Dragons or Wyverns?
Older stories and games (Pre-00s) tend to have actual Dragons the sizes of small apartments, and riding them tend to be big deals.
"Conventional" (post-00s) eras most of the commonly-rideables are Wyverns. - aka lesser Dragons that are sizes of large horses or small trucks. - And people on them are usually disposable grunts for EXPs.
Riding "Dragons" for purpose of combat don't actually make sense, as:
1) Human characters don't have arms long enough to reach over backs of Dragons that ride, even with extra-extra-long lances use in jousts considering how BIG dragons are supposed to be.
(Jousting lances are usually maxed at 14 ft or so. An actual Large Red Dragon in 4E has the Overall Length of 33 ft, neck length of 12 ft, and body length of 12 ft.
Literally a regular human holding a 14 ft lance would be pointing the tip of the lance at his own ride's skull.
It is not something that adding length can solve either: Not mentioning the additional weight since its fantasy, the deviation of the tip, the "cone" gets larger the longer a pierce weapon is, roughly about the same as how you calculate the area of a circle. And it has to be a piercing weapon, as any and every
weapon with chop, slash, or blunt effect would mean your dragon NOT
having a head anymore...
2) With the proportions of how Dragons should be, their biggest weak angles would be top & bottom ie chest & back.
The environments of an aerial dogfi... dragonfight is 3D, compare to 2D of a ground-based fight.
A human rider on a dragon's back facing the front, can deal with threats from the front properly, but that is where the Dragon's head is, and most combat-trained beings tend to be able to deal with attacks toward their heads in the first place.
Whereas the behind and the bottom are not covered.
So Dragonriders, in order to fight efficiently, should instead focus on the back ie. sit towards the back, or bottom ie. sit under the chest like a baby kangaroo, and let the Dragon deal with the forward arc. (Though that'd look really stupid in pictures.
) Then again that's what people do in B-12s.
3) Dragons can usually:
a) Breathe damages like a cannon, and
b) Cast magic. In many stories they are even just raw magic themselves.
Compare to them magicians would be like Macross Cannon vs... I dunno, pea-shooters?
4) Flying creatures just fight differently from land-based creatures.
A B-12 is a slow, hard to maneuver thing that requires fighter support in an actual Dogfight.
A living creature in the air simply cannot survive acting like a B-12, even if they are literally invulnerable. Getting knock out of the air is always possible even if one is, and Dragons aren't invulnerable.
And Dragons in fictions are far from bulky and slow.
Typical fictions tend to show dragon fighting as "dragons flying in one straight line".
And you pretty much need jousts to travel in one straight line, otherwise you won't have a joust.No flying creature does that, ever.
And we are talking about creatures with below-average IQs.This
is how birds fight.
a) Can they fly faster than dragons?
b) Can they fly faster than a dragon when you're on another fast-moving dragon's back
c) Can they track an aware target that knows they're being attacked and can turn? (In a sense, bird hunting are literally assassinations against birds who don't know they are being targeted.)
d) If you can do all 3, do you actually need to get on a dragon's back to do so?
6) Dragons against non-dragons
See #3, Macross Cannon anyone?
7) Buffing in air:
do you need to be to buff someone again?
(Most games don't have that specified, - Pretty sure GMs supposed to stop any players who'd misuse that though. - but most stories it tends to be 10-20 meters or so?)
A Dragon with the laying down height of 7ft/2m (again, 4E) would be kissing the ground at 20m.
You can do that while the Dragon is on the ground, but... Why ride a Dragon again?
As for buffing the dragon, it'd be like your fighter strapping the cleric onto his back: He could do that, but is that necessary?
ridings are pretty much just "for the lulz".
(It's closest comparison would be you strapping a young, 1-ft tall dwarfling holding a penknife onto your back... Wait, make that a berserk dwalfling looking for a fight.
In this case it'd make sense whatever you put onto their backs.
>They tend to be shorter and smaller, that means a lance would stick beyond
>Their smaller size means smaller target, and a smaller arc that a front-facing rider can potentially cover better.
>They tend to be dumber, and most can't cast spells.
>They tend to be slower and less tough, meaning arrows can track and penetrate.
>Their breaths are still strong, but not that
strong, and again no spells.
>They are easier to get/tame/maintain than Dragons, so you can field lots of them.
They'd work both in the conventional senses, and in the sense you're thinking.
Pretty much anything of similar size and shape and IQ would do too.