Thursday, April 8, 2010

From Formspring: Can vampires or dragons in your mythos get radiation poisoning? If so, how much compared to a human being?

I hadn't really thought of that yet. I suppose that yes, they could...but the regenerative power of a vampire is different from that of a dragon.

Vampires heal much faster, within seconds of being wounded. The more severe the wound, the longer the regeneration period. Still, it doesn't take very long. However, they are as relatively easy to injure as a human.

In contrast, dragons regenerate slower, but are very difficult to hurt--even in human form. In the excerpt of The Shadow of Tiamat, Garrett survives what should have been a fatal crash with no visible signs of injury--short of torn clothes and a busted motorcycle helmet. Obviously, in dragon form he is even harder to hurt.

If I understand it correctly (and please, correct me if I am wrong) radiation poisoning is so insidious because once it enters your body, you never get rid of it. It's with you forever. That's why X-ray techs stand behind a wall and wear a lead-lined apron while you lay there with a backless paper gown and plastic booties. It is unlikely you will ever get enough X-rays to harm you, but an X-ray tech taking dozens of X-rays a week (or day) can easily build up a fatal amount in a short career. Presumably, the regenerative abilities of these otherworldly creatures would most forms of radiation from their body, much in the same way our blood is able to filter alcohol.

The initial effects of severe radiation--i.e. the burning and tissue damage--would still occur. Based on the severity, a vampire or dragon may be able to survive this. In the case of mild radiation, the vampire might suffer some burns but heal them quickly, whereas the dragon (depending on the form they were in at the time) might not be effected at all. On the other hand, severe radiation might burn a vampire to a crisp faster than his body could repair the damage, while the dragon would take the damage but probably survive so long as they got away from the source of the radiation.

As far mutation of DNA...since vampires are human-based they still have DNA but the ability of the vampire-virus to heal it's host would (I think) restore the DNA with some manner of super-genome. Some viruses already do this to some extent. It stands to reason that an otherworldly virus would be able to do it even better.

As for can't really go into that without spoiling more of the books. I'll just say this: more about the nature of what dragons are is revealed as the series progresses. I don't want to give any of that away, since it's not even something disclosed in the first book.