Castle Falkenstein / dragons
"One of the most powerful of the characters Players can choose, a Dragon can truly be a fearsome thing." - Castle Falkenstein, page 171.
When compared to Faerie Dramatic Characters, Dragons may seem quite potent. Each species of Faerie possesses Repulsions, after all, which are so firmly embedded in folklore even the most uneducated of New Europans might know to turn their clothing inside out when dealing with Brownies or create lines of salt to deal with a pesky Pixie. These Repulsions certainly help mitigate Etherealness, Shapeshifting, and natural Faerie powers. Glamour, the Faerie Ability to craft illusions, seems quite potent but the strange realities they create can be banished by touching touching them with iron as easily as a finger pops a soap bubble. Dragons, meanwhile, are creatures with two forms... one of which is a flying, super strong, armored, "fire breathing" monster with claws. Dragons are also possessed of an intangible quality of social position as they are automatically treated as minor nobility at the very least. In status conscious New Europa, automatic social ranking is no small matter.
And, of course, Dragons are capable of Magick and, unlike beginning Sorcerers, capable of casting any Spell from any Lorebook... in theory. The balancing limitation on Dragon Spellcasting involves the gathering of Power. Dragons can never draw more than five cards from the Sorcery Deck at a time. This can place the most potent spells out of a Dragon's reach unless they experience incredible luck in their draws.
Still, even with the limitation on Dragon Spellcasting and the one minute transformation required for a Dragon to change forms (and the limitation on how may times per day the Dragon can change), and the Health cost of using Firecast, some Hosts remain reluctant to allow Dragons in their Campaign as Dramatic Characters. To them, and to anyone seeking a somewhat fresher approach to Dragons in Castle Falkenstein, I present "The Here There Be Dragons Variation". Please note, this Variation assumes the ownership of Curious Creatures from Fat Goblin Games, as it alters Dragons somewhat to match the changes presented in there.
This Variation might at first seem to increase a Dragon's power, as it grants them a new Ability known as Reverie and allows them to use the Shapeshifting Ability to speed their transformations and surpass their times per day limit. However, that additional Ability is actually a limitation, as it does not come for free and must be purchased at the cost of Good or Great Ranks in other Abilities. In addition, a limit on Physique has been put in place for beginning Dragon Dramatic Characters and the overall strength and armor of such characters have been slightly decreased. Finally, rules reflecting how the clumsiness of Dragons while on the ground in draconic form have also been added.
Your humble servant,
THE HERE THERE BE DRAGONS VARIATION
Players seeking to create Dragon Dramatic Characters should keep in mind the following.
- Every Dragon has two forms: their natural, draconic form and a human form. The human form is always considerably tall for a human and possessed of strange, almost catlike eyes. It takes one minute to change between forms, and as the transformation is so exhausting, it can only be done three times in any twenty-four hour period. Dragons can take Shapeshifting as an Ability to speed their transformation between their two forms, or to surpass the limit on how many times per day they can change shape. Transforming in thirty seconds, or a fourth time per day, requires a Shapeshifting Feat with a Requirement of Great. Transforming in ten seconds, or a fifth time per day, requires a Shapeshifting Feat with a Requirement of Exceptional. Transforming instantaneously, or a sixth time per day, requires a Shapeshifting Feat with a Requirement of Extraordinary. Transforming beyond a sixth time is also a Shapeshifting Feat with a Requirement of Extraordinary but costs the Dragon 2 points of Health.
- While in human form, a Dragon does not have the strength, size, armor, flying ability, claws, or Firecast power of their Dragon form. They can, however, cast spells and use the Reverie Ability.
- While in draconic form, a Dragon gains a number of special advantages including increased strength, increased size, claws, the power of flight, an armored hide, and the Firecast power.
- Many of a Dragon's advantages while in draconic form depend on the Rank of their Physique Ability. Please note, the following information uses the Creature Damage Chart on page 10 of Curious Creatures. A Dragon Dramatic Character cannot start with a Physique higher than Great in Rank.
Poor and Average Physique: Does damage as if a Medium sized creature; Can carry up to 100 pounds in flight, and can break thick wood; Wingspan is 10 feet, body length is 6 feet, and weight is 100 pounds; No armor.
Good and Great Physique: Does damage as if a Large sized creature; Can carry up to 150 pounds in flight, and can bend steel bars; Wingspan is 20 feet, body length is 10 feet, and weight is 150 pounds; Armor stops up to 1 point of damage (Light Armor).
Exceptional Physique: Does damage as if a Huge sized creature; Can carry up to 200 pounds in flight, and can break steel bars; Wingspan is 30 feet, body length is 15 feet, and weight is 200 pounds; Armor stops up to 2 points of damage (Light Armor).
Extraordinary Physique: Does damage as if a Gigantic sized creature; Can carry up to 250 pounds in flight, and can bent/bend thick steel plating; Wingspan is 40 feet, body length is 20 feet, and weight is 300 pounds; Armor stops up to 3 points of damage (Medium Armor).
- In draconic form, a Dragon's flight and running speed are based on their Physique Ability. They fly at a speed based on the chart in Curious Creatures on page 13. However, since they are designed for flight and not land movement, they run at a speed based on the chart in Castle Falkenstein on page 140, using their Physique lowered by two Ranks (with a minimum of Poor). Dragons in draconic form are pitiful runners.
- In addition to being slower while on land, Dragons in draconic form are also clumsier. Lower the Rank of any of a Dragon's physical Abilities which involve movement while not flying by one, to a minimum of Poor. If the Dragon is in cramped quarters, lower the Rank by two instead, to a minimum of Poor. Dragons on the ground waddle and a large Dragon in a small room can be a pathetic sight to behold.
- Dragons are hardier than humans in both their forms. Calculate a Dragon's Health using the Courage and Physique Abilities as normal, but add 2 additional points to the final total to represent their innate vigor. In addition, Dragons have an innate resistance to Magick. Anyone attempting to cast a spell upon a Dragon, except the Dragon themselves, must gather 6 TER to do so instead of the 1 TER required for another mortal creature.
- Dragons have a unique Ability known as Reverie, which allows them to slip into a hypnotic trance while touching items from their Collection. While in this trance, Dragons can tap into their ancestral memories and recall facts and events known to their ancestors.
Some believe Dragons to hoard treasure out of greed but, in truth, they do so as a way of marking history. The items in a Dragon's collection acts as a trigger, allowing them to remember events not only from their own life but from the ancient lives of their long dead ancestors. Reverie can be used in place of Education or, with the Host's permission, other Abilities governed by the Diamond Suit to recall specific facts, events, or details. Poor Reverie means a Dragon has trouble remembering events in their own life beyond a normal human lifespan. With an Average Reverie, a Dragon can reach back into the memory of their immediate ancestor. A Good Reverie allows them to recall the Dark Ages. A Great Reverie means a Dragon can recall events from when Romans rules much of the known world. With an Exceptional Reverie, a Dragon can reach back to the beginning of written history. An Extraordinary Reverie allows a Dragon to recall events as far back as when ice covered the planet! Each use of Reverie requires one minute of time, plus an additional minute for each century back the Dragon is attempting to recall, and access to an appropriate item from their Collection. Dragons usually travel with a few select pieces from their Collection for this very reason. Should the Dragon not have access to an appropriate item from their Collection, they may still attempt the recall past events but the Host should raise the Requirement of such an attempt by one Rank.
- Dragons can cast Magick Spells. However, they can never draw more than five cards from the Sorcery Deck for a single spell. If the spell cannot be cast within five draws, the spell is simply too involved and the knot is unwoven without effect. As an option, the Host may rule a Dragon with a Sorcery lower than Great (meaning they have not dedicated themselves to Magickal study and training) also cannot discard cards and, thus, will almost always suffer Harmonics in their Spells.
- All Dragons can cast a single Spell, known as Firecast, which draws power from the Dragon's personal knot. Gathered TER can never be used to power Firecast. Instead, each time the Dragon casts Firecast, the Dragon loses 2 Health. The Dragon regains any Health lost for this reason at a rate of 2 points per day. Health lost to reasons other than Firecast returns at a normal rate. To cast Firecast on a target, the Dragon must be able to see their target and the target must be in a straight line from the Dragon's head. Firecast can only affect one target at a time and attacks with it are made using the Marksmanship Ability. Damage and range are as determined on the chart at the top of page 186 of Castle Falkenstein.
- Dragons are not perfect. Their lives stretch back centuries and their memories stretch back longer. Over time, each develops odd quirks, unusual behaviors, or strange differences. Choose from one of the following Limitations.
Disconcerting Predator: You are an apex predator and you cannot hide it. Something in your eyes, or perhaps your scent, or perhaps your very aura causes non-dragons to shrink away from you in fear. The Requirement for all social interactions with non-dragons, except those involving striking fear, are raised by one and you can never get more than a Full Success on such Feats.
Magickally Inept: While all Dragons are capable of casting Spells, not all do so with equal skill. Your total number of cards you can draw from the Sorcery Deck for a single spell is three instead of five. If you cannot cast your Spell within three draws, the knot you are weaving unravels and the Spell fails. You can never choose to discard a drawn card from the Sorcery Deck, no matter how high your Sorcery Ability.
Obsession: All Dragons collect something but your desire to collect has gone beyond simple need and become a mania. Each day, you must succeed at a Courage Feat against a Requirement of Exceptional. If you succeed, you have withstood the desire to pursue adding an item to your collection for the day. If you fail, all of your Abilities are reduced by one for all Feats which do not directly relate to caring for, protecting, or growing your collection for the rest of the day.
Stunted Growth: You are small for a Dragon. When calculating the damage of your claws and teeth, your strength, your lifting capacity in flight, your wingspan, length, and weight, and your armor, consider yourself one category lower (Extraordinary to Exceptional, Exceptional to Good/Great, Good/Great to Poor/Average). When calculating your maximum flight speed, consider your Physique as one Rank lower. This limitation does not affect your Physique while in human form. You cannot take this limitation if your Physique is Poor or Average.
Transformative Flaw: Something either prevents you from transforming at will or forces you to transform. If you are prevented from transforming at will, choose a trigger such as a special formulae, time of day, or a command given by another. You cannot transform from human to draconic form or vice versa without the conditions of the trigger being met. If you are forced to transform, choose a trigger, such as a time of day, a command given by another, or a specific emotion. When the conditions of the trigger are met, you must transform from one form to another.
Weak Fire: You have a secret shame. For whatever reason, perhaps due to a curse or mental trauma, Firecasting is particularly difficult for you. Each time you use the Firecast spell, your Health is reduced by 3 instead of 2 and you only heal 1 point of Health lost in this way per day.