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Faced in a mortal combat with a dragon* would a squad of humans be better equipped mostly by medium machineguns or by portable rocket launchers? Would a 7.62×51mm to the eye or armpit maim an magically un-shield dragon? Would a Javelin payload penetrate the scales? Would magical shielding against missiles be more effective against the gun or the launcher?

* - armored flying wizard weighting about a ton enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ If the rules of the game say whether DnDragons are more vulnerable to machine guns or to bazookas then what the rules say is gospel. If the rules of the game do not discuss machine guns or bazookas it means that machine guns and bazookas are not available in the game. Since DnDragons exist only in DnD games, and machine guns or bazookas are not available in the games, it follows that the question is easily answered: a squad of humans (or of any other DnD characters) cannot be equipped with machine guns or rockets launchers when confronting a DnDragon. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Oct 10, 2022 at 16:09
  • $\begingroup$ Asking about existing worlds (ie 3rd party worlds) is off-topic here, since it's more likely you're not "building" a world and instead ask about an existing one. I'd advise to leave out the Dungeon and dragons reference and give a clear description of your dragon instead : Size, scales specificity and material comparison (vs steel or iron, etc.), notable weakpoints, etc. It can look similar to D&D ones, but you should give enough details of your own so that we can answer through worldbuilding tips rather than reference material. $\endgroup$ Oct 10, 2022 at 16:09
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    $\begingroup$ You're going to need to describe the capabilities of your dragon. Keep in mind that we have a strict one question per post policy so following up by asking about magic should probably be edited out. Should you want to ask about magic, you will need to describe the capabilities of magic in your world. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Oct 10, 2022 at 17:06
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings I argue protective magic should stay part of the question because dragons often use magic in combat so the creature will be prepared, to the best of it's abilities, for the encounter. $\endgroup$
    – Vorac
    Oct 12, 2022 at 4:41
  • $\begingroup$ We have a strict one question per post policy. The body of your post asks 4 distinct questions. edit your post to fix this. While every one of those questions doesn't have enough information provided to be answerable the non-magic questions only need information about the dragon to be answerable. The magic question also needs information about the effectiveness of magic in your world at protecting dragons from guns and missiles. We require that questions be answerable. edit your post to provide all the information necessary to answer your single question. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Oct 12, 2022 at 6:22

1 Answer 1

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The question of payload effecitveness on a dragon’s scales requires a lot of assumptions to answer. Most of those assumptions are based on the impact resistance of the scales, the internal biology of the dragon, and the nature of “magical shielding” specifically with regards to how it interacts with impact and concussive force. I will make the following assumptions:

Dragon scales, which are commonly referred to as being as hard as iron, will be assumed to have similar characteristics of iron.

Dragon biology will be assumed to be similar to a large creature with similar heartiness, i.e. an elephant

Dragon will be assumed to be able to fly at maximum speeds equivalent to a WW2 propeller-based fighter aircraft, on the order of 400mph.

Dragons are also typically depicted as being heavy. While weight will not factor much into the discussion, it is important to consider from a general maneuverability standpoint.

Given that the scales of the dragon are very hard as compared to the biology of most large creatures, it would be fair to immediately remove the machine guns from the equation. The vast majority of small-arms fire would have little effect on the creature, and even with literally tons of ammo the damage potentially is probably not worth the expenditure. However, as compared to rocket launchers, the rifles would be far more effective against large amounts of other creatures, and could still do considerable damage against unarmored portions of the dragon. This makes the proposition of equipping the combatants with automatic rifles a lot more tenable in the grand scheme.

A rocket-launcher, by contrast, would have a much more immediate effect with less need to discriminate against the targeted areas. The blast from the warhead alone should cause sufficient shock as to damage the internal organs of the dragon regardless of the impact location. Further, modern warheads on personal rockets tend to feature shaped charges. These explosives are designed to direct the blast energy into a smaller area, which would likely devastate even the toughest of dragon scales. The major limitation here is, of course, the ammo capacity. A single load has a single shot, and while that one shot could most likely do the trick against a single dragon, if the shot misses or there are more than one, it doesn’t matter. To carry multiple rounds requires far more space, and this greatly decreases the useful of the weapon in this context.

Where magic is concerned, things get a bit stranger. If a dragon were wearing any kind of primary shield that could deflect mass, the rifles would be useless. Against a shield, as long as shockwaves could travel through it, then a rocket launcher would be effective.

At any rate, it seems to me that the explosive would be the best call against this specific target, but there are use cases where the rocket is less overall useful than the rifles.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank You for the insights! Together with the assumption that a guided rocket will seek the warmest area (chest? groin? head? that's a medical question) I think I have a clear enough picture as to proceed creating my humorous RPG game :-) $\endgroup$
    – Vorac
    Oct 12, 2022 at 4:45

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