1. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

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    Question about ink on reptilian scales

    Discussion in 'Research' started by rktho, Jun 20, 2017.

    In my book, the characters are all dragons. The antagonist knows of a prophecy that anyone bearing the Kenshi symbol will kill him. Fortunately, he is the only Kenshi alive, so nobody can kill him, because he made a life crystal that keeps him young and immortal-- though not immune to pain or injury. Anyway, the antagonist meets the protagonist. As the antagonist is incognito, the protagonist doesn't recognize him (not that he had seen him before) but the antagonist learns through their conversation that the protagonist is the son of someone he killed. The protagonist knows nothing of this, but he notices the symbol on the back of the antagonist's hand. Later that night, the protagonist has trouble sleeping, and he wakes up from a dream in which he saw himself copy the symbol on his right hand by tracing his claw on the back of his hand. He copies the symbol, but with a quill instead of his claw. Later, when the antagonist is scrying for the crystal he lost (which the protagonist found) he discovers it is with the protagonist, and he is pleased until he sees the symbol on his hand and thinks the protagonist knows he killed his father and is attempting to kill him in revenge by taking the crystal far away and destroying it. The symbol, being only ordinary ink applied to the surface of the skin, as opposed to a tattoo magically branded on him, smudges and fades away in a matter of hours or days-- depending on what the answer to this thread's question is. (I'm guessing hours.) When the antagonist meets the protagonist in person and notices the symbol is gone, learning it was just something the protagonist drew on himself, the antagonist realizes anyone can fulfill the prophecy just by drawing the symbol on their hand, not permanently marking their right hand with it. When this occurs to the mentor protagonists, they draw it on the protagonists' hands before confronting the antagonist, but he has put a spell on the gate so the marks wipe off when they walk in, which they don't notice until they actually try to threaten him.

    So-- would this work if my characters hands had scales instead of skin? I would imagine the scales would be smaller, less thick around the hands as opposed to the chest, back or belly, so relatively speaking my character's hands would be rather smooth. But I realize absorbance is key as well-- so would this work for my plot? And if not, how can I rework it? It's very important.
     
  2. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    since the dragons are mythical you can decide what the properties of their scales are
     
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  3. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

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    True, but I would like some feedback on the properties of real-world reptiles' skin to make my dragons more believable.
     
  4. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    i can't help you on point, but i can tell you that reptiles shed and regrow their scales so a permanent tattoo wouldn't be a thing in dragon culture anyway (if they are based on real world reptiles)
     
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  5. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

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    Hm. I see. Well, since it's branded with magic, that wouldn't be a problem, but it might raise a few eyebrows to the non-magical community...
     
  6. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Contributor Contributor

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    Well pig skin is sometimes used for tattooing practice, and is pretty tough.

    So technically in your case (provided the ink is a color that will stand out
    against the color of the scales) you could do the old-school tap method,
    or by hand like the monks still do. You just need something like a steel
    rod or a bunch of them bound together, that are really sharp.
    This is only theoretical in concept, and would be best for softer scales
    and not for something akin to crocodile skin. Though it may work on
    the tougher, but there is now way to know for sure since there is no
    information on tattooing lizards.
     
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  7. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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  8. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

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    Repainting could serve as a credible alibi for the mark remaining for years... What about branding, where the mark is burned in? Would it heal too with the shedding of scales? If so, then painting is a better explanation, but if not, branding is.
     
  9. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    Branding would likely leave a scar for at least a few sheds, but the thing is that real reptiles will shed their skin in response to it being damaged, so this would be something they'd do knowing it was on a short timer / they'd have to reapply. Plus, intricate patterns would turn to fuzz pretty quickly after a shed.

    A severe enough burn could last a lifetime (well, a snake's lifetime of ~20yrs, at least), but eventually it would just be vague patchy scar tissue.
     
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  10. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

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    Painting and repainting periodically it is. Thanks!
     
  11. Elven Candy

    Elven Candy Pay no attention to the foot in my mouth Contributor

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    Are you referring to the antag's tattoo? I didn't find anything strange with it. Since your world has magic, I'd say just keep it as a magic-induced tattoo.
     
  12. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

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    Yes, but... the general population thinks magic is fictional.
     
  13. Elven Candy

    Elven Candy Pay no attention to the foot in my mouth Contributor

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    Ah, so you're saying he still has the tattoo, but the populace thinks it's just painted on. Correct?
     
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  14. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

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    Yes.
     
  15. Elven Candy

    Elven Candy Pay no attention to the foot in my mouth Contributor

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    Makes sense.
     

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