What is it about dragons anyway?

Discussion in 'General Fantasy' started by S.J. Faerlind, Aug 10, 2013.

  1. grumpycroc

    grumpycroc Member

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    Nice!

    Now that we are back on topic, I have a theory that humans are fascinated (though not enamored) by creatures with reptilian and mammalian characteristics. Dragons are often depicted holding themselves high off the ground like mammals instead of of sprawling like lizards, and have bat-like wings. Chinese dragons are even shown with fur.

    Dinosaurs also have mammal (really bird-like) characteristics as well, and they are also creatures that fascinate humanity.

    Of course, being big and powerful also helps.
     
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  2. MattII

    MattII Member

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    I'd guess something to do with the reptilian characteristics too, they'd be almost alien to most medieval European and Asian cultures, except on creatures like skinks and small snakes.
     
  3. Anakin

    Anakin King of TFF

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    I think we just like creatures which are powerful. The fact that they are mostly based on dinosaurs is another thing that fascinates us as dinosaurs alone fascinate us, looking at the success of Jurassic Park for example. The latest fantasy I've been looking into about dragons is a graphic novel series called 'Ravine'. It really has a rich lore, with really large dragons, in various sizes. While I'm more a fan of the sleek two-legged dragons, also known in other fantasy as Wyverns, I still like these dragons who certainly are beefy and very animalistic, but not necessarily evil. It's more the Wyverns in this story that are evil, like in many fantasy series. There is also a sisterhood which are dragonriders. But there's so much more to this series, rather than just dragons. The pages are also beautifully drawn. So I definitely recommend it.

    http://fc05.deviantart.net/fs71/i/2011/183/4/8/ravine___barahea_rising_by_nebezial-d3k5ej8.jpg
     
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  4. grumpycroc

    grumpycroc Member

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    Ok, Ravine sounds like it is worth checking out. I will do so.

    I think what separates dragons from many other big and powerful creatures in mythology, is universality. There's versions of dragons all over the world, which is unusual.
     
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  5. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    ^^sooo true. It's kinda weird how dragons ended up being in so many mythological traditions that were geographically separate at one time. We humans certainly seem to love powerful things and symbols!
     
  6. Anakin

    Anakin King of TFF

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    Yes, what's interesting is how we interpret them, from culture to culture. We turned them into evil, greedy creatures mostly, hiding in lairs with large treasures. While in Asia dragons are wise creatures, mostly good.
     
  7. kjerstina

    kjerstina New Member

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    Who can resist dragons? Not me! Every story I write ends up with a dragon in it! In my mind they are majestic, noble, wise, graceful creatures. They fly through the air, swim in the water, and walk beside us in our dreams. They possess magical abilities, and can breathe fire, how cool is that?! I prefer to write my dragons as wise creatures that become indispensable partners to their human friends, sometimes closer than family. :heart:
    [​IMG]
     
  8. Fafnir

    Fafnir Consutum De Ventito

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    I'm not completely averse to dragons, but I've never come close to the esteem they are held in by many. From an aetiological perspective, and certainly with due deference to the myths and folklore of the world, they represent important ideas and aspects of our own humanity and our desires, but I can never appreciate them in a tale.

    I can't connect to the dragon characters in works I've read, and for me a dragon is already established as a powerful force, full of vim and strength that few obstacles stand in their way. Man's very nature arguably lends itself to great hardship on the path to becoming something more - I've never seen dragons in this aspect, and as such, they seem empty and hollow archetypes with nothing to connect with, other than their obvious traits.

    It's likely just me - I'm not fond of the dragon who is nigh-invincible and impervious to peril sauntering through a story as a treasured sidekick.

    If there's a prominent example that runs to the inverse of such sentiments I'm certainly open to it, but as said, thus far dragons are like The Hulk without Bruce Banner. Overpowered, wise, indomitable, ancient and gilded to the hilt - how can I connect to such a character without some concern for their fate? If they are wise/powerful/etc then I need never fear for their efforts or exploits being anything than remarkably fruitful, thus, I don't end up caring about them.
     
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  9. JNK

    JNK King of tards

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    even in games dragons can be awesome, terrible, annoying... etc.... Mostly awesome in Skyrim :)
     
  10. Dreamscaper

    Dreamscaper Royal Hamster Wrangler

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    @Fafnir I think you might be interested in this.

    Going through and creating a fantasy world dragons are about as mandatory as elvenkind, especially if there's a game coming off of it. I thought about it and decided to put them through the same paces as every other sentient species on the continent. My only hope is that this is a different way to incorporate dragons, but probably isn't.

    There are several different species of dragon that developed in different areas, struggled against the environment and sometimes losing out to other alpha predators, particularly in the swamp, desert, and oceans, each with their own organization and varying levels of intelligence. Many of these groups have their own history and mystical lore being passed down from generation to generation that effects their relationship with other species or groups. Most of the dragons are intelligent, in the same sphere that a human or dwarf is, but sees things from above and can be aloof (applies to the larger species mostly, smaller ones can't fly quite as high) There is war, disease, and famine as with all mortal creatures.

    Not sure if that's more in line with what you want to see, but its how I took it.
     
  11. Fafnir

    Fafnir Consutum De Ventito

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    It certainly sounds a more appealing approach, for my part. Part of the allure I suppose I find for other 'races' is the manner in which they echo the sentient life of humans. I can't relate to an incomprehensibly ancient leviathan who judges events by the magnitude of millennia they dominate. Life for humans is but a fleeting snatch of breaths in a void of infinite magnitude, but I would love to see a similar 'humanity' played out with dragons. As for an actual society/civilisation of them with fluctuating progress/dilapidation is intriguing, and I would certainly be keen to read such a work.

    I like that you've raised the possibility, too, of there being competing power structures amongst their race, especially given the tendency of all creatures to conflict and suffering (in some capacity or another).
     
  12. rochari

    rochari Member

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    They're cool, but not all fantasy novels need them. In fact I'd like to see more fantasy/alternate worlds without magic and fairies at all. I think George Martin only put Dragons and Zombies in as a prop, or an appeal to get more readers because that's what the market expects. I don't think that's what he really wanted.
     
  13. FaerieKim

    FaerieKim New Member

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    I think people like them because they are god-like - like the primal, uncaring gods of pagan myths. They are these ancient, powerful, intelligent creatures that are ultimately wild, untamed and uncaring towards human beings. This humbles us, reminds us that the world is far larger than our petty concerns and short mortal lifespans.

    There's probably also some kind of racial memory of big scary lizards from when we were shrew-like mammals and dinosaurs roamed the earth.

    Plus the different breath weapons and different colours they come in give them a fun kind of variety:)
     
  14. Detth

    Detth Wanderer

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    Magnificent creatures indeed, but deadly and erratic..I think people like them because they unlike most of the powerful fantasy creatures, can fly and breathe fire..For instance Kraken and Leviathan are pretty popular too, because they are sea monsters, terrorizing ships and therefore there are many rumors about them..And there are quite some books and myths which include dragons and people started to like them more and more
     
  15. rochari

    rochari Member

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    I like them, but I'd still like to see an author have the courage to abandon elves and fairies and yes, even dragons.
     
  16. Midnattblod

    Midnattblod Royal Wolf of Shadow

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    if it's a medieval era fantasy, I'm not sure it would really happen just because of the lore that surrounded dragons in that era. even if dragons play no part in the makeup of the story, they would at least be mentioned as myth at the very least.

    on a side note, you mentioned elves and there are quite a few series' where the elven race is nonexistent, or they're not the same kind of elves as most mainstream fantasy series' have. I'm working on a series where the elves have died off but there are races that descended from the ancient elves whom look physically similar but don't have some of the characteristics of a mainstream elf.
     
  17. rochari

    rochari Member

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    It would be kinda cool if elves were just another type of human - about whom all sorts of magical stories circulate, but turn out to be essentially just normal mortals.
     
  18. JNK

    JNK King of tards

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    if dragon female can turn into chick and.... ya know...

    that would be epic :D
     
  19. TheLonelyGod

    TheLonelyGod The Lonely God

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    Dragons are giant lizards that in some myths can spit fire and fly.
    What's not to love? They're like a bad ass dinosaur.
     
  20. MattII

    MattII Member

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    In (one of) my universe(s), elves are humans, but for the presence of a special, magic-generating crystal, which drastically slows the ageing process (elves can like to half-a-century or more). This crystal isn't immutable however, an elf can be stripped of it, or a human implanted with one. Elves keep themselves secret however, once having been seen as criminals for their 'self-experimentation' back during the 'old empire'. Dragons (actually wyverns) are another remnant, vicious, semi-intelligent ex war-mounts. Others include the Shapeshifters (humans with a different type of magic-generating crystal) and certain magical beasts (one type of which is the Sherma, a lion with a magic-generating crystal, originally created to serve as lesser battle-mages' familiars).