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Got an RPG I'm working on in my down time, and I'm toying around with the notion of having a hidden dragon stable(s) where for a sizeable fee you can buy a dragon and use him as a steed, sort of like the chocobo stables in Final Fantasy 6. However, unlike the chocobo, it will not eliminate combat. You will be able to use the dragon in battle, where it can shoot elemental projectiles (fire, water, wind, and earth) or attack physically. It will also give you access to some bonus areas. I've run into a few problems here. I currently have it set up to where you can walk and fly, encountering different enemies in each option. Should the enemies in the air be stronger than the ground enemies to keep people from being able to buy a dragon at level one by exploiting a feature (ex. recruit a soldier, sell his weapons, dismiss, recruit a new solder, sell his weapons, etc, sort of like Dragon Warrior 2) and going to area where he shouldn't be able to get to at that point in the story, or should I just have it level based, so that the shopkeeper wouldn't sell you one if you weren't at least level xx? Then there's the system to keep players from always using the most powerful attacks. Humans will have some form of magic points, but I'd like to get away from that with the dragons, since they won't actually be using magic. What would be a logical reason for them not being able to shoot 100 ice/fireballs/air blasts/boulders in a row without resting? With physical attacks, should the rider(s) just guide them to the enemy and let the dragon attack, or should the rider's attack power be added to the dragon's to simulate attacking from a mount along with the dragon? Should I also have it to where each party member can buy a dragon to use in battle and have it so you can determine who the people who don't own dragons ride with, or just one dragon for the party? On one hand you could have up to four dragons fighting instead of just one, each with a different element, but on the other hand something would have to be done to make up for the fact that there will only be one attack per player turn instead of four if the party only owns one dragon or I set it so that the entire party can only purchase one dragon. And then there's leveling. Should the dragon level with its owner or independantly? And finally, how much should they cost? Should the price vary by element, or should each individual dragon on the market have stats that determine their price (a weak fire dragon for $1,000 or a very powerful water dragon for $100,000)?

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Original post by dwmitch
Got an RPG I'm working on in my down time, and I'm toying around with the notion of having a hidden dragon stable(s) where for a sizeable fee you can buy a dragon and use him as a steed, sort of like the chocobo stables in Final Fantasy 6.


I think that would be a great idea. First of all the whole concept of FF using the Chocobo's was an inventive and 'new' idea. It really paid off I think because of how they added in the mini-games with them. Not only that, the no battles things was awesome, not to mention the fun music that played while trying to catch one of them. Raising it for racing was another neat idea that added to the FF game.

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However, unlike the chocobo, it will not eliminate combat. You will be able to use the dragon in battle, where it can shoot elemental projectiles (fire, water, wind, and earth) or attack physically. It will also give you access to some bonus areas.


I would agree. If you have a big bad magical dragon, why not use it [smile]. It should have its own attacks as you have said as well. That way it is like another character in your group. Myabe you could have it so as the monster gets larger and gorws, it can actually carry more items or group members to battle! That would be a cool feature.

Quote:
I've run into a few problems here. I currently have it set up to where you can walk and fly, encountering different enemies in each option. Should the enemies in the air be stronger than the ground enemies to keep people from being able to buy a dragon at level one by exploiting a feature (ex. recruit a soldier, sell his weapons, dismiss, recruit a new solder, sell his weapons, etc, sort of like Dragon Warrior 2) and going to area where he shouldn't be able to get to at that point in the story, or should I just have it level based, so that the shopkeeper wouldn't sell you one if you weren't at least level xx?


Well it all depends on what type of monstersr you have and how you went about setting that up. I would say remove the possibility to 'exploit' that feature and your problems will go away. You can make it so when you are using a dragon, you receive less exp than if you were not, as one variances. Another could be that you and the dragon split the experience, which would not be much to being with. Alos, when you use dragons, less item drops will happen. The main goal would be to balance the use of dragons. It should be a strategic decision on whether or not you want to use a dragon.

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Then there's the system to keep players from always using the most powerful attacks. Humans will have some form of magic points, but I'd like to get away from that with the dragons, since they won't actually be using magic. What would be a logical reason for them not being able to shoot 100 ice/fireballs/air blasts/boulders in a row without resting?


Well I see that you have a flaw in your logic design then. There should be some way in which the player has some sort of mana to limit what they can cast and how much theycan cast it. Take a look at diablo 2. A sourceress can cast a lot more than a Barbian can. That of course is a character feature as well and depends on how the character is going to be handled. If the character is a powerful magician, they should be able to cast the most powerful spells as much as they want, you know? But then that stems into the design of the spells - why is there a 'most powerful' spell that they would use? In diable 2, this is fixed by using monster immunities, so even if you had a level 99 sourcress that was cold, she could not do much against monsters that were immune to cold - thus making players not dedicate to one branch of magic. Which again all relates to the theme of balance.

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With physical attacks, should the rider(s) just guide them to the enemy and let the dragon attack, or should the rider's attack power be added to the dragon's to simulate attacking from a mount along with the dragon?


Think about this. Instead of riding on the dragon, it becaomes another character when you enter battle. So you are fighting side by sdie with it. Otherwise, if you were on it, how would you be attacked? If you take that design appraoch, I think it will be much easier to handle the attacks and defneses, since the dragon is now just another group member.

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Should I also have it to where each party member can buy a dragon to use in battle and have it so you can determine who the people who don't own dragons ride with, or just one dragon for the party? On one hand you could have up to four dragons fighting instead of just one, each with a different element, but on the other hand something would have to be done to make up for the fact that there will only be one attack per player turn instead of four if the party only owns one dragon or I set it so that the entire party can only purchase one dragon.

I'd love to see that. Nothign better than to have a group of 3 ferious warrios each with their own dragon to back them up. But, that shoudl only be possible in the late stages of the game when the mosnters are so tought that they *have* to have dragons to have a chance to succede. Once again, balance is the key. If you let them all just have dragons right away, it is going to be overkill of power and not a challenge.

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And then there's leveling. Should the dragon level with its owner or independantly?


Based on the owner. It would only be independent if you could take the dragon into battle itself and use that w/o your main character.


Quote:

And finally, how much should they cost? Should the price vary by element, or should each individual dragon on the market have stats that determine their price (a weak fire dragon for $1,000 or a very powerful water dragon for $100,000)?


Well it all depends on your game design, which, sorry to keep on repeating, is balance! I'd say they should not be avaliable right away, maybe 1/3 - 1/2 way into the game, the character can get a weak dragon - no matter how much $$ they have. Then they will have to build it up along the way. They should only be able to have just one dragon at a timr. This is to make sure they have to strategise how they play. Later in the game, they can add more possibly, or you acn have it so after they beat the game, they can have more on a different mode.

Those are just a few ideas. Let me know what you think about them. Hope this helps some in your planning. I think you need to focus on balance, It sounds like you have a pretty compelx plan, so balance is what is going to make you or break you.

- Drew

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What would be a logical reason for them not being able to shoot 100 ice/fireballs/air blasts/boulders in a row without resting?


Even a dragon needs to inhale everyone once and a while. Have you ever exhaled a lot of times in a row (i.e. blowing up a bunch of ballones)? You can get light headded.

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...to keep people from being able to buy a dragon at level one by exploiting a feature.


Make some kind of dragon ride skill that you need to have at a high enough level.

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With physical attacks, should the rider(s) just guide them to the enemy and let the dragon attack, or should the rider's attack power be added to the dragon's to simulate attacking from a mount along with the dragon?


Again, make it dependent on the skill of the rider. A high enough skill should allow for the possibilty to swing at someone as you fly by but a low skill means youre just barley holding on.

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How about taking into account the feelings of the dragons?

you can buy a dragon any time but the dragon doesn't trust you at first.
the longer you have the dragon the more skills it can use, gives more bonus to skills,etc (like the Guardian forces in FF8)

This could force the player to decide to keep a weaker dragon but has lots of skill or buy a newer, stronger dragon which has fewer skills. this may balance the verteran dragons with the young uber dragons. Selling a verteran dragon should also be possible but the skills will be lost since the dragon will not trust the new master.

This could also limit the dragons in a party. A dragon may not like other dragons, so a party will be forced to limit the number of dragons on their team.
Unused dragons by the party could be stored in a dragon stable until needed.

Having dragons with different personalities might make the party more interesting. Imagine giving a new dragon a command and the dragon attacks you.

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With regards to selling the weopons of hirelings, you could decide to program them to get upset if a player takes their stuff without compensation (or replacement). Some NPC may call guards on the player or even take them on with fists alone if need be. This would at least stop players getting money which they shouldn't really have.

The dragons are definitely a good idea. I would think that if there is already some algorithm that determines which kinds of enemies a player encounters based on the character's level/experience, you could change the algorithm to also consider the dragon's level. Perhaps when the player mounts a creature (even a horse!) the creature's level could be added to the player's. Although this should only be used in the algorithm that decides which enemies are encountered and not allow the player to gain access to items/areas/etc which they shouldn't have access to.

I'd like to see that dragons under the control of players have exactly the same capability of wild dragons. Ie, if a wild dragon can shoot off 100 fireballs then the controlled dragon should do the same. But what you can also look at is to make dragons "intelligent". A dragon should know that it's a lot bigger/stronger than the player and shouldn't just agree to use its most powerful attacks on whatever target the player wants it to. Perhaps a dragon will use its powerful attacks on a target that would have been a "natural" target for a dragon? Or when it feels threatened or has taken significant damage.

I like the idea of dragons not liking other dragons to limit how many can be used in one party. I'd like to add to this though: perhaps younger dragons (less experienced) would be more happy to be grouped, but a huge old and powerful dragon will never allow other younger (and perhaps less worthy/intelligent) dragons to come close to it. Unless perhaps the old dragon is a male and it likes the young female? :) But in that case the old dragon should be become even less controllable!

As to the experience gain issue, the dragon and player should level up separately. They are separate entities and you should treat this as if it's two players travelling together. Ie, each gets the experience for each task that it finishes (ie kills a monster). When the player and dragon (or another player) finishes a task TOGETHER, maybe split the experience points that a single player would get between the two either 50/50 or perhaps according to their experience levels. If you're a newbie travelling with an experienced player and you both kill a monster, I think it's safe to assume that the experienced player did most of the work and should get most of the experience increase.

The cost to buy a dragon should be almost prohibitively expensive. Ok, young dragons, perhaps those that were born in captivity, can be cheap, but still I'd say being able to ride around on a dragon should be a status symbol. I'd say that maybe 30-40% of players should be able to afford to buy dragons. That may seem a bit high, but keep in mind that not everyone should be able to control dragons.

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Original post by dwmitch
Should the enemies in the air be stronger than the ground enemies to keep people from being able to buy a dragon at level one by exploiting a feature (ex. recruit a soldier, sell his weapons, dismiss, recruit a new solder, sell his weapons, etc, sort of like Dragon Warrior 2)


Well, you could remove the exploit to begin with, by not allowing the player to tamper with NPC inventory in such manner. This kind of functionality really makes no sense when you think of it -- when you rent a taxi, can you sell it and dismiss the driver?


Quote:
or should I just have it level based, so that the shopkeeper wouldn't sell you one if you weren't at least level xx?


I wouldn't put limit on the shopkeeper, they are out to make a buck not babysit you... so it's not their concern if you buy something you have no idea how to use. You could make the dragon pay attention to the player's level, instead -- dragons are powerful and quite intelligent creatures, if they find the player to weak for them, they might simply refuse to obey orders and do as they please.


Quote:
Then there's the system to keep players from always using the most powerful attacks. Humans will have some form of magic points, but I'd like to get away from that with the dragons, since they won't actually be using magic. What would be a logical reason for them not being able to shoot 100 ice/fireballs/air blasts/boulders in a row without resting?


See above. Dragon doesn't take seriously a character that isn't powerful enough on their own, and will not do any advanced tricks for someone it doesn't respect. This way you could give player gradual access to dragon's abilities as they level (perhaps at points where the particular dragon skill is more of a help for the player instead of doing all the work for them)


[quote]And then there's leveling. Should the dragon level with its owner or independantly?[quote]

Would borrow a page from the mmo games here, and split the fight xp between player(s) and dragon(s) depending on amount of damage done. This way weak character who tries to use dragon for most of 'dirty work' is penalized in natural way -- their own development is significantly slower, and they still don't get access to any higher level abilities of the dragon due to their own level being too low. If they want to level efficiently, they'll have to call for dragon help only when it's really necessary in order to beat something....


Quote:
And finally, how much should they cost? Should the price vary by element, or should each individual dragon on the market have stats that determine their price (a weak fire dragon for $1,000 or a very powerful water dragon for $100,000)?


Price depending on the abilities of the dragon itself sounds interesting, there might be people who like the idea of buying cheap dragon early and growing their character together with it over the course of the game, while some others might prefer to get strong dragon when they can afford it... different strokes for different folks.

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Your thread title gave me a couple of thoughts. If you consider the dragon as something analogous to a car, maybe you can't buya dragon until you're licensed to fly one. This could give you a chance to do a dragon-riding tutorial. Or, possibly, dragons could be prohibitively expensive, but you get your first one from somewhere (your father or uncle perhaps, when you come of age) and you can only part-exchange it. Your first one's a bad-tempered whelp, but you can upgrade to bigger and stronger dragons as you go.

In terms of controlling breath weapons, you could have a "stamina bar", which is just like a magic bar but covers breath weapons, though it's a fudge. I quite like the inhale idea: if you want to use to mighty breath weapon, it costs two actions, the first one an "inhale". Maybe a breath weapon is only slightly more powerful than a bite or claw, but it hits all enemies. That should add some depth to it.

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Original post by Acapulco
Your thread title gave me a couple of thoughts. If you consider the dragon as something analogous to a car, maybe you can't buya dragon until you're licensed to fly one. This could give you a chance to do a dragon-riding tutorial. Or, possibly, dragons could be prohibitively expensive, but you get your first one from somewhere (your father or uncle perhaps, when you come of age) and you can only part-exchange it. Your first one's a bad-tempered whelp, but you can upgrade to bigger and stronger dragons as you go.


Interesting idea, but I'd kind of like to keep it so that it's a well hidden secret instead of a government regulated thing. In fact, recently I've been toying around with the notion of having the dragon(s) come under attack by guards if you don't leave them in the forests or mountains when you go into a town, and possibly getting arrows shot at them if you fly over a town.

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Original post by Drew_Benton
I think that would be a great idea. First of all the whole concept of FF using the Chocobo's was an inventive and 'new' idea. It really paid off I think because of how they added in the mini-games with them. Not only that, the no battles things was awesome, not to mention the fun music that played while trying to catch one of them. Raising it for racing was another neat idea that added to the FF game.

I would agree. If you have a big bad magical dragon, why not use it [smile]. It should have its own attacks as you have said as well. That way it is like another character in your group. Myabe you could have it so as the monster gets larger and gorws, it can actually carry more items or group members to battle! That would be a cool feature.

Well it all depends on what type of monstersr you have and how you went about setting that up. I would say remove the possibility to 'exploit' that feature and your problems will go away. You can make it so when you are using a dragon, you receive less exp than if you were not, as one variances. Another could be that you and the dragon split the experience, which would not be much to being with. Alos, when you use dragons, less item drops will happen. The main goal would be to balance the use of dragons. It should be a strategic decision on whether or not you want to use a dragon.

Well I see that you have a flaw in your logic design then. There should be some way in which the player has some sort of mana to limit what they can cast and how much theycan cast it. Take a look at diablo 2. A sourceress can cast a lot more than a Barbian can. That of course is a character feature as well and depends on how the character is going to be handled. If the character is a powerful magician, they should be able to cast the most powerful spells as much as they want, you know? But then that stems into the design of the spells - why is there a 'most powerful' spell that they would use? In diable 2, this is fixed by using monster immunities, so even if you had a level 99 sourcress that was cold, she could not do much against monsters that were immune to cold - thus making players not dedicate to one branch of magic. Which again all relates to the theme of balance.

Think about this. Instead of riding on the dragon, it becaomes another character when you enter battle. So you are fighting side by sdie with it. Otherwise, if you were on it, how would you be attacked? If you take that design appraoch, I think it will be much easier to handle the attacks and defneses, since the dragon is now just another group member.

I'd love to see that. Nothign better than to have a group of 3 ferious warrios each with their own dragon to back them up. But, that shoudl only be possible in the late stages of the game when the mosnters are so tought that they *have* to have dragons to have a chance to succede. Once again, balance is the key. If you let them all just have dragons right away, it is going to be overkill of power and not a challenge.

Based on the owner. It would only be independent if you could take the dragon into battle itself and use that w/o your main character.

Well it all depends on your game design, which, sorry to keep on repeating, is balance! I'd say they should not be avaliable right away, maybe 1/3 - 1/2 way into the game, the character can get a weak dragon - no matter how much $$ they have. Then they will have to build it up along the way. They should only be able to have just one dragon at a timr. This is to make sure they have to strategise how they play. Later in the game, they can add more possibly, or you acn have it so after they beat the game, they can have more on a different mode.

Those are just a few ideas. Let me know what you think about them. Hope this helps some in your planning. I think you need to focus on balance, It sounds like you have a pretty compelx plan, so balance is what is going to make you or break you.

- Drew


I like most of your ideas, but I think I saw a later reply that could explain how a dragon could be attacked that I'd like to go with. If I had the dragon(s) as seperate group members that would be up to eight PCs attacking, which would severely alter the balance. Not to mention that I'd have to worry about placing up to four 128 x 128 sprites, four 96 x 96 sprites (actual characters in the 32x64 range (I just got the sprites from Reiner's Tilesets, so if that's poor design he's the one to talk to)), and enemy sprites in a 640 x 480 battlefield.

I'd like to allow each party member to have their own dragon or the option to share dragons so you could have up to four elements in a battle, allowing the player to do elemental damage if they decide not to have any magic users. I think the route I'll go is basically having mounted players encountering enemies that could kill a level 99 knight in one attack, but if they're on a dragon it would be about like a level 15 taking on a level 13 - 15, assuming they're in the right area, plus flying creatures that they otherwise wouldn't encounter.

That still leaves the problem of combined attack or dragon only. I'm leaning towards an idea posted about having a ride skill determine whether the rider can attack during a charge, and how effective the attack will be.

Of course, I also like the idea of raising a dragon from drakee (or wyvern, at least)*, so I may go with that idea. Thanks for the input, guys. I'm far from getting the dragon features completely worked out, so feel free to keep adding suggestions.

*Using the Dragon Warrior definitions of drakee and wyvern, a drakee being an infant dragon and a wyvern being an adolescent. Can't seem to find definitions on non Dragon Warrior sites.

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Good thinking. This could be tied elegantly into the dragon mastery -> dragon behavior system. A skilled dragonrider could get the respect of his mount and the beast would behave itself even in metropolitan centers. But if your monster outstrips your skills, it'll be eating livestock and passersby, and might take a bite out of you as well. That means you can't take it anywhere.

This could be conducive to the levelling system. Maybe all dragons have a whole array of powers, but are "tamed" by virtue of a collar/spell/harness. The better your relationship with the wyrm, the more lax your restrictions on its power/autonomy, and so you gain access to more powerful dragon abilities (combat, flight, breath weapons, dragon magic). But if you give it too much slack, it might throw off your yoke and escape/turn on you/whatever. When you max out your mastery of your dragon(s), you can totally disable your power over it and it will stay with you anyway, Bellerophon-style.

In this vein, you might be able to rent a dragon with a permanent "nothing but fly" limiter on it. More expensive dragons might have one or two attacks available, but need special commands or magic-point-expenditures to use in battle. If you want the total dragon experience, you'd have to capture one, tame it with a highly customizable psi-harness, and then gradually gain its esteem through derring-do and proper conduct.

This gameplay element could be a lot of different things. Make sure you don't get too carried away with it. We all know what it looks like when a game designer is engulfed with a passion for care and feeding of mounts. :P

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Original post by dwmitch
I like most of your ideas, but I think I saw a later reply that could explain how a dragon could be attacked that I'd like to go with. If I had the dragon(s) as seperate group members that would be up to eight PCs attacking, which would severely alter the balance. Not to mention that I'd have to worry about placing up to four 128 x 128 sprites, four 96 x 96 sprites (actual characters in the 32x64 range (I just got the sprites from Reiner's Tilesets, so if that's poor design he's the one to talk to)), and enemy sprites in a 640 x 480 battlefield.


Ahh I see. Awesome, at the time I realized I was thinking of a big 3D game [smile] I was imagining like Buhamat from FF7 and such. Yea, then that would be over crowded on a 640x480 screen. That idea of combining them is much better. Best of luck with your project!

- Drew

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A couple of thougts. First you could eliminate the exploit bug, by having the cost to recruit an npc include the sale price of all their equipment.

And secondly, I think it would be good if you didn't ecounter normal enemies while your with a dragon. Instead you could only encounter large class enemies. These would be creatures that a dragon would likly have to deal with and as such they would powerful enough to kill a low level party instantly. So while your with your dragon you'll never encounter a vicious rabbit but you might have to go body to toe with a wandering hill giant.

Just my thoughts anyway.

[Edited by - TechnoGoth on February 15, 2005 2:00:47 AM]

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Good thinking, TechnoGoth. Maybe dragons have natural enemies in the wild, and while a seven-story golem wouldn't bother waking up to fight a Ranger, a Ranger on a red dragon would look like dinner. You'd have to decide whether to risk flying through wyvern-infested skies or creeping through werewolf-infested swamps to get where you're going.

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Original post by Iron Chef Carnage
You'd have to decide whether to risk flying through wyvern-infested skies or creeping through werewolf-infested swamps to get where you're going.


What exactly is a wyvern? According to the Dragon Warrior manual it's a stage of development between drakee (hatchling) and adult, but I've heard it used as if it were a completely different creature.

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Original post by dwmitch
Quote:
Original post by Iron Chef Carnage
You'd have to decide whether to risk flying through wyvern-infested skies or creeping through werewolf-infested swamps to get where you're going.


What exactly is a wyvern? According to the Dragon Warrior manual it's a stage of development between drakee (hatchling) and adult, but I've heard it used as if it were a completely different creature.


Haha, Sorry I thought it was funny you might want to broaden your research area beyond the dragon warrior manual.

"The wyvren is a relative of the European dragon and is said to be a more sinister version of the dragon. In popular mythology, it is seen as a creature of pure evil, possessing no remorse and delighting in the taste of human flesh. In Medieval art and heraldry, the Wyvern is nearly always depicted as having only two clawed legs, rather than the dragon’s traditional four. In some variations the wyvren is also said to possess a venomous barbed tail."

If you want to have dragons in your game it might be worth a search on google into the diffrent types of dragons since there are many diffrent kids of dragons depicated in mythology from around the globe, and should make for much more interesting types of creatures then standard fire, ice, and lightning dragons.

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You could make the player have to complete a quest to gain access to the dragon like the airships if FF or the Chocobos in FFXI. The difficulty of the quest could keep low levels from gaining access.

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