How about a dragon how cheerfully rules over a kingdom; his people all know him for what he is, and dragons are looked upon as wise and benevolent creatures. Dragonslayers from other kingdoms coming to free it from 'tyranny' are likely to get beaten to death by peasants with cast iron skillets.
Someone needs the blood of a dragon, given willingly, to make a rare potion. Guess who gets hired to sweet-talk a dragon into giving up some highly powerful blood?
A common mistake when writing adventures set in deserts is to assume that the climate is too ferociously hot to wear armor. Historically, most battles in deserts involved troops dressed in protective armor. Although they would have been miserable during the hottest part of the day or the hottest part of the year, desert weather isn't intolerably hot 24/7.