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Name(s): Dragon, Wyvern, Hydra, many more
Appearance: Most often reptilian or serpentine, but feathered variations also exist in some cultures.
Lore: Dragons of one type or another have existed in virtually every culture. There are stories and legends about them from North America to the Far East and they are almost always reptilian and huge. In most European cultures they are seen as a great beast or monster, whereas in Asian cultures they are seen as benevolent towards people. The feathered serpent variations of North America were often seen as bringers of knowledge and even worshipped as deities.
Most common to Indo-European cultures are the four legged and winged variety that breathes fire, although even in European legends there are other types and variations. Wyverns for example, are depicted as only having two legs and wings. There are also versions in ancient mythology which are seen as an enormous serpent. Even the origin of the word dragon from the greek drakon means “serpent, giant seafish”. Also common to European lore is the depiction of dragons as monsters and quite often they’re the antagonists in heroic ballads. From Thor to Charlemagne, European heroes of every kind have a dragon slaying story connected to them.
In Asian (and to some extent North American also) myths and legends, dragon are seen as beneficial to mankind. They’re depicted as great flying serpents and guardians of the elements or knowledge. In North American lore they tend to be feathered, and in Asian lore they’re scaled, but otherwise they are rather similar. Stories of dragons in Asian and North American lore show them as sometimes befriending and teaching mankind. They’re even known to take human shape on occasion.
There are also legends and stories of dragons and great serpents in many other places besides the very few I’ve mentioned here. From South America to Saudi Arabia and even out to Australia and the Pacific islands, there are dragons.