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History and Characteristics
One of the oldest races in Faerune and almost certainly the oldest race capable of dying of old age, the Balmok (more commonly known as dragons on most worlds) came into being soon after the formation of the planes. According to their mythology, the world was created from the breath of their deity, Io, and a piece of that power was gifted to each of them - the source of their mighty breath weapons. Long lived and extremely powerful, the earliest dragons waged wars that spanned multiple worlds, the various species competing among one another for territory and influence, but for treasure most of all.
Balmok are relatively rare in most parts of Faerune, and their innate power makes them both respected and feared by the majority of it's people. Some cultures, especially Jade, even revere them as near-deities, particularly those of unusual size or age. There are, however, many different types of dragon - there is a species of dragon for nearly every aspect of nature or elemental energy. Most dragons fall into one of two categories - the chromatic (reds, blues, greens, etc) that tend to be vicious and territorial, and the metallic dragons (silver, gold, etc) which are more likely to treat humans and other smaller creatures kindly, though they are not at all to be thought of as gentle or friendly in many cases either.
Naturally, creatures so varied are extremely varied in personality and temperament, though they tend to retain at least a few personality traits in common with even their most distant relatives. Even the most virtuous and noble dragons are covetous to an extreme degree, and spent considerable time over the course of their lives collecting as much treasure as possible. They are extraordinarily protective of their hoard, and stealing from it is possibly the surest way to on one's bad side to a truly spectacular degree. Pride is the second most common pitfall of dragonkind - it is difficult to find a Balmok that does NOT find it and its species to be the pinnacle of creation, and given their size and power, most other races have tended not to argue the point over the years.
Biologically, Balmok have more in common with large mammalian predators, particularly large cats, than they do lizards and other scaled creatures. Their movements and musculature are similar to a lion or tiger's writ much larger, with a smooth stalking motion when on the ground. Their scales harden with age, eventually becoming powerful enough to turn aside all but the most powerful of weapons, and they are all possessed of extremely sharp claws and fangs attached to jaws unrivaled in their strength. Most dragons have spines along their backs and tails or in other places on their bodies, which can be moved by small muscles and ligaments under the skin - when speaking to a dragon, it is important to pay attention to these smaller movements, since the massive creatures communicate more clearly in body language than aloud in many cases. The most powerful muscles in the body of a dragon are in the chest and back, powering their massive wings. Dragons have incredible endurance in the air, and for their size are extremely graceful in flight. For most dragons, flying is a simple joy they can hardly bear to go long without, even if they are the sort to spend most of their lives on the ground. As flying creatures, the eyesight of a dragon is incredibly sharp - at least on par with that of the eagles or other predatory birds. Their senses of smell are also highly sensitive - combined with their natural talent and sense for magic, dragons sometimes claim to 'smell' things that have no scent. Dragons hear only a little better than a human, however - the older dragons sometimes only seem to hear more acutely, as their experienced minds are able to filter background noises and the like more effectively.
Dragons are, thanks to their powerful magic nature, immune to viruses such as those that create vampires and certain types of werecreature. Additionally, because of the elemental energy that courses through their blood, creatures like vampires that derive sustenance from blood face serious dangers in feeding from one. A vampire that feeds on an ice-element dragon such as a silver, for example, may very well find themself frozen from the inside out.
Balmok have habitats as varied as the colors of their scales. In general though, a dragon will seek a habitat that is compatible with its element. Red dragons for instance will often seek a volcano, the fire-breathers being most comfortable in the heat, while an ice-breathing silver dragon will be most comfortable near a mountain peak where the snow falls near round.
In Faerune, the highest concentration of these massive creatures is found on Crescent Isle. The vast and isolated mountain ranges and wilds of the island, largely unsettled, provide enough territory for a Balmok to make itself comfortable and conceal its hoard. The most famous of the isle's dragon residents is Aura'ornaltui, who has taken custodianship of the isle. The oldest of Faerune's dragons, she tends to serve as an arbiter of sorts where dragonkind is concerned, and despite the large number of dragons on the isle, battles for territory are relatively uncommon (down to only a few times a month).
Balmok can live for thousands of years, but because of their combative nature, it is considered an accomplishment for one to reach one thousand years of age. Ages are roughly as follows (sizes will vary by species):
Hatchling (0-5) These dragons are very young, and often dependent on their parents for survival. Despite this, however, even a freshly hatched dragon has dangerous teeth and claws, and suprising strength. Within a few weeks after hatching, a hatchling has begun to demonstrate at least some level of intelligence, and has developed a weak version of its breath weapon. Dragons inherit much of their knowledge from their parents, though it takes them many years to unlock what is buried within their minds. Hatchlings are often playful - but, in the manner of other young predators, they are most fond of fairly rough play. And, since even young dragons can be the size of full-grown wolves, this is dangerous for many smaller races.
Very Young (6-15): At this age, most dragons leave their birthplace to explore and begin to separate from their parents, growing more curious and independent. They grow more confident in their strength and abilities, and begin to learn and absorb information from every source they can, developing the sharp minds that will make them wise and powerful in their older years.
Young (16-25): These years see the beginning of the dragon's greatest growth spurt, which will see it through to its adult years. Many also establish territory and a lair of their own at this time, and begin to accumulate treasure as they can.
Juvenile (26-50): At this age, a Balmok first starts to resemble what it will as an adult. Most begin to exhibit their true magical powers at this age, and settle further into their strengths.
Young Adult (51-99): Their magical powers continue to develop, and as their growth slows their scales begin to harden, making them far more resistant to attacks. Many also come fully into their dangerous intellect, and can rival many devoted scholars. By this time, a dragon is nearly always entirely independent from its and mentors. This is the first phase of their lives where a dragon is ready and able to mate.
Adult (100-400): As their growth slows even further, the body develops more within than anything else - their scales harden, they grow stronger and more powerful. Some establish a long-term mate at this time, or have their first children. The dragon truly becomes a force to be reckoned with - and is well aware of that fact.
Old (401-800): Physical growth has almost completely stopped, though growth of its powers and skills continues unabated. They grow even more dangerous as their many years of experience temper the firey emotions of their younger years. Toward the end of this phase, female dragons cease to be fertile and have the last of their offspring.
Ancient (801-1000): Ancient dragons become truly venerable, with potent spells, vast stores of knowledge, and are generally known enough to be respected by their peers and rivals. Ancients often take to mentoring younger dragons - particularly females no longer either to bear young of their own.
Wyrm (1001+): Now at the final stage of their lives, a dragon has reached the peak of its physical size, strength, and has access to every bit of its vast knowledge and magical power. A wyrm is a creature to be revered even by other dragons, and is a match for nearly any foe.
((Note - the following chart is of averages. Depending on the type of dragon, these may vary. The wingspan depends heavily on the type of dragon - some have smaller wings that span less than their bodies, but on average the wingspan is nearly the length or a bit longer. Some species that favor flight more strongly such as silvers or reds can have wingspans much wider than they are long - up to about 25-50% greater.))
|Age Category||Length (nose-tail)||Weight|
|Wyrm||100ft and up||750000lb and up|
Contrary to popular belief, dragons are not cold-blooded creatures as most scaled creatures are - their metabolism produces considerable amounts of energy, and so while some dragons enjoy the feel of heat or the sun on their scales, they have no need to sunbathe or seek warmth in order to regulate their body temperature. They are omnivorous, capable of consuming nearly any food (many have been known to consume inorganic material such as gold or crystals), but nearly every dragon prefers meat above all else if given the choice. The energy from the food they consume is processed mainly by an organ known as the draconis fundamentum, or the Second Heart, which is the source of their breath weapons and other supernatural abilities. The second heart is a furnace of elemental energy in a true dragon, which allows them to break down nearly any material for sustenance. These dragons typically use this energy directly in their breath, though some other types of dragons (typically known as the lesser dragons) have other methods of producing breath weapons - the secretion of flammable substances, for instance. Whatever their source of power, dragons consume tremendous amounts of food - they must, to power their abilities and the massive growth spurts that will eventually make them the colossal creatures of legend that they are.
Dragons become fertile after about their first half-century, and a female is technically capable of laying a clutch of two to five eggs as often as once a year. Eggs are fertilized within the body of the female, and a female who does not mate will not lay eggs. While many dragons are amorous especially in their youth, the rarity of their kind is partially because of the difficulty of finding compatible mates, as well as the high rate with which young dragons fighting one another (or other predators) result in the death of said dragon. As well, the incubation period of most dragon eggs is nearly two years, during which the mother can rarely if ever leave her eggs - a strong disincentive to many females. Properly tended eggs, however, have a very high survival rate, as dragons are not vulnerable to most natural diseases and illnesses that might otherwise destroy them. They are, however, vulnerable to various forms of egg theives and other catastrophe, and two years is a long time to prevent anything from going wrong...
Where halfbreeds are concerned, many dragons are famously unconcerned with the race of the creatures they lay with, and halfbreeds of nearly every sort have been seen at one point or another. Thanks to the ability of a dragon to take an alternate form, it is common for them to take a mate of that race, though such unions are usually temporary thanks to the short lifespan of the smaller creatures. In order to have true dragon children, a dragon must find a mate among dragonkin. Halfbreeds take most of the traits of the non-dragon parent, but generally have several draconic traits - wings, tails, claws and fangs as well as scales are common. Sometimes, these can be suppressed for a more normal appearance, often they cannot. A halfdragon cannot take a fully dragon form.