Article of the Week: Greater Dragon (Part 2)

On top of this weeks Article of the Week, I’d like to point you to the new [[Main Page]] of the wiki.  I’ve improved it greatly from being a mere redirect to the [[Portal:Saros|Saros portal]].  I intend to update it once a week when I update the article of the week.  It contains exciting facts, such as a short excerpt from the article of the week, several small factoids that aren’t posted on some pages, and a few tidbits of recently posted information as well as a small blurb from me about recent happenings.  Check it out!  Leave a comment on this post or use this form to let me know what you think!

Continuing from last week’s post, this will start the same but end differently, I promise!  I just finished it up.

Greater dragon

A Dragon is a large reptilian creature with covered in thick, bony scales with four powerful claws, two large wings, a long tail and a head. Dragons are creatures of the elements and every dragon is attuned to one or more element.

Dragons are the bridge between the elemental and physical world, acting as ambassadors between the two. The greatest dragons are responsible for shaping Saros and nearly all life on it. Greater Dragons are also known as True Dragons and all dragons have very similar traits, but they are divided into three categories based on their differences: Primal Dragons, greater dragons, and and lesser dragons. Any creature that is related to dragons, has draconic qualities such as elemental sense, or resembles characteristics of a dragon but is not truly a dragon is considered to be Dragonkin.

Senses

Sight

A dragon’s sense of sight is extremely acute and much stronger than that of a human. A human’s eye is capable of focusing on and clearly seeing about 2% of their visual field. The rest of normal sight, for both dragons and humans, is composed imagery from peripheral vision. Shapes, certain colors, and movements can be distinguished, but specifics such as words or the exact nature of an item cannot. The mind is forced to fill in the missing information and essentially guess at what the object might be. A dragon, however can focus on, nearly 15% at a time allowing it clearly understand nearly eight times as much optical information as a human. Dragons can also see much further than humans and are capable of focusing on very fine objects even at great distances, much like a bird of prey. They are excellent at judging distances and sizes at nearly any range, reducing their focal range to that which is necessary to see far off objects.

Dragons, as well, can see the full spectrum of light between the ultraviolet and infrared spectrum, which allows them to perceive sights that no normal animal can, as well as giving them amazing vision even in total darkness. Because of their sensitivity, dragons are capable of seeing visually even when there is very little light available. Their eyes are also capable of adjusting very rapidly to a change in light intensity, though extremely rapid changes, such as utter darkness to brilliant daylight, will leave a dragon dazzled and temporarily blinded. In complete darkness, dragons rely on their other senses to navigate.

Not unlike many reptiles, dragons have a third eyelid known as the Nictitating membrane. This eyelid can be drawn across the eye for protection and to moisten the eye while also keeping visibility. Unlike the upper and lower eyelids, the nictitating membrane moves horizontally across the eyeball and is normally translucent. While swimming, this membrane moves across the eye to protect it while under water. It can be activated on land to remove sand and other debris or in flight to protect against debris and wind shear. It also serves to protect the parents’ eyes from their chicks while they are feeding them.

Sound

Dragons have a greater acuity when it comes to sound and are able to hear sounds at a much wider range than humans. In order to not be overwhelmed, they have developed the ability to pick out specific tones or origins and filtering out noise. For example, in a crowded room a dragon would be able to pick out and focus on several different conversations without mixing them together, while a human would have difficulty focusing on more than one.

During the first several years of a dragon’s life they are vulnerable to high pitch sounds. A single tone high pitched sound will cause the dragon to enter a trance-like state where they will stop what they are doing and focusing on the source of the sound. Any break, interruption, or change in the sound will cause the dragon to awaken and they will be able to prevent further effects for a while.

Smell and Taste

As with all animals, smell and taste are related senses and linked sense and dragons have very particular tastes. A dragon is capable of picking out subtle differences in flavors and textures in the foods they consume leading them to have very refined tastes. They are picky eaters, only relishing in foods that meet their highly distinguished requirements. Dragons can obtain nutrients from nearly any source, however, and many dragons do enjoy consuming raw minerals or other normally inedible substances as food, depending on the type of dragon.

A dragon’s taste and smell can take it to an obsessive level. Certain species have been known to be driven to the brink of extinction due to the sheer ecstasy certain dragons obtained from eating them, both through texture and flavor.

Touch

Touch is a dragon’s weakest sense, and for good reason. Their hard scales dampen the feeling of things that brush against them and protects them from harsher threats. This is necessary to protect them from wind sheer as well as in combat against other dragons or threats. A dragon’s pain threshhold is extremely high as well, though they do have what has been come to known as a Threat Index. Based on previous encounters, elemental flow, and many other variables a dragon is able to assess just how threatening a certain target may be.

Elemental Sense

Elemental sense, also known as Ethereal Sense, Ethersense or Ether sense, is the ability of dragons to see and “feel” the flow of the ether and evanescence around them. This sense tints their view of the world slightly, giving them a better grasp of how energy works and moves. It also helps them identify certain substances and even individuals based on their elemental composition. The sense is also extremely useful in quickly identifying spells and any other form of manipulation of the ethereal winds as they occur.

Elemental Sense can be overwhelming and all dragons go through a phase of life known as ethereal blindness in which their elemental senses overwhelm their normal senses. Eventually a dragon learns to control their elemental sense, dampening or amplifying it as necessary. Some older dragons, especially those that may have been left physically blind, turn to their elemental sense to replace or amplify their weakened senses, much like how a bat uses sound to help navigate.

Weaknesses

Though dragons are immensely powerful beings, they are not flawless nor immortal. They can be killed with a simple blade weapon, but they are very strong, durable, and cunning. There are a few methods one can employ to aid them in the battle against a dragon.

Elemental Vulnerability

The most well known fact is that dragons are elemental in nature, though they are not true elementals. This causes them to have a weakness against opposing elements, being more vulnerable to them. For example, a fire dragon is weak to water magic, an air dragon shows vulnerability to fire magic, and so on. It should be noted that, since they are not true elementals, dragons do not benefit from being afflicted with their own element. An earth dragon does not heal when exposed to earth magic, as example. They do not suffer nearly as much from these attacks, however.

Aural Hypnosis

A little known fact, one that is not mentioned in the Encyclopaedia Monstrosiae and perhaps only in the most complete Draconomicon, is a young dragons aural weakness. Because of their heavily tuned, but unrefined senses, young dragons can be mesmerized by long, continuous, high pitched sounds such as that of a whistle. It puts them in a trance in which they are vulnerable, incapable of defending themselves or reacting. Any break in the sound will end the effect, however, and the dragon will not be susceptible to it again for some time.[1]

Ethereal Blindness

Ethereal Blindness is an affliction that affects all dragons when their elemental sense, or ethereal senses begin to develop. occurring within the first years of life, usually around age six to eight, the whelpling becomes overwhelmed with the sensation of the evanescence. The dragon usually can regain control of their senses within seven days but they are extremely aggressive and dangerous while they are effectively senseblind.

Onset time varies depending on the species of dragon, but most begin to see colored shapes and detect strange smells. These intensify and the dragons sight becomes fuzzy and blurred as the haze takes over their senses. The effect causes extreme stress and headache usually leading the dragon to attempt to rest to bypass the effect. Full onset occurs within 24 hours of the first symptoms. The dragon can no longer see or smell the regular world and they see the evanescence which drives them into a form of dementia. The dragon becomes extremely hostile to their new environment and the overwhelming senses. Isolation is recommended as the dragon will attack even those that are close to them, including their own parents.

After 48-72 hours, the dragon may begin to regain control of their senses allowing them to recognize the familiar sights and smells. Time and practice is required for them to maintain control and separation of their senses. Eventually they can learn to associate their ethereal senses with normal senses such as recognizing the smell of certain magics. It can even serve as an additional method to identify specific races or individuals.

Once controlled, the dragon can learn to strengthen or deaden their ethersense based on their needs. Most young dragons keep it very dulled and use their standard senses primarily, but as the dragon gets older it can handle a more active ethersense. It is possible for the dragon to become completely dependent on ethersense. Physically blind dragons may use their regular and ethereal senses to replace lost sight. Some dragons prefer the information provided by their ethersense over standard senses as their regular senses are more easily deceived. Ethersense development marks the completion of this phase of the dragon’s life.

Scales

A dragon’s scales are one of its most prominent and important features. By obtaining even a single scale from a dragon, much can be determined about its life. The color of the scale is a good indication of which element the dragon represents. For example, red scales are usually indicative of fire dragons and green scales usually indicate earth dragons. Color is not completely determining, however, as certain colors are shared by multiple dragons, hybrid dragons scales vary greatly, and some dragons shroud their color for protection. The shape of the scale can greatly aid in determine the type, however.

Analyzing the elemental properties of a scale will yield identify not only the type of dragon, but what classification it is as well. Greater dragons have much stronger elemental connections than lesser dragons or of their lesser brethren. The size of the scales is a good baseline for determining the dragons age, but slicing a scale in half gives a better estimate. The scales are highly prized by crafters for their multitude of purposes, including armor, alchemical properties, and elemental energy.

Movement

The movement of a dragon, whether in on the ground, in flight, or swimming, is always very graceful and fluid. Their muscles and joints work in unison along with additional power from the dragon’s elemental forces to create an efficient machine.

Ground Movement

Dragons, like dogs or cats, are digitigrades. They walk directly on their toes, with the bones of their feet making up the lower part of the visible leg. Dragons are capable of walking very precisely, because they directly register; that is, they place each hind foot directly in the print of the corresponding forefoot, minimizing noise and visible tracks. This also provides sure footing for their hind paws when they navigate rough terrain.

The claws of a dragon are protractable. In their normal, relaxed position the claws are sheathed with the skin and fur around the toe pads. This keeps the claws sharp by preventing wear from contact with the ground and allows the silent stalking of prey. The claws on the forefeet are typically sharper than those on the hind feet. Dragibs can voluntarily extend their claws on one or more paws. They may extend their claws in hunting or self-defense, climbing, “kneading”, or for extra traction on soft surfaces.

Flight

The flight of a dragon is a thing to behold, for a creature of such size should not scientifically be able to maintain flight due to the ratio of the surface area of their wings to their weight. Much like birds, however, dragons have hollow bones, created with a hexagonal honeycomb structure. This maximizes the strength of the bone while minimizing its mass, and thus reduces its weight. The muscles of a dragon, especially in its wings, are immensely powerful and efficiently use fuel provided. But a dragons flight is not purely physically induced. Dragons take hold of the natural flows of the ether to aid them in flight, using the energies to provide the necessary lift and maneuverability. While a bird may glide on the wind currents, a dragon can harness its elemental nature to glide on the currents of the ether. Dragons also have a special organ in their chest which acts as a bladder for energy. They fill this bladder with warm air, lightening their body, as well as with energy from the evanescence which helps to reduce their weight as well.

Getting to flight is a separate challenge. Most dragons, when provided with the area, prefer to start flight with a full sprint, their wings folded in an aerodynamic fashion. When they reach speed, they unfurl their wings and begin flapping to provide lift. Using their momentum they are able to climb into their air and fly freely. Most dragons prefer to have a drop before they take to the air, which provides them with a boost from the fall. Dragons are capable of hovering in place in the air, though this is very difficult. The torrent of air moved by their wings is potentially devastating to anything in its wake.

Swimming

When swimming, a dragon folds its wings close to its body and moves by flexing its entire body through the water such as a serpent or snake. They use their tail as a rudder and slightly extend their wings to help with maneuverability. Certain dragons, especially those closely related to water, have webbed feet which they use to paddle through the water.

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