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We all know those breathtaking tales of dragonslayers soloing a winged lizard. We all love them, and we all think they're badass. But today one thought began to bug me - how in the hell adventurers manage to do that?

I mean, in games, for example, you just have to club it to death while drinking healing potions. But that approach wouldn't work in real life. What good would it do to wave your toothpick in front of that beast, if he can just smash you with his tail or chomp your head off.

Ballistas and the likes don't count - it's not an army, just a lone man seeking adventures, riches and princesses. So, how would you approach the dragon?

[UPDATE]

Adventurer

Capabilities of the adventurer I leave to your imagination, as long as it's possible for normal human being. He can be strong, smart, nimble - whatever you like.

Equipment

Equipment - again, as long as it's possible to make in medieval settings - no objections.

Now magic is a tricky one. For the sake of wrecking your brains - no magic >:D

Dragon

Couldn't find a good winged version, so here's a wingless dragon. enter image description here

His hide is tough, but possible to cut with a strong blow. He can fly(obvsly), relatively fast, and... I gave it some thought, but both fire-breathing and non-breathing dragons seem legit, so whether he has powers of fire is up to you. I'd like to see both solutions anyways. He is extremely aware of the situation, and can not be caught while asleep.

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closed as off-topic by Renan, Frostfyre, Hohmannfan, Aify, TrEs-2b Aug 23 '16 at 16:11

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

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    $\begingroup$ Would you please include a lot more detail about the characteristics of this dragon and the capabilities/equipment of the adventurer? Without this information, this question is likely too broad to answer. $\endgroup$ – Green Aug 23 '16 at 14:56
  • $\begingroup$ So medieval setting, and no magic besides what we might arguably need to have a flying dragon? So we're restricted by our own tactics, one person of manpower, and whatever supplies we could find in 500-1600 Europe? $\endgroup$ – Ranger Aug 23 '16 at 14:56
  • $\begingroup$ How big is the dragon? $\endgroup$ – colmde Aug 23 '16 at 15:04
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    $\begingroup$ You hit it in the voonerables $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Aug 23 '16 at 16:12
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think this is off topic. We have had other questions on how to fight various fantasy creatures many of which are as story focused as this one. $\endgroup$ – Bellerophon Aug 23 '16 at 16:13
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If your dragon has the classic underbelly weakness then just hide outside its cave and wait till it flies out. When it does shoot it in the weak spot. Another option is shoot the wings as many dragons have I armoured wings. It will then crash and die. Edit after new information This tactic would work on the dragon in this case as long as you had a hiding place close to the dragons cave so that you could shoot it at close range. A close up shot from a crossbow should be enough to pierce the skin and kill the dragon.

If there is no easy way to use the above solution it gets trickier and more dangerous.

You could try sneaking up on it when it is asleep but there are few weapons that can pierce a dragons scales so a quick killing blow is out. I would suggest binding the legs and mouth with ropes and then tying the wings. This way it cannot move so will eventually starve to death. Alternatively stab it in the eyes with a sword or spear as this should kill it assuming you can pierce the eyelids. Edit With the dragon from the question a quick blow from a sword to the head should be enough to I'll the dragon.

In a straight fight I would suggest attempting to shoot the eyes or wings is your best bet or if you are reduced to close combat run to the dragons left flank as it will be unable to turn and bite / flame you. From here hit it as hard as possible with something heavy like a hammer or slash the wing. Stay in close to this side behind the wing and keep hitting till the dragon dies.

I have added in some material to make this answer fit the dragon in the question more closely after more information was provided.

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  • $\begingroup$ All of these are assuming the dragon is the classic huge lizard. If it isn't this kind of dragon just say and I will edit the answer. $\endgroup$ – Bellerophon Aug 23 '16 at 15:09
  • $\begingroup$ I've just edited the question... $\endgroup$ – Oleksandr Firsov Aug 23 '16 at 15:29
  • $\begingroup$ I added some information for your specific dragon. $\endgroup$ – Bellerophon Aug 23 '16 at 15:35
  • $\begingroup$ Can't argue with that, although I expected something more flashy XD $\endgroup$ – Oleksandr Firsov Aug 23 '16 at 15:38
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the accepted answer. It is usually good practise to wait a day before accepting in case a better answer comes along though. $\endgroup$ – Bellerophon Aug 23 '16 at 15:43
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First, it's basically a lost fight to try to fight a grizzly bear with your, well, bare hands. Even if you grant the fighter a sword and spear, that's countered by a hide tougher than a bear's (I only assume) and considerable reach beyond a grizzly. Now he can fly and is relatively fast means trying to engage him in direct combat would be a creative means of suicide.

So let's not do that; fighting fair is for knights and fools, and we're neither.

Instead of approaching him with sword and shield, we're going to trap the beast.

We're going to go to a smith, and hand him a pretty coin and have him make several of extremely large bear traps. The spring action should be considerable. We'll also have to gear it so the trap can be ratcheted in place (because there's no way our man will be strong enough to set it by himself). Such a trap will be well beyond the capabilities of the dragon to escape from or break. We'll likely need some heavy chains and multiple spikes.

So we'll set these several traps out, connect them by chains, and hammer spikes into the ground. Worse case the dragon, after trapped, will pull them out of the ground but will be weighed down with the mass of all of them. He won't be able to fly, and won't particularly be able to move around.

We could wait for this enraged, trapped dragon to die slowly, but let's not.

Instead, we're going to find a couple of cows, kill them, and also find lots, and lots of Aconite. A plant that was used as poison during this era, it'll be expensive and hard to find, but since we're killing a dragon I'm assuming there's somebody willing to put down some coin for us to see this menace dead. Afterall, they paid for wolves to be killed during that era to protect flocks.

So Acoite is... fairly deadly. In fact it's so deadly where a ~15 ml of a tincture made from them can kill a human. I'm estimating our dragon at > x150 the mass of a human, so we'll need about 2.5 liters of this stuff.

Pour the poison over the cow meat, place the meat on the traps, and wait.

Eventually we'll have a trapped dragon, wounded by the traps' metal teeth, and hopefully killed by the poison. If he's just nearly dead from the poison, now we can fall back on walking up with a good sized axe, and ending him that way.

Now we have a dead dragon.

Just be sure to tell the bards a slightly more romantic version of the events.

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  • $\begingroup$ Won't the dragon be suspicious of a dead cow placed next to a bunch of traps? $\endgroup$ – Bellerophon Aug 23 '16 at 16:00
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    $\begingroup$ @Bellerophon Well I suppose that's depending the level of intelligence we're dealing with. The asker didn't define any particular intelligence, so I assumed this was a beast we're out slaying to acquire our princesses and glory. If the asker includes human-like intelligence into the question we'll have to be more creative about my traps. $\endgroup$ – Ranger Aug 23 '16 at 16:03
  • $\begingroup$ Fair enough. I guess the dragon probably wouldn't be thinking clearly anyway since its legs are stuck in bear traps. $\endgroup$ – Bellerophon Aug 23 '16 at 16:05
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Go back to the oldest "man vs dragon" legends. What illustration do you see? Usually St George (or someone similar) on a horse, carrying a lance. So what? You might say; that was pretty typical gear for a knight, right? Yeah, but what is it about a lance on horseback that is formidable? The entire weight and mass of both rider and horse and telegraphed through a very narrow lance to a spearpoint that could be 12+ feet out in front of the rider. This could be accurately targeted to a handspan by a skilled knight. What you are looking at is the medieval equivalent of a depleted uranium, discarding sabot 120mm anti-armor round. That lance would punch through almost ANYTHING that stood in front of that knight on an open field. Hence, the massive psychological impact of a lance of charging knights coming at you.

So... why not a dragon? The trick is: you have to con the dragon into being relatively still on an open field. Then, while it is rearing up and roaring at you (or 'molologuing' as villains tend to do) you kick the horse into high gear and take your one good shot to put that lance right through it's heart. Clearly, there is a lot of risk. If it blows fire, you still have a reasonable chance, since it is significantly harder to aim at something small moving rapidly toward you, particularly uphill. You tend to overshoot (this comes from infantry tactics). The biggest problem is if the dragon is fast enough to whirl and slap you with it's tail, which would knock you off the horse and probably break the horse's legs, or if it can snap at you as you get within range. Luckily, lances can be made almost the same length as the reach of a dragon's jaws, so you still have a chance. You just have to have nerves of steel and a lot of luck (plus an arrogant and foolish dragon who underestimates what a puny little human with a pointy stick can do).

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A simple and easy solution would be to kill the dragon during his sleep or by surprise. With the right equipment, a talented assassin is able to infiltrate a house and kill someone, so a single dragon is less trouble.

Even if dragon skin is extremely thick, you can always resort to explosive or crossbow.

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  • $\begingroup$ Dragon scales are often portrayed as being hard as diamond. Can a crossbow pierce that? $\endgroup$ – Bellerophon Aug 23 '16 at 15:10
  • $\begingroup$ Crossbow are good until scale became harder than steel. Past this point you have to rely in explosive. $\endgroup$ – Metushael Aug 23 '16 at 15:14
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There's actually a surprisingly simple solution here, even if it's without any hint of glory, honour, etc. It wouldn't make for a very good story for the local townspeople, hardly the stuff of legends, but it would be effective and the individual attempting it would have good odds of surviving even a failure.

Poison the dragon. Not necessarily quick, despite what you see in all too many movies and books and games with poisons that act in seconds (tranquilizer darts take minutes to hours under normal use to put an animal down), but a good strong dose of the right toxin would be fatal. Perhaps kill a cow, stuff its guts with your poison of choice, and leave it outside the dragon's cave as an "offering". The dragon's not likely to refuse free food, so you simply need to come back in a day or two, finishing the dragon off if necessary, and plunder away! If the dragon only eats live prey, it gets a bit trickier: you'd have to force-feed the poison to your cow, and hope the dragon eats the thing before the cow starts to show symptoms of being poisoned, but it could still be done. If the poison doesn't do the job, it's going to suck (the dragon will be suspicious after this, most likely), but you will be well away from the area and still living to try again.

I'm not well-versed in what poisons were available in the medieval era, but I'm confident that something vicious and very deadly existed and could be found. Some plant that could have its leaves brewed into a toxic tea, or a very poisonous mushroom, or just a colossal overdose of a sleeping potion, or some other lethal poison entirely.

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  • $\begingroup$ wouldn't the dragon just vomit away the poison? $\endgroup$ – Charon Aug 23 '16 at 15:53
  • $\begingroup$ That assumes the poison induces vomiting, or that the effects are noticeable before it gets through the stomach; poison is usually rather slow. If the poison is in the bloodstream before the symptoms become apparent, it's rather late to try and vomit it all up. $\endgroup$ – Palarran Aug 23 '16 at 16:08
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A think in real life one man alone could not beat a dragon in an open fight, but a large hunting part lead by one man is more realistic the leader would get all glory even though it was a group effort.

On a sind note if the hunting part wants to kill a dragon the smart thing would be to attack while it's in its cave or den. That way it can't just fly away, or attack the party from the air.

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Overwhelming military might, you take each of the dragon's strengths and turn them against him.

Flight

This is easy to overcome, you get your dragon in a cave! somewhere low so he can't take out

Strength

The dragon is stronger than you, that means you need to either stay out of reach or get within it's reach - if you rush it, avoid the claws and fangs and get within it's reach you should be able to stab it from where it can't reach you.

Speed/Fire

Ok, so you don't want to get too close to a fire breathing quick dragon, I suppose I can see where you're coming from... say hello to my lil friend.. Set up your ballista (more than one would be ideal!) at the mouth of the cave and fire as soon as you see him enter the passage that he can't fly in. He won't be faster than a ballista and he'll be too far away for the his fire to be in effect, you can even duck to the side of the cave and he won't be able to get you.

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Poison.

Just like rats, only bigger. If they are bothering the farmers by taking livestock, then it’s obvious that you can bait them.

Some pathogen would work too, but would be harder to arrange and is not well understood by the pre-industrial people.

we’ve discussed this before

See this answer (and others) for more ideas.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I've read the thread before asking the question. The problem is, it didn't bring a solution from a personal perspective. And $\endgroup$ – Oleksandr Firsov Aug 23 '16 at 16:12

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