Zangtus the Carvenhide

A clanless dragonborn seafarer, called to relive his draconic heritage through the ancient runes of his ancestors.



Captain Zangtus the Carvenhide is a middle-aged male silver-scaled dragonborn runepriest (4e)/cleric of the War domain (5e). Carved into each of his largest scales is a unique rune. As new runes are learned, he carves them into a new scale. If a scale is lost or damaged, he replaces it in this fashion as well. When he casts spells, the runes which describe the incantation for that spell glow with a bright blue light. Zangtus strides into battle wearing a gleaming breastplate and mail, and wielding his mighty two-handed maul Thunderhead. Because plate is often too heavy for ship-work, when sailing he wears a simple hide harness instead.

Zangtus captains the Windrunner, a swift trade and—sometimes—privateer vessel, in his journeys around the world. Fame and riches inspire much of his crew, but Zangtus is not that easily enthralled. He uses his vessel to search for artifacts of his people in order to learn more of his ancestors, and the magic which riddles him.

Zangtus reveres Bahamut, Lord of Dragons, as he believes every true dragonborn should. However, he more often feels the Lord of War Kord’s touch, as due the dragonborn’s occupation. As such, he often prays to both; to Bahamut for guidance, and to Kord for empowerment. His ship also contains small altars to a variety of other deities: to Beory, Goddess of the Sea, for calm waters; to Pelor, Lord of Light, and to Celestian, Lord of Stars, for day- and night-time navigation respectively; and to Fharlanghn, The Dweller on the Horizon, for safe travel and swift winds. As master of the ship, he gives thanks to each before and after each journey.


Windrunner herself is a sleek 108 ft., two-and-a-half decked Brigantine. At 245 tons, she is a middle-weight ship, but her rigging enables a high speed and quick turn, even when compared to smaller ships. Her mainmast and foremast has two and three square-rigged sails respectively, giving her great speed when sailing downwind, especially with her studding sails eased. A fore-and-aft combination of a large footed gaff sail and twin staysails give her a quick turn; they also allow her to navigate tighter, slower waters when her mainsails are trimmed. Two large jibs give her stability even during a hard turn at speed.

She carries fourteen guns, an average number for her size and tonnage. Two 12-pound long guns are mounted in a fore chase position, with the remaining twelve 24-pound long guns balanced between port and starboard on the gundeck. She lacks stern chase guns, as her quick turning speed allows her to turn to broadside rather than remain in a lead position. In emergencies, the two rearmost 24-pounders can be hauled aft, though the shot is somewhat awkward. Four small rail-mounted 6-pounders provide close range protection, two fore and aft each, on the foredeck and quarterdeck.

Windrunner lacks the standard raised forecastle of her peers; instead she has a partial “main deck,” which is level with the foredeck, and runs in a ‘U’ around the sides above the gunports, meeting flush with the halfdeck, before being raised into a quarterdeck at the extreme aft end. This “running deck” gives a clear path around the guns, while simultaneously protecting sailors on the gundeck and providing easy crane access to the main hold. The main body of the crew sleep aft belowdecks, in an area filled with hammocks; the ship’s galley and a modest brig sits between it and the main hold. Fore of the main hold are the shot and powder storage rooms; an armored hull protects these rooms from outside damage. Shot and powder are carried up a double-abreast staircase leading from the doorway to the shot room up to the gundeck, fore of the foremast. Opposite the stairwell, in the prow, is the chapel and a secondary storeroom. In the stern of the gundeck are the officer’s and captain’s rooms, the armory, and a receiving room/captain’s dining room; the latter has large windows, lending a good view to the patrons within. The quarterdeck houses a navigation room, above which lies the helm, sitting in an open-topped armored five-sided box.

Her optimal crew is fourty-six enlisted and two officers, in addition to Captain Zangtus himself. The first mate, Commander Wilern Rigemund, is a middle-aged human man, fierce in countenance but loyal and true. He has served as Zangtus’ second since the ship’s previous captain, Bershyll Hammynd, retired nearly ten years prior. The ship’s second mate and navigator is a young halfling woman, Lieutenant Channa Stormsong. She was picked up nearly three years after Zangtus assumed command, and quickly became a major asset to the ship: her wind magic allows Windrunner to always be at sail, even during the calmest of waters. She took quickly to the art of navigation, and eventually replaced the previous when he perished during an orc pirate raid three years after she joined the crew.



Zangtus has never known a clan, save that of his ship. Born in the island nation of Kopora Nym to the only dragonborn on the island, he learned early what it means to have no family larger that his own broodmates. His family was not part of any recognized dragonborn clan, and Zangtus was no different. His parents would never speak of their clanlessness; indeed, he did not even learn of the clans until he was almost an adult.

Life was fairly peaceful, if uneventful. His father and older siblings made their living with construction and off-shore fishing, while his mother worked in a tavern near the docks, serving sailors and the few travelers they came with. Zangtus was barely a year old on the day a dragonborn sailor stepped into the tavern with his companions. He was loudly enjoying himself, but when his eyes fell on the fellow dragonborn serving him, his face fell silent in disgust. He urged his companions to leave before they had even finished sitting. Zangtus was much to young to understand his mother’s forlorn look, and before long the memory was lost in the hachling’s mind. It never occurred until later to ask why.

During his childhood, he felt a great wanderlust, and a calling from across the endless sea. Often, when trading ships docked he would spend hours listening to tales of far-off lands, and the fair races and hideous monsters that resided there. Glorious castles, cities of gleaming gold larger than the island itself, mountains so tall that the clouds in the heavens were pierced by their majesty. These fantasies occupied every waking moment of young Zangtus’ life. This was a distraction his parents and older siblings tried to reduce. Yet try as they might, the images the sailors brought with them would not leave the young boy’s head. Eventually, questions arose in his mind; why were there so few of his people on the island? Where did they come from? Why did they come here? These questions his parents, and those of his friends, could not answer—or would not.

One day, a trading vessel from the desert country of Rustra arrived. Zangtus was nearing his twelfth year at the time: his icy breath had just begun manifesting. He was working at the docks at the time, using his already prodigious strength to help load and unload cargoes from the docked ships. He spied a shining silver and white vessel coming over the horizon. He watched it approach in awe; it was the single largest, and by far most ornate ship to grace the island in memory. He finished his work in a rush, barely setting down the final load before sprinting off to watch the sailors dock and disembark. Among the shiphands moving down the gangplanks were some of the most oddly dressed folk Zangtus had ever seen! An elf in a sapphire flowing cloak. He wore a silver headband set with a gemstone, and a matching one in the staff he held. The gemstone seemed to shine like a miniature sun at sunrise. A dwarf with a hammer as big as himself, in armor the like Zangtus had never seen before. Made entirely of metal, the suit covered the man from chin to toe, and shimmered with an otherworldly light not unlike the auroras seen to the far south in winter. A stern-looking human woman, head shaved except for a long braided ponytail sprouting from a circle of hair set behind her ears. Tattoos covered her bare head and arms. She bore no weapons or armor Zangtus could see, instead wearing loose-fitting earth-colored clothing of such a fine quality as Zangtus had only seen in the most expensive of shops. Despite her lack of armament, she carried herself as if she had weapons attached to her hands. The last to come out was a salt-and-pepper-bearded human man, dressed in turquoise robes, and with an odd billowing hat, which was decorated with star motifs, and a single feather which bore every color imaginable…and some unimaginable. Zangtus was determined to listen to their stories, as they seemed the sort to have experienced the world many times over. His mother had the night off, so she would be nowhere near to shoo him away from these travelers.

That night changed his life.

Zangtus and a number of other children had managed to get the group to tell stories of their adventures. Vorhek, the dwarf, had once managed to slay a frost giant in the northern mountains of Karerst, and he had a scar from the beast’s icy blades to show for his efforts. Anait, the woman, and much softened once the tales started—and the ale began to flow—told of a great sailfish she once rode in the eastern sea, using it to catch and down the giant bird which had stolen her friend away. Elnaril, the elf, had lived much longer than the rest put together, even the old man, and told of the great forests of his homeland, stretching for uncounted leagues, before their poisoning by the Witch Queen Nikalia and her spider clan. Elnaril and his brethren had banded together, and little by little drove the foul creatures back, until at last Nikalia lay defeated at their feet. Saalin, the man with the fantastic hat, had the most interesting story by far. He once knew a creature named Koraermiraexixnasz, or simply “Kor.” Kor was apparently a trickster, and loved to play games with the aged man when the mage was a youth. While the sailors and adventurers seemed to know what Saalin was talking about, Zangtus and the other native children did not.

“What sort of creature is this Kor?” asked Mim, a young human girl who was a year younger than Zangtus, yet was still considered barely older than a child by the older humans.

“Why, little miss,” said the magus, “Kor was a copper dragon. A curious fellow, he once—”

“What’s a ‘dragon’?” asked Zangtus.

Vorhek gave a hearty chuckle. “Look aht ‘im, askin’ what a dragon is.” he laughed. Zangtus’ confused look soon wiped the grin off the dwarf’s face. “Do yeh seriously not know what a ‘dragon’ is, lad?” Zangtus’ shake confirmed his fear. “Why, it’s yer own ancestors, it is.”

“I’m afraid I still don’t—” he tried to reply.

“What do you call your people, young one?” Elnaril asked.

“‘Darastrixim,’” answered Zangtus.

“And you never thought to find out what that means in the common tongue?”

“No?” Zangtus replied, cautiously.

“It means ‘People of the Dragon,’ in the language of the dragons themselves, my boy.” said the old man. “Your kind were descended from the stock of the great elder wyrms, in long-forgotten eras. Benevolent governors of the enlightened world, they were. As the stories go, you were created to serve as their envoys and servants, but as dragonkind dwindledand diminished, you were set free to chart your own existence. I thought this to be common knowledge among your kind?”

“I have honestly not heard it until now,” said the enthralled Zangtus. “Can you tell me more?”

Anait spoke up suddenly; apparently she had been nodding off under the drinks’ influence. “It’s a bit late, yeah? Shouldn’t we turn in?”

“Yeh,” said Vorhek, “We’ve got a bit ‘o travelin’ to do in the mornin’.”

“We’ll finish this when we return in a few days, yes?” said the old man.

Zangtus and the others reluctantly agreed. He wanted to know as much as possible, as soon as possible, about this new ancestry, but he didn’t want to press these people too far and ruin the good spirits. On his way home, his mind raced: why had his parents never explained this? Shouldn’t they be proud of the apparently noble blood running through their veins? Even if it was so long ago no one remembered, that seemed the sort of information one ought to be proud of.

He asked he parents after the evening meal that night.

Zangtus the Carvenhide

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