Dragons are very strange and engimatic creatures.  Cosmic beings who embody magic and knowledge as well as primal power and deep emotions.  In many ways, they are rather like humans, which could explain the affinity - the love, hate relationship - dragon and man, man and dragon both share for each other.  Dragons are not believed to be indigenous to Earth or any human realm, but are thought to herald from a very old, unknown dimension.  Whatever their true origins may be, they have left that place behind to become citizens of the Megaverse.  Trans-dimensional explorers and wanderers who travel the cosmos looking for adventure, knowledge, power, and wealth.  As creatures of magic and dimensional travelers.  Rifts Earth offers a plethora of opportunity, attractions and adventure.  It is the dragons who speak of Rifts Earth being a rare jewel in the infinite tapestry of the Megaverse.  One of the few places overflowing with unaparalleled levels of magic energy.  So they have come.  Come to explore and open portals to a thousand worlds.  Come to learn and test new magicks.  Come to mate, nest and bear offspring.

Though dragons are creatures of magic said to be the embodiment of immense power, they should not be viewed as gods, for they are far too much like human beings.  Dragons feel emotions deeply and share all of humanitys's virtues, vices, dreams and fears.  They are the center of their own universe and often wallow in self-gratification.  Unlike humans, dragons are also creatures of instinct and immense physical and magical power.  Most are fiercely competitive, aggressive and territorial, quick to anger and givent to violent displays of temper that can rock the mountains.  Like humans, dragons seem to have an equal capacity for good and evil, and it is a duality that makes them capable of almost anything.  Thus, some dragons become truly evil monsters, while others become saint-like spiritual leaders and champions of light.  The rest fall somewhere in between.  Given their long lives, many swing from one end of the pendulum to the other.

It's hard to believe these fabled creatures start out as babies, but they do.  And since the Coming of Rifts, many start their life on Rifts Earth.

Baby dragons, or Hatchlings, emerge from their eggs after an incubation period of several years.  Like most animals, the little 8-20 foot (2.4 to 6.1 m) long serpents are not physically mature, but they are much more developed, capable and aware than human infants.  A dragon only minutes old is guided by instinct to know how to fly, use it's breaht as a weapon, use its psychic powers, and how to teleport and metamorphosis.  Even more amazing, the baby behemoth is able to speak, read and write Dragonese/Elven, and understand rudimentary mathematics.  The Dragon Hatchling also knows and understands the principles of magic and quickly picks up on spell casting.  Scientists believe that the psionic nature of the dragon enables the mother to impart a comprehensive amount of information to her offspring before it ever hatches.

Without a society or people of their own, and left to hatch alone in the wilderness, Dragon Hatchlings gravitate to other species to develop their sense of ethics, loves, likes and dislikes.  It is from their associations with other, non-dragon races, that will shape the way the Dragon Hatchling's view of the world as well as the creature's personality, alignment and ideals.  Dragons on Rifts Earth are typically most influenced by humans.  They walk among us disguised by metamorphosis and learn through observation and interaction.  Instinct leads the Dragon Hatchling to find human communities or traveling companions.

Like human children, the giant serpents are born a blank state.  Their alignment, typically Anarchist to start.  Where they go from there, good or evil, will depend on their experiences with human and other intelligent life forms.  It is from humans that the Hatchling learns right from wrong.  Friendly or malignant, gentle or rough, these serpents exhibit decidedly human characteristics, emotions, morals, and quirks.  How a Dragon Hatchling starts his life may have little bearing on how the dragon turns out.  A peaceful and good Dragon Hatchling may view the world around him with wonder and compassion, but as the centuries pass, and his human companions and life experiences change, so may the dragon's outlook.  A long life means bearing witness to all manner of cruelty, wickedness and injustice that might turn a good dragon into a ruthless, disillusioned cynic, jaded by the passage of time.  Such a beast may become a devouring monster so removed from their human roots or so bitter and hate-filled, that they view all creatures as lesser animals and playthings to occupy their time.  Dragons can grow to become unbelievably sadistic and unspeakably evil.  Others become self-obsessed schemers or power-mongers, while still others become the embodiment of wisdom, justice, and kindness.  Like humans, dragons are creatures of yin and yang, good and evil, darkness and light, hope and despair, greatness and depraved indifference.

Species of Dragon

Cat's-Eye Dragon Hatchling

The Cat's-Eye Dragon has definite feline overtones, while remaining a dragon in every way, with massive wings and powerful limbs.  Yet the dragon has retractable claws and golden, almond-shaped eyes like those of a cat, even the muzzle of the dragon is more blunt and feline in shape with enormous canine teeth, as opposed to the more traditional reptilian dragon jaws.  Its scales come in tones of tan, gold, tawny yellow, muted orange with red flecks, to deep crimson and blood red.  Tufts of darker fur/hair crown the end of the dragon's prehensile tail, and a mane of matching fur often surrounds its head and neck.

The Cat's-Eye Dragon also behaves much like an enormous house cat, napping often during the day and full of vim and vigor at night.  They are known for their games of cat and mouse with opponents (including humans) and for their independent and snobbish attitude in regard to other life forms.

Flame Wind Dragon Hatchling

Flame Wind Dragons can appear in various shades of red, from scarlet to alizarin, and have long, slinky bodies, thin but powerful limbs and massive wings.  Their name is derived from their innate ability to cause their own scales to burst into flames.  The spectacle created when the dragon flames on while soaring through the air is amazing, and has caused many opponents (and spectators) to flee at such a display of power.  They can be found living anywhere, but prefer warm climates, jungles and moutain valleys.  It should also be noted that the Flame Wind Dragon loves the taste of burnt flesh and evil Flame Winds have been known to burn down entire towns just to feast on the burnt flesh and ash of the dead.  This has led many to believe that all Flame Winds are wicked killers, which is just not true.

Forest Runner Dragon Hatchling

  The Forest Runner is among the smallest of the true dragons, standing just half as tall as the other Hatchlings and only one quarter their weight, with attractive frilled wings.  The wings are perfect for gliding on the wind and fluttering around like a giant butterfly, but not for great speed.  This has led the Forest Runner to take to the forest, woods and jungles of the world for shelter and safety.  When the dragon needs speed, it folds its wings close to its body and runs.  As a species they have even developed a chameleon skin/scales that shift color, pattern and texture allow them to better blend into their forest home, making hiding from other creatures far easier.  Still they are preyed upon by other larger dragons both for their meat and P.P.E., and slavers such as the Horune Pirates and Minions of Splugorth who find they can get a good price for an attractive dragon at such a manageable size.

Royal Frilled Dragon Hatchling

The Royal Frilled Dragon is among the most feared and powerful of all dragons, blessed with Master level psychic powers even at the Hatchling stage.  Its coloration varies widely, from light blue or green to golden orange and red.  Around the head/neck of the dragon and along the sides of the body and limbs are frills that can be extended when the dragon is angry or wishes to intimidate someone.  The frills are generally royal blue, violet or purple in color, hence the name "Royal" Frilled Dragon.  Its claws are so impressively large and hooked, able to slash and gut even other dragons with ease.

They enjoy the company of humans and humanoids and commonly walk among them in human guise through metamorphosis, manipulating them with their psychic powers.  To facilitate such behavior, the Frilled Dragon is able to maintain its metamorphosis for twice as long as most of dragons, even at the Hatchling stage.  They also are known for their prolific study and use of the mystical arts.

Snow Lizard Dragon Hatchling

In the deep snows of the far north is a new type of wingless dragon, the Snow Lizard.  The dragon appears to be made for the chilly climate; totally immune to cold, this great serpent stalks the ice flows and snowy wilds of Canada and Alaska.  The Snow Lizard delights in its winter wonderland, a creature in its own element.  Snow Lizards are nearly always pure white in coloration, with a small percentage (12%) being light grey, icy blue or snowy white with black highlights.  The dragon's powers and instincts complement its chosen surroundings perfectly, as does the serpent's size, endurance and ability to move over snow and ice unimpeded.  Snow Lizards dislike warm climates and avoid deserts like the plague.

Whip-Tailed Dragon Hatchling

  The Whip-Tailed Dragon resembles an enormous sea snake in its general appearance, but with three sets of small legs running down its length and fins running down its dorsal crest and along all six of its legs.  The mout of the Whip-Tail has only a set of large fanges for biting and the serpent has a formidable set of claws.  The dragon Hatchling's tail is something to behold, measuring over twice the length of the rest of the serpent's body.  The tail is equipped with a huge, wicked, slashing saber blade on the tip of the tail for combat and a rudder of fins for swimming with.  The scales of the Whip Tail can vary in color from aquamarine to light green, emerald, sea blue or a dark green-blue which is almost black in color.

This unusual dragon is at home in just about any environment and can be found lviing in the deepest seas, shallow swamps, open grasslands, highest peaks, etc., provided there is a body of water (river, lake, sea, ocean) that is more than a stream, within 200 miles (320 km), where it sleeps and hides from humanoids.

Exerted from Rifts® Ultimate Edition™, copyright (2005) Palladium Books Inc.All rights reserved. Rifts®, Megaverse® and Palladium Books® are registered trademarks of Palladium Books Inc. and Kevin Siembieda. All other titles and names are trademarks of Palladium Books.

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