The Orium Dragon is a metallic dragon. Named after a crimson-hued metal used by ancient empires, orium dragons are likewise obsessed with the secrets of bygone ages. Orium dragons dwell among the crumbling ruins of forgotten fortresses and temples deep in the jungle. But those ruins are more than just a lair to these dragons. An orium dragon regards its home ruins as its most prized possession–a hoard composed of more than just coins and jewels. For an orium dragon, a life spent wresting the secrets from ancient ruins and restoring those ruins to their former glory is a life well spent. And woe to anyone that would trespass in an orium dragon's lair or try to thwart its efforts at reconstruction.
Why the obsession with the ruins of the past? More so than other kinds of dragon, orium dragons feel a strong drive to emulate the ancestral dragons in their bloodline. Many of those bloodlines were sworn to the service of ancient empires (and a few members of orium bloodlines even ruled kingdoms themselves). Thus, the present-day orium dragon sees the reconstruction of its ruined lair as act of homage, not an act of archaeology.
Lairs and TerrainEdit
Orium dragons favor jungles because they like the climate and love the ruins hidden within those places. In particular, river deltas and sheltered valleys attract orium dragons, since those are locales where long-forgotten civilizations likely dwelled in ages past.
The lure of unexplored ruins sometimes draws orium dragons beyond their jungle homes. Colder climes make orium dragons less comfortable (and thus more irritable), but any orium dragon will put up with great discomfort if the lure of ancient secrets is strong enough. Although an orium dragon in a polar region would be rare indeed, it's not unusual to encounter one in a temperate climate. Orium dragons aren't accomplished swimmers or climbers, so ocean and mountain locales are unusual, though not unheard of.
After exploring a ruin and killing or subjugating any of its denizens, an orium dragon takes up residence in whatever structure was grandest in the ruin's heyday, often a temple, inner keep, or palace, even if that building is a shambles now. The dragon's servants start to reconstruct the building. If necessary, the workers take building materials from other parts of the ruins, and their reconstruction isn't necessarily accurate. As long as the building evokes the grandeur of a long-dead era, the reconstruction will please the orium dragon.
Still, the dragon might insist on changes to the structure for more practical reasons. For instance, older dragons need wider doorways to accommodate their bulk. And like any dragon, orium dragons want their treasure well protected, so many install traps or magic guardians to watch over their hoards. Orium dragons won't countenance changes that somehow diminish any remaining magic in the ruins or make it more difficult for the dragon to muse upon the ancient mysteries of the ruin.
Though the majority of orium dragons live in the natural world, more than a few call the Feywild home. Most of those are obsessed with the ancient societies of the Feywild and the strange magic of those civilizations. Some older orium dragons try to transport entire ancient ruins from the world to the Feywild, where they can then dream of bygone ages amid the vibrancy and splendor of that plane. Adv turers who encounter the architecture of Nerath or Bael Turath in the depths ofthe Feywild haven't discovered an extraplanar outpost of those ancient empires–they've stumbled upon the lair of an orium dragon.
An orium dragon follows one simple rule when gat hering treasure: the older the better. Antique jewelry, coins bearing unfamiliar portraits and mottos, and magic items with archaic decorations fill its hoard. The dragon gathers much of its hoard from the vicinity of its lair, but sometimes acquires items from distant places, especially if it sends its servants far afield in search of ancient mysteries.
Orium dragons, though they are able hunters and true omnivores, would rather study the secrets of the ancients than gather food for themselves. As soon as it's old enough to make its way in the world, an orium dragon intimidates and browbeats other creatures often a tribe indigenous to the area–into bringing food as tribute. This relationship quickly becomes symbiotic, with the orium dragon providing protection for the tribe in exchange for frequent "sacrifices" of wild game–and, in some cases, captives from rival tribes or trespassing adventurers.
An orium dragon is somewhat feline in appearance, with a lithe body and feet that look more like paws than reptilian appendages. Elder and ancient oriums use their long, prehensile tails as an extra weapon in battle. An orium dragon takes inordinate pride in its red metallic scales and spends much of its time grooming itself so that its scales gleam amid the mud of the jungle and the dust of the ruins. Older orium dragons sometimes inlay jade designs on their larger scales–part jewelry, part tattoo.
Personality and MotivationsEdit
When characters first meet an orium dragon, they might be surprised at how taciturn it seems. Unlike other dragons, an orium dragon won't bluster or threaten when it first encounters strangers. Instead, it asks simple questions such as "Who are you?" and "Why have you come here?"
The orium dragon's questions are designed to categorize the strangers for its purposes. The vast majority of creatures that an orium dragon encounters fall into one of three categories: thieves, future servants, and food. The orium dragon's mild (for a dragon) demeanor lasts until it has figured out which category the strangers belong in. Then, food and thieves typically are attacked without warning, while future servants are treated to a display of power and intimidation that the orium dragon hopes will cow them into servitude. A typical orium dragon treats only other dragons as equals–and even then, it does so only after it's sure that the other dragon isn't out to steal from the orium's lair.
In the first few rounds of a battle, an orium dragon is quiet, uttering only the occasional grunt of pain (when hit) or derisive chuckle (when hitting). But as the battle goes on, the orium dragon will taunt and counter-taunt adversaries who address it in Draconic. Most of an orium dragon's insults play on how young and inexperienced the opponents are–how they have no idea of the ancient power that surrounds them, couldn't possibly comprehend the magic of centuries ago, and so on.
Fundamentally, an orium dragon could be a useful ally for player characters. After all, adventurers and orium dragons tend to do the same things: go into ancient places and abscond with ancient treasure, lore, and powerful magic. But it takes superlative negotiation to persuade an orium dragon to see it that way, because its instinct to classify others into indexible categories is so strong.
Relations with other CreaturesEdit
Once a creature demonstrates a basic degree of loyalty and tractability, an orium dragon adopts it as a servant and protects it from others in exchange for tribute and labor in the dragon's lair. Humans (often hunter-gatherer tribes) and lizardfolk are the most common servants, but any creature capable of understanding commands and performing manual labor is a potential servant to an orium dragon.
Once it has moved into a lair, an orium dragon faces two main problems. First, in its zeal to establish a lair, it gives less interesting parts of the ruin only a cursory search. Thus, the remnants of the ancient civilization, any guardians it might have left behind, and other creatures that moved into the ruins before the orium dragon can threaten it–or at the least harass its servants.
Second, members of the orium dragon's servant tribe might reveal the existence of their master's lair, attracting the attention of adventurers and other dragons. An orium dragon has no compunctions about taking another orium dragon's lair, and other kinds of dragons might attempt to steal a jungle lair as well.
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