The Compleat Dragon-Hunter was a manual outlining a series of techniques and methods used to search for and hunt down dragons that were found throughout Faerûn. It was complied around 1300 DR by Smerdiuk Dragonbane, the famed dragon slayer who hailed from the Cormyrean city of Arabel.[note 1]
- On Finding a Dragon
This chapter discussed how a prospective dragon-hunter could find one of the beasts before it caught them unready. It detailed the signs and tracks that dragons left when traveling throughout their domain and the strong but almost-pleasant musk, which evoked the scent of lemon-tree flowers, they used to mark their territory. It outlined the importance of getting into the mindset of a dragon, thinking as they would to identify the best possible location for their lair, depending on their color or hue.
- On Selecting a Time
The treatise offered the author's personal opinion that the best time to assail a dragon was during the night or just around high noon. As dragons preferred to hunt shortly after dawn or prior to dusk, owing to the enlarged shadows cast by their prey, these times were not ideal for catching the great beasts unaware. The hope was to catch a dragon shortly after feeding, when they were a bit more sluggish and off their guard. However, the ideal time was any period where a hunter could approach a dragon unannounced with the greatest possible advantage.
- On Where to Face Your Dragon
This section of the manual outlined why it was best to assail a dragon when it was either entering, or preferably leaving, its lair. This was believed by the author to be the best time and location where the dragon could be ambushed with a well-prepared assault. It stressed how dangerous the interior of a dragon's lair was: this was the most well-memorized location in the dragon's life, lined with deadly traps and protected with magical wards that were imbued with draconic magic.
- On Approaching the Lair
The tome explained how a dragon's sight was one of their weakest senses while their sense of smell was exceptionally keen. It was advised that any hunter approach a dragon's lair downwind, covered in the untreated hides of animals, until the dragon's natural musk and odor overpowered any body odor that emanated from any members of a hunting party. All metal items should be sheathed or otherwise bound so that they made no sound. Magical silence effects were highly recommended.
- On Battling Your Dragon
Before a dragon was to be engaged, two crucial points had to be kept in mind: the dragon had to be fought from a distance until it exhausted all its ranged attacks and it could not be allowed to take flight. It was recommended that any measures be taken to nullify or otherwise evade their arsenal of magical spells along with their elemental breath weapon. If at all possible, the dragon should be grounded with anchored-nets, weighted ballistae bolts, and immobilizing spells while it was bombarded with arcane projectiles and other missiles. Melee combat was to be avoided at all costs, as dragons were lightning-fast and possessed heroic strength and power.
- On Breath Weapons
Some rumors circulated about the various means and preparations that could be taken to lessen the harmfulness of a dragon's breath, depending on the color of its scales. It was said that wrapping someone in water-soaked clothing or freshly cut, outwardly turned animal skins could mitigate the flames of a red dragon; urine- or vinegar-soaked hides protected from the chlorine-gas breath of green dragons; a layer of lard over the skin was believed to diminish the acidic breath of black dragons; and metal pikes, firmly driven into the ground, could attract and dissipate the lightning that shot forth from the mouths of blue dragons.
It was clearly noted that none of these techniques had been used by the author.
- On Dressing a Corpse
The book then discussed some helpful hints and advice regarding the proper ways to dress a dragon's corpse and harvest its scales, hide, and meat, along with identifying which body parts would prove most valuable to potential buyers. Like any fresh kill, a dead dragon had to be bled and gutted; preferably the dragon should be hung, but positioning it on its back was a suitable alternative. While the scales of every variety of dragon were valuable to Faerûnian armorers, their respective meats had to be prepared in different ways to be made fit for humanoid consumption. Certain body parts were highly valued across the Realms; dragon tongue for example, was considered an extravagant delicacy among the nation-states of Chessenta.
- On Magical Preparations
As dragons were innately magical creatures, the parts of their body were highly valued among the arcane community, albeit at highly varying prices that were heavily influenced by economic trends. The book stated that dragon blood commanded exorbitant prices, as it was used in the brewing of potions along with ink used for the inscription of powerful scrolls, as it imbued certain spells with the inherent elemental power a dragon possessed based on its sub-species. Additionally, their eyes were used in magic to confer the ability to see people and items that had been rendered invisible. It was also written that the pituitary gland found in their brain enhanced magical spells that conferred supernatural growth.
While the magical properties of a dragon's body were fairly well-known, the guide explored one important fact that many dragon-hunters seemed to overlook. The blood and organs of dragons became corrupted, exuded an unbearable stench, and degraded into a completely useless state within a matter of six to eight hours, unless they were properly treated and stored. While a dragon's blood could be stored in a wax-sealed glass container, the top layer that was exposed to open air was entirely unusable. Solid organs and glands had to be soaked in certain substances such as alchemist's formalin. As pointed out by the author, the amount of equipment and storage that was necessary to properly keep and transport the remains of a dragon to any civilized settlement was counter-intuitive to the nimbleness and speed that was required to track down and hunt the beast.
- On Disposing of the Dragon Corpse
Lastly, the guide stated that fire was the only known, readily available means of destroying the remains of a dragon. Any apparel or items that were soaked in its blood had to be burned, in order to remove the effects and stench of its corruption. Unfortunately, there was nothing available to aid in the removal of the acrid smell that lingered from the exposure of dragon's blood on the skin of a hunter.
Given the scale and ambition of the work, many other experts were quick to dispute Smerdiuk's conclusions. Nevertheless, he seemed to be largely correct on most topics, though the few areas where he wasn't could prove significant when dealing with creatures as mighty as dragons.
Lord Torlyn Wands acquired a copy, along with Gold Amid Dragonfire, from the collections of the Estelmer and Melshimber families in Waterdeep in early Nightal, 1479 DR. They were two of the more valuable works.
The Compleat Dragon-Hunter is named for The Compleat Angler by Izaak Walton, a book on fishing first published in 1653.
- ↑ "The Candlekeep Collection" gives a date of c. 1300 DR for the writing of The Compleat Dragon Hunter, which suggests an impressively long lifespan for a dragon hunter, given Smerdiuk's disappearance in 1355 DR. It may be that Smerdiuk only began writing at the start of his career around 1300 DR, and completion and publication came much later.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Nigel Findley, et al. (October 1990). Draconomicon. (TSR, Inc), p. 80. ISBN 0-8803-8876-5.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Steven E. Schend (2000-11-29). The Candlekeep Collection. Wizards of the Coast. Archived from the original on 2009-06-04. Retrieved on 2017-09-25.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Steven E. Schend (September 2008). Blackstaff Tower. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-4913-9.
- ↑ Nigel Findley, et al. (October 1990). Draconomicon. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 0-8803-8876-5.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Nigel Findley, et al. (October 1990). Draconomicon. (TSR, Inc), p. 81. ISBN 0-8803-8876-5.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Nigel Findley, et al. (October 1990). Draconomicon. (TSR, Inc), p. 82. ISBN 0-8803-8876-5.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 Nigel Findley, et al. (October 1990). Draconomicon. (TSR, Inc), p. 83. ISBN 0-8803-8876-5.