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  1. Top - End - #211
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Aye, the hydrogen for buoyancy and fire breath is a fairly common one, I also sort of like it as it gives a dragon a reason to not continuously use it's fire breath.
    Another one I have pondered, as a way to make them lighter, is a light weight skeleton, but one with comparable strength to aluminum(or even having the skeleton mostly made of metal) or some other strong but light metal
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  2. Top - End - #212
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    Quote Originally Posted by Conners View Post
    How about Dragons? If you tried to supe up a flying, fire-breathing lizard, how far could you get before you hit some snags?
    <...>
    So... thoughts?
    Just as a side note, I tried this with winged humans.
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=249326

    The result of a believable wing size + muscle mass to move it would be pretty insane. That one there is a 10 meter wingspan for a 30kg main body weight (minus wing & wing muscle weight).

    Unless you do rocket powered dragons ala Terry Pratchett, there is only magic.


    Also, hydrogen lift doesn't work for any reasonable dragon weight.
    Air has a density of 1.225 kg per m^3. Meaning that even if your dragon had the weight of a human child (30kg) and had a vacuum sac for lift, the only way you can offset all the weight is with a 36 cubic meter volume.
    If this is a sphere, it has a surface area of 77.2 square meters, leaving you with a density of 0.388 kg of stuff per square meter of surface area.
    Even if you posit aluminium bones, a 1cm thick layer of aluminium weighs 27 kilos per square meter, leaving you with a layer of aluminium about 1.4 millimeters thick. IE. it's a ball of aluminium foil.

    No, bouyancy isn't going to work.
    Additionally, bouyancy makes your dragon have problems crushing people. Imagine if a fighter was fighting a dragon on the peak of some doom mountain and gave it a good whack with the flat of his broadsword... and the dragon just floated away on the wind...
    Last edited by jseah; 2012-07-24 at 07:04 PM.

  3. Top - End - #213
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    @TheWombatOfDoom: What if Dragons had great jumping and running ability? Do you think they'd be able to propel themselves into flight?


    @jseah: Hmm... first we need to work out a theoretical size for the dragon, so as to get an idea of what wingspan and muscle strength is required. Let's start with a dragon 40 feet long (much like a t-rex), which is sleek but not especially thin. Has four "legs" (front legs able to grab things) and wings on its "shoulders". 15(?) feet in height when standing normally (on all fours). If this were a creature similar to a crocodile or t-rex, we'd be looking at a weight of something like 6 or 7 tons, I guess.

    My measurements tend to be bad, so correct those if they seem unreasonable.


    Anyway, first is: How much can we reduce the weight of the creature without making it weak (assuming the most optimal features possible)?

    After that, how much wing span and muscle is required to give it reasonable flight ability (assuming the most optimal features possible)?
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Aluminum is comparable to (or even weaker than) bone and it's about 25% denser. Bone is a much superior choice to aluminum for tough-but-lightweight structural support for a living creature.

    Although if you were planning to mummify that dragon, it might be a good idea to swap the bones for aluminum beams because dry bones are much more brittle. You're going to need an aircraft engineer and a taxidermist...

  5. Top - End - #215
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    Wikipedia indicates that bird-like flight wing loading has a maximum of 25 kg per square meter of wing. And the lower the wing loading, the more energy efficient the wing is.
    Assume 20 kg per square meter of wing area.

    We also want a high aspect ratio wing. This gives more of a gliding/soaring motion than a short wing (which requires lots of flapping) to further save energy and let the dragon fly further. Also, since the wing is going to huge no matter what, we will probably get a smaller wing area by making it have higher aspect ratios (due to being more energy efficient and needing less muscle -> lower weight -> smaller wing) although we lose top speed.
    Going by a rough estimate, a high aspect ratio wing might around 10.

    So for every square meter breadth, the wing is 10 meters across.
    Assuming a 1ton dragon (assume carbon nanotube bones or mostly hollow or something), 1000kg = 50 sq meters wing area for a wingspan around 25 meters (and a 2-3 meter breadth, decreasing towards the tips).
    Your 6 ton dragon has 300 sq meters wing area for a wingspan of 55-60 meters, 5-6 meters breadth.

    Truly, epically huge. You might note that the dragon can't take off from rest since it can't beat its wings (will hit the ground).

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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Conners View Post
    @TheWombatOfDoom: What if Dragons had great jumping and running ability? Do you think they'd be able to propel themselves into flight?
    That's what some of mine do. They're baiscally flying squrriels only much bigger. More like a little larger than human.

    For your big one, he's definately going to need running room and leaping. Would likely live on a plataeu or near cliffs. And would never be able to let anyone ride it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jseah
    Wikipedia indicates that bird-like flight wing loading has a maximum of 25 kg per square meter of wing. And the lower the wing loading, the more energy efficient the wing is.
    Assume 20 kg per square meter of wing area.

    We also want a high aspect ratio wing. This gives more of a gliding/soaring motion than a short wing (which requires lots of flapping) to further save energy and let the dragon fly further. Also, since the wing is going to huge no matter what, we will probably get a smaller wing area by making it have higher aspect ratios (due to being more energy efficient and needing less muscle -> lower weight -> smaller wing) although we lose top speed.
    Going by a rough estimate, a high aspect ratio wing might around 10.

    So for every square meter breadth, the wing is 10 meters across.
    Assuming a 1ton dragon (assume carbon nanotube bones or mostly hollow or something), 1000kg = 50 sq meters wing area for a wingspan around 25 meters (and a 2-3 meter breadth, decreasing towards the tips).
    Your 6 ton dragon has 300 sq meters wing area for a wingspan of 55-60 meters, 5-6 meters breadth.

    Truly, epically huge. You might note that the dragon can't take off from rest since it can't beat its wings (will hit the ground).
    Would it be plausible to lower the wing loading any further, out of curiosity?

    Even with the top-speed reduced, I guess it'll still be faster than a lot of land-animals?

    What's the intended/possible size for the one-ton dragon? The six-ton dragon's wingspan is hard to imagine.
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    note that the DnD dragons all have exceptionally wide wings, and some of them have wings that go all the way down the tail. is it possible that the wing being so wide helps them glide better? and of course, there is the matter of replacing all the standard compounds of the body with stronger, lighter ones. it would explain the strength of dragon bones and scales. and they could be storing hydrogen for their breath weapon (assuming this is a fire breathing dragon). while the hydrogen won't negate the dragon's weight, every little bit helps. then you have to take into account the increased density of the air on a DnD planet (terminal velocity is 300 ft./round, which is 180,000 ft./hour, or 34.1 mph, just over 1/4 of terminal velocity on earth, which means that the air is much denser).
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    This is just a supposition, but wouldn't the hydrogen cause more problems than it would solve? Maybe not, just wondering.

    Very interesting point about DnD's setting having denser air. That'll probably make it much easier for creatures to fly, I guess?
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    25 meters is about the breadth of an olympic swimming pool. (10 lanes) The wings themselves are also about as wide as a lane of traffic on the road.
    1 ton is about the weight of a common 4 seat car, so it's not that heavy.

    Essentially, if you nailed a 1ton dragon to the ground, wings spread, it would span a major highway intersection.

    You could make this a juvenile dragon or something. Then the ancient ones will be even bigger (but not that much heavier)

    -> the 6ton dragon has a wingspan about 10-20% bigger than the length of an olympic swimming pool and a wing breadth of 2-3 lanes on a road. It's freaking huge, for not that much more weight.
    Note that these weights are for Total Mass, including wing and wing muscles.

    You could always lower the wing loading for even more efficiency (and much longer glide times), but the wings get proportionally bigger. And there is a fundamental limit to how low you can go, being the weight of 1 square meter of wing (and at this limit, your dragon is all wing and nothing else)

    If you say 1 sq meter of dragon wing weighs 5 kg (pretty damn light), and you want a 10kg per sq meter wing load, then for every 5 kg of body weight, you need 1 sq meter of wing.


    Note, I am not even getting into the problems regarding blood systems, bone structure (note that the bones will have to be even harder than steel to not bend at the size and weight of the dragon) and various problems scaling will introduce.


    @lunar:
    1 ton is pretty darn light already. Multiple people working together can lift it, and it will have trouble crushing anything much bigger than a human. A human in full plate would also be rather harder to crush (although you can always flame him once to get a tin-foil wrapped snack)

    The hydrogen as lift is still useless, it will maybe account for 0.1% of the weight and expand the dragon's volume by a very large amount. Aka. very fat dragons that pop like balloons when you poke them. Shortly followed by a massive explosion.

    Of course, you could say that atmospheric pressure/density is much higher in D&D land, that does solve alot of the problems, although unless it is drastically higher, will still not let hydrogen lift do much of anything.


    Really wide wings reduce wing loading by contributing alot of surface area while reducing aspect ratio, it makes flapping cost alot of energy.
    This also makes the dragon have problems dealing with strong winds and turbulence. (the huge parachute-like wings catch alot of air and just blow the dragon back)


    NOTE: I am writing this based off a few hours research I did for that human-with-wings idea. Someone with better understanding of aerodynamics would be better able to answer questions.

    Also, a living dragon can fold and trim its wings in flight. This means that the wing characteristics (primarily wing loading and aspect ratio) can actually change when conditions change. You might be able to get away with a smaller wing for powerful takeoffs that then unfold to a huge gliding area once airborne.
    It will still need a running start or to jump off a cliff, that's probably not going away.

  11. Top - End - #221
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    Quote Originally Posted by jseah View Post
    @lunar:
    1 ton is pretty darn light already. Multiple people working together can lift it, and it will have trouble crushing anything much bigger than a human. A human in full plate would also be rather harder to crush (although you can always flame him once to get a tin-foil wrapped snack)

    The hydrogen as lift is still useless, it will maybe account for 0.1% of the weight and expand the dragon's volume by a very large amount. Aka. very fat dragons that pop like balloons when you poke them. Shortly followed by a massive explosion.

    Of course, you could say that atmospheric pressure/density is much higher in D&D land, that does solve alot of the problems, although unless it is drastically higher, will still not let hydrogen lift do much of anything.


    Really wide wings reduce wing loading by contributing alot of surface area while reducing aspect ratio, it makes flapping cost alot of energy.
    This also makes the dragon have problems dealing with strong winds and turbulence. (the huge parachute-like wings catch alot of air and just blow the dragon back)
    @hydrogen, i never thought it would be significant, just that it would be there.

    @weight, that's why only huge and bigger dragons get crush. at that size, they still weigh a minimum of 2 tons, according to the creature sizes table in the monster manual glossary.

    @air density. just out of curiosity, how much higher would the air pressure need to be to have a 34.1 mph terminal velocity? i'm assuming that such a huge difference in falling speed would require a similarly huge difference in pressure, but i wouldn't even begin to know how to figure it out. it would be kind of funny if we were talking about a venus-like atmosphere here. (no wonder you can't spot the sun. it doesn't exist, or you would be boiling alive.)
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by lunar2 View Post
    @air density. just out of curiosity, how much higher would the air pressure need to be to have a 34.1 mph terminal velocity? i'm assuming that such a huge difference in falling speed would require a similarly huge difference in pressure, but i wouldn't even begin to know how to figure it out. it would be kind of funny if we were talking about a venus-like atmosphere here. (no wonder you can't spot the sun. it doesn't exist, or you would be boiling alive.)
    I'm not sure of exact numbers, but something tells me that this would be quadratic in function, not linear. Similar to how with wind force, doubling the speed quadruples the force exerted.

    Actually, going off of wind speed/wind force, I wonder if air density has a similar effect, i.e. twice the density == 1/4 the fall speed. On Earth, air pressure fluctuates by around 10% (highest recorded was 1,085.7 hectopascals, lowest recorded 870 hPa, with average being 1013.25 hPa), so we don't see such drastic changes here.

    EDIT: Found a formula to figure it out.
    Mathematically, terminal velocity—without considering buoyancy effects—is given by

    where
    = terminal velocity,
    = mass of the falling object,
    = acceleration due to gravity,
    = drag coefficient,
    = density of the fluid through which the object is falling, and
    = projected area of the object.

    Assuming that gravity and the characteristics of the object are the same, you should be able to figure out what the density of the air would have to be. I'd figure it myself, but I've got other work to do ¬_¬
    Last edited by Ksheep; 2012-07-25 at 12:52 PM.
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    ^I'll run the math:

    Assuming its the same object (human) and the same gravity, then terminal velocity can be expressed as a function of density of air.

    Specifically, velocity = some constant / sqroot(density)

    RL terminal velocity is about 110mph, D&D is 34.1mph (going by lunar2's post). This means that the RL terminal velocity is 3.22 times of D&D = sqroot of D&D air density is 3.22 times that of sqroot of RL air density.
    Therefore D&D air density is roughly 10x that of RL air density...

    Hmm. *checks math* Can someone else have a go? That looks kinda fishy to me.


    And no, that still doesn't allow balloons to be reasonable. The human child weight of 30kg would still need 2.5 cubic meters of air displaced, which is about the size of a upright human-height fridge.
    It becomes *possible* that hydrogen balloons will work, but the dragon will still be a sac of extremely thin hide around a big balloon of *very* flammable gas.

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    so, knowing how dense the air is, do flying dragons, as they are illustrated in the monster manual etc., make any more sense than they would in the real world?
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    Quote Originally Posted by lunar2 View Post
    so, knowing how dense the air is, do flying dragons, as they are illustrated in the monster manual etc., make any more sense than they would in the real world?
    We'd need to figure out some equation to determine lift based on fluid density…

    If D&D air is 10x more dense than Earth air, that would put it at about 12 kg/m^3. Water is 1000 kg/m^3, so it wouldn't be comparable to swimming in the least, but using that density as a guideline we should be able to figure out lift as a function of surface area.

    EDIT: Found lift formula. It is:
    L = (1/2) d v^2 s CL
    Where:
    L = Lift, which must equal the airplane's weight in pounds
    d = density of the air. This will change due to altitude. These values can be found in a I.C.A.O. Standard Atmosphere Table.
    v = velocity of an aircraft expressed in feet per second
    s = the wing area of an aircraft in square feet
    CL = Coefficient of lift , which is determined by the type of airfoil and angle of attack.

    So, if density is multiplied by 10x, then you'd get 10x the lift for a comparable speed and wing, which indicates that wing size can be shrunk for the same amount of lift (again, looks like it's linear, if you're going by wing area). However, you'll also have to take into account drag, which will probably increase due to the increase in density…
    Last edited by Ksheep; 2012-07-25 at 02:29 PM.
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Ksheep View Post
    So, if density is multiplied by 10x, then you'd get 10x the lift for a comparable speed and wing, which indicates that wing size can be shrunk for the same amount of lift (again, looks like it's linear, if you're going by wing area). However, you'll also have to take into account drag, which will probably increase due to the increase in density…
    Drag is a huge factor, and dragon's aren't exactly the most aerodynamic critters. Most real world flying vertebrates have a fairly basic and similar shape. We're really limited to bats and birds on that front.

    Bats and birds all take basically the same shape. The ones that seem to fly the most easily (small birds such as sparrows in particular) have heads that are set very near the body with little in they way of extra body mass (such as a pelican's bill). Bats take a very similar shape, although their body layout tends to include external ears. Legs pull up and lay nearly flat against the body, necks when there is a substantial one are still very short, and the body has a whole tapers towards the tail. Dragon's don't exactly have this body pattern, and even provided they could get sufficient lift they'd have horrible drag factors and probably stall out shortly after achieving flight.
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    I have a question, one of my goblin cultures will use a certain tree for their dyes and canoes, I know little about producing either. The environment is a rainforest modeled after the amazon. Is their any such tree that meets these requirements and if not, what would it look like? Where in the forest would it grow? How could the goblins make boats and dyes out of this tree? What else could they cultivate from such a plant?

    Thanks in advance

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    To make dugout canoes, you really only need a tree that has a trunk with sufficient diameter and height. And for goblins, that would be smaller than for humans.
    Some woods become soft and crumble when wet, but others actually harden. You'd want one of the later types.

    Dies can be made from all kinds of plant stuff, often leaves, bark, or roots.

    I'm not sure if there's a type of tree in south america, that fits both criteria, but there's no reason why there shouldn't be such kinds. And for other uses, it could be used for really anything that people make out of trees. Fruits and Flowers for example.
    Quote Originally Posted by Beleriphon View Post
    Bats and birds all take basically the same shape. The ones that seem to fly the most easily (small birds such as sparrows in particular) have heads that are set very near the body with little in they way of extra body mass (such as a pelican's bill). Bats take a very similar shape, although their body layout tends to include external ears. Legs pull up and lay nearly flat against the body, necks when there is a substantial one are still very short, and the body has a whole tapers towards the tail. Dragon's don't exactly have this body pattern, and even provided they could get sufficient lift they'd have horrible drag factors and probably stall out shortly after achieving flight.
    There are also cranes and storks, which have both long necks and legs. This does not seem to be neccessarily a problem and can be made to work.
    Last edited by Yora; 2012-07-26 at 05:20 AM.

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    Sorry for bringing this up again.

    Could the 40-foot-long dragon be lightened down to 1-ton, while remaining a strong, sturdy and dangerous creature?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Conners View Post
    Sorry for bringing this up again.

    Could the 40-foot-long dragon be lightened down to 1-ton, while remaining a strong, sturdy and dangerous creature?
    Dangerous - yes.

    Strong - maybe.

    Sturdy - unlikely.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    There are also cranes and storks, which have both long necks and legs. This does not seem to be neccessarily a problem and can be made to work.
    True, but they aren't exactly the most graceful flying birds. There are some general exceptions, but veen then a stork or crane still draws its legs as close the body as possible. The similar wading bird pattern holds true for spoonbills, ibises and herons. All of them are massive and tend to use soaring flight rather than flapping to maintain flight. The dragons in Skyrim share a similar body pattern with wading birds are more plausible than the D&D six limbed dragons ever could be.

    Herons are interesting since they can pull their neck very close to their bodies when in flight, and the only trailing portion are their legs. I've seen them in flight with the neck retracted as well outstreched. The other thing to keep in mind is that D&D dragons seem to have a neck and head configuration similar to a giraffe such that the neck is normally perpendicular to the rest of the body. Wading birds have a neck that bends and arches up but is actually in line with the body at the base.

    So if I were to model a plausible dragon I'd use the tall wading bird pattern found in herons, cranes, or even flamingoes. It would make them look more like the dragons in Skrim with the front arms being the wings much like bats.
    Last edited by Beleriphon; 2012-07-26 at 10:49 AM.
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    I have a medical question (sort of): If someone jumped (deliberately) from a height of 15-20 meters and landed on dry packed soil, how badly hurt would they be? I assume they would break both legs, maybe severly damage the spine too? How much difference could training make in this situation?
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Conners View Post
    Sorry for bringing this up again.

    Could the 40-foot-long dragon be lightened down to 1-ton, while remaining a strong, sturdy and dangerous creature?
    Strong is very, very broad term...

    Most probably would be strong compared to even powerful humans, but rather puny compared to 1 ton animals of more "usual' build.
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    falls are weird sometimes pepole can fall tremendous distances and not be very hurt other times a simple stumble can break a leg. Their is a tremendous amount of dumb luck involved.

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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Gahrer View Post
    I have a medical question (sort of): If someone jumped (deliberately) from a height of 15-20 meters and landed on dry packed soil, how badly hurt would they be? I assume they would break both legs, maybe severly damage the spine too? How much difference could training make in this situation?
    15 to 20 metres? It would probably kill them, if it didn't you'd be looking at severe damage to both legs if not extensive spinal damage as well. There is practically no way for a person to jump off a nearly 7 story building without injury. There's a reason fire departments advise not to jump out a window to escape a blaze and instead do your best to wait for a rescue.
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Gahrer View Post
    I have a medical question (sort of): If someone jumped (deliberately) from a height of 15-20 meters and landed on dry packed soil, how badly hurt would they be? I assume they would break both legs, maybe severly damage the spine too? How much difference could training make in this situation?
    The injuries will range from none to directly lethal. Training will most definantely help, but it's still a matter of luck.

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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Hmm... changing the subject a little.

    Dragons are often described as fire-proof, I find. How fire-proof can an animal get, with their skin and such?
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Conners View Post
    Hmm... changing the subject a little.

    Dragons are often described as fire-proof, I find. How fire-proof can an animal get, with their skin and such?
    That really is dependant on the mechanic that keeps them "fire proof". They could have a harder skin of some sort, or even some sort of inflammible chemical that they sweated.

    On a side note, are your dragons planned to be warm or cold blooded?
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Would have to ask. Since dragons often live in deep caves, I assume warm-blooded.

    Harder skin sounds interesting. Any inherent problems that tend to come with that territory?
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    Default Re: Random Worldbuilding Questions (Biology, Geography, Society, etc.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Conners View Post
    Would have to ask. Since dragons often live in deep caves, I assume warm-blooded.

    Harder skin sounds interesting. Any inherent problems that tend to come with that territory?
    Heavier.

    Also, Warm blooded could be an issue with thick skin.
    Scientific Name: Wombous apocolypticus | Diet: Apocolypse Pie | Cuddly: Yes

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