Let me outline the current world at the moment: Its a modern society, with smart phones and jet planes, much past the medieval ages where humans warred with dragons. The fact that dragons were so powerful and deadly pushed the humans to all band together under one government, so its truly humans against dragons here.

500 years ago, Asia was made the official dragon country, with a primitive, tentative truce between all humans and dragons, and all dragons moved to Asia, while the humans moved elsewhere. They remained as distant as possible for the majority of this time, still with distrust among them, so not trading or communications.

In the last 100 years, they are all becoming more open, with trading opening up, and occasional visits of important leaders to either side, to open negotiations or simply give a show of friendship and trust. Normal citizens are still not allowed to go.

In the past 2 years (now in modern society), there has been talk of joining the two societies, bringing them together in peace, just like the humans did years ago. This would imply dragons living with humans, and vice versa, doing the same jobs and having the same rights.

But the two species/societies have been apart for almost 500 years, with almost no communications. (Including spies) So their technological advancements have changed differently over time, with different discoveries and different ways of life.

...How would the dragon world and technological advancements be different than those of humans today? We are asumming a few things:

-The rate of technological advancement is as close to the same as this world as it is in that world, so they have smartphones and internet and, say GoogleGlass. The change of there being dragons, and the uniting of humans does not change this advancement much, if at all.

-The only real differences is that there is no "President" or singular "World Ruler". Instead there is a panel of.. lets call them Judges, that get voted in, just like Congress, but with the same restrictions as the President (So they can't stay for more than 2 terms)

-These Dragons are just as smart as humans.

-The dragons can fly, and have very large wings.

-These dragons feel no need for a hoard.

-These dragons ARE carnivores, though they like the taste of fruits and nuts.

-These dragons are generally fairly big, (most species) the average being at least as big a a minivan in volume. Though different species of dragons can vary in size.

-There are classical European dragons (four legs, wings, long neck, long tail, big body, generally smart, big, and very strong), Chinese Dragons (very serpentine in nature, can have hair, generally kind and smart), Dwarf Dragons, (Only the size of a large dog,), and basically anything in between. Lots of variety.

-These Dragons generally live anywhere from 100 to 500 years.

-These Dragons generally only have one clutch of eggs every ten or so years, so their population is not as large.

The society level at separation was right after: America was discovered by Columbus, The Rise of the Modern English Language, The Age of Discovery began, The printing press was invented, and public banks were create.

What MAJOR differences would there be between the dragons and humans? Now that technological trading is possible, what things are new to each side? Would dragons be more or less advanced? Would they not have discovered something important to advancement, or done the opposite and figured something out much faster? Would either side have something totally mindbogglingly advanced for the others, or would they be fairly close? Why?

  • $\begingroup$ One thing that quirks my eyebrow is: no spying? Not even satellite imaging? I'm sure we'd have that much from the last few decades... $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 20:05
  • $\begingroup$ This is pretty broad. You're asking us o first describe how much dragons have advanced technologically and then how that will mix with existing human technology. We know nothing about the motivations of these dragons nor their starting tech level, this makes it very difficult to determine their progress in 500 years. $\endgroup$
    – Samuel
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 20:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Draco18s I want the societies to be as separated as possible. If I could have put the dragons on the moon, I would have, but thats not exactly 15th century technology, is it? :P Maybe the ancient truce specifically states that they are to avoid all contact and sharing. (the truce that they are planning to retire and make so they can live together) So if there ARE any satellite images, they are ignored or thrown away, or kept secret with the scientists who made them. And since detailed satellites are not very old, there has not been enough of a chance for those to be stolen or used. $\endgroup$
    – BookWyrm17
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 20:10
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, @Samuel. Mostly I am looking for something that would cause them to diverge on a large level, not so much something like "The dragons made a special ceiling fan that is 50% more efficient" $\endgroup$
    – BookWyrm17
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 20:12
  • $\begingroup$ @BookWyrm17 Should we assume the dragons are just like human Asians? That our two societies were separated until modern day? $\endgroup$
    – Samuel
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 20:15

5 Answers 5


The question feels a little broad, but here are a few glaring things that stand out for technological advancement and society:


Fundamentally, classical dragons as you describe them do not have the appendages necessary for careful, accurate control of their environment (think human fingers). This is crippling to technological progress, because it prevents so many things. They will find it difficult, if not impossible, to build structures accurately, create weapons, scientifically investigate the world, or make much of anything. You could put as large of a brain as you wanted into a dolphin, but their physical characteristics will prevent them from achieving anything close to what humans have. Dragons are going to experience a similar situation.


Unlike humans, dragons apparently have multiple completely different species of dragons in their society. This has the potential for major problems, particularly the size difference. These things are carnivores — the smaller dragons will have absolutely no ability to defend themselves against larger ones. This makes it very difficult to believe that any kind of united dragon society would involve them because, frankly, they offer nothing more than a food source.

Food is going to be a problem. As carnivores they would depend upon domestication and raising edible livestock. Without the proper physical appendages, however, they have no tools to help them do this and probably couldn’t even touch the animals without injuring them. This makes anything short of herding unlikely, and means food will be scarce. Fortunately, it sounds like their lower population size might mitigate this, but keep in mind that flying creatures the size of dragons will require a lot of energy.

Coming Together

When dragons intersperse with humans, it is highly unlikely that dragons would even understand what they were seeing. Without technological progress it would all be foreign to them. They would have the capacity to learn and understand, but it will take a lot of time, a lot of patience, and a desire to actually pick up the information.

What is most interesting, however, is what happens after they come together. Assuming a good faith agreement to co-exist in harmony, you actually have a very interesting situation. Here you have two entirely different “species” that both offer each other some very useful things. Humans, for instance, have the ability to manipulate their environment. Dragons, on the other hand, are enormous creatures that fly using food as fuel and (presumably) have tough armor and a strong natural weapon. This could immediately make it very useful for humans to build enhanced armoring for dragons, provide them with all the food they need, and then utilize them as flying weapons platforms against their enemies. In return the dragons are well fed, provided with a nicely-built home with the amenities they want, and quite likely treated as legends or heroes by the humans they fight with.

Eventually, once they’ve been together for long enough, humans may begin assisting dragons by creating the tools necessary to allow them to participate in other activities, including science and engineering.

  • $\begingroup$ I rather think that they would have some sort of an ability to manipulate the environment. I know my cats can grab things in their paws and move it EXACTLY where they want it. Pound a bunch of trees into the ground to make a fence. It depends Unfortunately, I really don't see them eating each other. That just kinda, in my mind, doesn't work with the fact that they are smart enough to make a treaty. I'm assuming the only reason they would make a treaty is because they are tough, but not invincible, and they were constantly getting ambushed by humans. So they were doing it to save mutual lives. $\endgroup$
    – BookWyrm17
    Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 10:21
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    $\begingroup$ Smaller dragons would have a great deal to offer us larger ones, i should think. They're likely more dexterous, able to work in smaller areas (small fish clean big fish, for example), and they can reach that spot right between the shoulders that I can never scratch. $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 15:20

Some very general thoughts assuming these dragons do not have anything supernatural/magical associated with them:

1. Dragons' sense of time would be pretty different.

Looking at the lifespans (100-500) and birthrates (once every 10 years, how many eggs/live offspring per clutch?, what is the reproductive age bracket for dragons?), the dragon population will have replaced itself very few times. Infact there could even be some elderly dragons around who remember the pre-split days.

Contrast that with humans who will have had something like 20 generations of replacement, whose great-grandparents several generations removed were the last to have prolonged contact with dragons.

2. Dragons are probably not as technologically advanced as humans.

Assuming there is nothing physically preventing a dragon from building things (maybe they have prehensile thumbs, tails and tongues) and assuming they have started out from the same tech level.

Given their population size is small despite the long lives, it suggests there is something holding the population growth back - eg. birthrate is low, few dragons survive to adulthood, there may be little parental/societal care for young dragons, fighting or predation may thin out populations, dragon communities may be isolated, conversely the dragons may be intelligent and social but prefer having fewer children. This coupled with the fact that there haven't been many generations of dragons, may mean the dragons have not reached the critical population size needed to sustain innovation and the spread of new ideas.

Being apex predators pre-split, they would have had little impetus to change and adapt, the cornerstones of human evolution. Even if they live in isolated areas without sheep/cattle/humans to provide prey, it is likely they just hunt wild animals (or one another) now. After all, we as early homonids pretty much sustained ourselves without farming for millions of years. But unlike our ancestors, they wouldn't feel the urgency of needing to find new ways to survive and spread out - they don't need clothing or fire, may not need the safety provided by social grouping and could be reasonably comfortable in different climates. No impetus to innovate may well mean they are where they were 500 years ago.

3. The dynamics of dragon society may always have been different

Smartness implies some means of transferring knowledge - are they born with 'dragony' memories? Do they have dragon schools? Do they have art? Do they have music? Do they have philosophy and dragon myths? Given the different kinds of dragons, it is likely they have a kind of hierarchy/caste system between themselves. What does this look like and how does it affect them? Do they have large social affiliations? Do they go to war? What motivates a dragon?

This may be the card dragons hold for mitigating the effects of points 1 & 2. Maybe they don't need to innovate for physical reasons but for social reasons.

4. Maybe there are areas dragons hold monopoly

If dragons have been flying for ages (assuming the lore holds), they probably knew a lot more about aeronautics, geography, cartography and weather than humans did pre-split.

Extending this, they may have known more about physics, chemistry and biochemistry (and as they explore on, maths, engineering and other sciences) pre-split. Whether they did manage to build upon their existing strengths during the 500 years would depend on their society and culture. Did a dragon try to fly to the moon and did they build upon that for space travel? Would they build upon that for space travel?


Dragons are the impossible, whatever their origin - the european evil, giant, fire breathing, armored lizard ; the chinese elemental, giant, wise, flying snakes ; the others I'm not sure about from sea dragons to aztec feathered lizard... - they are more than humans can ever hope - or fear - to be.

So how would have a dragon society developed over 500 years ? I'll suppose that there is no magic in your world other than the one allowing the dragons to fly and breath fire. With or without magic, dragons from most culture tend to be very territorial. The one who had to leave their lands will hold quite a grudge toward humans. And, as they are the "evilest" dragons - European dragons tend to be evil where other are often benevolent - they will have caused quite a stir before calming down. Things will have stayed somewhat calm while everyone was scheming the reconquest of the chatel known as humanity.

Technologically, they need nothing : they are armed and armored, they are not as greedy as those from our legends,... With the first war for territory, they were left with a population that could be sustained by the land and when the pressure rise, either someone leaves, or he dies.

Then humanity, ever the greedy cat (because it's also curious), decides to get to the continent they have ignored all those years, to see if the dragons are so terrible and if there are as many resources there as there are at home.

At first, everything will go well. Then two things will happen : Someone tries to convince a mountain dragon that a stretch of land has no owner without a contract and that they can start strip mining its lair. Some dragon will get a CEO place in a big company.

The aggressed dragons will go berserk, costing a little bit of peace and a lot of resources to be put down. The scheming dragon will start playing their games and re-instating their domination of humanity, through humanity's rule.

The peace will remain ever a fragile thing between impossible beasts of impossible power and a humanity that want to conquer this power.

Note :

  • the great dragons will offer "non intelligent pet lizard" that will de facto act as spy.
  • I really like Shadowrun take on your question, which inspired me quite a bit.

What does a dragon want? What does it desire?

Mankind wanted to fly so we built things with wings. Then we wanted to go faster so we built engines. Then we wanted to go higher so we built rockets.

Each innovation had a triple purpose - elevate mankind, dominate mankind, protect mankind from dragons. Human wars never extended to dragon lands, but they prepared nonetheless. Humans are not large, or powerful, or armed, or armored. We don't move quickly and we can't fly. All leading to the technological place we are now. But for all of our technology, we've only caught up to where the dragons were...500 years ago. Still, our tech is pretty good and we even have a few surprises for the dragons, should they ever break the peace.

Dragons are already fast, powerful, apex predators on a planet of potential food. While their slow reproductive cycles are a hindrance to survival, their long lifespans and extensive knowledge of the elements and physics and history gives them a scientific and philosophical advantage to every other species on the planet. So what does a dragon want?

A dragon wants to live longer, reproduce quicker, eat, sleep and enjoy life without power hungry humans getting in the way. And in 500 years, dragon science has concentrated on cracking genetic code. They've enhanced everything - large dragons are larger, they clutch every 2 years instead of 10, they fly faster, heal faster, camouflage at will, have harder armor, breath fire hotter and farther and live longer. Once it was wise to compromise with the humans to survive, but no more; dragons are abundant now.

Brokering a new peace will not be easy. Dragons live long and remember more than living humans have ever learned. And this extended consciousness, the long years since the Split, have done little to dull the anguish of being pushed off their ancient lands, while watching mankind spread like a disease across the world. Peace is not something the dragons are as interested in as they once were.

  • $\begingroup$ Uh...given that human-tech is advancing at a normal rate as per the OP, that means human aeronautical tech is advancing at a normal rate, which means well...by the time the two societies reunite, we'll have flying machines that can make a dragon look like an utter fool in a dogfight... $\endgroup$
    – Shalvenay
    Commented Nov 17, 2016 at 3:15
  • $\begingroup$ Flight is flight. Humans might be able to go faster than they once could, but then dragons were doing that 500 years ago. And with better armor the dragons won't be taking as much damage as a single fighter would. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 5:29
  • $\begingroup$ Armor means jack when you don't have the energy to maneuver effectively -- a foe with no energy is a sitting duck in a dogfight, in other words. Also, I suspect that most dragons aren't set up to deal with the transonic terrors Ernst Mach wrought upon all that dare fly in such a regime without proper preparation... $\endgroup$
    – Shalvenay
    Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 6:06
  • $\begingroup$ You do realize you are arguing fantasy without any sources to back it up right? $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 21, 2016 at 12:59
  • $\begingroup$ Actually -- I went through and converted the speed numbers for D&D 3.5's stock red dragon to aviation units as part of a previous answer... $\endgroup$
    – Shalvenay
    Commented Nov 21, 2016 at 23:31

It's also slightly impossible for dragons to exist in modern times for the same reason dinosaurs might not be able to live. The bigger ones anyways. Pollution. While dragons can adapt faster than most animals it also takes generations. As mankind progresses with technology, I'm assuming you'll be using natural resources we use currently like oil, pollution makes it harder for larger animals to survive. Not only would dragons need more food to survive they'd also need non-polluted air and water. The older dragons that were young when the split occurred might not be around as humanity starts polluting the air and water. Younger generations might be able to tolerate it, but older dragons will die out as humans use more and more of their fossil fuels. This will bring dragon population down dramatically. And as for how dragons could fly, for those of you wondering, they wouldn't need magic. Just a second pair of "lungs" that could house hydrogen. As for breathing fire, they'd just collect pure platinum in their mouths and store it for when it's needed. Platinum mixed with hydrogen and oxygen creates flames. As dragons adapt to pollution, they'll be slimmer and smaller making for a more viable population for this world and their birthrate. With the dragons breeding every ten years and their natural lifespan, their population would grow at a steady rate. As the elder dragons die off and the hatchlings adapt to survive, their numbers will drop significantly but will still grow. As for the society as a whole, I'd have to say some dragons would create a sort of town. These would be more coastal towns for those who primarily eat fish. This would be water dragons and pygmy dragons. Dragons who hunt bigger game for food would take more to mountains and plains to live and hunt. For technology they would not need it. They wouldn't need protection from anything other than larger dragons looking for a better territory. Despite their intelligence they'd still have predator mentality much like we did and still do. Males being territorial and females being protective of offspring while also doing the hunting. They can problem solve just as well as humans and primates if not better. For simple tasks they have prehensile tails and tongues to lift basic things. This is how they'd be able to corral livestock if they choose to do so. With dragons now being smaller it's a safer assumption that they'd choose to do this as time progresses. They have stronger immune systems than humans so disease isn't a worry for them. Would humans be able to stay out of the dragons' territory for long? How different is human history in this reality compared to ours? Was there a world war? If there was how could the humans stay out of dragon territory without looking for an advantageous spot against the enemy? And how exactly would the move for dragons or humans work? Humans, as a whole, are extremely stubborn. We'd rather start a war than give up what we've claimed as ours. These specifics would help with this concept as well. You need to consider how things differ from our world with this concept. Most of our advances came from the need to improve things in war. Communication, transport, etc.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Consider using paragraphs, a giant wall of text isn't readable. $\endgroup$
    – Feyre
    Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 19:42
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ And a run-on sentence is a great way to set an example, @Feyre! $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 19:44
  • $\begingroup$ An animal that breathes fire and you are worried about elevated green house gases killing them? Me thinks your Green kool-aid is taking its toll. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 19:55
  • $\begingroup$ @SteveMangiameli It's perfectly reasonable to say that a changing climate affects any animal. $\endgroup$
    – Feyre
    Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 20:01
  • $\begingroup$ Affects, maybe, but causes to go extinct or kills large numbers, or even greatly reduces the physical size? I think that's a bit of a stretch especially given that we are only talking 500 years. I'm pretty sure your physique would remain pretty similar especially considering there aren't nearly as many generations between you and your offspring. And given that the rise in global population due to man's influence has only been posited to have occurred in the last century, making this premise even farther reaching. Global warming is like politics to me - leave 'em on Facebook. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 16, 2016 at 20:32

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