Intelligent Species
5 Votes


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Comments: 7
Ideas: 0
Rating: 2.9
Condition: Normal
ID: 3920


May 18, 2007, 8:44 pm

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Water Dragon


The roar of the dragon echoed through the cave, causing the knights to stumble back in fear. “Don’t worry,” said the mage who was with them. “It’s a water dragon, and from the state of the river outside, it is in poor health. It’s just trying to scare us.”

Full Description

An Aqua Draco or Water Dragon is an impressive sight to behold but they are becoming less and less common as the centuries roll by. Their much stronger land cousins despise them and it is not unknown for one of the larger dragons to see them merely as a tasty snack like a sparrow might eat a worm or a hawk a small rabbit.

The larger denizens of the deep have also driven them out of certain areas. Most of all, humans and dwarves and orcs have impacted on them, seeking them out and slaying them out of fear or greed, or fouling their waters with the concentrated excrement and waste that comes from the cities. Most of the dragons that humans have slain, thinking them to be land dragons, are water dragons instead.

If healthy, and many have been laid low by illness and are a shadow of their former selves, they look hugely dangerous. They can grow up to thirty feet long and three feet wide although many are half this size, and their bodies are covered with multi-coloured scales that gleam and glitter every colour of the rainbow in the sunlight.

They have short limbs with long claws on them, large bat like wings, and a mouth full of sharp teeth along with a long forked tongue. The younger ones cannot speak human languages but those over fifty years old can do so. They feed on fish of all kinds and can live for up to five centuries.

Should they be threatened, they will rear up, their bodies will swell up with air and they will let out a roar of rage. If that does not deter attackers and the dragons are old enough to speak, they will let out bloodcurdling threats at the would be dragon killers to make them run away.

Should that not deter them they will let out a jet of water heated to almost boiling point from their bodies, hot enough to scald unprotected or lightly protected skin, and follow that up with bites from their jaws as their claws are relatively weak and meant for spearing fish rather then fending off swords.

Their skins and bones despite their impressive appearance are not much tougher then human skin and will soon give way after a few sword cuts. Even bare hands can hurt them if the person is deeply skilled in unarmed combat. The jaws are dangerous-a healthy dragon’s jaws can shatter a human bone, and these dragons should never be underestimated.

Some of these dragons live in tunnels in the rock which amplify their voices to the point where they sound truly terrifying, which are their favourite places to live, others live along the riverbanks. Both when fighting amongst themselves and when fighting anything large enough to seriously threaten them, they prefer to posture rather then bite.

A healthy water dragon will take good care of itself, not out of vanity but because it wants to look as scary as possible to humans and other threats to put them off trying to attack them. In normal times they mate for life and their courtship dances are lovely to behold. Their eggs look like large gemstones and have been the cause of attacks by greedy humans.

When courting the male will make nests out of bulrushes and any shining things that come to hand-semi precious stones, green glass and the like, and will find the finest fish food for his paramour. When the female lays a clutch of eggs the male is the one who curls up around them whilst his mate brings him food. Mostly they do not have hoards of treasure as it is of little use to them, although they will take the belongings of any humans or humanoid races that they kill.

Many of the rivers have had villages built upon them that have grown into cities and over time the waters have been seriously fouled and the fish have died.

In such trying times it is not unknown for water dragon females, who can fly (the wings of the males are more or less ornamental ) to leave their males for other water dragons who live in cleaner rivers, leaving the males lovesick and slowly starving. Their scales will lose their gleam and dull to a brown, and their jaws will only have the strength of a human bite.

Their water weapon becomes tepid rather then near-boiling although it can still knock over an attacker. Their voices if they have them remain unharmed and they can still swell up their bodies and rear them, but it is mostly an empty threat. Such a dragon is easy prey for warrior bands who are looking for treasure or just trying to “rid their area of the terrible dragon.”

Additional Information

Plot Hooks

The PCs are sent to kill a *dangerous dragon* within a cave complex from which it’s voice comes booming out. When they find the dragon it is in a dreadful state, it’s scaly skin torn and ravaged by fungal infections, and it’s *roar* in fact created by the cave tunnels itself. Do they just chop it to bits or spare it’s life?

A healthy Water Dragon and one of the few with a sizable horde of treasure is willing to pay the PCs handsomely to help it to defend it’s pristine river from settlers who want to build and set up homes there. Do they side with the *evil* dragon who is defending it’s home or with their fellow humans who need somewhere to live?

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Comments ( 7 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

May 20, 2007, 5:39
There is a jewel of an idea here, dual species of dragons. Unfotunately there are a number of problems that keep this submission from being what it could be. I think most revolve around the paper tiger aspect of the water dragon, larger animals tend to be tougher by the basis of sheer mass alone, and the thought of a dragon having skin no tougher than a humans is a disconcerting thought. From a perpective of having watched entirely too much Animal Planet, reptiles that have a hidden advantage can stand to be weaker and less than armored. Most of these critters are usually highly poisonous. Those that arent have evasion strategies or rather tough hides. Considering that other dragons would prey on Water Dragons makes me think that the the Water Dragons should have been depleted long before humans would have an impact on their numbers.

I would suggest toughening them up to be able to withstand basic non-magical weaponry, and since they lack true draconic armor and only the females of the species can fly (Nice touch, BTW) find something else that can level the field for the Water Dragons. Perhaps they have venom glands that they use for self defense, or their saliva has a paralytic property, both would work for a fish hunter. Another option might be Water Dragons being able to horde amethyst and cast magics for their own defence.
Voted manfred
May 20, 2007, 7:50
Scras has some good points there. One thing to note perhaps: it takes quite a lot of filth to make a river completely dead and devoid of fish. You could either go the route of partial pollution, which weakens them, so they easily fall prey to other predators (as noted, the healthy specimen are very dangerous), or you could pull the magic card, that they somehow also depend on the magical streams in rivers, which the humanoids somehow disrupt (which would go nicely with the idea above of their magical potential).

Anyway, I like the great, powerful dragons that actually turn out as weaker cousins. If these are dangerous, just think of the real beasts...

I like this detail and more, and I vote in the expectation of changes so I can keep the vote or 'up' it. ;)
Cheka Man
May 20, 2007, 13:27
I will rework this one of these days.
Voted valadaar
May 22, 2007, 12:36
Who did these Dragons tick off to make them so weak? :)

Given how so many of their draconic traits are watered down, a recent(subjective term) demotion seems the most likely reason.

Perhaps they were cursed due to offending/wronging the wrong power. Perhaps they seek restoration back to 'normalacy' through some quest.

Now they have a race against time before their weakness causes their extinction.
Voted MoonHunter
May 24, 2007, 17:11
Straw Men of the Dragon set.

There are a number of issues.

The rivers and water to support a critter this large are pretty darn rare. Figure you need a river running nearly 30 feet deep for most of the year. Especially if there are two of them in the water way.

And the ecology has to support two animals that large?

In a pre-industrial world, I don't think anything except a strip mine that could foul a river large enough to house such a beasty.

Why not have them swell up with water? Air is silly for a hydro based creature. The water could provide extra ammo for their spray attack.

Are they actually intelligent? If they are intelligent, it takes them 50 years to learn how? Do they start off as dumb animals, then get smart? Do they magically get to learn it or do they have to learn it?

and follow that up with bites from their jaws as their claws are relatively weak and meant for spearing fish rather then fending off swords.

Their skins and bones despite their impressive appearance are not much tougher then human skin and will soon give way after a few sword cuts. Even bare hands can hurt them if the person is deeply skilled in unarmed combat. The jaws are dangerous-a healthy dragon’s jaws can shatter a human bone, and these dragons should never be underestimated.

Okay, which is it? Jaws are strong or weak? Larger creatures have thicker skin, that is the way of nature. Silly to have limited skin, after all then regular animals could casually take it out.

Why do they have wings if they are water creatures? If they do have wings can they still fly or are they just "flippers" like penguins.
Voted Moonlake
June 21, 2013, 1:47
I can see the issues in logic that others before me have raised but somehow I like this idea so much that I've decided to vote 3 rather than 2.5 although this is in the lower end of a 3.
Voted Father Stabbingston
June 7, 2016, 20:55
I interpreted it as them having powerful jaws and brittle claws. I think it is a good idea and may use an altered version in my campaign. I will have them as a sort of puffer animal that absorbs water to Bolster its size which would explain how they can reside in smaller rivers. They are normally the size of a mule and self inflate which makes them more imposing but thins out their skin. Like a giant water balloon dragon sponge. It also allows them to use their "breath weapon" . I would explain away the talking at an older age as they slowly develop the ability to absorb water and use it as a resonating pouch in their gullet. (Like singing in the shower open and close your mouth without vocal chords and you will get water speak) I am imagining them always sounding like that a resonating water harmonics. They pick up speech while they are young and swimming among fishing boats and listening to sailors speak. They tend to be mistaken as kelpies at a young age and left alone. Their fins on their back keep growing until they have vestigial wings. I feel like their flight in my campaign will be more like a flying fish and maybe gliding from high cliff faces they have climbed to glide back down to the sea. After their fins have grown long enough people stop calling them kelpies and start calling them dragons... At which point they start acting like them.

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