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My fantasy setting has late Renaissance-level technology with cannons and muskets, along with a moderate level of magic (i.e. Wizards and other spellcasters are well-known, but pretty uncommon). How do I weaponize dragons properly in ways that would make sense. I am thinking that an armored dragon with mounted muskets would be amazing, but what are some other ways I could use dragons in combat? I am mainly looking for battles in open terrain against land troops.

Edit: I haven't really determined specifics, but dragons in this setting are approximately in between a Tyrannosaurus and a medium-sized sauropod in size. They have large wings, and can fly fast and far despite violating physics. They have the general appearance of the generic dragon.

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  • $\begingroup$ this is all but impossible ton answer without describing your dragons, there is a huge variety of things called dragons. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Jun 20 at 20:56
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    $\begingroup$ VTC:NF. From the help center, "To prevent your question from being flagged and possibly removed, avoid asking subjective questions where every answer is equally valid [and] you are asking an open-ended, hypothetical question." We will help you understand how to use your dragons if you provide a very specific instance for its use (the exact battle conditions, geography, military dispositions, logistics, etc.) but open-ended fishing-for-ideas questions are off-topic. Note that Qs like this are also too story-based because the circumstances dictate how the dragons are used. $\endgroup$ Jun 20 at 21:17
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Dragons should be strictly used as light, hit and run aerial units

If you wanted to incorporate dragons into a medieval setting with cannons and muskets, they should be strictly used as shock units. Their main tactic should be to flank the enemy, use their breath to disrupt enemy formations and quickly retreat to avoid receiving any long range fire, then returning whenever there's an opportune moment. Basically, you're looking for hit and run tactics, dropping them into the front line or even assaulting the enemy head-on would have the enemy instantly focus their fire on them, most importantly their cannons to neutralize the obvious priority target.

Due to their sheer size, trying to provide armor for dragons via barding would be pointless. Their scales are sufficient enough to count as moderate armor and adding any additional armor would seriously affect their speed, making them a far easier target to hit. Muskets themselves shouldn't be harmful to dragons from anything other than closest of ranges, but cannons are a completely different story (because they don't give a crap about armor and tend to obliterate any creature they hit regardless of its size).

The only piece of equipment that could be added to dragons without hampering them too much would be a saddle for a single rider, preferably a sharpshooter who could pick of any particular individual threat.

Alternatively, dragons could be easily used as elite personnel transports for the sake of infiltration, to drop commandos and spies behind enemy lines during the night. Speaking of night time, dragons would be the most potent threat out there when visibility is seriously low (as in night time and foggy weather), picking off enemies one swipe or one breath at a time.

Basically, you should be applying your dragons in the most sneakiest of ways possible, the less exposed they are to the enemy the more damage they can do over time. Unless their wings are neutralized, they should NEVER be used as conventional land troops. Their wings are their greatest asset and, to quote How To Train Your Dragon: "A downed dragon is a dead dragon."

PS EDIT: As far as magic goes, dragons are considered resilient to most common forms of magic so, unless they are being targeted by the most potent of spellcasters, they should be fine.

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  • $\begingroup$ Interesting. I was expecting dragons to be more of gunship-type units. This is also good, although I don't imagine cannons easily being able to target dragons (the only real anti-air in this setting consists of either nets, hwacha barrages, or clusters of ballistae). Thanks for the answer. $\endgroup$ Jun 20 at 19:27

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