Monday, August 5, 2013

Dragon Rider Problems

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So this is the bit of the blog where we get to talk about Dragon Riders. Yes! Dragon Riders. In all my time as writer I'm not sure I've found a more popular subject. I think at least half of all the writers I know have included a dragon rider at some point in time. Why? Because of the Rule of Cool. Dragon Riders are awesome, even more awesome then superpowers. After all, what's more awesome then slaying a giant scaly beast? Riding it!

But including Dragon Riders can be incredibly problematic in a novel. It's not an easy trope to pull of well, but a lot of people seem to try anyway. It' ridiculously overpowered, and gives the rider pretty much any of the abilities that a dragon has. If the Dragon is sentient this power is doubled. If the Rider does magic (as so often happens) then the power is quadrupled.  The Dragon (and sometimes the magic) makes the rider near invincible in combat situations.

 I'm not going to go into why you shouldn't put Dragon Riders in your novel. There are reasons, yes, but one, I don't think any of you would hear me over the sound of the sheer awesomeness of Dragon Riders and two ... the idea of a Dragon Rider is one that is so awesome it deserves to live on in glory. Just because the Rider trope is hard to pull of doesn't mean you shouldn't pull it off.

So how do you deal with dragon riders? Well for one you can depower them a bit. Making the Dragon non-sentient helps, also making the rider a non magic user helps. This helps to power down the concept of Dragon Rider and helps smooth is out a bit. If Dragons are sentient in your universe though then you are probably better off having the rider be a magic user. The Rider needs some way to be useful. Swords aren't going to help when you're on a massive flying reptile.

But let's assume that you want you dragon sentient, and by necessity you need the Rider to be useful, thus must use magic. How do you power down such sheer awesomeness like that? The answer is actually quite simple. Either make your dragon rider vulnerable to weak villains or make all the other villains Dragon Riders or something equally powerful themselves.

The former is my favorite option. Normally characters evade your average guards, orcs or whatever weak minion is chasing after your hero has difficultly hurting them. Make your Dragon Rider vulnerable to ordinary things, arrows, swords. Whatever weapons are found in your world. Your Dragon's scales don't have to be hard as iron. They could easily be shot down if they fly low enough. Give them real and realistic vulnerabilities. It gives you more opportunities to torture your characters.

The other alternative is to make your enemies as ridiculously overpowered as your hero is. Perhaps more so. This works as well, though it's not my style, it certainly works.

This all of course assumes the dragon rider is a 'good guy'. If the dragon rider in question is evil ... then nevermind anything I just said. Make him as overpowered as you want.

1 comment:


    To de-power mine a little bit, I included a larger force of enemy Riders, made most of the magic hard to practically use, and made the Riders lose most of their magic powers away from the dragons. They eventually lose it all if they've been away long enough. (for instance, Aaron was away from Blaze for fifteen years and couldn't use a lick of magic by the time they reunited, though I'm still debating whether he kept any of the telepathic powers.)

    But yeah. Thanks. -_-