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Product Overview: Star Trek Adventures

Star Trek Adventures Modiphius
Star Trek Adventures, by Modiphius Entertainment

The reason why I’m calling this a product overview, as oppossed to a preview or review, is because my intent isn’t really to do either. I haven’t had a chance to play a single session of it so far, although Nerdarchy Staff Editor Doug Vehovec, and Staff Writers Asa Kinney (who recently wrote an excellent article on paid GMs), Drew Murray, and I had an excellent Session 0, and we’re going to run a test game on September 24 (absolutely coincidentally the same day as the premier of Star Trek: Discovery).

I can’t exactly call it a review, but I’ve also had a lot of hands on with it. On top of creating my character, I’ve been working with Doug and Asa to pre-generate the entire crew of the U.S.S. Elpis, which is a Nova-class starship (where I’ll start posting their support character sheets as soon as we’ve completed the entire crew roster and organizational chart). So, this is more of a conversation.

Before I start, if you’d like my opinion, I’m really enjoying Star Trek Adventures. It’s a lot of fun in even the planning stages, and it’s my favorite character creation system to date.

Character creation

Star Trek Adventures, by Modiphius Entertainment

I’ve never played any Modiphius game before, so I’m not sure how Star Trek Adventures compares to the rest of them, but the way that the character creation system takes you through your life and your career makes character backstory significantly easier. In fact, you don’t even need to have a character concept in mind at all.

As you make your choices, the character comes to life on their own. In my opinion, this is the gold standard which all future systems should seek to emulate in some fashion. In the tabletop RPG system that I’m slowly fashioning, there is no doubt that Star Trek Adventures will have a strong influence in it.

I’m also a huge fan of the way they determine roll targets. While I’m a much bigger fan of using stats as bonuses, I like the way they use Attributes and Departments to derive your target roll. It’s a rather simple system. When you decide to take an action, the GM tells you to add a specific Attribute and Department combo, then roll under that number.

So, if you’re a helmsmen trying to pull off a super tricky maneuver, you add your Daring attribute and Conn department to get the target number to roll under. If you’re a doctor trying to perform emergency medicine, you use your Daring attribute and Medicine department to get the target number to roll under.

It makes for some interesting uses, because it makes your scores more widely applicable, and allows each decision you make to be more customizable to the situation at hand. Even without playing Star Trek Adventures, it gives me a greater sense of the character and the ways they’ll approach each situation.

Support characters

Star Trek Adventures, by Modiphius Entertainment

This isn’t something really useful in most games, but the Star Trek Adventures support character system is really nice. The idea is rather simple. Characters don’t have to be built to be good in most situations. There will be times your character won’t be useful for large portions of the game. In those situations, you can tap into a special support character that doesn’t start out as fully developed, but is likely to be useful in situations where your primary character is not very useful, or is unlikely to participate.

Asa’s character is a perfect example. Not only is his character the chief engineer, he’s rather averted to large gatherings and hostile situations. He has a lot of really fun character concepts that make him worthy of devoting a majority of his time to, and I have no doubt Drew (our primary GM) will make plenty of use of his character. But giving him access to a primary support character means he can play during the away mission scenes, too.

However, that’s not necessarily the only use for a support character. In my opinion, the captain is the one position that has to be a player character. Neither Doug nor Asa were interested, and I didn’t mind, so I volunteered to take the slot. [EDITOR’S NOTE: And a fine captain he’ll be, no doubt!] Being the captain, I’m generally going to be in the middle of everything, so I don’t necessarily need a primary support character, but then I realized that if I’m on an away mission, and there are things that require command decisions, I shouldn’t force Drew to have to make those decisions, so I created the XO to use for myself to be able to make command decisions regardless of what’s going on, because I can easily take one on an away mission and leave the other on the bridge.

Granted, I’m taking it one super scary step further, and pre-creating the entire crew, in an effort to gain a deeper sense of a living world, but a Nova-class starship only has a crew compliment of 78 crewmen. If we had picked a larger class of ship, especially the Galaxy’s 2000 crew compliment, there’s no way I would’ve even considered it.

Species and spaceframe options

Star Trek Adventures, by Modiphius Entertainment

Only the Federation is available in the core book, and even only a few ships from the 23rd and 24th centuries, being the Akira, Constellation, Constitution, Defiant, Excelsior, Galaxy, Intrepid, Miranda, and Nova class spaceframes. Only a handful of the more common Federation races, namely the Andorians, Bajorans, Betazoids, Denobulans, Humans, Tellarites, Trill, and Vulcans.

That being said, homebrewing species wouldn’t be that hard. The only thing unique they have are a bonus to three Attributes and a selection of two to three species-specific Talents. If you wanted to create a Klingon, as an example, I would give them a +1 to Daring, Fitness, and Presence, as well as the species Talents of Brak’lul, Warrior’s Spirit, and First into Battle (found on pages 317-319). That’s it. Homebrew over.

Homebrewing a spaceframe wouldn’t be much more difficult, but I’m not going into that. However, I will say the beauty is that you don’t have to achieve a specific balance. There are some limitations, which are outlined in the book, but for the most part it’s all about trying to determine the ship’s actual capabilities, bearing in mind your ship’s capabilities will be affected by when it was designed. As an example, the Constitution class (NCC-1701) Systems total is 46, where the Interepid class (U.S.S. Voyager) Systems total is 59.

History and lore

Star Trek Adventures, by Modiphius Entertainment

There’s an advantage any Star Trek RPG is going to have, and that’s over 50 years of continuity to play in. Currently, the Kelvin timeline and the Mirror Universe aren’t supported, and the core book focuses on the Federation, mostly centered around the year 2371. However, there’s so much history and lore to tap into that you don’t need to limit yourself.

Some people who’ve already started streaming have chosen to set their games in the 23rd century, although Geek and Sundry’s Shield of Tomorrow started in 2371 (but is currently in 2372). No matter where you set your game, there’s plenty to do. Whether you’re exploring, making scientific discoveries, fighting in epic wars, finding new species to contact, or being involved in intergalactic diplomacy, there’s an era for everyone.

That’s not to mention all the really interesting things you can do with it. Taking our Nerdarchy staff writer’s game, we’ve set it up that each of the players have been individually recruited by Section 31, but none of us know that any of the others are Section 31 agents. So Drew (our GM) will be giving us each secret personal objectives on top of the main story conflicts that we’ll also be contending with. Not to say that you can’t do that in any other game, but the very wide reach of Star Trek allows that to be a sub-plot we as players chose to come up with, and not the result of a forced mechanic.

Exploring the Star Trek universe

Star Trek Adventures, by Modiphius Entertainment

One of my favorite things so far is that there’s so much of the Star Trek universe that has largely gone unexplored. With the exception of the NX-01, even within the confines of Federation starships, the shows cover a very small portion of the missions going on at the time. That doesn’t include other governments or people.

That also doesn’t include other largely unexplored perspectives. In our primary game, we’ll be playing as the captain (me), the chief medical officer (Doug), and the chief of engineering (Asa). But being that all of us are GMs, each of us will take on GM duties from time to time. Partially to give Drew needed breaks, and partially because we’re each going to want to explore different things. They’ll be the equivalent of filler episodes, of course, but those can be fun.

Already, I have an idea to run an episode where the players are third shift crewmen, and they have to solve a crisis by themselves. The episodic nature of Star Trek Adventures lends us that capability that I don’t think most other games do without disrupting some kind of continuity, and I think that’s really cool.

Exploring Star Trek history

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home theatrical release poster by Bob Peak

On top of that, Asa and I have begun to consider Star Trek’s history. We came to the conclusion that even though Star Trek isn’t actually our universe, our events ran largely parallel until 1986 (except the show Star Trek didn’t exist in the Star Trek Universe), when they started to diverge much more significantly. I’m not going to go into it at this point, because that’s not what the article is about, but we came to that conclusion because of everything that surrounded Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, which mostly takes place in 1986.

So, we’ve been taking it upon ourselves to reimagine the history of the Star Trek Universe, and what impacts would’ve changed things. Some things change. Some things stay the same. And some things stay the same, but the connotations are different. As an example, the Beastie Boys’ song, “Sabotage” was released in 1994, which in the Star Trek Universe was in the middle of the Eugenics War (1992-1996), so it suddenly becomes a war protest song, and the connotations of the lyrics are dramatically shifted.

If you follow the Twitter feed for our ship, I post a Captain’s Log and a Personal Log every day, and you’ll get to see some of the world-building we’re doing for our game, which includes references to our version of Star Trek’s history.

As a writer, I’m really enjoying the possibilities of worldbuilding on this scale. Most times, you can’t really dive into some of the more esoteric elements of history or culture, because it’s too much for not a lot of gain, but we get to take what is and think about what could be because of how much there is already.

Final thoughts

I think Star Trek Adventures has a lot of potential to be a lot of fun, regardless of whether you’re a fan. The truth is that while I like Star Trek, I’m not sure if I’m a fan. I have what I call My Little Pony knowledge of it, so it would be easy for people to make that mistake. But I grew up a Doctor Who kid, and I’m more into Firefly than Star Wars or Star Trek (though I do enjoy both).

My mom, who isn’t a fan at all, is getting roped into it because her best friend is a huge Star Trek fan, as is my dad, but after we sat down to create a character for her for a game I’ll be running for her and their friends, she started to get excited about the prospect of playing. She also likes how much easier the character creation process was than both D&D and Pugmire.

I hope you check out Star Trek Adventures, and enjoy it as much as I have so far.  Until then, stay nerdy!

 

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Deck of Beasts: Kobold Press Is Holding All The Cards!

Kobold Press deals a winning hand with Deck of Beasts

Kobold Press Deck of BeastsGreetings Nerdarchy readers! Has anyone told you that you are awesome today? Well you are, and I believe that awesome people deserve equally awesome things. That being said, I have had the immense pleasure to speak to Kobold Press’s Wolfgang Baur and Inkwell Ideas’ Joe Wetzel about a product they created that has not only amazed me but impressed me. Their creative minds have shuffled together to deal us the amazing, the stupendous, the inspiring Deck of Beasts and Sidequest Decks!

What are these items I speak of you ask? Well let me tell you dear Nerdarchy reader about a dark age in gaming where one would have to lug around entire books just to include one monster. These days, the dark ages if you will, your Dungeon Master would have to turn and reference things which could take up valuable time. As a Dungeon Master, I always wanted to show the amazing artwork detailing the monster they were facing.

Despite my illustrious ability to spout adjectives with prolific prose, a picture is indeed worth a thousand words. Well this is where the Deck of Beasts comes in. Continue reading Deck of Beasts: Kobold Press Is Holding All The Cards!

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Review: Dark Arts Player’s Companion

D&D Dark Arts Player's CompanionNormally I don’t like third party content, especially for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons, but this week I found something not only amazingly well made, but well balanced for the most part.

Specifically I found the Dark Arts Player’s Companion presented by Jonoman3000. This product for D&D, found here on reddit, is something that hits a special place in my heart.

Specifically I have always loved the likes of Blade, Spawn, and Ghost Rider who meet the darkness head on with its own weapons in hand. So, if thee be not afraid, come and join me in the dark side with the Dark Arts Player’s Companion. Continue reading Review: Dark Arts Player’s Companion

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D&D Product Review: Limitless NPCs Vol.1

D&D NPC
Limitless Non Player Characters vol. 1 from Limitless Adventures.

NPCs for any D&D occassion

Many a Dungeon Master has encountered a creative wall when it comes to creating interesting, believable nonplayer characters for Dungeons & Dragons. Some only need a brief description and a name, but others can become key points in a campaign setting. They give an identity and culture to the world of the game.

It can be a challenge, though – it’s hard to predict which NPCs your party will take interest in and seek out in future sessions, and sometimes you have to come up with an NPC on the fly when the session takes an unexpected turn. Enter Limitless Adventures’ Non Player Characters vol. 1. The book contains 100 pre-written NPCs with descriptions, stats and loot that can be put into any campaign.

The book organises NPCs into eight categories: ally, charge, contact, foe, hireling, merchant, sage, and quest giver. Some NPCs fit into multiple categories, so the book’s chapters are more broadly sorted into allies, contacts, foes, merchants, and arch enemies. Each character includes a name, a brief description, stats, treasure, and quest hooks that can be found for each under the Further Adventure subtitle. Continue reading D&D Product Review: Limitless NPCs Vol.1

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Product Review: Monopoly Gamer Puts Nintendo Twist on Classic Game

When I first heard about Monopoly Gamer, I rolled my eyes. “Yet another cheap shot at gamers to buy Monopoly for the 50th time with a dumb gimmick,” I thought to myself. It’s not the first time a company slapped “Gamer” onto a product in a cheap attempt to sell a few more products. (Full disclosure: I did end up buying one some time later, with some personal disgust in my heart, but I couldn’t pass up the color scheme.)

At first glance, it’s just Monopoly with plastic Mario figures instead of generic metal ones, and coins instead of money. Plus, they’re adding IRL downloadable content by means of extra figures you can buy. Commence even deeper eye roll. However, as ashamed as I am of myself, that was enough for me to buy it. Continue reading Product Review: Monopoly Gamer Puts Nintendo Twist on Classic Game

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Spider-Man: Homecoming Review (Spoiler Free)

Spider-Man: Homecoming review
Spider-Man climbs the Washington Monument in Columbia Pictures’ “Spider-Man: Homecoming” [Image courtesy of Columbia Pictures]

Class in session for a review of Spider-Man: Homecoming

Hey, guys, Professor Bill of Comic Book University and I saw “Spider-Man: Homecoming” twice… because comic books!
Spider-Man is one of the most recognizable characters in the pop culture world. In 1992, I remember reading a “Stan’s Soapbox” where Stan Lee, whose wife just died a few days ago, discussed Marvel’s first trip to Japan in that same year. Due to the import regulations of the time, Japan never permitted a single comic book to enter within its territories nor a single cartoon to pass over its airwaves. Aside from a few travelers bringing in a comic or two, there was no previous exposure to the character.
Yet, when Stan Lee worked out a deal to bring the medium to Japan and walked down the streets with a man dressed as Spider-Man next to him, the streets were crowded with Japanese people, young and old, who were calling out for Spider-Man by name. Talk about crossing barriers!
So of course, this movie had to be good because Marvel Studios was getting behind it. Well, the film lived up to the hype.
We get to pretty much skip the origin story because none of us need to be reminded. The driving force behind this film doesn’t even revolve around the standard Spider-Man film, rather focusing on Peter Parker trying to prove himself worthy to Tony Stark to gain admission into the Avengers.
This new motivation for ol’ Web-head is a breath of fresh air to the other films in that life doesn’t necessarily ­happen­ to Spider-Man. He’s not some victim, he goes out and tries to be a hero in “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”
Again, no spoilers, but I think that you’ll agree by the end of the film after all the smoke is clear and the surprises revealed, Spider-Man feels as though he’s actually earned his place in the world – just like in the comics.
I’m keeping this one short, guys, now use that extra time to go out and see this film.
Professor Bill
Comic Book University
Class dismissed

 

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Blizzard’s Diablo 3 brings Rise of the Necromancer to Sanctuary

Diablo 3, that amazing repeated hit RPG by Blizzard, has spawned an entire world and campaign unlike any other. A world that sits between the Burning Hells and the High Heavens. Where the eternal war between Angels and Demons wages on with the hearts and souls of the descendants of both as the stakes. A world, ironic in its naming, dubbed Sanctuary.

Blizzard Diablo 3 necromancerToday marks the launching of Blizzard’s latest expansion for Diablo 3, Rise of The Necromancer. In this, you get to play as a Nephalem, or the direct descendant of the angels and demons that founded Sanctuary as a place apart from the eternal. The Nephalem, on the rise since the sundering of the Worldstone by the Angel of Justice Tyreal, are beings that possess more power than that of Angel or Demon combined.

In fact, there is only one case of either being able to solo a Nephalem in Diablo 3 that I have found, when Inarius (father of the first Nephalem, Rathma) faced off against the Nephalem Uldyssian while Inarius was empowered with all the might of the Worldstone. The Nephalem are the best of both worlds, yet a part of neither. They do not rest, they do not tire, their power is nearly infinite. Thus is why their power was sealed away within the Worldstone, only to be released with its sundering. Continue reading Blizzard’s Diablo 3 brings Rise of the Necromancer to Sanctuary

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Origins 2017 – game convention from a new perspective

Attending a game convention is not new territory for me. Fresh off of Origins 2017 in Columbus, Ohio, the gaming juice runs at an all-time high and I’m pumped to plow forward with gusto on as a fan of tabletop roleplaying games as well as a savvy up-and-coming Nerdarchy aide-de-camp.

My first game convention was, coincidentally, Origins Game Fair back in the early 90s when civilization was at its peak. I’ll never forget inadvertently joining a world championship tournament of Diplomacy, having never played the game. For about an hour I had my opponents thinking I was some kind of savant, making bewildering moves they’d never seen. Then they realized my cluelessness and my stint as a global leader quickly ended. Continue reading Origins 2017 – game convention from a new perspective

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Nord Games unleashes Revenge of the Horde on your D&D game

Ultimate Bestiary: Revenge of the Horde from Nord Games offers an awesome resource for incorporating a variety of monstrous races into your fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons game. At nearly 200 pages, the book presents creature options for bugbears, gnolls, goblins, hobgoblins, kobolds, ogres, orcs and more. The book is available through Nord Games in PDF and hardcover options, for $15-45. In addition to the D&D version, there is a Pathfinder edition, too.

Nerdarchists Dave and Ted and Nate the Nerdarch backed the Kickstarter campaign, and you can watch their Nord Games-sponsored flip-through video above. In addition to the hardcover book, they received the reference deck, all five encounter builder decks and 258 pawns featuring the new creatures from the D&D book. Continue reading Nord Games unleashes Revenge of the Horde on your D&D game

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IDW D&D Comic Book – Frost Giant’s Fury

Hey, guys, Professor Bill of Comic Book University and by my name, you can probably tell that I kind of like comic books. I review a lot, and one of my current favorites is one that may appeal to every Nerdarchist. The comic in question is IDW’s “Dungeons and Dragons – Frost Giant’s Fury.”
D&D frost giants comic
IDW’s D&D comic book “Frost Giant’s Fury” brings the action, excitement and drama of a D&D game to the comic book world. Art by Netho Diaz

The perfect comic for D&D fans

This IDW comic, published by Ted Adams (not that one), is a multiple series run series where a party of adventurers get themselves in way over their heads. They started off in Waterdeep, found themselves going face-to-face with Strahd in Ravenloft, and now they are in the Spine of the World heading into the town of Fireshear, just as a party of frost giants is about to raid.
The series takes a strange turn when they discover that the frost giants have a captured a white dragon who possesses a rare and powerful magical artifact that could change the leadership of the frost giants and change the landscape of Faerun.

The characters

  • The party braves the elements in the Spine of the World in Frost Giant’s Fury. Art by Netho Diaz

    Minsc – The beloved ranger and his pet, the giant miniature space hamster Boo, the heroes of Baldur’s Gate. He no longer feels like a hero as he is less successful in battle than he’d like as of late.

  • Delina – The wild magic sorceress moon elf. She is searching for her brother Deniak in Baldur’s Gate but was shocked to find that Deniak had become the leader of the Dragon Cult and wanted to use her abilities to become a red dragon.
  • Krydle – The half-elven bastard son of noble blood is a rogue thief whose mother was killed by the thieves’ guild he was a member of in Baldur’s Gate. While he was initially only along for the money, he has since become something of a leader to this party. He’s also developed a special relationship with Shandie.
  • Shandie – Krydle’s partner in crime (literally), she is a halfling rogue archer who moves fast and strikes with deadly accuracy.
  • Nerys – a cleric of the God of Death who joined the party in Ravenloft. She despises the undead and seeks to eliminate all those who did not die naturally. She went toe-to-toe with Strahd but was badly wounded and she teeters on the edge of death herself, unable to heal her own wounds.
Frost Giant's Fury comic
The adventuring party in Frost Giant’s Fury has all the bases covered. Art by Netho Diaz

This comic is a great way for new fans to understand D&D. Even for those of us who are familiar with the game (or masters), this is a great story that can be used for your game, like an adventure module. At the end of the books, they also add the character sheet of one of the party members.

A short article this week, guys, but three videos of reviews to enjoy. Also, consider grabbing a copy of the comics. If you don’t know where your local comic book store is you can find it online. That, or you can go to https://www.comixology.com/ and download the comics directly.

Support the hobby on every front.

Professor Bill
Comic Book University
Class dismissed.

 

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D&D 5E initiative from the Mike Mearls AMA gets a look from Nerdarchy

Mike Mearls AMA D&D initiative

During a May 15 Reddit AMA  with Mike Mearls, lead designer of 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons at Wizards of the Coast, he mentioned how the D&D 5E initiative system bugged him and shared a house rule method he uses for his own games. Continue reading D&D 5E initiative from the Mike Mearls AMA gets a look from Nerdarchy

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Critter Compendium brings D&D monsters of the past into the present, with creative new creatures

Critter Compendium by Tobias Beis is a collection of monsters for 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons, available now as a PDF through the Dungeon Masters Guild for $15. The hefty book presents a wide variety and number of creatures from earlier D&D editions converted to the current ruleset, along with original creations that includes artwork by the author. With 135 entries and appendices describing additional creatures and templates, Critter Compendium has enough creatures to populate several campaigns across the whole gamut of challenge ratings. Continue reading Critter Compendium brings D&D monsters of the past into the present, with creative new creatures

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‘Dice, Camera, Action’ never waffles on D&D fun

How can your game go wrong when the lead story designer for the team behind creating Dungeons & Dragons runs the campaign? In “Dice, Camera, Action,” Wizards of the Coast’s Chris Perkins leads a core party of adventurers along with several guest players through a live streaming season of the official published campaign Curse of Strahd in season one. The second season continues the party’s adventures with Storm King’s Thunder. Continue reading ‘Dice, Camera, Action’ never waffles on D&D fun

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Nerdy Graphic Tees, Gaming T Shirts, Nerd Apparel for All

Nerdy Graphic Tees for Women, Gaming T Shirts for Men, Nerd Apparel i'm with int 3 i'm with wis 3

Nerdy Graphic Tees for Women, Gaming T Shirts for Men, Nerd Apparel for All!

Greetings nerds, geeks, and gamers of all kinds, Nate the Nerdarch here and I wanted to take you on a walkthrough of nerdy RPG shirts while letting you know about one of our latest sponsors*, ArmorClass10.com.

I have been wearing some of their nerd apparel, and gaming t shirts for men, throughout the past month or so and I am pleased with the quality so I felt it was fair to mention them here. They also have nerdy graphic tees for women (as in women’s fitted, or v neck ) available as well.

You may find all of the available sizes, styles, and designs over on the website, ArmorClass10 Continue reading Nerdy Graphic Tees, Gaming T Shirts, Nerd Apparel for All

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D&D AARPG IS your grandparents’ Dungeons & Dragons

For this week’s look into streaming RPG programs, there’s a wonderful series put together by Geek & Sundry called D&D AARPG. In this series, writer and actress Amy Vorpahl guides a group of older players through a D&D adventure. Vorpahl handles Dungeon Master duties, while seniors Annie Coty, Bobby Reed and Art are joined by younger players Hector Navarro and Josh Flaum. Continue reading D&D AARPG IS your grandparents’ Dungeons & Dragons