Campaign of the Month: May 2016
The scaly skinned or “lizard” races can generally be divided into four groups – Dragons, Drakes, Dragonkin and Kobolds.
Although there is a wide mix of soft skinned and scaly skinned races throughout Midgard, it could be said that the essential world conflict/relationship is between these two types. There is a major front at the heads of the Ruby Sea where the expansionist Mharoti empire meets the developing nations of the Magdar Kingdoms, The Crossroads and the Rothenian Plains. In some places within Midgard, at least some sections of each race group may live in harmony, but racial equality is rare. Zobeck prides itself on being accepting of all races and yet Kobolds are generally looked down upon. In the Mharoti empire, even although a human Sultana rules, the strict class system places soft skinned beings in the lower rungs. The dichotomy prevails.
The Dragons of Midgard are said to have originated from beyond the Dragoncoil mountains to the south and east of the Ruby Sea. They are linked to the elements of fire, earth, air and water and believe they are lawful inheritors of Ouroborus. They move with the power of Azuran of the Four Winds, a God-like concept perpetuated by the dragons and worshipped as a god, or as several gods, by the dragonkin and lesser races of the Mharoti Empire.
About 300 years ago, the dragons decided that raiding villages was beneath them and that true power would be better claimed by unification. Mharot the Founder discussed and negotiated with the other great dragon lords (The Morza) and the Mharoti Empire was formed. They started expanding, and many great kingdoms were crushed in the Dragon Wars, with the Mharoti Empire taking hold in the lands south of the Magdar Kingdoms that had once been the Kingdom of Illyria.
Because none of the dragons could really trust each other completely, they each remained in control of their various Provinces beyond the Dragoncoil Mountains and the rulership of the Mharoti Empire was entrusted into the hands of a dragon-blooded human, whom they named Sultan. This Sultan was given total power over the kingdom but was in fact a pawn to the will of the Morza, although due to the fact that the Dragon Lords would otherwise fight against each other, the rulership was respected by each of them.
The avarice, greed and aggression of the new Mharoti Empire was keenly felt when expansion continued into the lands around the Ruby Sea. Tribute was demanded of The Ruby Despot and Perunalia, the great cities of Roshgazi and Cindass were destroyed and even the divine realm of Nuria-Natal was attacked. However, it was here that the dragons over-reached themselves, for the Nurian counter-attack, led by physical Gods of the South, supported by resurrected Priest-Kings, defeated the mighty Mharoti armies, holding the expansion at bay.
Presently the Mharoti Empire is ruled by Sultana Casmara Azrabahir and massive expansion has been held back beyond the borders of the southern Magdar Kingdoms but the avarice of the dragons is not diminished and raiding armies will still regularly plunder the lands and kingdoms around the Ruby Sea, so that there is an uneasy tension in the region. MCS p13
Possible evolutionary offshoots from the original pseudodragon, drakes are a “lesser” form of their related dragon cousins and are generally widespread throughout Midgard. There are three main types – Esoteric, Geographic and Material.
ESOTERIC DRAKES are usually the most closely associated with humans. Some may even be friendly, although they are a strange group that usually embody some idea or experience like performance, brokered dreams, even life and death. They are commonly obsessed with a single thought or idea.
GEOGRAPHIC DRAKES embody the features of an area they inhabit and, befitting the size and majesty of the terrain they represent, they tend to grow larger than other drakes. Traditionally, they have the most typically draconic attitudes, only tolerating those who choose to live in total harmony with the region they call their own.
MATERIAL DRAKES represent common manufactured objects found in civilization: ash, gears, paper, steam, and so forth. Their associated material reflects on their general attitude toward the other creatures they share space with.
Drakes are always treated by their true dragon cousins as lesser beings and there are some 20,000 drakes serving under the 500 dragons of the Mharoti Empire. However, not all drakes serve the dragons and throughout all of the kingdoms, many drakes may be found that live independently of their greater dragon cousins. Geographic Drakes directly oppose true dragons most often, and tend to be the largest, often accumulating treasure much like their larger cousins, and living apart from most humanoid societies. However, many of the Esoteric and Material Drakes are intrinsically linked to human society and live in harmony with humanoids, either as accomplices, servants or familiars. There is a gang of Ash Drakes that live in the foundry chimneys of Zobeck, even though they would naturally be found in active volcanoes. The Ash Drakes of Zobeck clean and maintain the foundry stacks of the Gear District in return for free roam of the rooftops and ashbins, and Seliphuress, leader of the gang, may share what she sees from her sooty perch in return for generous donations of treasure.
Alehouse Drakes can be found in busy inns and taverns throughout Midgard. They usually enjoy pushing patrons’ emotions and driving crowds to ecstatic cheers or bloody bar fights, and may be either bane or blessing to the barkeeper of the place where they live. Candle Drakes and Lantern Dragonettes are small drakes that are usually found among arcanists and some politicians and may be either scribes or familiars. They were notably common around the Margreve but also in the City of Bemmea, where a large number of arcanists exist.
The city of Zobeck is noted as fielding a high concentration of the relatively rare Gear Drake. These work well with other drakes, as well as with humanoids who share their work ethic and perfectionism. In many of the Gear District industries, they work alongside Steam Drakes, Ash Drakes, Glass Drakes and Paper Drakes to produce high quality work in co-operation with humanoids, accepting treasure as reward but always maintaining total control of the projects on which they are working. Although they have metallic scales that appear to be joined and held together by bumps that resemble rivets, they are indeed creatures of flesh and blood. BOD p5
Example: Sand Drake
Large Drake (Geographic) Habitat: Sarklan Desert; Environment: Shallow Underground
Although uncommon, the sand drake is the apex predator of the Sarklan Desert and is a masterful ambush predator. It usually hunts on its own and will often lie in wait, perfectly still and almost invisible on known trails, attacking stragglers to the rear of caravan trains travelling through the desert.
Dragonkin are most commonly found in the Mharoti Empire and are commonly thought to be a consequence of its founding. As the youngest of the sentient races, they have become well known for their greed and arrogance, and make formidable foes, being larger, stronger and more powerful than their smaller kobold cousins. Most serve directly in the armies of the Sultana of Mharoti but they have spread beyond the Dragon Empire and now may be found throughout the south and east of Midgard.
They are scaly skinned and clawed, and divide themselves into four elemental types – Fire, Wind, Stone and Wave, having some natural resistance to elements of their own type. They tend to be slightly slower but stronger than most soft skinned humanoids of their size.
Due to the aggressive and expansionist nature of the Dragon Empire, they are generally seen as brutish enemies of the soft skinned races, although it is known that a few of them have broken away from their despotic armies and, although rare, rogue dragonkin may be found to be collaborators in small groups of adventurers in some parts of Midgard. MCS p25
Of the smaller races, the kobolds have adapted best to the changing world. Enslaved long ago by reaver dwarves, kobolds quickly carved a niche for themselves as miners, scouts and tinkerers – small enough to be useful and small enough to be dismissed as a threat. At first they were tolerated, then largely ignored. As a result, the shadows of dwarven society are rife with kobold rogues and entrepeneurs (many of them secret worshipers of Loki), seemingly subservient but busily trading dwarven goods for resources extracted from the dwarves’ own mines and storehouses, right under the noses of their alleged “masters”.
Free Kobolds defend their mines viciously, but otherwise maintain the ruse of a harmless and subservient little folk – at least until the opportunity to sheathe a knife in someone’s kidney presents itself. More than anything, kobolds are survivors. Their scaly skin and keen night vision, as well as their dextrous claws and sensitive snouts make them quick to sense danger, and their clawed feet move them out of danger with a cowardly speed.
They are merchants to both the Underdark and the surface world, with their greatest cities hidden deep below the earth. Their enemies are the diabolical gnomes and the dwarves, other mining races that seek to overthrow the kobold dominance of dark, rich territories.
Kobolds are deeply enamoured of their tools, and some kobolds spend a great deal of time, money and effort to improve them. Mining picks, hammers, Jeweller’s loups and even simple items like javelins and daggers are all named and treasured. But above all else, kobolds are master trapbuilders and few kobolds leave home without string, springs and other triggers for their traps.
Kobold societies are highly tribal and always ruled by kings. There are oh-so-many of these, but in larger societies, there is always a King of Kings, who rules as long as he may, until killed or overthrown, but usually never longer than ten years. The present kobold king of kings in Zobeck is the recently self anointed King Kuromak, who also holds a place as CONSUL OF ZOBECK.
In many ways, Kobolds are seen as underdogs in whichever society they live. Within the Mharoti Empire, they are casted below all others apart from the Jambuka (unscaled races) and even in the city of Zobeck, which prides itself on being a “FREE CITY” they are heavily discriminated against by the majority of the other humanoid populants. However, their utter tenacity and sheer numbers mean that they are always an important part of any society and only a fool would discount them completely. MCS p30
The Mharoti Empire Hierachy
The Mharoti Empire has a strict hierarchical caste system ranging from the lowest ranks up to the Highest Dragon Lords:
Jambuka – lowest ranks – unscaled races, e.g. humans, dwarves, gnolls, giants, etc.
Kobaldi – Kobolds
Sekban – low ranking dragonkin, dragon-blooded humans
Edjet – dragonkin swordmasters and elementalist wizards
Akinji – high ranking dragonkin and a few lesser drakes
Timarli – minor nobles, mainly dragons, drakes or wyverns
Urmanli – true dragons numbering around 500
The Morza – supreme dragon rulers whose opinions weigh heavily on the sultan
The Morza – the nine Great Dragonlords of the Empire:
Mharot the Founder, colossal male ancient fire dragon elementalist – Kalpostan Province
Ateshah, Heart of the Desert – colossal male great wyrm fire dragon – Gizmiri Province
Satarah al-Beldestani – small female star drake – Harkesh Province
Ibbalan the Illustrious – gargantuan wyrm male gold dragon ravener – Mezar Province
Lashmaraq Talshah – gargantuan female very old red dragon – Province of Hariz
Parsis the Hidden – huge adult male gold dragon – Betik Province
Ruzgar of Fog and Hungers – huge adult male cave dragon – Border Province of Zaldiri
Yiraz Azah the Cloud Chaser – gargantuan female old silver dragon – Province of Marea and the Islands
Glauvistus the Scourge – adult female fire dragon – New Province of Rumela, formerly Kingdom of Illyria