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Now that I created a lovable and sweet western dragon, it is high time to toss him into Hell.

Obviously, slaying a dragon isn't an easy task, especially when he is actively running away from you.

The stock dragon

Gyvaris

is a mature, though still fairly inexperienced, impulsive and sometimes childish dragon. He stands about 190 cm at the withers and has a wingspan of 15 meters and a weight of 500 kg. His primary attack is his breath weapon:

Using the power of his flight muscles, he can spray aqua regia (more precisely, its two components) up to 11 meters. The lethality of these acids usually comes from the nitrogen dioxide and the chlorine gas, created as HCl and HNO3 react and when aqua regia decomposes. Dragons usually have 3-6 liters of aqua regia (the sum of the volume of the two components)

The dragon's scale resist aqua regia pretty well, while his saliva can partially neutralize and stall the acid, and is also a decent disinfectant.

A dragon's bones can best be compared to high-end carbon fiber. Their scales also provide good protection. It can best be compared to a regular gambeson.

The dragon's tail is at around half the total body-length, and it has enough power to break the sound barrier. It can be used for whipping, like what water monitors do.

There's also the long, flexible neck (again, similar to water monitors) and the crocodile jaws (in terms of bite force).

The dragon can also use his wing spurs (think of the chaja) and wing bones to bash the enemy.

Other than that, the dragon has acute senses.

Dragons are primarily gliders, using short bursts of powered flight to gain altitude.

Dragons are omnivores, though they have a soft-spot for sweet fruits.

Dragons have multiple lairs, with the primary one being in high elevation, and is usually hard-to-reach without flight.


Gyvaris usually harasses people when they're in downtime, attacking their supplies, equipment and flying of into the distance while chuckling to himself.

Gyvaris will first try to run, then try to attack with his breath weapon to make an opening for an escape. If that's not possible, then he'll concentrate fire on one person at a time (usually the archer(s)) and try to keep the others at bay. He usually first breathes acid, whips with his tail, occasionally attacks with the spurs, then bites. Clawing and kicking happen only when he's desperate.

In hopeless situations, there's an 55% chance that he'll break down crying and beg for mercy.

Dragonslayers is a well-funded group of people, who specialize in hunting down dragons like Gyvaris. The world's tech level is high medieval.

How could they effectively hunt down and slay the specified dragon?

It's an optional request, but I'd like if the dragonslayers were so overspecialized, that a simple act of domestic terrorism (something like the Red Wedding) could wipe the organization out.

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  • $\begingroup$ If you're wondering, then yes. My optional request is basically a backdoor for Bane to swoop in and do some plane crashing with no survivors. $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles Feb 7 at 23:48
  • $\begingroup$ How much acid does it carry? How his scales can be compared to chain mail or plate armor? $\endgroup$ – Alexander Feb 7 at 23:58
  • $\begingroup$ Just to be clear, this dragon has human-level intelligence? $\endgroup$ – MJ713 Feb 8 at 0:07
  • $\begingroup$ You should give it more skill sets, such as camouflage, dive under water, burrow underground, drops boulder at heights, screech that kills eardrums, sharp talons that cuts elephant in half, perfect pitch, spider senses, set up aqua regia mines, starts wildfire, hunt in packs, multilingual etc otherwise your dragonslayers could just exhaust it's stamina to proc the begging cut scene. $\endgroup$ – user6760 Feb 8 at 0:22
  • $\begingroup$ @user6760 I think it'd usually be the other way around, cut to scene of the dragon circling over the exhausted hunters like a vulture. $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles Feb 9 at 9:54
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There will be two somewhat different problems here - "how to hunt down" a dragon and "how to fight" against a dragon.

Being intelligent, dragon would know to stay away from groups of armed people. Even if he can rout and destroy a number of human opponents, he's not immune to human weapons. Arrows would get stuck in his body, causing it to fester and lead to an undignified death.

Dragon hunters would also try to avoid direct conflict. They would do their best to kill a dragon via ambush or indirect means, like poison.

Hunting down the dragon would be not much more difficult than hunting a large bird of pray. Hunters would have to either use some kind of bait, or find dragon's lair.

If there's a poison that is known to work reliably on a dragon, the hunt would go like that: hunters sneak into an area frequented by a dragon, attach a bag with poison to a sheep, let it graze in a meadow, and wait. A dragon would come for a meal, take the sheep and swallow the poison. Mission complete.

If poisoning is not an option, hunters would wait with heavy crossbows. Unsuspecting dragon would be hit with several bolts before it can turn on attackers. If attackers can hide in the woods or some caves, dragon's attacks would be much less efficient. In the meantime, attackers will reload and fire again. Mission complete.

Alternatively, hunters will find out where dragon is resting and sleeping. There they can either sneak and wait for dragon to return to complete their ambush, or sneak and find a sleeping dragon. Either way, mission complete.

To mitigate the effect of acid, hunters can use wet rugs - very cheap and very efficient. Acid spray does not have much penetrating power. A rug can absorb a large quantity of acid before falling apart. At that point hunter would just discard the rug and pick up another one.

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Gunpowder

You say the tech level of this world is "high medieval". The High Medieval Period is conventionally reckoned as lasting from 1000 to 1300. Knowledge of gunpowder first reached Europe towards the end of that period; it may have been used purely as an explosive at first, since there are no records of European firearms before the 1320s. [1, 2]

So, your dragonhunters set some kind of bait to lure the dragon to a convenient location—let's say the bottom of a ravine—and then chuck a sufficiently large bomb down at it.

The tricky parts are: not giving themselves away before the dragon gets into position, hauling the bomb up to the lip of the ravine in the first place, and knowing how long to make the fuse. (If the fuse is the wrong length, the bomb could blow up closer to the hunters than to the dragon.)

Alternatively, and depending on how much prep time the dragonslayers have, the bomb may be in a cleverly concealed pit under the bait, with a very long fuse running through a tunnel. I'm thinking of sappers here.

Rocks

If a big ol' bomb is not "medieval" enough for you, the ravine trap works pretty well if you just throw big rocks instead.

Arrows

While the heyday of the powerful English longbow wasn't until the 1300s, it did exist in the 1200s, so I'm including it. I'm not an expert and the Wikipedia page doesn't present a lot of clear conclusions, but if your dragon's scales are equivalent to gambeson armor, then it's plausible that English longbow arrows could penetrate them even at significant range (200 yards). Being closer might increase the force, of course. Even if the arrows don't penetrate the scales, the dragon's wings are vulnerable, and once it is unable to fly it will be easier to tackle.

Here, again, the tricky part is getting the ambush set up in the first place.

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If the first response of the dragon is to just run, then the hunters either need to be able to kill/incapacitate the dragon very quickly, or have some way of immobilising it.

Immobilising a large, strong, flying creature is not going to be easy; the hunters will need to be very well prepared. The first thing they will need is knowledge - not just of dragons in general, but of the specific dragon they're hunting. The first group of hunters will be scouts - specialists in camouflage, tracking, observation, and information-gathering from locals.

The second specialisation of hunters will be a commander - someone with inference/deduction skills and knowledge of dragonkind who is smart enough to, based on the scouts' observations, be able to find patterns in the dragon's behaviour and the locations it visits and make a plan.

If the scouts' information is incomplete, preliminary skirmishes might be required to test how the dragon reacts in combat. These skirmishers will be trained in the use of bows, lances and quick disengagement, mostly attacking in packs and scattering (so in the worst case, only one dies) at the first sign of aggression. They do not use highly effective weapons, and have several layers of woollen blankets, etc., that they can discard if covered in acid and are dull brown-and-grey coloured so they can attempt to hide if needed.

The final attack will take place either at one of the dragon's lairs, if it can be found and is suitable, or at a tempting location - details will be specific to each dragon, but the scouts should have uncovered something. The strike force will include:

  • Net throwers, with weighted, barbed chain link nets. They will be inside the range of the dragon's spit, so this is one of the most dangerous positions, and multiple will be needed, because a single human can't lift or throw a net big enough to restrain a dragon like this. These hunters don't do anything else, they just train to throw big nets as far as they can, although they will participate in stabbing once the dragon is incapacitated. The barbs on the nets won't hurt the dragon but will get caught in the scales. Some large nets may be mounted on siege equipment, but that will have limited ability to target accurately and to conceal effectively from the dragon.
  • Tanks, who may be same as the skirmishers from test battles, since their equipment and skill set is similar - covered in dragon-resistant armour, padding, and blankets, and acting solely as decoys and to get net throwers out of danger. They will also have short staffs - metal poles about 5 feet tall and with spiky knobs on both ends. These are for holding upright if you're quick enough to realise the dragon is going to bite you - it bites the staff instead, which will hurt it but more importantly stop its jaws from closing on you. Tanks are also the ones who decide who to save; they're good at guessing the extend of wounds and viability of the wounded hunter, and know the more valuable hunters (e.g. lassoers) need to be saved first.
  • Heavy crossbow, who shoot from hiding, preferably from above. They will target legs, wings and shoulders first, trying to slow down the dragon and prevent it from escaping or killing (too many of) the hunters. The head will be too difficult a target at first, so focusing on the dragon's mobility and claw/wing attacks is the first priority. Not much they can do about the tail.
  • Ballista, hidden at first and uncovered once the dragon is in the right spot and at least partially immobilised. The dragon will obviously target it once it knows about it, so they usually only bother loading one bolt in it - it either works or it doesn't.
  • Lassoers. A complement to the net throwers, these focus less on reducing mobility and more on removing the dragon's methods of attack, especially the head and tail. They lasso a part of the dragon and then tie the rope to a pre-prepared stake; they are also able to use the stakes as a sort of pulley to pull whatever bit of the dragon they lassoed further down (friction prevents the dragon getting further away, and every time the dragon gets closer the slack is taken up again). The main job of the lassoers is to take out the head and tail; if they can lasso the head but can't pin it (because the dragon is still too mobile), they will attempt to at least draw the noose tight enough to restrict the dragon's neck and reduce its ability to spit. Particularly skilled lassoers can try to lasso two parts of the dragon to each other, which will very effectively reduce its movement and ability to fight. They're in range of the dragon's spit though, so they're vulnerable; they will hide behind a tank as much as they can.

Most hunters won't wear much in the way of armour, since it's not much use - a dragon bite can be expected to crush even someone in plate armour. Basic leather protection would be useful against glancing blows, with padding (helmets are a must, too) since they can expect to be thrown around a lot. Mobility will be more important than armour. Face shields won't save a hunter from acid, but they might soften the impact - useless if you get caught in the middle of a stream of acid, but good to protect against smaller splashes.

The opening shots will be from a siege net thrower, if available; after that the tanks will charge first, so the dragon is more likely to target them, shortly after which the others will do a coordinated attack while the tanks run around. If the dragon is able to be immobilised/dragged into the ballista's range, it will be used; if it can't be used or doesn't kill the dragon, once the heavy crossbows have weakened it enough and the dragon's primary attacks are not a threat, everyone can jump in with whatever stabby implement they have.

If a dragon cannot be weakened or immobilised enough, the hunters will need to abort. Their survivability will be low against a dragon they've managed to piss off, but it will be better than staying in the fight without the resources to finish it. They will attempt to scatter so at least some will survive - those hidden (such as the heavy crossbows) will just stay hidden, the rest will just run and hope for the best, accepting that the dragon will catch and kill two or three.

In some situations the hunters may be able to use more elaborate traps, such as oversized bear traps, large nooses, falling rocks/rubble, and pit traps. These require yet more specialised skills to create effectively and won't be able to be used in every fight (heavily location-dependent), so not all teams of hunters may have them.

A very effective technique is to snare the head of a dragon (either with nooses/lassoes or with falling rocks) as it looks into a hole only big enough for its head, but it is too dependent on a good location and a stupid dragon to be something the hunters can use often.

There will be a recovery and care plan for wounded hunters so they can get out of the fight and be patched up for the next one, considering how valuable their individual skills are. Hunters unable to fight anymore become trainers; particularly experienced ones may become commanders.

Considering that even on a successful hunt the dragon hunters will usually have casualties, many of them fatal, they would not embark on hunts unless they have enough members in reserve to cover losses. They'd likely be organised into teams, with a team consisting of twice the members needed for a full hunt, plus their own commander and trainers. They'd have relatively stable memberships since a close rapport is needed to effectively carry out a hunt, and they wouldn't interact much with other teams other than occasional sharing of members and rivalries. They would occasionally recruit their own members, but would rely heavily on the organisation to fill gaps left by death and disfigurement.

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  • $\begingroup$ Best Plan by far that doesn't rely on "cheesing" and would be seen as a noble profession as compared to a cowards attempt (poison) for an easy payday. +1 $\endgroup$ – IT Alex Mar 18 at 12:39
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Why has nobody suggested alkali? Pardon me for stating the obvious, but if you're dealing with acid that's the usual thing to neutralise it.

Ok, they didn't have bleach in medieval times (and probably not Bicarb), but the Whitewash they used to whiten/clean their houses was usually alkaline being made from slaked lime (hence 'limewash'), which is largely Calcium Carbonate CaCO3.

All it would take is an alchemist among your highly specialised dragon slayer force to (possibly accidentally) concentrate the limewash a bit, and voila you at least have a good plot device, some merry mayhem with the resulting chemical reactions (hopefully confuse the dragon a bit) and then you've opened the way to more conventional drayon-slaying methods as listed in the other answers. Just a suggestion.

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  • $\begingroup$ Correction; they did have some types of bleach made with ash and things, not sure of all the details or chemical composition although I know ash is also alkaline. Go with whatever works for you. $\endgroup$ – Spencer Barnes Mar 18 at 9:32
  • $\begingroup$ The Egyptians knew and used Natron to dry out corpses. It's a strong base. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Mar 18 at 10:11
  • $\begingroup$ I was thinking some alkali powder over their gear so that if they did get sprayed, they'd at least have a window between initial dosage and shrieking-gruesome-death... perhaps even enough time to take off whatever was sprayed. Such defenses could also be utterly useless against typical anti-human weapons, leaving them open to their own Red Wedding. $\endgroup$ – Mark Storer Mar 18 at 19:04
  • $\begingroup$ Also, an alkali "bomb" wrapped in something normal (meat) to get an acid dragon to swallow it and then react could be highly effective, and again useless against their fellow human beings. $\endgroup$ – Mark Storer Mar 18 at 19:13
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George R. R. Martin covered this in his Game of Thrones series of books and bad TV show. But the idea he used is not his own.

Basically, if you want to win some contest by force, you've got to out-muscle whomever you are going against. So your dragon is overpowered? Use something more overpowered.

Like this, which can be conveniently hidden inside a large cart or wagon:

Dragon-B-Gone

You just need to hit it once, and then the dragon is no more.

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The way to kill a dragon is with bows. something I propose a tube made of dragon bone or some other strong, but more carvable substance. One could attach a horse tendon or other strong and elastic string like thing to either side of the front of the tube as seen below. enter image description here

after that one would push the loop of the string through the tube, and have it pulled back by either some mechanical device or some sort of draft animal or something. this could only be done in a settlement and not on the road, as it would require specialized set up. this means that once you fired you would not be able to fire again. once loaded it would look like this.

enter image description here

the bolt/arrow could be covered in some sort of poison which will kill the dragon. a large group could have one of these per person. In a fight with a dragon a large group of people could all fire their bow things simultaneously and at least one would hit the dragon, most certainly bypassing the dragon hide. The poison slathered upon the bolts would eventually kill the dragon.

sorry for the odd illustrations, it was just the closest app I had.

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While swooping down he is dazzled by reflected sunlight from Sir Knights mirror shield, crashes and is easy meat

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