Monday, May 31, 2010

Want to ride dragons?

Here you go, here's the introductory text from an upcoming PDF release from Skortched Urf and Otherverse Games: The Dragonbound Core Class. Twenty levels of dragon-riding asskickery. I had a great time writing this sourcebook, because I was able to make the dragon more than just a class feature, to give the dragons real flavor and personality. Writing the sourcebook from the perspective of a real world pet owner really helps, I think. Anyway, it's going to be an awesome release, and I have a feeling that it will turn into one of our best sellers. Enjoy.....


Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series remains one of fantasy’s most enduring franchises, and the recent PS3 video game Lair allows the hero to take control of a mighty dragon steed. Young adult works like Eragon and How to Train Your Dragon follow young heroes as they bond with incredible beasts. Despite the popularity and sheer appeal of dragon-riding heroes, traditional fantasy gaming has never really supported the trope.

It’s easy to see why: giving a player character a bonded dragon at first level is equivalent to giving that hero a fully armed tank, while everybody else in the party makes do with swords and bows. A veteran hero, riding an adult dragon… the metaphor of a tank gives way to an even more alarming one: the metaphor a fully armed stealth bomber with a nuclear payload. Dragons are overwhelmingly powerful, and having one in your corner, loyal only to you… that’s a class feature that certainly outdoes Weapon Specialization and Barbarian Rage.

This sourcebook presents a new 20 level core class: the Dragonbound, a unique breed of knight who is defined by his empathic bond with a great dragon steed. The Dragonbound is an intentionally unbalanced campaign option; in terms of sheer damage dealing potential (as well as mobility and endurance), the Dragonbound certainly outclasses the Fighter and Barbarian. Character classes that depend on a mystical mount or animal companion, such as Paladin and the Ranger are similarly outclassed. Since the Dragonbound’s core concept resolves around a partnership with a dragon, and mounts and animal companions are tangentially related to the concept of what a Paladin or Ranger is, the Dragonbound’s companion beast is naturally more impressive. However, given the Dragonbound’s emphasis on honorable combat and exalted place in their nation’s military means that many Dragonbound eventually take at least a few levels in Paladin or Blackguard.

If your campaign includes Dragonbound, you might consider requiring all the players to make Dragonbound protagonists. Bound Dragons are a diverse enough species, and their riders are such unqiue heroes that even in a campaign dominated by Dragonbound heroes and villains, your hero can be unique. Alternatively, though young Dragonbound are more powerful than rookie spell casters, Dragonbound never gain the reality-warping capstone spells of high level spellcasters. Dragonbound have a more even power curve over the course of their careers. Mixing Clerics, Druids, Sorcerers and Wizards with Dragonbound works fairly well. Rouges and Bards have unique abilities that let them stand as equal with Dragonbound characters, they just have to be played cleverly.

Multi-class Dragonbound / Sorcerers almost invariably hail from the Draconic bloodline. Often the same selective breeding process which created the first Bound Dragons resulted in the draconic ancestry of that faction’s Sorcerers. Sooner or later, many of these multi-classed spellcasters take levels in the Dragon Disciple prestige class, exploring their draconic heritage and becoming more like their dragons, as their steeds become more like their masters.


Mandapandarawks said...

Ooooh this sounds sweet! Need any illos? ;)

Alzrius said...

I think you've been beaten to the punch on this idea.

Chris Field said...

You know what sucks, that was the exact piece of art I was going to use on MY cover!

Mine looks to be a little bit bigger, with a lot more customizable abilities so that an entire party of Dragonbound can be unique and fill different niches, and some world info, some intro fiction....

As for the art, I'm planning to just use some stock art, b/c you can find good, thematic art of dragonriders pretty easily, plus I'm unabashedly broke right now, unfortunately.

Mandapandarawks said...

Oh man I hear you on being broke. :( Good luck with it, though!