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Dragon Maladies (Part 5 of 5)

Dragon Maladies (Part 5 of 5)

Illustration from Europa's Fairy BookDragons are huge, powerful creatures feared by one and all, but just as the mightiest human warrior can be laid low by the flu, so too can dragons contract, be weakened by, and even die from various diseases. What follows is a description of some, but by no means all, of the maladies and draco-disorders afflicting the great reptilian race…



Wing Rot: In a case of wing rot, a dragon’s wings become infected with flesh-eating bacteria, rendering it flightless. The bacteria have no effect upon the scaled body of the dragon, but they devour great holes in the membranous wings. The disease is contracted by a creature infected with the bacteria biting or clawing the dragon’s wing during combat. Also, some hardy adventurers have used weapons (especially arrows and darts) coated with the disease and made an initial assault, attacking only the dragon’s wings. They then retreat and wait for the wing rot to disable the dragon before attempting further forays against it…

Wing rot need only affect one wing, and like a broken-winged sparrow, the dragon is unable to fly until cured. The wing or wings may still be used to attack, however. GMs who do not wish to have aerial encounters taking place can use this to eliminate this option and keep the action grounded. If the PCs cure the dragon, it will almost certainly allow itself to be used as a winged mount. However, there will be distance and time limits placed on this service since the dragon will not wish to leave its hoard unguarded for any length of time. While grateful for being cured, it will not wish to become a permanent mount for the adventurers. Dragons have their pride (and most are downright vainglorious) and will not allow themselves to be used as beasts of burden. As a general rule, GMs should limit the dragon’s service to one long ride (500 to 1,000 miles) or three shorter rides (under 500 miles). In addition, the dragon only agrees to serve as a mount and not a bodyguard or henchman; it does not necessarily fight for the PCs. If it can be persuaded to do so or circumstances require it, the dragon will almost certainly demand at least 1/2 or more of any spoils from such combat.

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