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Dragons in the D&D game's Known World

by Bruce Heard

From Hatchling to Immortal Guardian

For a game whose spiritual mascot is the dragon, amazingly little has been detailed to describe these fantastic creatures in the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS system. Even less has been written about their influence on the Known World. This article might spark your imagination and perhaps be the starting point of new D&D adventures and encounters. At least, it should answer many questions--and prompt more!

Dragon society

Much of dragon philosophy and society revolves around the ancient Ceremony of Sublimation. Most dragons aspire to reach a higher level of existence unique to dragonkind. After reaching maturity, most dragons spend their lives seeking the secrets and effects of this ceremony.

The Ceremony of Sublimation enables particularly powerful dragons to reach Immortality. They become Immortal dragon guardians dwelling on the plane of the dragon rulers (see the D&D Master DM's Book, pages 28-29). One of these spirits may one day become a dragon ruler or perhaps even the Great One itself. This goal motivates all dragons in their quest to master the Ceremony of Sublimation. Very few are those that succeed. This drive is natural for dragons, dating back to another age, predating the birth of humankind.

Before more can be said about the society of dragons, their biology and the way they acquire power must detailed first.

Young dragons: Only one of the parents is present when a dragon's eggs hatch. Dragons do not normally live in groups. More often than not, the male leaves after the eggs hatch, leaving the mother to care for the hatchlings. There are normally ld4 +1 hatchlings. Each hatchling has a 25% chance of dying within the year due to predators, hunters, disease, accidents, cannibalism among hatchlings, etc. A dragon mates only once or twice in its lifetime.

Hatchlings rely upon the parent for food, protection, and an education befitting dragonkind. With a year of constant care, the hatchling grows to the size shown in table 1. During this time, the parent dragon is very active and likely to attack surrounding communities and animals.

From there on, it takes five years to increase each of the young dragon's game statistics one "step" toward those given in the D8~D Basic Set's Dungeon Masters Rulebook, page 28. A new step brings a +1 bonus to armour class, one hit die, an extra 30' of flying speed, a one-die upgrade for attack damage, and a +1 bonus to morale. The extra steps cannot increase a dragon's statistics beyond those described in the Basic Set for that particular type of dragon, so some statistics will reach adult status before others do.

Adult dragons: When a dragon reaches the game statistics described in the Basic Set, it is considered a small, adult dragon that has reached the end of its natural biological growth cycle. In order to grow in size and power beyond what it has achieved so far, the dragon has to learn the Ceremony of Sublimation and perform it many times in its lifetime.

Dragons are magical beings. They have ancient and obscure ties with the multiverse and the Immortal spheres. During their millennia of evolution, dragons progressively developed their ability to draw upon arcane powers of their world to magically mutate their adult forms toward more powerful stock. This ability affects primarily their hit dice and therefore their size, armour class, movement speed, etc. as well. The Ceremony of Sublimation may enable a dragon to enhance its intellectual perception and its spell-casting abilities as well; this often is the result dragons seek above all. When dragons reach their ultimate mortal forms (the huge dragons described in the D&D Dungeon Masters Companion, pages 29-31), the only remaining effect of a successful Ceremony of Sublimation lies in the possibility of becoming an Immortal guardian.

Dragon longevity varies with dragon type. The longest a particular dragon can live without magical influence appears in Table 2. After that time, the dragon dies of old age and becomes a dragon soul (increase longevity by 10%, rounded up, for female dragons).

The Ceremony of Sublimation

Small adult dragons sooner or later learn about the ceremony. They may have dreams, come across ancient writings, or perhaps be taught about it by other creatures. A dragon's life undergoes a continuous series of five cycles, ending with the Ceremony. The dragon has to go through the five cycles before attempting the Ceremony of Sublimation again. Each time the continuously until the dragon dies or becomes an Immortal guardian.

Small adult dragons are not always capable of understanding these cycles, and sometimes they don't even suspect them. But, with age, the cycles become more obvious. Each cycle lasts one month per hit die of the dragon plus ld6 months, except for the last cycle and the Ceremony, each of which requires one day per hit die plus ld6 days.

Hoarding of wealth: The first cycle causes a dragon to seek material wealth. The dragon hoards precious metals, gems, jewellery, and other priceless treasures. Young adult dragons seek wealth in the accumulation of coins and gems. Older dragons favour jewellery, art pieces, and other rarities. A dragon must acquire at least 1,000 gp of treasure per HD before it moves to the next cycle.

Note that if mating and the hatching of eggs were to happen at all, they would have to take place prior to the hoarding. From the beginning of the mating period to the moment the young dragons fly away, two years plus ld12 months may pass. The regular cycles then resume.

Quest for magic: The second cycle causes a dragon to seek magic. To this end, it will try to acquire one or more magical items. The younger adults look for the simpler magical weapons, while the older dragons prefer more arcane items, such as those wizards would use. The older the dragon, the most powerful the item or spell sought after. This cycle may end earlier than the time frame given if the dragon acquires what it desired.

Quest for power: The third cycle is one of the most important for the Ceremony of Sublimation. It causes a dragon to seek spiritual power. To that end, dragons establish territories. These do not affect human nations, although they may physically overlap national boundaries. During this cycle, a dragon will either establish such a territory or increase its existing territory's boundaries. It then seeks out and challenges other dragons living in that area. The duel may consist of a fight if the dragons are chaotic or of differing alignments, of a game of wits for neutral dragons, or a mutual agreement if the dragons are lawful.

The losing dragon must then make a Saving Throw vs. Spells. If it fails the save, It becomes in effect a vassal, and the dominant dragon its suzerain, very much like human feudalism. The bond allows the suzerain to draw a mystical force called dragon might from the yielding dragon, no matter where that dragon may be. This creates a pyramid of power. (The Saving Throw prevents a weak dragon from always becoming a vassal of a strong one.) This bond has no mental or physical effect on the yielding dragon. It merely provides the suzerain with ruling authority over the vassal, as well as a spiritual element for the Ceremony of Sublimation. The bond can be broken only if either dragon is subdued or if the yielding dragon manages to defeat its suzerain. Causing a suzerain to yield is a very effective way of increasing one's dragon might. If a suzerain dragon yields to another, all its vassals also count toward the new suzerain's dragon might. There is no limit to the number of layers a pyramid of power can have.

Quest for knowledge: The fourth cycle is one that causes dragons to sleep-at least, this is what humanity believes. Dragons do not merely sleep. Their bodies go dormant while their souls roam the Outer Planes. The younger adults perceive this as vague dreams and strange visions. The older ones, however, understand these trances much better and are capable of learning a great deal from them. This cycle of spiritual vagrancy may allow dragons to increase their knowledge on the Ceremony of Sublimation and its relationship with the Immortal world. Waking a dragon before its time is most displeasing, because the dragon may have been prevented from acquiring some important knowledge. An awakened dragon is very likely to be hostile. The dragon enters the next cycle upon its awakening.

Feeding: The fifth and final quest before the Ceremony is one that meets a more basic and immediate need for the dragon. After waking up from the long months of trance, the dragon is starving and physically weak. Very often, it feels the need to gorge itself with food for days or weeks until its cravings end. This is the most destructive and dangerous phase for dragons, especially chaotic ones. When the dragon feels it has recovered from its weakness, it then senses it must begin the Ceremony of Sublimation.

The ceremony: The dragon now begins the Ceremony of Sublimation. For days, the dragon is in pain while calling upon mystical forces to bind together the dragon's treasure, magic, power, and physical vitality. Disturbing a dragon during the ceremony is a great offence, since it ruins the attempt. The dragon will enter a frantic anger, seeking to destroy utterly whoever was involved in the incident, no matter what alignments were involved.

The ceremony does have a base 90% chance of failing on its own. Chances then vary with the dragon's achievements during the previous five cycles. The chance of failure decreases 1% for each 10,000 gp value of the dragon's hoard, up to 100,000 gp. The chance decreases 1% more for every 100,000 gp in the hoard beyond that. Basically, the dragon translates the value of its treasure into spiritual power.

The chance of failure is further decreased by 1% for every 10 minor magical items "minor" being a judgment call from the DM), 2% for each major magical item (another judgment call), and 10% for an artifact, up to a total 50% decrease.

Then, decrease the failure chance by 1% for every 100 HD of dragons that are under this dragon's suzerainty. This should include all the layers of the pyramid of power below the dragon attempting the ceremony (including the followers of followers, etc.).

Decrease the failure chance by another l%-l0% (roll ld10), a value reflecting how well the dragon did during its months on spiritual vagrancy (provided this period was not prematurely ended).

Then, decrease the failure chance by 2~ if the dragon is a female, by 49b if she has mated once, and by 6~6 if she has mated twice. Female dragons are notoriously stronger than males of the same age among dragonkind.

Add the dragon's hit dice to its chances of failure (the more powerful the dragon, the harder it is to improve itself). The results of the Ceremony of Sublimation are provided in the chart below. To succeed, the dragon must roll higher than the final percentage chance of failure. The results of the ceremony depend on how well the failure percentage is beaten.

Once the ceremony is successful, the actual transformation of the dragon occurs within a period of ld6 hours. The more spectacular transformations are quite painful to the dragon. When a dragon gains multiple hit dice or reaches the sufficient number of hit dice to qualify for the next size category (see the dragon descriptions in the Companion Set), the dragon literally sheds its skin. (Example: A 15 HD red dragon qualifies as a large dragon. Upon gaining an extra hit die, it becomes a huge red dragon and sheds its skin.) The transformation is profoundly magical in nature.

Soon after the ceremony, the dragon starts a new cycle in its existence. A dragon is more likely to seek a mate after an unsuccessful ceremony than at any other time in its life (10% chance the dragon finds a mate if that dragon never mated before; otherwise, a 1% chance).

If the die roll on Table 3 indicates that the dragon attains Immortality, the dragon must make a Saving Throw vs. Death Ray or die on the spot, unless it is a huge dragon with maximum hit dice. If a dragon does become an Immortal guardian, it leaves for another plane, taking along any artifacts it owns. All of its remaining earthly possessions, including magical items and other treasure objects, disintegrate during the ceremony.

Omens of Coming

Because of the particular relationship of dragons with the universe, various events may happen outside the dragon's lair during the sublimation, causing great turmoil among surrounding communities. The nature of these events, called Omens of Coming, varies with the alignment of the dragon. Chaotic dragons: When a small chaotic dragon becomes a large dragon, a violent storm hits the region, causing great fear and some damage. When a large chaotic dragon becomes huge, a devastating earthquake rocks the region, possibly causing volcanoes to surge from the earth and erupt. Upon the ascension to Immortality of a chaotic dragon, all of these signs occur. A wave of terror and destruction is inflicted upon the region as well by all the chaotic dragons that are now free from their magical bonds and eager to celebrate the event--or go to war against each other.

Lawful dragons: For a small dragon growing large, a number of good events occur locally, such as an exceptional harvest, great charity from the local nobility, the departure of an evil monster, or the curing of some other nagging problem. For a large dragon becoming huge, an aura of peace and prosperity affects the region for a number of years. The ascension of a new Immortal creates a permanent sanctuary for the power of good. The dragon's lair may become a temple, or at least a miraculous place where pilgrims may cure diseases or find greater spiritual understanding of the world. Neutral dragons: Phenomena caused by the transformation of neutral dragons are totally unlike that of lawful or chaotic nature. These occurrences, although limited to the domain of alterations, may be more subtle yet more drastic than with other dragons. Druidical gatherings in the affected area (if appropriate) will be much more common than usual prior to an occurrence, where druids might share their concern about upcoming changes and their mystical meanings.

A small neutral dragon becoming large effects minor natural changes. For example, some wildlife or vegetation may become progressively extinct in the region, while other new life becomes more predominant. A minor water spring might dry up while another starts elsewhere. A small forest might progressively die out while a poorer region becomes more fertile. A strange lack of wildlife and winds might affect one region, while another becomes a new cauldron of activity (some minor wealth is discovered there). A change might affect the local climate, and so on.

A large dragon becoming huge causes more radical changes, affecting especially the realms of magic and time. This includes the creation of an anti-magic area of variable intensity, an aura that slows or accelerates the passage of time, or a region in which spell-casting is altered (certain spells are blocked, enhanced, or totally changed), or a place where the laws of physics and magic are constantly shifting. These places are a heaven for wizards and creatures that are magical in nature, and such regions often include magical gates, ores with strange properties, and unexplainable phenomena. This region is likely to be guarded by the new, huge dragon.

A neutral dragon attaining Immortality particularly affects the realm of thought. Major shifts in philosophy or religion might be created among people. New ideas might cause people to progressively reject old values, such as the subjects of a king spreading ideas of democracy; slaves or a low caste struggling for emancipation; citizens of a republic supporting a hero with intent of creating an imperial hegemony; bloody barbarians yearning for peace, light, and prosperity; or longtime pacifists becoming ruthless raiders. The changes initially affect an area of ld20 miles radius for a minor nation, double that in a large nation, or to times that in a major empire. The occurrence can cross human borders, affecting people in different ways on either sides of a border. If the affected area represents either 60% of the nation's surface area or 60% of its population, the whole nation will also be affected within ld6 years. If not, be prepared for even greater trouble (revolts, civil wars, migrations, persecutions, the rise of a martyr's philosophy, the creation of new temples or new states, etc).

Binding ties

There are ties binding dragons other than those related directly to the Ceremony of Sublimation. These are the mating and blood ties.

When two dragons become mates, a truce comes into effect. Chaotic dragons may have a mere tolerance of each other, while lawful dragons may experience true, long-lasting friendships. Mating dragons cannot attempt to establish dominance over one or the other in order to gain dragon might. The real danger of mating exists when a truly evil creature fakes an intention to mate to fool another dragon; mating is a tricky business! The truce ends shortly after the female is impregnated.

Blood ties link female dragons to their progeny. Mothers cannot do violence to their children, and vice-versa. For that reason, these dragons cannot attempt to establish dominance over each other. That limitation does not extend beyond the immediate mother-child level, however (so grandchildren are at risk). Both the limitation of the truce between mating dragons and the risk of the father turning against his progeny causes the weaker dragon to leave well before the end of the truce. Female dragons are excessively possessive of their progeny, and in most cases they will seek weak males.

Dragons and Immortality When a dragon dies without attaining Immortality, it lives on as a dragon soul. A dragon soul normally returns to the plane dragons have claimed as their sacred grounds. They remain there as subjects or servants of the Immortal dragons.

Dragon souls are instrumental in the Ceremony of Sublimation and the Omens of Coming. Unseen and unheard by living dragons, they act from other planes to generate the magic or the events behind these fantastic occurrences. Dragon souls are the ones who allow the binding necessary in the acquisition of dragon might. The dragon souls also provide magical power to the living dragons.

Sometimes, dragon souls act as heralds or messengers of the Immortals. In some cases, they perform unusual missions for one of the four dragon rulers (see the Master DM's Book, pages 28-29). If they do well, dragon souls may be reincarnated on the Prime Plane as hatchlings, gaining new chances at Immortality. These souls lose all memory of the other world and their previous lives upon their rebirth.

Those dragons that attain Immortality become guardians, lieutenants of one of the three lesser dragon rulers. If one of these three rulers is ever destroyed, the oldest and most powerful dragon guardian may take his place. The guardians are the ones who determine whether a Ceremony of Sublimation should succeed or fail, and how drastic the Omens of Coming should be, depending on what the living dragon achieved.

Each of the three dragon rulers (the moon, sun, and star dragons) is a champion of its ethos. They struggle for the supremacy of their own dragonkind on the Prime Plane and on the Outer Planes. The Great One is concerned with the balance of the three ideals, representing the voice of dragonkind among other Immortals in the universe. Dragonkind belongs to none of the Spheres of Power (Matter, Thought, Time, Energy, and Entropy).

There are very rare cases of dragons attaining Immortality and retaining followers on the Prime Plane. When this happens, the Immortal dragon becomes a Maverick--not really a renegade (see the following section), as far as the Great One is concerned, but nonetheless a pariah that will remain forever out of the great spiritual order of things among dragonkind. A maverick cannot call upon any guardian or any of the rulers for help, but on the other hand is not limited in power among the Immortal hierarchy. Should its following cease on the Prime Plane, a maverick will go dormant. Each maverick must choose one of the Spheres of Power as its ethos.

Finally, there are renegades among dragons who deliberately choose to serve one of the Spheres of Power during their existence on the Prime Plane. They can no longer conduct the Ceremony of Sublimation from the moment they become renegades. Spells (possibly clerical) may be granted by their patron Immortal in the chosen sphere. Renegades either become mavericks if they retain followers, undead creatures if followers of Entropy (such as the Night Dragon in the series, "The Voyage of the Princess Ark"), or are destroyed at the end of their lives in the Known World.

Dragon souls are detailed as follows:

Dragon soul
Armour Class: 9
Hit Dice: 1-3*
Move: 420' (140) flying
Attacks: None
Damage: None
No. Appearing: 0 (1-400)
Save As: F20
Morale: 6
Treasure Type: Nil
Intelligence: High
Alignment: Any
XP Value: 50

Dragon souls are the simple life forces of deceased dragons, each serving the dragon ruler of its alignment. Dragon souls appear in a variety of shapes and colours, ranging in size from a small apple to a large pumpkin. A dragon soul's appearance, based on its colour in life, could be a translucent ball of golden light, a flickering red flame, a crackling node of blue lightning, a throbbing green haze, a billowing puff of white smoke, a gloomy shadow, etc.

Dragon souls can be found only in the region of their dragon ruler. They have no physical attack or defence. If harmed, they flee to the closest dragon guardian and report the aggression. When guided by a guardian, large numbers of dragon souls can generate a frightening amount of magical energy, duplicating either clerical or magical spell effects reaching up to seventh level. Every 10 souls can contribute one spell level in this fashion. Once a spell is cast, the dragon souls must withdraw or be drained and die. It takes about 24 hours for a dragon soul to recover from "casting" a spell in this manner.

Dragon souls communicate by telepathy. They have the ability to see and cast spells into the Prime Plane. Their primary uses are to provide the power and effects for living dragons' Ceremonies of Sublimation and Omens of Coming. The dragon souls also physically reach for a living dragon's life force and bind it to that of its suzerain, thereby generating dragon might. Their secondary function is to provide the power living dragons need to cast spells. Their least important function is to bring comfort to the dragon guardians and their rulers, or to act as their messengers, eyes, and ears. Dragon souls retain memory of their previous life until they are sent back to the Known World.

Dragon guardians

Dragon guardians are the archetype of their colour and ideal. They have the statistics and abilities of the largest possible dragon in their category, with maximum hit points and spell-casting ability. For example, if a red dragon attained Immortality, it would be a 20 HD creature with 160 hp. A dragon guardian retains its former appearance, with the exception of an aura that surrounds its body. The appearance of a guardian's aura is comparable to that of the dragon souls in its service. Dragon guardians have the same spell immunities as a lesser dragon ruler.

Dragon guardians are in charge of dragon souls, directing their efforts toward furthering the development of living dragons. A single dragon guardian can call up to ld4 x 100 dragon souls a day for combat purposes or to effect a major occurrence on the Prime Plane. They report to their dragon ruler any irregularities on their plane or on the Prime Plane.

In cases of great need, a dragon guardian can be sent to the Prime Plane to bring a particular message or omen during a gathering of dragons of the same ethos. Dragon guardians are treated with awe and respect during their rare appearances on the Prime Plane, as befits messengers of the Immortals.

Pocket dragons

Some dragons commit $rave mistakes during their life on the Prime Plane. Such errors in judgment normally cause a dragon to become a renegade. Dragon rulers occasionally allow a dragon a last chance to atone for its deeds and learn a further lesson in draconic life. This often leads the dragon to be reincarnated--with memories of its previous life intact--into a pocket dragon hatchling. If the dragon learns the reasons for its reincarnation and accomplishes a particular mission, it will be accepted as a dragon soul upon its death. Otherwise, the dragon's soul is forever destroyed.

Pocket dragon: AC 8; HD 3*; MV 90'(30')/120'(40'); AT 1 bite; Dmg 1-3 + venom; NA 1-6 (2-12); Save MU3; ML 8; TT K, L; Int 4; AL N; XPV 50. Size: 3'. A pocket dragon has no breath weapon, but its bite venom gives a victim's Saving Throws and to-hit rolls a -2 penalty (cure disease Neg.). AC9 Creature Catalogue, page 75.

The Glantrian abomination

A sect of dracomancers exists in Glantri (see GAZ3 The Principalities of Glantri page 71 for details). If this setting is used simultaneously with the suggestions provided in this article, dragons should harbour absolute hatred toward Glantrian dracomancers. The latter wield a formidable magic that allows them to mimic dragon attributes and abilities. Worse, at high levels they can control dragons in great numbers with virtually no way for dragons to resist or strike back. The wizards leech their power from dragon souls, which are sometimes totally drained of their life forces by these dracomancers.

Adding insult to injury, the High Master of dracomancers may challenge a lesser dragon ruler and replace it. In so doing, the High Master does not attain Immortality but merely gains the ability to rule dragons of the corresponding ethos. Although dragons abhor this blasphemy, they have no choice but to submit to their much despised suzerain. Of course, dragons will always follow his commands to the letter, often endeavouring to pervert the meaning of his orders and bring the downfall of this human impostor. By draconic law, only the Great One can intervene if the dracomancer abuses his powers as a lesser ruler.

The Glantrian Wizard-Prince, Lord Jaggar von Drachenfels, became the Star Dragon and discovered the truth behind his power. He withdrew his claim on the rulership of all lawful dragons, in exchange for which he earned the Great One's absolution. He now refrains from abusing dracomancy in order to spare the dragon souls. He presently works on a project to reform the Circle of Dragon Mastery to further goodwill toward dragonkind rather than the misuse of draconic power. For this, lawful dragons have become more respectful of the High Master and his disciples. The same does not hold true for chaotic dragons, and as a result of the reform proposal there is great dissension among the three branches of dracomancy.

Immortal guardian dragons are presently competing to become the new Star Dragon, under the Great One's watchful eye. Immortals of various spheres are following the developments in this affair with interest.

The draconic plane

The Outer Plane dragons claimed as their spiritual home is a finite dimension that occupies a large sphere mostly filled with air and clouds. In its centre shines a golden sun that beams rays of light spanning the entire spectrum of colours. The outer reaches of the sphere is coated with vast layers of watery, mineral, or metallic matter. Gravity affects the entire plane, pulling "down" toward the outer edges of the sphere.

The plane breaks into coloured layers starting from the sun and expanding toward the outer reaches. For example, souls of blue dragons live in an area of azure skies with semi-solid clouds that they and their guardians use for lairs. Red dragons have an area of permanent twilight, with red and amber dominating the local spectrum. The change from one layer to another is very gradual, allowing for an infinite number of colour combinations. Colours belong to three realms corresponding to the alignments of each realm's souls, each realm remaining under the authority of one of the three lesser dragon rulers. Sea dragons are located in the watery layer in the plane's outer edges.

Many areas display dominant colours not yet connected to known dragon types. Dragon souls do exist in these regions. The Great One could decide to send these souls to the Known World to create new species and colours of dragons not yet encountered in the Prime Plane (purple, metallic, or mineral-coloured dragons for example).

All types of dragon souls can be found in the central area of the plane, as that is the Great One's realm. This region is made of solid light attuned to respond to the wishes of the Great One. The Great One has the ability to control the size of the draconic plane to accommodate the population of dragon souls and their guardians. This usually creates anger and resistance among neighbouring Immortals. Living creatures can enter this plane only if so wished by any of the dragon rulers.

Dragon politics

Much of the dragons' politics in the Known World are cantered on the third cycle, the 4uest for Power. Dragons then seek to establish or increase the size of their territories in order to gain mystical power over lesser dragons. This creates actual dragon kingdoms in which the "king" is free from any other bond and gains dragon might. Weaker dragons in turn establish "dominions" within the kingdom and themselves draw power from lesser kin, and so forth. Dragons can immediately tell when another dragon is bonded to a suzerain, but the identity of a suzerain is not apparent, however.

It is important to remember that vassal dragons are not mentally controlled by their suzerains. A very powerful red dragon could rule over a variety of different dragons, including younger gold dragons. This is very much like a human knight being so unfortunate as to serve an evil but powerful king. Although the knight is free to make personal decisions, the consequences are often up to the king. After gaining great power, a gold dragon could decide to challenge its suzerain and perhaps defeat it. If not, the suzerain may order more obedient vassals and their lesser followers to seek and destroy the renegade and possibly any of the renegade's vassals. Of course, dragons of the same race tend to live in the same regions, either because they were born there, because of racial preference, or simply to avoid having to yield to a much-hated different dragon type. There are local exceptions to this rule, however. It should be noted that politics among dragons are often tainted by personality quirks. A dragon is an exceptionally intelligent being, but it often has an Achilles' heel in the form of a personality flaw or mental imbalance that can cause it to occasionally err (dragons have never been famous for their great wisdom). These flaws should not be readily recognisable to player characters, though.

Dragons occasionally conduct gatherings to talk about local dangers or gain status among their kin by displaying dragon might. They always gather if a new suzerain rose to power in the area. Sometimes they share knowledge on the Ceremony of Sublimation, or omens and signs that they may have received during their spiritual vagrancy. Most of the time, gatherings involve dragons of the same alignments or, more rarely, dragons with the same suzerain. By draconic law, a truce always comes into effect during gatherings and up to several days before and afterward.

(For more on D&D game dragons and their rulers, see "The Mightiest of Dragons," in DRAGON" issue #158. Note that the dragon souls described herein are similar to the dragon spirits of the latter article; you can assume that each exists on the dragons' home plane.)

Table 1
Young Dragon Age Groups

Hatchling One year old Five years old Ten years old
Armour Class 9 8 7 6
Hit Dice 1/2 1 2 3
Move 60'(20') 90'(30') 90'(30') 90'(30')
    Flying n/a 150'(50') 180'(60') 210'(70')
Attacks 1 bite 2 claws/1 bite 2 claws/1 bite 2 claws/1 bite
Damage 1 point 2d4 each/1 2d6 each/1d8 2d8 each/1d10
Breath Weapon None 1/day 2/day 3/day
Save As NM Fighter 1 Fighter 2 Fighter 3
Morale 3 4 5 6
Treasure Type Nil U V A

Table 2
Dragon Longevity Without Magical Aid

Type Years of life
White 1d20*6
Black 2d12*7
Green 3d10*8
Blue 4d8*9
Red 3d12*10
Gold 2d20*11

Table 3
Results of Ceremony of Sublimation

Failure score Beaten by Effect
1-10% Dragon gains 1 H
11-20% Dragon gains 1 HD and speaking ability*
21-30% Dragon gains 2 HD
31-40% Dragon gains 2 HD and spell-casting ability*
41-50% Dragon gains 3 HD
51-99% Dragon gains 3 HD and a +10% bonus on the next ceremony roll on this table
100%+ Dragon becomes an Immortal dragon guardian**

* If the dragon already has this ability, the dragon gets another 1 HD. This assumes that talking dragons may not necessarily be able to cast spells (the D&D Basic Set allows only the opposite to happen).

** This means the dragon must reduce its chance of failure to less than zero. Only huge dragons may become Immortal dragon guardians; treat all others as if they had rolled 99% (see text: "The ceremony").