Tuesday, August 2, 2016

De Origine Draconum II: Axolotl

“And in this final solitude to which he no longer comes, I console myself by thinking that perhaps he is going to write a story about us, that, believing he's making up a story, he's going to write all this about axolotls.”  
Rebecca Guay, "A Blessing of Leeches"

Before becoming a dragon, one must form a symbiotic bond with creatures called axolotls. This process may take years or even decades, and all but the most robust, most intelligent, and most wise among those who attempt the transformation will survive.

Axolotls are spontaneously generated by the collision of arcane currents that surround portals between planes. On the Prime Material Plane, these portals are found in the most extreme environments: the deepest ocean trenches or most remote mountain lakes might hide a portal to the Plane of Water; volcanic wells plunging into the churning ocean of molten rock below the earth might lead to the Plane of Fire; the thick mist and fog that obscures the highest mountain peaks might lead to the Plane of Air; a labyrinthine cave complex hidden at the bottom of a great canyon may lead to the Plane of Earth. Where these planes collide with and overlap the Prime Material Plane, great energies are released, energies that tear open the veil between worlds and engender all sorts of bizarre phenomena. These lizardlike creatures, with their pearlescent skin that seems to glow with an inner light like a gemstone and their probing, curious fingers, are just one of the many creatures that may result from a puissant confluence of arcane energies.

After finding these rare creatures, the potential dragon must entice the axolotls onto their body, which is not an easy task since the axolotls are naturally aggressive and seek to destroy any heterogeneous substance it encounters. In order to survive this ordeal, the host must make a series of saving throws: a charisma save (DC 20) to entice the axolotl colony onto the host’s body; constitution and wisdom saves (DC 20 each round for the 1d4 rounds it takes for the axolotls to cover the body). Those who succeed move on to the next step, while the rest succumb to any number of terrible fates, as outlined on the table below.

While the personality of the host determines the genus of dragon (chromatic or metallic), the type of axolotl the host bonds with has an even greater role to play, determining the species (most commonly identified by color).  

Mirra Gray, "Shining Axolotl"
Climate/Terrain: Portals between planes
Organization: Colony
Diet: Scavenger
Intelligence: Varies
Treasure: None
Alignment: Varies (elemental axolotls are unaligned)
Number appearing: 8d8+10 (1 colony = 18-74 axolotls)
Hit points: 2d10
Armor class: 12
Speed: 20ft
Saving throws: Wis, Cha
Damage resistance: Varies by type
Damage immunity: Varies by type
Condition immunity: None
Special abilities: Regeneration. An axolotl regains 5 hit points at the beginning of its turn.
Senses: Darkvision 60’, passive perception 16
Languages: none
Challenge: ¼ (50xp)
STR 6 DEX 14 CON 11 INT 2 WIS 16 CHA 4

When axolotls are generated by the confluence of interplanar energies, they immediately seek to consume any substance different than that of the plane from which they originated. Whatever they consume is excreted within minutes as the substance of their associated plane: Water axolotls turn matter into water, Air axolotls turn matter into air, Ethereal axolotls turn corporeal substances ethereal. It does this without thought or malice.

Axolotls are always found in colonies. One axolotl alone poses little threat to anyone, but a colony of 15-20 could pose a threat to most creatures. This is because axolotls in close proximity to one another form a hive mind and become a swarm, acting as one creature with one intelligence. Though a single axolotl has an Intelligence of 1, four axolotls together have an Intelligence of 2. Add another four and the swarm’s Intelligence increases to 3, and so on, with no upper limit. A colony of 72 axolotls possess the intelligence of the sharpest humans, along with all of the language and magical capabilities such an intellect would bestow upon a creature. This networked intelligence is what makes bonding with a colony so difficult and dangerous. 

Part 1: Introduction | Part 2: Axolotls | Part 3: Wyrmlings | Part 4: Dragonborn | Part 5: Dragons