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Trope Talk Dragons

A video essay about dragons in myth and pop culture by Overly Sarcastic Productions.

A dragon is a fearsome, serpentine creature. Dragons have supernatural powers and often represent powerful natural forces.

Such creatures may also be known as drakes, wyrms, wyverns, and various other names. In any given role-playing game, these names and terms can all refer to the same creatures or to similar different creatures.

Dragons in Dungeons & Dragons[]

A dragon on the cover of the D&D Basic Set

In Dungeons & Dragons, the colours of the dragons' scales determine what kind of breath weapon they have as well as their alignment. The two most common types of dragons are chromatic dragons and metallic dragons.

Chromatic dragons are generally evil. The most common colours are red (fire breath), blue (lightning breath), white (ice breath), green (poison breath), and black (acid breath). The chromatic dragons revere Tiamat, a five-headed dragon-god whose heads are the five colours of the chromatic dragons (red, blue, white, green, black).

Metallic dragons generally good. The five main types are gold dragons (fire breath), silver dragons (ice breath), bronze dragons (lightning breath), copper dragons (acid breath), and brass dragons (fire or sleeping gas breath).

There are also much rarer types of dragons, such as the neutral gem dragons.

The Draconomicon covers dragons in detail, but dragons are a common theme throughout D&D.

Related creatures[]

"Dragon" is also a creature type that covers many related creatures that are not true dragons, generally being smaller and possibly less sentient. These include:

  • Drake: Powerful reptilian creatures that are nevertheless smaller and less sentient than dragons, and often have no wings.
  • Dragon turtle: Gigantic aquatic creatures that are a cross between a dragon and a turtle. Among the most dangerous creatures to live in the water.
  • Pseudodragon: A small, playful dragon-kin around a foot long, prized as wizards' familiars.
  • Wyvern: A winged lizard with a scorpion-like sting in its tail. Often shown with only two legs (as opposed to four like true dragons).

Dragons in Torg[]

In Torg, dragons are referred to as draconis, and there are five types that are broken down approximately by elemental affinity:

  • Draconis Teutonica (air) are winged serpents,
  • Draconis Aysle (fire) are four-clawed winged dragons that are good and noble,
  • Draconis Aquatica (water) are evil sea serpents,
  • Draconis Metallica (metal) are treasure hoarders,
  • Draconis Terra (earth) are wingless and enemies of Draconic Teutonica, and
  • Draconis Crotalaria (plant) are attuned with nature, similar to druids in other settings.[1]

Dragons in Epyllion[]

Epyllion is a Powered by the Apocalypse game in which young dragons are the player characters. In the game, player characters investigate rumors, solve problems, and discover the truth of a growing evil in their homeland of Dragonia.[2][3]

Dragons in Dragon Brigade[]

The small game Dragon Brigade is a Cortex Plus game based on the novel series by Margaret Weis, both of which are named after a famous military company in the setting that once rode sentient dragons into battle. In the present day, the dragons and their former riders represent different nations, both with dangerous and sometimes corrupt internal politics.

Dragons in other role playing games[]

Dragons have also appeared in other role-playing games, including:

  • various Great Feathered Serpent dragons, Great Eastern dragons, Great Western dragons, Great Sirrush dragons, and others in Shadowrun.
  • various types of dragons in Rifts.
  • various Great Western dragons and others in Earthdawn.

Origins in folklore, mythology and popular culture[]

The Greek god Apollo fighting Python.

The word dragon comes from the Greek drakon, meaning a python or serpent. The word probably comes from a word meaning "clear sight."

Dragons in East Asia[]

The Chinese dragon is rather different than the European. These dragons are commonly depicted as spirits or ministers of nature, and often have a benevolent side.

Dragons in the Middle Ages[]

A painting of Saint George killing a dragon.

In the Middle Ages, dragons became a popular motif, and the dragon became a popular symbol for Satan's aggression. Saint George and the dragon became an especially popular subject. Dragons of the Middle Ages in Europe often spat fire or poison and were often represented with wings.

Dragons in the Americas[]

Codex Quetzalcoatl.jpg

The most famous American dragon was Quetzalcoatl, the "feathered serpent," a prominent deity.

Dragons in popular media[]


Dragons have appeared in a variety of roles. A dragon is the central antagonist of the film Dragonslayer, while a friendly Luck Dragon aids the hero in the book and film, The Neverending Story. Most are patterned after the European dragon, but even in the USA and Europe, the Asian lung dragon has influenced how dragons are perceived.


  1. Evil Mastermind (2017-01-09). "The storm has a name... - Let's Read TORG: Part 15g: Fantastic Beasts, and also monsters". FATAL and Friends. Retrieved 2020-07-11.
  2. Epyllion. Magpie Games. Retrieved 2020-08-03.
  3. Epyllion: A Dragon Epic. DriveThruRPG. Retrieved 2020-08-03.