Roses of Britain
Ability Scores: +2 Charisma; +2 Strength or +2 Constitution
Speed: 6 squares
Languages: English, Draconic
Skill Bonuses: +2 History, +2 Intimidate
Dragonborn Fury: See Player’s Handbook pg. 34 or Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms pg. 240.
Dragonborn Heritage: See Player’s Handbook pg. 34 or Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms pg. 240.
Dragon Breath: See Player’s Handbook pg. 34 or Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms pg. 240.
The ancestors of modern dragonborn arose from the shed blood of the Draco Tyranni, the fearsome Dragon Tyrants of the ancient world. The Tyrants were ageless creatures of terrible power, beasts whose appetites could plunge whole nations into ruin for millennia. Gods and heroes slew most of the Tyrants long ago, but a few survive to the present day, sowing terror and destruction whenever they appear. The origin of these dragon godlings is not clear, although it is widely believed that they are the progeny of a malevolent deity, whose name varies depending on the tale. Many English scholars whisper the name of Echidna, the Mother of All Monsters, the demon-goddess who whelped Cerberus and suckled Scylla ages before Athens was built. The question of their parentage aside, the Dragon Tyrants themselves spawned a host of lesser draconic creatures in ancient times, among them the wicked chromatic dragons that remain the bane of Christendom to this day. However, not all the Tyrants’ creations were deliberate, or so cruel in disposition as the chromatics. Wherever droplets of a dragon godling’s blood fell on the earth, the dragonborn emerged. The race therefore appeared several times over the ages, usually in the wake of a fearsome battle in which a Tyrant was wounded or slain. Each dragonborn lineage, called a blood-clutch, can trace its ancestry back to one of the dragon godlings. However, a dragonborn’s blood-clutch is a vestigial cultural marker rather than a point of genealogical pride. Indeed, most dragonborn regard their blood-clutch’s progenitor with a mixture of dread and loathing.
The blood-clutch that claims the most ancient roots in England is descended from the Dragon Tyrant known as Ddraig Goch. This creature first appeared in Albion two thousand years ago, making its lair in the Snowdonia Mountains, a sprawling range of damp, green peaks in what is today the Principality of Wales. In those days, western Albion was loosely united under the rule of Lleu Llaw Gyffes, the hero-king thrice cursed by his own virgin mother, and who would eventually ascend to godhood. Lleu confronted Ddraig Goch in battle and succeeded in grievously wounded the godling, but the king stayed his hand when presented with the opportunity for a killing blow. Instead, Lleu bound the Dragon Tyrant with a mighty ritual, enslaving Ddraig Goch to his will and that of his descendants, and thereby converting the godling into a fearsome guardian of Albion for centuries to come. However, this was not the only eventful outcome of the battle. Wherever Ddraig Goch’s blood had spattered during the battle, the dragonborn arose from the soil and rock of Albion itself. Discerning the race’s honorable nature and their value as loyal subjects, Lleu was quick to extend the hand of peace to the newcomers.
These dragonborn established a prosperous life for themselves within the human society of Albion, spreading to the far corners of the island over the centuries. However, in the fifth century, A.D., dragonborn from other blood-clutches began to appear on the shores of Britain, naming other Dragon Tyrants as their progenitors. Some of these foreign dragonborn claimed descent from the Tyrant known only as the Nameless Wyrm, a creature of legendary avarice. This godling was well-known to the Britons for his centuries-long enmity with Ddraig Goch, though the Wyrm laired in the distant land of the Sweotheods, where his blazing breath was said to warm the black depths of Lake Vänern. Other newcomers belonged to the blood-clutch of gluttonous Nidhogg, whom the gods bound beneath the sacred ash Yggdrasil. There he still plots his escape to this day, despite his transformation into an undead abomination. Still others claimed their ancestry lay with colossal Jormungand, the Tyrant who claims every ocean current as his dominion, and will slay the mighty thunder god Thunor during the final battle of Ragnarok.
The vast majority of these newcomer dragonborn were affiliated with the Scaled Fellowship, a powerful confederation of petty dragonborn kingdoms that stretched across the breadth of continental Europe, as far as the shores of the Black Sea in the East and the glaciers of the distant North. Unfortunately, the Fellowship was an oath-sworn ally of the Germani, the ferocious human tribes that sought to conquer Britain during this period, wresting it from the faltering rule of the Romans and their Brythonic subjects. Dragonborn of the Scaled Fellowship marched in the armies of the Germani—the Angles, Frisians, Jutes, and Saxons—as they swept across Britain, placing them in direct conflict with the native dragonborn. The progeny of Ddraig Goch had called Britain their home for a thousand years, and refused to abandon their ancient human allies to the invaders. Today, the dragonborn of England are reluctant to speak of this bloody period, when many members of their race slew one another merely to satisfy the notorious human hunger for territory and spoils. Fortunately, this state of intra-racial war did not persist for long. The Scaled Fellowship fractured in the sixth century, severing the ancient oath-bonds and freeing the newcomers from their duty to the tribes of the Germani. While the Angles and Saxons solidified their control over Britain in the following centuries, the newcomer dragonborn quickly assimilated into the culture of the native dragonborn.
Place in the World
In ancient times, distance and geography tended to separate dragonborn blood-clutches, which rarely consorted with one another. However, over the centuries the various blood-clutches have mingled, such that few dragonborn in England today can claim descent from just one Dragon Tyrant. Nonetheless, most dragonborn in the Kingdom can trace the majority of their ancestors to one of the four dominant blood-clutches: that of Ddraig Goch, the Nameless Wyrm, Nidhogg, or Jormungand. Most dragonborn regard one’s blood-clutch as a mark of personality or destiny, similar to an astrological sign. Few dragonborn give their lineage more thought than this, preferring to view all members of their race as kin: unwanted children united by their shared sense of honor. Indeed, dragonborn tend to be suspicious of members of their race who put too much stock in their blood-clutch. Those rare dragonborn who obsess over the “purity” of their descent tend to fall into the worship of the Dragon Tyrants or other sinister entities.
The dragonborn are widespread in England, particularly in the West, where legends of dragonborn heroes stretch back over a thousand years, often tying the race to the pivotal moments of Welsh and English history. The dragonborn have no domains or settlements of their own in England, but move with ease within the human society of the kingdom. Following in the footsteps of Lleu Llaw Gyffes, English monarchs have long acknowledged that the dragonborn race’s esteem for personal honor and excellence renders them valuable allies, and Henry Tudor is no exception. Many dragonborn allied with Henry and the House of Lancaster during the War of the Roses, and the memory of their race’s loyalty is still fresh. The king has knighted several dragonborn for their bravery in battle in the ensuing years, much to the consternation of the human nobility. Many common folk consider dragonborn knights to be exemplars of English chivalry, and as a result all members of the race tend to be welcomed and honored in human settlements. Conversely, jealous nobles and bishops often regard dragonborn as brutish pawns of the Crown, and are known to keep a wary eye on any members of the race that appear in their lands.
Most dragonborn heroes are clerics, paladins, or warlords, and it is these classes that move most easily within the culture of England’s humans. Dragonborn that delve into arcane power are usually dragon magic sorcerers, while primal dragonborn heroes tend to be barbarians. Other classes dragonborn heroes might take up are the bard, fighter, ranger, runepriest, warden, or warlock. For most dragonborn, religious piety is a secondary consideration compared to their personal honor. However, the majority of England’s dragonborn are at least nominally Christian, with many exhibiting particular reverence for St. George or Jesus himself. Rarely, a dragonborn will devote themselves to one of the Mabinogi, usually Lludd, but these pagan faithful tend to be highly secretive of their divine loyalties.