Bestiary · Biology

Dragon

Overview

Terrestrial Dragons are the archetypal creatures of the Drake family of magifauna along with wyverns, etc. They all share reptilian traits and have an association with a classical elemental, in the form of resistance and using it as a breath weapon.

Quick Species Profile: A general description of common physical attributes with the species as a whole

(Drakon wyrmadon)

Life Expectancy

Typical: 3,000 years

Oldest: 10,000 years

Height Range:  3 m (10 ft) – 5.5 m (18 ft)

Length Range: 7 m (23 ft) – 10 m (32.8 ft)

Weight Range: 200–250 kg (440–550 lb)

Creature Type: Drake Magifuana

Biology

Anatomy

Dragons are large quadrupedal reptiles with long necks, powerful tails and claws, and well-developed limbs. A dragon has scales covering its body, although a few species are covered with feathers. Their heads are large and wedge-shaped like that of a crocodile or monitor lizard with a crest or horns. A dragon’s eye has a large iris and a vertical pupil which allows it to open extremely wide and admit much more light than a human eye. The sclera of a dragon’s eye is often not white, but yellow green, orange, red, or silver. The eye is protected by a leathery outer eyelid and three smooth inner eyelids. The innermost membrane is crystal clear and protects the eye from damage while the dragon flies and the other two eyelids mainly serve to keep the eye clean. 

Physiological Traits

Senses: The dragon uses its tongue to detect, taste, and smell stimuli, as with many other reptiles, with the vomeronasal sense using the Jacobson’s organ, rather than using the nostrils. With the help of a favorable wind and its habit of swinging its head from side to side as it walks, a dragon may be able to detect carrion from 4–9.5 km (2.5–5.9 mi) away. Its scales, some of which are reinforced with bone, have sensory plaques connected to nerves to facilitate its sense of touch. The scales around the ears, lips, chin, and soles of the feet may have three or more sensory plaques.

Dermal Scales: Dragon skin is reinforced by armored scales, which contain tiny bones called osteoderms that function as a sort of natural chain-mail. Dragon scales are light weight yet stronger than steel, able to withstand most cutting or crushing weapons, impacts, extreme temperatures and even resist standard bullets. Like other reptiles, their scales have to be shed periodically, to reveal newly grown scales underneath.

Dragon Feathers: Some dragons have feathers on their skin and wings. They have the benefit of regulating temperature, aiding in flight and standing out to mates.

Flight: Dragons have two large leathery wings growing from their backs that resemble the structure of bat wings that can be used to fly. They benefit from the presence of air sacs in their wing membranes, and launching into flight using their front limbs in a quadrupedal stance similar to that of bats, a method faster and less energy taxing that the bipedal launching of birds. Dragons can fly up to 80 miles an hour for 7 to 10 days at altitudes of 15,000 feet.

Sorcery

Passive Traits

Elemental Resistance: Dragons are very resistant to damage by elements depending on their species. Fire Dragons resist extreme heat, Ice Dragons resist extreme cold, Storm Dragons absorb electricity.

Healing Coma: When mortally wounded, Dragons will often go into a deep slumber until they recover the damage. Depending on the damage, a dragon might store away in a safe place for weeks, months, or years to slumber or hibernate.

Active Abilities

Breath Weapon: The signature defense mechanism of dragons is to expel a damaging material from their open jaws. The material is determined by their species, either fire, ice, or lightning. The ability is dependent on the mana capacity or amount of magic power in the creature.

General Diet

Dragons are mainly carnivores that eat mostly carrion, they will also ambush live prey with a stealthy approach. When suitable prey arrives near a dragon’s ambush site, it will suddenly charge at the animal and go for the underside or the throat. It is able to locate its prey using its keen sense of smell, which can locate a dead or dying animal from a range of up to 9.5 km (5.9 mi). Komodo dragons have been observed knocking down large prey with their strong tails.

Dragons eat by tearing large chunks of flesh and swallowing them whole while holding the carcass down with their forelegs. For smaller prey up to the size of a goat, their loosely articulated jaws, flexible skulls, and expandable stomachs allow them to swallow prey whole. After eating up to 80% of its body weight in one meal, it drags itself to a sunny location to speed digestion, as the food could rot and poison the dragon if left undigested for too long. Because of their slow metabolism, dragons can survive on as few as 12 meals a year.

A dragon’s diet is wide-ranging, and includes invertebrates, fish, other reptiles (including smaller dragons), birds, monkeys, wild boar, goats, deer, horses, cattle, crocodilians, water buffalo, even young elephants. Young dragons will eat insects, bird eggs, geckos, newts, frogs, snakes and small mammals like rodents.  Sometimes they consume humanoid species corpses, digging up bodies from shallow graves or even live members.

While not as often, dragons can consume some vegetation, typically the parts of a plant with the most calories like fruit, nuts, or roots as opposed to leaves or grasses.

Reproduction

Mating occurs between late Spring through summer with the eggs laid in the fall.  During this period, males fight over females and territory by grappling with one another upon their hind legs, with the loser eventually being pinned to the ground. The winner of the fight will then flick his long tongue at the female to gain information about her receptivity. Females are antagonistic and resist with their claws and teeth during the early phases of courtship. Therefore, the male must fully restrain the female during coitus to avoid being hurt. Other courtship displays include males rubbing their chins on the female, hard scratches to the back, and licking. Dragons may be monogamous and form “pair bonds”, a rare behavior for many reptiles.

Dragons are hatched from eggs that vary in size depending on the dragon species, but are usually the same color as the mother dragon. Dragon eggs have elongated, ovoid shapes and hard, stony shells. Females lay their eggs  and may use several types of locality; 60% lay their eggs in caves, 20% on ground level and 20% in hilly areas. The females make many camouflage nests/holes to prevent other animals or dragons from eating the eggs. Clutches contain an average of 10 eggs, which have an incubation period of 7–8 months. Hatching is an exhausting effort for the neonates, which break out of their eggshells with an egg tooth that falls off soon after. After cutting themselves out, the hatchlings may lie in their eggshells for hours before starting to dig out of the nest. They are born quite defenseless and are vulnerable to predation.

Lifespan and Growth

When born, a dragon’s scales are as soft as tissue paper, and slowly harden as the dragon ages. During the first year of life, a dragon’s scales will be very soft and supple.

Over time, they will shed their skin to produce new and more durable scales. The wingspans of adult dragons can range from 7–13 m (23–43 ft).

Subspecies

There are 3 living subspecies of dragons after the Ghulat Wars Era

Salmander (Fire Dragon)

The archtypical dragon: physically very bulky, red to orange in hue, large wings designed for gliding and diving rapidly, but make aerial maneuvers difficult. Salmanders tend to have large horned helms with long snouts and terrifically large jaws with long pointed fangs within.
Salmander have various unique characteristics traits including scales that grant protection against the extreme heat of fire and steam, and lungs capable of spewing flames with their magic.

Their names come from a misconception in antiquity where it was thought that natural salmanders were beings born of fire and that they were juvenile fire dragons. When conventional knowledge finally fixed this long held mistake, the slight change in name was made as a nod to this.

Elivagar (Frost Dragon)

The scales of Elivagars are typically colored bright blue-green, or they can have possessing feathers across their body of the same color. They also have much more dexterous claws and keener eye-sight. Their much lighter frames and proportionately more powerful wings allow them to perform much fancier and daring acrobatic maneuvers than the other kinds, but they lack the same sort of acceleration and tire easily on long flights.
Elivagar have various unique characteristics including scales that grant protection against extreme cold below the freezing point of water. In addition, they can use their sorcery to blow a cold stream that leaves a layer of ice on the surface. The mechanism behind their breath of coldness lies in their gut flora, which houses special ice-nucleating bacteria that can form ice at higher temperatures than normal. The magic of a elivagar dragon causes the bacteria to dramatically reproduce as a slushy shower of spores from the jaws.
Raitu (Storm Dragon)

Raitu are sleeker and more serpentine in form, though their legs are still fairly muscular. They have silver-white or golden scaled, and they have long leaf-like fins adorning most of their body. These fins help with camouflage in areas rich in foliage.
Raitu have various unique unique characteristics including scales that absorb external sources of electricity and lightning to restore their bodies and replenish their strength reserves. They can also use their magic power to launch bolts of lightning from their breath.

Ecology

Habitat

Dragon locales differ by subspecies but all tend to at least build nests on the mountainside within caves. Fire dragons prefer to forage in hot and dry places like open grasslands and savannas. Frost dragons make their homes in the borders of the tundra and the boreal forests. Storm dragons tend to roam in the higher elevations of tropical regions or rivers.

Behavior

Dragons are primarily solitary, coming together only to breed and eat. The largest animals eat first, while the smaller ones follow a hierarchy. The largest male asserts his dominance and the smaller males show their submission by use of body language and rumbling hisses. Dragons of equal size may resort to “wrestling”. Losers usually retreat, though they have been known to be killed and eaten by victors.

Dragons also have the tendency to hoarding items seen valuable to them, ranging from sticks, shells, jewels, even precious metals. Traditionally seen as greed, but those items are often only of value to the dragon and are collected because of a particular interest or just because it’s shiny or caught the dragon’s attention.

While it is difficult to do, dragons can be tamed and ridden, especially if done from an early age.

Competitors

The main competitors for adult dragons are large natural megafauna like dinosaurs, elephants, other dragons and drakes, etc.

History

Antiquity

Dragons are one of the many species to develop from the drakes, a reptilian family of magifauna. They became known for their signature ability to have a magical breath weapon other than poison or miasma. Stories say they develop this from ancestry with feral elementals, but since spirits lack physical hereditary material, this can not be confirmed.

As the deities of Yougai took note of the dragons and they saw their majestic beauty. They were the first to domesticate them and selectively breed dragons and bestow them with some of them with sapience. These intelligent dragons bred with wild dragons or themselves leading to the Drakaina race.

Ghulat Wars

Dragons were used in the war against the Shaytan and Demon side. Many were used as mounts by dragoons, their sapient drakaina counterparts fought as well. Unfortunately some unseen force started to inflict the intelligent dragons, reducing their fertility and causing them lash out in insanity. The increase in attacks and predation from dragons toward the mortal races resulted in them retaliating with heroes empowered by God’s beyond Yougai. As such dragons have been hunted in excess during this period to the point of near extinction.

Personist Era

With the fall of major civilization, wild dragons were able to roam in the wilderness and begin to make a slow recovery in population. However with the reintroduction of animal farming, dragons were once again hunted to protect livestock or to make the way for sapient encroachment. Eventually activists and organizations were able to propose legislation to prevent the species from extinction and efforts have been made to create protected sanctuaries for dragons.

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