One of my players, who happens to be new to D&D, is really getting into his character. He is playing as a Dragonborn, a race of dragon-like humanoids that first appeared in the D&D 3.5 supplement Races of the Dragon and became a core race in 4th Edition. When Wizards of the Coast released the 4E supplement Player’s Handbook Races: Dragonborn, my player and I were both intrigued by the short sidebar included within entitled “Speaking Like A Dragonborn”. I thought the use of such phrases was a great way to flesh out a character so I created a few of my own for my player to use as he saw fit. I present them here for anyone else who might want to use them.
“Sometimes snakes walk upright.” – An expression of contempt, originally used to belittle a fellow dragonborn (comparing them to little more than a snake with legs). Implies that the person in question is deceitful, untrustworthy, or lowly. “What do I think of him? You know what they say, ‘Sometimes snakes walk upright’.”“By/with tooth, claw, and scale.” – A proclamation that one will overcome a difficult obstacle with whatever means available. “We shall defeat them by tooth, claw, and scale.”
“Grow wings to fool a dragon” – Response to an idea deemed ridiculous or foolish, or a request to do the impossible. “What a brilliant plan. Why don’t I just grown wings to fool a dragon while we’re at it?”
“Had I wings, I would still not be a dragon.” – Both a statement of identity (distinguishing the proud dragonborn people from the dragons they once served), as well an observation that superficial changes do not change who a person or thing is.
“A beautiful blade does not make it keen.” – The dragonborn version of “beauty is only skin deep”, also a philosophical warning against putting form over substance.
“A blunt sword is the weapon of a fool.”/”Only a fool wields a blunt sword.” – Wisdom prevails over ignorance.
“An axe will break down a door, but that’s not what axes are for.” – Whimsical expression along the lines of “use the right tool for the job”.
“Greet with an open mouth”/”Be greeted by open mouths”– References the dragonborn ability to breathe fire, acid, etc., which tends to be an act of violence and, naturally, requires one to open its mouth. It means: to receive something or someone with hostility, to vehemently oppose something. By contrast “be greeted with mouths closed” is the equivalent of “welcome with open arms”.
“To act with open mouth(s)”/”Act with their mouths wide” – To do something foolish without thinking it through first.
“You can’t unbreak an egg.”– There’s no turning back, what’s done is done.“By Io’s blood” – Exclamation of conviction or amazement. “By Io’s blood, I’ve never seen such courage!”, “By Io’s blood, I will prevail!”
“A Tiefling with scales” – Similar to “a wolf in sheep’s clothing”
“I have but my blood to give, as Io did before me.” – A solemn oath of service or loyalty.
“You may take my life but not my honor.” – A rebuke to one’s enemies.
“A scale may deflect an arrow. Then again, sometimes it may not.” – Somewhat equivalent to “you win some, you lose some”, also used sometimes to mean “who knows why things happen the way they do.”
“Some days it’s as if every head of Tiamat is looking your way.” – Roughly equivalent to “shit happens”.
“Allies before Self. Family before Allies. Clan before Family. Ancestors before Clan. Honor before all.” A Dragonborn oath.
“If I had wings and a tail, I’d be a dragon.” – A statement expressing incredulity, and expression of disbelief at another’s claims. -“I slew the Umberhulk with nothing but a knife!” -“Right, and if I had wings and a tail, I’d be a dragon.”