OSE Advanced Lore #3 – Dragons

illustration of a dragon by John StewadsonWhat would a collection of lore rewrites be without the titular dragons of Dungeons and Dragons? Incomplete, that’s what. So today, we’ll be looking at one of the most iconic creatures in D&D lore and asking “why not make it gross?”

Emotions ebb and flow. We are not in control of them. This is the nature of ‘being’ and recognising yourself as doing so. However, a person can get locked into emotion and, like a pristine river flowing into a stagnant bog, those emotions can become toxic.

A Bog Of Emotions: The medicinal law of temperament teaches us that if a person remains in a singular emotional state, their glands produce more of the liquid associated with that emotion and less of the remaining three humours. Normally this ‘dyscrasia’ is not a problem outside of the mental state of the individual and is treated with bloodletting, trepanation or other simple interventions, but under the right circumstances, this common illness can warp the victim’s very being.

Becoming Dragon: Besides the obvious reason to fear living near a Dragon, there is an added danger for dyscrasia sufferers. Dragons produce an odourless hormone that seeps into their dung, saliva, and scales. On rare occasions when a dyscrasia sufferer comes into contact with even the trace residue on a coin from the creature’s hoard, a change can overtake them. For a few days, flu-like symptoms and patches of shingles render them bedridden. After a week, the victim’s skin, now dusty and cracked like a dried riverbed, fuses, causing a month-long chrysalis. Eventually, the “egg’” cracks open and a man-sized dragon slithers out.

Trepanation illustration by Peter Treveris
Surely, it will help if we drill a hole in his head. -a clever doctor guy

Azazel The Sent Away: Traces of memories may still wither in the mind of a dragon, but the dragons always consider themselves a wholly unique creation, a being recognising their own customs and laws and ignoring those of humans and other creatures. Dragons and their cults preach that once, everyone was a dragon and, through the meddling of human deities, they were trapped within the bodies of naked apes. Dragons agree that Azazel The Sent Away was the only dragon to escape this fate, how Azazel escaped and what happened to them once they did remains a topic of debate for scholars and Dragons alike.

Ancient Tyrants: Although younger dragons band together for survival once they reach a particular age and power, they isolate themselves from their kin, preferring to lord over their “tenants,” the poor beings who happen to live within a quick flight of their lair. Dragons levy charges in the form of treasure and cattle for the right to continue living under their “conservancy,” and enforce these laws with a cult of worshipers. 

Dragon Cults: The cultists believe in draconic myth and want to be returned to their natural dragon forms by their masters. These cultists never become dragons but are often changed into the wretched, stinking, bug-eyed Troglodyte (More on them coming soon) and used as grunts sent to die in caves too dangerous for even the lowliest cultist to patrol.

Smartest Lizard In The Room: Besides the gems and precious metals that the dragons have an addiction to the accumulation of, their sense of self-importance is the only thing they seem to care about. Every Dragon believes they are the smartest dragon and therefore the smartest being in existence. They can not resist a battle of wits and uphold their end of any bargain. This method of survival is rarely successful. Most dragons are incredibly intelligent and love to play with their food.


The specific nature of dyscrasia that birthed each dragon will determine their specific taxonomical type as follows;

Sanguine Dragons

Scale Colour: Magenta hue

Temperament: Sanguine Dragons see themselves as artists and creatures of passion. They wander from one interest to the next and consider even their most amateur efforts high art. Doomed is the tenant who forgets to compliment the poetry of these jewelry-covered lords.

Lair: Usually in tall peaks with an arid climate, but anywhere they can feel on top of the world will do.


Choleric Dragons

Scale Colour: Yellow hue

Temperament: Dominant and driven to control every situation, no matter how trivial or beyond their scope it might be. Because of their confrontational nature, most Choleric Dragons don’t make it past their bicentennial birthday.

Lair: The warmer the better. The oldest of these lizards live deep underground, near the planet’s molten core.


Melancholic Dragons

Scale Colour: black/white/shades of grey

Temperament: a pervasive sense of longing overtakes these drab serpents. Every slight against them is further proof of how rough they have it. They have an ability to guilt those around them only rivalled by human mothers.

Lairs: these beasts lair in places covered in shadow, places associated with lost potential, and anywhere else that makes their sulking appear even more depressing.


Phlegmatic Dragons

Scale Colour: Cyan hue

Temperament: they consider themselves supremely rational beings, and they have rationalised that everyone else should do what they say. They regard hoarding knowledge of themselves to be the most beautiful treasure of all. Reading ancient texts of scholarly significance and then burning them is a favourite pastime.

Lair: wetlands and anywhere else covered in the stench of microbial life.

PS: I like to make each dragon in my world unique and I’ve greatly enjoyed Giuseppe Rotondo’s Axian Library for this task. it’s a useful collection of zines with some interesting mechanics and tables. I use it to make each dragon unique with their own breath weapon, weaknesses, and other characteristics. Expect a full review sometime in the future.

PPS: As always, you can find out more about me and my associated projects here.

Josh D.

No gods, no masters, hold the mayo.