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I am trying to write a story where the main character is born as a dragon-like humanoid, in a culture where dragons live with them in the same communities.

The main character is to be born into this society, and will eventually discover that he is bound to a dragon partner.

I have had two ideas regarding their wings:

  1. The entire species has no wings.
  2. Male dragons have no wings while female ones do.

I first thought of making the dragons this way because I wanted to avoid situations where the main protagonist could escape any situation by flying away. However, while reading on the web, it seems that wings are vital to the concept of dragons people visualize in their minds.

If these creatures are wingless, would you still consider them to be dragons? Or would you think of them as another species entirely?

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site, Kyle. I like your profile pick by the way. $\endgroup$ – Xandar The Zenon Jan 7 '16 at 4:30
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks I got it on ArtStation link I Have Been Reading the Questions and Answers on this site for a while and though that I might as well ask my own. The Picture is similar to what I want for the communities of the Dragon People. Up in the mountains, Well defended, Not unreachable, but had to get too. @XandarTheZenon $\endgroup$ – Kyle Shallow Jan 7 '16 at 4:44
  • $\begingroup$ Do your dragon people live in nests or caves, or something else? $\endgroup$ – Xandar The Zenon Jan 7 '16 at 5:02
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    $\begingroup$ In addition to the answers answering your question directly: there really isn't that much of an issue with calling a wingless reptile a dragon. Its really only occidental dragons that have wings. Neither komodo dragons nor oriental dragons have wings, after all! "Dragon" is a really broad term that generally boils down to "anything someone calls a dragon." Its sort of the reverse of not calling zombies, zombies. $\endgroup$ – Draco18s Jan 7 '16 at 16:04
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    $\begingroup$ Well, JRR Tolkien already has wingless dragons, so it's an established convention already. Go ahead. It's your fictional species of dragons. $\endgroup$ – Lololololol Jan 10 '16 at 19:00
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Well, I'm going to undergo the assumption that these wingless male dragons are the only ones who can breed with the females. If this is true, then these are definitely one species. It's called sexual dimorphism. Go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_dimorphism for more information on it. Anyway, I think that readers could still conceptualize a dragon even without wings. But be specific when you describe dragons. There are so many different ways dragons are represented in cultures that I sometimes mix them up myself. Chinese dragons don't have wings, but most modern concepts of them do. So you should be fine with wingless male dragons as long as you describe them well enough.

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    $\begingroup$ That would make sense, the males have adapted to fight, because flight is not an option :D $\endgroup$ – Xandar The Zenon Jan 7 '16 at 3:28
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    $\begingroup$ In some concepts dragons use magic rather than wings to fly and that would be understandable if you think about aerodynamics and how something big as a dragon couldn't fly with such "small" wings. $\endgroup$ – conquistador Jan 7 '16 at 7:01
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    $\begingroup$ Wingless male dragons would work quite well with regards to the "larger and thicker scales" thing - Wings are just another thing for your opponent to hold onto when hitting you... $\endgroup$ – Miller86 Jan 7 '16 at 9:46
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    $\begingroup$ @KyleShallow If you want to go more with the Chinese dragon concept: The fluid motion of a Chinese dragon would fit well with a more martial-arts dragon archetype. Male dragons rarely breathe fire (because who wants to set fire to their own beard?) and can't fly, but if you try to attack one you'll suddenly find yourself fighting what's essentially a boa constrictor mixed with Jackie-Chan. But faster. And with claws... $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Jan 7 '16 at 16:28
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    $\begingroup$ @Miller86 I think it would make for some interesting situations. With thick scales and four legs these dragons would be like medieval tanks. With weak points being there joints, were their scales need to be flexible. If they have partners that fight with them, the partners could protect against attacks to their Joints and underbelly. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Shallow Jan 7 '16 at 20:41
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If the issue is that within your story you don't want your protagonist to fly, that doesn't necessarily mean he cannot have wings. There are plenty of species that possess wings or wing-like features without the ability to fly, from the chicken to the flying squirrel.

You can always make it so that male dragons are reasonably larger or heavier than female dragons, meaning that whilst they do have wings, they cannot get enough power from flapping them to achieve flight. They may still have the ability to glide, however, so I do not know if that suits your story.

I have also seen a theory about how dragons could achieve flight without magic, which included filling a second pair of "lungs" within their chest with hydrogen, which could be used as added buoyancy to help with flying as hydrogen is less dense than air, so will help to keep them aloft (like with humans floating on water with lungs full of air).

The hydrogen is then also used as the fuel that allows them to breathe fire, but also means that they cannot simultaneously fly and breathe fire, as they must use their reserves of hydrogen for only one thing at a time.

Using this reasoning, you could design the females as having a greater proportional second lung capacity compared to their size/weight, allowing them to achieve flight easier than males.

You could also give the male dragons limited flight ability, but if it takes a while to replenish the reserves of hydrogen, then when they have fought off an attacker using their fire breath they will be unable to fly again until their body has metabolized enough hydrogen to refill their second lungs.

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    $\begingroup$ I never thought about using wings to glide. It would make living in mountainous areas easier. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Shallow Jan 7 '16 at 19:04
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If people can make dragons covered in fur and feathers, you're good.

Dragons, like vampires, are such an appealing concept but being fictional lets us do whatever we want with them to have our own styles and interpretations.

We've seen vampires sparkle, vampires that eat the color red. We can all think of a certain variation of the creature that came to be because someone wrote them that way.

Point is, if your dragons don't fly, that's cool. They're YOUR dragons. People might like your designs and if not, it sounds like your story has a lot more going for it than just what the dragons look like. I think wingless dragons are a fine concept.

Besides. If you've seen what Adventure Time's dragons look like, you probably wouldn't worry so much.

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Well in dragon lore a four limbed dragon (4 legs kinda) is named a drake. (There is of course the Chinese dragon but it does not have as much in common with the European dragon.)

You should also explain why they do not have wings (maybe nests higher in the mountains and males can be dangerous towards the eggs) or if your only goal is to not have dragon be really easy to get away with maybe talk about the fact that humans are far too heavy.

Or maybe the males do not have developed wings contrary to females ( hormones...)

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Most dragons can fly, but in reality are depicted to have far too small a wingspan. You could go with the conventional wingspan, but like some large birds the dragon needs to build up speed by running or falling before he can take off.

This limitation could give you the lack of escape by flying you need. If the dragon can run away far enough to start flying, he could have run away anyway.

You could also weaponize the male wings. Their wings are heavier, allowing only gliding or limited flight, add a strong possibly sharp edge and you can club enemies to death with the wings which can carry the full weight of the dragon, thats a lot of hitting power you shouldnt ignore and I eould love to see a dragon slam a wing into someone and rip their head off with the blow or something. And having a dragon break (small) tree's with it's wings to create space to fight would be a nice image as well.

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I would say that you should do the second option, because dragons in myths use wings for many things, including hunting.Plus, if only one gender has wings, it show which gender is considered better. As you said, people visualize dragons with wings, but if you went if the first, I would still call it a dragon. The Lindworm is wingless, but is still called a dragon.

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