Mechanically, I think the dragon should stay one of the smaller representatives of his species, as the world burning epic dragons really wouldn't fit on a 1x1 tile. We can have smaller more ambitous dragons, that are willing to enter our service for mutual benefit. It should be regarded as a normal, but powerful and expensive unit.
To answer Fireeye's question: Dragons are the apex predator of most worlds, that are worth to be conquered. They are the primeval force, that civilazation has overcome in order to suvive. The concept of the Chaoskampf means, that a god of a pantheon has to overcome a dragon or sea serpent, in order to gain control over the world. Even christian mythology has the Leviathan as the ur-enemy of god himself. That kind of myth characterizes dragons as the embodiment of chaos. The ancient egyptians didn't really have a word for evil, so they used chaos instead. Dragons therefore represent, what people in general and specifically empires are afraid of. The loss of their precious little order.
The role of Underlords is equally in opposition to the empire, but whether or not we are able to employ dragons also reflects how powerful Underlords are and how afraid the people and their emperor should be. If the dragons have no interest to join forces with Underlords, the underlords are regarded as wimps, who are wannabe evil at best.
If there are no dragons on this world at all, that would, in the eyes of mythology mean, that order has already won and the Underlord's struggle against the world and each other would be a futile one, doomed to failure, with a silver lining on the horizon and the heroes eventual victory as a certainty. I'd like to introduce dragons as a mod, that would eventually be taken into the main game.
In my opinion, dragons are the kind of monster, that is most similar in power and mythological role to the Underlords of WftO, they could form an alliance to bring the empires and their knights in shining armor onto their knees.
This would also enable the introduction of truly epic monsters and heroes on both sides. I'd personally like Slichizard's Valkyrie unit to make an appearance.
1. I am well aware that there always is a big evil that needs to be overcome, be it Tiamat that is overcome by Marduk or the Leviathan, that is killed by god (ironically God itself created the Leviathan to "play with it". That being said, God always had a tendency of cruelty against its pets.) Besides, the Ur-enemy of God is, as far as I recall, Satan.
2. But: Not all of these things were dragons. The Leviathan is described with features that might fit a dragon, but also a crocodile, a snake and a whale. Looking at the Norse mythology, we see the Jörmungandr (a giant snake) and Fenris (A wolf). The point is: The loss of order is a common trope, yes, but it can be characterized by animals other than dragons - be it hungry wolves, swarms of rats infested with the plague, etc.
3. The Underlord does oppose the Empire yes, but it does not necessarily invoke Chaos. Underlords presumable impose numerous laws on their subjects and slaves, and not without reason could Underlords also be referred to as "Dark Ruler", rather than "Dark Anarchist".
4. If there are no dragons at all in the mythology, this would actually mean that there are no dragons at all. Had ancient humans never found dinosaur bones or (a more bold idea) had no genetic memory of dangerous reptiles, they would find some other symbol to represent chaos and destruction. Wolves are pretty common in that area. Also, consider Dragons in Chinese Mythology - here they are bringers of good luck, rather than destruction.
5. Point taken, but the same could be said about other powerful creatures.
My point is - if you want to see Dragons in the game because you like dragons, I'm completely fine with that. But I disagree argument that dragons have always stood as a symbol of chaos in ancient mythologies, nor do I believe that the Chaotic Dragons would get along with the Lawful Evil Underlords.
It still seems like there are many people like me who dont realy want to accept that there will be no dragons.
Well, the dk dragons looked nice and were inspired by medieval shield paintings but they seemed to be a bit too squeezed because of the size of the tiles they had to stand on.
In completely 3d games it seems that they would have looked too ridiculous, or else there is no reason for the salamander of dk2.
A Lindworm/ Wyrm like creature doesnt seem to fit too, even if it solves the wing problem, four legs+long head+long tail seems to be too long for a tile or a proper turn around animation.
But if the salamander was possible it should be doable to do something like a firebreathing dinosaur, which is enough dragon for my taste, just give it horns and stuff and describe them as the most primitive and easy to influent lindworm type and it would fit in a dungeon.
"God itself created the Leviathan to "play with it" - Fireeye
That depends on the source you're referring to. In many older sources, the depictions of god were far less "allmighty being that created everything" and far more like a god that forbade the worship of other deities. Much later, the first commandment was interpreted in the sense, that there was only one god. Many other religions forced their worshippers to pray to their god exclusively, christians, jews and muslims only assume, that their god is the only one. The exact wording:"You shall have no other gods before me" doesn't explicitly deny their existance, though. (One could even argue, that the necessity of the first commandmend serves as indirect verification of the existance of other deities.)
Eastern dragons have a point, though. Why are eastern dragons seen as signs of good luck, when their western cousins are shunned as a threat to civilization as a whole? I guess, that western culture tends to agress things, while far eastern cultures embraced a semblance of balance through their philosophy.
The point still stands, that dragons represent a power, that ancient humans were afraid of. My guess is, that the forces of nature were inspiring the people to invent tales about beings, that were responsible for the fire, the lightning, the plague and the sun. Even the gods were invented by the ancient human priests, in order to explain the world. The world explanation then turned into professional religion as we know it.
I wouldn't try to use the D&D alignment system, though. It makes less sense, the more you think about it. All extreme ends of the alignment chart are resemling a state of mental illness, rather than a philosophical view onto the world.
You make good points, though. I would welcome the introduction of eastern dragons into the ranks of the empire.
Hmm, looking at Gargoyle I could fairly say that small Dragons would be implement without any doubts. Gargoyles has quite wide wing span, so I'm sure that maybe bigger dragons could be a problem to set, but their small version could be implemented.
Especially that I don't really like Gargoyle and I think Dragons fit far more Dungeon spaces than Gargoyles...
This was sort of what I was thinking of, what if the Dragons did not have wings... OR had very small de-evolved wings due to living in a place where they have suffered entropy from disuse?
Could be fudged into the lore by stating dragons that lived above ground were systematically hunted down by empire hunting teams. Dragons would obviously still be large and imposing full of scales and teeth and use my treasury as a lair so it can sleep on all our gold and guard it (Gargoyles are good but not enough, I want to make damn sure no scheming minion or empire unit steals my gold, I need that for spellcasting and to look pretty!)
Apparently evolution on this planet did produce reptilian creatures, that are able to glide. The Draco Volans is living proof, that the concept of a dragon-like creature can live within certain restrictions even in the real world. In a magical setting, however, they can be much more diverse than that.
By the way, there already is a promising Drake suggestion, that I have been advertising like crazy to resurrect the original thread. This is, because I think that Drake is exactly what we need. He is not too large, lives underground and a possible backstory can hint to bigger more dangerous Dragons, that can be introduced as boss type monsters, that can wipe out an army of low level creatures.
You can even make your own suggestions. Suggest a Dragon, that has raided cities on his own and make it a boss, or find other subspecies of Dragonkind. You are the fantastic zoologists of the setting of WftO. Your suggestions, your stories, your written background have a certain chance of turning up in the lore of the world, or at least parts of it.
I gave a short outline of a Bluefire Drake's possible characterization in a conversation with Sebt. I hope he doesn't mind me posting a part of it, but I want to provide an example of what I think could work. I for one doubt, that being a small dragon is easy, so here goes:
(...) They [The Bluefire Drakes] are likely suffering from an inferiority complex, cosidering, that they are one of the smaller breed of dragonkind. Comparable to a pony in size, they know, that they can't achieve the status of a world burning epic dragon, even as they manage to be lethal combatants and have a breath weapon that allows for a much higher energy density, than a large dragon. Being pushed around by the larger subspecies of dragons and hunted by self proclaimed heroes, who are not man enough to attack the greater dragons, they have many reasons to develop a bad temper.
Living on the surface or the mountains proves difficult for them, as other dragons casually swoop in, grab their hoards and leave the humiliated Bluefire Drakes without their gold. This might have caused them to migrate into the subterranean realms, where they are relatively safe from other dragons and douchebag adventurers. They populate spacious underground caverns, preferably with lava, where they prey on the caverns wildlife.
From there, it is not a stretch of imagination, that they would enter your service, as you promise them riches, infamy and the opportunity to inflict damage to the surface dwellers. (...)
I think, that such a dragon definitly fits into the ranks of wealthy Underlords, who are looking for the most awesome way to incinerate enemy casters. If you think, that this is going into the right direction, then I would feel honoured to try and make a mod*, if not, feel free to add your own dragons into the (over)world.
* I do however suck at modeling, texturing and animating (I can model a cube).
Do you guys notice that my posts generally contain Links? I've thought about how dragons in settings like D&D fill an entire colour spectrum, just like Underlords do. Maybe we can have a Dragon, that mimics his Underlord's colour. This has interesting consequences for those of you, that prefer rare colours, like magenta.