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How to kill or defeat a Dragon?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Ruby, Jan 8, 2014.

  1. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    I'm writing a couple of stories for Challenges here which feature dragons. I wonder if any of you have any knowledge or ideas about how to kill or defeat a dragon?

    The most famous dragon is probably Smaug who has a weak spot.

    Can dragons be killed with spears, arrows, swords, axes etc? If they breathe fire how does the knight get close enough to kill?
     
  2. MFreako

    MFreako Troubadour

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    A gigantic poisoned steak.

    More seriously, (and I know I'm not being very helpful) I'm thinking anything that works within your story. Can't really say what that is without knowing more about your world and your take on dragons.
     
  3. Super Fun Pop

    Super Fun Pop Scribe

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    Well dragon's real life comparison today would probably be that of an Alligator or Crocodile; their 'soft' underbelly is quite different and less armored than their upper body plating which is pretty dense. In Beowulf, a weak spot like this is mentioned.

    "iglaf finds the dragon's weak spot on its neck and hits it with his sword."

    Another obvious weak spot would be the dragon's eyes, as they probably wouldn't have much protection, just like those of a Alligator or Croc. Depending on the type of dragon, like those in Skyrim 'frost dragons' and such, you'd use their natural elemental opposite like fire? For fire breathing run of the mil dragons, they're probably cold blooded like Crocs or Gators so cold or ice would render them weak or dead.

    You then have the less obvious things like sickness, poisons, starvation, bloodloss, and just about any medical problem any human could suffer. Pancreatic cancer? liver disease? these things would undoubtedly affect a dragon as well. (this is more a indirect weakness).

    You then have magic and the arcane, which I can leave up to your imagination. Spells, curses, and summoned spirits or monsters could also quickly dispatch a dragon...

    Or you could just get eaten and kill the dragon from the inside like Tommy Lee Jones in MIB.
     
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  4. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    Hi MFreako. If a dragon was attacking your castle and blasting fire through the windows, could it be killed by arrows? Alternatively, if a knight approached it in its cave with a sword, how would he get close enough to kill it?:confused:
     
  5. Noma Galway

    Noma Galway Archmage

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    I feel like normal arrows would be incinerated by the fire, depending on where you're shooting from. Also, dragon hide is notoriously thick. You'd have to get a very lucky shot to kill it, or even wound it.
    Is it awake or asleep? If asleep, don't make noise and sneak up around it, nowhere near its nose, find your way to its underside, and stab it there. A consistent idea in Tolkien's works (and I only mention this because you mentioned Smaug) is that dragons' undersides were far more vulnerable than the rest of them-see Glaurung in the Quenta Silmarillion.

    Hope this helps!
     
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  6. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

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    Personally I don't really get the whole underbelly weakness thing. Seeing how they fly, wouldn't their bellies be the first thing exposed to an enemy? Let's see..... A large part of the answers to your question depends on what the dragons in your setting are like. In my setting, Dragons are a type of inter-dimensional eldritch abomination. If one was attacking your castle regular arrows wouldn't be able to affect it, but by charging it up with magic the arrows can become as powerful as an armor piercing sniper bullet. They range in power, some you can defeat one on one, but most would require a coordinated assault from a team of mages, fighters, rogues, and clerics.

    For a knight to get close enough to one, there's sneaking while its asleep, distracting it with conversation, proving yourself to be entertaining to the dragon while fighting its minions, or just using magic to buff your physical abilities to superman levels and just charging in.
     
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  7. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    You kill a snake or a gator by shooting it through the head and wrecking its brain. The heart is very small, comparatively, and really hard to hit. The brain isn't an easy shot, either; a ten-foot gator has a brain the size of a baseball and the rest of the skull is muscle and bone. You can also kill an alligator by shooting into its open mouth. You really have to get to the brain on a reptile, or you just have a very angry reptile. This is assuming, of course, that your dragon is a reptile.

    Dragons are magical -- they can't exist in the real world; the physics doesn't support it -- so their physiology is suspect. An example of this is the pegasi in my books, who were created by sorcerers and are bred with the help of magic. There is no way, physically, they could ever fly. Their hearts and lungs are too small, their bones are too thick. I just kind of hand-wave over this, though, because they're cool.

    So if dragons need magic to keep them alive, maybe someplace out there is a device or a sorcerer who can negate other magic. You could give a character an amulet that radiates an anti-magic field. The flip side of this is, he/she can't be healed by magic, hidden by magic, communicated with or teleported by magic, etc. That could get really complicated really fast and put the character into situations that would be fun to write. But get that character close enough to the dragon -- maybe trick the dragon into eating the amulet? I'm just spitballing, here -- and it drops dead.

    I have a character in my second book who killed a dragon by throwing a spear through its eye as it was roasting the rest of his team. It's only talked about in retrospect but he went in there with a small contingent and came out alone, and hung up his spurs after that; no more adventuring, no more fighting. He's a PTSD basket case and a terrible drunk.

    Of course, dragons are completely fantastic creatures, so give it whatever weakness you want. The whole one-in-a-million shot, torpedo-through-the-exhaust-port, one-scale-missing-in-that-one-spot-right-there shtick (anyone else realize that Luke taking out the Death Star is basically Bard and Smaug all over again?) has been done to death. Go crazy and give us something new. It's your dragon.
     
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  8. A dragon's hide is not so thick the mighty powers of physics cannot take it down! Say you had a 60 kg iron arrow and we know that F=MA or force = mass * acceleration say it takes 1000N (N=newton which is a kg m/s^2) of force to pierce your dragon's hide at its thickest. 1000N = 60 kg * A do some algebra and you get that the arrow must be fired with an acceleration of 16.67 m/s^2 to put that in perspective gravity pulls you toward the center of the earth at 9.8 m/s^2 so to shoot that arrow is within the realm of possible.
    kg=kilogram
    m=meter
    s= second
     
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  9. James G Pearson

    James G Pearson Scribe

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    My personal opinion is, a dragon could be killed via bleed out. If we're talking structure and anatomy then surely the wings would be a massive weak spot. As they fly, a serious amount of blood flow would have to go through them to keep them flapping. A rip or tear in the skin would be detrimental to such a beast. And it makes sense, considering dragons either fight by biting, using their feet or by using fire.

    Then you could have them fight to the end, like an enraged beast.
     
  10. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    My MC would tell you to get bent. Your mileage may vary.
     
  11. James G Pearson

    James G Pearson Scribe

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    True, depending on whether your dragon was a conscious being, like Smaug. But it might well be just like any other animal, lashing out and bleeding out quicker. Depends on how you write it. But telling me to get bent? Well that's just rude.
     
  12. Super Fun Pop

    Super Fun Pop Scribe

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    Assuming that, within this universe, Dragon's evolved in the naturally accepted form of evolution we have today, and assuming that, like with Alligators/Crocodiles evolution period compared to Man's, Alligators/Crocodiles and their ancestry have been around for ~180 Million Years or so, while humans have only been around for ~8 million. (Again, assuming that evolution rings true here).

    Humans created tools about ~2.5 million years ago, while the bow and arrow is only an estimated ~ 64000 years old.

    This means that pre-bow/pre-tool humans, had no means of reaching the underbelly of a flying Dragon, nor did anything else. Dragons would have had hundreds of millions of years worth of evolutionary time, with no threat from bellow while flying, that the ~ 64000 years the bow and arrow existed for, wouldn't be enough time to make a difference, especially as only a small handful of dragons would probably be taken down using this method. Darwinian Evolution takes millions of precursors and the eventual survival of a more equipped variant over an extended period of time to impact the overall population in an evolutionary way... not to mention Human created tool's limited range compared to the flight speed/path/altitude a dragon is capable of.

    More than likely, they'd have this exposed and less armored underside that most reptiles have today and most dinosaurs had then.
     
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  13. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    My MC is rude. I'm not.

    But I don't think it would be possible to get either of us drunk enough to agree to fight a dragon hand to hand to the point where it bleeds out. My MC would never agree to that, and I don't think any but the most foolhardy heroes would.
     
  14. James G Pearson

    James G Pearson Scribe

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    Oh, I certainly wasn't calling you rude. But I can see why your MC would be with that suggestion. Hand to had combat with a dragon? That's insanity. I was proposing something that might tear the wings or pierce them, like a harpoon or giant crossbow.
     
  15. Sam Evren

    Sam Evren Troubadour

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    Just throwing this out here because your initial question is open ended...

    Break his or her heart. It seems very traditional to fight a dragon, but there are many ways to die. Find a way to kill it that stands out from the crowd.

    Say your dragon guards a sacred forest. Burn it down.

    Say your dragon has a traditional hoard covering the bones of his mate. Steal it and desecrate them.

    Say your dragon has developed an affinity for a human. Have the human betray the dragon.

    Breaking a heart, taking away the will to live... that's a short road to a fast death.

    Alternately, you could destroy his/her food source. Find a way to suffocate it. Infect it with a fatal disease.

    I still think breaking its heart would be the most fascinating. Maybe that's just me.
     
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  16. Alexandra

    Alexandra Closed Account

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    I don't believe that men/elves/dwarves have to be at the top of the food chain in a fantasy novel. In the Wilds, the only part of my world where someone might find a dragon (as far as most people know) tis said that battling a dragon is akin to striking the head of a live bomb with a hammer (if there were live bombs in the Wilds). There is no one about to contradict this belief.
     
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  17. Pythagoras

    Pythagoras Troubadour

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    Going with the weaker underbelly possibility, you could also look to Sigurd for inspiration. He dug a pit into the path that Fafnir the dragon took to water every day, and waited in the pit. When Fafnir crossed over the pit, Sigurd stuck his sword upward into his gut. The weak underbelly seems to be a very popular method of dragon-control for writers through the centuries.
     
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  18. Agran Velion

    Agran Velion Minstrel

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    I read on a similar thread that you could have a dragon collide with a hard object IE: Mountain, Castle Walls, etc. I'm sure a dragon would have quite a thick skull, having it strike something equally tough (especially at a high speed) could potentially be fatal.

    This actually made me wonder if you could focus arrows, javelins, etc, at the wings of a dragon and screw up his flight enough that he careens into the ground (or mountainside). Either way, you've grounded the beast and it might be easier to face him that way. The thought actually gave rise to a story idea featuring soldiers that specialize in neutralizing larger beasts hunting wyverns this way.

    As an author, they're your dragons, and how they die is completely up to you.
     
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  19. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    Ruby and Super Fun Pop like this.
  20. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    Thanks for all the replies. I'm a fan of JRR Tolkien, and I knew that he was influenced by Beowulf, which he translated. Did you know that Beowulf is the first example of English literature to present a dragon slayer? I think that the dragons in the Hobbit and Beowulf are both killed in a similar way. Also, both dragons are killed by a human and not an elf, dwarf or hobbit; some critics say this is a flaw in the plot of The Hobbit as those on the quest do not slay the dragon.

    At the moment I have two dragons to slay in two WIP's. One is in the ABC Fantasy challenge on here, the other will be posted in the Reaver challenge. It's going to be hard to make them different and original. Even Tolkien's literature is derivative.
     
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