Mystaran Dragons?

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Knightfall
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Mystaran Dragons?

Post by Knightfall » Fri Mar 15, 2013 11:57 pm

I'm looking at the Mystara MCA, and its section on dragons says that there are generally only 12 dragon species.

Lawful Dragons
Gold
Crystalline
Ruby
Sapphire

Neutral Dragons
Blue
Jade
Onyx
White

Chaotic Dragons
Red
Amber (Brown Dragon from AD&D 2E Monstrous Manual)
Green
Black

How trustworthy is that information? Are there more/less dragon varieties in the BECMI version of the setting? And if you were to add in other non-canon dragons, which would they be? Is there a place on Mystara for shadow dragons in the Shadowdeeps? And what about the other Chromatic and/or Metallic dragons from AD&D/D&D v.3.5.

EDIT: Dragons on Mystara are quite rare, correct?
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Re: Mystaran Dragons?

Post by Cliffrice » Sat Mar 16, 2013 1:06 am

I beleive they are. I think there were lots circa the dragonlord novels but not 100% sure. I dont see why there couldnt be the ocasional other dragon. I dont think its cannon but they would fit in certain nitches.

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Re: Mystaran Dragons?

Post by ripvanwormer » Sat Mar 16, 2013 2:56 am

Knightfall wrote:Is there a place on Mystara for shadow dragons in the Shadowdeeps?
The Champions of Mystara boxed set included statistics for night dragons, which are essentially the same thing, though they're defined as "chaotic dragons that have become the undead servants of the Immortals of the Sphere of Entropy." Night dragons look like the shadows of dragons, totally black except for their faintly glowing eyes. They feed on sorrow and their breath weapon is a cloud of darkness. Mystara doesn't have a Plane of Shadow as such (or didn't; the Plane of Shadow is mentioned in the Savage Coast Monstrous Compendium in the shadow symbiont entry), but night dragons can enter the Sphere of Entropy through any area of absolute darkness. That probably means the Outer Plane of Pyts, though it might make sense to allow them to enter Limbo (a purgatory for Mystaran souls and haunted by undead, similar to 4e's Shadowfell) that way.
And what about the other Chromatic and/or Metallic dragons from AD&D/D&D v.3.5.
Obviously you should use Mystara in whatever way is most fun for you and your players. The Mystara Monstrous Compendium Appendix made the list it did in order to preserve what it could of the distinctive flavor Mystara acquired through the BECMI ruleset while still using the AD&D rules.

One thing to keep in mind are that every Mystaran dragon species (not night dragons as far as we know, but they're not really a true species) has a gem dragon equivalent with the opposite alignment. Chaotic red dragons are opposed by lawful ruby dragons, lawful gold dragons are opposed by chaotic amber dragons, white dragons are opposed by crystal dragons, green dragons by sapphire dragons, and black dragons by onyx dragons. If you introduce new breeds of dragon, then, you might want to figure out what kinds of gem dragons correspond to them.

Mystara has three dragon rulers (the Moon Dragon, the Sun Dragon, and the Star Dragon) ruled in turn by the Great One who represents all dragonkind. As such, there should be an equal number of lawful, chaotic, and neutral dragons to serve the three corresponding dragon rulers, and the emphasis should be on that axis of their alignments rather than good and evil (though Diamond, the Star Dragon, tends toward good and Pearl, the Moon Dragon, tends toward evil). It might be a good idea, then, to change the alignments of other dragon breeds in order to fit this system and keep it balanced.
EDIT: Dragons on Mystara are quite rare, correct?
I don't think they're any rarer than in Greyhawk or Forgotten Realms. Dragons are rare on the Savage Coast because of the Red Curse. The Savage Coast also has two species of dragon unique to that region (described in the Savage Coast Monstrous Compendium): the crimson dragon and the red hawk dragon. Neither have gem dragon equivalents, though the crimson dragon is apparently a variation of red dragon and the red hawk dragon is apparently a crossbreed with the roc.

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Re: Mystaran Dragons?

Post by Culture20 » Sat Mar 16, 2013 3:19 am

Knightfall wrote:How trustworthy is that information?
Fairly; in fact, any dragon beyond the standard chromatic and gold varieties are very rare. This list ignores Dragon Turtles which were in BECMI. Drakes also exist in BECMI, but they're not true dragons.
Are there more/less dragon varieties in the BECMI version of the setting?
The list mentioned only BECMI dragons. In AD&D supplements unique dragons exist: Delores Hillsbury is a unique Night Dragon. There is a "species" of red dragons which have been altered by the Red Curse on the Savage Coast (Crimson Dragons), and a dragon-kin on the Arm of the Immortals (Red Hawk).
And if you were to add in other non-canon dragons, which would they be? Is there a place on Mystara for shadow dragons in the Shadowdeeps?
I personally wouldn't bother putting dragons everywhere, but fairy dragons and pseudo-dragons would make sense. Night Dragons might work for an underground setting.
And what about the other Chromatic and/or Metallic dragons from AD&D/D&D v.3.5.
According to some, the lack of other metallic dragons is a defining point of BECMI/Mystara.
Dragons on Mystara are quite rare, correct?
I would say they are no rarer than other settings. One in five peasants might have seen one flying in the distance, so no one doubts their existence.

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Re: Mystaran Dragons?

Post by Knightfall » Sat Mar 16, 2013 3:46 am

ripvanwormer wrote:
And what about the other Chromatic and/or Metallic dragons from AD&D/D&D v.3.5.
Obviously you should use Mystara in whatever way is most fun for you and your players. The Mystara Monstrous Compendium Appendix made the list it did in order to preserve what it could of the distinctive flavor Mystara acquired through the BECMI ruleset while still using the AD&D rules.

One thing to keep in mind are that every Mystaran dragon species (not night dragons as far as we know, but they're not really a true species) has a gem dragon equivalent with the opposite alignment. Chaotic red dragons are opposed by lawful ruby dragons, lawful gold dragons are opposed by chaotic amber dragons, white dragons are opposed by crystal dragons, green dragons by sapphire dragons, and black dragons by onyx dragons. If you introduce new breeds of dragon, then, you might want to figure out what kinds of gem dragons correspond to them.

Mystara has three dragon rulers (the Moon Dragon, the Sun Dragon, and the Star Dragon) ruled in turn by the Great One who represents all dragonkind. As such, there should be an equal number of lawful, chaotic, and neutral dragons to serve the three corresponding dragon rulers, and the emphasis should be on that axis of their alignments rather than good and evil (though Diamond, the Star Dragon, tends toward good and Pearl, the Moon Dragon, tends toward evil). It might be a good idea, then, to change the alignments of other dragon breeds in order to fit this system and keep it balanced.
Okay, taking all that into consideration, how about these additions...

Lawful Dragons
Bronze
Emerald

Neutral Dragons
Amethyst
Silver

Chaotic Dragons
Copper
Topaz

Bronze dragons are opposed by Topaz dragons; Silver dragons are opposed by Emerald dragons; and Copper dragons are opposed by Amethyst dragons. This would leave the Brass dragon out of the mix since there isn't another gem dragon to oppose it. I could always create a new gem dragon, but it would unbalance the number of dragons based on alignment.
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Re: Mystaran Dragons?

Post by agathokles » Sat Mar 16, 2013 9:57 am

Culture20 wrote:
Are there more/less dragon varieties in the BECMI version of the setting?
The list mentioned only BECMI dragons. In AD&D supplements unique dragons exist: Delores Hillsbury is a unique Night Dragon. There is a "species" of red dragons which have been altered by the Red Curse on the Savage Coast (Crimson Dragons), and a dragon-kin on the Arm of the Immortals (Red Hawk).
Dolores Hillsbury/Synn is not unique, and is not originally from AD&D -- she was created, along with Night Dragons, in BECMI for the VotPA series. Night Dragons are a type of undead dragons (the other type is the Undead Dragon found in the Creature Catalog). On the contrary, only one Vermillion Dragon is currently known (Pyre, essentially a red dragon inheritor).

Note that Night Dragons and Undead Dragons are cover similar thematic areas as Shadow Dragons and Dracoliches of AD&D and 3e, so the latter would be redundant in Mystara.

Another type of dragon found in Mystara is the Sea Dragon, also from Creature Catalog. Then there are a number of dragon-kin, such as the Dragonne and the Pocket Dragon (Creature Catalog) and the Flapsail (Hollow World, extinct in the outer world and possibly an ancestor of the true dragons).

And what about the other Chromatic and/or Metallic dragons from AD&D/D&D v.3.5.
According to some, the lack of other metallic dragons is a defining point of BECMI/Mystara.
Also, there is a different interpretation to Dragons in Mystara than in, say, Dragonlance. Mystaran Dragons, as you can see in the MCA, are not necessarily aligned with their species -- they are individuals, and you can find evil Gold Dragons and good Red Dragons, if rarely. There is no Tiamat and Bahamut, so there is no special relation between the five chromatic dragons.

Finally, it is worth noting that the Gemstone Dragons are different from AD&D Gem Dragons: see this thread for a report on their origins. Especially, they are not psionic like the standard AD&D counterparts, even under AD&D rules (see the MCA).

Since Dragons in Mystara have been subject to both natural and magic-induced evolution, there's no reason why there couldn't be other species, though probably not anywhere near the Known World.
Dragons on Mystara are quite rare, correct?
I would say they are no rarer than other settings. One in five peasants might have seen one flying in the distance, so no one doubts their existence.
Actually, not at all rare. There is an entire kingdom populated by a thousand dragons of all (non gemstone) colours in Norwold, several smaller dragon kingdoms overlap with the Known World humanoid nations, and dragons are part of the Thyatian air forces. Only Gemstone Dragons are truly rare in the entire world (a result of the events mentioned in the above linked thread). Some areas of Mystara do have few dragons, though, in particular the Savage Coast, but this is due to specific events -- in the case of the Savage Coast, an ancient war between the Great One (the chief Dragon Immortal) and the aranea, which led to the Red Curse. Nowadays, only mutant dragons such as the Red Hawk Dragons and Pyre the Vermillion Dragon live in the Savage Coast.

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Re: Mystaran Dragons?

Post by Spellweaver » Sun Mar 17, 2013 10:27 am

Though they are not actual dragons, there is also the Pocket Dragon and the Undead Dragon from the Creature Catalogue accessory. Most of the content therein is from various D&D Mystara modules, but I don't recall where Pockets Dragons and Undead Dragons were used officially the first time.
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Re: Mystaran Dragons?

Post by Cthulhudrew » Sun Mar 17, 2013 8:08 pm

Spellweaver wrote:Though they are not actual dragons, there is also the Pocket Dragon and the Undead Dragon from the Creature Catalogue accessory. Most of the content therein is from various D&D Mystara modules, but I don't recall where Pockets Dragons and Undead Dragons were used officially the first time.
Pocket dragons were originally from MSolo2: Maze of the Riddling Minotaur. I believe the Creature Catalog was the first appearance of the Undead Dragon, though.
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Re: Mystaran Dragons?

Post by Havard » Sun Mar 17, 2013 8:18 pm

While the Dragons Knightfall lists in the original post are probably the most common, Bruce Heard's article From Hatchling to Immortal Guardian (From Dragon Magazine) opened up to all kinds of Dragon variations existing at least in small numbers on Mystara:
Dragon Magazine wrote: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).
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Re: Mystaran Dragons?

Post by Spellweaver » Sun Mar 17, 2013 9:15 pm

Come to think of it, there is actually a Sea Dragon as well in the Creature Catalogue... ;)
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Re: Mystaran Dragons?

Post by Knightfall » Sun Mar 17, 2013 11:16 pm

Havard wrote:While the Dragons Knightfall lists in the original post are probably the most common, Bruce Heard's article From Hatchling to Immortal Guardian (From Dragon Magazine) opened up to all kinds of Dragon variations existing at least in small numbers on Mystara:
Dragon Magazine wrote: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).
-Havard
Another article to add my reading list. :D
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Re: Mystaran Dragons?

Post by NPCDave » Mon Mar 18, 2013 6:21 am

I recall a bronze dragon made an appearance in the PWAS(post AD&D conversion) and there is a small brass dragon in the 3E Dungeon adventure that features the Lost City of Cynidicea.

Did anyone ever consider the Night Dragon breath weapon too weak? I think if I were to use one in my campaign it would have a choice between its current one and the 2E AD&D shadow dragon breath weapon(which is level drain). Because that is frickin terrifying.

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Re: Mystaran Dragons?

Post by hyrieus » Tue Mar 19, 2013 11:14 am

Bruce Heard on his blog has detailed one Alphatian province with a surfeit of dragons, Randel, and an article on aquatic dragons, featuring the Abyssal Dragon.

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Re: Mystaran Dragons?

Post by Sturm » Tue Mar 19, 2013 1:14 pm

What's puzzling about OD&D dragons is that there were originally six colours... if we suppose chinese mithology was the inspiration, they should have been five... also it's quite strange there is a gold dragon but not a yellow one... yet from a in-game point of view gold dragon could be really yellow-brown and the name gold only a convention, so there would be really no chromatic and metallic type division in Mystara...
Yet later the Onyx, Sapphire, Amber, Jade, Ruby and Cristalline dragons were introduced, thus balancing the groups of dragons based on alignment..
Amber, red, green and black are chaotic, Blue, Onyx, Jade and White neutrals, Gold, Sapphire, Ruby and Cristalline are lawful. Yet even the AD&D Mystara monster appendix said that the gold is the only metallic dragon in Mystara, the gemstone dragons have not psionic abilities like in AD&D and the dragons colours do not mean an unique allignment, indeed only the gold is predominantly good and the red predominantly evil, while all the others are predominantly neutral.
Yet later products, as already pointed out, contradicted all this placing a bronze and a brass dragon in Mystara... that could be discarded as a error, as almost certainly it was, but if someone would want to use the AD&D dragons I would propose these groups:
Type alignment habitat

Black C swamp, marsh
Blue N desert, open
Brown C desert https://www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.asp ... /20081024b
Green C jungle, woods
Grey C Mountains or barrens (FR Fang dragon)
Purple C shadowdeep (underdark)
Red C mountain, hill
White N cold regions
Yellow C desert, arid

Amber C coniferous forests
Amethyst N mountain lakes
Cristalline L glacier, arctic
Emerald L Tropical and subtropical extinct volcanoes
Jade N inhabited woods
Onyx N dark wetlands
Ruby L high mountains, underground
Sapphire L open, deep underground
Topaz C Temperate or cold seacoast

Brass N Arid desert and plain
Bronze L subterranean, lake shore, and sea shore
Copper N Arid and temperate hills and mountains
Electrum N Mountains or barrens
Gold L any habitat, clouds
Mercury N Temperate and subtropical/Mountains
Orium L ruins https://www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.asp ... x/20091102
Silver L mountains and clouds
Steel L Temperate cities

I would consider all the "metallic" subspecies of the golds, onyx a subspecie of the blacks, sapphire, purple and amethyst of the blues, emerald and jade of the greens, cristalline and grey of the whites and brown, amber, yellow, topaz and ruby subspecies of the reds... the original six would still be 90% of the mystaran dragons, another 9% the six original gemstone and only 1% all the others..

Other planar dragons that could rarely be found in Mystara:
Sun, Moon, Radiant and Stellar dragon (Spelljammer) Astral dragon, Shadow dragon, Rust dragon (Planescape), Moonstone dragon, Adamantite dragon, Ghost dragon and dracolich, Elemental dragons, Obsidian dragons and many more....
There is instead just one type of sea dragon, and they are few in AD&D too... these ones should be developed a lot more..
Ah, I see Bruce made a wonderful job here: http://bruce-heard.blogspot.it/2012/09/ ... agons.html as hyrieus said...
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Re: Mystaran Dragons?

Post by Knightfall » Tue Mar 19, 2013 8:20 pm

Sturm, I like that list. I'm going to use it for my Mystara.
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Re: Mystaran Dragons?

Post by NPCDave » Tue Mar 19, 2013 8:34 pm

Sturm wrote: I would consider all the "metallic" subspecies of the golds, onyx a subspecie of the blacks, sapphire, purple and amethyst of the blues, emerald and jade of the greens, cristalline and grey of the whites and brown, amber, yellow, topaz and ruby subspecies of the reds... the original six would still be 90% of the mystaran dragons, another 9% the six original gemstone and only 1% all the others..
I really like this idea of subspecies...it reminds me of Paizo's Dragon supplement for Golarion, where it discusses the dragon types and makes clear that all dragons can interbreed, with the dominant bloodline determining what "type" the dragon actually functions as. Thus there are black and green and white dragons that have red dragon bloodlines running through them.

Brass, bronze and silver dragons could be recessive genes in the gold dragon bloodline which only manifest in rare cases, resulting in a different metallic type. But should that dragon later mate its offspring would likely be gold again.

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Re: Mystaran Dragons?

Post by Sturm » Wed Mar 20, 2013 11:53 am

Thanks Knightfall.
Following NPCDave idea all the "metallic" dragons of Mystara could indeed be scions of the golds and other dragons:
Brass with brown
Bronze with green
Copper with red
Electrum with silver
Mercury with blue
Orium with amber
Silver with white
Steel with black

Brown dragons could be scions of red and blacks
Grey of black and white
Purple of red and blue
Yellow of gold and white

Amber could be scions of cristalline and red
Amethyst of cristalline and purple
Emerald of cristalline and green
Jade of gold and green
Onyx of cristalline and black
Ruby of cristalline and red
Sapphire of cristalline and blue
Topaz of cristalline and yellow

That could contradict the Dragonlord trilogy, but would be interesting because all the rare dragons would be therefore the descendant of some identifiable families/clans with precise history... I'll try to write something about this :)
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Re: Mystaran Dragons?

Post by Birchbeer » Wed Mar 20, 2013 12:40 pm

Sturm - the Rust dragon (Planescape) from the various write up I've read isn't so much of a dragon as an evolved rust monster. It's actually kind of cool that way, but I'm not sure if it would be considered a true dragon compared to the other breeds you have listed.

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Re: Mystaran Dragons?

Post by Sturm » Wed Mar 20, 2013 1:33 pm

Birchbeer wrote:Sturm - the Rust dragon (Planescape) from the various write up I've read isn't so much of a dragon as an evolved rust monster. It's actually kind of cool that way, but I'm not sure if it would be considered a true dragon compared to the other breeds you have listed.
Ah ok interesting, but that was just an example for "outsider" dragons that, even if very rare, could appear on Mystara from time to time (just to surprise PCs :) there are many in the various AD&D, 3ed and 4ed supplements to choose from...

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Re: Mystaran Dragons?

Post by Gecko » Mon Jan 04, 2016 12:00 pm

Sturm wrote:... would be interesting because all the rare dragons would be therefore the descendant of some identifiable families/clans with precise history... I'll try to write something about this :)
Did anything ever come of this subspecies/cross-breed idea Sturm?

I'm currently debating on whether or not I want to include the extra dragons in my mystara or not - I'm leaning towards not, but if this idea pans out I might include them.

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Re: Mystaran Dragons?

Post by Sturm » Mon Jan 04, 2016 1:57 pm

Yes, check Threshold issue 9 here: http://pandius.com/Threshold_9.pdf
In my Who's Who in the Wyrmsteeth part 2 article, page 111 and 112, I detailed the dragon breeds of the Hollow World, including some of the above and more.
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Re: Mystaran Dragons?

Post by Sturm » Mon Jan 04, 2016 2:02 pm

BTW I just saw the published table has an error I didn't notice before:
The correct table should have
Brass - Arid and desert - 14
as the second Metallic breed, while Topaz should be the last Gemstone breed.
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Re: Mystaran Dragons?

Post by willpell » Mon Jan 04, 2016 3:52 pm

Sturm wrote:also it's quite strange there is a gold dragon but not a yellow one...
Gold is the color of wealth and majesty, while yellow is the color of cowardice; few people refer to urine as "gold-colored", or speak of yellow as a "color of money". I personally think the phrase "yellow dragon" just sounds kind of stupid, but even beyond that individual reaction, there are very good reasons why such imposing creatures as dragons ought to have nomenclature which reinforces their status, rather than threatening to undercut it. Mocking a dragon for looking or sounding silly might result in that dragon destroying your entire village, but that's still less appropriately dragonlike than him just being so noble-looking that you can't make fun of him.

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Re: Mystaran Dragons?

Post by Sturm » Mon Jan 04, 2016 10:41 pm

The meaning of colour is different from culture to culture. Yellow is the colour of cowardice only in the US. In Italy, is usually associated with optimism, but also with envy. In Asia is the colour of happiness. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow
For dragons could well be the colour of daring courage.
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Re: Mystaran Dragons?

Post by willpell » Mon Jan 04, 2016 11:52 pm

The color presumably has different names in different languages. And if you're running a game in some other language, it's perfectly appropriate to use your country's terminology in ways that you think sound cool. A Xanthic dragon might well be quite imposing in a Greek-language game, and maybe the Mandarin word for "gold" sounds no more impressive than their word for "yellow" (or even isn't a separate word at all; I know pretty close to nothing of the Chinese languages).

But when using the English word "yellow", you're beholden to the associations that Americans, Britons, and to lesser extents Australians, Canadians, and a fair percentage of Indians have with those words, far more than you are to any foreign culture which is shaped by a completely different tongue. Even if the specific concept of a "yellow-bellied coward" started with cowboy movies, a generally negative connotation for yellowness clearly traces back to at least Renaissance-era England, when it connoted the jaundiced complexion of perennially sickly marsh-dwellers. Earlier than that, it might well have been most nearly associated with the color that paper turns as it ages. While it might have derived a context of richness from the medieval saffron trade, it was quite probably more commonly called by Norman-derived French terms in that era, with them falling out of favor as the crown shifted back toward English natives and anti-French sentiment settled in. (Of course, this is all speculation on my part.)

My point is, gold has had a pretty consistent connotation of wealth and power across virtually all civilizations, whereas yellow is at best the color of certain common wildflower (dandelions and daisy-hearts and the like) to the vast majority of people. And they might well know it as being among the hues of dung instead (I don't know how much that has to do with the amount of dyes and other chemicals in a modern diet, so this is just a guess; if not, then substitute sandstone and cornmeal and other such dirt-common things which are yellow-hued, and only slightly more worthy of respect). Certainly, with both blossoms and droppings being far more common day-to-day realities among peasant laborers than a pinch of saffron or an Oriental robe, they would probably use a "lowbrow" word for the nauseous earth tone they see on a regular basis, and anything in the same spectral range which seemed richly-tinted and suggestive of prestige, they'd probably name in honor of the metal that has been famously used for high-value coinage since time immemorial.

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