[Excerpt from Encyclopaedia Draconica: A Detailed Description of the Development, Dynasties, and Domain of Ylan’s Dragonkin, 1st ed., by Miriam Busslewickett]
Dragonkin, like any race, have much variation between individuals in regards to attitudes, personalities, perspective, and outlook on life. But there is one thing that unites all dragonkin, no matter their origin or future path.
Their dragon blood fills them with the inexorable need for personal power. All dragons lust after power, even the classic dragon “horde” is nothing more than that power manifested in material form for all to gaze upon and be overwhelmed by. From the wisest golden dragon to the most savage white, all dragons are defined by their power, and how they ultimately put it to use is the separation between good and evil. But raw power, and accumulation of it… that brings all dragons, and their kin, together.
One of the most prominent ways this is seen is through the lack of close bonds between dragonkin and almost anyone, including their own family members. Dragonkin naturally seek solitude and value privacy. They mature quickly, and the pull to strike out on their own comes at a young age.
The only way that dragonkin can survive together over time is through a strict hierarchy. The ones with power dominate their lessers and the peace is kept, oftentimes through direct force. However, with groups of dragonkin this situation is inherently unstable and large communities are almost never found. The only stable kind of relationship dragonkin are able to have is when they are followed. The actual relationship with their followers is dependent entirely upon the individual nature of the dragonkin, but being followed, their power constantly acknowledged, is the most fulfilling kind of existence for them.
Dragons are the epitome of apex predators, and the blood of these mythical creatures combined with human stock through some long forgotten meeting has created a being that captures all the variance of the human experience and marries it with the overwhelmingly alpha nature of dragons and their view of themselves versus the world, with the inborn power to make that a fair fight.
The most important thing to bear in mind when trying to understand Dragonborne is that within every individual a powerful tug of war is at play between their two very different natures, the human side and the dragon side. Some say that the balance is set at birth and is unchanging, others claim that this balance can be altered by the actions of the individual and the choices they make throughout their lives.
Their human side manifests itself as all the varieties of things that make up the human experience, a huge and broad amount of characteristics and personalities. The dragon blood brings more specific behaviors; aloofness, ferocity, fierce individuality, and the desire for power. This is most obvious when you look at the Dragonborne family structure.
Dragonborne are quite tribal, based mostly upon their dragon background which is obvious to everyone both physically and through their personalities. The color of the dragon has much to do with the individual since the dragons themselves are so different based upon their coloration. While dragonborne of the same color often group together, there is frequent intermarriage between tribes and families of different colors and this is not unusual or looked down upon.
Power trumps all when it comes to dragonborne relationships.
When a dragonborne child is born to parents of different colors, that child takes on the color of only parent, there is no blending. The mechanics behind this result are a mystery to everyone. A lot believe that the most dominant or powerful member of the pair sets the tone, while others believe that the gods themselves have the final say. In very rare cases, a child is born to a couple that is a color outside of both parents. This child is seen as “close to the gods” and nearly always becomes a powerful magic user, religious leader, or a healer.
Dragonborne children grow and mature very quickly compared to human children. Their parents do not have to “baby” them as they are very soon able to care for themselves and start exploring the world around them aggressively. The parental instincts are to let their child go and do as they will, watching protectively, and giving them instruction to help them grow, but recognizing that each of their children is their own individual. Parents are not there to mold the child, they are there to protect and observe the new member of their family.
The Dragonborne relationship with the divine is not overly complicated. To the Dragonborne, their gods are not only real, but they are actual personages who can and will intervene in mortal affairs if they so choose. But just like they do not overly concern themselves in the affairs of the ants under their feet, Dragonborne recognize that their gods are busy and self-oriented and that mortal concerns rarely interest them. However, they also realize that if they achieve heroic things throughout their lives, they may earn the approval of a god and perhaps a gift to demonstrate that approval.
Religious leaders within the dragonborne communities are there as conduits to these deities and their power. Their ability to access and channel this power is how they prove their worth to those who follow them. The divine will is rarely discussed, since it is known that the gods are fickle and do as they please. Instead, much of religious leadership focuses upon doing the kinds of things that will impress the gods so that an individual can receive their approval.
Nevertheless, the power these leaders wield is very real, both in leadership of their communities and personally. Dragonborne are highly magical creatures and stand out to the gods they follow. Rites and ceremony is important to them all, dogma is not. Sacrifice to gods is routine and a way to demonstrate wealth and influence as well as curry favor, and the leaders orchestrate all of this.
Dragonborn have a very simple political system, but it is not without it’s nuances. It is difficult for an outsider to see the subtle lines of power that delineate the myriad of social and political relationships.
At its most basic, dragonborn are attracted to power and those that wield it. The strong bring more like themselves, but those leaders are expected to win and provide reputation, prestige, and wealth for their followers. If they are not able to do so through victories and successes, dragonborn will find another leader.
Their family units, city states, and military units are all organized behind a strong individual leader and his/her entourage of powerful retainers. Without a worthy leader to follow, all structure would break down. The very idea of democracy or equality is foreign to dragonborn, power is an organizing element as well as a personal goal. It is as natural to them as the sun rising and setting, and just as reliable and stabilizing.
There are leaders as varied as the humans and dragons that created them. Some of them are truly erratic due to their chaotic nature, while others may have a semblance of a more civilized nature because of their orderly and lawful nature. But their dragon nature directs even the lawful dragonborn who, upon closer examination, only follow laws of their own creation. It is rare indeed that any dragonborn will look outside themselves or their family for direction on how to live. Many will respect laws of different cultures or civilizations, but almost never willingly submit themselves to laws of another.
Mercantilism, trade, and industry are big parts of the Dragonborn life. There is wealth to be had, influence to spread, and power to accrue. There is very little difference in their mind between the strength of an army or the strength of a guild or corporation. Both can conquer nations and remake lands and cement reputations forever.
Traders who span the globe in search of profit, or merchants looking to corner a market, Dragonborn take their economics as seriously as the dwarves, and they are known to be merciless when making a deal by all other races.
Dragonborn craftsman are highly regarded and sought after as specialists and their goods are traded far and wide. With magic naturally flowing through their blood, their abilities with the creation of magical items are matched only by the legendary elvish craftsmen. Longstanding traditions and deep craft are passed from master to student, and the resulting creations enrich all involved.
See also: Gal’eoch, Dragonborne racial patron