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Ragitsu

In your campaign setting, how do dragons perceive those that wear dragon-hide/dragon-scale armor?

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On my campaigns, dragons are _monsters_:  giant winged reptiles that breath fire or acid or venemous clouds or sickening fumes ( not all of them in every campaign). 

 

But the are frickitty-fricken _monsters_. 

Quite possibly the largest, deadliest creatures of land or sky, but _monsters_. 

 

I have always been left cold by the "dragon as intelligent species that, even though it makes no art, builds no buildings, fashions no crafts, and raises no goods, totally gets mercantilism and lusts after great wealth (that nothing else in its tenuous and sketchy "society" makes remotely necessary or even practical) to the point of using other people's buildings to horde gold. "

 

I mean, I have played RPG since the seventies.  I have watched movies and read books since before I discovered RPGs:  I _have_ suspension of disbelief.  But I don't know if I will ever have enough to swallow that. 

 

The question, as it relates to my campaigns, is akin to "how do roaches feel about people who use roach shell armor?" 

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:

On my campaigns, dragons are _monsters_:  giant winged reptiles that breath fire or acid or venemous clouds or sickening fumes ( it all of them in every campaign). 

 

But the are frickitty-fricken _monsters_. 

Quite possibly the largest, deadliest creatures of land or sky, but _monsters_. 

 

I have always been left cold by the "dragon as intelligent species that, even though it makes no art, builds no buildings, fashions no crafts, and raises no goods, totally gets mercantilism and lusts after great wealth (that nothing else in its tenuous and sketchy "society" makes remotely necessary or even practical) to the point of using other people's buildings to hoarse gold. "

 

I mean, I have played RPG since the seventies.  I have watched movies and read books since before I discovered RPGs:  I _have_ suspension of disbelief.  But I don't know if I will ever have enough to swallow that. 

 

The question, as it relates to my campaigns, is akin to "how do roaches feel about people who use roach shell armor."

 

Well, like you I have always put dragons firmly in the monster category.  But I do play them as intelligent, but not "human" intelligent (as in all the PC races).  

For me dragons have an alien intelligence and I play older dragons as having their own agendas.  The younger the dragon the less intelligent with very young dragons being just better than bestial.   The older or ancient dragons do evolve and are able to cast spells and use/make artifacts, but they are very different than PC magic and PC usable magic items. 

 

But I do not have dragons holding conversations and such.   Humans are just like all the other food, except they tend to be a bit more dangerous.

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I've been mulling over a setting (or part of a setting, at any rate) where there are social dragons and feral dragons.  They're the same species, but for the feral dragons, at a critical point in their development they missed out on something.  I'm not sure what it is yet; a particular vitamin, or rearing by a dragon parent, or what, but the feral dragons are monsters.  Wild animals.  They're not unintelligent, and in fact their intelligence is probably at the same level as the social dragons.  But they don't speak, they're solitary hunters, and they're very, very violent.  

 

I'm considering adding a third category: broken dragons.  They are again the same species, but these have been enslaved from birth.  Probably less intelligent; treated as animals by whoever it is enslaving them.  They're still dragons with all that implies.  Keeping one is probably something like keeping a tame tiger.  Violent and wild, and you don't ever take anything for granted about them.  When one bolts, usually killing its handler and anyone else in the area, it is put down.  

 

In this setting, the social dragons destroy the feral dragons on sight, because a feral dragon can destroy miles of countryside.  They try to find any viable dragon eggs, to be taken and raised by social dragons to grow up to be social.  If they hear that a city is harboring a viable dragon egg, they will go to the city and ask nicely for it.  Usually it is handed over without question, because the alternative is that the city gets burned to the ground.  Most cities have a way to contact a social dragon, or one's representative (which may be human or other race).  (The assumption is that any egg is viable, unless it has been specifically rendered nonviable, but most humanoids aren't able to tell without serious study or high magic.)  In most of the civilized world, possession of dragon eggs is highly illegal. 

 

In this setting, the social dragons probably don't care if someone is wearing dragonhide armor.  The assumption is that it probably was a feral dragon that died to provide it.  Social dragondom is a small community, and usually when one dies the word gets out to the rest; if one is killed by a lesser race, the rest of the community probably doesn't get involved... but the dead dragon's family or friends might very well have a problem with it.  On the other hand, if dies of natural causes, they might very well specify in their will that their carcass is to be sold to wizards and armorers for whatever use they can make of them.  

 

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On the issue of dragons fashioning no crafts, building no buildings, making no art, I'll point out that in almost no depictions of dragons in any medium are they shown to have appendages capable of the fine manipulation needed for such activities. Which begs the question, is manipulation necessary for the development of intelligence? Are tool-users the only creatures which can think? Certainly the opposite isn't true. Ants, bees, termites create very elaborate structures, arguably of great beauty, but very few people would suggest they do so consciously.

 

One could argue that the common fantasy convention of dragons keeping hordes of treasure could arise out of their appreciation for the artifacts' beauty and craftsmanship, and perhaps also envy that they can't create such things themselves.

 

Intelligence also doesn't preclude a creature being a "monster." Tolkien's Smaug is sophisticated and cunning, but also indisputably malevolent and destructive.

 

To the original question; in any world in which dragons think in some ways that a human can recognize and understand, I have to ask myself: What would I think if I saw something wearing clothes made of obvious human skin?

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Excellent point! Oriental dragons in particular are known to wear a human as well as dragon shape. Of course those dragons come from a different tradition and serve a greater function in the cosmic order. Very few of them would qualify as "monsters."

 

Just for an example closer to home for us here, the Champions villain, Brangomar the Shadow Queen, is a dragon who more often appears as a human female, explicitly so she can more easily interact with her subjects and enjoy the comforts of her palace.

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17 minutes ago, Lord Liaden said:

Excellent point! Oriental dragons in particular are known to wear a human as well as dragon shape. Of course those dragons come from a different tradition and serve a greater function in the cosmic order. Very few of them would qualify as "monsters."

 

Just for an example closer to home for us here, the Champions villain, Brangomar the Shadow Queen, is a dragon who more often appears as a human female, explicitly so she can more easily interact with her subjects and enjoy the comforts of her palace.

 

Indeed. When it comes to how a GM/DM portrays their shapeshifted form, I've experienced the gamut: from "humanoid with a quirk" to "humanoid that behaves noticeably different but is still approachable" to "humanoid in appearance only".

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As far as the main question goes - how many dragons are there? Are they relatively common or vanishingly rare? And another question I will address in a minute.

 

If dragons are rare, then that armour is made from Uncle Vermibob, and it might be recognized as such. The wearer might even be mistaken for the heroine that killed uncle Bob.

 

If dragons are common, well, actually I don't care. How does a dog perceive a human that dresses in dog skin? How would you perceive someone dressed in human skin? The answer to the main question depends on what dragons are.

 

Then there is the other question - what are dragons? Are they a naturalistic species, or magical beings - perhaps even humans or dwarves transformed by a curse? In the latter case, there's no reason to believe that the dragons in question know each other, or lived in the same century.

 

Incidentally, cursed dragons are possibly the most likely to hoard treasure. There is a good chance that it was their greed that led them to be transformed in the first place!

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16 hours ago, assault said:

 

Incidentally, cursed dragons are possibly the most likely to hoard treasure. There is a good chance that it was their greed that led them to be transformed in the first place!

 

An excellent point. I was going to cite Fafnir as an example. Then I followed your link and saw that was what you were talking about. Never mind!

 

Eustace turning into a dragon in C. S. Lewis. Voyage of the Dawn Treader offers another example.

 

Dean Shomshak

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16 hours ago, assault said:

Incidentally, cursed dragons are possibly the most likely to hoard treasure. There is a good chance that it was their greed that led them to be transformed in the first place!

 

Ah!  In mine, above, the feral dragons would be the ones hoarding shiny things, for whatever reason.  Maybe they just have a mental  compulsion to hoard shiny things, or metallic objects.  Maybe gold or silver (or electrum!) is the trace nutrient that they lacked, which is what resulted in them being feral, and they have a craving to be surrounded by it.  

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To answer the question initially asked, in my campaign world of Nyonia - "How dare you?  Take that off right now and I will give you a quick death.  Don't take it off right now and you will wish I had killed you quickly."

 

Dragons in Nyonia were created by one of the gods.  They are intelligent and live family groups.  They have servants - lizard people who serve them.  Dragons trade with other races for things they can't make.  There use to be more dragons but there was a great war between dragons and all other intelligent species on Nyonia.  Although the dragons caused great destruction and the fall of some nations, all other intelligent races reproduce and mature at a significantly higher rate than dragons that in the end the dragons lost because they lost enough of their 'mature' (prime time for being fertile) members that it is going to take a long time for them to come back.

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Something to consider I think, would be how well dragon scale armor keeps. Does the armor still looks like dragon skin? Does it reek of death?

 

If it looks like tough leather then a sapient dragon would be more willing to let it be used since it wouldn't trigger the uncanny valley, though haughty dragons probably wouldn't care.

 

If it still stinks or otherwise carries evidence that it is a dead thing than it would deter more bestial dragons, but anger the sapient ones.

 

Of course it in a post-apocalypse maybe using your resources to the best of your ability wouldn't bother anyone.

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Depends on the type f dragon. In my campaign I had a few types, and they came in "feral" and "civilized" and also different "breeds" or "races". so if the armor wasn't a "match" to the observer they would not care too much, but some of the civilized ones would consider it in poor taste and not extend invitations to the ball.  If it was a match, there would probably a rock dropped on their tents from a great height a night or two later.

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On 4/5/2020 at 5:45 PM, Ragitsu said:

In certain settings, dragons are capable of shapeshifting into humans or, more generally, humanoid forms.

 

This is how I have them. The background of my setting has them as the losing side in a great war many millennia ago, and with only a handful who have escaped their prisons. One is an empire-builder, who is currently masquerading as a human warlord who is consolidating power in a bunch of human-dominated kingdoms. Another is his diplomatic assistant, who has as his goal the accumulation of knowledge. Another is a wanderer, who is on a quest to "set things right" with the gods*, and the last one is fixated on rebuilding a shining city on the sea from the ancient times. All of them have formidable magic, some have access to what would be considered high tech.

 

 

*Which are mostly AIs left over from the original colonization of the world.

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In my setting, Dragons are basically the ultimate incarnation of a Demon. A Demon is a kind of spirit that infects mortals and perverts their nature. They're extremely common, and not conscious, intelligent actors either (they don't think or decide things, they are just... spirits, abstractly). If a person happens to become infected with a demon, they'll feel driven to indulge it. The thing is, by indulging a demon, it becomes possible to exercise their power. But the more of a demon's power a person exercises, the more they embody the demon. At the lowest level of embodiment, a person may take on normal physical features that somewhat make sense given the demon they're indulging. Indulging Gluttony would make you fat, Fear would make you gaunt maybe, Wrath would give you a viscous looking furrowed brow, Greed would give you... I don't know, a glint in your eye. Eventually a person crosses over and becomes a Ghoul or Fiend, and if they're powerful enough and can handle the demands the transformation makes on their body, and if they survive, they can become a Dragon.

So Dragons couldn't give a rat's ass if you wear another Dragon's skin. They're way to evil for that.

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It depends on the dragon.. I did actually have THIS situation rise up in one game

 

 

"So, you have come to my lair have you, hoping to catch the old wyrm unaware? Foolish adventurers I..." The dragon's eyes narrow as he realizes the scale armor on one warrior looks...familiar, then  "Wait, Lenathrax? Lennie, are you wearing LENNIE? Oh I HATED that guy, hey sit down, have a drink or something. I want to hear how that wretched son of a Wyvern got his"

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On 4/5/2020 at 5:11 PM, Lord Liaden said:

On the issue of dragons fashioning no crafts, building no buildings, making no art, I'll point out that in almost no depictions of dragons in any medium are they shown to have appendages capable of the fine manipulation needed for such activities. Which begs the question, is manipulation necessary for the development of intelligence? Are tool-users the only creatures which can think? Certainly the opposite isn't true. Ants, bees, termites create very elaborate structures, arguably of great beauty, but very few people would suggest they do so consciously.

 

... ... ...

 

Intelligence also doesn't preclude a creature being a "monster." Tolkien's Smaug is sophisticated and cunning, but also indisputably malevolent and destructive.

 

That is what is (to me, in any case) so fascinating about dragons beyond their impressive size, durability, destructive breath and other more outward characteristics: their intellect. In virtually all depictions, dragons do not attend nor form any sort of university and they do not take it upon themselves to pursue the life of a scribe or similar academic profession in order to hone a particular skill; their considerable mental prowess is simply innate. At best, they are shown to have a strong familial focus on education, but nothing overly formal. I find it most appealing when this attribute isn't attributed to something so mundane as "genetic memory", as that often has scientific connotations attached to it which can degrade the mystique of these fantastic beings.

 

oryginalny-Nicol-Bolas.jpg

 

--- --- ---

  

On 4/5/2020 at 5:11 PM, Lord Liaden said:

To the original question; in any world in which dragons think in some ways that a human can recognize and understand, I have to ask myself: What would I think if I saw something wearing clothes made of obvious human skin?

 

On 4/6/2020 at 2:13 PM, Old Man said:

It is similar to how humans perceive dragons wearing human skin.

 

A certain armor from the PC RPG "Baldur's Gate 2" came to mind. Only those of evil morality are able to don this macabre protection.

 

While I can understand the reasoning behind such a comparison, I have revised my initial reaction (which is akin to the basic sentiment you both expressed). One way to highlight the difference between these creatures and ordinary humans is to indicate that no real offense is taken. Either dragons are so long-lived they simply don't care or their views on dragon hide/scale are not so far removed from certain cultures where absolutely nothing is wasted. Even more strangely, they may tout the presence of draconic armor as proof positive that dragons are a superior species...even if it means fending off more bands of adventurers than they'd like to admit.

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On 5/4/2020 at 12:53 PM, Trencher said:

The dragon would immediately attack. 

 

Imagne if a group of mice brandishing needles and small pieces of sharp glass came into your room wearing full Leatherface get up. 

 

I'd pose with them for a picture.

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