The Sophisticated Dragon

For some reason I’ve always seen Flemeth from Dragon Age to be more of a dragon than a human. I’ve lamented on this blog how two-dimensional dragons have become lately–evil creatures of greed and destruction and little else.

In the old days of Dungeons and Dragons, the titular big lizards were of all sorts of alignments–good ones and “evil” ones just like the fairy folk. Maybe we have Tolkien to blame or thank for cementing this fantasy archetype of evil.

There is a lot of value though in simple, powerful symbols that don’t require thought, only a connection to the subconscious “lizard brain” as it’s called in Dexter and the Dresden Files. Every character in fiction can’t be sketched down to every wart and talon, so we get summaries in a nutshell.

I’m a little bogged down in Rift this week. I’m L56 and needing 4-5 million XP per level to get to 60. At the rate I’m going, that could take months, not weeks.

I plan to sub Rift, but I want my Rift sub duration to span through the next expansion. (A year or six months is a better deal.) So I’m in a holding pattern, sniffing for a time frame on this (Daglar’s long-awaited state of the game address for example), crafting and playing with builds until I pull the trigger on some XP-boosting subscription relief.

This morning, I found a wonderful award-winning cosplay image of Flemeth on Tumblr via the Gaming In Your Underwear blog. I thought she was official game art at first!

No, this is YumiKoyuki, a costume arts student at the Aalto University of Arts, Design and Architecture in Finland.


Flemeth cosplay image.


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3 responses to “The Sophisticated Dragon

  • commenter formerly called wumpus

    I’m not sure anyone other than Gygax has been pushing non-evil [western style] dragons. Tolkien was basically trying to bring about a Saxon-era revival, and Beowulf was famous for slaying a dragon that was all about brute power and village burning.

    On the other hand, there is the German tradition of the type of dragon Siegfried is famous for slaying. That dragon was the embodiment of thoughts of greed and revenge, and little else. C.S.Lewis had turn into a dragon of this type (spoiler: he got better).

    My favorite has to be Lawrence Watt-Evans’s “Dragon” trilogy starting with “Dragon Weather” (and I’m not sure that I read the next two, if they didn’t exist when I read the first). I’m pretty sure they are all evil (at least as far as humans are concerned, I’m not sure if they are as evil to other dragons.

    Oddly enough, the [first and still major] dragon in DDO essentially gives her life for obscure (and likely good) purposes (it is to support some important prophesy, but the dragons aren’t about to tell humans and other player races what it is). Eberron is never a black and white place, and the adventurers aren’t exactly sure what they have done other than slay a dragon and take loot [this is the vault sequence in the dwarf zone, the introductory section has a duped (mind-controlled) dragon that is not slain]. A dragon plays a minor part when the player is duped into helping steal an item from a dragon’s hoard (and takes the fall). The dragon then agrees not to burn the town down if the player retakes the item.

    I downloaded RIFT and tried a few players. Seemed like yet-another-WoW clone (I couldn’t get into WoW, either). Still not deleted, but I’m not sure when I will be back.

  • tsuhelm

    Yeah I remember the D&D monster description:

    (wow how long since I checked a D&D reference…flies back 28 years)

    A gold dragon frequently assumes human or animal guise and usually will be encountered disguised….so shapeshifting, do gooding dragons… so why is it, and even back then, we see a dragon and best kit goes on, potions chugged and we all charge in…

    Iw ould be so much nicer to discover half way through an adventure that the old lady NPC is really an ass kicking Gold Dragon just doing here bit for society…

    OH and why make em just good…give me big bad and old and mean Dragons but make them complex and interesting!

    , I think Ursula Guin did some good rounded dragon writing in the Earthsea trilogy:

    ‘Earthsea also defined the concept of dragons for me. The dragons of Earthsea are wise, powerful, ancient, majestic and magical creatures who care little for the affairs of humans and others who live for such a short time. Only a very few humans, the dragonlords, are interesting enough that they are worth a dragon’s effort to notice. These dragons are neither good nor evil; they are a race totally apart from man.’


    ‘LeGuin’s dragons set the gold standard. Ancient, wise, capricious, beautiful, mighty, and sometimes sad, she salts Tolkein’s profoundly Western dragons—for all his majesty, Smaug the Terrible is a clear descendant of the “St. George” and the species of dragon—with elements of the Chinese demigod. LeGuin’s dragons, especially in Earthsea, are selfish and terrifying in a way that Chinese dragons don’t tend to be, but their power and wisdom is of a kind. Her dragons point to the wonder and the danger of her world and its magic—which is to say, the wonder and danger of the truth, beyond and beneath all transformation and evasion.’

  • Jackie

    Wonderful quotes, Tsuhelm! I’ve certainly read the Earthsea books, but I’d forgotten about the dragons and dragon speech. Anne McCaffrey also gives dragons an honorable allies-to-men status in her Dragonriders of Pern books. I much prefer that bonding-at-birth to the “How To Tame Your Dragon” situation.

    @formerly wumpus: I’ve never heard of Lawrence Watt-Evans’s “Dragon” trilogy, but it looks like something to avoid, reading the anthropocentric anti-dragon plot descriptions. Rift is a little hard to get into. It was originally launched as an unabashed WoW on steroids, but it has diverged enough since then in my opinion that I don’t think of it as a clone really. Even LotRO has skill trees now as of Helm’s Deep. Rift has amazing housing, LotRO’s is a little sad, and WoW has none. In WoW and LotRO you play one or two roles with a character, in Rift you can play all roles with one character (as of the next big patch that adds the final role to mage, rogue, and warrior).

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