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Old 07-08-2013, 09:53 PM   #1
Raekai
 
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Default Realistic Dragon's Breath

Maybe this isn't quite so GURPS-specific, but 1) I'm using GURPS to model these guys, and 2) you guys have brilliant and mind-blowing ideas (at times).

What kind of breath weapons could a "realistic" dragon produce? I'm talking about things that may not be perfectly realistic, but kind of make sense. Fire: methane and phosphor. Cold: nitrogen gas. Acid: any, particularly hydrochloric acid. Poison: gas, spit, etc. Those all seem to make sense. Lightning? Wind blast? Sonic waves? I dunno. You tell me.

My whole point is that I really want to stay away from the color-coded dragons of Dungeons and Dragons. I have nothing against them, but I'm trying to push something slightly more realistic.

Thanks.
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Old 07-08-2013, 10:02 PM   #2
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Default Re: Realistic Dragon's Breath

Lightning: Directed stream of charged particles, I guess.

Wind blast: Some kind of organ that super-compresses air to allow for super breath.

Sonic waves: This is just hitting such a high frequency of sound that it causes physical damage.
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Old 07-08-2013, 10:04 PM   #3
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Default Re: Realistic Dragon's Breath

How realistic are we talking? A naturally evolved creature seems unlikely to have a significant "breath weapon" other than noxious chemicals. The bombadier beetle can produce a spray about as hot as boiling water. I'm sure there's something that spits a mild acid.

I suspect fire brings too much risk and too little damage to justify ever using with a realistic being. Cold is probably close to impossible since anything cold it contains would warm up, there are endothermic chemical reactions but they wouldn't be much like "cold breath". Fairly intense acids are imaginable, if unlikely to occur naturally.

The more I think about this the more I think that the remarkable thing about dragon breath is its coherency. A burp of fire would be harmless within a few yards. I think your stuck with using chemicals that have the effects you want like napalm for fire breath.
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Old 07-08-2013, 10:19 PM   #4
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Default Re: Realistic Dragon's Breath

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Originally Posted by Nereidalbel View Post
Lightning: Directed stream of charged particles, I guess.

Wind blast: Some kind of organ that super-compresses air to allow for super breath.

Sonic waves: This is just hitting such a high frequency of sound that it causes physical damage.
Great ideas! I never would have thought of the lightning one in a million years!

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Originally Posted by lexington View Post
How realistic are we talking? A naturally evolved creature seems unlikely to have a significant "breath weapon" other than noxious chemicals. The bombadier beetle can produce a spray about as hot as boiling water. I'm sure there's something that spits a mild acid.

I suspect fire brings too much risk and too little damage to justify ever using with a realistic being. Cold is probably close to impossible since anything cold it contains would warm up, there are endothermic chemical reactions but they wouldn't be much like "cold breath". Fairly intense acids are imaginable, if unlikely to occur naturally.

The more I think about this the more I think that the remarkable thing about dragon breath is its coherency. A burp of fire would be harmless within a few yards. I think your stuck with using chemicals that have the effects you want like napalm for fire breath.
That's a good question. How realistic? Not necessarily perfect. It doesn't necessarily have to follow natural selection and say that stupid/bad breath weapons wouldn't have lasted long. It just has to kind of make sense. A little bit of natural magic. The proportions for dragons of fantasy are all wrong too, but I'm not about to get heavily into that either. It's just about what is essentially possible rather than realistic, I guess.
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Old 07-08-2013, 10:22 PM   #5
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Default Re: Realistic Dragon's Breath

Animal Planet had a dragon special that covered how a real animal might breath fire.
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Old 07-08-2013, 10:22 PM   #6
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Default Re: Realistic Dragon's Breath

There's nothing particularly cold about nitrogen. Most of the atmosphere is nitrogen.

"Cold" is not really a thing. It's the absence of heat. The only way to make something cold is to remove the heat from it. Actively cooling things below the ambient temperature is hard.

Assuming the dragon had some sort of active cooling system like an air conditioner or refrigerator, it could potentially chill say, an antifreeze solution down quite a bit, and then spit that out at people. It would need to be able to produce a lot of it, and chill it down significantly before it would do much of anything as a weapon. It would be chilling its innards to sub-freezing temperatures, and heating up its exterior significantly to do so.

It would require an enormous investment in energy, very strange insulation and cooling systems no living creature has, would slow down the dragon's metabolism a great deal, would be very slow to 'charge' and would require lugging around lots of excess mass in the form of a significant reservoir of antifreeze.

Another option would be if it could spit some pair of compounds that undergo an exothermic reaction, but again, you'd be limited by the amount of the stuff it could spit. I cant see it being practical to absorb much heat without a LOT of spit, and it would be massively more effective to produce something else like poison, acid, or a reaction that creates energy (fire dragon)

If you want something vaguely plausible, I'd leave 'breathing cold' out.
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Old 07-08-2013, 10:38 PM   #7
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Default Re: Realistic Dragon's Breath

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raekai View Post
That's a good question. How realistic? Not necessarily perfect. It doesn't necessarily have to follow natural selection and say that stupid/bad breath weapons wouldn't have lasted long. It just has to kind of make sense. A little bit of natural magic. The proportions for dragons of fantasy are all wrong too, but I'm not about to get heavily into that either. It's just about what is essentially possible rather than realistic, I guess.
If I were going for what I'd consider "realistic" I would stick to a variety of exotic chemicals that usually have their effects after they hit. In a slightly magic world the effects of something that is supposedly just a chemical reaction be pretty complex. IMO it also gives the dragons a distinctive style.

The list of things that are technically possible is endless. You can justify anything.
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Old 07-08-2013, 11:07 PM   #8
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Default Re: Realistic Dragon's Breath

More handwavium:

Lightning: like an electric eel, but more powerful: Tesla coil or Van de Graff generator

Wind blast: a vortex gun / wind cannon

Sonic: resonant frequencies
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Old 07-08-2013, 11:12 PM   #9
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Default Re: Realistic Dragon's Breath

Quote:
Originally Posted by roguebfl View Post
Animal Planet had a dragon special that covered how a real animal might breath fire.
That special made my brain hurt.
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Old 07-08-2013, 11:13 PM   #10
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Default Re: Realistic Dragon's Breath

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Originally Posted by lexington View Post
If I were going for what I'd consider "realistic" I would stick to a variety of exotic chemicals that usually have their effects after they hit.
Heh, which is more dangerous: the curare dragon, the ricin dragon, or the one that spits fugu neurotoxin?
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