When it comes to races, the Dungeons & Dragons setting of Dragonlance... generally isn't remembered too fondly. This is, after all, the setting that not only gave us the "bungling incompetent Tinker Gnomes" and moronic Gully Dwarves as "comedic relief", but also unleashed the dreaded Kender upon the multiverse. It is also responsible for much of the Asshole Elf meme, of which the Armach-nesti are arguably the worst. But, despite this general ineptitude at giving us "goodly" races who are actually, y'know, good, Dragonlance has a history of doing much better for the "bad guy" races.
Prior to this setting, the standard minotaur was a near-mindless beast, lounging in some smelly cave somewhere and scratching its balls as it waited for the next meal to stumble into range. Dragonlance gave them a civilization all of their own and made them unique, years before Warcraft would repeat the idea of a "minotaur civilization" with the Tauren. Dragonlance gave us ogres who were something more than flea-ridden, particularly puny hill giants. And, most importantly of all, Dragonlance gave us Draconians.
We don't really know what possessed Weiss & Hickman to say "Hey, since this setting is all about dragon-backed armies fighting, why don't we replace orcs with some sort of dragonoid?", but the end-result is perhaps the only well-known race from Dragonlance that's generally remembered fondly.
In A Nutshell
Draconians are a race of draconic humanoids, resembling a blending of the humanoid frame with distinct reptilian traits. Although there was some early edition waffling over how human-like their features were, leading to the notoriously hideous artwork for the Baaz in the 3e Dragonlance Campaign Setting splatbook, the ultimate picture that has stabilized over editions is very much like the lizardfolk or dragonborn, the latter of whom can arguably be said to descend from the draconian concept.
Draconian abilities vary widely, depending upon the dragon whose bloodline they originate from. Most species are winged, with only Auraks lacking them, but flight is generally beyond them, and all species have at least one or two innate magical traits.
The most prominent example of this is their "Death Throes" trait: when slain, a draconian undergoes a powerful eruption of raw magical energy, which usually has very nasty consequences for anyone else around them. This is born from
Dark Ones a mutation in the organ that, in a proper dragon, would provide a breath weapon; only the Auraks and the Flame Draconians have innate breath weapons, although in 3rd edition a feat allowed all draconians to develop a breath weapon.
Needless to say, going boom like this means draconians are very tough to revive - or even to Speak With Dead at. Only the high-level spells Resurrection, True Resurrection, and Wish can bring a departed draconian back to life. Takhisis keeps her secrets.
Draconians were born of evil magic, a ritual initially developed by an obscure Black Robes wizard named Brenn in the year 1015 Pre-Cataclysm. It wasn't until Takhisis secretly began plotting her return to Krynn in the Age of Despair that the ritual found its fruition. Through a blending of arcane and divine magic, united via the spittle of a malevolent chromatic dragon, unhatched dragon eggs could be transformed into massive groups of smaller, weaker humanoid dragons, which could then be used as more reliable slave-soldiers than the goblins, hobgoblins, ogres and minotaurs which the various evil armies depended upon. Thus Takhisis became the queen of Krynn's darkness, up to which (say) Hiddukel had to catch.
However, despite this start, draconians are also creatures with souls of their own. Though brought up as beings of evil, that was a matter of culture, and they can choose otherwise. Since the fall of Takhisis and her vaunted Dragonarmies, the draconians of Krynn have since tried to find a place for themselves as a species, refusing to vanish into the dust of ages with their now-hated creator-deity.
To reflect this, draconians have actually been a playable PC race since at least third edition, with Baaz and Kapaaks appearing in the coerbook and the rest appearing in Dragons of Krynn - although that Level Adjustment is a killer, with breeds ranging from +4 LA to +12 LA. Baaz and Kapaks received a 4e update in Dragon Magazine #421, although much like the Dray it wasn't the best fit - at least they got mechanical variations that tried to emulate the original "feel" of the race. Although Draconians possibly will return as NPCs in Fizban's Treasury of Dragons, the creators of D&D have said that they probably will not be given PC stats because they feel Draconians are unsuitable for being player characters, but players may use the stats of Dragonborn if they want to play them anyway.
Draconians vs. Orcs
See, orcs in those days were Lawful Evil in alignment, due to being the go-to mooks for dark clerics, evil wizards, and any other nefarious would-be warlord. They were aggressive and militaristic, but fell in line rapidly under those who showed off their strength, and served loyally until their "boss" was overthrown. (In later editions and in other settings, orcs would become more "the horde race", as Tolkien intended when there isn't a Dark Lord about; with hobgoblins falling into "the evil army race" niche. That just goes to tell how First Edition Dragonlance is.)
Draconians fill this very niche in Dragonlance history. They are reliable, dependable, non-human troops that are associated with the forces of evil and used without care as expendable mooks by their masters. However, the draconians go about it in a very different way to their orcy counterparts on other worlds.
First and foremost, whilst orcs are (were) Lawful Evil as a general nature, draconians were only that way because they were brought up in the armies of the evil Takhisis. And even then it wasn't always successful - the "stealth operative" orientated Sivaks tended to be Neutral Evil, whilst the Baaz "grunts" usually quickly reverted to Chaotic Evil tendencies when let out from under their leaders' thumbs. Given the chance, many draconians gave up on evil and tried to find a new life for themselves, and modern generations are usually Neutral in some flavor.
Secondly, draconians, unlike orcs, are smart enough to hate being treated as disposable cannon fodder. The callous way they were treated by their creators bred dissent, and made draconians very quick to rebel or escape once the dragonarmies were broken. Finding out that their makers had planned to exterminate all of their females, dooming the race to die out, certainly didn't help.
Finally, with their innate magical abilities, draconians are just naturally far tougher and more dangerous than the standard orc.
In 287 After Cataclysm, servitors of Takhisis stole the eggs of the goodly dragons from their lairs on the Dragon Isles. When the metallic parents woke up some nine years later, Takhisis blackmailed them: either remain neutral in the coming battle, or see their children slaughtered.
Then, once they agreed, Takhisis ordered her clerics to start experimenting on the captured eggs. (It was later retconned that she did this on Taladas, which by now hosted copious badlands with no good-aligned races around to observe. See below for the Sesk and Traag.) Although this came back to bite them in 352 AC, when the metallic dragons found out about this betrayal and, enraged, joined the forces of light in open war, it still resulted in the birth of the draconian race.
As the tide turned against Takhisis, desperate experiments on chromatic dragon eggs produced the first Noble Draconians, who were inherently goodly and so a terrible failure. Outmatched and overwhelmed, Takhisis' armies shattered, and the draconians fled en mass. Eventually, they founded a fledgeling city-state called Teyr, banding together and swearing that they would survive on their own terms, rather than being slaves and puppets.
The most iconic form of draconians, Base Draconians - a term taken from alchemy, and which they personally find very insulting - are draconians born from the eggs of metallic dragons. Beyond this single trait, the draconians are more a collection of races than a single race - something only made worse by the fact that in some species, different genders have different inherent abilities.
Classically, there are only five species of Base Draconian, but 4th edition added three more to the list in their Metallic Draconomicon; the Adamantine-blooded Adamaaz, the Iron-blooded Ferak, and the Cobalt-blooded Kobaaz.
Aurak draconians stem from the eggs of gold dragons, and are the rarest of the Base Draconians, as only a small number of Aurak hatchlings (1-3) are produced from each corrupted gold dragon egg. Wingless, they make up for this with powerful magical abilities, and served as the closest thing draconians had to generals from their own race, as well as powerful magical troopers. Male auraks can shapeshift into the forms of small animals, an ability that the females lack - at least, that's what their default racial profile says, their racial class makes no mention of it. All auraks can breathe clouds of noxious, blinding, toxic fumes, teleport a short distance 3/day, use a variant Disguise Self spell 3/day, launch bolts of force from its hands at-will, become invisible at will, cast Dominate Person 1/day and Suggestion at will, have high levels of Spell Resistance, and the spellcasting abilities of an 8th level Sorcerer. With incredible (+4) Intelligence and Charisma, and heightened (+2) Dexterity, it goes without saying that Auraks are proud and arrogant creatures, well and truly convinced of their superiority. The Death Throes of an Aurak come in the form of an explosion of raw magical force that vaporizes the corpse.
Baaz draconians stem from the eggs of brass dragons, and are the most common of their kind. Hardy but pretty dumb, they were used as grunts. Naturally wild and uncontrolled, with a love of alcohol that fuels their boastful, aggressive, bullying nature. Bottom of the social ladder even after the War of the Lance, Baaz resent their perception as inferior to their kindred. Not helping matters is that they have no inherent magical abilities, other than their Death Throes, which involves transforming into a statue of lifeless stone that crumbles into dust 1d4 minutes later. Sounds harmless, right? Well, not if you get your weapon caught in the corpse and are helpless whilst his buddies want to gut you. Funny thing is, their 3rd and 4th edition artwork depicts them with curling, ramlike horns, whilst their original description portrays them as having no horns. Likewise, female baaz are supposedly smarter, more capable and natural leaders, but have no mental bonuses and the only representation of this is an innate affinity for Diplomacy over the males' affinity for Bluff.
Bozak draconians stem from the eggs of bronze dragons, and were used as junior officers and unit commanders during the War of the Lance. Cruel, cunning and devious, Bozaks make excellent use of their innate affinity for both melee combat and for magic; though not as powerful as the Auraks, the spellcasting abilities of a 4th level Sorcerer and modest Spell Resistance are nothing to sneeze at. In their Death Throes, a Bozak's flesh crumbles to dust, before their bones explode violently in a cascade of flying, organic shrapnel.
Kapaak draconians stem from the eggs of copper draconians, and were the second most common draconian after the Baaz. Serving as scouts, rogues and assassins, the independent-minded Kapaaks easily took to their new freedom. Weirdly, they supposedly have beards, in the form of "short manes of dark brown or blonde hair hanging from either side of their mouths", although no artwork ever uses this, and for good reason. Male Kapaaks have powerful venom glands that secrete a toxic mucus, allowing them to deliver a venomous bite or poison a weapon's edge by licking it. Female Kapaaks don't have venom, and instead possess a "curative mucus" that heals 2d6 points of damage when applied to a wounded being. Both sexes have a Sneak Attack extraordinary ability that does +1d6 damage. Their Death Throes sees them dissolve into a 5ft-wide puddle of corrosive venom, which inflicts acid damage on whoever touches it until it evaporates in 1d6 rounds.
Sivak draconians stem from the eggs of silver dragons. Like their progenitors, they are second in power, prominence and rarity only to the golden-blooded Auraks. The biggest of all base draconians at a whopping nine feet, they are also the only base draconians able to fly, and possess powerful tails that they can use as weapons. Male Sivaks are shapeshifters who can assume the form of humanoids they have killed; when slain, their Death Throes results in them either assuming the form of their killer (if a Large or smaller humanoid) for 3 days before crumbling into black soot (which is the most useless Death Throes yet) or exploding in a burst of flame. Female Sivaks instead have chameleonic properties; their shapeshifting is limited to a mere Disguise Self at-will spell-like ability, but also lets them blend into the background. Also, their Death Throes are always the "explode like a fireball" version.
When the metallic dragons learned what was being done with their eggs, naturally, they were pretty pissed off about it. So their first major operations were striking at the strongholds where Takhisis' minions were holding their eggs.
This put the servants of the Dark Queen into a bit of a pickle, as they'd always been rather careless with their draconian underlings and now found their "limitless" source of replacements cut off. In desperation, they tried to repeat the process by substituting the eggs of chromatic dragons, only to find, in a pesky case of that vaunted "Balance Between Good and Evil" Krynn so loves, the ritual was responding to the inherent darkness in the chromatic dragon eggs by aligning the resultant draconians with the light.
Naturally, they tried to exterminate them all, but a few have slipped away and still try to fight the good fight.
Flame Draconians were created from the eggs of red dragons. Volatile and tempestuous as their ancestors, Flame Draconians are natural berserkers, but channel that rage into battling Takhisis and all other forces of darkness and evil. They have the innate ability to Rage as per an 8th-level Barbarian, can fly, can cast a Fireball 3/day, have a breath weapon in the form of a cone of fire, and their Death Throes takes the form of exploding in a massive fireball. Needless to say, they're very, very good at burning down whatever stands in their way.
Frost Draconians were engineered from the eggs of white dragons. Like their progenitors, they're fairly simple-minded creatures, but their natural temperament is gentle, easy-going, affable and sociable. They're poor diplomats because they're too straightforward and guileless, but they really just want to be friends. Of course, they can be as vicious as any white dragon when finally pushed too far. They are amongst the weakest of the noble draconians, and have no innate magic beyond their Death Throes, which sees them freeze solid and then explode in a cascade of razor-sharp icicles. Weirdly, according to their racial class, they should have the Cold subtype, much as Flame Draconians have the Fire Subtype, but this is missing from their racial writeup.
Lightning Draconians, formed from the eggs of blue dragons, were the first of their kind to exist and are generally considered the most noble and goodly of their kind. In fact, they're so pure spirited, they have the same Aura of Courage, Aura of Good, Divine Grace, Divine Health, Lay on Hands, Smite Evil, spells and Turn Undead abilities as a 6th level Paladin! And on top of that, a Lightning Draconian has the same abilities of flight and tail attack as a Sivak, can deliver a powerful electric shock with its touch or a metallic weapon, and its Death Throes takes the form of exploding in an arcing cascade of electricity, akin to a Chain Lightning spell.
Vapor Draconians were born from the eggs of green dragons, and so inherit the intelligence and wisdom of their progenitors, but turned to a more benevolent bent. Non-violent by nature, they prefer to heal rather than harm. They were one of the very few races who were able to become Mystics even before Chaos was released, and have natural adeptness in this field, gaining a single Mystic domain's granted power and bonus spells and the spellcasting ability of a 4th level Mystic. When slain, their Death Throes sees them dissolve into a swirling cloud of corrosive vapors.
Venom Draconians are the corrupted (or perhaps ascended) progeny of black dragons. They have a natural affinity for the roguish arts, with a +1d6 Sneak Attack, and also possess a powerful poisonous bite. Like their Vapor Draconian kindred, they dissolve into acid as part of their Death Throes, although slain Venom Draconians dissolve into a pool of corrosive liquid that lingers for 1d6 rounds.
No ritual gets off to a flying start immediately, and the draconians are no exception. Taladas is where you go to point and laugh at Takhisis' fail.
Initial experiments with brass dragon eggs produced the Traags, a lazy and cowardly race of pseudo-draconians whose lackluster drive for combat, low "birth rate" and tendency to fly into uncontrollable blood-lust fuelled rages when in combat made them distinctly less than a success. Although their birth rates are improving enough to keep their population stable where they're at.
Another round of experiments, conducted on silver dragon eggs, produced the Sesk, intelligent but physically frail and deformed creatures that were too weak to make effective fighters, and too reluctant to accept orders. Sesk were introduced in DLA1, a Taladas adventure, and not much picked up on elsewhere.
Once the ritual was refined and the first true draconians were produced, the surviving Traags and Sesk were simply abandoned on Taladas, the oft-forgotten "lost land" of Krynn, where they have eked out a living ever since. The Traag are making a decent go of it in Old Aurim. The Sesk by contrast are rare and presumably moribund.
Pseudo-draconians have no inherent magic, and can't even trigger the Death Throes power of their successful kin; Traags dissolve into a puddle of smelly slime upon death, whilst Sesk are reduced to a small mound of silvery dust.
The 4e draconians only appeared in brief, and so not much is known about the last three Base Draconians. Presumably, more information would have come out for them, perhaps even creating new Noble Draconians based on the Brown, Gray and Purple Dragons of 4e, but the edition's cancellation and replacement with 5th edition means we'll never know.
Adamaaz draconians are born from Adamantine Dragon eggs. Indirect and evasive when in private, on the battlefield they make strong, dutiful, hardy soldiers. Their Death Throes takes the form of a powerful thunderclap that obliterates their remains in an explosion powerful enough to make other peoples' heads burst.
Ferak draconians are born from Iron Dragon eggs. Aggressive, spiteful and brutal, they are born shock troopers. Their Death Throes see them explode into choking, blinding clouds of caustic rust.
Kobaaz draconians are born from Cobalt Dragon eggs. Serious, disciplined and driven, they are natural warriors. Their Death Throes sees them freeze over, becoming a supernaturally cold sculpture of ice so frigid that just being near them can kill from frostbite.
|Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition Races|
|Core:||Dwarf - Elf - Gnome - Half-Elf - Half-Orc - Halfling - Human|
|Dark Sun:||Aarakocra - Half-Giant - Mul - Pterran - Thri-kreen|
|Dragonlance:||Draconian - Irda - Kender - Minotaur|
|Mystara:||Aranea - Ee'ar - Enduk - Lizardfolk (Cayma - Gurrash - Shazak) |
Lupin - Manscorpion - Phanaton - Rakasta - Tortle - Wallara
|Oriental Adventures:||Korobokuru - Hengeyokai - Spirit Folk|
|Planescape:||Aasimar - Bariaur - Genasi - Githyanki - Githzerai - Modron - Tiefling|
|Spelljammer:||Dracon - Giff - Grommam - Hadozee - Hurwaeti - Rastipede - Scro - Xixchil|
|Ravenloft:||Broken One - Flesh Golem - Half-Vistani - Therianthrope|
Book of X:
|Alaghi - Beastman - Bugbear - Bullywug - Centaur - Duergar |
Fremlin - Firbolg - Flind - Gnoll - Goblin - Half-Ogre - Hobgoblin
Kobold - Mongrelfolk - Ogre - Ogre Mage - Orc - Pixie
Satyr - Saurial - Svirfneblin - Swanmay - Voadkyn - Wemic
|Dragon Magazine:||Half-Dryad - Half-Satyr - Uldra - Xvart|