by T.A. Saunders ©2010 v1.0
Creature Type: Draconic
Socialization: Solitary unless found at a nest.
Special Talents: Sand Lurking (see below)
Special Attacks: Blast of Sand breath weapon.
Locality: The Burning Lands (Sovereignty of Anthalas).
Longevity: Roughly one hundred and eighty years.
Class Type: 75% of Sand Drakes attack as Thieves, 15% as Paragon Thieves, 10% as Elementalists.
Drakes are a subspecies of Dragons, or possibly an evolutionary throwback of Dragons. Despite being wingless and much smaller on a whole than true dragons, they do maintain a certain likeness to them, with long snouts and a lean, long body that is streamlined for moving through sand currants. Scales are a dusty beige with brass-colored accents. Eyes are either gold, brass or bronze in color and they have long limbs with exaggerated clawed fingers for digging and burrowing into the sand. These claws are always a deep bronze in color. They have no dorsal bone plates along their spine save for three atop their head that are use to push sand back as they burrow.
Drakes share a common ancestor to Dragons, but it is unclear what that lineage is; they may well have been a third clan of dragons at one time that fell into devolution, or had been subject to a curse. Dragons of either clan do not acknowledge drakes as distant cousins of any kind, taking the association as an insult. The similarities however are too many to pass up. Whatever the lore, it has been hidden or forgotten by the Dragons themselves and lost to the other mortal races. Drakes themselves are only slightly higher than animal intelligence, though possess great cunning and exhibit startling amounts of territorial aggression.
Sand Drakes do not usually keep to large groups, but rather will be found alone or if one is unlucky enough to possibly stumble upon a cave nest, they will encounter a dangerously aggressive mother and a clutch of roughly two to eight eggs, or one to six hatchlings. The male Sand Drake does not father their young, so any males encountered would be away from a nest and out in the desert.
Typically a Sand Drake is encountered while Sand Lurking. This is a process by which the Sand Drake burrows under a sand dune and remains perfectly still, while awaiting unsuspecting prey to cross over. Then the drake will spring up from behind, unleash its breath weapon then move in for the kill. This tactic works surprisingly well against most of the animals, monsters and humanoids that cross the Burning Lands, save for the drake’s one true competitor, the Anamalian. As anamalians hunt in packs, they will often lure the Drake into coming out of the burrow, then move in for the kill en masse. One on one, Sand Drakes are capable of handling an anamalian; more than one however is an entirely different matter.
The breath weapon consists of sand the drake has taken in while burrowing that is taken within a sac located in the back of the creature’s throat. When unleashed, the fine grains of sand are propelled on a fierce stream of air that shoots out in a 100′ x 200′ cone, but can be changed. This blast of sand can tear apart uncovered skin in seconds, cause blindness and shred soft material like leather and cloth in moment (75%). Metal armor, depending on the quality, can withstand this better but it too will become dented and shredded under more than two or three blasts (55% for the initial blast, 65% and 75% for successive blasts). Luckily, the Sand Drake can only unleash this breath weapon a maximum of three times, before the creature must take in more sand.
Between breath weapon bursts, the Sand Drake will engage with razor sharp claws that are capable of splitting rock and striking severe damage into most common kinds of metal armor. Boromandite or better is more resilient to this kind of abuse, but even it will begin to show signs of damage with a prolonged engagement with a Sand Drake. They will also utilize their long, whip-like tail to either ensnare enemies or snap sand in their their faces, which has the potential to temporarily blind potential prey or attackers.
While normally ferocious in the wild, it is not uncommon for Tashrani to make small raiding parties to go into the desert to steal Sand Drake eggs. The hatchlings are then raised and used as mounts that can also effectively protect a caravan. Under these conditions, Sand Drakes are extremely loyal creatures and can be bred in captivity with positive results. Sand Drake eggs, that are proven to be viable can sell for several hundred gold. Such raiding parties also bring back the meat, bones and scales from the Sand Drake mother they killed for her eggs; spiced Sand Drake steak is considered a delicacy amongst the Tashrani, the scales convey better than average protection against heat and sandstorm conditions and the bones, when properly fashioned are made into good luck charms by the Tashrani women.
There are also Tundra Drakes that exist in the cold reaches of Zoda. Often tamed in the wild by Voraath to be used as mounts, the Tundra Drake does not burrow into the ground like Sand Drakes do, but rather lays flat against the ground; their bodies have short, bone plates along the spine that look like rock. With grey, white-tipped scales they are very difficult to spot in until its too late. These Tundra Drakes also utilize a Freezing Wind breath weapon not unlike the one their cousins use, but relies on ice particles they form in the throat sac they possess, with similar limitations on use and function.
With the strange reality breaches of 1346 AC, during the beginning of the Second Godswar, the thought-extinct Jungle Drake has made a reemergence in Irys and southern Shalzaar. The local Zissah have found them unusually easy to tame, even as old as juvenile in age, leading to a suspicion that in the alternate universe they were transposed from, that they were likely widely domesticated. These Drakes have a poison gas breath weapon and the ability to Camouflage while within a lush environment, thanks in large part to their brilliant emerald-colored scales.