Just for Fun: Savage Temeraire

Sometimes, you just have to get your Christmas present yourself. Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series was one of the settings on my Christmas wish list, so I thought I’d take a periodic stab at putting the setting together here.

The Dragon in the Room

To start with, we need to deal with the obvious question – who wants to play a human when you could play a dragon? Would dragon PCs be allowed? If so, how?

I don’t think you could stay true to the spirit of the books without having dragons as characters, but they do present some mechanical challenges, to put it mildly. Dragon-scale combat is not conducted in the same way as human-scale at all. One idea would be to have the PC be a dragon and dragon-captain combination, but that rather leaves out an interesting set of supporting characters. In a way, this problem is reminiscent of the Doctor Who roleplaying game – who doesn’t want to play the Doctor?

A player choosing to play a dragon is doing to be in a position similar to a player choosing to play a sentient ship in a science fiction campaign. There are some intrinsic limitations built into the role – sneaking around is probably right out, as is entering most human-scale structures. So the player, by choosing to play the dragon, is also choosing to sit out of certain types of encounters, while simultaneously being absolutely crucial to others.

My take is that playing a dragon should be an option, but so should running a party with a dragon as an NPC. Since dragon-crews consist of a variety of roles, a group should be able to fill in various jobs similarly to a squad in other military Savage settings, with the dragon being one of these roles if a player chooses to take it on.


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