Worldbuilding: Dragging in a Dragon

Here’s another case where I have a detail I want in the story. Yet said detail means I have to work backward from it to find out what the consequences are and what else I need to change in the setting background or timeline so events work out to the situation I plan my characters to end up in.

The detail: I want an actual black dragon to be involved in the Imjin War… which was so named because 1592 was the year of the Black (Water) Dragon.

The problem: In the original Imjin War, the Japanese invasion devastated large swathes of Korea all by themselves. On top of that the Ming Chinese response, while in some ways helpful, was also vicious in multiple ways, from abuse and straight-up murder of some of the locals to secretly plotting with the Japanese to divide up the Korean Peninsula under the cover of peace negotiations. The loss of population and farms gone to ruin dealt a blow to Joseon it took literal centuries to recover from. And I want to dump a dragon in on top of all that?

Not to mention that in this altered timeline Korean forces grabbed a much larger chunk of Yuan territory; a large chunk the Ming intended to have all to themselves. Yes, that would have happened over two centuries before the Japanese fleets landed. From what I’ve read of history, that means the Ming courtiers probably brought it up only once a year or so. So the Wanli Emperor would have been even more reluctant to send troops than in real life. And far more likely to try for a territory grab in the process. Nasty.

So. Are there any mitigating factors already in the setting that could change either the forces that were involved or the Korean ability to toss out the Japanese without so much Ming, ahem, “help?”

Actually, yes. This world has cultivators, seafolk, and dragons – and the dragon’s own requirements make it very unlikely that the guy who was in charge of Japan at the time would let it stick around. It eats noble maidens. That makes it a direct threat to the Imperial Court, and the shogun cannot tolerate that.

Which implies that Hideyoshi, allied with the dragon, is not the shogun. Given in any world he still wants power, and one of the main problems in this time period is a whole lotta wokou raiding coasts… Hideyoshi, pirate lord of uncivilized seafolk, anyone?

Still piecing together fine details, but this might work….

17 thoughts on “Worldbuilding: Dragging in a Dragon

  1. Ooooo! That’s so cool! And I just thought about eh ya dragon might want a maiden, and specifically a noble maiden. Perhaps it’s not just the physical that the dragon is devouring, but the hopes and dreams and faith and whatever else her parents/family and people have tied up in her. It’s death magic that sustains a dragon who feasts on maidens. Like why the wizards in the War God books by David Weber were taking Zarantha back to her own land to sacrifice her, for the extra oomph it would have given them.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Why *is* it always maidens? And *noble* maidens in particular?

    1. Nobles just taste better – better diet, less exercise. Peasants are *stringy*
    2. Young meat tastes better, and physiologically, peasants age faster than nobles for the same number of years
    3. STDs taste terrible, and maidens are the best bet to avoid them, if you’re going to eat humans.
    4. In myths, magic that runs on human sacrifice seems to get more kick from sacrificing innocents, and maidens are strongly associated with innocence.
    5. As KohakuRyu said above, nobles are often magically connected to the land, so eating a noble may let a dragon “eat” the energy of that connection, or steal the connection to live parasitically off the land the *other* humans are toiling to keep healthy and productive. Of course, that means the dragon wants to keep as many productive humans alive on the land as possible, so it avoids eating humans wholesale. Hm… maybe humans actually taste *awful*, but dragons need the energy, so they aim for the human(s) with the most energy benefit so as to minimize the number of icky humans they have to eat.

    So nobles>peasants, maidens>non-maidens, and noble maidens>>anyone else.

    “Now, chibi-Draco, I’m not going to tell you again — EAT YOUR HUMAN.”
    “Aww, but Moooooom! They make me wanna puke!”
    “Don’t you DARE vomit up this human after your father and I spent all that time finding the best one for you! Remember: one human a year, and magical scurvy doesn’t appear!”

    (…oookay, I think I need coffee now)

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Also, maidens are potential— same way that children are, possibly stronger because their potential is to MAKE children.

      Sort of like how a knight on his first quest has extra oomph, nothing is established yet.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Notice that old maids are treated as if they were subversive. But a woman that age could have fewer children if any.


      2. An old maid living by herself, not giving all her gains to her family and being an unpaid servant.

        Also… Remember that in Reformation times, a lot of convents were closed, and the newly-ex nuns were not supposed to do things like open grammar schools. (Although they often did that, or tutoring.) They often did fine embroidery or had other specialized skills. I think it fed into the witch craze worries, all these women suddenly out of a job and a home, and not all able to get out of England to someplace nun-friendlier.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s also possible that the dragon would be problematic to its allies too.

    Maybe the dragon is “helpful” like the Ming?
    Maybe its bad at restraint?
    Maybe they decided to send less people because they had a dragon on their side?
    Maybe they needed logistical support for the dragon which took away from the army?

    Another interesting possibility would be if the dragon’s attack had some beneficial effects.
    Like it wiped out the local demons along with the countryside, or it revitalized the land, making it much easier for people to come back and resettle than an equivalent military invasion.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Also implies the people who *did* settle that land are extra crazy in some way because they *settled dragon infested land* to begin with… and then managed to stick around for generations…

        Liked by 2 people

  4. I perceive that you have already determined which “side” the dragon will be “aiding?”

    Because the first thought that started through my head when I was reading the beginning of your post is “What if the dragon is putatively aiding the Koreans?” Shrug

    Liked by 2 people

      1. In that case, the dragon might take offense and go off in a huff after doing more damage to its erstwhile but “treacherous” allies than its foes.


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