Dragon Lady
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Captain Video, done went home, one pilot laid to rest
And dragon ladies now talk that talk, about who loves who, who loves best
Silver bullets in the jukebox, spin another round
Everybody at the back of the line, it's midnight at the lost and found

(from) Midnight at the Lost and Found Meatloaf

Basic Information

She's sexy, she's seductive, and you'd be amazed at how many sharp bladed weapons she can hide in that slinky silk dress. She's the Yellow Peril in one sexy package. You're not sure whether she wants to kill you or kiss you. Probably both.

Yes, the Dragon Lady is a racial stereotype; but she's also a stock character in stories set in the Mysterious East, particularly in the Pulp Era. She's beautiful but dangerous, and more than a little bit intimidating. Are you man enough to handle her?


2. comics: Terry and the Pirates by Milton Caniff — This classic pulp era comic strip set in 1930s China has a recurring villainess named Lai Choi San, alias "Dragon Lady", for whom the trope was named.
3. books: Rax Rohmer's Fu Manchu series features Fah Lo Suee, daughter of the evil Fu Manchu, who is either in love with the narrator, or just likes playing with him.

Game and Story Use

  • The Dragon Lady is a must for a Pulp Era adventure set in the Mysterious East.
    • She could also turn up in any Western city with a sizable Asian population, such as San Francisco's Chinatown or London's Limehouse (more Conan-Doyle style Colonial Era than Pulp, but good for Steampunk Chinese as well).
  • She usually commands a certain amount of power. If she is not the Big Bad herself, she is one of his most trusted lieutenants and has minions of her own at her disposal.
    • Co-villainy is also an option, making her a BBEG in her own right and an ally of the PC's current nemesis who can be persuaded, bribed or seduced into turning on him.
  • If she takes an interest in one of the PCs, she could be an intriguing, if dangerous, romantic foil.
  • She doesn't have to be an enemy. A Dragon Lady could be a party patron, or a useful contact
    • She could even be a PC, although because of her ambiguous motives, she probably works better as an NPC.
  • A more mature Dragon Lady can become an Evil Matriarch
  • Making the Dragon Lady a "Dragon Head" in a Triad is also quite possible.
  • In a setting with fantasy elements, she might be a real dragon posing as a human! (Chinese Dragons were well known shapeshifters, far more so that Western varieties).
  • …and generally a good image for a female Oriental villain or anti-heroine to play to, whether through "inscrutable machinations" or kung-fu prowess (or, indeed the magic of "the mysterious East"): she can let the sterotype do at least half the work of building her a reputation.
  • Subversion: "the dragon lady" is actually a non-oriental woman who has a substantial dragon tattoo (or, as per Terry Pratchett, breeds dragons).
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