons that transformed into metallics after his death. When Io spawned dragons to sate his avaricious or destructive impulses, the god’s dark emotions eventually warped those dragons into the first chromatic and catastrophic dragons. In the ages following Io’s death, these seeds altered dragon kind into its various kindreds.
Naturally, catastrophic and chromatic dragons do not hold with this version of Io’s story. Scourge dragons like it even less—according to this legend, scourge dragons are poor imitations of true dragons, created by jealous godlings that lacked Io’s secret of fusing elemental energy with mortal form and soul. Scourge dragons detest this ages-old "slander," and deal harshly with any sage or scholar they find propagating the tale.
Children of Io
Foremost among the gods in valor and physical power, Io fought and defeated many primordials in the Dawn War. Similarly, his mighty children stood at the forefront of all mortal beings in the fight to preserve creation from the unchecked elemental forces of the angry primordials. But Io finally met an enemy who was his match: the primordial Erek-Hus, the King of Terror. The King of Terror slew Io, and the primordials seemed on the verge of victory. Then, from Io’s shattered body, two new gods arose: Bahamut, the Platinum Dragon, and Tiamat, the Chromatic Dragon.
Bahamut and Tiamat together defeated the King of Terror, but then Tiamat turned against the noble Bahamut and attempted to seize dominion over all dragons. Io was a deity who incorporated both honor and fury, ambition and resolve, a love of beauty and a desire to possess it. Tiamat inherited many of Io’s darker traits, and she could not suffer the existence of an equal or allow any other creature to reign over dragonkind. Bahamut obtained more of Io’s noble qualities and the greater part of Io’s strength. The Platinum Dragon defeated Tiamat, and she retreated to the dark depths of Tytherion. She took little part in the rest of the war against the primordials. Bahamut went on to become a champion for the gods nearly as noble and powerful as Io had been.
Good and Evil
Given their drive to dominion, the age-old war against chromatic dragons, and the complexities of Io’s Charge, metallic dragons play many roles on the world stage. They are kings, counselors, and teachers that seek to bring out the best in others; prophets, visionaries, and oracles that steer the course of events to come; meddlers and manipulators, toying with the fates of kingdoms; protectors and guardians, sometimes benevolent and sometimes absolutely ruthless; gluttons and misers; tyrants and destroyers; great champions and wicked schemers. Just as humans and members of other mortal races do, dragons walk many paths in life.
More so than most other types of dragons, metallics discover and pursue great causes and high purposes. Some are just as brutish and shortsighted as the worst chromatics, of course, but most seek something more than comfortable lairs and plentiful food. Of course, the combination of powerful, long-lived, highly rational beings and great purposes is not necessarily beneficial for the rest of the world. It’s unusual for metallic dragons to embrace wantonly evil causes, but many of the purposes they do conceive can be callous, ruthless, destructive, or tyrannical in the eyes of the lesser creatures caught up in draconic dreams.
Metallic dragons are much more likely than other dragons to incorporate humans and members of other sentient races in their machinations. An old, powerful red wyrm might look at a rich dwarven kingdom and plan to despoil it, but a gold wyrm might plot something potentially worse: ways in which it can seize control of that realm for centuries to come and direct its growth and resources to the dragon’s purposes. The red wyrm eventually leaves, but the gold wyrm might never finish its work.
With this example in mind, the three salient truths that one should keep in mind about the so-called "good" metallic dragons are these:
1. Not all metallic dragons are good.
Some metallic dragons are, in fact, of evil or chaotic evil alignment. Silver and gold dragons are not often evil, but it’s not uncommon to find truly evil representatives of the baser metallic dragons, such as iron or cobalt dragons. Some evil metallic dragons regard weaker creatures as miserable rabble to be enslaved, plundered, or toyed with on a whim. Other evil metallic dragons harbor a twisted view of Io’s Charge and shape human realms to fit their own dark desires, using whatever means are effective.
2. Unaligned metallic dragons often pursue dangerous objectives.
Dragons that aren’t committed servants of evil might prove just as dangerous as those that are. Many of the more brutish dragons are highly territorial, quick to anger, or easily lured into hostile actions by the promise of rich rewards. Others regard the power and fortunes of their favored human tribes or realms to be a reflection of their own power. They build up the strongest, most loyal kingdoms to govern, whether these realms are savage, oppressive, warlike, corrupt, or decadent. Wiser, more patient dragons might easily become caught up in the game of toying with kingdoms and history, often to the great detriment of the people who attract their interest.
3. Even good dragons can be terrible enemies.
Powerful metallic dragons that serve good in the world can still pose threats to heroic characters. A good dragon might choose to destroy a band of heroes to defend some site or artifact, to fulfill an ancient oath, or to prevent a great evil. Given their long lives and their overwhelming pride and confidence, dragons think little of making the hard choices for lesser creatures and sacrificing the few for the good of the many. True compassion is rare indeed among dragonkind.