The Dylori are an offshoot of humanity. They claim to be Wyrm Blooded (dragon blooded) Humans. Their worship of the Wyrms Spirits of the Dylori Clans has uplifted them beyond humanity.
Or so they say.
Ethnically, they start as tall, thin, graceful humans.
Their skin is pale with golden subhues. It is often dry, with the dry flakey areas affecting a scaly pattern. Some Dylori use creams and sand treatments to enhance the pattern on these patches of their skin.
Their eyes are of the Golds, ranging from a green gold to a non metallic gold. Their pupils seem smaller than most humans in the same light. Some Dylori of higher classes actual have snake like slit pupils.
Their hair is uniformly fine, straight, and black, with a greenish tinge to it. Some even dye their hair to enhance the green aspects.
Dylori of any rank have one or more "Wyrm Gifts". These traits are beyond human abilities and are innate to the character (no activation or magic requires). These developed soon after they are first presented to the Clan Spirit Gods sometime in the tweens and teens. Some of the most prevolent, in order of commoness.
*) Heat Vision: Rather than seeing into the infrared, it is more like a thermographic vision.
*) Nicatating eyelids. They have an additional semi-transparent eyelid that allows them to be proof against sand and grit.
*) Snake Tongue: This gives the Dylori their stereotypical lisp. It also grants them the ability to taste heat at a distance.
*) Fangs: These retractable fangs can put quite an impress bite on someone. Most of those with fangs produce a poison of some kind or another.
*) Claws: Rather than nails, they have actual claws on the ends of their fingers and toes. The Dylori tend to paint their nails (gold or green usually) and shape like in a claw like look even if they dont have this gift. Those with the claws gift, always treat their claws with care and reverence. And they are well respect in the community for some reason.
*) Fins: these fins are cosmetic fins that sprout along both temples or the center of the head. They are cosmetic, having no function other that looking draconic. They do allows the Dylori to be more expressive through the movements.
*) Enhanced Strength/ Dexterity/ Endurance/ Agility/ Intelligence/ Metaphysical: These are near inhuman enhancements of a Dylori’s attribute aspects. It is said to bring the Dylori Wyrm level strength/ speed/ etc. In reality is simply adds 1/4 of the stats max normal score, which may bump it to near inhuman levels, instead of an actual Dragon Level.
*) True Scales: The Dylori has actual scales on their skin in certain patches. The most common patches are the upper chest, the abdomin, the shoulders, and down the spine. This gift is highly prized and marks a "great one" a person of destiny. (Scale patches can also be duplicated by a Dylori spell for a time, but any Dylori can tell the difference between real and spell scales.) Yes, they do act like leather armor for that part of their body.
*) Acid Spray: Some Dylori can belch out a stream or spray of stomach acid, one to four times a day. A few have mastered the art of setting the spray upon fire like a true Wyrm.
*) Tails: Like Scales, these are another mark of being favored by the Wyrms. A thick strong tail of some length extends from the Dylori’s spine. It varies in length and actual strength, but it almost always have true scales as well.
*) Reptilian Gilder Wings: These wings extend from the arms of the Dylori. They will normally fold up and along the arm. While they do not provide great flight, they do grant strong gliding abilities.
***) Remember that other things are possible. Any number of Venom, reptile/snake/dragon like gifts would be possible. These are just the most common.
One innate gift that all Wyrm Gifted Dylori have is magical aptitude. They all gain the ability to cast Dylori spells, and can study to enhance their talent.
The Wyrm Gifts are truly magical changes. Each Dylori is introduced to their Wyrm Clan Spirit God by the Tongues of the Wyrm (Dylori Shamans) sometime in their youth. Sometime after this Rite of Introduction, a "natural ability" develops. Some say the Shamans choose them. Others blame the spirits. The truth is really unknown. Those of lesser clans are less likely to develop these abilities, statistically, than those of the greater clans.
A Dylori can develop new Wyrm Gifts over their lifetime. All are awards of the Wyrm Clan Spirit Gods, Spontaneous gifts after one does something grand for the clan are extremely rare despite what the Story Tellers say. Most occur after participating in one of the three High Shamanistic ceremonies.
The Rite of Introduction is used in most cases to call upon the favor of the clan’s Wyrm Spirit God. This is done to mark any passage from one part of life to the next. It is mostly saved for those who are just entering adulthood, marriage, child birth, or promotion. After the first rite a Dylori participates with, the chance of developing new gifts after it is minimal.
The Rite of Naming, is the shamans clans way to telling the Wyrm Clan Spirit God and the people of the clan, a Dylori’s name because they have done "worthy things" for their family, their clan, their emperor, or their deity. This is more a social than mystic ritual, so few people develop Wyrm gifts after them. However those that have received a Rite of Naming, are likely to receive a Rite of Introduction or Rite of Greater Introduction soon after.
The Rite of Greater Introduction is performed when a Dylori has taken on appropriate oaths and vows to further the clan or the Clan Spirit God’s honor or The Clan Leaders think the Dylori is worthy and should be "properly introduced" to the Wyrm Clan Spirit God. Thus upon the Clan Elders approval (or the Shamans nod), a honored or promoted Dylori will they undergo the Rite of Greater Introduction. If one is the recipient of the greater rite, it is quite likely one will receive a Wyrm Gift.
A Wyrm Gift will sometimes develop after being the focus of these rites. It is either the whim of the Clan Spirit God (or a failed spell roll by the Shamans).
Note, if you donate enough land/ slaves/ things to a Shaman, they made decide that you are worthy and perform the Rite of Greater Introduction.
As a Dylori dedicates itself more and more to their Clan and their Wyrm Clan Spirit God, they gain more and more physical gifts AND greater access to magical abilities (some of which duplicate reptile/ wyrm abilities). The Gifts are a sign of power, status, and prestige for The Dylori. However something happens when one has too many gifts. It makes one "Too Honored" or untouchable in their society.
The reason for this is multifold. Dylori see the gifts as the touch of the Clan Spirit God. Those with few gifts feel that they are not worthy enough to have or even be near. Those with greater gifts tend to be more "fanatical" about their religious views (enforcing the order of things, supporting the Clan at an insane level, and so on), in addition to usually having a number of vows and oaths. These combined with the mental changes that gifts often bring (reduction of emotions/ empathy with an increase in logical thinking); these dylori makes those "less blessed" a little uncomfortable. (Even in a religious culture, nobody like religious fanatics). Thus the highly gifted Dylori become untouchable icons of their clan.
All Dylori have some skill in magic. Most of this magic is for crafting abilities, others are for combative (various venom blasts and morphic abilities) or political/ judicial uses (detect lie/ motivation, binding contract). The more gifted a Dylori is (and how much Shamanistic training they have), the more magic of a greater power they have access to. Many Dylori learn spells that temporarily grant Wyrm Gifts (Wings/ flame breath/ greater armored scales/ bigger claws) rather than have permanent Wyrm gifts.
0) A low ranking, rank and file member will have 0 to 1 Wyrm Gift.
1) A Dylori in charge of said low ranking people will have 1-2 Wyrm Gifts. (Lieutenant/Sergeant)
2) A person giving directions to said Lt/ Sgt, would have 2-4 Wyrm Gifts. This often would include someone in charge of a plantation, or similar large economic endeavor.
3) The person in charge of a given parcel or military unit would have 3-5.
4) Any Special Agent, or person who "handles" things for a leader, would have 3-7 gifts.
The Dylori organize themselves in Clans, groups of related families. In fact a Dylori will give his clan and family name before his own, showing their importance in their culture. Each clan has a two syllable name, and each family a one syllable suffix added to it. Each Clan has its own Clan Spirit God, a patron Wyrm Spirit. In times past, this Wyrms blood has passed from living thing to living thing, and now those of the given clan have been touched by it.
The Clans, the seven major and many minor houses, are ruled by The Emperor, The One of the Golden Claw Throne. The throne has seven talons, one of each major house. (Note: One house must fall if another is to rise.) The Emperor is selected from all the offspring of the current Emperor by means of a grueling set of contests that test physical, magical, mental, and emotional aptitude. (The exact rules for this process seem arcane and involve complex point scoring, allies, and the ability to substitute judiciously for various challenges). There is at least a minimum of seven contenders, one from each major house via concubines or wives.
The One of the Golden Claw Throne owns all Dylori claimed lands. He gives out parcels to various clans for them to administrate, defend, and collect rents/taxes for him. The clan is allowed to take a small profit for doing so. That small profit allows the clans to support their members.
Each Clan is led by a leader appointed by the Elder Council of that Clan. Each Family Line in a clan is led by its oldest member or one appointed by said elders. This process continues down to Leader for a parcel, household on a parcel, and specific family. The leader of a given grouping is in charge of that group’s resources. Dylori own very little of their own, (almost) everything they have is own by their clan/ family. Resources are reward by position in the clan/ family and what the Dylori does to bring both gold and honor to their clan/ family.
The Clans compete for the right to administrate any parcel. There is occasionally a little open warfare, but most of the time it is political and economic maneuvering. However, this is an Empire. Thus the Clan that gives the greatest resources to a war of conquest does so in hopes to being awarded the most new parcels.
Organization -The Seven Greater Houses
The original Seven Great Houses brought the Emperor to power long ago. Only four of those houses remain great at this time. The others have lost their celestial Wyrm blessing and been replaced by more worthy clans. Each has a Wyrm Clan God Spirit, a totem from the Dragon Gods that have blessed the Dylori. In fact through various arcane means, that Wyrms blood is still found in members of the clan.
ZanDars are the finest warriors of The Dylori and have been since the beginning of The Empire. Claws and Enhanced Senses are their most common Wyrm Gifts. In times of relative peace, they are the most hedonistic Dylori. Without Arts and Pleasures to distract them, their aggressive natures would have them turn on themselves or the other Clans. The six main families of ZanDar are ‘K, Go, Ze, Val, Ci, and Bo. Their Clan Spirit God is ZanDar, The Blood Dragon, a mighty and balanced warrior Wyrm. His scales are crimson and gold, so a ZanDar tends to wear those colors. This Dragon was the enforcer of the Celestial Orders will, during the Wyrm times.
The Leaders of the New Clans, as they were the first New Clan, replacing the Stoic PoDar. CiKans are masters of Stealth and Guile. They use the shadows and words like the ZanDar use Halberds. They are known for spying and for elite stealth warriors. They have only three family branches, Jey, ‘Ka, and Soo. Their Clan Spirit God is the MoonDragon, Flyer in the Night. It is a dragon the color of fog and the night sky.
Their motto is "strength is all". Their primary gifts related to inhuman strength and durability. They work politics, economics, and warfare through use of extreme strength. They will wait and built up their forces to crush their foes. Their four remaining families are Ze, Joy, Pho, and Rbo. Two families grew weak over time and were destroyed (and some stronger remnents absorbed to other families). Their Clan Spirit God is ValDar, a Dark Green Land Dragon without Wings. They were the main clan in The New World. However, since the plague and loss of The New World, their stars have fallen. Now they spend all their effort defending themselves from the other clan’s plays to take their parcels.
"Like the Wind" is this clan’s motto. They have found the Clan Spirit God of GeeTah Lo, a dragon that was capable of living in air, land, or sea, but preferred the motions of the wind. (There are many stories and parables about GeeTah Lo and various things and spirits he races.) Adaptability and speed are the keys to GeeKan thinking. They are master duelists, orators, and the only accomplished riders of the Dylori. Having replaced to Val’t (those of the rivers) through use of law, strategic strikes, and marriage, The GeeKan have served the One of the Golden Claw Throne well in both the Field and The Court.
The ShaeKan of the mountain providences are one of the greatest clans, having always supported The One of the Golden Claw Throne to some degree in all the conflicts between the Clans. The ShaeKan are all about balance. They actually have two Wyrm Clan Spirit Gods, Do (blue) and Ra (orange), two dragons forever circling each other (sometimes mouth to tail like the ouroboros or just a Tao like balance). The Dragons represent the eternal dance of forces in dynamic balance. Every ShaeKan will wax poetically and philosophically about this topic if given half a chance.
The ShaeKan balance the material and the mental/spiritual. They are mountain folk, spending time in contemplation in their mountain temple homes. The four families ‘K, Bo, Gwa, and Se, co-mingle and work together more so than in any clan. The clan gifts tend towards flight/ gliding and spirit sight. Their lesser clansmen and occasional slaves, work the terraced farms along the mountain sides. However, every now and again, a high ranked Dylori will spend time in the humble fields, to find balance. They are masters of unarmed combat (especially the ‘K and Bo families). It is their "mind set of balance" that led them to develop the various skilled fighting arts that are practiced by all the Dylori today. While all Dylori know these arts to some degree, the ShaeKan are acknowledged masters of form and technique. (The ZanDar have taken to the weaponed forms like Ducks to water, but they know the unarmed forms as well.)
They tend to only take parcels that are mountainous or out of the way. They are not a wealthy clan, but they are powerful. Their parcels are always well protected due to force and geography.
The newest of the new clans, The PurGee act like they have been a major clan since the beginning. They understand their place in things and the rituals that hold the Dylori world together. Their Clan Wyrm Spirit God is PohDahGee, one of the most elder of wyrms, one of the dragons of The Classics, whos bones became the metal in the earth, his blood the lava, and his last breath the frigid north winds. Besides excelling in patience and ritual, they are masters of metal work. They provide weapons, tools, and things of beauty, all in the traditional patterns. In addition to gifts of skill and strength, the Wyrm Gifts tend towards Fire Blasting and Ice Blasting breath. The clan combines the remnants of the DoleGee (an honorable, but broken major clan) and two minor clans (one of crafters, another of scribes). Each clan brought two families to the bonding, Bel and Pho, Di and Por, Po and Dalt. Together, much like an alloy, the various disparate elements of the clan come together to create something better than the whole. They have joined together through the dreams sent to them by PohDahGee. Together, if they are patient, they will dominate the Empire of the Golden Claw Throne.
Ever dramatic, ever loud, and ever violent, the followers of Poc’t the classic Three Headed Wyrm of mass destruction. His is the force that clears the dead and weak from the world. This Wyrm is made of storm clouds, lightning, water, and mud, personifies destructive natural forces. The eighteen small families of the Poc’t have been following this Wyrm Clan Spirit God since before the formation of the Empire. They hold parcels spread over the Empire. Their armies are legion, as are the number of slaves they own. Their policies are as random as their Wyrm Clan Spirit God, so all give them great space in all things. That really should not be suprising as most major decisions are made by the "casting of coins", an ancient divination ritual.
The Dylori are one because of their religion. There once was a time that the Dragon Gods roamed the World. These vast Wyrm spirits rode their flesh and their conflicts shook the world. Their own hubris destroyed their greater forms, leaving only their shadows, their spirits. Their final drops of blood birthed the Wild Wyrms left in the world.
Their spirits still ride the world. They were held back by ancient pacts, but eventually they became free to touch the realm again. However, only those of their blood can feel them. The blood of the Wyrms was spread by seed and consumption to this very day. It is from those "feelings" that the Dylori found their Wyrm Clan Spirit Gods. These clan spirit gods reward those who are faithful to them. For those that provide energy and greatness, they provide power, luck and the winds of destiny.
The shamans of the various warring clans that would become the Dylori felt The Stirring. They began to hear the classic Dragon spirits (those dragons of the first generation) in their blood. Sharing their knowledge, they created the rituals that would grant them contact with these great Wyrm spirits. These clan shamans became the Tongues of the Wyrms. These priests help Dylori interpret the will of the spirits, greater and lesser. Soon these first speakers anointed the first Emperor from the seven clans. The clans began to fulfill their new destiny.
The Way of the Dylori is a fairly simple religion. Everything you do is for the good of the Wyrm blooded people. Everyone has their task/ place in the order of things. While The Dylori might compete with each other for power or prestige, nothing they do should ever weaken the Dylori or the Emperor. In fact the competition is viewed as a way "to keep one’s fangs sharp." Since one must fight the currents of the way to properly meet their destiny, as there are other lesser spirits who want a Dylori to fail, it is seen as only natural.
The Way of the Dylori also includes guidelines on how to be proper and polite in the world. There are minor rituals for everything; appearances to be observed. Honor and how people think of one is highly prized as each person must act appropriately to support the honor of the Dylori as a whole, their clan, their family, and then themselves. The Way helps show the ancient ways of form and honor to curb and channel the conflict between Dylori.
Another tenet is the dynamic order to the world. Things are always in motion, yet following the great path. One struggles to achieve their proper places and maximize their destiny, as a Dylori will overcome any obstacles to support its Wyrm Clan Spirit God. The Clan Spirit Gods well lead the Dylori along the moving path of time to their rightful place. In the final times, "the Dylori shall become unto the Wyrms and create a new world as the world was of old. "
As one performs for their clan, they receive the notice of the Clan Wyrm God Spirit. They receive gifts as marks of their honorable service.
Those things not touched by The Wyrms are "of the lesser orders". Wyrms, Dylori, and other things reptilian/ draconic is the order of things. Thing that are non draconic are of a lower strata. Non Wyrmblooded people are just a step above animals and might be equal to a lower tier snake. They and other creatures exist to serve the Wyrms who made their world.
You are only borrowing your family name. You must return it to the family in as good, if not better shape than you received it.
Also, you are only borrowing your parcel from The Dylori and the Emperor. You must return it in as good, if not better shape than you received it.
How people view you and yours is the most important things. For as the people view you, the Clan Wyrm Spirits will view you.
Appearances matter, as only the Clan God Spirits know your Heart. Mortals can only judge you by what they see.
The Dylori are somewhat reserved and secretive in comparison to other peoples. They hold the appearance that they are in control of their world. They always are polite and seem trustworthy, even if they are not.
History, adapt as you need
The Great Eclipse occurred. Thus the pacts holding them were broken by the other spirits. The Wyrms could touch the world again and reach those of their blood. The Tongues of the Wyrms taught the people of the seven clans and the Golden Talon Throne the way of the Wyrm. With that way, they have thrived and prospered.
The Clans conquered all the peoples around them. Slowly and surely they conquered all the Known World (now called the Old World). During this time, six clans have gained and lost Great Clan Status (some clans rose and fell obviously).
If you are using them in other setting, they are still advancing out, rather than conquering the entire Known World so far. They like to take slaves via conflict, but in a time of rebuilding their strength (like after a plague that weakened them, they may take tributes in the form of slaves so they will not invade those others… they might even purchase slaves from other lands.
Though the guidance of the Wyrms, they sailed forth and found The New World. Bringing over human slaves and other beasts of burden, the Dylori built themselves a comfortable existence. (They also conquered the humans of the New World as well.) In Human tongue, the New World became known as "The Land".
On the edges of the Dylori held lands, two clans went to open warfare, one coveting their neighbors parcel. During this conflict, a human rebellion - long in the planning and coming - occurred. Once they were able to free themselves, they fled across the wilds of the New World taking most of the slaves from three other smaller parcels with them. They traveled as far East as they dared. They too were scared of The Mythics of the West like the Dylori. They settled down and built The Human Kingdom.
A century or two later, a plague swept through The Dylori. Rebellions that never dared to occur struck hard at the weakened Dylori. Most were slain; the rest took to their ships and returned to the Old World. The parcels of the Dylori lands became the Old Kingdoms.
Eventually the Humans filled the middle area, with the Middle Kingdoms.
The Dylori have not stirred from the Old World in six centuries. It is unlikely the plague has finished them off. Perhaps they are fending off other human revolts in the old world.
A child of a Dylori and a human would be a more human version of a Dylori, their Dylori traits being "enchantments" from their parent’s blood. Unless these children are introduced to a Wyrm Clan Spirit God, it is unlikely they would ever develop Wyrm Gifts and be "worthy" of Dylori status. Even if they are "introduced" they will have lesser Wyrm Gifts in most cases, if any.