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Month Index: March, 1994


From:     Sean K Reynolds <skreyn@???????.???.edu>
Date:     Thu, 31 Mar 1994 04:51:25 -0500
Subject:  Re: Pernspace - some data!
     OK, some starter ideas on Pernspace....
     
     Pernspace:
     
     Central Point:  Rukbat, fire body
     Number of planets: 6, all earth-worlds
     Number of asteroid belts: 2
     
     Brief description of planets and asteroid belts:
     1: small, close to Rukbat
     2: small, close to Rukbat
     3: Pern, Earth-type, Size: E (6500 mile diam.)
        Moons: Timor: Outer moon, Size: D (~2000 miles diam.)
               Belior: Inner moon, Size: D (~1000 miles diam.)
     4: Asteroid belt, fairly dense, blocks much of the light that
        would otherwise reach the outer planets
     5: Size: F
        Moons: several
     6: Asteroid belt, not as dense as the inner belt
     7: Size: E, "Dark world" receives little light
     8: "The Red Star", rogue planet, Size: C (~700 miles diam.), has a very
eccentric orbit which brings it into the inner part of the system every 225
years (for a period of about 25 years)
     
     The Wildspace of Pernspace is cold, similar to Krynnspace.  Fortunately
there are no large ice particles like those in Krynnspace to pose a danger to 
spelljamming ships.
     
     The planet Pern is inhabited by a wide variety of hexapedal variations
of familar life-forms: six-limbed birds, six-limbed "reptiles," etc.  The
most amazing creatures on this planet are the so-called dragons of Pern, and
their variations.  The largest types are called dragons, and are different
from the ferocious varieties common to other spheres.
     
     Pern Dragons:
     Pern dragons are much larger than normal dragons, and come in five
different colors (from smallest to largest): green, blue, brown, bronze, and
gold.  These colorings come from various pigments in different amounts in the 
dragons.  Greens are about 70' long, blues are about 90', browns about 110',
bronzes about 120' and the golds about 130'.  Greens and golds are always
female.
     Pern dragons are carnivorous and telepathic.  This telepathy is most
strong with other dragons and the person they "impress" at their hatching
(similar to how animals such as ducks impress upon the first being they see), 
but most dragons can send thoughts to other people as well.  The range for
this ability is several miles for the dragon's impressed human or other
dragons.  If a dragon
     s impresses human dies, the dragon will suicide [see below].
     Pernese dragons do not breathe fire naturally - they instead chew a
particular kind of rock containing [magical?] compounds which they dissolve
in a second stomach and expel forth as a gas which ignites upon contact with
air.  This rock, called "firestone," causes female dragons that chew it to
become sterile.  Therefore only greens (and not golds) chew firestone.
     Dragons are intelligent, but have short memories (a dragon has 50%
recall after a day and a half, while a human has 50% recall after three days
or more).  It is thought that the wizard who first bred the dragons shortened 
their memories in order to allow for better telepathy.
     Dragons are able to teleport themselves and their riders (and an
undefined additional amount of weight).  This is accomplished by travelling
through some sort of non-space called "between."  "Between" has no sight or
sound, and is very cold.  The dragon must have a mental image of the desired
location (either personally or from another dragon or a rider) or it and all
it is carrying will be lost between, never to be seen again.  The range of
this is interplanetary distances.  A suiciding dragon (due to the death its
rider or mortal injury) will go between and never return.
     Since dragons are able to teleport, Spelljamming is not needed much on
Pern, although the dragons are naturally able to Spelljamm at an SR of 1 so
long as they are not confined to a planetary atmosphere (high speeds in
atmosphere tend to dislodge riders, or at least give an uncomfortable ride,
so the dragons prefer normal flight at sich times).  A dragon, being as large 
as many Spelljamming ships, carries as much air with it (when it _flies_ out
of atmosphere, rather than teleporting) as a 10-25 ton ship does (depending
on the size of the dragon).  The dragons themselves are able to hold their
breath for periods of up to 15 minutes, and can easily tolerate the
temperatures of Wildspace for the same amount of time.  They tend to exhaust
the air envelope rather quickly, however (2-20 turns as is normal).  When a
dragon teleports to another location, it only brings a small amount of air
with it (enough to keep an unprotected passenger healthy for 2-8 rounds,
after which the air becomes fouled.
     Dragons will never fight other dragons, unless magically controlled. 
Dragons also will not attack humans unless forced.
     Due to their similarities to other dragon-like forms on Pern, it is
beleived that at some point a wizard had magically experimented on or
crossbred creatures that eventually became several distinct types of creatures.
     
     Dragonets/Fire Lizard:
     These creatures resemble normal dragons, except for thier size (up to 2' 
long).  They have the powers of flight, teleportation, impressing,
spelljamming, and fire-breathing just as dragons do, as well as the dragon
colors.  However, the dragonets are not as intelligent as the dragons (being
about as smart as a smart dog), so rather than full telepathy they only have
empathy (emotions) with humans - with dragons and dragonets they are able to
communicate well, considering their intelligence.  Note that dragonets do not 
have the short-term memories that full-sized dragons do - most dragonets can
remember the place where they were hatched (even if it happened a hundred
years before).  Also note that dragonets can carry things while teleporting,
but their weight limit is about 2 pounds.
     
     Whers: 
     An odd offshoot of the dragon line, a wher looks like a stunted ugly
dragon, with small useless wings.  They are about the size of a small draft
horse when full grown.  Whers can impress, and have the dragon coloring, but
cannot teleport, spelljamm, or breathe fire.  They are very territorial and
will attack those who are not properly introduced to them in their home.
     The eyes of a where are slightly different that a dragon's or dragonet's 
eye, causing light to be strongly focused inward.  This allows the creature
to see in total darkness (without infravision), but means that they are
nearly blind in normal light.  They also have enhanced smell and hearing,
waking them excellent night watchbeasts.  There are somewhat bad-tempered to
those they are not impressed to, and if a female hatches eggs away from
humans, the young will return to the wild.
     
     The Red Star:
     This is a "rogue planet," not really being similar to the others in the
sphere.  The Red Star's approach to Pern brings a hostile organism called
Thread to the planet (see Thread, below).  Thread falls for 50 years (in
distinct mappable patterns on the planet's surface), followed by a 
Threadless time period of 200 years.
     
     [OK, folks I think that it's time for opinions here.]
     Possible causes of thread:
     1. Tiny egg-sized space organisms that do not fully develop until they
are pulled into a gravity plane and their outer coating is burned off
(usually by friction against the air).  These organisms drift in a large
cloud far ouside the orbit of the last planet (near the sphere wall) and are
towed along by the Red Star's gravity and are then pulled in by Pern's
gravity. [This explanation is the closest to the novels' explanation.]
     2. Creatures on the Red Star launch the Thread organism onto Pern,
similar to how the air elementals of Jupiter of Terraspace send out air
flares to foul passing ships.
     3. Thread is fragments of the Red Star, which is actually a bizarre form 
of hostile liveworld, or one that became overrun by one of its native
organisms.  Thread could be seeds, or maybe the entire Red Star is composed
of Thread (like an asteroid belt, but still remaining a mostly-coherent
planet).
     [Any other ideas?]
     
     Thread:
     Thread first appears as egg-sized spore with a hard shell.  If this
outer shell is removed (such as by intentional scraping, but normally by
atmospheric friction), the true organism is revealed - a long silvery
streamer.  Normally the shell is burned off in the upper atmosphere, allowing 
the thread to fall to the planet.
     Thread voraciously attacks all organic matter, eating it and growing at
a tremendous rate.  A single piece of Thread 10' long and .25" thick can
easily grow to be 100' long and 3 feet thick.  Most living things that
contact thread will be totally consumed in 1-2 rounds, leaving nothing but
inorganic material (bones, metal items, etc.).  If totally deprived of food,
Thread will die, its outer suface turning thick and crusty while its insides
decay.  Thread that lands on the ground eats a circle several feet wide
before finally going dormant.  This can cause great devastation to crops and
timberland.  A person being eaten by thread can be saved by a cure disease
spell, or application of cold, fire, or water.  Damage depends on how long
the exposure was (1-2 points per segment is a good value).
     The best protections against Thread are stone or metal shelters.  Fire
kills thread, as do extreme cold and water, so Threadfalls in rainy areas are 
harmless.  Thread that falls into the ocean is usually eaten by fish.  The
natives of Pern ride their dragons and feed them firestone to combat Thread,
burning it before it reaches the ground.  It becomes instinctive for a dragon 
to go between if he or his rider are touched by Thread - the Thread freezes,
dies, and cracks off before death occurs, although there is often damage to a 
variable extent caused by delays in reaction time.
     If Thread gets pulled by the gravity plane of a passing ship (or gets
thrown at a ship that goes near the Red Star, depending on what origin of
Thread that we decide on) will cause no harm unless the outer shell is
broken, in which case the Thread will begin to eat (the ship and/or the
people on it) and grow until a sizeable portion of the ship or those on it
have been destroyed.
     
     Commerce:
     Pern is lacking in several natural resources, mainly metals.  Metal
weapons are normally small (like daggers), and metal acoutrements are used
only if necessary.  Armor is almost unheard of, but also rather unneccesary
(there are few natural predators on Pern large enough to harm humans, and
Thread is enough of a uniting force to keep people from starting wars,
especially since distance is no factor to the dragons).
     Since metals are so rare, wooden coins are produced at regular intervals 
by a guild (the woodcraft hall, see below), who determines the amount
necessary and exchanges them as they become worn or broken.  Because of the
threat of Thread, strong timber is also rare - the local varieties that grow
fast are softwoods.  The shortage of wood means that true soap is also rare
(since soap is formed from wood ash).  These items are all high value on
Pern, good for trading from offworlders.
     Different trades are organized into different Crafthalls on Pern, with
each crafthall having one of more main locations, but having craftsmen living 
wherever people live (people live in enclosed areas, protected from thread,
calld Holds).  A list of the crafthalls are the fishercraft, weavercraft,
tailorcraft, minecraft, tradercraft (they manage caravans to and from the
remote Holds and crafthalls), smithcraft, tannercraft, beastcraft (manages
bloodlines and breeding), woodcraft, healercraft, and farmcraft.
     
     Religion on Pern:
     Pern is odd in that the native people to not worship any gods.  They
revere their dragons and the dragonriders, but do not hold and particular
entity supreme.  Possibly Pern was once uninhabited by humanoids, but was
settled by a group seeking escape from a religious war or a situation like
Realmspace's Time of Troubles.
     The nead for accessible healing has been met on this planet by the
healercraft hall.  The healers are experts at the healing and herbalism
non-weapon proficiencies, and excel in the area of non-invasive cures (the
Pernese do not believe in surgery).
     
     The Inner Asteroid Belt:
     This asteroid belt is fairly densely packed, requiring spelljamming
ships to pass over (or under) it or take a careful crawl.  One reason to
travel through or at least stop by this field is that the rocks here are rich 
in gems.  Other than the crowded nature of the field, the air envelopes of
the asteroids are rarely good, having been pulled away long ago by other
rocks or by the red star.  The rocks range in size from a few feet to several 
miles.  Spelljammers with the ability to create a great deal of air may wish
to purify one of these stones and mine it, or simply tow one away to a more
suitable location.
     
     [OK, folks, I did the main world ... lets have some ideas about the
nature of Thread, inhabitants of the asteroid belts, and what's going on with 
the 4 other normal planets!]
--
Sean K Reynolds         a.k.a. Veggie Boy        skreyn@???????.???.edu   
"Chicken man, chicken man, chicken man, hold my hand..." - Indigo Girls




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