Worldbuilding for discovery writing and D&D is pretty much interchangeable. One of the tricks I employ when wanting something to happen roughly as I plan is to root it in gameplay mechanics.

One of the things I want to happen is for chromatic dragons to be relegated to the role of rivals/temporary obstacles, but without any fight to the death.

Chroma Conclave

Chromatic dragons in my setting are usually part of the "Chroma Conclave", an idea I stole from Matt Mercer because that's what you deserve for being generic. The Chroma Conclave consists of five members of the five types of chromatic dragons, with each being a master of his/her own element.

What started out as teeth-clenched teamwork, later on, hammered the dragons together into a real party, even if there are still things they don't like about each other, they'll always be willing to lend a helping hand.

  • Dragons aren't that impressive looking. Sure they have several hundred thousand new metabolic pathways that allow them to synthesize and use stuff like graphene, making their tissues more resistant to physical damage, lots of anaerobic muscle they can propel their breath attacks with, as well as fly, affinity for magic, extreme longevity, massive long-term healing factor, **, **resistance to most poisons, pathogens, and cancer, higher intelligence, ability to sense magnetic fields through exploiting quantum physics, echolocation, thermal imaging, and camouflage, but they aren't that big. http://clipart-library.com/dragon-silhouette.html Note: the silhouette doesn't represent every proportion accurately. (that jaw is too small for my taste) The human is 180 cm tall.

  • As you see, I slightly house-ruled them.

The Adventurers

Anon created monsters, Matt created adventurers. Though they vary in personality, I assume the worst: i.e: sociopathic murder hobos with no ethical code, with their only goal being the acquisition of more power.

Adventurers are at the peak of human capabilities, with slight genetic engineering, though that's Anon's domain. They use various melee weapons, like swords, axes, frozen cucumbers, you name it, as well as Soviet military surplus gear. They're pretty much outside of the social hierarchy and are completely self-sufficient.

What probably elevates them above the rest of their kind are that they're magical girls, and by that I only mean they have soul gems, that function much in the same way as in Puella Magi Madoka Magica, except it only takes "snapshots" of the brain, and autopilots the body if the brain is knocked out, though the body becomes slower and clumsier while under its control. A soul gem's data can be autosaved in hidden locations, known as "checkpoints".

To resurrect an adventurer, its soul gem has to be placed in a special coffin, along with the required materials, to fix the body, and a sufficient power source. The process cannot fail under normal circumstances and usually takes 1-5 days, depending on the severity of the damage.

Reasons for conflict

On the part of the dragons, they often go out searching for various artifacts, sometimes the same the adventurers want.

In one incident, after clearing out a lich's tower, the adventurers just reached the artifact, guarded by the lich itself. However, before they could do anything, Teryn, a green dragon, flew in through a larger opening (the tower wasn't exactly intact). She snatched the artifact, threw the lich out and left, chuckling to herself. So, they hadn't had to fight the lich but also got nothing for clearing out the other floors.

Other than that, most dragons do have lands they rule over. And the thing is, adventurers are little more than glorified mercenaries, and most authorities (rightly) consider them to be a liability risk.

On the human side, reasons vary from member to member:

  • One day, Teryn will forget to take something into account or just has a bad hair day, and gets trapped with the adventurers who'll gleefully tear her to shreds.
  • Dragons don't tend to rampage, that position is filled by Henry, but when a fight breaks out between a dragon and anything else, collateral damage is unavoidable to the immediate surroundings. Of course, such an incident really has to spiral out of control and have several extra assisting factors to warrant an execution order on a dragon, but gotta blame somebody, that's how politics work.
  • Dragons have some artifacts that could be useful to adventurers, and I think they won't mind turning a robbery into a murder.

Power levels

If the adventurers all gang up on a single dragon, it will be a tough fight, but not unmanageable. Against two or more, they don't stand a chance.

Reason for a truce

As you can see,

  • Mutually Assured Destruction won't work,
  • I want a "gameplay reason", not a story-based one.
  • The Elementary Evil (that would force them to cooperate) lies dormant in an abandoned nuclear silo, and it will only be discovered two arcs later.
  • Anon can't manifest in the world anymore, only when the Tarraresque is afoot.

So, for what strategical/tactical reason would the suspicious dragons and the mass-murderers in denial adventurers decide to make a truce?

The longer it (the reason) would stand, the better.

Well, I guess this is my largest question so far. If you need other information, tell me in the comments.

  • $\begingroup$ Let's assume that currently the dragons are winning and the humans are seeking a truce in order to regroup and resupply. The dragons might grant the truce because (1) old Ogodei Khan died and the other dragon khans need to return to Mongolia to claim their inheritance; or (2) the unexpected success stretched their lines of supply and they ran out of dragon fuel; or (3) the dragon general in command was undermined by his arch-rival and the army is paralized by lack of learship; or (4) there are huge anti-war demonstration in dragon land; or (5) they hope that the humans will surrender; or etc. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Mar 15 '19 at 20:10
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP That won't work in a "war" between outcast liches and five dragons. $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles Mar 15 '19 at 20:13
  • $\begingroup$ Worldbuilding is about the systems and rules upon which stories depend. Storybuilding is about the circumstances that bring about specific character or group actions. Unless you're asking, "what about the physiological or psychological nature of Chromatic dragons forces a truce?" this question is OT:TSB. Can you tell us what rule or system of your world (something independent of any and all stories) is being asked about here? $\endgroup$ – JBH Mar 15 '19 at 20:47
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH A reason rooted in tactics for why the two rivals don't tear each other apart. A logical reason. $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles Mar 15 '19 at 21:46
  • $\begingroup$ Logical, but not worldbuilding. Worldbuilding is about rules and systems. The moment we're dealing with circumstances, the Q is off-topic. Is this question about the psychology of dragons vs. humans? Is it asking about an aspect of their physiology? Frankly, WillK's answer (will...) is a good example of the problem. You asked a question about your plot and he responded with a story - basically proving this question is TSB. Here's the rule: if you remove 100% of your story from the question and there's no question left, it's TSB. $\endgroup$ – JBH Mar 15 '19 at 22:00

More than once, the dragons saved their bacon.

The first time a dragon swooped down and carried a near unconscious adventurer out of trouble, it was regarded as a sort of fluke. Also perplexing was the fact that the dragon defecated within a few inches of the unconscious adventurer after setting him down, so he had to lie next to the pile for an hour or two before his friends showed up.

The second time, a dragon showed up out of nowhere and laid down interference between an adventurer and his impending doom, commenting over its shoulder "Time for you to get the %@##* out of here, you %$2@ rumpsack!"

One time one of the adventurers found a dragon in extremis and instead of finishing it off, finished off the enemy and then handed the bloody dragon a handkerchief, commenting "wipe yourself off, slob."

When Teryn made off with the treasure she flew upside-down for a few wingbeats, to flip the adventurers off with all 4 limbs.

The dragons and adventurers are rivals. They will rip each other off, prank each other (a lot), screw each other out of treasure and make life hard for each other. But they are cut from the same cloth and at the end of the day, the adventurers know that the dragons will back them up if things get rough. And vice versa.

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    $\begingroup$ to flip the adventurers off with all 4 limbs... Just to note that you've answered a TSB question with a story. An amusing story, though. $\endgroup$ – JBH Mar 15 '19 at 22:01

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