Periodic Table of Dragons/Rules and World Description
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This is some basic in-universe rules.
- The world is inhabited by the typical D&D races, humans, elves, drow, dwarves, kobolds and orcs have all been mentioned. Others may exist, but we haven't tried to incorporate them yet. Saber tooth polar bears still pending.
- Dragons and other races can use magic.
- Magic is limited in general, it doesn't allow the full range of D&D reality warping.
- All magic in this setting works through symbology. You use a rune as a focus for your spell and activate it by feeding mana into it, which requires physical contact (this is a replacement for the idea of using magic words to activate the runes). The amount of mana needed directly relates to the size of the rune, so bigger spells take more mo-jo to make go-go.
- Powerful or large-scale spells use more complex and big runes, placing a limit on the practicality of magic. Yes, with the appropriate knowledge, you might cast a spell that liquifies a whole city. Good luck carving a rune the size of a football field unnoticed in the city, though.
- In general, an Elemental Dragon doesn't go through Age Categories as do D&D dragons. Whatever it is born as is how it is, and it becomes more intelligent and more cunning over time, rather than unlocking new abilities all of a sudden.
- Carbons are a notable exception to this, as they mature, they become SIGNIFICANTLY smaller, tougher, more intelligent, and more dangerous, taking on a diamond-like characteristic.
- Most of the world's surface is covered with land rather than water, with deserts also being notably common. The majority that land is covered by the untamed Wilds, which is home to many dangerous beasts.
- In terms of civilization, there are a great number of small, isolated villages that have to depend on hunting and farming for food and their own muscles for defense from the Wilds.
- There are also large metropolises which are hubs for intellectual development and economic trade, though they are not as common.
- The primary defense of these cities from the Wilds are large runic circles that project a cylindrical force field around the city- because of the difficulties this causes with horizontal expansion, most of the metropolises expand vertically, having tall spires (good for visiting dragons!) and deep, underground complexes.
- Some kingdoms have existed throughout history, but the large distances across the Wilds that fills the space between cities means that majority of them aren't quite united nations so much as groups of politically aligned cities that have allied with each other. Rarer exceptions such as Delarmien do exist, however, and are (or in Delarmien's case, were) possibly much more unified than the current city-state alliances.
- Magic can be used by anyone, but some have more affinity for it than others, like math.
- Magic is powered with mana. Mana permeates all of existence, it's an intangible energy that hangs in the air, the dirt, the water, the everything.
- The act of magic is done by channeling mana through runes of varying complexity. Simple effects require (relatively) simple runes.
- Runes are made from a large alphabet of sorts, with lines, curves, dots, and symbols that represent a spell when appropriately arranged. More powerful or complex spells can be thought of as phrases or sentences constructed from the alphabet as well as just bigger runes.
- The Runic alphabet is a large and complex collection of symbols that is difficult to read. The runes created with these symbols don't just describe a spell, they are the spell. The runic language is the language of the universe, it is a system of true names that can manipulate the world in many different ways. To put it in the terms of one wizard, "This rune isn't a "word" for burning, it doesn't just describe fire- it IS fire, it's the essence of the concept made tangible, and with it, I'm going to melt your face off."
- A letter will have different effects depending on its positioning within a rune, so you can get slightly varied effects from the same combination of letters. Likewise, certain letters in the Runic alphabet only exist as modifiers. Adding or removing these modifier letters, as well as rearranging the letters of a rune itself, allows for the production of potentially endless subtle variations on the same spell.
- Wands are an important tool for those who practice magic: they can create glowing lines of mana, drag around individual parts of a rune, and otherwise be used to "edit" a rune on the fly. The effects are only temporary, but they last just long enough to cast a spell through the modified rune. By using a wand to create a modified rune, as described above, a wizard can slightly alter his spell. In this way, a wizard doesn't have to have 50 variations of the same rune in his spellbook just to cover his bases.
- The more powerful a spell, the larger its rune is, so vaporizing a city is possible, but it would take a rune several hundred feet across to accomplish such a task.
- Larger runes require more mana to activate. Think of each rune as a carving to fill with water: more water is needed to fill a larger rune than a smaller one but not necessarily a more complex one.
- You can use multiple runes at once, but they fill at 1/(number of runes) the rate.
- The material the rune is written on influences its power, with more compatible materials requiring less mana to produce an equivalent effect. Paper, as a universal material for recording thought and intent, is the main material for recording runes and carries no penalty in efficiency, but engraving an Earthmoving rune on a stone or clay tablet is far more effective, if harder to carry many of.
- This is why dragon scales are so prized, they are highly specialized toward a particular effect, granting a significant boost over plain paper. Not to mention most of them are quite durable and are unlikely to break when struck or dropped.
- However, a rune carved on an incompatible material, like a fire rune on a piece of ice, greatly weakens the effect, more than a compatible material strengthens it.
- Simple gadgets can be made this way, such as fire starters. Write a small, simple fire rune on a piece of bark or wood, activate. No need for flint and steel. Many people are able to do this kind of small magic.
- Wizards are organized into Tiers, higher Tiers have more mana and can use more complex runes.
- Rank is determined by a combination of mana pool size, mana expenditure rate, and mastery of the language.
- Wizards often have to develop their own runes, but some are willing to sell their patterns to others, though they are regarded as slightly odd by other wizards.
- There are Licensed wizards who have passed the local tests and gained access to the area's library, and unlicensed wizards who do not have access, but a license is not required to practice magic, except in certain countries or cities.
- Gaining a license does not mean free access to all rune patterns available, only those within your Tier and below are available.
There are 3 types of dragon, Metallics which look metallic but aren't necessarily metal, Crystal which cover the non-metallic solids, and Fluid, which cover the gasses. Radiants are any radioactive element and are a subtype of any of the above. Nobles are a subtype of Fluid, though many uneducated people use the terms interchangeably.
- Fluid dragons live in cold climates exclusively, they cannot survive in non-arctic regions.
- Metallic dragons live in all non-polar regions, barring those that cannot tolerate water or sunlight.
- Crystalline dragons have the broadest range of habitation, ranging everywhere the Metallics do, and somewhat into the polar climates.
- Radiant dragons are dangerous beasts, deadly to be around and exceptionally powerful by and large. The more radioactive the element, and the shorter the half-life, generally the more mentally unstable and shorter-lived the dragon is. Francium is the most extreme case.
- Elements more massive than Plutonium are exceptionally rare, and are essentially mythological. If one did appear, it would be part of the setting, like describing a Primarch, not something that people would homebrew their very own Nobelium dragon to play with.
- Runic dragons exist, taking great pains to etch spells into their scales, and are exceptionally powerful, though it takes them a thousand years or more to achieve this. They are not innately magic beyond what allows their Elemental bodies to exist, and in this regard they are different from D&D dragons, for whom magic runs in their blood.
- A scale's lifespan depends on the breed and age of the dragon, but a spelled scale will last 3 times the duration of a normal one
- Elemental dragons have to EARN their wizard skills, and have to learn them from the younger races, since draconic wizards are loathe to let other dragons "skip the work" so to speak.
Dragons can do magic the "normal" way, but it's embarrassing and inconvenient to be a dragon caster that needs a spellbook.
- Dragons with exceptionally hard scales have a hard time carving spellrunes into their scales. Thus, wizardry is less common among their species. (Run like hell from a Diamond with spells.)
- It's difficult for a dragon to carve a spell into his own scales, so paying someone to do it (a common service in the scale trade) for you is the norm.
- Naturally, dragons shed their scales. Rune-carved scales are eventually shed, but they take 3 times longer. A dragon has to replace the lost rune when such a scale is shed before they can use that spell again.
- Runic dragons usually don't help other dragons become Runics. They don't share the knowledge of their runes, nor do they lightly offer to carve a rune for another dragon. The philosophy is "Earn it to learn it".
- Scales taken from a Runic while alive or shortly after death do not require mana to power, making them incredibly valuable for crafting shields and armor.
Alloys and BreedingEdit
- Alloys can be produced through breeding
- Alloys will not breed true, instead producing one of the elements present in the mating, use Mendelian genetics square
- A dragon can eat another dragon or dragon's scales to gain an alloy's properties, but this is temporary
- More mass consumed = longer duration
- A dragon can eat a born-Alloy or a Pure and gain its properties, but can only 'hold' three elements including their own. Ex: Iron eats Chromium and Carbon, they become stainless steel, but eating another dragon will cause the oldest of the previous elements to "drop".
- Some Alloys cannot be done (Au+any Hg-containing alloy for example) and result in either weakening or death.
- Elements that do not react will not form an alloy.
- Eating the scales or body of a dragon that ate another dragon will only confer the original element, not the element of the dragon they ate.
- Combinations of Metallic and Fluid dragons never end well, because the two species are incompatible. The Metallic dragons burn the Fluid dragons, and the Fluid dragons cool and shatter the Metallics. This is to prevent having to describe the insanely huge range of chemical compounds that might result, and keep the narrative focused on the Elemental Dragons, not their hybrids.
- Fluids cannot eat each other to make compounds because their blood evaporates once outside their bodies, leaving no element for the other dragon to absorb. Also, few Fluids possess teeth strong enough to penetrate flesh.
- Fluids can crossbreed, but the hybrids are universally sterile.
Glossary of Common TermsEdit
Inflicted: Draconic undead. These unfortunates seem to be in constant state of growth and decay, leaving trails of rust wherever they go. They have endless hunger in order to keep their bodies from decaying into nothingness.
Patina: desirable tarnish, such as what happens with older Copper dragons
Pure: a pure elemental, Iron, Gold, etc.
Rust: an infection caused by runaway oxidation, can progress to the point of gangrene. If left untreated, can turn the dragon into one of the Inflicted.
Super-alloy or superalloy: an alloy which possesses extreme strength, temperature resistance and oxidation resistance.
Tarnish: any oxidation that changes the color of the scales, analogous to dead skin cells on a human. Having untarnished scales is a sign of health and fitness in a dragon, with a few exceptions such as Coppers and Neodymiums.
Tarnish Powder: Tarnish that flakes off as a powder rather than adhering to the scale.