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How to perform an emergency stop on a dragon

****Dragons have many virtues as mounts - impressive, fast, well-armed. Almost anyone can ride a dragon with minimal training and can experience both the thrill of soaring high above a battlefield or castle keep and the side benefits of economical and reliable transport. But when sallying forth into a dangerous spot you may find that coping with the usual dragon traits of stubbornness and pride to be handicaps, perhaps even fatal ones, especially when your normally dependable ride is impaired by sabotage, mechanical or biological difficulty, or psionic mind control. What are you to do when you find yourself committed to a path that is projected to lead to your doom, possibly of you both?

These are some suggestions which will apply in the great majority of cases when you find yourself in such a predicament, but of all creatures known and unknown, dragons are the ones that display the greatest individuality, so your results may vary somewhat from your expectations. Stay alert and keep an attitude that is prepared to adapt to a rapidly changing set of dimly understood challenges and you should do as well as can be expected.

*Evil plotpoints

  1. Calm. The first impulse when riding a dragon which is either out of control or is plunging forward to some place one little desires to go is one of panic. Take a few deep breaths and visualize your happy place where you can place these concerns into their proper context. Take confidence in your ability to perform an emergency stop on a dragon in a critical situation and you will be able to conquer your fear of plunging toward the ground out of control in a flaming fireball.
  2. Link up. Unlike horses (external link), a dragon will never consent to hold a bit in its mouth (which would melt or burn up anyway). Instead use the more traditional means of communicating your intentions to your mount: telepathy, dragon-speech, human-speech, semaphore. Gently but firmly bring the dragon’s maw about until it is pointed towards its tail and it drops in airspeed.
  3. Clear voice of reason. No matter how naturally shrill and domineering your personality is, try to explain the situation in non-threatening terms. Do not try to bully the brute or lie to it, which is a maneuver with a low probability of succeeding, and walk the fine line between conveying urgency and panic.
  4. The tried and true. Practice all emergency stops from a straight-on attitude for safety’s sake. Emergency air-braking performed during a turn will dramatically increase the chance that your dragon will go down and buck you out of the saddle. If the creature is gouting fire or other noxious emanation, take care not to direct it at yourself or at the delicate wings. If you are using stirrups, remove your feet from them if there is a likelihood that you will need to execute an emergency midair dismount.
  5. Stick the landing. Once the dragon has come to a complete stop, it may be a long way down (external link). Although you may be loathe to jump off, given that you have just decided to bring a multi-ton vicious predator to a dead stop with you virtually in its grasp you may have a notion that the alternatives would be much worse.

! Strokes of genius

  • Saving face. Dragons are sensitive about appearances, as are supervillains. Try to suggest an alternate course in a way which preserves both of your dignities.
  • Look alert. Keep your eyes ahead of you and continue to steer during the maneuver, paying attention to what’s in front of you. While slowing down, maneuver to avoid heavy air traffic, missiles, and inconveniently placed terrain.
  • Switchover. Sometimes the reason why you are in a hurry to hit the brakes is that your dragon mount has reached the end of his or her effectiveness, perhaps by a magical attack or simple fatigue. It is possible to perform the delicate velocity-matching feat of bringing a second, fresh dragon alongside and leap from the first to the second without killing yourself, but it is one which is best planned well in advance and subjected to as much practice as you can devote to it. Failing that, if you are forced to improvise and have hit upon this stratagem as the least likely to do you harm, you may be assured that you are the target of our very best wishes.
  • Practice. You may go years without needing to employ this specialized technique in a true emergency, but you are advised drill yourself and your mount regularly to ensure that skill has not become rusty. If you are unsure of yourself or are working with a new dragon, start at low altitudes over hay bales and at moderate speeds, working your way up to more challenging scenarios until you feel that you can reproduce what you have learned practically instinctively.

!! Traps for mere fools

  • Asian dragons. As these are typically magical and wise, the messenger of peace, good will, intelligence, generosity and compassion (external link), whereas you are no doubt evil to the core, it must be a dire situation for you to be riding one of these in the first place. Perhaps you are mounted against your will. If you speak the language of the dragon, explain how you bear the creature no malice and pose no threat, bearing only the greatest esteem and goodwill toward it, you might be able to persuade it to let you off. It helps to put on a pious look.
  • The sharp end. Try to make your way down to the other end.
  • Going it alone. While you are on the dragon’s back, you have some chance of remaining in control, however slim. If you become separated, besides the risk of getting injured from the fall, you may be in peril from the dragon breath, its talons, other flyers (friendly and not), and enemy action from the ground, all of which combine to make this an undesirable circumstance. If you do find yourself slipping free, try to re-establish contact with your mount and persuade it to work with you to a safe attitude.
  • Mind your tongue. In the heat of the moment, you may be tempted to swear or use harsh raised tones. Many dragonriders think that this is an effective method to release pent up energy and redirect angry emotions. Nothing can be further from the truth. While you must release your negative feelings, it does not help you to agitate a dragon undoubtedly sensitive to real and imagined slights, plus it is likely to displace your center from your place of calm. Speak to your dragon in a calm and collected manner, and reframe that destructive aura in a way that allows it to dissipate harmlessly instead.

+ Precious and needful

  • Sheep. Throw one down to distract the beast. Arrange to have a sheep hurled down where you want to be let off.
  • Apparition spell. Best performed on dragons under a few centuries of age, this is chiefly useful when you project the image comely dragon of the opposite sex to yours (if it is hetero) so as to wipe the idea of your previous course clean out of its mind.
  • Head protection.
  • Small trees. Low vegetation can be an ideal way to shed unwanted speed in a controlled fashion. Try not to pick a tree that is too heavy for your dragon and you to pass through, and exercise extra care during times when forest fire risk is high.

Further plotting

Created by: Veeper. Last Modification: Thursday 09 of September, 2010 07:22:12 EDT by Veeper.

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