Komodo Dragons in GURPS

Varanus komodoensis

The Komodo dragon is the world's largest living goanna. A leopard sized predator, it must surely resemble the dragons of old. The adults are stocky and massively built, with skin like chainmail and teeth like steak-knives. Their color is typically a dull grey-brown, although those from Flores have washes of color to their pebbly skin. The young are more typically arboreal, spending much of their time foraging for food in the trees, and are more brightly colored and patterned. The adults stay on the ground; although they are perfectly capable of climbing clifs and escarpments they are too heavy and too stocky to get far up the slender trees of their homeland. Komodos live on savanna islands with open grasslands dotted with trees supporting a variety of prey species and occasional thickts and brushy areas in which the dragons wait in ambush for their prey. In modern times, it is restricted to the western part of the island of Flores in Indonesia and a few smaller islands to the west of Flores (such as the island of Komodo, for which they are named). In ages past, their range was larger, extending at least as far as Timor.

Komodos live on large prey such as deer and wild boar. They occasionally kill hoofstock weighing up to ten times their body weight. Livestock such as goats, dogs, chickens, horses, or water buffalo are common targets of these predators. They can smell when an animal is about to give birth, and will wait to catch the newborn and the afterbirth. These dragons will will sometimes attack attack and devour human beings, but flight is a more typical reaction to our presence in modern times and dragons in tourist areas often simply ignore us. In prehistoric times, the dragons preyed upon a race of tiny 1 meter tall humans and herds of dwarf Stegodon elephants.

These giant goannas attack with messy violence, grabbing their victims in their jaws and shaking them about. Very large prey is attacked by targeting the legs to deliver crippling injuries, but they prefer to rip open the belly to disembowel when they can reach it. After throwing large prey to the ground, they begin eating, usually when the animal is still alive, first ripping open the abdominal cavity, shaking out the entrails, and then sticking their head into the body cavity to devour the heart and lungs. The entire carcass is usually consumed. Entire limbs and other large chunks are ripped off and swallowed whole. If the dragonís quarry is wounded but escapes the initial attack, the dragon will track it, for the bite of the dragon inflicts a ragged wound both deep and wide. This wound bleeds copiously, and prey often weakens or dies from exanguination, allowing the dragon a second chance. Even if the victim escapes and avoids death due to blood loss, it is still in danger, for the bite of the dragon is highly septic. The wound may become infected and will not heal, while the toxins given off by the festering gash poison the blood. Death due to septicemia often occurs within a week, unless the victim is found by another Komodo, for these dragons can smell the infection and will track the now weakened animal, overpower it, and consume it.

As adults, Komodos are typicaly Huge or Giant in size, but some rare individuals become Humongus. Stories from before they were rigorously studied often reported individuals that became Immense. Although dragons of this size probably never existed, GMs may use Immense Komodo dragons in games where these stories were true.

Back to Varanoids