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We've had a question about a city designed to guard against dragons, so I would like to propose the opposite (which happens to be a part of a world I built a while ago).

How might a city be designed in a nation where dragons are in charge of everything?

Suppose the following:

  • Medieval technology
  • Dragons vary from the size of a cat to several hundred feet long; larger dragons are less common, but hold more power and influence
  • The average dragon size is about ten feet long
  • The ratio of dragons:non-dragons in any given settlement is roughly 1:200
  • Dragons are sentient creatures
  • Dragons can breathe a variety of forces, such as fire, ice, and lightning
  • Magic is a common factor among non-dragons and more often rewarded by dragons than punished
  • Non-dragons hold no authority over dragons of any kind; dragons always have precedence
  • Dragons fill all roles of government and judicial systems; common jobs are typically filled by non-dragons
  • Dragons are under no obligation to support non-dragons; non-dragons are often viewed as servants/slaves to dragons by other nations and fodder to some dragons

Dragons cooperate freely with each other and maintain separate cities designed and built for dragonkind alone. This question seeks answers concerning cities that are built to accommodate the dragon overlords, rather than built by the dragon overlords.

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  • $\begingroup$ How do dragons usually get around? Do they normally fly everywhere, or do they walk? And when they walk, is it on four or two legs? $\endgroup$ – DaaaahWhoosh Apr 7 '15 at 17:55
  • $\begingroup$ Also, what does the graph of dragon size to number of individuals look like? Are the cat-sized dragons the most abundant, or is it more of a bell curve? And if the latter, what is the actual average size? $\endgroup$ – DaaaahWhoosh Apr 7 '15 at 18:30
  • $\begingroup$ @DaaaahWhoosh Dragon size is a bell curve, with the average size about ten feet long. Dragons may climb, jump, fly, or walk, as they prefer. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Apr 7 '15 at 18:36
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I would expect thorough fares to be wide and spacious, at least several of the main roads bisecting the city. I would also expect temple like facades with large dais's here and there for the large beasts to rest and enjoy the hubbub of the city, not to mention as a place to listen to petitioners for what ever individuals would be asking of the dragons. Quite likely rulings on accusations between parties, since they are the ones 'in power'.

I would also expect perches in many places for different sized dragons and I imagine very tall towers with perches on top for small dragons to act as look outs. It is much less work to sit and look than to keep a constant flying vigil.

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Urban cohabitation with dragons is going to be a difficult challenge. I don't think you will be able to maintain traditional fantasy "urban" dwelling while also having dragons.

Architecture

Anything that is a couple hundred feet long is going to weigh at least a few tons. All but the strongest stone structures would crumble under their weight. And dragons are going to need a lot of space to spread their wings and take off (physics notwithstanding). This means you are going to need to have massive open spaces, or super-strong buildings that allow the dragons to take off from above the skyline.

I'm also assuming, by cohabitation, that dragons will purchase and maintain dwellings of their own. Even if they are content to live in stalls like cattle, those stalls would have to be huge. If we provide dragons with the basic domestic comforts, like beds and kitchens, we are talking about massive enclosed spaces. Steel would likely be required to build these buildings, as wood and stone wouldn't be able to span the couple-hundred-feet required for just the dragon's bed, not to mention enough space for them to turn around in.

Services

I'm assuming that, by cohabitation, you also have dragon services provided, like food and sanitation. Dragons, being as large as they are, will require a tremendous amount of food to survive. A single dragon's food requirements will probably be larger than those of a neighborhood. This will dramatically increase the food infrastructure.

Along with lots of food comes lots of waste. Assuming dragons have massive latrines, someone will have to clean those, and dispose of the waste. Since dragons are likely meat eaters, their waste would be especially smelly, and a breeding ground for dangerous bacteria.

Jobs and shared spaces

It's very difficult to imagine a dragon and a human working side-by-side when the former out-sized the later by a couple orders of magnitude. Shared spaces, too, would be dramatically different: a large human park wouldn't even be enough space for a dragon to nap in.

Even if dragons are in charge, there are menial tasks that would likely require non-dragon assistance. In the courthouse, for example, you probably wouldn't have dragons doing all the basic tasks, like security and check-in.


The difference in size and needs would make it difficult for these two cultures to mingle: you would have to have dragon jobs, dragon parks, dragon homes, dragon food, and dragon sanitation, all while having human jobs, human parks, human homes, human food, and human sanitation. At best, I believe that you could have a human and dragon city side-by-side, with some shared services, but complete integration seems unlikely at best, and foolhearty at worst.

Even simply accommodating dragons in a non-dragon city would be difficult. Their size alone would make all but the most trivial contact all but impossible, or it would require a dramatic infrastructure change for little benefit to the non-dragons (much stronger buildings, much wider roads, much wider open spaces, etc.)

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  • $\begingroup$ What I got from the question was that dragons were in charge, so they wouldn't be 'mingling' so much a 'ruling'. However, I agree the size difference is going to make any sort of cohabitation difficult. $\endgroup$ – DaaaahWhoosh Apr 7 '15 at 18:33
  • $\begingroup$ @DaaaahWhoosh A city of 20,000 people would have 100 dragons (not a small population). Even if they are ruling, they are going to need residences, food, services, etc. My point is that it would be easier to separate the populations, rather than integrate them. $\endgroup$ – Nick2253 Apr 7 '15 at 18:37
  • $\begingroup$ @DaaaahWhoosh has the right of it. The dragons are in charge and aren't responsible for the day-to-day tasks. They're free to come and go and do as they please (including the occasional non-dragon meal). $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Apr 7 '15 at 18:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre Then you'll need to clarify your question. Are you asking what a dragon city would look like? The only other logical question (what I answered) is what an integrated city would look like. If you are keeping your populations separate, then your non-dragon city looks just like any other non-dragon city in medieval times, and then your dragon city looks like whatever you want it to. $\endgroup$ – Nick2253 Apr 7 '15 at 18:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Nick2253 See my additions to the question. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Apr 7 '15 at 18:53
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The devil is in the details. First off, you will need nail salons. Dragon talons are very hard, so diamond abrasives may be required. Lady dragons like nail polish, preferably molten metal applied by a trained metallurgist.

Next up: perfume shops. Dragons smell vile to humans, and probably vice versa, so they will have to settle on something that is agreeable to both.

As a follow on, I am betting that silica gel will come in handy. It is a major component in kitty litter and useful for absorbing cave odors.

Damming a few rivers for lakes is a must, because you will need to have large bodies of water stocked with fish to keep those dragon bellies full, and to put out fires in case one has indigestion and sets the town ablaze. Dragons are pretty good at earth moving and hauling stone, so they could help.

City planning is fun!

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    $\begingroup$ Beautiful. Simply beautiful. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Apr 7 '15 at 20:02
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George your friendly neighborhood dragon speaking here. The civil engineering required to build a community for my kith and kin is an interesting subject, and one I have some contact with myself, albeit in a more modern sense: living outside Los Angeles makes for an interesting life, for sure!

Many of the concerns raised by the other posters here are quite valid -- residential structures for a dragon, say, my size (or even small aircraft sized) would come closer to the form of modern-day aircraft hangars than they would a human house; I, for one, don't mind an outdoorsy life, but having a retreat when storms brew is a very good idea, for while I may be tough, I'm not hail-proof! Of course, high-capacity sewerage and drinking water provisions would be required, and heavy timbering or metalwork in truss arrangements would be developed in order to support hangar-sized roof spans. Small dragons, of course, would have an easier time with this, and could have spaces that are closer to what humans consider "residential" in nature.

As to providing spaces to take off and land: while the idea of wide roads would be good enough for small dragons, such as the ten-footers you mention as average, larger dragons like me would generally organize around runway-like constructions, similar to modern fly-in communities, where houses with hangars are built around small general aviation airports.

Employment, though, would be a curious question; I don't know how to answer you, considering I still need to hire humans for most of my business! (I collect and trade in aircraft parts, but I don't have the dexterity to type with my claws, never mind operate precision machine tools the way the co-owners of my business can!)

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  • $\begingroup$ While I do enjoy commentary from kin, I must remind you that the world of which I speak has no luxuries such as aircraft. We dragons rule the sky. I am, however, sorry to hear that you lack the power to polymorph yourself into a humanoid form. It makes many things much easier in this modern environment. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Apr 8 '15 at 3:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre, sometimes your best ally when in the sky is a friendly human on the ground...(speaking OOC -- I generally use RL aircraft as a size reference when talking about dragons, because it's much easier for me to understand that way) $\endgroup$ – Shalvenay Apr 8 '15 at 3:21

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