I am a Dragon and I have an infestation problem in my world. Currently, I am the single one of my kind and your representation of a dragon in movie Desolation of Smaug is fairly accurate only there's no such thing as 'magic'.

All of my life I had enjoyed an indolent lifestyle: hunt when I am hungry, sleep when I am sleepy, and ponder on the meaning of life when I've got nothing else to do.

I don't remember when the humans first appeared but they've been around for some time in one form or another (I had tried to keep the count of passing seasons at some point but lost interest after several thousand cycles). However a couple centuries ago I stumbled upon an amalgamation of humans they'd called a "Kingdom". There I found an interesting contraption(some kind of torsion powered spear thrower) that I suppose was designed with a sole purpose of bringing me down from the sky.

Needless to stay it utterly failed. In a fit of rage, I burned down all hummies and their dwellings in sight for such insolence. But then I noticed a disturbing pattern: from the earliest memories of these creatures that I have, I remember them still hairy as your average wolf throwing stones at other animals. Then they started throwing sharpened sticks instead and then using some primitive yew devices to launch those. There is a trend: they progress and their ability to kill other beings improves over time.

Back then I thought that I can easily solve the issue by exterminating them completely. I had burned every human being in all of the "Kingdom" and then continued doing so through the rest of the continent. I then doubled back and flew to the next continent over the Great Sea where I found more human amalgamations(I still wonder how they've managed to get there - it takes a week of continuous flight for me!) and burned them down too.

I took my time exploring the continent(I hadn't been there for a very long time) and noticed that some of the meals that I liked from before were now gone and I knew whom to blame. I checked the other continents and found more humans on every single one of them. I wiped them all out.

Then when I was done with my campaigning I returned to check on the "Kingdom" and found a big amalgamation of humans numbering in thousands not very far away(a day or two of flight). I burned them down. I scoured the continent all over again and found more humans...

I had spent the next two centuries campaigning all over the world several times over. But every time when I leave a place it gets infested with humans in a matter of decades. They survive in small bunches and then multiply like crazy. At this point, I don't even know if it's worth the effort to keep going like this. Long gone are the days when I basked in the sun leisurely without worrying what region should I cleanse the next moon.

I must admit that these creatures seem to be only slightly inferior in terms intelligence. After all, they are the only other creature in this world capable of harnessing fire. I also have to admit that I should've exterminated them when they only inhabited a single continent(or just limit the infestation there).

Here is my question: How can I keep these hairless apes at bay and prevent them from inventing new ways to kill(specifically me). Culling seems to do the job, but it is very tedious and time-consuming. Is there a way how to solve the issue permanently or at least optimize the process?

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    That's a losing battle. One dragon would need to spend a year to "clean" a small continent. Humans are multiplying faster than they can be taken care of. I suggest that the only way for this dragon to survive is to find a mate. – Alexander Jan 16 at 0:14
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    I suppose this is the exact opposite of worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/q/16829/627. So it's sort of like "How could a dragon defend itself against primitive cultures?" – HDE 226868 Jan 16 at 0:22
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    Is breeding an army or intellectually inferior orcs, goblins or other fast breeding monsters, becoming their feared god and leading them agaist the humans - to take over their lands - out of the question? They would pose less of a threat in the end with little to no technological advancement. – DocWeird Jan 16 at 14:05
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    You really can read about Shadowrun scenario but here dragons are just behind big corporations/politics. You can think of them as imortal illuminat on steroids – jean Jan 17 at 12:34
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    To add to the comment of @jean, in Shadowrun the much smarter and experienced dragons use sometimes open, sometimes covert control over mega-coroprations and their wealth as well as media and politics to keep humans in check. (There's an allusion to a potentially devastating cyclical event that dragons know and try to avert at all costs but that humans are ignorant about.) At first dragons attempted to control humans through sheer physical power which was curtailed relatively quickly by modern arms and aircraft. Then dragons started to use aspects of human culture to control it. – David Foerster Jan 17 at 18:54

22 Answers 22

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Ordinarily, you'd delegate. Farm out the mucky business of war to someone else, found one of these kingdoms of your own, get generals to rampage. But an exercise in nation building doesn't seem your style. Too much work, you won't get them all, and eventually someone will figure out how to kill you anyway.

Have you considered planning for retirement?

You're still young, you can still burn down anything you please. Spend another century or three burning for hire while technology hasn't caught up. Get paid in valuables. Invest in a diverse set of assets - kingdoms, land, merchants, inventors, banks, and so on. Hire capable people to manage your money.

Once the burning business starts to dry up announce your retirement from burning and looting. Hopefully by now you've gotten yourself a healthy passive stream of wealth from all your investments. Scrupulously avoid anything that might be construed as politics.

Then, become the most terrible thing known to these puny humans: a tourist. Lounge in exotic locales, have tasty food brought to you, host burning man festivals... whatever you please.

"Is that the dragon outside parliament?" "Yes, Prime Minister." "Is that... is that a tiny camera in its claws?" "A Nikon, I believe." "What do you think it wants?" "I think it wants a selfie, Prime Minister."

Edit: And if they manage to start world war 3, you can just find someplace out of the way to ride it out. That's politics and you don't do politics. At least it's going to be nice and quiet again afterwards. Maybe you can teach the giant cockroaches or whatnot how to make a piña colada.

The Brass Tacks:

Fundamentally this strategy is about managing risk while still aiming for your ultimate goal of achieving a long, enjoyable life of leisure. It assumes you can't really stop humans from advancing and decides it's wasteful to spend time delaying them; instead it focuses on leveraging different strengths to exploit the humans in service to your ultimate goals.

Phase 1: Burn In the initial phases of your plan you're invincible- you don't have to worry about your threat profile. Burn as much as you want. Your objective in this phase is to convince humans to pay you to burn their rivals instead of them. Don't worry too much about with what, you'll get a handle on what tends to stay valuable across civilisations, like gold. Try to do this in as many different places as you can.

Phase 2: Invest In this phase you've gotten yourself some wealth. Some of it will turn out worthless; that's fine, it's why you diversified. Remember this principle, it's important. Keep taking jobs to burn, but now your objective is to start investing. Start small, find needy humans and offer them loans. For example, you loan out enough to get a farm started, in five years time you'll be back for that and 25% interest. Lean towards generous - every farmer, merchant, king, and craftsman who says 'the dragon helped me get on my feet' chips away at the myths, and letting them repay on fair terms leaves them satisfied you're a good business partner (important, since you're immortal). Optimally, start phasing out the burning once it's less profitable than loaning (including losses to war, betrayal, etc.)

Phase 3: Tourism This phase starts around when the humans start getting weapons that might actually hurt. In human terms, you're looking at around the fifth or sixth century (Beowulf happens around here). Phase out burning completely, it's a liability now. Start pivoting away from politics, too. Time to put your appetite to work. Your objective is to acclimatise the humans to your presence. Tour the outlying parts of human lands, where they can't afford to fortify against you, and hang around. Buy things from the locals, pay them to feed you, and if the army shows up (whether or not they can actually hurt you) or you're asked to leave, just take your leave and fly away. Here you train the humans to think of you as a big positive to have as a guest, and wasteful to drive away. It costs a lot to raise an army and maintain dragonslaying weapons - by making them waste resources overreacting (and costing them the opportunity to sell things to you!) they'll gradually scale back their defences against you or get naturally tromped by those who do.

Phase 4: Dragon of Leisure This last phase starts when you've gotten the humans comfortable enough with your presence to fly into their capital and scratch them behind the ears (humans like that, right?) The key time for this is before ~1900 when they develop flight. From here your physical advantage is gone, because now the humans' defenses against each other will work just as well as against you. You need to reach this stage before then, and leverage your money and carefully built reputation instead.

Start delegating away direct control of your affairs to humans. Acquire a trustworthy staff (you've got millennia of experience with humans by now after all) and have them handle the day to day affairs of your life. Only handle the important decisions yourself.

From here you can do whatever you please, busy yourself enjoying life. Sleep when you're sleepy, eat when you're hungry, get introspective when you're bored. Best of all now you're such a good customer and you've got all that money humans like, they're going to go out of their way to make even nicer places to sleep and tastier things to eat and invite you to take selfies.

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    +1 for the "Yes, Prime Minister" reference. Totally didn't read it in Humphrey's voice. – Sebastian Lenartowicz Jan 16 at 11:26
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    This works if you can trust humans to acknowledge your wealth without covetting it. Ever. – Lurker Larry Jan 16 at 16:23
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    Well yes they're going to covet it. That's why you have it! It's how you get them to come to you wanting to sell you nice things, or convince you to invest in their business ideas. Both of which, noticeably, are much easier than figuring out how to a) kill a dragon and b) loot its diversified portfolio of investments. – Pingcode Jan 16 at 20:48
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    Investing (or at least credit) has been around since at least 3500 BC so you can start pretty early into recorded history if you set your mind to it. Besides, these things happen (and are sometimes your fault) and are why you diversify. Sure, Carthage burned down with all those masons (you were so sure! Rats.) but that salt maker you'd helped get started on a whim... who knew humans wanted so much of the stuff? – Pingcode Jan 17 at 7:55
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    @NickDzink dragons have a bad rep in the west, in the east they are considered divine. Perhaps our dragon should spend some time in medieval China instead. – Michael Shopsin Jan 17 at 16:04

There is a possible way for a dragon to succeed for a while, but it depends on his communication skills.

Humans would have to kill other humans.

On every continent, the dragon would need to come in contact with nomadic tribes and make these tribes worship him. He would request massive gifts and sacrifices from his followers. In the process of serving the dragon, followers would need to attack and raze any permanent settlement and kill or enslave its inhabitants. Only nomads are allowed to live.

If a tribe is not doing a good job exterminating "kingdoms", dragon can either help the tribe, or turn on it, selecting a different tribe for the same job.

It would still be dragon's big task to inspect all the corners of the world and reinforce loyalty among his followers.

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    I like this. Humans are unfortunately skilled at killing each other in our world; no reason why they shouldn't apply their abilities here. – HDE 226868 Jan 16 at 1:02
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    But the fact that a dragon is flying around murdering people will be enough to unite around a common threat. Sooner or later other humans will turn on the dragon and his followers, feeling they have little to lose. – user32862 Jan 16 at 1:56
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    @Shardmartin: You dare speak against our Lord and God? He who bringeth fire and fury upon our enemies? HERETIC!! Thou shalt burn in the belly of the brass dragon, so all may hear your screams! – Joe Bloggs Jan 16 at 12:08
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    @Graham - To prevent proliferation of his own followers, Ghenghis Drake will need to employ the usual tactic of totalitarian regimes: a lot of rules that are contradictory. Since everyone knows they have sinned, people think it's their own fault for not trying hard enough, those who are not accused are just grateful no-one has noticed their backsliding and the priesthood is gleefully zealous in a desperate demonstration of its own piety and loyalty. Once his followers are victorious this mechanism can stabilise the population. – Peter Wone Jan 16 at 12:39
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    Wait a minute. I thought the plan was to stop humans from getting better at killing. – candied_orange Jan 16 at 15:20

Your pest problem seems unusual.

Not only do these hairy apes reproduce about as bad as rabbits, they seem to have an intelligence of sorts. If this is true, your days are numbered. They will eventually out number your death dealing capabilities in addition to having the ability to kill you.

I recommend that you form a beneficial relationship with them before it is too late.

As with all relationships, communication is key.

What do they need? What are their desires? What can you provide them that they can't provide for themselves?

Since they now appear everywhere, they probably like to travel. Are you willing to take them to various contents for a small fee which includes fresh water, your favorite foods, and safe lodging?

I'm sure the ones that have arrived at new locations desire stuff from the old location. It could be rocks of a certain type, dried vegetation, or something as odd as the stuff that comes out of caterpillar's butts. - gold, gems, spices, silk

Your ability to fly across continents in weeks should provide them with a benefit for not killing you. You need to figure out how your fire breathing can provide a benefit. Do they need fields cleared? Fight a wildfire? Melt rocks?

However, whatever you do, you need to make sure that the relationship does not become abusive.

Your friend,

Dear Abby

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    Amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics. – T.J.L. Jan 18 at 13:48
  • Dwarves are even better, a little dragon fire for smelting the weird metals they love so much and they will build you a full size waterfall filled bathtub. only plebeians sleep on a pile of coins why not sleep on giant couch of woven gold wire. – John Feb 24 at 17:14

Go all Roman on them and salt the earth (sort of).

In the world I come from, there are no dragons, and so humans have instead turned their energies towards coming up with nasty ways to kill and torture each other. Some of these creative energies were channeled in what we now call the Third Punic War, where a place called Carthage was pretty much totally destroyed by the Romans. Stories tell that the ground was sowed with salt, essentially in an attempt to make it uninhabitable. Those stories are likely false, but then again, the Romans survived to tell them - not the Carthaginians.

Even if salting the earth actually happened, it probably wouldn't work very well, and at any rate, you probably don't have the massive amounts of salt needed to cover large areas of the planet. However, you're a large, flying beast with fire and apparently a lot of time on your hands. Your problem seems to be that you're not being sufficiently devastating when you destroy entire human settlements. They can come back and start anew.

Therefore, you can go about destroying the means of sustenance in an area, in some interesting ways.

  • If humans like an area because it has plenty of wood to make buildings and spears and other things, burn down the forest.
  • If animals are plentiful enough in an area so that humans can eat them, disrupt the ecosystem by scaring away the animals. Kill as many as you can, and frighten the living daylights out of the rest.
  • If there's arable land for growing crops, burn the crops down when they try to plant any. Or encourage local animals to eat the crops.
  • If there's a river nearby that's good for transportation, block the river (note: this works better for small rivers). Stones, trees, and other large objects can make travel inconvenient. You're strong enough to move these things.
  • If there's a lake that provides fish and water, destroy any dams (natural or artificial) and try to drain the lake.
  • Burn everything. To be honest, half of these suggestions boil down to that. Just light plants on fire. Humans don't want to get on the wrong side of a wildfire, and they probably don't have means of stopping it.

Notes:

  • These work on small scales, not continent-wide ones. Come on, you'll never rid the world of all the humans. But you can keep several small domains in check.
  • Side effects may include the total destruction of all ecosystems in your area. Sorry.
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    Kill the plants, and all the animals die - Now what is the dragon going to eat? – Benubird Jan 16 at 9:51
  • @Benubird It's not strictly necessary to kill all the plants, just the ones humans need for sustenance. Additionally, a flying dragon can cover more ground in a day than the typical human, so even if a large area is devastated, the dragon can simply fly a bit beyond it. – HDE 226868 Jan 16 at 13:18
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    But you're killing them with fire, which is pretty indiscriminate. Plus, even if it was possible to just kill the human-edible plants and leave enough for animals, the humans can just start eating more meat. It's entirely possible for humans to live on an all-animal diet. Remember, humans move & breed fast, and get everywhere. You'd have to kill everything in the world except the one island you live on, but then smoke from all the burning trees is likely to set of a new ice age. – Benubird Jan 16 at 14:30
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    Just saw you suggested doing this on a small scale - still no good, because you need to eat too; devastating an area just means you would need to go elsewhere for food, and then oh look! More humans. Better do it again... – Benubird Jan 16 at 14:31
  • @Benubird " It's entirely possible for humans to live on an all-animal diet." As long they're eating more than just rabbits. – Pharap Jan 19 at 0:14

On one hand, you can't burn them all, on the other hand, collaboration is a risky path - eventually, someone will betray you.

You need a third way: Become God.

Find a relatively large and strong tribe, preferably one that you did not burn recently. Strat helping them from time to time, convince them that you are the one and only god, creator of the world and humankind.

It shouldn't be particularly complicated - you are obviously different, stronger and smarter then they are.

With your help, this tribe will conquer many others, and their religion (i.e. you as a god) will spread even further. They will even give you food and other gifts.

Eventually, they won't need your assistance, but your godly nature will likely remain unchallenged for centuries - you are a living proof that God exists. Moreover, the believers are quite unlikely to betray you, and will even defend you at any cost.

Hopefully, if a time comes and unbelievers form a majority, the ethics will change and you will become a national symbol\heritage, or at least an equal member of society.

  • I feel like this is one of the safest answers, but I'd worry that some groups may claim the dragon is a "false god." It would be safer, I think, to claim to be a divine servant of god, or the tribe's god, rather than the god itself. – Socratic Phoenix Jan 17 at 20:38
  • @SocraticPhoenix Aye, the freedom to know the plan or be blissfully unaware as the situation demands... – Deduplicator Jan 17 at 20:56
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    @SocraticPhoenix: I don't know... an incredibly powerful being that can fly and spontaneously light large swaths of land on fire sounds pretty godly to me. I suppose this depends on what the existing religions are for these humans and how entrenched they are. If some random dude in a rural area can convince 30 people that he's god's physical incarnation and to proceed to the next life by drinking poison koolade, I'd like to think a dragon would be A LOT more persuasive. – Ellesedil Jan 18 at 1:06
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    @Ellesedil I think the problem with a physical manifestation of a god is that it can be disprove or doubted. People are utterly devoted to gods because they cannot see or disprove them, but rather because they are whatever the people want to believe in. If a fire-breathing sky lizard deemed itself a god, it would likely be considered a demon or false god, or something... Better to serve an abstract god than be god itself... – Socratic Phoenix Jan 18 at 23:03
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    @SocraticPhoenix History is written by the living, he has no trouble depopulating continents, he just needs something to fill the void - and a dragon-cult is easy to build in such apocalyptic circumstances – wedstrom Jan 19 at 0:15

The problem with your current approach is that the smartest/fastest/strongest humans are the ones who figure out a way to escape your cullings, which means that over the next several thousand years your problems are going to get worse and worse.

The answer is to domesticate them. Sure, it's more work at the outset, but it pays dividends in the long run.

Take some time to observe and analyse the humans in every area. Figure out who the stupidest, slowest, weakest ones are. Deliberately spare them. Do your utmost to wipe out everyone else as thoroughly as possible. Now you've created a selection pressure for stupidity and weakness. You may need to help them survive so that the natural hazards of their environment don't wipe them out. It will take probably a thousand years of constant attention, but you should be able to get to the point where the average human is no smarter than the average cow, and considerably less capable of fending for itself.

Anyone who builds a structure more complex than a mud hut gets burnt. Anyone who uses metal gets burnt. Anyone who stores more than two month's worth of food gets burnt. Eventually they will come to see doing these things as inherently bad, and then you tighten the screws, but always keep rewarding and protecting the ones that are the most animal-like and least intelligent. Eventually when none of the remaining ones can survive without your help, simply retire to your cave and let nature take its course.

  • Natural selection would ensure that this doesn't work. The Eloi will effectively end up being completely unable to survive without your assistance, and meanwhile normal humans will have spread all over the world. – March Ho Jan 18 at 17:16
  • @MarchHo The goal is to support the Eloi population to the point where they consume all natural sources of food, leaving nothing for their "wild" cousins. We've done this accidentally enough times with farm animals, it shouldn't be too hard to pull it off intentionally. Add in deliberate cultural manipulation: "Anyone who's too smart will bring the dragon's wrath. Kill all smart ones whenever you find one!" the Eloi should be able to win with help, then proceed with the slow dumbing-down to keep them controllable. – Perkins Jan 18 at 18:16
  • " Anyone who stores more than two month's worth of food gets burnt. " So either get burn or die of hunger during the winter? You won't domesticate much at this rate – Tryss Jan 20 at 14:03
  • @Tryss In most parts of the world, two months plus your natural fat reserves is sufficient to survive. Not, you know, comfortably. And not with sufficient spare time to spend developing any technology to speak of. You're going to be hunting and foraging year-round and hungry most of the time. The restriction will keep the population small and discourage people from moving into areas that require planning and innovation to survive. – Perkins Jan 29 at 4:25

In the world from which I hail, I have discovered that, every once in a while, a small plague will pop up in some corner of the world. Devastating to the humans, but my physiology is different enough from theirs that they never seem to affect me.

Now, these silly humans have yet to figure out how these plagues spread - sometimes rats, or fleas, or contaminated blankets, or leftover corpses - but I find that I can usually figure out how it spreads with a few short months of observation.

The thing about humans is that, despite their near-draconian level of selfishness, they are still herd animals at heart; and as such, they are total suckers for someone who claims to have their best interests at heart.

So I have made a little game of waiting on the fringes of a plague outbreak until I figure out this plague's vector, then waiting until the leaders who have heard of my charitable ventures in the past come petition me for my aid. I then perform a cursory, highly visible inspection, at the end of which I tell them stories of how the last plague was spread by rats, and I'm terribly sorry but I must go on a burninating rampage against rats but never fear I can provide transport to a limited number of refugees, but because the number of people I can transport is so small, you should make sure the people I take are the most important, morally upstanding, and most likely to blame the inevitable plague following them on the evil humors of the people who help them so selflessly at their destination (bonus points if you can arrange it so that only the natives of the new location get sick, and not the refugees).

This works so well, and the finger pointing is so effective, that they never seem to pay attention to the blankets I insist they be bundled up in for the journey (or whatever the actual vector is). Frequently the humans burn their own necessities of life on their own without my intervention except when the plague seems in danger of dying out.

One of the most fun things to do with this model is to announce that you were wrong about what the cause of the plague is. The humans actually invite you to do another round of burninating everything!

And through it all they revere you as their savior!

Eventually, though, someone's going to find the true vector. I have a few different responses when that happens. If the plague is going well and the discovery is out of the way, I might cleanse the area that discovered it. But eventually it will run its course enough that I can publicly abase myself for making such a mistake (humans are suckers for false humility in an obvious superior), but if we burninate the right things now, we can finally nip this plague in the bud and save the rest of the populace. Play your cards right, and they will only remember how nobly you rescued them when the truth was finally discovered, and forget the burninating that was "accidentally" done against the wrong targets.

Side note: I once had a group of knights discover one of my stashes of objects contaminated with previous plagues. They actually believed my excuses for the noble reasons I was keeping them around (I think I said something about containing the evil or something like that), but that ended up being a moot point, as they didn't survive long enough to tell anyone anyway.

Sorry to hear that, mate! Sounds like you're really in a troublesome situation and no mistake! We certainly commiserate with you: we have similar troubles in our world, too! Thankfully, Dragons back in the long ago Dream Time were wise enough to realise how much of a threat the Apes kindreds were like to become. No one really took much notice of them at first, and by that time, they were pretty wide spread in the Southlands.

But as others here have said, once they start making food grow from the earth, you'd better deal with them right quick or else all Dragons will be in danger! If there's one thing the Ape folks can not stand, it's competition from another intelligent race! At first, we did just as you are most bravely doing now: scour the world and burn the lot of em wherever we found em! But like water breaching a dam, the Apefolk just kept filling in the gaps left behind.

That's when the Seven Queens of old determined to do something more constructive about the problem. Sure, some of The Wise counseled cooperation and coexistence or even outright political control of the Ape kingdoms. Pssshh! But, really! How boring would that be having to constantly be on the watch over their stupid antics! No, it was decided at the last that all Dragon queendoms must be urged to send out warriors to scour the entire landrealm from East to West and down into the South and burn every settlement of Apefolk they could find. Four queens agreed to the Plan and many warriors were assembled.

And, happily, that worked! When the warriors flew homewards again, they could find no Ape settlements, no Ape gardens or fields throughout all the land. And thereafter, there was peace.

But then a wonder happened the like of which Dragonkind least expected --- the Apefolk returned! And not only did they return, but they moved ever northwards with a vengeance! Like the Apes of your world, ours, too, had learned the arts of fire and metalcraft. And they seem to have developed a very strict anti-Dragon mytho-legendarium. We deemed there would be no peaceful coexistence with the Apefolk, even had we wished for such a thing! They came riding upon ponderous beasts and these bore weapons that could pierce even our sturdy hides!

Terrible were the wars that they brought on us and many brave Dragons fell. Of the seven ancient realms, but two remained. And still the Apefolk came against us! They painted Dragons upon their metal skins, and those Dragons had mighty spears thrust through their breasts. The Apes had become fearless and dominant.

The Wise had no counsel now. The queens' herzogs had no advice. I'm afraid that our lot was, at that time now not too long ago, much like yours is now, friend! Our choices were limited and it seemed that, difficult as it must seem, we must cede our world entire to the Apefolk, lest they destroy us entirely! Happily for us, we were still several hundreds strong --- more than enough to maintain a much reduced realm, safe from their predations. While it seems you are fighting the good fight without help!

And so it came to pass that the young Queen of the realm of Sheharemard, north beyond the mountains, made a parley with the kings of the Apefolk. Difficult as it was to do, she ceded all the lands of the world south of the Wanlight Mountains to the kings and queens of the Apefolk. But the cold fields of the North would be Dragonhome. Apes must not cross the mountains, or else they will be burnt. Dragons will not enter the lands south of the mountains, or else they will forfeit the Truce.

Of course, the kings agreed, but the lives of the Apefolk are short and their memories, seemingly, shorter still. Even now, the Apefolk regularly try to cross the mountains. Looking for "Dragon gold" they say. Fools!

Anyway, the lesson, my dear friend, is simple: as we are doing, so you must! Stand your ground! Do not listen to the lowly snakes, peddling their ill-conceived counsels of appeasement and conciliation! Do not involve yourself in their realms or their policies. They are Apes, and you are Dragon. Their policies do not take our kind into account, except as far as our destruction. Involving yourself in their doings will only dull your wits and blind you to their greed and ambitions against you!

No, there is no parlay with the Apefolk. They will ever try to kill you. Kings will send their brave knights out to hunt you and mount your head in their feating hall! Choose well your homeland and make a clear demarcation of the territory you will defend at all costs. Burn every Ape that sets one talonless toe across it. Make sure all the other Apes learn that lesson as well!

Sadly, I fear that our plights will be the same. In time, sooner rather than later, you will be defeated: others have said true --- you must win every engagement, the Apefolk must but be lucky once! Just as I am sure that in time, perhaps later rather than sooner, our race, too, will be destroyed by the Apefolk. Even though we came to understand the threat very early on, and much earlier than you did, it was already too late to mount an effective defense against such a determined and pesty foe!

Yet, be of good cheer! Is it not a liberating and exciting sensation? The resistance of wind beneath your wings? The cool rush of the gale through your feathers? The roar of flames bursting from your maw? The screaming of the terror filled Apefolk and the moaning of their dying? Live whilst you may and defend your homeland while you can! You are not guaranteed long life or peace. Make the Apes pay dearly for every foot of land they gain from you! And at the end of the fight, when at last you perched high upon the last crag overlooking the cold ocean, burn as many Apes as you can before their great spears pierce your thick hide and tear asunder your heart and let your last gout of flame burn the fools as they watch you plummet into the chill waters below!

This is a fight neither of us can win, but in the end, it is a fight we can not let them win too easily; and you must not either!

Your goal is to exterminate or at least control the spread of this awful infestation, so let's laugh together at the various suggestions of cooperation and then eat those who proposed such obvious nonsense.

What you want to do is attack the weak spots of these creatures. Two of them are useful for your needs:

One, they like to kill things. Encourage them. Especially killing each other. That's very easy - while human-sympathizers might try to talk you into religion and politics, that's all just so much nonsense. Humans fight over two very simple things: Resources and mates. I'll talk about resources in a second, let me talk about mates first.

The reason these creatures multiply like rabbits is that there are men and women. Simply put, if you put two of them together, they multiply. They also enjoy the process a lot, so each man tries to get at least one woman and vice versa. Figure out how to spot the two genders, there are some obvious physical differences. Then figure out which of the two genders is dominant in the tribes in your area. Then check if their daily habbits are different, e.g. one gender goes hunting all day and the other stays in the camp or whatever. Eliminate at least half of the non-dominant gender and watch the now more numerous dominant gender fighting over what is left of potential mates.

I can assure you this works brilliantly and all the religion and politics these monkeys invented are basically just elaborate ways to solve the mate-distribution problem. By introducing a considerable artifical scarcity, you break down their social rules, and they will proceed to kill each other over mates.

For variety, kill all of the non-dominant gender and watch the remaining humans raid neighbouring tribes for mates.

The second attack point is resources. Food is the obvious one, if you can spot others, just add them. Humans can hunt, gather or farm, but only farming provides enough food to allow for large settlements, and only large settlements allow for division of labor to the point where technological progress is possible that can endanger you.

So your goal is to prevent large settlements from forming, and that you can easily do by torching every field and farm you come across. No more hunting for humans hiding in caves and forests. Just torch their farms, watch them starve and return to hunting and gathering.

Divided, reducing their own numbers through warfare and raids, and unable to form large settlements without farming, they will not be a threat for a long time.

Now there is one thing about the farming that you need to figure out by yourself: When burning a field, you can actually make it more fertile. You want to avoid that. Find out by trial and error at which point in time or with what crops planted you need to burn to reduce fertility instead.

  • Dangerous, Those humans are weird. The ones who are left alone might devote their life for revenge (aka Punishers). – azerafati Jan 19 at 15:25

I do think that Alexander's answer is the best solution for it, But its not good to kill those who serve you, for sometime, kill them later at least!

The Dragon SHOULD ally with some Kingdoms as well, and PAY them, either with gold, land or protection. That way the kingdom will serve the dragon blindly, destroying any kingdom the dragon orders to be killed

BUT do take note that this will cause problems for the Dragon because yeah, he does keep some humans along with him, which in turn, may kill him also when he least expects it, so what to do?

The dragon should still ally with some kingdoms, and give them presents, he must mark a kingdom as an ally, an enemy, and the neutral.

The Ally Kingdoms are the ones who will do the killing, they will burn down other kingdoms for gold, land and protection. This kingdom's size should be sizable enough for the dragon to destroy in mere seconds, so when the dragon has "fatten this pig", its this kingdom turn to die.

The Enemy Kingdoms must be the biggest kingdoms there is, because if the dragon chooses an ally kingdom that is already big, it might take a very long time for the dragon to destroy this Kingdom, AND this kingdom may take it on their own to kill the dragon. With the support the dragon gives to his allies (gold, land AND protection), this kingdom will fall.

The Neutral Kingdom, will be his reserves, they may at first, would not adhere to the dragons' orders to be his ally, or maybe reluctant. They dragon must leave them be, and comeback once his fatten pig is dead, then demonstrate a little of his generosity to them, and if that fails, he could also burn them to the ground.

The point of this tagging would be it would create a stable cycle of death where more humans die than those who are getting born, choosing lesser kingdoms to deal with the big ones will makes the dragons task easier, as his next meal will be that ally of his.

You don't need to destroy humans. Alexander's answer is not a bad beginning, but not sustainable on the long run because - as Shard martin said - other humans would want to get rid of the threat, and one dragon alone won't be able to keep them contained, even with the help of a tribe who worships it as a god.

So instead, the dragon should establish itself as a benevolent - or at least indifferent - god and not kill humans. Instead it should provide them with religious rituals which include plenty animal sacrifices to feed it and declare a land sacred on which it can live undisturbed. Maybe it could provide entertainment or military help occasionally.

Or just tour all continents and participate in various religious festivals held in its honour.

For humans to congregate in dangerous densities requires farming and animal husbandry. The raw land alone can not support large densities solely through scavenging.

Thankfully for you, the large tracts of land necessary for farming and animal raising are readily detected from the air, and easily disrupted. Also, by necessity, it takes crops time to grow.

So, you show take a two fold tactic.

First, is isolate a small land area, ideally separated by water, and simply eliminate them entirely from this land. You can use this as a primary food source. You may need reasonable diligence for this land to keep it clean.

Next, start disrupting the farming and animal operations. You only need to do this for a couple of seasons, and the humans will start to die right out. The local animal populations will suffer during this time, but likely recover quickly once they're gone. Large quantities of humans tend to die off en masse, precisely because they over concentrate and overwhelm local carrying capacity of the land. If they can't mold the land to their needs, the population fails and dies off.

If you let them get too far, this may take some time, but, truly, they can't maintain their population for long as long as you continue to disrupt their concentrated food sources. Start with the largest concentrations you can find. They will fall hard and fast, one to two years.

Eventually they will scatter, and you can start a more precise campaign of eradication, continent by continent. They don't do well once scattered. If nothing else, they start to fight each other for resources instead of fighting you. So, breaking them up in to smaller packs is always profitable. Its important to try and pay special attention to those floating houses they make across the waters. This helps contain them, especially keeping them off your cleansed land.

During the second phase of the campaign, pay special attention to those huts they build, especially the larger ones. Again, the goal is not necessarily to destroy them directly, but to destroy their food stuffs. Humans, like squirrels, naturally like to store and "save for winter". Nothing works better on a infestation than wrecking their food stocks when the snows come.

The extra bonus of this technique is it requires inordinate amounts of energy for the humans to gather food and other materials, so they have less time to spend working on making pointier sticks to attack you with. They're too busy simply trying to dig up roots to live by.

They will try crafty things. Putting stuff in caves, burying food, etc. But all that is more work. The more they work, the less time they have to work on developing new things. Keeping them scattered helps avoid them sharing information as well.

The final benefit is you don't have to worry about some group swearing loyalty to only turn and betray your trust. They're not trustworthy, so don't even start.

  • Good catch on drawing the connection between food sources and the exact reasons why it wrecks and slows humanity. However what you've described is pretty much what our Dragon is already doing and it's a lot of chore. – Nick Dzink Jan 17 at 15:11
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    I think that's the point of Alexander's answer. Nomad do not have farm. So let them do the menial job while you ponctually give them an unfair advantage (take down 1 or 2 castle) – Madlozoz Jan 18 at 17:53

Well, if your problem seems too bothersome to solve what you need to do is redefine it as something you can solve. Make it narrower.

"Get rid of humans" is a bad problem because a) the buggers breed too fast as proven by your practical experience and b) which you have already seen but will only get worse over time, it specifically motivates the infestation to get better at surviving you.

Instead you need to focus on the part that is the actual threat to yourself, their ability to attack you.

First part of this is trivial and you probably have already done without mentioning it. You can fly, they can't. Destroy all approaches to your lair over land. You do not use mountain paths, so get rid of them. Make sure that only practical way to get to your lair is by flying or by literally building a path with lots of effort and time.

Then make sure that you make the surrounding area forbidden to humans so that they can't get close enough to seriously plan attack on you. Make sure the forbidden area has some clear borders so that it is clear there it starts. Mark the borders with large boulders or something. Then tell any humans you see near the area that going inside the area will result in extermination and make good on that promise even if that requires bit of work.

Humans are short lived, so within few decades the detailed knowledge of your forbidden area will be forgotten and planning an effective attack on you gets more difficult.

It saves some work if you recruit your neighbours to protect your borders. A simple promise of helping them fight off enemy attacks in exchange for them killing people trying to enter your area would be a good deal for both and it is not like you mind killing humans especially when they are already close by.

Second part is to stop them from developing weapons that are a threat to you. The solution is similar to the above. Draw a clear line, punish those who cross it with extermination, do not punish those who do not cross the line. Communicate the line clearly and trade with humans to share the effort of enforcing the rule.

Fortunately there is a trivially simple and effective line for you to draw here and that is iron working. Bronze and stone will allow humans to exist comfortably and build their little kingdoms but limit their ability to expand and mass produce weapons. It certainly will stop them from developing an industrial base that would eventually allow military technology capable of threatening you for real.

Destroy groups of people that use iron. Spare people without iron, tell them about your rule and if practical give them some way to inform you if their enemies use iron. You can probably afford a world wide network of informers to find out any iron users. But seriously use of iron on any significant scale should be detectable from air. You can just make a map of locations where the vermin mine for iron and cleanse those periodically.

You can even make those forbidden zones such as described above. Not being sure which forbidden zone you are in and if there are more than one dragon would make killing you that much harder to plan.

There is one additional ban you might want to enforce and judging by your difficulties have not considered yet. A ban on writing. Written records allow people to recall things known to previous generations and build on them. As such they directly reduce the effectiveness of your culls in reducing the threat humans pose.

Embarrassingly this ban is difficult to enforce without human collaborators, so you would need to create some sort of "Dragon cult" and then spend some time interacting with the dirty monkeys. On a bonus side successfully enforcing this would pretty much remove any real threat of humans developing weapons capable of killing you. Well, they might trick you to entering a place rigged to collapse on you or use poison but those fairly simple to avoid.

The dragon cult could also enforce forbidden zones and ban on iron, so it might be worth the annoyance. You can also make then gather you tributes of gold but realistically most of the gold would go to supporting the cult and its power. In fact, you will probably need to gather such tithes to make the cult work at all.

  • Good points! Your answer overlaps with some others but you've elaborated on the reasons and means. – Nick Dzink Jan 18 at 18:17

Two options: Scale Up or Collaborate.

Scale Up Breed - the most successful way of dealing with competition is to strengthen numbers, and likewise evolve to meet the competition. The humans, with their fast breeding cycle, are very likely to evolve to a position where you become increasingly vulnerable. Likewise, while you can kill an arbitrary number of humans with no net effect, they only have to kill you (or weaken and eventually kill you) to eliminate you as a threat.

Collaborate Stop fighting them, and become a useful collaborator. Hire your services, become a part of the overall long term solution rather than remain mutual enemies. As an incredibly powerful, sentient, war-engine you can effectively act as a king-maker, and thereby find those who see the economic benefits of having you on their side. Essentially, stop being the enemy and find a common enemy to work against.

Divide and conquer. Find some ruthless people who have good leadership/faction following. Offer power by means of assistance. Use them and turn them on non assisted faction. Eventually work your way through. Once a considerable population reduction is achieved, remove faction support selectively. Its more like playing warcraft + chess. Watch game of thrones for tutorials and inspiration. This method requires only lesser effort, more timepassing fun for a dragon, ability to show-off. Its basically a win-win situation.

PS0: don't accept gifts from humans in form of consumables. PS1: Always select factions far apart from each other. PS2: Always have a random faction on guard duty. PS3: Never allow your factions to meet or mingle with each others.

  • What do the 'PS#' headings stand for? – kingledion Jan 16 at 13:20
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    @kingledion Shorthand for "P."*#+"P.S." which is shorthand for "post-"*#+"postscript". – wizzwizz4 Jan 16 at 18:28

If the situation is truly as bad as you've described then you need to make some hard choices. You can continue to act like you're the apex predator and world super power or you can cede Earth to the apes and go in hiding in some remote area.

If you continue to act like a world super power you will eventually die a violent death at the hands of these apes. After all you will need to successfully counter all of their attempts, whereas they only need to get lucky once. Due to their great capacity for innovation and superior numbers the odds are greatly in their favor over time.

If you go in hiding the apes will either civilize themselves to the point where it is possible to peacefully coexist or kill each other off without your help. This is the pathway taken by several other species in my world ranging from Bigfoot, to the Loch Ness monster, or even the powerful Megalodon. During your self-imposed exile these apes will no doubt develop more and more efficient ways to kill each other. As they increase their population density and become more militarily advanced they will either develop more and more advanced diplomatic skills in order to ensure their survival or they'll kill each other off. Regardless you will be in a better position to negotiate a peaceful resolution.

As an aside it should be noted that once their military might reaches a point where it can overwhelm you easily your safety is greatly increased. This is especially true if you learn to communicate with the apes. Their ability to dominate you will make them feel more at ease with your existence. In this way you use their strength of arms to bolster your survivability.

  • I am affraid of that one time period when a fleet of ocean farring carracks with culverins might get lucky. There won't be incencitives for the apes to behave diplomatically yet. – Nick Dzink Jan 18 at 18:19
  • @NickDzink yes you’re going to have to go in hiding for a long time (like 1 thousand years or more ) in an area with enough food and low population. On my planet this would be somewhere like the deep Amazon. – Erik Jan 18 at 22:57

Find the largest tribe you can, demand to see their leader, eat him, pick a child at random (ideally one that's easy to identify) and declare a entity vastly more powerful than yourself (i.e. a god) has tasked you picking mankind's rulers and slaying any who would oppose their divinely appointed rule.

You are now a dragon, a pope, and can change humanity's leadership on a whim.

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    I'm not sure being a pope really prevents people trying to kill you – Bilkokuya Jan 16 at 11:27
  • The funny thing about this answer is that in reality, there are plenty of people who wants to kill the pope. – Mr.J Jan 23 at 2:52

Well you can always destroy their heart, soul and brain. Seven Sins seems to be the answer to that. Spread Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy and Pride across the world. With this you don't have to kill them and they are less threat than chicken to you.

Lust, Gluttony and Sloth will destroy new generation. Greed will destroy old generation. Wrath will destroy their intelligence. Envy will make them destroy other and themselves. Pride will stop their growth in all aspect.

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    Yeah, this didn't work very well in our world, even without a dragon. – pipe Jan 16 at 8:01
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    (Un)fortunately, and unlike the plague, these cannot be spread so easily by a dragon. – wizzwizz4 Jan 16 at 18:34

Its too time consuming to keep clearing these humans yourself, and as a long-lived dragon its better to just take a few years or decades and develop a good permanent countermeasure to deal with your problem.

As a creature on top of the food chain, you certainly have enough observations of the species that prey upon these humans and can also survive without them - especially unintelligent ones, such as mosquitoes. Have a breeding program to create highly lethal varieties that will doom humans with a single bite, and spread them throughout the continent.

You may need to develop small regions for the pests to prosper (e.g. swampy areas with medium to high temperature) scattered across the continents. However, these reservoirs of pestilence will take far less maintenance than actively going around hunting the hairless apes yourself. With the initial culling you do to keep down the population, these humans won't get time to breed resistance or immunity to the airborne diseases that kill them quickly.

So with a few decades of work, you're left with a planet that still has most of your favorite snacks etc., but the only annoying thing is a constant background buzz due to clouds of mosquitoes that have already made all the humans extinct. Those pests are now also dying out, after having sucked dry the vitality from several related species such as apes, monkeys etc. in a bid to find food. Naturally, your defenses and drastically different constitution make it a moot point that no mosquito can harm you other than the annoying drone of a large group (which is now dying out too).

  • brilliant, except for the fact that some humans have started living in colder climates where mosquitoes will never spread. – azerafati Jan 19 at 15:29

You should probably start a secret order.

This has upsides with becoming a god - religions change. And with starting a nation - which can be conquered.

Operate a dense network of brothers in hierarchies of all dominant religions and governments of all important states. Help them with 10% of force and 90% of information (you've got to have a lot of it, being long-lived). Make them help each other while doing their jobs, especially with promotions. Make them invent complicated ranks and rituals. Make only a select few know the truth about you and make sure they never know each other.

If the humans were a controllable infestation then maybe you would have destroyed them already, but since they are obviously in great number it may be best to figure out how to make them stop wanting to advance there abilities to kill, the only way to do this however is to give such a great advantage to one puny "kingdom" that it conquers all the others! Well what extreme military advantage would be so great that that no army could stand against? Well sir, you are of course that great advantage! You see, the armies of men are great and powerful, but they have nothing that can fly. The advantage of a flying, fire-breathing lizard thing would we so great that no army of man could stand against it, every battle where you fly in support of your chosen kingdom will be won by them! And what is even better for you is that they will surely never kill you, oh you great dragon are the reason for the greatness and power of their empire, but even better for you is that now there is no humans fighting each-other and no humans fighting dragons and so there's no need to make better killing machines and so you are safe with their eternal primitive technology.

One should never underestimate the value of an outside threat. This is a lesson taught to us by our own granddame.

You see, when humans first came to our planet, our race was in its decline. Our size was greatly diminished, as were our mental faculties and magic; only our granddame remained of our prodigious ancestry. Fortunately, she foresaw both the potential trouble these humans could cause us and a solution.

You see, an interesting astronomical anomaly of our home planet is a sister planet that comes close to ours every few human generations or so. This never used to be a problem; but our granddame was crafty. In just a few short turns, knowing that this planet was soon to be making its approach, she conceived and crafted a magic device that, when she went to her death to place on the other planet, rained death on our own whenever they came close.

Madness, you say? Ah, but I haven't revealed the catch: we alone possessed the fire necessary to defeat this death in the air; a fact which was not lost on the humans. Not only did they end up allying with us - they actually ended up using their own magic to enhance our capabilities, restoring to us some measure of our ancestral fearsomeness. And all we have to do is pretend to get along with these hairless apes, and they not only put up with our presence; they laud us as heroes and are as eager to just hand us food as they are to bask in our glory!

Now, I'm not suggesting that you have to manipulate the stars. But surely there are other natural threats; or barring that, natural processes you can turn into threats that you can exploit to make the humans depend on you. For a dependent human is the only human you can count on to never even think of trying to get rid of you.

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