I’ve been giving my SpellJammer inspired Cosmonomicon setting some more thought and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve made a mistake that should be corrected. When I wrote the setting more than half a decade ago, I set the reign of each dragon emperor to be 1,000 years, resulting a setting set 5,099 years after a horrific interstellar Dragon War. Upon reflection, this results in some issues and missed opportunities, so I’ve decided to retcon that down to 100 years reigns, and I’m altering the existing articles to reflect this change. Here’s my reasoning:
First, a 5,099 year empire is too long even for dragons. The 5th edition Monstrous Manual has dragon that cap out at Ancient at age 801+ and it also notes when discussing Dracoliches that even dragons a mortal and will eventually die of old age. Even if you use the age categories of previous editions, where Great Wyrm dragons are 1,201+ years old, it still means that there shouldn’t really be any dragons left alive that actually took part in the Dragon War. A hatchling born the day before the war ended would still be a Great Wyrm more than 4 times over in the year 5,099. Frankly I don’t see the leaders of the chromatic dragon clans accepting a power sharing deal that none of them would be alive to enjoy assuming the leadership of.
The second major issue is that 5,099 years of empire makes it harder to use leftovers from the Dragon War. How likely is it that a major ruined fortification, malfunctioning artifact of war, or ghost ship is still floating around in a condition worth dealing with? It’s clearly so long that only undead and litteral immortals might be holding a grudge still. In other words it makes it very difficult to use the Dragon War itself as a reasonable source of adventure fodder.
Thirdly, setting the time as 99 years into a 1,000 year reign does make it interesting to see how the first evil dragon emperor intends to reshape the empire, but it misses the opportunity to put the entire setting on the edge of massive conflict. If instead, the reign of the dragon emperor is shorter, and the game is set towards the end of the Red Dragon’s reign, the question becomes: Will he give up the power? All the Metallic dragons before him peacefully handed the reigns of the empire to the next dragon, including the Gold Empresses handing them to the Red Emperor himself, but how likely really is an Ancient Red Dragon to give up being lord of the galaxy? Instead imagine a setting where the end of his reign is slated to take palace in only a couple of years, and the open question across the entire empire is will he risk a new dragon war to stay on the throne? It’s actually a more complicated situation because instead of being Chromatic against Metallic, the lines are more likely to be Lawful vs Chaotic, as the snubbed party being denied the next turn at the throne would be the Blue Dragons.
For these reasons I’ve decided to retcon the setting so that the reign of each Dragon Emperor is only 100 years long, and that the game setting opens 597 years after the end of the Dragon War. At the start of the game, the Red Emperor has only 3 years left on the throne and the entire galaxy waiting to see if he will peacefully pass power to the Blue Dragon Clans or will plunge space back into massive war in an attempt to retain power.
An approximately 600 year old empire means that there are “adult” dragons that may have participated in the Dragon War that would not only still be alive but might still be only Adults instead of Ancients. A dragon that was 200 years old when the Dragon War ended would be 797, still not Ancient at 801+. It also means that all the highest ranking dragons of clans at the end of the Dragon War might still reasonably expect to still be alive to ascend to the throne. It’s also a suitable age for ruins and relics from the war to still be undiscovered, but also for longer live races like elves to still still be holding grudges and secrets among the living members of their races.
In short it both makes more sense and opens up more story possibilities.