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The title is pretty self-explanatory. I'm trying to figure out how dragons could plausibly develop in a world of monsters and Enchantments (namely Alendyias).

The basis of these dragons? Lizards. Just a typical lizard will do, but we'll likely be dealing with three kinds: Crawlers (the kind that just skitter over the ground and up walls), Gliders (aka Draco Lizards), and Slithers (legless lizards, easily mistaken for snakes). Dinosaurs are also possible, especially the Giganto mentioned below.

The traits I want for these dragons are as follows:

  1. Flight (Optional but preferred)
  2. Firebreath (Also optional, other breath types, like ice and lightning also desired)
  3. Warm-blooded (Required, dragons live in caves and cold-blooded creatures can't do that effectively)
  4. Large size (Required, due to desired terror factor and c'mon, who takes small dragons seriously?): should range from the size of a Deinonychus to Spinosaurus, perhaps even larger.
  5. Strong scales/claws (Required, for obvious reasons)
  6. Predatory (Herbivorous dragons don't usually contribute much to action scenes)-preferably apex predators, but can be regular predators instead, especially if preyed upon by bigger stronger dragons

So, How Can It Happen? (Warning: musings ahead)

The Mimicry Enchantment causes a person, creature, or item to gain (aka "mimic") a relevant trait from the next creature they or it kill. By "relevant," I mean a similar trait. Clarifying from the first example, if a Draco Lizard were to eat a bat, it would gain flight because it's a glider with primitive wings.

In other words, it works because the Draco Lizard has something for the Mimicry enchantment to work on, to adapt into wings (because flight is pretty darn hard to accomplish without wings) and also because it has a trait similar to flight (AKA gliding).

In other words, for Mimicry to work, there must be A) a similar trait between predator and prey and B) something Mimicry can adapt to make the trait possible.

This Enchantment is gained from Leafmaw, rotund and semi-amorphous creatures that mimic bushes or piles of leaves and eat people who get too close. Why am I telling you this?

Because dragons are extremely unlikely without Mimicry. Sure, I could hand-wave a lizard mutating into a dragon en-route to Alendyias, but I'm writing hard-fantasy and that just doesn't make sense. I can't ignore the rules of logic I've ascribed to my magic, namely that a lizard will naturally want to remain a lizard and will resist any shift in species, making even a hybrid (like a lizardman) an edge case.

So, on to creating dragons. Flight is possible, but it'd require some doing. Firstly, gliding lizards. Mimicry requires a biological basis to work (in this case, to grant flight). Secondly, flying prey. To get the bat-like wings so common to typical dragons, we'd have to get a species of gliding lizard that preys on bats. Thirdly, bring in Mimicry.

In order to gain Mimicry, these lizards would have to either survive inside a Leafmaw until it's killed, kill the Leafmaw themselves (and likely by themself, lizards aren't social creatures), or gain it over time by parasitizing the Leafmaw. The first (gliding lizards preying on bats) is unlikely but somewhat plausible. The second, lizards parasitizing Leafmaw yet preying on bats, makes basically no sense whatsoever.

Perhaps, perhaps these lizards somehow evolved to determine the Enchantments of other monsters (and the effects said Enchantments would have upon them) and act accordingly, but that seems shaky at best. Firebreath is even worse.

In order to gain firebreath, a lizard would need to kill a Runnark with Mimicry, which should give it a Runnark's ability to absorb light and heat, and then a Torchblow, gaining the latter's ability to radiate heat and shoot fire. Once again, how can I explain that?

The last two, large size and strong scales and claws, can be covered by Gigantis alone, but even then a proper explanation eludes me. Parasitic lizards living on a Giganto is kind of a stretch. A combination of Strengthen and Sharpen could cover the scales and claws, but wouldn't necessarily lead to large size.

So my question is, How Could Dragons Feasibly Develop In Alendyias?

Specifications For Best Answer:

  1. The best answer will take the musings above into account (tall order, I know) and determine how lizards of the Crawling, Slithering, or Gliding variety could develop into dragons, using Enchantments.

Yes, I am well aware dragons could be bred from lizards by naive nobles, made by mad mages (perhaps even the EMEs or their creators), or that I could just handwave their existence. However, these options are all copouts, and I will only accept a copout if there is no better option.

  1. The best answer will also determine what kind of dragons will develop in Alendyias, namely main types and their distinguishing traits. Nothing too hard I hope, just generalized groups, a sort of zoological overview.

Finally, if there are missing or mistated tags, some problem with the OP, or just some needed clarification, please let me know so I can fix it.

Clarification:

  1. More specifically, for large size I am looking for a size range between a modern-day cassowary to the ancient (and extinct) sauropods. Most fantasy dragons seem to be more within a T-rex's size range, so dragons of this size would be preferred.
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    $\begingroup$ first this question is asked a lot check others to to see what you can eliminate from this question. Second you need to define things like what large size is to you and what ecological role do you want for them, You also need to clarify how mimicry works. Also dinosaurs with bat like wings existed, look up Yi. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Jun 3 at 4:05
  • $\begingroup$ You make a lot of indirect references to rules discussed in other questions. This makes it difficult to help you without a complex understanding of your world. A few basic questions: Are dinosaurs plausible to include, and use as a base-case? Can your mimicry be chained, so that a pterosaur tearing into ascended parasites might gain the powers indirectly? Is there a compact list of the fantastic creatures available to mimic, along with their ecological niches? $\endgroup$
    – Anon
    Jun 3 at 6:04
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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close. There's a plethora of specific dragon questions already on this site. Most of the posed question(s) can be answered with these. I think it would be best to come back with specific questions if not all are answered. $\endgroup$
    – Trioxidane
    Jun 3 at 7:39
  • $\begingroup$ You probably need to rewrite this question so that you can make it clearer how you're asking about how to "build" a creature that has the common traits of an European dragon through the various enchantments and creature abilities in your world rather than about how to explain the evolution of a fully fledged dragon as a creature. $\endgroup$ Jun 3 at 13:32
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    $\begingroup$ Voting to reopen. This question is about how the ideosynchratic enchantment rules of the user's world can create a dragon. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Jun 3 at 18:51
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Ok, so firstly let's take a look back at your basic requirements as well as real life and break down the abilities we want and where we could get them:

  • flight: bats and birds, since the mimic enchant needs something previously existing we can't really get flight from insects, I'd assume (although since feathers are very complex structures which aren't really present in lizards, one can argue that your lizards cannot obtain flight through bird wings).

  • endothermy: again bats and birds, two traits with one meal (unless eating a bird doesn't actually grant flight).

  • fire breath: like you said, the "easiest" way would be to eat 12 torchblows, basic fire power acquired. Given the extensive discussion on dragon breath types in this SE, for your dragons to have other breath types you'll probably need to make the respective enchants that can grant them said breath types.

  • Large size: giganto, just giganto. Without their ability to scale up muscle power and bone strength your dragon would not be able to maintain the ability to fly after a certain size, especially not at the size (and probably weight) of a T-rex.

  • tough scales and claws: chompers, eat 12 of those and you become a tank with unbreakable claws without having a single gram of added weight. The mimic enchantment can also modify the dragon's stomach acid and allow for it to use it as a limited use attack much like chompers.

  • predatory: if this creature didn't feed on other animals to begin with there'd be little to no way to achieve this, so by default the base creature that will become a dragon needs to be at least an omnivore.

And one special trait that I'd say is advisable for the whole process to work more smoothly:

  • intelligence: corvids, parrots, chimpanzees, humans, octopuses, you pick one. Your dragon won't start off as a powerhouse and needs to be able to plan ahead and understand that there's an optimal order of eating to become a dragon. Since the base creature probably has a brain, the mimic enchant has something to work with.

As for the order of consumption, I'd probably recommend the following:

1-Leafmaw.

2-bat/bird.

3-baby giganto (no way you're taking down an adult and parasitism doesn't sound right for a lizard to have).

4-12 chompers.

5-12 torchblows

And an intelligent creature, preferably a corvid since they're relatively small. And pretty intelligent.

With those already covered, which is the optimal candidate to become our dragon? Well I'd say it depends on one thing:

If the ability to glide is a must have to acquire flight, then your options are severely reduced to Draco lizards, flying geckos and gliding lacertids, which is a problem since all of these are notably small, it's highly unlikely one would ever manage to kill a leafmaw, and since none of them are parasitic, their only hope is to get lucky and somehow end up inside a leafmaw shortly before it dies. This is very troublesome, and makes killing any of the other creatures a herculean task that relies heavily on luck, at least until they kill a baby giganto.

however, if the mimic enchantment can work so long as there is a common structure, then we can totally exclude this limitation, since the Draco lizard glides through an association of their ribs, muscles and ribcage, all of which are things present in every single lizard today. Therefore, if another lizard with mimic was to eat a Draco lizard, the enchantment would have room to grant it the structures necessary for gliding. In fact: unless the enchantment actually works by upgrading abilities (flying -> gliding) then we don't even need a Draco lizard to eat, since the gliding mechanisms of Draco lizards is fairly different than those of sugar gliders, flying squirrels or flying lemurs (a group of animals believed to be closely related to bats), which used an association of their limbs (rather than their ribs) and a gliding membrane called the patagium, which can technically be acquired by eating a colugo or other gliding mammal, thus granting both the membrane and the endothermy trait, with the consumption of a bat simply resulting in the specialization of the forelimbs to better function as wings.

If these associations are actually true and we can make a non-gliding animal turn into a gliding one by eating the right creature, then the best reptile for the job would be a monitor lizard, a group of lizards that includes some of the biggest lizards to ever exist, such as the komodo dragon (which is also known to engage in mob hunting, when several lizards attack a single large prey in an uncoordinated attack, unlike pack hunting).

Now, regarding the leafmaw: I assume by what you described that it's not much bigger than a large bush, which by itself already makes it tough, making a mob of komodo dragons potentially as the best option to take it down (which would become even harder if you actually adopt my answer and give them cnidocytes and potent venom). If enough komodo dragons manage to attack and kill it via a mix of their own venom and raw damage to the monster and we don't have the entire group dying, you'll end with one (or potentially a handful) of dragons with the mimic ability. I am not sure if they would be able to manage hunting the remaining creatures since a handful of those aren't normally a part of their diet, leading me to believe that komodo dragons, ironically enough, aren't ideal candidates for our dragon.

One monitor lizard that I do think would be the optimal candidate is the water monitor. Water monitors have a varied diet that includes small mammals, birds, carrion, baby crocodiles and pretty much anything they manage to hunt and eat. This coupled with their own venom potentially means one could easily manage to hunt and kill a smaller juvenile leafmaw, acquiring the necessary mimic enchantment.

From then on its a walk in the beach. Their habit of eating birds means they could hunt down and eat a corvid, acquiring its developed brain and becoming more capable of hunting prey, making hunting a baby giganto an easier task, and their speed and ability to climb trees mean they could potentially eat a colugo or flying squirrel should they find one, especially on the ground, thus acquiring a patagium and making way for eating a bat.

With the endothermy, flight, higher intellect and increased size acquired, eating the chompers and torchblows becomes less dangerous, especially since the higher intellect allows them to better plan on ways to counter these creatures' offensive abilities. Particularly smart soon-to-be dragons could even realize that eating 12 chompers at once is better since the brittle nature will only last until you eat the 12th, passing on this knowledge to others thanks to the highly social corvid brain.

With the torchblows and chompers eaten we reached the final stage: a large predatory creature with great sight and smell and the ability to fly, armed with extremely tough scales, claws, teeth and bones, with powerful muscles to match. Furthermore, the water monitor origins, chomper mimicking and pyris enchantments ensure that the creature has a venomous bite, potent acid spit and fire breath, with a smart brain that enables it to socialize with others of its kind as well as other species of creatures and sufficiently smart monsters. Depending on the limitations of the mimic enchantment, they might even be able to mimic human speech (corvids can do it, and since the syrinx is present in both corvids and other birds, being particularly well developed in some songbirds, it might not be impossible for your dragons to also inherit this trait from their meals).

As for consumption order, I'd probably recommend the following pattern:

1-leafmaw, preferably a juvenile one (for mimic).

2-corvid (for higher intellect, enhanced eyesight and endothermy, potentially with airsack respiratory system and powerful pectoral muscles. Flight and a syrinx sound a bit off the scope of mimic enchant so I can't be sure)

3- Draco lizard, flying squirrel or colugo (for a gliding patagium, with the Draco lizard potentially providing a less cumbersome Patagium that can be kept retracted on the sizes of the body).

5-bat (for specialized forelimbs and "additional" flight muscles, potentially returning the Draco ribs back to "normal").

6-baby giganto (for increase in size without compromising flight or overall strength, speed and metabolic needs).

7-12 torchblows (for fire resistance and fire breath).

8-12 chompers (for tougher scales and claws) (potentially optional if you assume giganto's enchantment already covers tougher scales, teeth and claws).

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  • $\begingroup$ Fascinating and thorough answer! It looks like my dragons are going to be a variant of monitors then, and very very deadly besides.... $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Jun 4 at 18:00

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