A Storytelling Game of Divine Right
Long ago, dragons ruled the Earth and mankind. It was the Dominon, when a single sneer at a dragon could bring incineration. The dragons liked their power. Then came the day when a mortal realized he could kill a dragon. Realizing they could fight against their oppressors, mankind rose and fought, and soon, drangonkind was forced into hiding. It was the Collapse.
So is the introductory tale of Dragon: The Embers, a fan supplement for the World of Darkness. Dragons are not widespread like vampires, nor do they seem to serve a purpose, like werewolves. Rather, they are dying out, too few in number to take the world again, devouring themselves to live on, forced to literally part with their hearts.
The original project has been discontinued, with 2nd Edition being the last complete release. The current official successor is the Dragon Rekindled project, which has yet to release the full "Oroboroi Chronicles" book (though the trope page already exists). They are currently looking for new members to join the project. The new book will change a chunk of the canon, including removing most of the focus on leadership and generalizing it to focus on greatness instead, as well as adding new mechanics based on the Oroboroi being beings of imagination.
The inborn splats of the game are refereed to as Methods, and are based on how a Dragon acquired the Heart to make him what he is:
- Slayers: The "Rabid Monsters", those who acquired their Heart by taking a life. They are forceful, violent and impatient, eager to provoke bloodshed and with the muscles to back it up. Their True Form always have something to do with war.
- Finders: the "Inquisitive Monsters", who found their Heart in research and treasure-hunting. Curious, determined and driven, they always want to know everything about everything, and they have the time to do it. Their Ablution usually enhance their intellectual pursuits.
- Challengers: the "Devoted Monsters", who won their Heart as a prize in a competition. Skilled, tactful and arrogant, they are always looking for the next big game. Their true form is that of some great champion, ready to take on all odds through sheer force of will.
- Tricksters: the "Noxious Monsters", who acquired their Heart through a con or a heist. Deceitful, cunning and treacherous, they love setting traps and pulling the rug out from other people. Tricksters are rotten on the inside, and it shows on the outside when they assume Ablutions: they are toxic.
- Inheritors: the "Entitled Monsters", whose Heart were gifted. Socially favored, pompous and ambitious, they expect respect and are adept at negotiation. Their True Form is a perfect combination of stature and elegance.
The chosen splats are referred to as Philosophies, which describe how Dragons interpret and understand the world. There are two types: the Dominion Philosophies, based on conclusions regarding the Collapse, and the Five Evil Philosophies, based on the rejection of sins.
The Dominion Philosophies are:
- Ash: Philosophy of nihilism, following the belief the world is crumbling around them with no option but acceptance. Fatalistic, broody, and slow to make friends.
- Blood: Philosophy of honor, believing broken oaths are the source of the World's problems. Determined and serious, these dragons lay judgment constantly.
- Bone: Philosophy of second chance, believing that while the world is indeed fragile and broken, it's still possible to fix it. Eternal optimists, they are quite friendly and lovable.
- Sweat: Philosophy of hard-asses, believing pain is the only true sign of life, and to settle into comfort is to resign into mediocrity. Tough and difficult to get along with.
- Tears: Philosophy of carpe-diem, feeling that the world is lost in its apathy and in need of an "awakening", but willing to use less than savory methods to cause it. Scary and difficult to trust.
The Five Evil Philosophies are based on the Seven Deadly Sins, minus Envy and Gluttony (which are considered sins no dragon can avoid). Each of these philosophies are based on rejecting their matching sins while still being addicted to it, resulting in a borderline Split Personality.
- All-Loving Hero: Bone Dragons stereotypically care deeply about humans, and even are open-minded enough to tolerate vampires, of all things.
- Blessed with Suck: As usually is the case with the New World of Darkness. You are an immortal, fire-breathing, flying reptile with supernatural abilities and capable of taking a human form. However, your entire life depends on a Soul Jar you have to protect at all cost, since its destruction would mean the end for you. And a lot of enemies will try to get their hands on it, from humans eager to destroy it out of hatred for your kind or to devour it so they can acquire your powers, to other Dragons who just have an addiction to it; you are very likely to sink into paranoia, always living in fear that people might get their hands on the one thing that could instantly kill you despite all your power. You also now need to maintain a position of authority over humans to survive, otherwise you will end up gradually turning to stone and cease to exist. And finally, the Deep Ones are likely to approach you and try to lure you into a Deal with the Devil so they can harvest your organs.
- Big Eater: one of the primary ways to recharge their Breath, the other being to sleep on something expensive (a pile of gold will do just fine, so long as a human body could actually get a decent night's rest on it).
- Blood Knight: Slayers really enjoy fighting and inflicting pain to others.
- Blue and Orange Morality: Dragons' sense of ethics differs seriously from humans', and their moral compass change to reflect that after the Coronation; things like the death of mortals don't affect them as much as it did back when they were humans, while things humans consider petty offenses can completely shake them. Just to give you an idea, actions like "allowing an insult to go unchallenged" or "going a month without demanding some kind of tribute" are things that can cause your Karma Meter to get lower.
- Cannibalism Superpower: Dragons known as Devourers have a habit of stroking their Furnace with Hearts stolen from other Dragons. This practice is even more reviled among Oroboroi than Diablerie is among vampires, since in addition of being morally abject, each Heart devoured cause a Dragon to die permanently, getting their already Dying Race even closer to extinction. It's also very addictive and causes parts of the Devourer's victims to appear on his True Form, eventually growing into full additional heads denouncing his crimes.
- Central Theme: Kingship and Divine Right to rule trying to survive in a world where it no longer has any reason to be. Dragons are used as a metaphor for the kings of the past, once glorious but now trying to retain what remains of their faded glory, with vast powers they can see usurped on the drop on a hat.
- Chess with Death: Both Straight and Inverted. For a prospective Challenger, this is the means through which a Heart (and immortality) are won (The mortal's own life is a popular wager in this respect, but quitting an art is also a common wager). For an existing Oroboros seeking to end the suffering but still feeling duty to her position, finding a mortal who can win her immortality might be the only way out.
- City of Adventure: Like for Princess: The Hopeful, San Francisco.
- Control Freak: Dragons are required to be this by their very nature, since they need people aduling and submitting to them to survive.
- Ditto Fighter: Downplayed. Challengers excel in competitions, and their powers encourage them to copy their opponents.
- Deal with the Devil: Dragons acquired the ability to remove their heart by doing one with the Deep Ones. It granted them the ability to resurrect from it if they get killed and to take human form, but removed their ability to breed.
- Dragon Hoard: Justified, as the Oroboroi draw sustenance from the perceived wealth of the items they collect. The treasure may not actually be gold, and can in actuality be anything the dragon perceives as valuable. May also result in Fridge Logic (how do you sleep on a pile of solid objects?), though that too can be justified by bending physics slightly (to particularly hilarious effect if the dragon collects LARGE objects, like cellos).
- Dragons Prefer Princesses: Justified and played with; Dragons draw power from having people worshipping or admiring them in some form as their subordinates, so they frequently collect people, commonly referred to as "Maidens" or "Unmarried", to trap them in a life of subservience. It's not required for them to truly be abusive toward their Maidens however, and it's entirely possible to let them lead a happy life while they only play prisoner as a role.
- Dying Race: Dragons lost the ability to reproduce (they can still have children with humans, but said children will be one hundred percent human), and their Hearts aren't a renewable ressource, so the species is dying out.
- Eldritch Abomination: Deep Ones. Also The Soulless, and they want to haggle for your organs so they can feel emotion.
- Everyone Has Standards:
"... You're scary. Stay away from me."
- Ash Dragons are biased fatalists who typically treat most of the other Philosophies with either disdain or indifference, and believe nothing really matters because the World is about to end. Their attitude toward Tears Dragons, however?
- Evil Makes You Monstrous: Devourers suffer more and more Body Horror in their True Form as they consume Hearts.
- Fantastic Racism:
- While Oroboroi don't necessarly hate humans, they consider themselves superior to them. This isn't entirely bad though, as because of this they tend to believe they are supposed to behave better than mankind.
- Exterminators are humans hunters who seek Dragon Hearts not to eat them, but to destroy them out of sheer hatred toward the Oroboroi.
- Genius Bruiser: Finders usually are smarter than other dragons, and are well-versed into everything abour Oroboroi, from anatomy to history to politics and religion.
- Glamour Failure: The Knights of the Bloody Chalice sweat blood whenever they are in proximity of a supernatural creature. This is meant to help them locate beings whose blood they could use for their ritual, but it also serves as an useful way for the Oroboroi to identify them.
- Half-Human Hybrid: Downplayed; technically, Oroboroi can still have children with humans, but said children will always be one hundred percent humans. Still, they do get some non-supernatural advantages from their draconic blood, such as being natural leaders, a better understanding of what it means to be a Dragon, and a body better designed to house a Dragon's Furnace upon the metamorphosis.
- I'm a Humanitarian: How to gain the powers of a dragon; since the Oroboroi cannot have draconic children, they instead chose human heirs and have them literally consume their Hearts, causing them to assimilate the power and become new dragons. This transformation is called Coronation. Of course, there are cases where mortals will just slay dragons and forcefully take their Hearts.
- Immortality Seeker: The Knights of the Bloody Chalice are a group of humans dating back from the feudal days of the Collapse who practice a ritual involving bathing yourself in blood to restore their youth and strength for one year, allowing them to prolongate their lifespan indefinitely as long as they do it on regular basis. They tend to favour blood from supernatural beings for its extraordinary qualities, and Dragon blood in particular.
- Hunter of Monsters: Exterminators and Knight of the Bloody Chalice are both people who hunt Dragons (and in the latter's case, other supernatural beings), though for completely different reasons respectively.
- Join or Die: How the Knights of the Bloody Chalice recruit new members.
- Kill It with Fire: Averted, fittingly enough. Whilst fire is a common Achilles' Heel for most Supernaturals, it only does bashing damage to a Oroboroi, and even then only to their human form, which is eventually burned away to reveal their true form underneath. More than one Hunter cell has tried to incinerate what they thought was a Vampire, only to find themselves unexpectedly on the receiving end of an angry Dragon.
- Klingon Promotion: The Collapse happened when mortals realized they could do this by devouring the Dragons' Hearts. This also is how Slayers get their Coronation.
- Kryptonite Factor: Jadeite (True chinese hard jade), which inflicts aggravated damages to the Oroboroi the same way silver hurts werewolves.
- Let's You and Him Fight: The antagonist section of the book provides possible justifications for Vampires, Werewolves and Mage to fight Dragons:
- Vampires can get in conflict with them because they are feeding on their human constituants, which Oroboroi usually are uncomfortable with. Dragon blood also holds a flavor Kindred consider irresistible, though there are rare occasions where the two strike a bargain, allowing the vampire to get pints of dragon blood without conflicts.
- Werewolves usually fight them because they mistake them for Spirit Invaders or possessed.
- Mages hunt them to study their anatomy, and because their blood can be used in rituals to prevent paradoxes.
- Life Drinker: The Knights of the Bloody Chalice. See Powered by a Forsaken Child for more details.
- Masquerade: Like most supernatural creatures in the World of Darkness, Oroboroi enforce one, which is especially understandable, seeing how back when humans actually knew about them, they nearly exterminated them. In their case, it's enforced by a supernatural force called Miasma, which doesn't actually prevent mortals from seeing them, but leaves them unable to describe what they actually saw to anyone; if they try, their description will come out as confused, or just make it seem like they saw a mundane animal, like an alligator.
- No Immortal Inertia: Knights of the Bloody Chalice can become immortal by bathing themselves in blood, but this only lasts until the blood wears off, which takes a year for most beings and five for dragon blood. Once that happens, they start to get disfigured, age quickly and physically weaken. They do have it slightly better than most examples of this trope, as they get a delay of one month to bathe again, but past that time, they rot to dust.
- One-Winged Angel: Dragons who removed their Heart take human forms, but retain the ability to manifest their draconic features (an ability known as Ablution). The closer they get to master their abilities, the more they are capable of returning to their True Form.
- Our Dragons Are Different: Physically, the Oroboroi are a hodge podge of traits from various cultural mythologies. They used to be worshipped by humans as gods, but have lost their influence nowadays, and are slowly dying out. They can become immortal by removing their heart and keeping it as a Soul Jar, allowing them to reincarnate as long as it's safe; they are unable to procreate naturally, instead passing their powers by having a human eat their Heart. They can assume a human form to walk among mortals. Jadeite is their Kryptonite Factor, and they need the adulation of mortals to survive, otherwise they will fossilize.
- Painful Transformation: Coronation is described as very painful, feeling like if your whole body was burning and hot spikes were piercing through your chest. It feels pretty good once it's over, though.
- Partial Transformation: One of the Dragons' two powersets work like this; each Oroboroi has a specific set of draconic features known as "Ablutions", which he can chose to manifest separately at more or less high level in human form. Below five dots of Ablutions manifested at the same time, he will still look human aside from very subtle clues, but above, the clues become less and less subtle, and his appearance becomes more and more dragon-like; for example, a Dragon with five dots of Ablution manifested will still look relatively human aside from sharper teeth and an usual skin tone, while starting with ten dots, he will turn into a Lizard Folk. Manifesting all Ablution dots at the same time cause the Dragon to assume his true form.
- Poisonous Person: Tricksters tend to get such abilities, as a way to reflect the treacherous methods they used to get their Hearts.
- The Pollyanna: The whole point of Dragons from the Bone Philosophy.
- Powered by a Forsaken Child: The Knights of the Bloody Chalice get their immortality through a ritual that involves killing living beings (preferably supernatural ones, and Dragons in particular) and bathing in their blood.
- Resurrective Immortality: A dragon who removed his Heart becomes this; if his physical form gets destroyed, his soul stays anchored to his Heart until the body is repaired.
- Soul Jar: A Dragon's Heart becomes this once removed; if an Oroboroi's physical form is slain, his Soul will be preserved and he will eventually reincarnate from where his Heart is. Similarly, destroying or devouring the Heart will result in the Dragon's immediate death. Because of this, they tend to be very paranoid regarding the protection of their Heart.
- Super-Powered Evil Side: The schitck of the Scholars of the Five Evils. They're the nicest individuals you could ever meet...because they're in complete denial that they are, in fact, dragons, and so have suppressed their instincts into a ball of self-loathing. Being confronted with their Vice often causes them to lose control and switch to a completely different, very Jerkass personality that's probably a hundred times worse than normal dragons...and neither self is particularly sane.
- Taken for Granite: This is what happens to Dragons when they fail to satisfy their dependence on humans admiring and aduling them.
- Taking Up the Mantle: How Inheritors get their Hearts; some Dragons get tired of their immortality, and end willingly handing their Hearts off to mortals as a way to finally find peace.
- Tastes Like Diabetes: Bones Dragons are an in-universe example, being described as "nauseatingly cheerful, almost to the point of diabetic coma".
- The Social Expert: Inheritors. In fact, they corner this market.
- Totally Not a Werewolf: Amusingly enough, with Werewolves being the ones committing the mistake rather than its target. The most frequent reason the Forsaken end up fighting Dragons is because they mistake them for spirit invaders or possessed people like the ones they routinely fight.
- To Serve Man: Averted; Dragons can consume human (or any sentient supernatural being's) flesh, but they consider it harrowing, and would rather avoid doing it unless it's necessary.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?:
- The reason Inheritors exist is because some Dragons, still having the mentality of humans, get tired of outliving everyone they knew and willingly give their Hearts to someone else so that they can find peace.
- In addition, Dragons have the ability to increase their power at the cost of accelerating their aging process, reducing their lifespan in the process. It's mentioned some Dragons who are in Interspecies Romance with mortals do this on purpose, so they can spend most of their life with the mortal in question.