Mountain Drake

"The mountain drake is considered to be king of the mountains. Terrible, hulking creatures that stand as tall as castle walls, with large powerful fore claws and a maw of sharp fangs capable of crushing rock. They belch fire, devour entire villages, and bring down entire mountains. You would never see them coming, for they circle underneath the earth like sharks before they strike...." - The Big Book of Legends for Children and Laymen

Basic Information

Anatomy & Morphology

Mountain Drake are the largest species of dragon, growing up to the size of a bull elephant (15 feet at the shoulder) and approximately 30 feet long. They possess short necks, two bowed forearms with shovel like hands featuring five forward facing digits ending in long and thick claws, thick squat hind legs with four large toes tipped with thick curved claws, a short clubbed tail, and thick plate like scales that cover most of their body.   The bulk of a Mountain Drake lies in it's scale structure and muscle tissue. The thickest scales are fused plates running down the spine before spreading out and encasing the tail in a series of interlocking plates. These plates limit the mobility of the tail, but protects their primary means of defense. If these fused plates are lost, the scales do not regrow. They do not do a true shedding of these scales, but rather scrape off the top layers once they grow too thick.   The squarish head features smaller plates of fused scales, primarily along the top of the head and down the bridge of the nose with several thick protrusions over the eye ridge and nostrils, protecting them from falling stone and debris. The ridges grow out similar to a shark's teeth. When the older scales are lost, the next row grows down to take their place. Under the eye and along the jaw the drake lacks scales, exposing the thick gray hide. The muscle here is thinnest, but the bone beneath is the thickest.   The eyes are small and protected with an extra set of eyelids specialized in removing debris and shielding the eye. Mountain Drakes possess black colored sclera, a thin band of orange or gold colored irises, and large round pupils.   The chin is covered by thin tendril like protrusions which are sensory organs that detect movement in the air. These are constantly regrowing and replacing themselves as they are easy to damage or break. They cause no pain, just discomfort when broken or damaged.   Bands of scales, much like a snakes, protect the soft parts of the dragon's underside. The first set starts at the soft underside of the jaw and traveling down the length of the throat to sternum. The second set starts below the rib cage and runs to the base of the tail, where they are swallowed by the scale plates that grow over the entire radius of the tail. These scales offer protection while allowing mobility. Similar scales can be found in the creases of joints where harder scales could not grow, lest they prevent the Drake from moving a limb. Like most reptiles, the Drake's genitalia are internal. The overlapping leathery bands hide the cloaca.   The rest of the drake's body is covered in coin sized overlapping scales which are shed and replaced regularly.

Biological Traits

Females are the larger of the species with darker coloration. Consequently, they weigh more than the males. Males have a leaner body structure than the females and have a slight agility advantage over females, which is primarily needed when it comes to mating.

Genetics and Reproduction

Female Mountain Drakes follow a typical estrus cycle, entering their reproductive phase once every two to three years for approximately a month. Being in her reproductive phase does not mean that she is receptive to the mating process though. Females generally dislike mating due to the discomfort of being on their backs and the effort to right themselves.   Reproduction is typically initiated by a male, either her established mate or a male brave enough (or stupid enough) to attempt to breed her. The only way to mate with a female is to topple her. He then must pin her and have good aim while she is struggling to get up. After that he must dismount without injuring himself. An unwanted mating means the male had better book it as fast as he can or face her wrath.   Whether the mating was welcomed or not, the female will not begrudge the offspring. Typical gestation lasts approximately a year and three months. Mountain drakes typically carry one fetus at a time. It is rare for there to be two or three gestating and rarer for more than one fetus to survive in these instances. In the extreme rarity that three or more feti are present, there are often no survivors, the whole brood will die off by the sixth or seventh month.   The mother will make a nest out of soft soils and plant debris several weeks prior to the birth. Mountain drakes give live birth.  

Cross Breeding

  Cross breeding rarely occurs with Drakes, due to their locations and general inaccessibility.   Females participating in cross breeding is unheard of in this current age. In the past, it had been attempted, but led to disaster when paired with an egg bearing species. In the extremely rare case that a female participates in cross production, she will generally only consent with a live birthing species.   Males, being less prone to birthing issues, are not as picky about cross breeding. When they breed with an egg laying species, the egg tooth is often absent, but it is not difficult to aid a hatchling in emerging from the egg.   By crossbreeding, the Drake has contributed several traits to other species and the advent of others such as the Subspecies: Dragonus (Drake + Wyvern).

Growth Rate & Stages

When a Drakkie is first born the hide is soft and supple with no scales, save the leathery scale bands. Like all dragons, the hide is a pale gray or white. It is extremely vulnerable and relies on it's parents for all basic needs and protection. The hide grows thicker quickly, reaching the same toughness as the parents after a few months with an ideal diet. They are moved to the community nest once their hides are thickened.   Drakkies are officially dragonets at a year of age. Their scales, which are earthy in color, begin to grow along the top of the head and the spine. These scales start off small and circular, shedding regularly. These scales grow in proportion with the dragonet's size. The initial eruption is itchy and uncomfortable. The barbels under the chin also begin to erupt and develop. Mountain Drakes grow at a much slower rate than other dragon species.   Dragonets are considered Drakka when they reach fifteen years of age. At this point they have reached their peak height. Their plate scales begin to fuse, pushing off the last of the dragonet scales and emerging as a full plate. Future layers are added at the bottom of the plate. The plates are a singular color, often darker than their baby scales. Gouges in the plates can cause striations and color variations in the plates over time. Their body scales begin to sprout and grow out at this point in their lives. Once their scales have fully erupted they are considered old enough to leave the community nest and wander with adults.   Drakka graduate to young adulthood at thirty years of age. During this stage of their lives they are considered independent members of the community and able to wander on their own. Drakka are finally considered full Drakes when they reach sexual maturity between fifty and sixty years of age.

Ecology and Habitats

Mountain Drakes are primarily subterranean. They prefer to reside in stone and rock over soil and dirt, due to the sound structure. They wander their subterranean tunnels in search of food. Their claws are used to shovel aside dirt and loose stone to get at prey or expand tunnels.

Dietary Needs and Habits

Mountain Drakes exist on a diet of insects, rodents, small mammals, and fungi. It is not uncommon for a family to set up a chamber within their communal homes to grow their own fungi. By manipulating their environments, they are capable of farming various edible species of fungus and attracting their insect prey.   Occasionally, stone or minerals are ingested as a means to strengthen their scales.

Biological Cycle

Like other scaled species, mountain drakes must shed their scales as they grow or scales need replaced. The leathery scales along their necks, bellies, and joints shed once every three months. They shed these by rubbing along rough surfaces or with the aid of a trusted family member.   The smaller body scales flake off easily when they are damaged or ready to be replaced. Everyday movement can cause them to shake loose, as well as rubbing against various surfaces.   The plates do not truly shed. Instead, the topmost layers are scraped off once a year against large rocks and hard surfaces. Not all drakes feel the need to polish scales in this fashion or often, sometimes leading to darker colored drakes. Should a drake not bother with this at all, it is plausible that he would end up completely black from the age of the scales.

Additional Information

Social Structure

Colonies of Mountain Drakes consist of at least ten drakes and go upwards of sixty. They are lead by an elderly pairing, with the majority of the colony being related. Male drakes provide the farming and hunting work, while females communally raise the young.   Colonies can span for dozens of miles, all within one mountain or cavern system. Each living space is connected by tunnels to a main communal chamber, usually with multiple levels for lounging, chatting, and gathering. The communal nest is on the ground level of the communal chamber for ease of visitation. Young are not allowed out of the communal nesting chamber without a minder.   Each Drake or pairing has a space they call their own through inheritance, social preference, or digging it out themselves. Generally, the older dragons have the larger caverns closer to shared food sources. Younger Drakes get smaller caverns further from food sources. Food sources are kept deeper in the colony where temperatures and humidity would be ideal for the specific types of fungi or insect.

Uses, Products & Exploitation

The dung contains concentrated minerals and can be a high quality fertilizer or fuel.

Average Intelligence

Drakes, like other dragon species, possess an 'average' intelligence comparable to humans with a great capacity for intellectual growth. Drakes tend to be clever when it comes to their environments and specialize in stone structures and stability. They have a strong memory and spacial awareness, allowing them to memorize where tunnels are. They are masters of mazes and traps.

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

Mountain drakes possess smaller eyes than other drakes. As a result they have poor eyesight. They can see clearly up to ten feet in front of them before things begin to blur. They possess both Low Light Vision and Dark Vision. They also possess Tremorsense. They have a diminished sense of smell, but exceptional hearing.

Symbiotic and Parasitic organisms

Parasitic


Mountain Chiggers: Mountain chiggers are small parasitic mites that reside in caverns. They drink the blood of animals, attracted to prey by the scent of urea. They are vectors for several diseases including scale rot and swamp lung.  

Symbiotic


Cave Centipede: Cave centipedes are small, insects, approximately two inches long and half an inch wide. They are eat smaller insects and are used by mountain drakes primarily as a means to treat mountain chiggers.

Civilization and Culture

Naming Traditions

Drake names favor heavy R sounds, S sounds, 'Ah' sounds, and 'Oo' sounds with no gender specific names or sounds. They lack a written codex, frustrating the few species who are still aware of their existence.   The following are spelled for phonetics.   V-Ah-Shu V-Ish-Are Ah-Rool Vah-Rahn Sah-sh-Ven Sor-Vahl Vah-Sh-ool Rah-Zoo-l

Beauty Ideals

Beauty Ideals vary between the two sexes. Female beauty comes from the height and weight of the female, with the larger being more valued as they are seen as healthy and fit for bearing offspring. Male beauty comes from their movements. The more agile a male, the better he can strut himself around and the quicker he would be when copulating, letting the female off her back sooner.   Striations and patterns in the scales from metals are frowned upon as a distraction to other members of the clan due to the reflective nature of the minerals and the greed of other sapient races.

Gender Ideals

Females are expected to raise the young together, viewed as the wiser of the two sexes and best to pass down ideals.   Males are expected to provide the food for the colony, given their physical structure being more ideal for hunting.

Courtship Ideals

Strength of scale and prowess as a provider is everything to a female. To males, the larger the female the better to carry his offspring. Males will demonstrate their sturdiness by engaging in open combat with one another, each attempting to break the other's carapace while in turn not having their's broken. They will bring gifts of food to females to show that they can provide for their offspring. Of course, there are the exceptions who take a mate based off of genuine affection toward one another.   Same sex pairings are uncommon among mountain drake due to the dwindling numbers of their species, depending on the temperament of the females within the colony. Milder temperaments will make males more bold to force a mating.

Relationship Ideals

The ideal relationship is where both of the couple work well together. If the female cannot tolerate the male she will not allow him to take her for a mate. Being larger, she is quite capable of expelling a would be suitor should he displease her. Truth is the most important thing among their race, as trust is a necessity living in the harsh underground. A drake caught in a lie will quickly lose more than their mate.   While two drake could have the ideal relationship, that does not make mating easy. Females will in general, always be tempermental to being forced onto their backs. Some use this as leverage to gain something, such as a treat, extra preening from their mate, or even a few pre-venge flips on her mate. Others will force males to earn it by being completely serious with attempts to not be flipped.

History

The Mountain Drake is a species of Drake.   Mountain Drakes have rarely involved themselves in the doings beyond the caverns and tunnels in which they've lived. They hold the purest blood of dragon species, though they are not purists. They just don't leave their dominions. They are one of the few species of dragons that lived communally before the events of Wyvern's Fall .   Upon the establishment of the Council of Fangs, the Mountain Drakes devised methods of communicating with various family units in their areas to participate in the council sessions. They grew adept at their earthen magic over time and masters of their dominions.   When the wars broke out the Mountain Drakes secluded themselves, sealing themselves away from the battles and arguments. They aggressively defended their homes from any dragon attempting to parley or invade, eventually utilizing their magic to create massive earth quakes or eruptions to break and burn the lands.   Their Atlor's Judgement s were culled significantly by the dwarves when Atlor's Judgement was unleashed, driving closer to the surface to escape. After the events of the judgement, many families were completely wiped out with few surviving groups or single members. Families began to mingle together to strengthen their numbers or take mates of other dragon species. They lead the final council meeting and called for the motion to remain as unknown in the world as possible until they were not easy prey for other species. The motion passed unanimously.

Historical Figures

Mountain drakes revere Tiamat as a hero to their species, due to her heroic acts in life. She is the first hero young Drakkie learn about and hear the most of through their whole lives.

Interspecies Relations and Assumptions

Mountain Drakes, like other species of dragons, try to avoid other sapient species and dragons.   Being a reclusive and near blind species, Mountain Drakes do not leave their cavern homes if they can help it, forcing others to come to them. While they avoid each other, they are not inherently inhospitable to other species of dragon. They will do their best to treat a visiting dragon as a member of the colony and provide meals to the visitor's tastes within reason (they still draw the line at leaving their caverns).   Other Dragons tend to dislike visiting Mountain Drakes due to the looming mountain around them and the earth magic that Mountain Drakes possess. Aerial dragons in particular, such as Wyvern and Amphitheatre, feel suffocated and clausterphobic beneath the earth and avoid visiting mountain drake if they can. With the loss of the Council of Fangs, most species have few reasons to visit Mountain Drakes and generally do not.   While the Drakes are aware of other sapient species; such as [@]Orcs, [@]Elves, [@]Kindlings, and [@]Humans; these species believe that dragons are a myth and legend. Drakes are content to keep it that way. Should one stumble upon them in the dark... well... Looking like a large rock helps avoid needless bloodshed.   Drakes and [@]Dwarves have a rocky relationship at best after the events of Atlor's Judgement , despite both being direct children of Atlor. Drakes, like other dragons, have lost all trust in [@]Dwarves. They are wary and make a point to never turn their back on one. [@]Dwarves are ushered out as quickly as possible but with as much respect as the colony can muster, lest another wrathful bloodshed fall upon them. [@]Dwarves on the other hand, try to establish a friendly relationship with colonies they encounter and have gone to great lengths to aid in diverting unwary sapient species from wandering into their lairs. Most clans go out of the way to make amends for the culling of the dragon species.

Genetic Ancestor(s)
Scientific Name
Subterra Drakanus
Lifespan
750-1100 years
Average Height
Males reach between 10 and 12 feet tall at the shoulders. Females reach between 13 and 15 feet tall at the shoulders.
Average Weight
Fully grown males weigh between 2,000 and 2,500 pounds. Fully grown females weigh between 2,500 and 3,000 pounds.
Average Length
Males reach approximately 20 feet long. Females reach approximately 25 feet long.
Average Physique
Females are squat, stout, and wide with their bellies close to the ground. When threatened, they are capable of quickly hunkering down to protect their vulnerable spots and turn out their defenses easily.   Males have slightly longer legs, less bulk, and more muscle mass. Their agility allows them to maneuver against opponents and get leverage to swing their tails.
Body Tint, Colouring and Marking
Mountain drakes are typically pale or dull in color, primarily grays and browns. Their secondary sometimes present in patterns on the scales reflecting a pattern on the hide beneath. Some gain striations from the minerals they ingest (accidental or otherwise), such as veins of gold or silver in their scales.

Comments

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25 Sep, 2018 02:58

I could probably get away with something positive about your detailed descriptions and a request for related sketches to make visualization easier, but I'm decently sure that you're already more than well aware of that.   Depending on the nature of the larger world you're building around this, it could be quite helpful to expound the interactions (both directions!) between these dragons and other species (and cultures) in more depth.   I can see you've put a phenomenal quantity of thought into fleshing out this species and believe that spending the time to flesh out the interactions between their isolationist society and their surrounding cultures.   You do hint at some such interactions with "Altor's Judgement" and the fact that they "respect their interactions with dwarves," but I must admit to being at a near total loss as to what the current relationship between these dragons and the race that apparently decimated their numbers (by the original meaning aka. 1/10 dead)

25 Sep, 2018 14:07

I have sketches on my desk :D. Just need to refine them and get them digitized.   The interactions part is difficult for me, since dragons generally don't interact with things anymore. They try their hardest to stay VERY far away from everything remotely sentient and their numbers are at near extinction levels in current day.   The Atlor's Judgement will have two articles, one for each instance of it that will be up "soon", but a TL;DR of that is that originally dragons were the dominant race and started going to war with each other, which started decimating the world and the earth god does NOT like his precious mudball being fucked with. So he activated his dwarves, which were stone golem sentries originally, to cull the numbers. Being made of stone... kinda didn't help to really destroy them. So dragons generally have this wariness about dwarves, even though now they're flesh and blood. Their article is also in the works. My sticking point there is "how to break this up so it's not a 5k word article."

25 Sep, 2018 10:01

Wow, this is detailed! Let me go through it from top to bot.

In the first paragraph, you used a quote. There is a quote element with BBCode (see reference on the right side of your article edit page). That would look better I think.

The idea with the fused scales is interesting. Gives them a downside, makes them more balanced among other creatures I would imagine.

Drakes with round pupils aren't something that you see all day. Was that a conscious decision? And why was it made?

Another question: I understand why females would be more massive, but why are they darker? Does that also have something to do with mating?

I find it an interesting choice to have the mountain drakes give life birth. Why is that? Is there some kind of motherly love and warmth involved? And why is it different from subspecies to subspecies?

The dung contains concentrated minerals and can be a high quality fertilizer or fuel.
This makes a lot of sense since they eat literal minerals. Well thought of!

What do the double vowels and the "'" in names mean? Like, how is "Sharzu" pronounced different from "Shaar'zuu"?


Overall, great article. Many good thoughts in there, and a LOT of text. You might consider splitting it into 2-3 articles maybe to shorten it? Also, images might be great.

25 Sep, 2018 14:16

Thank you for the suggestion :D I'll add in quote blocks. Did it come across that the quote is a fantastical exaggeration?   I was kinda going for a subterranean turtle-mole-lizard xD I thought the fused scales on the top would also be good against falling rocks. Originally, I was going to have the whole top body covered in those scales but i thought those would be so heavy and slowing to the point of possibly being detrimental.   I decided on round pupils based on a few factors, but primarily being that looking at pictures of underground lizards they all have very small eyes and round pupils (or no eyes at all). This species of drake stays primarily underground where there's little to no light.   The darker is a left over from when there wasn't the sexual dimorphism in build. Originally they were both going to be low to the ground and squat, but then i got to "how do they mate..." and figured the male would have to flip her and probably needs to be quicker than her to be able to do so, thus giving them a structural dimorphism!   I will not lie, I thought of Lunar SSS when I was writing the dung part >> "Qhy do you want a dragon diamond? Don't you know thats my sh-"   The double vowel and ' part... I hadn't really thought of why. Thinking on it now that you brought it up, they'd primarily base the names on sounds not letters. They probably don't even have a letter system. I'll have to fix that.   I'm not sure how I'd split this into multiple articles n.n;;   And yes, I have pictures in the works. :D I was sketching as I did this to get body measurements and such better in mind as I was describing

25 Sep, 2018 17:07

The quote did come across as an exaggeration when combined with the side bar (which tells the actual size). I can see thinner scales being brighter, that makes sense. And when you end up releasing the art, feel free to answer to this comment once more so I get notified and can look at it. I love looking at art. ^^

26 Sep, 2018 03:05

First off, so I don't forget - I suggest using the quote block bbcode for that opening quote. It'll improve presentation and readability.   You mention in their mating habits that they don't get on very well with their mates and won't be receptive to mating a lot of the time. But you also mention established pairings several times. How common are these two mating situations in comparison to each other? I note they have population troubles, and I imagine that wouldn't be very helpful.   Atlor's Judgement doesn't appear to be linked, and I'd suggest in general a bit more linking in the article. Remember that you can use placeholder links! They're very helpful to use extensively.   You mention their views on the other races, but not what the other races think of them.   I may have missed something, but given they live underground, how are colonies laid out. Are they cavern dwellers? How do they distribute living quarters, etc.

27 Sep, 2018 01:25

Added the quotes.   Updated the sections to elaborate on the mating. Basically, being on your back at that size is not comfortable. So while they will love mates, they definitely don't want to be on their backs. I'll go back and reiterate the two different ways mating happens, but basically; They generally pair off for life unless its a forced mating (whichi being in a pair doesnt mean a forced mating from another male wont occur).   Also linked some of the stuff I forgot to! Not sure if i caught it all.   Added a bit of colony layout and might sketch some up. Thanks for the feedback :D

26 Sep, 2018 10:08

First thing that came to mind is how consistent your dissection of this species is. It feels like a sort of scientific journal of someone who studied the beasts. There has been a lot of detail and time put into this, I can tell!   I always enjoy a fresh take on dragons and cave dwelling, lowlight dragons with external sensory organs? That stuff is cool as heck. I could see the face of some terrified adventurer as he tries to hide and keep away from those tendrils. I am a big fan of this world and your thoughtful delve into its ecosystem.

27 Sep, 2018 01:27

Thank you very much :D I added some clarification stuff from others suggestions. I'm glad you like it. I've been trying to make them unique n.n

26 Sep, 2018 18:08

I like the thoroughness of this article! I was wondering if you were going to try to explain massive dragons evolutionarily or if you wanted to wave it away (creatively I hope) with magic. There's the square-cube law about flight, how will your dragon circumvent that? How was it evolved (from lesser dragons, maybe)? Also, how do they burrow underground and why? How was that evolved?

27 Sep, 2018 01:30

Thanks! Yeah, I'm trying to. The idea is that the four elemental gods each made their own little species so there are four "base" dragons, Drake, Serpent, Wyvern, and Salamander with various offshoots from cross breeding or natural evolution. I've not heard of hte Square-Cube law and will have to look into that. Mountain Drake evolved from the base "drake" with some encouragment from the earth god to specialize for underground. They have mole hands :D

27 Sep, 2018 13:35

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Square%E2%80%93cube_law#Biomechanics, basically if you quadruple the surface area you scale the weight up eight times, so you gain 4x the lifting power but 8x the weight.