Excerpts 08/02/2006

Dragons of Faerun Excerpt
By Eric L. Boyd and Eytan Bernstein

The Year of the Dragons is upon us, and the Forgotten Realms setting has a few things to show us about those majestic and sometimes terrible creatures. In Dragons of Faerun this book, Dungeon Masters are given information on specific dragons of Faerûn and how they may interact with or fight against the players. Avid readers of our website will note that some of the dragons from the Wyrms of the North series written by Ed Greenwood and updated by Eric L. Boyd and Sean K Reynolds are mentioned or further updated in this book. Dungeon Masters also receive information on organizations that players can belong to or work against, like the evil Cult of the Dragon. Also included is information on how to run a campaign that features the Year of Rogue Dragons, the one time every thousand years the dragons of Faerûn rampage across the continent. The excerpts below include short history of dragonkind in the setting, the dragon Tchazzar, a few lair hazards, and two magic items.

Time of Dragons

In the wake of the Days of Thunder, dragons rose to rule Faerûn. Elven myth, recorded in the form of the Parwiccan Cycle, speaks of the Tearfall, thought to refer to a rain of meteors that fell from the sky. Some scholars interpret the ancient texts as suggesting the meteors precipitated a dramatic climatic change, which in turn sparked the rapid evolution of proto-dragons (little more than large lizards) into the varied forms of dragonkind known today. Others claim that the meteors were in fact falling dragon eggs, from which the varied races of dragonkind were born into this world.

The Time of Dragons, also known as the Dawn Ages, began circa -30,000 DR and lasted some six millennia. Individual dragons and dragon clans ruled large swaths of territory and battled with their rivals for control of the land, seas, and skies. The dragons of this age were devout followers of the draconic pantheon, and many wars of this period were fought over religious issues. Over time, however, religious fervor waned, as philosophers of different faiths came to the conclusion that the draconic deities were not the guardians and protectors of dragonkind, because they had allowed dragons to fight such genocidal conflicts in their name. The one draconic holy war that continued unabated was the Dragonfall War[RD], which pitted the followers of Bahamut against the spawn of Tiamat.

During this period of devastating warfare among the dragons of Faerûn, isolated pockets of formerly dragon-ruled territory fell under giant control. Over time, such giant-ruled kingdoms came to threaten the hegemony of dragonkind, leading to great battles between giant-ruled kingdoms such as Darchar, Grunfesting, Helligheim, Nedeheim, Ostoria, and Rangfjell, and dragon-ruled realms such as Caesinmalsvir, Darastriverthicha, and Tharkrixghontix. While Faerûn's dragons and giants battled for dominance of Toril, the smaller humanoid races began to carve out their own kingdoms. In one such instance, the Parwiccan Cycle speaks of the descendants of Tintageer, now known as moon and gold elves, who carved a realm from the northlands of Faerûn by defeating a red great wyrm named Mahatnartorian, Master of the Mountains.

The Time of Dragons drew to an end with the dawning of the Rage of Dragons. The High Mages of the Fair Folk hit upon a plan that involved the creation of a high magic effect tied to appearances of the King-Killer Star (also known as the Kingslayer Star among the Fair Folk) in the heavens. In an ancient citadel in the northernmost reaches of Faerûn, they created the Dracorage mythal, encompassing all Faerûn and periodically driving Faerûn's wyrms to madness. The King-Killer Star appeared in the heavens just often enough for the Dracorage mythal to disrupt the dominance of the dragon race over the continent, but not so often as to prevent the rise of humanoid kingdoms in the inter-Rage periods.

Under the King-Killer Star

In the twenty-five millennia that followed, the collective power of Faerûn's wyrms waxed and waned, but dragonkind never reclaimed its absolute rule over Faerûn. Every time individual wyrms or dragon clans sought to reestablish their dominance over large swaths of Faerûn, either the lesser humanoid races united to bring them down (see the Dragonmoots sidebar) or, failing that, the King-Killer Star returned to drive them into madness, destroy what they had wrought, and turn them against their own offspring. Only once did an allied group of dragons come close to unraveling the Dracorage mythal, but the long-forgotten wyrms of that day were turned aside by the sacrifice of nearly the entire subrace of avariels, who mustered a great crusade to fly north and defend the ancient citadel that housed the Dracorage mythal capstone.

Although exceptions are recorded throughout history, in time the majority of Faerûn's dragons came to occupy the niche of top predator, not king. Notable exceptions include Anaglathos, who ruled over Turmish for six years; Kisonraathiisar, who ruled over Westgate until the Year of Bold Poachers (-349 DR); Tchazzar, who ruled over Chessenta for nearly a century (and has now returned); and Ylveraasahlisar the Rose Dragon, who ruled over Calimport for a century.

The last Rage of Dragons unleashed by the King-Killer Star unfolded in the Year of the Dracorage (1018 DR). The last Flight of Dragons occurred over the Dalelands and the Moonsea in the Year of the Worm (1356 DR).

Dragonfall War

Although the Time of Dragons is long forgotten, even among the most ancient of great wyrms, the ancient conflict between Tiamat and Bahamut has continued, increasing and decreasing in intensity over time, gradually subsuming other races and cultures as well.

The last great era of conflict between the Platinum Dragon and the Chromatic Dragon raged from -2087 DR to -1071 DR, during the first millennium of the Untheric empire. Tiamat's cult was brought to Faerûn (at least among humans) by the Mulan. The clergy of Enlil preached that Tiamat was the Nemesis of the Gods, and she was blamed by the god-kings for every setback Unther experienced as it rose to greatness and then decayed over the centuries. Tiamat battled an Untheric alias of Bahamut, known as Marduk the Justice Bringer, time and again, but neither wyrm could prevail.

In -1,071 DR, the Untheric pantheon marched to war against the deities of the orc pantheon in a cataclysmic conflict that saw the death of many gods. During the final Battle of the Gods, Tiamat launched a surprise attack against Gilgeam while he battled Ilneval. The ever-vigilant Marduk intervened, killing Tiamat before she could land a death blow against Gilgeam, but at the cost of his own life.


The proud but now-vanishing tradition of Dragonmoots is much sung of when dwarves empty tankards. Of old, Dragonmoots were "called" (by messenger-dwarves sent from one dwarf clan to another) whenever the leader of a dwarf clan decided that a particular dragon was too bothersome to be left alone any longer and too powerful for a clan to risk tackling alone.

Most Dragonmoots involved two or three dwarf clans, the elders of all meeting to decide just how a specific dragon would be fought, and how its hoard would be divided after victory (and such forays almost always ended in victory). Adventurers from the ranks of the clan would be asked to lead the attack, bolstered by the axes of old dwarves desiring to die in battle and the frightened strength of younglings wanting to prove themselves worthy, in the eyes of their clan, of becoming warriors.

Clan elders encouraged Dragonmoots as occasions when dwarf clans would meet, feast together, discuss trade, cast eyes on eligible dwarves of other clans, and "take measure" of each other (marking the likenesses and characters of important dwarves for future diplomatic use). It took as many as seven clans to defeat some wyrms, and more than one dragon ravaged those sent against it.

Dragonmoots began to fade when dwarves grew too few to dare openly challenge dragons (except as members of "crazed adventuring bands"), and certain clan elders grew too suspicious of other dwarves, and of the risks of gathering anywhere, to enthusiastically support future moots. However, several clans revived the old practice during the recent Rage of Dragons, since the Thunder Blessing has increased the ranks of their warriors.

In the wake of the Battle of the Gods, the Platinum Dragon was reduced to the rank of celestial paragon[BoED] (with divine rank 1 if celestial paragons are considered demigods in your campaign), and the Chromatic Dragon was reduced to the rank of archfiend[BoVD] (with divine rank 1 if archfiends are considered demigods in your campaign). Marduk's church vanished entirely, his name remembered only as one of the Old Ones of Unther, but Tiamat's cult survived after a fashion. As Gilgeam grew increasingly tyrannical, the people of Unther never forgot the Nemesis of the Gods and they increasingly turned to her in secret for succor.

Followers of the Scaly Way

In the Year of Fell Pearls (887 DR), a former Chosen of Mystra named Sammaster became convinced that dead dragons would one day rule Toril, a path he named the Scaly Way. Sammaster created his first dracolich in the Year of Queen's Tears (902 DR), and the ranks of the Cult of the Dragon soon swelled. In the years that followed, Sammaster suffered a series of setbacks, but the Cult of the Dragon continued to follow his teachings. (Further details on the history of the Cult of the Dragon can be found in Chapter 3.)

After his last defeat in the Year of the Blacksnake (1285 DR), the lich Sammaster returned to unlife once again thanks to the magic of his phylactery. Once he did, however, Sammaster saw little point in resuming command of the Followers of the Scaly Way immediately, for he had tried that path before. The founder of the Cult of the Dragon was frustrated by the inability of the secret society, strong in magic but numerically weak, to stand against its foes, and by the reluctance of many evil dragons to embrace his vision of a future when they, as undead dracoliches, would rule supreme. Plainly, he needed a new strategy, and he sought inspiration in ancient texts and places of power.

Return of the Dragon Queen

In the Year of the Bloodbird (1346 DR), after centuries of silence from the Dragon Queen, the few remaining followers of the Nemesis of the Gods successfully summoned an aspect of Tiamat known as the Dark Lady to Unther, an event that had been heralded centuries before by Ochir Naal, prophet of Tiamat. Over the next dozen years, the Dark Lady secretly fomented rebellion throughout Unther, seeking to overthrow the hated Gilgeam, and the ranks of her followers swelled once again (elevating her to the rank of demigod).

Unknown to her followers in Unther, the Dragon Queen had her own reasons for finally answering their prayers. While the Church of Tiamat grew in opposition to the despotic rule of Gilgeam, the Dragon Queen turned her baleful gaze to Sammaster's studies, in which she saw suggestions of mad genius. Through subtle hints and divinely inspired bursts of intuition, Tiamat helped Sammaster rediscover the secrets of the Dracorage mythal without revealing to him that his discoveries were shaped by the claws of a dark god. In time, roaming the Moonsea region and the Cold Lands in disguise, Sammaster discovered the existence of the Dracorage mythal and its secrets. As Tiamat had hoped, he set about harnessing the power of the Dracorage for his own ends.

Time of Troubles

In the Year of Shadows (1358 DR), the Avatar Crisis forced the gods of Toril to walk among their followers in mortal form, upsetting many divine machinations, including those of the Dragon Queen. During the Time of Troubles, Gilgeam destroyed Tiamat, seemingly ending her threat to his eternal rule. In truth, however, Tiamat's essence was splintered among three powerful dragons in the region. The largest of the three, Tchazzar, consumed the other two, therefore meeting the conditions the Dragon Queen had laid down in advance. Tchazzar was thereby transformed into Tiamat anew.

The Fall of the Gods also returned Bahamut to the land in avatar form for the first time since the death of Marduk. During his sojourn on Faerûn, the Platinum Dragon caught wind of Tiamat's brewing plots, which presaged a resumption of the Dragonfall War.

Rise of the Dragon King

In the Year of Serpent (1359 DR), Gareth Dragonsbane, future king of Damara, and his adventuring companions returned from an expedition to the Abyss, having stolen the Wand of Orcus, shattered it in the blood of an avatar of Tiamat (checking her plans once again), and returned to Damara with the blessing of Bahamut. Gareth brought with him the Tree-Gem, which, once planted, represented Bahamut's covenant to protect Damara against the influence of demons as long as the kingdom of Damara allied itself with the forces of good. In so doing, Gareth brought to Damara a measure of peace and freedom from demonic meddling that the rest of the Demonlands has never experienced.

As Bahamut had hoped, the planting of the Tree-Gem sparked renewed interest in his teachings among the nondragon races. In the years that followed, good-aligned mortals across Faerûn heard the Call of Bahamut, and many pledged themselves to the service of the Platinum Dragon. The elite became platinum knights[Dra] or vassals of Bahamut[BoED]. Some of those who were called by Bahamut chose to undergo the Rite of Rebirth, transforming themselves into a long-forgotten race known as the dragonborn[RD]. As the ranks of his followers swelled, Bahamut rose in power, assuming the rank of lesser deity once again, while Tiamat did the same.

The planting of Bahamut's Tree-Gem also drew the attention of the Dragon Queen. In response, Tiamat dispatched an avatar to Castle Perilous in the cold wastelands of Vaasa. Scores of chromatic dragons heeded her call and descended on the ruined fortress. With their participation, the Dragon Queen initiated a massive breeding program, creating all manner of spawn of Tiama, horrifying monstrosities that had not been seen in Toril since the Battle of the Gods. The spawn of Tiamat then spread far and wide. (Several varieties of spawn of Tiamat are presented in Monster Manual IV. Two new ones -- the bluespwan stoneglider and the redspawn birther -- are in this book.)

Year of Rogue Dragons

In the Year of Rogue Dragons (1373 DR), Sammaster finally completed his transformation of the Dracorage mythal, tying his phylactery to the chamber that served as the capstone of the ancient Dracorage mythal so that the mythal's effects were no longer constrained by the appearance of the King-Killer Star in the heavens, but linked instead to his own life force. Only dracoliches would remain unaffected by Sammaster's endless, ever-intensifying Dracorage, and wyrms of every species would have to ally themselves with the Cult and accept transformation into the form of a Sacred One, or suffer permanent madness. The lich then set about reasserting his control over individual Cult of the Dragon cells across Faerûn. From the isle of Tan in the Pirate Isles to Dragonback Mountain, northernmost peak of the Riders to the Sky mountains, Cult members transformed their secret strongholds into laboratories in which dozens if not hundreds of dragons could be transformed into dracoliches in a short period of time.

As the Rage of Dragons spread and worsened, chromatic dragons across Faerûn either succumbed to its effects and turned on whoever crossed their path or desperately embraced the Dragon Cult as an alternative. Rampaging wyrms wreaked great destruction across Faerûn, from As'arem to Calimport and from Asavir's Channel to the Tannath Mountains, but Sammaster's guiding hand focused their destruction on Damara, Impiltur, Narfell, Sossal, Vaasa, and the Cold Lands north of the Moonsea. Communities such as Bloodstone Pass, the Monastery of the Yellow Rose, Uluvin, and Ylraphon were destroyed or nearly so by dragons who succumbed to madness, and other groups, such as the Thousand Fists orc tribe of the Nether Mountains and the navies of Cimbar and Soorenar, were decimated by the dragons' wrath.

Lareth, sovereign of the gold dragons, called for a great council in the Galena Mountains, where he unveiled his plan for all the metallic dragons to enter a magical slumber until the Dracorage subsided, as his kind had done time and again. (While many elder metallic dragons had the magical ability to flee to another plane, due to long-standing draconic traditions regarding territorial claims, they did not do so, fearing the effect of "abandoning" territory on the Material Plane to their hated chromatic cousins.) Although many wyrms agreed with the King of Justice, a few rebels rejected this approach, maintaining (thanks to subtle hints from the Lord of the North Wind) that this episode of Dracorage was like no other and would last forever. Displaying the first tinges of madness, Lareth threatened to use his minions to coerce or destroy any dragon who resisted. In time, the great gold wyrm Tamarand, second only to Lareth, was forced to destroy the King of Justice, but he refused the mantle of royalty.

Only the gem dragons largely escaped the effects of the Dracorage, for they had the power (and the willingness) to flee to the Inner Planes for however long it lasted. However, a few waited too long and succumbed to the effects of the Dracorage as well.

As Sammaster's plot unfolded with astonishing swiftness, a group of heroes led by Dorn Graybrook (CN male half-iron golemMM2 [augmented Vaasan human] fighter 10/ranger 3) and Karasendrieth (CG female adult song dragon sorcerer 3/bard 2) worked to unravel the effects of Sammaster's Art. In locales such as the Gray Forest, the Monastery of the Yellow Rose, Northkeep, and Thar, the heroes retraced Sammaster's path, seeking the lore first found by the lich that allowed him to manipulate the Dracorage mythal.

Eventually, the allies discovered how to counter the Dracorage mythal (using the spell abate Dracorage*) and turned their efforts toward finding the Dracorage mythal's capstone. Their search led them to a lost elf city in the Novularond Mountains in the heart of the Great Glacier and from there, through a portal, to the ancient citadel in the northernmost reaches of Faerûn in which the mythal had been raised millennia ago. After a great battle with Sammaster and his summoned planar dragon allies, the heroes prevailed, destroying the lich, his phylactery, and the Dracorage mythal once and for all, thereby forever ending the magical madness that had long afflicted the dragons of Faerûn.

Turning of the Great Cycle

In the wake of Sammaster's Rage of Dragons, Faerûn's wyrms returned to their lairs, greatly reduced in number. Many had died unleashing orgies of destruction on the lesser races of Faerûn. Others had embraced dracolichdom, and some now found themselves magically beholden to the Dragon Cult's Wearers of Purple. Few among the dragonkind races realized that Tiamat had set in motion the events that led to the destruction of the Dracorage mythal, but word quickly spread that Sammaster and the Cult were behind the most recent rage (thanks to skilled rumormongering by both the Harpers and the Church of Tiamat). Even fewer realized the end of the Dracorage marked the Turning of the Great Cycle, the long-foretold resumption of religious fervor among dragonkind.

In the Year of Lightning Storms (1374 DR) Faerûn was beset by great lightning strikes the length and breadth of the continent. At least some of those lightning strikes marked the impact points of an unusual year-long rain of meteors. In a series of visions, Bahamut and Tiamat instructed their respective followers to seek out such sites, for each contained some form of draconic egg within. In the months that followed, the Church of Tiamat recovered more than half of the eggs of the latest Tearfall and brought them back to the Altar of Scales in Unthalass in preparation for the looming war. The rest were lost, hatched on their own, or recovered by followers of Bahamut.

Now, with Faerûn still reeling from the aftereffects of Sammaster's rage, the Dragonfall War threatens to erupt anew, pitting the followers of Bahamut and Tiamat against each other in an ancient holy war last fought centuries ago, while the Church of Tiamat and the Wearers of Purple struggle for control of Sammaster's legacy.

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