Originally shared by Curt Thompson
A random thought on my morning commute about dragons.
What? Don’t look at me that way. Give me choice between worrying about the weather, politics or international finance and I’m going to pick dragons. What sane person wouldn’t?
Anyway, on dragons:
One idea that I haven’t seen in high fantasy (which isn’t to say it isn’t out there, because classic WoD plays with a similar idea) is that the whole idea of dragons hoarding treasure is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the cosmological purpose of the species.
Even in a fantasy universe, the idea of giant, nearly indestructible and not quite immortal beings with powerful magics coming about by accident is a bit of stretch. So I look for reasons WHY dragons would exist when I start thinking up a new high fantasy world.
And one new idea for me is to take that ‘hoard of treasure’ idea and turn it a bit sideways.
Dragons would exist as the keepers of lost civilizations. All things pass in time. Even the gods fade and are replaced. But every bit of knowledge lost is a tiny, fundamental aspect of creation and history that is a tragedy.
Thus, a very early deity created dragon kind and gave them one simple command: Remember. Remember the lost cities and nations. Preserve their culture. Their art. Their words. And pass that knowledge down to your spawn. Because as long as one sentient being remains that can remember a concept, then that concept is not truly dead and gone.
A dragon’s hoard isn’t a mindlessly accumulated pile of gold and gems to roll around in. It is a beloved, heavily curated, deeply significant trove of artifacts of times and places and peoples lost to the younger races and modern times. And they cherish and protect those memories because it is, to them, a holy, even existential duty.
Dragons don’t destroy cities and steal for their hordes. But they do show up after a society or hero has fallen and take durable, tangible mementos and tokens of that time and place or person, to preserve for the ages.
Because cloth rots and papyrus turns to dust, they prefer more enduring kinds of art, which are usually done in fine stone or metal. But there is no random coin or jewel in their troves just because it is shiny. No sword coveted just because it has an aura of magic. Every item, down to the last bronze signet has a story that the dragon knows. And perhaps ONLY that dragon knows.
And thus every time some ‘hero’ slays a dragon, they cause whole civilizations and cultures to vanish for good. And if a dragon asks you if he can have your stuff after you die? Well, you’ve pretty much made the big time, kid.
(Art by the awesome Steven Hickman, by the way.)