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I have an NPC in our game that is called a "drake," but in terms familiar to most of you, he would probably be considered to be a dragon. In our game, drakes are classified based on the plane that they belong to, but he belongs to the natural world (Tyrra).

What should I keep in mind when playing him? Should I change my voice? Should I be pushy or kind? And so on. My goal is to make this character come across as a convincing dragon, even without the makeup, costuming, and stat card behind him.

The game that I am playing is Live Action, so advice about how to move, how to stand, etc., would be appreciated as well.

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"Dragon" is kind of a broad term... Are we talking Smaug, or Bahamut here? –  AceCalhoon Nov 23 '11 at 4:01
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I voted to close as the question is not constructive, covers just one lrp game (thus is useless in the long run unless you play a Drake in that game), and finally, it is asking for subjective answers. I would have downvoted as well but the question is actually clear and well phrased so did not. –  Sardathrion Nov 24 '11 at 7:55
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I an just under the vote to close line, but I have to agree this is a pretty vague question - no one knows anything about what dragons are like in his game world, so answers to "how do I roleplay a dragon" are going to be completely random and drawn from every movie/game/book depiction ever. –  mxyzplk Nov 26 '11 at 15:34
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@Sardathrion - I felt like the answers I could receive from this question could be applicable to other Live Action games or even to well-roleplayed tabletop games as well. –  corvec Nov 30 '11 at 15:53
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@mxyzplk - Drakes in my game world are not well-defined - they vary greatly from Game A to Game B. I wanted to base this particular drake off of dragons from other depictions. I was looking for general advice - much like the list given by OddCore or Bobby. –  corvec Nov 30 '11 at 16:01
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5 Answers 5

up vote 12 down vote accepted

I will base my answer on how dragons are depicted in Dungeons and Dragons, and also other RPG's and movies and books.

You should have a checklist of certain things that will identify you as a dragon, in character. These are, in no particular order:

  • Wisdom: As Bobby mentioned, dragons are old. Very old, indeed. As such, they will not rush any decision, and they will always look at everything from afar - that is, they will consider every option, every aspect of a situation before deciding/answering/acting. Even if it takes them hours to do so. Remember, because dragons live so long, time flows differently for them. They will keep a conversation going for months, just because it might take them days of considering the correct answer before giving it. How to apply it to LARP: Of course, in LARP, you can't do that, but definately make a point of stalling and thinking long before you speak/act. (If you think this will lead to awkward moments, make a rumbling, throaty noise to fill in the silence, or anything else you can think of). Of course, consider every angle of a situation/conversation before speaking/acting. Which brings me to the second item in the checklist.
  • Love of conversation: Dragons love conversation. They will go on for months and months on end, without even needing to conclude; the mere act of discussing viewpoints and argument is enough for them to go on for as long as they can. How to apply it to LARP: Try to keep conversations going for as long as you can. Make sure your input in each one is, not necessarily proven to be valid (you can theorise if you want/need to), but definitely important, and making a point.
  • Curiosity: Dragons are curious beings, mostly because if something is new to them, it probably is new to the world, or part of the world they are in. Dragons try to learn everything they can about anything new, because they know that knowledge is power, and so they try to obtain that power before someone can use it as leverage against them, or even gain it before them, which also gets to them. How to apply it to LARP: Everytime your dragon character is faced with someone/something new, be it a person, an item or a spell, ask the person who showed them/it to you everything you can think of, until you know all, or most, of what there is to know about them/it. If you prefer something more time effective, consider asking at least the obvious questions, and maybe at the end, mentioning: "You absolutely must tell me everything about X some time" (X being the item, person or whatever in question) or something to that effect.
  • Love of riddles: Dragons love solving, and presenting riddles. Think of Smeagol/Gollum. It is the same approach. How to apply it to LARP: You guessed it. Everytime you feel like it, and the conversational topic is relevant, ask a riddle of your conversational partner. Before you go to your LARP session, have a read of some unknown/rare riddles and learn them by heart, then wait for an appropriate time to present them.
  • Love of all things shiny: This is something that defines dragons throughout the mediums of fantasy. Dragons hoard gold and gems because they love the way they shine and glitter in the low light of their caves (or respectively, the bright light of their mountaintop).How to apply it to LARP: Try to collect gold and gems in every opportunity. Depending on your alignment, you can steal or rob other people's gold, or just have your equal share, but definitely try and obtain as much as possible, within the restrictions of your moral persuasion.
  • Magic: Dragons are not mundane creatures. They are born with magical abilities and have a deep understanding of magic. Whether they can cast spells or not, they know magic pretty well, if not inside-out (and that does not limit to magical spells, but expands to magical items and creatures too)How to apply it to LARP: Know as many spells/magical properties of items and creatures as you can. If you choose not to cast spells, make sure you know, or at least understand and recognise most if not all of them.

These are but a few guidelines on how the mediums view the dragons, and how Dungeons and Dragons (specifically 3.5 ed) has documented them. These are what all dragons have in common, no matter the alignment, habitat or medium of appearance. (movies, RPGS, so on). I do not talk about how they view the world, what sayings they use and such things, as they vary from dragon to dragon.

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I think you missed one point. Dragons in D&D are opportunists. They hatch with non-dragons for the sole purpose of having lesser beings guarding their treasure and that's true even for good dragons. Other than that, I think hoarding treasure is a status symbol amongst dragons. They don't actually use it except for sleeping over it, but they can boast its value to other dragons, provided they have a bigger hoard. –  Zachiel Nov 4 '12 at 19:40
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If ever I were to roleplay a dragon, I think I would base it off of Sean Connery's Draco from Dragon Heart (1996): sometimes humorous, kind, brave, giving, noble, etc..

Out of all the dragons I've encountered (read as "not many"), he is definitely the most memorable.

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I'd say, that depends: What character is he?

Build his appearance and actions around that character. After all, first it's your character, on second it's a dragon. We all do think differently about dragons, as mentioned by rishimaharaj, that's also my favorite version, but f.e. I have the version of the dragons from Drakensang (The Dark Eye) in my head, those were a lot more animals.

I think what we all expect from a dragon is:

  • Greatness, the character needs to be clearly outlined and strong.
  • Wisdom, most dragons are old.
  • Strength, a dragon is one of the most powerful beings.

No matter if he is good or bad, you'd expect those properties from a dragon. So, yes, altering your voice would be a very good thing, but how would depend on the character itself.

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Spike says "Hi"

Spike, from my little pony: Friendship is Magic

Despite the nature of the show, there are a number of useful lessons we can learn from it, especially with characterization. Humans naturally anthropormorphize our conceptions of other creatures. We do so, because it's really difficult and not particularly interesting to try to understand aliens who are fundamentally alien.

Therefore, there is no point, and negative utility from trying to conceptualize an "alien" drake by virtue of its race or inherent attributes. However, looking at my little pony, we can map archetypes onto each other. While spike may appear to be a dragon, his visual cues and behaviour seems remarkably dog-like, thereby resonating with common human-mapped perceptions of dog behaviour like "Loyalty."

Happily, this exact same trick can be used here. Most of the attributes we ascribe to dragons are functionally taken from eagles. Splendor, vanity, power, and wisdom are all trivially mapable onto the archetype of "Eagle" and "Dragon" alike.

Therefore, consider the shared cultural archetypes the players in your LARP have, (just basic animal ones for now) and figure out what traits you want to evoke. Sly dragons map quite easily to the "cat" archetype. Lounge, express silibants (though don't hiss them), and express cat behavour while calling it "dragon." So long as you don't actually purr, you'll evoke "cat" without being "cat." And therefore lend those aspects to "dragon" which we don't have many useful shared cultural assumptions about anyways.

From a perspective of the game, haughty arrogance isn't particularly fun. To make an engaging NPC, especially an engaging rubber-forehead alien NPC, make sure you choose personality traits from animals that are generally approachable. These traits combined with liberal plot hooks will make people interact with you more, and thereby create a more real "drake" through interaction.

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I kind of picture a dragon viewing humanity as a cat would view a mouse. It would be amused with the silly creatures and enjoy toying with them. If someone were to come up and ask if they could have some ridiculous thing or achievement, the dragon would happily spin a litany of complicated tasks and assure the person that at the end they will have what they seek. If the person came back later saying it didn't work, the dragon could happily reply, "It is so delightful that you played along. Most give up long before you did, but not you. You are right: it didn't work… and would never have worked. I'm glad you understand that now."

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The example you gave sounds like especially sound advice for playing a sphinx, though I think it could also work for a dragon. –  corvec Nov 30 '11 at 15:57
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