White dragons—also called ice dragons or snow dragons—have a reputation as dull, stupid creatures. They do not deserve it. Although white dragons are remarkably bestial, they are as intelligent as other chromatic dragons. They care little for intricate schemes or political power, preferring to live their lives as hunters and collectors of treasure. They rely more on instinct than on intellect. Although they still live long and look to the distant future, they do not worry about the future to the extent that their cousins do. They prefer merely to keep themselves comfortably fed and housed.
Like all capable predators, white dragons are masters of their territories. They know the good hiding spots and optimal ambush points. They blend in with the snow around them making them hard ro spot. They hunt not only well, but brutally. They kill swiftly and efficiently. They lack the cruelty of black dragons and the ferocity of reds. They also lack those dragons’ inclination to engage with or manipulate intruders or neighbors. Unless potential victims quickly offer solid reasons not to kill them, white dragons likely slay first, eat second, and never consider asking questions. The few offers known to have saved fast-talking travelers included gifts of gems with promises of more gems to come or, even better, gifts and promises of more meat than the travelers themselves would provide if eaten.
Like all chromatic dragons, white dragons look down on other creatures. In the white dragon’s case, this attitude is evidence of its tendency to view all living creatures as potential prey. Prey is, after all, inferior to the hunter strong enough to eat it.
Rarely, if ever, can a community negotiate peaceful coexistence with a white dragon whose territory borders it. Members of a community might have a slim chance of convincing a dragon to leave their livestock alone, at least for a while, if they display a significant show of force or give a truly magnificent bribe. Barring these options, however, nothing but the dragon’s death can stop it from hunting the people’s herd animals—and probably the people themselves.
As animalistic hunters, white dragons have little preference among types of prey. They attack and eat the most convenient creatures worth the trouble of killing. Because farmers’ cattle offer a lot more meat, they interest a white dragon more than the farmers themselves—but a dragon does not balk at eating available sentient beings. White dragons prefer frozen foods, burying their prey in snowbanks or walls of ice for days or weeks before consuming it.
White dragons possess a few traits not purely predatory. Like reds and blues, they have especially long memories for grudges and insults. They might seek revenge for slights many years after erring parties have forgotten them.
Lairs and Terrain
White dragons truly love the cold. The vast majority of them live either on mountain peaks covered in snow year-round or on tundra or glacial plains. White dragons particularly benefit from the way icy terrain slows their prey, because such terrain does not impede the dragons themselves.
White dragons do not need bitter cold, however. Some of them dwell in mountain peaks not nearly as frozen as they prefer. Some might even live in forests. Such lairs occasionally cause white dragons to come into conflict with red, blue, or green dragons—battles the white dragons would rather avoid, because other dragons of comparable age are more powerful. Also, as born hunters, white dragons resent expending energy that does not result in the acquisition of prey.
As with most dragons, a white prefers to lair in a cave: in this case, either in a deep mountain crevice or a shallower hollow in ice. In an area where the temperature never rises above freezing, a white dragon might create a cave out of tightly packed snow and freeze it into hard ice through judicious application of its breath weapons.
White dragons prefer treasure that glitters like ice, particularly diamonds and other light-hued gemstones. Highly polished platinum and silver also serve, as do works of art that involve mirrors or mirror- polished surfaces.
- Also see: Dragon Life Cycle
fourteen months, the first three and a half of which they spend within the female’s body. White dragons lay clutches of eight to ten eggs each, but only a quarter to a third of them survive until they hatch.
A white dragon’s wyrmling stage lasts for three or four years. The young stage lasts until the age of one hundred. An adult dragon becomes an elder at roughly 750 years, and an elder becomes ancient at about 1,700. White dragons have been known to live as much as 2,100 years.
A white dragon’s environmental diffusion results in an area of intense, biting cold. Frost covers the ground at all times, and liquids freeze after a few moments of exposure to the elements. The terrain becomes as slippery as ice, even if it does not appear frozen.
White dragons are the smallest of the chromatics, albeit only slightly smaller than their black cousins. Their scales and limbs are heavy, making them seem ponderous, though in fact they move as swiftly and dexterously as other dragons. Ranging from true white to gray or ice-blue, white dragons’ scales serve as excellent camouf lage in icy and snowy terrain.
The toes of white dragons are more widely spaced than those of other dragons, granting greater stability on uncertain footing. Claws are barbed and jagged, not to cause any extra damage in combat, but to aid the dragon in walking on ice.
Nictitating membranes protect the eyes from extremes of light while still allowing the dragon to see. These parchment-thin lids prevent snow blindness when a dragon looks over vast, gleaming expanses of its territory.
White dragons have a dry scent—more a lack of odor than a smell in its own right.
Inhabitants of the far-flung north fear winter for more than its freezing temperatures and the hardships the ice and snow bring. Something far darker, far deadlier than such simple troubles plagues these hardy folk. As the first freeze descends across the lands, a great beast of winter stirs. Called Rime, this ancient white dragon embodies the fury of fierce winter storms and the gnawing pain of frostbite. The reign of terror lasts throughout the cold season: Travel grinds to a halt, and residents hole up in their cellars to wait out the death that flies by night.
Rime is a magnificent specimen of her kind. Tiny spines beneath her triangular crest and spreading out from her joints superficially resemble hair, but they are sharp and jagged, perfect for catching and tearing flesh. Thick white plating protects her spine, from her crest to the tip of her tail. Her most curious feature is the mithral plating bolted onto the thick scales protecting her skull and breastbone. These plates are scored and scratched, testifying to both great age and hard use.
Rime has plagued the north for over a century, far longer than the lifetime of anyone in those isolated communities. A few adventuring groups have come to fight the dragon, but all have vanished, with only crimson snow or a shattered sword trapped in ice to mark their fate. One group set out to find the dragon’s lair during the spring thaw. A single hero returned, but frostburn had stolen all his fingers, his nose, and his ears. He died soon after, succumbing to feverish nightmares and moaning of ice demons, lost citadels, and the constant cold.
Theories of the dragon’s origin are dismissed as romantic tales or as gruesome ghost stories to keep folk vigilant. The oldest dwellers of the north might recall a bit of legend about the time before Rime’s appearance, when the Empire of Nerath still stood strong and its greatest knights rode dragons into battle. Rime was such a steed. Formerly known as Auslief, she was a companion to a great hero known for his courage and ferocity in battle. Before the gnoll uprising that spelled the doom of old Nerath, the pair chased a vile demonologist into the frozen wastes, following him and his cultists across glaciers, up frozen mountains, to the fringes of the distant polar regions where great wintry beasts prowled the night. They cornered the villain in a forgotten fortress, where they fought desperately against suicidal cultists, ice demons, and other wicked monsters. The battle lasted for ten days, but in the end the knight perished, torn to pieces by savage demons. After he fell, Rime fled the horrors of the crumbling citadel. The dragon’s flight did not take her far, though, since her training included fitting her with mithral plates imbued with magic to make her obedient to her rider. She struggled to escape, but the plates forced the dragon down, where she lay exposed until she gained the strength to crawl back to where her master lay. Many years have passed since the death of the ancient knight, yet Rime remains bound to his corpse by the accursed mithral fused to her body. The magic that brings the dragon back to the knight has waned enough that when winter falls, Rime has the strength to fly away, hunt, and be free. Each spring, though, the magic draws her back. Rime laments her fate but, so far, has been powerless to escape it.
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