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Born of Dragons
By James Wyatt

Let's turn our attention this week to one of those monsters that occupies the other side of the DM screen: the dragonborn. Or half-dragon. Or spellscale. Whatever.

Dragon-People in D&D

Thanks to a fine piece of art, a little-known monster called the krolli occupies a special place in my memory. Designed and illustrated by what must have been a pretty young Todd Lockwood, the krolli appeared in Dragon 36 (April 1980), and thus I believe it stands as the first draconic humanoid in D&D's history. They weren't explicitly linked to dragons in either their abilities or their story, however, so their appearance in this column might be completely gratuitous. But hey, I like them.

So then we come to the draconians, which appeared in the Dragonlance adventures and novels, starting in 1984. These evil humanoids were created by evil worshipers of Takhisis in a ritual that corrupted the eggs of metallic dragons, and their five varieties corresponded to the five colors of metallic dragons: baaz (brass), kapak (copper), bozak (bronze), sivak (silver), and aurak (gold). Like dragons, they have wings (except the aurak; gold dragons in that era were wingless as well) and tails.

Then there's the dray, the draconic humanoids created by Dregoth, the undead dragon king of Dark Sun. In the 4th Edition iteration of the Dark Sun campaign setting, we called the dray dragonborn, explicitly tying them to the race that featured so prominently in 4th Edition.

In 3rd Edition, we saw the half-dragon template. Soon after that, rules let you play a half-dragon humanoid creature as a player character (with a level adjustment of +3, so your 1st-level half-dragon character was treated as a 4th-level character). That level adjustment made these characters pretty unsatisfying, so the 2006 Races of the Dragon sourcebook gave us two new dragonblooded races: the dragonborn of Bahamut and the spellscale.

A spellscale was a humanoid usually born from the union of two sorcerers, ostensibly proving that sorcerous power comes from dragon blood. In appearance, they looked much like elves with fine scales covering their skin in a rainbow of different hues.

A dragonborn of Bahamut was a humanoid who heard and accepted Bahamut's call to be transformed into a new form. Not born, per se, members of this race were reborn, undergoing a Rite of Rebirth that transformed them from their original humanoid form into a nobler shape, covered with scales and with a draconic head. These people were Bahamut's answer to the spawn of Tiamat—not bred from monstrous creatures but called from among the ranks of virtuous and willing humanoids.

Certain depictions of the dragonborn of Bahamut inspired the art direction for the 4th Edition dragonborn race, especially the miniature that appeared in the War of the Dragon Queen set. The race itself grew out of the same idea that inspired Races of the Dragon: that people want to play characters who are dragonlike. They were designed from the start to be playable right alongside dwarves and elves, with no level adjustment or other impediment. And despite all the controversy they inspired (ranging from the discussion of the female's body shape to a simple assertion that "dragons are for slaying, not playing"), dragonborn proved to be quite popular—according to some of our data from the Character Builder, they accounted for slightly more characters than half-elves and significantly more than half-orcs or gnomes.

The 4th Edition dragonborn got an entirely new story—actually, as recorded in Player's Handbook Races: Dragonborn, they had several legends about their origin. Perhaps Io created them alongside the dragons, lesser cousins to those mighty creatures. Or they rose up from drops of Io's blood, even as Bahamut and Tiamat arose from the dragon-god's sundered body. Or perhaps they were even created before the dragons, to be Io's companions and allies. In any event, their origin story links them to Io and to the dragons, defining their identity in significant ways.

Looking Ahead

The final D&D Next playtest packet, released in September, included a dragonborn race with an entirely new story:

A dragon requires the blessing of Bahamut or Tiamat to give birth to true dragons. If a dragon has a clutch of eggs that hasn't received the proper blessing, the hatchlings are not true dragons, but dragonborn. A dragonborn is a Medium humanoid with a scaly hide, clawed hands and feet, and draconic features (albeit no tail or wings). Its features resemble its draconic parents'. A dragonborn with red dragon parents, for example, has red scales and the distinctive horns and cheek frills of a red dragon.

Why this change? Fundamentally, there's a feeling that people don't want to play a generic dragon-person, but a dragon-person who's closely linked to the unique and iconic ten dragon types of D&D.

For the sake of continuity with the 4th Edition dragonborn (which are pretty well-established in the Forgotten Realms and Eberron at this point, for example), the playtest packet also included this text:

In some worlds, dragonborn are a race unto themselves, having interbred for so long that they have taken on a more uniform appearance, with scales of reddish-brown or gold.

It's easy to imagine the dragonborn of Abeir, Argonnessen, and Arkhosia being around so long that they effectively merged into a single race with a more uniform appearance—which is to say, the 4th Edition dragonborn.

This dragonborn story also gives us room to make draconians an offshoot of the same race. Given that some metallic dragon eggs are going to hatch into humanoid dragonborn already, it's easy to describe the evil ritual as a corruption of those humanoid forms, twisting them and bestowing new magical abilities on them in place of their breath weapons. So we could portray draconians as an offshoot of dragonborn much as duergar are an offshoot of dwarves. There are significant differences, but they're related races.

In terms of game rules, the dragonborn in the playtest packet are more or less equivalent to the 4th Edition dragonborn: They have a breath weapon that matches their draconic heritage, and a bonus to Strength and Charisma. In place of dragonborn fury (a bonus to attack rolls when bloodied) and draconic heritage (a bonus to healing surge value), they have resistance to the same kind of damage they breathe.

What Do You Think?

We've received some feedback that the dragonborn presented in the last playtest packet isn't true to the 4th Edition dragonborn, so I wanted to look at that question a little more precisely.

Previous Poll Results

How do you think the description of the merfolk presented here squares with their history and place in the game?
I hate it. Merfolk need a complete revamp. 37 4%
It’s not working for me at all. Merfolk need a lot more work to make them interesting. 99 10%
I’m ambivalent—it has its points, but I’m pretty unlikely to ever use merfolk in my game. 277 29%
It’s pretty good. I can imagine using merfolk in my game. 437 45%
It’s awesome. I can’t wait to incorporate merfolk into my adventures. 100 10%
Total 950 100%

What do you think of this fresh take on the merrow?
I hate it. It needs a lot more to make it earn its place in the game. 35 4%
It’s not working for me at all. 92 10%
I’m ambivalent—it has its points, but I’m pretty unlikely to ever use a merrow in my game. 276 29%
It’s pretty good. I can imagine using a merrow in my game. 439 46%
It’s awesome. I can’t wait to incorporate a merrow into my adventures. 107 11%
Total 949 100%

What would you do with the merrow?
Pretty much what you’ve done here—make it a distinct monster with its own history and flavor. 674 70%
Keep it a footnote in the ogre entry. 187 19%
Get rid of it entirely. 87 9%
Total 948 100%

How do you think the description of the kraken presented here squares with its history and place in the game?
I hate it. The kraken needs a complete revamp. 20 2%
It’s not working for me at all. The kraken needs a lot more work to make it interesting. 40 4%
I’m ambivalent—it has its points, but I’m pretty unlikely to ever use a kraken in my game. 130 14%
It’s pretty good. I can imagine using a kraken in my game. 447 47%
It’s awesome. I can’t wait to incorporate a kraken into my adventures. 314 33%
Total 951 100%

James Wyatt
James Wyatt is the Creative Manager for Dungeons & Dragons R&D at Wizards of the Coast. He was one of the lead designers for 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons and the primary author of the 4th Edition Dungeon Master’s Guide. He also contributed to the Eberron Campaign Setting, and is the author of several Dungeons & Dragons novels set in the world of Eberron.
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The idea that the dragon gods would bascially corrupt any eggs not blessed is just....bad.

I personally think they should just not do a backstory at all. Let the individual worlds determine their stories. However, if they feel they "must," I would do a mix of the Council of the Wyrms and a storyline straight out of the original Everquest MMORPG. Elder Dragons were distrubed by the advancement of other races and concerned for their safety. As such, they took some willing...and some unwilling... humanoids and used ancient and powerful magic to create the Dragonborn to act as servants.
Posted By: Acies (12/27/2013 3:47:51 PM)


As a DM, Dragonborn being directly spawned by dragons makes a lots of assumptions that I think don't work in many worlds. It assumes dragons are prevalent enough that Dragonborn are actually a race and not a few dozen exceptions scattered throughout the world. That dragons are mated often to lay eggs. That dragons, known already for taking servitors, would let their offspring go. It makes that I can't have a "casual" NPC of a dragonborn, because they are turned up to 11 - children of some of the most powerful in all the world.

The story really forces assumptions about dragons in my world. It takes them out of the mythic status. I'd love it if I was writing a book, not so much for a world.
Posted By: Blue23 (12/26/2013 7:35:53 AM)


I think it would be cool if Dragonborn were tied into dragons even more. Maybe Dragonborn can become dragons somehow. Do all dragons start out this way? Not sure but I'd like greater unity there.
Posted By: Goken100 (12/7/2013 8:01:10 PM)


I quite like the idea of the Dragonborn of Bahamut as a background story for the dragonborn. They were once devout warriors who fought in Bahamut's name, and accepted his offer to make them a chosen race of warriors. They were Bahamut's answer to the spawn of Tiamat, possibly the frontline soldiers in a war, but have since become a race in their own right, building might empires such as Arkhosia.
After many centuries, they have tales of ancient glory and still have an unfaltering sense of honour, but they have lost touch somewhat with Bahamut. Possibly they await a chosen warrior, a champion of Bahamut, to restore the connection, rebuild Arkhosia and lead the dragonborn to glory once again. This gives a PC who plays a dragonborn an awesome goal to aspire to- becoming an avatar of Bahamut and restoring the dragonborn's glory, becoming a mythic, fabled figure in draconic history.
Posted By: SirTrotsalot (12/6/2013 2:53:57 PM)


I like the idea of messy dragonborn. They don't all look like one thing. Some are humanoids with gleaming metal scales. Some have wings, breath weapons, tails, immunities, dragonlike heads.

Remember what tieflings used to be like? Humans (or whatever base race) flavored with different characteristics granted by their fiendish parent. I think that's perfect. You can be an Arkhosian dragonborn, a spellscale, a dray (even though the dray were always a bad choice for "dragonborn" in Dark Sun) or whatever.

Regardless the version of the dragonborn origin story seems totally unnecessary. Every setting has its own lore for dragon folk--and this stuff not only deviates pretty seriously from all that--but it's also not very good. Why would unblessed eggs turn into big kobolds? It's weird and irritating.
Posted By: Grimcleaver (12/5/2013 8:30:39 PM)


I'm increasingly uncomfortable with the "unhallowed egg" origin story, and i hope you all junk it before this thing goes to press. Basically, you've told a story in which the punishment for having children without divine sanction is for those children to have birth defects so severe that they aren't even the same species as their parents. They're physically stunted, will spend their entire lives much weaker than their parents, and they're lacking in some of the most basic abilities possessed by their "legitimate" siblings.

Do you see where this is going? Do you see the potential for offense? Please consider going with something else. Sure, it's easy for individual GMs to change setting fluff to suit them. But do you really want the baseline story to tell players that their dragonborn PCs are really just dragons with severe developmental disabilities?
Posted By: RadioKen (12/1/2013 1:38:28 PM)


Wizards I hate your text format, I have great ideas that you and everyone else really need to hear, but your forum won't let me post it, even after 15 minutes of me trying to remove all punctuation. to make sure my 'tags' are 'approved'
Posted By: OskarOisinson (11/30/2013 11:27:17 PM)


Im a little late to this but here is my idea.

Dragons and to a greater or lesser extent, other beings in the DnD universe have a certain magnitude of essence when they perform any task, part of that essence is dispersed. For dragons and other practically immortal creatures, the amount of essence required to sustain their bodies is infinitesimal relative to the amount of essence they are born with or grow into, but their essence is dispersed greatly when it comes to creating new dragons. To avoid this, many dragons create dragonborn, medium mortal humanoid servitorchildren who aid them in their pursuits. The amount of their essenceconsumed by creating dragonborn is very small relative to that consumed creating a true dragon. Likewise, sometimes they create other creatures, such as dragonspawn, pseudodragons, etc. to aid them.
Posted By: OskarOisinson (11/30/2013 11:28:27 PM)


Another tack that could be tried is that dragons mate very rarely and normally cannot mate with 'off-colour' dragons (a blue can't mate with a red). Mating is the only way to produce true dragons. However, as an evolutionary mechanism (or by the grace of Io/Bahamut/Tiamat), dragons can procreate asexually or with other creatures via greater polymorph. This asexual or polymorphed sexual reproduction produces dragon-like beings such as dragon-born, dragon-spawn, and pseudo-dragons.

It also might be cool to give a number of Hit Dice or HP range to a clutch of dragon's eggs along with a random table to roll on to see what hatches from them should some adventures happen along, maybe it's a new party member, a new familiar, a godslayer of Tiamat, or possibly (1% chance) even a True Dragon that takes the party as its parents.
Posted By: OskarOisinson (11/30/2013 11:29:37 PM)


that actually makes sense
Posted By: EnSabaNur (12/6/2013 12:05:49 AM)


I find it strange that the 'default' for a Dragon birth - minus divine interference - is to create a Dragonborn. That seems a little backwards to me.

Personally, the 4th edition backstory was perfect. In a magical, evolution-less world, having an ancient empire of draconic humans that are nearly extinct fills the role of the dinosuar. And the world needs dinosaurs.
Posted By: Khilkhameth (11/30/2013 5:38:08 PM)


I filled out the survey, but found that all options favored dragon-based player characters of some sort. I would have liked an option for "dragonborn are unimportant to me and have no place in my game as player characters." As a result, the survey response will be skewed. Personally, I prefer draconians of the classic Dragonlance style and dragon-kin (2nd Ed. Monstrous Compendium Annual Volume 1) as NPCs/monsters rather than player options. I realize that many people do like the dragonborn, but they should be an optional add-on, not a core of the game. Same goes for tieflings and other freaks.
Posted By: BeardBard (11/30/2013 1:06:50 PM)


You seem to care enough about draconic humanoids to stigmatize them as "freaks" and ask Wizards to marginalize them as potential PC races. I agree that in a better poll your preference would have been included among the options, but why gratuitously insult those of us who don't share your opinion?
Posted By: RadioKen (12/1/2013 1:44:49 PM)


This new origin is just so awful I don't know where to start.

If people don't like dragonborn and don't want them in their campaigns, I'm totally cool with that. (And yeah, how they were introduced into existing game worlds was heavy handed and not good.) I don't know whether WotC is still planning to label some races as optional or rare or whatever.

But this "divine sanction" thing just makes no fucking sense whatsoever. Two giant thumbs down.
Posted By: Seroster (11/30/2013 10:28:47 AM)


I find the new origin EXTREMELY problematic. It implies that children born with genetic deformities aren't even the same SPECIES as their parents, which is horrific. Instead of having a meaningful (if only sketched) culture, mythologized origin, and strong background, we now have an entire RACE of misfits, outcasts, and "bastard" children.

The 5e Dragonborn origin effectively says, "If God didn't say you're okay, you have a developmental disorder and can never be more than remotely similar to the parents who gave you life." Both from a human-ethics standpoint, and a religious standpoint, I find this offensive and untenable.
Posted By: ezekiel9247 (11/29/2013 8:21:02 PM)


The Draconian storyline is one that resonated with audiences and was cool. I think that the Dragonborn should just riff on that. I agree that the Dragon Gods should be a bit more aloof than this. Dragon Eggs also are a fantastic McGuffin. I like the idea that Dragons often lay only a single clutch in their life time, however, mysteriously the eggs lay dormant for decades even centuries. Dragons are very jealous of their eggs, never quite certain when one will hatch. Frequently the strain of waiting for the clutch to hatch is too great, and dragons perform a magic ritual that births dragon born from the eggs instead of true dragons. This ritual was one that was discovered by Aastenian in the early days of the world, stolen from the other gods who created mortal races. Aasternian was never able to learn the charm of Io himself to make dragons. The dragons who perform this charm of making on their eggs are seen as profane and sometimes unhinged. However they are loyal mothers to their bro... (see all)
Posted By: MacEochaid (11/29/2013 5:24:15 PM)


Personally, I think the best origin story is that in the distant past, some worshipers of Io/Bahamut/Tiamat/whoever were transformed into dragonborn, and bread true after that event.
Posted By: junglefowl26 (11/29/2013 3:58:49 PM)


In consideration of the power of a single big dragon, of his avidity and the food resouces consumed, if one of them can have dozen of eggs at time and no natural predators for them, the whole world rapidly fall under dragon domination and later destroyed.
According to 3rd edition Draconomicon dragon eggs need precise ambiental condition to disclose (like many big reptiles of real world).
Maybe for real dragon egg absorb DNA from ambient, so failed conditions may create certain types of drakes, while others eggs breeded by humanoid servants or egg stealer become dragonborn.
Posted By: Eilistraecomeback (11/28/2013 5:04:48 PM)


I can't conceive the Nentir Vale without Dragonborn, and they fit very well in Eberron, but as for other campaign worlds...
In the Forgotten Realms, I got the impression that the cataclysm was done to introduce them as a main race in the world. I'm not comfortable with that at all. I liked the realms better before, so I'm likely to use a pre-cataclysm, mostly Dragonborn-free Faerûn.
In Dragonlance, I like Draconians too much to replace them with Dragonborn, and both of them would be redundant, so I don't want a Dragonborn character anywhere nearby a game of Dragonlance run by me.
As for Ravenloft... Being a big fan of the setting and a board game collector, the one and only reason I didn't buy Castle Ravenloft was that the only fighter was a Dragonborn. That is saying a lot, coming from me.
Posted By: nirnel (11/28/2013 9:56:56 AM)


Sorry, but I think dragonborn are a race that should be made VERY optional for DMs. I don't like them particularly, but if a player insisted, I could come up with a story for a SINGLE one to exist in my campaign world.

Kobolds are, IMCW, a race with a drop of dragon blood, created by one of the gods early in prehistory to serve as the hands, ears and eyes of dragons amongst other humanoids. That's good enough, most of the time.

Then again, IMCW there is rarely more than ONE dragon of any given color alive at any given time; dragons are rare, magical and mighty beasts who do not allow themselves to be used or abused by other races.
Posted By: Gilladian (11/28/2013 8:31:56 AM)


I kept writing and deleting this post because I have a lot to say. But what it boils down to is this: dragonborn origins should be determined by setting. The corrupted eggs works for Dragonlance, but maybe not for other realms. It certainly doesn't work for my original world. (I like the 4th ed. history for that.) Like someone else pointed out, we don't need an origin story for all humans. Why do we need one for the dragonborn? Can't DMs just make it up? I mean, if you're already running an original campaign, it shouldn't be that hard to come up with an origin story if your players REALLY need one. (And I bet 9 out of 10 times, they don't. Most people only care about where THEIR character came from, not their whole race.)

Also, I really dislike the idea of dragonborn being, essentially, baby-dragon rejects. No dragon, good or evil, would ever WANT to hatch a dragonborn. Every time would be a mistake because they didn't pray hard enough, or whatever. That's definitely not how... (see all)
Posted By: Skedrix (11/28/2013 4:50:40 AM)


My only issue with the new story is the whole "requiring a blessing from Bahamut or Tiamat" part.

"Religious" isn't an adjective I would universally apply to dragons, like I would "aloof" and "avaricious". While Bahamut and Tiamat may well be important, I just don't see a typical true dragon as being overly devout. Requiring religious devotion for the propagation of their race twinges the entire species in a new light I don't particularly agree with.

So my objection to the story isn't about what it changes for the 4e dragonborn, but for what it changes about true dragons throughout DnD's history.
Posted By: AvonRekaes (11/28/2013 2:36:03 AM)


The more I think about the current origin story, the more I imagine dragons as enormous ants. A female dragon is similar to the queen with the lair as her "ant-hill". Some of her eggs will contain true dragons to ensure the survival of the species while most will be dragonborn who work to provide food, treasure and an expanding lair. The male dragons will of course have problems getting such workers and instead either team up with kobolds, try to become rulers of a humanoid kingdom or be the solitary dragons normally known.

I don't like this image of dragons. Dragons are not ants, but the current has made that image stick in my mind.
Posted By: Be3Al2 (11/28/2013 10:48:54 AM)


Amen to that!
Posted By: Sword_of_Spirit (11/28/2013 2:20:34 PM)


You have a good point. I also don't see dragons as particularly "religious". That said, in the default setting the pantheon is assumed to be real and have real influence on the world.

I think another way to think of it is that instead of being devout in a religious sense, the dragons live in something more akin to a royal hierarchy. Io (or Bahamut or Tiamat) sit at the top as King/Queen and the true dragons are lesser nobility beneath them. This strips the religious aspects, while maintaining the reverence necessary for the "sanctioned egg" scenario. Just as couplings between nobles have to be sanctioned by their lords, couplings between dragons have to be sanctioned by Io.

While humans might revere Io as a god, the dragons are more intimately connected with him and simply know him as their King.
Posted By: earthwizard (11/28/2013 3:00:31 PM)


another aspect in regards to Dragonborn would be what if they were also byproducts of blood debts to a particular dragon or dragons in question; Humans and Demi-humans that are bound to the will of the Dragons in question with Good Dragons this would be the equivalent of surrogate parents raising their adopted children as well as teachers to their students. this would evolve over time. With Evil Dragons it would be the equivalent to a Cult mentality with Evil Dragons as Cult Leaders and deadly sexual predators, granted that may be taking things to a dark turn but consider the sourcebook 'Heroes of Horror" and you can see how that could make a deadly sense
Posted By: EnSabaNur (11/27/2013 11:31:15 PM)


Why wasn't the 2nd edition version of 1/2 dragon from council of wyrms not mentioned? It's another version of the 1/2 dragon with a different enough look/feel (half mammal humanoid/half dragon).
Posted By: Birchbeer (11/27/2013 10:35:29 PM)


I like the idea of dragons needing sanction to breed true (whether from a god or a high council of dragons or whatever) but I don't think that a default unsanctioned egg makes sense to be a humanoid dragon. I think that an unsanctioned egg would simply be stillborn. (Perhaps the god/council must perform a ritual to imbue the egg with a soul?)

I would prefer if the Dragonborn race were the result of an attempt to get around the sanctions through the use of magic. Perhaps a dragon with a high level polymorph into a humanoid mating with a human. I specify "high level" because I wouldn't want a basic polymorph spell to allow all kinds of cross-species breeding, but it must be a special ritual to make the internal anatomies compatible. In any case, a female dragon could have an entire clutch of dragonborn eggs if she mated with a human male. Perhaps a male dragon/female humanoid doesn't work, or perhaps the human female gives "birth" to a clutch of eggs that m... (see all)
Posted By: Noirsoft (11/27/2013 9:28:59 PM)


I would normally support the dragon-human coupling that produces a dragonborn offspring, but in this case I think I am more in favor of the unsanctioned eggs story.

I like the idea that dragons need their eggs to be sanctioned by Io (or whatever prime dragon god there is), because it necessarily limits the number of dragons that procreate. This keeps the number of true dragons low.

This scenario also naturally produces more of the dragonborn than the dragon-human coupling scenario. I imagine dragons mate with each other far more frequently than they do with other species. In addition a single dragon litter could yield dozens of dragonborn, while a mating with a female human will only produce one to three children. From a design perspective you probably want the PC races to be uncommon or common in rarity. I think the dragon-human mating would only produce a rare half-dragon race.

The "sanctioned egg" scenario presents several campaign ideas... (see all)
Posted By: earthwizard (11/27/2013 6:00:18 PM)


That would make sense, Dragon gods regulating the flow of new dragons that are born. in another possibility is that dragon eggs remain viable with unhatched eggs remain dormant and merely wait until magical conditions are right to hatch. Servants of a Dragon hide a particular egg in a city as per instructions in a section of a city that is ignored. the baby dragon starts off as instinctually superior in intelligence and uses the sewers as a base of operations once they gain access to a library they start learning and their minds evolve even further from instincts into fundamental awareness and they would attain the same level of intelligence as the most well educated individuals by age 2
Posted By: EnSabaNur (11/27/2013 11:58:45 PM)


The idea that dragons need divine sanction to make more dragons is, frankly, terrible in every respect. Having corrupted or mutated eggs turn into dragonborn instead of dragons would work much better if you're going to use that angle; breeding true should be the rule, rather than the exception.

Personally, I think the simplest origin for dragonborn is the one I created for them for my home game: they're the descendants of half-dragons who interbred and eventually created a whole race unto themselves. This ties them directly to the ten iconic dragons, while also being an easy umbrella to include all the variant draconic humanoids under.
Posted By: Dark_T_Zeratul (11/27/2013 5:57:00 PM)


in regards to Dragonborn their conception would be reserved for their human and Demi-human priests and servants. those that have served their Dragon masters with true effectiveness would be the surrogates for the humanoid dragons; the pregnancies in question would range from 1 year and 1 1/2 months to 3 years and 5 1/2 months. Also spellcasters that are with child and the father is a dragon would consider it to be an auspicious event and if the mother is attuned to the same magic as the dragon all the better, for example; a wizard that is attuned to fire is with child and the baby daddy is a Red Dragon the wizard's power is augmented, a Necromancer that is with child and the baby daddy is a Dragon that is attuned with the energies of death itself would prove just as auspicious. the resulting offspring would be the equivalent of magical savants. on the other end of the scales for a frightening spin on dragons would be in where Evil Dragons can also reproduce parasitically; in this scena... (see all)
Posted By: EnSabaNur (11/27/2013 5:32:45 PM)


I think the dragonborn should be more like the 2nd edition draconians. Each one felt different with their abilities, plus they exploded when they died.
If they are to be linked to dragons then perhaps the power is too much for them. They are compelled to channel the power in heroic/vile exploits so it doesn't destroy them. If they remain sedentary for too long without loosing some of the power they will rupture. They need to release the pressure build up in the form of a breath weapon, or repulsor blasts, etc. Once they are strong enough they may manifest wings, a larger size, prehensile tail etc making them closer to a true dragon form. When they die, the pent up energy escapes as it is no longer held by their will and physical strength.
This would add flavour to the race that opens up role play opportunities. The race may be more powerful than a human or dwarf, but if they drop below 0 HP (or fail a death save) they explode and die. This means they may be the best race to h... (see all)
Posted By: Rartemass (11/27/2013 4:29:45 PM)


I'm not a major fan of dragonborn, but I am a major fan of dragons (and I like draconians).

The only thing that really bothers me (and it *REALLY* bothers me) about the current write up is the part about unsanctioned dragon eggs. I'm okay with cursed or corrupted eggs becoming dragonborn, but requiring special reverence from dragons just to breed true is such an insult to the species that I lack words in Common to express my indignation.
Posted By: Sword_of_Spirit (11/27/2013 4:23:40 PM)


I remember a little of a traditional fable when a female dragon fall in love for a human knight, so he used his magic powers to assume the form of a beautifull woman, then approach the knight and marry him.
The two male babies born from this relationship grown with strange fisical appearances like big heads, one with big, penetrant eyes, the other with a large mouth, both with keen senses and impressive strength.
These two boys follow the father becoming knights.

Maybe is a little too traditional, but I love much this approach for dragonborn rather than think all dragons subjugating by the will of their gods.

Oh! And add keen senses to dragonborn, please!
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------... (see all)
Posted By: Eilistraecomeback (11/27/2013 3:02:30 PM)


We have in Taladas the Traag and the Sesk, Brass and Silver "draconians" who are more brutal versions of than their Baaz and Sivak counterparts. Mechanically, it seems easy to me to fit dragonborn as the base stats, make the Sesk and Traag the dragonborns, while Draconians get a different set of powers (like death throes) that make them Draconians.
Posted By: Granakrs (11/27/2013 2:18:32 PM)


My favorite of all time wasn't even mentioned, the Half-Dragons of 2nd Edition. Absolutely loved them and was disappointed when they changed Half-Dragons in 3rd Edition and have since basically pretended the 2nd Edition Half-Dragons never existed.
Posted By: Bigguy28 (11/27/2013 1:51:57 PM)


But more importantly why would the "base" form of a dragon be humanoid until blessed by a god?
Posted By: bogmad (11/27/2013 12:04:18 PM)


Exactly. It's nonsensical.
Posted By: Seroster (11/30/2013 10:33:20 AM)


I understand in wanting an umbrella that all dragonborn can fit under, but why does the lore matter?
Do humans need a core origin that goes across all campaign settings? Why do that with dragonborn?
Posted By: bogmad (11/27/2013 11:57:56 AM)


Personally I always liked Half-Dragon/Spellscale like characters best (maybe with some more "draconic" characteristics than Spellscales). In the PDF Dragonborn are described much more "general" and it sounded to me they are not "fixed" on the 4e Dragonborn "looks". If this is on purpose this would be pretty cool, then one would not need to houserule to create a more halfdragon-like Dragonborn.

I like the new story, and actually it might make the reasoning that Dragonborn are not a monolithic race anymore more logical.
Posted By: MagicSN (11/27/2013 11:07:14 AM)


Where is the option to remove Dragonborn as a playable race? So far all the stories are pretty dumb. The whole idea of dragonborn is to give players the ability to play dragons. But these are not dragons. There are no wings. There is no shapechanging or longevity. They are just actors in costumes for some low budget fantasy.

I almost think a good compromise would be to allow Dragonborn characters trade in class abilities as they level to become more dragon-like.

Out of the choices I think they should be from the Blood of Io. The idea of warriors spawning from a dragon god is based in mythology and doesn't drek all over the dragon mythos.
Posted By: ZaranBlack (11/27/2013 10:23:18 AM)


I kind of dislike the "blood of Io" origin story. Not as much as I dislike the "dragon breeding is complicated and frought with deity-related mutations" origin story, but I still dislike it.

I feel the "blood of Io" story acts to minimize the effect of dragons in the game. They're not strange and powerful, just powerful. In the same way that it was argued in this column and discussion that drakes are just sort of lame, low-levels dragons, I think a race of draconic humanoids less special. If there's a draconic creature for every niche -- Kobolds as minor threats, dragonborn in humanoid societies, drakes as simple wilderness predators and guard dogs, and dragons actually ruling like monster kings -- then it makes it easy to think of it as "low-level dragonthing, mid-level dragon-thing, solo dragon-thing, high-level solo dragonthing".

That problem exists no matter the origin story, but the "blood of Io" origin just ... (see all)
Posted By: longwinded (11/27/2013 3:56:54 PM)


Keep different options available since the origins of a species can be a love it or hate it sort of thing. But given the suggestion of the dragonborn being born from dragon eggs I've decided from now on the way I'm doing them is based on that.

When a dragon lays eggs they lay a whole clutch of them and abandon the nest. Only one egg in the nest will hatch into a dragon, but it takes years to incubate. At first the large number of eggs act as a distraction to predators, when there are a hundred eggs and a predator eats one there's only a 1 percent chance its the dragon. Those decoy eggs soon hatch into young dragonborn that live like a nest of young alligators minus the momma gator. They eat vermin and attack anything that gets too close to the nest (and the egg within). After several years the egg hatches the newborn dragon has a group of servants ready for them. Soon the dragon matures enough to be fine on their own. With their instincts to protect the now grown hatchling ... (see all)
Posted By: TCCoffey (11/27/2013 10:02:32 AM)


I should add that the decoy eggs idea is based off the Dragon's Blood trilogy by Jane Yolen, with some tweaks and that this keeps true dragons rare but dragonborn themselves relatively available. Also adds a ''find a meaning for my life kind of dimension to them''
Posted By: TCCoffey (11/27/2013 10:06:20 AM)


I didn't like it. Not at all. Dragonborns shouldn’t have this background story for them and they are too much different from the dragonborn I like from 4th edition, especially because of the lack of the dragonborn psychology and such. Dragonborns of 4th edition are my favorite race, and I just felt underrepresented now, or even ruined. I heavily disliked the playtest’s dragonborn.
Posted By: cassi_brazuca (11/27/2013 8:01:20 AM)


Am I the only one that that missed the option "this game does not need dragon-like playable races"?

Sorry, but weirds things like dragonborns and tieflings walking alongside everyone else doesn't sound right.

I mean, if tieflings were something like "I have small horns, but I hide them in order not get killed immediately for displaying association with fiends", ok. But the way things are, its just way too much MMORPGsparklingthingseverywhere...
Posted By: R0ver (11/27/2013 7:43:33 AM)


I like the weird things like Dragonborn and Tieflings. Not every fantasy species needs to be derived from Tolkien: short humans, skinny humans, bearded humans...
Posted By: Khilkhameth (11/30/2013 5:41:23 PM)


While I don't much like dragonborn as a race, I disagree with the whole "That person looks too different from a normal human. Kill it!" notion you have with tieflings.

Fourth Edition was possibly the first edition that wasn't filled to the brim with genocidal racists killing anything that didn't look mostly human.

I mean, if you want a Warhammer-esque setting where witch hunters constantly hunt down mutants and heretics, fine, but let's not make it the default.
Posted By: Shroom-Mage (12/1/2013 4:11:17 PM)


My preference is to leave deities out of the racial origins as much as possible.

For dragonborn, I'd credit their rise to the effect dragons (as legendary creatures) have on their environment. Just like a black dragon's presence slowly infects the landscape around it, creating acidic bogs, etc, so too does its presence "manifests" in the creatures that live near its lair. If the lair is close enough to humanoid settlements, children with draconic characteristics start being born (some are sorcerers, some have merely cosmetic changes...). These eventually gave rise to full dragonborn. Of course, these births are a sure sign that a dragon lairs nearby, so benevolent dragons often choose to lair far from civilized lands, while an evil dragon's presence may end up displacing an entire village who tries to avoid these draconic births. Perhaps the true dragonborn arise from the ranks of creatures that have a history of revering and serving dragons, such as lizardfolk and... (see all)
Posted By: Pozas (11/27/2013 7:39:01 AM)


Normally, my preference is to make deities as essential as possible, but I like your plan a lot more than the current origin, since:

1) dragonliness is next to godliness, and
2) the current origin inflicts weird parent issues on the dragonborn--"Daddy didn't love me enough to sacrifice any gold to Tiamat."

I will say that if the developers provide a path to dragonhood that is open to all dragonborn, not just sorcerers (or sorcerer dragonborn), that would be cool enough that I could live with the parent issues.
Posted By: Mechagamera (11/27/2013 10:33:14 AM)


I agree with the commenters that say having dragonborn spawned from unblessed dragon eggs is problematic and diminishes dragons. In a previous article, it was said that dragons should be world changing, rare sorts of things. How common do they have to be to spawn an entire race of creatures? (Or do dragons lay millions of eggs at a time?)

In the end, I just want it to be easy to pull whatever the dragonborn or half-dragon or whatever it is out of the core game when I'm playing / DMing. I don't enjoy them.
Posted By: jfriant (11/27/2013 7:14:02 AM)


Dragons should be gamechanging big deals in a campaign. Dragonborn should not be so mystical and closely tied to specific dragons or Gods. I think the best way to go with them is the 4E Half-Orc style of various origin stories. Dragons are such a personal, unique part of any campaign, I think tying Dragonborn onto them so tightly is a mistake.

There also needs to be some space between different types of Dragon people. I think its fine to have a PC race of people with some mysterious connection to Dragons and I like the mechanics as they are just fine. But, I don't think that race should be connected with more powerful monsters or templates for true half-dragon people or people granted draconic power by the gods.
Posted By: Bly2729 (11/27/2013 6:03:14 AM)


I already disliked dragonborn; I like this proposed fluff even less. If you're unhappy with the connection between dragons and dragonborn, change the dragonborn to fit with the dragons, not the other way around. Altering the fluff for dragons so that the dragonborn fit better is the tail wagging the dog. There's no precedent for any of this stuff about dragon mating, and it's just... weird. It manages to diminish both the dragons and the draconic gods while not doing much for the dragonborn (and also making draconians less unique). It's oddly specific in a way that I think would make it a poor fit for many campaigns. My ideal dragonborn fluff would either: a) make dragonborn something more interesting than just "humanoids who are related to dragons", or b) make dragonborn easy to ignore. This does neither. I've liked most of the ideas that have previously been presented in this columm, but this does nothing for me. It's easily my least favorite D&D Next fluff idea so far.
Posted By: goldengod (11/27/2013 5:47:44 AM)


"It's easily my least favorite DnD Next fluff idea so far."

I couldn't have said it better myself.
Posted By: Sword_of_Spirit (11/27/2013 4:31:55 PM)


Well said. I sorta like dragonborn but you exactly hit the nail on the head here about what is wrong with this new fluff.
Posted By: Seroster (11/30/2013 10:30:48 AM)


At last a dndnext developer mentions something different from the Forgotten Realms: I hope Eberron and other settings are supported.
Posted By: PaladinNicolas (11/27/2013 5:11:21 AM)


The problem with the new origin is that it diminishes dragons, in all sorts of ways.

If dragonborn come directly from dragons, and then go around mixing with other humanoids in cities, it means two things: there are plenty of dragons about near the city spawning these dragonborn and apparently the other humanoids have no problem with this.

Secondly the humanoids will become more accustomed to dragons by proxy of the dragonborn. The fearsome mystique that DnD Next is trying so hard to capture for Dragons just evaporates.

This is a problem with dragonborn anyway, but hey people like to play them because they are cool. Fine. Have dragonborn, have them tied to dragons, but not THAT closely to dragons, otherwise dragons will become mundane.
Posted By: 5Shilling (11/27/2013 3:34:23 AM)


*I mean allow for opinions outside of an assumed result like wanting dragonborn. I know other players do like them but I think those of us who don't should have a valid response to choose in these polls.
Posted By: Ashrym (11/27/2013 3:22:40 AM)


I don't like the poll. Some of the questions (like question 3) don't provide any opportunity to respond within the poll with my actual opinions, which means either I am forced to choose and answer that makes it look like I want Dragonborn or not to be able to participate in the poll at all.

I don't like the flavor. Period. It's not a question of which story is the bestest story for their inclusion when I don't like the race at all.

I answered as best I could, but I would prefer to see polls that at least allow for opinions on an assumed outcome. Those results can be misleading.
Posted By: Ashrym (11/27/2013 3:20:30 AM)


Including the Dragonborn into Faerun by interjecting their lame story as part of the 4E changes was one of the worst parts of 4E. The only thing worse was the changes made to the Tiefling, artistically and story-wise. I have serious hopes that now that The Sundering is remedying the worst effects of the Spellplague and it's consequences, that Dragonborn will disappear from Faerun and that Tieflings will become the race they were before as well.

And you forgot the most epic Draconic PC's of D and D's history, from the 'Campaign of Wyrms' setting of AD and D. You want to create a unique, interesting and viable Draconic Race, that's where you should take your clues. Giving them scales and the ability to use breath weapons based on color type? Lame and lazy race design... kind of like the rest of the 5E packet. At least you're consistent...
Posted By: LupusRegalis (11/27/2013 1:00:30 AM)


I hope you realize that not everyone wants to play DnD in Middle Earth...Err...Forgotten Realms.

A lot of people like tieflings and dragonborn as presented in 4e. Most of the people who actually considered them game-breakers, or 'badwrongfun' play Pathfinder now.
Posted By: seti (11/27/2013 1:28:38 AM)


"I hope you realize that not everyone wants to play DnD in Middle Earth"

I hope they realize it. LOTR has been their "go-to" example for what they're aiming for for a while now. Which is odd, because Tolkien basically gave D&D elves and orcs. Not clerics, not barbarians, not snake-men, not mummies, not cyclopses.... I sometimes wonder if they remember the simple pleasure of wondering "what if a Tyrannosaurus fought a cyclops" that is at the heart of D&D.

(Sorry, but the "Middle Earth" comment was too easy to snipe at. )
Posted By: longwinded (11/27/2013 3:24:03 PM)


My big complaint is the lack of a subrace mechanic for Dragonborn that makes it very hard to pull out a few mechanics and add others. I.e. dumping the dragonbreath and adding death throes to make them into draconians.
Or, alternatively, the one with the dragonfear racial from Dragon. Or maybe one with wings.

Not a big 4e dragonborn fan. Never played one, never will. But a lot of people like them and I think the concept is interesting enough that it can fit the game. I'm happy that they're being considered an optional race so DMs can choose to include them in their worlds or not. (I probably would.)
Posted By: The_Jester (11/27/2013 12:51:18 AM)


I would prefer if dragonborns weren't in the Forgotten Realms setting and neither in the Player Handbook.
Posted By: Herpin (11/27/2013 12:47:09 AM)


That moment when you realize kobolds are on the survey for "favorite draconic player character race"...
Posted By: DramoxTheIronLord (11/27/2013 12:47:07 AM)


I know there's no 'bloodied' condition in 5e, nor are their healing surges, per se...But maybe dragonborn could have some kind of bonus to hit die rolls to represent 'draconic heritage'? Nothing too big...Just a +1 per hit die roll would be enough, really...

I am really glad to see dragonborn in 5e, and I'm also glad to see you devs not wanting to go into the mess that was 3/3.5 level adjustments. That really made it impossible to play an outside-the-box racial choice. Anything that cripples player and DM creativity is bad for a TTRPG.
Posted By: seti (11/27/2013 12:47:01 AM)


I'd rather leave the gods out of the default racial fluff. The business about Tiamat or Bahamut deciding that some eggs should hatch as dragonborn has a lot of story potential, and I'd love to see it presented as one possible origin story, in an article online or in a supplemental book. Outright stating that dragonborn are the offspring of dragons mating with humanoids might be too squicky for some people (at least, that's why I assume 4E avoids even mentioning that as a possibility), but you don't need some other story to "justify" dragonborn. The details of how they came about will vary between campaign settings anyway.
Posted By: LawfulNifty (11/27/2013 12:42:37 AM)


I still much prefer the backstory I suggested in the forums: Whenever a dragon egg is taken and hatched be humanoids, Bahamit or Tiamat will transform the egg into a dragonborn, so that true dragons are never enslaved.
Posted By: Fallen_Star_02 (11/27/2013 12:27:45 AM)


That's a really good backstory for dragonborn. Simple, makes sense, and can be explained through magic and even science/biology. ie: the eggs somehow absorb some of the DNA of whomever cares for them or handles them before hatching.

Love it.

Posted By: seti (11/27/2013 12:37:49 AM)


I think it works even without Bahamut or Tiamat's direct involvement. There could just be something special about dragon eggs causing them to "imprint" on whoever hatches them, altering the developing dragon to better resemble the adoptive parent. I could see it being a survival adaptation--an adventurer who slays a dragon and takes the eggs would be less likely to kill whatever hatched out of them if it looked more like a human baby than like a true wyrmling. It also opens the door to adding a dragonish template to basically anything, without dealing with the touch question of "how does a dragon mate with a(n) _____?".
Posted By: LawfulNifty (11/27/2013 12:46:31 AM)


Agreed. Also, different campaign worlds can have different stories. The PC race can stay mechanically the same, of course.

Dark Sun (4e) already has a good origin story for dragonborn, for example.
Posted By: seti (11/27/2013 12:53:32 AM)


I'm joining the "I like it" bandwagon. I might go more with LawfulNifty's comment about taking the essence of the creatures that hatch them rather than a curse/lack of blessing.

Or the egg absorbs the elemental essence of its dragon parent and becomes weaker without it, hatching into a lesser form. Without magic to direct this, it can be pretty random, ranging from dragonborn to dragonspawn. Perhaps some eggs would be nonviable, so the dragon reverts them to a lesser form so they might have something to pass on, and maybe servants to their stronger brethren.
Posted By: the_Horc (11/27/2013 2:40:59 AM)


Dragon eggs are in popular fiction are difficult to find and difficult to incubate by non-dragons (not because they birth mutants most of the time even with draconic parents, but because they don't hatch in the first place unless bathed in fire, touched by magical energy, or the like, which draconic parents normally provide).

The story that eggs by default hatch into tiny mutant humanoids, or-preferably for me- that the dragon god refuses to let another race take its young, are interesting, but I feel they are a peculiar break from DnD dragon lore up till this point; we'd need to make dragons more wild-magic or tied to world magic so the seams don't show. Dragons as a whole would need to become more freakish to match their incubation freakishness.
Posted By: Dreamstryder (11/27/2013 5:02:10 AM)


I see where you are coming from, but it eliminates the story potential of an unlikely character who stumbles upon a mysterious egg that then hatches into a dragon (and is raised by the character).

I'd like that to be a possibility.
Posted By: Sword_of_Spirit (11/27/2013 4:36:50 PM)


What if instead of requiring the blessing of a god, you had to "trick" the egg into thinking it was being hatched by a dragon?

Failure to do so (which would be most of the time) results in a dragonborn. I like this because it means that dragonborn are almost always born and raised in civilized areas.
Posted By: Shroom-Mage (12/1/2013 3:52:00 PM)



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