Reskinning Dragonborn as Aliens?

Now that the 5th Edition D&D Players Handbook is out, we can see that Dragonborn are included. Unlike Tieflings I am having a hard time figuring out how to allow them in my game world.

I’d like some way to have the possibility of having a Dragonborn PC in my world, because I don’t like just “saying no” to a player request, but a couple things would have to be addressed.

1) The stupid name. That is probably my biggest stumbling block at the moment. Surely these beings have some other name they call themselves, even if others might refer to them as “Dragonborn?” (Which itself would be unlikely in my opinion, as how many people would have any experience of Dragons except from legends and rumors?)

2) My game world goes back almost 30 years. Clearly, since Dragonborn did not exist back then, they were not included in the initial design of the world. There are no nations of Dragonborn, or cities, villages, or even families. They would have to be individuals that came from some other place and have no way back.

So my idea was to reskin Dragonborn as some type of extra-terrestrial species. (I did leave open the possibility of crashed alien spacecraft in the world, inspired by S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks.)

Maybe a starship or spelljamming vessel broke up above my world, and a handful of survivors bailed out and were scattered to different places.

Now, another concern I’d have at this point would be, if “Dragonborn” have nothing to do with Dragons and are not even called “Dragonborn,” would potential players be able to adjust their conception & expectations away from what the “standard” idea of a Dragonborn is?

Any input or suggestions on alternate names for Dragonborn (must not include word “Dragon”) or how potential players might react to this reskinning would be welcomed.

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4 thoughts on “Reskinning Dragonborn as Aliens?

  1. I’m thinking about calling them Drakkar in my game world. I believe in Forgotten Realms they were dropped in via another reality.

    • Drakkar is an interesting choice, as it is a type of Viking ship with a dragonhead prow. Sounds somewhat like “dragon” (as it is in another language). Since my Dragonborn were spacefarers, it might sort of fit.

      • Yeah I think the connection to Drake or Drac immediately springs reptilian race into people’s mind. I think Enemy Mine called their lizard-like aliens Draks. If you make up a fantasy name it should evoke what you’re after. I always thought tiefling was a terrible name because of that.

  2. This race chaffs my old school sensibilities as well, and like you I don’t just want to say no to someone who genuinely wants to play one of these guys just because I don’t care for them. Rather than aliens though, couldn’t these creatures be new arrivals from a distant land, perhaps across a vast see, who have only recently made their way to the continent or region your game is set in? If no communities of these creatures exist in the known world, you could make them hail from a part of the unknown world. The reason behind why they have started to show up could be woven into dozens of adventure hooks even. Of course, at the end of the day, if they don’t fit in your world then they don’t fit, and if you don’t want to make allowances for them then you shouldn’t have to. As a player I would understand this and just play something else.

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