When I was a kid, two friends and I got into a discussion about the size of dragons. Well, it’s wasn’t properly two friends – it was a friend and a friend of a friend. The latter proved to be one of those geeks who give other geeks a bad name – in short, he was kinda an irritating twit – but he had an interesting point that’s stuck with me over othe years:
A dragon, he claimed, would be as wide as a two lane street and as long as two blocks. He insisted that he had done the math. And, as far as he was concerned, that was the last word on the subject. Mind you, he was around 11 or 12 at the time, but, as I said, this idea stuck with me over the years. Maybe it’s because the size of a dragon in fantasy books is a bit hazy – the author will usually say, “its eyes were the size of dinner plates” or “its head was as high as he was tall.” Even when you know the character in question is around six foot tall, this isn’t much of a guage if you don’t have a grasp of how big the dragon’s head is in comparason to the rest of it. Likewise, if you’re not particularly math-savvy, you’re still in the dark. So I’ve found the notion of being as wide as a street and as long as couple blocks helpful. I know what that looks like.
And, good god, that’s a big animal. I mean, that’s a really big animal. It makes the idea of a single knight going after it that insane. It would be like a trying to attack a freight train.
Breathing fire is another thing. This has fallen out of favor in recent years – dragons that spit acid or just have severe halitosis have seen a surge in popularity, possiblity because fire breathing, like size, as a little hard to grasp. If you’ve ever seen a human fire breather, you know it’s just a brief jet of flame – and I’ll admit the idea of that kind of brief jet being hot enough to turn metal into slag and instantly blacken stone does seem impractial. Even a flamethrower, though a bit more feasable, doesn’t seem to pack enough of the oomph that traditional dragons seem to have.
But if you’re working with…say…a napalm like salva that the dragon lights with a kind of spark plug in its mouth, that’s different. Napalm burns at around 1500° to 2200° F. Just to be exposed to that kind of heat at 30 or 40 feet away would be really painful. To get hit with a direct blast in steel armor would be…well, it would be game over, that’s what it’d be.
Now if you give this to a beast that is a large as two city blocks and has a natural weapon that could injure people at 40 feet from the flame itself, are you really going to worry about how long its claws and teeth are?
Well, yes, naturally, we are. Only I don’t have the numbers to calculate that kind of thing – if you do please, please comment. I’d like to know. You know, ’cause I’m a scienficially minded fanatsy writer.