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In the story as I know, dragons are largely used as a major weapon of war. But between battles they need to be kept in training. That raises the possibility of using them for routine flying patrolling. Even when they were not allowed to make flame, they would be useful, e.g. to patrol over main roads spotting from above for wandering gangs of thieves - often a serious problem in the old days, as is clear in the real world in the Laws of Ine https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ine_of_Wessex passed by King Ine of Wessex (in England) in Anglo-Saxon times. (Ine's Laws #13 says that a gang of thieves is called "thieves" if there are up to 7 of them, and a troop if there are from 7 to 35 of them, and an army if there are over 35 of them.)  When the gang is spotted, the dragon-rider could fly quickly to warn people and raise the alarm and tell the local lord where to send his armed men to catch the gang. (In the Eragon film, there was talk of Eragon flying Safira in routine patrolling watching for nomads marauding out of desert into farmed land.)

 

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On 7/9/2019 at 4:53 PM, Anthony Appleyard said:

In the story as I know, dragons are largely used as a major weapon of war. But between battles they need to be kept in training. That raises the possibility of using them for routine flying patrolling.

Yes!

On 7/9/2019 at 4:53 PM, Anthony Appleyard said:

Even when they were not allowed to make flame,

Or not allowed to descend to flame range. Dragonriders are not immune to arrows.

Whereas a dragonrider overflying foes at height of 200 or 500 yards is higher than any arrows or scorpion bolts will rise and will have much better overview to see over distances, hills, trees and walls than a dragon at fire and arrow range would.

And that´s an exercise, and useful assignment, that can be undertaken by a "noncombatant" dragonrider, such as preteen child of either sex, woman, mother...

On 7/9/2019 at 4:53 PM, Anthony Appleyard said:

they would be useful, e.g. to patrol over main roads

As Jaehaerys pointed out, that would not be useful.

Roads suck. They are almost as bad as going offroad, so patrolling the road and not patrolling offroad has little effect.

On 7/9/2019 at 4:53 PM, Anthony Appleyard said:

spotting from above for wandering gangs of thieves - often a serious problem in the old days, as is clear in the real world in the Laws of Ine https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ine_of_Wessex passed by King Ine of Wessex (in England) in Anglo-Saxon times. (Ine's Laws #13 says that a gang of thieves is called "thieves" if there are up to 7 of them, and a troop if there are from 7 to 35 of them, and an army if there are over 35 of them.)  When the gang is spotted, the dragon-rider could fly quickly to warn people and raise the alarm and tell the local lord where to send his armed men to catch the gang. (In the Eragon film, there was talk of Eragon flying Safira in routine patrolling watching for nomads marauding out of desert into farmed land.)

Small wandering gangs are difficult to spot. Besides, for a child flying at 200 to 500 yards, there are small groups of people travelling for legitimate reasons.

Now, armies...

Armies that expect airborne scouting may do stuff to get hard to spot.

Scatter into smaller groups. Hide under cover of forests and villages. Choose shelter of night and cloudy or foggy weather. Not fly banners.

But all of the above also hamper their own command and control.

Jaehaerys disdained Vulture King as a gopher, because he did bring his air scouting to bear.

But... there were suspicions, denied by Dorne, of Dorne supporting a Vulture King under Aenys.

Dorne actually is more vulnerable to dragon scouting than rest of Westeros!

Desert. Less trees, less villages. Even a small band moving or camping in a desert has nowhere to hide.

When Vulture King rose against Aenys, Rhaena was 14 and a dragonrider for two years.

What do you think would have happened if Rhaena had taken to overflying the battlefield at 200 to 500 yards, including the Dornish side of border, and reporting to Westerosi armies any movements and whereabouts of Vulture King forces?

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Posted (edited)

Dareon the Daring used Blue Queen for scouting enemy armies during the Dance, usually Dragons in peace time are being used only as show of might to houses they visit or  leisure flight. Size of the dragon even its coloring may effect the role it is best suited for.

Though Dragons seem to be mostly  prosperously developing when left free on Dragonstone so that alone looks to be enough for them to get larger and stronger (food ,being free to fly and volcanic caves), dragons bound to Dragonpit or Rhaenyra's dragon seem to be impaired when being chained.

It is possible that many knowledge about Dragons was lost after the fall of Valyria so Targaryen's had to learn lot of things again from experience and mistakes they made.

I am not sure for what size of issue is effective to bring dragon, hunting bandits to me isn't reason enough to bring it to the field, minor rebellions are least reason to bring them in my opinion.

Edited by Eltharion21

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7 hours ago, Eltharion21 said:

Dareon the Daring used Blue Queen for scouting enemy armies during the Dance, usually Dragons in peace time are being used only as show of might to houses they visit or  leisure flight. Size of the dragon even its coloring may effect the role it is best suited for.

Though Dragons seem to be mostly  prosperously developing when left free on Dragonstone so that alone looks to be enough for them to get larger and stronger (food ,being free to fly and volcanic caves), dragons bound to Dragonpit or Rhaenyra's dragon seem to be impaired when being chained.

I am not sure for what size of issue is effective to bring dragon, hunting bandits to me isn't reason enough to bring it to the field, minor rebellions are least reason to bring them in my opinion.

But since lack of exercise is bad for both dragon and rider, dragons should be exercised in peacetime. Precisely in view of getting te geographic familiarity needed for wartime scouting.

In wartime, a dragonrider descending within bowshot of ground or visiting a village of unknown loyalty might get an arrow in the back, or a poisoned welcome feast. Nosing around in peacetime on dragonback is better than wasting childhood on horseback with lances, tournaments and quintains.

Not that a dragonrider should not ride a horse at all (or sail a ship). A dragonrider needs to know what a road feels and looks like, to spot from air which tracks are too rocky or swampy for horses to get through. So the dragonrider could scout ahead of an accompanying land army, check the roads, spot (and remember) potential places for roadblocks and ambushes, check them for presence of defenders and route his or her army around enemies if unwilling to descent to fire range - or clear roadblocks and ambushes by dragonfire.

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24 minutes ago, Jaak said:

But since lack of exercise is bad for both dragon and rider, dragons should be exercised in peacetime. Precisely in view of getting te geographic familiarity needed for wartime scouting.

In wartime, a dragonrider descending within bowshot of ground or visiting a village of unknown loyalty might get an arrow in the back, or a poisoned welcome feast. Nosing around in peacetime on dragonback is better than wasting childhood on horseback with lances, tournaments and quintains.

Not that a dragonrider should not ride a horse at all (or sail a ship). A dragonrider needs to know what a road feels and looks like, to spot from air which tracks are too rocky or swampy for horses to get through. So the dragonrider could scout ahead of an accompanying land army, check the roads, spot (and remember) potential places for roadblocks and ambushes, check them for presence of defenders and route his or her army around enemies if unwilling to descent to fire range - or clear roadblocks and ambushes by dragonfire.

In a essence I agree, though from what I saw in F&B that sort of discipline, training and dedication, is mostly dependent of the rider himself or his nature. 

Connection to the dragons is mysterious, and sometimes feelings of the rider and their character impacts on the dragon or vice versa,

Targaryen's as a dinasty seem to mostly be improvising as seen lot in their succession rules or lack of it regarding dragons who live much longer than their riders.

One of rarer ancient traditions that seem to be prevalent is incestuous marriage but having children being raised as dragonriders remains mostly left upon themselves, it is possible that similarly to some races of dogs, no dragon can stand two masters. 

 

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In the real world, police helicopters seem to be very useful in spotting fleeing suspects and criminals. In a magical pre-industrial world, dragons would seem to provide an equivalent.

In such a circumstance, a use of flaming without hurting anyone may be to make a light at night to let men see what is happening.

 

 

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On 7/16/2019 at 7:01 PM, Anthony Appleyard said:

In such a circumstance, a use of flaming without hurting anyone may be to make a light at night to let men see what is happening.

Yes, but let who see?

Dragonfire is not surrounded by reflectors. The rider might shield his or her eyes behind dragon´s head, but generally when dragonfire is used to give light at night, the objects illuminated by dragonfire are far and dim and flame itself is nearby and dazzling to the rider. Still, the same applies to a torch.

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I think this is an interesting idea, and certainly plausible. As long as the dragonrider stayed at a height so as to be above scorpion bolts and other projectiles, they could scout out an enemy stealthily. I'd imagine it could even be employed as a diversionary tactic, for example sending out a lone dragon rider to distract the enemy while a larger force of dragonriders and possibly armed foot soldiers came behind, maybe like during the transition from night till dawn, that way the larger force could be cloaked by darkness? Mayhaps the Valyrian Freehold use these dragon recon type tactics, or even the early Targaryen Lords of Dragonstone. 

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19 hours ago, The Ghost Beyond the Wall said:

I think this is an interesting idea, and certainly plausible. As long as the dragonrider stayed at a height so as to be above scorpion bolts and other projectiles, they could scout out an enemy stealthily.

No. They can be safe, but a dragon is big, visible and identifiable.

A dragon can stay unseen - Rhaena demonstrated it after disappearance of Aerea, Aemond when hunted by Caraxes and Sheepstealer - but this could be done by flying low, sticking to sparsely settled areas and shelter of hills and forests. A dragon who is not seen by people does not see people.

You need a skinchanger to scout out an enemy stealthily. Even if the enemy is alert to the possibility of being scouted by skinchangers, small birds are harder to see in first place than dragons - and even when seen by suspicious observers, unless the skinchanger is careless and gives away the scouting by excessive unnatural conduct, hard to spot from unskinchanged birds of the same species going about their natural business.

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2 hours ago, Jaak said:

No. They can be safe, but a dragon is big, visible and identifiable.

A dragon can stay unseen - Rhaena demonstrated it after disappearance of Aerea, Aemond when hunted by Caraxes and Sheepstealer - but this could be done by flying low, sticking to sparsely settled areas and shelter of hills and forests. A dragon who is not seen by people does not see people.

You need a skinchanger to scout out an enemy stealthily. Even if the enemy is alert to the possibility of being scouted by skinchangers, small birds are harder to see in first place than dragons - and even when seen by suspicious observers, unless the skinchanger is careless and gives away the scouting by excessive unnatural conduct, hard to spot from unskinchanged birds of the same species going about their natural business.

Hmm, ok that makes sense. I was just entertaining the notion of using a dragon for reconnaissance, but I agree that it would be easily visible, which would hinder effective scouting. A skinchanger would be good, especially using small birds, or whatever is the most inconspicuous local fauna, like small mammals or something like that. I wonder if a skinchanger could scout using a dragon if they kept it near sparsely populated areas or forests as you suggested? An interesting idea imo 

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10 hours ago, The Ghost Beyond the Wall said:

Hmm, ok that makes sense. I was just entertaining the notion of using a dragon for reconnaissance, but I agree that it would be easily visible, which would hinder effective scouting.

Still effective. What can the armies do against a dragon? Like Joffrey coming on Tyraxes... certain not to swoop down to use fire, and Mommy has forbidden him to take risks even if he wanted to.

Jaehaerys and Alysanne took 3 days for 1800 km King's Landing to Oldtown. 600 km per day. Assume 12 hours days (the rest sleep, meals and counsel at Bitterbridge and Highgarden) - that makes 50 km/h groundspeed.

It makes 10 minutes to cover 8 km (5 miles) after spotting Tyraxes coming low on the horizon, assuming you can spot him 8 km off (can you? Tyraxes is pretty slender!) What do you need to accomplish in these 10 minutes to assure Joffrey flying overhead sees nothing?

Everyone under trees, or inside village houses. All open campfires out. Etc. Etc.

Too little time to do all this when you actually see Tyraxes. He'll fly to call for Mommy and Syrax (or Sheepstealer, Caraxes, Seasmoke...).

So you have to stay under cover all the time because of generic possibility that Tyraxes might show up. And any Green flags must be small enough that you can lower them when you see a Black dragon - before the Black dragon can see a Green flag.

This hampers your command and control. And therefore IS effective, in handicapping you by the precautions against scouting.

 

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Posted (edited)

There are two clashing purposes here:

(1) A dragon is a major destructive weapon, and to keep the story dramatic, some would say that a dragon should be used for serious purposes only and not trivialized or over-used.

(2) In the world of the story, the dragon and its rider exist between its major uses in war, and they need to be kept fit and in practice, and undramatic air-patrolling is a useful way to keep them fit.

"Everyone under trees, or inside village houses. All open campfires out" :: depends on how much and how good infra-red vision (like in real pit-vipers, see  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loreal_pit ) the dragon has; a recently-extinguished fire still may emit infra-red. And if its eyes can see in dark much better than a man's.

 

Edited by Anthony Appleyard

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, Anthony Appleyard said:

There are two clashing purposes here:

(1) A dragon is a major destructive weapon, and to keep the story dramatic, some would say that a dragon should be used for serious purposes only and not trivialized or over-used.

(2) In the world of the story, the dragon and its rider exist and between its major uses in war they must endure the effects of passage of time, and they need to be kept fit and in practice, and undramatic air-patrolling is a useful way to keep them fit.

"Everyone under trees, or inside village houses. All open campfires out" :: depends on how much and how good infra-red vision (like in real pit-vipers, see  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loreal_pit ) the dragon has; a recently-extinguished fire still may emit infra-red. And if a dragon's eyes can see in dark much better than a man's.

 

 

Edited by Anthony Appleyard

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1 hour ago, Anthony Appleyard said:

There are two clashing purposes here:

(1) A dragon is a major destructive weapon, and to keep the story dramatic, some would say that a dragon should be used for serious purposes only and not trivialized or over-used.

(2) In the world of the story, the dragon and its rider exist between its major uses in war, and they need to be kept fit and in practice, and undramatic air-patrolling is a useful way to keep them fit.

"Everyone under trees, or inside village houses. All open campfires out" :: depends on how much and how good infra-red vision (like in real pit-vipers, see  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loreal_pit ) the dragon has; a recently-extinguished fire still may emit infra-red. And if its eyes can see in dark much better than a man's.

 

There's no reason to believe dragons had/needed to be kept fit or in practice. No one rode Vhagar for almost 30 years and there's no mention of her being unfit after all that time. Other dragons have gone unridden for some time too and them being fit was never questioned. The only dragon we see who was ever unfit was Balerion and that was most likely do to old age. 

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On 8/3/2019 at 6:17 PM, Daemon The Black Dragon said:

There's no reason to believe dragons had/needed to be kept fit or in practice. No one rode Vhagar for almost 30 years and there's no mention of her being unfit after all that time. Other dragons have gone unridden for some time too and them being fit was never questioned. The only dragon we see who was ever unfit was Balerion and that was most likely do to old age. 

And there is the generic worry of Dragonpit stunting dragons.

But the dragonriders are liable to be unfit. Not just physically (Alysanne became such through arthritis), but mentally, in the sense of not knowing how to exploit the powers of dragon.

How good is a dragon for playing hide and seek with dragons?

When Aegon confronted Balerion on Quicksilver and died for that, Rhaena on Dreamfyre had no better idea than hide her children and camp on Fair Isle waiting for the inevitable.

Whereas Alysanne and Jaehaerys, just 8 and 10, with Silverwing and Vermithor who were even younger (both expressly hatched in rider´s crib) successfully vanished for four years and were never heard from, not even after their reappearance.

Some years later, Rhaena had no problems vanishing for months (though unlike Alysanne and Jaehaerys, she was sometimes seen). Had she known to do it before, she´d have saved herself and her children a lot of heartbreak.

Dreamfyre vs. Balerion&Vhagar and Silverwing&Vermithor vs. Balerion had an edge that Dreamfyre vs. Silverwing&Vermithor did not share.

They were smaller.

Yes, say Balerion can fly 400 miles in a day. But so can Dreamfyre.

It does Maegor little good to fly 400 miles in pursuit of Dreamfyre and pass within 50 miles of Dreamfyre without being aware where Dreamfyre is.

If Maegor can see Dreamfyre from distance of 5 miles and Balerion is 5 times bigger than Dreamfyre then he might rip Dreamfyre apart... but Rhaena can see Balerion from distance of 25 miles. Balerion needs 40 minutes to cover the 20 mile distance from where Rhaena sees Balerion to where Maegor would see Dreamfyre, and meanwhile Dreamfyre would take off in a different direction, so Maegor would cruise on having seen nothing.

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On 7/9/2019 at 6:53 AM, Anthony Appleyard said:

In the story as I know, dragons are largely used as a major weapon of war. But between battles they need to be kept in training. That raises the possibility of using them for routine flying patrolling. Even when they were not allowed to make flame, they would be useful, e.g. to patrol over main roads spotting from above for wandering gangs of thieves - often a serious problem in the old days, as is clear in the real world in the Laws of Ine https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ine_of_Wessex passed by King Ine of Wessex (in England) in Anglo-Saxon times. (Ine's Laws #13 says that a gang of thieves is called "thieves" if there are up to 7 of them, and a troop if there are from 7 to 35 of them, and an army if there are over 35 of them.)  When the gang is spotted, the dragon-rider could fly quickly to warn people and raise the alarm and tell the local lord where to send his armed men to catch the gang. (In the Eragon film, there was talk of Eragon flying Safira in routine patrolling watching for nomads marauding out of desert into farmed land.)

 

Based on real world Nobility, they'd more likely be used for some sort of sporting competition.  Hunting via dragon or something similiar.  I'm surprised it wasn't a thing for the Targs.

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On 8/3/2019 at 11:17 AM, Daemon The Black Dragon said:

There's no reason to believe dragons had/needed to be kept fit or in practice. No one rode Vhagar for almost 30 years and there's no mention of her being unfit after all that time. Other dragons have gone unridden for some time too and them being fit was never questioned. The only dragon we see who was ever unfit was Balerion and that was most likely do to old age. 

This is a very interesting point, imho. In that case, a dragon never loses its ability to be used in battle due to age (unless it is very old like Balerion was) but rather mainly due to accumulation of injury or potentially illness, though I have never heard of dragons becoming ill in ASOIAF. This means that as Jaak says, it's up to the health and skill of the rider to make the most of the dragon's abilities. This is fascinating to me, because I feel as though conventional thinking would be that a dragon does all the work in battle and the rider simply moves it where it needs to go. This speaks more so to the idea that the rider must be competent and capable in battle with their dragons, or else things can go wrong

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On 8/8/2019 at 9:54 PM, argonak said:

Based on real world Nobility, they'd more likely be used for some sort of sporting competition.  Hunting via dragon or something similiar.  I'm surprised it wasn't a thing for the Targs.

We do hear of simple races. Meleys vs. Caraxes vs. Vhagar (Meleys used to win), and Caraxes vs. Syrax, King´s Landing to Dragonstone and back.

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On 8/6/2019 at 2:38 PM, Jaak said:

And there is the generic worry of Dragonpit stunting dragons.

But the dragonriders are liable to be unfit. Not just physically (Alysanne became such through arthritis), but mentally, in the sense of not knowing how to exploit the powers of dragon.

How good is a dragon for playing hide and seek with dragons?

When Aegon confronted Balerion on Quicksilver and died for that, Rhaena on Dreamfyre had no better idea than hide her children and camp on Fair Isle waiting for the inevitable.

Whereas Alysanne and Jaehaerys, just 8 and 10, with Silverwing and Vermithor who were even younger (both expressly hatched in rider´s crib) successfully vanished for four years and were never heard from, not even after their reappearance.

Some years later, Rhaena had no problems vanishing for months (though unlike Alysanne and Jaehaerys, she was sometimes seen). Had she known to do it before, she´d have saved herself and her children a lot of heartbreak.

Dreamfyre vs. Balerion&Vhagar and Silverwing&Vermithor vs. Balerion had an edge that Dreamfyre vs. Silverwing&Vermithor did not share.

They were smaller.

Yes, say Balerion can fly 400 miles in a day. But so can Dreamfyre.

It does Maegor little good to fly 400 miles in pursuit of Dreamfyre and pass within 50 miles of Dreamfyre without being aware where Dreamfyre is.

If Maegor can see Dreamfyre from distance of 5 miles and Balerion is 5 times bigger than Dreamfyre then he might rip Dreamfyre apart... but Rhaena can see Balerion from distance of 25 miles. Balerion needs 40 minutes to cover the 20 mile distance from where Rhaena sees Balerion to where Maegor would see Dreamfyre, and meanwhile Dreamfyre would take off in a different direction, so Maegor would cruise on having seen nothing.

Honestly, I don't really buy the whole dragonpit stunting the dragons.  I agree that dragonriders can become unfit, lazy or lack the skill to use a dragon to its full potential without practice. But then we see the dragon seeds during the Dance, with little practice actually flying their dragons, fly into battles and actually do a good job. 

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