- "When the Old Ones first crafted their Gates from the substance of stars, I was there to assist their labour. Down the long ages I have come, watching the rise and fall of you lesser races and your civilisations. I’ve laid waste to knights and cities, burned fields and routed armies in my years. I could tell you much of the world that you have forgotten and more that you never knew, but I think not. You and yours are suited for nothing more than to provide me with amusement and the occasional graceful bauble for my lair. I see little else worthwhile about you."
- —Brinrairdih, also known as the "The Storm that Roars", Ancient Wyrm.[2c]
Dragons are an incredibly ancient race whose forefathers lived many thousands of years before even the Elves set foot in the Old World. Today, they are few in number compared to the times of old, when they dominated the World and the air was full of soaring dragons, tussling for supremacy in the primeval skies. Those dragons who remain today are of a lesser, reclusive breed that spend much of their time asleep in hidden mountainside lairs or sunken caverns. Although fewer in numbers, dragons are still creatures of vast power and when they are roused from their deep slumber, their deeds and actions are the stuff of legends.[1a]
Dragons are a diverse species, apt to display enormous variations in colour and abilities. These differences depend little on the creature's breeding, for the father of all dragons was the fabled Kalgalanos the Black, and his spawn were all the colours of the sun. The hue of a dragon's scale goes beyond mere pigments — it is an indicator of the dragon's nature. Red, or fire dragons, are impatient and wrathful creatures that breathe roaring flame, forest dragons are elusive, deepwood creatures that belch noxious fumes, whilst storm dragons spit lightning bolts and are whimsical, almost flighty, in temperament.[1a]
A dragon's size is proportional to its age. They continue to grow throughout their lives, and dragons of any colour can reach huge proportions if they live for long enough. Few dragons today can rival the size Kalgalanos the Black, whose vast scaly body was bigger than an Empire greatship, and whose head was bigger than a house. Even so, dragons remain amongst the largest of all creatures, and powerful servants to those that can tame one.[1a]
The dragons are ancient creatures who roamed the skies of the frigid world long before the Old Ones arrived. In this, they are akin to dragon ogres and other primeval creatures that have existed since the dawn of time.
Alas, the days of dragons are slowly fading. Many of them have been hunted down and killed by adventurous humans or dwarfs. The Blood Dragon vampires also hunt dragons, desperately seeking an end to their curse by drinking dragon blood. Most of the remaining dragons have taken refuge in distant mountains and caverns beneath the earth, where they spend their time in deep slumber and dream of days long past. This, again, is a trait they share with the dragon ogres. As time has moved forward, dragons have slept for longer periods, and have proven more and more difficult to rouse. There is some speculation this may be due to the ending of the ice age and change in climate caused by the Old Ones.
At the dawn of time a dying dragon would fly to the Plain of Bones to die. This created a huge cemetery filled with skeletons of enormous proportions. With the Coming of Chaos some of the skeletons were re-animated as undead monsters and the disgusted dragons no longer go there.
Dragons are greatly feared on the battlefield. Even the least powerful dragons are quite capable of crushing entire armies, and of setting fleets and cities aflame. In the past, the Dragon Princes of Caledor each rode a dragon into battle, making them an extremely formidable force. However, due to the fading and slumber of the dragons, those days are long past. The Dragon Princes now ride sturdy elven warhorses. However some worthy champions are still able to ride a dragon into war. These include High Elf Princes, Dark Elf Nobles, Dragon Mages, Chaos Lords and the Glade Lords of the Wood Elves. Indeed it seems the elves have a great affinity for the race of dragons, in contrast to the dwarfs who are instead famous for despising and slaying the creatures.
Of Dwarfs and Dragons
Dragons are an ancient race, older than even the Dwarfs. The two have much in common, despite their obvious differences, and this has led to a bitter history between them, fraught with death and destruction. Dragons, or "drakk" as they are known in the Khazalid, make their lairs deep in the mountains, near the heart of the world where it is warm and dry. As is their wont, Dwarfs will ever dig deep into the earth and there have been many occasions when the lair of a dragon has been discovered and the inevitable vying for territory begins.[4a]
Much like Dwarfs, dragons covet gold and hoard it, making their nests of it. The Dwarf hunger for gold is well documented and this has led many an expedition into the domain of such a beast in search of treasure and riches. As they are such formidable and deadly creatures, dragons are often sought out by devotees of the Slayer Cult in their quest to meet a worthy end. There are numerous accounts of such dawi being granted their wish when undertaking this perilous task.[4a]
So old is the enmity between Dwarfs and dragons, and the frequency with which the two races have clashed bloodily, that runesmiths have devised many magic runes to slay, and protect against, dragons. The Master Rune of Dragon Slaying was forged long ago and since legend purports that one of Grimnir's axes bore it, only one of the ancestor gods could have first inscribed it. There are many others, such as the Rune of the Furnace, which offers proof against the ravages of dragon fire - all arcane mysteries that baffle even the scholars of the Imperial Colleges of Magic.[4a]
Slaying a Dragon is a great and mighty achievement. Few have done it, yet there are several known instances. The Karaz-a-Karak Book of Days recounts the tale of Dorin Heldour and how he slew the dragon, Fyskar. Its skin was taken to High King Finn Sourscowl, who had his runesmith, Heganbor, fashion it into a runic cloak. After the great city of Karak Azgal - then Karak Izril - fell it became inhabited by the dragon Graug the Terrible. The creature was the spawn of Skaladrak the Incarnadine that once tormented the northern hold of Karak Kadrin. After many failed attempts by the knights of Bretonnia, Graug was slain by Skalf Dragonslayer who assumed kingship of Karak Azgal, now Dragon Crag, but Skalf made no effort to resettle it and instead established a small town in its foothills. Rumour persists that it is still inhabited by a dragon to this day, one of Graug's offspring that Skalf overlooked.[4a][4b]
Over the years, Dwarfs have learned to make a great many things from the slain carcasses of dragons. They do so proudly and such items are a measure of the Dwarfs' defiance towards the beasts. Drognel, a form of thick stew; dragon-scale shields and cloaks; bone helmets and even dragon-tooth necklaces are all fashioned from dead dragons.[4b]
- "Many knights of Bastonne bear such an image, for it harks back to the time of Gilles the Uniter, who hailed from Bastonne. It was he who first took the Dragon as his symbol, after he slew the great wyrm Smearghus that had plagued the realm for centuries."
Most Old Worlders are familiar with the image of a noble Knight riding upon his charger to slay a foul Dragon. Within the noble realm of Bretonnia, however, it has become one of the most enduring images of chivalry in existence. Not only that, but in ages past, the great Uniter himself slew a giant Red Dragon whilst he was still a youngster. Thus, the art of Dragonslaying is sufficiently grand in scale and so steeped in fantasy, that it could not suit the proud Knights of Bretonnia any better...
Regarding the Old Ones
When the Old Ones first came to the world, a yet more ancient race already dwelled there -- the Dragons. As the world's orbit was shifted the Dragons retreated into hibernation, hating the warmth so beloved of the Old Ones. Many still slumber, awaiting a colder age, dreaming of a time when the creations of the Old Ones will be but a memory, and the Dragons will rule the skies once more.[3a]
Types of Dragons
Normally, when using age as the measurement, Dragons can be divided into:
- Young Dragon, also known as a Drake or Dragonling
- Great Dragon
- Caledorian Dragon - Not unlike the fire dragons found around the world, the dragons of Caledor share a special and historic bond with the High Elves. Their scales come in a variety of colours, which morph as the dragon ages.
- Sun Dragon - The youngest of Caledor's dragons are referred to by the Elves as Sun Dragons, in reference to their hot tempers and the rich, warm hue of their scales.[12a]
- Moon Dragon - Those dragons that surpass Sun Dragons in might and enlightenment are known as Moon Dragons. Moon Dragons lived before Aenarion and fought in the wars against the Daemons.[12a]
- Star Dragon - The oldest and most powerful of Caledor's dragons are referred to as Star Dragons, for they are truly as ancient as the very stars of the firmament. While any Dragon can savage an entire regiment of warriors, tear a Manticore apart, or rip the head off a wyvern, a Star Dragon is so physically powerful that it can battle against even the Greater Daemons of Chaos and prevail.
- Black Dragon - Cruelly bred by the Dark Elves of Naggaroth from Caledorian stock, stronger than other dragons of similar age due to corrupting magics, but without the mutation found in Chaos dragons.
- Carmine Dragon - Dragons imbued with the magic of Shyish, the Wind of Death. They hatch the colour of rubies, but darken as they age, with the oldest individuals becoming a deep purple that appears almost black.
- Chaos Dragon - Any Dragon mutated by the powers of Chaos. Those created by the sorceries of Galrauch, or his god Tzeentch, tend to have two heads.
- Fire Dragon - Hot-tempered and intolerant beasts whose flaming breath and ready rage have long since passed into legend as being synonymous with dragonkind. Most are shades of red.
- Forest Dragon - Dragons that are known to live mostly in forested regions of the world (Athel Loren in particular) and to breathe soporific fumes instead of fire.
- Venom Dragon - Emperor forest dragons are toxic and poisonous inside and out, but see themselves as agents of rebirth in the world. They are attuned to the wind of Ghyran.
- Frost Dragon - Creatures of winter that dwell in frozen climates.
- Magma Dragon - A sub-species of dragon known to live in volcanic regions of the world.
- Nightmare Dragon - Type of emperor dragon possibly be made of pure Shyish rather than being real flesh-and-blood creatures.
- Storm Dragon - Rarely seen, for they live in the rolling storms high in the atmosphere. They shoot bolts of lightning as a breath weapon.
- Great Storm Dragon - Emperor storm dragons are even wilder and more unpredictable. These dragons channel the wind of Azyr.
- Zombie Dragon - Any dragon resurrected by necromancy, be it a long-mummified corpse from the Grave of Dragons in the Plain of Bone, or personally slain and raised by a vampire.
- Celestial Dragon - Serpentine, golden-scaled and bejeweled dragons who live in far-off Cathay. They appear to share some connection to the country's Emperor and ruling class.
- Great Wyrm - Similar in form to a wyvern, albeit large enough to rival a true dragon, which can be found in the Dragon Isles. These enormous avian predators primarily hunt adult Terradons, but also have a taste for warm-blooded creatures.
- Merwyrm - A species of maritime creatures which live in the world's oceans.
- Pagowyrm - Albino sub-species of merwyrm that dwells in the frigid seas of Naggaroth.
- Sciowyrm - Pitch-black sub-species of merwyrm that dwells in the deepest ocean trenches.
- Sea Dragon - Believed to be descended from an ancient dragon who fell into the ocean and mutated, these gigantic creatures are used by the Dark Elves to pull their ships.
- Helldrake - Sea Dragons that live in the Western Ocean.
- Shard Dragon - Degenerate subterranean offshoot of dragons. The most skilled of Runelords are able to control these beasts with potent rune-collars.
- Toad Dragon - Degenerate, primordial monsters few in number and largely confined to the Cold Mires. Nearly mindless, violent, and almost impossible to kill.
- Wyvern - Similar to dragons in many ways, but smaller, lacking forelimbs, and far less intelligent. Dragons admit some level of kinship with wyverns, albeit with all of the enthusiasm of an Elf prince embracing a particularly drunken and vomit-stained Dwarf.
- Aggraunir - First Sea Dragon to be captured by the Dark Elves.
- Azorgaron - An ancient and powerful black-coloured Dragon worshipped as a god by the Drakk Cultists.
- Crystophrax - A monstrous Wyrm that had destroyed Castle Perillus. Slain by the Grail Knight, Sir Dagobert.
- Draugnir - The World Dragon, fabled father of Dragonkind according to the Elves.
- Frigustrex - "Scion of the Cold Void", Frost Wyrm.
- Kalgalanos the Black - Disputed Father of Dragons. May or may not be related to Krakanrok the Black.
- Malgrimace - Considered to be among the greatest of its kind. Slain by Jasperre le Beau of Bastonne.
- Nerluc - A great Wyrm slain by the famed El Syf of Bretonnia, prior to his resurrection as a Vampire.
- Nightfang - Mount of Mentheus of Caledor.
- Ostermark Ice Dragon - Slain by Markus Wulfhart.
- Radixashen - "Serpent of the Worldroots"; a Forest Dragon known as Champion of the Athel Loren
- Shaneeth - A great Chaos Dragon slain by U'Zhul the Skulltaker whilst he was still a mortal champion.
- Skulex the Great - Emperor Dragon who dwelt amongst the peaks of Norsca, famous for its part in the Slaughter at Volganof.
- The Cold-Voider - Frost Wyrm.
- Urmskaladrak - Disputed Father of Dragons that was killed by Grimnir. May be related to Kalgalanos or Draugnir.
- Ymirdrak - Ice Drake so powerful it froze an entire Ogre tribe.
- 1 Storm of Magic (Expansion)
- 1a: pg. 120
- 1 Old World Bestiary (2nd Edition Fantasy Roleplay)
- 3: Warhammer Armies: Lizardmen (7th Edition)
- 3a: pg. 33
- 4: Grudgelore
- 5: Warhammer Battle Bestiary (4th Edition)
- 5a: pg. 54-55
- 6: Warhammer Armies: Dark Elves (4th Edition)
- 6a: pg. 55
- 7: Warhammer Armies: Dark Elves (7th Edition)
- 7a: pg. 57
- 8: Warhammer Armies: Dark Elves (8th Edition)
- 8a: pg. 50
- 9: Warhammer Armies: Dogs of War (5th Edition)
- 9a: pg. 42 - 43
- 10: Warhammer Armies: High Elves (4th Edition)
- 10a: pg. 70
- 11: Warhammer Armies: High Elves (5th Edition)
- 11a: pg. 57
- 12: Warhammer Armies: High Elves (7th Edition)
- 12a: pg. 62
- 13: Warhammer: Dragonquest - A Bretonnian Scenario
- 14: Knight Errant (Novel) pg. 106
- Warhammer Armies: Storm of Magic (8th Edition)
- pgs. 120 - 121
- Warhammer Armies: The Empire (8th Edition)
- pg. 34
- Warhammer Armies: Vampire Counts (7th Edition)
- pg. 55
- Warhammer Armies: Vampire Counts (8th Edition)
- pg. 49
- Warhammer Armies: Warriors of Chaos (7th Edition)
- pg. 35
- pg. 70
- Warhammer Armies: Wood Elves (4th Edition)
- pg. 69
- Warhammer Armies: Wood Elves (6th Edition)
- pg. 31
- Warhammer Armies: Wood Elves (8th Edition)
- pg. 59
- Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd Edition: Old World Bestiary
- pgs. 52 - 54
- Warhammer Expansion: Monstrous Arcanum
- pgs. 30 - 31, 72, 80, 82
- Citadel Miniatures Catalogue - Part One (1988)
- pgs. 801 - 806
- Citadel Miniatures Catalogue - Part One (1989)
- pgs. 801 - 806
- Caledor (Novel), by Gaven Thorpe