No other mortal kind is as idolized, feared, or misunderstood as the mighty dragonborn. They are native only to the barren plains of eastern Grandévere and the harsh and desolate Kurtulmak Desert, but are well adapted to their unforgiving homelands. Their powerful, scaled bodies are regarded as both regal and feral, a combination of draconic elegance, human resourcefulness, and primeval power. These qualities make them generally unfit to blend into civilized society, and no matter how hard they work to be accepted by their neighbors, a dragonborn will always be seen as an oddity, something to be admired and feared.
A History of War
Centuries ago, the ancient Du’un Empire sought the dragonborn as powerful allies in their war of conquest, but their proud leaders refused. This refusal did not stop the ambitious and power-hungry among them from siding with the Empire, but the many dragonborn who valued peace and justice became staunch enemies of the Du’un. The dragonborn who did not side with the Empire were hunted nearly to extinction, and those who managed to escape were scattered to the four winds. Some small dragonborn villages were formed in the icy peaks near the Muspelheim volcano, while others found shelter among the dwarves of the Scythian mountains. The children and grandchildren of the dragonborn that the Du’un forced from their homeland gained a reputation as the Liberation Army’s most vicious soldiers.
Majestic and Fearsome
Both male and female dragonborn stand about six and a half feet tall, though some particularly mighty warriors have stood as tall as eight feet. Some dragonborn possess wide neck frills and some wear powerful horns atop their head. These traits are hereditary. Their hands and feet are strong, talon-like claws with three fingers and a thumb on each hand.
A dragonborn’s head features a blunt snout, a strong brow, and distinctive frills at the cheek and ear. Dragonborn do not have hair. Instead, a crest of hornlike scales of various lengths that grows behind their brow resembles thick, ropy hair. Some male dragonborn also grow similar scales that create “whiskers” in place of facial hair. Some say these whiskers indicate a smattering of gold dragon blood somewhere in their family. Their eyes shine the color of precious gemstones or glimmering metal, with ruby red and shimmering gold eyes being the most common. Since they are not mammals, dragonborn females do not have breasts, a feature that has confused many adventurous humans throughout the centuries. The sexually dimorphic traits of the dragonborn are subtle, giving the entire species a somewhat androgynous quality. Females have slightly slimmer shoulders and lither bodies than males, but the entire kind is naturally athletic and powerful.
A dragonborn’s scales are their most distinctive feature, and sometimes match the color of their draconic ancestor’s scales. A dragonborn sired by two dragonborn parents tends to share the scale color of their mother, with a few odd scales the color of their father. Most dragonborn have very fine scales over most of their body, giving their skin a leathery texture, with regions of larger scales on the forearms, lower legs and feet, shoulders, and thighs. Young dragonborn reach physical maturity about as fast as humans, but only reach sexual maturity halfway through their first century of life. Few dragonborn live more than four centuries, and none have lived to see a fifth.
The Blood of Dragons
Only the elves, who trace their ancient lineage back to the mystical fae, have a more magical genealogy than the mighty dragonborn. Countless legends surround their origin, but the dragonborn are unmistakably the descendants of dragons. The most popular legend claims that when Io battled the Chained God at the dawn of time, her blood showered the young earth and that the dragonborn sprang forth from the Dragon God’s holy blood. Another legend claims that millennia ago, true dragons prayed to Io before laying eggs, and that one day a rebellious dragon mother mocked Io’s blessing and did not pray. True dragons did not hatch from these unblessed eggs, instead appeared the man-like dragonborn. Many of Io’s worshipers dislike this legend because it portrays the Dragon God as uncharacteristically petty and vengeful. Others legends include the tale that an infertile human once saved a clutch of dragon eggs after he killed their mother, and Io blessed the man with draconic children of his own. One of the stranger legends suggests that a group of humans once tried to use powerful magic to transform themselves into dragons, and they emerged as a dragon-human hybrid.
Regardless the true origin of the dragonborn, they will always be proud of their draconic heritage. In communities that live near dragons, dragonborn are frequently hired as emissaries between man and wyrm. Some virtuous dragonborn go on quests in the name of Io and search for ways to protect others from their tyrannical forebears. More ignoble dragonborn ally themselves with despotic wyrms in the tall mountains and barren deserts and use their heritage to oppress those without the blood of dragons in their veins.
Dragonborn have no cities of their own, no nation to truly call their home. Most of the dragonborn on Norn live in the east of Grandévere or in the sandy wastes of the Kurtulmak Desert, but actual communities of the dragon folk are rare. Even in the east, a dragonborn will always turn heads and will always be an outsider. Overt racism against the dragonborn is rare, but the countless myths and legends that surround the dragon-blooded kind keeps the dragonborn from assimilating into society. The staggering number of dragonborn who willingly choose to serve the despotic dragons of the wilderness do not help the plight of their more virtuous kin.
Dragonborn are a highly individualistic people, and place very little value on family names. Some dragonborn discard their family names entirely, choosing to adopt a surname based on their exploits, like Windsailor or Fiendkiller. Frequently they translate these epithets into draconic, the dragon language. Dragonborn’s first names are frequently adopted from the elvish, dwarvish, or draconic languages. Dragonborn society places little value on etymology, preferring to give their children interesting and meaningful names regardless of their origin. Hatchlings are rarely given human or halfling names because they generally considered drab and uninspired. It is not uncommon to meet dragonborn who go only by their given name, forgoing a surname entirely.