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The setting is mid-medieval in technology, vaguely European. There exists no magic in the setting except what is explicitly defined in this question (which all relate to dragons).

Dragons are the traditional winged, scaled, fire-breathing beasts of fantasy, ranging in size between that of a horse and an elephant, and with intelligence between that of a dog and a human child, depending on the dragon's bloodline. Their hides are a bit tougher than elephant hides. They are fairly nimble; clearly more than an elephant, but less than a tiger. They can fly for short periods of effort. In summary, each are incredibly worthy opponents as far as animals go, but can be (and are) killed.

They aren't numerous, but there are enough of them that (and they are troublesome enough where) most kingdoms face the need to hunt them down and kill them every couple of years.

Killing a dragon results in the killer being cursed by the dragon's spell; they adopt limited/partial physical characteristics of the dragon enabling them to be more effective at killing dragons (not proportionate to their size), but also visibly mark them. The more dragons killed by one individual, the more he changes. The changes to the dragon slayer are also mental as a slayer becomes progressively more:

  • aggressive
  • paranoid
  • predatorial
  • survival-focused

These are mental afflictions, and can be compared to developed mental disorders, like PTSD, as to how they interact/affect/etc one's personality. They possibly can be managed, but these effects never go away.

With changes to the eyes or scales around the hands and the face, even after the first dragon killed the slayer is physically marked in ways that are near impossible to hide. Most slayers devolve into something entirely animal (mentally) after five or six killings (if they survive that long), limiting any dragon slayer's career, and life as a member of society.

There is no way to game the system (have multiple people attack at once) to increase, decrease, distribute, or stop this death-curse. The only way to avoid the curse is to not kill a dragon. The only way to gain the curse is to kill a dragon.

The physical characteristics increase the slayer in raw ways one associates with a large beast (physical strength, ability to weather punishment, appetite) but also more particular traits like flame retardation and eyes accustomed to bright flashes. These enable them to be far more likely to successfully engage with a second or third clash with a dragon than anyone else. They never gain extremities like wings or a tail.


In the end you have this odd cycle where killing dragons creates a better dragon slayer (unavoidable), but also a ticking time bomb; even killing one dragon could devolve a normal soldier into a bandit, depending on the strength of his character. This is a reality, and something that the kingdoms have to deal with in some manner or another.

What is a strategically intelligent manner of dealing with this reality for the kingdoms? What is objectively a good policy about managing killing dragons, and then utilizing (or dealing with) the slayers?

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    $\begingroup$ If a person ties the dragon down, walks away, and it starves X days/weeks/months later, does said person still acquire the curse? $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Nov 10 '16 at 21:52
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    $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre Yeah, the curse's infliction is magic, but pretend there's some cosmic judge weighing the facts, and selecting who is the most, and most directly responsible for the dragon's demise. The pretend cosmic judge will ignore any attempts to exploit loopholes. $\endgroup$ – Ranger Nov 10 '16 at 21:55
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    $\begingroup$ I think you should take a look at witcher series (books and games if you want to) for ideas. Witchers are more or less what you describe in this post except their mutations come from potions and trials they use. $\endgroup$ – conquistador Nov 11 '16 at 7:28
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    $\begingroup$ Who gets the curse if a group builds a trap and the dragon is killed by the trap rather than the people? Or, say, what if the group built a trap to kill elephants, but it accidentally caught a dragon and then killed it, instead? Same deal, handwaving away of the logic by the cosmic decider? $\endgroup$ – TylerH Nov 11 '16 at 15:07
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    $\begingroup$ You mention mental symptoms and things stacking up over kills. Do the conditions also progress with time, or are they primarily limited by the number of curses you have received? Is the curse passed on to current or future offspring? $\endgroup$ – Pork Nov 11 '16 at 17:45

21 Answers 21

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To understand what would happen, we must look back in history.

These people survived next to Dragons for thousands of years. Either they coevolved with them from the start, or they showed up here long enough ago that their culture has changed to adapt to them.

When an early stone-age people encountered dragons, they would either avoid them, kill them, or domesticate them, or some combination.

If they are ameniable to domestication, the character of society changes. War dragons become core weapons technology, as a flying fire breathing beast would change how you'd have to fortify things.

Assuming they are not, or that is highly limited (a society of mountain-dwelling swiss who have a domesticated high-altitude breed would be interesting), it leaves avoid and kill.

Extinction violates the terms of the question. So I'll assume dragons have a massive geographically restricted advantage over humans, but elsewhere humans have a massive advantage. These "badlands" would be populated with dragons, while humans cannot safely go there. The advantage has to be so large that people would rather starve than enter those regions, or doing so is suicidal (at least until very very recent times).

As only dragons can be magical, suppose there are areas where there are tiny, tiny dragons, the size of dragonflies, or even smaller. These fire breathing tiny creatures have the dragon's curse. They are native only to some parts of the continent, and they are endemic. Being in these areas basically is a death sentence for humans. Other creatures don't suffer the curse, so other wildlife exists.

From these regions larger dragons emerge.


In ancient times, while humans and dragons coexisted, killing a dragon would become a rite of passage. Doing it more than once would be considered taboo, and you'd be exiled. Human culture would select for opposing the effects of the first "dose" of dragon curse, as societies that did not would fall apart.

As the dragons are pushed into their sanctuaries, only the warrior caste would continue with the dragon-cursing. Knights and other warrior caste members would have a ritual dragon-slaying, which makes them larger and stronger. They would be selected and indoctrinated before and after with ritualistic behavior and meditation. Religion would be built around this.

If it can be managed, they would form the ruling caste, as it is hard to avoid your warrior caste from taking over. Possibly a matrilinial system would develop, where non-warrior women would manage society, while dragon-cursed warrior-monks would protect it.

"Wild" dragon-cursed individuals would be a constant problem, as the system to control them wouldn't be perfect. Double-cursed would be hunted down and killed as too dangerous. Possibly dragon-cursed who could not manage their curse would be consigned to the gladiator pits, or maybe they would even generate multiple-cursed warriors especially for that purpose (and as shock troops in war).

Another alternative is that the dragon-curse would be trained against, the individual would be cursed. Then tested to see if they are mitigating the problem well. These tests would be passed down in the order.

If they are well mitigated, a second dragon-curse would be applied to make them even greater warriors. Such warriors would be tested, and if they fail would be culled.

Various societies would develop around this process. The controlled harvesting and killing of dragons would be done; letting a dragon-warrior loose to hunt risks the dragon-warrior killing and then going rogue. So this is only feasible if the tests where really solid and predictable, at least one step out.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is an excellent way to view this problem. The 1 dragon rite-of-passage, 2 dragons taboo is a particularly good way to look at how human society would co-evolve with these dragons. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Nov 17 '16 at 18:06
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You make it a semi-religious order, or a military order.

The 'Order of Slayers' is a prestigious order dedicated to studying, and combating, the dragon problem. Out of this order, very few can actually be 'dragon slayers', with the majority of the order being support staff, scientists/scholars, and so on.

You make a series of strict rules and regulations for the order. Basically making it a huge honor to be slayers, but its a sacrifice: They will be monitored and controlled for the rest of their lives. You then elevate these slayers to national hero level, but still emphasize their sacrifice in publications about them.

In return, these slayers' lives are guaranteed. Food, clothing, weapons, luxurious apartments, men/women, and so on. They will not be paid. Their every need will be met (to a reasonable degree). On top of this, the Kingdom will guarantee that their immediate families are looked after: with generous annual stipends, priorities in schools/healthcare, etc. NOTE that these privileges are reserved only for families of slayers, not just any member of the Order.

There is a class of soldiers, in the Order, who are responsible for the slayers: Both to keep them safe, and keep them in check, and even kill them if they go out of control.

For slayers at the end of their sanity, you can either eliminate them quietly with these troops, or you can set aside an island sanctuary where you will ship them off and let them roam and kill each other (if that is what will happen) for the rest of their lives. Of course you will need to keep this from the public, so every time one 'retires' you hold a ceremony extolling the virtues of the slayer and claiming that he has died in the order and has been cremated. The family will be honored by the kingdom.

This will inspire the people, keep the slayers' heroic reputation intact, and ensure that there will always be people applying to join the Order.

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    $\begingroup$ This should definitely help their paranoia $\endgroup$ – yitzih Nov 11 '16 at 14:52
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    $\begingroup$ @yitzih No need to be paranoid; we will be out to get you if you go mad. $\endgroup$ – wizzwizz4 Nov 11 '16 at 17:38
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    $\begingroup$ @Josuha I was going to leave those details to the OP, its his story after all. But, in how many of traditional dragon stories do the peasants actually manage to kill the dragon? That's why the 'monster slaying hero' is a motif seen in many traditional stories. Peasants under dragon attack would, traditionally, flee. Word reaches the King/Order of a dragon attack and the slayers are dispatched. Remember: Like in ALL stories, killing Dragons is hard. This one with an added complication of a curse. $\endgroup$ – WarPorcus Nov 12 '16 at 22:12
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    $\begingroup$ @Joshua: that could make a very good start for a story: provincial farmer Johan kills a dragon, to everyone’s shock and amazement; so what happens next? Half of the court say he should be immediately inducted into the Order; the other half reckon he should be quietly drowned in a distant lake, and the whole incident hushed up. Half Temeraire, half Farmer Giles of Ham. $\endgroup$ – Peter LeFanu Lumsdaine Nov 13 '16 at 15:36
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    $\begingroup$ I like this approach, and it also sets things up nicely for a rogue band of dragonslayers who don't want to accept the gilded cage $\endgroup$ – Paul Nov 14 '16 at 11:40
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Easy

  • You catch the dragon using disposable peasants, steel nets and whatnot.
  • You drag the dragon to the public square (or a clearing or whatever, if a square is inconvenient with all the dragonfire and stuff).
  • You use your death row convicts to deal the death blow.
  • If the death row convict refuses to kill the dragon, he/she is tortured for days before being put to death.
  • You then hang the death row convict dragonslayer (optionally, use the convict for more than one slaying).
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    $\begingroup$ I am wondering if that will put the slaying curse on the king/governor who authorises the whole process, instead of the death row convict. Remember, there is a cosmic judge overseeing the whole process. $\endgroup$ – Youstay Igo Nov 11 '16 at 12:58
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    $\begingroup$ @YoustayIgo That will mean that in most cases the king will be the cursed one always. No strategy can work if its like that. $\endgroup$ – akaltar Nov 11 '16 at 13:11
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    $\begingroup$ @YoustayIgo that is clearly debatable and depends of cosmic judge ethic code. $\endgroup$ – talex Nov 11 '16 at 13:38
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    $\begingroup$ As a cosmic judge in this case I'd curse the person who gave the immediate order to strike the blow, rather than the person who made the blow, who is acting under duress and not strictly responsible for actions taken. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Nov 11 '16 at 14:32
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    $\begingroup$ I guess we'd need clarification from the OP before we know for sure, but it sounds to me like this "cosmic judge" is a non-sentient force of nature. It can tell who is directly responsible for killing the dragon (i.e., capturing it and letting it starve to death), but indirect deaths (caused by ordering someone else to kill the dragon) might be too roundabout for the judge. All it sees is the prisoner killing the dragon. Motivation for doing so doesn't matter; just the fact that the dragon was killed directly by the prisoner. $\endgroup$ – Mage Xy Nov 11 '16 at 14:46
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Ostracism

Ostracism would be definitely there for the dragon slayers. However, it would be the slayers who would ostracize themselves from the society and not the society which discriminates them. For the society, the slayers would be heroes and saviors. However, the slayers would be wary of the society, living in seclusion.

Reward and Limitation

There would probably be some official reward for killing a dragon. However, every city/large town would only be allowed to have no more than two (or at most three) dragon slayers. As in, if there are two people belonging to London who are active dragon slayers, other people from London would be barred from pursuing this career. Only after one of the slayers is dead or disabled, someone else from the city can kill their first dragon and begin their career.

The slayers would be paid a one-time handsome reward for killing each dragon and then a good amount of money (or resources) every month. The one-time reward would be paid by the federal government (king) while the monthly amount would be paid by the citizens of each city/town for their slayers.

Overwhelmingly Problematic Slayers

While the community would cope with the usual personality issues about slayers, a particularly cantankerous or violent slayer would be silently set up for his/her death by a royal decree, ordering him/her to slay specifically cunning or powerful dragons within a short period of time. In case of his/her victory, the number of dragons for future missions would continue to increase, until the slayer finally meets his match.

In some cases, for an ultra-genius slayer, the king might secretly order other slayers to track and kill him/her.

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    $\begingroup$ So, witchers, then. $\endgroup$ – TylerH Nov 11 '16 at 15:08
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There are any number of techniques one can use, some of them drawn from how history has treated generals, gladiators, and soldiers.

  1. Ostracism: dragonslayers live apart, are barely tolerated when coming into town, and are shunned. The physical markings make this easy.

  2. Cloistering: dragonslayers live in an opulent palace with plenty of servants, but can't leave the building except when going off to fight.

  3. Religious constraints: being a dragonslayer means you have a special relationship to the divine: you don't even get a chance to go after a dragon until you spend years being inculcated in a religious and moral code. Each time you kill a dragon and subsequently change, you undergo additional training.

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    $\begingroup$ How would cloistering work with a group of disturbed individuals who were increasingly aggressive, paranoid, and predatorial? Ditto for religious constraints; presumably even the pure of heart would be corrupted by their magically-induced paranoia. $\endgroup$ – flith Nov 11 '16 at 9:00
  • $\begingroup$ The cloister is guarded and locked; the creature comforts inside the cloister are much better than what they'd get outside the cloister. $\endgroup$ – John Feltz Nov 11 '16 at 14:03
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Dragon vasectomy.

In South Africa, elephant overpopulation is a serious problem. Instead of culling the herds, populations are controlled by people whose job it is to tranquilize bull elephants and surgically castrate them. (Generally regarded as one of the most unpleasant jobs in the world.)

Reptiles can be surgically castrated, so presumably dragons can be as well. You can have teams of specialists going around dealing with your dragon problem by neutering the males. No killing required! And as an added benefit, it might make them less aggressive in the meantime.

You can add this to traditional dragonslayers who are willing to take the burden of the curse. Neutered dragons can be marked so that dragonslayers don't waste their time on them.

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    $\begingroup$ good luck finding volunteers for the job of castratting a live dragon $\endgroup$ – Bryan McClure Nov 16 '16 at 23:21
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If killing only one dragon is going to turn a reliable soldier into a bandit, then most dragon slayers will most likely not kill more than one dragon. This is because, given the survivalist/paranoia traits resulting from the curse, they'll no longer have their previous motivations to obey the king and serve the kingdom and put themselves in the harm's way again. You'll end up with a highly trained but undisciplined captain Americas type of army that'll come handy in attacking/looting neighboring kingdoms. This army will be a bit hard to keep disciplined but not entirely unmanageable with the right leadership and incentives.

That being said, I do see them going back to kill more and more dragons for one reason - They get addicted to gaining more and more strength. It's like being high on meth/crack, they love the newly acquired energy and the overall feeling and keep wanting more and more of it no matter the consequences. In this case, you don't even need to do anything, they'll just seek out more and more dragons themselves until they're killed themselves.

Also, this dragon slayer thing seems to be a great way of disposing off undesirable elements of the society. For example, give the criminals a choice between immediate execution and becoming dragon slayers who'll be pardoned if they kill the dragon(s) with the condition that they'd not commit a crime again. Regardless of what they choose, they'll be rid of.

Finally, if the dragonslayers must be non-expendable citizens, psychiatric treatment will alleviate most of those symptoms. If appropriate psychiatric medicines are not available, then drugs like opium/marijuana etc would probably keep them reasonably subdued. Assuming they become heroes and get great rewards, they don't need to stay particularly functional. Make them priests or assign them honorary positions that don't require them to do anything but keep them fed and living with good lifestyles.

If we want to create a stable system type of thing though, the King should introduce a Mandatory/Obligatory State Service type of arrangement. This is how it'll work - Every year (or every few months), a chosen family/village will be required to appoint an able bodied man to be the dragonslayer. The family will be appropriately compensated for this service if the appointed person is killed or otherwise "tainted" while fighting the dragons during this period. After an year (or if the appointed person is dead), the next family/village will be chosen and so on. But this system will work only if the dragon's are infrequent enough and will not work long in the real world. I address how things would go in a realistic setting in the next paragraph.

All that being said, I think in a realistic setting like our world, what's really going to happen would depend on whether dragons can be tamed or not. The ones that have dog like brains will be tamed and become assimilated in the human society. The ones that can't be tamed will be destroyed. Kings will deploy parts of their armies against the dragons. The dragons will be hunted down and killed in large numbers fairly quickly and their habitats destroyed permanently. Dragons will either go completely extinct or be reduced to numbers and sizes so that they're no longer a threat. The symptoms would be considered just a known hazard of the job because these people grew up with all this. The soldiers who go a bit crazy because of the dragonslaying expeditions will be sent off to other expeditions/wars and forgotten until they die off.

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It could serve as annunciation of crimes. So you give the convicted murders (they are already good at killing so why not) a chance to kill the dragon. If they kill it great the threat is over and they are pardoned. If they do not survive then good also one less killer to worry about. They would of course have to escorted by armed guard to the dragon and you have to make sure you have more guard then prisoner so they don't think they have a better chance of surviving by attack the guards instead.

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    $\begingroup$ Username checks out $\endgroup$ – Daerdemandt Nov 12 '16 at 9:45
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    $\begingroup$ Just one problem: If you pardon the now more powerful and more mentally unstable killer, you increase the probability of that person killing more people! $\endgroup$ – Kroltan Nov 12 '16 at 17:56
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    $\begingroup$ Yes but they are now visible marked letting people know to stay the hell away from them. $\endgroup$ – Frozendragon Nov 13 '16 at 19:43
  • $\begingroup$ A old school version of the Suicide Squad? $\endgroup$ – ohwilleke Nov 17 '16 at 4:44
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That is a pretty cool concept.

Dragonslayers are recognized, respected, and rewarded by society as selfless, tragic heroes.

Dragonslaying is a tough job, but someone's gotta do it. Individuals who set out to become Dragonslayers know that it will kill them - Either because they fail and one of the dragons, well, slays them, or they succeed, and become dangerous and mindless.

Dragonslayers are treated with a mixture of apprehension and respect by the community, and are typically provided for by the community. When they die or inevitably turn feral, their dependents, if any, are cared for by the community, and feral dragonslayers are kept in asylums and cared for, if they're not too dangerous. If they are, every effort is taken to make their death as humane as possible.

In advanced and wealthy societies this might take the form of a government salary for the slayers, a state pension for their dependents, and the asylums would be government institutions. In rural or primitive societies, the community would provide these things voluntarily out of a sense of duty and respect, and it might not be possible to provide the feral slayers themselves with humane asylums.

Desperately poor people might take up dragonslaying to provide their spouse and children with financial security. Others might do it out of a sense of patriotic or religious duty. Others might be motivated by hate or revenge, after losing loved ones to dragons.

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  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps you need a class of self-less, attractive, Beauty and the Beast type companions for Dragonslayers, perhaps recruited like the temple priestesses of the classical era, so that there is an upside to doing it. And, the question doesn't say that the curse leads to sterility, so perhaps it could be a dynastic thing. A bad ass guy and beautiful woman (or visa versa) have amazingly able kids who continue the cycle with the emotional scars of losing a parent young (a bit like the hero of the Shannara TV show). $\endgroup$ – ohwilleke Nov 17 '16 at 4:49
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If people are wise to it being a losing game, then pay off their families. There are always people who will do terribly unpleasant things to be sure dear old mum is looked after. The slayer probably won't care as much about their families after the first round, so after that maybe you pay off the slayer with land and freedom. Ideally land far away, maybe with current owners you don't like.

If you have enough people who are interested in such a deal you just have some of the surplus kill slayers that make trouble, it could even be a barrier to entry.

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you need to train dragonslayers, make it a noble endeavor, make sure they know it corrupts them, you create zealots who only want to killing dragons or die in the attempt, who will kill themselves if they survive because they will have been taught for decades that they will become monsters. basically you're creating a cross between fire fighters and suicide bombers. compensation to the family should be a given, but honor, and service will be the real motivation.

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Do we even need to kill the dragons at all? Based on the OP, the dragon population of the world is such that this only becomes a problem every couple of years or so.

So, instead of killing the dragons, invest time in developing techniques to herd them away from populated areas. Maybe even research techniques (either chemical or surgical - no magic required) to neuter dragons and control the population that way. Basically we're using the same sorts of techniques used to control real wild animals, like tigers and eagles, modified to account for the fire breathing.

Alternatively, since you said some dragons have intelligence equivalent to a human child, we can try to domesticate them. Human children CAN be reasoned with, and can even be fooled - relatively easily - into doing things your way even when it's against their own best interests. So find a way to convince these more intelligent (relatively speaking) dragons to police their own kind. Offer them food they find delicious but which requires preparation they can't master themselves, or something.

I mean, there's a reason we don't just kill all the tigers in the world, after all. Why should dragons be handled differently?

To be sure, there will be times when a dragon NEEDS to be killed, but these approaches should help to minimize those occurrences. The resulting cursed humans can be dealt with through methods already outlined by other answers, which will be so much the easier for there being notably fewer such cursed humans to deal with.

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  • $\begingroup$ I've considered that, too, but the OP said the dragons have no understandable language, and getting death convict to finish off several dragons for some money for the family is way closer to the medieval setting. $\endgroup$ – user8808 Nov 11 '16 at 16:14
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Cursed gladiators!

Every few years, when it's time to kill some dragons, send out of the most dangerous, hardened criminals the kingdom has (ones who would have been sent to death row or life imprisonment anyway). Obviously these criminals would be accompanied by numerous guards and escorted to wherever the dragons are.

If the criminal dies to the dragon, whatever. If they don't, the guards will collect them and escort them back into their holding cell. After the dragon slayers are given enough time to rest and prepare, they take part in a death-match arena battle. The final winner gets a decent sized fortune, and their family will be cared for and live like nobles. The dragon slayer would have to be heavily monitored, but at least there'd only be one every few years.

The dragon slaying and gladiator match would probably be a grand event, accompanied by festivals and looked forward to by the people (maybe even criminals). Maybe even give the potential for normal, non-criminal people to join too if they wanted.

You have the problem of safely sending the criminal to kill the dragon and retrieving them: the dragon slayer would probably rather flee than risk their life for a potential fortune. A potential solution would be giving the criminal a slow acting poison (death within a day or so), then giving them the antidote if they come back alive as a dragon slayer.

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One option is to create a quasi-religious cult of dragon-slayers in which rigorous discipline, training and indoctrination mitigate the negative social aspects.

In this context it is also worth nothing that the real problems of thing like PTSD tend to manifest themselves once an individual has left the military and tried to integrate back into civilian society. Indeed one interpretation is that the problem is not so much that they have been damaged by their experiences but that they have been rigorously trained and conditioned to one very specif lifestyle and then have to 'unlearn' all of that to adapt to a completely different social environment.

So one approach is to have an order of dragonslayers who carefully monitor their initiates and retire them into either administrative roles or padded cells as appropriate.

Hopefully a combination of discipline, a well ordered social structure, practical support and monitoring could mitigate the worst effects it also gives you a system where you can pass on some of the practical skills and experience to novice dragon slayers through organised training, teaching and documentation as well as having the opportunity to research the effects in some detail.

Also if all else fails having an organisation of dragon slayers being self-policing may be the best chance of keeping rogue individuals under control although you may not want to put all your eggs in one basket and have several different orders who have a responsibility for keeping an eye on each other.

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No peasants are allowed to kill a dragon, only professional dragon slayers. Every time a dragon slayer kills a dragon his face is marked. A dragon slayer may not kill more then four dragons in his life. After a dragon slayer kills his forth dragon a test of his sanity is preformed. If he fails he is killed, If he passes he joins the elite hunters. these hunters hunt rouge dragon slayers instead of dragons.

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Noone kills the dragon, they are diven off

If the cost of killing a dragon is such that noone will bear it, then it makes sense that some "civilized" cites/territories would be in the business of just making the dragons life more uncomfortable than the pain of the dragon finding a new nest.

This could include fortifying barns and outfitting them with large pikes and other deterrents where the herds would be kept at night. Dragons could continually be "smoked out" of their lairs, rivers could be diverted so they are flooded, putrid dead animals could be dumped into the nests. Even digging out their nests, so that it offers little protection from the elements. (all of this while the dragon was out hunting, I'd presume) Generally making the dragon's life miserable until they move to the next territory, preferably, in someone else's country.

Trapping and relocating them in the middle of the ocean, or down a pit where they would be starved to death? Even better, try and point them at your enemies! Imagine releasing a hungry dragon on an unsuspecting enemy army!

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  • $\begingroup$ Sounds expensive. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Nov 17 '16 at 18:10
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There are many strategies. (using convicts has merit. A group that monitors the cursed is another.)

Monitor the dragons. Move then into enemy lands. (Heck, breeding up these suckers to use as weapons makes a ton of sense.) Injure without killing and drive them into neighboring lands.

This isn't just kicking the can so someone else has to deal with it.

If you drive them into your enemy, it will weaken their forces---except for the cursed one. Send them at a good rate, and their best chances of stopping it will be that same hero. IoW, you are removing a great hero from an enemy and dealing with the dragon.

Dragonherds are going to be far more valuable than slayers, honestly, unless it's not possible for some reason. Those that can produce barriers to them, as well.

If they can be tamed, they'd make great support animals for war for similar reasons.

The more immediately disastrous the first kill, the more powerfully the strategies will lean towards forcing others to kill and using the curse as a weapon.

If a population learns how to live among them, they might not even drive them away. Makes a good deterrent. (An Indian friend of mine showed me photos of the house he grew up in which had shelves for cobras to use so they weren't underfoot. That's the sort of adaptation I mean.)

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Dragonslayers would be superhuman, and its possible that it would take 24+ normal men to subdue them. Because of their abilities and often unstable mental state, they would make excellent assassins (assuming they are sufficiently motivated to remain on target). The more mentally stable ones would be required to be personal guards against the assassin dragonslayers.

There would need to be a weakness though... something like a sound (like a dog whistle) that would cause pain/discomfort.

Otherwise, why wouldn't these superhumans take over the world?

Edit (to better answer the question):

Without a balance of power, the dragonslayers WOULD take over the world, even if that world was ruled by chaos.

As far as how to handle the people, make the dragonslayers to be a stigma, and killing a dragon should be avoided at all costs. Make it common knowledge that all dragonslayers would be hunted down and killed regardless of their previous station. Make it part of a religion so that regular folks are afraid of the "demons" and will report them.

You would need a highly trained team of non-dragonslayers (Paladins) that has the sole purpose is to hunt down rogue dragonslayers.

How to handle the dragons? Well there would still need to be dragonslayers, but they should come from within the religion itself... warriors that came from the Paladin ranks and have already been thoroughly indoctrinated so that the changes from the curse would be much less of a risk. They would belong to an elite order within the religion (that claims a God Blessing that grants them immunity to the curse), but they wear full armor to conceal their identity. As far as their families know, these warriors were killed (and the warrior is convinced/forced to forget his past). As far as the public is concerned, these "holy dragonslayers" are a rumor/legend and are rarely seen.

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  • $\begingroup$ This doesn't really answer the question. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Nov 17 '16 at 18:08
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A strict and severe Monastic order would probably be the best way to deal with it. I'm not adding anything to what has already been answered, but I see a synthesis of many answers here.

Start with a monastic order of knights. It would be tightly bound with the state religion. Anyone can join, commoner or aristocracy, but it would be like the priesthood. It's a one way ticket. You will be cared for, your family gets a stipend, and they basically mourn you as dead because they know you aren't coming back. You renounce all titles, land, etc. You even give up your name. Once in, it becomes a strict meritocracy. Everyone trains to fight, and they train very hard. This Monastic order is not just going to be for dragon slaying, they will also be the kingdoms elite troops. They will take turns doing things like guarding the palace, the treasury, etc. These duties will be shared by all who have not yet killed a dragon, because you need to be mentally stable when guarding a king. I think we can agree paranoia would be bad for this.

Once judged to be good enough to train as a true Dragon Slayer, you go through an apprenticeship with an experienced slayer (one with 2 or 3 kills). You become their lackey, more or less, and spend even more time training, training, training. You go with them on your first mission, and they will be your backup in case you fail. If you succeed, hurrah, if not, they kill the dragon and then retire to the top tier, hunters of the rogue dragon slayer. They would be strictly cloistered after this. They would be encouraged to write their memoirs or perhaps channel their aggression in the forges making weapons for future dragon slayers. They could take on the basic training in combat arts for the brand new recruits (not one on one, but group).

The key to all of this is the monastic rigidity, and not letting anyone accumulate too many kills. Those that have graduated to the top tier need to be kept busy, with appropriate outlets for aggression. The more kills, the more one must spend in relative isolation, perhaps with a brother who is also very senior, but not a slayer himself. You don't want powerful whack jobs to spend too much time all alone.

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You Capture Dragons Instead

You don't kill the dragons. You incapacitate them. You then bring them back and lock them up.

They can be tamed, used for milk, or for entertainment. They can also be used as beasts of burden.

Bring them into war on your side, so your opponents kill them instead.

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Why does the hunter need to kill the dragon himself? Would the curse follow poisoning or trapping?

A hunter could rig the dragon's lair to collapse trapping it to suffocate and completely avoid any curse.

He could leave a tasty poisoned goat out the front.

He could take out a wing and leave it crippled to starve.

There are plenty of ways you could take out a dragon without having to swing the sword yourself.

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