Drakari

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The proud Drakari traces their origins back four thousand years to the four Progenitors; ancient, highly intelligent and powerful dragons close to death who mated with humans. No one knows what exactly made this possible, as dragons cannot breed with other species under normal circumstances. Some theories speak of crazed arcane experiments and Dheathain religious lore credits divine intervention. Regardless, the blood of dragons has always flowed through the veins of the Drakari race. Unfortunately, over the centuries the race's blood has thinned, due both to their rather bloody history and widespread cross-breeding with humans.


[top]Appearance

Physically, Drakari vary depending on their caste (see below), but all possess some scales of the color linked to their Progenitor ancestor and sharp elongated canine teeth. Their average life spans range from 90 to 300 years, depending on caste. Aside from physical features, the Drakari also inherited some of a dragon's temperament. They are abnormally territorial, especially among the higher castes, and protective of their possessions and loved ones. They anger more quickly and generally show more aggressive tendencies than humans. They are suspicious of those they don't know, but on the plus side, once they decide to trust someone, they make extremely loyal friends and allies.


[top]Castes

As a consequence of their thinning blood, the Drakari race has divided into four distinct castes based on the draconic features manifested upon an individual at birth. The more dragon features one possesses, the "purer" their blood and the higher their social status. The vast majority are born into the same caste as their parents (and grandparents and so forth), but exceptions do occur. Breeding is held paramount amongst the higher castes, with almost all marriage now arranged by the elders and interbreeding with other races or lower castes often forbidden. Those with interbred blood who don't fit comfortably into any of the castes are known as Fuilenir, translating roughly to "Casteless" or "no blood". They are treated similarly to the Scale Caste.

Scale Caste: The lowest caste is named for the only draconic feature displayed on its members. They appear as humans (many even possessing hair), only with a third to three fourths of their skin covered with tough scales. Making up about sixty percent of the race's population, the Scale Caste forms the menial class in Drakari society. Most are essentially serfs working the land, though those with skills might serve as tradesmen, servants, scribes, or even merchants. Members of the higher castes typically look down on the Scale Caste, treating them as second-class citizens.

Claw Caste: Named for the deadly claws on their hands, this caste forms the Drakari warrior elite. Scales cover their skin much like the Scale Caste, but they also stand an average of six inches taller. The males often have broad shoulders and intimidating bulk, whereas females are typically lithe and lean. Some possess wings, especially those born of higher caste parents, but they are never functional and often freakishly small and atrophied. Claw Caste Drakari receive a fair amount of respect and enjoy considerable social mobility, with some going on to command actual armies for the ruling class. They make up about twenty-five percent of the population.

Wing Caste: One of the two High Castes, this caste still possesses large, functional wings and the ability to fly with proper training. They are physically the largest of the Drakari, standing an average of seven feet tall with broad shoulders. They possess massive chests with what appears as a second set of pectoral muscles that wrap all the way around the middle of their torso -- these allow their massive and powerful wings to function. Beyond that, their appearance varies based on their lineage and the purity of their blood. All possess at least scales and claws like the Claw Caste; others are completely covered in even thicker, rougher scales. Those of the purest bloodlines sport reptilian snouts filled with large, sharp teeth, and perhaps spiked tails. Making up only eight percent of the Drakari, the Wing Caste serves as the military commanders and political leaders.

Flame Caste: The second High Caste is both the physically smallest and the longest living. Named for their ability to breathe fire, members of the Flame Caste appear as lanky, scaly individuals with unusually thick necks. This is due to the extra tubes running down both sides of their neck to special glands in their chests that allow them to breathe fire. These often mysterious figures serve as the priests, druids, sorcerers of Drakari society. It is said that they see divine visions in their fiery breath. The Flame Caste constantly squabbles with the Wing Caste for political power.

Blood Caste: Once, long ago, there was no Blood Caste because all Drakari were like this. Now, the Blood Caste has died out entirely. This lost caste represents the height of the Drakari race, known to have possessed both functional wings and fiery breath, as well as strongly manifested draconic features and life spans exceeding 400 years. As the race's blood thinned over the generations due to the prevalence of interbreeding with humans and other races, fewer and fewer Drakari were born in this pure state. For a long stretch of Drakari history, the Blood Caste ruled supreme over their kin. Ever since the last Blood Caste member died two hundred years ago, the weight of leadership has fallen to the Flame and Wing Castes. They have greatly enjoyed their ascension, and many secretly fear the reemergence of the lost Blood Caste.


[top]Drakari Government

Hundreds of years ago, when the Blood Caste still endured, an Emperor ruled over Dheathain with absolute power. Often regarded as a divine being by his subjects, the Dheath Emperor controlled all aspects of Drakari society. With the passing of the last Blood Caste member, the leadership of the race split into two offices.

The political leader of Drakari society is called the Ceann Cath, which means War Leader. He -- only once has it ever been a female -- is typically the strongest and most charismatic member of the Wing Caste. The position is usually appointed in a vote from the Wing Caste elders, but the Old Law of trial by combat still remains. This allows another caste member to challenge the current Ceann Cath to single combat, with the winner assuming the title. This law has not been invoked in nearly 300 years, for such duels always end with ritually sacrificing the loser to the Gods. In addition, the winner might not always have support within the caste.

The Ceann Cath manages the day-to-day policies, including and perhaps especially, warfare. He usually appoints ten generals from the Wing Caste or, more rarely, very successful Claw Caste members. They serve as advisers and aids, wielding the Ceann Cath's power as proxies. This groups is called the War Leader's Council.


[top]Fuileadan Faith

The Drakari are ruled by their religion. They live by its rules and through their devotion hope to enter their eternal resting ground when they die. Their religion is ritualistic, highly superstitious at times, and sacrificial. Though Dheathain Fae have worked for generations to spread their more "enlightened" beliefs, little change has come. The Flame Caste shepherds the Drakari spiritually and resist any change.

The Fuileadan, very roughly translated to "divine blood", worships the Progenitors who the Drakari believe created them. The religion claims that these ancient dragons, fueled by their spiritual might and purity and the devotion of their followers, ascended to divinity so that they might watch over their children until the end times. Each of the four Progenitors rules over a certain aspect of Drakari life and are each associated with one of the four Draconic Virtues.

  • Chalazae the Ebony represents war and violence, and embodies the virtue of Anger.
  • Piospius the Cobalt rules over all knowledge and learning, and embodies the virtue of Wisdom.
  • Soervia the Verdant is a god of fertility and prosperity, embodying the virtue of Greed.
  • Noazoth the Pale is the guardian of the sea, earth, and sky and the god of the seasons, embodying the virtue of Patience.

Each of the four has his or her own Temple, Priests (or Priestesses), and Acolytes dedicated for them. Prayers and sacrifices to specific Progenitors are done in their respective temples or at home if the Drakari has their own private altar to their chosen god. Smaller towns and villages usually only have one Temple dedicated to all four and thus anyone may pray or sacrifice to whomever they please. The Great Temple at Suthainn similarly services the entire pantheon, but has the space to feature an altar for each as well as one huge altar at the top of its steps.

Needless to say, the Progenitors are very different gods than the Thayne worshiped elsewhere, embodying inhuman virtues. Portrayed as vast, alien forces, they demand constant appeasement through worship and sacrifice. The Drakari caste system, surprisingly, does not feature prominently in Drakari religious doctrine. The reasons for this are two-fold. First, the castes did not originally exist (see the Caste section above). Second, with one's caste already strongly linked to their physical forms, spiritual reinforcement is rarely needed to keep all members in their places.



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