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A land far away, where the existence of dragons is known to people. A land where wizards care for dragons for thousands of years. A land where you will be swamped with requests by new players to click their eggs.

This is the world of Dragon Cave.

Dragon Cave is a popular adoptable site created by T.J. Lipscomb, with sprite contributions made by the users. Upon registration, each user is given a scroll that they can fill up with dragons of hundreds of different breeds. The dragons' growth is made possible by the amount of views received, and upon growing to adulthood, dragons can breed and some types can use special abilities. The site also has holiday events for Valentine's Day, Halloween, and Christmas, consisting of a limited release and a minigame such as a scavenger hunt or small in-browser game.

This site provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: If you decide to act like this, you may end up with a neglected dragon. They are incredibly rare and difficult to get, and are therefore some of the most desired dragons in the game.
  • Actual Pacifist: White dragons, who are herbivores because they refuse to kill.
  • Adjective Animal Alehouse:
    • The Green Dragon, a tavern in the Halloween 2012 "Haunting in Aliset" story.
    • The Pink Dragon Café, an eatery in the Valentine's 2017 text adventure game.
  • Aerith and Bob:
    • Members are free to name their own dragons, and often the lists of their dragons names can end up like this, or else pass into the bizarre and the surreal. Justified because names have to be unique across the site, and with thousands of users who can all have thousands of dragons, it can be pretty hard to find a "normal" name that someone else hasn't already taken.
    • Many characters in the Christmas 2015 "Valkemarian Tales" game are introduced, with names like Luna and Margo, and Liud and Galys.
  • Alien Sky: The world of Valkemare has two moons, Aurax and Cirion, which are gold and blue respectively. The phases of the moons affect which colour of Lunar Herald or Sonata dragon is available, along with other, less noticeable effects.
  • Alignment-Based Endings: The badge the player receives from completing the Christmas 2015 "Valkemarian Tales" game is a gift box if the player chose more nice options and a lump of coal if the player chose more naughty options over the course of the 11 days.
  • Anachronism Stew: The time period is supposed to be vaguely medieval, so overtly anachronistic concepts such as airplanes are not allowed. Still, the site has introduced or mentioned spectacles, various dog breeds, knowledge of the electromagnetic spectrum, and other anachronisms.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Cantormaris dragons come in different colors depending on what actions are done to them as an egg. Influence is the only action not to do so. If it did then getting certain color/gender combinations would be entirely up to RNG.
  • Anti-Magic: Cassares have an innate ability to nullify magic.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: "The Guardians of Nature" which are the personifications (or should that be dragonification?) of... well, guess.
  • April Fools' Day: Since 2009, the website pulls silly pranks on its users for the full twenty-four hours, ranging from fake uncatchable eggs, an all-green joke recolor in 2018, the Stylistic Suck in 2020, to googly eyes in 2022.
  • Art Evolution:
    • Most of the sprites haven't changed since their introduction, but since the site's creation the egg sprites have become more polished and male and female dragon sprites of the same breed now often have different poses.
    • Many of the original sprites were very rushed (due to the fact that the very first sprites - which weren't owned by the site - needed to be replaced) and had restrictions on the number of colours used. Now that sprites have more time and colours available to them, they tend to be more detailed.
    • In early 2015, most of the dead egg sprites were updated to have more jagged edges.
    • Some of the earlier replacement sprites, such as Silver and Two-Headed dragons, were later re-done.
  • Balloon Belly: The Balloon Dragons can inflate into balloon-like forms that float.
  • Big Eater: Harvest dragons during autumn eat pretty much anything right before hibernation, and Spotted Greenwings have a voracious appetite and eat whatever fits in their mouths. Plated colossi are enormous, dimwitted dragons who frequently think about food.
  • Brainwashed: Brainwashing and replacing memories are a favorite tactic of Desipis dragons.
  • Breath Weapon: Some dragons are explicitly stated to use breath attacks, though others lack breath powers and others use various forms of magic.
  • Brick Joke: One of the items you could find in the 2011 Haunted House event was a rainbow chicken. In the 2012 "Haunting in Aliset" story, you find a rainbow-colored chicken roast.
  • Broken Bridge: In the Christmas 2015 interactive story, at the start of the game, the various parts of town are blocked off by trees blocking the road. They get cleared as released missions are completed.
  • The Bus Came Back: Frilled Dragons and Bright Pink dragons were available in the past only to both get discontinued at one point. Many years later, both breeds came back at the same time (website's 10th birthday) and became available in the cave again, with Bright Pink dragons now being known as Aria dragons with completely new sprites and Frilled dragons getting a second adult sprite to represent males.
  • Call-Back: The 2015 Christmas game has a few, due to it being set a year after the snowstorm event in 2014, and 2016 continues the story from 2015.
  • Calling Card: The only way one can be certain a Heartstealing dragon is the culprit when something goes missing is by finding one of her scales at the scene.
  • Came Back Strong: Pitfires are formidable Blood Knights already, but if they're slain by a foe, they are reborn, more powerful than ever (and cloaked in green fire).
  • Came Back Wrong: the Undead dragons. Reviving dragons has a very small chance of creating these (the other two possibilities are being revived normally and permanent death). They are zombies which are incapable of breeding, and are described as being extremely dangerous and the result of a failed magic spell. They are only visible from 12 AM to 6 AM, and at all other times they appear as gravestones.
  • Captain Ersatz: Suspiciously Yoshi-like Dino eggs appear very rarely in the jungle. They were originally actual Yoshis, but this was changed for obvious copyright related reasons. Until an update in 2016, Dinos sorted as "Yoshis" if a scroll was sorted by breed.
  • Cartoon Cheese: Cheese dragon sprites are yellow and full of holes, but since any variety of cheese can be brought to life, they aren't limited to this specific appearance.
  • Color-Coded Elements: Most elements have the expected colors, although the water element is pink; one of the people responsible for the elements concept suggested pink like coral.
  • Combat Tentacles: The Dark Green dragons use their masses of vines to attack and eat anything around them.
  • Cool Horse: Horse and Hellhorse dragons. Though you can't ride them, and Hellhorse dragons are notoriously vicious.
  • Creature-Breeding Mechanic: Most dragons can breed, and most of the time baby dragons will grow up to be identical to one of the parents. To spice things up, there are a few hybrids and alternate sprites that can only be obtained through breeding, and some egg varieties can only be laid at certain times of year. A dragon's pedigree is viewable, and the value of a dragon has a lot to do with how visually appealing its pedigree is.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Rarely, the order of the options on "Account" or a dragon's actions will be moved around or a new link will be added, prompting users to point out that they keep going to the wrong pages.
  • Dark Is Evil: Desipis and Caligene dragons are extremely dangerous, and Cavern Lurkers to some extent as well, since they dislike the light and like to leave bone piles at their cave entrance.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Black Marrow dragons, black and red Halloween dragons with skeletons that grow through their scales and eat carrion, also happen to be kind mates and doting parents.
  • Dishing Out Dirt: Green dragons. In-game, they have a Breed-Specific Action called Earthquake, which targets all eggs on a player's scroll.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": TJ's named dragons are in Saurian, which usually refer to their breed, appearance, and/or gender. For instance, his female Hellhorse is called Girl Fire Horse Dragon.
  • Dominant Species Genes: In most cases, the offspring of two dragons will be one of the parents' species. Only a handful of specific pairings can produce hybrids, and even with those pairings hybrids aren't guaranteed; they can still produce either one species or the other.
  • Dracolich: Undead (a.k.a. Zombie) dragons. They are created from dead dragons that the breeder attempts to revive, with a small chance of being successful. Undead dragons match the general morphology of the breed they used to be, i.e. a turned lindwurm (wings and a pair of arms) will have an Undead sprite with that appearance.
  • Dragon Tamer: Flavor text from the Dragon Encyclopedia says of humans, "Many brave (or perhaps foolish) souls venture out from the safety of towns in order to hunt or collect eggs from dragons." The point of the game is to steal, hatch, and raise eggs to adulthood and build lineages by breeding, so you, the player, are one of those brave souls. No matter how dangerous, irascible, or flighty your dragons are, they'll always listen to you.
  • Dragon Variety Pack: Each dragon breed is classified under one of eight "morphologies": Amphiptere (wings, usually serpentine bodies), Eastern (serpentine bodies, four legs), Lindwyrm (arms, usually wings), Sea Serpent (serpentine bodies, fins, aquatic), Western (four legs, wings), Wingless (four legs, no wings), Wyrm (serpentine bodies, no limbs), and Wyvern (wings, two legs). (Eastern and Western are italicized by the Encyclopedia because they are not in-universe terms, since the setting is not Earth.) Pygmy dragons and two-headed dragons are in their own groups and themselves have a morphology attached: pygmy wyvern, two-headed sea serpent, etc. Within their group, dragons of different morphologies are all compatible with each other.
  • Dreadful Musician: The red dragon encountered in the Valentine 2017 text game is one. If the narrative is true, dragons tend to be horrible musicians and take criticism personally.
  • Easter Egg: Quite literally. Starting in 2010, every year during Easter, there is a "Festival of Eggs" in which several very pretty eggs made by the people who sprite the dragons randomly appear around the site and can be clicked to be added to an Easter basket page of sorts. They don't hatch into anything, though.
  • Either/Or Offspring: In most cases the offspring of different breeds will randomly be either of the parents' breeds. The only exceptions are the handful of pairings that can actually produce a hybrid, pairings that include a holiday dragon and a non-holiday (which will only produce the non-holiday breed unless bred during its holiday season), and Bright Pinks and Frills during the time when they were retired (which would also only produce the non-Frill/Bright Pink breed).
  • Emoticon: There is an entire hidden page devoted to these, which shows a different face each time you refresh it.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Some of the dragon species run into this, especially those named after a colour. For example, the Cheese Dragon is... a dragon made of cheese.
  • Feathered Dragons: Since dragons come in all shapes and sizes, there are numerous breeds in the setting with feathers, such as the quadrupedal snow angel with feathery wings, the birdlike floret wyvern, and the batlike serrati wyvern with a body covered in fluffy feathers.
  • Featureless Protagonist: Since it's meant to represent the user, the protagonist in the 2015 Christmas event game is completely covered in thick clothing and a huge pair of goggles so all features are concealed. The townsfolk do, however, refer to the hero as a kid.
  • Find the Cure!: The Halloween 2016 event involved dragons mysteriously sickened by a green goo, with players allowed to choose whether to help find a cure or use their knowledge of the illness to spread it further (For Science!).
  • Fire, Ice, Lightning: Aside from the "legendary trio" of magma, ice, and thunder dragons, there are several more common breeds that have power over these elements.
  • Fluffy Fashion Feathers: According to his spriter, Ghost, the site's only albino sweetling dragon, collects and wears colorful feathers in order to make up for his abnormally short, white ones.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: The Flamingo Wyverns, who despite their name and pretty pink colour, are some of the most violent dragons in the cave.
  • Fragile Speedster: Whiptail dragons love racing each other and use their agility to evade foes since they're fragile.
  • Frictionless Ice: The ice patches in "Valkemarian Tales" make the player slide, and there's even an ice-and-rock puzzle to solve on one of the days.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: In holiday events and especially "Valkemarian Tales", when the players find and report bugs that make any part of the event unbeatable or unplayable, they are promptly fixed.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: All of the critters in the game, of course. Collecting all of the pretty Easter eggs during the annual Easter event, and the Halloween treats during the Halloween event, counts as well.
  • Green Thumb: A few dragons can grow or have control over plants as their main shtick.
  • Hellfire: Hellfire Wyverns, naturally. They can breed with Horse dragons to make Hellhorse hybrids.
  • Holiday Mode: In the site's early years, the dragons had festive alternate forms they'd take on temporarily, such as Halloween 2012's more spooky-themed colors and costumes, to Christmas 2011's Dragon Dress Up giving Christmas decor and colors.
  • Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action:
    • With a few exceptions, almost every dragon type can breed with almost every other type. This leads to some odd combinations such as Skywings (dragons with wings but no legs that spend all their time in the air) and Water/Deep Sea dragons (basically sea serpents) being compatible.
    • Breeding different types of dragons with each other is encouraged with several breeds of dragons that can only be obtained by crossbreeding. Dragons such as Striped Dragons, Avatars, and Xenowyrms can be bred this way to produce different forms or colors.
  • Hybrid-Overkill Avoidance: After a slew of dragon requests which were basically just "Animal X with wings and back spines", much more strict rules about hybrid breeds were made. note 
  • An Ice Person: Ice is one of the magical elements, and dragons of that element are especially attuned to it. Examples include the aptly-named ice dragons and frostbite dragons.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: A few breeds are explicitly stated to eat dragons, like the falconiform wyvern, which uses its size and speed to hunt smaller dragons.
  • Incendiary Exponent: Falconiform wyverns and Magelight pygmy wyverns are constantly on fire (though Magelights will snuff out their flame temporarily if it's a hazard).
  • Informed Attribute: Some eggs are described as massive, heavy, very large etc., but the egg sprite is the same size as every other standard dragon egg.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: The majority of in-game text calls your dragons "it". There are exceptions, however, including the "Adventure" action, where individuals of your band of six adventurers are "they", fighting an enemy "it". Once defeated, the villain "ends their campaign of evil" and joins you (game-wise: is added to your scroll).
  • "Just So" Story: The Halloween 2013 event contained a story booth that had some of these, such as how trick-or-treating began and how Pumpkin dragons began living in pumpkins.
  • Konami Code: On the Portal 2 layout, the colors in the theme will change if the user enters the famous code.
  • Living Mood Ring: Almeralds are known Mood Swingers whose emotions are easy to read because the large gems lining their bodies brighten and dim, and their body temperature varies perceptively according to mood.
  • Living Shadow: The aptly named Shadow Walkers, at least most of the time.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: Daydream dragons are implied to sometimes have such an effect.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Guardian dragons have large shields at the end of their tails, and their wings are also heavily armoured.
  • Lunacy: Valkemare has two moons: a gold one called Aurax and a blue one called Cirion, and some dragon breeds get their energy from the moons, are active when one or both are full, etc. The color of Lunar Herald depends on the phases of both moons at once.
  • Making a Splash: Several breeds can manipulate water, such as tsunami wyverns and undine dragons. Beings affiliated with the Water element tend to live in water and have a natural ability for water magic.
  • Magic Fire: Fire is one of the magical elements, and breeds with an affinity to that element sometimes produce fire via magic or can otherwise manipulate fire that has some magical aspect. A few have Cold Fire; several have Technicolor Fire. In one case where the fire is explicitly stated to be magical, the Desipis breed can breathe fire that absorbs magic and converts it to crystallized form.
  • Magic Staff: White dragons have wooden staves through which they channel magic.
  • Man-Eating Plant: Dark Green (or Vine) dragons.
  • Master of Illusion: Golden Wyverns and Witchlights, the latter of whom use their ability to prey on targets.
  • The Matchmaker: Heartseeker dragons and Mutamores (the latter during a small portion of the year). Heartstealing dragons also do this to some degree.
  • Mood-Swinger: Mutamores are grouchy and keep to themselves most of the year, but in the late winter (February out-of-universe), they suddenly become annoyingly amicable and play matchmaker with others.
  • Multiple Head Case: There are a few breeds of two-headed dragons.
  • Multiple-Tailed Beast: Swallowtail dragons have two tails.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: They need views to hatch and grow up and may become ill if they receive too many. Many dragons on the site have an unusual design or trait, such as Desipises, Gemshards, and Fever wyverns. All standard dragon breeds can mate with each other and produce offspring of either parent's breed or the occasional hybrid.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Vampire dragons were originally introduced on Halloween '08 and cannot breed but can bite eggs to turn them into vampire eggs.
  • Our Gargoyles Rock: The nocturne dragons are perfectly normal in the night, but they turn rock solid in the day, changing to a greyish color and becoming immobile.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: More of the classical necromancy version, where you can raise a hatchling or adult dragon and turn it into an Undead Dragon.
  • Palette Swap: A few dragons, such as dorsals and coppers, have alternate colors while their sprites remain the same. There are also spriter's alts, which are alternate colored dragons that only the spriters of each dragon own.
  • Pattern-Coded Eggs: Dragon and drake eggs are almost always the same colors as their eggs, e.g. Deep Seas are dark blue with raised patches of scales, as are their eggs; Rift Wyrms are purple and yellow and have purple and yellow eggs to match; etc. Much of the game revolves around raising them from eggs to adulthood, so it's important that they have distinct appearances for easy recognition.
  • Planet of Hats: Barring user descriptions (though it's usually frowned upon to write against lore), each dragon is defined by a specific behavior that tell more about their species. Green Dragons are also known as "earth dragons", the blue-bodied Water Dragons are entirely aquatic, etc.
  • Playing with Fire: A number of breeds can produce fire in some way, whether it be flaring up already existing flames or the classic fire-breathing.
  • Power Crystal: Solid mana (magic stuff) can come in crystalline form. According to the Encyclopedia, humans can only use the solid form, while more magical beings such as dragons can use them in any form.
  • Purple Is Powerful: The legendary Guardian of Nature, Sinomorph, and Staterae Xenowyrm are predominantly purple. Elements are color-coded, and Neutral/Balance is represented by purple.
  • Retcon:
    • The formerly all-female Pink dragons "traditionally being thought as female" due to their color, along with a sprite change.
    • Another formerly all-female breed, the Purples, now have males as well.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Quite a few, but the Pillow dragons stand out as being literal balls of fluff who love to cuddle.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Aegis dragons will go on one if angered. In-game this just translates to a breed-specific action that allows you to change their sprite to a scary looking one if you have dead eggs or hatchlings on your scroll.
  • Running Gag: Rainbow chickens. There was a rainbow chicken in the Halloween 2011 story, in the Halloween 2012 story there was a rainbow chicken roast, and in the Christmas 2012 Gingerbread House decorating, there was a rainbow chicken decoration.
  • Schmuck Bait: The "Make All My Eggs Gold" page. Did you really think that it would work?
  • Seasonal Baggage: A seasonal dragon will take the appearance of whatever season its egg was laid in.
  • Second-Person Narration: A lot of text is written in second-person, since you're the adventurous human who's taking care of dragons and exploring the wild. Evidently, you're not a blank slate because some of the flavor text describes how you feel about some eggs and some of your actions around hatchlings.
  • Seers: Aeon wyverns can see future events, but they tend not to try to influence them. In-game, they have a Breed Specific Action that allows them to see if an egg/hatchling will be male or female.
  • Serious Business:
    • People are killing pixel dragons? The murderers!
    • Breeding. The forums have threads that have been active for years to complain about "messy" (which doesn't necessarily mean inbred, either) lineages.
  • Shock and Awe: Breeds like Thunder Dragons and Astrapi Xenowyrms have this power. Bolts even have a "Stun" Breed-Specific Action.
  • Shoulder-Sized Dragon: All pygmy dragons, described to be about the size of a domesticated animal. Sweetlings as well. Non-dragon but related drakes may be bat-sized or larger.
  • Shout-Out: Has its own page.
  • Single-Gender Race:
    • Valentine breeds released in odd years are all male, and and those released in even years are all female.
    • The gender of breeds released for Christmas alternate every two years: 2009 and 2010 are the female Snow Angel and Ribbon Dancer, 2011 and 2012 are the male Winter Magis and Wrapping-Wings, and so on. Hollies and Mistletoes are a special case where all caveborn members are only male and only female (respectively), but they're able to produce male or female offspring.
    • Formerly single-gender:
      • Purple: Formerly all-female; male was released later
      • Pink: The dragons now known as "Bright Pinks" or "Aria Dragons" were originally just called "Pink Dragons" and were all-female; when the modern Pink Dragons appeared, their description specifically mentioned that "it was traditionally thought that pink dragons were a strictly female breed", and it was then that the original Pinks were renamed Bright Pinks. Bright Pinks also got males when they were re-released for DC's 10th anniversary with the name "Aria Dragon".
      • For a short period of time, Dinos were all-male. They've since been retconned to be genderless/unknown.
  • Skewed Priorities: In the text adventure game released for the 2017 Valentine event, you are kidnapped by a dragon and start out in a nest with human remains and broken instruments. Throughout your escape back to the village through dark caves and past more skeletons, all that's really on your mind is your date in the evening.
  • Smashed Eggs Hatching: It's possible trying to kill an egg causes the creature inside to hatch instead. It's explained in egg flavor text that hatchlings are developed and ready to come out of their eggs, but they'd rather stay in there for safety.
  • Stock Ness Monster: Sea serpents, like water dragons.
  • Technicolor Fire: Several breeds possess or can create colorful fire. For example, Falconiform Wyverns have brilliant blue flames, and Magelight pygmy wyverns have purple fires on their tails. The spriter's alt Desipis also breathes green or blue flames, depending on which spriter it belongs to.
  • Telepathy: Nearly all dragons use telepathy to communicate, though they can make the usual squeaks and growls.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: Magi dragons have the "Teleport" Breed Specific Action which allows for safe trading and gifting of eggs and hatchlings.
  • Time Master: Chrono Xenowyrms. There also exists the Time element and dragons aligned with it, though their abilities vary.
  • Trojan Horse: The Trojan Reindeer weapon from Snow Wars 2 is an extremely obvious parody of this.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: In the 2017 text adventure game for Valentine's Day, you may find a flute.
    You blow the horn but it doesn't seem to make any noise. Useless piece of junk.
    Thousands of leagues away at the bottom of the ocean, an ancient evil awakens.
    You try to blow the useless horn again. No dice.
    In the ocean, the ancient evil wonders where the snooze button is.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Formerly, if a member killed too many of their dragons, their scroll would automatically be erased. As it is now, members can only kill a certain number of dragons before having to wait.
  • Viral Unlockable:
    • Caveborn Tinsel and Shimmer-scale dragons are only available as contest prizes. For a long time all Tinsels and Shimmer-scales on the site were descended from the 5 gold/10 silver/15 bronze Tinsels and 10 gold/20 silver/30 bronze Shimmer-scales given to the original winners of their respective contests, but caveborn prizes have since been made much more easily obtainable via a monthly raffle.
    • For Valentine's Day, Halloween, and Christmas, there's a new limited-time release each year that drops only for 24 hours (Halloween) or 72 hours (Valentine's, Christmas). For a long time, the only way to obtain these breeds in subsequent years was to get one that was bred by another user, but beginning in Halloween 2017, CB holidays were made available again during each holiday's week-long breeding period in a special habitat.
  • Weakened by the Light: Vampires, Undead Dragons, and Cavern Lurkers avoid venturing into sunlight.
  • Weather Manipulation: A few breeds have the innate ability to change the weather significantly, notably storm dragons.
  • Worldbuilding: Has happened gradually or not-at-all until the release of the Dragon Encyclopedia, which explains the world and region the game takes place, the source of magic, and elemental affinity. Afterward, TJ also created a "Lore AMA" thread on the forum to have questions about the world answered, and he also allowed a "Suggest a Creature" thread for people to come up with their own creatures that may potentially make it into the DragCave canon.
  • Yellow Snow: the description for the Yellow Crocus reads in the Snow Wars 2 shop reads "Never eat yellow snow. Or yellow crocus."
  • You Bastard!: Kill a dragon? You'll have to read a sad account of your dragon's last minutes, which will probably make you feel guilty the rest of the day.
    You take your blade and stab the dragon, watching the life slowly leave its eyes as it stares at you, wondering why you betrayed it.
  • You Can't Get Ye Flask: A frequent occurrence in the text adventure game released in 2017 for the Valentine event. If the game doesn't recognize a command, it responds with "Unknown command". However, there are a few odd commands that players have tried to input that the game actually took.
    You get close to the tree and—actually no. I'm not going to go there. That's strange.
    You know what? I give up. You win. You've successfully weirded me out. And for what? To see if you could? Well, fine. You keep doing strange things without me. I'm leaving.
    ...You're still here?
    Ugh. You don't know when to quit, do you? Well, if you're not going to leave, I guess I have no choice but to placate your demands until you reach the actual "THE END."