[PnP] Dragon skinning blues...

Burton Choinski bchoinski at comcast.net
Wed Mar 28 05:50:23 CEST 2007

101 ways to skin a dragon...

Well, the last session was an interesting one, and all sorts of plot  
undercurrents are springing up.  The players managed to get their 20- 
Hunfrithi force to the hills west of Caldo without human detection.   
They left 10 at the chosen site and headed back with the other 10 to  
make a report to the elder.

On the trip out they been detected by something (they blew their  
ambush chance, it made it).  It followed and monitored trhem until  
they left the Caldan area.

When they arrived back, the players noticed an Elder dragon (Kototh)  
flying high over head, sort of keeping pace with the group, but not  

Silly players, they decide to taunt it in order to get it down to  
where they can attack it.   I have the main warrior character make  
his case and make an influence chance ... 01!  Holy crap -- you just  
flippled off the dragon and now he's coming in.

Over the course of the battle the dragon pretty much flew at 100' or  
so, huffing up a flame on the main tank.  Now this character has a  
very high MDV to begin with (character), plus he is immune to 5  
levels of magic as a special (yea, it's gross, but these are our old  
80's characters and we decided that if we reupped this once-a-month  
game they would be doing big things).

As the battle went on, the tank was getting slowly burnt up.  The elf  
was doing his best with the bow and was getting the draggon nibbled  
down (side note: this was the first time the new SIZE rules were  
really felt and there was quite the heated discussion on it.  see  
below).  The dragon was getting weaker, but since it refused to  
grapple with an obvious combat monster the tank would be done before  
it was.  They gambled on another taunting to get the dragon close  
whough for the law wizard to cast a spell -- killing light.

And they did it.  That kototh dragon had the biggest look of suprise  
on it's 3 heads.

Ok, now they have the dragon and they want to "loot the body".  And  
of course, with no rules in the books on this it comes to rule makeup  
time.  Comments are very welcome, especially since the next game is  
this sunday (the 1st).

Okay, first off we figured this elder dragon was 30' or so.  A lot of  
that, obviously, is tail and neck.  Nothing to go on for weight, so I  
had to play with numbers.

An eagle scaled to 30' would weigh 12,000#.
A Komodo dragon scaled to 30' would weigh 10,000#
A nile crocodile scaled to 30' would be 3,300#
A salt water croc scled to 30' would be 5,500#.

Ok, splitting the difference from reptialian and large wingspan bird,  
I come up with 7,500# or so.  Looking at it again, and rounding  
numbers for taste, we come to 8,800#.  This means that dragons weigh  
in at 100#/AHP.

This all assumes that dragon meat is even edible, much less Kotothi  
dragons.  Assuming it is, the obvious plan is to preserve what they  
can of the "best" meat and sell it as a novelty.  I presume they will  
be using the wizard's preservation spell to keep it okay for now  
(have to investigate spell limits).

presumably we are talking top-grade cooks for this.  it looks like  
EL20 is about fair for your normal trained cook, with EL40 for a "x2"  
cook.  Assuming the meat is nothing special I suppose that EL40 is  
sufficuent to cook it given the instructions on preparation, but  
presumably requires character-class cooks to actually figure out  
those instructions of how to cook, season, or otherwise make it  
edible.  I guess we can figure on losing at least some of the meat in  

Looking into it online, it looks like herbivores come in with a wide  
range of "meat ratios" , but fumbling the numbers a bit and rounding  
for ease of use it looks like wild herbivores come in at 25% weight  
for meat and domestic herbivores at 50% weight.  The remainder is  
waste and non-meat products (bone, blood, intestines. (Domestic is  
higher since it is raised for meat).

 From Wik: "Beef is first divided into primal cuts. These are basic  
sections from which steaks and other subdivisions are cut.When  
looking at a diagrams such as the ones below, note that the closer to  
the middle back, the more tender the meat is. Since the animal's legs  
and neck muscles do the most work, they are the toughest; the meat  
becomes progressively more tender as distance from "hoof and horn"  

One would assume that would normally apply to other animals, but  
dragons have a big honking set of wings that impact the area where  
the sirloin would be.  I guess by this rule of thumb, the tail meat  
is what ends up being the tenderest, with the rest being relatively  
tough.  Also, I figure that as a flying beast at least hal it's  
weight will be in the huge wings, and there will be hardly anything  
usable in that, so cut all yields in half.

With beef, "the good cuts" (Sirloin) end up being 10% of the meat  
weight.  About another 20% are "fair" cuts (roasts and chuck).  The  
rest is stew meat or burger.

So this 8800# dragon will render 1,100# of meat, of which 110# are  
the tenderest cuts and another 220# are decent steaks and roasts.

Preservation does not indicate a quantity limit -- Give the base time  
I assume the original intent was a man-day of food (3FP, or 3#) that  
could be preserved for travel. To keep it simple, I suppose we can  
figure the effect is a combined value -- at EL4 we have an effect of  
32 -- this is one man-day of food preserved untouched for 32 days, or  
32 man-days of food left safe and unspoiled for 1 day (even if it's  
full of mayo :) or any range in between. Presumably the caster can  
refresh the spell each day, so if need be he can spend it all on  
quantity, but the time is never less that a full day.

The tank character is an armorer, so he wants the hide to make  
leather armor from.  An elder dragon's AV is 6, but this is on a 30'  
beast (of which we can figure that about HALF that is body).  The  
question becomes one of "how much of this AV is due to thickness, and  
how much is due to properties?

As a flying creature, weight does become a premium, so a good portion  
of the AV is due to properties of the hide.  many of the larger  
reptiles that are ground based seem to hit around AV2, so I can feal  
comfortable with have a base of 2 for larger creature (increased for  
size, decreased for flight).  If we consider dragon hide to be  
scaled, an actual dragon's hide is a lot like scale mail or lamilar  
-- AV2 in raw hide, with AV4 in overlapping plates.

Your average modern cow can be peeled for about 50 square feet of  
hide.  This is presumably fairly thin and needs to be doubled up when  
making leather armor (to get AV1).  When a cow is layed out it's  
pretty much a squarish rectangle, but a dragon would be more drawn  
out.  Given a main body size of 15', we can probably look at about  
25' (body plus some usable tail and necks) by 6', or about 150 square  
feet of hide and scale (about triple that of a modern cow, or five  
times that of a medieval cow).  It takes about a week to prepare raw  
skin into leather, though a process of soaking, scraping, tanning  
(often using the brains of the creature as a part of the tanning mix)  
and smoking.  Presumably the dragon hide will need a bit more work.   
I think a good guess is that it will take at least four times as long  
(twice as long for the size and efort to soak and scrape, and twice  
as long for the smoke time to cure it). In addition, one will be  
going somewhat slower so as to not losen the scales before the hide  
is fully cured, so ut the time by another 2 factor to SIX times as  
long.  My cost estimates have it at 1SC to cure a cow hide into  
leather.  A dragon hide will presumably require more expensive (and  
probably caustic) materials, so I would have it be at least 1GC in  
materials as a minimum for the hide alone.  Presumably the scale  
would need even more treatment so that they would not loosen from the  
hide, so I would up the material cost by 4GC more for the scales for  
a minimum total of 5GC.

Ok, so how much leather is needed?  About 4# of leather go into  
leather armor (by the books) which is about 8 square feet of 8oz  
leather (8oz per square foot).  Cow hide is easily thich enough for  
this, but we obviously have to thicken it up by doubling over when  
you make armor. Call it 15 square feet of cowhide for leather armor.   
If we go by the same rule of thumb, the underlying hide of the dragon  
is normally AV1 right off the bat and thick enough to not need  
doubling (and in fact cannot be so, since we havethe scales on the  
outside). The scales themselves only provide AV3 since they are  
stiffer and don't provide the coverage they did on a live dragon.  
Accounting for waste, call it 10 square feet of hide for AV4  
dragonscale leather, with a weight of 10# for the hide alone.  Assume  
the scales are tough and thin, but with an equal weight, so this  
dragonscale armor would weigh 20#.

Given all that wonderful dragon leather, how long will it take to  
form?  The underlying hide will take at least twice as long to cut  
and sew.  The armorer is not actually cutting the scales (hard as  
plate and cannot be hammered or shaped like for metal armors) but  
instead cutting out the leather underneath to form the peice, which  
is then sewn together much like normal leather armor.

In my armorer rules I tried to figure out appropriate times to make  
armor based on the sale price and material cost.  If an armorer makes  
2GC per month then obviously that is the sale price of all his armors  
after taking into account materail cost.  By my figuring, leather  
armor takes a tad less than a day to make (1SC, with a material cost  
of 4CC.  Labor value is 6CC.  200CC/30 days is 6.667CC per day).  
using the same concept and a few assumptions, we can generate the  
numbers we need.

Assuming a final price of 40GC, and materials value 200x that of  
leather (for comparison, steel has a value of 10x that of leather), I  
jiggered the material% until the numbers lined up. It works out to  
240 days of work to account the armorer's labor costs in order to  
justify the 40GC of sale price.  Now this is a special item, so I'm  
tweaking the umbers a tad.  One, any armorer who can do this is  
obviouly skilled enough to justify a greater rate.  If we figure a  
rate of 5GC/month, that would assume labor is actually 100 days. But  
that still seems awfully long just for cut and sew (essentially)  
thick leather.  I'm willing to cut the time by a third (round to 30  
days, or one month) to call it a "luxury" peice...any armorer who has  
the chance to make it can make one and then relax the next 60 days.

That's enough for this tome.  The other items of Question are TEETH  
and BONES.  Any suggestions there?

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