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Do you consider dragons cliché?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Peregrine, Dec 12, 2017.

Are dragons cliché?

  1. Yes

    6 vote(s)
  2. No

    33 vote(s)
  1. Peregrine

    Peregrine Troubadour

    What is the Mythic Scribes opinion? Are dragons cliché by themselves?
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2017
  2. To me, dragons are an integral part of mythology and epic stories.
  3. Peregrine

    Peregrine Troubadour

    I agree, a fantasy setting with dragons feels more "mythical" than a fantasy setting without them.
  4. Michael K. Eidson

    Michael K. Eidson Archmage

    I consider dragons cliché if the author does nothing with them to make sure they aren't cliché.
  5. Albatross

    Albatross New Member

    Dragons are a part of many cultures in the world, so I would say they aren't. But you have to put your own unique take on them. For instance in the world of the Hobbit, you have Smaug, whose scales are just about impenetrable. This dragon is very fearsome and powerful. You also have dragons from a game like Skyrim, which can be taken down by a couple arrows. You also have to consider what they look like and what they represent. In Medieval culture, they represent evil, but in Chinese culture they are depicted as majestic creatures. It's all about how the people in your world see them, and how you write about them.
    Hir i-Chorvath and SwordnShield like this.
  6. Dragons are definitely not cliche. Of course I am biased as they are my favorite fantasy creatures but fantasy just wouldn't be the same without them.
  7. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

    Dragons are cool, cliché or not.
  8. Miles Lacey

    Miles Lacey Sage

    Dragons are only a cliche if they rely solely on Chinese or medieval European versions of dragons. Many other cultures have tales of dragons or dragon-like creatures which are usually ignored, which is a shame. Sometimes those dragons can be far more interesting because they are more complex than the fire-breathing ones of yore.
  9. MrNybble

    MrNybble Troubadour

    Dragons can be as varied as any other mythical or real race. Only cliché if restricted to the standard roles as history has seen them. Magical beasts of all sorts can do wonders to liven up a story. Now are humans cliché is the real questions.
  10. Miles Lacey

    Miles Lacey Sage

    I guess any creature in fantasy can become a cliche if they are taken from the same small range of mythological and fantasy tropes.

    Being a born and bred Kiwi I grew up with Maori legends. The taniwha is often dragon like in appearance (Chinese not European representations). Still as an avid fan of Skyrim the fire breathing cliches dragons are AWESOME!
  11. Firefly

    Firefly Troubadour

    Not cliche. Classic.

    And I don't believe they necessarily have to be an exotic new type of dragon we've never seen before either. It's more about the narrative questions they're used to play with. I actually saw a really great video on YouTube a while back that talks about this way more brilliantly than I ever can, so I'll link it here. (The video is about 20 minutes long, but the part I'm referring to is only the first five minutes and it kind of blew my mind and changed the way I think about all standard fantasy tropes, so I HIGHLY RECOMMEND watching at least that part. )

    Yes. This.
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2019
    Demesnedenoir and Miles Lacey like this.
  12. I agree with all the above stated reasons for them not being a cliche.

    I have yet to write a dragon tale but I have one in mind. It all comes down to challenging the expectations and the role the dragons might play. Once I feel I have that worked out to my satisfaction, I will get them into a story. :)
    Miles Lacey likes this.
  13. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

    I feel that the whole flying dinosauresque, fire-breathing, damsel stealing, knight munching type is a bit overdone and doesn’t really have that sense of realism a creature should have within a larger ecosystem. I think as long as the author can incorporate them more fully into the world‘s ecosystem in a believable way, then it is not cliche at all.
  14. MauEvig

    MauEvig Scribe

    Dragons play an integral part of my Magicordia world as one of it's creators (the other being fela-flies). With so many different interpretations of how dragons are handled, from the intelligent and arguably altruistic dragons, (Draco of Dragon Heart, Saphira from Eragon, Igneel from Fairy Tale) to the malevolent types (Smog from the Hobbit), to the fierce creatures who are essentially untamable wild animals (Harry Potter) and then you have the strictly neutral character types who provide an essential plot point (Shenron, Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball Super) it's hard to consider dragons themselves as cliche. Sometimes dragons are about the whole nature versus nurture aspect (Spike from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is a good example of this, having grown up around pony culture rather than dragon culture, he's more of a gentle, sensitive soul than most of his other dragon brethren and counterparts in comparison). Sometimes they are wild, but tameable and misunderstood (How to Train your Dragon).

    Personally, while I enjoy all types of dragons, I tend to lean toward the highly intelligent types in my stories. Magicordia's lore does borrow some realistic elements as well. My dragons existed during the time of the dinosaurs, and aren't actually true reptiles, they're synapsids meaning that they came from the same lineage that would give rise to mammals. Evolution wise, they did go off in a different direction than mammals, but share one very similar attribute: They give birth to live young. There's no special dragon eggs in my lore.
    Wyverns and Drakes are close relatives, and while part of the same family (Lions, Leopards and Tigers are an example of this) they aren't the same species. The same genus perhaps though. Dragons are the first to learn how to use magic. Drakes did as well, which eventually led to a great war between their kind. Unfortunately, it was powerful magic that summoned the asteroid that would wipe out the dinosaurs. Dragons did survive the cataclysm thanks to their knowledge of magic, but learned their folly in the aftermath seeing the resulting mass extinctions. Some drakes did as well, but due to massive inbreeding and breeding with dragons (who they made peace with after the war, and there were a few who went outside of the conflict in good old fashioned romeo and juliet style) drakes over several thousands of years eventually lost their great capacity for intelligence and evolved into the monstrous beasts we see in lore, such as the hydra of greek mythology.
    My dragons would eventually see the rise of man, and other intelligent creatures. Fela-flies were the first non-dragon creature to develop such a high aptitude of magic, that one day a single fela-fly challenged a dragon, and won proving that size doesn't matter. The tiny creatures who would probably be no bigger than a flea to dragon kind, won their respect.
    Of course when man proved to be abusive of their power when it came to magic, the dragons and fela-flies made the decision to create a new world for them and the other magically inclined as a safe haven. Eventually most knowledge of dragons was wiped out, except in lore. Dragon magic is powerful, but not powerful enough to completely wipe all memory of them. Only a select few humans were allowed who proved themselves worthy.
    Dragons as of now govern and protect the realm of Magicordia while their fela-fly allies maintain the world with their elemental abilities. As an artificial realm, maintenance must be done on a regular basis.

    So there you have it, there's my interpretation of dragons, as well as an introduction to my Magicordia world.
  15. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

    I have toyed with the idea of incorporating them in one of my worlds. They would more like giant carnivorous lizards (20-30 feet long counting tail). They have a family structure, ecology, and like the Kimodo dragon, have a natural acidic saliva.
  16. chrispenycate

    chrispenycate Sage

    My dragons are conventional - four legs, two wings, scales and claws, solitary predator, no social reflexes. Does that make them clichéd? It means you need less scene-setting, as people already know what to expect… yeah, I know, I enjoy worldbuilding as least as much as the next writer - probably more than most - but they don't necessarily want to use all those words to build a universe, keep a few aside for story building.
  17. Orc Knight

    Orc Knight Archmage

    Wonder how I missed this question. Anyways, I consider them quite cliche. But that means nothing much. I have always been fascinated by dragons. And knights. And dragons and knights fighting. Anyways, I use the all sorts approaches to them. From the beastly to the intelligent and whatever else there may be. No point in going in depth about it.
  18. Insolent Lad

    Insolent Lad Inkling

    If the generic dragon is put in generic roles and situations, sure it is likely to be a cliche. If some thought is put into it and its role in its world, it can rise above that. With dragons 'done' by so many fantasy writers over the years, it might be difficult to make the creature truly original but at least we can avoid just making it another Smaug or such. I did the dragons of my primary world as mammalian, essentially giant (intelligent!) weasels. And their 'fire,' as with other members of the weasel family (skunks, etc) comes from their sterns.
  19. Yora

    Yora Inkling

    Dragons are probably the creatures with the biggest cliche potential after dwarves. They are not inherently a cliche, but people using them very quickly handle them as a cliche.
    Steerpike likes this.
  20. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    Something like a dragon, or even an orc or wizard, can't be cliche in and of itself. It's the execution of the idea that makes it cliche or not.
    Galdrafodr likes this.

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