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How to kill or defeat a Dragon?

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

  1. Any one else here thinking an Rpg??????

    In my views I don't like the ideas of weak spots, or dragons (or other things) being completely invulnerable to things, or at least not without VERY good reason why.)

    If it is some giant dragon, thick scales, your traditional winged menace, my idea would be to leave it alone!!!! or shoot it with a big crossbow- seriously, some of the later medieval things had draw weights in the high hundreds. That would get through a dragon's scales.

    Also I reckon there would be thinner scales on the head, neck and inner legs- these are areas that need to move a lot, and thick scales here would be a hindrance.
    Ruby likes this.
  2. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

    I know. The problem is more that the dragon bounces all but the heavier hits, then shrugs off much of the rest because they're pinpricks on something that big-- the "weak spot" (whether it's a secret spot or just "it's called an eye, genius") would be more if there was a lightly-scaled spot that was also a really vital vein, nerve, heart, etc. And meanwhile the thing's flying around you, flaming and lashing tail and doing everything else to stop you from even trying many hits.

    If you wanted to trade accuracy for power, there's always the ballista; dragons that can shrug those off are definitely Smaug-level or better, if you can crank that siege weapon around fast enough to hit the beast. So dragons that aren't on that scale (grin) can't stand too still for too long if they're attacking a proper fortress.

    And what amuses me is how many fantasy movies (like the first Narnia) use anti-"aircraft" catapults. I guess the kids have heard of catapults more than ballistas and such, but those things barely aim at all, they're designed to lob boulders in an arc, at castle-sized targets. But if you can hit even a grounded dragon with one of those, you deserve to win-- and if a dragon walks away from a catapult hit, it's not Smaug, it's a god.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2014
    Ruby likes this.
  3. Guy

    Guy Inkling

    Yep. And even after that they can sometimes remain pretty damn dangerous. Reptiles can be remarkably tough. I guy I knew killed a copperhead by bashing its head. He wanted someone to hold it while he took a picture. I said I'd hold it if we cut the head off because their nerves can fire off and end up sinking their fangs into you. So I personally sliced its head off and held it while he snapped the pic. Then he skinned it. I looked at the skinned, headless carcass about fifteen minutes later and the heart was still beating nice and steady.
    Yep, exactly the approach I took. My character was in a fissure in a cliff wall. When the pursuing dragon, utterly confident of its victory, put its eyes up to the fissure to glare at her, she stabbed it through the eye with her sword and pierced its brain. I plan on her killing a second dragon at some point in her career, but she'll have a magic spear for that, which simplifies things a bit.
    Ruby likes this.
  4. Guy

    Guy Inkling

    Heat seeking missile.
  5. Alexandra

    Alexandra Closed Account

    In the episode Innocence, Buffy (Vampire Slayer) killed the ancient demon The Judge, which could not be harmed by any forged weapon, with a rocket launcher. The last thing The Judge said before Buffy fired was "What's that do?" The demon was blown to bits. The first time I watched the episode I applauded.

    Ruby, Noma Galway and Ireth like this.
  6. Noma Galway

    Noma Galway Archmage

    That was my favorite demon death of all. Well, so far. Not all that far into the series yet.

    On the topic of dragon slaying, I don't have dragons in my WIP. If I did, I'd go with the eye as a weakness, like several people have said.
    Ruby likes this.
  7. Ankari

    Ankari Hero Breaker Moderator

    I'm having a hard time conceptualizing the various methods introduced because of the scale (size) of my dragons in my universe. And with that, I don't think my dragon's vary so much from what others have imagined in their world. On scale (size), dragons would be at least 10 times the length of a human (not including tail). That would make an arrow about 3.6 inches in comparison. I haven't even factored in the typically realized deeper torso of a dragon, or it's hardened scales. Even if you allow the "softer' underbelly, wouldn't it still be thicker than human skin?

    Malik had a great post about throwing knives, and their ineffectiveness in battle. I would imagine that an arrow to a dragon is like a thrown dagger to a human. It would be very ineffective. That is only considering size ratios. What about downward winds from the wings? What about its speed?

    I can see a lance through an eye, or even a longish spear (somewhere around 6 feet). Through the flesh? It would have to be a projectile fired from device similar to a ballista. I would hope the tip shatters and the metal fragments shred the innards.

    That is man versus beast. When you make your dragons intelligent, you've opened up a whole new can of worms. Mine are extremely intelligent, and can cripple the mortal with psionic blasts. I haven't even gone into their arsenal of magic abilities. Melee combat is almost futile (thanks to a story I created for Iron Pen, it went from "no chance in hell" to "almost futile.")

    I've set my dragons to be forces of nature, albeit very intelligent.

    The most interesting post I've read on this subject is going for its sentimental heart. Still, my dragons have suffered from that for quite some time. The citizens of my fantasy quake at the coming of dragon swarms.
    Ruby likes this.
  8. Sam Evren

    Sam Evren Troubadour

    You could try to use the dragon against itself. It seems that eating your own kind (at least in humans and bovines) leads to fatal neurological disorders. The person bent on murdering dragons could collect eggs - assuming dragons were prolific - and entice the target dragon into eating them. Of course then you have a mad dragon wandering about for a while, but it would certainly be entertaining.

    A more proactive use of the dragon against itself could be deception. Intend to have your dragon chase the main character. String a series of sheets - say sails - between a corridor of trees. The dragon may slowly, cautiously break through the first few, but as the human moves further away, and the dragon become more complacent about the strange cloth in the trees, they'll begin to pick up pace, tearing through the sails like a runner through tissue paper. At the end of your sail gauntlet, place a very sturdy, very well forged steel spike at breast level with the dragon, let it spear itself.

    Both possibilities require a happy set of circumstances, but that's the beauty of being an author - setting the odds in your favor, even when it doesn't look like - especially when it doesn't look like it.
    Ruby likes this.
  9. Nagash

    Nagash Sage

    I seem to recall a fantasy serie of novels where dragons - being colossal dirtbags as often - were a serious liability, and considerable threat. They had thick scales and were rather massive, and therefore, swords and arrows just didn't rose to the challenge. In the early years of their sudden apparition, the kingdoms were helpless against the scourge unleashed upon them, until someone came up with the idea of building some sort of "dragon traps".

    The idea was pretty cool, but I'm guessing it would only work for some primitive dragons without the wits of a millennium-aged evil genius, nor the level of sophistication Tolkien's Smaug had. The traps would be built around the premise that if the dragon found a noteworthy chunk of meat in its path, it would stop by to devour it. Thus, they lured the dragons to the traps, displaying some fat cows or sheep around the mechanism, and once the creature came too close, it would be pinned down. They also dug trenches and deep holes, where some meat would be stacked. When the dragon came around, he would curiously stuff his head in the hole, only to realize he was stuck. Meanwhile, the hunters came to the trap and chopped the dragon's head off with some pretty sharp axes.

    As for my WIP, i introduced dragons as being once the rulers of the lands and seas in ancient ages; yet they were enslaved by mortals, and their intelligence faded only to be replaced by pure bestiality - being fed carcasses and blood, they went mad with time. Few dragons kept their thinking process intact, and these ones try to avoid any form of contact with the mortal race they see as insanely brutal despite their little size, natural fragility and short life-span. Its worth noting however, that an entire kingdom created an entire cult around dragons, and each heir the throne would bond with a hatchling on a emotional level; dragons would be treated as demi-gods, emissaries between the earth and elemental planes. Most of the other kingdoms however used them as tools, for they were fearsome juggernauts in times of war. Since dragons had become a common occurrence on battlefields, all belligerents had to be equipped to fight off a bunch of dragons. Option n°1 would be (of course) to have dragons fight each other; option n°2 is the use of ballistas, that would either be moved around on the field, or just installed on a tower. Ballistas would be much more effective than archery to fight off the monstrous creatures, since their munitions were to scale, and potentially capable of breaking down a thin stone-wall. They are however extremely slow to recharge, and the munitions isn't extremely fast either, making it tough to pin down a quick and slender dragon; most attempts ended in a miss. A hit however could be extremely dangerous for the dragon's sake. N°3 would be the use of crossbows, which has been implanted in most armies of the sovereign nations; two of the empires equipped every single one of their footman with a crossbow and a dozen munitions. You have to take into account that a normal human male couldn't carry much more around the place than his armor and his actual weapon - which explains why humans weren't able to do the same for their armies. Only the strong and physically superior Sehras were capable of carrying around such an arsenal. Crossbows are tactically a great mid-range weapon, easy to use although slow to recharge. Their munitions are way thicker than arrows, and thus would have a moderate impact on a dragon scales. Otherwise, the wings were a good target, since their leather part is very sensible. It would take over two dozens bolts to gravely injure and endanger the dragon's life. Option N°4 is magic, but since it is very uncommon and rarely displayed on the battlefield, i still haven't used it yet.

    In close combat, fighting off a dragon would practically always be a lose scenario, since they displayed an enormous strength, were ridiculously bigger than most common footmen, not to mention able to breath out fire. Some especially tough infantrymen - definitely not humans - would however face dragons in combat and triumph, combining a set of natural strength, agility and knowledge of the creature's anatomy, knowing where to strike.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2014
    Ruby likes this.
  10. shangrila

    shangrila Inkling

    "There's nothing magical about 'em. They're made up of a collection of organs. They have a mind, a heart, and a liver, you take out one of these, you bring down the beast!"
    -Denton Van Zan, Reign of Fire

    Couldn't resist.

    Dragons in my world can't be killed so I don't know if I'm much help. But, really, it would take either a weak spot or overwhelming force to kill a traditional dragon. Whether that's an explosive crossbow bolt in the throat or a rocket to the face doesn't really matter.
    Ruby likes this.
  11. Also, I reckon longbows would work. Maybe they wouldn't penetrate the scales, but a couple of hundred archers, all firing at once. It would be like Agincourt. There, and even at potiers, the French's armour was usually more than enough to stop an arrow, but the power was enough to batter people off their feet- from one arrow. and I know that a dragon is bigger than a human, but a couple of hundred arrows aimed at the one dragon, with at least half hitting? that would hurt the dragon, knock off scales, exposing the flesh, it would through the dragon off course, and some arrows would probably get into the eyes or the mouth or somewhere where it would hurt the dragon.

    ANd if you have a ballista, you could have a repeating ballista, quick firing javelins at the bugger, meaning you would hopefully be able to trace the dragon. ANd if you mount them on chariots (don't know if any of you have ever played rome total war barbarian invasion?????) the dragon would scurry off, crying.

    I also think that if the dragon gets down, sort of melee fighting, it would be vulnerable, getting swarmed. It would be like a human getting attacked by cats. Yes, we're bigger, but they come in all directions, and though small, they can hurt. Especially if someone manages to get a headshot with a poleaxe or something.
    Ruby likes this.
  12. James G Pearson

    James G Pearson Scribe

    Also, it probably depends on the type of story you're writing. What if your character has gauntlets of strength and simply pummeled the dragon in the face until it caved in? There is an element of freedom in fantasy writing.

    Alright, fine... I may have gone overboard on that suggestion. Maybe I watched a few too many Anime's.
  13. Yellow

    Yellow Minstrel

    What about manipulating one dragon or group of dragons into doing the job for you? You know, the whole "pen is mightier than sword" deal. Sure, you'd need to be Machiavelo on metaphorical steroids to pull it off, but that would make for a very interesting plot. A king from a small kingdom uses his wits to convince a dragon that working for the kingdom would be in his best interest, and procedes to spin a web of lies to keep the dragon under control. Dragons, at least in small numbers, would become much less threatening for said kingdom. Not to mention other nations.

    Edit: This is of course, assuming your dragons are of the intelligent variety.

    Edit#2: Also, I remember reading some chinese myth somewhere about a guy who slew a dragon in a rather... colorful way. The dragon was atacking his town, so he got the people to kill a cow, open up it's stomach, and stuff our heroic dragonslayer in there with a bunch of poisoned swords. Later he (in the dead cow's entrails...yeah) was set up as bait, and when the dragon ate the cow whole, the hero poisoned the dragon from within with his swords. I also recall a similar story where the hero was put in a barrel, and he simply pushed the swords through the wood to cause massive damage to the dragon's throat as the beast swallowed the barrel. Now if only I could remember where the hell i read that.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2014
  14. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    The subject line just clicked with me. There's been plenty of talk about how to kill a dragon, but the subject line says "kill or defeat".

    Now, maybe the OP didn't intend to distinguish, but I will. How could one defeat a dragon?

    If the dragon is intelligent, I guess the full range of possibilities would exist, same as with human intelligence. He could be frightened off, bribed, win his sympathy, and so on.

    If the dragon is a beast, he could be distracted by something sweeter, overawed, or stumped.

    Both these present interesting possibilities. Also, we could think about why the dragon is attacking in the first place. Is it hungry? After our gold? Fleeing a forest fire? The reasons might affect the solutions.
  15. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Auror

    It kind of depends on what you dragons are like. For example some dragons could be weakned by water, which should be its elemental opposite, so a rainstorm might weaken it or falling into a lake or sea might kill it. (pretty much what GRRM did if I'm not mistaken)
  16. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

    Hi skip.knox, well spotted. My original question was how to "kill or defeat a dragon". In my comedic story that's trundling along on the ABC Fantasy Challenge thread, I need to find out what's happened to Sir Lanceypot. He's a romantic hero type of knight who's been sent on a quest to steal a golden cup from a dragon.

    He obviously hasn't been successful as the dragon is now attacking and setting fire to the castle. Either an army or the princess will have to try to kill or defeat the monster. But from all the suggestions here it sounds as if you're all tired of the same old "shoot him in the eyes" or " find his weak spot" kind of resolution.
    I wonder if I can ask one more question, which is would the knight have his squire and his page with him on the quest to kill or defeat the dragon?
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2014
  17. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    Zomg u guys! Here's how you do it!

    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 10, 2017
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