15 September 2011

Effin' Dragons, Man

Dragons are in a weird spot for your theoretical fantasy lover.

On one side, there's the obvious awesomeness of them. They're giant firebreathing dinosaurs, and that completes the "totally rad childhood" sort of deal, where all you ask is that the things be as ridiculous as possible and that's ok. On a more intellectual side, it's really interesting to contemplate a non-humanoid intelligence, especially one that lasts for centuries and has as much of a difference in perspective as it's possible to have. Lizards are strangely fascinating, giant intelligent lizards doubly so. I can't imagine that our two species would have much of anything in common- we're land based, they fly; we're warm-blooded where they are cold-blooded; we have soft fleshy skin and theirs is hard and tough; we require tools to master our environment where they do it naturally, and so on. 

But on the other side, there's the Spencer's and Hot Topic esque dragons, the silly pseudo-badass motif that people who love wearing silk shirts and having awkward facial hair love. The kind of guy that you look at from across the room and go, "That guy is not very bright." The kind of guy who can solve differential equations but cannot figure out how to talk to a girl without getting slapped. You know the guy I'm talking about because our hobby attracts a lot of that kind of guy. And it's really annoying. Look, go google "dragon" real quick, like I had to in order to get that picture of a black dragon up there. You see those godawful dragon tattoos and the gay sparkly fairy-dragons and the overly compensating hypermasculine dragon and the vaguely 70s wizard/dragon combo? Yeah, that's why dragons are also the lamest thing ever. 

(I'm not going to mention people that have sexual fantasies about dragons or half-dragon hybrid people or whatever, except in this paragraph, because it's not relevant. Although it is kind of weird. As far as I'm concerned, these people can do as they will.)

So it's an uncomfortable situation. They're awesome, and also douche-magnets. 

This is a problem because in the idea I had late last night, the Dragons are the first intelligent race, and also a primary source of magic. There are dragon cults that cling to the dragons, protecting them in their relatively vulnerable slumber in exchange for awesome powers, that guard their secrets, and generally wait for their Dragons to wake up and cause some havok. It's like a modern-day religion (in that the words are passed down through generations with slight alterations through time, like misspellings and mistranslations, without the original writers being around), except all the proof you need is in the slowly-breathing mountain of fire that's sitting right there. 

And also being the source of your magic. Whatever.

The point is, having a campaign world largely feature dragons makes me feel both pretty awesome and a bit like a hack. It feels like dragons are the scapegoat for a lot of things, and the plot point of a lot of novels. Maybe if I read TVTropes I'll feel a little better about myself. But maybe not. After all, Our Dragons Are Different is itself a trope...

1 comment: