Outcast Great Dragon of Barsaive
The Great Dragon Denairastas is the sire of the clan that bears his name, and that once ruled the city of Iopos.
After the war with the Great Races, the Great Dragons forbade any more intermingling of their bloodlines with other Name-givers. They felt that the lesser races were ill-prepared to handle the gifts they received, and the result of their inherent weakness nearly destroyed the world. Denairastas, however, disagreed with the judgments of the council, and decided to prove them wrong. He felt that the only mistake the dragons had made with the Great Races was in not taking a direct enough hand in their growth and development. The Great Races had power, but lacked the wisdom of their sires and needed to be carefully bred and controlled, to eliminate the weakness inherent in their spirits and bring forth their true potential. More than that, they needed a strong hand to guide them and prevent them from repeating the follies of the previous races. He set about breeding with humans, creating his new race in secret. His plan was to hide their existence from the other Great Dragons until they were perfected, and he could show the fruits of his work after his theories had proven true. Unfortunately for him, the Great Dragons learned of his duplicity and declared him an Outcast, forever banned from Great Dragon society. Rather than submit to their vengeance, Denairastas hid himself and his children until the Scourge began, then he moved them into the city of Iopos.
His plan was simple: he intended to demonstrate to the other dragons their folly by creating a superior society. The other Great Dragons had decided to adopt existing Name-giver civilizations, rather than create their own. Denairastas decided the best way to prove his superiority would be to conquer those societies, and thus regain his standing and respect in the draconic community.
He engaged in a variety of machinations against the other Great Dragon’s societies, all the while hidden somewhere in northwestern Barsaive. Only his name attached to the family he spawned demonstrated his influence. While the other cultures fought their wars and spread their influence, Denairastas perfected his family line, culling the weak and unworthy from his line and granting greater power to those that fit his ideal of perfection. This pattern of behavior trickled downward, and his children began to imitate his pseudo-fascist methods themselves. As Denairastas reshaped his children, so did his children manipulate and reshape other life forms, gaining a mastery over the magical manipulation of the flesh. As their power grew, the children of Denairastas came to be seen as living Passions, and were actively worshiped within the city walls.
After the Second Battle of Sky Point, Denairastas saw one element that aided the dwarf kingdom that he had not expected: the actions of heroes. Individual Adepts, determined to acquire power and make a name for themselves, or even just to do good and right wrongs, turned the tide of that conflict. Looking at Iopos, he realized – there was no one there with that nature. The degree of control he required could not allow it, and his children were motivated either by greater power or currying favor with him. There was no place for selflessness in his domain, but he knew that the unpredictable actions of heroes could be the wrench in his carefully laid plans. Lacking any on the inside, he needed to acquire some somewhere, somehow.
The perfect opportunity came when a trio of adepts assassinated Gellad Denairastas in Jerris. Looking into the situation personally, he found that one of them was a Great Elf, and the others seemed to have an abundance of latent power within them as well. He knew instinctively that these heroes would have a powerful impact on the world around them, and he wanted that impact to be at his direction. He set about attempting to sway them to his cause, by whatever means necessary. As they traveled, he connected them with a former champion of Iopos, and a Theran expatriate who was also brimming with potential. He pitted them against his minions again and again, testing their limits and trying to draw out their potential. Finally, he taught one of his children a powerful spell designed to rewrite their memories and make them loyal to him. The spell would have succeeded but for the intervention of Charcoalgrin, whom Denairastas had underestimated as an opponent.
Determined to have his heroes anyway, he arranged to have them kidnapped and brought to Iopos in chains. When there, he set about brainwashing them the old fashioned way, taking a personal hand in influencing them and “correcting” their thoughts. In the meantime, his children made clones of the now-powerful Adepts, using them for raw materials to study and enhance their own powers. Although Denairastas was successful in his non-magical brainwashing of the Adepts, a group of their clones escaped, and seemingly vanished from Barsaive.
In time, reports trickled in from sleeper agents far afield that the clones had been spotted, but they were difficult to pin down. He finally had a stroke of luck when his servant Maxwell Silverhammer encountered them in Marac while attempting to acquire obscure magical knowledge from the Sufik. By instruction from his master, Silverhammer attempted to sway the wayward clones to his master’s service, but the Passion’s Champions defeated Silverhammer and fled Marac to Indrisia.
Meanwhile, Denairastas began enacting his plan to conquer Barsaive from the inside. He knew that the combined forces of Barsaive could conquer Iopos easily, so he set about dividing and alienating them as much as possible. His newly acquired heroes were the ideal tools for this, keeping the Crystal Raiders battling each other, creating dissent and chaos in Cara Fahd, and working to assassinate King Neden. He also set his Troll Sky Raider and T’skrang river pirate allies against their enemies in Barsaive, further stretching the resources of the various factions. He tried but failed to find the Army of Scytha, finally abandoning the endeavor as too costly.
At last, the Passion’s Champions returned to Barsaive. They immediately began striking against his forces, undoing his plans and proving far too powerful for Iopos or her allies to stop. One by one, they slew their originals and usurped their power, the magical effect of the now-modified clones encountering their originals surprising even him. The Passion’s Champions also managed what he could not, and recovered the Army of Scytha from the depths of the Scytha Mountains. Finally, he found all his plans laid at nines, the combined forces of the armies of Barsaive at the gates of Iopos.
In the end, he intercepted the Passion’s Champions as they arrived in Uhl Denairastas’ throne room, and tried one last time to sway them by magic or by words. Failing in both, he bowled them over and fled the city by air, attempting to escape back to his lair and regroup to plan again. However, the Passion’s Champions overtook him in the air, and Nazeer plunged the Sword of Vargas into his heart, bringing an end to his schemes once and for all.
Denairastas’ Name-giver form is portrayed by Christopher Lee.
Denairastas is from the unpublished Dragons sourcebook for Earthdawn 1st Edition by FASA Games.
Denairastas is the first extreme long-term bad guy I’ve had. For a very long time, they had no idea he existed. I ran the Denairastas family like the Illuminati, with each layer peeling back to find another layer of deception and manipulation. In the end, everything went off perfectly, and he proved to be the awesome bad guy I hoped he would be. Existing mostly in the background, he (being me) had to work to keep a step ahead of the PCs, and adjust his plans to match or counter their actions. But being able to give the PCs the opportunity to bring all his plans crashing down was just as much fun as building those plans up to begin with. The sense of palpable satisfaction they had at his death was worth it all, and I consider Denairastas to be the single best antagonist I have ever run, and some of the most fun I have had running a game.