So, I previous posts I have talked about where particular dragons might live in the world, and what dragons might have in their hoard, which lives in their cave. But I realised, I haven’t ever talked about the lairs themselves, and thus this weeks topic was born.

Project_Offset Dragon_Cave_Wallpaper_crquI’m pretty sure than when I mentioned lairs, you thought of a cave. And this isn’t the wrong image to have. Most dragons will indeed make their home in a cave, which is in a location which is away from human habitation from the human perspective, but given how much ground a dragon can cover in a day, it might not be all that far for a dragon. The rule of thumb is enough so that the dragon will not be disturbed, unless of course he has done something to provoke disturbing, like stealing a princess say.

What you might not know is that all dragons, even fire ones, like to have a source of water near their home. All dragons have to drink, so a cave with a spring inside it is a very valuable resource indeed. If they can’t get a spring, then they need a cave where a water source isn’t too far away, so maybe they look for a mountain lake, an old forgotten well or a stream passing by. Something that means they have a fresh supply of water nearby. Although for swamp/black dragon the fresh part is optional.

Of course a cave is not the only viable option for a dragon’s lair. Abandoned castles, underground cities built by dwarves, or other stone structure which have been left for the elements are good alternatives to caves. A dragon can recognise that these are man (or dwarf) made structures, but if they have been abandoned then there are seen as fair game, and a dragon will claim it for themselves. The important part is that it is large enough for the dragon to make a home in, that it is out of the way from human the majority of the time, and that they can easily guard it. A cave usually only has the one entrance, making it very defensible so that the dragon can stop people from coming in to claim parts of their hoard or attack them. Abandoned buildings may have more than one, but as long as the dragon feels that they can defend the structure, it makes an appropriate lair.

dragon-caveOther dragons have variations on the cave, but their behaviour is similar. Sea dragons obviously make their home in the sea, but underwater caves are a common lair for them, or even structures made from coral or other sea dweller. Some forest dragons have been known to make their lairs in hollowed out trees, if the tree is large enough. Fire dragon will often pick a volcano, preferable active since the fire isn’t going to harm them, but does have the added bonus of scaring human to run away.  Desert dwelling dragons tend to have a cave as well, but these are so carefully hidden in the sand that it is almost impossible to find unless you watch the dragon enter.

The one exception to the cave rule are air dragons. The white or blue dragons and certain eastern dragons prefer to be in the open sky rather than closed in to the ground. No one has ever found a sky dragon lair, which gives a certain credibility to the myth that sky dragons sleep on clouds.

Inside a lair you will often find it surprisingly organised. They will often have multiple ‘rooms’ which the dragon has either found or dug out themselves from an appropriate starting  cave. The first room is often for the benefit of visiting human, and will be very bare, but contain just enough to keep investigating human in there long enough for the dragon to detect them and then attack. From the first room there is usually only one passage into the deeper lair, again for the purpose or railroading human, before it can open out into a proper complex. There is usually a room kept, somewhere in the back and well hidden, exclusively for the dragon’s hoard, where they will typically sleep. Some dragons, if they have large enough hoards, will have multiple rooms for the hoard: say one room for gold and gems, one room for book and scrolls, another for fabric and musical instruments, it all goes on. A studious dragon may have a room for learning in, a fighting dragon may have a room that is burnt and blackened and scratched to pieces because he has been practising. A room for eating in is another common one, and is often characterised by bones piles from past meals. It does depends on the dragon in question as to what exactly you will find in a lair, although a good rule of thumb is that the older the dragon, the more complex the lair will be.

Of course, if you find yourself in a dragon’s lair, then you are either very very good, or very very unlucky, and you might just be the next pile of bones in the eating room. Is that warm breath tickling your neck? It might well be. Some dragons load their lairs with traps and hidden places, just to sneak up on intruders like you…