I recently read the amazing Liveship Traders trilogy by Robin Hobb and one thing that leapt to my mind is how much more interesting the Elderlings are compared to D&D Dragonborns.
In my actual (Chult) campaign, to contrast with my human-only previous one, I’ve let the players choose any race, “even the dumb ones” I said. I was kind of relieved when none of them chose to play a Dragonborn as, for me, this race is certainly one of the dumbest fantasy race out there.
Shaped by draconic gods or the dragons themselves, dragonborn originally hatched from dragon eggs as a unique race, combining the best attributes of dragons and humanoids.
A cop-out if there ever was. At least there’s no sexually deviant dragons copulating with puny humanoids, oh wait, that’s where Half-dragons come from! Sigh…
Dragonlance’s Draconians were not much better (I mean, how much stolen dragon eggs you need to make whole armies?!) but at least they replaced the overly used orcs.
Now, what about Hobb’s Elderlings?
They were ancient Humans that pretty much lived side by side in a symbiotic society with dragons. Because of their proximity with these powerful beings’ essence and the occasional use of special rituals, they have acquired variable degrees of draconic traits: scaling, greater height, bright eyes, longevity and so forth. The culture of the Elderlings, what few glimpses we have of it, is also quite intriguing.