Article of the Week: Greater Dragon (Part 1)

Gonna try to start the Article of the Week back up again.  For the next two weeks I’ll be posting about greater dragons!  This was, honestly, the one I was working on a LONG time ago.  It became a huge article and I never actually finished it, but I hope to finish it!  For now, I’ll just post the life cycle information, since that is, as far as I recall, complete.

[[Greater dragon]]

A Dragon is a large reptilian creature with covered in thick, bony scales with four powerful claws, two large wings, a long tail and a head. Dragons are creatures of the elements and every dragon is attuned to one or more element.

Dragons are the bridge between the elemental and physical world, acting as ambassadors between the two. The greatest dragons are responsible for shaping Saros and nearly all life on it. Greater Dragons are also known as True Dragons and all dragons have very similar traits, but they are divided into three categories based on their differences: Primal Dragons, greater dragons, and and lesser dragons. Any creature that is related to dragons, has draconic qualities such as elemental sense, or resembles characteristics of a dragon but is not truly a dragon is considered to be Dragonkin.

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Life Cycle

A true dragon can live for around 1200 years while lesser dragons only live for a maximum a single draconic cycle which is 360 years. Few dragons of any type live for the full duration of their lifespan mostly dying due to starvation, predators, or competition before they reach maturity.

Eggs

Dragon’s usually lay eggs in clutches of four to ten eggs, six being the average. The numbers vary depending on the predicted survival rate of each egg in the clutch. Factors such as type of dragon, age of the parents, and the conditions of fertilization will also affect the number of eggs. Out of the eggs in a clutch only 70% will survive to hatch. Out of these eggs, only 50% are expected to live more than 5 years and only 20% will to live to reach sexual maturity.

Most eggs are laid in a nest within the female’s lair where the parents can guard and tend them. The eggs are buried in a protective mound of dirt, soil, sand, or material that can keep the eggs secure, protected and hidden. The incubation period lasts up to 700 days while the embryo draws energy from its nutrition sack as well as from the evanescence. The shell of the egg is hard durable coating that is resistant to damage. The shell is usually the colored to match the dragon or to be easily camouflaged within the nest. For example, a silver dragon’s egg will be a shiny metallic color with a layer of moss. The shell is about half an inch thick and measures between eight and sixteen inches long. Dragon eggs increase in size as they incubate.

Dragons sometimes leave their eggs untended. In such cases, the female takes great care to keep the nest hidden and safe. She or her mate might visit the area containing the nest periodically to ensure that the eggs and nest are safe, though it is not uncommon for the eggs to be completely abandoned. Certain breeds of dragons, instead, scatter their eggs across their domain in order to increase the survive of each individual egg. Should one be found, the rest would not be compromised.

Certain dragons prefer to keep their eggs inside of their uterus until they are ready to hatch, allowing them to incubate using their mother’s body heat. Once the eggs hatch she will push out the live whelpling, ready to face the world.

Hatchling (Age 0-3 years)

Once the eggs vitellus is consumed, the dragon can survive for several days within its shell, but the longer it remains inside the more difficult time the hatchling will have escaping, as it will exhaust its energy reserves to remain. Dragon hatchlings are forced to leave primarily for food and breaking through the shell is an ordeal in which the parents will not assist. Once free, the hatchling will consume its egg shell and seek additional sustenance. If the parents are around to care for their young a fresh kill may rest near the nest for the hatchlings to find and consume, otherwise they may consume parts of their nest, such as moss, plants, insects, rocks, or even their unhatched nest mates if necessary. A hatchling that has died within its shell is fair game so that the energy will not be wasted.

Hatchlings navigate by their sense of smell and sound. Their eyes are not completely developed and will not open for up to two hours. Once their eyes, their sight is still developing and they must continue to rely on sound for navigation. The dragons sense of sound has developed long before hatching and is highly developed by the time they hatch. With it, they are able to recognize sounds such as their parents voice or even the minute sound of their parents heart beat which they will seek out. This heightened sense of hearing makes them vulnerable as well. Single-tone high pitch sounds mesmerize young dragons, putting them in a trance-like state until it is interrupted. Afterward they will be temporarily resistant to the effect.

A baby dragon’s body is oddly shaped. Their claws and head seem oversized and their wings are small and frail. They will not even be able to flex their wings for several days and they will remain folded against their bodies. Eventually the dragon hatchling will begin to stretch, flex, and flap their wings once it is able, though whelplings are incapable of flight until their bodies are more proportional. To compensate for their lack of flight, younger dragons are particularly light and fast on the ground, allowing them to escape would-be predators. They will be capable of longer leaps aided by their wings by three months old. Soon after they will learn to glide reasonable distances and control their trajectory. Most dragons are able to maintain a few minutes of flight by 6 months old. During the first few months of a dragon’s life most of the growth is focused on strengthening their wings and muscles.

The scales of a fresh hatchling are soft and flexible providing little protection. As they age, the scales will become hard, tough plates capable of protecting the dragon from various attacks. This process significantly dulls the color of the scales so many dragons, especially those with metallic scales breeds, will polish their scales to keep them gleaming.

Dragons weigh anywhere from ten to twenty pounds when they hatch and are about the size of a large house cat. By the end of the first year they will weigh upwards of 100 pounds and be the size of a large dog. A dragons metabolism is a highly efficient furnace, but during its youth that furnace is still developing. Much of the nutrients consumed by the dragon go into perfecting this engine which, as well, gives them the ability to use a breath weapon. By three years of age the dragon will have developed a breath attack and entered the next phase of their development.

Whelpling (Age 3-8 years)

Usually around three years of age the dragon’s body has developed enough for it to begin using its breath attack. Most dragons this age do not have effective breath attacks and are inefficient to use, though they will occasionally practice its use when they have the energy to spare. Fire dragons will use their flame breath against captured or already slain prey in order to practice its use, ice dragons will start freezing their meals, and other dragons will use similar methods. Around this age their breath attack is used primarily as a display of strength and power against would-be predators. The whelpling requires a lot of energy to use their breath weapon, and so will usually only use small bursts and only a few in a day. Most of the energy consumed during this stage is to assist in the whelplings growth. By this age of five, they are capable of maintaining flight for up to an hour.

The dragon’s sense of sight has improved greatly as well. At this point they should be able to see nearly one and a half times as far as a human in any light condition. The dragon’s sight is also very sensitive to detail and movement, much like that of a hawk or other bird of prey. Around six to eight years of the dragon’s elemental senses become active.

Ethereal Blindness

Ethereal Blindness is an affliction that affects all dragons when their elemental sense, or ethereal senses begin to develop. occurring within the first years of life, usually around age six to eight, the whelpling becomes overwhelmed with the sensation of the evanescence. The dragon usually can regain control of their senses within seven days but they are extremely aggressive and dangerous while they are effectively senseblind.

Onset time varies depending on the species of dragon, but most begin to see colored shapes and detect strange smells. These intensify and the dragons sight becomes fuzzy and blurred as the haze takes over their senses. The effect causes extreme stress and headache usually leading the dragon to attempt to rest to bypass the effect. Full onset occurs within 24 hours of the first symptoms. The dragon can no longer see or smell the regular world and they see the evanescence which drives them into a form of dementia. The dragon becomes extremely hostile to their new environment and the overwhelming senses. Isolation is recommended as the dragon will attack even those that are close to them, including their own parents.

After 48-72 hours, the dragon may begin to regain control of their senses allowing them to recognize the familiar sights and smells. Time and practice is required for them to maintain control and separation of their senses. Eventually they can learn to associate their ethereal senses with normal senses such as recognizing the smell of certain magics. It can even serve as an additional method to identify specific races or individuals.

Once controlled, the dragon can learn to strengthen or deaden their ethersense based on their needs. Most young dragons keep it very dulled and use their standard senses primarily, but as the dragon gets older it can handle a more active ethersense. It is possible for the dragon to become completely dependent on ethersense. Physically blind dragons may use their regular and ethereal senses to replace lost sight. Some dragons prefer the information provided by their ethersense over standard senses as their regular senses are more easily deceived. Ethersense development marks the completion of this phase of the dragon’s life.

Whelp (Age 8-15 years)

Within a few months of developing their elemental senses, a true dragons consciousness begins to awaken. They become less animalistic and feral as their brain develops further. The dragon gains sapience and intelligence increases dramatically clearly separating it from its lesser brethren. Some dragons choose to hide their intelligence in order to protect themselves.

The dragon’s connection with the elements continues to grow. It is around this time that dragons begin to truly feel the flow of energy in their bodies and some experiment and dabble with these new abilities, increasing their power. Still, the dragons physical prowess coupled with their natural elemental abilities, such as their breath attack, makes them very potent enemies and some prefer to focus on their physical strength. Might has much more sway for a dragon of this age though a few breeds do work on their elemental energies.

By this point the dragon has left their home and begun exploring the world around them. They are capable of flight for up for several hours without exhausting at this point and they will be eager to expand their mind and knowledge. It is during the latter part of this stage that they begin understanding language as well. Draconic comes completely naturally to them, even without parents there to teach them as it is such an ancient language it is embedded in their very spirits. Their growing mind is also quick to grasp even complex concepts and the language of other species is quickly learned as well especially if they are immersed in it.

Wyrmling (Age 15-50 years)

This is the last stage of a dragon’s adolesence. The dragon continues to grow in physical, mental, and spiritual strength. Their bond with the elements increases which in turn increase the strength of their breath attack and spells that they have practiced. The wyrmling continues to lust for knowledge and some may attempt to obtain it from humans, elves, or other intelligent races. Their methods are not always understood or welcome and the dragon will be quick to learn that they are not welcome or quick to perish. Very few dragons survive to grow out of adolesence.

Around 25 years for females, and 30 years for males, dragons reach sexual maturity. At this point they are capable of copulating and producing offspring but this seldom occurs. During this time period they are much more concerned with learning of their origins, their history, and the history of the world around them. Many dragons in this age range find information and mental challenges much more rewarding than purely physical endeavors.

On the rare occasion that a dragon of this age does breed, it is usually forced by the male and the female will only produce one to three eggs. The strength of the ties to the elemental planes are not strong enough to pass on to a larger clutch. Dragons will usually seek other dragons as mates or friends but purely for intellectual purposes. The sharing of knowledge between dragons is a long tradition that helps satisfy the greater lust for knowledge and power. These mates may last a few weeks or a few years as they share as much knowledge with each other as possible. It is usually during this time that wyrmlings hear the tales of a game played among their kind known as Dragon’s-Claw in which the dragons earn power, prestige, and knowledge through manipulation. This mind game draws in many of their kind who seek to expand their intellect, abilities, and make their name known.

Juvenile (Age 50-360 years)

As the dragon continues to age, its mind and body continue to grow. The lust for knowledge and mental stimulation continues as the dragon ages. Most dragons, by this point, have been pulled into the game of Dragon’s-Claw if not for prestige, then purely to keep their expanding mind occupied. By their adulthood most dragons will have established a territory and lair to call their own; a place which they can feel safe and rest without worry of danger. By their upper adulthood, a dragon may have had more than one consort, though reproduction is still very rare. Female dragons in this age range have gained a significant level of control over their reproductive cycle and have the ability to choose whether or not mating will produce offspring.

Adult (Age 360-720 years)

As the dragon transitions to adulthood, it bodies go through a series of physical and metaphysical changes. Most dragons entering their adulthood feel the need to mate and reproduce, but they are very particular about their mate. In a majority of the cases the dragons already have a long established bond with another of their kind. Some dragons may seek out a mate or friend that they have previously known and attempt to court them.

The bond between two dragons must extend beyond physical limitations to produce true dragon offspring. It is necessary for there to be a emotional and spiritual bond which takes decades to develop. Female dragons are usually unwilling to mate or bear offspring if they do not feel this bond exists because they know that the young dragons must have these bonds in order to fully develop. It is this method that the parents are able to pass more than just genetic information to their offspring, giving them a portion of the knowledge that they have acquired and linking them to the elemental world. It also allows them to awaken mentally, developing far beyond any normal animal or reptile. Without this bond between the parents, the young would be nothing more than an animalistic lesser dragon, never awakening to experience the true light of the world.

Wyrm (Age 720 – 1080)

During the Wyrm phase of a dragon’s life they usually grow out of Dragon’s-Claw. They realize that those that they are manipulating are not mere pawns and they all have stories and lives of their own which the dragon should not meddle. The dragon may do their best to get their pieces out of play, or simply stop trying to interact with the game at all. Some dragons have been known to attempt to destroy the game. Regardless of their choice, most dragons are so consumed in the game by this point that there is no true way to escape it.

The physical and magical abilities of a dragon peaks during its wyrm cycle. Its scales are as strong as they will ever be and an excellent size for crafting armor and weaponry.

Twilight (Age 1080-1170 years)

The last century of a dragons life is usually spent offering its knowledge to the world. Dragons are willing to share the knowledge that they have gained over the millennium of their life to any who seek it, though some may only share it with those that they feel are worthy. The dragon is willing to tell its story or even the stories of others to those that are willing to listen. However, the long life that the dragon has lead means it has much to tell and dragons in their twilight want to share as much knowledge as possible. This leads the dragon to tell long, drawn out stories filled with unrelated rambling, tangents, and details that in which non-dragons may not have interest. Younger dragons prize the opportunity to learn from such an experienced individual.

By this point the dragon’s body has begun preparations to for death making it weaker, though still very potent. Most dragons supplement this physical weakness with elemental and mental prowess which makes them far more threatening to the unprepared. The senses of the dragons grow weaker as well, leaving it to focus more on its elemental sense. This is all in preparation for death, as older dragons who focus more on elemental sight learn more and more about what to expect.

Death (Age ~1170 years)

Because dragons have an intimate connection with the world around it, the death of a dragon is never a simple thing; it is a metaphysical event, driven by the creature’s natural connection to the spirit of the world. A powerful dragon’s death ripples energy through the evanescence and can be felt, or perhaps even seen, by individuals with the capacity of perceiving such an event. The immediate family of the dragon that live within a certain radius, depending on the dragons power, know that their relative has passed.

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