DRAGONS: WHAT MAKES THEM TICK
General Dragon Information
Most members know what basic dragon anatomy is based on the Dragonriders of Pern book series this site is written in regards to, but for those of you who are interested in learning more about it, (in addition to this post) you can check out this fantastic site called, Dragonhealing
. It covers not only the basic skeletal design, but all of the inner workings of the dragon. It also goes further to describe wounds, herbs, and, well, what's directly related to dragonhealing in general! It's a nice read if you want to learn more about the dragon physique. (Some of our information differs from canon, often because we established things on the fly here after we forgot the precise details, so make sure to check!)
This section is fairly detailed and suitable for those unfamiliar with Pern, or just seeking a lot of dragon information. For those who are more familiar with Pern, we offer a condensed version of general pern fandom things that need specifying for our board.:
Dragon AnatomySo give me the basics.
- Measurement: Feet, not meters, from the tip of the nose to the back of the haunch.
- Maturing: Reach full size at about 18 months, perhaps a little longer for bigger ones and less for small dragons, closer to 14 for whites.
- Flights: Abide by what you see in the rules topic and y'all should be good. Golds clutch 3 months after Flying and the eggs hatch 5 weeks after laying.
Greens can Fly at 15 months at earliest, golds might take 2 or 3 turns.
- Abilities: No telekinesis, no time travel. We might use it as part of a plot far down the line but don't hold your breath.
- Between: Dragons cannot safely between from the ground, or to the ground, or into smallish (from a dragon's perspective) enclosed spaces (smallish being anywhere less than twice the dragon's length in all dimensions). They run the risk of ending up, say, embedded in a wall and dying. This is how they can be kept captive. Even under great duress it goes against every instinct they have to attempt it, and they'll only do so if they really must.
- Dealing With People: Our dragons don't have much emotional difficulty killing humans. They also tend to talk to other people more than canon dragons, and can even broadcast to anyone who's not explicitly dragon deaf if they really must. They just prefer not to. (As a sidenote, dragons calling their riders "Mine" is a purely fandom created phenomena and they're quite capable of calling them by name. That's not to say you can't, but it's to give you permission to stop.)
Dragons at Tribal Weyr are measured in feet, from the nose (with the neck fully extended) to the back of the hip. The tail can vary, but for most dragons it's a little less than half their total body length. We don't count it in measuring here.
Their eyes are famed for being multi-faceted, protruding slightly; these whirl and change colors to display the dragon’s emotions, and are protected by eye ridges – the heavier bones of their brow– and three layers of eyelids, though they lack eyelashes. Dragons are known for their sharp sight, and a dragon and Rider pair is usually able to ‘borrow’ the other’s eyes and see what the other is seeing, even if they’re not together at the time. Head knobs grow backwards from their skull, ending in a bulb, which assists the dragon’s telepathic abilities; just under these, they have a hole that serves as their ear. When full grown, dragons will have 48 teeth; the front teeth are for tearing meat and hunting, while the molars in the back serve for grinding firestone.Draconic Eye ColorsThe eyes are the windows to the soul
Dragons, whers, and firelizards all have multifaceted eyes that change color with mood. The colors are as follows:Blue
- Contentment, HappinessYellow
- Fear, AlarmRed
together - Battle, Thread FightingRed
together - Anger, IrritationRed
- Hunger, Mating FlightPurple
- Danger, DreadGrey
- PainDragon Hides, Bones, Guts, and their CareWhat?! No scales?
Dragons’ hides are leathery, not scaley. They are supple, and require oiling as they grow to keep the hide from cracking, a potentially fatal condition if the dragon were to go between. As the dragon finishes growing, oiling can become less frequent, but is still encouraged.
The hide is an indicator of health as well: A dragon with a noticeable gleam to the hide is usually healthy, while a sick or distressed dragon’s hide will show tinges of gray, become lackluster, and, in extreme cases, feel chalky to the touch. Female dragons also tend to ‘glow’ before they’re due to Rise. Dragons come in all shades of their color (i.e. a green dragon can be pale to the point of white, or dark enough to pass for black, or anywhere in between), and can even have markings unique to them (including, but not limited to, stripes, splashes, freckles). They might change a little over time due to great age, as well.
Dragons have very strong bones in order to stand the strain of flight, dragons have ball-and-socket joints, which makes dislocation much less likely. They have ten vertebra in their necks, and fifty-six in the back and tail; along their spine, starting at just behind their head knobs, dragons have a row of neck ridges, which continue down to their tail, which ends in a forked tip. Dragons do not have blood; rather, they have ichor, which is copper-based and is green in coloration. Thus, their mouth and tongues, which lack pigmentation, are always green due to the ichor, while their muscles are a shiny, silvery-green color. (If you skin them. Not that you'd want to!)
Dragons have slightly longer hind legs than front, giving them a somewhat lopsided gait. The back legs of dragons are powerful and have three claws, which are not retractable, while their front paws have five claws – which are retractable. Their foreclaws can grasp things as a human can.
Dragons’ internal organs, too, are not the same as humans: They have two stomachs. The first is used to digest food normally, while the second is used to produce flame once firestone is chewed. They also have two hearts protected by their ribs. (If you forget this don't worry, most people do.) With lungs that are dorsally placed, dragons can hold their breaths for up to ten minutes.Feeding Habits and ExpectationsFeeding your Dragon
Dragons’ feeding habits are usually very simple. As a Weyrling, dragons eat voraciously, often demanding to be fed six or seven times a day, though the meals they require are small, and usually will require for their Bonded to cut the meat into chunks that they can manage to swallow. As they mature, dragons will eat less and less often; a full adult dragon will often eat only once a sevenday, and then eat lightly. (Well, lightly for a gigantic flying carnivore anyway.) Younger dragons are prone to gorging – a bad habit, since it invites their hide to crack from overeating, especially if they’re not oiled regularly. A weyrling is required to prevent gorging, limiting them to only what is necessary to take away hunger pangs. Dragons are typically very messy eaters, though occasionally there are fussy, neat dragons; it simply depends on the dragon, but often, the Rider will end up having to bathe and oil a dragon directly after feeding.
Dragons are carnivores; they feed primarily on herdbeasts, the equivalent to a Terran cow. Runners (a Terran horse) are also not out of the question, and when dragons 'hunt out', wherries, an indigenous, six-limbed creature that somewhat resembles a Terran turkey, are often taken down as well. Hunting out is encouraged in the Weyr, as it doesn't deplete the Weyr’s resources. Tribal dragons are encouraged to prey on the wildlife, though hunting areas are rotated and the number of kills are tracked to prevent depleting the forest.Flights and HatchingsHow Little Dragons Are Made
Though both golds and greens go into heat, also called Rising, greens cannot clutch. They were genetically engineered to be sterile by Kitti Ping, though most of this knowledge was lost in the early Passes to the Pernese. This leaves golds (who take up less than 1% of the entire dragon population) as the only ones capable of clutching. Because of their difference in sizing, their flights, too, are very different, though the preliminaries are much the same. Before Rising, they’re liable to be more sensitive, preen, care about what males think more, and their emotions may more easily bleed over into their Bonded's actions, often unknowingly. They also begin to "glow" before their Flight, they seem brighter and more radiant.
Flights for both of the female colors will usually but not always result in their Riders sleeping with somebody at the end as a result of what is typically called “Flightlust”. The dragon's emotions bleed across to their bondmate and these desires are very powerful. Traditionally, the riders of the female and her chosen male would end up in bed together. This is the usual practice in the North (and unfortunately it can be a horrible, nasty, abusive business, please consult the rules for our policies on this) though in the South, times have changed. Riders commonly lock themselves in a safe room or sequester themselves with a trusted lover to ride out the Flight, though some do enjoy a romp with the rider of their dragon's suitor.
Greens Rise two or three times a turn. Blues and browns are their typical mates due to their small size, but it’s not unheard of for a bronze to Catch them. Greenflights are usually short and fast, with the green’s focus being on agility, since that is, most of the time, the green’s strongest point. Very often, greens will use the landscape around them as obstacle courses around which they base their Flight, be it the waterfall, the jungle, or the Weyr itself. Seeing another green Rise doesn’t seem to make the greens around them interested in Rising, fortunately, and since greens’ Flights are so short, they never seen to overlap each other; each green seems to be able to wait till the Flight before them has finished before they go up. It has happened though, where two greens rise together... though neither is necessarily in danger.
Goldflights are more of a major event. Golds will often sleep before they Rise; when they wake, they will wake up hungry, and will attack the Weyr’s herdbeasts: Her Rider must keep her from gorging on the meat, insisting instead that her queen ‘blood her kill’ -- to drink only its blood– to give her the strength to fly hard and fast but not weigh her down with a full stomach of meat. Queenflights are usually based on stamina, the gold pushing her males to their limit before she chooses the best one, since queens are usually too big to manage any aerial maneuvers. Because it’s based on stamina, bronzes are usually the ones to catch a gold, since they’re bigger than browns are, and therefore have much more endurance. Browns chase more commonly on our site than they do in canon, though. Goldflights nearly always result in clutches.
Queens are very possessive and may consider the bronzes and browns in their Flight to be ‘theirs’. Allowing two Queens to rise at the same time usually results in them fighting to the death over their suitors, so it may be necessary to send one far from the Weyr for her own protection. Usually, despite this possessivenss, dragons don't really have preferred mates that they turn to again and again. They don't necessarily fall in love or think of each other as mates, and a female consistently choosing one particular male is rare.
Once egg-heavy, queens cannot go Between
, or even fly after a decent amount of time has passed. She will clutch on the Hatching Sands three months after her Flight. The Hatching Sands, held within a stadium-type cavern, are surrounded by Stands where spectators may watch when the eggs are hatched, though clutching is generally impossible to sneak into without angering the protective Queen. Sand heated almost to burning spread throughout the center of the cavern, making the entire place almost unbearably hot – but this is exactly the type of environment necessary for dragon eggs to Hatch. Once a gold has laid her clutch, she and, often, her mate, will guard the eggs viciously, protecting the clutch day and night. There are only two times when a queen will let people she’s not familiar and comfortable with near her eggs: the Touching, and the Hatching. The Touching is simply that: When Candidates are invited to approach the clutch, get used to the idea of a dragonet being inside each one. They will often be required to bow and ask permission from the queen, who is allowed to throw a Candidate off of the Sands.
On the day of the Hatching, which usually takes place five weeks after the clutch has been laid, many ranking Holders will gather in the Stands, and it’s likely that the queen will be very agitated, even when Candidates are assembled around the quaking eggs. A queen egg is usually nudged aside from the rest by the mother for special treatment, and will be large and golden in color. Once a dragon hatches, the first thing on its mind will be to find its Bonded, and then to find food. Occasionally, a frightened Hatchling may maul a Candidate, though deaths are very rare and Healers are on hand to take care of injuries, before it finds its Bonded, contacting them mentally, usually in a demand for food. This link is irrevocable: Once a dragon claims a Candidate, they become a weyrling pair.Weyrlings: Hatchling DragonsGrowth and Development
Hatchling dragons, or dragonets, who have paired off with their lifemates are called “weyrlings” – their riders ‘weyrlings’ as well. When they emerge from their shells at the hatching, there is a notable size difference between the colors, and as they grow, this will become even more noticeable. When a dragonet hatches out of their egg, all but hte smallest greens and white dragons are generally large enough to do damage to a person or knock them over, with the largest dragons a little more impressive. Size differences become much more obvious as they grow. It is assumed dragons grow on a linear basis here at Tribal Weyr, and most dragons reach their full size by 18 months of age. (Whites will by 14, and early blooming greens by 15 when they can start Flying. It varies by dragon/living conditions.)
No matter what case by case basis it is, however, all dragonets should have reached full growth by graduation from Weyrlinghood at 18 months or at least be very close - that is, maybe they require one or two more months of growing to finally reach full size. Big dragons take longer to grow for obvious reasons.
Due to their extraordinary rate of growth, dragon hatchlings must be bathed and oiled daily, and their food intake controled (as noted above) to prevent digestive issues and cracking their hides. These usually are the first lessons weyrlings learn.
Also taught in Weyrling Lessons are the rules that Weyrling dragon and rider pairs are expected to abide by, how to flame, how to between, and how to fly. The teachers responsible are called “Weyrlingmasters”, a Weyrlingmaster is in charge of a Weyrling class; a class is made up of those who Impressed at the same Hatching. Occasionally, a Weyrlingmaster may have to take on more than one class at a time, but usually there is only one to focus on at a time. He, or she, is in charge of making sure none of his Weyrlings get hurt, and will issue punishment as necessary; he or she is also the one who will decide whether or not a Weyrling pair passes lessons and graduates to become a full Rider; missing lessons repeatedly will result in failure, and being forced to retake the entire course with a Junior Weyrling class. Weyrling Lessons will be where dragons are taught how to fly, how to between, how to make straps, and both physically and mentally prepared for the strain of their upcoming responsibilities.
Weyrling dragons are both emotionally and physically depend on their Bonded – more so than a full-grown dragon; if for a moment they think that their Bonded no longer wants them, or loves another more than they, they are likely to panic; for this reason, pregnant candidates are not allowed to Stand, and having sex while a Weyrling dragon is not mature is prohibited: The attention being taken so completely away from a dragon (who, as a Weyrling, should be the center of their Rider’s focus at all times) may very well traumatize the hatchling unless they’re mentally mature enough to handle it around fifteen months of age.
Though they do not graduate until they’re 18 months old, most weyrlings start to Rise and Chase at this age, though some greens have been known to be incredibly late Risers. Golds tend to be slower and may take as long as three turns to Rise for the first time. Dragons with young riders (for our convenience we use at the least
age sixteen for the rider as a benchmark, older if you feel the character would be harmed by it) however will wait until their bondmate has matured.
Weyrlings are generally encouraged to have lost their virginity in a safe, accepting environment with a person they trust before their dragon Chases or Rises for the first time, or the experience will usually (but not always) be extremely awkward, probably confusing, and uncomfortable. That’s not only really unpleasant, but also unfair to the dragon, since their maiden Flight or first time Chasing should be cause for celebration or congratulations. Dragons are often not the most sensitive about human sensibilities and are likely to be confused by any discomfort from their bondmate after the fact.
Graduating is another major milestone, and afterwards, the Weyrlings will be placed on wings. Newly graduated Weyrlings stay in their Weyrling Wing until they are comfortable enough to move to a higher level one, or tapped for something else.Dragon AbilitiesTelepathy, Firestone, and Between
Dragons are well-known for many of their abilities. These include their mental connection to their Riders, the ability of telepathy, producing flame after chewing firestone, going Between
places instantaneously, telekinesis and ‘timing it’ – going between times. The last two – telekinesis and ‘timing it’ are not canon to Tribal, and will not be played unless an admin gives specific permission – this will usually be for a plot of some kind, and in such a case, it’s more likely that you will be asked to have your selected pair do either of the two, rather than you doing the asking.
Moving on. Mental and emotional connections to their Rider occur at the moment of Impression – at their Hatching. If dragons do not find an acceptable Candidate to Bond with, they will sometimes pick someone out of the Stands, and if they still cannot find someone that pleases them, they will suicide – dragons cannot live without Riders. Dragon and Rider pairs can communicate mentally, and their emotions will usually have some effect on the other. If a Rider dies, a dragon will automatically suicide; if a dragon dies and the Rider, for whatever reason, is still alive, they are capable of surviving past their dragon’s death, but the emotional blow is the equivalent of being literally ripped in two: Many ex-Riders prefer suicide to living without their mindmate. A dragon’s love for its rider is completely wholehearted, unconditional, and constant, even if they might argue.
Further, they are capable of telepathy – communicating to almost any creature they desire, be it a human that is not their Rider, another dragon, firelizard or wher. Usually, dragons are not fond of contacting other humans or whers; the former would typically only occur in an emergency, or if the dragon becomes exceptionally fond of said human, or if their Rider is fond of them; the latter is even rarer, since dragons are not fond of their nocturnal cousins as a general rule and tend to avoid contacting them if they can manage it. They are capable of sending images of what they see, broadcasting to a general area, and giving other dragons ‘coordinates’ to between to.
The ability of ‘belching’ flame depends on two things: Firestone, a phosphine-bearing rock, and the fact that dragons have a second stomach. When a dragon swallows firestone after grinding it between their back molars, a gaseous flame is created; upon ‘belching’, flames emerge. This was what the dragons were originally for: spitting flame to burn Thread from the sky. Now, though, this makes them valuable as weapons. Fire is effective against dragons and men just as much as it was against Thread.
However, on the downside, firestone can not be digested normally, and must be regurgitated afterwards – which can prove to be very messy indeed if the dragon does not make it to the firestone pit to regurgitate said ‘stone.
The telekinetic abilities of dragons were thought to have been lost when the AIVAS machine questioned the riders of the book Canon Ninth Pass about this ability. In truth, the ability was used in an unconscious manner (to augment flight). It hasn't yet been discovered as a conscious ability, and likely will not unless a plot finds room for it, in which case, once again, a admin will probably approach you, the player, about RPing out such things, instead of you approaching them.
Dragons also have the innate ability to go between
places instantly - that is, they are capable of teleportation. Between is basically nowhere – there is nothing to see, smell, hear, feel, taste, or even breathe
– only complete and total darkness and bitter, biting cold. Something about going between
can pregnancies both dragon and human alike, which makes it an unpleasant but viable birth control option for female dragonriders. (The result is a miscarriage, which can be miserable depending on how far along. Healers know herbs that can help.) This is why gravid golds avoid it as much as possible, it risks the clutch.
Going between is very dangerous. It’s possible that if the coordinates given to the dragon are not good enough, a Rider and dragon pair, as well as anyone with them, will be permanently lost between
, vanished from Pern to the eternal death that is the emptiness of a space between. However, provided that the pair has trained well, going between can prove to be invaluable – to avoid injury in a fight, to provide instant transportation, etc. Going between
comes naturally to dragons, but due to the danger of doing so, they are prevented from doing so until they’re fifteen or more months of age. Even at this age extensive training is still in progress. Young pairs need to prove they are totally capable of betweening without incident as part of their graduation.
Just as a note for Tribal canon, we maintain that dragons need to be safely above ground in order to between
. Doing it from the ground is extremely dangerous because they're best at invisioning things from the air, and trying to between
from or too somewhere too low is just asking for trouble with a dragon emerging, say, within the ground and dying. This is how dragons can be immobilized/imprisoned despite this ability: by stopping it from being at all safe. Fire lizards are somewhat better at teleporting and can often appear wherever they please, though they prefer to do it in flight.
Dragons really are very amazing creatures.