Vayemniri walk proudly through a world that greets them with fearful incomprehension. Shaped by draconic gods or the dragons themselves, the vayemniri are proud, honorable, and relatively rare. Slaves to dragons on their world of origin, they are now a free people looking for a place and purpose in their new world.
As with all stories of the ancient past, tales of the origins of the vayemniri are hazy and sometimes contradictory. Each reveals something about the vayemniri in its telling, however.
One story relates that the vayemniri were shaped by the ancient dragon-god Io at the same time that Io created the dragons. In the beginning of days, Io fused brilliant astral spirits with the unchecked fury of the elements. The greater spirits became dragons—creatures so powerful, proud, and willful that they were lords of the newborn world. The lesser spirits became the vayemniri. Although smaller in stature, they were no less draconic in nature. This tale stresses the close kinship between dragons and vayemniri, while reinforcing the natural order of things—dragons rule and vayemniri serve, at least according to the vayemniri’s former masters.
Another legend asserts that Io created the dragons at the birth of the world, but vayemniri did not yet exist. Then, during the Dawn War, Io was killed by the primordial known as Erek-Hus, the King of Terror. With a rough-hewn axe of adamantine, the behemoth split Io from head to tail, cleaving the dragon-god into two equal halves, which rose up as new gods—Bahamut and Tiamat. Droplets of Io’s blood, spattered across the world, became the first vayemniri. For some who believe it, this origin story supports the view that vayemniri are clearly inferior to the dragons that were made by Io’s loving hand, while others emphasize that the vayemniri arose from Io’s own blood—just as two draconic deities arose from the god’s severed body. So are the vayemniri not, therefore, like the gods themselves?
A third origin story posits that vayemniri were the firstborn of the world, created by Io before the existence of other humanoid species, which were pale imitations of vayemniri perfection. Io shaped the vayemniri and fired them with his breath, then spilled his own blood to give them life. The first vayemniri served Io as companions and allies, filling his astral court and singing his praises. The dragons he made only later, at the start of the Dawn War, to serve as engines of destruction. This view of vayemniri history is shared by those who believe that vayemniri are superior to other species and thus should be the masters of dragons and not the other way around.
Despite their differing conclusions, a common theme binds all these legends together: the vayemniri owe their existence to Io, the great dragon-god who created all of dragonkind. The vayemniri, all legends agree, are not the creations of Bahamut or Tiamat—and so they have no predetermined side in the conflict between those gods. Every individual vayemniri, regardless of one’s particular draconic ancestry, makes a personal choice in matters of ethics and morality.
The Fight for Freedom
Vayemniri hail from Abeir. On Abeir, the Celestial Mountain was the lair of the red dragon Rhodrolytharnestrix, the most powerful of the dragon tyrants of Abeir. To kill Rhodrolytharnestrix, the vayemniri rebels went to the interior of the volcano during the Battle of the Crippled Mountain, and using a powerful artifact known as the Eye of Blazing Rorn, triggered a powerful eruption that destroyed the mountain. Since then, the mountain became known as the Crippled Mountain. The ash from the eruption fell for forty days, and the rebels began to call themselves the “vayemniri” (Ash-Marked Ones, in draconic), so that they would always remember the way they gained their freedom. Likewise, Clan Verthisathurgiesh, one of the most powerful clans, was named after the Crippled Mountain.
Honor and Family
Every aspect of vayemniri life is dictated by the species’ code of honor and strict adherence to tradition. Vayemniri society is highly ordered, with each member expected to do one’s utmost for family and clan. This loyalty and sense of duty sustained the vayemniri during their long history of enslavement and also enabled them to form communities and nations of free vayemniri.
In vayemniri culture, the family is made up of one’s direct relations, while a clan is a collection of families brought together by alliance, intermarriage, or shared history. Although they are rarely forced to choose one over the other, the clan’s welfare is more important to most vayemniri than the family’s. The promise of honor within the clan drives them to acts of heroism daring, or excellence, all meant to bring glory to the clan first and the individual second.
The aftermath of their freedom has tested these principles, leaving some clans fractured and decentralized. Some vayemniri seek to recapture the sort of connection they had with a now-lost clan or family by forging new relationships among their non-vayemniri allies and companions.
Philosophy and Religion
Their code of honorable behavior and unswerving loyalty serves the vayemniri as a kind of faith, and, according to the traditionalists among them, that outlook is all the religion they need. Because they were forced to worship their draconic masters in times past, vayemniri are generally skeptical about religion, seeing it as a form of servitude. The skeptics believe that no matter how their original god, Io, brought them into being, that ancient deity is either long dead or uncaring about their fate, and the dragon gods that supplanted Io seem primarily interested in amassing soldiers for their ages-old conflict.
Still, some vayemniri do hear the call of the gods and choose to serve them, and are as loyal in this faith as they are to any other cause. Bahamut and Tiamat have vayemniri worshipers, and both Torm and Tyr appeal to the vayemniri sense of honor and order. Similarly, Tempus and the Red Knight appeal to the warrior spirit in some vayemniri, and Kelemvor speaks to some of the inevitability of death and the need to live well in one’s allotted time. Religious belief is an intensely personal thing the vayemniri who espouse it, some of whom are as devoted to their faith as they are to their family and clan.
Vayemniri have personal names given at birth, but they put their clan names first as a mark of honor. A childhood name or nickname is often used among clutchmates as a descriptive term or a term of endearment. The name might recall an event or center on a habit.
Male Names: Arjhan, Balasar, Bharash, Donaar, Ghesh, Heskan, Kriv, Medrash, Mehen, Nadarr, Pandjed, Patrin, Rhogar, Shamash, Shedinn, Tarhun, Torinn
Female Names: Akra, Biri, Daar, Farideh, Harann, Havilar, Jheri, Kava, Korinn, Mishann, Nala, Perra, Raiann, Sora, Surina, Thava, Uadjit
Childhood Names: Climber, Earbender, Leaper, Pious, Shieldbiter, Zealous
Clan Names: Clethtinthiallor, Daardendrian, Delmirev, Drachedandion, Fenkenkabradon, Kepeshkmolik, Kerrhylon, Kimbatuul, Linxakasendalor, Myastan, Nemmonis, Norixius, Ophinshtalajiir, Prexijandilin, Shestendeliath, Turnuroth, Verthisathurgiesh, Yarjerit
Some other species refer to vayemniri by other names.
- Dragonkin or Dragonborn is a term that vayemniri aren’t fond of. They are draconic, but they are not dragons. Vayemniri are not fond of dragons, so this term would be considered derogatory by most vayemniri.
- Strixiki essentially means “little imposter dragons” which is a horribly derogatory name that vayemniri would have huge resentment for. It would be considered the slave name used by their former slavers, dragons.
Your draconic ancestry manifests in a variety of traits you share with other vayemniri.
Health. Your health increases by 8.
Age. Young vayemniri grow quickly. They walk hours after hatching, attain the size and development of a 10-year-old human child by the age of 3, and reach adulthood by 15. They live to be around 80.
Size. Vayemniri are taller and heavier than humans, standing between 180 centimeters and 2 meters tall and averaging almost 110 kilos. Your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 5 meters.
Darkvision. Your draconic ancestry grants you superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 10 meters of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
Draconic Ancestry. Choose one color from the Draconic Ancestry table.
Damage Resistance. You have resistance to the damage type associated with your draconic ancestry.
Dragon’s Breath. You can use an action to exhale destructive energy as the spell associated with your draconic ancestry or to emanate an area of dread as the fear spell without expending mana. You regain the ability to use this trait when you finish a long rest. If you do not have a spellcasting ability, choose Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma as your spellcasting ability for these spells.
At 5th level you regain the ability to use this trait when you finish a short or long rest. At 13th level your breath spell is augmented to 2 mana.
Natural Armor. You have tough, dragon hide. When you aren’t wearing armor, your Defense equals 13 + half your Aptitude Bonus (min 1) + your Dexterity (max 4). You can use your natural armor to determine your Defense if the armor you wear would leave you with a lower Defense. A shield’s benefits apply as normal while you use your natural armor.
Draconic Claws. You grow retractable claws from the tips of your fingers. Extending or retracting the claws requires no action. The claws are natural weapons, which you can use to make unarmed strikes that you are capable with. If you hit with them, you deal slashing damage equal to 1d4 + your Strength or Dexterity, instead of the bludgeoning damage normal for an unarmed strike.
At 5th level, you become proficient with your claws.
At 9th level, your claws become more deadly; the damage increases to 1d6 + your Strength or Dexterity.