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So I was outlining the part of the story where Gyvaris, a dragon, almost gets killed, when I realized I glanced over something. You see, Gyv had a human friend before and they used to play games to pass time.

Gyvaris' mother taught him the basics of close-quarters combat through various games. She'd often throw various items towards him, telling the young dragon to catch them with his mouth. If Gyv was too slow or overextended, he couldn't reach the next one in time.

Though Gyv had learned how to strike at blinding-fast speeds, he also tends to damage whatever he catches. I mean, he has the jaw-strength of a Nile crocodile. This is fine when fighting dragonslayers or catching the chunks of meat that his mother tossed into the air, but kind of ruins a casual game of catch.

Plus there's Gyvaris' battery-acid-breath weapon. It's life-threatening when inhaled, can cause chemical burns on the skin and blindness when it gets into the eye. Gyv doesn't drool often, but the residual acid in his mouth can still cause toys to deteriorate.

Dragons are pretty big, at around 6-10 metres in length (ridiculously long tail included) and two metres at the wing's shoulders.

So, if the dragon is regularly playing games of catch with a human, how could the human make a toy for the dragon that can last for a while? It doesn't have to be fancy, just safe, durable and usable.

Tech-level is medieval.

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    $\begingroup$ What tech level do we have to work with, what exactly does the toy need to do? There are plenty of acid resistant rubbers. if you want an acid resistant ball latex may be what you want. $\endgroup$ – John Apr 22 at 2:36
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    $\begingroup$ maybe using rock or stone or bone thats the toy for my dog, though i dont do games of catch because it can be dangerous habit for dog, happen to others when they swing something (weapon) and the dog jump thinking its a game of catch and get hit. i assume the mother you mean in here is human right? i more worried regarding the human, if she try to throw the toy full of the acid saliva again, since your acid burn skin and blinding. $\endgroup$ – Li Jun Apr 22 at 4:02
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    $\begingroup$ This is impossible. I have a medium-sized dog who wrecks warranty-for-life toys designed for the biggest dogs within half an hour. After the third (!) time back on the same day the salesman was blaming me for not stopping the dog from chewing on it, which was what he and the packaging claimed it was supposed to handle for a (dogs) lifetime. If we cant design indestructible toys for dogs in the modern day, how can we design a toy for a crocodile/dragon biter? Any toy strong enough would wreck the teeth of the dragon, which is why we are limited in dog toy design. $\endgroup$ – Demigan Apr 22 at 6:16
  • $\begingroup$ I'd say "gold"; it's "soft" and acid resistant... but not to aqua regia. IIRC that's what Gyvaris uses? $\endgroup$ – Matthew Apr 22 at 13:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Matthew Battery acid is sulfuric acid, not aqua regia. So gold would be no problem. $\endgroup$ – And Apr 22 at 13:45

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I would employ the same basic philosophy as with the dragon-proof house. Dragons, like any other large animals, are big and damaging even when no harm is intended. That's why you cannot keep tigers as pets - no matter how much they love you, when they try to cuddle you'll be crushed or ripped to shreds.

So don't try to make uncrushable toys; they will be impractical and expensive. Make toys that are cheap and sturdy enough not to wear out overly quickly, but easily replaceable when they do. I suggest a bundle of tough rope; which you can throw and play fetch with. Maybe it will expire in a day, but you can always make more if you've got the rope to spare.

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    $\begingroup$ The general principle here seems spot on, but the specific example seems less clear — I thought rope was quite a valuable commodity in pre-industrial times, needing a lot of skilled labour to produce? $\endgroup$ – Peter LeFanu Lumsdaine Apr 22 at 7:54
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    $\begingroup$ @PeterLeFanuLumsdaine You're right - my mind was still in the previous question, where a king is employing the dragon, who would presumably have access to ropes as it's used for ships in large quantities. If it's a peasant friend who needs the toy, then I guess wooden branches might be a bit easier to acquire - which is what you would use for regular fetch anyway xD $\endgroup$ – KeizerHarm Apr 22 at 8:52
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Animal remains!

On the same principle as KeizerHarm’s answer, something easily replaceable seems a better bet than trying to find something indestructible. What would a dragon and a farm boy (or whatever the human friend was) have a plentiful supply of?

Well, unless Gyvaris and his mother are vegetarians, they must have access (by hunting, herding, or otherwise) to a reliable supply of animals. If Gyvaris can bring some of these back to the human friend for butchering before eating, then the human can make lots of good toys out of these, without too much effort.

Big leg bones, roughly cleaned: perfect for throwing to catch/fetch, or the human can play at being a knight with a sword! A bladder, inflated: the original football. Or with smaller prey — rabbits, say — no need for butchering at all; just enjoy a few minutes of toss-and-catch before it becomes Gyv’s next snack.

Just so long as the human has a good stream nearby to wash off in, of course.

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    $\begingroup$ Carnivorous animals have an instinctual interest in things that look and smell like prey. Naturally, this includes remains. $\endgroup$ – Brian Apr 22 at 13:18
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    $\begingroup$ I'll note that bones that are wasted by being turned into dragon toys are bones not going into your soup stock to feed your family. $\endgroup$ – nick012000 Apr 23 at 4:24
  • $\begingroup$ A Nile crocodile can crush bones. $\endgroup$ – user7868 Apr 23 at 5:39
  • $\begingroup$ @nick012000: On an ordinary human’s family’s level of meat consumption, yes. But if our dragon is bringing even a couple of his dinners by each week, the family will have bones aplenty for the stewpot, and some over for toys. $\endgroup$ – Peter LeFanu Lumsdaine Apr 27 at 7:24
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Though Gyv had learned how to strike at blinding-fast speeds, he also tends to damage whatever he catches. I mean, he has the jaw-strength of a Nile crocodile. This is fine when fighting dragonslayers or catching the chunks of meat that his mother tossed into the air, but kind of ruins a casual game of catch.

WHY WOULD YOU WANT THE TOY BACK? WHY???? This doesn't sound like "catch and fetch." JUST catch. And that would be nigh impossible (and dangerous) if the item is scaled up for your dragon. I mean what would the dang things weigh? And would you WANT that hurtling back at you for you to throw again? I'd think not. Also, they would be covered in acid spit. Which, again, no bueno. There are dogs that do not drool much, but I would not want to touch their toys if they had acid spit. I understand it would be...um...cute to have the dragon bring them back, but practical? Nope.

My answer is simple: make them almost totally disposable. Have a pile of bones or whatever you are throwing for the dragon to practice with. The fact that your dragon destroys them doesn't ruin a casual game of catch because your human just has a pile of whatever they are to throw and they don't expect the dragon to bring them back.

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Don't waste time manufacturing fancy toys. In medieval times this is a bit too costly for the intended purpose. Instead use things that you can pick up everywhere:

  • Stones, if this does not damage the dragons teeth. A miss could also cause some pain, encouraging the dragon to be diligent.
  • Lumps of clay. If there is clay source nearby, you could mix the clay with water and form balls. Use a slingshot for higher velocities.
  • Sticks. Just go to the next forest, break off some branches and use those.
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  • $\begingroup$ Lumps of wood was my thought also. You need something that can stand up to some abuse, but isn't so tough that it will damage Gyv's teeth. That means rock is out. $\endgroup$ – Matthew Apr 22 at 13:36
  • $\begingroup$ I believe a cartload of firewood would last a while and be cheap enough. $\endgroup$ – Eugene Ryabtsev Apr 24 at 8:03
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A Game of Chess

You have two options when it comes to toys - either make them near indestructible or make it so that you can just make new ones every time. Thus, may I humbly suggest the modest game of chess? It's quite easy to make a crude set of pieces and a chess board and it teaches dragons strategy.

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    $\begingroup$ It seems to me that this question is aimed at training reflexes and combat prowess, not strategy. $\endgroup$ – And Apr 22 at 10:32
  • $\begingroup$ Play something else, +1.... D&D dice made out of obsidian. $\endgroup$ – Mazura Apr 23 at 0:09
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Catapult

Well, not the catapult itself, but a catapult and a bunch of heavy rocks. The problem is that any "toy" durable enough to not be damaged by a dragon is likely to be far too heavy for a human to throw more than a few feet. So you're going to need something big to do the throwing, and a catapult definitely fits the bill, and is technology that existed in medieval times. The human only needs to be able to lift the rocks into the basket and have the strength to crank it down to load it. (You might use multiple humans for efficiency, possibly even multiple catapults.)

Remember to aim away from populated areas in case your dragon misses a catch. You can even point it out to sea if you're close enough. Any missed catch just falls harmlessly to the sea floor. Of course you've lost that rock, but it's just a rock, there's plenty where that came from.

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  • $\begingroup$ That dragon's gonna be fun in a siege! $\endgroup$ – Antony May 7 at 9:33
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I'm going to post this anyway, even though it overlaps with M.Winkens' answer, because a) I thought of it first (note comments on the question), and b) I think the other answer is missing a few points.

The obvious answer, as anyone that has read The Flight of Dragons should already know, is:

Gold

You don't just want to use metal. As I noted elsewhere, hard objects introduce the risk of Gyvaris damaging his teeth. Gold is conveniently not only very soft (as metals go), but also resistant to many acids.

You also don't want to make it solid, which is fortunate because gold is rare and expensive. You want it to be able to deform easily if Gyv chomps down on it (see previous point). This does mean that you may need to reshape the toy frequently, but as long as you don't lose chunks of it, that shouldn't be the end of the world. As another bonus, gold is non-toxic (some humans actually eat gold).

Now... what shape should you make it? Well, from a safety standpoint, a foil ball (like a giant version of certain cat toys) would be ideal (at least in terms of 'things you could make out of metal'), but probably won't hold up very well. However... you might try making a flying disk out of it. It may be necessary to repair this frequently, but it also shouldn't be overly difficult to repair, and they have much more interesting flight characteristics than just about anything else you could chuck.

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  • $\begingroup$ I was thinking about reducing the weight, so I removed the middle of the disc (creating a ring). Upvoted and thanks for clarification $\endgroup$ – M.Winkens Apr 30 at 22:45
  • $\begingroup$ Ah, that kind of ring. I was assuming you mean something more like a torus. There's probably a more technical term for "dick with a hole in the middle", but offhand I couldn't say what... $\endgroup$ – Matthew May 1 at 2:09
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A big gold Ring

Well, depening on the size of the human and the dragon you could forge a metal ring. Depending on the strength of the dragons acid-breath you have the following options:

  • Titanium will stand up to most acids but concentration and temperature can play havoc with it.

  • Tantalum is very unreactive and can stand up to higher temperatures and high oxygen conditions

  • Alloys like niobium and titanium can also work well depending on the usage.

  • Platinum, zirconium, gold are other quite resistant metals and some ceramics can be quite resistant as well.

It's very costly and some of the materials are probably not creatable/obtainable in the medival but it's possible - you probably need a lot of resources to maintain a dragon. Probably gold is the easiest obtainable acid-resistant metal of them.

Make it a ring big enough for the dragon to fit in it's mouth and small enough for the human to be throwable.

Side note: dragons love gold [Citation needed]

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I couldn't think of anything that could hold up to acid or intense pressure, but how about using ash from fireplaces? Please someone check me on this, but I believe you can make "ash bricks" by mixing ash with water and then letting it dry.

Please, let me know if this is helpful! :D

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  • $\begingroup$ I can't check you on acid resistance, but from pottery knowledge, even if "bricks" can be made from ash, it's really fragile and falls apart when handled. However in pottery they add ash to coating material such as lime to make a refractory coating (heat resistant) for ovens. So you need to add something, lime would be good and known at medieval times. Also, yeah, if those dragons spits fire, that would make fire proof balls, quite light in weight too! $\endgroup$ – Kaddath Apr 22 at 13:49
  • $\begingroup$ I think that's called soap. $\endgroup$ – Mazura Apr 23 at 0:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Mazura you need fat for it to form soap ;) $\endgroup$ – Kaddath Apr 23 at 10:35
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From my reasearch, acid resistant materials all require manufacturing and decent chemical theory, or are too brittle (glass and ceramics). The ash bricks mentioned by anither person may have some merit but from what I've found of them they are from coal, not charcoal, which has the silica and alumminium that in combination forms the acid resistance (along with atmospheric curing). The best I can find is baking soda, which neutralizes sulphuric acid, though that was invented in the mid 1800's, so not medieval.

Another factor you may not have considered: if this acid is mixing with his saliva, then catch would be harmful to the human partaking in it - chemical burns on the hands are nasty. Also, how do your dragons groom? Do they bathe or do they self-groom like cats/dogs? If the answer is the latter, then your dragon may be covered in low concentrations of highly dangerous acid from tooth to claw. Your dragon's human friend may have a shorter life expectancy then even the short-lived medieval man.

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