Also updated 12/26/12
WHERS: WHAT MAKES THEM TICK
General Wher Information
(Canon information compiled from many sources by Rhush, then edited for our site by Mira.)
If you're new to Pern and haven't read the dragon information, start there!
A brief overview of our whers for people who already mostly know Pern:
- Whers don't fly. Maybe glide if they're super lucky and have weirdly big wings, but no flying.
- They can speak telepathically to anybody, but prefer to make noises and only broadcast to their handler unless they have to. This is in general though, individual whers are often chattier than this.
- Whers could flame, in theory, but they don't.
- Whers can between but nobody knows that and they have problems.
- Wher Runs are nothing like Flights in intensity for bondmates. No equivalent to Flightlust for whers.
- Whers are pains in the butt to tattoo because of their thick, tough skin.
Whers, unlike dragons, do not have to Impress in order to survive. Impressed whers are considered more intelligent than their wild brethren because they are bonded to a human mind and will tend to learn things through their Bonded’s eyes. They also are really, really not picky about handlers. Really. Anybody can Impress anything.
Whers were created as an attempt to further broaden the dragon numbers of the first Pass by Wind Blossom, daughter to Kitti Ping, the originator of the all-important dragons. She unfortunately did not have the same grasp of genetics as her mother, and the resulting creatures were referred to as 'ugly' and 'malformed dragons'. Despite all that, the creatures were healthy, so the original colonists decided to try and utilize them; they named them "whers."
Now-a-days, whers are forging a place of their own beyond sometimes limited tasks - recapturing escaping candidates, guarding against feline attacks, battling off wild whers and 351s, and keeping an eye out for Northern or Raider incursions at night. They are slowly becoming a force to be reckoned with, and the Weyrs are encouraging handlers to try and deepen their bonds with the smaller draconic cousins, to teach their whers the necessary skills and knowledge that will secure their brighter future.
In the South, these creatures have become very, very common, and can be found in the Weyr just as much as out, guarding Trader caravans, rounding up livestock, and other similar things suited to their running abilities. Wild whers are a significant problem, and though they're not huge in number they're difficult to get rid of and have had a major effect on the ecosystem and everyone's safety.Wher AnatomySo give me the basics.
The same as, and yet different from dragons in may ways, whers come in the same colors as their flying cousins - gold, bronze, brown, blue, green and white. They are flightless, though a small wher with particularly large wings might manage to glide. Their hide is thick, strong, and does not flake, and whers do not have to be oiled like dragons, just scrubbed. However, their hide is very sensitive immediately after hatching and it takes a few months before they develop a tougher second coat. Tatooing whers is an arduous process as a result, not only because of their tough hide but also because they like to bite.
Whers also have the same green ichor that dragons and firelizards have for blood.
Whers are more muscular than dragons, and do not have the prominent ridges down their spines. Their bodies are more evenly keeled, with feet that only sport two claws and a single pad for balance. This actually allows whers to move with surprising speed and agility, despite appearances, and their breeding Runs are long and tricky. Their senses of smell and hearing are keen, and they are able to completely see in the dark through use of their large, facetless eyes. Their eyesight is effectively infrared, and because of this the heat of the sun hurts their sensitive eyes and drives them to hide during the day. Other light sources that are dimmer and that do not generate as much heat, such as glows, tend not to bother whers as much. Like dragons and flitters, whers' eyes also change color depending on their mood. The lack of facets is what makes them sensitive, as the light is not diffused. Their eyes change color and follow the same patterns as dragons in that department.
Whers are very vocal creatures and can make a wide range of noises, from chirps whistles and clicks to grunts and roars. While they can speak to dragons and flitters and vice versa through telepathy, they are not quite as empathic as dragons; aware of but not always feeling the emotions and or pain of their bonded.
Whers prefer to communicate through their bondmate if words are necessary. They understand human speech and often vocalize in return, and though they're capable of telepathic speech they do not prefer it. Wher mind speech is usually clipped and simple compared to a dragon's. In most canons whers don't bespeak anyone but their handler, but here we have had chattier whers that have been less shy about it.
On occasion, a wher will out-live its human companion and can actually re-bond with another human if the wher is agreeable to the situation. Whers have committed suicide with the death of their handler, but this varies from wher to wher. It's also a much less clean affair than a dragon because whers are not currently known to between
, and as such tend to pine away while refusing to eat or move or simply disappearing into the jungle to seek their end.Naming of WhersWhy nobody names their kids ending in -sk
Whers who are bonded to a human have names that always end in the letters 'sk'. These names are always a variation of their human partner's name. Whers will take the first several letters and add the "sk" to the end in the most pronouncable way they can. (For example, Handler and Handlesk, Hans, Handsk, or similar) It's common Pernese belief that a wher that takes more of the name (Examplesk vs Exask) has a stronger bond, though this is not necessarily true. A person that loses a wher will usually find that their new wher takes less of the name (though sometimes they do go for more), though this is really the baby wher instinctively avoiding the handler's mental association with the old name. Whers at Tribal will announce their name at hatching. Feeding Habits and ExpectationsFeeding your Wher
Whers, like dragons, are carnivores and once their teeth grow in they are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to eating meat. Their stomachs are less sensitive than dragons' and whers are known to eat from carcasses in the wild without getting ill. In the Weyr, whers are fed meat and usually not called upon to kill their own prey.
See the hatchling notes for talk about their teething and what's done before.Flights and HatchingsWhat happens when a Wher Goes into Heat
Both green and gold whers will go into heat, or Run, much like their dragon counterparts. However, unlike their dragon relations, all
female whers have the ability to clutch - but, Greens will clutch more infrequently than Golds and their clutches are always considerably smaller. Similar to dragons they will get rather edgy for a time leading up to the Run, and they will be pursued by the local male whers of appropriate size and inclination.
Wher runs are much less hard on a handler than dragon flights are on riders. Handlers might feel a bit uncomfortably hot under the collar due to bleedover from their wher's emotions, but nobody feels powerfully compelled to get into bed with anybody else. They can if they want, but it's not a huge deal.
During a run the female will lead the males on a merry chase to prove their stamina, determination, and general worthiness of her. Golds tend to be more about size and power while greens usually appreciate the fastest and most agile. Then they choose the male they've liked most and the event is over.
Whers lay eggs a month after running and the eggs hatch three weeks later. They're much smaller than dragon eggs and are wrinkly, lumpy, and leathery. Females vary on how protective they are, with golds usually being as fierce as mother dragons while greens are less sensitive about visitors. Touchings may or may not be held for wher eggs, though hatchings are run the same way dragon hatchings are.Wherlings: Hatchling WhersGrowth and Development
Young whers don't need to Impress to live, and those that don't Impress may actually do so later in life, though they're less impressionable. Unimpressed whers run wild and are only manageable if trained rigorously and kept under lock and key, chained to their guard posts. It's much easier to deal with an Impressed animal, so unimpressed whers are usually culled.
Though they go through an extraordinary rate of growth much like their dragon cousins, wherlings do not need to be bathed and oiled daily after their first month, given their much tougher hides. Dragons are higher maintenance.
Wherlings' teeth begin to grow in after the first week. Until their teeth finish emerging (they undergo a painful teething stage) at a month old they're fed a blood-infused mash called "blood porridge".
Wherling whers are not extremely emotionally or physically dependent on their Bondeds like dragonets are – Whers can, remember, survive perfectly well in the wild on their own, though it is assumed their intelligence is lower if they are wild than if they are bonded. Thus, a wherlet is capable of leaving their mindmate if their bond is not strong enough, they feel unappreciated, or just simply do not like their handler. Whers are capable of rebonding, after all, and if they find someone better suited to them, are able to leave their old handlers for new ones. For the most part though, wherlets are considerably more interested in the food their handler brings them than in leaving them behind.
Wherlings graduate when they’re thirteen months old, a few months younger than dragons, from Wherlinghood. Wherlings start to Run and Chase at this age, though golds and some greens have been known to be incredibly late Runners. They only participate if their handler is older than sixteen, however, for the same reasons as dragons.Wher AbilitiesTelepathy, Firestone, and Between
Much like their dragon cousins, whers are capable of telepathy - communicating to almost any creature they desire, be it a human that is not their handler, a dragon, firelizard or another wher. Dragons and whers tend to not like to talk to one another.
They are also capable of sending images of what they see, broadcasting to a general area, or sharing emotions or ideas. Their speech is not totally broken, but they're not as good with words as dragons are and prefer to keep things short and the point. ("[Handler Name] I'm hungry. Going to kill. Be back fast." "Dragons are bad. Don't like them.") Wild whers will demonstrate even less grammatical ability and tiny vocabularies, which brought about the generalization that wild whers were less intelligent, when really it's just because they haven't heard as many words. Whites are terribly unusual in this manner, as though they are the smallest of the wher sizes, and lowest in rank, they often speak almost as well as, if not better than, a dragon would.
Theoretically, whers could process firestone. A wher would never want to, though, due to the extreme pain expelling flame would cause their eyes. Nobody has tried in living memory and it's probably a really bad idea.
While it's not currently known in-character, whers are capable of traveling between
. (If you haven't read about between
before, it's in the dragon information!) Unfortunately, getting far enough away from the ground and envisioning themselves sufficiently above it is very difficult for a flightless creature. The wher must get off the ground, know where to go, and picture itself at an appropriate height so it doesn't between
into anything or
fall too far and be injured. Common reference images from dragons are practically worthless to them due to these specific height problems. So far, no wher anyone knows about has even tried or knows that it can.
Whers are just as awesome as dragons, if a little less attractive.