Tarazin the Gray
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Note that at the time of publishing this was 2nd edition, thus all stats are still in 2nd Edition format
The dragons of Cerilia, the setting of the BIRTHRIGHT? campaign, are a dying race. Once their kind filled the skies above Cerilia, but for millenia their numbers have declined. Today, 2,000 years after the coming of humankind to the continent, only six dragons are known to exist. No hatchlings have appeared in more than 500 years, and as the remaining dragons grow older they spend more and more of their time dreaming the days away in a deep slumber. More than 20 years have passed since the last time a dragon woke and flew.
Cerilia?s dragons are not divided by differences of coloration or size ? they are all members of the same species. The few that remain have withdrawn to the wildest and most desolate lands, the stark and forbidding Drachenaur mountains. Once their strongholds and meeting places could be found throughout these great peaks, but now the places of dragons are empty and abandoned. Very few people can even guess at the location of the remaining dragons? lairs.
While Cerilian dragons may be of any alignment, even the most destructive and malevolent of the great wyrms is still a creature of near-infinite patience and deliberation. All dragons are extremely intelligent ? they were the first speaking creatures in all the world, after all ? and possess a great store of racial knowledge and lore that shames even the elven scholars. This body of dragon lore is one of the very few reasons that lesser mortals might ever seek out a dragon; from time to time, the advice or aid of a dragon has helped a hero triumph over seemingly invincible foes or accomplish impossible tasks. However, as they say in the pragmatic lands of Brechtür: ?Only a fool seeks a dragon?s favor.? The minds of dragons work differently from those of humans, elves, or dwarves, and as a race they seem capricious and inscrutable.
Of the two or three dozen dragons whose names are recorded in Cerilian history, Tarazin the Gray is perhaps the most famous. He is known as ?the Eldest,? and he is the greatest and most powerful of Cerilia?s wyrms. Tarazin predates the human occupation of Cerilia by centuries, and his exact age can only be guessed at. As a young dragon, Tarazin befriended the elven scholar Ghaelfyd of the Sielwode some centuries before the human exodus, when refugees fled north from the evil of Azrai and his followers. Ghaelfyd later placed the date of their first meeting more than 1,200 years before the battle of Deismaar. If this date is accurate, Tarazin is somewhere near 3,000 years of age.
Tarazin?s fame begins with the wars of elves and humans for control of Cerilia?s forests, in the centuries immediately following the arrival of the first settlers on Cerilia?s shores. Ghaelfyd?s friends and family had suffered greatly at the hands of the human armies, and the scholarly elf sought Tarazin?s aid to turn back the tide of woodsmen and warriors moving into the western reaches of the Sielwode. Tarazin agreed and attacked the settlements and camps of the Elin, the eighth house of the invading humans. Over a period of a century or so, Tarazin made dozens of raids into human lands, causing great loss of life and property.
ARMOR CLASS: - 4
MOVEMENT: 9, Fl 30 (C)
HIT DICE: 23 (161 hp)
NO. ATTACKS: 3 + special
DAMAGE: 1d10 + 12; 1d10 + 12; 2d12 + 12
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Breath weapon, spells, dive
SPECIAL DEFENSES: Fear aura, gaze, spells
MAGIC RESISTANCE: 60%
SIZE: G (80? body, 120? wingspan)
MORALE: Fearless (19)
XP VALUE: 30,000
S: 25 D: 9 C: 22 I: 20 W: 17 Ch: 15
Tarazin?s scales are a dark, rusty gray in color, but age has faded the color along his snout, back, and wings. Thick folds of leathery hide protect his belly, and his coat of iron-hard scales makes him nearly impervious to harm. Tarazin can attack with his claws and bite, or he can execute one of the special attacks described in the ?Dragon? entry of the Monstrous Manual, such as a dive, snatch, wing buffet, or tail lash.
Tarazin?s breath weapon is a foul liquid combining the worst properties of acid and fire; its corrosive power can destroy the finest tempered steel, or even solid stone. Tarazin can use his vitriolic breath once every six rounds; it affects a line 60? long and 5? wide, inflicting 20d6 +20 hp damage to anyone unfortunate enough to be caught in its area of effect. Objects caught in the deadly burning acid must make an item saving throw versus either magical fire or acid, whichever is worse.
Despite his great power in melee, Tarazin views claw and fang combat as a last resort, and he unleashes his breath weapon only if he believes that his life is in immediate danger. He has many more subtle weapons at his disposal.
Tarazin radiates an aura of fear in a 50-yard radius, just as described in the MM, with a -4 penalty to the saving throw because of his status as a great wyrm. If a creature should meet Tarazin?s gaze, it must save vs. spells at a -4 penalty or be paralyzed with terror for 2d4 turns. If Tarazin spends an entire round exerting his will against the victim, he can use the powers of geas, suggestion, or feeblemind on the victim with no saving throw. The dragon?s golden eyes can capture lesser beings with ease. This is one of Tarazin?s favorite tactics for dealing with heroes or creatures he doesn?t want to bother with; a moment?s thought is all it takes to send the most offensive creatures away in a blank daze.
Like most Cerilian dragons, Tarazin is a spellcaster of immense power. He memorizes and casts the full complement of spells commanded by a 17th-level wizard, including polymorph self, power words, and death fog, among many others. In addition, dragon magic includes a number of spells and abilities unknown to human sorcery, and the elder wyrms often experiment with new combinations of spells and effects. As a result, Tarazin knows a number of unique spells that a PC spellcaster would not know (See this issue?s ?Dragon Dweomers? feature for details). Tarazin relies on his command of magic as his second line of defense against challengers, since he considers magic a more elegant weapon than crass physical attacks. Draconic magic allows use of spells only from the schools of abjuration, alteration, conjuration/summoning, and divination. Victims of Tarazin?s magic suffer a -4 penalty to their saving throws due to the great wyrm?s skill and power.
Role-playing notes: Tarazin is an extremely intelligent and well-educated opponent who has seen every trick in the book in his day. He is not a malicious or spiteful creature, but he is very proud and views no other creature in Cerilia as his equal. While he prefers to avoid confrontations altogether, he generally enters an encounter with a genuine desire to resolve the matter with the minimum amount of force possible. Despite this respect for lesser creatures? lives, Tarazin is not a fool ? if it becomes apparent that death is the only argument a hero will understand, the great wyrm will deal it as quickly and efficiently as possible. He may be slow to anger, but once blood has been shed, Tarazin can become an engine of destruction whose equal does not exist in all of Cerilia.
It?s interesting to note that Tarazin wasn?t the only dragon to take part in this conflict. Several others allowed themselves to be drawn in on one side or the other, but most were either bribed or simply curious. Tarazin seems to have been the only dragon who took part out of loyalty; his friendship with Ghaelfyd led him to identify closely with the elven cause.
Despite Tarazin?s efforts, the humans continued their inexorable advance, and the dragon tired of attacking homesteads and farmlands. His friend Ghaelfyd became angry and embittered, since most of his family had fallen to human warriors in the endless wars on the elven borders. Eventually, the former scholar joined the Gheallie Sidhe, the Hunt of the Elves, and engaged in a ruthless campaign of raiding and murdering humans wherever he encountered them. The noble and compassionate friend of Tarazin?s youth became a coldhearted killer. Weary of conflict, the dragon chose to retreat to his fastness and answer Ghaelfyd?s call no more. For 200 years before the great battle of Deismaar, nothing more was recorded of Tarazin?s deeds.
The awful confrontation of good and evil at Mount Deismaar marked the next appearance of Tarazin, along with more than a dozen of his fellows. Dragons fought on both sides of the great battle. Like the elves, some dragons were ensnared by Azrai?s false promises and joined the side of darkness; others chose to help the folk of Cerilia resist Azrai?s armies that threatened the land. Ghaelfyd called on Tarazin before the battle, and the dragon agreed to aid the elf one last time for the sake of their ancient friendship. The dragon and elf stood with Azrai?s legions when the day of battle dawned, and Tarazin marched with the elven host at Deismaar to fight against the defenders of Cerilia. Deismaar marked the last time that dragons took the field in battle, and nine were destroyed that day. Tarazin himself killed a much older wyrm known as Azakadazar, who was defending the dwarven host of Khurin Azur. Although the older dragon gravely injured him, Tarazin went on to slay hundreds of dwarven warriors with his fearsome breath. The folk of Khurin Azur, to this day, sing of the dragon?s fury.
At the height of the battle, Ghaelfyd and most of the elven host changed sides and turned on the forces of darkness. This surprised Tarazin, and he withdrew from the thick of the fight while considering whom to attack. Ghaelfyd stood and fought, and died on an ogre?s spear. Tarazin?s retreat cost the life of his friend, but it probably saved the dragon from destruction, for shortly after the elves? change of heart, the great confrontation between Azrai and his divine brethren took place. The mountainside was leveled by the unimaginable energies of a pantheon?s death. Like the other surviving dragons, Tarazin was completely immune to the divine explosion that created bloodlines of power among humans and other survivors. Dazed, wounded and stunned by the death of his elven friend, Tarazin retreated to his cavern home and did not surface again for more than 100 years.
While Deismaar?s effects on the human, demihuman, and humanoid cultures of Cerilia are well documented elsewhere, very few people realized what Deismaar signified for Cerilia?s dragons. Ages ago, dragons had fiercely contended with each other for power, wealth, and courtship, but in more recent times the race had become wiser and slower to anger. The ancient contention among dragons had resurfaced at Deismaar, and the ghastly loss to the race ? more than a third of all dragons living at the time ? re-ignited the ancient draconic rivalries. The natural draconic tendencies toward paranoia, pride, and the memory of almost-forgotten feuds now poisoned the relations between the surviving dragons. Within two centuries of Deismaar, dragon society ceased to exist, and they became a race of recluses who desired no contact with each other. This more than anything led to the race?s long decline.
Tarazin fellows particularly ostracized him, since it was well known that he had personally killed another dragon, an older and more important one at that. This did not concern him for many centuries, since he was content to rest from his immense exertions and recover from the injuries he had sustained. During this time, he emerged from his caverns infrequently to feed. Meanwhile, the remaining dragons died off one by one. Several destroyed each other in the aftermath of Deismaar or in various schemes and plots. At least two fell victim to rising power of those warped by the magical explosion at Deismaar; it?s said that Prince Raesene, the Gorgon, slew the wyrm Raizhadik to claim the dragon?s stronghold of Kal-Saitharak. And mortal heroes slew a handful of the ancient wyrms, lured by legends of dragon-gold and magic. By the time Tarazin was prepared to resume his role in draconic society, less than a dozen of his race remained.
About 800 years after Deismaar, or 750 years ago (HC 813), Tarazin again entered recorded history when he met the Brecht warlord Eldracht Hoffstugart. Eldracht was a prince of Grevesmühl, one of the few Brecht nations not under the domination of the Anuirean Empire. He dreamed of creating an empire to rival Anuire, uniting the free Brecht states and then waging a war of liberation to free western Brechtür from Anuire. By all accounts, Eldracht was a man of immense energy, magnetism, and vision; in fact, he had already overthrown the Anuirean viceroy of Müden by the time he met Tarazin. Eldracht had scored his successes in the late fall of 813, and as the winter of 814 approached, he gained a brief reprieve from the wrath of Anuire as the great Krakennauricht bay froze and heavy snow blocked the passes of the Kiergard provinces that connect Anuire and Brechtür. Eldracht knew that the spring would bring the return of the Imperial fleets to Brecht waters and fresh armies reinforcing the Anuirean hold on western Brechtür. Since he saw no way to stop this counterblow, Eldracht turned to a dragon for aid.
Prince Eldracht led a small expedition into the Drachenaur Mountains in the heart of winter, seeking Tarazin?s cavern. Tarazin was one of the older surviving dragons, and Eldracht probably decided that nothing short of the most powerful ally imaginable would suffice. By the use of powerful divinations, the prince discovered Tarazin?s lair and led his men into the dragon?s den. Regrettably, Eldracht angered Tarazin in the course of their discussions, and the dragon killed the prince and his party. Only a handful of squires ? those who had remained outside watching the party?s horses ? escaped to carry the tale back to Grevesmühl. Had he lived, Eldracht might have been able to achieve some great successes against Anuire, which was dealing with the resurgence of other conquered peoples at the time.
Eldracht?s heirs carried on a feud against the dragon for over 70 years, and Tarazin was challenged no less than 11 times by various noblemen of Grevesmühl who sought to avenge their fallen prince. The last of these, a stealthy rogue named Witt, seriously injured the dragon by luring him into a nearby gorge and triggering a great rockfall that came within a hands breadth of crushing Tarazin. However, Witt met his end when he came down to gloat over his stunned foe, thinking him dead.
Following this last obnoxious intrusion, Tarazin relocated his lair to the extreme northern reaches of the Drachenaurs, choosing an icebound peak in the region now called Drachenward. After concealing it with the most powerful spells he knew, the wyrm left Cerilia entirely for 30 years.
He crossed the Sea of Dragons in search of the ancestral home of all dragons, the legendary isles at the end of the world. No human knows where they lie or what secrets they hold, but Tarazin later revealed that he had visited the elders of his race and studied under them. When he returned, Tarazin sought out the other surviving dragons one by one, traveling to their lairs and strongholds to hold counsel with them. He advised a truce and an end to the rivalries that had divided Cerilia?s dragons, and he also encouraged the other dragons to distance themselves from human affairs. Since he was now one of the oldest dragons in Cerilia, Tarazin?s words were taken very seriously, and his persistent efforts helped to restore a cool truce among the dragons of Cerilia (although many had let their feuds lapse through sheer weight of years long before Tarazin?s return). Regrettably, the wyrm Infyrna saw Tarazin?s travels as an opportunity to ambush him and settle an old score; over the plains of Merasaf, the two fought a spectacular duel that ended in Infyrna?s death.
On returning to his new stronghold, Tarazin entered a long dormancy that lasted until only 100 years ago. He awoke to find that some human of extraordinary daring and skill had entered his cave and removed various articles of Tarazin?s treasure, including unique scrolls and magical items older than mankind. Nothing is more insulting to a dragon than stealing from his lair while he is actually there, and Tarazin?s years of wisdom and patience disappeared in a storm of rage. The great wyrm embarked on a wild rampage throughout northern Cerilia that lasted for months before calming down enough to consider the situation rationally. When he recovered his wits, Tarazin returned to his cavern and made preparations to track down and catch the thief. Most notably, he used sorcery to alter his shape, taking on a human form to walk the cities and nations of Cerilia in search of his enemy.
Tarazin?s travels lasted for several years, and at first he had great difficulty in maintaining his cover. (Basic human behavior and courtesy took some time to learn.) Eventually, he tracked down a powerful mage named Beruile in the City of Anuire and determined that the wizard had indeed pilfered his hoard. Tarazin destroyed the wizard with draconic magics never before seen in Anuire, but he recovered only a handful of the stolen treasures ? Beruile?s companions had scattered to the four winds, carrying the dragon?s treasures with them. Tarazin never tracked them all down, and he still occasionally searches for word of his lost baubles or the thieves? descendants.
By now, the reader has undoubtedly noticed that Tarazin?s career is detailed to a remarkable degree for a dragon. No others are as well known as he. This is because of the efforts of a bard named Crisoebyr, a half-elven minstrel who set out to record Tarazin?s story 10 years ago. She discovered the dragon?s cave and piqued the dragon?s interest by returning a ruby bladed dagger that was part of his missing treasure. In exchange, she humbly requested one week of conversation with the great wyrm. Tarazin saw in her an image of the beauty, wit, and grace he had loved in the elves of old, and within a few days was completely charmed by her company. Most of the details of this account come from the works Crisoebyr composed after this meeting.
Unfortunately, the songstress vanished two years ago and has not been seen since. It has been suggested that Tarazin suddenly decided to silence her, that he took her away to his cave and imprisoned her to sing at his command, and also that the dragon took human form again to travel with her. Until someone else braves the dragon?s den, the truth of the matter will remain unknown.
Using Tarazin in a BIRTHRIGHT? Campaign
Tarazin is a unique source of ancient lore and hidden knowledge who could come into play as the object of a great quest. Humankind has forgot much that dragons remember, and a great hero may seek out Tarazin to humbly beg his assistance in such matters. Naturally, Tarazin is resentful of any intrusions, and the price he sets on his information could be quite high. For example, he might demand a hero locate and return one of his missing treasures, or require them to bring some unusual or valuable treasure before answering any questions.
Tarazin is not omnipotent or omniscient, but he is extremely powerful. Any PC party that decides to make a name for itself by taking on the greatest dragon in Cerilia should be prepared to face spells, traps, and deceit of diabolical cleverness before coming within sword?s reach of Tarazin. The great dragon is fully aware of just how dangerous humans and their kind can be, and he rarely underestimates an opponent. Most heroes will get only one shot at Tarazin; if he feels seriously threatened, he?ll use his magic to escape and live to fight another day. From that point on, those characters who forced his retreat will have to watch their backs for a long, long time.
, 09-02-2009 at 03:36 PM|
Last edited by , 10-23-2011 at 12:18 PM
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