How To Raise Your Dragon Part 1

Sometimes all it takes is a random encounter to lead us towards a life-defining moment.

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Hello again everyone. Today I’d like to share with you all another memorable story that occurred during one of my older Pathfinder sessions in the Kingmaker campaign. As a side note, I promise there won’t be any spoilers for the adventure path, so there’s no need to worry.

To give a brief backstory, our DM informed us that this particular campaign involved a lot of wilderness exploration, and that it would likely take place over many years of ‘in-game’ time. As such, my group was encouraged to make characters who would be able to do something fun during their downtime, so I decided to roll up a half-elf summoner of Erastil (the lawful good God of farming, hunting, and family). We were also told that we’d be building our own kingdom as well, and with all that in mind, I figured it would be cool to become a farmer who raised exotic animals and sold them off for profit. After all, the forests were practically teaming with wildlife, and the idea of taming owlbears seemed like an amazing concept.

Now, for those of you who don’t know, the cost of raising and caring for an animal isn’t really that expensive, and so long as I had the necessary farmland (along with enough workers), I was basically guaranteed to turn profit (especially since a fully trained owlbear sold for a whopping 5,000 gold). Maxing out my Handle Animal skill and getting the Leadership feat became my top priority, and after a few good sessions of leveling up and saving gold, I was finally able to purchase a respectable plot of land for my farm. As my party continued to traverse the wilderness, I quickly began capturing as many owlbears, hippogriffs, and axe beaks that I could find, knowing that these animals were the easiest to rear and sold for a hefty amount of coin.

Fast forward a few years later ‘in-game’ time, and my farm was quickly becoming one of the most profitable industries in the entire region, housing a large collection of rare and exotic (yet fully tamed) animals. Needless to say, I was very happy with the way things were going, and now that my character was a high enough level, I soon began setting my sights on capturing a new type of animal: a roc (which is basically a powerful gargantuan-sized eagle that, if properly trained, sold for an incredible 10,800 gold). I figured it would make the perfect addition to my little farm, and I simply couldn’t wait to capture one alive (or at the very least, acquire some of their eggs).

However, little did I know that fate had other plans in store for me instead.

During one of our exploration missions into the swamplands, our party had a random encounter with an adult black dragon who was apparently attempting to defend its territory from unwanted intruders. At the time, my party consisted of a lawful evil wizard, a lawful neutral cavalier, a true neutral alchemist, and myself as a lawful good summoner, and while my allies weren’t exactly the most ‘noble’ of heroes, none of them had any issues with killing this vile beast.

Although the encounter proved to be rather difficult, our party eventually managed to slay the monster without much issue, and as luck would have it, we also rolled high enough on our knowledge checks to know that dragons typically nested in lairs and enjoyed collecting treasure to store in said lairs. As such, our wizard quickly went to work and cast ‘Create Treasure Map’ in the hopes of locating the dragon’s lair and obtaining some much-needed loot. Thankfully, the lair in question ended up being only a few hours away, and we immediately wasted no time in seeking it out.

However, upon arriving at our destination (and after going through what seemed like almost half a dozen traps), our party was disappointed to learn that the lair was mostly filled with dead bodies and broken equipment, with only a few jewels and gems scattered throughout the cave. Not wanting to miss out on any secret chambers, we quickly rolled our perception checks and proceeded to search the area while our wizard took it upon himself to appraise and gather the gemstones. As it turns out, there was at least one more thing of note hidden inside the cave, as our party eventually stumbled across a group of curiously shaped ‘rocks’ nestled away in the corner of the chamber. Upon closer inspection (and after making another knowledge check), we quickly learned that these rocks were actually dragon eggs…black dragon eggs to be more precise.

Sadly though, most of the eggs looked as if they had been smashed or crushed from some prior event, but after taking a few moments to rummage through the nest, our party managed to discover that one of the eggs was still very much intact. This revelation immediately lead us to discussing what we should do about the egg, as our cavalier quickly suggested that we should simply ‘smash the damn thing and be done with it’. Meanwhile, our wizard and alchemist both agreed that we should take the egg back with us and sell it for a profit.

I, on the other hand, had another idea in mind.

I can’t exactly explain what compelled me to do it, but after taking a few seconds to consider my character, I realized that selling an intelligent creature into slavery didn’t exactly sit well with me. In addition, I also couldn’t stomach the idea of destroying the egg, and leaving it here alone simply wasn’t an option. Therefore, seeing as how I worshipped a God of farming, hunting, and ‘family’, I decided to take it upon myself to adopt the dragon as my own.

As you can imagine, my party wasn’t exactly thrilled by this, as they immediately pointed out that I was depriving all of them from a great deal of gold by ‘adopting’ the dragon rather than selling it. In response, I offered to count the egg as my share of the ‘loot’, and even added to give each of them a free owlbear from my farm to keep or sell as they pleased (which was a rather considerable offer since I only had five fully-grown owlbears left on my farm at the time). They agreed to these terms and promptly proceeded to help me transport the egg back to my home.

Thankfully after the dragon encounter, our party was given another week of downtime to manage our businesses and mingle with npcs. As for me, I quickly decided to use my time to learn everything I could about black dragons while delegating my farmland affairs to my cohorts and followers. I’ll admit, while I had previously never considered roleplaying as a ‘parent’ with this (or any other) character before, I soon found myself very excited by the idea of becoming a father to this little black dragon.

Unfortunately, after doing a bit of research, all that excitement was immediately replaced by dread as I discovered that black dragons were perhaps the most psychotic little fuckers that ever existed in the history of…well…anything. Even when compared to other chromatic dragons (which were all pretty much evil in way or another), black dragons were particularly nasty since they basically possessed a wicked and sadistic nature that could easily put Ted Bundy to shame. On top of that, black dragons were also incredibly violent and unreasonable, and would often inflict harm upon other creatures simply because they could.

As you can imagine, none of this was very encouraging information, and to make matters worse, the egg was due to hatch almost any day now. I realized that this was probably my DM’s way of saying that raising this dragon would be a very bad idea, but to be honest, I really didn’t care. My mind was made up and my course was painfully clear: I would raise this black dragon right or die trying. When the big day finally came, I had already prepared one of my barn houses to act as a makeshift ‘lair’ and had stocked it with a large tub of drinking water and about thirty pounds of dried fish. I figured this would be more than enough to make a good impression with my newly-hatched dragon, and the barn was certainly spacious enough (not to mention more inviting) when compared to that filthy corpse-ridden cave. Now, keep in mind that while a black dragon is only the size of a house-cat when it’s first born, I knew that over time it would get a hell of a lot larger. On top of that, I also realized that dragons (for the most part) were surprisingly very intelligent even at birth, and I didn’t want to expose mine to too many people too quickly (especially given a black dragon’s natural psychotic tendencies).

As it turned it out, that was probably a live-saving idea.

When the egg started to hatch I could barely contain my excitement, and as I watched the little creature crawl out of its shell, my character literally had to resist the urge to go over and pick it up. Thankfully I restrained myself and waited a bit longer so as to not frighten the poor thing with any strange or sudden movements. Eventually though, I decided to call out to it in a low and gentle voice, and I made sure to speak in draconic so that it could understand me as well.

“Hey there. It’s good to see you.”

In response, the dragon merely blinked at me with its cold blood-red eyes.

“Don’t be afraid. I’m not going to hurt you,” I said, before gently reaching out my hand to try and pet its head.

As I soon discovered, trying to pet a black dragon’s head was a very big ‘no-no’, as the little creature quickly hissed at me before scurrying back to a corner and hissing at me again. I suppose this shouldn’t have surprised me of course, but I figured my best option now was to roll for a diplomacy check and hope for the best.

Below average roll. Not a good sign.

In a nutshell, I essentially told the dragon my name and asked if it was hungry. It didn’t answer. Instead, the little creature just sniffed the air and started wandering around the barn. Unsure of what to do next, I decided to stay in the barn for the rest of day, hoping that my little wyrmling might finally decide to talk to me. No such luck I’m afraid, and with nightfall quickly approaching, I figured I might as well get comfortable and make a bed in the hay.

Oh, what a wonderful idea that was.

After being asleep for about an hour, I was abruptly woken up by the refreshing sensation of a little black dragon pouncing on my face, as the damn thing apparently decided that now would be the perfect time to strike against a ‘helpless’ (and clearly stupid) victim. It raked it’s claws against my eyes in a frantic attempt to blind me, but as you might have guessed, little cat-sized dragons weren’t exactly very strong. After rolling a quick strength check, I easily managed to pull the psychotic reptile off of me, and after taking a moment to collect myself, I immediately asked my DM if I could roll another diplomacy check to try and calm it down.

In response, the dragon ‘politely’ hissed at me before using its breath weapon to spray acid in my face.

Now, at this point, part of me was REALLY considering killing the little monster right then and there. After all, this thing clearly had no issue with trying to kill me, and it didn’t seem interested in listening to reason either. However, I knew that if I killed it I’d be taking the easy way out, and I wasn’t about to let myself be bested so soon. Therefore, if diplomacy wouldn’t work, I’d try intimidating it instead. Now, keep in mind, I had never intended my character to act as the party face, and as such, I never bothered putting points into any of my social skills. That being said, the only thing I had going for me was a high amount of charisma, so there really was no guarantee that my intimidate check would work.

To my surprise though, when attempting to intimidate a pint-sized dragon, a medium-sized half-elf with a good charisma score can be a very scary thing (even with just an average roll).

“Cut this shit out or I swear I’ll skin you alive and make a Goddamn belt out of you!” I yelled in draconic, which instantly caused the dragon to squeak in alarm before skittering away in fear to the far side of the room.

Needless to say, things weren’t going well.

Wanting to try and salvage the situation, I grabbed some dried fish and approached the dragon again, as it continued to quiver meekly in the corner, hissing and glaring at me the whole entire time.

“You food,” it said suddenly, in a slightly feminine voice (although how anything can sound feminine in the draconic tongue is beyond me). “I kill you. I eat you. You no scary to me.”

I’ll admit, seeing this little dragon threaten me while cowering in fear really did make me feel sorry for the thing. It was as if this creature couldn’t comprehend why I was so angry with it, and it also didn’t seem to realize that I had only been trying to help it. In that moment, I knew that no matter what, I needed to succeed. I needed to show this dragon how to live a good and virtuous life, and I’d be damned if I let anything stand in my way.

I asked the DM for another diplomacy check.

Now up until this point, the dice Gods had not been very kind to me, and I knew that this next check could make or break everything. And so, with all that in mind, I steeled myself as best I could and prepared to make my roll, although not before delivering one hell of speech.

“I am not your food. I am your father,” I stated in a firm yet gentle tone. “I’m sorry for what I said earlier. I didn’t mean to lose my temper. However, you must understand that I will not tolerate my child acting like a homicidal monster. You are better than that, even if you cannot see it yet. I know that deep down you are destined for great things, and it is my hope to help guide your steps with a loving and gentle heart.”

Once I was finished, I tossed the dice from my hand and waited for the result, praying that I’d at least roll something above a ten.

As luck would have it…natural fucking 20!

The little dragon took a moment to consider my words, cocking its head to the side while studying my face. Its eyes seemed to regard me with a great degree of caution, but it no longer seemed to cower or view me as a threat. Then, after a long pause, the little wyrmling spoke.

“I not your pet,” It stated very firmly.

“No, you are not my pet. You are my daughter.”

“I not your slave!” the dragon declared hotly.

“Never my slave. Only my daughter,” I said in response.

“What does this mean?” It asked in a curious voice.

“It means that we are family, and it means that I love you.”

After a long pause, the dragon slowly crept closer and eyed the fish in my hand, before carefully leaning in to take a cautionary bite. I knelt there in silence as I watched my dragon eat, feeling like I had just won a monumental victory.

“You know, if you’re going to be my daughter, then you’ll definitely need a name,” I offered to her gently, as I took a moment to gaze at her dark jet-black scales.

Now, for those of you who don’t know, you can actually tell a lot about a dragon just by looking at their scales. On one hand, a good dragon’s scales are bright and vibrant, while an evil dragon’s scales are dull and dark (and when it comes to a chromatic dragon, their scales are almost always universally dark). Therefore, if I had any hope of leading my daughter on the good and righteous path, then I needed her scales to shine like obsidian…or onyx.

“Onyxia,” I said. “That will be your name.”

Upon hearing this, the little dragon looked up at me with its bright crimson eyes, before slowly nodding its head in obvious approval.

“Onyxia,” she said. “It is good name. I like very much.”

And so, with that said, Onyxia was born.


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