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Thread: You're a Dragon? Really?

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    Default You're a Dragon? Really?

    One of the tropes of some of the fantasy I've read or watched is intelligent (sometimes hyper-intelligent) is dragons who can, through learned magic or innate ability, assume human form and live a good portion of their lives that way. The Golden and Ancient Dragons of the anime series Slayers are an example: a Golden Dragon is a major character in the third series and when interacting with the other characters usually does it as human (although sometimes her tail sticks out of her skirt when she's upset, she otherwise looks very human). Taking a human form does make dealing with humans easier (if nothing else they aren't as likely to flee in terror or attack at first sight of you) and enables many activities that dragons who are only dragon-formed would find more difficult (like using their hoard for investment banking -- sooner or later everyone important will owe you money and/or favors, and woe to the King or merchant prince who tries to default!).

    What would such a character look like in BRP? And is there a way to build a somewhat less experienced one (like the dragon mentioned above, who was young, inexperienced and naive to a fault) as a player-character (an older one would probably overwhelm the rest of the party in terms of spotlight time, and is better as an NPC adversary or patron)?

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    This would be interesting for sure. I would think you'd have to house-rule a spell or natural ability that allows dragons to do so. Maybe make a specific kind of dragon that is capable of such transformations while others are not.
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    Quote Originally Posted by auyl View Post
    This would be interesting for sure. I would think you'd have to house-rule a spell or natural ability that allows dragons to do so. Maybe make a specific kind of dragon that is capable of such transformations while others are not.
    Perhaps the hyper-intelligent variety of dragon (in Slayers dragons, depending on species, can by hyper-intelligent near-angels or animalistic beasts -- the beasts are wild animals who generally don't collect treasure but are sometimes used to guard it -- they're still powerful, can make a lot of trouble, and need to be slain every so often) has their own style of magic. In such cases, many things associated with dragons (like breathing fire) are actually spells -- albeit spells that could be innate to an extent that they might as well be inherent. They might be able to teach especially favored humans a few of their spells, including how to breathe fire to a limited extent, but their most potent magics they reserve for themselves.

    And in some campaigns that type of dragon might indeed have an inherent link to the divine (or the infernal) -- even being the source of certain types of human magic.

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    Both the gold and silver dragons of D&D often assume human form, especially when dealing with humans.
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    Quote Originally Posted by threedeesix View Post
    Both the gold and silver dragons of D&D often assume human form, especially when dealing with humans.
    Bronze can change shape too, but I think they prefer animals shapes over humanoids.

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    Another pop cultural instance is the independent comic book Southern Knights, in which one of the superheroes is actually a dragon who somehow forgot who he really was while in human form. The Slayers, Southern Knights, and D&D aside, dragons assuming human form is common in Eastern mythology. Like fairies in Western mythology who have palaces underground or in a grove of trees, it isn't uncommon for dragons to have a sumptuous palace beneath a sacred lake or among the clouds, where they assume human form and occasionally entertain respectful human guests in high style.

    We already have other werebeasts in the rules. Doing a dragon would follow similar guidelines, with the dragon form being the "real" one. Human-form dragons would be long-lived like elves but not necessarily invulnerable. They'd tend to be richly dressed aristocratic sorts with fine manners, highly developed skills (from centuries of experience), not trying to hide anything but perfectly comfortable in either guise.
    Last edited by seneschal; February 2nd, 2014 at 02:41.

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    Quote Originally Posted by seneschal View Post
    Another pop cultural instance is the independent comic book Southern Knights, in which one of the superheroes is actually a dragon who somehow forgot who he really was while in human form. The Slayers, Southern Knights, and D&D aside, dragons assuming human form is common in Eastern mythology. Like fairies in Western mythology who have palaces underground or in a grove of trees, it isn't uncommon for dragons to have a sumptuous palace beneath a sacred lake or among the clouds, where they assume human form and occasionally entertain respectful human guests in high style.

    We already have other werebeasts in the rules. Doing a dragon would follow similar guidelines, with the dragon form being the "real" one. Human-form dragons would be long-lived like elves but not necessarily invulnerable. They'd tend to be richly dressed aristocratic sorts with fine manners, highly developed skills (from centuries of experience), not trying to hide anything but perfectly comfortable in either guise.
    Given that Slayers is Japanese that shouldn't be too surprising. Although it's clearly meant to be a spoof/riff on D&D (I remember someone joking that the heroine actually has an alignment -- "homicidal kelptomanic" -- in common with most D&D player characters....) there are Eastern elements too (Gourry comes from a long tradition of "sword-saints", his lack of intelligence concerning just about everything else turning the trope on its ear). The insertion of the Golden Dragons was a surprise, but in a way it made perfect sense, along with their backstory as semi-angelic figures who had fought (and mostly lost) a thousand-year war with a race of demons called the Mazoku.

    Of course, the most subversive thing about Slayers from a gaming perspective is that the creator of their universe wasn't benevolent but, for the most part, bored -- she made gods and devils, put humans in the middle, and set them in motion and contention essentially so she would be amused by their antics. If that's not a gamemaster's calling, I don't know what is.

    Can anyone give me a page reference for werebeasts in the BRP core rules, or are those rules world-specific and found in supplements?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Hopcroft View Post
    Can anyone give me a page reference for werebeasts in the BRP core rules, or are those rules world-specific and found in supplements?
    Page 350 in the BGB (hard-copy page number, not PDF page number). It's what I used as a base for my werewolf, altered a little with 2nd Ed. Ravenloft "Van Richten's Guide to Werebeasts."

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    Thanks. Looking at the Dragon listing in the BGB (Page 341 for those playing at home) I noticed that the raw ability scores give it a steady-state INT of 10. That's about average human. I think that for my purposes an improvement is in order.

    3d6+6 would give an average of 16-17. That would be a genius-level human, but not so overwhelmingly intelligent that it is completely beyond mortal affairs. The book suggests 4D6, which also provides a maximum of 24, but ironically probably produces a lower average (and you can always roll four ones, resulting in an alarmingly stupid but powerful dragon!).

    I think for this purpose I would use roll dragon stats (he wouldn't need to be in dragon form very often), make new human stats keeping the INT and POW, and then figure out the skills and magic. The dragon form and the human form both have the same skills; he knows all the stuff he knows in both forms, though he can't use every skill in both forms (most things that require human hands, for example, simply don't work with dragon claws). The draconic merchant banker, for example, knows all about finance whether he's a dragon or a man, but if he's trying to renegotiate your contract while being a dragon you'd probably better do what he asks!

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    Another game that does metamorphing dragons is the Palladium system. Not a great system I know, but if you're looking for examples, trying looking there. In that system, dragons can change into almost any shape for an average of 2-4 hours per level of experience. Of course BRP doesn't use levels or classes so you can adjust it that way and change the any form part into just human. You'll have to houserule the ability as it is so here's another option to consider if you want to widen your scope.
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