Having recently seen what may be the world's worst guide to fantasy creatures, I won't give any names, I figured I should give some real advice - Oh, sh*t, wait, when do I ever give real advice?
Okay, disclaimer, I am not God. You don't have to listen to a word I say. In fact, you probably shouldn't. I normally write this at the end of a guide (and a dozen times during) but I felt like being different. I can only give you advice, I can't write your story for you. My advice may be unbelievably helpful... Or it may backfire. It is up to you to decide what does and doesn't apply to your story.
So yeah, this is my guide to fantasy creatures.
One of the most common nowerdays, these are basically big and scaly. The typical dragon, called the western or european dragon, can stand at anywhere between the size of an elephant to well over fifty ft tall, depending on the story or myth. They are usually green or red, though there are often other colours, black and gold being very popular, as well as blue, purple, orange, pink, and any other colour you can think of that I can't be bothered to list. Dragons, though physics will say otherwise, are most at home in the air. Despite bulk and size making it logically impossible for them to fly, they always manage it just fine, kind of like a bee. They often nest in high mountains, as far from human presence as possible, and only stray near large towns and cities when they absolutly need to, tough they have been know to kidnap a lot of maidens.
Dragons are the perfect killing machines, they have an amazing sense of smell, so they know when an enemy is coming before they do, and razor-sharp claws and teeth, capable of ripping through all but the toughest armour. Their scales are all but impossible to brake through, and only the best of swords would hold up. Their tail acts like a whip, and with often barbs or spikes on the tip, make it both deadly and effective. And then there is the fire breath, which could burn many a knight to a cinder. Any hero caught in it would be, quite literally, toast.
Dragons do have their weaknesses. They are not good on the ground, and if they can't get into the air, they will not fight nearly as well. Though they are by no means slow, if they are having to run, escape is possible on a fast enough horse, as their bulk will make it difficult for them to manuver. There are also patches on the dragon that are not as well armoured, mostly around the joints and the underside. This is the best place for a knight to strike, though a blow to the underside would be the only chance of killing it, and then it would most likely cause nothing but a flesh-wound. It is also possible, at the right angle, for a knight to slip a very thin sword between the scales and inflict a fatal wound, though a lot of allies would be lost in the process. And even then, one miss is a death sentence.
The third way is, with a very long sword or a spear of some kind, to stab through the roof of the dragon's mouth while it's open. However, this almost always involves some form of self-sacrifice, and of course, that's a really tacky cliche and will instantly make your character a mary-sue. Seriously, though, this only works if there is a reason for the dragon not to breath fire, whether it be by choice or inability, and if you are either willing to kill of a character in order for them to kill the dragon, or if you have an excuse for them to not be impaled on a very big tooth.
Contray to common belief, dragons are not mindless beasts. Even in the oldest myths they have very refined tastes, often hording gems and precious metals, collecting rare and valuable items, appreciating fine art and music, and kidnapping beautiful maidens, though the latter are often eaten. They are extremely cunning, and will plot stratagey before a battle, their heightened senses giving them the oportunity to do so. Unfortunatly, this puts a knight in shining armour at even more of a disadvantage. Poor gits. Dragons, dispite being able to use their intelligence to beat opponents, often chhose brute strengh, probably because it's much more fun. However, their habit of doing things the old fashioned way can give a potentional hero at least a chance, and any should know how to use this to the best of their abilities.
As of late, dragons have not been portrayed the same way as in old mythology, but have become tame, passive, peaceful, and capable of human language, often having a human 'rider' giving them orders. In many cases, I would love to see the dragon eat the rider. You must admit, it would be an interesting plot twist. But I'll get to dragon riders later in this guide, I do have other things to write about. This is getting really, really long.
Oriental, eastern, or chinese dragons are completely different to the other type. Oriental dragons tend to have long, serpent like bodies, four legs with either three, four, or five toes, and a lion like head. They are a symbol of luck and power. The number of toes a dragon had were considered a sign of status, and at one point all five toed dragons were asigned to the emperer. Unlike the western dragon, oriental dragons were revered, and to damage the depiction of an oriental dragon is considered a taboo.
Oriental dragons have no wings, but use magick to fly, and their magickal caperbilites are almost limitless. They are considered infinetly wise, and would no doubt be a good sourse of advice. They are often portrayed as peaceful, wise, a good-hearted creatures. In some fictions and myths they can disguise themselves, often choosing the guise of wisened old men.
Oriental dragons don't appear as often in modern fiction as their western counterparts, so there aren't many examples, but this isn't to say they can't be used in a story. They can work really well, and there are a lot less cliches with them for the assholes to complain about. But then again, flames are fun.
There is no strict rules for these, but these are typically people who can either comunicate with dragons, have been allowed to ride on the back of one, or have some kind of 'special bond' with a dragon, which often means they get to boss the poor dragon about, and said dragon becomes little more than a house pet. However, it does occasionally happen the other way roung, and the human gets walked all over. Do whatever you want with these, but be prepared for your work to get compared to Eragon, whether it's actually like it or not, because people are stupid. But then, surely I've told you all that enough times by now, haven't I?
I can't be bothered to write any more of this yet, and it's too long anyway, so I'll probably do three or four more chapters. The next one, humanoid creatures. So, feel free to drop me a line. I have nothing better to do, really.