Sunday, May 14, 2023

Dragon Eggs

Dragon Eggs are wonderful treasures, bringing all sorts of trouble for PCs once they hatch.

Dragon Egg by Jack Wang and WotC

Most games presume that Dragons are related to reptiles and/or birds, so that what hatches from the egg depends entirely on what ovipositor the egg slurped out of.

But what if Dragon Eggs are neutral in disposition, and their specific contents - chiefly the type of dragon - are dictated by the amount and type of loot is layered around them in the nest? Environment has little impact on what hatches, it is all about the hoard.

The hoard matters, not just in contents, but in quality AND quantity.  The larger the hoard, the more potent the hatchling.  This is why some Draconic dynasties and 'bloodlines' are so well-known; one massive hoard leads to 

It is even whispered that the types of magic items in the hoard may influence the newly-hatched Dragon's other abilities.  

Yes, other abilities.  Because book dragons are just the basic form, even if ancient.  These other abilities most often manifest themselves as the spells that spellcasting Dragons hurl, but not always.  Sometimes these other abilities are entwined with the Dragon's breath, or impregnated in the Dragon's scales and bone.  

Granted, Dragons do tend to be like their parent dragon (are dragons gendered or do all dragons lay eggs?  Dragons as hermaphrodites? I think it is now canon in my world that all true Dragons can lay eggs), given that those hoards are what begot the parent.

Still, clever or lucky adventurers can acquire eggs and hatch whatever type of dragon they desire - be it through trial and error or dedicated research.  Such research is likely to be expensive and hard-to-find, because Dragons prefer non-Dragons to stay out of their business and tend to eat nosey sorts.  


Ancient Gold Dragon by Simon Dominic

The more commonly encountered dragons - and what hatches them - are as follows:

Brass - rare woods, textiles (fine clothing and tapestries), fine leatherwork; honey, preferably a (giant) bee hive; bottles and barrels of mead; sentient beings talking (dragon eggs carried by wandering tribes of honorable desert sentients often hatch Brass dragons).

Bronze - children (dragon eggs incubated in an orphanage or school) laughter and song and innocence, driftwood, pearls, seashells, carvings made from coral, scrimshaw on whalebone and walrus ivory; the dragon(s) hatched tend to become protectors of one or more of the children.

Copper - scorpions crawling about, puzzle boxes, riddle books, raw gemstones, raw precious ores, ceramics (be it fine dishes, vases, or statues), the sound of laughter, illusions. 

Gold - sculptures, jewelry, paintings and tapestries of beautiful landscapes, artists performing music and reciting poetry, the sound of running water (from a fountain), the sound of birds, spellbooks; bottles of fine wine.

Silver - suits of full plate and field plate armor, lances, swords (weapons and armor preferably magical), tales of chivalry and quests and knights, fine horses (egg incubated in a stable); pennants of notable knights, shields bearing coats of arms, other collections of heraldry; jewelry; murals, bas-reliefs, tapestries of knights on quests.

Dragon's Hoard by Adam Paquette

Black - shallow water, tarnished silver, sounds of catoblepas bellowing, smell of foul mud, broken statuary, lesser undead, anything that makes mortals fear.

Blue - sapphires, other cut gems, iron lightning rods, turquoise and silver jewelry, sandstone, caravan trappings (carts, wagons, tackle for horses and camels, tents).

Green - throne(s), crowns, items that allow scrying (crystal balls, certain spell scrolls), emeralds, jade statues and masks, items that allow long-distance sight (telescopes), growing plants that are poisonous to most other sentients. 

Red - anything stolen, but preferably gold and cut gems; sounds of anguish and screams of pain; sulfur, pumice, and volcanic ash; treasure maps, merchant scales, written inventories of treasuries and caravans; bones belonging to whatever owned the stolen treasure.

White - mammoth tusks, tanned furs, diamonds, ice sculptures (though frozen things work), scrimshawed bones, silence of snow falling.

Red Dragon by Andrey Kuzinskiy

As might be imagined, the more refined and beautiful and rare and magical the items in a hoard, the more potent the dragons hatched will be.  

In all cases, eggs incubated with spell scrolls, spellbooks, and wands often find some or all these spells imprinted upon them, and these fortunate dragons gain the ability to cast these spells as they grow older.

When in doubt, the larger the hoard, the better for the hatched dragon.


Legends tell of other sorts of dragons and foolhardy nonDragons may (accidentally) hatch entirely new dragons based on whatever the egg is incubated with or in.  These Dragons are often identified by their breath weapons.

Note that Dragonborn come about when Dragon Eggs are incubated in mortal (ideally Human or Elf) blood, in addition to the requisite treasure (blood for metallic dragonborn being freely given in sacrifice to a greater cause).  Dragonborn themselves are forever sterile, lacking the necessary bits to have any sort of youngling, although adoption is possible.


What hoards lead to which new dragons in your games?  What lists of nontraditional Dragon abilities do you work from?  Would you share those lists?

Goblin Punch features some unique hoard ideas from The Dragonhole.

Let me know!

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