In prepping for my Saturday group's D&D 5e playtest I created a dragonborn paladin of Bahamut named Bharosh Goldenscales.
The group has been adventuring in the Wilderlands of High Fantasy and although this is mostly a mechanical playtest, I couldn't resist building out a backstory. That meant figuring out how the dragonborn might fit into one of D&D's oldest campaign settings.
Dragonborn in the Wilderlands
We haven't ventured too far outside of our starting hexes in the Wilderlands -- and I don't own the source material -- so I don't know too much about the wider world. I do know I haven't seen any dragonborn, half-dragons, or other intelligent reptile types, so I did some research on dragonkin in the setting.
- Dragonskull: "Sword & 4thery" - A blog post about fitting D&D 4th Edition to the Wilderlands, with a specific reference to accommodating dragonborn and tieflings.
- The Piazza: "Races of the Wilderlands" - A discussion of the traditional and monster races found in the setting; dragon born are not among them.
- Wyspa Grozy ("Island of Terror" in Polish) - Orichalan Dragon-Lord - An English language write-up on the dragon lords, hosted on a Polish Obsidian Portal site.
- Wilderlands: Age of Worms:"About Orichalans": An overview of the Orichalan Dragon Lords and their descendants (not related to dragonborn in anyway, but still useful background information).
My readings led me to the legend of the Orichalan Dragon Lords, humanoids said to have dragon-blood in their veins who were "masters of dark magic and masters of dark magic and foul alchemy". Arrogant, oppressive, cruel, and wicked, these Dragon Lords rode dragons and used them in fighting their wars.
Eventually there was a cataclysmic war between the Orichalans and neighboring nations that annihilated much of civilization. In their capital, the Dragon Lords were overthrown by their slaves and driven to the fringes of the world. That city became to be known as the City State of the Invincible Overlord.
It is unclear if the Dragon Lords themselves could be considered dragonborn, or if the race might have been arcane children of the lords, crafted to serve as soldiers in their armies. Either way, the survivors of that civilization have long been removed from the world. The speculation is that they remain absorbed in their dark arts, content to lose themselves in drugged stupors and arcane wanderings.
Enter the Redeemers
Somewhere among these strange, devolved sects there was a cloister whose explorations of the farthest reaches of reality brought them into contact with something new and unexpected: morality.
In the Seven Mounting Heavens of Celestia they found Bahamut, The Platinum Dragon, King of the Good Dragons, Lord of the North Wind. Awed by his presence, their minds scorched by his wisdom, the explorers came to realize the folly of the ancient Dragon Lords and the destruction they'd caused in the Wilderlands. They returned to their reality infused with the grace of the great dragon and a mission to redeem their lost civilization.
Bahamut's Redeemers built a mountain-top temple to their god and began converting dragonborn and their human allies to his faith. They then sent missionaries out into the world to spread the word of the Platinum Dragon and to atone for the wrongs the Dragon Lords committed against the world.
Bharash Goldenscales is one of those missionaries.
Guilt for the Fall of Civilization
The Redeemers may be on a mission from their god to improve the world ... but a few millennium of draconic arrogance isn't something they can shrug off overnight, if ever. Bharosh Goldenscales really, truly wants to help the people of the world improve their lot in life by bringing them the law and wisdom of Bahamut. It's just that, although wise and regal in his own way, he has not learned the social and civil graces needed when interacting with humans, demihumans, and humanoids.
As such, he tends to come off more than a little condescending, even as he's truly doing good. If I get to play him beyond the one-shot, I'd expect his character arc would involve him learning to appreciate the common folk and temper his arrogance ... at least somewhat. This would likely coincide with him taking the Oath of Devotion at 3rd level. Naturally I gave him the noble background, which fits his world view nicely and provides him with the regal bearing that should help him deal with town elders, nobles, mayors, and other rulers.
At the table, all of this leads Bharosh say things such as:
- "It is unfortunate that your civilization has fallen so far from the glory of the old days. I will do what I can to restore it."
- "It's not your fault you wallow in filth. It is a failing of my people. We shall redeem this world."
- "We can not ignore this evil. It must be purged ... and purged now."
- "It is our duty to help the weak, the downtrodden, the oppressed. It is only by undoing the mistakes of my ancestors that Bahamot can have any hope of redeeming this world."
In terms of character builds, Bharosh Goldenscales is a great weapon fighter who relies on his halberd and great axe to ravage his enemies and using javelins to strike at those farther away. This makes him a little easier to hit in combat -- wearing chainmail, with no shield, he's AC 16 -- but that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make to be able to wield a really big axe in combat. As I alluded to earlier, this was his undoing in the initial playtest because he was remarkably squishy (as many characters are at 1st and 2nd level in D&D 5th Edition.
I expect he'll do much during the next few rounds of the playtest, where we'll have better armor and Bharosh will have a much more extensive list of paladin abilities to draw upon.