Being an old D&D buff, I know we get caught up with the fascination of what we already know although we love the old lore. Take dragons, for example. It’s easy to get lost in the infinite war between Tiamet and Bahamut aka the war between the evil chromatic dragons and, their counterparts, the good metallic dragons. With Fizbans, we got a look into the enigmatic Gem Dragons. And, although they’re fascinating, it’s easy to miss an amazing bit of lore hiding in plain sight.
Fizbans quotes the ‘Elegy of the First World’ which introduces a new player on the scene. But, actually, he’s a very old player dating back to the First World. Supposedly created jointly by the enemies, Tiamet and Bahamut, Sardior came to help both of them create the Chromatic and Metallic dragons.
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All of dragonkind including probably the Gem Dragons existed in the original creation of the Prime Material Plane (although some draconic scholars would argue that they were created in the shattering of the original creation thus becoming a collection of the scatted essence of the destroyed Sardior). In it’s beginning form, the Prime Material was in the form of one world called ironically FIRST WORLD. It was the ensuing war with the gods and the teaming force of people they brought with them that caused this world to meet a ‘catastrophic end’.
How this fits into the narrative of the Dawn War between the invading gods vs the elemental primordials is anyone’s guess. The exact details of what actually destroyed the “First World’ are left out of the ‘Elegy’. But it could be just an unfortunate side effect of the hell that is war. Or is there more?
In the story of the Dawn War, there was a traitor; a primordial named Obtao. He broke rank and turned on the others; giving the gods a game ending advantage. Is there hints of such a betrayal in the tales of Sardior and the destruction of First World?
Possibly. Let’s look at some older resources.
In Dragon Magazine #37, he is introduced as ‘Prince of the Neutral Dragons’ and, although they are listed in the same thematic gems, they are not called Gem Dragons. They are built as a reclusive lot; hold up in Sardior’s floating red city, The Ruby Palace. It encircled the world, but kept to the shadow of the earth and was obscured. He kept 5 thralls, one of each type of Neutral or Gem Dragon. Possibly this existed in the ‘First World’ before it was destroyed or in the current prime material and it is what is collected of Sardior’s presence that is housed within. But no mention of godhood, yet.
Later in 1993, Sardior and his Ruby Palace got mention in the Planescape inspired card game, Blood Wars. It was in some of the other Planescape material that it mentioned that the Ruby Dragon would take interplanar trips in his castle; being known to have visited Celestia in the realm of Jazirian, the Couatl deity and the Citadel of Ice and Steel, home of the Djinn. But, could it be possible that the tour of the planes by his palace did so empty? Did the court and Ruby Palace flee or was it sent away from the destruction that Sardior himself got caught in? Could the thralls mentioned in Fizban’s and Dragon Magazine #37 been safely transported, escaping the destruction of the First World?
The above tidbit from Fizban’s gives us insight to what the Thanes of Sardior are doing on their tour of the planes. They are hunting down their planar ‘echoes’ with the express intent to merge with them; uniting, as they see it, the scattered shards of their lost prince. Imagine your world being visited by this immensely powerful creatures. What part would your party play in all of this?
In 2003, Wizards of the Coast elaborated on this enigmatic creature, calling him ‘Master of the Gem Dragons’ and ‘lesser deity’. Still no discussion of his destruction here. But temples are being erected, prayers are being answered and spells supplied. A special martial sect of his church is called the Ruby Disciples which takes a more direct show of force. See the archived material HERE!
So how is this anything like Obtao’s betrayal of the Primoridials? Maybe not at all. But, did you know there used to be Obsidian Dragons among the Gem Dragons? they were a part of the court until something happened to end it all.
Saradess was the Prince’s thane of the Obsidian Dragons. And, for no recorded reason, Sardior destroyed her and banished all Obsidian Dragons from his court. If we are to take Fizban’s seriously, this happened before the collapse of the First World and Sardior’s destruction with it. But why? Was Saradess and the Obsidians plotting against their prince? was it something they did that brought down the original Prime Material? We may never know.
But, according to The Mind’s Eye supplement in 2003, the Obsidian Dragons were the most dangerous because they were the most intelligent of the Gem Dragons. Makes for a bad combination and a great recipe for betrayal. They were also dangerous in combat; sporting, not only a great fly speed, but proved to be excellent swimmers and could even burrow beneath the earth. They were of a fire subtype and had a fire breath weapon although later versions and homebrew like this one from D&D BEYOND spins a more volcanic core.
This dark powers have the innate ability to travel the planes from the inner planes to the Prime Material; making them elusive. Their psionics tend to bend to destruction and fire damage; creating fireballs and burning rays from their powerful minds. See the full Psionic Beastiary HERE!
However, the earliest rendition of the Obsidian Dragon, which can be found in Dragon Magazine #146 in an article called ‘The Dragon Beastiary’, records they were thought to be distant relatives of Silver Dragons. So much so, Some scholars thought them to be from the ‘Land of Black Ice’ in Greyhawk. Their breath weapon was far different too.
Instead of fire or volcanic lava, this version of the Obsidian Dragon spewed a cone of ‘black acidic frost’. It was like some gruesome hybrid of the breath of both the black and silver dragons. The poor soul hit by this takes both cold AND acid damage.
On top of this, Obsidian Dragons had a secondary breath weapon that was a ‘membranous web of black ice’ that trapped anyone not quick enough; threatening them with possible suffocation.
I personally like this older version (going all the way back to 1989). And the mighty sage, Ed Greenwood, stated that he was worshipped as a god in the Forgotten Realms. But, no matter what world you play in, you can easily have connections with Sardior and his ancient enemies, the Obsidian Dragons. For the Thanes of Sardior still work to pull together the variants of themselves in an attempt to bring back their lost prince and unite Bahamut and Tiamet in a new golden age of creation and power.
THE THANES OF SARDIOR AND THEIR HERALDS
The Thanes of Sardior can be just as much a dangerous enemy as Tiamet or any of her Chromatic children. You see, they are gem dragons and, therefore, they are neutral. This means whatever serves their purposes is deemed good. And what the Thanes deem to do is bring back Sardior by ‘absorbing’ all of their splintered selves across the multiverse. And THAT must be done no matter what. It is their ultimate goal; their holy quest.
In Sardior’s court, there are near godlike representatives for every type of Gem Dragon.
- Alethilithos (Amethyst)
- Hrodel (Crystal)
- Tithonnas (Topaz)
- Smargad (Emerald)
- Charisma (Sapphire)
It would be easy to develop a warlock who serves either one or all of the Thanes becoming a spearhead in their world to do their part to bring their beloved Sardior back. You would need to concentrate on the powers of the Thane the warlock serves.
- Alethilithos (Psychokenesis: telekenesis and energy manipulation)
- Hrodel (Psionic Mastery: Telepathy)
- Tithonnas (Psionic Mastery: Psychometabolism-healing and biological transformation)
- Smargad (Psionic Mastery: Clairsentience-Identifying and information gathering)
- Charisma (Psionic Mastery: Offensive Assault and Teleportation)