- This is an article about the species. For topics that share the name, see Dragon (disambiguation)
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Dragons are a diverse mythological species, rich in lore, appearance, form, color and nature. Although not all dragons have scales or are even entirely reptilian, they are generally classified as scalie or herp within the furry fandom. With such diversity and adaptability to anthropomorphic characterization, the dragon has become one of the most popular phenotypes of furries.
Full-form, non-anthro dragons come in many shapes and sizes representing their origins from around the world.
- Western Dragons are usually large, leathery-winged, quasi-reptilian or saurian beings. In modern fiction they are sometimes warm-blooded, and reflect influences from contemporary knowledge of dinosaurs. Most have scales and some lay eggs. Variations include but are not limited to:
- Feathered wings
- Fur coat or manes
- Un-scaled hides
- Eastern Dragons are generally long, sinuous, scaly dragons with and/or without wings. Often, they have horns or antlers, and are the type depicted in Chinese or Japanese traditional art. Despite being portrayed with fur a lot in modern times, eastern dragon are originally scaly, and were believed to have the scales of a carp.
- Rare or Atypical Dragons such as Amphipteres or Wyverns - the moniker "Dragon" is applied to a staggeringly large number of creatures, some of which have very little to do with each other.
- Non-traditional or less common permutations, such as Fairy Dragons or even artificial and symbolic creatures - postmodern fantasy and science-fiction has portrayed the dragon as everything from a psychological meme to steampunk robots.
Character-oriented genres like Furry tend to portray non-anthro dragons with additional capabilities and tweaks to make them more accessible as a sentient character who might display human-like behavior. The capacity for human speech is common. It is also not uncommon to see dragons with dexterous, tool-using forefeet. One can find crossovers with dragon-like qualities in species concepts like the monoceros.
Anthro-Dragons / Dragonoides / Draconides
Anthropomorphic dragons, also known as draconids are similar to their full-form cousins, but humanoid or bipedal. Furry fantasy characterizations of this style of dragon may freely combine highly interpretive elements:
- They may or may not have wings. Wings may not be functional for flying, or may be only for gliding.
- Feminine forms (be they female, herm, or otherwise) frequently show mammalian traits such as breasts. Such a character might still be defined as a reptile, or might be conceived more as a mammal with draconic features.
- Legs are often digitigrade, but may be plantigrade.
- Body hair and/or fur is common. It sometimes may be presented as birdlike proto-plumage or down.
In fiction, myth, and character back stories, non-humanoid and humanoid dragons are sometimes two aspects or variations of the same species. It is not uncommon for non-anthro dragons to possess the ability of shapeshifting in order to assume a humanoid form or presented as examples of parallel evolution.
The wyvern is rendered as a winged reptilian creature. It is distinguished by its possession of only two legs and a single pair of wings. Occasionally, a variant such as the sea-wyvern will possess a fish-like tail. More frequently, however, the wyvern's tail is drawn with a barb or a spade at the tip, which is sometimes considered poisonous.
Draconic character traits
Dragons typically have many character traits ascribed to them. Due to the wide range of mythology and differing perceptions of their personality, there is no definitive guide to draconic characterization. Some classical and popular traits are:
- Hoarding valuable items. Traditionally seen as greed, but sometimes as protection of rarities or items which are valuable in more ways than material riches. Some 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.
- In Asian mythology, an appreciation for fine foods and tea, culture, traditions, and rituals.
- Arrogance, selfishness and a sense of superiority and/or invulnerability.
- Vanity and great attention to appearances, though not necessarily physical.
- Defensive and territorial, preferring the company of other creatures to another dragon.
- A "breath weapon" of some kind, often visualized as the natural or mystical ability to exhale fire. There are many variations, ranging from icy breath to poisonous clouds. It has been suggested that this originates from the Christian idea that dragons (as "serpents" or "wyrms/worms") embody the tempting serpent of Hell, and thus their bellies are gates linked to Hell; whenever the dragon opens this gate, then, hellfire will belch out. However, such portrayal can also be considered a derogatory stereotype.
- Deference and even voluntary servitude to great wisdom, purity, power, or beauty.
- Curiosity about smaller, more delicate creatures such as men, to the point of obsession.
- Great cycles of sleep and regeneration, where a dragon might vanish for weeks, months, or years to slumber or hibernate.
- In the oriental context, a dragon is often seen as a messenger of divine powers or enforcer of the law of the gods.
- Mastery of arcane knowledge, such as alchemy and forms of sorcery or magical lore.
One trait many also conceptualize dragons with is referred to as the "pounce or ponder" instinct. A dragon tends to either make a snap decision - or else spend hours, days, or even years laboring over an idea, with little middle ground between the extremes.
Dragons have occasionally taken on a more humanistic sensibility in modern fiction. Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern saga is thought to be the beginning of the modern reconceptualization of the dragon. Particularly within comic books, anime, manga and furry fandom, the dragon as a character or a personal avatar is often employed to add some draconic qualities onto a more human oriented foundation. Dragon characters commonly take on a more benign, playful, and warm persona.
- Non-anthropomorphic dragons are frequently direct allies of heroes and villains, and often serve as their protectors, companions or partners.
- In A Perfect World, the comic strip by AraKaraath, shows dragons as notorious for harassing postal carriers. Common traits include a love of shiny objects, the ability to "lounge" almost anywhere, and a tendency to take a very long view of things.
- Dragon characters are often crafted for appealing or exciting appearances as much as traditional mythological qualities, and combined with present day or science fiction settings in addition to traditional fantasy. Here, the dragon's traditional qualities are interpreted in a new context - for example, dragons might be masters of high technology rather than magic, or intellectuals rather than wizards.
- Dragons which have metaphysical elements may employ more modern ideas such as psionic abilities.
- The dragon might embody many traditional aspects, but for new purposes, such as humor. A good example of a traditional yet humorous and contemporary dragon is Llewellyn, from D.C. Simpson's comic strip Ozy and Millie.
- The theriotype of many therians or otherkin is often a dragon.