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Nightwatch Weyr > New Player Guide > I'm a Pern Newbie!

Title: I'm a Pern Newbie!
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tuathade - December 5, 2011 07:43 PM (GMT)
Introduction to Pern

A quick-and-dirty rundown of the fandom we are marginally referencing on this game.
Also more important things.


Pern is a daunting canon. Trust me, I know. But just remember this one simple, reassuring mantra:

No one on this site gives a shit if you read the books or not.

We're here to have fun and RP, not to be perfectly faithful to Pern canon. To be honest, Nightwatch draws inspiration from a number of sources: not just Pern, but Lovecraft, the entire survival horror genre, the Temeraire books, and more. None of which are required reading. And every time you feel nervous about asking a question, or unsure if Nightwatch is the right place for you, just tell yourself that mantra and you'll be just fine.

And for god's sake don't try to read all the information threads in one go. You'll give yourself an aneurysm.

tuathade - December 5, 2011 08:06 PM (GMT)
The Books

Or, "Those things that people reference on occasion, usually to say how much they hate them."

This is optional, and tl;dr. Feel free to skim it. This just exists as a useful reference if you'd rather read a couple paragraphs that summarize the entirety of Dragonsdawn, Dragonflight, Dragonquest, The White Dragon, and All the Weyrs of Pern.

Thousands of years ago, a bunch of space colonists landed on a planet they designated P.E.R.N. - it stands for Parallel Earth Resources Negligible, a reference to the fact that it was hospitable to human life, but did not possess enough valuable resources to be commercially interesting to interstellar companies. But this little group of settlers wanted a return to a more peaceful, isolated, agrarian way of life, with limited technology. And they got what they wanted. Boy, did they get what they wanted.

Shortly after the establishment of the first colony, they discovered that Pern was subject to periodic attacks by Thread, a spaceborne spore trailing in the wake of an interstellar body known as the Red Star. Whenever the Red Star passed too close to Pern it would shed Thread capsules into Pern's upper atmosphere. The capsules would then break open, raining down thin silvery filaments that devoured and destroyed any organic matter that it touched. This, naturally, kind of put a damper on basic necessities like farming. And living. The colonists discovered that either fire or water would break down the Thread, but they needed a better way to defend themselves during the frequent Threadfalls.

So they engineered themselves dragons. Flying, firebreathing, psychic dragons. They used a native species, firelizards, as a base, noting that the firelizards had both the remarkable ability to teleport (using a hyperspace dimension known as between) and breathe fire by chewing a phosphine-laden rock, colloquially known as firestone. Kitti Ping, a geneticist among the colonists, engineered the first dragons to be large enough to ride and of human-equivalent intelligence. She also engineered them to be completely dependent on humans, needing to Impress to a single rider at birth and incapable of harming any human after Impression. This was a safeguard to keep a whole bunch of genetically engineered superpredators from taking over the planet.

Fast-forward thousands of years. The colonists have entirely lost all records of where they came from, and have reverted to a pseudo-feudal society centered around the periodic Threadfalls and the dragonriders that protect Pern. A whole bunch of bullshit happens with some riders named Lessa and F'lar that you don't really need to know about. The relevant thing is the discovery of AIVAS, the original ship's AI that came with the first colonists. AIVAS re-taught all this history to the Pernese, as well as some limited advanced crafts - obviously no one's going to go from farming to building microprocessors in a generation, even with a supercomputer to help you, but some scientific advances are low-hanging fruit.

In addition, Lessa and her dragon Ramoth discovered that dragons could travel between through time as well as space, albeit at a greater risk. With the assistance of a mutant white dragon named Ruth, and AIVAS' fantastic supercomputer brain, they successfully went back in time and altered the orbit of the Red Star (yes, I know that's physically impossible, it's in the books, bear with me) so that Thread would never fall on Pern ever again. And then everyone lived happily ever after.

Enter Nightwatch. From here, that's where our weyr diverges from "book canon".

tuathade - December 5, 2011 08:08 PM (GMT)
Nightwatch Canon


It turns out that excessive abuse of the draconic ability to go between through time and space attracts... attention. Unwanted attention. From horrible, horrible beasties known as the Deep Ones who live in the dark spaces of between. And the Weyrs, used to fighting a mindless enemy that could be easily destroyed by flame and mostly just fell from the sky at predictable intervals like that old Space Invaders game, had no idea what to do when Cthulhu knocked on their door. So thirty years ago, a couple riders created a new Weyr, Nightwatch Weyr, solely for the purpose of fighting the Deep Ones. Dragons are still the defenders of Pern... just from a new threat, now.

That's the essential gist of it.

From here, don't worry about reading the whole Information section in one go. You might want to take a quick glance over the Timeline and Glossary, just to familiarize yourself with terminology and recent events. Rules are, of course, required reading. (They're short - shorter than this thread. By quite a bit.) You could peruse the Culture of Nightwatch thread, to find out more about daily life at the weyr. Or you might want to check out the Dragons thread, if you want to make a dragonrider as your first character.

But if you're feeling nervous, try making a Candidate as your first character! Candidates are those who have been selected by a Searchdragon, and brought to Nightwatch Weyr because they have potential to become a dragonrider. They tend to be younger, less familiar with weyrlife in general, and thus you don't need to know much to play one. You can pick it up as you go... and then at the end, someone will write you your very own awesome dragon.

Make sure to have a look at the Wants and Limits forum before you play! Also, please feel free to check out our guest-friendly, everyone-friendly Questions Forum. It's awesome. No really. There's no such thing as a stupid question.

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