Io-Vol (A Dragon for My 52nd Birthday)

So, my inaugural post of 2016 is going to be about a dragon.  Are you surprised, dear reader?  You really shouldn’t be.  Today, I present unto you the Dreamwrath Dragon, Io-Vol.

When I got the 4E book, Draconomicon: Metallic Dragons, I was thrilled.  It was, yet, another jewel in my relatively extensive hoard of tomes.  It held the two lost metallic dragon-types that I love the best (the brass and the bronze).  It had draconians.  It had a cool dragon-led organization that attempted to control the portals to Sigil.  But the pièce de résistance was the picture of an artifact on page 79: the flask holding the Blood of Io.

The Blood of Io was held in a flask shaped like a sitting dragon with it wings folded at its back and its tail wrapped widdershins around its base.  The stopper of the bottle was a horned dragon that had two faces.  It appeared that the head of the dragon was going through mitosis and had yet to form two distinct wholes.  I loved it.

Now, I do not use the dragon creation mythology of the Forgotten Realms setting, so I had no use for the artifact as it was written.  The image was so compelling, it nigh demanded to be used in a game and since I could not use the artifact as it was, I took to looking for other ideas to help me use the Blood of Io (Draconomicon: Metallic Dragons PP 78-79)) in Rilmorn.  After much thought I added the Blood of Vol (a religion from the Ebberon setting (Eberron Campaign Guide, PP 248-251) and the dreambreath dracolich from Draconomicon: Chromatic Dragons (PP 78-79).  With all three parts, I crafted the history and powers of Io-Vol the Dreamwrath Dragon and her blood.

Io-Vol is a dragon, now, long lost to time, but age ago, she tormented her foes and terrified her children and allies by her power over dreams.  Io-Vol had the power to manifest in any of her descendants (literally, in anyone who bore her blood), as long that being was dreaming.  In addition to this power, Io-Vol was a powerful dream mage and had access to spells that could force her targets into REM sleep when ere she chose.  This gave her the ability to appear anywhere in the world at any time.

Only Io-Vol remembers who or what brought about her downfall, because only she is left.  Whoever or whatever killed all the beings that bore any kinship to Io-Vol.  While she was still a powerful spellcaster and enchanter, Io-Vol was rendered weak with her ability to travel freely and safely about the world taken from her.  Io-Vol knew it was only a matter of time before her enemies came for her, so she began to craft a magic flask to act as her touchstone to reality and a backup plan.

When Io-Vol finished her crafting, she filled it with her blood and sent it away.  She then began casting a series of spells and rituals that would render her immortal.  Before she finished her work, her enemies found her.  While they slew Io-Vol, theirs’ was a pyrrhic victory.  Io-Vol lived on in a dreamscape of her own making and was able to manifest in the material world once again, when beings began to use the artifact containing her blood, the Blood of Io-Vol.  With this power, she destroyed the last of her enemies, but lost the flask holding her Blood.  Io-Vol fell into a dreamless sleep and remained there, until the Blood of Io-Vol reappeared in the world.

The Blood of Io-Vol appeared in my game and was used by Feldspar, a shifter warden.  When he used its powers in combat, the Blood compelled him to eat the hearts of his fallen enemies.  In time, he and his fellow adventurers slew a dragon and Feldspar ate its heart.  Feldspar transformed into a dragon and became subject to Io-Vol’s dream magics when he fell asleep.  After an encounter with faery magic Feldspar shed his dragon form and hid the Blood of Io-Vol, but not before Io-Vol discovered and freed one of sons who had been trapped in a mirror of life trapping for centuries before Io-Vol fell to her enemies.

Io-Vol is becoming more active in the world of Rilmorn.  She is being drawn to Lord Doresh of the Fading Dream on Zentlan and to Metabular, a dragon in the dreamscape known as the Isle of Celstia.  Soon, she may make a new bid for power on her old home world.

Game On!

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D is for…

…Divlos, the continent where my desert campaign takes place?  …Dwarf, one of the Seven Races of Marn?  …Draakrill, the house that I have been designing for the last 30 years?  No.  People, I am Gregory.  D can only stand for one thing: Dragon!  I could just link to a previous post and call this topic covered, but that would be disingenuous.  So, here we go.

Fairy tales are more than true — not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten. — G. K. Chesterton, as quoted in Coraline (2004) by Neil Gaiman, epigraph.

Of course, dragons exist and can be beaten.  Ask Ray and Mike about the seven-headed dragon Babylon.  Christina, James, Hil, and Matt could tell you about the death of Menethesis, an argentyl dragon.  John, Thom, and Mike most likely remember the sea dragon that they slew and then turned its corpse into a boat.  Let us not forget that Charonus Eybender and the House of Wild Geese slew Tel-Mordin the Feared, not once, but twice.  Dragons can be beaten and they are, but not all dragons on Rilmorn are to be fought.

Some dragons exist as plot hooks or background.  Rick, Mike, and Thom might remember Dhivanara, the Dragon of the Purple Sands.  She was a dragon whose body was made up of time elementals and other chronally charged entities and she aged time-creatures were escaping from her form.  Dhivanara charged the party with traveling to the lair of Chronepsis, the Dragon of Fate, and steal her life glass and hide it in Castle Timeless, so that she would cease aging.  Chronpesis appeared multiple times in the Spellguard campaign.  Christina, James, Hil, and Matt may remember him watching the Battle of the Fall of Spellguard during their jaunt into the past.  Maybe they recall the time, Chronepsis appeared after Ghul tried to break the Past Scrying Brazier of the Kron by forcing it to look to the future?  If not either of those times, surely one of them will recall when they had to save Dhivara from the chronal assassins, so she could lay the egg in Spellguard that hatched the triple form of Chronepsis.  Both of these dragons are vastly powerful, but neither of them threatened the heroes, nor gave them great treasures.  Dhivanara always acted as a plot hook.  While Chronepsis did interact with the PCs, he was ultimately window dressing…a reminder that there are stronger and stranger things than the PCs out there.

Some dragons are NPCs.  Prince Vanik of Arkohsia is an orium dragon that appears to the world as a brown dragonborn.  He plays the same role as duke or a queen in a more standard fantasy roleplaying setting; he’s just personally stronger and more powerful than your average ruler.  While Gareth Eybender, Belvar Duerar, and Feldspar von Quan, all began as standard Player Characters, they are now silver dragons and NPCs in my game.  They will no doubt appear in future games.  Dragons, as NPCs, give me characters that live for millennia, but do not have a hominid perspective.  Even those dragons that began as marn soon begin to take on different goals and perspectives than their original races.  Dragons make for alien allies and inscrutable foes.

The Age of Dragons has come and gone on Rilnorn and, now, the world is in the Age of Wyrms.  Ancient, often forgotten, beasts are stirring.  Pieces are being moved in The Great Game and even great adventurers may be no more than pawns in Games that Dragons Play. What dragons do you remember fondly from your days at the Gaming Table, dear readers?  Until next time, Game On!

Dragons, Dragons, and More Dragons (or “A Big, Boring List About Gregory’s Obsession”)

I love dragons.  I don’t remember when I first discovered dragons and my love for them, but I do love them.  It may have been the summer I read the Science Fiction Book Club Edition of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern.  It may have been when I discovered, thanks to Suzanne White’s book Chinese Astrology, that I was born in the Year of the Dragon.  It may have been when I got my hands on copy of the 1977, 1978 edition of the Monster Manual.  Whenever it was, that love led me into placing a lot of dragons in my games.

Back in the Before Time, when Rilmorn was still being born, I gamed with a group of people that had multiple DMs.  While many of us took turns running games, each of us only played a single character.  Because each of saw things differently, it like slipping from world to world each game.  I was the first one to drop a a dragon in to the game and it was dead before the PCs found it.  It was a brass dragonskin that had magically inscribed names on it.  It was found in Mythgold and I’m fairly certain I stole that idea from B1In Search of the Unknown.  I don’t recall the first living dragon that I pitted against the PCs, but I suspect it was a green, given the Green Dragon Inn and the back story that I layered in.  It was during this period of my gaming career that Gregor the Gaunt (my, oh so creatively named, character) got his bronze dragon, Zuth, and became Gregor O’Dragon.  Gregor and Donalis rescued Zuth from the abandoned city of Wondercliff.  This period was a good time to encounter dragons and attempt to kill them. (2014.01.14)

After the other DMs decided to quit gaming or just sit on the other side of the screen, I became THE DM and truly began running games in the still unnamed world that would be called Rilmorn.  I put lots of dragons in my games during this time.  I used the five chromatic dragons to the best of their abilities.  I lifted the ice dragon from Pegasus Magazine and freaked out few players.  I dropped dragonettes in, as companions and familiars to PCs and NPCs.  Dragon Magazine issue 50 gave me “True Dragons;” it was a great article and gave me plenty of good ideas.  The Fiend Folio came out and I found oriental dragons.  I was very happy to drop the god Anu and the three-headed dragon, Dahak into my world, after I found them in the “Babylonian Pantheon” in Deities and Demigods.  The Monster Manual II gave me a couple new favorites, the mist and shadow dragons.  I crafted the Chalice of Dragons during this time; if a being bleed into the cup and then focused his or her will on it, a small dragon “familiar” would form out of the blood…the user had to randomly roll for which dragon type he or she got.  This time was notable for the sheer variety of dragons, it was fun. (2014.01.14)

My gaming group split up after several years of gaming.  We graduated high school and such.  About this time, Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church in Vancleave, MS got a new minister, Andy Cotten.  The parsonage became the place to game and it was during this time that Rilmorn was named and I started writing Rilmorn’s history.  I do not know where I lifted the idea of naming the Ages of History, but I liked the idea and named the era in which I was running games the “Age of Dragons.”  There were dragons in this era of gaming, but only one stands out.  It was the “woolly dragon,” from the cover of Dragon Magazine issue 81.  It was a good time for gaming, but a poor poor time for dragons. (2014.01.14)

My college days were days of dragons.  I got a copy of Dragons by Cory Glaberson.  Gem dragons and the missing color wheel (orange, purple, and yellow) dragons saw heavy play.  Gareth Eybender, an elven ranger ran by Mike Magee, ate the silver fruit of the Tree of Dianides and became silver dragon.  The Sept of the Dragon began collecting artifacts and other treasures to give in worship to or to control of various dragons.  The Dragon War began and every third or fourth game the PCs were faced with another dragon to battle.  The characters carried the battle to Kardon and its partdragon overlord and with his death hunted down his liege Babylon.  When the War of Dragons ended the political and parts of the physical landscape of Moytonia (the main continent of my gaming world) were completely reshaped.  Several more dragons were appeared before the end of the age: Chronepsis – Dragon of Fate, Dhivanara of the Purple Sands, and Tel-Mordin the Feared being three of the more important.  Tel-Mordin’s death marked the end the Age of Dragons and the beginning of the Age of Empire.

During my 3E days, I only remember the appearance of one dragon, Gareth Eybender, and he only appeared in his elf form.  3E dragons were meh to me.

I spent some time thinking on my 3E games and remembered that I had a pyroclastic dragon that the party defeated and once the dragon was dead, Hassiem (Matt Wagner’s character) bathed in its blood getting an extreme Natural Armor Class.  It was enjoyable. (2014.06.18)

 4E dragons in, probable, order of appearance

  • Ramala: green dragon – daughter of Rahab and Kitiara, wounded by her brother Sargon, finished off by the adventurers Surana and Aktara
  • Kitiara: green dragon – blue dragonborn that ate of the Tree of Dianides, grandmother of Kharus, a blue dragonborn, and grandmother-in-law of Suarana (played by Christina Guldensupp), a bronze dragonborn
  • Vanik: orium (red steel) dragon – poses as a brown dragonborn prince
  • Gareth Eybender: silver dragon from the Age of Dragons
  • Bolenbach: “Ship Dragon” – sea dragon slain by Gareth Eybender and Alkin du Fey, who used body to build a ship.  Ages later, Bollenbach was the figurehead for E3’s flying steamship, the Enterprise, as they continued to add magical improvements, Bollenboch returned to life.
  • Menethesis: argentyl (star silver) dragon – prophet who believed the adventurers known as E3 were a threat to the world, killed by E3
  • Io-Vol: dreamwrath dragon – bound to the artifact known as the Flask of Dragons
  • Feldspar (played by Matt Wagner): silver dragon – shifter, who under the influence of the Blood of Io from the Flask of Dragons, ate Menethesis’ heart and transformed into a silver dragon; lost his dragon form through a faery “blessing,” but regained it after eating of the fruit of Dianides
  • Paracelsus: purple dragon – oldest living child of Io-Vol-First of the Dreamwrath Dragons, master psion, and crafter of a clan of purple dragonspawn; found trapped in a mirror of life trapping and freed by Feldspar under the possession of Io-Val.
  • Esaerian: steel dragon – poses as a human, captain of the Enterprise, Bollenbach’s mate
  • Chronepsis: Triple Dragon of Fate – Stopped by to see what E3 was doing to the Kron, Chronepsis’ favorite humans
  • Unnamed: black “True Dragon” – Mutant black dragon from Dragon Isle, has two sets of wings and no forelimbs.
  • Belvar (played by James Burkett): silver dragon – Ate the Fruit of Dianides wrapped in a silver dragon scale to “assure” dragon form transformation. 
  • Dragotha: Undead Dragon – is involved in a Great Game with Gareth Eybender and the Lich Morgreth
  • Unnamed: firewrack dragon – guardian of Hellspawn Isle
  • Unnamed: seawrack dragon – guardian of Deathwater Isle
  • Unnamed: woodwrack dragon – guardian of Truewood Isle
  • Unnamed: vile dragon – defender of Colossus
  • Unnamed: vile dragon – defender of Goliath
  • Unnamed: vile dragon – defender of Titan

Wizards of the Coast has posted a History of Dragons in D&D on their DnD site.  I like it.

The Map of Dragons (2014.01.14)

Wyrnflight by Deby Fredericks is a blog about Dragons!  Go and Read it!  (2014.01.14)