Part Four – The Dragon, the supreme lord of the air.
Transforming into a Dragon was one of the primary forms which started my investigation into this set of blog posts. It is a favorite of mine. In older Ars Magica editions I’ve seen dragon forms in play through expensive Bjornaer Heartbeasts, and there has also been a few lengthy posts on the ArM forums about these style transformations.
In terms of physical shape a dragon might be viewed abstractly as giant lizard with wings and an extended tail. Certainly the European style dragons are meant to be monstrous, and come with a variety of limbs, claws, scales, and horns on their bodies.
(a) Winged Flight – the form can launch itself into the air and fly. For a very large form the wings will need to be large in comparison to the overall shape.
Aside – consider your troupe’s approach to fantasy vs realism, or at least how cool really massive wings look when you as a Dragon swoop down to eat peasants, guards, and sheep. Some troupes might say that the wings need to be enormous, or that the dragon-form also has bird-like bones and muscles.
There is the option to say that along with the wings the dragon adds almost any sort of feint for explaining how they stay airborne, from bladders of lighter than air stuff, bird like bone density, etc.
Key in this ability is also to resolve the speed of the flight; 40-60 mph seems likely with dive speeds over 100-120 mph.
(b) Spiked Hide – as a further defensive feature the skin or hide of the form is covered in a variety of spikes, blades, and/or fins. When placed upon the limbs or tail they also form a natural weapon, which should strike as a large limb.
(c) Corrosive Blood – the form’s blood is naturally corrosive. The blood inflicts +6 damage for each round of exposure.
(d) Tolerance for thin air and hostile conditions – the form has been designed so that it can breathe at very high altitude and also ignore the effects of long term exposure to the freezing winds, storms, and resistant to other environmental hazards such as desert conditions.
(e) Theatrical Flair – like the finishing touches in the Steed of Vengeance spell (MuAn in core rules), a swish of smoke, slightly glowing eyes, or other cosmetic touches add depth to the presentation of a form; and dragons are the right style beastie to have wonderful flourishes.
(f) Retractable Claws – subject to your tastes, the claws might be retractable. This means they should inflict less damage, but also add more utility to the “hands and fingers”.
(g) Smell gold and other valuables – the form is attuned to smell noble metals and gems over a vast distance. This adds a creature Ability such as Hunt (Precious metals and gems).
(h) Venomous Bite or Stinger – the bite, claw, or tail contains a poison, akin to an asp. Ease Factor 9 and inflicting a Incapacitating wound.
The design of the transformation effect must increased to allow for the reference of many powers being both animalistic and aquatic in nature, which uses the Muto Corpus level 20 guideline.
Form of the Barbed Dragon
Muto Corpus / Animal 45, R: Personal, D: Sun, T: Ind
The caster is transformed into a large (up to size 7) dragon.
A crimson and gold thickly scaled serpentine body, covered in razor sharp barbs and tines. The barbs are much larger and thicker along it’s back and spine, but small barbs cover the entire body except where joints fold. The form has two arms, a long neck, two legs, a set of broad wings, and a long spiked tail.
The physical form as the following aspects: Flying and tolerance for flying conditions, a spiked hide, corrosive blood, a venomous tail spike, and human-like speech.
(Base 20 size change into an aquatic for flying animal of max size +1, +2 D: Sun, +2 for an additional 6 size ranks, +1 for a limited set of physical abilities)
At size 7 this form is within the size range for other dragons and drakes in the the other books. With increasing spell magnitude other aspects of the previous monster forms could be added, or an increase in size. Even a much lower size variation would be a formidable foe and useful form for travel.