Monday, December 21, 2015

Dragon Cult Barbarians

When a dragon rules over an area, it is called a desolation (similar to how merfolk rule over mazes).  It's meant to imply a barren, inhospitable land, but these places are usually fertile and support large, tasty animals.

The Desolation of Cataphractus.  The Desolation of Beyhoc.  The Desolation of Lagazizi.  The Desolation of Tar Lath Lien.  The Desolation of Torakta.  These are names on a map.  Cartographers use the same font for the names of human kingdoms.

Dragons domesticate humans.  They'll grab a few children, drop them in their nest, and feed them a steady diet of cow blood and dragon propaganda.  Sometimes they refine their stock by interbreeding their humans with a prince or princess.  Hell, if one of their pet humans is especially effective, they may be able to get stud fees from other dragons.

These domesticated humans are members of a dragon cult.  (Except in the case of Tar Lath Lien, where it is better described as a wizard college-cult.  And sure, he has his huntresses, but that's a whole different thing.)

Dragon cult barbarians tend to be big.  At least a foot taller than the soft people down in the lowlands.  They've been bred for size.  (And dragons live long enough to benefit from these breeding programs.)

Over time, a dragon builds up a tribe of people.  They usually don't live in the cavern with the dragon.  That's too bold.  Would you share a bedroom with your god?  Instead they usually live in primitive dwellings on the mountainside just outside the dragon's den.

They never build cities or roofs.  In fact, a desolation is often studded with abandoned cities, where a dragon's barbarians are forbidden to go.

A dragon likes having you where it can see you.  It doesn't want it's pets to build stone walls, where its fire can't reach.  There have been insurrections, you know, where a tribe killed their god.

Dragons keep these tribes of ignorant, dragon-worshipping barbarians on hand to deal with all the things that they can't. Domesticated humans can carry their hoard, hunt down thieving goblins in their tiny holes, and serve as a buffer between the dragon and all those annoying people who want to pay tribute or pick a fight.

And because they serve dragons, they sometimes get the good stuff. Picture a 15- year-old kid with the physique of Conan, wearing the golden armor of ancient kings and armed with magic spears. The kid is also illiterate, covered in fleas, and thinks that humans were created by dragons.

And its not hard fascism either.  Their barbarian tribes don't chafe at the collar.  They've believe in their dragon.  And when you stand in front of a dragon, you can see why.

They laugh at your gods, because your gods are invisible, puny things like wind or light. Their god is muscle and fire and furious roars. When you die, you rot in the earth while your soul is trapped in your body. When they die, they will be eaten by their god and reborn into dragon eggs.


  1. It's going to get really interesting if a Dragon dies and the religion keeps going. Could metastasize into DragonWorship 2.0 and become a global thing. Maybe get powerful enough to try bringing the dragon back. Maybe god is testing them and they need to get rid of all the other dragons so he can come back.

  2. I was just rereading your post "God Hates Orcs" and came to the realization that the orcish view of gods in Centerra coincides with the worldview of a race which used to be controlled, or at least subjugated by, a dragon. Orcs are terrified of vengeful gods which live in the sky, though perhaps vengeful isn't the best word. When an orc wishes to do something out of sight of their god they do it inside, and you yourself wrote that dragons dislike roofs, as their barbarians can hide beneath them, out of sight, and plot. This may not have been your intent, but I found it an interesting coincidence.

  3. This is really similar my campaign's (current) main villain. I am totally going to use the term "desolation" now to describe his human hoard//horde.

  4. I do like desolation as the name for a dragon ruled area, I must say.

    While the dragon of the Sea of Stars entirely agree with cultivating servants, very few would wish such uncouth ones. And the Empress disapproves of dragons setting themselves as object of worship, but it still happens.

  5. i've been thinking into merging this, the whole "this is my fleash" rite from Catholicism, the Roman Empire, and the race of Dragonborns.

    Something on the vein that once upon a time a greater dragon united the Desolations, created an empire, and to protect him from the others he had his Drakencult as a personal guard. When they died, they would "get eaten" and reborn as dragon eggs, wich is their afterlife. Soon the dragon gets the Caesar treatment from rivaling dragons as the Empire falls like the roman parallel. The Drakencult cant save his god, but can avenge him, and after the whole battle, they remember the ritual eating of the dead so it can be reborn, so they eat the Dragon Jesus so it can be reborn inside them.

    And thus, the Holy Draken Empire, and the Drakencult Religion of Dragon Jesus, presided by the Dragonborn, was born.

  6. Just came across this gem digging through my bookmarks.
    Added to the Blog Database.