Drakes are large, winged and fire-breathing creatures, reminiscent of true dragons. On average, an adult drake stands around three meters tall and easily weighs more than a man and a horse combined. Their skin is made up of hard scales, resistant to most physical strikes except piercing and cold damage. Most drakes are capable of true flight and can travel long distances quickly. However, their sheer weight and bulk limits their flight ability somewhat, making them ungainly in the air. Where possible, they make use of terrain features such as hills, mountains and trees as launch points in order to gain greater height and speed. Fortunately for their enemies, they are still quite clumsy creatures and surprisingly slow in combat. This, combined with their large size, renders them easy targets for those who dare attack them.
Drakes are inherently magical creatures, with a mysterious internal fire fueling their very lives. This can easily be witnessed when one of their kind perishes in combat; its internal fire is released, burning their remains in to ashes. Their internal fire is also their greatest weakness; it makes them extremely vulnerable to cold attacks. Despite their magical nature, drakes are incapable of channeling magic in a controlled manner. While the magic imbued within a drake's body enables it to spit fire and gives it life, they have no willful control over its functions of this magic.
Drakes are a relatively warlike race and their societies can be best described as cultured martial societies. The core of a drake tribe is small group of veteran warriors headed by a mutually respected - or simply feared - leader who rules the society with an iron fist. Every drake is expected to earn their place in the strict hierarchy, to obey their superiors and command their lessers. Entry to the ruling elite is only possible through challenging and defeating a superior in single combat, which is the way the hierarchy within the elite itself is established. The use of deception of any kind towards any fellow drake is, without exception, seen as cowardly and unacceptable.
While their warlike nature and sense of territory drives them to defend their territories savagely, drakes rarely invade or trespass on areas already occupied by the other major races. Instead, they settle in unpopulated areas to establish their own territory there. They primarily feed on large game they hunt in the lowlands around their homes, but hatchlings and lower caste drakes are known to feed also on certain of moss and fungi they cultivate deep in their caverns. The only technology drakes value is armour- and weapon-smithing, and neither know or need other science and culture besides this. However the few implements they do fashion are almost unrivaled in quality, only matched by those produced in the finest Dwarven foundries.
Drakes are hatched from eggs and usually live naturally between 20 to 30 years. Death in battle is the most preferred way for a drake to leave this world. Unlike the elder members of other races, drakes naturally grow more aggressive and reckless towards the ends of their natural lives, perhaps to help ensure their place in the heroic legends of their kind.
Drakes originated from a chain of volcanic islands in the Great Ocean. A combination of population pressure and the subsidence of many of their home islands has caused colonies of drakes to spread to the Great Continent. Drakes tend to make their homes in mountain caverns near volcanoes to protect their eggs, hatchings and forges. While drakes naturally prefer warmth, their internal fire is more than capable of sustaining them even in a relatively cold climate, a feature which has allowed them to populate even some of the mountains of the far north of the Great Continent.
The ferocity of Drake culture and their isolation from other races both originate in constraints of their biology. As peak predators with huge energy requirements, drakes require very large hunting ranges to sustain them. This is the real reason drake warbands tend to be so extremely territorial and widely separated, and to be found mainly on oceanic islands or in isolated wilderness areas where other speaking peoples are not competing for the available game. Other, related adaptations include low birth rate and a tendency for Drake individuals to spend long periods in a cataleptic state.
Drake brooders, the females, are nonsentient. The leader of each warband controls access to them, occasionally doling out the privilege of mating and very occasionally gifting a female to a favored follower. All drakes who are not themselves warband leaders dream of finding an unguarded female in the wild - or stealing one from an established warband - and founding a breeding group of their own. For bachelor males the choices are otherwise bleak - they can accept subservience to the alpha in hopes that he will give them mating privileges, they can challenge the alpha and probably die fighting, or they can out-migrate to another war-band looking for better odds.
|Races of Wesnoth|