This is highly illogical.

2008 June 23
by Dante

I finally took some time to get into my 4e D&D books tonight, and I decided to start where most players start for the first time: the classes/races section of the PHB. I could go on and on about the nice concise layout and how the two page race descriptions are both informative and paint a nice picture including a simple layout of abilities, but that’s not what I’m here for today.

I’m here because I saw something interesting.

There I was, reading the race description for the new Dragonborn race trying to decipher why it was that we actually needed an entire race for that sliver population of players that wants to act like a dragon. I mused for a few moments about Vanir electing to play a Pee-Wee Herman styled Dragonborn, spewing forth (pun totally intended) “ha-ha’s” with each breath weapon and creating a big blue shield he called Chair-y.

Shaking off that image, I read on to find the “Play a [race] if you want…” block they added to each race. Play a Dragonborn if you want: to look like a dragon, to be the proud heir of an ancient fallen empire, to breath a breath weapon, and favor the warlord/fighter/paladin classes.

Hmm… this feels familiar somehow… oh well, continuing on.

Scanning past the physical qualities (that’s why these books include ART) I lighted on the “Playing a Dragonborn” section. A few keywords kept jumping out at me: commitment, honor, oaths, and dedication. Then it struck me.

The Dragonborn is a D&D version of a Klingon. A Klingon with a breath weapon. They are viewed as arrogant and proud, and recognize the strength and tenacity of their friends and enemies. For a second, I thought I was going to see “secretly loves kittens” in the racial abilities.

I think the Dragonborn race is interesting. I’m wondering if it will feel a little flat once I actually get a chance to try playing one, and I’m not sure I would want to play an entire campaign flowing with the general race description that is given in the PHB. It feels like it could be that haughty contentious, somewhat mean fightery type that tends to darken the whole party with their prattle about pride and honor.

I suppose that’s exactly what I’m supposed to think of them. Time will tell if they handle better than I project they will… until then, set phasers to stun.

10 Responses leave one →
  1. ChattyDM permalink
    June 24, 2008

    You got troped Dante:

    Dragonborn is a Proud Warrior Race!

    Excellent post!

  2. Dave The Game permalink
    June 24, 2008

    I’d say it was more of a sliver of the population that wanted to play a dragon-race. Any D&D book with the word “dragon” in the title sells better than their other books.

  3. Ben Overmyer permalink
    June 24, 2008

    Dragonborn is my favorite of the new races in the PHB. I didn’t even make the connection to the Klingons, but I loved the cultural hook for Dragonborn.

    How a Dragonborn acts in a party is going to be totally dependent on the player playing her. Personally, having fielded a couple Dragonborn NPCs against the players in my campaign, I think they make for excellent warrior-diplomats….especially Dragonborn Warlords.

  4. Ktrey permalink
    June 24, 2008

    What’s next “Beholderborn?”

    Player: “Hey DM, I’ve been thinking, and I have a pretty cool character concept in mind…”
    DM: “Sure, whatcha got?”
    Player: “Well, I really want to play something that looks like a Beholder.”

    My very patient significant other noticed that all of the “familiar” Player Races in the 4e PHB had their lifespan significantly shortened as well.

    And then she noticed that the flavor text for Tieflings doesn’t seem to have an upper-age limit or listed lifespan.

  5. Kavonde permalink
    June 24, 2008

    Before 4E came out, I was giving some serious consideration to excluding the dragonborn from my campaign, but their fluff in the PHB really improved my disposition towards ’em. Gotta love the classic tropes!

    Also, Dave…don’t all D&D books have “dragon” in them?

  6. noisms permalink
    June 25, 2008

    Funnily enough, one of my 4e-playing friends’ first character is a Dragonborn Fighter called Worf. So you’re not the only one.

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