Marcus L. Rowland (ffutures) wrote,
Marcus L. Rowland

Tooth and Claw introduction - Sidebar text

The introduction to the RPG will consist of the first section of the first chapter of Tooth and Claw with some sidebars about Jo Walton, the book, Forgotten Futures, and some concepts that are especially important in later sections. You can find the chapter of the book on Jo's site, at

This is mostly for those familiar with Tooth and Claw, but please feel free to chip in if you don't know the book but spot anything that looks odd.

Tooth and Claw
Tooth and Claw is Jo Walton’s novel of life in a world where the battle between humans and dragons ended in a draw… or possibly in a long lull before the next war. Told entirely from the dragon viewpoint, it lends a new perspective to one of the best-loved fantasy icons, and was soon internationally acclaimed, winning the 2004 World Fantasy Award.

Walton’s dragons live in a quasi-Victorian society, but one whose customs include serfdom amounting to slavery, trial by combat and institutionalised cannibalism. They fly, breathe fire, and sleep on gold, but their interests range far beyond the normal fantasy clichés; the plot of the novel is largely driven by a lawsuit between the heirs of the dragon Bon Agorin, the romances of his children, greed, religion, and the biological nature of the species.

Tooth and Claw is published by Tor in hardcover, an Orb paperback is planned.

Jo Walton
Born in Wales and now resident in Montreal, Quebec, Jo Walton is best known as a novelist but has also written role playing games and story-telling card games. Her first fantasy novels were the King’s Peace trilogy (2000-2002). She won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2002 and the World Fantasy award for Tooth and Claw in 2004. Her first SF novel, Farthing (2006), was set in a world where Rudolph Hess brokered a peace treaty with Britain before America entered the Second World War, and was nominated for the Nebula and Quill awards, the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best science fiction novel, and the Sidewise Award for Alternate History. A sequel, Ha'penny, was published in 2007. Game credits include the IDC series of Storytelling Card Games, most notably Into The Dark Continent, written with Ken Walton and others, and GURPS Celtic Myth (1995) and Warhammer FRP Realms of Sorcery (2001), both written with Ken Walton.

Forgotten Futures
Forgotten Futures is a shareware role-playing game whose core rules material, supplements, and adventures have been published on line since 1993. Previous supplements have been based on Victorian and Edwardian scientific romances and fantasies. FF X is a first for the game, based on a modern fantasy with a strong Victorian feel. While it has not been possible to include the full text of the book, as with previous Forgotten Futures releases, it’s readily available and one of the most readable books to have been used as the basis for a Forgotten Futures setting.

One previous release for the game has included material on dragons; FF VIII is based on the children’s stories of Edith Nesbit, and includes descriptions of several dragon species, some possessing strong magical powers. There may, however, be some problems with crossover adventures – most characters from other settings are human, and the dragons of Tooth and Claw regard the humans of their world, the Yarge, with a mixture of fear and disgust. Their most likely reaction to any unwary human, regardless of age or cuteness, is likely to be a savage attack or a burst of flame. See page xx for more on crossovers with this and other settings.

The first Forgotten Futures material was published as ASCII text files with separate graphics files for illustrations. Later releases used HTML, and all of the existing material has now been converted to that format. However, the limitations of HTML make layout difficult and somewhat hit-or-miss. Better results are now possible using the PDF format; FF X and all future releases will be published simultaneously in PDF and HTML versions. Like previous releases this supplement is distributed without charge – if you find it useful and wish to encourage the author to write more please consider registering or purchasing the Forgotten Futures CD-ROM. Visit and follow the links to the game to register or order the CD-ROM.

Wing Binding
Wing binding was invented by the Yarge when they controlled the dragon lands, but continued by the dragons after their oppressors left. Two very different classes of dragons have bound wings; the clergy, to symbolize and enforce humility, and servants, who are often treated as little better than slaves. Dragons with bound wings cannot fly; additionally, tight binding (as used for servants) can have serious medical consequences such as chafing, muscle cramps, and in extreme cases atrophy of the wing muscles.

Naturally the clergy ensure that their bindings are loose enough to prevent any long-term effects, and although it is frowned upon by the Church, many pay lip-service to piety but still find it expedient to fly whenever it is more convenient than walking. Because of their bound wings, the clergy are legally immune from any obligation to respond to another dragon’s challenge; pious hypocrites weaken this protection.

All dragons are cannibals or the potential victims of cannibals. Without consuming dragon-flesh they grow slowly and are generally sickly. It’s considered essential to cull the race and consume weaklings to improve the health and vigour of the strong; this has evolved into a matter of status, with the highest ranks of society (especially the clergy) preying on the lower as a matter of right. A commoner’s children are in peril from the moment they hatch. Old servants are often eaten at the first sign of weakness. Any death is the excuse for a feast, with the departed often making complex arrangements for the disposition of their remains. The plot of Tooth and Claw is largely driven by the death of Bon Agorin, and an argument over the sharing of his body.

Dragons appear to have no fear of disease when they eat their own dead. The effect of eating dragon flesh is generally considered to be magical, and part of that magic must be that it is a potent cure for all diseases.
See page 5 onwards for an extended discussion of the uses of cannibalism.

There are two main dragon religions, the Orthodox Faith and a variant known as the Old Faith; they differ in many respects, but to lay members the most obvious is that the Old Faith still allows confession. Until comparatively recently the Old Faith was considered a heresy and strongly suppressed; it is now permitted, but even today the gap between the religions is at least as great as that between many Yarge religions. While the Orthodox Faith preaches its evolutionary message above all else, the Old Faith pays more attention to charity; an Orthodox priest confronted with a sick parishioner might devour him, a cleric of the Old Faith might well try to help him.

Although dragon theologians deny it, the Old Faith began as a Yarge religion, adopted by dragons as one of the conditions of their surrender after the Yarge invented gunpowder; see page xx onward for more on this historical background. The harsher practices of the Orthodox Faith are a later invention, a justification for the harsh population controls made essential by their limited territory. While the Old Faith seems kinder, Orthodoxy is actually better for the long-term survival of the race.

Both versions of the faith worship the trinity of Veld, Jurale, and Camran.

Veld is the Creator of all things; he made the world, his blessing is increase, in vengeance he is sometimes shown as the Sun. Jurale added beauty and mercy. Finally, Camran brought Law (which he wrested from the demon Azashan), peace, and humility.

A major difference between the Old Faith and the Orthodox Faith lies in their depiction of Camran as he walks towards Azashan’s cave; Orthodox icons depict him as a dragon, the Old Faith shows him as a Yarge. Orthodox theologians are aware that their oldest books also depict Camran as a Yarge, allegedly to emphasise his peaceful nature and humility. The real truth is that both religions originate with the Yarge; originally all three members of the trinity were shown in that form.

[small picture of dragon wearing bishop's mitre and holding coiled cord]
Holiness Irieth, the Orthodox Bishop of Irieth, rises from his hoard and prepares for his morning duties. He has already donned his mitre; next he will bind his wings, then after taking early prayers will attend to business around his extensive parish.

Scenario Idea: Hate Mail
An anonymous writer is bombarding Irieth society with scurrilous letters claiming that the Bishop eats dragonets unnecessarily, and not just to cull the unfit. It’s also claimed that he’s secretly flying. The adventurers are asked to look into the matter unofficially, identify the accuser, find out if there is any truth to the accusations, and make sure that the Church is not sullied.

Tags: forgotten futures, rpg, tooth and claw

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