Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dragons I Have Known

Discussing the dragons of 'How to Train Your Dragon' with a friend of mine I realize that I like the way the beasties were depicted. The creatures in the movie definitely have a form of Gygaxian naturalism but one I sort of prefer over D&D's Red, Blue, Green, Gold, Tin, Chartreuse, etc.

Left unchecked, the idea of categorizing and defining magical life can get a bit too MMO sounding for me, but if handled just right, it adds that perfect blend of realistic human nature (our desire to label and therefore believe we comprehend things better), whimsy (creative naming is fun and helps one remember) and awesome (the first time something with a funny name that you think you know kicks yours ass you gain a new found respect for it).

The dragons of my primary D&D universe are a unique case. Aside from varying greatly in size and power, they mostly follow the classic chromatic and metallic patterns of distinguishing them. This is because I've been running this world off and on for 25 years and its definitely built on old school foundations, even if the ground level up no longer really reflects that.

The following dragons hail from other places and times, perhaps even here, now, just to the left of the shadow at the corner of your eye. Others are long gone, never to be heard from again, though the woods will tell you to keep listening for them just the same.

The Bric-a-Brac Filthwyrm

Like all 'Filthwyrms' this medium sized, snake like dragon has long, thin limbs, a narrow neck and a slim head. It dwells in garbage piles, sewage holes or other places where large amounts of trash are gathered. The Bric-a-Brac is visually distinguished by it natural camouflage of alternating green, brown and greyish bands of color. The wings of a Bric-a-Brac, as is common for Filthwyrms, are vestigial and always pulled tight against the body. It is nocturnal and prefers to sleep under its trash during daylight hours. Even at night it appears to have a disdain for bright lights.

The beast gets its name from its habit of not simply wallowing in humanity's waste and rubbish but collecting pieces to adorn its nest and its body, further adding to its camouflage and in some case creating an extra layer of armor. Its breath is a flammable, noxious gas that clings to surfaces like a sticky mist (which is how it attaches items to its skin). It will aim this breath at the first person carrying a lighted torch that it perceives, resulting in a dangerous, explosive cloud burst.

The Gable Canyon Hell Kite

Do not let the size of this creature fool you into underestimating its ferocity. Barely larger than a herding dog, the clay-colored Hell Kite of the dry and desolate Gable Canyon is a force to be reckoned with. Its 'wings' are more folds of skin, similar to those of a flying squirrel. Its extremely long tail (about twice the length of the body) has three sets of rudder fins making it phenomenally maneuverable, even at high velocity. Often, you will see its shadow on the ground before it strikes, though the image will appear to be that of a kite gently gliding high above the canyon. Moments later, the dragon will make a dive toward its target with incredible speed, firing off a quick, thin jet of flame before shooting back up into the sky or landing on a high outcropping. The foul beast will repeat this aerial 'hit and run' tactic until its opponent is dead. It will then descend to eat or to tear off pieces to eat in safety and privacy somewhere in the canyon crevices. Mostly solitary, reports of two or three attacking at once are not unheard of if food is scarce.

The Dotted Lurking Luomber Drake

A most curious member of the dragon family lives in the ruins of Luomber Castle, nestled high in north eastern mountains. Rarely seen (largely because few want to visit it), this creature most often makes its presence known by its unusual call, a melodic, although near-deafening, bellow of melancholy tones. It only makes this powerful and moving sound during terrible storms and one the anniversary of Hansel Von Luomber's birth and tragic death. Some believe that Hansel, a sailor and adventurer, found the dragon as an egg and raised it. When a terrible storm at sea claimed the young man's life the dragon began its endless mourning.

Many fools have attempted to pilfer the treasures of the castle since the last Luomber perished but the Drake will have none of that. He (it is often called he though no one knows its gender for certain) will defend the castle with every ounce of his being and is quite the formidable foe. The Drake has six limbs, four legs and two large wings and his forelimbs end in hands resembling a man or ape. Both hands and hind feet have large, curving, razor sharp claws that aid in climbing as well as combat. The Drake is approximately the size of an elephant, with a neck and tail half as long as its body (the tail may be a bit longer). Its scaly hide is a deep blue-black color, with pale blue-grey and grey-lavender spots done its neck, back and on its hind quarters. The smallest of these spots is the size of a thumbprint and the largest the size of a man's palm.

In addition to its fiery breath, which is blue in color and can melt the finest armor to a pool at your feet in but one to two blasts, the Luomber Castle Drake can apparently turn invisible or at least clear as one Monk observed while assisting distant relatives with the families affairs many years ago. The Monk said he felt as if he were being watched and turned to see glowing, pale lavender eyes like those of a cat, looking out at him from the face of dragon "seemingly made of water or glass. I saw the shape of it and I saw through it as well."

The Drake has never attacked clergy or Luomber kin or anyone else who has approached the castle with a lack of ill intent.

Barking Alien


  1. We saw it in 3D and loved it! You're right on about the whole ecology of the dragons and how they're treated with a naturalistic tinge.

    Your luomber drake reminds me a little of Pete's Dragon for some reason. :)

  2. Heh, yes I could see that. Like if Pete died and the Dragon got all obessive and melancholy.

    My ideas here are a mix of what a D&D appropriate dragon might be like and what you would sometimes encounter in folklore. My personal preference would be to go even more folkloric. Maybe I'll post some of those types of dragons or other creatures in the future.