Red dragons are very nearly the largest species of dragon, rivaling and occasionally exceeding the gargantuan size of the gold dragon. Some half-dozen reds, all members of a single pure-blood clan, have grown beyond even the mightiest of gold dragons in size and strength. Even a hatchling dragon uncoils from an egg the size of a horse.
The red's long body is covered in thick scales the color of molten rock, with large, cruel horns topping its head. A smaller horn sprouts just behind the tips of its blunt muzzle. Certain of its scales grow in sharp ridges sweeping back along its face, growing ever larger down its back, and even along the crests of its powerful wings, giving the red its unmistakable spiky appearance.
All red dragons can breathe fire, and as they age, they gain increasing control over flames. The heat radiating from an adult red's body can harm anyone foolish enough to stand too close. The red's intense internal fires allow it to digest almost any non-poisonous matter. A red of advanced age can melt stone or instantly turn creatures to ash with its fiery breath. A red's powerful tail can crush a stone wall, and its jaws are strong enough to snap iron bars.
When roused to physical combat, the red will use virtually its entire body as a weapon: biting, clawing, lashing with its powerful tail, buffeting enemies with its monstrous wings while flying, or even flying or jumping a short distance to crush its foes beneath its immense mass. As the red ages, its scales grow increasingly resistant to physical injury of any kind, even as its entire physiognomy becomes less susceptible to all but the most powerful magical effects.
Reds begin learning the intricacies of arcane spellcasting at an early age. A red of sufficiently advanced age can potentially become as proficient with magic as all but the greatest human wizards. Additionally, reds possess innate abilities that mimic wizardry: very young dragons can sense the presence and characteristics of magical dweomers, while adults can influence the actions of other creatures with simple speech. Such is the red's affinity with fire that an old red is even able to take control of an enemy spellcaster's fire and use it against her.
Red dragons make their homes within warm mountainous regions. Whenever possible, a red will lair within an active volcano. Red dragons are omnivorous, as their internal fires allow them to digest almost any type of animal, plant, or mineral that they consume. Younger reds tend to have the greatest impact on their environments, as reds are at their most active in their youths and spend a greater amount of time hunting, killing, and patrolling their territory. As reds age, they spend more time hibernating in their lairs and tend to journey increasingly further from their lairs in search of human settlements to terrorize, minimizing the damage dealt to their immediate surroundings.
Society & culture
Red dragons see themselves as the pinnacle of dragonkind, and perceive almost all other creatures as their inferiors. They do not tolerate other creatures' attempts to slay dragons, especially other reds, and tend to respond to successful dragon slaying with violent reprisals against the dragonslayers or their hometowns. This is not typically due to a desire to avenge the fallen dragon, as reds generally scorn their kin who were weak enough to fall to humanoids, but out of a sense of wounded draconic pride and to ensure that dragonslayers who were lucky once will not be so again.
Red dragons' contempt for weaker beings extends to other dragons, and they especially despise metallic dragons. However, their belief in draconic superiority extends to all of dragonkind; although, red dragons themselves bully and kill other dragons, they take offense at humanoids slaying any dragon. While they do not see themselves as the avengers of their kind and will not typically seek to avenge any given dragon slaying the learn of, they will often attack known dragonslayers passing through their territory.
More so than with any other dragon type, red dragons have a very complicated relationship with gold dragons, borne from these being the only dragons habitually more powerful than reds. Red dragons both hate and admire their gold cousins, and will attempt to treat respectfully even with golds younger or weaker than themselves. This love-hate relationship is one that few other creatures, including other dragons, usually understand the full significance of.
Red dragons often keep humanoid slaves, most often human and elven maidens, which they treat as beautiful and delicate but replaceable additions to their hoards. When these slaves become old or injured, they are typically eaten. Other slaves are instead kept to expand and maintain the red's lair. Red dragons never enslave dwarves in this manner, as they despise them and attack them on sight. Reds do not interact with humanoids other than elves, humans, and dwarves, which they treat as beneath notice. They sometimes form alliances with efreeti, although these rarely endure for more than a few years.
Red dragon names often incorporate the words "dara" and "thys", which mean "terrible" and "great", and are often very long and difficult to pronounce. Red dragons often add syllables to their names as they age, causing their names to become extremely long, but very old individuals sometimes shorten their names again to make them easily remembered among those they terrorize.
Red dragons came into being thousands of millennia in the past, when the first metallic dragons were hunted and slain by Dahak. When Apsu retaliated against his son and Dahak called on Tiamat for aid, the latter promised to heal the metallics injured by her son if they would rise up against Apsu and aid Dahak. Most of the dying dragons refused, but some accepted Tiamat's offer and became the first chromatic dragons. The first to accept was a dying gold, who upon being healed became the first red dragon and named himself Nerothroc.
Over history, Nerothroc's bloodline has occasionally produced red dragons of such size and power that they eclipse even the greatest gold dragons. Only six such reds are known to have lived in recorded history.
The Kortos Mounts are home to several young red and blue dragons, which settled there following the death of Maejerex Steeleye and vie with one another for control of the area. Although the leaders of Absalom have considered sending dragon hunters to deal with them, they are currently content with letting the dragons kill one another off.
- See also: Category:Red dragon/Inhabitants
Notable reds include:
- Asuulek, an ancient and mostly dormant red dragon who lairs in the volcano known as Asuulek's Mouth in western Osirion.
- Daralathyxl, well over 2,000 years old and one of the most powerful dragons in all of Golarion, resides in the Five Kings Mountains of northwestern Andoran.
- The great wyrm Fhengasma is reputed to be the lover of the demon lord Flauros and lives below his castle on his Abyssal realm called the Bloodpyre Fields.
- Glarataxus, who has periodically plagued the towns and settlements near the Varisian city of Korvosa since 4569 AR.
- The powerful Horranath, who attacked and nearly razed the town of Dalaston in eastern Taldor in 4709 AR.
- Sheblis and her mate Tyrkalis rule a small domain from Raschka-Tor, an ancient Thassilonian ruin in the Tusk Mountains of the northeastern Hold of Belkzen.
- The ancient red dragon Tharularg who, according to dwarven legend, was slain atop the highest peak of the World's Edge Mountains sometime in the second millennium of the Age of Enthronement.
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