Are dragons wings too small/little?

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I guess it comes down to what you mean by "much magic at all" and what you mean by density. Birds can fly mostly because they have less mass, not because they are significantly less dense than other animals*. So are you suggesting they are magically less dense, or that super materials (magic or otherwise) make the less dense?

Also, a dragon that is 30-40% bigger than a quetzalcoatlus would weigh less than a 15' alligator. That is not my idea of a dragon.

*Note: some birds (puffins & loons) don't have hollow bones and neither do flying mammals. Almost all animals have a density close to water. Flying animals are simply less robust with less massive.
Okay
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I guess it comes down to what you mean by "much magic at all" and what you mean by density. Birds can fly mostly because they have less mass, not because they are significantly less dense than other animals*. So are you suggesting they are magically less dense, or that super materials (magic or otherwise) make the less dense?

Also, a dragon that is 30-40% bigger than a quetzalcoatlus would weigh less than a 15' alligator. That is not my idea of a dragon.

*Note: some birds (puffins & loons) don't have hollow bones and neither do flying mammals. Almost all animals have a density close to water. Flying animals are simply less robust with less massive.
Why would anyone know or care how much they weigh? It's not like they're going to be put on a scale any time soon. It doesn't have to make a difference on how strong they are (because magic).

But you have basically two options.

Dragons use roughly the same physics as birds to fly through the air as birds in which case they need to be lighter than their size would indicate.

The second option is that they they use magic to enhance their flying capabilities without relying on the downforce generated by their wings.

I don't think it really matters which one you choose. After all I don't really understand how my typing on a keyboard is going to post this message for you to read. Yes ... electricity, individual colored pixels on my monitor, sending packets over the internet, storing data as a series of zeroes and ones and so on. But do I really understand it? Nope. I type hit the "Post reply" and it happens. If it were replaced by magic I would be none the wiser.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Why would anyone know or care how much they weigh? It's not like they're going to be put on a scale any time soon. It doesn't have to make a difference on how strong they are (because magic).

But you have basically two options.

Dragons use roughly the same physics as birds to fly through the air as birds in which case they need to be lighter than their size would indicate.

The second option is that they they use magic to enhance their flying capabilities without relying on the downforce generated by their wings.

I don't think it really matters which one you choose. After all I don't really understand how my typing on a keyboard is going to post this message for you to read. Yes ... electricity, individual colored pixels on my monitor, sending packets over the internet, storing data as a series of zeroes and ones and so on. But do I really understand it? Nope. I type hit the "Post reply" and it happens. If it were replaced by magic I would be none the wiser.
It’s all quantum! 😂
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
It’s all quantum! 😂
There's a theory that we haven't evolved to accurately understand reality, we've evolved to survive. So the world does not necessarily work the way we think but the way we perceive the world is good enough.

On a related note, ancient Greeks like many old civilizations didn't see the color "blue" because they had no word for it and the sky was just a shade of green. :geek:
 
Well, they had a problem. Folks ask why things work. But, it isn't like the writers were biologists, engineers, or physicists. The number one rule folks should try in such writing is... don't do it. You try to actually explain your magic it 1) ceases to be magical, and 2) you'll get it wrong, and folks will rip holes in it. YOu may think it is lazy, but "It's magic, duh!" works and is pretty bullet-proof.

Really, if you aren't going to make the reason they can fly a plot point, a thing the PCs can interact with, you don't need to specify why. We have curious minds, but as the architects of our own games, we should recognize when specifying technical details is not necessary.
I should have made this more aparent. For that i apologize. I think they should have leaned VERY hard into the idea that its due to their preternatural nature and explained the complicated way in which their otherworldly relationship to the multiversal cosmos the explanation for it. That i woupd have accepted as plausible and less lazy. But its always a tacit throwaway. Consider the aboleth's various mental abilities. They did a beautiful job of explaining it. That is what i think should have been done for draconic magical abilities (including flight) but ove never seen an entry where they really went into it on the level that they did with the anatomy of an aboleth's brain.

I should have given thia context the first time.
 
There's a theory that we haven't evolved to accurately understand reality, we've evolved to survive. So the world does not necessarily work the way we think but the way we perceive the world is good enough.

On a related note, ancient Greeks like many old civilizations didn't see the color "blue" because they had no word for it and the sky was just a shade of green. :geek:
Thats hilarious. I didnt realize they had no umbrella word for the blue range of hues. Heh.

Oh. Also our senses and perceptions are definitely able to decieve us. The greeks were actually so aware of this that they had mathematically calculated some of the known visual distortion effects. This is why the temple to athena looks abnormally flat at a distance to the human eye. Its because it has a curve built into it which is built to spec according to the measured amount of visual distortion characteristic of human vision at the proper distance. They built a visual correction of human sight (at the proper distance) right into the platform and some other structures of that temple. Its curved.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Thats hilarious. I didnt realize they had no umbrella word for the blue range of hues. Heh.
It's not even that they didn't have a word for it - ancient cultures (and some isolated cultures even today) don't even see the color blue as being different from the color green. There's a isolated tribe that doesn't have a word for the color blue. They aren't color blind but they literally cannot tell the difference between an object painted green and one painted blue.

The reason the Greeks didn't see blue is because it's difficult to come up with a blue dye and blue is actually rare in nature other than the sky. The sky doesn't need to stand out from anything else so they perceived it as green.

So there's your useless trivia for the day!
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Bird flight is sometimes slightly more mysterious than most people think they were having problems figuring out how bumble bees fly up til just a few years ago. The story Johnathon Livingston Seagull was postulated based on some of that. The cleanest answer might just be "They fly because they know they can."
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
They aren't color blind but they literally cannot tell the difference between an object painted green and one painted blue.

The reason the Greeks didn't see blue is because it's difficult to come up with a blue dye and blue is actually rare in nature other than the sky. The sky doesn't need to stand out from anything else so they perceived it as green.
Eh...

"They perceived it as green" is a misleading statement. They categorized it as green. They thought of it as green. But then, "green" to them meant something different than it does to you.

Imagine, if you will... a person from... say, Kentucky. You play for them a piece of music. They grimace a little, and say, "That's some of that Metal music folks in California listen to, isn't it?"

And you're like, "Well, this is Death Metal. And this other one is Grindcore. And this is Black Metal, and it comes from Norway..."

And they stare at you blankly. They hear the exact same sounds you do. But they don't recognize them as different sub-genres. They couldn't describe to you how they differ - they have no words to speak about the nuances of style or quality that differentiate them. Their minds are filled with the dominant classification, "Metal" and have no further distinctions.

Or, from math - let us say you work with a person from a culture that does its math in base 8. You have a single word for "nine". They have a compound word for "eight and one", because "nine" is not a separate concept they have. It isn't that they can't add 5 and 4 together, but as a language, they don't count "nine" as a separate concept.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Eh...

"They perceived it as green" is a misleading statement. They categorized it as green. They thought of it as green. But then, "green" to them meant something different than it does to you.

Imagine, if you will... a person from... say, Kentucky. You play for them a piece of music. They grimace a little, and say, "That's some of that Metal music folks in California listen to, isn't it?"

And you're like, "Well, this is Death Metal. And this other one is Grindcore. And this is Black Metal, and it comes from Norway..."

And they stare at you blankly. They hear the exact same sounds you do. But they don't recognize them as different sub-genres. They couldn't describe to you how they differ - they have no words to speak about the nuances of style or quality that differentiate them. Their minds are filled with the dominant classification, "Metal" and have no further distinctions.

Or, from math - let us say you work with a person from a culture that does its math in base 8. You have a single word for "nine". They have a compound word for "eight and one", because "nine" is not a separate concept they have. It isn't that they can't add 5 and 4 together, but as a language, they don't count "nine" as a separate concept.
People from the Himba tribe literally cannot distinguish between a blue swatch and a green swatch of the same hue. They will tell you that both swatches are green. I'll let the philosophers debate what that, along with the fact that nothing is really a solid object, means.

For purposes of this thread, the point is that anyone observing two flying dragons probably could not distinguish between a dragon flying because they weighed less than expected or because the dragon is relying on magic in addition to the downward force exerted by their wings to fly.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
If dragons are just zeppelins and the hydrogen is propulsion does that mean that they breath fire out of their posteriors?
 

Tonguez

Adventurer
Simplified theory:

Young dragons can fly without issue.
Old dragons can fly because they've flown their whole lives and aren't about to let a little physics tell them what they can and can't do.
Thats not a bad proposition actually. I dont like colour coded dragons, so I decided that in my game all dragons breath/spray acidic gas and other ‘effects’ (lightning, fire etc) are uses of magic (or alchemy)

having small dragons being able to fly naturally but larger dragons being ‘naturally’ land bound Wyrms would work too, of course once a dragon gets to its Wyrm stage its magical powerz is such that flight is a minor abilty really


If dragons are just zeppelins and the hydrogen is propulsion does that mean that they breath fire out of their posteriors?
No, just the noxious fumes
 
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dave2008

Hero
Why would anyone know or care how much they weigh? It's not like they're going to be put on a scale any time soon. It doesn't have to make a difference on how strong they are (because magic).
I care about the mass because I want my dragons to be powerful, F=ma. The mass is important.

Personally I like the idea of GoT dragons with their extremely heavy "iron" bones, thus needing to be even more powerfully magical!
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I care about the mass because I want my dragons to be powerful, F=ma. The mass is important.

Personally I like the idea of GoT dragons with their extremely heavy "iron" bones, thus needing to be even more powerfully magical!
But mass and weight are not the same thing. After all, nobody pushes around a dragon! ;)

Which just means that you choose to have dragons in your world have flight based on downward force generated by their wings along with magic keeping them aloft.
 
If dragons are just zeppelins and the hydrogen is propulsion does that mean that they breath fire out of their posteriors?
Its from a fairly absurd animated movie

The wings are for direction and propulsion

The chemical reaction is for bouyancy

They just ignore the fact that fire breathing would push backward
 

Beleriphon

Totally Awesome Pirate Brain
Yes and no. Dragon wings are to small to make them actual fliers; however, they can't realistic be big enough (and strong enough) to actually enable a creature that size to fly. The largest flying creatures of all time maybe weighed 500 lbs. An adult dragon is probably a least 10,000 lbs. Therefore an adult dragon (about 15 feet long + neck + tail) would need a wingspan of approximately 700 feet to have the same weight to wing surface area. That is all kinds of impossible and would just look bad.
Dragons are obviously rocket powered then
 

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